23 September 2017

Some people in St. Louis are praying for cold weather to come quick.  A few are reveling in wanton destruction of property.  Many of us have stepped up our strategic efforts to hold the whole system accountable.  Judge Wilson is a symptom of a diseased system; he's just doing his job.  White people in our region have stepped up quantitatively to show their indignation, but we all must be willing to disrupt the system in ways that illuminate that there can be no business as usual if blatant injustices continue.  We are fighting for a system where all its people are free and able to fully participate in a democracy.

Jamala Rogers, "Here We Go Again:  Black Life Doesn't Matter," Capital City Hues, Sept. 18, 2017

06 September 2017

Really, European Jews shouldn't have been mad at Hitler in 1940, because his plans for the Holocaust were as yet very inchoate and who was to say whether Mein Kampf or conferences with Neville Chamberlain reflected his real views?

05 September 2017

Aeneid, Book 2, towards the close of Aeneas's account of the sack of Troy (John Dryden's translation).  Creusa is Aeneas's (first) wife.  According to legends Aeneas carried his father, Anchises, on his back out of the burning city.  The ghost of Creusa appears and speaks to Aeneas, but he discovers that she is insubstantial; he must leave the city immediately.

Then headlong to the burning walls I run,
And seek the danger I was forc'd to shun.
I tread my former tracks; thro' night explore
Each passage, ev'ry street I cross'd before.
All things were full of horror and affright,
And dreadful ev'n the silence of the night.
Then to my father's house I make repair,
With some small glimpse of hope to find her there.
Instead of her, the cruel Greeks I met;
The house was fill'd with foes, with flames beset.
Driv'n on the wings of winds, whole sheets of fire,
Thro' air transported, to the roofs aspire.
From thence to Priam's palace I resort,
And search the citadel and desart court.
Then, unobserv'd, I pass by Juno's church:
A guard of Grecians had possess'd the porch;
There Phoenix and Ulysses watch prey,
And thither all the wealth of Troy convey:
The spoils which they from ransack'd houses brought,
And golden bowls from burning altars caught,
The tables of the gods, the purple vests,
The people's treasure, and the pomp of priests.
A rank of wretched youths, with pinion'd hands,
And captive matrons, in long order stands.
Then, with ungovern'd madness, I proclaim,
Thro' all the silent street, Creusa's name...

I strove to speak: but horror tied my tongue;
And thrice about her neck my arms I flung,
And, thrice deceiv'd, on vain embraces hung.
Light as an empty dream at break of day,
Or as a blast of wind, she rush'd away.

19 August 2017

My hunch is that there are many, many women and men like Amy McGrath in this country, who have the patriotic spirit necessary to be good public servants in Congress but who, alas, did not have the judgment to be born to well-known elite families or to look craggy and weathered quite like Bernie.  The Democratic Party should remember this every day.

I urge my readers to consider a donation to McGrath's campaign.  It will be people like her who can take back the House for accountability and democracy, or not at all.

16 August 2017

Max Kellermann wouldn't be a bad president for the next week or so.  Thanks, ESPN.

04 August 2017

Banking - with its gray functionaries and experts - has taken the place of the Church and its priests and, controlling credit, manipulates and propels the faith - the scarce, dubious confidence - that our time still keeps.  And it does it in the most irresponsible way, devoid of scruples, seeking to squeeze marginal profit out of the confidence and the hopes of human beings, fixing the credit of which everyone can partake and the price which everyone must pay for it (even the credit of nations, which have docilely abdicated their sovereignty).  In this manner, controlling credit, banking governs not only the world, but also the future of humans -- a future that the crisis is always shortening and making expire.

And if today politics no longer seems possible, this is because the financial power has indeed sequestrated all the faith and all the future, all time and all expectations.  In this hard situation, while our society that believes itself secular remains in servitude to the most obscure and irrational of religions, it will be well for everyone to reclaim credit and future alike from the hands of these dismal, discredited pseudo-priests, bankers, professors and functionaries of the various rating agencies.  And maybe the first thing to do is to stop looking so much at the future, as these guys exhort us to do, but instead turn our gaze back to the past ... Archeology - not futurology - is the only access road to the present.

Giorgio Agamben, ending of an essay in La Repubblica, Feb. 16, 2012  (my translation)

Martin Shkreli, despite a valiant defense of his character from august pillars of the investment sector, has been found guilty of three counts of fraud.  (This particular jury was composed of seven women and five men, which seems relevant when one considers Shkreli's chief hobby, harassing women online.)

I am gratified to see that the "don't call me a misogynist liar, I'm just Rain Man" defense didn't work this time.  Invariably deployed to protect straight white men from the consequences of their own actions, this may be Dustin Hoffman's most lasting legacy to Euro-American culture. 
One trial witness last month, Schuyler Marshall, a Dallas-based real estate company chairman who invested in one of Shkreli’s later hedge funds, said that Shkreli reminded him of the film character Rain Man, the autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman, who has extraordinary mathematical powers but difficulty relating to others.
Under cross-examination, Marshall said that he was not claiming Shkreli was autistic, but that: “The reference here was that this was just an intensely focused, bright guy who knew his stuff.”

26 July 2017

As a former resident of Massachusetts, I could not be prouder of Monday's unanimous court decision against tyrannical and unlawful detention of innocent immigrants.  It honors the legacy of John Adams, defense attorney (if not John Adams, president). 

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, 'whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,' and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.