Something Else That Belongs in a Museum

This is not really a sports or hockey post--it's a post about museums and preserving artifacts and things of that nature.

In the case of Mike Eruzione, it's very evident that parting with the jersey, the hockey stick, and other assorted paraphernalia are an attempt to create a financial "nest egg" for his children and grandchildren, and so making the decision to dispose of those items through a commercial auction makes sense. He has every right to do this, and he has every right to expect that people who understand history and memorabilia would recognize that right.

However, what's sad is that his items rightfully belong in a museum, and a proper one at that. These items would be a fantastic addition for the Smithsonian and should be added as items related to American sports and sports history. Too often, these items end up in the hands of private collectors or collections that are offshore. Am I off base in wondering if it would be a good thing for a Russian oligarch to purchase them and put them on display in Russia? Should they go to a wealthy buyer somewhere else?

There is a balance between cultural artifacts and items of cultural significance that are worth a great deal of money to a private collector. Given that Mr. Eruzione deserves to be able to live comfortably and pass something on to his descendants, I wish there was a way for the Smithsonian to acquire the items and allow Eruzione the chance to make what he deserves from the transaction. There are examples of this, and sometimes it turns out that museums run by the government can acquire items, but I think that someone is simply going to buy these treasures and then they won't be seen again until they are resold further on down the line.

Things of this nature, however, should be in a museum. Perhaps whoever buys them will agree.

Olive Oil and Architectural Preservation

York Minster
Is there a down side to using excessive amounts of olive oil on a building? Apparently, we're going to find out.
One of the most beautiful and revered cathedrals in Christendom, York Minster in northern England has survived war, looting, fire, pillaging and other threats over the centuries. But the Gothic masterpiece is crumbling due to a relatively recent enemy: acid rain. Preservationists, however, may have found a way to protect it using a common kitchen item.
The limestone rock used to build the church is vulnerable to acids, and has been under attack since the Industrial Revolution began filling the skies of England with acidic pollution, according to The result is acid rain that can wreak havoc on earthly structures.
And despite their best efforts, preservationists have found no protective coating that could keep the towering spires of York Minster safe, until they hit upon a novel treatment: olive oil
The extract contains oleic acid, a compound that can bind with the stone and protect it, according to Dr. Karen Wilson of the Cardiff School of Chemistry at Cardiff University in Wales.
This could, literally, save Western Civilization if it turns out to be a viable protectant. Half of Italy could end up covered in olive oil and it could lead to a resurgance in protecting critical elements of the world's transportation infrastructure as well. I would use this on bridges and roadways (while acknowledging that you don't want people driving through olive oil and spinning out) to increase their lifespan.

An Insult of Inspiring Devotion and Fealty

Nothing succeeds in boiling the blood like a good insult. There are many like this, but this was the one I thought worth sharing.

German Speed Camera

A silent sentinel, guarding against anyone who goes 2 kilometers or more over the speed limit, green and unhappy, lonely and staring out into the roadway, forever.


Not a great photo, but I do like the symmetry.


Horse Bums

Somewhere near one of King Ludwig's palaces, somewhere in the Chiemsee...

Did Peter Jackson Ruin the Legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien?

It would seem fitting to revisit the idea that director Peter Jackson made unconscionable changes to the material used in the original Lord of the Rings triology. What with The Hobbit now out and people grumbling about it, there's a good reason to delve into the subject at hand.

Christopher Tolkien has worked on properly organizing his late father's literary estate. This article talks about that effort. But, I think we need to remember that it was New Line cinema that should have been credited with being as evil as any other entity:
The lawyers for the Tolkien Estate, those of the Tolkien Trust, and Tolkien's publisher HarperCollins demanded $150 million in damages, as well as observers' rights on the next adaptations of Tolkien's work. A lawsuit was necessary before an agreement was reached in 2009. The producers paid 7.5% of their profits to the Tolkien Estate, but the lawyer, who refuses to give a number, adds that "it is too early to say how much that will be in the future." 
However, the Tolkien Estate cannot do anything about the way New Line adapts the books. In the new Hobbit movie, for example, the audience will discover characters Tolkien never put in, especially women. The same is true for the merchandise, which ranges from tea towels to boxes of nuggets, with an infinite variety of toys, stationery, t-shirts, games, etc. Not only the titles of the books themselves, but also the names of their characters have been copyrighted. 
"We are in the back seat," Cathleen Blackburn comments. In other words, the Estate can do little but watch the scenery, except in extreme cases-- for example, preventing the use of the name Lord of the Rings on Las Vegas slot machines, or for amusement parks. "We were able to prove that nothing in the original contract dealt with that sort of exploitation."
Hollywood's penchant for creative accounting screwed the Tolkien estate for years after the successful release of the original trilogy and now we're going to face yet another series of lawsuits and negotiations over the profits from The Hobbit? Ugh.

What surprises me is that there is no discernible backlash against Jackson, his producers and financiers, and the studio that will release the films. There is no significant threat to the commercial success of these endeavors, save the overall displeasure with the films that seems to have taken hold, and there is nothing in the way of a credible backlash. At the very least, you'd think that, if the son of the man who wrote the books has called it all an evisceration, then there should be some sort of serious effort to thwart the films from being wildly successful.

That backlash will never arrive. What is different now is that the people who built the Tolkien legacy--the young and the old and the literary and the linguistic--during the 1960s have largely surrendered to the crass commercialism of the age and are irrelevant to the discussion. They can bleat on about how it was all ruined, but until someone can agree upon who the rightful culprit really is, the films will go on and the books will gradually diminish in importance.

What a shame.

Can It Create Inspired Mistakes From Scratch?

They've invented a computer program or a complex piece of software that can compose music, and, somehow, this is supposed to revolutionize the way music is now composed. And that's fine--someone has to justify all of that time being wasted on things no one wants to hear.

In reality, though, the idea of making complex musical pieces has been with us for a long time. Composers in this modern era have been making dense, complex music for decades and decades and there is an audience for this art. It doesn't really contribute to the consciousness of the world, however, because it is of limited and esoteric value.

My favorite pieces of music are inspired trips through mistakes and false starts. The beauty of a Replacements album or a Slowdive track or a Radiohead throwaway freebie album isn't found in the obvious choices made by the composer. What makes them great is that they are slowed down trips through instruments that aren't operating properly or played in a conventional fashion.

When a computer can make something like shoegazer music, then I think there will be something to this.