Sunday, December 31, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Trump and the Press

Trump as President and the Press
    I’m not much of an historian, but given my  limited knowledge, Donald Trump is unique as president of the United States. Unique, alas, not in his sterling characteristics, but in the multiple ways in which he is unpresidental.
   This observation is hardly original, but serves as the introduction to the point I want to make. It is refreshing—though that’s not quite the word—that the press is so very frank about their views of Donald Trump. To put it succinctly, he is treated, day after day, by numerous writers, even in the sedate New York Times, with almost brutal frankness, stressing his unpresidential actions and pronouncements.
   In short, Trump’s unpresidential behavior has also led commentators to abandon the conventional deference to the highest American officer. Leadership can pull you up; but it can also pull you down. The mid-term elections will show whether Trumpism, supported by Republican whimpishness, is the country’s future or whether we return to boring bi-partisan conventions.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Road to Acapulco

From Mexico City to Acapulco

   We live in Mexico City, over 7300 ft above sea level. That’s quite a descent during the 5+ hours down to Acapulco at the Pacific Ocean. Given the efficiency of cars, it doesn’t take any longer going up all that distance, though I am sure that much more gas is consumed on the return to Ciudad Mexico.
   It’s a great road, four lanes, divided, going through quite rugged country—hence multiply curved—with mostly trees on both sides. But by no means only trees. Many, many sections have high walls on one or both sides, indicating clearly that the road was cut deeply into a rough terrain.
   The walls are so high—or, more accurately, the road is down so deep—that, mostly, they could not be left them untouched after the excavating machinery produced them. Without some treatment, dirt and stones would continuously, or at least sporadically, bombard the road, making it dangerous to the point of being wholly unsafe.
   In short, those almost sheerly vertical expanses must be treated to make the road safe or even just passable. And treated they are, in a great variety of ways, with often special walls on the side of the road preventing stones an dirt spilling into the passage for speeding automobiles.
   How treated?  I took no notes, much less take pictures, but a lot  of ingenuity was lavished the ways that these monumental walls are kept stable. Complex configurations of wires, hold in some expanses, what looked like plastic sheets contain others. Everywhere fist-sized stones are inserted in rows and rows of plastic pipes emerge from the walls, presumably to relieve water pressure in weather not as benign as we had.
   In a few spots workers were visible on those walls, held by ropes to prevent them from sliding disastrously down into the roadbed. They were a small sample of the hundreds of skilled operators that covered these “walls” in the first place.
   I am not knowledgeable about important roads of the world, but this one from Mexico City to Acapulco should be counted as one of them. I was surprised that the internet did not mark it as being as unusual as I found it to be.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Al Franken Solution: a Modest Proposal
   In my not-all-that-humble opinion, Al Franken should not have resigned. While I didn’t make a survey nor establish a ranking of the severity of sins, his seem to me near the bottom end of the recently revealed offenses—probably not much worse than those to be found in fraternities of Ivy League colleges.
  But while he has not yet resigned, he is irrevocably committed to do so. Any day now he will formally be leaving the Senate.
   Then what? For one thing, he’ll make much more money at whatever he takes up. I am sure that more than one attractive offer is now to be found on his desk.
   Maybe he will be happy doing what comes next, especially since it will surely include opportunities to write, so he will continue to make his opinions known. Very possibly, he will find the forthcoming stage of his life quite satisfying.
   But maybe not: being a Senator is special and almost surely addictive. This is where my proposal comes in, almost as radical (not quite!) as Jonathan Swift’s, the person who long ago coined the phrase Modest Proposal—look it up.
   Al Franken should declare himself to be a candidate to succeed himself as Senator from Minnesota.

   Franken would of course be taking a big risk. That bet is High Risk-High Gain. But it fits in with his prior career and with his personality. Go do it, Al!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Unheard from Participants
   We’ve heard from a lot of people in this unprecedented discussion of  American sexual practices. We have heard from women who had been maltreated in many ways. We’ve heard from sinners, of males who didn’t control their hands and much more. We have not heard—or at least I haven’t—from the wives of those confessing sinners.
   I believe that most of the owners of these wandering hands and penises are married, entitling wives to sole claim on those appendages. I can understand the wives’ unwillingness to speak out, though I wish they would. But I suspect that quite a few are “speaking out” to their lawyers, pushing to get them out of it — divorced.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Current Sexual Revolution In the United States

   I wish the impossible: that I could read what future historians have to say about this period in American history. I would be immensely interested to find out what, say, twenty or more years of perspective will make of two mostly undoubted generalizations that characterize the last very few years.
   The first and most clearly causative phenomenon to be noted is the almost explosive attention paid to dubious and much worse sexual practices perpetrated by American males, with primary attention focused on men who are to various degrees prominent. There has been no talk of the behavior of the hoi polloi, if only because their behavior would have to be revealed via cumbersome research, rather than by a combination of accusations and confessions.
   My own assessment of this two-fold, call it movement, is mixed. On the one hand, the revelations of largely male sexual behavior seem very plausible indeed, given, especially, the widespread quasi voluntary confessions. Little has been remarked about transgressions, where they exist, by American women.  They would in any case probably amount to a small fraction of that of men and be practically free of the violence, the coerciveness of men’s behavior.
   Most  of this strikes me as very positive, even though I am doubtful that this wave of confessions and accusations will have a permanent effect on American sexual practices. Remorse and virtuous resolutions will weaken and wane, with little left by the time a couple of decades have passed. While I am anything but seriously knowledgeable about evolution, I am confident that experts could point to passages confirming that pessimism in texts made up of the writings of Darwin and his followers.
   Now more briefly to my second point. Just about everything that has been going on has been remarkable, even shockingly free of call it procedural safeguards. No one questions reports of wrongdoing in ways that would make sure that the versions put forward are the most voracious possible under the circumstances. Even the confessions of perpetrators deserve to be questioned, given lots of psychological reasons that make misstatements possible. Not that this is determinative in the cases we are looking at, but it is worth noting that many of the drastic changes that have already been made would probably not have been required if they depended on the verdict of a court of law.

   There is a cost, not much mentioned, namely the loss of the services and ministrations of a series of talented men. They most certainly are sinners or were in the past, with many engaging in reprehensible behavior that however wrongly American society has tolerated in the past.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

History Makes a Difference

By Wednesday evening, there was widespread expectation in the Democratic caucus that Senator Al Franken would step down. 

What Al Franken did was wrong. It was wrong the day before yesterday when nobody paid attention. It is wrong today, when past behavior has become the news of the day. Is it a good thing that the national ethos has shifted in this direction? Emphatically YES. Is it right to use the current and very recent ethos to judge behavior of years ago—sometimes of many decades? My view is NO. Let historians give a fair account of what has been transpiring; but let ’s not punish offenders of actions past that were then tolerated, even if very wrongly so. This entire discussion is taking place as if there were no such thing as history. We have no obligation to judge what has happened in the past was right, but we do have an obligation to understand that a past period was different from the present.


The thing to also read in this NYTimes story about Al Franken’s expected resignation are the letters of readers’ comments. 

Many of them reflect my own sentiments. There is a huge difference been Franken’s behavior and e.g. Weinsteins. We are seeing a wave of hysteria that obliterates important distinctions and couldn’t be more remote from fair and reasoned procedures. Nor do I believe that the view I have just expressed is incompatible with a belief that 95% of the behavior that has been cited during past weeks is dead wrong.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Holding Hands

“In the report compiled by the Lake Forest, Ill., police department, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, the man said he was 15 when Mr. Levine held his hand in an “incredibly sensual way.” (NYTimes, 12/2/17)
   This is newsworthy? Surely Americans are not just now discovering sex! I had a professor, when a student many decades ago, who sat you down in a low chair with arms, when you came into his office, sat down next to you and held your hand. While I was fairly naive then (and probably still am), I made my diagnosis and did nothing, told no one—until now.
   As I have stated before, it is clearly a “Good Thing” (1066 and All That) that the sins of powerful men are subjected to daylight. But rather than joining those who just cheer, I also want to warn of the proximity of a pendulum swinging excessively in the other direction. We don’t need another Puritan Age.     

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Renaissance Man

Leonardo da Vinci
   Except for a couple of sections that come after Leonardo’s death, I’ve just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Isaacson aims  to do justice to all of the activities of that model of the Renaissance man. I won’t attempt a review, but will provide an Isaacson  concluding quote:

   “There have been . . . other insationable polymaths . . .But none painted the Mona Lisa, much less did so at the same time as producing unsurpassed anatomy drawings baased on multiple dissections, comiing up with scemes to divert rivers, explaining the reflection of light from the earth to the moonn, opening the still-beating heart of a butchered pig to show how ventricles work, designing musical intruments, choreographing pageants, using fossicils to dispute the biblical account  of the deluge, and then drawing the deluge . . . .”

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Availability of Mexicans' Physicians

   I’ve previously taken note of Mexican characteristics that differ from those in the US. I now want to add another that is both quite pleasant and somewhat curious. In the States, indeed, in all the cities I have lived in, when you have a medical emergency your physician, certainly if you are a regular patient, will somehow “squeeze you in” at least to initiate the care you might need. Thank goodness for that. However, if your problem is not urgent or you just want a check-up of some sort, the appointment you will get is likely to be many days or even some weeks in the future. Successful doctors are busy with a parade of patients marching into their offices, not infrequently adding extensive periods in their waiting rooms. Successful doctors are busy.
   The system is different in Mexico, at least in my admittedly limited experience. If you want to see your physician tomorrow, a weekday, presumably, you are likely to get an appointment, even if your medical need is not urgent; if not then, surely the next day. Moreover, this is the case not for doctors who have to scrounge for “business,” but for those who are well established, successful.
   I don’t really understand how physicians manage that feat: be open to new appointments in the very proximate future and stay busy with a thriving practice. Somebody let me know how that is accomplished.

I much appreciate the fact that people are following my postings. Many thanks. I don't really get any feedback, though it would be great for me to know what those readers think. Signal, if you are so inclined.

Diplomats Sound the Alarm as They Are Pushed Out in Droves - The New York Times

Date: November 25, 2017 at 11:35:36 AM CST

Diplomats Sound the Alarm as They Are Pushed Out in Droves

Soon the United states will resemble a Banana Republic, with the distinction of not growing any bananas.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci

 I am reading the Isaacson biography of Leonardo da Vinci. I’m not done, but expect to read it to the end. Maybe if I had come across this article--—I would not have bothered, since it gives a good account of Leonardo’s career. So I present it to you in lieu of giving you my own summary.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sexual Misbehavior

Sexual Misbehavior
The news continue to be full of accounts of sexual escapades of prominent men (who cares about the schlump down the street). Ditto from the women named and unnamed. We have entered an era—not of more or more widespread sexual activity, but of vastly more public revelations of such.
   Well, we can do without it. It may briefly change behavior, but not for long. Both men and women will soon revert back to the way things have been for a long time. What has changed is not actual behavior, except the degree of openness and ineffectual, if even genuine, disapproval. If there is any domain where “le plus ça change, le plus c’est la méme chose” makes sense, it is about human sexual behavior.
   What did change is the readiness of getting widespread publicity. It is of course no news that real privacy is a thing of the past: live with it, buddy!
   So, as I now think of it,--contrary to what I said before—I don’t think we are entering into a new era, but into a brief patch of greater openness. Yes, brief, I think. And then we’ll go back to la même chose.
   Change comes easily. Progress is hard.
When You Move Away

   It is well over five years ago that I left Pittsburgh for Mexico City to live with the Salazar family—consisting of my daughter, Ellie, who has been living in Mexico for well over a quarter of a century with her husband, Miguel. It’s been a remarkably smooth transition for me and I hope that it is not sheer insensitivity or self-deception that I don’t sense a notable strain in the Salazar family. The two grandchildren are now both off in college in the US, but we remain in touch via email and phone.
   But not surprisingly, I feel that my connection with friends and relatives in the North is fading. I remain in touch with some of my cousins, though not with all, and with a slowly decreasing number of friends. Email is the savior in all the successful cases; it would never happen if our connectedness depended on the telephone—in small part because of the fees, but mostly because it is invasive. If, in these days, staying in touch depended on writing and posting letters, forget about it.
    Still, the current situation is more favorable to continuing communication than the past has been, although there is clearly also a loss. To put it somewhat glibly: quality has to a degree yielded to quantity: most of us are in communication with more  people than our parents were and probably less intensively so than were our forebears. More thought went into handwritten or typed letters than tends to go into emails.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A New Period in American History

I am becoming convinced that we now at the beginning of a new chapter of American history. There is something, call it basic, about the confessions and/or revelations of male sex offenders and the to me remarkable revelations by a huge range of women of a large variety of unwanted—and worse—incidents, going back for a span of a great many years. I suppose that it is possible that after this spurt dies down, things will go back to what was normal squelching of such talk, but I very much doubt it. A closet has been opened and is very unlikely to be shut again. Historians like to divide the past into different “periods”; I think we have just entered a new one in American history and now must just wait for someone to give it a name that catches on. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

About Mexico

Mexico, My Third Country

   A few months ago, it was five years since I moved to Mexico City to live with my daughter and her family. She had settled here over a quarter of a century ago. When I told an old friend about my moving plans—a person of my vintage and also a German-Jewish refugee when in her teens—she emailed me, surely smiling, “emigrating again, I see.”
   Well, my friend was right. Five years away from the US (where I had lived for about 70 years, are sufficiently significant, even if it unlikely that this Mexican stint will add up to my original German stay, where I had lived until I was twelve. While, given my advanced age, I am dubious that my Mexican years will last that long. I have no intention of leaving , since I am happy in my Mexico City abode.
   Of course, repeat, of course it is different from anything that has gone before in my life. But when I take stock, much more of the difference from the years preceding can be attributed to geography than to age. Here I only want to mention a couple  of characteristics that are peculiar to the fact that I live in Mexico and on those that are not a matter of choice or discretion.
   Most obviously, the biggest difference from my past is the language. Yes, I had to learn another language moving from Heidelberg to New York, but boy! how different learning English in the 6th grade in New York from coping with a new language in my late eighties. I made very little special effort to acquire Spanish, since a little effort would not have gotten me very far, given the age of my brain.  Moreover, I haven’t had much of a motive to learn a new language, since I live with a family that is wholly bilingual, allowing me to be totally lax about learning Spanish. Thank you, my family!
   Now to a second structural difference between now and what has gone before, from what was familiar to me in the US. Let me get specific.  In the morning, around eight, Antonia brings my breakfast to my room, after I shout that she should come in, in response to her discreet knocking. In short, the Salazar family has a full-time, live-in servant—at this time an efficient young person.
   (Daughter) Ellie and her husband are more than full time musicians, both with orchestra posts and other concert gigs, both with many individual students and other teaching duties, as well as more sporadic chamber music performances, but quite a few of those.
   Such careers would call for household help in the US, but in Mexico, a society with distinct classes, nothing could be more normal than to have a full-time live-in servant. And nothing makes that more clear than the fact that middle class housing has clearly designated servant quarters.
   These two structural differences between my earlier existence and now just scratch the surface of what the change is like. But these two traits are even more fundamental than the difference in food and the like.

   But I should also mention the climate. You can’t beat it!  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sex or Power?

   The news is full of—overflowing with—accounts of middle-aged and older men engaging in sexual activities with (or to) women who had not consented to those acts. While I never thought that I was an “innocent,” I had no idea how widespread such behavior is. So I asked myself, why was I never tempted to engage in similar strong-arm behavior.
   I am doubtful that during my mature years I was less motivated to engage in sexual behavior than the next guy. I read pornography and had sex phantasies like, what I assume, any normal male—if there is such a creature.
   Why, then, did I not react with sympathy or at least empathy, to the revelations about a Weinstein or the many others who are now coming—or, more often, be made to come out—to confess about their “sinful” past?
   Let me get to the bottom line: because for most of them, the issue is not sex, but power. What all those stories have in common is that a “superior” male is imposing his ego on a “lesser” female.

   The relationship of men to women is a huge issue I won’t try to tackle here, but it is at the bottom of this latest squabble.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Eating in Mexico City

Mexico City as a Place to Eat

Mexico City is green, very much so, as I reported in the last post, though it is not often noted. I now want to point to another distinction that doesn’t get much publicity either. The city is really a  good place for eating.
  I don’t mean that it sports an unusual number of multi-star restaurants, though, for all I know (and I don’t), it does.  What I do mean is that wherever you turn there is a restaurant where you can eat a decent meal at a price you can afford.
   And the variety is great—from sausage-based to French. I’m no foodie, so I won’t try to evaluate this cornucopia, if that’s what it is, but I can make a few comments.
   I am talking about real restaurants, a great many of them, not just places where they dish out food. The establishments I have in mind present their customers with menus that vary a lot in size and types of dishes. A Japanese restaurant within easy walking distance ( it does not seem to employ a Japanese person) but it has a veritable book listing Japanese dishes with their Spanish translations; I’ve concentrated on their many imaginative salads, each a meal in itself. I have no ideal whether they resenble Japanese fare.
    Besides the restaurants I can walk to—especially Gipsy Fish, where I am a “regular,” in part because they have learned to produce a proper martini—we usually go out for one week end meal, with Miguel driving us there. I’ve never not liked any place we have gone to.
   None of them is “above” middle class, but what they all have is service, competent service. The people who wait on you are not bored students making a buck, but are (mostly) “professionals,” doing their thing for which, obviously, they have received training.
   While I have typically American reservations about the status of servants in a class society, I have to acknowledge that being taking care of competently and politely—and not ostentatiously—is most pleasing.
   I can’t be the only one whose ideology conflicts with his day-to-day preferences. I suppose that’s hypocrisy.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Green Mexico City
   You read that correctly. Yes, there is exceedingly heavy traffic, though it is orderly. Yes, the air is sometimes polluted, though not as much and as often as it used to be. These are features that are often written about. Not so what I will report here. My topic sentence, as it was called in my high school writing class, is this: Mexico City is the greenest large city I have ever visited—in the US and a sprinkling of countries around the globe.
   Start with trees: they are everywhere, mostly deciduous of species I haven’t tried to identify. That prevalence of trees, most of them mature, should not be surprising, since some years ago the city planted huge numbers of them in their fight against pollution.
   But those trees, while they are the bulkiest green patch on every view, are by no means the only green and not even the most eye catching. There are plantings everywhere you look, both private and public. And what I think to be most remarkable about both categories is the fact that both public and private plantings are groomed, really attended to.
   That means that numberless (literally) bushes and small trees are shaped, that plantings on the edge of most roads are cared for, presumably by their owners when on private land or by the state, if public.
   Most remarkable, in my view, are the many walls—vertical expanses—that are covered with leaves, often even in designed patterns. These expanses, and there are many, require more care than standard horizontal ones, but they all seem to be thriving. 
   Whatever it is, universal practice keeps Mexico City green. Since these bushes, small ornamental trees, and border plantings are both private and public, one can only conclude that the keepers of  these many levels of green are professional gardeners, of course also both private and public.
   My observation: the Mexico City ethos is to treat its soil as a garden, to whomever a piece of land belongs, private citizens or the government alike.
   But the cultivation of all that greenery depends, in turn, on a large class of “working class” gardeners; the class structure makes it unlikely that many home owners themselves tend to the land around them.

   This laudable concern for appearance may in the future, probably fairly near, give way to more laissez faire scrambling. In short, when better jobs become available to those now tending to the city’s greenery, Mexico City may become as disheveled as most major cities of the world.    

Monday, October 30, 2017

An Airshow Early in the 20th Century

Early Flight Showbiz

   The more I read in that first volume of Reiner Stach’s biography of Franz Kafka, the more I recognize how unusual it is. For example, many pages are spent on a vacation visit to Brescia of two weeks or so, very early in the 20th century, by Kafka and a couple of friends. The destination was an event of which there could not have been many.
   On the occasion of a flight in a small plane across the English channel, a “convention” that was put together of show off small planes (one seaters) by the people in attendance who flew them and took care of them, though the account points out that not much of a distinction was made between pilots and persons active in other roles.
   The spectator-audience could see all the flying events, since they went neither high nor far. Kafka clearly had a good time and was no doubt typical of the public who attended the rare event. (It took much time and determination to make that trip to Northern Italy.

   Why a rare occasion? Because there were not many years when flying airplanes remained close enough to the ground so that even when up and flying, they could be observed. I would guess that there were not many gatherings that paid attention to aviation in that very early era. Only a few years later, the aviators went up higher, flying faster, having a very different impact on the spectators on the ground.
   Both Kafka and Max Brod wrote accounts of their impression and in that way recouped some of the cost of the trip.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Great Many Years Later

   I’m now reading, in its English translation, the first volume of Reiner Stach’s biography of Franz Kafka. What makes three volumes plausible is the almost incredible scope of the author’s canvas. It’s not exactly “life and times,” since no more than the usual amount of attention is paid to the “larger” events of the times being talked about. Rather, Stach lavishes a great amount of prose on friends or colleagues of Kafka, such as Max Brod, or to the insurance company—and, indeed, industry—when he discusses the beginning of Kafka’s “working” career. You learn much more than about its nominal subject when you read this Kafka biography.
   I was startled, when at the early teens of the 20th century, a familiar name popped up. The actor Bassermann (Albert B., thanks to the Wikipedia article I just looked up) makes several appearances; he’s then in his forties and very well known and highly regarded.
  Yes, a familiar name! In the late 1940’s or very early 50’s, I think (don’t ask for precision about my life) I went to see a performance of Goethe’s Faust, in German, in the auditorium of some midtown hotel. Uta Hagen was the only performer I had known, having seen her as Desdemona   
in a famous performance with Paul Robeson in the title role of Othello and José Ferrer as Iago.

   In that Faust, Uta Hagen was Margarete who announced before the beginning that the Mephistopheles would be Albert Bassermann, now in his eighties. I had not heard of him, of course, but Uta Hagen made it clear that Bassermann’s participation was a big deal. Only now do I know why.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Not Pence

Not Pence for President
   This is a note about a subject that could take up pages. That’s what it did in the New Yorker of  October 23. Jane Mayer, a long-time writer for the magazine, wrote a substantial article on Vice President Pence, putting each stage of his career into a broader context.  Read it by all means, even if your time or patience requires you to skim. Here I want to express my own surprising conclusion:
   Don’t agitate for Trump’s impeachment, but hope that he will serve out his term.
   Have I become enamored of our President? Certainly not. But, alas, I have learned what it means to support the lesser of two evils—not an easy lesson to digest.
   What Trump will do next is mostly unpredictable. What Pence would do in his place is here revealed: just about surely the wrong thing—from the perspective of liberals like me.
   I’ll take wackiness and uncertainty before certain wrongheadedness. Half a cheer for Trump—at most.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sex in the Press

I’m not obsessed with sex. And never was, even at a much younger age. Moreover, I never paid much attention to the ingredient of sex in news stories. That has changed, per forza, since I now get my news via the internet, including from the NYTimes, making for a different kind of reading. Given those reports, I am truly astonished at the role sex plays in American politics. It’s not just that there are the big cases, like that of Harvey Weinstein, but there are, just about daily, a great many more mundane ones. My point here is to get you to look at what is available to you—if you do indeed look.
   Conduct an experiment. Read your news account on the internet—in my case mostly the on-line NYTimes—and “censor” the story of the portion of the account devoted to some aspect of sex. I bet you will have significantly thinned out your reading material.
   Yes, sex makes the world go ‘round, but not everywhere to the same degree. It’s my guess that accounts in the US will beat out reportage in the countries of Western Europe. It by no means follows that couples in US beds are friskier than those in other lands. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Private and the Public
“The Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University has announced that it is revoking an honor it gave Harvey Weinstein in 2014. He had been awarded the Du Bois Medal for contributions to African-American culture. In the last several weeks, Weinstein has been revealed to have been sexually harassing women for years, and some women have also come forward to accuse him of rape.”

I find it difficult to say what I am about to put forward, but I believe I must say it. To be utterly clear, I find the recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual behavior to be unqualifiedly reprehensible. I wouldn’t have him to dinner, if that were a possibility. But what does that have to do with his role as a movie mogul or his support of liberal politicians? Benvenuto Cellini was a murderer, Richard Wagner was a virulent anti-Semite. Just to name two cultural heroes of the past.
   When there is enough temporal distance, sins are not so much forgiven, but ignored. Alas (for Harvey) , his return to grace—his resurrection, so to speak—will come after he is dead. There is something to be said in support of the view that distinguishes between a person’s private life and his public accomplishments, if any.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sex In America

I'm puzzled about something that should be obvious. I read the NYTimes and very little else about what’s going on. I find that these reports about doings in the US are most frequently about sex, even before Weinstein, but emphatically since. then. I’ve concluded that sexual activities are a big topic in the American ethos (no news). Not remotely as much as in that of Western Europe. Even conceding that I don’t hear the “worst” about Europe in what I read, there don’t seem to be any Weinsteins to talk about. What accounts for the difference, assuming I got that right? A feeble answer is that that European scene includes far less of that “primitive” protestant reaction to modernity, witness the fact that there is much less of a reaction there to Darwin’s account of the story of mankind.   

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Just to be clear, Harvey Weinstein is also Jewish. He makes it into the papers, these days, as a serial sex offender. Beware of statements like  “All Jews are x.”