Sometimes the Good Guys Win

I am talking about the Alabama Senate race Democrat Doug Jones has defeated Republican Roy Moore.

I will not go into the various reasons why Roy Moore was a terrible candidate. Let’s just say that there are many. I will say that defeating Roy Moore should give a tremendous boost to folks out there thinking about whether to get involved in the 2018 midterm elections.

Few gave Doug Jones a chance to defeat Roy Moore. The DNC threw in the towel early. Republicans always win these races in Alabama. But this was not a usual election.And Jones is now the US Senator.

It is early days still, but I have the sense that the tide is turning. Americans are getting fed up with folks like Roy Moore, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. They want more reasonable representatives. Let’s hope this is the case!

Onward!

btw, the initial polling data reflects that white men went for Moore. White women – believe it or not – also did, though by a significantly smaller margin. The black vote pushed Jones over the top. Who says that blacks don’t vote? That may be changing!

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SITRA is Building Something? Frankenstein or Paradise?

Errr … if you made it this far, you are probably wondering what the hell is a SITRA?

SITRA is a Finnish thing.  It calls itself an “innovation fund”. What does that mean? Ha! You miss the point! Part of being an innovation fund is to not know precisely what you are doing!

That sounds like a joke, but it is not! You cannot know what you are doing when you are trying to learn about what to do!

Hmmm … interesting, n’est ce pas?

So SITRA is trying to figure this stuff out in order to “add value” to society from its learning. They say

We are building understanding of current societal transformations and future of just society.

But there is an unspoken challenge here. You cannot build understanding solely from an internal perspective. That is called being subjective. You need an outside perspective as well. Where does SITRA get its outside perspective?

I will be exploring this in the new year … with them. õ

Stay tuned!

Al Franken’s Legacy

There is no excuse for what Al Franken did. He said so himself. But he did something else that has changed things in Washington. He decided that in light of what was alleged — not proven but alleged — he should not continue as US Senator. He resigned.

This is impressive. And it opens the door to the argument that other folks in high positions who are similarly accused, should also resign — namely Donald Trump.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that Trump will resign over the various sexual abuse allegations that have been made against him (was it 16?). But the fact that these allegations are out there, and may even force Trump to submit to a deposition about at least one of them, may keep the spotlight on the man’s brazen disregard for standards.  And it may help women who have suffered from abuse by the so called great and mighty, speak up.

So Al, damn you for being an abuser! But thanks for doing the right thing!

Mad! Mad! James Joyce! My Hero!

James Joyce set out to be difficult — both as an artist and a person. He did so because  being difficult was part of his rebellion. And of course, at the time when Joyce lived, lots of artists believed that rebellion was the key to  making inspired art.

It is often said that the first war brought this out. That the absurd tragedy of the war made it obvious that the status quo had gone violently mad. That rebelling was the only way to regain one’s sanity and self-respect. And it is true that the mad experimentation in modern art flourished after the war.

But there was a deeper cause of this rebellion. Victorian values had a great flaw. That flaw is found in their origins — the enlightenment. The enlightenment opened the door to the idea that mankind could figure out the mysteries of life without religion. All he or she needed was to use reason. Victorians took this a step farther Reason could be the basis not just for learning the laws of nature, but for ordering social norms – especially for controlling passions. And Victorians were great believers in controlling passion.

That might sound ok,  especially when you realize that the Victorian quest for order through reason was itself a reaction to the licentiousness of the prior regency period. But as I mentioned, there was a problem. We know now that mankind is not essentially a reasonable species. We live more by our emotions than our reason. And so attempts to squash emotion by use of reason were bound to produce a nasty backlash.

That backlash was already in the air before the first war and Joyce was part of that backlash.Born in 1882, his rebellious ways became evident well before the first war.  Just consider this story of his meeting with the great poet Yeats (around 1903). He claimed that his flight from Ireland was caused by rejection. Others claimed that it was he who needed that rejection to justify his escape from convention.

Image result for James Joyce

And he is a hero. Why? because above all, Joyce championed the notion that as imperfect as we may be, we all deserve to be free in our personal lives. Freedom is for him an ultimate value. And in Ulysses you find characters all groping around trying to break loose , and become free in their own peculiar ways from their individual problems. Their efforts are flawed, and they are flawed and their flaws make them timeless comedic figures.

Sure the book is difficult. But so is life. Here is more — enjoy!

Take Me to the Capital of Chocolate!

Did you know?

Italians tend to eat chocolate only in cold seasons and after Easter they seem to switch to chocolate ice cream. Who would want luscious rich melt-in-your-mouth addictive cocoa goodness all year around? Not Italians as it turns out.

But in Turin, this is not the case. According to Anna Lebedeva, Turin is the capital of chocolate — all year round.

So where to go? She has you covered!  Of the five that she recommends, I would first make a beeline for Peyrano.  It is that hazelnut cream and grappa filling that gets me. The Torta Peyano sounds pretty good too!

a cake filled with chocolate cream, orange marmalade and coated with dark chocolate.

Image result for peyrano

What do you think?

Cheap Eats in New York?

Ligaya Mishan starts off her NYT article this way

The places to eat that I like best are imperfect. They might have unsteady tables and bony chairs, set too close together, and doors that don’t shut properly, letting in every hiss of wind. They might keep erratic hours, close early without warning and never answer the phone. A dish might touch heaven on one visit and fall to earth the next.

I agree. Local is always more fun than stuffy —- even if excellent — haut. And Lgaya has some cool picks. Most interesting – The Queens Night Market.

Image result for Queen's Night Market

Check it out!

The Dossier is Not Fake News

Christopher Steele is a former British spy who was paid to compile information about Donald Trump’s campaign collusion with Russian intelligence.  Steele used his sources in Russia to compile that information and put the data into a document called the “dossier”.

First point — it is irrelevant who paid Steele to compile the dossier. Don’t get distracted by attempts to discredit Fusion  or the people who financed Fusion, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. It doesn’t matter.  The more important question is whether the dossier is accurate in whole or part.

Second point – Steele did this work the same way he did his prior work on Russian involvement in Ukraine. His prior report is highly valued by US intelligence. In other words, Steele is not a fringe actor. He knew what he was doing.

Third point – The dossier is raw intelligence. As such, it is not meant to be read like a news story. It is meant to be followed up to investigate more thoroughly what Steele uncovered. That is what Bob Mueller is doing.

Bottom line. While Trump and his buddies may not like it, the dossier is a valuable piece of intelligence and Bob Mueller would be negligent if he didn’t use it to investigate what went on during the campaign. This is not “fake news”.