Sunday, September 23, 2012

Notes on the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art

The American Wing

In January 2012, the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrated the completion of the third and final phase of the renovation of the new American Wing, a project that began in May 2009.  The Museum can present the extraordinary American collection in the clearest, most beautiful manner possible, showcasing many more treasures from the cast holdings of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts objects.

The area of sub-saharan West Africa that encompasses Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana has a long and complex history with gold.  Between about 1400 and 1900, the Akan peoples controlled lucrative gold mining and trading in the region.  In the 15th century, European navigators found this area so rich in gold that they named it the Gold Coast.  The Baule of Côte d’Ivoire, an Akan subgroup, continue to make gold jewelry today, and are noted for casting flat disc-shaped and rectangular beads, which are often quite elegant and abstract.

The renovated Greek and Roman galleries, with their expansive spaces and abundant natural light, allow curators to display the extraordinary collection to reflect the lived of the citizens of the Classical era.  More than 5,300 objects from a holdings of over 17,000, ranging from monumental sculptures to tiny engraved gemstones, organized by such themes as religion, funerary customs, civic life, and athletics. A walk through these galleries reveals Classical art in all its complexity and resonance, with McKim, Mead & White’s magnificent Beaux Arts designs providing a glorious backdrop against which the ancient world is richly illuminated.

The Museum’s collection of Ancient Egyptian art consists of approximately 26,000 objects of artistic, historical, and cultural importance, dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period (ca. 300,000 B.C. – 4th century A.D.). Virtually the entire collection is on display in the Lila Acheson Wallace Galleries of Egyptian Art, with objects arranged chronologically over 39 rooms.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
Hours (Main Building)
Tuesday–Thursday: 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Friday and Saturday: 9:30 a.m.–9:00 p.m.*
Sunday: 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Closed Monday (except Holiday Mondays), Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1
Saturday evenings are made possible by the William H. Kearns Foundation.
*Galleries are cleared fifteen minutes before closing.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

$625,000 to PBS Western Region foundations

Do you shop at Ralphs or Kroger ?

If you register your Ralphs or Kroger rewards card with either 501(c)3 PBS Western Region foundations, Ralphs will contribute between 1 to 4 percent of your grocery purchases to either PBS foundation.  The maximum contribution could earn either PBS foundation $625,000 through the Ralphs REWARDS Community Contribution Program.

Register your Ralphs or Kroger rewards card online at selecting either foundation and Ralphs NPO number:

Lambda Iota Sigma Foundation, NPO # 93840

Kappa Delta Sigma & Associates Foundation, NPO # 93858

Every time you shop for groceries and swipe your card, a PBS foundation will receive a rebate.

Attached are the Ralphs NPO ‘scanbar’ letters for both PBS foundations.  Feel free to print and distribute this alternative form of registration and participate in the Ralphs REWARDS Community Contribution Program.

Lambda Iota Sigma Foundation, NPO # 93840

Kappa Delta Sigma & Associates Foundation, NPO # 93858

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kids FREE admission to SD Museums - OCT 2012

Kids are invited to explore San Diego’s diverse museums — for FREE! From October 1 – 31, children ages 12 and under receive FREE admission with a paid adult (limit 2) at any of our three-dozen participating museums.
Just download the coupon above and present it upon arrival. Explore the hidden treasures of the ocean or the far reaches of outer space. Delve into local history, visual arts, botanical gardens, architectural treasures — and more! Note: This offer does not include special events/exhibits or field trips. TIP: Some museums may need to collect your coupon, so print out several to have on hand.

 Participating museums:

  • Barona Cultural Center & Museum
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • California Surf Museum
  • Coronado Museum of History & Art
  • Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
  • Gaslamp Museum at Wm H. Davis House
  • Heritage of the Americas Museum
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • La Jolla Historical Society
  • Living Coast Discovery Center
  • Lux Art Institute
  • Marston House Museum & Gardens
  • Mingei International Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
  • Museum of Making Music
  • Museum of Photographic Arts
  • Oceanside Museum of Art
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (galleries only)
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • San Diego Archaeological Center
  • San Diego Automotive Museum
  • San Diego Botanic Garden
  • San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
  • San Diego History Center
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • The NAT (SD Natural History Museum)
  • The New Children’s Museum
  • Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center
  • Timken Museum of Art
  • USS Midway Museum
  • Veterans Museum & Memorial Center
  • Visions Art Museum
  • Water Conservation Garden
  • Women’s Museum of California

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Tax Revenue

          We can't cut the debt substantially, much less balance the budget in a reasonable time frame, without raising more revenue. The Simpson-Bowles Commission recommended lowering the corporate tax rate and eliminating most of the deductions and credits that allow many very profitable companies to avoid a large percentage of the taxes they would otherwise pay, while others pay the legal maximum of 35 percent. The 35 percent rate is now second-highest among wealthy nations, but the actual amount paid on corporate income is 23 percent, ranking us in the middle. We can raise the same amount of money or more with lower rates applied more fairly to all corporations. For example, with oil prices so high and the oil companies making record profits, we could reduce the deficit $4 billion this year alone and an estimated $77 billion over the coming decade by eliminating their tax advantages. ExxonMobil, with a second-quarter profit of $10.7 billion, has an effective tax rate of 17.6 percent, well below both the average American's rate of 20.4 percent* and the average corporate tax "take" of 23 to 25 percent.
          The simplest way to generate more revenue from personal income taxes is to let the Bush tax cuts on upper-income and wealthy Americans expire in 20I3. They will do so automatically if not renewed. This would raise $700 billion over a decade, more than half of it from the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans, who reaped 90 percent of the income gains in the last decade and got the large tax cuts on top of that. This is not class warfare but a reflection of our values of fairness and shared responsibilities, asking those of us who benefited from an economy that left most Americans standing still or falling behind to help put our country back on the right track to the future.
          If we wanted the economic independence and strength an 'earlier balanced budget would bring, and the economic benefits smart, targeted investments would generate, we could restore the tax rates of the 1990s to everyone. That would net about $3.5 trillion over a decade. Of course, the anti-taxers would howl that it would be the largest tax hike in history. But in the 1990S, with unemployment low, incomes rising, and poverty declining, most Americans seemed pretty happy with a budget surplus and increased investments to keep the economy growing.
          The Simpson-Bowles Commission recommended that we also lower personal rates but collect more money by restructuring and limiting the availability of credits and deductions claimed by wealthier Americans. Under its plan, instead of six rates, there would be three, at 12 percent, 22 percent, and 28 percent, with tax breaks targeted more tightly to people who need them. For example, the mortgage-interest deduction would be capped at $500,000, not $1 million. The child tax credit, employer-provided health insurance deduction, provisions governing charitable gifts, retirement savings, and pensions, and the Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income working families would be maintained. The commission plan would require that any new deductions, or additional breaks, like a lower capital-gains rate or the tax credit for research and development (which I favor), be paid for by higher rates.
          There are many other variations on these proposals ripe for debate, but the arithmetic is inescapable: we can't get the debt and interest payments on it down to a manageable level, much less balance the budget, without more revenues. The trick is to do it in a way that is fair, without rates that are high enough to encourage the flight of taxable income to other countries.
          Of the thirty-three nations in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), we rank thirty-first in the percentage of GDP directed to taxes, with only Mexico and Chile taking a smaller percentage, and we're twenty-fifth in the percentage of GDP devoted to government spending. There are only three ways to view this. First, the obvious conclusion: low levels of taxation and weak government investments don't necessarily bring prosperity, equal opportunity, and growth and, if too low, can prevent a nation from reaching its full potential in employment, rising incomes, and social mobility. Second, the "I don't care, I still don't like it" conclusion: even if it would be good for the country and our children's future, we just don't want the government to make these investments, especially with our money. Third, the ideological conclusion: all taxes are bad, all programs are a waste of money, and all regulations distort the perfect working of the free market. Therefore all charts in this chapter are wrong! Or, as my daughter and her friends used to say when they were younger, "Denial is not just a river in Egypt."

Excerpt from Back To Work, Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy, by Bill Clinton, Knopf, 2011, p.77;111.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

What are the Correct Questions?

          Here are the right questions: How can we move back to a full-employment economy with good jobs and rising middle-class incomes? How can we restore American leadership for peace and prosperity and leave our children and grandchildren a brighter future? What do Americans need government to do to achieve these goals? How are we doing now, compared with our own history and expectations? How are we doing compared with the competition from other nations? As you'll see, there remains a lot of space for a real, productive debate, areas in which both Democrats and Republicans could contribute to bipartisan solutions that actually get our country back in the future business.
          In a positive political environment, liberals and conservatives could learn from each other and advance the public interest. Liberals want to use the government to solve problems and are usually eager to experiment, believing, like Robert Browning's Andrea del Sarto, that "a man's reach should exceed his grasp." True conservatives are more cautious, reminding us that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Liberals believe that government can solve social problems, or at least mitigate them. Conservatives believe culture, including a strong work ethic and stable families, matters more. Progressives believe they can advance liberal goals in a way that reinforces positive cultural norms and avoids "too good to be true" options. Libertarians caution against the potential of even well-conceived government initiatives to restrict individual liberty. In the end, we will need to take into account all of these perspectives to reboot and rebalance our economy. Today, our process is too tilted in favor of powerful private interests over the public interest, in favor of short-term financial gains over long-term employment and income growth, in favor of consumption over investment, in favor of pushing more of our national income up to the top 1 percent over increasing the incomes of the middle class and giving poor people a chance to work their way into it.
          The only people who have taken themselves out of this needed debate are the anti-government ideologues. They already have the answers, and the fact that the evidence doesn't support them is irrelevant. The inevitable consequence of their policies is to push the pedal to the metal of the most destructive trends of the last thirty years, to increase inequality and instability, and to forfeit the future.

Excerpt from Back To Work, Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy, by Bill Clinton, Knopf, 2011, p.36.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

the Oreo

           If children conform to the standards set by their peers, in the seventies and eighties the peer pressure for black children to keep with their own was intense. Before desegregation, "acting white" was a phrase no one had ever heard with regard to school involvement or academics. Yet in the wake of busing, it rose to become one of the most hurtful insults one black student could level at another. Talking white, dressing white, being enthusiastic about anything "white" was forsaking one’s own. For the thirty-eight black students at Vestavia, there was the black cafeteria table and there were the other cafeteria tables, and it was one or the other. There was no going back and forth.
          Unfortunately, to sit at the black cafeteria table was to cut yourself off from 99 percent of what the best public school in the state had to offer. For someone in Tycely's position, crossing the color line wasn't a choice. If she wanted to be a part of all those activities you're supposed to have on your college resume, she had to be the sellout, the wannabe, the Oreo – black on the outside, white on the inside - and suffer the consequences. "The black kids were horrible to me," she explains. "The only saving grace was that Vestavia [Alabama] was still so internally segregated that I never had to be in class with them. Otherwise it would have been a nightmare. They treated me like, 'You're trying to be something that you're not.' Or, 'She wants to be white,' they'd say. But I felt like I wanted to be in activities where I had the most in common with the people. Being on the debate team and student government, doing community service-that's how I saw myself, and so those are the things I wanted to do. But why does that have to mean I don't want to be black? I do want to be black I am black I can't not be black."


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Have Republicans always been anti-government?

          Previous Republican presidents did not hesitate to invest tax money and use the power of government when the evidence supported doing so. Abraham Lincoln, a self-made man who said society needs wealthy people to encourage industry and enterprise in others, got Congress to fund the transcontinental railroad and, in the heat of the Civil War, signed the Morrill Act, which set aside land in each state on which to establish public universities. Theodore Roosevelt used the power of the federal government to manage our transition from an agricultural to an industrial society, limiting monopolies' power to fix prices and to abuse women and children in the workplace and protecting vast tracts of western lands from private development. Dwight Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System with tax dollars and sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce the Supreme Court's decision on school integration. Richard Nixon signed legislation establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the EPA, signed an executive order strengthening the federal affirmative action program, and for the first time since World War II imposed wage and price controls to fend off inflation.
          Even after the dawn of the antigovernment era, President Reagan signed budgets that restored a sizable portion of the revenues lost to his big tax cuts, including a bill that stabilized the Social Security system for twenty-five years by adjusting benefits and raising taxes. President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act; strong amendments to the Clean Air Act to limit smog, acid rain, and emissions of toxic chemicals; and the budget reforms of 1991, which restrained spending, established the PAYGO rule, and modestly raised taxes. And President George W. Bush supported the No Child Left Behind law; the senior citizens' drug benefit; President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provided unprecedented American support for the global fight against AIDS and malaria; and large investments in nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the first three decades of the anti-government movement have been more anti-tax and anti-regulation than anti-spending.

Back To Work, Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy, by Bill Clinton, Knopf, 2011, p.30.