"Blue Jeans" - Lana Del Rey
(I find this song strangely affecting (rather than affected), although I gather she has a lot of detractors. Once you are on the wrong side of 50 it seems to me one should feel free to disregard critics and not worry a bit about what's cool.)
So sorry for the lack of posting, but I've been taking this whole tropical vacation thing very seriously. Sun, sea, too much fine French food ( a real virtue of St. Maarten) for which I remain a sucker, a little bit of gym time (a true shock to the system) and reading large dead tree tomes -- in keeping with the French theme a huge biography of Charles de Gaulle. I am mostly boycotting the fiscal cliff stories at this point until my return.
- I was happy to hear that Ed Markey is going to take a shot at the Massachusetts Senate seat and seems to have garnered a great deal of support right out of the box. Markey has been a good guy for a really long time -- I remember when he was a young Turk seeking election to Congress for the first time in 1976. It seems to me that if Markey can scare off any primary challengers -- which seems possible with his $3.1 million war chest and high level endorsements -- that he should have a pretty decent chance of beating Scott Brown. He's not a young guy at age 66 and will probably only serve a couple of terms, but if he can hold the seat and give the Dems a chance to develop more state wide talent, he will have done a huge service. He is a true progressive and a guy who has been on the cutting edge of energy and climate issues for a long time.
-I really liked this discussion by TNC on deciding not to live one's life "armed." It reflects my own sense that one has to live life with a certain level of fatalism -- not stupidity, but the acceptance that random bad shit can happen and you can either choose to obsess and worry about it or you can roll with it. I certainly did not grow up like TNC, but I lived in a number of marginal neighborhoods during my first 15 or so years in DC -- from 1982 to 1998 -- during a pretty violent time in the city. The thought of packing -- or living life afraid all the time -- just didn't seem appealing.
- I was also amused by this TNC post about catching crap for not knowing who Augustine of Hippo was. TNC notes that he has some significant gaps in his formal education -- to which I'd reply who the hell doesn't. It seems to me that there remains this sort of bizarre, old-fashioned canonical snobbery that should have been banished long ago. Yes, it's great I guess to have a mastery of the western canon, but the notion that it is the true path to wisdom or being learned strikes me as ridiculous. (Indeed when one considers the kind of knaves and fools who are expert in this sort of thing dropping the ancient Greeks from the curriculum might well be in order.) Like TNC, I have a ton of gaps in my reading -- moreover, I am at the point in my life where I feel free to say that I find a whole host of big thinkers to be either unreadable -- Nietzche, Hegel -- or uninteresting -- Plato, Aristotle, and a pretty large bunch of the Philosophy 101 reading list. I have found that the kinds of writing from which I learn best are novels, histories, and biographies and that I have a distinct bias for the language and rhythms of the 20th Century onward. Philosophical and theoretical political tracts tend to leave me cold. So I say each to his own on the path to wisdom.
- And to prove my point, Yglesias, a philosophy major who is hooked on dumb ass economic thinking, expresses his skepticism about DC as a place to retire -- because of its expensiveness. He argues that retirees prefer places like Arizona -- (yes, because cold weather and ice and snow really suck when you're old) -- and should really be thinking about places like Mexico and other low cost countries as places to retire. This suggests that retirement location is a simple economic transaction. But the reality is that people for the most part still retire where they lived and worked for most of their lives. Strangely enough, most retired people want to be around family and friends and institutions that formed the core of their adult existence. Additionally, cities like DC can be ideal places for retirees. They do not have to depend on driving to remain mobile -- a huge issue for older retirees. There are activities like museums and theaters for them to enjoy, an array of social services geared to the elderly, and good access to doctors and hospitals. [My mother in law -- after decades in suburbia -- moved to DC after my father in law died. She lived here for 13 years and loved it. She had some assets from the sale of her house, a modest pension and Social Security. She managed to live a comfortable life on income of about $30,000 to $40,000 a year in a nice apartment in a safe and convenient neighborhood.] You would think a density advocate like Yglesias would understand that newer suburbs and exurbs that are not pedestrian friendly and lack public transit and affordable cabs are really horrible isolating places to be as you age.
- And lastly, I am still waiting for the damn final, final figures on the presidential vote. It appears now that every state has certified results, except Hawaii and New York. So as a result, Obama's edge continues to slowly grow. He now has 51.06% of the vote to Romney's 47.21%, with total votes of 65,892,366 to Romney's 60,926,847, a gap of 4,965,519 votes. The total popular vote for 2012 is down by 1.72% compared to 2008, with New York State's vote down by 7.74%, the likely affect of Sandy. But for the storm (New York and New Jersey will probably cast about 850,000 fewer votes than in 2008), it seems likely that the total vote would be within about 1 million votes of the 2008 election. The final margin should be about 4%, right around 5 million votes, a pretty respectable beating administered by the Kenyan Usurper. (Virginia's 51.16% for Obama and 47.28% for Romney is appearing more and more like an incredibly accurate reflection of national voting behavior.)
So jump in the fray and let us know what's on your minds.