Saturday, February 26, 2011

University of St Andrews 600th Anniversary

For once I find myself in agreement with HRH Prince William:

‎"Far and away the best university in the world."

It's the University of St Andrews 600th Anniversary, which august yet petite institution I attended 1993-1997...

Perfect Lives

A strange, meandering, Midwestern musing... by Robert Ashley. Lovely and hilarious...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Strange Meeting on a Beach

I threw this image together using such desultory methods as Paint and Picasa 3. On the right, myself, photographed some years ago on a beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey; on the left, in California, my friend Jessie Johnson: both of us captured in strikingly similar light and situations, but thousands of miles apart.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That Would Be, aged about 3.
Posted by Picasa

1848 (again)

The BBC's Paul Mason, again:
The revolutions that spread across Europe in 1848 were driven by different factors: but once people had seen revolution succeed, the desire for it became a common factor. In most places those revolutions produced only counter-revolution, autocracy and then - after 20 years - the beginnings of industrial development. It is hard to see the revolutions of 2011 ending with a Louis Napoleon, a General Heynau, a Bismarck etc everywhere. Indeed David Cameron's speech in Kuwait indicates that the democratic powers in the world would rather see them end with stable democracy. 
But democracy opens the way to economic instability, and to an economic re-balancing of wealth and power. All across the developing world people sense this is possible - and that the actions of their own rulers, even if unconstrained locally, are becoming constrained by the global forces.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Ragged Day

Tonight I saw the International Space Station serenely sailing from roughly west to east around 736pm, and earlier today, President Obama visited Cleveland State University (second visit since November, re-election season is starting). I stayed in bed: he is going to have to do a lot more to get to meet me, than just show up in a big limo.

News from Libya incensed me: Qaddafi deserves to be eviscerated in public by the people of Libya. I may have come late to this idea, but all these shakings of regimes and revolutions (see my earlier post) are perhaps the first moves being made in an enormous game, with ever-greater stakes, with no one country or group really in charge of the game, but the game will move inexorably to the biggest, most dangerous and most dazzling challenge of all: Beijing. With each collapsing regime, people everywhere are losing their fear.

That man in California must be regretting the day he turned away a cat.


"We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and of the future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information."


This is the earliest-known photograph of a crowd of people, and it shows protesters amassed at a rally in London, in 1848.

Eighteen-forty eight saw regimes shaken across Europe and elsewhere in a wave of revolutions that mostly failed. More liberal forms of government were being demanded "from Brazil to Hungary." Though few of the revolutions were completely successful, the upheavals ushered in some reforms as well as plenty of repression.

Will this year turn out to be like 1848, but with even greater successes? After events in Tunisia and Egypt, and the ongoing unrest in Bahrain and Libya, it's worth reading this posting by a BBC economics editor, Paul Mason. His posting is quite long, running to 20 points as to why there is this unusual turmoil around the world at present. I have posted the first six, below. Mason says that highly connected  and educated young people are uncertain of their futures, have no fear of existing regimes, and are seeking a more equal apportioning of power and access to power, as well as expansion of economic opportunities...

1. At the heart if it all is a new sociological type: the graduate with no future 
2. ...with access to social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and, e.g. Yfrog, so they can express themselves in a variety of situations ranging from parliamentary democracy to tyranny. 
3. Therefore truth moves faster than lies, and propaganda becomes flammable. 
4. They are not prone to traditional and endemic ideologies: Labourism, Islamism, Fianna Fail Catholicism etc... in fact hermetic ideologies of all forms are rejected. 
5. Women very numerous as the backbone of movements. After twenty years of modernised labour markets and higher-education access the "archetypal" protest leader, organizer, facilitator, spokesperson now is an educated young woman. 
6. Horizontalism has become endemic because technology makes it easy: it kills vertical hierarchies spontaneously, whereas before - and the quintessential experience of the 20th century - was the killing of dissent within movements, the channeling of movements and their bureaucratization.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Death in Cleveland

This poor creature came to a stunning conclusion sometime this morning on Euclid Avenue. Can anyone identify what kind of bird this is? (If you respond, "a dead one," I will kill you). My eye was drawn to, then jarred by, that dot of red blood from its beak.

Another shocking dot of red caught my eye on Saturday morning: after the snow melted, left behind was a seared, iron-grey dead landscape of dead leaves and dead grass. It is hard to believe that Spring is around the corner. I am reminded of Philip Larkin's poem, 'First Sight,' about newborn lambs arriving in the snow-covered fields of the north of England: "They could not grasp it if they knew, / What so soon will wake and grow / Utterly unlike the snow." The red dot above, if you can't tell, was a half-eaten red velvet cupcake. As this photo was taken near an Interstate overpass on an otherwise deserted stretch of Cleveland roadway, I can only imagine the cupcake being tossed from a speeding car window, by... who knows?

Perhaps that dead bird and that done-for cupcake might have conducted themselves differently, if they had thought to consult this expert in Ohio City, a Cleveland neighborhood that resembles the older, historic parts of Brooklyn, NY.

If bird or cupcake had suffered only an injury, perhaps they could have claimed it was in the line of duty: "It happened while I was patrolling the skies over Cleveland..." "This devastating wound was inflicted while I was being eaten..."

Anyway. I discovered that Cleveland believes there are four basic elements:




...and "Cleveland Ecovillage," which is not an element I had heard of before. And believe me, I looked -- the same set of signs are up on various city fences, always the same combination: earth, air, water, Cleveland Ecovillage. Whatever happened to 'fire'? What mysterious properties does Cleveland Ecovillage possess? (Insert jokes here: _______ ).

If you are from Cleveland, you'll know who lives at number 6718 Lorain Avenue: the Slutbangers. "Darling! Don't forget to pick Jane and Billy up from the Slutbangers!" "Mommy, can me an' Molly go play at the Slutbangers'?"

Which is what happened to this poor dame, above: "Ish..ishokay... I... I washat the Shlutbangers, offisher..."

I finally realized what I had been missing about New York City betimes, here in Cleveland. The proximity to Lake Erie causes immense and near-permanent cloud coverage here, and so one rarely gets to experience bright sunshine as you do almost all year round in NYC. At the weekend, the sun came out for two days: see above.

Detroit Avenue and West 65th Street, at the weekend: that is meant to be Lady Liberty on the far corner. On a previous occasion, I came around the corner and said "Oh, Lady Liberty, you're a long way from New York Harbor. What are you doing?" and the lady in the outfit said: "Oh... I....uh....I'm....slumming."

Roamin' Catholic News (Roamin' charges apply)

Further news of the Roamin' Catholic Crutch Church:
Cardinal Sean O’Malley will wash the feet of Irish abuse victims in an extraordinary church service in Dublin today.

O’Malley is in Ireland as part of a Vatican-ordered investigation into how the Irish church is dealing with the fallout of the horrific abuse scandals that have rocked the church to its foundation there.

In Dublin, he will help preside over a “service of lament and 
penetration. Maybe this empty gesture will penetrate their thick skulls and make them go away," said the church official to the mirror.