June 12, 2009

A stroke of the wet sponge

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan, courtesy of wikipedia.

El Cabrero has any number of superstitions, none of which are rationally justifiable but all of which persist nonetheless. One of these has to do with lucky and unlucky names. There is a part of me that believes that it is bad luck to name someone after a person or character who had extraordinarily bad luck.

One name that I really like but would never name a child is Cassandra, who is a major character in Aeschylus' tragedy Agamemnon, which has been the theme this week. To recap, she was a daughter of King Priam of Troy. Apollo fell in love with her and promised the gift of prophecy in return for intimacy. When she refused consent at the last moment, she was cursed by the god to have a accurate vision of the future but one that no one would believe.

I hate it when that happens.

Anyhow, she returned with King Agamemnon after the fall of Troy as a trophy and a slave. She knew that death awaited both of them at the hands of Clytemnestra but was powerless to avert it.

She gets the last word this week. Her last works speak volumes about a key theme of tragedy and express what Martha Nussbaum called "the fragility of goodness." Here goes (from the translation of Robert Fagles):

Oh men, your destiny.
When all is well a shadow can overturn it.
When trouble comes a stroke of the wet sponge,
and the picture's blotted out. And that,
I think that breaks the heart.

THE FUTURE OF CAPITALISM, American style, is the subject of this article by Joseph Stiglitz.

HATE is alive and well. Here is Paul Krugman on the right wing media's role in stoking it

TOUGH TIMES FOR RECENT GRADUATES. The latest snapshot from the Economic Policy Institute shows how tough it is for many to find jobs. I guess "Plastics" isn't quite getting it these days.

GREEN JOBS are here. According to Wired Science, 770,000 Americans already have one.

NOT SO GREEN JOBS. The Obama administration reveal more of its approach to mountaintop removal mining yesterday.

SLEEP ON IT. Research suggests that deep sleep with REM (not the band, although they are pretty cool) enhances creative problem solving.

THIS IS WEIRD, but the economy of El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia actually grew by 2.5 percent in 2008, way outpacing the national economy.


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