Reliving horror

September 22nd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease by any measure, but consider how much worse it must be for survivors of the Holocaust.


September 18th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

The scientific advisory committees that assist the United States government don’t always agree with President Bush’s views. In response, the Bush administration is packing the committees with members who support Bush.

This seems like an opportune moment to mention a quotation from that radical leftist Dwight Eisenhower: “May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”

More chicanery

September 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

At this point, it’s hardly news that the Bush administration is awash in corporate malfeasance, but Paul Krugman’s latest column describes yet another sickening example: There’s now evidence that Thomas White, a former Enron executive and the current secretary of the army, was fully aware of the accounting scams that allowed his division at Enron to show a profit. (In the past, he’s claimed that he wasn’t aware of the fraud.) Nonetheless, White hasn’t been asked to resign.

Poetry in motion

September 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

These are the saddest of possible words: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

For all you hawks out there

September 10th, 2002 § Two comments § permalink

More reasons not to invade Iraq, as if there weren’t enough already:

  • After establishing a significant presence in Pakistan, Al Qaeda has begun to return to Afghanistan as well. Even with support from the American military, the current Afghan government “has been unable to gain effective control of the Afghan countryside.”
  • President Bush has told world leaders that it isn’t the United States’ job to replace Saddam Hussein, apparently preferring to believe that any other leader would be better than Hussein. Um, would anyone care to bet on that?

The Nation has a list of nine critical questions that the United States should answer before invading Iraq. Here’s number eight: “Even if we are successful in toppling Saddam, who will govern Iraq afterward? Will we leave the country in chaos (as we have done in Afghanistan)? Or will we try to impose a government in the face of the inevitable Iraqi hostility if US forces destroy what remains of Iraq’s infrastructure and kill many of its civilians?” Sounds like Bush has decided on the first option.

The end of empire

September 9th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

The Nation is running an interesting article by William Greider arguing that America’s trade deficit will eventually spell an end to its imperialist ambitions. The appropriate response, according to Greider, is not to reduce the country’s trade deficit but to accept America’s decline as a world power and “concentrate on building a different, more promising society at home.” Sounds okay to me.

Respect for the living

September 8th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

The New York Times, led by its architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, unveiled its proposal for the World Trade Center site today. The proposal displays a breathtaking disregard for the city of New York. It combines some of the best ideas for the site—restoring part of the street grid; creating a memorial; mixing residential and commercial uses—and turns them into a monstrosity. The proposal is a hodgepodge of unrelated buildings, each one designed to glorify an architect’s vision rather than to serve the city. Its one merit is that it is so awful that many will dismiss it and look elsewhere for inspiration.

The Times plan is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with modern architecture. Many of today’s architects have become preoccupied with theory above all else; they appear to have given up on creating buildings appropriate to their uses and locations. Most of the Times architects have even abandoned all but the most rarified ideas about beauty and form, as Muschamp himself admits:

Some of the West Street projects will appear bizarre or perhaps self-indulgent to those unfamiliar with contemporary architecture. But this is not a lineup of architectural beauty contestants. All are conceptually rooted, in step with the level of architectural ambition in Vienna, Tokyo, Rotterdam and many other cities overseas. You have to look beneath the skin, for example, to appreciate the extraordinary elegance with which Charles Gwathmey has manipulated a single duplex unit into a variety of apartment layouts, which then generate the modeled facades.

Has Muschamp forgotten why architecture exists? If the buildings from his plan were constructed, most everyone who lived, worked, and played near them would be “unfamiliar with contemporary architecture.” Most New Yorkers won’t care how “conceptually rooted” the buildings are, nor will it be possible for them to “look beneath the skin” of the buildings to appreciate their “extraordinary elegance.” (And about those conceptual roots: One proposal for a West Street residential building actually cites the video game Tetris as the chief inspiration for its design.)

The World Trade Center site does not need star architects blanketing its surface with strange buildings. It needs architects who will show sensitivity to their surroundings—not just the tragedy that happened on the site, but the evolution of lower Manhattan and the needs of the people who live and work there, both now and in the future.

The deception begins

September 8th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Well, that didn’t take long: The Bush administration has already started lying about Iraq’s weapons programs.


September 7th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

Politicians and citizens are clamoring for evidence that Iraq poses a threat to the United States. No doubt the Bush administration will eventually provide some.

Unfortunately, members of this administration have a history of lying about Iraq. Treat their evidence with skepticism.

The Purest and Best

September 3rd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Something I adore: Old advertisements painted on the sides of buildings.

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