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Minimalist Memorial

Tribute in Light 2013

I think Pittsburgh tops NYC in terms of beauty.  It’s a bit like San Francisco plopped in Appalachia.  The geography and terrain are an integral part of Pittsburgh, something that’s missing for the most part in NYC.   There, the terrain is manmade.

But if there is one thing I miss about NYC, it’s lower Manhattan.

I used to take the PATH to the city and passed through the eerie chasm of the World Trade Center.  The Freedom Tower that is taking its place has a name that reminds me of the worst dumbing down tendencies of the Bush years. But the building itself is light and tall and majestic, a prism of reflecting planes of light.  It thrusts weightlessly over the area where Occupy made its home at Zuccotti Park.

I also miss the Tribute in Light that I used to watch from the Jersey City side of the harbor.  Some things are best when they are simple.

On 9/11 of this year, the New York City Ballet celebrated New Beginnings on the roof of 4 WTC at sunrise with a performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain.  The music is one of my favorite minimalist pieces, Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in Mirror) by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

When the going gets tough, the PR manipulators stir up the Christians

It’s all over the nytimes front page. A *Christian* village in Syria was attacked. Three *Christian* women are dead, as if that makes it more outrageous. They must be desperate if they’re willing to get the American Christian sector all in a tizzy.

Moslem children dead for two years? Not a peep. But once they worship the right god, well, then they’re worth saving.


And another thing, how are chemical weapons different from drones? I mean aside from the elemental analysis of the lethal dose? Don’t both delivery devices allow the perpertrators to stand back and watch without any personal risk? If you’re going to hold the chemical weapon lobber accountable, why not the droner?

Or is it ok when we do things that avoid personal sacrifice, cause grievous death and injury, and are not held accountable because we are a so-called *Christian* nation?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “knit your own sandals”, Chomsky fellating pacifist. I just want consistency and some sense of justice. This doesn’t cut it for me.

I smell money.

About those school lunches

Last night, I watched the kid inhale a chicken wrap and a gob of fries while we were out during dinner time. She’s not usually a fries person because she prefers healthy food, like lots of fruit, veggies and unfried stuff. So, I asked her why she was so hungry. It’s not like we have a shortage of after school snacks.

She told me its the school lunch. There’s not enough of it. Yesterday’s lunch consisted of a single slice of whole wheat pizza and a tiny side of sliced carrots. She’s taken to sneaking an extra side on her tray, hoping the cashier won’t notice.

As it turns out, she’s not alone in feeling famished after lunch. There are school districts all over the country that are opting out of the federal school lunch program. Too many kids were complaining of the small portions and unappetizing healthy options that school districts are losing money. Kids are starting to bring their lunches. It’s not just the size of the portions that is problematic. The cost of lunch has increased significantly even while there’s less of it.

Now, I will be the first one to jump aboard the healthier options bandwagon. We don’t drink soda in my house and we’re not into high fat lunchable type meals with bags of potato chips etc. And who the hell knew what was the mystery meat covered with red sauce that was advertised as chicken Parmesan? But I made the kid’s lunch everyday during the summer with a sandwich (usually roasted chicken, Swiss, lettuce and tomatoes with mustard), carrots, sliced peppers, hummus dip and fresh fruit and she never complained of being hungry.

This is disturbing, especially for a fit, slim kid who metabolizes well. She’s putting on inches in height during a growth spurt now and must be thinking about food all the time. I can only imagine how the male version of her is fairing. How can you concentrate when you’re hungry?

Maybe this is part of the plan to cut back on spending on the federal lunch program. If it was just a matter of healthier options, there shouldn’t be a problem increasing the carrots or adding another side. The fact that some districts are allowing kids to have a yogurt AND a banana, not one or the other, indicates that the pendulum has swung too far. Especially during this period of food insecurity, the last thing a school kid needs to be doing is counting calories.

Michelle Obama needs to stop assuming that everyone lives in an affluent suburb where childrens’ feet are never engaged in walking because their terrified mothers are afraid they will be snatched by omnipresent sexual predators. Some of us live in walk able cities and our kids are not obese. They go to school with kids from the inner city who are (or were) on food stamps and need something more substantial than a single slice of pizza and a couple of nuggets of veggies.

As for my kid, I roasted a chicken last Sunday…

Random thots

Pretty busy lately.  Will show pics of my new screen porch at some point.  In the meantime, I’m trying to catch up with the news.  So, here are my random thots.

Syria- NOW we want to bomb the shit out of Syria??  A couple of years ago when Assad’s forces were picking off little kids in the streets of Homs we couldn’t be bothered.  But when they pull out the chemical weapons we get our knickers in a twist?  Syria isn’t like Libya.  At least in Libya, there was an endpoint.  A deft touch of air power was all it took to bring down the regime.  In Syria, who knows what it will take?  In any case, if we were going to deter Assad, it probably would have been better to catch it early.  At this point in time, it just looks like another clever way to get around the sequester for the wealthy and well connected, in this case, the defense industry.

And don’t stick that fricking “If we don’t support the president’s actions in Syria, it’ll be the end of Obama’s presidential career” guilt trip shit on us.  You know what will permanently tarnish his legacy and make him the least effective president ever?  If he can’t restore food stamp funding.  Yeah, that and high unemployment sucks and has been going on for too long.

Harvard business school has conducted an experiment in the past couple of years to make the place more equitable for women.  I’m not sure HBS was entirely successful.  But whatever.  Gender equity is the least of its problems.  It’s a horror story of American aristocracy simultaneously distancing itself from the rest of us while figuring out newer ways to take over everything.  Chilling.  Depressing.  Places like HBS shouldn’t exist.

Speaking of unemployment, it turns out that cutting wages to the science community was not an accident.  Nooooo.  It was a plan that Alan Greenspan floated in 2007:

Allowing more skilled workers into the country would bring down the salaries of top earners in the United States, easing tensions over the mounting wage gap, Greenspan said.

“Our skilled wages are higher than anywhere in the world,” he said. “If we open up a significant window for skilled workers, that would suppress the skilled-wage level and end the concentration of income.”

Thank you, Alan for murdering the American R&D infrastructure.  It will never be the same in our lifetimes.

Other stuff:

I started taking the bus to work.  Thumbs up to the East Busway.  Thumbs down to the people who decided to cut service to the eastern suburbs once you get off the east busway.  Stranding people in Wilkinsburg because the last bus to Oakmont leaves at something like 6:30pm, not very wise, especially considering how packed the Oakmont bus is all of the time.  Otherwise, I can’t complain about the buses.