“Strictly Enforced”: The Meaningless of Words

Signs proclaim it all too often. Strict signFor speed limits, curfews, leash laws, even dress codes.

And yet is it? Enforced strictly, that is. The answer would have to be sometimes, which undercuts the “strictly” bit.homeownerThe same wording is used in announcement before many live events: “No photography permitted. This policy is strictly enforced.” And yet…phonesatconcertsThis is not to say that I am in favor of strictly enforcing anything – beyond Do not inflict harm on or endanger others – but that different words should be used. phoneAt least then the words would mean something.

Top 5 Philosophers Who Would Have Made Great Sports Radio Hosts

Philosophers, like sports radio hosts, can really go on about nothing for a long time. Ipso factovoltaire5. Voltaire, a good listener and solid thinker: “The ancient Romans built their greatest masterpieces of architecture for wild beasts to fight in.” 

Galileo4. Galileo Galilei, not one to steer clear of controversy: “The sun,with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”

hannah-arendt3. Hannah Arendt, clear and direct, puts men in their place: “Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.”

marshallmcluhan2. Marshall McLuhan, understands the way of the world, especially in its coldest of forms: “I’ve always been careful never to predict anything that had not already happened.”

socrates1. Socrates, the grand-master of the dialectic: “Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

*For the record, the Bottom Five read likes this: Arthur Schopenhauer (gloomy!), Ayn Rand (repeats herself), Niccolo Machiavelli (one-trick pony), Rene Descartes (drones on and on) and Friedrich Nietzsche (way too intense).

BAM Offers Endurance Tests in Mediocrity

Two recent events at the Brooklyn Academy of Arts (BAM) sounded excellent on paper: Tony Kushner’s  Angels in America is universally praised as is the work of dance choreographer Pina Bausch. Pina Bausch at BAMHowever instead of reflection and inspiration, the never-ending productions (five hours and three hours each respectively) became endurance tests, challenges to the viewer to just stay awake.  20140607_164314I took to staring at the lights at stage left, studying the shadows of the players wandering about, and then studying the back of my hand, the veins bulging over my knuckle, the dry edge of a cuticle, and then chewing the inside of my mouth with a feverish intensity, so much so that it became bloody and sore, the only thing keeping me awake.

The highlight of both evenings, in fact, was the dinner break, where we patrons were given the unique opportunity of picnicking on the floor. 20141023_213319After that, it was back to our moderately comfortable seats and the grindstone of keeping my head propped up and my eyes on the prize: the time to go home. Only an hour and 25 minutes to go…almost an hour, almost there…

President Obama is More Than All Right.

Make no bones about it, Barrack Obama is the greatest President of the United States in the past 60 years. obamaoneI say this despite the anti-Obama media barrage, the ceaseless mud slung by his political opponents and the embittered populace who have lost faith in a man who was once their desperate icon for hope. hope_obamaThe truth is that President Obama was set up to fail. The ridiculous expectations dumped on him demanded that he walk on water and then turn that into wine; anything less would be a failure. That’s the way everyone wanted it. It gave them a perfect scapegoat for unemployment, international strife, indeed whatever plague or natural disaster arose.

Hurricane Sandy, Battery park Tunnel, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Battery park Tunnel, 2012

All anyone has to say is, “Obama’s let us down again,” and there is applause. This despite the facts, which are these:

a. Obama passed a bill that actually made health care more affordable, an achievement no other president has been able to achieve in the face of a sick political culture which believes in money more than well being.

b. Obama has reduced America’s military presence in the world, despite a war-hungry opposition, and worked to develop coalitions with anyone who will listen.

c. The economy has steadily improved every year under his administration, to where the financial markets now sit at record highs.corrections-2008-2014

d. Obama has consistently endorsed social policies which promote understanding and acceptance of others, such as gay marriage. And although he has yet to succeed in the battle for gun control, he has stood firm for the reduction of automatic weapons.

e. Obama acknowledges the need to confront climate change and looks ready to put this issue at the top of his agenda in his final two years.

It’s actually surprising that there hasn’t been even more hate against the president. After all, not only has he directly challenged the establishment – and played golf with friends – but there is also the insidious problem this country has with skin color.

As high-minded as it might have sounded to have a black guy as president, there are some, a lot actually, that are tired of the idea and want to go back to way things were, everyone knowing their place, that kind of thing. The George Zimmerman verdict, unrest in Ferguson and choke-hold death of Eric Garner all speak to the fact that this is not going away any time soon.. eric-garner-police-brutality-ramsey-ortaNevertheless, the elections are just a couple of days away, and as much as everyone seems to want to distance themselves from this leader of our time, only time will tell how bad a mistake it turns out they all made. Obama speaks about the sequester in Washington