Sunday, September 27, 2020

Fuera de moda

I am going to express some unfashionable opinions. Not JK Rowling level, but I suppose near enough. Bear with me...

The US is built on its somewhat silly constitution. If you think it is the 'greatest nation on earth', you are pre-committed to having to live with those rules.
However disappointing it might be for American liberals that one of the greatest of their own should be replaced by a woman they might consider a bigoted nut job, that is just the way America works.
As an unbeliever I can observe that until it is possible to run for the highest office without paying lip service to the supernatural, the fundamental issues will remain.
I guess with time these things iron themselves out. As an outsider I cannot see why the current POTUS, appalling as he may be, is not entitled to try to to force through his pick before the election.
Even if he fails, it will probably happen anyway as he is lame ducking around maliciously. His party and his viewpoint seem a bit doomed medium term anyway.
Perhaps the bigger worry is the way the judiciary is being more permanently sucked into the culture war.
There have been concerns about this in the UK in the past few years, perhaps in the other direction towards a more expert, metropolitan tendency, but judges are surely academics rather than politicians per se, and there will always be polarities that ought to be respected.
As for Breonna Taylor, I'm coming at this one from a position of greater ignorance. I studied the US Constitution at Cambridge not their contemporary, occasionally unhinged law enforcement system.
Yet some time before Lewis Hamilton started sporting that shirt, I swotted up on the circumstances, and this did seem to me to be one of those incidents where the people giving das orderz and the people issuing the warrants were possibly more to blame than the trigger happy cops at the sharp end this system.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Unpromising Genius

 “Mr. Hooke, who is the most, and promises the least, of any man in the world that ever I saw.”

Samuel Pepys made that perfectly condensed recap of the public persona of 'England's Leonardo', Robert Hooke on the 15th of February, 1665.
My own personal first proper encounter with 'the man who knew everything' took place at a sort of open day at the Greenwich Royal Observatory — the design and construction of which he played a significant role in — during which we were allowed to view a first edition of Hooke's famous engraving of a flea.

It is 18 inches in width, folding out from the Micrographia, and was almost certainly completed in the months immediately after Pepys's observation in his hidden diary.
Hooke's abiding obsessions were the largest and smallest objects in then visible reality. He is said to have been the first person to visualise a microorganism and constructed the earliest Gregiorian telescope to observe the rotations of Jupiter and Mars.
When Pepys first met him, Hooke was living in near poverty, but achieved financial security in the aftermath of the Great Fire in 1666 as a result of conducting architectural surveys across London.