Archive for July 5th, 2010

05
Jul
10

7.5.2010 Wonderful fourth celebration at the lake with my Charlotte “family”. Great fun to just relax, swim, EAT, talk, share and watch fireworks … thank you Lomax family!

history, gardening, art, practicing what you preach: Because Monticello is such a national treasure, I am glad Jefferson failed personally at what he argued for us nationally/politically.

This seems like clear hypocrisy, but it also points to the deep ambivalence in the American mind between our professed ideals and our economic imperatives. We mistrust wealth, but we simultaneously worship it. Like Jefferson, we idealize the supposed simplicity of rural life, but like him we want our country weekend houses well-stocked with all the modern comforts. And, like him, we’re not willing to to balance the checkbook if means sacrificing what he called “the pursuit of happiness.” We can recognize ourselves in Thomas Jefferson, because his contradictions, and his addictions, are our own.

Less well-known is the fact that Jefferson was also America’s founding home and garden addict, a detail-obsessed improver who designed the perfect dwelling at Monticello, then endlessly remodeled it. He sank huge sums into landscaping his grounds in the latest styles and entertained a constant stream of guests with spreads of heirloom vegetables and fine French wine so lavish as to make an oenophile blush.

In doing so, Jefferson set the standard for the irresponsibly over-leveraged American homeowner, mortgaged to the hilt to enjoy the good life. At his death on July 4, 1826, Jefferson was so deep in debt that everything he owned including his slaves had to be sold.

via Jefferson: our first home, garden addict – CharlotteObserver.com.

facts, culture: very interesting …

Federal data from 2007 says 40 percent of births in America are to unwed mothers, a trend experts say is especially common in middle-class America. In one St. Louis community, the notion of getting married and having children — in that order — seems quaint.

As to what kind of consequences this new concept of marriage will have for the next generation — a group of children who may grow up with several parental figures instead of just two — Becky says she worries about it. Experts say it’s too soon to say what the effects will be. We’ll have to ask these children in 20 years.

via Kids First, Marriage Later — If Ever : NPR.

BP oil crisis, economy:

“THE bad news is we didn’t hit oil,” ran the old wildcatter’s joke. “The good news is we didn’t find gas.” Potentially dangerous and always more difficult to manage than pouring liquid into a barrel, natural gas used to give oil companies a headache. Now gas is dominating the thoughts of Western oil bosses and, increasingly, their firms’ portfolios. Seven of the eight projects Exxon Mobil completed last year were for natural-gas developments. Two of the three it has scheduled for this year are also gas-related. Royal Dutch Shell says that by 2012 half of its output will come from gas. The current high oil price still makes crude the prize for any self-respecting major. But the West’s big oil companies are growing gassier.

via Oil companies’ dash for gas: Vapour trails | The Economist.

art, NYC: I enjoyed this article very much … my conclusion was that Hopper’s work epitomized art … “a collage inside Hopper’s imagination”. Nighthawks is in Chicago at the Art Institure and one of my favorite paintings.  If you are in Chicago … go see it … it is worth a look.

Edward Hopper. Nighthawks, 1942. Oil on canvas; 33 1/8 x 60 in. (84.1 x 152.4 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; Friends of American Art Collection. Courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago

Back home, I dug through my bookshelves and unearthed Gail Levin’s “Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography.” The book is autographed by the author — I had gone to hear Ms. Levin read in a bookshop that is now gone — and dated from a time when I was still new to the city and knew it largely, romantically, as a sprawling Hopper painting filled with golden, melancholy light. In the book, Ms. Levin reported that an interviewer wrote that the diner was “based partly on an all-night coffee stand Hopper saw on Greenwich Avenue … ‘only more so,’” and that Hopper himself said: “I simplified the scene a great deal and made the restaurant bigger. Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.”

Partly. More so. Simplified. The hidden truth became clearer. The diner began to fade. And then I saw it — on every triangular corner, in the candy shop’s cornice and the newsstand’s advertisement for 5-cent cigars, in the bakery’s curved window and the liquor store’s ghostly wedge, in the dark bricks that loom in the background of every Village street.

Over the past years, I’ve watched bakeries, luncheonettes, cobbler shops and much more come tumbling down at an alarming rate, making space for condos and office towers. Now the discovery that the “Nighthawks” diner never existed, except as a collage inside Hopper’s imagination, feels like yet another terrible demolition, though no bricks have fallen.

It seems the longer you live in New York, the more you love a city that has vanished. For those of us well versed in the art of loving what is lost, it’s an easy leap to missing something that was never really there.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Nighthawks Of the Mind – NYTimes.com.

history, NC, OBX:  I almost cried over the Mother Vine … and I had never heard of it … Partly because I love the Outer Banks and its history and lore.

A scuppernong grapevine in Manteo, believed to be 400 years old, is struggling after a utility contractor sprayed it with weed killer. N.C. DIVISION OF TOURISM

For centuries, a massive grapevine has grown on the northern end of Roanoke Island, and long ago came to be called the Mother Vine.

It’s believed to be the nation’s oldest cultivated grapevine.

Cuttings from the vine, which yields sweet scuppernong grapes, helped sprout North Carolina’s wine industry. The vine erupts from the sandy soil in Manteo a gnarly 2 feet thick, and has survivednor’easters, bugs and mildew for maybe 400 years.

Then a utility contractor sprayed it with weedkiller. The Mother Vine is sick.

Jack Wilson, who has owned half the vine for 52 years, noticed a bit of browning in late May. He found more browning the next day.

It turned out that a contractor for Dominion Power had driven through, spraying herbicides to keep vines from engulfing power poles. A tendril of the Mother Vine had touched a pole. Wilson said a neighbor reported that the contractor “sprayed the heck out of everything.”

Grapevine and other experts rushed to the scene. Dominion Power fell on its sword.

“We feel awful this has happened,” said spokesman Chuck Penn. “I mean, you’re talking about an historic icon, 400 years old, and we are really saddened.”

Wine lovers are holding their breath. Scuppernongs, a type of native muscadine, were the first U.S. cultivated wine grapes. They’re the foundation of the state’s 175-year-old wine industry, now seventh largest in the nation.

via Centuries-old N.C. ‘Mother Vin

news, UGA, social responsibility, career, followup:  One mistake, caught, can ruin a career.  That is a hard lesson.  Interesting line … “He is the face of one of the top five brands that the state of Georgia produces, behind Coca-Cola, Delta and maybe Home Depot…”

“He is the face of one of the top five brands that the state of Georgia produces, behind Coca-Cola, Delta and maybe Home Depot,” said Stone, onetime president of the Columbus-area Bulldog Club. He wants Evans dismissed swiftly.

via UGA fans angry, sad over Evans  | ajc.com.

A source has confirmed that Damon Evans and the University of Georgia have reached a negotiated settlement that will result in his resignation as athletic director.

Georgia athletic director Damon Evans leaves a news conference in Athens, Ga., Thursday, July 1, 2010. A state trooper pulled Evans over late Wednesday night for driving erratically. Police said Evans smelled of alcohol and was given a field sobriety test. He was taken to Atlanta’s city jail on charges of DUI and failure to maintain a lane. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The resignation is expected to be announced during an 11 a.m. Monday teleconference of the executive committee of the University of Georgia Athletic Association.

Evans has been under fire since his DUI arrest Wednesday in Atlanta.

via Source: Evans, UGA reach settlement; resignation to be announced Monday  | ajc.com.

college search:

For seven summers, a group of college counselors from across the country have climbed on bicycles to travel from college to college on an informal, saddle-bound fact-finding mission that I like to think of as the Tour d’Admission.

via College Admissions Advice – The Choice Blog – NYTimes.com.

media, business model: Just interesting …

The freely syndicated articles have ads embedded in them (which you must not adjust if you’re republishing–though the Guardian notes you’re free to have your own ads elsewhere on the page to drive your own monetization efforts). So by republishing the Guardian content, you’re effectively multiplying the newspaper’s advertising footprint … and this is how the publication is hoping to make a success of this bold move. If it finds its articles grabbed and republished many times–a situation that may happen as less and less big-name news articles are freely available–then it’ll be able to charge more fees to its advertising partners.

via Blogs as 21st Century Newsies: The Guardian’s Syndication Experiment | Fast Company.

public art, favorites, Charlotte: Romare Bearden is one of my favorite artists.  And I love public art … so I will be excited to see the part dedicated to Romare Bearden and the relationship with his art.

This conceptual rendering gives an idea how artist Kendall Buster's metal wire sculptures might look once in place at proposed Romare Bearden Park.

Some might say Kendall Buster’s welded metal sculptures resemble hot air balloons.

Others might see flower bulbs turned upside down.

Either way, her design is a winning concept, said Brad Thomas, chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Art Commission.

The commission’s search committee chose Buster over two other finalists to create the sculptures for a proposed uptown park.

The committee chose Buster’s concept design, in part, because she and the park’s landscape architect have both expressed an interest in collaborating to create a setting for the sculptures at Romare Bearden Park.

Buster’s design also would allow visitors to move around and inside the sculptures and experience them in different ways from each location, Thomas said.

“We’re talking about a park environment and creating some interaction with the work of art,” Thomas said. “Kendall took all of those early considerations in and really brought to the table a commission that will serve us well when the park opens and for many years down the road.”

Buster, 55, teaches sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. The Yale University graduate has had commissions and exhibitions nationally.

Last week she installed a sculpture at Johns Hopkins University and has another installation planned this summer at the new Indianapolis Museum of Art garden.

In Charlotte, Buster proposed multiple rounded-top sculptures for Bearden Park, currently a parking lot at Church and Third streets.

The park is expected to celebrate the life and work of Bearden, a Charlotte native and renowned 20th-century artist who died in 1988.

Plans call for an art wall and gardens, a theme in some of Bearden’s work. A memory walk will include colorful paving based on one of Bearden’s works.

via Virginia sculptor will build for uptown park – CharlotteObserver.com.

movies, entertainment, Davidson ’82:  Saw Knight and Day … honestly a stupid movie … but great entertainment with Bob and Joni … sometimes I just need to be entertained.  And Joni and I got a good laugh during the Running with the Bulls scene, since we have a Davidson ’82 friend who has actually done it …

IMDb Video: Knight and Day: Trailer #2.

vuvuzelas, culture, FIFA World Cup 2010: Got mine … blue … intended to take it to 4th of July party, but forgot … It is Panthers blue … Will John or I dare take it?

With that note of the Exotic Other struck, we could turn to the question of the object’s future. What happens when the World Cup concludes next weekend and a tchotchke diaspora takes shape? After all, it’s “a must-have item” for visiting fans, The National Postof Canada reported, noting that one South African maker of the horns sold about a million of them (for $2.50 each) before matches even got underway. “I love it,” said one German fan quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald. “I can see it catching on at games in Europe.” In the U.S., they have already been given out at as a Florida Marlins game promotion. The vuvuzela sound has proliferated in a range of ringtones and smartphone apps.

via Consumed – The Vuvuzela as Cultural Artifact – NYTimes.com.

Kagan nomination, Supreme Court, history, media, politics, Thurgood Marshall legacy: Do you think the media analysis (legal, political, historical, philosophical, cultural, personal) has been more extensive on the last two nominations has been markedly more extensive?

Thankfully, Ms. Kagan appears to have escaped any damage from these attempts to paint her as the second coming of this devilish caricature of her former mentor. But the justice’s own legacy took some hits, and the truth about his record needs to be set straight before this distortion becomes fixed in the public mind.

First, there are the hard numbers. As a lawyer, Marshall argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court and won 29. That’s hardly the record of a man operating outside of the legal mainstream. Marshall’s rulings on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals were never overturned by the Supreme Court, and in most of his appellate opinions he joined with the majority of what was then viewed as a conservative circuit. As solicitor general of the U.S. he lost only five of the 14 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

via Juan Williams: The American Conservatism of Thurgood Marshall – WSJ.com.

When Senate Republicans decided to turn the first day of Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing into a referendum on her mentor, Justice Thurgood Marshall, they made two big mistakes. The first was tactical: Most Americans just don’t know or care that much about Marshall’s jurisprudential style. When they think of him, they think of him as a lion of the civil rights movement, a guy you name airports after. While deriding him as a “judicial activist” and “results oriented” may have been an attack on his judicial craftsmanship, to most of us it sounded a lot like an insult to his legacy. But the real mistake the GOP made in tethering Kagan to Marshall was that the comparison emphasized the exact point Senate Democrats were attempting to make all week: that the court has a critical function to play when the other two branches of government let the American people down. Democrats made that point with some success. By invoking Marshall over and over again, Republicans really drove it home.

via How Republicans inadvertently made the case for confirming Elena Kagan. – By Dahlia Lithwick – Slate Magazine.

IN her Supreme Court confirmation hearings last week, Elena Kagan cited Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. as her model of judicial restraint in response to questions from Republican senators who want the court to overturn health care, campaign finance and economic regulations.

Ms. Kagan picked the wrong justice. Holmes was a cold and brutally cynical man who had contempt for the masses and for the progressive laws he voted to uphold. Ms. Kagan would do better to look to the justice whose seat she has been nominated to fill: Louis D. Brandeis. Brandeis, who was succeeded by William O. Douglas and then John Paul Stevens, was not only a great and restrained judge but the most prescient critic of the “curse of bigness” in a time of economic crisis.

Both Holmes and Brandeis were heroes of the Progressive Era, when the constitutional debate eerily anticipated the one that unfolded in the Kagan hearings. Liberals denounced the pro-corporate bias of the conservative Supreme Court, and conservatives countered that only the court could protect economic liberty and personal freedom in the face of an out-of-control regulatory state.

Although Holmes and Brandeis both objected to conservative activist decisions striking down progressive regulations, Holmes, unlike Brandeis, had no personal sympathy for the Progressive movement. An aristocratic nihilist who once told his sister that he loathed “the thick-fingered clowns we call the people,” Holmes believed that judges should vote to uphold virtually all laws, even the ones they hate.

If Ms. Kagan is confirmed, Brandeis will be a far more relevant guide as she grapples with the issues at the center of our current constitutional debates. (Disclosure: I’ve known Ms. Kagan for years and my brother-in-law has been her principal deputy in the solicitor general’s office.)

Ever since the rise of the conservative legal movement in the 1980s, liberals have yearned for a justice who can not only challenge Justice Antonin Scalia on his own terms, but also change the terms of debate. As her deft performance in the hearings showed, Elena Kagan has the potential to play that transformative role. To achieve it, however, she needs to develop a positive vision of progressive jurisprudence in an age of economic crisis, financial power and technological change. As a model for this vision, she need look no further than her greatest predecessor.

Ever since the rise of the conservative legal movement in the 1980s, liberals have yearned for a justice who can not only challenge Justice Antonin Scalia on his own terms, but also change the terms of debate. As her deft performance in the hearings showed, Elena Kagan has the potential to play that transformative role. To achieve it, however, she needs to develop a positive vision of progressive jurisprudence in an age of economic crisis, financial power and technological change. As a model for this vision, she need look no further than her greatest predecessor.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Brandeis’s Seat, Kagan’s Responsibility – NYTimes.com.

music, science, philosophy, history: OK, so i am a nerd … but I found this fascinating?

Jay Kennedy tells NPR’s Guy Raz that his discovery was partially luck. Looking at Plato’s works in their original scroll form, he noticed that every 12 lines there was a passage that discussed music. “The regularity of that pattern was supposed to be noticed by Plato’s readers,” Kennedy says.

Music in ancient Greece was based on a 12-note scale, unlike the eight-note scale of modern Western music. Kennedy posits that Plato deliberately inserted discussions of music every 12 lines to send a secret, musical message.

What Plato couldn’t tell people was that he was a closet Pythagorean. Pythagoras and his followers believed that mathematics and music were the key to the universe.

“Plato’s philosophy shows us one way to combine science and religion,” Kennedy says. “The culture wars we’re having today — about evolution for example — see science and religion as two polarized opposites. Plato’s hidden philosophy shows us that he combined an emphasis on mathematics with an emphasis upon beauty, music, art and divinity. The founder of western culture, in fact wanted us to combine science and religion.

via A Musical Message Discovered In Plato’s Works : NPR.

Davidson:  Great video about Davidson and it’s future … What Should the Core Values of Davidson College Be?.

Two professors and a student spent a large part of the spring semester examining the values that Davidson espouses. They hope that the video they produced illuminates the range of opinions the community holds about those values, as well as demonstrating the value of video as a tool in teaching and learning.

architecture, culture, great headlines: Midlife crisis for a stadium … 15 years?  How old is the Roman Coliseum?  Are million, even billion dollar buildings obsolete in 30 years?  Are buildings  “disposable” today? Are the financing term and the useful life of a building equivalent?

At the ripe old age of 15, Bank of America Stadium remains a pleasant place to enjoy a Sunday afternoon. Look around the rest of the NFL, though, and it becomes clear how hard it is to keep up with the (Jerry) Joneses, from the Dallas Cowboys’ $1.2 billion palace opened last season to the $1.6 billion stadium the New York Giants and Jets will move into next month.

via Midlife crisis for Carolina Panthers’ BofA Stadium? – Charlotte Business Journal.

BP Oil Spill, opening lines: I bought gas at a BP station … and admittedly I thought that i should punish BP … but really I’m hurting the local owner and myself.  If BP goes bankrupt, nobody wins … gas is gas …

Does that mean I have oil on my hands?

So today I drove into the BP station up the street from my house. There were one or two cars at first. By the time I finished filling my tank the place was packed. And I felt happy about it. Me, the social worker who will go the extra mile for the injured and underdog, me the lover of dolphins, turtles and whales.

Because BP is us. And the owner of my local BP station is a member of my community with a family to support and anguish over the folly of the  parent corporation. (I’ve been there in my lifetime. Have you?)

There was a thank you note taped to each pump at the station this morning, explaining that the station is locally owned and operated. I wanted to go inside and hug somebody.

So let’s stop the scapegoating and the finger pointing and good grief, let’s  stop making this a political event. We’re in this together. Those responsible need to make amends and pay for this mess. They should do time or pay huge fines if there are criminal elements to what happened. But I won’t make my neighbor any more responsible than I am for our country’s squandering of resources. This is our time to come together and do some soul searching about ourselves.

via I Bought Gas at a BP Station Today by Cathleen Hulbert | LikeTheDew.com.

art, DC: Another article on Norman Rockwell’s exhibit to open at the Smithsonian … “American Ideal”  … interesting analysis.

His heyday was the 1940s and early ’50s, when the accumulated sorrows of the Depression and two World Wars imbued Americans with a sense of solidarity and common purpose. “There was a strong sense of loss,” Mr. Spielberg said. “Because not since World War I had America’s mothers lost so many sons. It was an open wound, and Rockwell was part of the healing process.”

As beloved as he was by the public, he suffered the slings of critical derision, especially in the ’50s. The dominant art movements of that era — Abstract Expressionism, Beat poetry and hard bop jazz — devalued craftsmanship in favor of improvisation and the raw, unmediated gesture. Against this backdrop Rockwell was accused of purveying an artificial and squeaky-clean view of America, which remains a criticism of him today.

Rockwell perfected a style of painting that might be called the American Ideal. Instead of taking place in lush European gardens, his playful gatherings are in a diner on Main Street.

At the time he made the comment he could not have imagined that his work would one day be collected by some of the same museums and individuals who also collect Abstract Expressionism. In hindsight it is possible to see Rockwell and Pollock as opposite sides of the same coin: Rockwell exemplifies the American desire for safety and security as much as Pollock exemplifies the opposing need for flight and rebellion.

The current exhibition offers us the chance to step out of the vast marble-white spaces of Washington and into a world where Americans convene in old-fashioned drugstores and barbershops, conducting themselves with a sense of integrity and fair play, with gumption and whimsy. These are qualities one wants to retain as a society, and it is a credit to Rockwell’s subtle, story-weaving imagination that he captured the values we celebrate on Independence Day without ever having done a painting of American flags waving from porches or July skies bursting with fireworks.

via Rockwell Paintings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum – NYTimes.com.

how things work, The President: I found this fascinating. President Obama’s nighthawks: Top officials charged with guarding the nation’s safety.

salt, bookshelf:  I posted my brother in law’s blog entry the other day on salt and found this book review very interesting.  I think I may add salt to my list of topics to follow. 🙂

I read this fine book in bedrock Calistoga, California, while marinating in

a spring of geothermal hot water. Very comforting, especially since Tisdale

reminds me that there is a trace of primordial salt in this pickling brine, to

which I have given back a few drops of my own salt-pinpricks of sweat on my

forehead, spindrift forming on the bridge of my nose. It all makes me feel a

part of something greater. The Good Book, it seems, was right on the mark: I

am the salt of the earth. You too.

via Article: Lot’s Wife: Salt and the Human Condition. | AccessMyLibrary – Promoting library advocacy.

Apple:  I considered buying Apple TV when it first came out … but I couldn’t see that it added anything.  I think I was right.

“I suspect it’s only a matter of time before this hobby gets turned into a business, the TV space is too important to ignore,” Mr. Gartenberg said. ”The TV remains one of the last disconnected devices in the household and everyone is trying to figure it out.”

via Apple Hopes to Re-enter the Living Room – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com.




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