R&R at a B&B

Today, Ilona and I are off to a bed and breakfast on Big Rideau Lake. (Just for one night.) We’re celebrating our first anniversary.

Romance! Whoo hoo!

Local Good Samaritan

This is from the Ottawa Metro (a free daily tabloid). The photo, as indicated, is by James MacLennan.

(Click to enlarge.)

A rose by any other name

ArtDaily.org announces that an exhibit of works by Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle is opening at the San Diego Museum of Art.

When I think of Georgia O’Keeffe, I think of images like this one:
Jack in the pulpit IV

That’s a jack in the pulpit. (To be precise, “Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV“, painted in 1930.)

Or is it? Some of O’Keeffe’s paintings, certainly including that one, are evocative of female genitalia.

Alison Watt achieves a similar effect in her paintings (not photographs) of white draperies. This one is titled “Phantom” (2007).

Here’s another example:  “From Erotos” (1993) by Nobuyoshi Araki.
From Erotos

More subtle, perhaps. But if you think I’m imagining things, note the title of the photograph.

Are sly allusions to the female genitalia strictly a modern phenomenon? Not at all! I am amused by this painting:
Garland of Fruit With the Infants Christ and Saint John the Baptist

This is “Garland of Fruit With the Infants Christ and Saint John the Baptist” by Frans Snyders, a 17th Century Flemish painter. When I first saw the image, the unsubtle phallic symbol jumped out at me (so to speak) :

I thought, There must be a corresponding female image. Sure enough, it’s there on the opposite side (bottom right) of the painting.

I suppose the painting evokes the earth’s return to an Edenic state of fertility or some such thing. I really don’t know — it just amuses me to have Jesus and John the Baptist in a scene with a phallus and a vulva.

Lucky to be black

Barack Obama is “lucky to be black”, Gerraldine Ferraro notoriously claimed:

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position.

Ferraro’s pro-Clinton bias aside, this is an interesting question. I think we can safely assume that there’s some reluctance to vote for a black candidate; likewise, that there’s some reluctance to vote for a female candidate. So is it a worse disadvantage to be black, or to be a woman?

Let’s consider some data about the impact of racism on Obama’s candidacy. Here’s a table adapted from Steven Waldman at beliefnet.com:

white voters who said race was important margin of victory or defeat
Oregon 7% Obama +16
North Carolina 8% Obama +14
Indiana 10% Obama -2
Kentucky 18% Obama -35
West Virginia 21% Obama -41

There’s a clear correlation, as Waldman observes:  “The more white voters who think the candidate’s race matters, the better Clinton does.” Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but the data are nonetheless suggestive.

Then there’s the anecdotal evidence. For example, this video from al Jazeera (who knew that al Jazeera had English features?) :

Or this anecdote from George Packer:

I spoke with half a dozen men eating lunch at the Pigeon Roost Dairy Bar outside town [ Inez, Kentucky ]. … They announced their refusal to vote for a black man, without hesitation or apology. “He’s a Muslim, isn’t he?” an aging mine electrician asked. “I won’t vote for a colored man. He’ll put too many coloreds in jobs. Coloreds are O.K.—they’ve done well, good for them, look where they came from. But radical coloreds, no—like that Farrakhan, or that senator from New York, Rangel. There’d be riots in the streets, like the sixties.” … Here was one part of the white working class — maybe not representative, but at least significant.

Coloreds?! That expression turns the clock back about 50 years, don’t it?

What about the other scenario? How has sexism impacted the Clinton campaign?

Short online film wins Cannes competition

The National Film Board of Canada, with the Cannes Short Film Corner and YouTube, sponsors a competition for short online films.

The winner of the NFB Online Competition Cannes 2008 is Alonso Alvarez Barreda for his short film Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign) produced in Mexico/U.S.A. (The film is less than five minutes long.)

Is Barack Obama a Muslim?

Matt Yglesias suggests that we all link to this site to increase its Google ranking:
Is Barack Obama Muslim?

Pastor Hagee, Hitler, and Israel

Further details emerge; this time, audio of a sermon from the 1990s:

Going in and out of biblical verse, Hagee preached: “‘And they the hunters should hunt them,’ that will be the Jews. ‘From every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.’ If that doesn’t describe what Hitler did in the holocaust you can’t see that.” …

“God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says — Jeremiah writing — ‘They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,’ meaning there’s no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don’t let your heart be offended. I didn’t write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.”

For the record, I don’t blame John McCain for not knowing this about Pastor Hagee. McCain is not a theologian, and I’m sure it was an honest mistake when he spoke of Hagee as being a strong supporter of Israel.

But the Hagee story does illustrate an important point. White Christian preachers are innocent until proven guilty, whereas black preachers — and certainly preachers who are both black and Muslim — don’t get the benefit of the doubt. They have to turn somersaults to prove their innocence.

Similarly, Obama is viewed with greater suspicion than McCain. Yes, I know Obama’s relationship with Rev. Wright was much more significant than McCain’s relationship with Pastor Hagee. But still … Obama himself is no radical, yet he is expected to answer for every offensive thing that anyone associated with him says.

There’s a double standard at work here. It’s probably unfair to characterize the dynamic as racist; but “xenophobic” is surely justified. Obama is suspiciously other, and therefore has to pass tests to prove to sceptics that he’s a full-blooded American.


p.s. McCain has had enough.

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