Friday, October 3, 2008

Current Events

I saw the first Senator Obama-Senator McCain debate, and thought Senator Obama was astute, elegant, instructive, masterly, thoughtful, as always, and that McCain was selling the same old politics, and the same old masculine rhetoric, he and others often offer to the general public. Last night, I watched the Senator Biden-Governor Palin debate pleased that Joe Biden was articulate about history, policy, and Senator Obama's proposals, and amazed that Palin could be, as McCain was, so transparent: and I suspected that Palin--likable to many, but absolutely without any grasp of mastery regarding any subject whatsover as far as I could see or hear--would yet prove a force in American politics. Americans often prefer personality and commonality to knowledge.

A October 3, 2008 report on the website of New York Times says that 159,000 jobs were lost in September, the ninth month in a row that showed a drop in employment. I wonder how many people can remember a time when we didn't have to worry about employment, inflation of prices, housing uncertainty, health care problems? Meanwhile, the congressional House of Representatives has approved the $700 billion bailout bill, revised by the Senate, for the financial services industry.

One begins to anticipate the death of one's aging idols, with dread and the intention to be prepared and to pay proper respect: and for the last few years, when I would think of Paul Newman--beautiful, smart, strong; a terrific actor and consistent and generous humanitarian--I would think of his many good performances, of how good it was that he was still alive, and the inevitability of his death. His performances in Cool Hand Luke and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof remain among my favorites. Now that Paul Newman has died, on September 26 at his Connecticut home, following a cancer diagnosis, I have been glad to see how beloved he was and is, that the tributes are many. (Among others, People magazine has presented photographs and a summary of his life, in its October 13, 2008 issue.)

Sometimes what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Sometimes what doesn't kill us makes us crazy. Following something my mother said that enraged me--it was not only what she said, but when (a difficult and sensitive topic introduced calmly but unnervingly as a non sequitur), I eventually found my way to the October 2008 Psychology Today, a publication I used to read regularly years ago, for insights into habits of mind and spirit. It contains interesting articles on style as expressive of a hopeful spirit; on humor; and on germs. I have a terrible sense that the only changes in human personality that are probable are too small to matter.

I visited, this last Monday, the African-American Museum in St. Martinville, a small place that showed some African artifacts and highlighted through photographs, texts, and murals some state history (the enslaved Africans in Louisiana often came from west Africa; and, it was intriguing to note how many of the families mentioned in that history still live in the area). After the museum visit, I traveled the internet looking at the sites of various Louisiana institutions: the Tangipahoa African-American Heritage Museum; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art; the Louisiana Art and Science Museum; Southern University Museum of Art; and, the Louisiana Political Museum. I see today the local magazine Acadiana Profile has Bobby Hebert, a footballer turned radio host, on the cover, and articles on footballers Tyrell Fenroy and Keiland Williams, among other things. (I'm not a sports fan, but sports is an important part of Louisiana culture, and such articles are further evidence of that.) The magazine Louisiana Homes and Gardens (Sept. 2008) gives me a view into some of the beautiful homes that I sometimes see; and I like the feature on Bill Hemmerling's studio (things beautiful and rough are there; and furnishings are moved around at impulse). In terms of area current events, there is an arts and crafts festival in New Iberia tomorrow; and a Latino music festival in Lafayette and a book festival in Baton Rouge, among other things.