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Margaret Thatcher Was Still Alive

April 8, 2013

Like millions of others, I was surprised to learn today that Margaret Thatcher had been alive only hours earlier. It came as a bit of a shock to realize that she hadn’t been dead yet. Now her memory will be strangely intertwined with that of Roger Ebert, who gave the Meryl Streep biopic about her only two stars (a movie that depicts her senility, which seems more distasteful given that she was still alive at the time). The last film review he reviewed was Malick’s To the Wonder (three and a half stars) which seems very appropriate.

When I got to college the first movie I watched from the library video collection was Aguirre, The Wrath of God, which I read about in one of Ebert’s collections of reviews. For introducing me to Werner Herzog, as well as being a real mensch among American celebrities, I extend all respect to him. Thatcher, on the other, didn’t do a thing for me, and, given her principles and my nature, probably wouldn’t have had she had the chance. So bollocks to her.

I did just the other day come across a reference to her in an article by Latour: “To retrieve the invaluable effectiveness of political talk, we need to start with the idea that, as Margaret Thatcher so forcefully put it, ‘society doesn’t exist’. If it does not exist, we have to make it exist, but in order to do so we need the means to do so. Politics is one of those means.” (The actual quote from her is “there is no such thing as society.”) It is a characteristically mischievous touch for Latour to cite Thatcher, someone anathema to most of the people he would expect to be reading him. He is no Thatcherite, but neither is he a pious leftist anathematizer, and I suppose he could just not resist giving those folks a little tweak here.

Amazon is currently listing the release date of Latour’s An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence as May 1st. It would make a perfect gift for someone who happens to have a birthday in early May.

But the real reason I wanted to write a post, before getting sidetracked by an uninteresting death, is that I felt the need to acknowledge an article in last week’s C-Ville Weekly about the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) that I did not see until a few days after I wrote my last post. The focus is on how local scientists at NRAO have been working on giant radio telescope in Chile, so the Radio Quiet Zone gets nothing more than a mention. Nonetheless, it is quite a coincidence, and also an interesting article. It is amazing to think that it was written and published while Margaret Thatcher was still alive.

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