Thanksgiving Is Ruined
November 28, 2013
How much more information do we need to gather before we can try to begin to answer the question?
How much more information do we need to gather before we discover the need to reformulate the question?
How much more information do we need to gather before we forget what the original question was?
How much more information do we need to gather before we begin to wonder whether a legitimate question existed in the first place?
October 31, 2013
welcome to the public domain
September 30, 2013
vanishing public space: Africa too
Catching up this past month on a couple of our back issues of AfricaWatch (April '13), we found Andre Vltchek's account of his visit to the so-called "worst place on earth," Harare:
Right next to my hotel is the entrance to a magnificent swimming complex . . . Right next to it are Harare Gardens, a beautiful English-style park with people resting on the grass, enjoying picnics, reading.
To have such public and ‘open’ areas like parks is unthinkable in Jakarta, where there is only one public green area of substantial size, MONAS. And Jakarta is a monster with 12 million inhabitants, while Harare has a population of only two million. Two million that are enjoying several magnificent parks and gardens, wide sidewalks and art exhibited in public areas, all over the city.
But let’s not forget -- Harare is a ‘defiant’ nation, a country that refuses to fall on its knees and to salute its tormentors. While Jakarta and Phnom Penh are the capitals of two market fundamentalist countries. They are choking on their own fumes, they have almost nothing that could be defined as public left, but in the eyes of Western regime, they can’t be as bad as Harare, Caracas, Havana or Beijing! They are enjoying great immunity from uncomfortable questions; as well as full, hearty support from business-religion publications like The Economist.
There are also almost no public spaces in other African capitals that have been serving as Western client states for year and decades, like Kampala, Kigali, Addis Ababa and Cairo, although, in the latter, at least, people are able to gather on the city’s bridges.
But Harare, we are told, is the worst city on earth!
. . . Could it be that things are not so bad in Harare? There are several decent hospitals, preventive medical care, the highest literacy rate, some of the lowest crime rates on the continent, and public spaces all around.
The piece was published at Counterpunch.org too, here.
TiR highlights the above phrase because it was the one that caused us nearly to spit coffee out through our nose, for reasons of irony, due to events this past summer that Vltchek might not have been able to foresee.
In fairness, the "worst city" designation apparently was awarded in 2011, in the Global Liveability survey report published by the Economist's "Intelligence Unit." The latest survey, released last month, upgrades Harare to merely fifth worst.
August 28, 2013
from interview with Rachelle Horowitz, transportation director of the 1963 March on Washington:
Somebody at the National Council or the Red Cross said that the sandwiches had to be peanut butter and jelly. And Bayard came back to a staff meeting, and he said, O.K., we're writing this manual, and we have to tell people to bring peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, no mayonnaise. Somebody said, But Bayard -- And he said, This is not debatable! It became this sine qua non. Clearly what everybody was worried about was that you didn't want egg salad and mayonnaise spoiling on the road and people getting sick.
Interview included with numerous others in quite well done Time magazine 50th anniversary issue.
Though most inspiring of all was actually marching, walking and talking this past weekend with those who'd been there 50 years earlier.
More food-related details in context in "Eating on the March: Food at the 1963 March on Washington," on the Smithsonian site, here.
Meanwhile, regarding remembrance of historical specificity and the forgetting of it too, USA Today's admirably comprehensive (with even magnanimous inclusion of an essay by Haley Barbour! -- yes, that historically forgetful guy) and nicely done anniversary special edition is impossible not to read cover to cover, including the last paragraph of the tourism-themed last page (p. 71), which knocks the breath out of the reader with the following:
Just a stone's throw from the White House, the Willard Hotel is where Martin Luther King added the finishing touches to his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. Although the room he stayed in was destroyed during a recent renovation, visitors can spend the night in a suite dedicated to King.
July 31, 2013
As animals are so sensitive to sounds and are able to appreciate them so clearly, it may be wondered why so many show displeasure -- even pain -- in the presence of music. Dogs not infrequently howl when their owners start singing or playing the gramophone . . . and some rats will even throw genuine epileptic fits at the sound of a harmonious chord. The reactions of horses to bands in the show ring is also notorious. . . .
On the other hand, some horses, especially those which have been trained to musical accompaniment, seem to enjoy the beat and rhythm of music and will keep time to it of their own accord.
However, the individual differences between horses in this respect are really no more surprising that those between humans. It is well known that what may be balm to one is poison to another.
from Practical Horse Psychology by Moyra Williams (1973)
[volume found last week among numerous discards in boxes outside service entrance to Ivy League alumni club building]
June 30, 2013
"La métamorphose de la larve garnautine," by Pr. Parvus
appeared in Plankton: The Quarterly Bulletin of the Plankton Society, v. 27, no. 3, Aug. - Sept. 1969
publication listed herein (.pdf)
& a copy of which is currently on view here
among numerous other very interesting & illuminating items
May 31, 2013
Last week saw the passing of this great but stubbornly non-prolific composer.
The liner notes to this fine (Rostropovich) recording remind us of the explanation of the composer's friend, the late Jean Roy: Dutilleux was "resigned to producing only masterpieces."
[Roy's 1962 book, Présences contemporaines seems to be the source of the original quote.]
TiR is exactly the same way. Except in reverse.
We hold back and work over every post until, if in the end it cannot be suppressed entirely, it is nevertheless perfectly honed and compressed into an irreducible core of pointlessness, crappiness, inscrutability.
April 28, 2013
An esteemed historian once wrote words to the following effect:
I have been criticized sometimes for having too rarely cited and directly quoted my sources . . .
It is a vain and pointless ostentation constantly to sprinkle one's page with footnoted references to well-known works, to pamphlets of little importance, and to draw attention to it. The thing that gives authority to an account is what happens next, its consequences, and its cohesion, more than the multitude of little bibliographical curiosities.
TiR is not going to tell you who wrote the above, or where. To do so would be vain and pointless.
Oh, OK: It was written by this person in the 1868 preface to this work, all readable here (pdf.)
March 15, 2013
So when Warren says in Reds, ‘You’re doing a piece on an art exhibition that took place three years ago … maybe if you took yourself a little more seriously, other people would, too.’
"One day you're writing about the railroads, and you don't even finish the piece. The next day you're doing a piece on an art exhibition that happened three years ago. . . . But with everything that's happening in the world today, you decide to sit down and write a piece on the influence of the goddamned Armory Show of 1913. Are people supposed to take that seriously?"
Louise Bryant: 97 years ahead of her time.
February 28, 2013