For those playing Godwin at home, there is mention of Hitler in the last section. But before that, the most important news story of the day is obviously this one:
Can we have your liver, then? Lab-grown tissues are something about which I'm ridiculously excited, both from a fant/SF authorial perspective and because I can't wait to nom down on some vat-grown meat. (Here speaketh þe blood-thirsty vegetarian carnivore, a straunge and terrible creature that doth graze on vegetarian BLTs.)
US experiment hints at multiple Higgs bosons. Honestly. It seems barely worth keeping up with particle physics, the way entities keep multiplying unnecessarily!
I have to wonder what subatomic physics will look like in a few years' time. I kind of hope it'll be unrecognisable, that we've been moving in the wrong direction and that they'll look back on all our groping after Higgs with nostalgic disdain.
A good article about where patriotism meets nationalism and racism. Do not on ANY account read the comments, for they are full of blah.
We do need a word in English for "discrimination based on country of origin". At the moment we use "racism" for both that and ethnic group, which gets pretty confused. "Nationalism" is already taken, though, and "countism"… er, no.
Prayag Thakkar, a 19-year-old student in Gujarat state, is one of them: "I have idolised Hitler ever since I have had a sense of history. I admire his leadership qualities and his discipline."
The Holocaust was bad, he says, but that is not his concern. "He mesmerised the whole nation with his leadership and iron discipline. India needs his discipline."
Dimple Kumari, a research associate in Pune, has not read Mein Kampf but she would wear the Hitler T-shirt out of admiration for him. She calls him "a legend" and tries to put her admiration for him in perspective: "The killing of Jews was not good, but everybody has a positive and negative side."
Shilpi Guha says she started reading the book but could not finish it and she wouldn't like to dwell on the dictator's negative side.
So, can someone's positive side ever be completely outweighed by nasty things they did or said? Is there a limit in wickedness beyond which we can rule that there's nothing whatsoever worth emulating about the person? Or can somebody's works — art, architecture, literature, music — be judged on their own merit without being tainted by who made them?
I'd been considering the question from a different example the other day when I caught part of a BBC Four repeat of Stephen Fry's documentary on Richard Wagner (who, in keeping with his contemporaries, had some pretty unsavoury views about Jews; something that troubles Fry, who has Jewish antecedents and loves Wagner's music).
And I still don't have the answer. Some people enjoy religious music in spite of its glorification of a god they dislike or deny, and all the despicable things done by the Churches. I don't like music that puts forth a message I dislike, so I disagree there. But if the music is all about magic rings and Valkyries, or the book is all about elves and hobbits, telling its own story that on the surface is nothing to do with the author's other views, should it be enjoyed as free as possible from its mundane origins? Or does artistic criticism demand that we take nothing without its full and proper context, cleverly squeezing from every work symbolism for whatever we happen to know about the author's life and times?
Whatever, I'm still not going to read Mein Kampf. Snoresville.
I am interested to know what you think.