At this point in the modern plague, probably everyone is familiar with the old-timey plague doctor uniform. But why was it so macabre? For a bad reason, it turns out, but with good consequences.
I was raised godless. Churchless. Creedless. Without spirituality except for one thing. Once a week, on Sunday nights, we made a big bowl of popcorn, flavored with Lowrey’s seasoning salt, and gathered on the couch to watch Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking and breathtaking science for the masses series, “Cosmos.” The show is back for a new season, and the first episode has a special guest who’s an old friend.
Cause and effect is a law of the universe. No one questions it. No one, it is, until our big brains get in the way and ego gets involved. All of a sudden, the idea of free will enters the picture and the primacy of cause and effect flies out the window. Or does it? Let’s take a look.
Art, after all, doesn’t just exist in the time it was created. It speaks to us from the time of its creation, sometimes whispering and sometimes screaming, always waiting for us to hear. And this particular painting has a lot to tell us about influence, privilege, crime and humiliation.
Amsterdam in 1655 was a boomtown: bustling, crowded, welcoming ships from around the world into is busy port. In other words, it was ripe for an outbreak of plague.
During its Golden Age, the Dutch Republic became a hub of many things: the spice and sugar trade, diamond crafting, master artworks – and optics. Why the Netherlands?
You might find this hard to believe, but science is on my side: Vampires are real*. And not only are they real, but we can name them. Well, two of them, at least. They lived in America. New England, to be precise: one in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island.
Behold, Theodor “Dirk” Kerckring. Son of Dutch East India Co. captain Dirk Kerckring and Margaretha Bas, the daughter of former Amsterdam Mayor Dirk Bas. Scion of wealth and privilege. Son of the republic. I want to punch that smirk right off his face.
I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. Thoughts and prayers.