This Hurricane Blog is sobering reading. It is the most updated thing I've seen. Its a news channel blog and collects information. Example:
11:40 - (AP) Roving bands of looters are breaking into stores in Carrollton area to get food and supplies. They've also stolen guns and armed themselves.
By now, I assume everyone knows that New Orleans is dying, drowning as the levees have been breached and the city turns into a tidal arm of the Gulf of Mexico. The images are all over the television and all over the newspapers. Even the NY Times has devoted four or five full pages of coverage to the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi. People rescued, people dead, people trapped, people dying, babies being born, looters stealing everything not nailed down. Looks like a bad science fiction novel about the world ending. But, as bad as it may be, and I have so many friends living down there who I cannot get in touch with and who I worry about, I want to focus on a different issue.
Cities can be rebuilt. New Orleans can be drained of the water, the snakes sent packing back into the swamps, the alligators captured and either eaten (trust me on this, they're pretty yummy) or relocated, and the bricks stacked back up. Indeed, the Times was forecasting in the months ahead a huge economic boom for the area fueled by federal assistance and private insurance money payouts (assuming, of course, that the damage was caused by wind and not water -- a tough argument ahead for many).
But even as the city is rebuilt and life begins again, there are some things that cannot be replaced. What will be gone will be the cultural heritage and artifacts that served to connect us with our ancestors. What am I talking about? The museums have died, the cultural repositories of our collective past and memories, and with them, the city dies.
There are some wonderful museums in New Orleans: the D-Day Museum; the Civil War Museum (in a great Richardson building just off Lee Circle); the New Orleans Museum of Art; the City of New Orleans Museum; the State of Louisiana Museum in 8 historic buildings around Jackson Square; and the Mardi Gras Museum. The flood waters will not deal kindly with these places. The waters will erase our memories just as the diaries and letters home of the young Civil War soldiers will surely perish. The paintings. I can't even begin to think about the paintings. All of the ephemera will be just that, ephemeral and evanescent.
I include in this the great libraries at Tulane University and Loyola University, two of the many colleges in New Orleans. I assume that they are gone, along with their collections of rare books and prints.
And what about the parish churches and courthouses, with their centuries of records of births, deaths, wills, land transfers, famous disputes, and all the records that make up our collective heritage? Again, I assume they are gone.
You can rebuild a city.
You cannot remake a heritage. So, while I mourn, quietly, for the city and those who have lost everything to the hurricane, I ask you to join with me and mourn the loss to us all of that which connected us to our past. We are a young nation, still, and our past is always with us and thus even more precious.
Finally, and again, I have not seen anything on this, what happened to the poor animals at Audubon Zoo?
Last night, and this is what got me thinking about all of this, I ran into an old friend on the train, someone I have not seen in 15 years. It wasn't even a train that he normally ever takes. I wasn't sure I even recognized him, but then I saw the tie -- a Southern tie. The Yacht Club. The SYC. That clinched it for me. He told me that Southern, where I had passed many happy moments, had burned to the ground. You can see it here.
U P D A T E: Sept. 1, 2005
From the New Orleans Times Picayune:
Floodwater stops short of City Park museum
By Dante Ramos and Doug MacCash
The New Orleans Museum of Art survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath without significant damage.
But when Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives arrived in the area Wednesday, NOMA employees holed up inside the museum were left in a quandary:
FEMA wanted those evacuees to move to a safer location, but there was no way to secure the artwork inside.
Six security and maintenance employees remained on duty during the hurricane and were joined by 30 evacuees, including the families of some employees.
Harold Lyons, a security console operator who stayed on at the museum, said FEMA representatives were the first outsiders to show up at the museum in days.
They immediately tried to persuade staffers to leave the building. That would have left no one to protect the museumâ€™s contents, and no one inside the museum had the authority to give that order, Lyons said as he inspected the grounds.
Museum Director John Bullard was on vacation and assistant Director Jacquie Sullivan had taken a disabled brother to Gonzales.
â€śWe canâ€™t just leave and turn out the lights on the say-so of someone we donâ€™t know,â€™â€™ Lyons said.
The phones inside the museum had failed. Lyons asked a reporter to pass a message to Sullivan as soon as possible.
Interviewed by telephone, Sullivan said she had been in close contact with emergency management officials all day Wednesday. State Police had promised to take her back to the museum at 7 a.m. Thursday, she said.
City Park was littered with fallen trees, but evacueesâ€™ cars, clustered around the museumâ€™s walls, were mostly unscathed. The museum itself was spared any wind damage, and floodwater had not reached the building.
Inside, the museumâ€™s generators whirred away, providing air conditioning to preserve the priceless artworks.
Sullivan said museum workers had taken down some pieces in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden before the storm.
But a towering modernist sculpture by Kenneth Snelson was reduced to a twisted mess in the lagoon.
I am overwhelmed with lassitude and unblogginess today. I can't seem to get excited about writing about any of the things I thought interesting today. So, instead, I choose to meander. You are welcome to tag along, if you wish, but only if you would wear a scooby-doo band aid to work. I require that you be prepared to exhibit that level of not taking yourself too seriously today to go any farther. Ok?
*First, the text of a movie review from the NY Times today:
Another neglected Eurotrash classic resurrected - in an extremely good print - by Mondo Macabro DVD, "Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay" is a 1971 French softcore sex and horror film that might have been directed by Jacques Rivette and written by Jean Cocteau. Obliquely based on the legend of King Arthur's half-sister, the sorceress, the picture takes place almost entirely within a remote chateau, where Morgana (Dominique Delpierre), employs her ancient wiles to recruit a young tourist (Mireille Saunin) into the ranks of her female love slaves, all gifted with immortality. To keep things lively, Morgana's court also includes a psychotic dwarf (Alfred Baillou) with an excessive fondness for eyeliner and a lust for revenge.
Despite the ultra low budget, and the apparent inability of the cameraman to create a single atmospheric shot, the film - the first to be directed by Bruno Gantillon - develops a real sense of mystery and fantasy, chiefly through a theatrical stylization of movement and dialogue (choral forms predominate) that casts a spell not unlike Mr. Rivette's celebrated "CĂ©line and Julie Go Boating," which "Morgana" predates by three years. A genuine curiosity, presented here with appropriate respect and illuminating supplementary material, including Mr. Gantillon's short film "An Artistic Couple." $19.95. Not rated.
As one of my co-workers astutely points out: lesbian love slaves and dwarves, how can you go wrong? Indeed.
And how cool a job does the reviewer have, huh?
*Second, it seems like summer is slipping away, taking with it half memories and full truths of summers past: sticking to the faux-leather seats in my dad's Oldsmobile, cooled only by the breeze from the windows; sand in places sand should not comfortably be; smelling like sun tan oil; eating anything by the sea because it is a truism that food consumed next to salt water simply tastes better; children kissed golden brown by the sun; the Girl Child demonstrating the cannon ball; the Girl Child learning how to swim and throwing herself into the big kids' pool, totally without any fear, to demonstrate her new skills; the Boy Child throwing up his hand and yelling "MEG!" (pronounced "my") when asked who was going to the Kiddy Pool or to the "Beak" (his word for beach); the feeling that your whole life still stretches in front of you as the days become longer and the sunlight keeps coming, long into the evening; the sailboats tacking back and forth as they race on the Sound, looking sleek and purposeful; the explosion of the fried clam belly in your mouth with all of its richness, so powerful as to almost be too much, although you finish the whole order anyway; the taste of that cold, cold beer that somehow never tastes the same, never seems quite so necessary in February; summer's happiest tomatoes (need I say more?); and, finally, the bittersweet realization that the beach toys are soon to be packed away, the life guards gone back to school, and the days grown shorter, until all I have left are these thoughts.
*I don't really get the whole Cindy Sheehan thing. At first, I have to say, I thought it just fine that she wanted to meet with the President, sort of in the grand tradition of common citizens meeting with Lincoln at the height of the Civil War. But now, I have come to think her a lightning rod for fools, a rallying point for the wacky left and the ugly right, a place where people who hate America can come together and find common ground. It never ceases to amaze me how much the extreme left and the extreme right have in common. I just wish David Duke and Al Sharpton had been visiting Ms. Sheehan on the same day. That would have been gorgeous to see. Either way, we contain multitudes, this nation of ours. Welcome to the tumult.
*I wonder, sometimes, about why I continue to blog. I donâ€™t have an answer. Until I come up with one, I will, like the milkmanâ€™s horse, keep coming back here almost every day and continue to write. Do you know which post of mine takes the most comments? Easily, without comparison, its the one on Welsh hip hop. Click on the category page for that topic and marvel at how alive that music scene is.
*My Gmail seems to be down. Thank goodness. Jim and I have been torturing each other with School House Rock songs, throwing snatches of lyrics at each other. With my email down, that gives me last word.
Recall, please, that the Girl Child is only just 4 1/2 years old, ok?
We are attempting to correct her behavior. She sucks her thumb at night, during naps, and when she is very tired. It is starting to deform her teeth and we have been advised to make it stop. So, we've talked to her about it, explained that it isn't good for her, that we'd like her to stop, and, per the doctor's suggestion, instituted a sticker chart reward system -- so many days without sucking will equal a movie or something like that. We're not at all convinced that any of this is working, mind you, but we're fighting the good fight.
On Sunday, my wife told me (I was out at Home Depot), the Girl Child came down from her nap and had the following conversation with my wife:
GC [tone earnest, eyes wide, head shaking for emphasis] : Mamma, I didn't suck my thumb during my nap. But, when I got up, I went and washed my hands for a really long time and I only washed my thumbs, so, if my thumbs look a little wrinkled, that's why.
My wife told me that she was instantly terrified. I mean, if this is the outstanding kind of lie she can come up with at 4 1/2, imagine what she'll be like at 13. We're doomed. She is probably smarter than us both.
New Orleans is about to get hit by the worst possible kind of storm. Updates are available at NOLA.com. They are predicting a storm which will overwhelm the levies and innundate the city. You may not know, but New Orleans is the only major city in the country under sea level.
The week, thankfully, is drawing to a close. It was a miserable week, by and large. I am not sorry to see it go, no matter how spendthrift that makes me seem with the small amount of time granted to me on this earth. I'm happy to pretend that this week was no different from trying to hold water in my hands, that the week had to drain away no matter what I did. That's the good thing about time, right? That it wounds all heels, or something?
Still, the week has ended / is ending on a positive note and I shall reflect on the highlights here:
*Thank you all for the very kind comments you left and for the private emails you sent me. It was an unlooked for, unexpected kindness, the best kind really.
*Dinner with Simon was really a bright spot. We happily chatted away for 3+ hours and I think it could have been more if I didn't have to catch a train.
*I will note that most weeks generally will not include a trip to the dentist among a list of highlights but this was not most weeks. Being out of the office was just grand. No matter how much discomfort.
*I already had a screening interview for a new job here in NYC. Keeping my fingers crossed. The interview went smashingly well, so we'll just have to see. If it works out, it will mean a career change. That sounds very nice at this point in time. Very nice.
*Just the same, I had a new client come in today for a preliminary consultation. A young guy, younger than me, but successful. Sounds like a nifty little case and one I'd enjoy doing. I'll quote him a fee on Monday and see if he wants to retain me. When I say little, I don't mean to demean him or his 7 figure plus problem, I just mean that it felt very self-contained. But I already see a couple of places where I could change that, change the dynamic of the interactions he's had with the defendants and maybe blow things up a bit. Like starting with disqualifying the defendants' law firm. That always upsets people.
*My kids were flat out joys to be around this week. No qualification possible. I may have the cutest kids in the whole world. Last night, I read "The Enormous Crocodile", by Roald Dahl, to the Girl Child. Couldn't help myself at the end, when Trunky the Elephant is swinging the Enormous Croc around and the Croc says, "Let me go!", from then saying/singing: "I will not let you go . .Let me go. . .I will not let you go. . .Let me go". Shameless, I am. After the reading, the Boy Child crawled up onto the Girl Child's bed and, at the invitation of the Girl Child, lay his little curly blond head on her lap so she could stroke his hair and forehead. He looked up at her and told her that he loved her. I wanted to cry. It was that beautiful, that perfect. Makes all the work stuff seem trivial.
*I got another expression of interest from another head hunter about some in house compliance positions. May not go anywhere at all, but you know what? It don't got to go no where. See, what it is, is hope. Hope is a powerful and uplifting emotion. It can pull you out of the dumps, let you lift your head up and contemplate the horizon a little. Once you see the horizon, you know that the shitty place you may be in at the moment can and will be a memory. Hope lets you imagine a different future and when your present doesn't amuse, a different future is a wonderful thing to be able to muse about. So, I'm enjoying my little shot of hope. I'm even a bit buzzed on it, truth be told. I can see myself in that future and, even if it turns out to suck, it least it would be a different kind of suck. Right?
*Another high point may be that these horrible peasant skirts which are all the rage this summer could be reaching their natural end. I have yet to see a woman look good in a peasant skirt. Really. I wish the fashion industry would stop being run by people who hate women.
I'll leave you with this, which a friend sent me. Seems appropriate:
Some day, I intend to look back at the last several days and laugh. Probably not for a really long time, mind you, but one day. Stands to reason, right? I mean, it kind of has to be that way. If not, I will be very sorry indeed.
Anyway, a bright spot on the horizon. I am off to have dinner with Simon, that exceptionally smart, erudite and all around good guy from Hong Kong. We're off for Austrian food way downtown. I'm very much looking forward to this and have been for weeks. And right now, at least, it looks as if I will not have to cancel on him, which is nice since he came all this way. Anyway, I'm pretty excited.
Finally, in lieu of any other post today, I will leave you with the words of the Girl Child from this weekend informing her mother and me about her plans for the future:
GC: When I grow up, I want to be a ballerina and a butterfly. The only problem is that I don't know how to make a cocoon.
Some friends have checked back in to see if I updated from the Bay Day post of Thursday. I would have, but I didn't feel like whining. So, instead, I opted not to post. Let me just note that Friday was actually worse than Thursday. I was actually despondent, a word I do not use lightly. Indeed, I actually, in the little cracks of time I could find, managed to get out 6-8 job applications to places all over the country -- Phoenix; San Diego; and at least one or two other places I can no longer recall. May have been an act of desperation, beats me. I am not going to examine it too deeply or too closely. Instead, I'm just going to roll with the punches and see what happens.
I think I'll know better by Monday end of day or Tuesday morning how its gonna shake out. Right now, I guess it could go either way.
Anyway, thanks for caring enough to check in and request an update.
The Girl Child, aged 4.5, just blows me away with the sophistication of her vocabulary and I wanted to note some of the things she said today before I forget them:
Me: Mamma, did you see that the Boy Child ate all of his mango with his fork?
GC (to me): Hey, so did I.
Me: Yeah, but his was a bigger accomplishment, it seems to me.
GC: But then why was mine a smaller accomplishment?
I explained, I promise, that it was because the Boy Child and the fork were but recent acquaintances.
GC: Pappa, where are the rest of the pieces of my puzzle?
Me: Well, did you leave them on the table?
GC: Yes, I did, but someone must have come along and removed them!
I don't know how special or different this makes her to anyone else, but to me, it seems quite remarkable.
Expect no posts today.
Having one of those bad days with respect to a case I have an emergency in wherein one alternates between vertigoes feelings of despair, complete with desire to vomit and feelings that legal research reveals a glimmer of hope through which the needle can be threaded, the rocks and shoals successfully navigated, and the ship brought home safely without foundering on issues better left to the imagination.
I think I want a new career. Just saying.
A misspent youth is all I can blame for the following results to the test I found at Lawren's place:
Congratulations! You're 144 proof, with specific scores in beer (60) , wine (133), and liquor (121).
|All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.|
|My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid|
I have to say that I really enjoy shopping for suits. It is a hugely tactile experience for me. I almost close my eyes and walk down the rack for my size and run my fingers along the suits, stopping only when I hit some fabric that feels especially fine. Then and only then do I look at the suit and the pattern. In the first instance, its all about the material, baby. Its gotta be wool and its gotta feel good. Don't let someone tell you that there isn't a difference between suit manufacturers or that all the suits are the same or that wool is wool. Wool is most certainly not just wool. Really.
Today, I went to my favorite store. Don't ask for the name, they're doing just fine without my plug and I don't want to have to fight to get in there, ok? It is not a street level men's store and they don't rely on walk in customers. In fact, I don't even think that there's a sign in the lobby. And when you get to the door, you have to be buzzed in. At least you don't have to knock three times first.
I went because I needed a new tuxedo. I have lost a bit of weight and my old one cannot be taken in as much as it needs to be taken in. I looked like a kid playing dress up in his father's clothes when I tried it on. Also, I realized, looking at my calendar, that I am going to be wearing black tie at least six times between September 1 and December 31. So, I bought one and, like with any suit, I chose between two models and picked the one with the better feeling wool.
What did I get, you may ask? Or maybe you don't care. Well, I'm gonna tell you anyway, so there.
I bought a beautiful Hickey Freeman tuxedo for about 60% off. See, the fabric has to feel good but the deal has to also feel good. Welcome to NY. The deal has to be there. Only suckers pay retail in NY. Or really rich people. I know I'm not rich and I like to think I am not a sucker, or at least rarely. Hickey Freeman makes beautiful, exceptionally constructed suits out of gorgeous materials. The only better off the rack suit is Oxxford and I cannot afford them, even on sale.
The tuxedo has a shawl collar. This is not something you see so often but I am enough of a clothes horse to want one. With a shawl collar you don't look like you are either wearing just a black suit or are part of the catering staff.
It looks like this:
Something about the shape and drape of the collar and the whole jacket just feels like a throw back to the 1920's and 1930's. Just something very elegant about the look and the statement it makes. Another nice thing about it is that you do not look like everybody else when wearing a shawl collar. Subtly, you stand out a bit. And that's not at all a bad thing, it seems to me.
Now, I just have to talk my wife into letting me go back and get some new suits. They're having a sale and the fabrics were to die for, as my grandmother used to say.
I do that sometimes. Hell, everyone does that sometimes. The internet makes it easy. You sit at your desk and you click through possible job openings in related fields and, with a click of a button, you apply for jobs in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles and Chicago. All places you don't really want to live in, mind you, but they kind of have to be far away to qualify for other life status. A move to a far away place is an integral requirement for this out of current life fantasy.
Or you think, gee, what happens if the money actually comes in from whatever (inheritance, some big case, lottery, or that old mine you bought so many years ago when the price of that mineral was at next to nothing), where would you move to? And you click on real estate listings in whatever city catches your interest at that particular moment.
Today, that was New Orleans, the city of some of my mis-spent youth. I played around with the real estate listings, knowing all the while that I would really have to be out of my head completely if I decided to ever move back there or own property there. Seriously, all the mature indicia augur against any such decision. In short, it would be stupid.
But then you allow the domestic architecture to seduce you. You realize you could own a 130 year old house with a staircase that looks like this:
And you think to yourself, maybe it wouldn't be so bad living back down there. I mean, that house is gorgeous, isn't it?
I have never lived in a city as house proud as New Orleans. I used to love, just love, driving around and looking. To my great fortune, I was friends with some very socially prominent people down there and thus invited into some of the grander houses for Mardi Gras house parties. To see these houses was a real privilege.
I miss the houses. I miss the city. I seriously doubt I could ever live there again, no matter how much I want to fantasize about it.
My wife is so patient with me when I get like this. Iâ€™m a lucky guy.
Still, that wanderlust is rising. . .
It was around 4:00 yesterday afternoon. The kids were napping, I was updating security software on the laptop, the Yankees game was on mute on the television, the a/c was humming away quietly, and classical music was playing on the radio. Then the storm hit and it hit with a fury. Lightening flashing, thunder booming, and the rain coming down fast and heavy, driven against the house by the wind.
*POP* Out go the lights, out goes everything powered by electricity. Everything. Including the sump pumps in the basement, it just occurred to me. Gotta check that tonight. Oh, well. Hopefully that will be ok.
The kids were still napping but when they woke up, just like that, they were knocked out of our century. We lit the house with candles in whatever rooms we were in -- none of the candles were left unattended. Too scary a thought. My wife ordered pizza in for dinner and after dinner we all played on the floor of the den and then all over the house. The kids were tumbling over each other like puppies. It was adorable. And the house looked pretty nice in the candle light. It was an interesting exercise, a throwback to times past.
Connecticut was hit pretty hard by this storm. The mayor of Stamford compared it to some horrible ice storm in the 1930's.
And we were totally unprepared. Well, not totally. We did have flashlights and candles, canned food and cell phones, bottled water and other things. But, we were fortunate in that we just happened to have this stuff from prior storms and prior incidents. We've done very little in the way of major storm planning.
So, I'm going to do that here and invite comments. I am fortunate in having somehow attracted some terribly smart people to my blog (why, I have no idea) and I'm going to take advantage of it now and ask for your thoughts on disaster planning.
*Enough flashlights for every person in the house
*Extra supply of fresh batteries
*Good battery powered radio
*First aid kit
*Figure out how to open garage door when power fails
*Make sure cars are gassed up in advance of major storm predicted
*Buy a couple of battery powered camping table lights
*Establish emergency supply of bottled water
*Get shelf stable milk in small packages for Boy Child
*Make sure to have several rolls of duct tape (hey, you never know)
*In advance of storm arrival, unplug all sensitive electronics
*In advance of storm arrival, turn fridge and freezer to coldest setting and move some of the ice packs from freezer into fridge.
*In advance of storm, make sure cell phones are charged.
*Keep emergency cash in the house.
*Post list of not commonly used phone numbers on door of fridge -- power company, water company, telephone company, etc.
*Make sure that there is a princess phone for use when power outage takes out wireless phone system.
*Make sure that you have enough shelf stable (i.e., canned or dried) food for at least three meals. More than that you ought to probably get out of the house, it seems to me.
*In advance of storm, run dishwasher to make sure you have clean dishes and place for dirty ones.
*For winter, make sure that you have some wood to burn in the fireplace since the furnace will go out, according to the nice oil company lady I just spoke to. Are there viable battery operated heaters?
So, what do you all think? Missing anything important? Including anything silly?
Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts on this.
Happily, after placing a call to the people who put in the sump pumps for the prior owners, I have learned that the sump pumps are on a back up battery system good for around 6700 gallons of water. I think that I will not have to worry about the basement. Which is nice.
The eagle who sits over the entrance to Grand Central on 42nd and Vanderbilt. I'm not sure how I feel about him, but he does have a certain presense.
Well, since you all asked, here's the picture I took of the garage, filled with boxes after three straight days of unpacking.
Simple, really. Don't act your age, put whatever stupid sense of self-regard/dignity to one side.
Just be the only father at the pool today to do a cannonball. Make a really big splash. Bask in the admiration of the Girl Child.
Pray she does not request a demonstration of the belly flop.
I was detained, last night, by evil companions (a good friend and my wife) and only managed 5 hours of sleep. That's ok, all you need is five hours if you then go and mortify the flesh in the gym for about two hours. Indeed, that's also a good way to make walking later too painful to do much of. But back to last night.
I went with a dear friend who is an international expert on rare books and manuscripts and toured some of the highlights of a private book and manuscript collection at a private club here in New York City. Seeing and handling rare books is a pretty interesting experience. I don't have the rare book bug, although I probably could catch it if I let myself. Its just that I lack the time, the money, and the education. I have the inclination, at least mildly, but the inclination by itself will not a collection build. Which is good. Collections are a responsibility and I'm never really certain who owns whom. Does the collector own the collection or does the collection, which requires special care and storage and handling and security and professional care, own the collector?
This collection had some highlights and I was really very fortunate to be able to touch and admire the following:
*Mark Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London 1771). Catesby predated Audubon and his drawings of birds and plants were so extraordinarily colorful, even after some 230 years and so lifelike. It was the first natural history of America. We didn't look at the fish, but maybe another time.
Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida, & The Bahama Islands is one of the great achievements of Anglo-American science in the eighteenth- century. Catesby's great folio plates provided the means by which Europeans could view the natural produce of North American and thus were a part of the continuing discovery of the continent. Most of Catesby's figures were based on watercolor sketches that he made in the field or upon specimens made available to him in England. The work remained a major source for the study of American plants and animals through its own century and even into the next.Source.
Hereâ€™s one of his prints of the Teal (blue winged):
Regrettably, when his books come up for auction, they are often bought by dealers who cut them up and sell the prints individually. I think thatâ€™s cultural vandalism, personally.
*Ptolmey's Geographica (Venice 1511). This was one of the most interesting of the renaissance version of the atlas and while they corrected some of Ptolmey's mistakes, they couldn't bring themselves to correct all of them. Especially noteworthy is that this contained the first map that showed North America, or so I'm told. A nice link here. Here's the map. Love the little putti:
I think the thing that most blew me away with this printing was the title page. It was in red and in the form of an inverted pyramid, I assume in homage to Egypt. It was such a modern feeling graphical design presentation and the red was so beautiful. So exceptional.
*A couple of examples from the William Morris printing house, Kelmscott Press. These were rich, lush and detailed printings. Stunning stuff. You can see some examples here. A nice collection of information on Morris here. We then saw the 1903 printing of the Doves Bible by Cobden Sanderson, a protege of Morris, who rejected the rich and lush look for a much more sparse and very powerful look. Cobden Sanderson believed that the font stood for itself and should be powerful enough to support the work by itself. Here is the first page from the Doves Bible, one of the most famous pages in printing history, I'm told:
Pretty impressive, no?
*Leaving out some of the Renaissance era architectural books we looked at, at my request, we also looked at sketches and drawing by George Cruikshank, a noted satirist and caricaturist of the 1800's, in the tradition of Hogarth. The drawings were marvelous, a collection of full out water colors in exquisite detail all the way down to doodles he did, and signed, on the backs of envelopes and receipts for erasers. My favorite was a very powerful unfinished sketch for a series of illustrations for Milton's Paradise Lost. The edition was never published and Cruikshank destroyed the plates and the drawings, except for this one. It was quite a thrill to see it, to know that I was looking at something that existed nowhere else. Cruikshank also painted wonderful animals -- dogs and horses, in the best tradition of an English artist, it seems to me. The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco has a large collection of his works and many of the images are online.
We finished off the visit with an hour long drink with the curator as we chatted about wonderful rare books he had seen in the course of his long career. A very real book nerd evening. After he left, we adjourned for dinner.
All in all, an outstanding night. It is really quite an experience to hold a book published in 1511. Makes one feel a little less important in the grand scheme of things, which may not be so bad at all in our very individual focused society.
Iâ€™ve been musing a bit about knowledge. How do we know what we know and why do we think we know it? Iâ€™m sure that philosophers and just philosophy majors have spent years and years debating these questions and have honed them down into a manageable mess. I am not a philosopher and I did not major in philosophy. Nor, for that matter, have I read much philosophy, preferring to leave my mind uncluttered to better appreciate the simple pleasures of beer and baseball, preferably at the same time. So, I bring no baggage to these questions.
My musings were prompted by a book Iâ€™m reading. My dad gave it to me, I threw it into my bag and forgot about it. It isnâ€™t heavy, so carting it around without remembering I had it for several months was no hardship. I found it this week when I went digging for my as of yet not located notary stamp. Damn that stamp. Anyway, the book, One Nation Under Therapy : How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance , is interesting. One chapter in particular got my attention. The chapter on grief counseling and grief therapy.
Basically, the book asserts, the long held and widely held beliefs that you need therapy to deal with your grief, that you need to vent, to share your emotions and how you feel about your loss, is a bunch of hooey. The belief doesnâ€™t stand up to scientific review. In fact, for some, therapy simply prolongs the grief. The book notes that the 5 stages of grief that have become common cultural touchstones are in fact a distortion of the work of the shrink who came up with it. The 5 stages were not meant to apply to survivors but to people who had just been told that they had an incurable disease. Interesting, no? Pretty much anyone you ask will tell you (I know, over-generalization but, hey, its my blog) that grief and recovery from follow certain recognized pathways, right?
I paid particular attention to this because of the state my grandfather is in, you know.
Well, how is it that this is thought to be true if it isnâ€™t? How do we â€śknowâ€ť something? How can we be certain we know something?
We learn things by hearing them or by reading them. We rarely examine primary sources or conduct experiments ourselves. In fact, I think that for most things, we are probably three or four, at best, stages removed from the knowledge. The experiment is performed and the results are observed. Stage 1. The results are written up in a paper and presented somewhere. Stage 2. The results are then published in a journal. Maybe Stage 3 maybe just another stage 2. Then someone, maybe someone with no science training, writes an article about the report. Stage 4. That article is read or skimmed in the newspaper by the consumer. Stage 5. Public exposure of the article results in, maybe, a television appearance in which someone long removed from the experiment discusses the experiment and the results. Rarely is it the scientist. Stage 6. Maybe youâ€™ve caught the 120 seconds of television airtime summarizing the article that summarized the report that summarized the experiment. And you become guided by it. Maybe you repeat what you think youâ€™ve learned to your friends or co-workers, always with the authoritative phrase, â€śstudies showâ€ť without really knowing that maybe it was just one experiment. Stage 7. And then we have public knowledge. Far removed, in 7 approximate stages, from the experiment and totally dumbed down.
That is how as best as I can figure out, knowledge becomes widely spread. At best, for most of us, we get our knowledge at Stage 4, the article. At worst, Stage 7. It doesnâ€™t have to mean that the knowledge we obtain is unreliable, but it doesnâ€™t bode well for a high reliability factor, does it, not when I break it down like this, right?
Sometimes we learn from school and from text books and from lectures from teachers or experts. Again, we are asked to accept the â€śknowledgeâ€ť imparted in the book or from the lecture. We are asked to accept it as true. But we all know that information in this context is rarely complete and that information is often distorted by outside political forces. Take, for example, textbooks. Textbooks are often reviewed for â€śsensitivityâ€ť issues, for whether they may give offense to other cultures. In that regard, how can we ever accept, uncritically, anything that ever appears in a textbook, again, knowing that the contents have been, perhaps, distorted? Donâ€™t believe me? Go forth and see what Diane Ravitch has said about some of these things (and then throw up):
*Diane on Math and
*Diane on Language Police.
So what can we do? I think that when you have the time, you should read and read critically the source material that an assertion claims to be premised upon. Grief counseling evidently rests on a very shaky foundation of science, or so the book claims in synthesizing the research of others. Donâ€™t accept the bland â€śstudies showâ€ť assertion. Go find out for yourself. Inform yourself, educate yourself, empower yourself.
But do it selectively. I mean, at some level, you have to trust or at least decide that the matter isnâ€™t important enough for you to spend the time researching and you might as well accept what you read. Reductio ab absurdum and you find yourself repeating Newtonâ€™s experiments on gravity or learning ancient Greek because you donâ€™t trust the Sophocles criticism you were reading. So, clearly, at some level, it canâ€™t be taken too far. I assume we all, intuitively, know what that level is. If not, good luck figuring it out.
I had the great pleasure of spending some time in one of the New York City offices of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles yesterday. I had to return license plates now that I have the cars registered in Connecticut. While there, I saw a t-shirt on a young woman which bore the following inscription on the chest:
Objects under this shirt may be larger than they appear
Based on my careful examination of her shirt, I'd have to say that my test results were inconclusive. Still, great shirt.
Comments, as I have noted before, are the best thing about blogging. Comments make it more like making love and less like intellectual masturbation.
I hit a milestone, yesterday, when Tuning Spork left me my 3000th comment since coming to MuNu. Wow. 3000 comments. I am really very grateful and a little bit overwhelmed by the number.
Rob said it the best on his blog, in referring to the people who comment on my blog:
You have, without a doubt- The best collection of "commenters" I have seen, bar none.
Rob is right. Y'all are the best! Thanks so much for making this worthwhile for me.
Been awhile since I've done one of these but there were lots of interesting things to note, so:
Births, today, in
*1938 Rocket Rod Laver, one of the greatest Australian tennis players, winning the Grand Slam in 1962 and 1969. He also never lost at Davis Cup play.
Events, today, in
*BC 480 Persian forces of hundreds of thousands defeat Greek forces of 7000 led by Spartan king Leonidas and 300 other Spartans at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae. The Spartans were wiped out to a man but caused huge casualties among the Persians. The epitaph remains:
Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie.
*378 Battle of Adrianople (with nice diagrams), the surprise arrival of the Visigoth heavy calvary defeats Roman Army, setting the stage for the end of the Roman Empire.
*1638 Jonas Bronck (link is to cool page on history of the Bronx) becomes the first European settler in what later becomes known as "da Bronx". Always, "the", by the way, the only borough in New York City to be named that way.
*1902 Edward VII crowned King of England after death of his mother, Queen Victoria. The Victorian age ended.
*1936 Jesse Owens wins his fourth gold medal of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, making Hitler crazy. See article at ESPN on Owens. Owens died from lung cancer after smoking a pack a day for much of his life. I note that Owens, America's greatest track star, never denied taking steroids (whether he was asked is, of course, besides the point).
*1945 US drops the second atomic bomb ("Fat Man") on Japan and destroys part of Nagasaki.
*1965 Singapore gains independence from Malaysia. Celebrates National Day. See message from Prime Minister here.
*1974 Richard Nixon (bio from Nixon Foundation website), our only Quaker president, resigns presidency in wake of Watergate. Gerald Ford takes over "under extraordinary circumstances". I've been to Ford's museum in Grand Rapids. Not too bad, but I really hate Grand Rapids.
Christina, at Feisty Repartee, is hanging up her spurs. I will miss her sure handed and spare writing (never a wasted word), her clever insights, her penetrating observations, her sometimes heartrending stories and the terrific anecdotes of her way too smart children. Today, we lose one of the really great ones!
Thanks for the excellent writing and wonderful memories, Christina!
I'm not saying I'm going to hell for this, but I am certainly not scoring any points with the Big Guy. The problem? I had a major Jimmy Buffet craving this weekend. I gorged on a couple of cd's and what, you may ask, what song did the Girl Child, supported by her brother, want to hear over and over again until she could sing along?
My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus
Hearing her sing along to this, if I don't die by Thursday I'll be roaring Friday night!, made me realize I would have some small explaining to do to our religious Mormon nanny. All she said, when I explained, was: "oh, my."
I'm not helping myself at all here, am I?
Oh, and do you know the song 1985? The Girl Child knows all the words to this one, as well. And she sings it with the 2.5 year old Boy Child. I could hear them one night when we were staying at my parents' house. It went something like this:
GC: She was gonna be an actress, she was gonna be a
GC: She was gonna shake her ass, on the hood of White Snake's
My wife and I just about fell over when we heard this little duet. Putting to one side the fact that we were not particularly pleased that the last nanny played this song enough for the Girl Child to learn, by the way. Not pleased in the slightest. Still, pretty darn funny.
It has been a long time since I did a Behind the Curtain post, but that's just because nothing or no one caught my particular fancy for awhile now. I don't go out looking for these people, they sort of have to find me. Today, I was found by Mr. SoulĂ©. A colleague of mine asked me if I had ever heard of him. He told me that SoulĂ© served as President Pierce's ambassador to Spain in the 1850's and, while there, managed to grievously wound the French ambassador in a duel and give the Spanish government a 48 hour ultimatum over something (which they ignored) and, finally, consorted with ant-royalist activists and intriguers. Curiosity officially piqued.
All in all, seems like a perfect candidate for a Behind the Curtain portrait.
As always, the rest is in Extended Entry!
This guy knew how to live.
His story began in France where he was born September, 1802.
Briefly, he was an anti-royalist activist himself. Although, not a successful one. He was involved in a plot against Louis XVIII (busted and escaped to far reaches of France for a year as a shepherd) and wrote a bitter piece about the government of Charles X, for which he was convicted and sentenced to some time in prison. He instead went into voluntary self-exile to Haiti, just having missed the boat to Chile where he had been invited to go work for the President of Chile as his private secretary.
Haiti was not terribly useful, so off he went to the United States where he eventually washed up in New Orleans. On the way, he stopped off to learn English, supposedly staying with President Andrew Jackson (I have no idea how that happened) and later working as a gardener in Kentucky.
New Orleans, for my purposes, is where it all began to happen, though. SoulĂ© passed the bar exam after private study and became a sought after criminal defense attorney.
He was elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 1845 and then appointed to the United States Senate in 1847, later elected to the same body in 1849.
In March, 1853, President Pierce offered Soule the mission to Spain, with the special object in view of the acquisition of Cuba. This news preceded him to Madrid, and he was received there very coldly. At a ball in Madrid a remark by the Duke of Alva was accidentally heard by Mr. Soule's son, Nelvil, who considered it offensive to his family, and, though the duke denied any such intention, a duel with swords was the result. Mr. Soule then challenged the French ambassador, the Marquis de Turgot, as responsible for what had taken place under his roof, and crippled him for life. On 28 August, 1854, a revolutionary outburst took place in the streets of Madrid. It has been charged that Mr. Soule favored this with all his power; but there is no evidence to show it, though he doubtless sympathized, as was natural, with the Spanish Liberal party. In 1854, Mr. Soule was one of the ministers that framed the celebrated " Ostend manifesto" (see PIERCE, FRANKLIN), and it was understood that he was the moving spirit in its preparation. At some previous period he had violently attacked Napoleon III., and when on his way to Ostend he was stopped by the authorities at the southern frontier of France; but as soon as the officials at Paris were informed of this they sent him authority to pursue his journey. At the same time French spies followed him to Ostend. Mr. Soule was naturally deeply disappointed by his government's policy of non-action upon the manifesto. He resigned in June, 1855, and returned to New Orleans, where he resumed the practice of law without abandoning politics.
The Ostend Manifesto bears some small closer examination, it seems to me.
Ostend Manifesto, document drawn up in Oct., 1854, at Ostend, Belgium, by James Buchanan, American minister to Great Britain, John Y. Mason, minister to France, and Pierre SoulĂ©, minister to Spain. William L. Marcy, Secretary of State under President Pierce, instructed SoulĂ© to try to buy Cuba from Spain, but SoulĂ© antagonized the Spanish by his political intrigues and aggressive threats (he issued an unwarranted ultimatum to the Spanish government on the Black Warrior affair). Pierce then ordered a conference of the three diplomats in Europe, all proslavery Democrats, at Ostend. The resulting manifesto strongly suggested that the United States should take Cuba by force if Spain refused to sell. Southerners, who had long feared that Cuba might become an independent black republic, applauded the document, but it was vigorously denounced by the free-soil press as a plot to extend slavery. Marcy immediately repudiated it for the U.S. government.
SoulĂ© was not as devil may care as his adventures in Spain suggest. I think he must have been a rather thoughtful and careful politician. He opposed succession from the Union at the beginning of the Civil War, forecasting only ruin for the South, but he stood with his State after the decision was taken. He served in the Confederate government in Richmond in a minor capacity until illness forced him to withdraw back to New Orleans. Which is odd, come to think of it, since New Orleans was as it still is kind of a swamp and not the healthiest of places to live.
In any event, he was captured by Union troops in New Orleans and here it gets interesting again:
Finally he was released and went to Nassau, whence, in the autumn of 1862, he ran the blockade at Charleston and tendered his services to General Beauregard. After serving on his staff for some time as an honorary member, Mr. Soule went to Richmond in 1863, and was commissioned a brigadier-general to raise a foreign legion ; but the plan was not carried out. Mr. Soule then went to Havana. In the summer of 1864 he became connected with Dr. William M. Gwin in the latter's scheme for settling Sonora, in Mexico, with immigrants from California. This was a project patronized by Napoleon III.; the Confederate government had no connection with it. It failed through disagreement between Maximilian and Dr. Gwin. When, at the close of the war, Mr. Soule returned to New Orleans, though his health was broken and his fortune was gone, he resumed the practice of his profession, but in 1868 he had to give up all work. Soule's remarkable powers of eloquence were acknowledged by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. The effect of his glowing periods was deepened by a strong, clear, and mellow voice and by a massive and imposing form, a noble head, with long, glossy, black locks, flashing black eyes, and an olive-tinted face, which was cast in the mould of the great Napoleon's and was full of expression.
I would dearly liked to have dined with the man. Wouldn't you?
I spent the morning at summer camp. It was the last day of the Girl Child's summer camp and they were putting on a little skit they had been working on in drama class. She was very excited and, despite the fact that it seems as if I have been out of the office more than I have been in the office, I decided to take the morning off and attend. After all, ten years from now I will not remember what I did in the office this Friday but I will remember attending her little skit in ten years.
It was charming. They were "going on a bear hunt" and acted out the whole little story. They put the Girl Child smack in the middle of the line of kids, I think because she's so tall, and she did just fine. Then they gave out t-shirts to the kids. The counselors all made t-shirts for each child and presented them with a few remarks about why each child received that particular shirt. The Girl Child was given the most creative camper award t-shirt, for all of her creative work in art class and because she loved doing the art projects so much. The expression on her face was priceless. She was so self-consciously pleased with her t-shirt.
And then we left them to their devices for the remainder of the camp day. But her counselors had nice things to say about her to me ("she's sooooo smart"; "she made so many friends"; "she was up for anything we did") and her drama teacher said that the Girl Child was fearless and enthusiastic and a big risk taker. All of this, of course, was music to my ears. Nice music, not industrial grunge, just to be clear.
Otherwise, we didn't even mind being outside for this as the temperature was already 87 degrees by 10:00 a.m.
It was a very sweet morning.
*Any takers for telling me what the title of this post is a reference to? Without using a search engine, of course. I bet a number of you erudite readers know what this is.
My desk is a lovely shade of reddish/brownish wood. I had forgotten it was so lovely. It only took just under five hours today to clean it up enough for me to see it again. Also, while on the subject of good news, I do not appear to to have buried anything of a time critical nature such that I have defaulted on something, let a statute of limitations run, missed an important deadline, or otherwise committed malpractice per se. That's always the really big risk with having a messy, messy desk.
Yup, looking mighty shiny and clean in here today. I can practically see my reflection in the surface of the desk.
What the hell. Beats working!
In what other city could you possibly buy from a Japanese language bookstore, for $1, a copy of Bill Cosby's book, Fatherhood, translated into Norwegian (title: Kunsten Ă… VĂ¦re Far), ?
Of course, I bought it. I mean, how could I not?
I love this city.
Thanks to some guy in Missouri, vicarious liability is dead in NY. Vicarious liability ("VL") is a really interesting concept. It has to do with ownership of a conveyance -- a motor vehicle now but a carriage before. VL means that liability for the damage caused by the motor vehicle is imputed to the owner of the vehicle and not merely the operator. This meant that car companies were on the hook if a leased car got into an accident. NY was one of the only states with this law.
VL dated back quite some time and came into being when horse and carriage travel was popular. It made a lot of sense. Horses and carriages were very expensive things but they were generally driven not by the owners but by a poor and poorly compensated carriage driver. If the driver hurt someone, there was no recourse. So the NY State Legislature provided recourse to the owner of the horse and carriage, generally a person of substance.
The concept was simply carried forward to motor vehicles later.
At the time, it seems to me that VL was not particularly revolutionary. I recall from my days studying Roman Law (literally, the laws and legal system of Rome and the Roman Empire) that it provided for VL. If you threw something out of a rented apartment and hurt someone, the injured person had recourse against the owner of the apartment building, whether or not the owner had anything to do with throwing the object out the window. VL, no?
However, VL in NY has made leasing cars very, very expensive and caused all sorts of havoc in terms of insurance and in terms of indemnification of the car companies by the lessee. I know because I got involved in one of the cases once. Went all the way to the Appellate Division where we lost.
Representative Sam Graves, put an unexpected end to the issue.
The provision is in the federal transportation bill under "Title X: Miscellaneous Provisions." It states that people who rent or lease motor vehicles to others "shall not be held liable under the law of any state" for any harm their vehicles cause, as long as they are not guilty of "negligence or criminal wrongdoing."
Representative Graves's amendment passed the House in March by a vote of 218 to 201, mostly along party lines, and it stayed in the bill through the conference committee process. When the full bill went to a vote, it passed overwhelmingly, because it included billions of dollars of spending on transportation projects that lawmakers in both parties wanted for their districts.
If the president signs the bill, officials said, the federal law will take precedence, and New York's vicarious liability law will no longer apply.
No matter what you think of VL, it was the law of NY and has been hotly debated, again and again in the Legislature. For some schmuck from Missouri to come in and change NY law is, to me, an abuse of the federal system. I may not have liked the law, but I resent like hell this hick coming in and usurping the powers granted to the dysfunctional NY State Legislature by the equally dysfunctional citizens of the State of NY.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. The kids actually were napping, the wife was working out, the nanny was off at church, the air conditioning was humming away, we were as unpacked as we need to be at this stage of the weekend, and, for the first time in four days, I sat down for more than a moment.
But, I am a man and in some ways a typical man so I could not sit down in my new den without holding the remote. The adult male pacifier. And I could not hold it without using it, of course. But I did strike gold. Conan the Barbarian was only moments away from starting. I settled in to the couch to enjoy, as if for the first time again, the theatrical stylings of the Governator.
This brings me almost to the point of this post. Bet you thought I'd never get there, did you?
While watching this subtle play on the nature of good and evil, on choice and destiny, on nature v. nurture, I kept seeing breasts. There were a bunch of woman naked from the waist up in this cinematic tour de force. Normally, I suppose, I appreciate the naked female form as much as the next red blooded heterosexual male. But something about these breasts struck me as odd. And then it hit me. These breasts were real! That's why they looked so unusual and even, frankly, so nice.
And now we do get to the point. The point is this: real, not surgically enhanced breasts are seldom seen in movies today. They have vanished, much like cigarette adds from television. So much so, that I am wondering whether the natural breast should be added to the California endangered species list, Hollywood Chapter. They should not be allowed to vanish altogether. We should take a stand and demand their return to the big screen.
Seriously, how messed up is it that real breasts stand out on the screen? How many women have undergone cosmetic surgery to "improve" their looks for movies?
I'm reminded of a scene from a movie I can't recall the name of. Steve Martin and Sarah Jessica Parker are fooling around, in LA, and he says that her breasts feel weird and she says that's because they're real.
Could we start a grass roots movement here? Small breasts for the big screen! A rallying cry!
The movers came, the movers schlepped, the movers worked hard, they nicked walls, they damaged only one piece of furniture, and they left us with our boxes of possessions all over the house, mostly in the correct rooms.
We unpacked, to a minimum level of acceptability, our bedroom. We worked until late and then went out for -- margaritas. Well deserved re-hydration.
The next morning came with no hot water in the house. Someone had turned the furnace off, kindly meant, to not burn oil without the need. I turned the furnace back on and promptly it filled the furnace room with smoke and fumes. Service call one. The oil company. Hot water was restored, bodies were washed. Happiness returned. Ten hours of unpacking later, the kitchen was done. Kitchens take a lot of time to unpack. No question about it. In the meantime, deliveries came and went and our house became fuller still.
Friday, my father came to help. He made us a little bit crazy but he was a huge help. The kids' bedrooms were done and the den and living room were unpacked, the book shelves were adjusted, and the books were put away. Cable was hooked up so we had television again.
Saturday dawned with a trip to Stew Leonard's for pick up 1.5 lbs of jalapeno poppers. That's all we ended up eating for the whole day, as it turned out. The playroom was unpacked. The gym equipment was delivered and assembled by experts. We worked until the wee hours getting everything as finished as we could.
You should see the garage. In fact, I will take some pictures so you can see how we turned a spacious two car garage into a place where boxes were sent to die. My garage is the elephant graveyard of moving materials.
Sunday, the children came to their new home. I was promptly informed, and then regularly reminded by the Girl Child, that if it "was too hard" for her at the new house, her grandparents said she could move back with them.
Yesterday, first day back at the office and lots of catching up to do.
Today, too gruesome for words at work. Oh, and my wife has left us. You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille! Jetted off to Cinncinnati. Business, she claims. But we all know what a garden of temptation Cinncinnati is. Who knows what she's doing there.
I told the Girl Child last week that when her mother went away, we could stay up late and do something fun, just the two of us. Last night, after I said good night and turned off her light, she said, "Pappa, I am sooo excited about tomorrow night!" Yay for me! I'm going to hold on to these moments as long as I can!
Another thing I'd like to hold on to? When I tell the Boy Child that I love him, in Norwegian, "Glad i deg!", his response back, "Goal die!" is too precious for me not to savor.
Finally, the kids are excited by the deer. They have seen the deer and like them. Me? I have seen the deer and concluded that, much as pigeons in the City are rats with wings, deer are rats with antlers and big ears.
More to come later.
Thanks for all the good wishes on the prior post! You all are the best!