Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, October 21, 2021

An ad inside today’s paper caught my eye:

It was a plain-looking box ad for the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, or Rosicrucians. Basically some offshoot/ripoff of Freemasonry; apparently, there’s a local chapter gearing up.

That a secret society was advertising for members via newspapers ads was unusual enough. The kicker, though: The email address listed in the ad was “@mastercuttool.com”, the domain for Mastercut Tool Corp. — a building/tools company.

Somewhere in there, I just know there’s a Stonecutters joke. (Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?)

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/21/2005 08:34:05 PM
Category: Society, TV
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Doctor Atomic is a new opera about, of all things, J. Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the atomic bomb.

So what’s the atomic equivalent of the fat lady singing?

And how does this opera with the most horrific of endings actually end? Not with a bang or a mushroom cloud - [composer John] Adams and [director Peter] Sellars are far too canny to try to pull that off - but not with a whimper, either.

Instead, there’s a skittering, anxious quality to the countdown, with the odd chime and muted trumpet, electronic scream and mournful chorus poking out of the orchestra’s dissonant chords. Then comes the glimmer of light from a distance, ambient street noise, the murmur of voices, the sound of a baby and, finally, a woman speaking calmly in Japanese.

Bringing the immensity of the bomb down to such an intimate, human level was a powerful piece of theater.

Adams certainly picked the right guy to dramatize. I recall reading about how Oppenheimer and his colleagues were betting each other, just before the first bomb tests, on whether or not their creation would expand out of control and incinerate the entire state of New Mexico (causing the support personnel at Alamogordo to panic). And after the successful test detonation, the father of atomic energy famously recited from the Bhagavad Gita, “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds”. Not your typical lab geek.

There seems to be a run of scientifically-inspired narratives in recent years: Proof (which I’m hedging on seeing, because I thought the play was good enough), “Copenhagen”, Pi… I like the trend, personally. It’s an inspired way of looking at scientific theory and history.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/21/2005 02:16:43 PM
Category: Creative, Science
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