Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Friday, December 5, 2014
Monday, December 1, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Last night, the grand jury (which included 3 blacks) decided that Darren Wilson (white) had committed no crime when he shot Michael Brown in apparent self-defense last summer. The young black man that everyone had said was gentle and loveable, the police officer said was more like “Hulk Hogan” and that he had no choice but to shoot in self-defense as Brown repeatedly punched him. Because of that, supporters of Brown began to burn down Ferguson.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
In 1999, a Turkish comedy was made named Propaganda. It tells a story loosely based on something that happened in 1948. An officer is ordered to put up a wall along the border between Syria and Turkey. But that border runs directly through the center of his town. The officer puts up the wall anyway. He quickly tears the town apart. He splits up lovers, parents and children, brothers and sisters, neighbors and employees from the places that they work.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
|Tehran, capitol city of Iran, at night|
Monday, November 17, 2014
Greensboro, NC – Reading the book alone felt like a massive literary accomplishment. The book has more pages than the Bible. At the seventh longest novel ever written, the tale is not a "quick read" in any sense of the word. For Count Leo Tolstoy, writing War and Peace over the course of nearly a decade, he probably did a dance when he finally wrote the words “The End.”
In the pages of the book, between the great charges from the cavalry, the cheating at cards, the dueling, the attempts of men to reform themselves, you will meet skillfully crafted characters. The young Pierre, entitled to become the next count Bezukhov, if his uncle does not cheat him out of it first. There is Natasha, trying to decide between three men. And Prince Andrei, who does not hate his wife, nor love her, and does not want to die in battle, or really to live either.
There is Dron, the ignorant peasant man who knows nothing but following his master. But what to do when the peasants want to revolt? There is Mac, the Austrian General, "Unfortunate" who cannot win a battle. And there is "Uncle" the lovable hunter who plays the guitar.
There is the tragic, as Napoleon makes one of the two great mistakes of his career, and marches into Russia. The characters, the good, the bad, the unknown all join arms to fight him and one by one the Princes and Generals of Russia are killed. There is the humorous. General Kutuzov takes a nap rather than fight the battle, saying that sleep is more necessary. And the down right mad, as Pierre attempts to get himself killed.
Moscow is burned to the ground, and a new side of human nature is shown. That side trying desperately to survive. Some kill. Others pillage. Some wonder aimlessly about, while others flee, and others again try to fight. As panic sets in, people abandon their homes, and even their children.
Amidst the Princes and Princesses, the Counts and Generals, Senators and Merchants, all going out in concentric circles of power from the great thrown of Russia, and the two emperors, the Tsar Alexander and his wife, you find in the high as well as the low in Tolstoy's tale the same problems, with money, with vice, with their children, and the need to find a purpose in life.
The question of a purpose in life torments many of the young as well as the old in the book. Some attempt to drown the question in liquor, one by suicide, some by joining the army, another by marriage, and some by even joining the masons. Some try to find it in dancing, and some in signing, Princess Marie tries to find it in giving alms, and the old count Bezukhov tried to find it in extreme unction. Yet at the end of the tale, those that survive and thrive, realize, in Tolstoy's words, that the only peace is found in God. And that He is the only answer to the questions which drive more than one in the tale nearly mad.
Throughout the book Tolstoy constantly takes field trips out of the story to present us with his views of philosophy and history, some of which are enlightening, others of which are interesting, and some of which are downright odd. Such as his belief that generals do not control armies, but they control themselves, and not a single order has ever been carried out by a soldier from his general.
But when Tolstoy is in the story, which is usually, he is superb. Whether he is describing one of the many battles, or one of the many balls, (they rival each other in number) or a hunt or a debate in the senate or even a quiet talk by two girls and two boys by moonlight about the philosophy of dying, he can tell a tale so that you can see it. Often a rare gift.
The book is called War and Peace. But in the end, when all the loose ends are tied, all the careers are made, the marriages have finally happened and the smokes of the battlefields have at last cleared, you feel that there is more war than peace in this book. From the beginning, when rumors of war are flying across Europe, to the end of the tale, at the great manor house at Bleak Hills, with the princes and counts discussing talk of Revolution which is goring throughout Russia, we find that war never ends. Napoleon is gone, but death and unrest and horror march on.
The tale, at times, can remind one of a history of a country, which in a way it is. There are rises and falls and intrigue and betrayal and base treachery by old friends. When you finally close the book in the end, you will not remember all the names. You might not be able to tell Denisov and Dolokhov apart. Or to remember who shot who and who married who. But that is not, in the end, what Tolstoy was trying to get across. The ending lesson of the story seems to be this: Yes, war will always be here, only interrupted by occasional flashes of peace. But in the end the only peace we can ever have is the one we find within ourselves. And there is only one way to do that.
Some of the counts and soldiers and generals in this epic tale spend their whole lives finding peace, and some of them never discover it. But Tolstoy teaches us where to look when, in battle, Prince Andrei, lord of Bleak Hills, is knocked from his horse by the French. As he tells his friend, look up. "How did I not see it before? The sky?" It is so vast and great. How could there not be a God to create all this? And how could he create without meaning?
Andrew C. Abbott
Friday, November 14, 2014
It starts this weekend, in Brisbane Australia. A talk between the most powerful people in the world about how, in the next five years, they will raise the GDP of planet earth by around 2,000,000,000,000 dollars.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
|The Comet 67P|
Monday, November 10, 2014
Friday, November 7, 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
But the Clinton’s have always survived. From Whitewater to Benghazi, from Monica Lewinsky to Hairgate and Travelgate and so many other gates you wished somebody would finally find a better ending to slap on the name of a scandal, the Clintons have always managed to keep their heads above water, if sometimes just barely.
eir toll on the “Comeback Couple.” There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton would like to be president, she did eight years ago, and that is not enough time for an ambition so large to simply dissipate. But there are whispers, even among Democrats, that people are tired of her, and that some new face might be needed to give the Democrats, after such a loss, a new lift.