Results for “dylan”
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The Ricardo effect

The United Arab Emirates says it will use robots as jockeys for camel races from next season.

The move comes after widespread international criticism of the use of young children to ride camels during the long and often hazardous races.

Aid workers say there are up to 40,000 child jockeys working across the Gulf. Many are said to be have been kidnapped and trafficked from South Asia.

The issue of child camel jockeys has been an embarrassing one for the Emirates, says the BBC’s Gulf correspondent Julia Wheeler.

Read more here, and thanks to Dylan Alexander for the pointer.

Addendum: Geekpress offers a photo.  And here is yet another photo, with an excellent quotation, courtesy of a new and excellent blog on the Arab Emirates.

My favorite things French

I do one of these every time I go somewhere.  I’ve held off on France out of fear of excess choice, but here goes:

French opera: Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande is ravishing, try to find the old version conducted by Roger Desormiere.  Messiaen’s St. Francis wins an honorable mention; my favorite piece of French music might be Messiaen’s Vingt Regards.

French restaurant: I’ve yet to get into Pierre Gagnaire, considered the world’s greatest restaurant by many.  For quick notice, I’ve done well at the Michelin two-stars Savoy and Hotel Bristol, the latter is even open for Sunday lunch, a Parisian miracle.

French novel: Proust is the only writer who makes me laugh out loud.

French pianist: Yves Nat has done my favorite set of Beethoven sonatas.  These recordings are brutally frank and direct, and deep like Schnabel, albeit with fewer wrong notes.  Few aficionadoes know this box, but it stands as one of my desert island discs.  Note that French pianists are underrated in general.

French artist: I find much by the Impressionists sickly sweet and overexposed.  I’ll opt for Poussin (this one too), Seurat’s black and whites, and Cezanne watercolors.  Right now I would rather look at Chavannes and Bouguereau than Renoir or Monet.  As for the most underrated French artist, how about Delacroix?  A few years ago some of his small canvases were selling for as little as $60,000.

French popular music: Serge Gainsbourg is often called the "French Bob Dylan," but he is more like "the French Beck."  Buy this set for a truly eclectic mix of styles.

French movies: If you don’t usually like French movies, you still should watch Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped, Jean Pierre Melville’s Bob Le Flambeur (a big influence on John Woo, also try Le Samourai), and Theodor Dreyer’s Joan of Arc.

Posting in October

October 27, 2004: If Dylan Thomas hadn’t drunk himself to death in 1953, he might be celebrating his ninetieth birthday today, perhaps with a successor to the grand and glorious poem he wrote to celebrate his thirtieth.

He left us with a small number of poems so heart-wrenching that I cannot read them, even for the two hundredth time, without all of the symptoms of an emotional crisis. Take In Country Sleep, where a father reassures his daughter that she has nothing to fear from fairy tale villains—but only from the Thief who comes in multiple guises to take her faith and ultimately to leave her “naked and forsaken to grieve he will not come”. In Country Sleep was a standard bedtime poem in our house, and my daughter soon learned to anticipate “the part where Daddy cries”.

Then there’s the prose. Nobody is better at nostalgia and grief for time’s relentlessness:

The lane was always the place to tell your secrets; if you did not have any, you invented them. Occassionally now I dream that I am turning out of school into the lane of confidences when I say to the boys of my class ‘At last, I have a real secret!’

“What is it? What is it?”

“I can fly!”

And when they do not believe me, I flap my arms and slowly leave the ground, only a few inches at first, then gaining air until i fly waving my cap, level with the upper windows of the school, peering in until the mistress at the piano screams, and the metronome falls to the ground and stops, and there is no more time.

And finally there’s the voice, the great booming melliflous irresistible voice lovingly preserved by Caedmon on about a dozen CDs that you will thank yourself for buying. The Caedmon collection includes a performance of the haunting “play for voices” Under Milk Wood narrated by Thomas himself; for an even greater treat, get the BBC Radio version with Richard Burton—or listen to it on the web. (Warning: Do not rent the highly regrettable movie version with Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.)

For a brief 39 years, as Time held him green and dying, Dylan Thomas spun words and images of surpassing beauty that will live as long as the English language. May he rest in peace.

Brood X is coming

Washington is preparing for an invasion. Several weeks from now billions and billions of insects will ascend upon the city from their hiding places under the ground to be begin two weeks or so of frenzied sex followed by egg-laying and dying. I know what your thinking – there goes Tabarrok again with his apocalyptic visions of doom and gloom.

The invaders, however, are not the biblical locusts of old but cicadas and they are going to be sex-starved because they only do this every 17 years. Why 17? No one knows for sure but 17 is prime so to meet the cicadas every time they appear a predator must lock-on to the exact frequency (while if they appeared say every 12 years then predators appearing every 2,3,4,6, or 12 years would be sure to meet them). There is another variant of periodical cicada that appears every 13 years, supporting the prime theory.

The cicadas are loud and the WashPost notes that the 1970 appearance of brood X inspired Bob Dylan to pen these lines:

And the locusts sang, well, it give me a chill,

Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody.

And the locusts sang with a high whinin’ trill,

Yeah, the locusts sang and they was singing for me . . .

Addendum: Thanks to Marc Poitras for correcting me on one point. The cicadas can get plenty to eat underground so they really are coming out for the sex. Makes sense to me.