Translation from English

Friday, July 31, 2009

"Barry vs. Cop"

I usually don't write about politics, yet current flap over Obama and his remarks about the Cambridge police can't be ignored..

I remember wincing when that last question came up at the Press Conference and President Barak Obama-- whom some people think it hip to call "Barry"-- made his famous remark about the actions of the police being stupid. Oh, no, I thought, this is going to be trouble...

Have known a good number of cops -- this sounds like a mammoth cliche, but some of them were very admirable people and others were very much less than admirable...

Response of right wing radio is so predictable, and it is sickening how angry mood of American people is being channeled into to the issue of Obama's remark.

Totally ignored, as has been repeatedly noted, is the issue of health care reform-- and how pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are once more getting their way to the detriment of the people as a whole.

"Lack of respect for cop" is one of the worst sins "civilians" can make as far as most cops are concerned... many cops have martyred feeling they are hampered from doing their job by a coddling of criminals.

And huge numbers of people in middle America agree with them. This is an event just made for the demagogues of right wing radio..

Can all this be settled with a "beer summit" and everyone be satisfied? Probably not.

Someone made the trenchant remark that " Americans have just realized that they really do have a black president."

Myself, I think both the professor in question and the cops over-reacted-- in a way, again, that seems like cliche behavior. 

My biggest anger is first at the media for mining this for all its worst aspects and secondly for the broad mass of Americans who are letting their frustrations take an easy and unproductive avenue of expression...

Luckily, people like Al Sharpton --who I do not like-- are not involved in this. 

But how long do we have to endure right wing radio foaming at the mouth that "Obama hates white people and white culture" and all that rubbish? For a long time, I suppose.

The old saying holds true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink....  Americans are going to have to start facing up to realities of the environment, energy sources and the wars we are fighting as well the out-of-control capitalism that has gotten us into an incredible mess.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Heavy Going With 19th Century Thinkers

John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" is the kind of book you were probably supposed to read in high school or college and just skimmed through, if you read it at all...

Irony is, of course, Mill's book is one of those seminal works that are part of "climate of opinion" for most liberal Western thought.

Mill is surprisingly modern yet shows a cultural bias that would brand him today as politically incorrect. 

He would, I think, consider most third world countries not ready for democracy- -or freedom--
and just casually denounce the Taliban as barbarians... would also have harsh words about countries like Saudi Arabia and say they treated women as slaves.

Well, who says a mid 19th century writer is to be judged by the catchwords of today-- you have to see him in historical context,

Much of what Mill writes isn't all that well organized and sometimes seems to pose more questions that it answers. This is definitely not light reading.

To me, one of the best endorsements for Mill is that he enraged Carlyle. I had to read the pompous, reactionary Carlyle in college-- had idiot teacher who worshipped him.  Didn't say right things about the "Master" and didn't get a very good grade...this was before I learned a basic trick of college: if you have an idiot teacher, simply parrot back their ideas to the jerks and you will be rewarded with praise--such comments as "brilliant insight" will be typical.

Why is Mill important? He helped shaped the everyday thinking of most Western democracies in a very basic way... and, is as often the case, you could quote Mill to justify or condemn Bush's invasion of Iraq, for instance.

Mill caught on to something a lot of earlier Enlightenment authors missed: the majority is not always right and cannot ride roughshod over the views of minorities or "eccentric" individuals.
Mill takes the right to dissent as a given.. and would be appalled, but not surprised by the way dissent is being treated in such countries as Iran.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Street Sculpture

Remember what a "trompe l'oeil" effect this sculpture used to have...

Discoloration over time by grime and elements have made it less startlingly realistic. Still appears very unexpectedly on busy thoroughfare.

Artist at work on 34th Street in Midtown doesn't have any obvious markers as to who created it.

Reverse view shows imaginary landscape artist is painting.

This kind of representational art is almost sort of corny, but it is somehow vaguely reassuring in its familiarity and human scale...

Other cities have street art too, wish New York had more of it-- particularly the representational kind.

There are occasional street exhibits that are interesting in this way... one was of dozens of cows, all the same basic sculpture but painted in different ways by different artists, posted all over Manhattan.

During a serious recession like the one we're having, this can all seem a frill. But "man does not live by bread alone."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Morgan Museum and Library; wrist update

This picture is deceptive... the Morgan Library and Museum,
which is on 36th Street between Park and Madison, is a big complex of connected buildings,

The original Library building , shown here, built about 1900, is just the entrance. The complex includes a four storey atrium with natural lighting, the better to look at manuscripts-- the museum specializes in manuscripts, but has a lot else to offer as well. Check out their website...

The maunscripts, by the way, range from medieval illuminated ones to scraps of paper Bob Dylan used to write down lyrics of "Blowin' in the Wind," and "It Aint Me Babe."

WRIST UPDATE: Cast comes off in a week and then they'll put something on wrist and schedule me for physicall therapy.  Hope to be in shape to visit my sister and her family on Cape Cod at the end of July/beginning of August.