Christian Sex Toys: The Alpha and the Omega?

An article on Jewcy about Christian sex toys caught my eye this morning. I highlighted some of the more interesting parts.  Who knew that God could also take the form of a nerdy, uptight version of Dr. Ruth!

According to NPR, one Christian woman went looking for a way to add a little spark to her waning marriage “without compromising her Christian beliefs.” The result was the creation of this website, which sells all sorts of sex toys and other “intimate” products, but only for married couples.


And, apparently, the people who run this site are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, and not because they actually need to use any of these products: ” Wilson says she and her husband are blessed with good health, but that God has shown them that other couples might need help from a particular toy.” That is very good to know. So how do they know which products to include?

“We pray about things before we add them to our site,” she says. “We live our lives very openly in front of Jesus, so we just kind of pray for direction about which way he would have us go, and I have to be honest with you — he’s really surprised us. … Almost our whole entire ‘special order’ page has come about from that.Continue reading

San Francisco Opera Cinemacasts: Schedule (Update)

UPDATE: Just thought that I would mention this article from San Francisco Chronicle about the upcoming Cinemacasts of four San Francisco Opera:

S.F. Opera on the silver screen

Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The San Francisco Opera will join the world of opera on film next month with nationwide cinematic showings of four operas from the company’s 2007 offerings.

The screenings begin March 8-11 with Puccini’s “La Rondine,” starring soprano Angela Gheorghiu and tenor Misha Didyk. Subsequent showings are of Saint-Saëns’ “Samson and Delilah” (March 29-April 1), Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” (April 12-15) and Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” (April 19-22), with each opera being shown four times.

Unlike the live monthly broadcasts by the Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera’s digital screenings – co-presented with the distribution company The Bigger Picture – are pre-recorded during performances in the War Memorial Opera House, and will be edited in the Koret-Taube Media Suite, the company’s high-tech production facility.

Unfortunately, it may be a while longer before hometown audiences get a taste. The 121 theaters currently scheduled to show the broadcasts range from South Portland, Maine, to Kennewick, Wash, and include screens in Birmingham, Ala., Apple Valley, Minn., and even New York City.

Notably lacking from the roster are any theaters in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley or the South Bay. The only screenings currently scheduled in the Bay Area are in Livermore, Fairfax and Petaluma. Read the rest.

If I may insert my personal prediction and an opinion: prediction – this “experiment” will fail miserably – all four operas are pre-recorded and edited, so it will be like driving 50 miles (in my case) to watch a DVD; opinion – whoever is in charge of promotion and marketing should be fired immediately – many of the readers that came to our blog were looking for information and, I am proud to say, this post contained more information about the dates and weblinks than San Francisco Opera website itself! Who is in charge here? How hard is it to submit an ad to Opera News with dates and a link to a website with locations and tickets AND, at the same time, to update the website where the majority of the people would go for information?

ORIGINAL POST: I don’t think this has been advertised efficiently, but I have seen this in new Opera News (March 2008) and I would like to spread the word. Although the arrangement is rather strange, for example, I would have to drive for about 50 miles to the closest movie theater to see this – and that is, from a large city to a smaller town – I will have to look into this. But here is some info on San Francisco Opera schedule of cinemacasts (pre-recorded live performances): Continue reading

“What do we want Matter to say to Us?” Some Scattered Thoughts

I wrote this post in the middle of the night due to some neurotic insomnia. In fact, I had thought I hit the publish button, but I hit the save key instead. Anyways, what follows are some scattered thoughts, loose connections and possibilities for further interrogation all because in my insomniac state I came across this interesting article, “On Plasticity: Sound Cartographies,” by Miguel Leal via Fido the Yak, who links plasticity to the image:

There is some cause for linking the idea of the plastic with the idea of the image. The word plastic comes from the Greek πλαστῐκός which means “fit for molding” and also, when said of persons, “gifted in sculpture.” (I’m relying upon the Greek-English Lexicon of Liddell and Scott for the meaning of Greek words.) It is related to πλάσσω, which means “to form, to mold” and, in one of its senses, “to form an image of a thing in the mind, to imagine.” (Mold, btw, comes to us by way of the French mouler which means “to hug the figure.”) Another meaning of πλάσσω is “to mold or form by training or education.” A πλάσμα is, among other things, an image or figure. The Greeks thus help us think of the image as something shaped and also, perhaps, shaping. What qualities must the sculpted possess in order to sculpt the sculptor? Leal touches on the idea of a thickness necessary for any plasticity. He says that “in order for matter to show its plasticity it is above all necessary to grant it thickness.” (emphasis mine) The double movement of imagination hugs the figure and draws out the form, unfolding in a milieu the emotional thickness of Play-Doh or the temporal thickness of the plasmatic stream. It is perhaps utlimately the thickness of metaphor, which, in kindness to Leal, I will regard as a πλαστῐκή τεχνῶν.

This idea of thickness is touched upon by Emmanuel Levinas in some of his early writing so I decided to have a closer look at Existence and Existents. Continue reading

North Korea Pretends It’s Cool, Listens to NY Philharmonic, Is a Totalitarian Regime!


From New York Times:

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Projected on a scrim, the gently falling “snow” speckled the precisely twirling figures at the Mansudae Art Theater in a dance depiction of Korean Communists’ guerrilla action against the Japanese. At the climax, a nighttime scene of downtown Pyongyang materialized, with warm lights glowing in the high-rise buildings.

Outside, in real Pyongyang, where electricity is often scarce, most buildings were dark. Malnutrition persists in the countryside. Yet North Korea presented a lavish welcome on Monday to its latest visiting delegation, the New York Philharmonic: a gala performance of traditional music and dance, and an endless banquet with quail eggs, roast mutton and pheasant-ball soup.

American and North Korean diplomats are now haggling over Pyongyang’s promise to abandon its nuclear weapons program, and the United States has dangled the prospect of a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War if the country ultimately complies. But the orchestra’s heavily choreographed visit — to include master classes, tours of the town and a concert on Tuesday night — is the first hint of a broader thaw in a half-century-long cultural standoff. Read the rest.

So there has been an on-going discussion of this particular visit to North Korea – my question is: When did North Korea cease to be one of the ‘axis of evil’ and nuclear weapon developing totalitarian regime with a crazy dictator Kim Jong-il? Will the symphony do what diplomats cannot? Do we really need to make peace with North Korean regime and thus indirectly approve of their totalitarian dystopia? Whatever happened to “spreading freedom”? Continue reading

Was There A Certain Amount of Excitement? Met’s Peter Grimes Is Coming Soon!

First to the Met itself on 2/28 and then to the movie theater next door in HD broadcast on 3/15. Let’s all put on some Britten and lean forward expectedly. New York Times shares some information about the upcoming (new) production of Peter Grimes at the Met:

The game is constantly afoot in Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes.” Everyone, it seems, is hunting for something or someone in this opera, most spectacularly in the third and last act, when the entire little fishing community on the harsh North Sea coast of England transforms itself into a vicious mob on the track of Grimes himself, “the borough criminal” who must be caught and destroyed. One of the most terrifying scenes in opera, it is likely to chill audiences once more when the Metropolitan Opera unveils its new staging on Thursday evening. This is the company’s third production since it introduced this compelling work in 1948, just three years after the world premiere at the Sadler’s Wells Opera in London. Read the rest.

Alex Ross pitches in with his always enlightening remarks as well: Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s Inner Tracy Flick

This is a funny video via Slate. The premise: “Don’t you just hate when some upstart comes along and threatens your best-laid plans? We were struck by how well one of Reese Witherspoon’s monologues from the film Election fits the narrative of Campaign 2008.” If you liked the movie Election, this won’t disappoint.

The Tension of Academic Leadership: Experience? No thanks.

Stanley Fish wrote an interesting op-ed in yesterday’s NY Times about the recent decision by CU-Boulder to hire a president with no relevant experience. The article raises interesting issues about who should be leading the university, the political questions involved and what kinds of qualifications university presidents should possess. Fish writes:

In one of those ironies that make life interesting, the University of Colorado, which dismissed controversial professor Ward Churchill because of doubts about his academic qualifications, has appointed a president who doesn’t have any. (The final vote was taken on Feb. 20.)Bruce Benson is an oilman, Republican activist, failed candidate for governor, co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s (now ended) campaign, successful fund raiser, donor to the university, former chairman of the Metropolitan State College Denver Board and chair of a blue-ribbon panel on higher education. Obviously he has a strong interest in education, but his highest degree is a B.A., and he has never been a member of a faculty or engaged in research or published papers in a learned journal. In short, he is no way an academic, and yet he is about become the president of an academic institution, and not any old institution, but a state university ranked 11th among public universities and 34th among universities overall. Continue reading

Tagged: Page 123

Ok, since we got tagged by Alexei at Now Times, and Mikhail tagged me, here goes. Of course, the obligatory rules:

  1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
  2. Open the book to page 123
  3. Find the fifth sentence on that page
  4. Post the next three sentences
  5. Tag five people

I’ve spent the morning drinking coffee, pretending my dog doesn’t need to go for a walk and reading some short stories by Maurice Blanchot. So, Page 123 from The Station Hill Maurice Blanchot Reader:

Aha, the concluding page to “Thomas the Obscure:”

You bloom into new restrictions. By my meditation, you contemplate yourself eternally. I am with you, as if you were my creation.

That’s it, I hope Paco comes through…

Intelligence vs. Effort: Stop Reading, Start Trying!

From Scientific American:

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Hint: Don’t tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life

By Carol S. Dweck

Growing Pains

Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.

Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.

Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.

A brilliant student, Jonathan sailed through grade school. He completed his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Jonathan puzzled over why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Jonathan suddenly lost interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their son’s confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their attempts failed to motivate Jonathan (who is a composite drawn from several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and pointless.

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 30 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings. Continue reading

Page 123: Academics Are Silly!

So it was bound to get to us here on PE eventually, Alexei of Now-Times did the honor of tagging us in a new hip thing, and god knows I am all about all things hip – here the deal then:

  1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
  2. Open the book to page 123
  3. Find the fifth sentence on that page
  4. Post the next three sentences
  5. Tag five people

Ok, let me see – the nearest book would be that one over there – Ezio Vailati, Leibniz & Clark: A Study of Their Correspondence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 123:

[From the section 3.1 “Leibniz’s Objections to Absolute Space and Time”]

Clarke, consistent with his libertarian views, replied that if God had a reason for creating anything at all, his mere will would be sufficient to choose a set of spatio-temporal coordinates in which to place the world.  In effect, all that Clark required is that the reasons determining the divine will do no do so causally. Leibniz, of course, disagreed, and the bulk of the debate, with a minor side-show we shall consider later, joined the discussion we have already considered in the chapter of free will.

Actually I got this book from the library to reread Leibniz’s essay on space and time, but then when I got home I realized that this is not the correspondence itself, but a commentary which prompted me to actually decide to buy a good copy of the correspondence which I did only to receive a wrong book in the mail – I guess I’ll never know what happened with Space and Time and their adventures… I don’t think I know 5 people to tag, so, since I have to run do something very important and educational, I will let Shahar and Paco (although I am not sure Paco reads much) do the honors…