In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. What Does the "Peace Symbol" Symbolize?
  2. Pole Dancing
  3. Visual Linkage
  4. Verdict on Churchill
  5. Solution or Problem?
  6. On Becoming a Team Fan
  7. Morning Linkage
  8. Book Report

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What Does the "Peace Symbol" Symbolize?
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- The last thing I want to get into is a morass of deconstructionist, over-intellectualized claptrap. But the topic of symbolism can get one dangerously close. I'll simply state that symbols can range from images close to what they are intended to stand for all the way to abstractions that hold no intrinsic meaning. Moreover, symbols usually attain their symbolic powers through repeated use and resulting common agreement regarding their meaning. Which brings me to the matter of the "peace symbol." Peace symbol It clearly is a case where there is no intrinsic meaning whatsoever. The same might be said of white doves and olive branches, but they are real-world objects, at least. At any rate, I've wondered for years where the thing came from and who designed it. Finally shrugging off my habitual sloth this morning, I Googled and almost immediately found this Wikipedia entry. It seems that the designer was a British chap named Gerald Holtum (1914-85), a World War 2 conscientious objector who cobbled it together for the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War group which was planning a demonstration in 1958. As the entry shows, the odd pattern inside the circle is based on wig-wag (flag semaphore) designators for the letters "N" and "D" -- standing for nuclear disarmament. At root, the peace symbol just might have made sense to a 1920s boy scout or (gasp!) military signaler. For a while now, I've been amusing myself after coming up with a (probably unoriginal) alternative use for the peace symbol: Surrender symbol Given a 180, it resembles somebody with arms raised in surrender. Now that's symbolism! Later, Donald... posted by Donald at September 5, 2009 | perma-link | (24) comments

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pole Dancing
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Is this Bob Fosse-worthy performance by Australian pole dancer Felix Cane art? Dance? Soft-core porn? Sport? My take: I don't care. I love it, it's amazing, and that's all that really matters to me. Sure is fun to think about the above questions, though. Bonus links: Many more intoxicating performances on video at Felix Cane's website. A "Will porn ever be considered to be art"? yakfest here at 2Blowhards. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 4, 2009 | perma-link | (11) comments

Visual Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * I do love looking through a good artist's sketchbook. (Click on "Sketchbooks.") * An inspiring and impressive collection of iPhone photographs by Flickr members. * iPhone Lomography. * Here's one story I wish I'd been asked to report. * Russian illustrator Evegeny Parfenov does very winning variations on that Soviet-heroism look of the 1920s. * Great big jellyfish. * Here's one of the more effective visual illusions I've ever been dazzled and mystified by. (Link thanks to Bryan) * MBlowhard Rewind: An introduction to the wonderful Canadian artist David Milne. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 4, 2009 | perma-link | (2) comments

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Verdict on Churchill
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Winston Churchill: Towering Savior of Western Civ? Or, as Ralph Raico would have it, power-mad warmonger and statist who -- OK, sure -- managed nonetheless to perform effectively for a few months? Back here, visitors shared opinions about Abraham Lincoln. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 3, 2009 | perma-link | (4) comments

Solution or Problem?
Friedrich von Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards, People who are not happy with the current course of politics seem to almost instinctively turn to the idea of a new political party that won't be so in thrall to established special interests. This, of course, just boots the problem to the next level, because of course the American political system, with its winner-take-all structure of elections (and other structural design elements) is very inhospitable to third parties. But I've begun to wonder if this isn't the wrong way to think about developing a form of politics that is more truly responsive to the electorate and less easily captured by limited groups of rent-seekers. To speak more bluntly, isn't it possible that political parties, at least in the form they exist in the U.S., are actually more the problem than the solution? That they exist chiefly to, ahem, sell out? To distract their own members with a 'clean' ideological image while actually running no-tell-motels where eager-to-be-corrupted politicians and the special interests who love them (temporarily, anyway) hook up? This line of thinking was reinforced by some remarks on the public discussion of health care reform of journalist Matt Taibbi on his Taibblog: I’ve been getting phone calls from some folks in DC with some ugly stories about how the Democrats have systematically sandbagged the progressive opposition, with the White House pulling strings and levering the funding for various nonprofit groups in order to prevent them from airing ads attacking the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. I suspect in the end this is going to be the main story of the health care reform effort, how the Democrats (and some progressive groups) sold out their constituents in exchange for financial contributions from the relevant industries. Please bear in mind, I'm NOT making a point here about healthcare reform, or about Matt Taibbi's politics which you, of course, may find distasteful, etc. What I'm getting at is structural: what does it mean that the supposedly left-of-center Democratic Party would be covertly working on behalf on entrenched business interests at what would appear to be the expense of the members of their own party? If you want an example from across the aisle, why would the Republicans be so eager to violate their oft-professed devotion to free markets in order to rescue the nation's largest banks, already the recipients of so many decades of corporatist non-level-playing-field government support? Do political parties exist chiefly to provide some kind of faux-ideological camoulflage for rent-seekers? Should people who would like to see some different energy in politics should be thinking along very different lines than starting a third party, or supporting any party at all? What do you guys think? Cheers, Friedrich... posted by Friedrich at September 3, 2009 | perma-link | (12) comments

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Becoming a Team Fan
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Football season is upon us (at last!!). I was at a Seattle Seahawks exhibition game a couple of weeks ago and was surprised how large and noisy the crowd was at a game whose outcome didn't much matter. I'm not a strong Seahawks fan. Ditto the Seattle Mariners baseball team. As for the late, lamented-by-some Seattle Supersonics basketball team, I did root for them when they won the NBA championship -- in 1979. I pay no attention whatsoever to the Seattle Sounders "football club" soccer team. Double dittos regarding whatever the women's pro basketball team is. Truth is, I never was more than a sometime-fan of Seattle major league teams. Why is this so? Some of it has to do with my preference for some sports over others. However, there is a common factor: All of Seattle's major league teams came into existence after I was well into adulthood. And I was in my mid-thirties when the football and baseball teams were established (I'm not counting the one-year wonders Seattle Pilots baseball team that hastily became the Milwaukee Brewers). Alas, Seattle took a long time before becoming a major-league city. I have this theory that fandom establishes itself most deeply in childhood. When I was a kid, from time to time I'd be taken to see Seattle Rainiers baseball games. The Rainiers were part of the old Pacific Coast League, a short step below the majors. I still have warm feelings for the Rainiers. The PCL that I knew died when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved respectively to Los Angeles and San Francisco. New York fans of the National League persuasion were in shock until the Mets began play in 1962. While I have the greatest sympathy for fans of the old Dodgers and Giants, I always wondered how they could become serious Mets fans. Nowadays, of course, the Mets have plenty of home-grown fans; a fourth grader who first saw the Mets play in 1962 would now be a 56-year-old getting AARP solicitations in the mail. You can tell me I'm full of it in Comments. But I probably won't believe you. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at September 2, 2009 | perma-link | (8) comments

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Morning Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Polly Frost contends with some requests for money from the theater world. * Hope takes a look in the mirror. * Rod Dreher is thinking about quitting Facebook. Me, I'm a happy Facebook addict. * Enjoy a mouth-watering visit with a Singaporean satay man. * The Left continues its wrestle with sociobiology. * Steve Sailer thinks that we're entering a new era of racial quotas. * Just when you think that Detroit can't get any more corrupt ... * Why are recent immigrants from south of the border failing to assimilate? * Teddy, as he was. * Who does Ben Bernanke really work for? * Can Tantric lovin' mellow out a relationship? * Miss Maggie Mayhem started out as a professional dominatrix, but is now working as a fetish model. * The journalism biz is so bad right now that even editors from the Harvard Crimson are avoiding going into it. * A time-lapse video of the LA fires. More. A vivid collection of stills. * MBlowhard Rewind: I tracked the stages by which the U.S. has come to embrace adolescent values. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 1, 2009 | perma-link | (8) comments

Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Report
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Folks who have been 2Blowhards readers for more than a year might remember that I have been thinking about writing a well-illustrated book dealing with painters who were bypassed by art history -- many of whom I've been featuring here. (My most recent (I think) posting about the proposed book is here.) I was about to send a package of material (prospectus, contents, CV, a couple of sample chapters) to publishers last fall. Then the current economic crisis hit. I thought the uncertainty of the times would make publishers more leery than usual about accepting new works, so decided to hold off until things settled down. And, by golly, things have settled down to the point where the shape of the economy over the next year or so is fairly clear. It's not a pretty sight. But it's better than things seemed last October and, as noted, it's fairly clear. I might as well get the process started. Below are extracts from the "Subject" section of the three-page prospectus I'm still fiddling with. I hope it will give you a picture of what I'm up to in this project. Critiques and suggestions would be helpful. There seems to be a hole in mainstream histories of painting starting at the point where Impressionism entered the scene. Such histories usually focus on the various modernist movements beginning with Impressionism and continuing through (among others) Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Op Art and so on up to today’s newest artistic thing. And the painters who didn’t participate in any of these schools? They are seldom worthy of mention unless they are so famous they can’t be ignored: think Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. Also sometimes included might be painters such as John Singer Sargent, Joachim Sorolla and J.W. Waterhouse whose reputations have been on the rise for some time now. Perhaps the same could be said for non-modernist schools such as California plein-air painters active 1900-30. Indeed, there are many books about individual non-modernist painters and non-modernist painters grouped by geography and, sometimes, style. But apparently no one has tried to present a general history of non-modernist painting from 1870 to the present in book form. That is the task of this proposed book. After a few paragraphs outlining the history of modernism and non-modenrist reaction to it, I conclude my discussion of the book's subject as follows: The book proposed here is intended to provide coverage of many of the excellent artists who, for various reasons, failed to embrace modernism. The contexts mentioned in the preceding paragraphs form the framework for the presentation. Why does any of this matter? It matters because there is a good chance that modernism in its various guises lacks staying power. Arguments are presented in the enclosed draft of Chapter 1. But the gist is that modernism has strayed so far from basic human experience that future generations will not easily relate to it, unlike the... posted by Donald at August 31, 2009 | perma-link | (13) comments