What I learned this week, January 3, 2015

Dave Barry’s Year In Review

It was a year of mysteries. To list some of the more baffling ones:

A huge airliner simply vanished, and to this day nobody has any idea what happened to it, despite literally thousands of hours of intensive speculation on CNN.

Millions of Americans suddenly decided to make videos of themselves having ice water poured on their heads. Remember? There were rumors that this had something to do with charity, but for most of us, the connection was never clear. All we knew was that, for a while there, every time we turned on the TV, there was a local newscaster or Gwyneth Paltrow or Kermit the Frog or some random individual soaking wet and shivering. This mysterious phenomenon ended as suddenly as it started, but not before uncounted trillions of American brain cells died of frostbite.

An intruder jumped the White House fence and, inexplicably, managed to run into the White House through the unlocked front door. Most of us had assumed that anybody attempting this would instantly be converted to a bullet-ridden pile of smoking carbon by snipers, lasers, drones, ninjas, etc., but it turned out that, for some mysterious reason, the White House had effectively the same level of anti-penetration security as a Dunkin’ Donuts.

LeBron James deliberately moved to Cleveland.

Read the whole thing.

A strike against rent-seeking

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, so last year’s most encouraging development in governance might have occurred in February in a U.S. district court in Frankfort, Ky. There, a judge did something no federal judge has done since 1932. By striking down a “certificate of necessity” (CON) regulation, he struck a blow for liberty and against crony capitalism.

Our Most Popular Science Image Galleries of 2014

Watch A Pair Of Tank-Mounted Fighter Jet Engines Extinguish An Oil Fire

The John Wayne movie Hellfighters was an influence on me as a kid – along with a Popular Science article on how explosives were used to extinguish oil well fires. And now this….

The Super-Short Workout and Other Fitness Trends

33 Williamsburg Hipsters’ New Year’s Resolutions

Go to Twitter and follow @deeKizzle, just because….

Bike Friendly Oak Cliff’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

The 22 Most Hipster Foods On The Planet

Shit… I like all but two of those.

The Power Of the Machine

“The power of the machine imposes itself upon us and we can scarcely conceive living bodies without it.”
—-Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Large Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

My favorite sculpture – one I have gazed upon many times in the Nasher Sculpture Center, here in Dallas, is Large Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon. I wrote about it more than three years ago.

At the time I said:

I like to stare at it, walk around it. I’ve taken some pictures of it. I would like to take some more.

To me, it’s clear that it is a statue of a horse – but that horse has been morphed into a complex machine, full of pushrods, pistons, and gears. It has an impressive, solid bulk, but feels like it is about to propel itself out through the glass and speed down the street in a blur, smelling of ozone and oil.

It is cast in very dark bronze – almost black. It swallows a lot of the light, but what does escape is subdued by the power and mass of the horse. It shines with dark energy.

The sculptor was a cavalry doctor in World War I and must have had a close relationship, knowledge, and a deep connection with his horses. He chose this animal to convert into a cubist bronze. He was able to preserve the essential horseness of the shape while implying the obsolescence of the animal – overtaken by the more powerful, rugged, and easily controlled energy of machines.

Duchamp-Villon died too young. He contracted typhoid fever during the war. He died before he finished this sculpture. All he left was the finished small scale model. After his death, his famous brother, Marcel Duchamp (Nude Descending a Staircase) finished the job and had the sculpture cast in full-sized bronze.


Large Horse, by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Large Horse, by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Over the holidays, I was in Houston to visit my mother and my sister and her family and was pleased to discover another Duchamp-Villon’s Large Horse in the Cullen Sculpture Garden at the Houston Museum of Fine Art.

It was like running into an old friend unexpectedly.

Large Horse, by Raymond Duchamp-Villon, in the Cullen Sculpture Garden, Houston,  Texas

Large Horse, by Raymond Duchamp-Villon, in the Cullen Sculpture Garden, Houston, Texas