The Real Alternative

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In an odd twist of fate, the Scarlet Letter is now “T”

If you haven’t read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne you probably won’t know what the heck I’m talking about. It’s a classic American novel.

English: Engraving of American author Nathanie...

Engraving of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Taken from Brief Biographies: With Steel Portraits by Samuel Smiles. Published by Ticknor and Fields, 1861. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Scarlet Letter (1926 film)

The Scarlet Letter (1926 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A Little End of Summer Arts and Culture

Last night I had two scary dreams. One was that some burly stooges posing as workers for a home security company came to my childhood home to physically abduct me. I awoke startled.

The second dream had me back in university. My dorm room had been changed from a distant, satellite dorm at the edge of town to another room more central within the university village. All the books and items in the room looked vaguely familiar but not quite right. Next thing I knew, some creepy people came in, began to set up a portable operating table, and told me I was scheduled for an operation. When I asked an attendant “What operation?” she replied “I don’t know.”

Sensing serious danger, I asked to make a call and woke up, thinking I would have had to be like that guy in The Fugitive to escape something horrible.

Truly scary dreams. I hope they just mean slow down and take it easy for a while, which is what I intend to do today. Everyone else gets summer holidays and, although I’m not going anywhere physically different, I think I’ll just take in some arts and culture for a while, and post my discoveries here.

The most recent discovery is tweeted at the top of the page. I like this painting. Notice how the more important guy has better, more ostentatious clothing and bigger, more expressive eyes. What really struck me, however, was the larger globe in the picture. Fascinating how mythological creatures are intertwined with the scientific mapping (zoom in to see). We’ve lost that mythic connection to science, although some writers like James Hillman suggest that we’re just fooling ourselves. The mythic is still present and even science is a kind of mythic pattern.

I guess that’s in line with what I’ve been arguing all along here at and But as I said, it’s my holiday, of sorts, and I don’t feel like going into it any further right now!

Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora...

Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora Stock during Mozart’s visit to Dresden, April 1789 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other discovery, made last night, is something I’m listening to right now: Venice Classical Radio. I almost feel like I’m living in some little flat in Venice while listening to this excellent station. The selections are accessible but relatively uncommon. I’ve only heard one Mozart staple, which I enjoyed anyhow (pretty hard not to like Mozart).


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Excellent video about Neurotheology

I’ve panned Dr. Andrew Newberg in the past for making seemingly simplistic claims. But it’s very possible I was wrong to do so. Either that, or his thinking and scientific humility has developed dramatically. This video reveals an Andrew Newberg that I really didn’t know existed. As Yoda might have said, “Pleasantly surprised, I was…”

But seriously. This video is a must for anyone interested in the interface of spirituality, religious practices, and the brain. Follow the link in the above tweet and scroll down the page to watch.

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Continuing my summer cyber travels – This time, Vienna

The caption for this tweet might sound a bit cynical but that’s pretty much how I feel. I had a professor once who came from that neck of the woods. He insinuated that we had a dearth of “culture” in the West. Probably the worst professor I ever had, and things ended badly with him. But I won’t go into the details. That was a long time ago and I’m past it.

So yeah, my view of Vienna is probably tainted by my very bad experience with this person. And, in fairness, there is quite a bit of interesting material here. In the video you can see a grandiose palace where Napoleon stayed after invading the area, and lots of statues of Mozart and Johann Strauss (both of whom I adore). Also, several neoclassical statues stand out—even if they seem a bit incongruous in their foreign setting.

All the same, I think some folks overrate old stuff and cannot really appreciate the complexities of contemporary cultural forms. I could go on here, but I just want to share my summer cyber travels for now.

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Taking a cyber trip – Greece

It’s virtually summertime, and I need a little break from the same ol’, same ol’. Not being in a position right now to jump on a jet plane, I get almost as much satisfaction from watching travel videos. Yesterday I watched this one about Greece—particularly, the Greek islands. I enjoyed it. A little bit heavy on the whitewashed buildings, but I guess that’s par for the course.

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Lifting the stigma around disabled sex

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British Museum & Google develop online Lord Ganesha exhibition

Special to

British Museum (BM) has developed an online exhibition “Celebrating Ganesha” with Google Cultural Institute (GCI).

Its tagline includes “Explore the imagery and symbolism associated with Ganesha and gain an insight into some of the most popular stories surrounding him.”

It shows a Ganesha sculpture (1200), Ganesha painting (1600), Ganesha on a swing painting (1800, Maharashtra), Ganesha in procession painting ((1780-1820, Tanjore style), Ganesha on his rat mount painting (1800)—all from BM, and a video on “The making and worship of Ganesha statues in Maharashtra.”

It explains about the background of “Why does Ganesha ride a rat?”, Ganesha’s elephant head and Ganesha’s broken tusk.

Rajan Zed, commending BM and GCI for this joint venture in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged world museums and multinational technology companies to undertake projects to explore the rich philosophical thought and wisdom offered by Hinduism and Hindu scriptures.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, appealed to major art museums of the world; including Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc.; to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

BM, headquartered in London and founded in 1753, is claimed to be the first national public museum in the world. It now comprises over 8 million objects spanning the history of the world’s cultures: from the stone tools of early man to twentieth century prints. Sir Richard Lambert is Trustees Chairman, while Dr. Hartwig Fischer is the Director as of spring 2016.

The GCI claims to bring “together millions of artifacts from multiple partners, with the stories that bring them to life, in a virtual museum.”