Tahiti: An Eden Despoiled


I’m reading Robert Hughes’ masterful art history book, The Shock of the New.  It’s a dense, heavy, and amazing book. Reading about Gaughin’s Edenic paintings of Tahiti–which reminded me of French photographer Lucien Gauthier’s book Tahiti 1904-1921–I was sobered by Hughes’ assertion that Tahiti had already been ruined by alcoholism and venereal disease by the time the French painter arrived at the end of the 19th century. Read More →

More Musings on Gun Control, Violence, the NRA, etc.


Having recently undergone shoulder surgery, on pain meds and having to take ambien because I’m forced to wear a brace and sleep sitting up on my back, I am watching tv more.  After finding nothing else on, bored and finding it difficult to hold a book in one hand with my brace on, I turn to local stations for the tabloid news, and out it comes:  more guns, murders, mayhem.

The gun debate flared up after New Town and again with Christopher Dorner.  Now we have a 20 year-old kid from an upscale neighborhood near Laguna Hills go on a murder spree, killing both in his own home while his parents slept upstairs unawares;  yesterday ‘words were exchanged’ between an aspiring hip hop artist and some gangsters in a darkened-window Range Rover kill him in his Lamborghini, taking a few other innocents with them.  An Anaheim 7-11 is robbed and the poor clerk is shot and pistol-whipped by some thug in a hoodie and facemask.

When will it stop?  Why is America so addicted to guns?  The 20 year old was a loner addicted to violent video games…..gee, where have we heard that before?  Aurora? New Town? Read More →

How Ping Pong Dipomacy Changed History


Zhuang Zedong, the Chinese ping pong champion, has just died.   He sought out and met his American counterpart, Glenn Cowan during a visit to America in 1971.  Zedong was an important private diplomat for Mao’s China, and after this meeting the U.S. Team, including Cowan, was invited to compete in China.  This was unprecedented as there had been no diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China since Mao took over in 1949.  And of course the Korean War severely exacerbated the already tense relations between the two superpowers.

The U.S. lost the Beijing matches but the seed was sewn.  A year later, Nixon went to China, and slowly the rapprochement began.  Philip Glass even wrote an opera about it. Read More →

How Nietzsche Can Be Relevant today


North Korea just launched another missile, claiming self-defense.  The young new leader, Kim Jong-Un has declared that the U.S. is his biggest enemy and has pledged to attack us—in self-defense.  This brought to mind something I read a long time ago and last pondered in the early 1980s when Brezhnev and Reagan were facing off in the last stages of the Cold War that gave us the jitters back in the 1950s.   As the French say, “la plus que ça change, la plus c’est la même chose” (the more things change, the more they just stay the same). Read More →

Appearances are Deceptive: Just Look at Christopher Dorner


There is a huge manhunt for Christopher Dorner going on right now.   He has already murdered three people, and is doubly dangerous because of his military training as well his LAPD training.  It is a cop’s nightmare to deal with a skilled marksman who has snapped,  gone on a rampage and wants to go out in flames.

As I watched TV last night, it occurred to me that the weirdest thing is that he has a million dollar smile in every photo.  He looks like the sweetest guy in the world.

You can’t tell a book by its cover, the old saying goes.  You don’t know what is lurking in the mind of the nicest looking person standing next to you.  My heart breaks for the beautiful young couple, recently engaged, that he murdered over the weekend.   And for the family of the LAPD cop he killed this morning  Who knows how it will end, but it certainly will not be pretty.

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