Monday, September 30, 2019

Agent of Chaos: Our Sinister Joker in the White House

by Nomad

What with all the outrageous things going on day after day, you might not have heard of the controversy regarding the upcoming film called "Joker."

Starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips, the film is many steps removed from the superhero genre that provides its source material.
Forget the capes and the spandex tights. Forget the glitzy special effects and the Marvel Comic cliches. This film is closer to "Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” and "American Psycho." Grim and gritty and full of angst.

The Joker, one of the most iconic and perverse villains of the Batman comics, has been completely "reimagined" as a person who, as Variety critic puts it, "spends every moment trying to twist himself into a normal shape, but he knows the effort is doomed, so he turns it all into a “joke” that only he gets."

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Joseph Maguire Testimony: A Trump Official Under the Spotlight

by Nomad

This morning, Joseph Maguire will be testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, regarding his decision not to release the whistleblower's complaint about questionable- and possibly impeachable- activities by the president and close advisors.

Maguire is the current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He retired from the United States Navy as a Vice Admiral in 2010 after 36 years of military service.

The committee is expected to ask Macquire why he refused to release to congressional intelligence committees the report of the independent inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who deemed it "credible and urgent."
Under mounting pressure from both parties, the Trump administration backed down on Wednesday and handed copies of the complaint to House and Senate intelligence committees.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Notes on Intolerance and Conformity from a Shining City on the Hill

by Nomad

A Turkish/Canadian friend of mine- we can call him Metin- told me that he was sitting on the grass in a seaside park recently. He was speaking English to a friend. It was another fine day in Izmir.
However, much to Metin's dismay, a woman he had never met before interrupted his chat and told him "You are in Turkey. Speak Turkish!"

It literally took his breath away, he later said. It was especially shocking that such a thing would happen in a comparatively liberal, laid-back city like Izmir.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Dr. Oliver Sacks on Gratitude

by Nomad

When physician, best-selling author, and professor of neurology Oliver Sacks understood that his battle with cancer could not be won, he expressed a desire to live out his remaining months "in the richest, deepest, most productive way" that he could.

His checklist was a simple but noble one. He explained that he wanted to "deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight." 

In his posthumously-published book, "Gratitude" Sacks reflected on his final days. In summing up, this extraordinary and compassionate man observed:

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sanity Sunday - The Music of Al Stewart

 by Nomad

Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician Al Stewart will always hold a special place for me. He is best known for one song which topped the charts in the late 1970s, "Year of the Cat." 
Released in 1976 in the album of the same name, the song tells the story of a Western tourist who loses his soul in the bazaar.

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came
In the Year of the Cat.

Except for that one song, his music never quite reached the wider audience in the US. That's a pity on two counts. Firstly, Stewart had an earlier career in the 1960s as a folk singer that deserved more attention.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sanity Sunday - The Music of Los Tabaleros

by Nomad

Well, I can't really tell you too much about the featured band for this week's Sanity Sunday. The name of the group is Los Tabaleros, which, if Google Translate can be trusted, seems to mean "The cigar makers."

Originating from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the band released their first album, "Crimson" in 2009. According to their bio, in their early years, they dedicated themselves to interpret and understand the traditional folklore. Over time, they developed their own unique voice.
Even though I am not able to tell you much about the meaning of the songs, I was really captivated by their sense of harmony. Tell me what you think.