Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Conservative Challenges in the 113th Congress

For this week's Learn at Lunch, I stopped by the Heritage Foundation to hear a lunch discussion by Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) on conservative challenges facing the 113th Congress.  Representative Scalise is chair of the Republican Study Committee, a "group of House Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives."  I wanted to attend several events at Heritage for some time now.  They have great speakers and the forum topics are always relevant to the pressing issues of today.  I really wanted to see former Congressman Artur Davis' forum on educational opportunity during school choice week, but couldn't make it to that one in person.  The stars finally aligned and I was able to slip away during the lunch hour for this event. 

At the risk of it seeming like I've never run across a Learn at Lunch opportunity I didn't like, I would highly recommend checking out the Heritage Foundation for one of their forums.  It's no surprise that most of the conservative challenges cited were pretty much everything on the Democrats agenda.  But no matter your political persuasion, it's always engaging to listen to accomplished, smart people debate current issues.  If you're in D.C. and a wanna-be policy wonk like myself, you'll really be in for a treat.  It's also a pretty classy affair.  The event auditorium was lovely and they serve a great lunch afterwards.  I would definitely recommend checking out the events page to find a topic that interests you!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bringing Information to the Masses 18th Century Style

Visiting the Freer and Sackler Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art have been top on my to do list for weeks. Unfortunately my work schedule kept getting in the way. When I heard about a tour of the Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer's Japanese Illustrated Books exhibit, which runs April 6 - August 11, 2013 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, I made a point to attend.  The exhibit contains a collection of printed Japanese books from the Edo period (1615-1868). 
It was a fascinating exhibit and tour led by Ann Yonemura, Senior Associate Curator of Japanese Art. Prior to mass printing books, Japan had a long history of illustrative narrative scrolls that were primarily available for the elite. Woodblock printing made books and information on a variety of topics available to everyone, much in the same way the internet does today. Printing started off slowly in Kyoto, the center for crafts and art, in the 17th Century and then took off and spread to other parts of Japan like Edo and Osaka.

The books are in amazing condition considering they are hundreds of years old.   I especially liked the color prints and couldn't believe how they retained their color over time. The books are arranged by subject, including literature, science, religion, landscaping, and travel.  There is even a little sample of "erotic" books (you might want to rush the little ones past those).

The entire exhibit will be available online one day, but its definitely worth seeing in person. It's amazing to see how these handmade books stood the test of time and get a little window into Japanese culture.