Tuesday, 4 December 2007
What Big Teeth You Have: Photos of Oxford
I've been accumulating various snapshots I've taken over the last few weeks and today seemed as good a time as any to share them. The one above is a dinosaur skeleton framed against the greenhouse-like ceiling of the Museum of Natural History. It's a wonderful Victorian building and quite a nice museum too: not too big, not too small, you can see it without exhausting yourself.
And right behind it is the Pitt Rivers Museum, which reminds me of the old Arts & Industries Building on the Mall in Washington. You'll recall that that museum was built just after the Centennial. Until it was cleared out a few years ago, it still had a wonderfully crowded collection: early light bulbs, tools, a locomotive. The Pitt Rivers Museum is a mad jumble of pottery, reed baskets, sinew snowshoes, metal talismans, old bagpipes, stone knives--anything that can be made by human hands. Or out of human heads. They have several shrunken heads on display. (Click here for a recipe on how to make your own, human head not included.)
Oh, I snapped this at the Natural History Museum:
It made me hungry just looking at it....
My older daughter has been singing with the Oxford Girls' Choir. We went to its performance of "Dido & Aeneas" last week. It was in the Holywell Music Room, one of many places in Oxford that have been the settings for performances over the centuries. The opera was great (spoiler alert: Dido dies; I wiped away a tear) and the orchestra played period-style instruments. This was the wildest one of all:
It's like a lute on steroids. I thought it had been made out of a harpoon.
These road signs are common around England:
It means "slow down." But there's something dramatic about "Kill Your Speed." And the checkerboard border reminds me of something a ska band would put on an album cover.
Teddy Bear's Jihad
The English teacher who offended some Muslims in Sudan is back on British soil. You'll recall that Gillian Gibbons allowed her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammed." Some Sudanese called for her death, marching in the streets of Khartoum with sticks and knifes. As one British columnist wrote, if Muslims want the West to stop thinking of them as homicidal maniacs, they should stop acting like homicidal maniacs.
Of course, that tars all Muslims with the same brush. British Muslims were quick to condemn Gibbons's arrest, conviction and sentence. (At least she got a speedy trial.) And it was two Muslim peers who secured her pardon. Besides, there are rabid Christians in the United States who chafe at our secular society. "Separation of church and state," they seethe. "Who needs it?"
Well, just look at Sudan.