Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for May 2009

The Lilies of the Field

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It may be brief, but what glory it is.  Our neighbors gave these to us last year.  I just love them massed in a bright and tangled line of color blazing through the very heart of the garden.

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(clicking on photo brings up desktop sized image)

What a glorious day here in Chapel Hill with blue skies, bright sun and cool shade.

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Written by furthermusings

May 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

Posted in At the House, Pictures

Power Broker

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For the last thirteen weeks I’ve been plowing through a long biography, Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro.  I picked it up because my grandfather and uncle both recommended it and because I’ve read Caro’s other series and enjoyed it.  Over the weekend Dad asked me if I enjoyed reading Power Broker.  I said it’s hard to say one enjoys reading something so wrenching.

Though it was long (1,126 pages long) I kept at because it was the best book I’ve ever read about raw political power displayed in city and state government. In college the topic of city and state government put me to sleep but this book changed forever how I think about the awing power of city governments to build and shape their communities. Moses captured that power and wielded it like a sword.  His accomplishments are breathtaking for what they created and destroyed.

I think a lot about power these days.  As a political scientist power is ultimately what I study.  Professionally I study why governments take money or land from some people and give it to others but I do so from a 30,000 ft level.  Caro studies power on the street level (literally).  He details how Moses threw over 400,000 out of their homes, sometimes for the public good, sometimes as a favor to cronies.  Moses built himself an empire and it was so strong that, though unelected, he gave orders to mayors and governors.

Caro deserved his Pulitzer Prize for his portrait both New York and of Moses, a man who once held 12 appointed offices simultaneously and was so powerful that President Franklin Roosevelt was unable to displace him, and for creating a record of all Moses accomplished, both for good and for ill.

I won’t go so far as to recommend reading Power Broker (unless you have a fetish for 1,000 page histories or biographies) but I will recommend reading the introduction sometime when you’re in a bookstore and have 45 minutes.  It’s a short 20 pages that survey the massive book.  While few people today have the power that Robert Moses had, our society has its own power brokers and I think it’s worth reflecting a bit on the tremendous power that they have.  Most of what they do floats around on the edges of our consciousnesses . . . huh, a new school, a new highway, I wonder why they put it there.  I think it’s worth 45 minutes and a cup of tea to survey to bring those thoughts to the front of the mind by reading about how powerful Robert Moses was, what kind of person he was, and then reflecting about the power of the powerful today.

(and, as a bonus you’ll learn a bit about the great city of New York, a bit about how it and Moses shaped America, and about who Moses was as a person)

Written by furthermusings

May 28, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Politics, Reviews

Magnificent

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medium

As a U2.com subscriber I get email updates about the band.  They recently released this music video shot in Morocco.  I love the music and the visuals are pretty amazing with the white sheets moving over the North African background of the city.  Pretty cool.

Written by furthermusings

May 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm

More Wildlife

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Despite living adjacent to five parking lots our backyard is an oasis of animal activity.  On any given day we boast a collection of cardinals, brown thrashers, robins, several squirrels, and our three neighborhood cats, who follow each other through their prowling routes.  We have seen owls, woodpeckers, deer (curse them), and chipmunks.  And now we can add snakes.  I haven’t made an id yet.  Any ideas?

snakewithdogwoodtree

snakefulllength

Written by furthermusings

May 4, 2009 at 8:28 am

Posted in General

Irises

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Last year we took a good bit of time to seperate out the irises in the backyard and we got about four flowers.  This year we’ve had 40 flowers and they’ve been a spectacular and prolonged treat.  Amazingly we managed to blindly seperate out the white ones into their own bed and leave the yellow and purple.  They’ve been beautiful.

irisesintheeveningsun

Written by furthermusings

May 3, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Posted in General

Chives

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One thing I remember well about the house Charity lived in before we were married was the huge chive plant outside their back door.  I like having this one in our backyard.  The flowers are beautiful and when we need fresh chives we’ve got them.  Haven’t needed them yet, but when we do we’ll have them!

chivesinthegardenblooming1

Written by furthermusings

May 2, 2009 at 8:17 am

Posted in At the House, Pictures