Nuclear heroes

The Fukushima 50 are the fifty workers who are trying desperately to prevent a nuclear meltdown in the four reactors damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  They have had to go into the plants, subjecting themselves to massive radiation.  They reportedly expect the radiation to kill them.  But they keep going in.

Workers at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan say they expect to die from radiation sickness as a result of their efforts to bring the reactors under control, the mother of one of the men tells Fox News.

The so-called Fukushima 50, the team of brave plant workers struggling to prevent a meltdown to four reactors critically damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, are being repeatedly exposed to dangerously high radioactive levels as they attempt to bring vital cooling systems back online.

Speaking tearfully through an interpreter by phone, the mother of a 32-year-old worker said: “My son and his colleagues have discussed it at length and they have committed themselves to die if necessary to save the nation.

“He told me they have accepted they will all probably die from radiation sickness in the short term or cancer in the long-term.”

The woman spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity because, she said, plant workers had been asked by management not to communicate with the media or share details with family members in order to minimize public panic.

She could not confirm if her son or other workers were already suffering from radiation sickness. But she added: “They have concluded between themselves that it is inevitable some of them may die within weeks or months. They know it is impossible for them not to have been exposed to lethal doses of radiation.”

via Japan’s Nuclear Rescuers: ‘Inevitable Some of Them May Die Within Weeks’ – FoxNews.com.

This, my friends, is self-sacrifice in vocation.

April Fool’s Day clearinghouse

Every April 1, people by custom pull pranks, and this is especially true online, with phony news items, outrageous-but-soberly-delivered claims, and elaborate hoaxes.  As I have said, the Cranach blog does not and will not do that.  But others do.  Nevertheless, I get a kick out of them.

If you come across any April Fool’s Day stunts on the internet, please post a link to them in the comments.  That way we can all benefit.

Conservatives debate the war in Libya

Here is a good summary of the debate among conservatives about whether or not to support the war in Libya:

Ron Radosh » Our Libyan War: What Position Should Skeptical Conservatives Take?.

Neoconservative William Kristol is calling the president Barack H. Reagan and saying conservatives should back off in their criticism and support the president in war time.  He believes that America should always be on the side of freedom and that protecting the Libyan rebels and working to overthrow Gaddafi is something that Americans should just do as a matter of principle.  All Kristol is saying, according to his turn of phrase, is “give war a chance.”

Some Congressional conservatives, such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio says that congress should pass a resolution not only authorizing the war but taking it further, making it official policy that our goal is to remove Gaddafi, which would permit sending in troops if necessary.

Meanwhile, paleoconservatives and libertarians are arguing that we should not intervene in other countries, that we have no national interest in Libya and that we cannot be the world’s policeman.  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is articulating that position, making this argument:

Intervening in a civil war in a tribal society in which our government admits we have no vital interests to help people we do not know, simply does not make any sense. Libyan society is complicated, and we simply do not know enough about the potential outcomes or leaders to know if this will end up in the interests of the United States, or if we are in fact helping to install a radical Islamic government in the place of a secular dictatorship.

Consider the various arguments.  What do you conclude?  (Though this post focuses on the different conservative positions, liberals may weigh in too, saying which kind of conservative they agree with.)

New baseball season scouting reports

Now that baseball season has started, what I need from you are scouting reports.  What are the developments, prospects, promising new players, and issues for your favorite team?

It looks like Philadelphia is playing a hand with four aces (maybe five aces, but then the card game metaphor breaks down).   The Brewers seem poised to make a run, what with acquiring pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, two serious pitchers.  Washington is positioning itself to be good NEXT year, when the two first-round draft pick prodigies Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper might be ready.

So, all of you Cranach sports correspondents, please report.

You may also include predictions.

The Official Site of Major League Baseball | MLB.com: Homepage.

The Christian equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

 

the most ancient Christian texts

 

Archaeologists have discovered some 70 little books with lead pages that may be the earliest Christian texts, dating from shortly after the time of Christ.  Interestingly, they seem to have been made by Jewish Christians–being written in ancient Hebrew, depicting both a Menorah and a Cross, and including a stylized map of Jerusalem, outside of which is drawn a T shaped cross and an empty tomb.

Most of the writing is in code, though, so it isn’t  decipherable, at least not yet.  From the BBC:

They could be the earliest Christian writing in existence, surviving almost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born.

A group of 70 or so “books”, each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007. . . .

The director of the Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, says the books might have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.

“They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than, the Dead Sea Scrolls,” says Mr Saad.

“Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”

The texts might have been written in the decades following the crucifixion

They seem almost incredible claims – so what is the evidence?

The books, or “codices”, were apparently cast in lead, before being bound by lead rings.

Their leaves – which are mostly about the size of a credit card – contain text in Ancient Hebrew, most of which is in code.

If the relics are of early Christian origin rather than Jewish, then they are of huge significance.

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum.

He says they could be “the major discovery of Christian history”, adding: “It’s a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church.”

He believes the most telling evidence for an early Christian origin lies in the images decorating the covers of the books and some of the pages of those which have so far been opened.

Mr Elkington says the relics feature signs that early Christians would have interpreted as indicating Jesus, shown side-by-side with others they would have regarded as representing the presence of God.

“It’s talking about the coming of the messiah,” he says.

“In the upper square [of one of the book covers] we have the seven-branch menorah, which Jews were utterly forbidden to represent because it resided in the holiest place in the Temple in the presence of God.

“So we have the coming of the messiah to approach the holy of holies, in other words to get legitimacy from God.”

Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University, says the most powerful evidence for a Christian origin lies in plates cast into a picture map of the holy city of Jerusalem.

“As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck. That struck me as so obviously a Christian image,” he says.

“There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city. There are walls depicted on other pages of these books too and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem.”

It is the cross that is the most telling feature, in the shape of a capital T, as the crosses used by Romans for crucifixion were.

“It is a Christian crucifixion taking place outside the city walls,” says Mr Davies.

Margaret Barker, an authority on New Testament history, points to the location of the reported discovery as evidence of Christian, rather than purely Jewish, origin.

“We do know that on two occasions groups of refugees from the troubles in Jerusalem fled east, they crossed the Jordan near Jericho and then they fled east to very approximately where these books were said to have been found,” she says.

“[Another] one of the things that is most likely pointing towards a Christian provenance, is that these are not scrolls but books. The Christians were particularly associated with writing in a book form rather than scroll form, and sealed books in particular as part of the secret tradition of early Christianity.”

The Book of Revelation refers to such sealed texts.

Another potential link with the Bible is contained in one of the few fragments of text from the collection to have been translated.

It appears with the image of the menorah and reads “I shall walk uprightly”, a sentence that also appears in the Book of Revelation.

While it could be simply a sentiment common in Judaism, it could here be designed to refer to the resurrection.

via BBC News – Jordan battles to regain ‘priceless’ Christian relics.

HT: Joe Carter

Food & ideology

A Washington Post food writer, Andreas Viestad, discusses the Italian futurist artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who tried to carry his aesthetic into food with his 1932 Futurist Cookbook.

 

Marinetti was the leader of the Italian futurists, a poet and demagogue closely associated with the ruling fascists but often in conflict with them. (He criticized them for being too traditional and for their anti-Semitism.) He is best remembered for his many manifestos calling for a break with the past. One of his most memorable and controversial was the “Manifesto Against Past-Loving Venice,” wherein he suggested that the “small, stinking canals” of Venice be “filled with the rubble of the past” and paved over and that it be rebuilt as a modern militarized and industrialized city.

His venture into gastronomy started in 1926, when in another manifesto he called for a ban on pasta, describing it as “an absurd Italian gastronomic religion.” The favorite food of Italians, Marinetti claimed, made them lazy, tradition-bound and pacifist. He was met with massive protests. Petitions were signed. Housewives took to the streets. An enraged nationalistic journalist even challenged Marinetti to a duel. Marinetti accepted and — as happened so often in his colorful career — lost. He was gravely injured.

Marinetti’s many stunts made him famous, but they are also why he was seldom taken seriously. Today he is an obscure figure, even in Italy. But when I read “Futurist Cookbook,” I have little doubt he was on to something. Many of his ideas have since become commonplace. His proposal to make a cuisine that consisted of lighter sauces, bite-size dishes and “a consistent lightening of weight and reduction of volume of food-stuffs” is pretty uncontroversial, even though it sounded strange at the time.

Other ideas have an uncanny similarity to what is happening at the frontline of creative cuisine today. A recurring theme in Marinetti’s work, for instance, is the participation of all senses while dining, as illustrated by “A Tactile Dinner Party.” In another futurist meal idea, a house is built on a tongue of land between ocean and lake, and the smells from the sea, the lake and a nearby barn all contribute to the experience. Several other meals involve scent or music. When Blumenthal at the Fat Duck asks a diner to don headphones and listen to the sound of the sea while eating an oyster, he clearly has entered some of the same territory.

Similarly, Marinetti’s chapter “Invitation to Chemistry” has been answered by today’s modernist cooks, who are both lauded and criticized for being technology-focused and for using texture- and flavor-altering chemical compounds in their food. Playing with the shape and the appearance of the food is pretty commonplace today. At El Bulli, I was once served a dish consisting of two perfectly simple raw razor clams, one real and one faux. Playing with the diner’s expectations is also one of the ideas behind my futurist-inspired recipe for an orange-colored, orange-smelling dish that doesn’t actually contain orange (see recipe, Page E6).

via The Gastronomer: What if one futurist had made his ideas more delicious? – The Washington Post.

Cuisine is an art form, no less than music and painting, and I have often wondered about the extent to which a particular approach to food is expressive of ideology and worldview.  For example, Asian food is directly tied to Taoism, with the putting together of sweet and sour, smooth and crunchy, etc., expressing the yin and the yang, the balance of opposites that is the key to harmony in the universe.  I have known Christians who would not think of partaking of books, movies, or music that are not “Christian” who nevertheless love to eat Chinese food, not caring about its worldview as long as it tastes good.  (Do realize I’m not opposing Asian cuisine, far from it, any more than I’m advocating staying away from other art forms that aren’t Christian.  The aesthetic elements, whether food that tastes good or art that is in good taste, already fall under the created order of God’s rule.)

Marinetti’s ghastly ideas–the rejection of tradition (making Italians give up pasta?) and the embrace of chemicals and technology–are clearly modernist.  His radicalism and his assaults on ordinary human values–thinking they can be changed by mere willpower–are also clearly fascist.

So is the traditional arrangement of meat and potato and vegetables separately on a plate an expression of American individualism, as opposed to the communal pots of many combined ingredients that more communal cultures favor?  Are casseroles favored at church pot luck dinners because in their mushing together of diverse ingredients they express Christian community?  And what are we to make of the postmodernist touch in so many restaurants today of stacking the different foods on top of each other?

How does fast food express the consumer capitalism of the pop culture?  Can you tell someone’s political beliefs by what they eat?

OK, how far can we take this?  (I’m being partially serious and partially unserious.)

 

I’ve written about the Futurists and their very real (but often minimized) connection to Fascism.  They demonstrate that Fascism was most certainly NOT conservative, but instead “the latest thing” much beloved by  “cutting edge” artist and thinkers.


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