31 July 2012
30 July 2012
It is Summer - So August is Visiting
August is visiting - after having basically been abducted by his mom who took him out of the country without telling me and, for a month repeatedly refused to provide the simplest of details regarding their whereabouts, travel schedule, or flight itinerary. She deigned to return him to the states three days after he was scheduled to start his summer here with me in Rochester. And, of course, as if to punctuate the bad acts, on arrival here she refused to turn over his passport so that we might take him to Toronto for a weekend. Some things simply show no signs of changing.
In any case, this past weekend we drove to Massachusetts to see my folks and sister. The sort of behavior I just mentioned means that August rarely gets to see my family. That doesn't seem to deter the boy, however. He positively absorbs the loving. Here he is with my father reading a book on Gnomes. It was a nice hour or so, spent waiting out the deluge that interrupted our summer of drought!
The point? I may well be scarce in these parts for the next month or so.
26 July 2012
Showing Dawoud Bey
Photograph © Dawoud Bey/Art Institute of Chicago.
Today The New York Times reviews two shows, one current, one recently past, in Chicago of work by Dawoud Bey. The work ranges from early street portraits of denizens of Harlem like the one above to posed pairings like the one below of strangers who live in the same communities.
Annals of Private Enterprise
25 July 2012
An Interview with Elizabeth Anderson
It also undermines democracy. People privileged by segregation tend to be insular, clubby, smug, ignorant of the disadvantaged, inattentive to their interests, and full of negative stereotypes about them. When such people dominate positions of power and authority in society, the institutions they run are similarly negligent or even hostile toward the interests of the disadvantaged. Segregation thereby perpetuates inequality and undermines democracy." ~ Elizabeth Anderson
24 July 2012
The Difference a Union Makes
23 July 2012
Republicans, Public Goods, and Sheer Idiocy
No one beside libertarian ideologues and Republican politicians like Romney should find this observation troubling. But they surely should have the good sense not to embarrass themselves when Obama utters truisms about the social-political-economic infrastructure on which "job creators" and "entrepreneurs" build businesses.So the bottom line is that the Internet as we know it was indeed born as a government project. . . . Private enterprise had no interest in something so visionary and complex, with questionable commercial opportunities. Indeed, the private corporation that then owned monopoly control over America's communications network, AT&T, fought tooth and nail against [its predecessor] the ARPANet. Luckily for us, a far-sighted government agency prevailed.
It's true that the Internet took off after it was privatized in 1995. But to be privatized, first you have to be government-owned. It's another testament to people often demeaned as "government bureaucrats" that they saw that the moment had come to set their child free.
The second interesting essay is this one, suggesting that Romney actually understands what I just said. He apparently finds it no insult whatsoever to elite athletes when he suggested that they had oodles of help accomplishing their great, if various, feats. Why then, does Mitt consider it an insult to entrepreneurs when Obama suggests that they do not build businesses whole cloth? Can't the Republicans come up with a candidate who is less dim than this? Come on! I am not even an Obama supporter. This, though, is ridiculous.
Update: And it gets ridiculous-er and ridiculous-er by the minute - look here.
22 July 2012
At The New York Times, a pre-release backgrounder on the film "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry."
And, finally, an Editorial from Nature on the Republican attempts to eliminate political science funding at the NSF.
21 July 2012
Passings ~ Alexander Cockburn (1941-2012)
20 July 2012
Passings ~ Joyce Miller (1928-2012)
18 July 2012
An Interview with Vijay Iyer
"The arts are not something separate from us. I think that when we deal with . . . hierarchical notions of culture, we tend to think of the arts as something we go to, rather than something that is a part of us. And I guess my life experience with music has always been the opposite. It’s always been that we are the arts. And I say that with the utmost humility, because when I say “we” I don’t mean “we artists,” I mean we, as humanity. It’s something that has to be continuous with our daily lives, and I’m not interested in creating some kind of distance, or some sort of divide, between the arts and life as we live it every day." - Vijay IyerI stumbled across an interview with jazz pianist Vijay Iyer (follow link above) about whom I have posted here before. I picked out this passage mostly because it seems to me as continuous with Dewey's notion of 'art as experience.' Iyer is from the local area. I've never had the chance to hear him perform live, but very much anticipate getting the chance to do so. And while I am here I will plug the latest in a string of astoundingly good recordings that Iyer has released in recent years.
Milestones - Nelson Mandela
17 July 2012
"Around the world, followers of architecture with a capital A have focused so much of their attention on formal experiments, as if aesthetics and social activism, twin Modernist concerns, were mutually exclusive. But Medellín is proof that they’re not, and shouldn’t be."I lifted the comment above from this article in The New York Times which recounts the renaissance of Medellín, Colombia. I just tonight came across the link courtesy of Fonna Forman. There is an interesting entanglement of architectural focus on public space, cultural activism, and democratic participation at work here. No panacea promised, just a hopeful example.
16 July 2012
Gordon Parks ~ The 'Segregation Series'
According to the FSA web page Parks once explained to an interviewer that he could not simply depict racists "and say, 'This is a bigot,' because bigots have a way of looking just like everybody else. What the camera had to do was expose the evils of racism, the evils of poverty, the discrimination and the bigotry, by showing the people who suffered most under it." So, unlike [Larry] Towell who is claiming that we should not depict the powerful, Parks is claiming that is is difficult, if not impossible to do so. Hence, for Parks, the need to focus on those who endure racism and its indiginties rather than on those who engage in racist actions and practices.Just so. These images carry that recognition into practice.
15 July 2012
Best Shots (213) ~ Peter Rand
14 July 2012
* “Liberalism and the Politics of Cultural Authenticity.” Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 1:213-36 (June 2002).
Heroes - Woody Guthrie
Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie - an American hero. Guthrie wrote many, many songs but perhaps the best known is "This Land is Your Land," the sanitized version of which is a staple among putative patriots in the U.S.; here are the un-sanitized, eminently relevant lyrics:
This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.
As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.
I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
© Copyright 1956 (renewed), 1958 (renewed),
1970 and 1972 by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
& TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI).
13 July 2012
We just pulled into the driveway here in Hamlin after a month teaching at ICPSR Summer Camp. The drive back was long and hot, but uneventful. I'll take it! Here the lake seems to be keeping things relatively cool and the fireflies are out in full force in the field and defunct orchards that surround our house. They reminded me of this wonderful series by Gregory Crewdson.
12 July 2012
Wambach Dust Up
ICPSR Summer Program in Ann Arbor. Final class in the morning, then clean the apartment and head home tomorrow afternoon.
Meanwhile the 'scandal' in Rochester is that local hero soccer player Abby Wambach - the single best athlete, male or female, in any sport, to come out of the region, perhaps the state, in the two decades I've lived there - has posed naked in a series of photos for ESPN. Many folks in the local area seem to be disappointed, outraged, shocked. What, they fret, do these images say to all the little girls who idolize Wambach? They ought to listen to Wambach talk about the decision (which you can do here).
If only more people had as healthy an attitude about their body as Wambach - to say nothing of her talent and hard work! - we'd be a much happier. And if Wambach can provide a role model for all those little girls they might survive their uptight parents and grow up a little more normal.
10 July 2012
Omar Rodríguez Saludes: "Blind Photographer"
Two Essays by Rebecca Solnit
You can argue that vegetable seeds are the seeds of the new revolution. But the garden is an uneasy entity for our time, a way both to address the biggest questions and to duck them. “Some gardens are described as retreats, when they are really attacks,” famously said the gardener, artist, and provocateur Ian Hamilton Finlay. A garden as a retreat means a refuge, a place to withdraw from the world. A garden as an attack means an intervention in the world, a political statement, a way in which the small space of the garden can participate in the larger space that is society, politics, and ideas. Every garden negotiates its own relationship between retreat and attack and in so doing illuminates—or maybe we should say engages—the political questions of our time.In particular, Solnit connects the preoccupation with local agriculture and gardening to the larger struggle against corporations like Monsanto who hope to patent as much of the growing process as they might.
Monsanto makes a cameo in the second essay, here at TomDispatch, which takes the form of an apology letter to the Mexican nation. In her letter Solnit is mostly concerned with the drug trade and attendant violence that beset Mexico mostly as a result of American demand. In part, that demand reflects an alienation from place that is the converse of gardening. So, in the end the two essays intersect not just at corporate headquarters but elsewhere (or nowhere?) as well.
09 July 2012
Addressing Injustice: Argentina
08 July 2012
The Wonders of Free Enterprise
And, just to be clear, all the bluster and bullshit flowing from the culprits at the head of these financial concerns (look here and here for the must egregious, but hardly unique examples) does not alter the above diagnosis, which is basically Economics 100. These guys are hardly geniuses; they are crooks and liars. They should not just lose their jobs for running their companies into the ditch, they should be prosecuted for any provable illegalities. (The latter possibility should be investigated by systematic government inquiry.) And, if found guilty, they should do hard time. (By 'they' I mean not only the CEOs but their myriad minions.) A reasonably well functioning set of financial markets is a public good and the guys are working as hard as they are able to subvert such markets to their own advantage.
Vivian Maier and the Critics
"We can’t know the full story behind this self-portrait, or behind the many thousands of images left in a storage locker in Chicago. But we can look at the range of Maier’s work and see the tantalizing evidence of artistry and ambition, and we can look at the expression of the woman reflected in the sheet mirror and see her indisputable pleasure. This is no frumpy old bird woman looking at her own pathetic destiny. This is a woman who knows what she wants, who has chosen to do her work free of judgment and commerce, and who is in charge of the scene."
Some time ago I posted very briefly on the death and rediscovery of Vivian Maier; recently my UofR colleague, novelist Joanna Scott, published this smart essay at The Nation on Maier and, especially, Geoff Dyer's dismissive, patronizing interpretation of her work. Scott punctuates her essay with the passage I've lifted above. As an aside, I think that Scott's assessment of Maier exemplifies nicely the point that David Levi Strauss made recently (link here) regarding the importance of criticism in establishing non-monetary criteria for assessing creative work.
06 July 2012
Best Shots (212) ~ Elizabeth Herman
Why the Proposed "Veteran Support Fund" is Deeply Misguided
04 July 2012
02 July 2012
Passings ~ Martin Jenkinson (1947~2012)
Measure for Measure (revisited)
Labels: political economy
01 July 2012
Weekend Digest ~ Politics & Ideas
In The New York Times today is this eulogy for "socialism" ... which amounts to celebrating its accomplishments at (to borrow a phrase from Roberto Unger) 'humanizing the inevitable.' Insofar as this accomplishment, in fact, obtains it seems to me quite precarious.
Also at The Times is this warning from Pam Karlan regarding the conservative nature of this week's SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act ( I hate the phrase "Obamacare"); and here at Mother Jones is valuable visual background on the court and its political propensities.
Finally, from Crooked Timber, this long post by Chris Bertram, Corey Robin & Alex Gourevitch on libertarians and their blindness to blatant, widespread coercion across "private" domains, especially the workplace.