In the months since my last post, lots of things have happened. We’ve had a national election, for one thing, which by most accounts has assured us two more years of political gridlock and confirmed the deep polarization of public opinion. At the same time, the drive for marriage equality has gone from one success to the next, with only an occasional glitch. (One – only one – circuit of the Court of Appeals has taken a stand against the trend, increasing the chances of the Supreme Court taking a case soon and deciding once and for all whether the Equal Protection clause requires equal marriage laws.)

And as usual I’ve been reading lots of stuff.

The polarization thing has drawn me back to my interest in the roots of representative democracy as we know it, in 17th and 18th century England. This is something I may be able to cook down into a series of blog posts. The latest soundbites from the conflict of Whigs and Tories. Actually, most recently I’ve been looking at the earlier history of Scotland, because it was Scots Calvinist resistance to royal imposition of Episcopacy and its trappings that triggered the English Revolution of the 1640’s. Which wouldn’t have happened if the crowns of the two countries hadn’t been united since 1603. That’s one of the things I’m getting from my study of history – a sense of how things could have turned out very differently if some heir to a throne had lived longer, or died sooner, or been born a different gender.

So let’s see if I can get myself to write up some of this stuff, and whatever else comes up.

Wish me luck!

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My latest distraction

February 6, 2011

I’d meant to post some stuff here over the weekend, but as it happens DailyKos, the political blogsite I’ve been participating in rather marginally since 2006, is about to go through a major upgrade, and I’ve been spending most of my online time figuring out how the new system is supposed to work. They’ve opened the beta test version to all members so we can play around with it, push its limits, find bugs before the final switchover next week.

It’s quite exciting actually, and I may be inspired to maintain more of a presence there, actually blog there instead of just commenting as I’ve done so far. I won’t give up this site though, at least a handful of people have gotten used to finding me here – maybe I’ll just cross-post everything, have two homes and two audiences for the same stuff.

Anyway, just letting you all know the main reason why there’s nothing new here at the moment.

As I indicated, I wasn’t going to be able to spend much time online during the holidays. I did manage to enjoy myself in RealSpace though, by (among other things) spending a couple of afternoons exploring the new Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts. Gone are the days when I could just drop into the MFA, walk around for a couple of hours and leave telling myself I’d seen what there was to be seen; now it’s more like going to the Met back in my home town of NYC… What had been isolated masterpieces – Georgia O’Keefe’s deer’s head, for instance, which used to grace one of those mini-rotunda areas on the first level as I recall – can now be seen with enough related stuff around them to give a sense of context. A whole gallery of John Singer Sargents, a whole room of Copleys, a good clump of Gilbert Stuarts… just one Edward Hopper I could see, looking rather isolated and forlorn, which come to think of it is just how you’d expect a Hopper to look… The Pre-Columbian galleries alone are worthy of detailed study. And there’s lots of other good stuff to see as well – I have to get back to “Fresh Ink: Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition” a couple of times before it closes in February. Good thing I’m a Member; I’m really going to get my money’s worth!

The Gardner, where I went for the traditional “Frank Hatch First Day Free,” was less interesting than I usually find it, with the special exhibition gallery, cafe and giftshop (also the performance stage up in the tapestry room) closed pending removal to the new annex; not only that, but some of the other rooms had things moved around or inaccessible because they were installing new lighting… But once the new building opens it’ll be great! The idea is a sound one: keep the original building more faithful than ever to Isabella’s original vision while doing more modern-museum type stuff in the new space. I am really looking forward to it; if my name were Isabella I’d go more often! (Explanation to my non-local readers: admission is free to certifiable Isabellas.) – Incidentally, Frank Hatch was the last Republican I can remember voting for in a general election,  when he ran for Governor against Ed King in ’78. (I was back in New York in ’90 or I’d have voted for Weld too.)

But back to BlogSpace. I am delighted to see that people have been reading these scribbles of mine even during the days when I wasn’t putting up anything new. My Dawkins series has been favorably received;  I intend to wrap it up in the next day or two, but the issues I’ve raised in it are important to me and I expect to continue addressing them in various ways. Beyond that, we’ll see where inspiration takes me!

Meta

December 17, 2010

It’s been two and a half weeks since I survived National Novel Writing Month – not only survived, but prevailed! – and decided to apply the same sense of determination, and the time-management skills I learned there, to this blog of mine. Previous efforts had been sporadic; the poor thing was not in a healthy state at all. But the time was right for reviving it: I now had the ability to send links out to all my Facebook friends (one short of Dunbar’s number) and my handful of Twitter followers, giving me at least a chance at acquiring a readership. Moreover, I made up my mind to sit down and really learn to do the thing, using WordPress’ fine tutorials, and to take advantage of the “community” features WordPress has.

And a fine two and a half weeks it’s been; and I’ve only started! I’ve subscribed to a number of interesting blogs (a couple of them by people I know in RealSpace) so I can interact with them on a regular basis. I’ve gotten involved in a conversation with some Anglicans in western Canada through their blog, and invited them to visit mine, which they have. I’ve drawn a steadily growing readership, though no one day has yet equaled April 10 2007, when 30 people visited my home page (presumably because I posted something with “sex” in the title).

Next step: learn to make a blogroll! I tried it way back in ’06 when I started this, but couldn’t make it work the way it was supposed to; I think the tech has improved since then, and my ability to learn to use it certainly has, so I expect I’ll have it up in a day or two.

So thanks for reading, whoever you all are; over the Holidays I won’t be posting quite every day, but I’ll be checking in and thinking up lots of new material, so stick around!