Saturday, May 31, 2008
And that is just the head of the hit parade. You've got baths and an amphitheater at Arles; also the hint of a forum, some bits of a city wall, and more than a hint of circus. You've got another amphitheater at Nîmes. You've got a pretty well laid out community at Glanim, and a couple of upscale villas at Vaison. Several good archaeological museums, including a wonderful marine museum at Marseilles.
And the surroundings are easy to handle (at least in May; I bet it miserable in the August heat, or the winter winds). Communities are pleasant and prosperous (though I read somewhere lately that the Czech Republic now his a higher per capita income than all of France excluding Paris). Worth a visit, as Michelin would say; hey, worth a side trip.
Restaurant: Reveillon at Marseilles. Down-homey, good on codfish and duck.
- Cancun has an average of 190 flights a day.
- Admitting Romania more than doubled the European Union's population of bears.
- Half the world's population enjoys fuel subsidies.
Still, you can't go through two rounds of this without developing the sour conviction that United's current business plan is to make air travel so unpleasant that nobody will want to fly any more.
On second thought, strike “nobody” and substitute “the poor chumps who guilelessly attempt to use their Frequent Flyer miles.” You really do get the impression that United is doing everything it can to encourage you to despair of ever using your miles for actual plane rides, reducing you, I suppose, to frittering them away on unwanted management subscriptions. And here's a thought; when governments degrade the currency by, e.g., turning on the printing presses, we brand them as financial criminals. Seems to me that the habitual degraders of the Frequent Flyer contract are doing the same thing. I wonder, shouldn't we at least count this war on good order as part of the Consumer Price Index?
Vagrant afterthought: my friend Ian says he has flown through Chicago a hundred times without event. Next time, I think I'll take Ian.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
In one sense, it is a marvel, something that perhaps only the Louvre (or perhaps the Shiekhdom of Dubai) could bring off. The core is any array of objects from the Ancient Mesopotamian, spanning the millennia from 2000 to the time of Alexander the Great. They're intelligently displayed with a lot of helpful commentary (although too much of it has to be in the vein of “we have no idea.”) The space is pretty tight for the crowds it handles, but that is perhaps inevitable any more with any blockbuster show.
But all this undoubted achievement is shadowed over by two kinds of marketing hype.
One is the very idea of “Babylon”--as if the near 2000-year span represents one civilization, even if in one place. The designers themselves seem to have a bit of a guilty conscience—they gloss over the 900-pound gorilla of Assyria which inserts itself in between the two separate and discontinuous Babylonian hegemonies.
The other is a bit more devilish. The Babylonian collection itself,though stunning, is fairly small—one long room. Evidently the marketers told them they couldn't mount blockbuster show on so small a res. So the planners fleshed it out with another corridor, devoted to cultural responses to Babylon. The fulcrum here is the Biblical book of Revelations, represented by an impressive array of illustrated manuscripts; then other stuff down throw the ages, including a Brueghel Babel, a Blake drawing of Nebuchadnezzar as he becomes a beast, and even a bit of D.W. Griffiths film.
This is all good fun and some of it is first-rate stuff, although hardly as stunning as the first part. The trouble is that the relation between the two is only notional. The author of Revelations himself can hardly have known anything about the “real” Babylon, except as filtered through a highly stylized Biblical tradition, already several hundred years old. Everything else is even farther removed.
It seemed to me that the crowd thinned out pretty fast after the first cramped but brilliant corridor. Can hardly blame them. There is only so much culture you can take in a day, and after the ancient finds, the second batch seemed like something of an afterthought.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Let not young souls be smothered out before
They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull,
Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
Not that they starve, but starve so dreamlessly;
Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap;
Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve;
Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.
—Vachel Lindsay, “The Leaden-Eyed”
Right, couper le souffle. Let's pull out the old pocket dictionary here:
à couper sûr, certainly
coup de chance, lucky hit
coup de fion (slang) finishing touch
coup de pied, kick
coup de poing, punch
coup sur coup, one right after another
...and 20-odd more, but no couper le souffle. No, wait a minute, folks, here's Google translator with “couper de souffle” = “breath.” Well, so much for my old pocket dictionary.
But it still doesn't make a lot of sense.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Only exception: the five-star Pigonnet Hotel in Aix-en-Provence, where they were mostly sullen and passive aggressive in the old-fashioned way. I was loudly American in the old-fashioned way, which didn't help.
Otherwise--hey, the guy who serves me my espresso in the morning flashed me a smile of recognition when I came back on the second day, and said "au revoir" when I left. What kind of country is that?
His name is Alfonso Canon. Metro says he "is an intellectual communist, considered the ideologue and the strategist of the movement." He's 59; he studied anthropology and law after entering the university in 1968.
Excuse me, but isn't this an instance of the Neil Diamond effect coming to the land of revolution--another tired old guy famous for showing up, still fresh in the memories of other tired old guys who grew up with him? Maybe they could book him with the Kingston Trio, on PBS.
And by the way, why do the French care? The answer is Ingrid Betancourt. You've forgotten Ingrid? The French have not. She is a sometimes Columbian politician and anti-corruption activist, kidnapped and held captive by FARC since 2002. Turns out she is a French citizen (via marriage); the French government has been working to effect her release. Her picture is on poster in front of the Hôtel de Ville.
If it is a sect, today I think I discovered the mother church. Its on Rue de Montmorency at the corner of Rue de Temple in the Marais. There are a bunch of "bijouterie fantasie"--costume jewelry?--shops. There's always a gaggle of the Senegalis--okay, maybe they are Ghanans going to and fro, in an out. They've got duffels an wheely carts. They show every signs of being street men back for restocking.
Only two thing puzzle me. One, a lot of these shops seem to be run by Asians--Japanese? Are they part of the action, or am I looking at the wrong shops?
And two--aside from the wholesale district, where are the hawkers? We haven't been back to the Louvre this week but we've been all over the city streets--past Notre Dama half a dozen times--and we have yet to see one of those guys actually out there hawking his wares.
But I do remember some years ago being at a chichi private luncheon party over in the seventh arondissement; midway through the meal, a door flew open and a shadow hurtled past. Quick as a flash, our hostess abandoned her guests to follow. On explanation later, we learned it was the daughter, maybe 20 or 25, just home from the morning of a critical exam; evidently things had not gone well, and the first thing the child wanted to do was to run home to maman.
It must be doable. There is one great wine bar in Palookaville. I eavesdropped one night while the boss undertook to explain to the new server what a great job she had. "Anybody can whip up a fancy recipe with stuff from the supermarket," he said. "We are the only restaurant in town that takes care about our ingredients." Right enough, and if you take care with the ingredients, you don't need the fancy cooking.
Fn.: just had a super espresso at the brasserie at Rambuteau and Beaubourg, southwest corner.
Monday, May 26, 2008
He snapped a salute and cracked just a glimmer of a smile as he responded: "Bonjour!"---and sent me on my way. It was ten minutes or so before i realized I had told him "I arrived tomorrow."
[Uh, 85 percent? Actually, I have no idea. I'm sure it was a lot higher than today, but exactly how high is above my pay grade—and in any event, I suspect subject to controversy.]
Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale.
You will find out how salt is the taste of another man's bread, and how hard it is to climb up and down another man's staircase.
That's Dante, in the Divine Comedy (Paradisio XVII). Climbing down another man's staircase this morning, it occurred to me that I have spent a lot of my life climbing up and down other men's staircases. I'm one up on Dante; I've mostly enjoyed it. But have had an advantage on Dante: Dante was an exile, while I have mostly had a home base. But going back over a 50-year career, I've had, I don't know, maybe 20 temporary residences.
I suppose the best was the apartment they gave me at NYU in 2006 in exchange for teaching the bankruptcy course--tenth floor,Third and MacDougal, straight shot north to the Empire State Building. A close second would be the sabbatical apartment on the second floor of a digniified row house in London, next to the Regents Park Canal in 1976--my daughter and I used to canoe up through the zoo. Third would be another Londoner: the flat on Southampton Row that Mrs. B. wangled as part of her teaching assignment in 2001. And then another New Yorker: David Carlson and Jean Schroeder's apartment on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village, which I occupied while subbing for David at Cardozo Law School in 1996. And then, a pension near the Piazza del Popolo in Rome (1985). And a great sprawling flat near the Campo di Fiori (Rome again) in 1987, made not much less attractive by the neighbor who used to throw her garbage off the balcony into the courtyard. Oh, and the flat we occupied twice in Florence, in a medieval alley just behind Gucci.
Not all have been winners. Back in 1975, I took a tiny apartment with a fold-a-bed, just south of Los Feliz Boulevard in LA I passed it on to a student who told me that the place was full of drug dealers. I was at the office almost all the time, so I never noticed. And I can't say much for the steelcase monstrosity out by the Braddock Road tube station in Alexandria VA (who would name a tube stop after a losing general)? Yes, and Stanford in 1986 gave me an apartment next to the hospital: I used to shortcut through the intern's locker room, and caught the worst case of bronchitis ever.
As I say, this all works because I mostly do it on a long tether from home. Indeed, my longest tenure in residence is my current digs in Palookaville: Mrs.Buce and I bought it together back in 1984, long before we were married. On the other hand, I live 90 miles from my job. So the second longest tenure is the motel near the job site, where I have spent two or three nights a week for nearly 20 years. Now, that one is depressing.
But more than that--for some reason or other, we had the good luck to be aware of our good luck. We're all in our 60s or 70s surprised, nay flabbergasted, to be prosperous and in good health and, yes, still alive.
I believe Epicurus says that the right attitude towards the end of life is gratitude. And if you aren't grateful, he adds, why would you want life to go on anyway? And he says that one of the marks of a good life is sharing a meal with good friends.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Well, bully for them: well deserved and if anything, long overdue. I can’t think of anyone who has fallen so completely out of the canon as Needham, once thought perhaps the greatest historian of the 20th Century. I assume part of the problem is the sheer daunting massiveness of his output (I won’t pretend to have read it all, not by a long shot). And it’s science, not a favorite among readers of history; and history, not a favorite among readers of science. And there’s a dicey premise—
Shorter Joseph Needham: it’s the matter of “lawfulness.” “The West” operates on the idea that there are underlying “laws” that can be discerned and made intelligible. Early China had a bad experience with “lawfulness;” ever since has shied away from too much reliance on general principles of this sort: if you pay too much attention to “laws,” you’re not paying enough attention to particulars—and besides, if you are paying too much attention to laws, you are not paying enough attention to good men, whose words and judgment are more important than law.
Both Chinese and western thought unite ethical and cosmic order—track human experiences as natural events, either in the world or in the body. But:
But it seems that the Western conception was deeply different from the Chinese. The former saw justice and law at all levels, closely associated with personalized beings, enacting laws or administering them. The latter saw only that righteousness embodied in good custom represented the harmony necessary for the existence and function of the social organism. It recognized also a harmony in the function of the heavens, and, if pressed, would have admitted one in the functions of the individual body also, but these harmonies were spontaneous, not free. Discord in one was echoed by disharmony in the others.
—Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in
I'm not hip enough to judge business here, but it didn't look great. From the line outside the Pompideau, you'd infer that the dollar is trading at a nickel to the Euro and that everyone is on vacation--but on second look these are all locals, queueing up for some sort of film festival. Further on, you see that the double decker buses are full topside only. In the touristy cafes along the river, the omelettes and salades appear to be flying out of the kitchen, but you can probably get a table if you wait a minute or step next door. As you listen, you realize that an awful lot of them are not speaking English, or at least not flat, hard mid-western American. In the Shakespeare & Co bookshop, American paperbacks sell at a premium of about 50 percent on the home price. The thinking man's equivalent of the Big Mac Index? Anyway, not much of anybody seems to be buying.
We did pick up a bottle of Champagne so Mrs.B can help a buddy celebrate a birthday; later, we'll flatten the cashflow with a free concert at Saint Eustache.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
It was all astonishing and done with great craft and care but—well for one thing, the food, although good enough, never quite lived up to the preparation. If you come from California (or New York), the truth is you just don't have to go to France for great food.
Marcella Hazan has a theory about French culture and French cuisine. She says that the French are a public people who are into display; the fanciest restaurants tend to be the best. Italy, by contrast, is a homebound culture, and the best cooking is simple and direct: find good ingredients and make sure not to get in their way.
This afternoon in Paris, we shopped the street market on the Rue Mouffetard. We picked up lettuce and tomatoes and cheese and a nice light Rhone red. With a bit of that Arabic olive oil (see previous post) and the leftover breakfast baguette, we had about the best meal I've had in two weeks. OH, and anchovies, did I forget to mention anchovies.
Friday, May 23, 2008
I have read that it was a saying of an ancient Greek that the first requisite for happiness was to be born in a famous city. It is one of those sayings which, because they deal with the particular and the concrete, like the instructions on a bottle of patent medicine, can appear flippant, except to those who have experienced the truth. To be born on an island like Isabella, an obscure
—VS Naipaul, The Mimic Men 118 (Penguin ed. 1969)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The local paper says:
MENACE: floods, forest fires, avalanches, earthquakes ... natural risks are numerous in our region.
Do tell? Well, we are on the top floor so I guess we won't get buried. The paper adds that the central government has ordered the prefecture to identify the "eight most important risks" and to "elaborate plans for prevention."
Uh--prevent an earthquake?Tomorrow, to fresh fields and pilasters new. Customary mindless yapping will resume in about a week.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The social problem consists … ion the face of these ambitious young people rising from the lower classes and uprooted by their education, who find themselves without money and without connections at the end of the revolutionary period, and who, deluded, on the one hand, by the opportunities of the Revolution, on the other, by Napoleon’s good fortune, want to play a role in society in accordance with their talents and ambitions. But now they discover that all power, all influence, all important posts are held by the old nobility and the new financial aaristocracy and that superior gifts and greater intelligence are being displaced everywhere by mediocrity. … [Julien Sorel, the hero of The Red and the Black] was born too late or too early, and stands between the times, just as he stands between the classes. Where does he belong, whose side is he really on? It is the old familiar question, the problem of romanticism … “
Monday, May 19, 2008
This one got me through the first year of law school, i.e., until I figured out that law school was actually fun:
One found oneself plunged into a thick fog of details—in a black and frozen night, in which were no flowers, no spring, no easy joys. Voices of authority warned that in the crush of that ice any craft might sink. One heard Burke saying that law sharpens the mind by narrowing it. One heard in Thackeray of a lawyer bending all the powers of a great mind to a mean profession. One saw that artists and poets shrank from it as from an alien world. One doubted oneself how it could be worthy of the interest of an intelligent mind. And yet one said to oneself, law is human—it is a part of man, and of one world with the rest.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Address, 1897
Saturday, May 17, 2008
It is difficult enough to develop an adequate consciousness of what we are and what we are at, and how we have arrived where we have done, without also being called upon to make clear to ourselves what such consciousness and self-consciousness must have been like for persons in situations different from our own; yet so no less is expected of the true histories. . . . [I]maginative projection of ourselves into the past, the attempt to capture concepts and categories not altogether like ours by means of concepts and categories that cannot but be our own, is a task that we can never be sure that we are even beginning to achieve, yet are not permitted to abjure. We seek to apply scientific tests to our conclusions, but this will take us but a little way. Without a capacity for sympathy and imagination beyond any required by a physicist, there is no vision of either past or present, neither of others nor of ourselves; but without this, normal—as well as historical—thinking cannot function at all.
I History and Theory 1 at 26-7 (1961).
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Mr. Biswas is a challenging and absorbing novel, but I still think his best may be a different sort of midpoint. That would be A Bend in the River, the most comprehensive and fully realized of the “later Naipaul.” It has perhaps the broadest range of characters and places, and thus the broadest opportunities for inquiry. It is also one that gives prominence to a device that would become more and more prominent in Naipaul’s later career: the “authorial voice” who is at once omniscient narrator and a character in his own right.
My family were not fools. My father and his brothers were traders, businessmen; in their own way they had to keep up with the times. They could assess a situation; they took risks and sometimes they could be very bold. But they were buried so deep in their lives that they were not able to stand back and consider the nature of their lives. They did what they had to do. When things wings went wrong they had the consolations of religion. This wasn’t just a readiness to accept Fate; this was a quiet and profound conviction about the vanity of all human endeavor.
‘I could never rise so high. My own pessimism, my insecurity, was a more terrestrial affair. I was without the religious sense of my family. The insecurity I felt was due to my lack of true religion, and was like the small change of the exalted pessimism of our faith, the pessimism that can drive men on to do wonders. It was the price of my more materialist attitude, my seeking to occupy the middle ground, between absorption in life and soaring above the cares of the earth.
—V. S. Naipaul, A
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Some exam-time cheer:
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, Beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire and Victor!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Be afraid, be very afraid.
In the event of an attempted suicide, the Trust will employ all reasonably practicable measures to insure a successful outcome
Monday, May 12, 2008
The relations between the human soul and destiny; to what extent each soul may mould its own fate; what part in any and every soul is transformed by a pitiless necessity, by the caprice of variable fortune; what part of the soul, by means of virtue and grace, may remain whole—all these are a subject in which deception is easy and tempting. Pride, humiliation, hate, disdain, indifference, the wish to forget or to ignore—all these contribute toward that temptation. Particularly rare is a true expression of misfortune; in painting it one almost always affects to believe, first, that degradation is the innate vocation of the unfortunate; second, that a soul may suffer affliction without being marked by it, without changing all consciousness in a particular manner which belongs to itself alone. For the most part the Greeks had such strength of soul as preserved them from self-deception For this they were recompensed by knowing in all things how to attain the highest degree of lucidity, of purity and of simplicity.
—Simone Weil, “The Iliad, Poem of Might,”
The Simone Weil Reader 153 at 181 (G. Panachis ed., 1977).
Sunday, May 11, 2008
When tender grass and leaves appear
While buds along the branches throng,
The nightingale so high and clear
Uplifts his voice to spill his song;
Joy to the bird and full joy in the flower,
Joy in myself and my Lady much more,
Joy quite surrounds me; I live joy-possessed
Yet here’s one joy that outjoys all the rest.
Can l’erba fresch’e•lh folha par
A la flors boton’ el verjan,
E•l rossinhols autet e clar
Leva sa votz e mou so chan,
Joi ai de lui, e joli ai de la flor
E joi de me e de midons major;
Daus totas partz sui de joi clau e sens
Mass el es jois que totz autres jois vens.
(W.D. Snodgrass trans.) in Robert Kehew ed., Lark in the Morning:
The Verses of the Troubadours (U Chi Press 2005)
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I'm off this morning for three weeks in France. We'll be mostly down south in Provence, and I give you my absolute word that I (a) will not buy a ramshackled old country house; and (b) will not restore it into a twee bed-and-breakfast for all my upscale American friends. No; rather we will mostly be looking at stuff like Roman aqueducts, continuing to indulge our curiosity about ancient ruins (but I wouldn't be suprised if we knock back a bottle or two of the health-giving ordinaire along the way). We'll end with a few days in Paris, which sounds like about as profitable as taking a freight car full of $20 bills and setting fire to them, but perhaps a bit more fun.
Once again, I will be taking my baby laptop, but perhaps not using it. OTOH using Google's new "delay" command, I (think I) have set up a few items here for posting over the next couple of weeks, so as to give the appearance of continued life. Nothing earth-shattering--mostly old notes that I culled while I was cleaning up my office yesterday. Anyway, enjoy, and (Lord willin and the creek don't rise), I'll be back the first of June.
Friday, May 09, 2008
In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in
to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Prague Old Town Square. That was a great turning point in the history of . A fateful moment of the kind that occurs only once or twice in a millennium. Bohemia
Gottwald was flanked by his comrades, with Clemntis standing close to him. It was snowing and cold, and Gottwald was bareheaded. Bursting with solicitude, Clementis took off his fur hat and set it on Gottwald’s head.
The propaganda section made hundreds of thousands of copies of the photograph taken on the balcony where Gottwald, in a fur hat and surrounded by his comrades, spoke to the people. On that balcony the history of Communist Bohemia began. Every child knew that photography from seeing it on posters and in schoolbooks and museums.
Four years later, Clementis was charged with treason and hanged. The propaganda section immediately made him vanish from history and, fo course, from all photographs. Eve r since, Gottwald has been alone on the balcony. Where Clementis stood, there is only the bare palace wall. Nothing remains of Clementis but the fur hat on Gottwald’s head.
Wiki has links to the original photo and the revised (link).
Thursday, May 08, 2008
...from Friedrich August von Hayek, “The Intellectuals and Socialism,” published in 1949, via this guy.
The typical intellectual . . . need not possess special knowledge of anything in particular, nor need he even be particularly intelligent, to perform his role as intermediary in the spreading of ideas. What qualifies him for his job is the wide range of subjects on which he can readily talk and write, and a position or habits through which he becomes acquainted with new ideas sooner than those to whom he addresses himself.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on."
Wimberley wonders about all those Southern Republicans belting out the lyrics every four years at their national convention--do they really know what those words mean? Answer: sure, why not? It's history, the stuff of legend. Reminds me of the guy in Birmingham who said the way to put their past behind them would be to take the site of the church bombing and build a museum about it. As our great national heroine said, fiddle de dee! Tomorrow is another day!
Afterthought: I seem to have one Dumpster bin left over. But I'm leaving for Europe on Saturday. Maybe I could just fill it with $20 bills.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I’ve got a chance to go out to Central Asia in September and I’m really looking forward to it: never been out there before, eager for a chance to piece together the middle of the Silk Road, and to have a look at the only city Genghis Khan is known ever to have entered (link), with maybe the odd peep at one of those oil pipelines that have us all so exercised at the moment.
At least I think that’s what it is about, but I’m pretty shaky at the moment. I know that
But wait, there’s help—here’s Rafis Abazov, with the Palgrave Concise Historical Atlas of Central Asia (2008)! Maps! Forty-five of them! You’ve got your Sogdians, your Timurids, your Tokharistan (no kidding, really Tokharians?). And transport routes! And ethnic enclaves! And mineral deposits! Mmmm, bauxite! I do love maps!
But Norway--oh my, Norway. In exchange rate terms, GDP per capita in Norway is $65,300, half again better than the US (=$41,700). Control for PPP and Norway falls to $47,600--still comfortably ahead of the US, but far enough off from the nominal number to make the average consumer choke on his lutefisk.
H/T: Milken Institute Review.
Fn.: Checking the spelling of "lutefisk," I ran across a reference in the "Food Lover's Companion." Yeh, right.
Charles Tilly: the distinguished sociologist who died at 78 said he never held office in a professional association, never chaired a department, never got chosen for a jury (link). Hey, that’s me to the life! Okay granted, I never wrote 51 books, either…
The awfulness in Upper Austria: the last thing I want to do is to seem to be flippant about the irredeemably dreadful story of the guy who kept his daughter in the basement as his sex slave—and of how this is kind of the second time this sort of thing has happened lately, in the same neighborhood. But just a brief two cents’ worth: could it be the architecture? I mean—how many houses do you know of where they even have a basement where you could hide somebody that long and that well? Where they even have a basement?
The Rev. Wright (aka, Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy): I really haven’t caught much of his act, but from what little I hear/see, I’d say he is smart and entertaining in a Rush Limbaugh sort of way. My concern is not that Obama hangs out with him—as a listless nonbeliever, I have to forgive worse nonsense than Rev. Wright, almost every day. My concern is that Obama should not have been blindsided by this: it’s one more proof (there have been too many) that this truly attractive human being may just lack the killer instinct.
Historical footnote to the above: I used to know a guy who trained urban organizers for the Saul Alinsky community development movement. One thing about these black preachers (he said), they never let you see their mailing list. They may cooperate with you, and they may do you a lot of good. But they have their own agenda and they know they are going to be there when you’re gone. Obama should have known that, too.
Best blog entry of the week: James Fallows, on why Bill Gates never learned the truth about Clippy (link).
I know what's going to happen to Yahoo (Microsoft will win).Underbelly, April 23 (link).
On the other hand, you might say they won by losing:
John Dvorak (link).
Yahoo! is not worth $44 billion. Period. You could buy General Motors lock, stock, and barrel for $14 billion, name all the cars "Google Sucks," and get more bang for the buck.
HT, the author of what must be the weirdest insight of the day (link) and no, it's not the one about the razor.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Yglesias has already weighed in with a take on why this idea is idiotic (link).
Obama needs to put Clinton on the ticket to help him with the blue-collar white male vote.
Maybe so, but isn't Harold Ford somebody who counts as an "establishment voice" in Dem circles? If he says it, doesn't this mean that this is an idea goin' 'round?
And three--I've been traveling with my new toy, the 8G Eee PC on which I took delivery just last week. I'm still getting acquainted with it. On the whole, it's a keeper but I have to admit that there are some frustrations. Perhaps the main one is the keyboard: it is tiny (and my hands, though not tiny, are hardly huge). Moreover, it feels a bit like a kiddie toy piano. And still moreover, a couple of keys seem to be in unexpected places.
This is not really a complaint: I tend to be a pretty fast learner at this sort of thing, and I expect I will get my mind around it. But I'm used to typing faster than I can talk (which is not slow) and right now, I am at the point of making 2-3-4 corrections in every sentence (I think I made about 10 in this one).
I've spent most of the past hour answering student emails on this baby, so I suppose things will move slowly along. But I guess for the moment, I am at least protected against idle chatter.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Sunday, May 04, 2008
"You mustn't break the windows," Mathilde answered, trying in vain to adopt the tone of ordinary conversation. "You could possibly lower the ladder, I think, by tying a rope to the top rung. I've always plenty of ropes in my room."
The difference between marriage and concubinage is money, says Babaji Rao. That is why it is considered more seemly that the bridegroom should go empty-handed to the house of the bride on his wedding-day, any gift from him to the bride's father might be misconstrued. The feeling about this is so strong that until recently it was most unwise for the bride's father to enter the bridegroom's village, and even now one does not stay in the house of one's married daughter or sister, for this would be to accept something from her husband. ... Younger brothers may stay with their married sisters without fear of comment, for they never had the right to dispose of them.