Already breathing easier…

So, it’s out already, the U.S. is going to reject most of what the Europeans and the rest of the world want to accomplish on the environmental front at next week’s G-8 meeting. But not to worry, Bush has his own plan. The U.S. takes this very seriously, his spokeswoman says. We’re going to lead the global charge towards limiting global emissions by the year 2050.

The modern definition of grand leadership: Take a problem that threatens not only the economy of every country, but the livelihood and perhaps lives of every person on the planet — and put it off for 43 years. Until you personally are dead. Until your kids are 70 years old, and really don’t have to worry much either.


(Year old) quote of the day

Stolen from the Pharyngula blog, while reading links to it elsewhere. A quote worthy of Wilde, or at least Thomas Reed.

On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at AU, was requested to testify.

At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: “Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?”

Raskin replied: “Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”

The room erupted into applause.

Raskin’s now a state senator in Maryland, and someone to watch.

Time to swallow pride, listen to Iran

Just do it.

In the first official high-level talks with Iran in decades, the U.S. apparently managed to complain about Iran, while Iran’s representative suggested a constructive step forward: a regular trilateral group allowing the U.S., Iran, and Iraq to meet regularly and, with luck, hash out some security issues.

The U.S. is balking, for now. Iran’s foreign minister says he’s looking forward to more meetings, but “only if Washington admits its Middle East policy has not been successful.” Which, granted, can be hard for Bush but is a bit like admitting that it’s windyin the middle of a hurricane.

We’ve long since passed the point where national pride and Bush’s “messaging”  produced anything but, oh, a few score deaths per day. So do it.

Love note to Thor hammer-handed

Thunder outside, raindrops that leave an inch-wide mark on my T-shirt as I ride in out of its fringes, hail bouncing off the window, cars already leaving wakes like speedboats on Bornholmer Str. outside. But it’s nothing compared to yesterday, when the sky turned an ugly orange-red in the west, and then black, and then out of nowhere wind stronger than I’ve felt anytime in the last year here, the storm that blew apart the Hauptbahnhof included. You could see the rain coming in sideways before it hit, a weird curtain just a hundred yards away that didn’t seem to be dropping like ordinary precipitation. And then the hammer (Tornado! calls Bowlserised), lights in the sky, you can see why Thor was such a thing. Or Odin. Anyone with lightning.

In San Francisco, all we had were gods of summer fog, which doesn’t make for fear or propitiation, which in turn may explain a few things about the city.

Collective patronage, a democratic arts funding

According to Sequenza 21, a mini-movement of art funding is happening beneath the surface of the debates over government versus corporate sponsorship. Small orchestras are pooling their resources to collectively commission pieces by contemporary composers, in the way that big groups in New York or Boston or San Francisco do fairly routinely.

Apparently pianist Jeffrey Biegel is leading the charge in this regard, serving as a kind of artistic dealmaker.

Is it working? A new work by composer Joan Tower, initially comissioned by 65 small orchestras and later given new impetus by Ford sponsorship, has been played more than 80 times, and is being released by Naxos. It’s not stylistically ground-breaking work (“It’s not Ligeti but you knew that,” writes S21’s blogger), but getting orchestras to play modern work at all is a worthwhile cause.

I wonder if this model could work in other fields. I suppose movies are routinely collectively financed, with angel investors that rarely see their money back. Novels are almost always a labor of personal love, although grants do help. Maybe online reading groups could form what would essentially be their own micro-publishing houses, give authors community-chest advances, sponsor writing retreats, as long as they owned (like a publisher) some share in the final work.

I am a sucker for any way to finance creative endeavors that doesn’t require giving a large corporation the sole copyright, and doesn’t lead to poverty.