#1 Angus Taylor (Aeolus) wrote some great stuff here in my absence (thank you!). No, I didn't change my mind about various and sundry--it's been him writing since June 4. (It seems as though this created confusion for a few people--a little birdie tells me.)
Over a delicious pizza in Siena we pondered what he wrote about "unnatural" food. I don't think it's a simple matter of "natural vs. artificial," but I do think it makes good aesthetic sense to prefer a fresh Tuscan tomato to a can of Campbell's tomato soup. Super-processed food doesn't taste as good (to me, anyway), but sheer taste is just part of it. The way we experience food also has to do with everything we believe about where it came from, how it was produced, etc.
When I'm less jet-lagged I'm going to respond to his post about my book.
The picture was taken at the fruit and vegetable market in Venice.
That's Roman laundry.
#3 What's the point of traveling? I'd like to say it was for expanding our horizons, learning about other ways of life, visiting friends, etc. etc., but the truth is that it's all that, but also just for the fun of gawking ... at great art, architecture, landscapes, etc. Alain de Botton must say some perceptive stuff about these things in his book about travel.
I can't believe how beautiful Venice is. A little Disneylandish? I don't care.
#4 Is there a lower moment in human history than the gladiator fights put on at the Roman Coliseum? It's one thing to subject others to death and total misery, but to enjoy yourself completely while doing so is especially appalling. It turns out the Romans (50,000 at a time) not only feasted while watching men and animals kill each other, but they liked to be sprinkled with flower petals and sprayed with perfume. The women brought needlework with them and the men took a little time out for letter-writing. What great engineers they were, but what miscreants.
Picture was taken you know where.
A "beggar" in Venice (yes, we paid for the sin of photographing her by giving her money).
Plato and Aristotle detail from The School of Athens (at the Vatican).