Archive for News and Media

Public Art and the Homeless…

This is public art (and science). Like all good art it’s unique and thought provoking. It sits in one of the less visited corners of Magnuson Park (the old Sand Point Naval Air Station) in Seattle.

Briefly… the artist, Perri Lynch, crafted 12 limestone pillars along a 1- kilometer line called the Sand Point Calibration Baseline where surveyors’ measure, test, and calibrate their equipment. There are about a dozen such baselines in the State of Washington, but some local surveyors worried that this one would be destroyed by unknowing visitors. They lobbied for public art monument to raise awareness and prevent its accidental destruction. read more

True Believers…

In 1951 Eric Hoffer, a San Francisco longshoreman, wrote The True Believer, one of the seminal works of 20th century political philosophy. In 1964, he left the docks to become a “research” professor at UC Berkeley. I was there, and by then he and the book were legendary.

The book analyzes historical mass movements, including Christianity, Communism, and National Socialism–their causes, how they arise, who joins, and the social psychology of their challenge to the status quo.

This morning I thought of Hoffer and The True Believer as I watched a CBS reporter interview Pennsylvanians waiting to cast their vote for Donald Trump. read more

The New Stress-Test…

Stress has various meanings. Some are personal, some material. The personal involves a feeling of emotional or physical tension. Material stress refers to external or internal forces on an object. We all feel the personal kind at times—even normal times—but these are not normal times. Stress is overwhelming us now. Pandemic stress. Racial stress. Economic stress. Healthcare stress. Education stress. Upcoming election stress. 

Back in 2008, following the collapse of the US economy we were introduced to a new application of the material kind of stress. Combined with test it morphed from noun to compound verb, and rather than denoting a condition of personal health or material pressure it became checklist of steps used by regulators to measure the stability of banks. The Federal Reserve, US Treasurer, regulators, bankers, and Congress needed a new vocabulary to cope with the financial devastation and prevent a repeat of the crisis. “Stress test” became the nomenclature used to measure the safety of our banking institutions. In July of 2010 Congress enacted the bipartisan Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to prevent a reoccurrence. read more

The Great Escape…

When I was 19, I ran for sophomore class president at the University of Washington. The night before the election there was a convertible caravan through the campus ending at a bonfire and outdoor stage where we candidates were to give campaign speeches. Great theater. The only complication was that I was a patient in the University Hospital. I had a classic case of mononucleosis – the kissing disease – and with swollen neck glands and a small fever university doctors thought it was serious enough to keep me in the hospital for a few days. read more

A Faustian Bargain…

I’m both fascinated and repulsed by Donald Trump, and since 2016 I’ve been looking for a character in literature to use as a metaphor for his rise and fall. 

In the beginning I thought his affection for golden toilets and chandeliers made Jay Gatsby a comparable figure, and I wrote an essay making the case. Both are criminal pretenders, but Jay Gatsby operated behind a quiet, tasteful, polished persona. Trump could never pull that off. 

Then, his penchant for lying brought Pinocchio to mind. Imagine the image of that nose based on the number of lies told during his term? Enticing as that is it’s not a fair comparison. Pinocchio was kinda cute, but Donald is anything but cute. Still, the little puppet being manipulated is tempting. read more