“The Lost Museum”

I was lucky enough to happen upon this exhibition in Berlin last month. As a Caravaggio fan, I mourned the 3 works destroyed in a 1945 fire, and never expected to see them face to face.  In truth, I still haven’t, but black and white replicas in the original dimensions helped me get a sense of what I might have seen.  Those Nazis have so much to answer for.

The exhibition’s focus is on the fate of the 400 works lost by the painting and sculpture collections once housed in this building. Given all we know about the millions of lives lost and the amount of property destroyed thanks to the actions of a regime headquartered in Berlin, such numbers of artworks might seem infinitesimal, and beside the point. This could have been a self-pitying display. Instead, it’s a candid exposition of museum issues regarding art loss, recovery and reconstitution, described in the dual-language (German/English) wall texts as “a polyphonic reflection: curators, conservators, archivists, historians, moulders and artists . . . offer a variety of perspectives and even contradictions.” The exhibition can also be understood in the context of the recent trend in museums to encourage multiple voices and perspectives. The visitor may enter with a fixed view of how to think about seven decades following the war’s end, but the museum asserts that “this legacy [of missing art] has meant something different for each generation. Every approach reflects the prevailing political zeitgeist and thus the decision to favor one version of the past over another.”

via .

The Lost Museum

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Jerôme Gulon

Just figured out the name of one of my favourite Paris graffiti artists.  Jerome Gulon works in multimedia mosaics and pen drawings. Exciting to think I can now search for his stuff and keep up with his work.

Jerôme Gulon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Jerôme Gulon | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

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Jeremy Corbyn

It’s strange hearing Jeremy Corbyn being ridiculed and berated by both opponents and his party alike. No one can conceive of the fact that Old Labour supporters can’t stand New Labour, and that younger people actually do want a distinct opposition to the Tories. I’d vote for him.

To imagine that Labour could overcome such odds by becoming bland, blurred and craven is to succumb to thinking that is simultaneously magical and despairing. Such dreamers argue that Labour has to recapture the middle ground. But there is no such place; no fixed political geography. The middle ground is a magic mountain that retreats as you approach. The more you chase it from the left, the further to the right it moves.

via Jeremy Corbyn is the curator of the future. His rivals are chasing an impossible dream | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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The Closing of the Canadian Mind

The NY Times details clearly and directly why the Harper government has been a curse on Canada. Get him gone.

The early polls show Mr. Harper trailing, but he’s beaten bad polls before. He has been prime minister for nearly a decade for a reason: He promised a steady and quiet life, undisturbed by painful facts. The Harper years have not been terrible; they’ve just been bland and purposeless. Mr. Harper represents the politics of willful ignorance.

via The Closing of the Canadian Mind – The New York Times.

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Roman Mars on city flags

I used to love TED Talks, and would watch each one religiously as it was posted. With the spread of TedX, though, and regional conferences posting every one of their speakers’ talks, the quality has diminished to the point where I don’t bother clicking, because I don’t want to spend 5 minutes determining if this is a future classic or a total waste of time.

This talk by Roman Mars, though, is definitely the former. Engagingly presented (I want his podcast as a video!), funny and informative. Infotainment is a pejorative term but it should be applied without implied snark here. 18 minutes that fly by and are worthy of a rewatch.

Roman Mars: Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you've never noticed | TED Talk | TED.com.

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Stephen Colbert at Google

Stephen Colbert does a book tour stop at Google.  He’s interviewed by Google exec Eric Schmidt, who is very clearly a capable and talented man, as there’s obviously no way he attained his position based on charm or personal appeal.

Stephen Colbert, “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” | Talks at Google – YouTube.

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“ll Capo” (Excerpt) by Yuri Ancarani – NOWNESS on Vimeo

Wordless film from a marble quarry; totally captivating.

“ll Capo” (Excerpt) by Yuri Ancarani – NOWNESS on Vimeo on Vimeo

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What if David Cameron is an evil genius?

Frankie Boyle nails David Cameron. Britons (or English people, anyway) take note: This is what you voted for.

‘They abolished the Human Rights Act” sounds like the first sentence of an Aldous Huxley novel. The Conservatives actually campaigned on a manifesto pledge to get rid of human rights and people voted for it. As electoral choices go, it’s not far off choosing to be ruled by a dry, whispering voice taunting you from an antique mirror.

Here, in what may well be the final years of our civilisation, I would like to ask a question that has been worrying me for some time. What if David Cameron is a genius? A shrewd and malevolent psychopath who thinks two moves deeper into the game than any of his opponents? What if there sits in Downing Street today a modern-day Moriarty, living in a world where his schemes are only kept in check by the deductive brilliance of Harriet Harman? As Holmes would say, look at the evidence. Cameron has managed to set England against Scotland, Scotland against Labour. He has given his enemies the referendums they asked for, and won. He has left Nick Clegg looking like one of those terrified mouse faces that you find in an owl pellet. He has successfully pursued an agenda more radical than Thatcher’s with less popular support than John Major.

Most impressively, Cameron has managed all this without anybody being terribly worried by him. Immediately after his re-election he announced: “For too long we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens so long as you obey the law we will leave you alone.” A statement so far to the right that it conceded the political centre ground to Judge Dredd.

via What if David Cameron is an evil genius? | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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Royal Caribbean Customer service Experience

My cruise on the Oasis in October 2014 was a disappointment from start to finish: I arrived on the dock with my invite in hand for priority check in, only to find thousands of people ahead of me. I joined the back of the line while carrying my 45lb backpack, and then had to stand in line for over 1.5 hours to get to the customs and wait lounge. It was in the lounge that an individual – not one of the RCI-logo-wearing employees at the dock – informed me that the luggage check in had been BEHIND the lineup downstairs, and that I could’ve checked my bag and done the wait without the weight. When I finally got into the lounge, the lineup was snaking around for another couple of hours’ wait, and we were told to sit down and colour coded tags would be handed to us, to group us for processing. I took a seat and played a game to pass time, and at the end of my game looked up to see everyone around me holding tags – they had skipped me entirely. Frustrated, I decided to leave. I checked my bag and went for a walk around Rotterdam, thinking the line would be shorter when I came back. It wasn’t. I had to wait in line again (thankfully without the bag this time) for another 1.5 hours, and re-arrived in the hall to find the lineup there just as bad. After a half an hour, I noticed someone going to a rep standing at the far left hand side of the hall and being admitted. A few others noticed too, and about 20 of us arrived at the same time to what turned out to be the priority check in – it was obfuscated by the waiting room chairs and the huge lineup which turned out to be the customs line for EU citizens. From there we were processed quickly, but it took over 5 hours to get to that point.

When I was checked in I was given Emerald status, which was disappointing because I had calculated my sail days as putting me at Diamond status for this trip. I had been expecting the switchover and was disappointed, but assumed RCI could keep track of its own records better than me and that I’d made a mistake. Just today, when I noticed my cruise points had still not been assigned, I called RCI customer service and was told that, due to a glitch in your system, my C&A points have been miscalculated for several cruises because of a duplication. A new C&A membership number had been generated for me, but this information had not been passed along to me, or it seems your ships. Speaking with Jay at C&A customer service, it turns out I should have had my diamond status on the Brilliance, too – my solo traveller bonus points had not been credited. I’ve missed out on Diamond status for TWO Transatlantic sailings!

My sailing on the Oasis made me realize that class of ship is not for me – I had an inside cabin, there were very few public lounges where the ocean could be seen, the TV channel was focused on the Promenade instead of the bow cam, and we were locked in for the first week due to rough seas. In addition to the stir-craziness this caused (two passengers wound up in a fistfight at the enrichment lectures one day) I’ve never felt so disconnected from the ocean on a cruise before. My one attempt to correct this – specifically requesting a seat at a window at lunch – was undone when the next diners to arrive complained that they didn’t like looking at the water, and we were all moved to a table far away from the windows. I did see the Diamond Lounge through the locked doors, and know it would’ve been a place where I could’ve sat and watched the ocean. I’m very disappointed that this
opportunity was denied to me due to a glitch, and even more disappointed that I had to figure this glitch out for myself – no notification was given me that a new C&A number was generated, and your system did not recognize the updated points when I signed up for the new sailings.

I started this journey of revelations this morning by calling a phone rep – Dawn – at the RCI contact-us number. It was Dawn who informed me that my C&A number was somehow duplicated, and said I have a new number. She attempted to relay this to me, but I tried to explain that, as I log in using my RCI online account, I have no way of seeing the correct membership number or using the correct membership info. It was Jay – 2 phone calls later – who helpfully walked me through the process of creating a new account and gave me the new membership number so I could access my true C&A information. Jay was the only helpful employee I dealt with today.

When I mentioned my disappointment at realizing that I lost out on Diamond perqs, Dawn reacted with an oh-well shrug: “I can’t do anything about that because that was back then.” She then deflected my follow up questions, and I wound up ending the call feeling really upset and dissatisfied.

I called the customer relations number different to Dawn’s, thinking a CR rep rather than a sales rep might show more interest in my situation, but instead I got Neil. I explained some of the above situation to Neil, but as soon as he heard “Crown and Anchor” he put me on hold and COLD TRANSFERRED me to the C&A phone queue – not even a warm transfer to a rep. Very disappointing customer service!

I would like to reserve my one spot of praise for Jay. She was understanding, patient and helpful. I can’t say the same for any of the other RCI reps I spoke with today, or with the port employees at Rotterdam.

I will state that I abandoned RCI for my spring transatlantic this year because of the misadventures noted above, and the more-than-double single supplement fee that applies to most of the sailings. I am thinking of booking a Studio Interior stateroom on the Serenade for the August transatlantic crossing, but before I commit I want to know what steps RCI will take to make up for the privileges I lost on my last two RCI cruises.

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Artisan Politics

Love this little feature from the WaPo on Presidential doodles. Who knew such artists were wasted in the Oval Office?

Artisan Politics – Washington Post.

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