ricardienne: (christine)
I usually get mild enjoyment from the Op-Eds of Gail Collins (though can we talk about the fact that the two regular women columnists on the New York Times Opinion page are there for the explicitly fluff, light-hearted commentary columns?) But I quite like this quote from her most recent:
If we lived in a democracy full of heroic candidates in evenly matched battles, there’d be no challenge to being an energized voter. Everybody would do it! As it is, one of our greatest civic virtues is the willingness to soldier on and participate in elections even when the contests are foregone conclusions or vaguely ridiculous.
ricardienne: (heiro)
I can't decide whether this is an interesting point of view, or whether Stanley Fish is just playing troll. Based on where he ends up (and who he is), I think the latter, though it's also quite possible that he really thinks he is bringing obvious and learned enlightenment to us all (with Milton! Always with Milton.)

(Thought Experiment: Are there situations where a person could be trolling without the intention of doing so?)
ricardienne: (tacitus)
1. Politics are awkward. Also, I guess I'm still not used to being one of the most left-wing people around again. Nevertheless, I was restrained enough not to say something like "um... this is the Republican party we're talking about" when J. was wondering why they couldn't put up a good candidate and not a nutjob. But I am so sick of the "everyone is just so confrontational. What we need are real moderates and people willing to compromise!" shtick! (wait...haven't we had that for three years?)

If you think that the Tea Party is too far to the right and Obama is too far to the left --- congratulations, you're not a "moderate" or a "centrist." Or rather, you can be! Did you know that I'm also a moderate? I'm somewhat to the right of Karl Marx, and somewhat to the left of Obama. QED: moderate!

But I facetiate. I can see that there is some personal satisfaction to be gained from declaring oneself to be a "natural moderate" and always for the "center" in whatever the current spectrum of noised-about opinion is: you don't have to worry very much about the particular issues involved; you get to maintain a virtuous structural position and not a sordid and concretely political one; you get to uphold an abstract ideal that also has the advantage of being 'hardheaded' and 'realistic' and not naively concerned with some transitory issue. And who am I to tell people not to think whatever makes them feel good about themselves?

2. The above is kind of affecting how I feel I can work on Tacitus. And vice-versa.

3. It's really sad how much my mood depends on whether I think my work is tolerable in the eyes of my professors.
ricardienne: (Default)
...when I log on to facebook and my friend from quartet camp is posting screeds about the evils of Planned Parenthood (it's because she's "pro-woman" don't you know), and I don't want to say anything, because I don't want to be in the middle of an anti-choice funfest.

Anything making you mad?
ricardienne: (tacitus)
I don't want to be that person who quotes Thucydides and makes a facile allusion to the present...

Oh heck, I guess I actually do (substituting "the economic downturn" for "war"):

ἐν μὲν γὰρ εἰρήνῃ καὶ ἀγαθοῖς πράγμασιν αἵ τε πόλεις καὶ οἱ ἰδιῶται ἀμείνους τὰς γνώμας ἔχουσι διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐς ἀκουσίους ἀνάγκας πίπτειν: ὁ δὲ πόλεμος ὑφελὼν τὴν εὐπορίαν τοῦ καθ᾽ ἡμέραν βίαιος διδάσκαλος καὶ πρὸς τὰ παρόντα τὰς ὀργὰς τῶν πολλῶν ὁμοιοῖ.

In peacetime and prosperity, both cities and individuals have superior sensibilities, because they aren't encountering ugly necessities; war, removing the security of day-to-day life, teaches by force and assimilates the passions of the populace to their circumstances. (3.82)

(Dear Fellow Citizens: why did you give me such a horrible birthday present?)
ricardienne: (tacitus)
The problem is that you see people whom you knew were probably conservative but didn't actually *know* were, and whom you respect and like a lot, because they were your high school cello teacher, and have given you a lot of opportunities to play over the years (even though they gave you terrible advice and a recommendation that probably hurt more than it helped when you were applying for undergraduate and you may or may not be bitter over that). Anyway, you can see that such a person has joined a "Support Arizona and Stand Against Illegal Immigration" group whose page is full of pretty nasty hyperbole about protesters against SB 1070 and really despicable comments about the Raza programs in Tucson. And sometimes that makes one sad.
ricardienne: (tacitus)
Taxes for education are heading toward a communist police state of evil; making brown people show their papers on demand isn't?
ricardienne: (Default)
From Pliny (IV.25) (The greatest virtue of the silly mystery is that I am now inspired to read Pliny all the way through (in English, with the ones that seem entertaining in Latin):

Dear Maesius Maximus,

I had written to you that we should be worried about some vice turning up in this secret voting.* It's happened. In the last elections certain ballots had lots of jokes and even obscenities, in one, moreoever, the names of the sponsors were found instead of the candidates'! The senate exploded and with lots of noise begged the emperor to exercise his anger on on the one who had written them. But he got away and hid: perhaps he was even among those enraged. What do we think this man does at home, who in such an important business at so serious a time jokes so scandalously, and finally, who is so utterly sarcastic and witty and cute in the senate? So much license does this trust [of anonymity] give to perverted minds, "for who will know?" He asks for a ballot, takes his pen, lowers his head [to write],** disregards himself. Hence these mockeries worthy of the stage or circus platform. But where are you to turn? What remedies to seek? Everwhere vices are stronger than their remedies. But these are the concern of him above us, to whose great daily task of vigil much labor is added by this useless but still unrestrained insolence of ours.*** Farewell.
*Secret voting had just been introduced in the senate. In the first letter, Pliny interestingly claims that people are less honest when they are voting secretly, probably because they aren't then going to be influenced by the right people.
**Or: "diminishes his status [by writing stupid things on the ballot]"
***cf. Galba to Piso in Tacitus: "you will be ruling over a people who will not endure servitude, but who also cannot handle total freedom."

In more recent news RNC split over whether Obama parody is offensive/dangerous to party's image. To which issue I have nothing to say directly, but to this:
The dispute illustrates a larger Republican challenge in the months ahead: how to oppose the first black president without seeming antiblack.
do you think that a good starting place would be parody and criticism that, you know, don't involve his race?
ricardienne: (Default)
What would an election be without the weird historical analogies?

(1) Obama as Augustus. The parallels are certainly there (I saw them before I hunted down this post) -- nation divided by partisan strife, young unknown initially dismissed by political establishment defeats veteran soldier/politician and his much-vilified female ally from exotic location, promises to restore greatness and unity, is hailed as savior -- but the blogger rather inexplicably seems to think that Augustus was an uncontestably Good Thing...
(2)Barack Socrates Obmama. This one, I just don't get. Socrates was a controversial figure among his contemporaries, so is Obama? I think you need to try a little harder.

(3)And, of course, Voting for Obama was like fighting for Henry V, in a way. Actually, this one I do endorse. (Yeah, I am proud to have voted in this election, and I am going to tell my grand-children about watching the returns!) (more about that analogy (old.)
ricardienne: (york)
So here's a story.

Four years ago, election day was November 2. My 18th birthday was November 3. I was too nervous to watch the returns, but when I got up in the morning... thank you, Country, for the birthday present.

So this year, my birthday was the day before election day, not that it matters muc, except that it was an awful day. I had to play a student piece in composition, a piece that I had gotten a few days before, a piece where the "composer" couldn't perform the rhythms he had written for me ("it worked out on the computer") but told me kindly that "for this performance, I guess it's okay if they are only approximate", and I had orchestra, where the conductor patronized us, explained that we were a budding orchestra and not good enough to play real music, was unprepared, conducted badly (these are par for the course), and gave us a program of mostly Christmas music. I was so angry and frustrated and tired that I was in tears by the end.

The point of these sad stories is that you should make me happier by getting Obama elected today.
ricardienne: (Default)
An acquaintance from music camp, with whom I'm facebook friends, keeps posting "Obama is the most pro-abortion senator in the world" and "being "pro-choice" is like being pro-slavery" and "Obama wants 12 year olds to get abortions without telling their parents" notes (re: that last, I shall not of course point out that it's a little weird to claim that a fetus has rights over its body irrespective of it's mother's desires, but that a child doesn't), and it is getting ANNOYING.

So instead, I am going to post this bit of Quintilian (transl. D.A. Russell) complaining about people who point and giggle about *perfectly innocent* phrases:
...what is called cacephaton. This consists either in a phrase perverted by bad usage so as to give an obscene meaning, as by those who (if you can believe it) get a laugh out of ductare exercitus ["take the army home/to bed"] and patrare bellum ["finish off the war/pretty boy"], which are respectable but old-fashioned expressions in Sallust (this is not, in my judgement, the writers' fault but the readers', but it is none the less to be avoided, inasmuch as our moral decline has led to the lost of respectable words, and we have to yield even to vices if they are winning), or in a collocation of word which has an unfortunate sound: of we say cum hominibus notis loqui ("to speak with famous men") without the inserted hominibus [heh: inserted], we find ourselves falling into something objectionble, because the last letter of the first syllable (m), which cannot be pronounced without closing the lips either forces us to pause in a very unbecoming way, or, if joined to the next letter (n), is assimilated to it [sc: cum + notis = cunno... = like in English]... And it is not only in writing that this occurs: many people are keen to understand a sentence in an obscene sense, unless you take precautions (as Ovid says, "whatever's hiddne, they think best"), and to seize on indecency in words which are far from having any obscene meaning. Celsus, for instance, sees cacemphaton in Vergil's they are stirred and start to swell but if you take this iew, nothing is safe to say.
ricardienne: (augustine)
The last couple days, my last couple days at home, my parents have had the television on more than I can ever remember in my life. (Disclosure: we didn't even have a television until I was at least 12; I remember listening to the Senate vote on the charges against Clinton on the radio). So I have heard bits of a lot of Convention speeches.

I don't like speeches, and I don't like listening to people give speeches. Hilary Clinton is one of the few whose voice doesn't make me uncomfortable; in general, I don't like the sound of politicians making stirring speeches. But mainly, I am a sucker for rhetoric, and I don't like being emotionally taken-in.

Because I desperately want a Democratic victory in November, I want things to get fixed and get better, and I want to have people in office and around the (Oval) Office who are trying and successfully doing good and who will let me say that "government is more necessary than evil" not just in theory but in reality.

But I don't really believe it. Obama as president, even with the most intelligent, capable, and progressive cabinet, wouldn't fix half the things that need improvement half as much as they need it. And it just isn't the case that the Democrats are saints trying to selflessly serve the greater good.

On the one hand, I do understand that politics more or less works through the pretense that it is all about ideals and service, and I suppose I tend to think that many of them (on both sides of the aisle) do think that they are playing the politics game in the service of something other than their personal/party's gain. But on the other hand, well, you know: the dirty world of political infighting and ambition, all politicians are alike and greedy, the system is inherently broken, etc.

ricardienne: (Default)
1. Eliot Spitzer: how CAN you have been being such an idiot? I remember my parents getting cranky during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and storming around the house asking "how can such a smart man be so STUPID?" Given this business, Clinton suddenly seems rational by comparison.

2. Is this less ironic or more ironic than Larry Craig? (Discuss)

3. I was about a second and a half too late in producing "Thou rather, with thy sharp and sulph'rous bolt, Splitst the unwedgeable and gnarled oak" when discussion veered off toward Zeus and the Indo-European significance of sky gods and oak trees. Still trying to decide whether Professor M. was trying to interject subtle commentary on current events, or whether I just have an impossibly one-track mind.
ricardienne: (Default)
Yesterday, the voice teacher who is in charge of the opera came up to me in the hall and told me that he had just been talking with one of his students -- a fried of mine -- about me, and that it was very impressive that I had "managed to pick up Greek in no time at all" and that he was a classicist at University, although he's forgotten his Greek by now. Compliments are so much more rewarding when given with a British accent. He also assured me that I was definitely on for bass continuo in Dido and Aeneas. YAY!!!!!!!

We started the St. John Passion in Bach seminar today. I was surprisingly disturbed, hearing all of the "and then the high priest of the JEWS" &c. (No, I don't know German, but having been given a translation, I can pick out a few words as it goes by.) I mean, I know that it's there, and that it was a standard part of the story as it was understood in that time, and so forth. I know I've encountered lots of works containing "historical anti-Semitism." And it doesn't usually make me uncomfortable. I do think that the fact that it's a big authoritative German work -- and this makes it sound as though I have a very personal family connection to the Holocaust, which is not, thankfully the case -- makes the reaction different than if it were in just about any other medium.
I started to try to explain it to J. -- but I got into an argument with him last year when Handel's Messiah was in the news because someone had determined that large portions of the libretto came out of a strongly anti-Semitic tract. He was righteously indignant that anyone could complain about Great Works of Art and, today, too, he made one of those "well, I guess Bach isn't so politically correct these days" remarks that I find so annoying. Because I am conflicted on how to approach Great Works of Art whose ideologies are Not Okay -- and you can't excuse the problems, even if they do come from modern history, as "political incorrectness" as if oversensitivity to prejudice is the only issue. On the other hand, I don't support changing the text, or not performing them, because they are great musical works -- the opening chorus of the St. John Passion is one of the most wonderful concerted chorales I've heard. And, sometimes editors' notes/conductor's notes/program notes that try to explain or apologize for the bigoted content are embarrassing to read. But somehow you do have to face it, and I think there is a responsibility to make clear the limitations of a work in view of more enlightened (and I do, I hope, use that word advisedly) ideas and inescapable historical fact. /my thoughts on art and ideology
ricardienne: (Default)
Thomas Friedman is a painfully nice guy. He's been bending over backwards to be a true moderate: giving the Bushies the benefit of the doubt, trying to see the silver lining, supporting Bush in Iraq because getting rid of tyrants is the right thing to do and a West-friendly democracy in the Middle East would be good for Israel, nicely urging rational thought and responsible policies and refusing to give up hope no matter how often the Administration has demonstrated that it doesn't give a damn about rational thought or responsible policies.

But even Thomas Friedman, it appears, has his breaking point. I am tempted to say: "Finally! And what took you so long?" I glanced at the title of his op-ed today, assumed it was by Bob Herbert (and wondered why he had gotten in two days in a row), then noticed who the writer actually was and was floored. The times they are a-changing, I hope.
ricardienne: (snape denial)
Books to read when I'm back home and have time for utterly frivolous reading (and don't have to request them via inter-library loan).

-The new Chrestomanci book (the existence of which I just learned about yesterday) about Cat and Chrestomanci.
-All of A Series of Unfortunate Events (a reread for the first two-thirds-ish), so I can read the last one.
-Twilight, to keep on top of the latest teenage vampire trends.
-The New Tamora Pierce Book, I guess, even though I couldn't make it through the exerpt on her website. But I have to see if it has any howlers along the lines of "Hakkoi's Hammer! What is that?"
-The new Wrede-Stevernmer novel, even though Grand Tour wasn't nearly as good as Sorcery and Cecilia.
-Imperium (I'm blanking on the author) -- maybe. It got a good review in today's Book Review, but then, I've also read some pretty negative reviews, and it's long, and I sort of want to get a handle on the Late Republic history-wise before I launch into a lengthy novel about it.
-I think there were another couple, but this will serve for now.

I am going to mail in my ballot tomorrow. Oh, I hope we can get some decent people into the legislature! And then there are the propositions. Among the things that I, as an Arizona citizen, got to vote on this time:

-Whether or not to establish a lottery in which everyone who votes will be entered. The idea is that it will make people vote. I guess some people don't think the nifty little stickers are enough of an incentive.

-The obligatory marriage amendment, which would additionally bar any kind of civil unions AND prohibit any local governments from giving partner-benefits. Can we say spiteful?

-To deny punitive damages to parties in civil suits who can't prove their immigration status. This one is just STUPID. The whole point of punitive damages is to punish the other party: it should have nothing to do with who the injured party is. In other words, we are going to say that it's less bad to, say, kill the relative of an illegal alien while drunk than to kill the relative of a citizen. And the terrible thing is that this probably IS what the proponents of this proposition believe, but won't say in so many words. I think its in defence of this proposition that someone submitted a claim about "gangs of illegal aliens roaming the suburbs and committing organized crime." (Oh, please. The only gangs of illegal immigrants in your cookie-cutter gated community are the ones trimming your lawn.) Or maybe that was for the proposition to deny bail to those who can't prove their immigration status at the time of arrest.

But undoubtably the stupidest proposition on the ballot is the English as the Official Language of Arizona one.
Among its provisions:

Section 3. A. Representatives of government in this state shall preserve, protect, and enhance the role of English as the official language of the government of Arizona.

"Preserve, protect, and enhance the role of English" includes:
(a) Avoiding any official actions that ignore, harm, or diminsih the role of English as the language of government
(b) Protecting the rights of the persons in this state who use English."

So if this passes, I could sue Bush next time he makes a speech in Arizon, right?

But seriously, what is wrong with this state country? We already have English Only education; this one is mostly designed to protect employers from discrimintion suits when they fire their employees for speaking Spanish during the breaks (it won't do much else, as Federal law requires us to provide government documents in other languages). One would think that living on the border with a country that speaks a foreign language would make use less, not more phobic about multi-lingualism.
ricardienne: (snail)
All of this airplane business: not good. Does this mean that the government does need more powers to spy on us? I am tempted to say, "Okay, fine. Do whatever the hell you want -- and see if I care!" Although I don't really think this. We know the FBI and CIA aren't that great at using the information they get legally, and frankly, I'm sure they get quite a lot in ways that are not (yet). As far as I'm concerned, the exigencies of a situation might require extra-legal actions, but keeping those things illegal will ensure that they don't get abused. Saying, "the government can do whatever it wants in times of crisis in order to protect the American People" makes it too easy for the government to excuse itself in any situation. But the few times that it actually is necessary to skirt the constitution for the common good, excuses can (and I'm sure will) be made. It would be nice to see these "All American Patriot" politicians actually sacrifice themselves (or their careers) for the country and the people they profess to love so well. I mean, would Horatius have insisted on a law permitting the destruction of public property as senators deemed it necessary? I think not.

The Times featured Route 20 in the local travel section today. Grandpa would have liked that, and he would have written to correct them as far as the "mysterious metal structure" in Sharon Springs. Hmph. The least they could have done was gone into the American Hotel or the Black Cat and asked a local.
ricardienne: (snail)
Now I wouldn't want to deny a hard-working and dedicated patrician his well earned vacation, but doesn't it seem like a rather poor time for the President to take off for a week and a half?

Speaking of patricians (well, not really) Penguin describes Tacitus as "occasionally partisan, or perhaps merely malicious." Teehee, and thence the title of this entry, although I don't think that either partisan or malicious is really a good description of Tacitus. Can one even be a partisan when there aren't any factions? And one of his big points is that there are no factions or debates under the Principate. Just like the United Arab Emirates, where there are no politics, according to that infamously hilarious website N. and I found a few years ago. And "malicious" -- it makes me think of a somber Roman in a toga with a gleefully wicked grin on his face as he raises his stylus.

unjust war

Jun. 8th, 2006 04:27 pm
ricardienne: (augustine)
I can't stand the local paper. The editorial page may be getting slightly less hardcore Republican, but the letters to the editor (which, granted are probably selected for their inflammatory content) and the columnists seem to be getting worse. If, heaven forbid, the governor tries to get the legislature to, say, actually fund the STATE Universities, we get a million complaints about how Arizona is turning into a communist state, and the next thing you know, we'll all have to stand in lines just to get bread. And then there was the kerfluffle about Sears making PA announcements in English and Spanish (the solution is to boycott this "treasonous" department store). Not to mention the proposed lynchings of Hillary Clinton and John Murtha which seem to show up every couple of days. And so Clay Thompson's Valley 101 column ends up being the most reasonable thing in the entire section:

this speaks to my inner Anglophile )

David Brooks was his usually disgusting self today, arguing, although not actually coming out and saying, even though it was clear what he meant, that the only way to "win" Iraq for the population of basically decent Iraquis is to let our soldiers commit whatever atrocities are needed in order to get the job done:

Similarly, in our debates at home we are searching for ways to exercise enough power to defeat the insurgents while still behaving in accordance with our national conscience. We are seeking a sweet spot that satisfies both the demands of power and of principle. But it could be that given the circumstances we have allowed the insurgents to create, that sweet spot no longer exists.

* * * * *

One of the paradoxes of this war is that when U.S. forces commit atrocities, we regard it as a defeat for us because we have betrayed our ideals. When insurgents commit atrocities, it is also a defeat for us because of our ineffectiveness in the face of the enemy. Either way, morale suffers and the fighting spirit withers away.

And so the hunger to leave Iraq grows. A dissenting minority is furious that so many Americans are willing to betray the decent Iraqi majority in order to preserve some parlor purity. And the terrorists no doubt look at our qualms not as a sign of virtue but of weakness, and as evidence that savagery will lead to victory again and again.

What the hell? I've been making fun of the "refresher course in ethics" that the army is sending its soldiers through in the wake of Abu Ghraib and Haditha. But maybe it's actually needed. Since when are human rights and human decency "some parlor purity." Or does this mean that moral behavior is the privelege of the Enlightened West? Either way: OH MY GOODNESS DAVID BROOKS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
ricardienne: (snail)
Maybe. I am definitely preparing to fake my way through class tomorrow by not really studying and doing this instead.

New York was awesome, but that may be because anything with F. is awesome. We went to the Frick gallery, which was… oh my goodness so unbelievable! We were looking at an Renaissance Adoration of the Magi and making fun of the angels on hovercrafts* and then I turned around, and there was Sir Thomas More. The Holbein portrait! (Although I don't suppose there is another one.) I am of two minds about More. On the one hand, I've seen A Man for All Seasons, but on the other, I like Richard III. I cautiously accept, therefore, the hypothesis that he was actually satirizing Henry VII and the Tudor Myth when he wrote his biography of Richard, but a)I don't know enough to know if this is a legitimate theory or not, and b)it does seem like a cop-out. I bought a postcard, though, which I now have on my wall.
*seriously. The background sky was full of these hovering cloud things with angels perched on them. It was very funny.

But it did make me wonder again what I'm doing here, being in New York. I love cities. I hail mostly from western suburbia, it is true, but whenever I spend time in a realy city, I love it. I like walking on treets, and watching people and looking at buildings, and feeling like I'm part of something. I LIKE being anonymous, sometimes. I knew this before I went to college, and yet I still ended up on an ugly campus roughly in the middle of nowhere. In high school, it was "in college, you'll be somewhere you want to be," and now it's, "in grad school, you'll go somewhere you really want to go." Which means that I'll probably end up at U Death Valley for grad school, with the proviso that, "when you get a job, it will be where you want to live." Ha.

The first rehearsal for the Monteverdi was tonight. It went pretty well, I guess. The coach only had baroque bows for the violins, which was too bad, as holding my bow out on the stick kind of makes my hand hurt. But she did say that she would bring the contact info for the head of that summer baroque program next time, and this is good.

David Brooks was his usual hideous self this morning.

Lunch Period Poli Sci )

Now, to cheer myself up, I will do the Alphabet Meme:

Comment on this entry (er, if anyone reading this hasn't done this one already or wants to do it again!) and I will give you a letter. Write ten words beginning with that letter, and tell us what the word means to you and why.

I have the letter "n" from [livejournal.com profile] st_egfroth:

10 N-words )


ricardienne: (Default)

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