Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Red spider lily

What’s in a name?
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Lycoris radiata
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Nom: It’s a red spider lily. Lycoris radiata. It’s in the amaryllis family.
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De Bloom: But it doesn't look like an amaryllis. It’s not a big trumpet flower. It looks like a swoopy space invader.
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Nom: Big family. A lot of variety in the flowers.  Ranging from daffodils to onions and garlic.
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De Bloom: Garlic?
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Nom: Amaryllidaceae. In Chinese it’s called mànzhū shā huá (曼珠沙華), in Japanese it’s called higanbana (彼岸花). Loosely meaning, ominous flowers that grow in hell. Connotations with parting and death. Shouldn’t give them as a gift.
___________
Voice-over
Lycoris radiata is a bulbous perennial. The red flowers usually appear before the leaves. Blooms are irregular, stamens sweeping backwards. Bulbs are poisonous, grown around paddy fields and waterways in Japan, keeping rat numbers down.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fractured Fairy Tale: Wiesner’s Three Pigs

After story time…
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Escape from the wolf...
Adult: Did you like that story of the Three Pigs?
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Child: It was different. Not like the old story.
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Adult: No, the original story was just about the wolf and the pigs. This one jumped to other stories and mixed things up.
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Child: Pigs jumping out of the story. And mixing up dragons and cats.
___________
Voice-over
David Wiesner’s post-modern telling of The Three Little Pigs is a fractured fairy tale. Reviewers mostly liked it. Telling an old story in a different way, putting a twist in the tale, a fractured fairy tale takes a traditional fairy tale and changes the setting, characters, plot or point of view.

Most fractured fairy tales are from Europe. How about retelling a Japanese traditional tale such as Urashima Taro, or Kaguya Hime as a post-modern fractured fairy tale?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Infographics by Humboldt 1807 and Minard 1869

Beyond mere maps…
Humboldt: Naturgemälde
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Andrea: Alexander von Humboldt published a stunning infographic, in 1807. It was a picture of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador. He called it Naturgemälde meaning a ‘painting of nature’ but which also implies a sense of unity. On either side were details of temperature, humidity, light and how they influenced the plant life at different elevations.
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Minard:
Napoleon's March on Moscow
Edward: Napoleon’s army marched to Moscow in 1812. Some 420,000 set off and only 10,000 made it back. Charles Minard made an infographic of the disaster in 1869. It included geography of the route, numbers of soldiers, and temperatures.
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___________
Voice-over
Infographics are not new. Humboldt had more than 50 artists design many graphics to explain how geography and nature were interrelated. Minard was an engineer who produced more than 50 statistical charts.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Messi and the Ferrari

The rich are different…
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Riki: I hear there are 10 million people in the world with more than a million euros in the bank.

Ferrari 335 Scaglietti … 
the value of 
historical provenance… 
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Edgardo: But the super rich are different. Like Lionel Messi. He’s rich. He can buy a Ferrari 335 Scaglietti for 32 million euros.
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Riki: There’s a disjunct here. Messi’s other cars are expensive but mostly between 80 to 150 thousand euros. And road usable. But 32 million euros? For a 1957 model that has no roof and no air conditioner? And one that you cannot drive on the road? Why?
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Edgardo: Competitive bidding in the auction with rival Ronaldo? His wife’s cousin’s name is Scaglia? Maybe vehicle rarity value? Only four 335s were built. Investment?
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Riki: At least you can live in an overpriced real estate investment.
____________
Voice-over
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Net worth 200 million euros, Lionel Messi makes something like 5 million euros per month. 29 years old. Out of everyman’s shopping league…
...

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Anthropomorphism and Demagoguery: Rhinos in the town and elephants in the room

On symbolizing demagoguery…
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Tom: Remember Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, two guys sitting at a café table, and a rhinoceros runs down the street?
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Dick: Yeah. And then another comes charging along and stomps a dog and people are outraged.
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Tom: But then everyone in the town turns into rhinoceroses.
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Dick: A satire on people following Fascism.
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Tom: I wonder if we could rework the metaphor. Maybe use an elephant.
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Dick: Ah. The elephant in the room?
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__________
Voice-over

Tom Fogler wrote a play called The Elephant in the Room. Borrowing from the past and reworking a metaphor to tell a new story. Fortunately, animals are not litigiously inclined to charge in trumpeting, “Calling me a demagogue? I’ll sue you!”
...