Naomi Klein is Smart

I just watched Naomi Klein talk about her new book “This Changes Everything” on MSNBC: She offers a clarity to the climate change debate that I found refreshing.  You might combine her thinking with recent research that suggests meeting the climate change challenge will not be as expensive as we think.


The Good Life: Diving from a Helicopter!

From Vanity Fair, some inside comments from Marella Agnelli, wife of the flamboyant Gianni Agnelli

When Edoardo and Margherita (our children) were still young, Gianni loved to dazzle them with spectacular gestures, such as inviting them to join us for a last-minute trip to the Riviera. We would leave Turin, and 40 minutes later Gianni and the children would be jumping into the waves straight from a flying helicopter. I didn’t enjoy the dives as much as they did, but I joined in so as not to lose face.

Gianni was indeed a character! Here he is at the tiller

Amazing Women: Lee Miller part 4

Lee Miller seemed to be living the ultimate bohemian life in Paris. She was beautiful, socially and artistically connected to artists would would become world famous. Like looked like this

But Lee wanted something more. Something intangible. Call it freedom or adventure. But things were too tame for her. Perhaps marrying the exotic, wealthy Aziz Eloui Bey would open up new horizons! And shocking everyone, she did just that, and moved to Cairo.

Japan: A Flying Samuri’s Head?

Japan is a mysterious place with many wonderful stories. I found this one about “the spirit of Taira no Masakado, a samurai who died a thousand years ago (in 940), killed by the imperial army while fighting for the independence of Kanto” to be engaging

His head was displayed in Kyoto, and a number of legends spread regarding his story… It is said that the head didn’t decay, that his teeth were chattering and even that the head flew by itself to Edo

Yikes! One must go to Otemachi, Tokyo to learn the full story.

Georg Brandes and Kropotkin

Georg Brandes cut quite a figure in 19th century Denmark and beyond. He was a passionate modernist and a radical.

In the late 1880s, Brandes turned to concentrating on “great personalities” as the source of culture…. (H)e discovered Friedrich Nietzsche, not only introducing him to Scandinavian culture but indirectly to the whole world.[8] The series of lectures that he gave on Nietzsche’s thought, in which he described (it) as “aristocratic radicalism”, were the first to present him as a world cultural figure in need of full intellectual notice. Of Brandes’ description of his philosophy Nietzsche himself remarked: “The expression ‘aristocratic radicalism’, which you employ, is very good. It is, permit me to say, the cleverest thing that I have yet read about myself”

Later, he wrote an interesting introduction to the autobiography of Kropotkin (published in 1899) which took a very different tack. it starts off this way

The autobiographies of great minds have generally been of three types: “So far I went astray; thus I found the true path (St. Augustine); or, “So bad was I, but who dare consider himself better?” (Rousseau); or “This is the way a genius has slowly been evolved from within and by favorable surroundings” (Goethe). In all these forms of self-representation the author is mainly occupied with himself.

Kropotkin was the opposite of an “aristocratic radical”. He was uninterested in his individual merit. He was intensely interested instead in where the world was headed. This contrast echoes in our own times – great egos versus great processes.

Here is the young Brandes, looking very intellectual indeed