Friday, December 31, 2010

the year that was - 2010 in photos

2010 has been a whirlwind year. Here are some of my best shots from the last 12 months! (Click on images for larger versions.)

Brandi Carlile rocking out. Ridgefield. January.

Snowpocalypse I. Brooklyn. February.

Architecture. Barcelona. March.

Avia's street. Masnou. March.

White House bowling alley. Washington. May.

Shuttle engines. Kennedy Space Center. May.

Liftoff. Kennedy Space Center. May. (w/thx to George)

The library. Brooklyn. June.

The eminent cosmologist. Manhattan. June.

Obligatory feline snapshot. Brooklyn. June.

Ice. Rocky Mountain National Park. June.

Walt Disney Concert Hall. Los Angeles. July.

Caltech. Pasadena. July.

Hairpin walkway at the Getty. Los Angeles. July.

Michael Jackson party. Brooklyn. August.

A new mark. Mount Monadnock. September.

The Huntington Library gardens. Pasadena. October.

Ceiling of the Civic. Pasadena. October.

Palm trees and condos. Cali coast. October.

Rolling hills. Cali coast. October.

Sea stuff. Monterey. October.

Cal Academy of Sciences. San Francisco. October.

Cargo. Oakland. October.

Snowpocalypse II. Brooklyn. December.

gone in 2010

This is the time of year when we remember those who have left us. The following is a short list of those departed in 2010 with whom I am particularly proud to have shared some time on this planet. Some you may have heard of, some undoubtedly not. All will be missed.

Jean S. Cione: All-Star pitcher with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 50s

Geraldine Doyle: Factory worker whose photograph became the basis of the iconic World War II "We Can Do It" Rosie the Riveter poster

Jaime Escalante: East Los Angeles high school math educator whose motivational teaching style inspired the film Stand and Deliver.

Miep Gies: One of the protectors of Anne Frank's family during the Holocaust, and the person responsible for saving Frank's famous diary

William E. Gordon: Electrical engineer who designed, built, and operated the Arecibo Observatory, the world's largest radio telescope

Dorothy Height: A leader and unsung champion of both the American civil rights and women's rights movements

Naomi Prawer Kadar: Inspiration behind BrainPOP, the children's educational website, and founder of BrainPOP ESL, for English-language learners

Dorothy Kamenshek: Former All-Star with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League who provided a basis for the lead character in the 1992 film, A League of Their Own

Juanita Kreps: Pioneering economist and businesswoman who became the first female Secretary of Commerce under President Carter

BenoƮt Mandelbrot: Innovative mathematician who developed the field of fractal geometry

Brian Marsden: Astronomer who directed the Minor Planet Center and coordinated celestial discoveries made around the world

Robert Macauley: Connecticut businessman who founded AmeriCares, one of the largest private health-care charities in the world

Paul the Octopus: Famed cephalopod who became renowned for his ability to correctly predict the winners at this year's FIFA World Cup

Sylvia Pressler: New Jersey judge whose most famous ruling gave girls the right to play Little League baseball

Allan Sandage: Prolific cosmologist whose observations helped establish the currently-accepted age and fate of the universe

Bobby Thomson: Major League outfielder whose "shot heard round the world" propelled the New York Giants to the 1951 World Series

Theresa Weinstock: Someone without whom I literally would not be here: my grandmother!

George C. Williams: Evolutionary biologist who contributed major insights into the workings of natural selection

Howard Zinn: Historian, writer, and progressive thinker whose A People's History of the United States offered an alternate view of American democracy

Thursday, December 09, 2010

on politics: a picture speaks a thousand words

I had zero intention of writing a blog post today, but this photo wouldn't let me go. It so perfectly encapsulates the serious frustration I've been feeling toward our government this year. It was taken moments after a bill to extend health benefits to 9/11 responders—the very "heroes" that members of the Grand Old Party have invoked time and again in the wake of that tragic event—was blocked by Republicans from entering a full vote in the U.S. Senate. At left, New York's junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand seems utterly defeated, while her colleague and mentor Charles Schumer, NY's senior Senator, tries to console. One can only imagine the words between them at that moment. I'm reminded of that scene in Lost in know the one. It doesn't matter what he said to her, and you don't need to know because you get the gist.

Sadly, it was just the first major blow for the two, and especially the junior Senator, on this day. Hours later, the Senate GOP blocked another vote, this time on a bill that included a provision Gillibrand had put her full force behind, a repeal of the military's discriminatory Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Even the recently despicable Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had gotten behind this one! And yet most of the rest of the Senate's conservative wing refused to set aside "procedural niceties," as one blogger so eloquently put it, to ensure equal rights for all our service men and women. W...T...F?

But back to the picture. Schumer, the sage elder who you can tell here has been around the Congressional block a few times, may be more adept at this point at swallowing defeat, and it's heartwarming to see him encouraging his counterpart to keep her chin up. Gillibrand is a young, energetic Democrat, elected to the Senate just last month after serving two years in the seat Hillary Clinton vacated when she became Secretary of State. I can't help but feel that Gillibrand in this photo represents what most Democrats are feeling these days: growing disappointment and disillusionment in the wake of what seemed so promising back in 2008. To be sure, it's nothing new for me to get annoyed with Republicans. And I freely admit that an unfocused Democratic caucus shoulders a certain amount of blame for recent events. But the GOP obstructionism has gotten totally and completely out of hand. I recently saw a blog post explaining how today's Republican strategies closely resemble those of Cold War-era Soviets. They include:
Taking extreme starting positions
Employing emotional tactics such as exasperation, or getting angry and storming out of the room
Viewing concessions by the adversary as a sign of weakness
Delaying giving concessions and then only giving very small amounts
Paying no attention to deadlines
In other words, they're being little brats! And hypocritical little brats at that; see 2:31 in this short video on GOP obstructionism. The poster went on to quote (a hardly liberal) David Brooks:
"[My] problem with the Republican Party right now ... is that if you offered them 80-20, they'd say no. If you offered them 90-10, they’d say no. If you offered them 99-1 they’d say no. And that’s because we’ve substituted governance for brokerism, for rigidity that Ronald Regan didn’t have."
Sigh. Anyway, as I tweeted earlier, hang in there, Senator Gillibrand, and keep fighting the good fight—even though I get that it might feel right now like you're smacking your head against a slab of cold concrete. To put things in a completely random perspective (and I know you're probably a Yankees fan but go with me for a second), this is sorta how we Mets fans feel every year. We deal. We pick up. We carry on and try again tomorrow. By the way, I hear you turned 44's hoping a few birthday drinks were able to numb the pain.

Photo by Drew Angerer for The New York Times

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

hum for the holidays

Wait, is it December again already?!! My, how 2010 has flown by. Well, I'm not quite prepared for the holidays just yet, but I've been cruising for some fun and unique winter songs, and I think I've come up with a set that you'll fancy, entitled Brooklyn December. (In case you missed my previous two holiday mixes, behold Brooklyn Xmas and Brooklyn Holiday.) As in years past, I've focused on indie/alternative tunes and interspersed various soul, country, and electronic/pop ditties. This year I came up with about twice as many songs as I could hope to fit into one mix, so you'll have to wait til next year for the rest ;) Enjoy! &infin

Brooklyn December mix | Listen on Spotify | YouTube Playlist
Father Christmas - The Kinks
Look Out the Window - Gene Autry feat. Rosemary Clooney
Fallen Snow - Au Revoir Simone
Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Christmas Tree - Lady Gaga feat. Space Cowboy
Carol of the Bells - Straight No Chaser
Christmas - Leona Naess
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Jackson 5
LeRoy the Redneck Reindeer - Joe Diffie
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Sixpence None The Richer
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Francesca Battistelli
Forget December - Something Corporate
Angels We Have Heard on High - Relient K
O Holy Night - Weezer
Christmas Ain't Like Christmas Anymore - Kitty Wells
Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa - Robyn
Winter Song - Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson