Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving 2008

This wonderful holiday is nearly upon us. Last year, we faced uncertainty, we were anxious over the possible outcome of the election, even though "things weren't so bad" (yet). This year, the world has taken a grim, more challenged turn. But there is now a little hope with a new president-elect who seems to be assembling a government that really intends to do stuff, and do it to a constructive end. I guess that is reason for thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving. Count your blessings. I am.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The Drudge Report cites a leading Russian political analyst who continues to predict that the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Drudge Report: Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily IZVESTIA published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

The paper said Panarin's dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year's events.

When asked when the U.S. economy would collapse, Panarin said: "It is already collapsing. Due to the financial crisis, three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street have already ceased to exist, and two are barely surviving. Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world's financial regulator."

When asked who would replace the U.S. in regulating world markets, he said: "Two countries could assume this role: China, with its vast reserves, and Russia, which could play the role of a regulator in Eurasia."

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: "A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles."

He also cited the "vulnerable political setup", "lack of unified national laws", and "divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions."

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

He even suggested that "we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all." Panarin, 60, is a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.

Track this story at:

"See Me Through the Morning Light"

Ain't got no religion on me
I'm gettin' scared to sleep at night
Ain't got no religion
I'm getting scared gettin' scared to sleep at night
But I need somebody help me please make it through the night

Ain't got no religion on me
I'm getting scared gettin' scared to sleep at night
Ain't got no religion on me
I'm getting scared gettin' scared to sleep at night
But I need somebody Jehovah, Allah, Yahweh, somebody, see me through the morning light
--Mem Shannon

Mem Shannon and the Membership are an amazing blues and funk outfit, New Orleans-based, that meld New Orleans and Memphis blues, propelled by the awesome guitarwork and vocals of Mr. Shannon. With the world in commotion, houses in motion, an air of unreality crossed with despair, as evidenced by mass prayer vigils over the economic crisis balanced (finally) by a president-elect with the courage to go jogging on Sunday morning instead of the obligatory church visits, we are clearly a world in turmoil, but with a smidgen of hope.

Time to sing the blues, which can represent a gate that opens in what seems to be a solid brick wall, as much as it sounds like a song of despair or sorrow. Check out Mem Shannon's powerful "No Religion" on "Mem Shannon - Live at Tipintina's " or "I'm From Phunkville."

Mem Shannon - "No Religion" live:

Mem Shannon - "No Religion" MP3 podcast:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tofurky vs. Turducken

Tofurky vs. Turducken - where do you stand ?

Education in NYC

The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting selection of comments and observations on the upcoming Agenda -- the key issues that the Obama administration will face, as discussed by executives and professionals in varying fields. The Daily News had a powerful editorial about school quality and race/ethnicity in the NYC public schools, which raised complex issues and questions about education quality, teaching and learning.


JOEL KLEIN: There’s a reason why we’re still stuck in the same ditch. That doesn’t happen by accident. There are strong and powerful forces that maintain the system, because it works well for lots of people, just not the kids.
And if the president were to ask me, I would tell him there are two things that he ought to focus on, both mentioned by Lou. The first is national standards and national assessments. The tragedy is not simply how many kids aren’t graduating. The tragedy is how many kids are graduating wholly unprepared for anything that follows. The easiest way to improve the graduation rate in America is to lower the standards. And lots of people have done that, and as long as we keep doing that, we’ll delude ourselves into thinking we have a decent graduation rate, but in fact our kids will be wholly unprepared.

In New York City, and this is highly controversial, we put a letter grade on every school, based on progress. And we do that to make the system transparent and actually allow people to bring the house down on us. Because you put a letter F or a letter D on a school, and even middle-class schools that think, because they have a lot of bright kids there, they’re doing a great job, but they’re not remotely doing a great job.
Our kids in Ohio are not going to compete differently in a global economy than our kids in New York. It’s sort of silly to have all of these different standards and assessments. And also, it makes the attack on assessments easier because by having 50 different ones, you’re not really investing in getting the economies of scale.

The magic ingredient in the game I play is high-quality teaching. We don’t remotely have enough of it because we don’t reward it properly, we backload the pay scale. The real money goes into the people who are in the system a long time, gets rolled up in a defined-benefit pension plan, makes it very hard to attract new talent. We don’t reward excellence, we don’t give hardship pay, we pay the same thing for a science teacher and a math teacher that we do for a physical-education teacher. If any university did that, they’d go under.

I would repurpose almost all of the federal dollars that are now in it. That’s a lot of money, $30 billion to $40 billion. I would repurpose that to teacher excellence

MR. KLEIN: The countries that succeed, they tend to draw their teachers from the top quarter, top third of their graduating college classes. These are people who have been academically successful, who believe in assessment, because they’ve lived under it and it’s served them well. In the United States, we draw teachers from the bottom quarter of our college graduates, and our kids in high-poverty neighborhoods get the bottom quarter of the bottom quarter.

And all the incentives are misaligned. You wait for the 20 years, because then it’s actually when it starts to get good, because you’re getting across-the-board pay hikes. So whenever I pay a three-year, 10%, across-the-board pay hike, the people who are locked into the system are getting $8,000 and $10,000 and $12,000 raises, all rolled up in a defined benefit, which means that I’m not getting any return on that money. Whereas the people I’m trying to attract, the young kids who I want to stay in the earliest years, they’re getting the same 10% on $40,000 or $38,000.

So, in effect, we’re rewarding the wrong things. That’s why I think if the federal government were to come in, tied to a real accountability system and said, “This is what we want to reward in teacher performance, we’ll use federal dollars, and if you go to our most challenging schools, it’ll be 1.5X; and if you do it in math and science, it’ll be 2X.” And if it were to use the federal billions in a way that started to create excellence, you’d attract different people, they would be incentivized in different ways, and you would begin to create a culture of excellence.

Wall Street Journal Report on Education:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Affairs of State and the Exchequer: Hillary Is In, While the Economy Goes Round and Round, Whoa-oh-oh-oh, And it Comes out -- Where ?

Hillary is it, evidently trading her junior US Senator from NY status for the Secretary of State, according to the NY TIMES:

Will David Paterson be the next US Senator from NY (my speculation) in some version of the Sarah Palin scenario described for US Senator Ted Stevens (R- Alaska) before he was beaten at the polls? Reportedly, Senator Chuck Schumer is seeking a less high profile junior Senator as a replacement.

There was a very interesting interview with Malcolm Gladwell last night on the Rachel Maddow Show (on MSNBC). The author of Blink, the Tipping Point, and Outliers, found merit in the President-elect's selection of experienced Washington DC -hands, which balances well with Mr. Obama's own confidence and intelligence which will enable him to use these experienced Washington-hands (see "the 10,000 hour rule") as the levers to accomplish his plans.

See discussion here:

2025 - what the future holds for the US and the World, an intelligence report:

The headline on yesterday's daily news as the market dipped below 8,000 was both comic and tragic : "Only 7,997 to Go !"

Billion dollar bailouts that go to corporations that spend the public mazuma on massages and fine dining, while Detroit writhes... So we shouldn't enter the weekend without a little melancholy, as the tsunami of the current world financial crisis begins to swell against the horizon, like "The Last Wave," all we can do is keep breathing and wonder, what's next ?, meanwhile, a little reading:

Niall Ferguson on the whys and wherefores of the current mess/crisis, from December 2008 Vanity Fair:

Mr. Ferguson in 2006, prescient wolf calls of inevitability in the night, VF, October 2006:

Crowds to Cobble Stones: Joralemon Street

Took a fast lunchtime walk from Court Street to Furman Street on Joralemon Street. Chilly, sunny, the lunch-time crowds meltaway on Court and side streets, from crowds to cobble stones. Some cold winds off the water by Furman, the Falls pretty much a memory now, and looking to the sun for cold comfort, even though it is still only November.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Things Are Gonna Change Now": Bob Dylan on Election Night

Bob Dylan played the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, his home state, on Election Night. Here is a great report, from a Minnesota blog, on the evening. First, think about it --President-elect Obama assembles his own Lincoln-styled "Team of Rivals." The Obama kids may be getting a puppy. Snow flurries are possible in NYC on Monday ! Have a great weekend! -- Brooklyn Beat

No one was expecting Bob Dylan to say a thing during his two-plus hour concert last night at Northrop Auditorium. For years, Dylan has been known to keep to himself during shows, often only speaking between songs once in order to introduce his band members. But last night, after a lengthy break between his regular set and his encore which I can only imagine was spent discovering that Barack Obama had won the election, Dylan returned to the stage to play "Like a Rolling Stone" and then turned to the audience and spoke.

"I was born in 1941," he said, a wavering sentimentality in his scratchy voice. "That was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. I've been living in darkness ever since. It looks like things are going to change now."

--Andrea Swensson's review in Citypages

An affecting story of Election Night with Bob Dylan in the Heartland. Full story here:

Monday, November 10, 2008

There is More Than One American Dream: Envisioning a Knowledge-Based Presidency

After the cheering, after the tears, and the euphoria, and the possible baby boomlet resulting from the sheer joy of this victory of rationalism and progress after 8 years of chaos in the executive office, and the decades of the political ascendancy of extremism on the right and neo-conservative hegemony, we are still at a remarkably dangerous time in our history. The GOP and its extremist ideology has pushed the pendulum as far as they could to the right, and now we are in a phase of counter-swing, that seems so essential. It's not just politics. Based on the Fox News story about "W's comments on the first Obama-Bush meeting when the 44th President was still a freshman, incoming senator, it is clear that 43 was not operating from a place of pragmatism and humanism. And it sounds more and more that he was not functioning with, as they say, "a clear head." Despite all of the chaos created by the GOP free market obsessed free-booters, there are calls for the incoming President to govern from the center. We need progress, creativity, intelligence, combined with thoughtful, pragmatic, managerial and technology-based vision.

The time for "let it all hang out, let's see what happens, political action," as witnessed in Iraq, in New Orleans during Katrina, and on Wall Street is now over. The Founders established separation of church and state, balance of power, checks and balances at the root of this democracy. America cannot function with only a private sector, just as it cannot function with only a public sector. The past 8 years has proven the importance of a strong, rational government through its absence. But the forces of greed and ignorance will still be clamoring for a return to power.

Nicholas Kristof on the importance of intelligence (the brainy kind) in the White House:
Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.

Full Article here:

Frank Rich on What It All Means:
It Still Felt Good the Morning After
ON the morning after a black man won the White House, America’s tears of catharsis gave way to unadulterated joy.

Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders. The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.

For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included. If I had a dollar for every Democrat who told me there was no way that Americans would ever turn against the war in Iraq or definitively reject Bush governance or elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president, I could almost start to recoup my 401(k). Few wanted to take yes for an answer.

So let’s be blunt. Almost every assumption about America that was taken as a given by our political culture on Tuesday morning was proved wrong by Tuesday night.

Full article here:

Thomas Friedman on the True Test of Support for the 44th President:

But I wouldn’t exaggerate it. The minute Obama has to exercise U.S. military power somewhere in the world, you can be sure that he will get blowback. For now, though, his biography, demeanor and willingness to at least test a regime like Iran’s with diplomacy makes him more difficult to demonize than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

“If you’re a hard-liner in Tehran, a U.S. president who wants to talk to you presents more of a quandary than a U.S. president who wants to confront you,” remarked Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “How are you going to implore crowds to chant ‘Death to Barack Hussein Obama’? That sounds more like the chant of the oppressor, not the victim. Obama just doesn’t fit the radical Islamist narrative of a racist, blood-thirsty America, which is bent on oppressing Muslims worldwide. There’s a cognitive dissonance. It’s like Hollywood casting Sidney Poitier to play Charles Manson. It just doesn’t fit.”

But while the world appears poised to give Obama a generous honeymoon, there lurks a much more important question: How long of a honeymoon will Obama give the world?

To all those Europeans, Canadians, Japanese, Russians, Iranians, Chinese, Indians, Africans and Latin Americans who are e-mailing their American friends about their joy at having “America back,” now that Obama is in, I just have one thing to say: “Show me the money!”

Don’t just show me the love. Don’t just give me the smiles. Your love is fickle and, as I said, it will last about as long as the first Obama airstrike against an Al Qaeda position in Pakistan. No, no, no, show me the money. Show me that you are ready to be Obama stakeholders, not free-riders — stakeholders in what will be expensive and difficult initiatives by the Obama administration to keep the world stable and free at a time when we have fewer resources.

Full article here:

Building the Progressive Future on the Fierce Urgency of Now:
Karl Rove, who has not gotten enough credit for political strategies that helped make Democrats’ landslide victories in 2006 and 2008 possible, had a telling line last night on FOX News. While he was announcing that Obama had won Virginia, and was well on his way to a landslide, Bush’s campaign chief insisted that the United States remained a “center-right” nation.
Until last night. After winning control of the House and Senate in 2006, Democrats in 2008 greatly added to their numbers and also won the White House.

Why would a center-right nation not only reaffirm the allegedly left-wing leadership of Pelosi and Reid, but then expand their power by giving a landslide to Barack Obama?

After nearly forty years of an ascending conservative political movement, it is understandable that Rove and many pundits are now in deep denial. But the voters are demanding progressive change, and it is incumbent upon all those who made phone calls and/or traveled to other states to take a break, get refreshed and then plunge back into transforming a victory at the polls into policies and programs that set the nation on a new course.

Rove is not the first to make this point in recent weeks..

Full article here:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Coda: Coney Island of the Soul -- Seasons Change With the Scenery

Left, On the Beach; below, Boardwalk Littoral: Sand Washed Up During Recent Storms, November 9, 2008

Polar Bears Out for A Dip, November 9, 2008

Election fever and school application mania not withstanding, on Sunday, it seemed like a touch of nature and a long walk were in order, so we headed down to the sea. While, in terms of commerz, Coney Island is in more of a state of quietude, there is such a wonderful sense of the natural world at this time. Still, plenty of excitement: Polar Bears in beachwear getting ready for a dip; a few vendors still open for business on the boardwalk and off; kiteflyers by the shore. The boardwalk now features some sand in spots where recent weather and tidal action have made for some very powerful waves indeed. A deep trench seems to have been cut by the waves, just east of the long pier. Seems too deep to have been human-made.

And in the mix, a solo electric blues guitarist performing some very soulful tunes for the strollers on the woodenway. Blues for a lost lover, blues for the future of Coney Island, and simply blues for the passing of the seasons.

But also, for this stroller, blues for a nation that seems to have narrowly escaped despair, at least for the moment, but that still has a long way to go to pull ourselves out of the trench that has been created by the storms of the last 8 years.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Theater of the Absurd or Dans Macabre: Deep in the Heart of the High School Application Process

At left, audition rehearsal night at MS 51 last week. Photo by Brooklyn Beat

Just a moment of acknowledgement, and sympathy, to other Brooklyn parents who, like we do, have kids in that transitional year from 8th grade to high school in the New York City public schools. Auditions, interviews, high school admission exams, the ordering of the high school choices, the open houses, the high school admission workshops over the summer in Manhattan, the mobbed school visits at some of the specialized and screened high schools, getting up extra early and getting to work extra late due to the morning visits to schools, and then having to leave work early to attend the evening visits to schools and open houses, sometimes on the same day.

Well, I feel your pain. Even though we have been through this twice before with our older kids, it seems to become more complex and fraught with tension each time as the high school admission rules changed. And, while private school was never really an option for us, now the economy appears to have driven even more families into the application and admissions mix. Some of the open houses have been literally jammed to the rafters.

One of our daughters was fortunate to be able to participate in the audition night at MS 51 last week, which seems to have a wonderful theater program. She had been working with a weekend and after school group at the Old Stone House. The number of kids -- really talented kids-- who are interested in one of the theater programs, and who are auditioning for LaGuardia, PPAS, TU, or Murrow, must be at some kind of all time high. I was chatting that evening with a wonderful actress and drama coach, who is herself the parent of an 8th grader, and who has worked with our daughter, and we were talking about how amazing it is that so many kids are interested in the arts today, especially drama, and how talented so many of them are. It made me think that, with this volume of interest, and the huge number of kids applying at LaGuardia, how do the screened theater high schools choose kids out of this pool of talent ? Very daunting. Although every parent hopes/thinks their kid who has an arts interest has "Talent," given the complications of this high school process, you never can predict the outcome, especially with the screened programs, and our daughters have expressed some frustration, and even shed a few tears, as we try to help them navigate these next few weeks and then the couple of months of waiting for the results.

So, anyway, parents, hang in there, it is coming down to the wire. The auditions are in full swing, maybe beginning to arc toward conclusion, the visits are beginning to wind down, and though the tension is still high, our school has a late November application due date in advance of the December 2nd official high school application date. So, by Thanksgiving, the die will have been cast (or the dice will have been rolled in the vernacular).

And then again, consider yourself lucky. In addition to finding high schools for our twin daughters, our older son is applying to college for the fall. For those of you who know, that is another story. So take heart, It Can Always Be Worse.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post-Election Notes: Power & Magic - From Brooklyn & Beyond

Post-Election Note #1: My mom said she was in church this morning in Bensonhurst, at St. Athanasius on Bay Parkway to be exact, and a young professional woman she sees in church frequently, who is Black and has young kids said to her "What did you think about the election?" My mom said "Well, my guy won" and the woman was surprised and delighted that an elderly retired white Italian American lady had voted for Senator Barack Obama. You've got to love this country...our capacity to change and grow.

Post-Election Note #2: The Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama transition team, along with the re-energized Congressional Democrats, are leaping into action now. This is clearly an administration that has learned a lot from the past and is using the opportunities available in the transition to their fullest, rather than waiting until after the inauguration. Reviewing regulatory structures to better protect investors, while balancing the need to not over regulate. Seeking to invest in the US auto industry while encouraging fuel efficiency. Yes, the free market, having swung as far as it could, with some disastrous results, is now in its counter-swing, where some regulation and virtual-nationalization will be necessary.(Will this be the era of neo-nationalization, or neo-socialism, to balance the bankrupt and bankrupting era of neo-conservatism that has just concluded? ) Nevertheless, the internet is already reporting on "Impeachment" sites,
and you can see that the lunatic, no-doubt nutty and racist fringe, is already sharpening their claws. Obama won by taking the high-road and avoiding election-trash talking. But clearly the new base of the Republican party, with Sarah Palin as their future standard bearer, no doubt, who could win election-after-election by brutal propagandizing and marketing through "527s" (i.e., Swiftboating), but who proved over the last 8 years that they could not effectively govern, will do everything they can to tear down the new administration before the inauguration and then fight it every step of the way. The 44th President's administration is going to have to stand tall and fight hard. They will have many enemies, both among the wealthy classes who will fight regulation, taxes on capital gains, etc, as well as among the disaffected, angry right wing base. Not to mention the always present possibility of enemies and terrorists, both foreign and domestic. The new administration will need to advance its initiatives boldly, to the greatest extent possible, while not disappointing supporters since it would appear that even with the best and noblest intentions, politics is not equivalent to magic and their are few quick fixes to our most vexing problems.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Off and Running: 44's Transition Team Announced

CNN Reports that President-elect Obama has announced this transition team. Brooklyn's Patrick Gaspard is right there in the thick of it.
Chicago - For the past several months, a board of advisors has been informally planning for a possible presidential transition. Among the many projects undertaken by the transition board have been detailed analyses of previous transition efforts, policy statements made during the campaign, and the workings of federal government agencies, and priority positions that must be filled by the incoming administration.

With Barack Obama and Joe Biden's election, this planning process will be now be formally organized as the Obama-Biden Transition Project, a 501(c)(4) organization to ensure a smooth transition from one administration to the next. The work of this entity will be overseen by three co-chairs: John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse.

The co-chairs will be assisted by an advisory board comprised of individuals with significant private and public sector experience: Carol Browner, William Daley, Christopher Edley, Michael Froman, Julius Genachowski, Donald Gips, Governor Janet Napolitano, Federico Peña, Susan Rice, Sonal Shah, Mark Gitenstein, and Ted Kaufman. Gitenstein and Kaufman will serve as co-chairs of Vice President-elect Biden's transition team.

Supervising the day-to-day activities of the transition will be:

Transition Senior Staff:

Chris Lu - Executive Director
Dan Pfeiffer - Communications Director
Stephanie Cutter - Chief Spokesperson
Cassandra Butts - General Counsel
Jim Messina - Personnel Director
Patrick Gaspard - Associate Personnel Director
Christine Varney - Personnel Counsel
Melody Barnes - Co-Director of Agency Review
Lisa Brown - Co-Director of Agency Review
Phil Schiliro - Director of Congressional Relations
Michael Strautmanis - Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs
Katy Kale - Director of Operations
Brad Kiley - Director of Operations

CNN Ticker:

YES WE DID: Change Has Come ----President-Elect Barack Obama

A visionary. Healer. Orator. A new generation moves onto the stage having defeated the politics of the past. Recognizing the necessity for a new politics and a new model of America, as Lincoln did, as FDR did, as JFK did, even, as Reagan did. A vision for change and the courage to pursue it.

What a remarkable time to be alive in this fantastic country. History unfolds. Promising a government that crosses party lines and creates something entirely new. We are at a time of promise and, yes, hope.

Electoral college and polls:

The speech:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Brooklyn on Election Day: Wake Up

Brooklyn Heights at noon on Election Day 2008 is quiet. I did a pass-by of the Brooklyn Municipal Building which was jammed with lines out the door this morning. Voters are lined up waiting patiently inside. Not as amazingly jam packed as the early morning voters, but there is a bit of a lunch-time line neverhteless. The Tuesday Greenmarket is in action. The Obama button and t-shirt guys are all out there selling their wares. Historic election art that I expect to see at the NY Historical Society (or the Smithsonian) some day, the way that we now see JFK, Thomas Jefferson, and other historic Americans.

An interesting sense of ownership about this process. A woman, African American, sitting in the park on Cadman Plaza outside the Supreme Court building, under the statue of Brooklyn's famed abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, is exhorting passersby to vote. "You have til 9 PM tonite to vote, please don't forget to vote" she reminds us warmly. No candidate mentioned.

As I walked, another couple of young guys chatting, reflecting the hopes and the fears of this possibly historic day: "I'm just worried, man, they always go after the great ones." Reminded me of Rage Against the Machine's "Wake Up." Shake that off, time for faith and hope.

Abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, Brooklyn Heights, Election Day 2008 Photo by Brooklyn Beat

Comes a Time

This is an historic day. The outcome of this election, in view of the last 8 years, will say a lot about where we go as a nation, and also a lot about where we are and who we are as a country. My daughter who is studying in Europe said the perception there is this is a chance for America to redefine ourselves. But the USA is a Big country, and our population and ideology is reflective of a lot more than the two coasts and the news media. Let's see what America believes early in the 21st century. It's a time for Hope, at a time when our country desperately needs Change.

"Comes A Time"

Comes a time
when you're driftin'
Comes a time
when you settle down
Comes a light
feelin's liftin'
Lift that baby
right up off the ground.

Oh, this old world
keeps spinning round
It's a wonder tall trees
ain't layin' down
There comes a time.

You and I we were captured
We took our souls
and we flew away
We were right
we were giving
That's how we kept
what we gave away.

Oh, this old world
keeps spinning round
It's a wonder tall trees
ain't layin' down
There comes a time.

--Neil Young

"Comes a Time" - 1987 Neil Young:

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo