30 January 2011

mud pies!??!!

In an article on the return of "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti, the New York Times says that women are selling mud pies out front of Fort Dimanche which once held political prisoners. Mud pies!?! When we were kids and made mud pies, we didn't HAVE to eat them because there was nothing else to eat. Just imagine.

Elsewhere in the paper, there's a review of The haves and have-nots: a brief and idiosyncratic history of global inequality by Branko Milanovic. The reviewer, Catherine Rampell, states that the richest 5% in India makes the same as or less than the poorest 5% in the U.S. That's even counting the Mumbai McMansions. No wonder folks risk their lives to get to the rich countries.

I did find it heartening that Mexico was making progress on universal health care but the overwhelming feeling of social global helplessness in the face of world problems made it a little hard, and very guilt-ridden, to finish my simple breakfast of pancakes and one egg ... especially in light of getting excited about the airfares from Aer Lingus for late spring.

12 January 2011

once more: the comma

Barbery and Byatt fans will remember earlier posts on the comma and good, long sentences. As I work my way through Babel Tower, I encountered this sentence. The last comma would probably have sent the Barbery concierge into a tizzy:

"He is not ready, and may never be, and she may not want him to be, now, or yet, or ever, how can she tell, but the law and Nigel will make it be solid, be cut and dried -- cut, and dried -- gone ..." [closing ellipsis in text]

And you might find the essay on the long sentence by Ed Park in the December 24th New York Times Book Review interesting.

02 January 2011


Hmm. I wonder which is more brutal: the Carpenter Center, Le Corbusier's brutalist masterpiece (top), or what they've done to the old building of the Fogg Art Museum (bottom).

01 January 2011

Polish cabin fever

New Year's Day 2011 in Boston, and the weather is pretty close to perfect. It's in the 50s (at least) and the snow from the Blizzard of 2010 is disappearing except the stacks. What you need after the Eve's drunken excess is a quiet walk around the neighborhood. I'm at Bill's in Cambridge, Massachusetts and he suggested that I might want to see how the Fogg looks as it is being deconstructed and reconstructed to Renzo Piano's grand plan. They've taken down the back wall, lots of the guts, and Werner Otto Hall from the 1990s. The Fogg is next to the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts done by Le Corbusier in the early 1960s, his only building in North America (not including the U.N. building) and a grand brutalist building. You can see a lot more of Carpenter without Werner Otto and Fogg back in the way.

After I got home to Bill's, he was almost done with preparations for folks coming over at 4 and I insisted that he go get some fresh air rather than my going to get a bottle of wine. WGBH was playing a Rimsky-Korsakov work and it ended. The announcer started telling us what she would play next and I thought I'd like to hear the "Warsaw Concerto" ... so she announced she was about to play the "Warsaw Concerto." Magic. It must be a sign that the coming year will be fine.

For the curious, the picture is of the Lazienski Palace in Warsaw, taken by Andrew Ward, Getty Images, and picked at "random" from the Google Image results from "warsaw poland." The picture with snow was from a war game so not appropriate for me. And the fact that I picked a picture of a neoclassical (Palladian) building is totally coincidental.