Daily Archives: September 10, 2010

Trash Cops: the new Conquestadores. The Aztecs had it right.

Remember this SuperBowl ad?

Probably the most memorable ad ever, at least for me, next to this one:

But I digress.

The trash police are now a reality in many cities across the country. Micro chips are being put in recycle bins to monitor how much you are recycling or if you even are and in cities like Dayton, Ohio, the untrained green cops can actually come onto your property, inspect your trash (what a job, huh?) and levy fines up to $100 for non-compliance. Imagine the day when some nutty homeowner has had. just. about. enough. of this government interference and turns a weapon on these untrained greenie cops?

Good Lord!

[Mari] Frank [privacy expert and lawyer] was skeptical about the future potential exploitation of the RFID [radio frequency identification] trash collection data, and questioned whether the next step might be to attach a GPS receiver to bins to see where residents put them and how they are used.  Harry Lewis  [computer science professor at Harvard University and a noted privacy expert] wondered whether a city might use trash collection data for other, more invasive purposes.

“If the government wanted to know our drinking habits by neighborhood or household — purely for ‘public health reasons,’ of course — it could mandate RFIDs on liquor bottles and reprogram the scanners to collect data on where the most vodka is being consumed,” he said.

“And it’s not just the government either. Suppose a major distiller went to your town and offered to pay to collect data about who was throwing out which kinds of bottles. They might be prepared to chip the bottles without being told they had to — and your town might be able to use the new revenue source to hold down its tax rate.”  from FoxNews via Drudge

When the Spaniards invaded and conquered the Aztecs, however many centuries ago, the conquered had a phrase for the European havoc and war being waged on them: The world has turned upside down.

On a daily basis, I’m feeling like an Aztec more and more. . .


As a side topic, there’s this story from the LA Times. I”m sure this is old news to you, but California is trying to pass a law that bans the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and levies a charge of a nickle for paper bags (which I preferred, anyway.)  The government “desires” that shoppers bring their own renewable and reusable bags to their shopping adventure, but if the shopper is such a big dead beat that he doesn’t own his own grocery tote bag,  then he will pay an extra nickle for every paper bag required.

An historical failure and its meaning to Muslims. Why it should mean something to us too.

We Americans are so history ignorant. It’s pathetic how little most of us know about our own history, let alone any world history.

July 14, 1683 is an important date, if you’re an Austrian. It was the day the Ottoman Turks began what is known as the Siege of Vienna. For twenty years leading up to this date, a period of peace had existed between the Turks and the Europeans. The Hapsburgs (who were in control of Austria) apparently paid no attention to the road building and stockpiling of canons and ammunition that the Turks were doing along strategic points leading up to Vienna during this period of no war.

Finally ready to strike, the Turks marched through eastern Europe and on July 14, 1683, Kara Mustafa, the Ottoman demanded that Vienna surrender. The Viennese leader, who was up on current events, knew that when the Turks arrived at a small town south of Vienna, demanding that the citizens surrender and they did, the Islamic conquerors killed every inhabitant they could track down. A similar fate didn’t appeal to this Hapsburg leader. Needless to say, he resisted and refused.

Battle of Vienna

It was quite an interesting 2 month siege. The Viennese cleared out a huge swath of plains that would make it easy to attack the offending Turks, so the Turks dug lines of trenches to protect themselves from the city defenders. When it was determined that their 300 canons weren’t effective against the walls of the city, the Turks began tunneling into the city and blowing it up from within. The battle of Vienna is also famous for the largest cavalry charge in history.

But the most famous thing about this and the reason we should be interested is that on September 11, 1683, the defeat of the Ottomans and their expansion into Europe was stymied.

September 11, 1683 was a date of failure to Muslims. . . until 2001. And if things go as the developers are planning, the groundbreaking of their victory mosque, also known as the Cordoba House or ground zero mosque, will occur on September 11, 2011.

Saving the gift of Michelangelo

Creation of man from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican Museums chief warned that dust and polluting agents brought into the Sistine Chapel by thousands of tourists every day risk one day endangering its priceless artworks.

Antonio Paolucci told the newspaper La Repubblica in comments published Thursday that in order to preserve Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and the other treasures in the Sistine Chapel, new tools to control temperature and humidity must be studied and implemented.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people a day, or over 4 million a year, visit the chapel where popes get elected, to admire its frescoes, floor mosaics and paintings.

“In this chapel people often invoke the Holy Spirit. But the people who fill this room every day aren’t pure spirits,” Paolucci told the newspaper.

“Such a crowd … emanates sweat, breath, carbon dioxide, all sorts of dust,” he said. “This deadly combination is moved around by winds and ends up on the walls, meaning on the artwork.”

Paolucci said better tools were necessary to avoid “serious damage” to the chapel.

Visitors who want to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in Milan must go through a filtration system to help reduce the work’s exposure to dust and pollutants. This has made seeing da Vinci’s masterpiece more difficult: 25 visitors are admitted every 15 minutes.

The Sistine Chapel, featuring works by Michelangelo, Botticelli and Perugino, underwent a massive restoration that ended in the late 1990s. The restoration was controversial because some critics said the refurbishing made the colors brighter than originally intended.


Michelangelo was so famous during his own lifetime that 2 authors published biographies about him. And painting the Sistine Chapel was really not a labor of love for him.  In fact, I think I can say that he really hated doing it.

He was discovered at the age of 13 by Lorenzo Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificant of Florence, while he was carving a satyr from a block of marble. Lorenzo saw what would become a breathtaking talent in Michelangelo and brought him into his home. He was raised and tutored alongside the Medici children.

Lorenzo was first and foremost a scholar and he frequently entertained great writers and artists in his palace. Bottecilli was one of Lorenzos favored artist/friends.Michelangelo listened, constantly, to the dialogs of great men of the Renaissance.

Birth of Venus/Bottecilli

This was part of the atmosphere that Michelangelo grew up in. The other part is that of violence and conspiracy. There were many in Florence who wanted to remove the Medici family, the biggest banking family in Europe, from all power. They were known as the financiers of the Vatican. A rival family who had strong connections with the Pope, conspired to kill Lorenzo and his brother. They were successful with Giliano and only wounded Lorenzo. There were many struggles for power all around the Medicis.

After Lorenzos death, 2 Medici cousins raised as brothers eventually moved into positions of control of Florence and the Vatican.

In the meantime, Michelangelo was carving out of a 30 foot block of marble, the most famous of his statues. He worked day and night, often not eating and rarely changing his clothes. He rigged a shower system that kept him cool while at the same time kept the marble dust down.

On the 25th of January, 1504, Michelangelo unveiled his David. It was originally commissioned to be put on top of a cathedral but it turned out to be too beautiful to be put so far out of view. David was a statement by Michelangelo and it became a symbol of Florence.

David by Michelangelo

Leo X, previously known as Giovanni de Medici, was elected pope and his cousin became the Cardinal of Florence. Nothing like a little nepotism, is there? And Pope Leo was not very godly, either. It was under Leo’s corrupt reign as pope that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety Five Theses to the church door and thus began the Reformation.

Michelangelo was commissioned by the Pope de Medici to paint the 1000 square meter  ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and it took him 4 years to complete. This was no easy task on its face but to paint it in fresco (on wet plaster) was horribly difficult and he painted 300 figures on that ceiling. He did not feel comfortable as an artist (he saw himself as a sculptor) and especially painting in fresco, a medium that requires quick work. Michelangelo felt as though this commission was a set up for failure.

As one last Medici commission, Michelangelo painted the Last Judgment over the altar of the Sistine Chapel. Experts say that this painting is a reflection of the feelings of the time, as well as those of the artist, himself: frustration, fear and uncertainty.

His Last Judgment was full of nudes and the Church officials weren’t going to have any part of that. They hired another artist to paint over the nude sinners private parts with flowing cloths.

Without knowing the Medicis, it’s hard to know Michelangelo. His life was so entwined with theirs and his art reflects his conflicted feelings about a family that on one hand was corrupt and ruthless and on the other, the nurturers and first family of the Renaissance.