Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Little Man in the Boat

And NO, it's not what you're thinking. Kindly get your mind out of the gutter, please.

I am speaking metaphorically.

The Little Man is John McCain.

The Boat is his campaign.

And it seems that everyone is poking a hole in his boat. If it's not journalists, it's the Obama campaign; if it's not bloggers, it's his own campaign staff.

Case in point:

A fellow named Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior economic adviser, was interviewed by CNN Money concerning the McCain health care plan. Under the plan:

"...employees would get taxed on the value of their health insurance, which on average costs $12,680 per year for a family, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Workers pay an average of $3,354 in premiums, while their employers cover the rest.
Most employees have their premiums deducted from their paychecks without paying tax on them. So, if you make $50,000, you are likely paying tax on only $46,646 of income.
Under McCain, your taxable income would rise to $59,326. If you were in the 25% tax bracket, it would mean an additional $3,170 in taxes.
But this increase would be knocked back by the $5,000 tax credit. So in the end, you'd actually have $1,830 to put in a health savings account, which could be used to cover premiums and other medical expenses."

Now there's a definite problem with this, and only a minor part of it is the fact that you'd be paying taxes on your health care. Taking out the tax advantage of employer-based health care benefits would result in higher taxes and some employers might drop health benefits completely.

Enter Douglas Holtz-Eakin. When asked whether employees would take advantage of McCain's proffered $5,000 tax incentive, Holtz-Eakin was all too ready to poke a hole in The Boat:

"Why would they leave?" said Holtz-Eakin. "What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit."

You just have to admire people who stay on message.

Right now, with just about a week to go in The Great Presidential Contest of 2008, McCain's campaign boat is looking like a nice healthy chunk of Swiss Cheese.

And try as he might, Captain (USN, ret.) McCain can't play Little Dutch Boy forever. Not with people like his own aides poking holes every time they open their mouths.

Glub ... glub ... glub ...

The CEO ...

Defiantly hanging onto his bloated bonus package as his deregulated Randite world explodes around him ...

Early Halloween Scary Picture

Brrrrainsss ....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Overused Metaphor Alert!

I was reading the morning newspaper this morning (duh!) and noted that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Dallas Cowboys yesterday in football (that's for the benefit of the non-sports fans, although I think it'd be fun to see them square off in full-contact Parcheesi). The Cowboys defense held the Bucs to only three field goals and the final score was 13-9.

The Bucs came to Dallas with a bit of swagger in their steps, and why not? Dallas was falling apart; their starting quarterback was out with an injured finger, one of the star players was openly screaming on the sidelines and their defensive secondary looked suspect. By all measurements it should have been an easy win for Tampa.

But the saying goes "Any given Sunday ..."

Now it's time for The Overused Metaphor.

I've been looking at the polls and noting that the perceived gap between McCain and Obama is widening in Obama's favor. Bookies in London give McCain long odds to pull this one out, but the cocky little bugger (let's recall he is a gambler and a Navy fighter pilot, which requires a sort of a gambler's instincts) has vowed that he will win. Pundits and coworkers cite "the Bradley Effect" (that more people will say they'll vote for Obama for the pollsters, then turn around and vote the opposite way in the voting booth) as if it were a spell to ward off what they perceive as the evils of an Obama Presidency.

There are eight days left until the actual election.

And I'm too much of a realist not to say that Obama can still lose this thing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rousing the Rabble.

"Fear is the path that leads to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate . . . leads to suffering."

There’s a lot of fear in America these days.
Oh, it’s not the fear of another terrorist attack. We’ve been collectively whipsawed back and forth on that issue so many times that the prospect of another 9/11 makes us shrug, by and large. With more Americans dying each year of the flu and food poisoning than died on 9/11, one needs a sense of perspective about terrorism.
The fear I speak of is largely twofold.
Both are related and can be grouped under the heading of Fear of the Unknown.
One is the fear of poverty, of having your savings disappear and of being unable to retire in comfort or having your children go to college. That fear makes people fret about the future; if we knew the future, we could at least sleep nights.
The second is the upcoming presidential election. I may be wrong on this, but we’ve never had an election held during two wars and on the cusp of a major recession. Just one of those circumstances would be bad enough – coupling it with the other is sure to make us a bit jittery.
I said earlier that The Fear was “largely” twofold, because there is another component that, quite frankly, makes a small segment of the population so pants-wettingly afraid that they become filed with unfocused anger.
Focusing that anger leads to hatred of the target, and that hatred, based as it is on nothing more than generalized anger, tends to be itself very nonspecific. It’s “fill in the blank” hate, ready to accept any label.
Which leads us to the subject of this post, and the person Sarah Palin is discussing in her speech. Senator Barack Obama.
To a small segment of Americans who have been taught by their elders, relatives, friends, community and church to fear and hate The Scary Other, Obama represents a threat. Obama, to them, is The Other personified.
Like I said, enough fear triggers and anger response that becomes hatred if you can put a name or a face on that fear. Which is precisely what politicians like Palin and to a lesser extent McCain have been trying to do.
Being at least somewhat more sophisticated than their audiences, McCain and Palin have tried to use the coded speech of right-wing ideologues, but the rabble (for want of a better term, and it is applicable) fall back on simpler labels:
The level of hatred being stoked in these crowds is palpable, even in a YouTube clip. I shudder to think what it must actually feel like, in person.
Now, where does this hatred lead? You can’t just keep shoveling fuel into the fire; it has to have an outlet.
Which leads to the rest of the quote from Yoda – which, by the way, I accept as completely axiomatic.
Back in the day, this level of rhetoric was usually followed by a fun-filled pogrom through the nearest Jewish ghetto, or – more recently – a foray into the black area of the town.
There have been a few acts of violence so far, as people at these rallies couldn’t wait for the speaker to point them at anyone. To my knowledge no one has died, yet. In this context, the Ashley Todd false report incident may have been a deliberate attempt on someone’s part to ignite the hatred that’s been whipped up into actual, widespread violence.
It might be hoped that our collective common sense will assert itself, but after watching Gov. Palin do her demagogue act I worry that common sense will be too little, too late. I can only ask that Americans do what I wished they would have done after 9/11 – act without fear. Do not be ruled by fear or anger – both cloud your judgment, and do not allow yourselves to be driven to hatred and violence by politicians.
I opened this post with a pop culture reference; I will close with two more:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

- Frank Herbert, Dune

People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?
- Rodney King, 1992.

October is the Cruelest Month ...

In politics. Otherwise it’s just plain great as the seasons change, leaves turn color and I start to anticipate my holiday depression. I try to get it out of the way early, you see, so as not to get in the way of the fun.

October is also the month for the so-called “October Surprise,” where campaigning politicians will trot out some little dung-bomb to either draw attention to themselves or to drag their rivals down.

Supposedly the McCain camp was preparing to send out new attack ads concerning Obama’s ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in hopes of tarnishing the Democratic nominee’s luster in the final couple of weeks leading up to November 4th.

And I’m sure they were planning to roll those ads.

Until Ashley Todd happened.

It is a sordid tale of stupidity and tawdry lies that began when a 20 year old from Texas went up to Pennsylvania to answer phones and knock on doors for the GOP campaign.

Then, according to the first news of the incident, this young woman (a former Ron Paul supporter) went to the ATM and got mugged.

And now comes the orgy of downers and treachery, along with a vigorous application of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The Pittsburgh media dutifully reported the incident, but after a few hours some apparatchik with the McCain camp started pushing the story to larger outlets like Fox News and Internet right-wing ‘news’ sites like the Drudge Report. And then, as Tolkien once wrote, “The tale grew in the telling.”

Suddenly Ms. Todd sprouted a reversed letter B on her right cheek. Her attacker became (with equal celerity) a huge black man with a knife who, upon learning that she worked for McCain, allegedly told her he was going to “teach her a lesson” and, in the hysterical hyperbole that passes for reportage on Fox, “mutilated” her.

Excuse me.

Cutting off a hand or nipple is mutilation.

Cat-scratching a “B” is not. Even if it is on the face.

The “B” was supposed, in some arcane way, to stand for Obama, and one executive VP for Fox stated that if the report turned to be true, McCain would win Pennsylvania, a key battleground state. If it were false, he contended, the McCain/Palin ticket would be guilty of race-baiting and would lose the race.

The police investigated.

Ms. Todd’s story fell apart. She is now charged with filing a false police report.

No one knows yet if this was an October Surprise that went badly due to a young and overenthusiastic campaign worker.

But if it was, it was a very nasty and ugly surprise – for John McCain.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Desecrating Ayn Rand's Grave

One of the things the Russian-born novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand believed was in the concept of laissez-faire capitalism, where the free market, unfettered by any sniff of regulation by the State, would be allowed to run untrammeled until it reached its inevitable conclusion. There are many in the Bush Administration and in the economic sector of our society that adhere to Rand's way of thinking.

So they cut taxes on businesses and scaled back or hamstrung regulations that could have held back the tide of the free market.

Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve, was one such advocate of the free market, and recently before a government panel seeking to find the root causes of the current economic meltdown that now threatens not just us but every country on this planet, Greenspan admitted that he had been wrong.


What about?

He was wrong in assuming that the markets and the people in charge of the banks, investment houses and mortgage companies would be responsible (in the best Randite tradition) and would police themselves, restraining their own desire to make more and more money so that the market would essentially regulate itself.

Greenspan was wrong at the heart of his assumption, just as Rand was wrong. They were wrong about one thing.


Greed comes naturally to human beings, and the desire to accumulate more than the next guy (particularly in the United States and the industrialized West, where material success is seen as the be-all and end-all goal of life) is strong - almost stronger, in some people, than the desire for food or sex.

Seeing that government was not going to lift a finger to stop them, the people in charge went quite literally hog-wild and bull-crazy with their investments, swapping derivatives around to artificially overinflate their value while making millions. It was one of the largest fraudulent shell games on Earth.

And now it's collapsed, like the rotten structure that it was at its heart.

Rand's been dead now, these past 26 years; which is a shame, as I'm sure there are a lot of people who'd line up to kick her withered old ass around.

Just as they'd like to kick Greenspan's withered old ass around.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And Now ...


Well, the Museum of Sex, actually, located in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue, just about 5 blocks south of the Empire State Building. It houses a permanent collection and the featured exhibition covered the sex lives of animals.

The thesis behind the featured exhibition was that many of the sexual behaviors we consider human (homosexuality, prostitution, etc.) aren't exclusively human. Since pandas in captivity are rarely if ever exposed to seeing other pandas mating, they may not know how Tab A fits into Slot B. So the Chinese scientists show them porn videos of pandas mating to give them pointers.

For the featured exhibition, an artist was commissioned to do life-sized sculptures. Yes, white-tailed deer do engage in threesomes in the wild.

Amazon River porpoises have been observed engaging in blowhole sex. Hey, any orifice in a storm, right guys?

This part related the true story of two male penguins in a zoo that raised a chick together. As I recall a children's book was written about it, and is a featured attraction on most Banned Books lists as a result.

Apparently penguins are too cute to be Teh Gay.

I'm very happy that this came out, as it's a hologram.

The permanent collection includes films and videos from the old 50s nudist films to 70s videos of sex acts done as part of the Masters and Johnson research into sex (some people watching the videos giggled when they partners in the video climaxed), artwork including the old "French postcards" that were considered so damned naughty back in the day, and a few exhibits on strippers such as Gypsy Rose Lee.

One exhibit managed to simultaneously intrigue and repel me. Back in the hoary old Victorian days when masturbation was considered rather naughty, enterprising folks designed and patented various devices to keep young boys and girls from pleasuring themselves. The Museum had taken some of these designs from the US Patent Office and, through the use of computer-assisted design (CAD) software, was displaying 3-D renderings of them. The one with the steel spiral to coil about the penis looked a tad ... intimidating.

Part of the exhibit dealt with the future of sex, and included a prototype cybersuit, a variety of sex devices reminiscent of the old Victorian "hysteria machines" and one complicated device (on loan from the creator) that was based on a combination of a dentist's chair and a gynecologist's exam bench. Very interesting stuff.

There was an exhibit about the RealDoll there as well. The RealDoll is the current state of the art in sex doll technology, with a fully articulated plastic skeleton and silicone plastic flesh. If you can afford the $5000 or so price tag, you can customize it. A torso was on display with cutouts in the plastic over it so you could reach in and touch its breasts or vulva to determine for yourself whether it felt realistic or not.

My assessment? A bit clammy, but it appeared to be correct in most details. Felt about right.

All in all, a very worthwhile museum to visit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Times Square Pictures

Here we are at Times Square. These were taken on my first trip through the place; it was about 6:30 in the morning and it had rained about an hour or so earlier. This view is looking north; the tall set of signs in the center is where the big crystal ball drops to herald the New Year.
Looking south.
Another view, from the center of the square.

This was the best picture I could get of the famous Associated Press "zipper sign" that runs the news headlines continuously.

Battery Park

At the southern tip of Manhattan Island sits Battery Park, so named because of the small network of fortifications that stood here to defend the harbor and the settlement. The inscription above is on a plinth supporting a flagpole at the entrance to the park.
As the plaque states, the sculpture Sphere by Fritz Koenig stood for about 30 years in the main plaza of the World Trade Center until the attacks on September 11th. It was badly damaged when the two main towers collapsed, but was salvaged and is now on display at the Battery, along with an eternal flame.

This is the Immigrant's Monument, executed in bronze by the descendant of immigrants to symbolize all those who made it across the Atlantic to America.
Governor's Island. According to one tour guide, the place is wholly owned by the government, and while people work there no one is actually a resident. This view is taken from the tip of the park across the harbor, and I am thrilled that my camera did such a great job.
Castle Clinton, one of what used to be an entire chain of forts that defended New York Harbor. There were others on Governor's Island and as far away as Sandy Hook in New Jersey.
A fountain. I have no idea why it was there, other than it looks nice with all the trees around it.
The Statue of Liberty as seen from the Battery.
Ellis Island.
The camera's telephoto lens stretched all the way to the Jersey shore to take this image of the Erie-Lackawanna pier, which has been restored. I'm told it's impressive all lit up at night.

Central Park Pictures, #3

Just a few more pictures taken at Central Park! I took this picture to show off the shape of the arch and the decorative brickwork inside.
Another view of Belvedere Castle.

A statue of Alexander Hamilton, in the park facing the obelisk at the rear of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you look really closely, there's a pigeon on his head (obviously the reincarnation of a person who lost heavily in the economic troubles).
I guess you'd call this a gazebo, although the label in the maps called it a rustic shelter. It's on the edge of the Ramble and is used for picnics and such.

A statue erected in honor of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Mugger! Nope, just a squirrel.

Central Park Pictures #2

Here we are back in Central Park, showing off the beautifully kept greenery. Much of the beautification is paid for by private donations, and some stretches of the lawn are fenced off to enable recently reseeded grass to grow.
Many of the bridges are just like this one - works of decorative art in their own right. This one is steel with a wood-plank walkway.

The Belvedere Castle sits at the heart of the Park, just south of the reservoir in the middle of a tangle of nature trails known as the Ramble. It's built on a hill overlooking a small lake that is used as an ice rink in the winter. Up until a couple decades ago the place was a mess, covered in graffitti and in danger of falling down. Private donations and a concerted restoration effort saved the building.

I think the ivy was allowed to stay on the tall tower of the Castle for its decorative effects.

Part of the hill the Castle is perched on juts out over the lake and was draped in ivy that, as you can see, was turning into a haze of yellow and red leaves. Very pretty.

The view from the Belvedere Castle, looking Northeast.

An Endorsement McCain Probably Doesn't Want

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Central Park Pictures, Part 1

Well, back to the vacation pictures! We will spend a little time in Central Park, the huge green belt designed by Frederick Law Olmstead for the recreation of the population and the relief of those who need to see green and growing things.

Above you see the DelaCorte Clock, located near the entrance to the Central Park Zoo. On the hour the monkeys strike the bell and the other animals are supposed to dance around.
Central Park is carefully managed, but much of the terrain is left unleveled with bare outcroppings of the native rock poking out so people have something to climb around on. Besides, what's the point to a park that's perfectly flat?
Beautiful rolling hills and some of the trees are starting to turn their leaves autumn colors.
This is Conservatory Water, a small lake in the southeast quadrant of the park. The only signs of life at this hour of the day were the occasional dog-walker and of course ducks.
Engineer's Gate is located at the intersection of East 90th Street and Fifth Avenue and contains this memorial to John Mitchel, a Mayor of the city who "died in the service of the United States" during the Great War.
This is the Reservoir, the major body of water in the park, and it is huge. I walked most of the way around it. The two stone buildings on the left in the distance are pumping stations built around the time of the Civil War.
One of the views of the Great Lawn.
This shot was taken from a stone outcrop. In the distance you can see a children's playground.
This is Cleopatra's Needle, an obelisk that was first erected in Heliopolis about 1600 BC, then moved to Alexandria by the Romans, then given to the United States as a present from the Khedive of Egypt. It stands in the park opposite the rear of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's been rather eroded over the centuries, but bronze plaques at the base give translations of the legible bits.

There'll be more pictures to come, never fear!

A Conversation

I received an email yesterday from a coworker who raised the by now tiresome Bill Ayers issue with Barack Obama. I responded that McCain 'pals around' with a convicted felon, one G. Gordon Liddy.

My coworker sent the following back:

Point taken, however, having an association with a convicted felon is hardly the same as Bill Ayers. Ole Billy was not a would be, he is an unrepentant domestic terrorist, no different than the 911 attackers. I think you can even admit that. The facts are there to support that, and the pictures are there showing Barrack in Ayers living room launching his political campaign in 1995. The funny thing is the media never even jumped on him for lying about it during the last debate. It's funny how most democrats try to discredit fox news, but if not for them, and talk radio people, one might honesty believe Barrack can walk on water, and that beams of sun light come out of his ass. I know you are not God fearing but, have you read the book of revelations? It may be a scare tactic by some to cast doubt on Obama but I find it eerie how well it potentially describes Obama. I know you dislike McCain for fear of 4 more years of Bush. The GOP dropped the ball by letting a bafoon win the primary election, but I know somewhere inside of the twisted soul of yours you know that Obama is not good for this country. With McCain we can at least tread water for 4 years. Maybe you can shed some light on this for me. Hell you may even be able to sway my opinion. 95% of Americans will receive a tax break. Everyone making over $250,000 will pay that bill. Correct so far? Here is my theory; I see employers leaving this country to places with lower taxes and less regulation. The employers that remain here will simply raise prices on products and services to cover their tax increase. 5% of Americans are going to fund his 900 billion dollar budget increase, as well as fund the yearly budget, and they will also be paying enough taxes that 95% of Americans get a check in the mail. Do you think the Robin Hood tax system will work? My only point is this. People always want the next best thing, it is nature to believe the new one will be better. I think that is why people are taugh t the grass isn't always greener. I guess we will all get to see if that is the case. I hope the Bradley effect is in play and the pollsters are wrong, we shall see. Sorry my words may seem a little disoriented as I am typing and fighting with my 2 year old daughter at the same time. Peace.

And here was my reply to him.

Took me a moment to get through everything you dumped out on me yesterday, so apologies for the delay. I hope you won the fight with your daughter (although I'd give it to her on points in a TKO).

So, here goes:

1. Association with a convicted felon who is *also* quite unrepentant. Liddy has never apologized for his actions and has used his radio show (which McCain has appeared on, by the way) to tell his listeners the right way to kill Federal ATF agents.
You point is taken about Ayers being unrepentant, but I point out that he turned himself in to serve time and it was only because the evidence against him was tainted that he isn't still in prison.
Equating him with a bunch of religious fanatics seems a tad far-fetched, but I understand your desire for equivalency.

2. Fox's correspondents have admitted that the network openly supports the Republican Party and the GOP agenda, and anyone with access to the Internet or common sense can discredit some of their assertions.

3. I am far from a starry-eyed idealist or even wildly optimistic, and no politician - hell, no human - has or ever will have the sun shining out his ass. Ever watched the documentary "Jesus Camp?" Part of the video showed little kids being encouraged by their elders to venerate a life-sized picture of Bush as if it were a religious icon, and some members of the GOP base still believe that GWB was anointed by God.
Thank you for saying that I'm not "God-fearing." No Deity is worthy of my devotion if it requires its followers to live in fear of it.
Oh, and it's "Revelation." The full title of the book is "The Revelation of St. John the Divine;" no plurals. Find me any chapter or verse in "Revelation" that supports your contention.

4. Do not be ruled by fear.
Had McCain continued his tactics from 2000, when a fairly decent Senator allowed himself to be savaged in the primaries to the point that he repudiated 'the politics of personal destruction' and called Falwell and Robertson 'agents of intolerance,' I might have been persuaded to support him. I voted for McCain in the primaries, you'll remember - if only because he was the least moronic of the group on the ballot.
My soul may actually be sprained, not twisted, and while my foresight has been a touch erratic over the past few years I do not see where Obama will be any more of a danger to the nation than the medically shaky and temperamentally unsuitable McCain might be.
"Treading water" is not an option for the next four years. The stakes are far too high; we have a queasy economy (personal prediction - the bottom will be reached about the end of this year, and we'll start to climb out of the hole next year), two wars and our moral standing among the other nations is practically the same as a flaming sack of dog poo. If it does come to another Bretton Woods Conference, the US will play a role but it will be the G8, Russia, China and India that will have the whip hand. We are no longer in the position to dictate how the rest of the world will manage their economies, nor are we in the position to criticize others.

5. It's been written that "between the Idea and the Reality, falls the Shadow." I think TS Eliot wrote that.
I'd follow it up with a line from Clausewitz: "Plans never survive first contact with the enemy."
Obama can make what promises he will; politicians have been making promises to the people ever since the days of Athens and Sparta. And no, a Democratic majority in both houses will not necessarily be a help to him.
"Here is my theory; I see employers leaving this country to places with lower taxes and less regulation. The employers that remain here will simply raise prices on products and services to cover their tax increase."
That's entirely possible; in fact, plausible. That's why it's a plan and not carved in stone. Recall that the President doesn't - does not - control the nation's wallet. The House of Representatives does, and I should rather hope that the Congress will re-assert its Constitutional prerogatives in stead of rolling over and exposing their softest parts. As with everything, a compromise shall be reached. Does that sound realistic to you?
"Do you think the Robin Hood tax system will work?"
Heh, I like that. We've been operating under a Robin Hood tax system for oh, about 230 years now; we allow the government to take a percentage of our income in order to pay for certain things. Here's an interesting fun fact: Warren Buffet, one of the richest people on the planet, pays less in taxes than his secretary (who makes about as much as I do). Does that sound fair to you? It didn't to Warren Buffet.

6. Yes, we'll have to see, and there are a lot of people who throw out the Bradley Effect. Some pundits are clinging to it as if it were a lifeline or security blanket. I'm not certain that such will be the case this year. Change is a constant, and many people fear it. Machiavelli said that it was the hardest thing for a leader to do and for people to accept. I recently hit the next prime number (47), and I'm not so set in my ways that I can't imagine a President who isn't an old white guy. I can imagine a woman as President, and I can imagine an African-American as President.

And you're right; for good or bad, we'll see.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Realigning My Humours

Way back in the medieval times when one was choleric or melancholy, sanguine or whatever, they were said to have had an imbalance in their bodily humours. Mine were seriously misaligned, so rather than have myself bled or my skull trepanned or leeches put on my chest or what have you, I went out the beach for my birthday weekend.

I have returned, greatly refreshed.

Dinner on my birthday was spent at a sushi restaurant (exceptionally fresh seafood). I had three orders of cold (raw) nigiri (scallop, salmon and tuna), and one order of hot (cooked) nigiri (conch), all washed down with a carafe of hot sake. Yummy! Then followed it up with an ice cream sandwich made of pound cake and green tea ice cream, then dipped in tempura batter, quick-fried and topped with chocolate sauce. Double yummy!

Over the weekend I had other diversions to expand my feeling of well-being as all of the NFL teams I wanted to lose Sunday lost:
San Diego
Kansas City
New York Jets (I really didn't anticipate my favorite team, the Oakland Raiders, to actually beat Brett Favre and the Jets, but I had hopes. When the Jets forced overtime, I started to worry, but as Janikowski set up for a field goal with time running out I started to hope. I cheered (to the consternation of the other people in the bar) when the big Pole booted a record 57-yard game-winner. Go Raiders!)

So, feeling much happier I am back at home and ready to post more vacation pics as well as continue to express my almost unseemly glee at the increasing cannibalism within the Republican Party.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

NYC - Statues and Monuments

Architecture can define a city and the roles of its inhabitants in that city, but part of the city's memory is in the statues and memorials the citizens raise to mark important persons or events. Shown above is roughly a third of the mammoth bronze plaque erected to honor the FDNY firefighters who died in the September 11th attacks. The station house the plaques are attached to is just across the street from the site.

The station house's (I believe it was Station 10) own plaque to honor the six members of the station who died.

This is the Gay Liberation Memorial in Christopher Square across the street from the famous Stonewall Inn, the site of the eponymous riots that are widely regarded as the start of the modern LGBT rights movement. The park these four statues inhabit share space with a much older bronze statue of General Philip Sheridan.

At the southern end of Battery Park sits the World War Two Memorial, a set of carved marble stelae inscribed with the names of New Yorkers who died during the war in the various services.

The northern end of the WW2 Memorial is dominated by this monumental bronze eagle dedicated to all those who lost their lives serving along the Atlantic coast and in the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the inscription reads, "Into Thy hands, O Lord ..."
The Korean War Memorial, named "The Universal Soldier." The flags you see on the base are actually mosaics, and depict all of the United Nations participants in the conflict. The concrete apron is carved with the names of each nation, along with casualty figures.

George Washington, standing at the entrance of Federal Hall on Wall Street. He took his oath of office at Federal Hall and then went to pray at St. Paul's Chapel (pictures of which will be forthcoming).

Theodore Roosevelt, at the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History. He's flanked by an African and a Native American, and dressed as a rough-riding cowboy. The great hall within is inscribed with excerpts from some of his speeches.

Yours Truly at the intersection of East 60th Street and Fifth Avenue, which means this is the southeast entrance to Central Park and that is the gilded bronze statue of General William T. Sherman, preceded by a statue of Victory.

At the northern reach of Times Square stands a statue dedicated to George M. Cohan, inscribed with the years of his birth and death and "Give my regards to Broadway." The picture was taken in the early morning right after a small rain shower, so it looks like a scene out of a Ridley Scott film.

Now this threw me.

Situated on a rise overlooking the same lake as the Belvedere Castle in Central Park rises this statue, inscribed "Poland." It's a monument to Wladyslaw Jagiello, the first King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Why it's here, I don't know. Do you?

The inscription goes on to say that Wladyslaw defeated the Teutons at Grunwald in 1410. Again, why the statue is here, I have no clue.