Thursday, May 24, 2018

Unpleasant evening at the Kimmel Center

I had tickets for Tosca, supposedly the hottest ticket in Philadelphia, for me and my daughter. It was a special occasion, a birthday celebration for her.   As we approached the Kimmel Center, we saw a group of activists blocking Broad Street.  The police were monitoring the situation--I think.  Not very well, it turned out.  These activists were all over the place, like ants at a picnic.  At least two of them approached me and more would have. They were in the street, in the lobby, everywhere.

What was it all about?  These mostly middle aged white women were protesting the orchestra's plan to perform in Israel.

The Kimmel Center was showing signs of age, or perhaps of deferred maintenance.  There were buckets here and there set to catch leaks from the roof, fallen plaster was all over the place and one of the water fountains was out of order.

There was a full house. We took our seats, the concert master came out, then the conductor,   Yannick Nézet-Séguin, . He bowed and tapped his baton on the lectern, and...a female voice erupted over the speaker system, shouting about justice for Palestine.  The conductor left the stage, and some of  the musicians also started to leave.  The woman continued shouting.  We could not see what was going on, but the disturbance lasted maybe ten minutes. Ten minutes is a long time when you are waiting for a musical performance.  Then order was restored, Yannick and the musicians returned and the concert commenced.  It was handled clumsily.

It was a sort of semi-staged version of Tosca.  I did not enjoy myself very much.  Trying to follow the action of the opera distracted me from enjoying the music, and the music distracted me from following the plot. I blame the Palestinians. They and their supporters have a lot to answer for.

It was a very long opera, made longer by an interval toward  the end when the action was interrupted while a couple of stage hands moved some furniture, without musical accompaniment.  The audience stirred, ready to leave, but a supertitle warned us the opera was not over.  That was awkward, not to say weird.

All in all, not what I expected when I plunked down $158 for two seats in the third tier.

Monday, May 07, 2018

I am sorry to hear that Melania Trump now has a "cause."

I liked her just as she was, heart-stoppingly beautiful.  Silent was good too.  A nice change from the noisy, opinionated Michele, who I don't miss..

Friday, May 04, 2018

To my readers, and maybe to myself

I know very few people read this stuff, but that's okay.  I write these blog posts as a discipline, and to reveal my real feelings.  For all practical purposes it's almost anonymous, which means freedom for me.

  I have a Facebook page, but I use it to display my artwork and post photographs.  Sometimes I mention Memorial Day or something, or talk about my relatives.  The only reason I don't post cat pictures is that I don't have a cat.  Mention my political views?  Not on your life.

  Back in the day, my stepmother was notorious enough to be on a file of Communist sympathizers. And that was before the Internet.

 I am nostalgic for the old days when bloggers with interesting or amusing ideas used to post a lot.  those days are gone.  Now they post amusing things on Twitter, and I am not on Twitter.  That is intentional.

Is there anything so small and insignificant that environmentalists won't make a cause.of it?

First they came for the  showerheads; then they came for the light bulbs.  Plastic bags.  Nothing is so insignificant that they can't make a cudgel out of it,  controlling people's lives, but not enough to make anyone really mad. enough to do anything.   It's like a series of little tick bites; they don't kill you but they annoy you 24/7.

I could go on.  Did I mention top loading washing machines?  Detergents that don't deter anything? CAFE standards for cars to save fuel so that there is more for Al Gore and Leo diCaprio to circumnavigate the globe, hectoring everyone from the comfort of their air-conditioned palatial mansions? This is a partial list, I'm sure.  So what's next?

  The latest is straws.  Drinking straws. In London, they are making them illegal.  They are trying to do the same in California.  Never mind that the State has super-high taxes, unfunded pensions, and people living in the streets because they can't afford housing. Straws are destroying the
Environment--it's an emergency!

  What's next?  Toothpicks, which are destroying the redwood trees?  Never mind, I'm sure they can come up with more.  It's what they do.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Leaning on something

You all know I broke my foot.  This led the doctors to give me various assistive devices, including a cane and a walker--not simultaneously, the walker came first.

  I can now report that walking with a cane makes you look ten years older.  Instantly, even if you have just undergone a facelift.  A walker adds another  ten years, plus the suspicion that you are either deaf or senile.  So people enunciate carefully, making sure you are looking them straight in the face.  Ugh!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

What makes activists tick

I can remember protests in the late sixties--we were protesting the Vietnam War then.  Lo and behold, the war ended, not necessarily because  of the protests.  But the protestors thought it was caused by them.  By God, it felt good.

  The cessation of the war made people hungry for more..  It was like a drug,  It gave them a sense of control.   People missed the excitement, the crowds, the festive air, the fresh air.  So everybody started protesting something, or everything, or nothing.

  The environment was the next Good Thing.  And, boy, did everybody crumble.  Nobody stood up for pollution.  It was a heady success.  We were reminded of that success every time we went to the store and nobody gave us a plastic bag.

  Lately, there has been some pushback, but the protesters chose their targets carefully.  If anyone protested the efforts for gun control, you could shut them up by telling them they had the blood of children on their hands.  It turned out, no-one wanted to kill a child.  Of course not!  But some people still wanted to keep their guns, the murderers!   Not that they had killed any children with them, or even any adults; they just refused to give up guns no matter how passionately the protesters argued. 


It's poetry month

I've always liked this one.  I like gloomy poems.

Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
    All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
    To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

My gofundme project

The news of Andrew McCabe's Gofundme project upset me until I came to my senses.  The man is, like me, a retired civil servant who has only his pension to rely on.  How can he afford legal fees?  True, his wife has money, and they live in a multi-million dollar home, but the man says he needs money for legal fees and who am I, whose relative had to pay a lawyer $50,000 to get out of a contract, to doubt him.  Andy--if I may take the liberty of calling him that--is a good example of a retired civil servant making lemonade out of lemons.  He has inspired me to start my own gofundme scheme.

  Naturally, I want the money for a worthwhile cause.  I don't want diamonds or European travel or anything like that.  But, looking through the New York Times magazine, I came upon a project which would certainly improve my mental health--a luxury condo in Florida.  You see, it really snows very hard up here in Delaware, and my doctor has forbidden  me to shovel snow.  So far, my neighbors have helped me with this, but it is really not fair to them to have this extra burden.

  So it would improve the morale of the whole neighborhood if I were to spend the winter in Florida, leaving the snow to pile up in my driveway until the crocuses and daffodils come out.

  I know asking people for a luxury condo is a bit much.  The optics, you know.  So I wont ask for a luxury condo in Fort Lauderdale, which is what was advertised in the Times.  I'd be satisfied with a modest--but not too modest--little pied a terre on the West Coast, even as far north as the panhandle.  I think I will ask for $400,000 , $350,000 for the condo itself and $50,000 to furnish it. That seems eminently reasonable.  I will even pay the monthly fees and airfare to get from here to there.  I could raise a little money from airbnb to supplement my very modest  income.

Friday, March 30, 2018

You go, Pennsylvania!

A Pennsylvania law that gives tax breaks to farms--and also golf courses and lavish private homes--is being criticized by the people who actually pay taxes.

Supporters say Clean and Green has helped shield millions of acres of farms and other pristine lands from being turned into strip malls, warehouses and Levittowns. The lowered assessments, they say, are a bargain compared to the expense of development and the strains it places on schools, roads and public services. Backers also insist that any problematic properties represent a tiny portion of the lands enrolled.

Under the program, qualifying properties — those with at least 10 contiguous acres or that generate $2,000 in farm sales annually — are assessed on what the land is worth as a working farm or woodlot, and not its value on the real estate market. State officials estimate that on average, that works out to a 50 percent reduction in assessment, though the numbers can be as dramatic as pennies on the dollar.

The hardest hit communities were in rural school districts such as Northwestern Lehigh and Bangor Area. Last week, the presidents of each school board said they support the tax breaks for farmers, but feel it is unfair to the average taxpayer to provide them to mansion owners with large estates.
“Somebody has found a loophole in my humble opinion,” said Bangor Area’s Michael Goffredo. “You just got a bargain somebody else isn’t getting.”
Like others, Northwestern Lehigh’s Willard Dellicker called Clean and Green a well-intentioned law producing unintended results.
“Some leniency is needed for farmers, but I don’t believe that we should be giving millionaires property tax reductions because they own 10 acres to get into Clean and Green,” Dellicker said.
Why do they want to prevent development of land that would lead to more young couples owning their own homes  and raising children who would attend local schools?  There's an erroneous belief in this country that the population is too large and that people should avoid having children.  In fact, the population is becoming grayer.  We need children and young people to support us old people who are on social security.  Also to power the factories, to invent and create and think new things.
  Look at Delaware--a potentially nice area of the country which is covered with hospitals, nursing homes, and senior living facilities.  Is that what we want?

  Nursing homes or schools, which do you prefer?  Because you can't have both.