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Thursday, February 14, 2008
Seeing the Roots.

A couple of months ago - I think sometime back in mid December I was flipping channels fairly late one night. I came across a program on Robert McCloskey, the children's author, which I was quiet surprised to see.

The program consisted of a series of interviews discussing how he wrote and drew some of his more well known works. How he came by the characters and scenes in them. He showed drawings and examples from the Homer Price books, Make Way for Ducklings and the Maine stories. All of this you could see was a reworking of actual people and places, simplified and clarified for a pictorial work of children's fiction. There was the house in his hometown, one of the Homer Price illustrations, which he re-imagined with less clutter. Less of the actual trees and buildings around it on its street so that he could draw it a little quirkier a little more distinctly. Transferring detail from the surroundings to the central object of the picture. He also showed an example of a tree in Maine. A pine tree in a strong wind cannot be drawn without considering the  roots that hold it, and including them unseen in the tree that you actually draw.

Even in this video, these segments, you get the sense that in some very real ways McCloskey was stricken almost by the level of detail and depth he saw for the images he created. The type of seeing needed to draw the best pictures. He spent some time and effort trying to describe it. I read the Twaynes bio of him a number of years ago ( Robert McCloskey : Twayne Author Biographies []) and got the same sense from that. At some point subsequent I don't recall exactly when I lit up the internets to try to determine what I had seen, and decided it was probably this: Robert McCloskey - Weston Woods Studios. [].

Beyond this one program, I was puzzled by the very notion of encountering grade school programming on broadcast TV so late at night. It is on every night to, all night. What is MPT trying to do here, Late It's a nice gesture I thought, but shouldn't the little tykes be in bed by the 2:00 am hour when I saw this. Surely shouldn't I have been asleep also?

Of course not being completely dim I eventually figured out that the intent must be to provide a resource for schools. I imagined teachers setting up VHS decks to blindly tape programming from the wee hours to time shift it forward to daylight. There must be a tip sheet somewhere to what's airing at night. TV listings don't tell you what's on at that hour. It seems so very low tech; though, so very 1980's. Maybe they Tivo it?

Examining this further I eventually determined that these programs were being aired under the auspices of something called Thinkport. An organization created through a partnership of Maryland Public TV and Johns Hopkins University's Center for Technology in Education. It all seemed so precise and organized seeing this last bit of the puzzle. If I could ever figure out how to use my VCR I could give myself the 6th grade education I never paid attention to the first time round.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008
C-c-changes (turn and face the world)...

When the Super Tuesday primary didn't settle things beyond the ability of the remainder of the primary season to make things even, I was relieved 2008 Presidential Primaries and Caucuses | Campaign 2008 | I didn't want things to be settled before the Maryland Primary on Milquetoast Tuesday had a chance to be counted. I've heard people calling it the Chesapeake Primary as it includes Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland. The Washington Post seems insistent on "the "Potomac Primary" which while it alliterates seems a little over focused. I have no idea what sort of voting machines Maryland is using this time around. I think the Diebold machines are still in effect [they are!]. I've used them three maybe four times now and twice the experience left me with a stark absence of confidence in process or result.

Candidate Barack Obama is coming to my town, or at least the University of Maryland campus down the street where I work, to deliver a speech on Monday  Chelsea Clinton, Obama to Make Campaign Stops at UM :: University Communications Newsdesk, University of Maryland. There was a good post up on Metafilter  Reconciliation of church and state? | MetaFilter linking the Call to Renewal speech given at his home church, Trinity UCC in Chicago, a few years ago SoJourners Call to Renewal Speech. That Obama belongs to a Congregationalist church is probably a surprise to all those steeped in their learned suspicions  (I always thought people were saying Baruch Obama).

I ended up not going to the speech in the end. The University was a circus this morning and neither of my supervisors was in. I felt reticent to wander off during scheduled work hours to listen to politicians without seeking pass. Particularly after ascertaining that no one else from the office was going.

Both the democratic candidates are junior officer holders in the United States Senate. This belies the experience, albeit different experience that both in fact have.

Hillary did not spring from Bill's rib intact, a creature of empty calculating ambition, nor did Barack matriculate out of the Blackstone Rangers into American Politics. Obama has been immersed in Chicago and Illinois politics for 10 years. I found myself a little surprised to see that his first book Dreams from my father : a story of race and inheritance [] was published back in 1995 Obama has been on a quiet journey towards where he is today for a long time. Hillary has been a serious, educated and committed policy wonk all her adult life. The principles and positions she holds represent far more than recent political calculations as some would have. To some extent when the forces of the right, the insurance industry and their household pets within the Cato Institute decided to fight the Clinton healthcare plan by making it partly about her ad hominem, they may have fused an enduring political sensibility and ambition in her in that moment. Their chicken now comes back to her roost.

Democrats should be happy with their choices. The field was strong and engaging. They will need every part of this enthusiasm of the primaries in the general election, and should take care that the nomination does not create classes of perceived losers that will withdraw in the Fall.

The back-beat mantra of change, and the desire of all candidates this year to represent as change agents, all this is real, but should be understood within context All real and permanent change is incremental, part of other things, and possessed of roots, things that have been growing quietly. The yearning for total overturning change is a disconnect. People desire such change rather more for others than themselves. Mercifully American politicians embody change mainly in studied and pragmatic measure.

12:00:33 AM    comment [];trackback [];

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