Saturday, July 28, 2012

Is This Supposed to be PROFESSIONAL Baseball?

Am I the only one who feels the celebrating at the end of major league
baseball games, especially those ending in a walk off have gotten a little

These guys are supposed to be professionals after all, and often they're
jumping around like popcorn in hot oil in games that have little long
term significance and don't affect post season play.  It goes against the
understated stoicism which has long been part of the baseball myth, not
to even bring up an arcane idea such as it's poor sportsmanship and
disrespectful to the team which has just fallen short.

Here's an interesting coda to this posting:  players hurt while celebrating.

Friday, July 20, 2012


•                                         •                                         •

Anyone who knows me will tell you that of all the cultural
institutions I love, including my alma mater (boola-boola),
the absolute closest to my heart is WFMT.

I think it is simply the best classical music station in the
United States.  I'd almost go as far as saying that given
today's cultural climate, it's the best possible classical
radio station.   It's one of the glories of Chicago and a
real gift from the heartland to the cultural capitals of
America on the Coasts.

The New York Philharmonic is syndicated nationally
thanks to WFMT.  Same with the Los Angeles Opera
and the San Francisco Opera.   It plays a very
generous selection of vocal music  - a form of music
banned from most classical stations in this country
apart from the weekly Metropolitan Opera Broadcast
on some stations - and FMT plays more opera than
anyone else, at least two complete operas per week.
The station plays contemporary music with a fearlessness
otherwise unknown in the halls of classical music.  I'm
certain when I finally get to hear the music of Natasha
Bogojevich, America's most underrated composer, on
the radio, it will be at 98.7 here in Chicago.

If you've never heard the station, I urge to start listening
now.   Still when fundraising time rolls around, I can
barely endure the endless stream of self-congratulatory
talk which is evidently necessary to keep WFMT on the
air at the high standard to which we listeners have
become accustomed.

My point is not to criticize FMT but to bemoan the
culture which makes it necessary to wallow in verbal
self-admiration in order to survive.  I recognize all
this verbiage is necessary, and I do give; but the better
part of my nature wishes the station could at least
acknowledge the corrupting influence such necessary
self-promotion subtly but inevitably exerts.

Don't let me overstate the case.  It's not that in fund
raising, as in war, the first casualty is the truth; it's
instead the loss of a balanced view.  The announcers
can't admit there are times the same music gets played
too much or that certain local symphonies which they
play don't really merit the attention.

We can no longer talk of ourselves as we really are,
because we are taught that if we don't promote ourselves,
who else can we expect to do it.  Self-doubt doesn't sell,
and selling has become the business of life.

The question is do we really want our relationships with
others to be reduced to constant selling in which each
tries to get the other to buy.  For the sake of having a
buyer for ourselves, we agree to play the buyer for the
other.  It's a diminished world we live in, but it's our
world, so start promoting - just realize the price extracted.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Henry Adams, Guest Blogger

My guest blogger this week is Henry Adams, perhaps
America's first great historian - the first I know of at
least.  The great grandson of John Adams and grandson
of John Quincy Adams, he was of the first Adams
generation to give up the ambition of being president.
(His father, Charles Francis Adams, nursed the ambition
though not able to realize it.)

Here Adams writes of the Founding Fathers's attitude
toward military spending:

Granting that the American people were about to risk 
their future on a new experiment, they naturally wished to throw aside all burdens of which they could rid themselves. Believing that in the long run interest, not violence, would rule the world, and that the United States must depend for safety and success on the interests they could create, they were tempted to look upon war and preparations for war as the worst of blunders; for they were sure that every dollar capitalized in industry was a means of overthrowing their enemies more effective than a thousand dollars spent on frigates or standing armies.  The success of the American system was, from this point of view, a question of economy.
                       - History of the United States During the
                         1st Administration of Jefferson, Part I*

Some of us still agree with the Founding Fathers that not
all money spent on defense makes America safer or
stronger.  In fact as as it diverts money away from vitals needs, 
such as educational opportunity for all, safe highways & bridges
and clean water, military spending can make us less safe.  

Too much military spending can even destroy a nation.  Look at
what happened to the Soviet Union in the 1980s and early 90s
when excessive spending on defense led to the collapse of the
government and the break up of the empire.  

It would be ironic if we couldn't escape the same fate for ourselves.

*Adams, Henry, History of the United States During the First Administration of Jefferson, Part I,
Charles Scribners' Sons, New York, 1891, p. 162.

Note: Please ignore the white highlighting.  I do not know why it
shows up and have been unable to rid myself of it.  If you have
any insight, please let me know.