Caesar and Cleopatra

So, Saturday night we went to see Caesar and Cleopatra at Playmakers

I was looking forward to it quite a bit. I read the play when I was perhaps 14, and although, honestly, I couldn’t remember huge chunks of it–as in almost any of it–a couple of things stuck with me for the last two decades.

One was Britannus, Caesar’s Briton slave, obviously intended as a stand-in for a modern (which I believe would be Victorian) Briton, being affronted by the strangeness of other cultures. He is a useful and amusing foil for Caesar, though, as in this exchange:

THEODOTUS. Caesar: you are a stranger here, and not conversant with our laws. The kings and queens of Egypt may not marry except with their own royal blood. Ptolemy and Cleopatra are born king and consort just as they are born brother and sister.

BRITANNUS (shocked). Caesar: this is not proper.

THEODOTUS (outraged). How!

CAESAR (recovering his self-possession). Pardon him. Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.

I do believe that Heinlein more or less rips off that very line.

And then of course there’s the famous Cleopatra-in-the-rug scene.

Still, the bit I was looking forward to most, and, unfortunately, a bit that the producers almost entirely elided, was the address of Ra to the audience.

Quite simply, it is the author haranguing the audience. It is also, as with most things regarding human nature, all too pertinent today. He derides them for their passivity and conformity and ineffectualness, as well as the institutionalized deceit between men and women, much of it in an amusingly opaque way.

I mean, how many other such addresses would include the line:

Hearken to me then, oh ye: compulsorily educated ones.

The producers’ clever little rewrite to admonish people to turn off their cell phones had neither the humor nor the wit of the original. I’m quite disappointed that all of the Project Gutenberg copies of the play do not include this address at all.

I won’t even go into the blatant historical inaccuracies–though I will note that the explanatory text in the little playbook points out that while Shaw was apparently a rabid decrier of alterations to Shakespeare, he had no problem with hacking up history to fit his desired outcome.

I think the story–which is really an exposition on statecraft, although delivered without the didacticism you might expect–is ripe for the picking in Hollywood.

The rewrite would be easy: A young heiress, suddenly thrust into a position of leadership in the corporation her father ran, becomes involved with an older businessman who helped her father fight off a hostile takeover years before. He teaches her how to wield power effectively, helping her fight off her brother’s attempts to take power for himself, but in the end she succumbs to her basically amoral nature as she utterly destroys one of her brothers advisors…

Where the hell is central casting?

I didn’t look at Google Maps for a while…

Frankly, since I got back from DC, I haven’t needed a lot of directions to places, and everyone was just jabbering about how cool the technology was, and I only have so much tolerance for such things for their own sake.

Yeah, I know that’s surprising.

Anyway, I have to admit that I am impressed with things people are doing with Google Maps, especially since they put the sattelite images up.

One very interesting post, regarding the Rio Grande is here.

Yeah, things are getting back to normal

After my dental surgery, well, for obvious reasons–well, obvious if I tell you they gave me a prescription for Vicodin–I was in no fit state to post, and then after that started healing and I wasn’t hitting the narcotics so hard, I had a burst of productivity on the Great AnteSpam Rewrite, and then after that started subsiding to a more normal pace, well, the weather turned nice, and I started doing some walking to try and keep off the ten pounds I lost after my surgery–ah, the wonders of not being able to eat anything solid. I should write a diet book.

So, anyway, I’m going for these hour-plus walks more or less every day (how much plus depends on whether I’m walking to Bean Traders and back (about an hour and forty minutes), or just doing the circuit around the subdivision (about an hour and five minutes). And even with the iPod-alike churning through my music collection, I end up doing a certain amount of thinking.

And some of what I think about are things that could be generally lumped under the heading “spiritual”. And so it was that I was walking along today and something occurred to me.

Adam and Eve fell from grace (and were therefore kicked out of Eden) for partaking of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, right? So before they ate the fruit, it seems safe to say they were in a state of innocence, presumably unable to tell Good from Evil, because they had no knowledge of it.

So am I the only one who finds it interesting that the hardcore Christian Fundamentalists seem to spend all their time wallowing in trying to tell Good from Evil? That is, exercising the very facility the acquisition of which was the downfall of man?

I’m just sayin’.

I really hate to do it

But if you’re using sveasoft firmware in your Linksys or other router, don’t upgrade to Talisman/Basic.

At least, not yet. It looks good–even this first release has a number of things that look to be nice add-ons to the feature set that was in the Alchemy series–and I’m sure that it will stabilize shortly, but I blew two hours fighting it yesterday before getting it to limp along well enough to be able to download the last Alchemy release and put that back on.

I’ll probably try again in a couple of days, and at that point, I’ll take notes, and perhaps make something that more resembles a review–but this upgrade certainly wasn’t as smooth for me as upgrades within the Alchemy series have been.

If you do just feel honor bound to go ahead–or you just want to prove that you’re better at this than I am–just be sure you have a copy of an old firmware around, to save yourself some headaches.

Hey, all you atheists out there…

Need something to help keep the kids in line, since you don’t have access to Satan, Hell, or even the milder “making Baby Jesus cry?”.

Steve Loughran has the answer: Cthulu for three year olds.

I especially liked the caveat, though:

The hard part is striving a line between providing the minimum of lies necessary for total obedience, without reducing the child to having a deep fear of darkness, docksides, attics, cellars and the wind rattling the shutters.

What if you had a language that was all cut-and-paste

Anyone worth their salt as a programmer will tell you that programming by cut-and-paste is always, always, always a mistake. You might do it for expedience, because reworking whatever you’re cutting-and-pasting to be more generic might take longer than you have to deliver your result, but there is never a situation where it’s a good thing.

But the subtext language has a demo that posits the question what if your language was built to handle all the issues for you?.

I don’t think I’ll be programming in in any time soon, but its always interesting when a new idea comes around.

Sunday Flickr blogging

Yeah, yeah, Sunday Flickr blogging doesn’t actually seem to happen on Sunday that much. What can I say, though–calling it “Sunday Flickr blogging” creates anticipation of it happening, and that’s all you really need for marketing purposes.

So, for your amusement, disgust or apathy: moustache, carnation, hendrix.

Yeah, I’ve got Hendrix (specifically, The Wind Cries Mary) playing right now.