The Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition currently running at the British Museum is really quite remarkable. So much of what you see is so fresh and clean, you have to keep reminding yourself that it was dug out from under the metres of ash and lava that poured down on those two cities one November evening. Some of the objects are startingly modern - the hand mirror and comb look they could have been bought on the highstreet, the beware of the dog mosiac was the Roman welcome mat, the set of scales and weights had stamped with the mark showing they'd conformed to legislation, the statue of a pissing Hercules turned into a comedy fountain might turn up at Notcutts. In amongst the familiar are the erotic paintings and statues that make the past seem very foreign and very far away - a statue Pan having it off with a goat, a mural or couple having sex on a couch while a slave waits in attendance. This stuff wasn't hidden away in smutty books, it was everywhere - sitting room walls, floor mosaics, garden statues, carved into cupboard doors - if there was a flat surface going spare it seems like a Roman's first instinct was to paint a picture of a willy on it. And the people who made these things and lived in these houses are dead and they died, thousands of them, young and old, horribly and in terror as red-hot stones rained down on them. The final exhibit is a family - father, mother, two children - in the very act of dying. Their bodies gone, they exist now as plaster shadows of the voids they left in the pummice.
Popular media of the mid-20th century often depicted reporters at a crime scene with their press passes tucked into their hat bands, which was unusual in reality. Disappointing. Modern journalism could do much to redeem itself by working to make the wearing of press passes in hatbands common place.
Once a story is addressing you directly - not just looking out of the camera while saying something pertinent, but actually saying 'hey! Reader!' - it comes to life in a way that fells like it's against all the rules, but at the same time has a very definite power - I am very much looking forward to The Fictional Man.
The Icelandic population is very small and all Icelanders are related. But yet, it is big enough so everyone doesn't know one another. Now I've had that explained, I can see the problem.
EFF Politely Asks PTO to Stop Issuing So Many Crappy Software Patents. I used to be a member of the EFF. I should probably rejoin.
What the Saga #12 Controversy Says About Self-Censorship I used to be a member of the CBLDF. I should probably rejoin.