Friday, September 28, 2007

The Cosmpolitan

Trish over at Liberal Chicks had a post about having to listen to somebody's personal life from her speaking on a telephone for an hour on a train. I commented that Trish could read Tropic of Cancer into a toy telephone with the chutzpah of Jackie Gleason in response next time. It made me laugh that she liked my comment and the bit about Gleason. I don't know if anybody reads Tropic of Cancer anymore. My college roommate Craig read it just as a thing to do our freshman year in college and read me a few lines. His father not only had a moment in the sun but, also in light of the rest of his career, became European News Manager for UPI. Thinking about him reminds me of the time I was down with Craig at the Dallas office. Mr. F. was leaving and ran into a peer. "How are you doing, Bill?" "Fine, thanks." "How are Joyce and the kids?" A back and forth verbal stroking that was pro forma but seemingly informal that went on for some 4-5 queries on each side while Mr F. continued in stride to the elevator and the other down the hall. Never seen such otherwise. Really it was part of information, relationship management on both sides. Craig was a news manager himself. He went from copy boy at the Wall Street Journal to bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald to living retired in a brownstone in NY worth some million + dollars. When I talked to him last year to arrange a meeting with my son, he could cite truths from novels about the politics of Louisiana over the last century. My favorite news manager story about Craig though occurred in the year after his undergraduate degree. He was in Austin for some reason and was walking across the mall and ran into Dr. Reddng(?), the Dean of Journalism who was a little bit pompous, a little bit uninformative the time I happened to hear him at the Y. Craig and Dr. Redding greeted each other and Dr. Redding asked Craig, who had a C average in the doctor's recollection, what he was doing? Craig, "Working in New York." Dr. Redding, "That's good. I'm glad you found journalism isn't for you (slight pause). What are you doing?." Craig, "I'm a reporter for the Wall Street Journal."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dr. Bollinger, dean of Columbia, opens up a can of whup-ass on Achmadinejad. Part of the privilege of being a professor is writing scathing reviews of articles you are turning down for publication. Well written and scathing here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Yom Kippur

Franz Rosenzweig gave me an invitation. 'You don't need to be Jewish to go to Yom Kippur.' That and tickets, and I'm in. I think the biggest benefit was the 'we have worshipped idols' which got me to thinking about 'research.' In a related vein, there is a nice prayer about having peace 'which neither failure nor wealth can take away.' Rather in contrast to the Christian view of Jews, there are repeatedly prayers about failings but also remind G-d that 'we are weak,' probably something that helps the Arabs be able to visit Israeli porn sites. "I found Elijah in the marketplace," is nice metaphorically as the rabbi reports even if it temporarily gets Hitler out of hell on a technicality.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Reflections on Jerome Weeks defense of Shakespeare

Jerome Weeks had a nice blogpost on the intermittent controversy about 'who wrote Shakespeare.' The nub of the difficulty in disposing of anyone other than Shakespeare himself is, as I see it, 'how could a commoner write so well on court life?' This led me to the following reflection.

"The Courtier" (Il Cortegiano) by Baldissare Castiglione, a handbook of manners, idealizes High Renaissance life. 'A significant translation occurred in 1561 when Sir Thomas Hoby turned "The Courtier" into a compelling English-language work that every educated Elizabethan read. Particularly influenced by it was Shakespeare..'* 'At the center of "The Courtier" was the humanist philosophy, a broad-based collection of high-minded values embodying entire fields of knowledge from poetry and geography to natural science. Castiglione drew on all this for his courtier's pursuit of eloquence, his shying away from specialization, his gentle aloofness and nonchalance. Sprezzatura is the Italian word for this special attitude, this careless elegance, though it is all of the parts that make up the Renaissance gentleman. In modeling a perfect courtier, Castiglione imagines a courtly world tilted toward perfection. This was a powerful current in 16th-century Italy -- an upper class urge to create alternative worlds, imaginary and better than the world around them,' a world that Shakespeare created for us in romance in A Midsummer Nights Dream. 'Shakespeare' may owe more to the High Renaissance of Italy and Castiglione than to the Earl of Oxford.

*W. Amelia, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Norman Podheretz has a nice article on a free site of the Wall Street Journal about Iraq and VN. I recall walking over to the Walnut Hill branch of the Dallas Public Library from my job at Safeway in college and picking up Commentary and being reassured by what he said. Hat tip Instapundit.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New York

It's really quite a city. 'Took the A train' listened to a black couple practicing a a song and talking about a hip-hop artist. Got sore walking around. An Asian girl was standing outside of Tiffany's a little to herself near a right angle of the building, the picture of elegance, white suit, black striping, white shoes. I thought someone was taking her picture, but she was just standing there.

The smell of urine is pretty memorable around the Sherman statue at the edge of Central park; ditto you don't want to need to get in a subway lift. Freud 'didn't like America because New York didn't have public restrooms,' probably a polite way of complaining about the smell. Was at a kids park near Rector and the Hudson River, condominiums there 1/2 million dollars minimum. A mom led her 7 year old girl just to squat down and pee 7 feet from the unchlorinated fountain play area which drained also into the black astroturf.