Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Space Needle in Seattle

Built in 1962 for the World's Fair, the Space Needle remains an icon of this fair city. A recent unplanned visit just before sunset found the place hopping with locals as well as was quite amazing. As the restaurant slowly rotated, the Olympics peered softly through a fine fog, the lakes and Elliot Bay glistened, the freeways and cars snaked gracefully around the hills and shorelines. The highrises, lowslung older buildings and single family homes all seemed happily coexsisting...not always the feelings one has listening to advocates of various points-of-views and agendas. It was difficult to contemplate turmoil while viewing the city silent but active.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Margaret Atwood again

See post on 6 October for the FT's review of Atwood's new book. She also had an opinion piece in the NYT on 21 October, and a great discussion in Salon by Louis Bayard of the timeliness of her work and the liveliness of her mind. I especially appreciated Bayard's note of how timely The Handmaid's Tale was to the threat of emerging theocracies. People should reread that book in light of the continued descent into deeper fundamentalism of Christians, Muslims, and Jews; Hindus are not exempt either. This type of fundamentalism borders on and encourages fascist and totalitarian behaviour. Beware of lack of tolerance, proscribed behaviour and dress, and retreat into knee-jerk rather than thoughtful, rational responses.

Understanding the weather in the Pacific Northwest

For those who have ever tried to understand the weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest or who wonder why the weather forecasters are almost always wrong, this is the book for you! Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and weekly guest on KUOW radio (Friday's at 9:50), is the preeminent authority on Northwest weather. He has published dozens of articles on Northwest weather and leads the regional development of advanced weather prediction tools. His new book, The Weather of the Pacific Northwest, is a must read for all residents of this area.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Barbara convinced me....... share my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I am unable to think critically about politics, art, and literature this weekend, so let's explore comfort food. Here is the best chocolate cookie recipe:

Hazel’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Preheat oven to 375.
Cream together coarsely in food processor:
1C butter
1C brown sugar.
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla.
Mix together in a large bowl:
2C flour
1 ½ C oatmeal (best to do: process flour, oats, and the 4oz dark chocolate here: this is the secret:Do this in the food processor first, before the everything else, put aside until you get back to this step) and add in
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda.
Combine the creamed mixture to the dry mixture in the large bowl.
Stir in:
12 oz chocolate chips...more if you want
1½ C chopped nuts if you like them.
Make golf ball sized cookies, set 2” apart and bake for ~13 min....depending on whether you like them chewy, crunchy, etc. They should look light brown on the top

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beware of politicians whipping up crowds into feverish fury

One of the most disturbing, depressing, and distressing aspects of the McCain/Palin campaign has been the behaviour of Sarah Palin in the scare-mongering and crowd frenzy that she encourages. While it has been a common campaign tactic for the vice-presidential candidate to take on the role of attack dog inorder for the top of the tickets to appear somewhat well-mannered and above the fray, Palin has been taking a page out of the National Democratic Socialist Party of Nazi Germany in crowd control. In today's New York Times, Russ Rymer has an op-ed piece that is a must read on the dangerous waters Palin is dipping her Betty-Boop open-toed shoes into. Rymer is supporting the cautious and thoughtful warnings offered by Representative John Lewis in his recent remarks on McCain/Palin's rabid remarks and harking back to George Wallace's experience in his career as a politician in Alabama. After the election is over, one can only hope that enough Republicans will come to their senses, particularly McCain/Palin, and they will campaign to begin to heal the terrible wound they have gouged into the gut of America.
For historical value, go to this NYT link on archival articles about George Wallace

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kings of Leon

Great band! They were here in Seattle Monday.

Writers in Translation again....(see post below 18 October)

NPR has a great list of authors translated into English to start you off on a reading adventure.
*Jonathan Coe, The Rotters' Club and The House of Sleep.
* Victor Pelevin, The Sacred Book of Werewolf and Buddha's Little Finger
* Boris Akunin, The Winter Queen
* Ludmila Ulitskaya, The Funeral Party.
* Ismail Kadare, The Three-Arched Bridge and Spring Flowers, Spring Frost.
* Imre Kertesz, Fateless, The Pathseeker.
* Antonio Lobo Antunes, What Can I Do When Everything's on Fire?.
* Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses.
* Naguib Mahfouz, The Thief and the Dogs
* Muhammad Yusuf Quayd, War in the Land of Egypt
* Alaa Al Aswany, The Yacoubian Building.
* Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
* Carlos Fuentes, The Death of Artemio Cruz.
Interestingly, many of these authors have new books in translation and I thought it a little odd that NPR would claim that these are all great authors we have not yet heard of.....!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Larches at Ingalls Pass

Today's hike in 9-12 inches of snow(!) to view the larches...this photo from a previous hike by John. The colour in the Teanaway Valley were incredible......wisps of ground fog, horses lazily foraging, alfalfa bound in their cubes, the smell of wood smoke. Nothing like autumn in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Irène Némirovsky

The New York Times reviews a new exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage about Irène Némirovsky, French author and victim of the death camp Auschwitz. The remarkable story of her daughters' survival and the concomitant survival of her unpublished manuscripts is well known by now. The reviewer, however, is more concerned with the low-key discussion of her attitudes toward her Jewish heritage. Her family's complicated cross-border, cross-class, cross-cultural,political and religious conversion make for a very uncomfortable story with no easy answers or opinions. There is also an interesting, sympathetic review in the FT Weekend of her newly published book (in English) All Our Worldly Goods.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An increcible exhibit is about to open

Those fortunate enough to visit Seattle starting 24 October, will have the thrill of a lifetime in the art world. Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is opening an exhibit "S'abadeb — The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists". There is a good review in The Seattle Times. The importance of this exhibit cannot be understated: this was a collaboration of the members of 70 Native American and First Nation groups whose territory enclosed the current cities of Seattle and Vancouver and Victoria, B. C. The choice of objects to be shown, how they were to be explained, what was present by its absence (sacred and other private items)was dictated to the curator of the show. This is an exhibit, not of a bygone civilization, but a vibrant,living, thriving culture with much to share and teach those of us present in their ancestral homeland.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Translation Issues Redux

In today's NYT, is an article titled Translation Is Foreign to U.S. Publishers. Several years ago, a small, local press in Seattle, Scala House Press attempted to deal with this issue by beginning to develop a program, Literature in Translation, that would be housed first in middle schools. The project would bring in residence translators into the schools where there were many children for whom English was a second language. English language learners (ELL) and native English speakers would then be paired to translate something.....a recipe, song, poem from the ELL's native language into English. This would provide an entree for the native English speaker into the ELL's life and culture. It would encourge students to seek out literature in translation and build an appreciative audience from the bottom up.

Dancer Illusionists

Momix performed last night at the University of Washington's Meany Hall. What an exhilarating experience for all who attended. The innovative concepts of choreographer Moses Pendleton were transformed into an "other" reality by the skill of the dancers, light, movement, costumes, music. Thirteen pieces were performed, each creating its own world...even the shortest pieces were like the best short stories: you were drenched in the moment, the event felt complete, you were satisfied. Click on this link to see videos of some of the performances: you will just wonder at the balance, control, and beauty of what the human body can do! For two hours we were transported away from the grimness of the world's economic problems and the inanities of McCain, Palin,and Dino (the dinosaur) Rossi. In beholding, and being enveloped in, the beauty before us, we could hope that Barack Obama and Christine Gregoire would prevail.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

American Indian College Fund & Pendleton Woolen Mills

The American Indian College Fund holds their annual fundraising gala in New York at the end of October. Each year, they honour a supporter of their work. This year is the 100th birthday of Pendleton Woolen Mills and the AICF is honouring their longtime friend and supporter. If you cannot attend the gala, you can support the AICF through purchases on their website of jewelry and Pendleton blankets and other products. These purchases can also be made through Pendleton's own website.

Wine vs. Nature

The current issue of The Nature Conservancy has articles on wine regions that are working to make grape growing and habitat protection compatible activities. South Africa is one area that has been very active and the program there is called Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI). The winery featured as having a very successful BWI program, is Vergelegen...another photograph of the manor house, taken by Jennifer Griffiths, can seen near the bottom of the column on the right.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A threatened people of Europe

One of the projects of the Open Society Institute is focused on education issues facing the 10-12 million Roma people on the European continent. Other sources of visual and written information about the Roma can be found in Andrew Miksys' photographs about the Roma in Lithuania; Isabel Fonseca's book Bury Me Standing;and an anthology of Gypsy writers.

More prizes announced!

The announcement of the winner of the annual Man Booker award is always looked forward to with anticipation by bibliophiles. The 2008 winner is Aravind Adiga, who becomes the third debut novelist to win the coveted prize. The winning title is The White Tiger.

This picture says it all!

Great article in the NYT about change, modernism, what it means to be secular, Turkish, Muslim, and a woman in Turkey today.

Speaking of prizes....

Who could not be impressed by this year's list of MacArthur Fellows? Of notable interest is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her book, Half a Yellow Sun, was vibrant, sad, and portrayed the urban/rural, Western/African, male/female, political/philosophical issues facing growing nations (in particular, the rise and demise of Biafra), with eloquence and force.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Nobel Prize for Economics

Hurrah for Paul Krugman! While this award was, ostensibly for his academic work in international trade, comparative advantage and economies of scale, really, it was his daily indictment of the Bush Administration for eight years and his courage in calling them on the carpet for their hubris and deception that was recognized today. Not many people display this kind of public bravery and intelligence.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Palin+McCain=McCarthy&Weimar Germany

Be afraid, act out, do not keep silent. Read today's Opinion columns in the New York Times: Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, even David Brooks then think, write your representatives in Congress, talk to your friends, and most of all keep talking, do not accept the rapid right in silence.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

In the midst of this financial chaos.....

Southwest Airlines still flies on time, has cheerful attendants, was packed with interesting passengers, and did not lose my bags! Chicago is in its best season, nights, warm, sunny days, trees decked out in all their colour......the home of Obama, possibly the 2016 Olympics, and full of architectural pride

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Georgian Language

This photo in the Seattle P-I today captured my attention because I had never seen the Georgian language in print

Symbols on the left are those of the IPA and those on the right are of the Georgian alphabet
Georgian consonants[2] Labial Dental/
Alveolar Post-
alveolar Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m მ n ნ
Plosive aspirated pʰ ფ tʰ თ kʰ ქ
voiced b ბ d დ g გ
ejective pʼ პ tʼ ტ kʼ კ qʼ ყ
Affricate plain ts ც tʃ ჩ
voiced dz ძ dʒ ჯ
ejective tsʼ წ tʃʼ ჭ
Fricative voiceless s ს ʃ შ x1 ხ h ჰ
voiced v ვ z ზ ʒ ჟ ɣ1 ღ
Rhotic r რ
Lateral l ლ

To learn more about the language, click on this link.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When Art & Family Politics Don't Mix

I had just been randomly wondering what had happened to the incredible coup scored by the de Young Museum in San Francisco three years ago (see NYT), to house the largest collection of Oceanic art (4000 pieces), the Friede Collection, when, lo & behold, there is an article in Sunday's NYT answering that very question! It raises all sorts of questions about private collections, public ownership/viewing, repatriation of art & artifacts, about scholarship, and who has what rights. Be sure to read these two articles linked here for another look in what families keep in their closets.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wallace Stegner, The West, and the nurturing of great writers

Terry Tempest Williams conversed with Steve Scher on KUOW (don't forget to pledge your support to KUOW) this morning and is speaking tonight at Benaroya Hall as part of Seattle Arts & Lectures. Ms. Williams' new book is Finding Beauty in a Broken World. During her conversation with Mr. Scher, she spoke so eloquently and passionately about The West (Wyoming and Utah) where she grew up and still lives; about the environmental degradation being committed in the name of Energy, driven by the Darth Vader of all Darth Vaders...none other than Dick Cheney himself. In listening to Williams, I began thinking back to Wallace Stegner, who felt that 'place' was the beginning of every story well told, the undercurrent of all the woes and foibles of individuals. Stegner was a mentor of Williams and also Wendell Berry, whose 'place' is Kentucky. Not only have these writers dealt with issues of place, but also issues of race and prejudice. Wendell Berry in The Hidden Wound; Stegner in One Nation; and Williams in her current book where one of places/problems explored is Rwanda.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Margaret Atwood

What would we do without novelists?! Margaret Atwood has a new book coming out next week, Payback. An excerpt from this book can be read in FT's Arts & Weekend. This is a very timely piece on money, religion, and sex and the nature of revenge and forgiveness. Atwood has an incisive wit, acute powers of observation, and the ability to cut through pc-ness masquerading as intellectual prowess.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Nobel Prize for Literature

Charles McGrath, in today's NYT Week in Review, laments the State-of-the-Nobel for American writers. While not necessarily disagreeing with his overall thesis, he makes such sweeping statements about previous non-American winners being unknown or obtuse writers, particularly to an American audience. Representatives of the Nobel committee who choose the winners, state that American writers, and by extension readers, write for and about an American audience only and further, that the publishing industry here does limited translations, therefore, Americans just don't know what is out there. Again, while none of this can be refuted, McGrath does mention one of this year's potential candidates, Claudio Magris, and seems to think he is one of the unknowns here in America: hmmm, not quite. In 1989, Magris' book Danube, was published in Britain. This book is an incredible travelogue, geographic and historical odyssey, from the start of the Danube River at a spigot in Germany to its outlet in the Black Sea, on the coast of Romania. Magris not only lyrically describes the places he and friends are floating through, but also the historical, literary , musical, political, philosophical importance of these places. McGrath is wrong if he accepts the intellectual snootiness of the Nobel committee and assumes that Americans, readers and writers alike, are any more provincial than their European counterparts. (Even if Sarah Palin makes us look like hicks).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Listen and Pledge!

It's that time of year when public radio stations ask for your support. You can listen to fabulous music from your computer anywhere in the world, and in Seattle also on your radio, at KEXP. You can listen to great news and info shows anywhere in the world from your computer, and in Seattle also on the radio, at KUOW.
If you appreciate and value good music and reliable news sources, be sure to pledge to these great stations: without them, you would be subjected to more commercials, more rabid radio and soundbites, more noise. So, click on the radio stations above and get linked to the stations and be a good communitarian!

To listen to a great primer on the financial mess, listen to this broadcast of This American is excellent and understandable.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sports and analogy

September Madness
This would be funny if it weren't so scary.

How does the Rabid Right get away with it?

After last night's debate, Patrick Buchanan was the third right wing pale male in the course of the day to mention Palin's comeliness, as in "...she's a good looking woman"; "who wouldn't be glad to be looking at her...", etc. I mean, come on, if Democrats did this they would be raked over the coals, but worse than that, where is the "left wing media" when we need them to call these people on this. Why is it that the right continuously gets away with behaviour like this. If they are ever called on it, they cry foul..that the left wing media is smearing them, blah blah blah. It is truly unbelievable.

Palinguage...sent by friend Barbara

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Read this story & shake your head.....are we surprised at China's inroads into Africa?

More blowback from the war on terror

The U.S.-backed Ethiopian military has secreted away scores of "suspects" -- including pregnant women and children -- and fueled anti-American rancor in Africa.

Editor's note: This article is adapted from a report published Wednesday by Human Rights Watch on renditions conducted in the Horn of Africa in 2007. Read the full report here.

By Jennifer Daskal

Tonight's Debate

In preparation for the debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, be sure to prime your laugh meter by watching the Saturday Night Live rendition of the Palin-Couric interview last week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen & Ismail Kadare

Two of my all-time favourites appeared in today's by his absence and one by his presence.
The op-ed piece entitled "This Economy Does Not Compute" by Mark Buchanan suggests that the theory that economists have relied on to explain market behaviour-the equilibrium theory-sounds great in theory, but is wanting in explaining or predicting actual outcomes. He then proceeds to discuss three alternative theories being explored which are all based on various computer simulations... "we’re going to need something more imaginative, starting with a more open-minded attitude to how science can help us understand how markets really work. Done properly, computer simulation represents a kind of “telescope for the mind,” multiplying human powers of analysis and insight just as a telescope does our powers of vision. With simulations, we can discover relationships that the unaided human mind, or even the human mind aided with the best mathematical analysis, would never grasp." I was surprised that he failed to mention the book written by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen in 1971 The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. If we are looking to the 'hard sciences' for help in explaining the organised chaos that is human behaviour, this book would be a great start.

The Balkan melancholy, or hüzün, (Georgescu-Roegen was originally from Romania) is furthered in the book review by Richard Eder of the newly translated The General of the Dead Army by Ismail Kadare of Albania. Kadare's books are like Franz Kafka and Jose Saremago on steroids......gloom, repetition, bureaucracy, angst, anomie, all set in the violence of the Albanian State and the violent nature of Albanian society make for stark reading, or to paraphrase Eder, we read about our deeper worst selves. To read more about the strangeness of Albania check out this story in a previous NYT "Albanian Custom Fades".