Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Effect of Trump

What’s Good About Trump
   In my view, Donald Trump is a vile person. I don’t know enough history to say that he is the worst president that has ever sat in the White House, but he is certainly at the very bottom—by far—of those who have held that office in my lifetime.
   If that is so, what’s so good? Not anything that he did or said. I remain puzzled about how Trump got elected. My grasp of the views and motives of my fellow citizens is insufficient for me to understand how they could vote for him. Had he run against another red-blooded American man he surely would not now sit in that White House. But there he is: I ask again, what’s good about that?  The answer: the reaction of the American public.

   To be sure, it helped a lot that Trump was made responsible for serious offenses to children. That my fellow citizens will not accept. So, it’s a mixed bag. That’s surely the best kind now available.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Who Trump Is

Trump’s Cruelty and the Crying Children of ICE Detainees
Donald Trump is not wrong or misguided (etc.); he is a vile person. Face it, we have a vile person as president.  I applaud when, as now, his behavior is offensive to a large number of Americans. The more that happens, the less he is looked upon as the president of the United States. The office will survive this decline; not, I hope, the current incumbent.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Now Lincoln
   Herewith another brief report on my reading. I suspended my reading of Slezkine’s big Russian volume, as too detailed for the patience I could muster at this time and have now made a good start on a very different narrative, Dan Abrams’ Lincolns’ Last Trial. While Lincoln has been on the scene from the beginning, I have not yet reached the point where he moves to the center of the stage. The account from the start has been interesting. It’s about a murder and it’s made utterly clear as to who killed whom and why. So I much look forward to read of Lincoln’s role.

   The account is so interesting in good part because it is very detailed. Very. I have done no research on this event, but I do wonder how so amazingly much—and detailed—information was  actually passed on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Past Recedes
      It’s about six years that I’ve lived in Mexico, my third country of residence. To be sure, it’s very likely to be the shortest. Moreover, I am retired here and pretty removed from the hurly-burly of this capital city. My main people are my daughter, Ellie (whose main job is that of principal clarinet with the Sinfonica Nacional), Miguel, her husband (who is much in Queretaro where he is principal oboe in the orchestra) and their friends, quite a few of whom speak English. Max and Eva, the two grandchildren have been mostly away, with the former just graduated from RISD (and soon off for a job in the States); while Eva is very busy in her second year in the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. I see Max and Eva when they are home on vacation. Finally, there is Antonia, the young and very competent household assistant (for want of a better word) with whom I do not share a language.
   Now you know the people I’m with on a day to day basis, a most harmonious group. I’ve never been much of a phone person, so I add little traffic to that contraption. The main and only regular phone partner is my son Mark in Los Angeles.
   You have just gotten a picture of the people who make up my world, appropriately reduced commensurate to my age. What happens when I make an attempt to broaden this circle of contacts with acquaintances? Basically nothing: nada, niente, rien, garnichts.
   Granted my attempts were neither inventive nor vigorous. Emails sent off to past acquaintances were mostly not answered, though there were exceptions. I blame no one, since I have hardly been Mister Gregarious in my life  and now harvest what I have sown. I can’t say that if I could roll it over again, I’d want to change much of anything. Not having regrets about the past is a better sleeping potion than any drug.

Friday, June 8, 2018


  I’ve never been good at abbreviations, puzzled when everybody else got it. Clearly MY problem, whatever its undiagnosed cause. But lately I’ve come across quite a few cases where expecting the general reader to get it is something of a stretch. Writers in the world of journalism have come to count on an “in” audience of which I am not a member.  I may be in a minority, but I am far from alone. Look at an example.
“Although impressive, Summit can be seen as a placeholder. Supercomputers that are five times faster — 1,000 petaflops, or an exaflop — are in the works, both abroad and in the United States.”

   Are we supposed to know what those “flops” are? From where? In the past, the world caught up with the experts. No doubt it will again; but it hasn’t yet.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


I just finished reading Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting by John Mauceri. Even though the author has had a long, varied, and distinguished career as a conductor and actor in the world of music, I must confess that I had never heard of him. My loss, no doubt, especially if his music-making is as competent as his writing. If you are interested in conducting, are coversant with “classical” music, though, like me, not an expert, this is a good book to pick up; a Kindel version is available from Amazon.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

How Today’s Sex-Related Behavior is Distinguished from that of Other Times

   How sex is expressed or dealt with varies considerably from one time and place to another. I am sure that a huge number of books have been written on the subject—all unread by me. If some historian to more of them have already characterized and described that entire scene in contemporary U.S. I haven’t seen it, but I have read enough to have in idea as to some of the goings-on that will be among its ingredients. So herewith some traits that should appear in a characterization of the current scene. Call the forthcoming some remarks for an historian of current sex-related behavior.
     Perhaps the most notable trait is that women are speaking up. Not very long ago they suffered or gloated in silence, leaving it to a few mostly educated women to speak and write for a much larger number. What they are speaking about is what men do to them that is unwanted—from “mere”talk to rape. Men can no longer rely on a response that is limited to suffering in silence.
   In some ways the behavior of men is similar: they are speaking up; about their wrongful treatment of women in their  past. Nor are these reports limited to confessions; there seem to be plenty of third-person reports about male sexual transgressions.
   So far I have pointed to talk—talk you hear now of which you heard little until recently. But there are also actions. Organizations are getting rid of people with recently revealed dubious records. Levine is no longer at the Met: an amazing jump from Before to After. There’s much more to be said, but I leave that to you.