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4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Museums behaving badly · 0 replies · +1 points

A thoughtful post. Thanks.

I suspect that this sort of esotericism, if that's the right word, is more common with contemporary art. Would the museum be as unhelpful with ancient art, which everyone knows needs contextualizing?

Often art exhibits result in printed catalogues, and museums usually put a few of them in a separate room, where visitors may read them. The Met in NYC is very helpful in this way. I often find myself scurrying back and forth between art works and the catalogues, which contain more information than is ever presented in wall captions.

The Met now puts its exhibits online,as it were: each item is shown, along with the caption text, as well as other information. In some cases you can examine a work online more carefully than you can the physical object, because of the ability to zoom in or view it from certain angles.

4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Language gaps, extensi... · 0 replies · +1 points

Ross Douthat is on the other side of the aisle from me, but he can be incisive. And he writes well. One virtue of his column is that employs a rich lexicon of negative moral terms to describe what Trump might have been trying to do the other day:

4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Language gaps, extensi... · 0 replies · +1 points

It sometimes seems that Trump is amoral and cynical, as when he said, in response to the idea that Russia tried to kill the former Russian spy in England, that "we do (or did) those kind of things too". He's also a florid narcissist. ..........

In the case of the press conference yesterday it may be Trump does believe Putin, or at least, doesn't believe his own intelligence services, in which case we can say he's gullible---or a lackey.

But maybe he doesn't CARE whether Putin tried to interfere in our elections--either because he wants to get down to business, or because he conflates any indignation about that with acceptance of the idea that he colluded with the Russians. Then we should either say he's amoral or cynical, or he's a narcissist who can't distinguish his self-interest from the country's.

4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Does the Constitution ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I haven't read Nelson's book, though I did read a very positve review of it in NYREV by John Brewer. The summary on the Harvard UP website (see link above) suggests that those of a royalist bent used their principles in the design of the Federal and state constitutions. They didn't give up their basic royalist ideas about executive authority after the Declaration:

"Leading patriots believed that the colonies were the king’s own to govern, and they urged George III to defy Parliament and rule directly. These theorists were proposing to turn back the clock on the English constitution, rejecting the Whig settlement that had secured the supremacy of Parliament after the Glorious Revolution. Instead, they embraced the political theory of those who had waged the last great campaign against Parliament’s “usurpations”: the reviled Stuart monarchs of the seventeenth century.

When it came time to design the state and federal constitutions, the very same figures who had defended this expansive conception of royal authority—John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, and their allies—returned to the fray as champions of a single executive vested with sweeping prerogatives. As a result of their labors, the Constitution of 1787 would assign its new president far more power than any British monarch had wielded for almost a hundred years. On one side of the Atlantic, Nelson concludes, there would be kings without monarchy; on the other, monarchy without kings."

4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Does the Constitution ... · 2 replies · +1 points

"Prerogative was very much a Tory idea, and the Revolution was almost entirely a Whig project."

This interpretation is now being contested. See:

4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - How to Have Less Crime... · 0 replies · +1 points

Just watched it. It does a great job of summarizing Mark's insights over the years about crime and punishment . He is our outstanding public policy thinker on these issues.

4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Royal bus wedding · 0 replies · +2 points

A Freudian slip, or, I suppose, a mere error. I meant 'segue', a transition. But, once again: with subtle policy implications!

4 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Royal bus wedding · 1 reply · +2 points

Leave it to James Wimberley to find a smooth segway from a frivolous piece of entertainment to an important curent policy issue. Well done!

5 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Putting museum collect... · 0 replies · +1 points

An excellent post. Two questions:
An art historian colleague said to me when I mentioned your idea that it has a big drawback as as far as scholars are concerned. This is that the works in storage are available to scholars, and that the collection of many second-rank works in central places faciltates their research. What do you think of that?
Second, don't their holdings in storage allow the big museums to lend works so that when they want to put on big shows they can ask for loans in return? I imagine that the once-in-a-lifetime exhibit of Michelangelo drawings now at the Met was facilitated by all the loans they had made to the institutions that lent it drawings. What do you think of that argument?

5 years ago @ The Reality-Based Comm... - Violent crime up secon... · 0 replies · +5 points

I also welcome a post by Mark. This one brings us bad news, but it is splendidly wise and tough minded.