Blog

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

December 7, 2015

Opening Quote

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) might have been the world’s most celebrated 20th-century artist. Although born in Spain, he spent most of his life in France. His father too was a painter as well as an art teacher. Picasso’s creative gift manifested itself while he was quite young, and when his family moved to Barcelona he was accepted into the city’s prestigious art school at the remakable age of 14. But the prodigy chafed at art school, which he also attended in Madrid. In 1901, at the age of 21, he said adios to Spain and opened a studio in Paris. After two brief periods–his Blue and Rose years–he began to revolutionize art in 1907 with his famous work, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”; this painting set the stage for cubism, which he developed with Georges Braques. In the decades that followed he would paint in a variety of schools and techniques. One of his most powerful surrealist works, “Guernica,” mourned the fascist murder of thousands in the Spanish Civil War; it has been praised as “one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.”

Attack!

This week’s episode of God Is Great: Kill! Kill! was in San Bernardino, California. Unusually, it featured a husband/wife terrorist team, and they murdered 14 people attending a Christmas luncheon as well as wound an additional 21. However, as gruesome as this random slaughter was, 75 years ago, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy inflicted an infinitely greater loss of life when carrier-based aircraft attacked American forces at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The 350 high-altitude bombers, dive bombers, torpedo bombers, and fighters came in two waves early on a serene Sunday morning and killed 2,335 members of the armed forces and 68 civilians. They also wounded 1,178. The surprise attack sank five battleships and damaged three others. Three light cruisers and three destroyers were obliterated as well as 188 aircraft–many on the ground. Japanese losses amounted to 27 aircraft and five midget subs. President Roosevelt, in seeking a declaration of war against Japan, called the Pearl Harbor sneak attack “a day of infamy.” Times were simpler then: you only had to worry about another government attacking you rather than a man and a woman who might be your neighbors.

Leadership

On Sunday, December 6, President Obama spoke to the nation about San Bernardino and terrorism. This was not one of his best speeches. Although the expression “War on Terror” has fallen into disfavor, an updated sequel is “War on Isis.” If we are to accept this description as accurate, than Obama’s Michael Dukakis imitation didn’t serve the nation well. Instead of soaring and inspiring language the nation received a status report on existing policies that clearly have failed in many people’s eyes. Contrast Obama’s subdued, managerial style with that of Winston Churchill. When Churchill spoke of being at war, he roared, “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” Which approach do you think made citizens more trusting that their leader was guiding their nation to safety?
CHURCHILL.EDIT
Winston Churchill
PRESIDENTOBAMA.
President Barack Obama

Prosperity

The American Dream, an expression coined by writer James Truslow Adams in 1931, described “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” But a number of factors have come together to reduce the opportunities for upward mobility in America. Possibly the most important is income inequality. The richest Americans are rewarded with an ever larger portion of the nation’s wealth while the middle class contracts and the number of those in poverty expands. Economist and Nobel Laureate Joseph Steiglitz, in his book The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them, asserts that economic inequality inevitably leads to political inequality, a “vicious circle.” CBS News, which interviewed Steiglitz, noted that “The top 1 percent of Americans now take home 20 percent of all pre-tax income, or double their share in 1980. For most middle-class and lower-income families, income has either stagnated or fallen.” Today, American pre-eminence in championing upward mobility is a myth. In one study, the U.S. trails behind Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands in measuring the likelihood of upward mobility. In a second study, measuring the correlation between a father’s income and a son’s earnings, the United States does even worse: it trails behind Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Spain, France and Switzerland. Drilling down into the data reveals variations in mobility within the U.S. In other words, as determined by multiple factors (race, class, education, income, etc.) upward mobility varies by geographic destiny. A second blow to they mythology of the American Dream comes in changing attitudes toward home ownership. A recent article was headlined, “Home Ownership Is No Longer the Linchpin of the American Dream.” The article points out that even though many people still aspire to own a home, other factors have conspired to block this goal–such as a concern over retirement income and student loan debt. The percentage of home ownership is now at its lowest rate since 1967. A writer in The Washington Post believes that this trend will continue at least until 2030.

Better

LOVECARD.SMALL
Love Cards
Send a Love Card to someone and maybe they won’t buy an AR-15 assault rifle. According to a Swiss study, U.S. citizens own 35-50% of the planet’s guns. The Washington Post assesses the number of guns in the hands of American men and women at 270 million. Madness. My holiday note card harkens back to the 1960s when one of the most popular slogans was “Make Love, Not War.” The cards feature an original artwork and a sophisticated tinted area for your greeting.  They are produced on a feel-good off-white stock and printed on a high-end digital press. They are 5 x 7, four pages, and are sold in sets of five for $16.99 at my shop on Etsy.com.
AR15GUN.EDIT
Assault Rifle
 The Points of Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

 

Advertisements

POINTS OF COLOR

Posted on November 28, 2015

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

November 28, 2015

Opening Quote

“In a time of universal deceit–telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell  (1903-1950) is one of the 20th century’s most admired and renowned authors. Two of his works–1984 and Animal Farm–have entered the canon of “Great Books” that all who consider themselves literate would be wise to read. Born in India, Orwell moved to the United Kingdom as a young child and attended a well-known boarding school followed by Eton. He then returned to India for a five-year stint as a policeman (not having the money to go on to university). George Orwell was a nom de plume: his real name was Eric Arthur Blair. In addition to fiction, Orwell also was an essayist, travel writer, and critic, and his first published work, in 1933 was Down and Out in Paris and London. He fought in the Spanish Civil War against Franco and returned to England seriously wounded and ill with tuberculosis. To support himself and his wife (he was married in 1936 to Eileen O’Shaughnessy) he published reviews, literary criticism, and other non-fiction. Soon after 1984 was published, Orwell died of his tuberculosis.

Catastrophes

The next time some yahoo denies that climate change is tranforming our planet’s environment, act deaf and dumb. Simply hand the denier a small slip of paper on which you have provided hard, comparative data. A November 23 report, issued by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction discloses that between 2005 and 2014, Earth experienced an average of 335 weather-related disasters. This proliferation, the report asserts, is “an increase of 14% from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995.” The report estimates that natural catastrophes were responsible for 606,000 fatalities from 1995 to 2014, and had an economic impact of $250 to $300 billion annually, or a staggering $5.5 trillion in total. Since many critics of climate change do not believe in the objectivity of science or fact-based evidence–preferring the comfort of faith–you probably will not change an idiot’s mind. But you will achieve the self-satisfaction of having tried.

Perfection

KATZCORNEDBEEFSANDWICH.1
This is what a sandwich looks like at Katz’.
Photo Credit: “Katzs deli corned beef” by Flickr user dyobmit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/dyobmit/73690588/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katzs_deli_corned_beef.jpg#/media/File:Katzs_deli_corned_beef.jpg
As a junior and senior in college I went out with a woman who lived in New York City’s South Village. Her apartment was a few steps away from the intersection of Houston (How-stun) Street and Sixth Avenue. Frequently, on a weekend evening, we would smoke a bit of weed and then with the munch gene totally engaged we would head out and walk East on Houston Street until we reached Katz’ Delicatessen. There, we would order a sandwich for each, plus side orders of french fries, cole slaw, and potato salad together with a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. I look back upon this vast quantity of food and can only say that teenagers are voracious, especially when hunger is stimulated by weed. We returned again and again because Katz’ pastrami sandwich, in my opinion, is the best in the world. Pastrami emigrated to the U.S. with Eastern European Jews, and Katz’ can trace its history back to 1888. The restaurant’s current design is unchanged since 1949. One would never confuse eating at Katz’ and a fine, high-end place. As you enter, you are presented with a narrow ticket which you keep with you as if it were your passport. Overhead are harsh banks of fluorescent lights. In point of fact, there is no interior design: just row after row of four-place tables stretching to the back of the large open space. If there for a sandwich, you walk up to the counter and choose one of the artists on the business side who will hand-slice your preferred meat. With the practiced hand of a sushi chef, the knife man then carves from a complete brisket the meat that will be yours. The human touch guarantees that each sandwich is different, with thicker slices than delis usually provide. If the knife man is in a good mood, he’ll take a slice of meat, put it on a small white plate, and hand it to you. This amuse bouche causes your sensory system to snap alert and as you are still appreciating the aftertaste, your overstuffed sandwich is put on top of the counter and you take it. The server then takes your ticket and scrawls the cost of what you’ve ordered. Seating is primarily cafeteria style; you sit wherever there’s an opening. Joining you are representatives of all ages and ethnic groups. Whether you converse or not with your table mates depend upon how serious you are about your food. After smearing mustard on the top half of your bread or roll, you take your first bite. All of your problems disappear as the flavor and texture of the pastrami overwhelms your consciousness. Perfection though is not cheap; a pastrami sandwich now runs $19.75, about three times what I used to pay as a student. Yet even with the high price, Katz’ goes through 15,000 pounds of pastrami each week. In describing the pleasure of this culinary experience, The New York Times became somewhat poetic and called the meat “juicy, smoky, rapturous.”

Scary

Last night I stopped into Salisbury’s Back Street Grill, a local bar and cafe that’s comfy and relaxed and serves the best burgers I’ve had in many moons. Being on the Lower Eastern Shore, the special price on Saturday evenings for a hamburger is $5.00, and is definitely one of the great deals going. When I’m alone, as I was yesterday, I sit at the bar. The man who fate put next to me was a Cro-Magnon male. Physically, he resembled the missing link with a massive, protruding forehead and an extra-wide face. Somehow we began talking politics and his views should prompt wise souls to take cover. His favorite political leader is Vladimir Putin. When I pointed out the Russian leader’s KGB background, this guy found that fact to be a distinct plus: the KGB knew how to get things done. He wanted the U.S. and Russia to form an alliance in Syria to end the ISIS crisis by simply dropping multiple nukes. The Syrian refugees were all faking their pain and really were ISIS terrorists. He would ship them all back to Middle East DP camps. Obama was the worst president in history: someone who wasn’t even born in the United States; someone who was Islamic; someone who faked all his credentials. He hasn’t done a thing in two terms. The man to lead America is Donald Trump because he speaks the truth and isn’t afraid to say whatever is on his mind. This, my friends, is one citizen’s world view, but I fear his ignorance and rage is shared by millions of others.

Cards

When I first posted my “Season of Love” note card on Facebook, one friend commented: “This is wonderful…love it…literally.” Creative men and women thrive on comments like that. So now that the “Black Friday” shopping orgy is over, and the people of America are getting their Christmas card lists in order, I would suggest that if you want to send a unique and lovely card to your special friends and family, please consider what I’ve taken to calling Love Cards. Each features my original artwork “Romance,”  and are produced on a feel-good off-white stock. They are printed on a high-end digital press. The cards are 5 x 7, and run to four pages. The interior and back cover incorporate a sophisticated, graded tint of pink-violet–a perfect space for your personal message. Cards are sold in packs of five in my shop on Etsy.com.

LOVECARD.

LOVECARDINTERNAL.
The cover and interior of the “Season of Love” card.

 

 

 

 

The Points of Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

Points of Color

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

November 22, 2015

Opening Quote

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was one of this country’s greatest leaders. He began his political career in 1834, when he was elected to the Illinois state legislature. Simultaneously, he earned his law degree and was in practice for a number of years –interrupted by a single term in the U.S. House (1847-1849). His next political foray was a decade later, in 1858, when he sought the Illinois Senate seat held by Stephen Douglas (and, in the process of running for the office, engaged his opponent in seven spirited and historically significant debates.) He took Douglas’ Senate seat, and Linoln’s winning streak continued when he gained the Republican nomination for President in 1860; upon his victory in that contest, he became the United States’ 16th President. Immediately, Lincoln was forced to become a crisis leader and it was in this role that he rose to his exalted status in American history. Lincoln’s inauguration was on March 4, 1861 and the Civil War began on April 12th. Lincoln demonstrated extraordinary wisdom in setting as his primary goal the preservation of the Union. Some of his speeches, such as the Gettysburg Address, have achieved immortality; they are cherished and looked upon with awe by each new generation.

“…that we here highly resolve that these dead [the Union and Confederate soldiers who perished in the titanic battle at Gettysburg] shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation also became one of those rare documents which help to define a nation. Lincoln’s decision not to punish the South is viewed as a key element in the evolution of American democracy. So Lincoln was as brilliant as he was tall (six feet, four inches); and he was a very special human being who was in the right place at the right time. A grateful nation demonstrated its love and respect for the man by building a world-renowned memorial for him in Washington. Lincoln’s luck ran out in 1865 when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
LINCOLNMEMORIAL.1
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Thanksgiving

In a few days, on November 26th, the nation will pause for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. The reasons for my positive feelings center on the holiday’s social and culinary rituals. The holiday’s sole raison d’etre is to gather with friends and family and to feast. Both of these activities are quite pleasing to me. Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year as families seek to return to their roots, as if they were spawning salmon. I did not begin to participate whole-heartedly in Thanksgiving until my early 20s. Growing up in my mother’s post-divorce home the holiday just added more stress to a very neurotic, anxious, and un-social woman. My mother was completely atypical in that she disliked domesticity and was not especially high functioning in terms of either mothering or cooking. So when I was very young, about six or seven, my mother, sister, and I, and sometimes my maiden Aunt Doris, would gather on Thanksgiving for one of my mother’s inept attempts at cooking. The main course, roast chicken, was frequently underdone with a soggy skin and no flavor. The mashed potatoes had the consistence and taste of spackle. The vegetables were canned and overcooked. When my sister deserted my mom’s home for that of her future husband and in-laws, it meant one fewer at the Thanksgiving table. Eventually, as I remember, in my mid-teens there was no longer any pretense about celebrating the holiday. It was only a decade later, when I had established a network of close friends, that participating in Thanksgiving became important to me. Each friend would cook a dish to be shared, and my new “family” would be pleased to be together, sharing affection, stories, and food and drink. After I married for a second time and had two daughters, Thanksgiving became really serious, as the holiday was ineviably celebrated at my wife’s cousin’s home which was packed with her relatives. It was a big deal and everyone began cooking for it days in advance. I was usually tasked to create a desert that remained a favorite year after year: a marvellous sour-cream chocolate cake with mocha-cream frosting. Now that my daughters are adults, I am separated from my wife, and am living hundreds of miles from New York City. I have come full circle: once again, Thanksgiving is merely another day. (Needless to say, I have not made any close friends where I live now.) I wish all who read this a very warm wish for a joyous and scrumptious holiday.

Work

There is a Dickensian and mean quality to men and women working full-timeand still having their annual incomes fall below the poverty line. A worker earning the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 full-time, earns $13,195 in one year pre-tax; add taxes and other deductions and his or her net drops to $11,216–below the classification for single-person poverty of $11,770. Even if there are programs to ameliorate the impact of taxes, the minimum wage is stingy, rigid, punitive, and unchanging. The current rate was instituted in 2009; cumulative inflation since then has been 10.9%, so an item that cost $10 six years ago, today is $11.09. On November 10th, in cities across the nation, minimum-wage workers at fast-food restaurants demonstrated for a Federal minimum wage of $15 per hour. Nationally, the number of full-time single workers below the poverty line is 4,258,000. The poverty line for a family of four is $24,250. According to data from the Social Security Administration, nearly 49 million workers are either below, at, or just barely above the poverty line (assuming two full-time workers in the family). Given a total work force of 157 million, these figures mean that 31% of America’s labor force is at or close to suffering in poverty. Another way of viewing the data is the percentage of households by income. The total number in the U.S. is 122,459,000; households with total income under $30,000 per year number 36,943,000–or 30% of the total. The U.S. poverty rate is now at 14.8% (2014), close to its recent peak of 15.1% (1993); the lowest figure was 11.3% (2000). Especially moving is the number of poverty-stricken children: 16 million. In closing, as we approach the annual orgy of Christmas shopping, remember that not everyone is participating: the census recently estimated that approximately 50% of all Americans “have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.”

Happy

Not! At least everything’s not hunky-dory in the U.S. of A. In the 2015 World Happiness Report, America doesn’t even make it into the Top 10! We’re ranked Number 15. In fact, according to another study, from 2010 to 2014, Americans became increasisngly unhappy. And this isn’t just touchy-feely Pollyanna fluff. In a paper released in early November, what emerged was that among middle-aged white males with low educational attainment–i.e., no college degree–death rates spiked between 1999 and 2013. Illness was also found to have increased in this cohort; causes of death included drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. Angus Eaton–the 2015 Nobel Laureate in Economics and a faculty member at Princeton University–co-authored the paper, and commented: “Half a million people are dead who should not be dead. [That’s] about 40 times the Ebola stats. You’re getting up there with HIV-AIDS.” This study has identified a new problem and further research is required. However, the data does seem in accord with other information. The New York Times reported in 2013 that one out of four women in their 40s and 50s is now prescribed anti-depressant medication. After falling for many years, recently the suicide rate in the United States has risen to a near-record level (as of 2013) and now, taking one’s own life is the tenth most common cause of death in the U.S. The highest suicide rate is among those 45 to 64. Thus you have almost a perfect storm in which 71% of respondents to one survey are “very dissatisfied” with the nation’s path; median household income in 2015 is 2.9% lower than it was pre-Great Recession in 2007; more than 50% are unhappy in their jobs; the U.S. divorce rate is the highest in the world–as is the rate of imprisonment; the U.S. leads the world in the abuse of opium-related drugs; and suicide, especially among the country’s middle aged, is shockingly high.

Love

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), the artist, filmmaker, and cultural phenomenon, is attributed to have said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” For Dale Evans (1912-2001) her 15 minutes extended into film-star celebrity from 1944 to 1957. During those years, she was known as the “Queen of the West,” as she appeared in 28 films and a popular television show with Roy Rodgers, the “King of the Cowboys.” She and Rodgers were married in 1947, and Evans wrote “Happy Trails to You,” the couple’s theme song which closed each television episode. The reason I bring up Roy and Dale is that she once said something which I think accurately characterizes the wonderful time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s when people are urged to love rather than hate, to feel empathy and altruism rather than alienation and self-interest, to be better rather than worse. “Chrismas, my child,” the Queen commented, “is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” Although the upcoming holidays–Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa–have become orgies of materialism, for many it’s the idealization of how people should act toward one another that takes center stage. Sharing that conception  explains why I decided to create special note cards celebrating “The Season of Love.” The cards feature one of my original artworks. If you would like to send these cards to your family, friends and loved ones, they are available, in packages of five, at my shop on Etsy.com.
LOVECARD.SMALL
This four-page card is available in sets of five at Etsy.com.

 

The Points of Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

 

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

November 15, 2015

Opening Quote

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was an African-American educator as well as a nationally recognized voice from the Black community. Born a slave, he overcame significant obstacles to his own education and went on to found the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (Tuskegee University). Washington was controversial in that he believed that economic development of African-Americans trumped all other issues; therefore, he accepted the status quo in terms of segregation and White disenfranchisement of Blacks. Full equality between the races, he believed, would be the fruit of financial independence and cultural advancement. Many in the African-American community–including W.E.B. DuBois–condemned Washington for a philosophy that maintained African-American subservience to Caucasians. Washington’s autobiography is titled Up From Slavery.

Question

I wonder. If and when ISIS and/or Al Qaeda finally luck out and obtain a nuclear weapon, which city will they incinerate? Whatever urban center they destroy will add countless new and random victims to all of the other indiscriminate deaths they’ve caused over the past two decades. Will future historians look at the body count of senseless death and refer to our time as a second Holocaust? Let’s play a game of arithmetic. Total up the random deaths in the last few days: Forty-three people died in Beirut on November 12, blown away by ISIS suicide bombers. In Paris, on November 13, another 129 perished from ISIS’s series of coordinated attacks. Now add in the victims of 9/11, and of London, and of Madrid. How many unexpected fatalities have there been in the failed states of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen? And we can’t forget Syria; not military casualties, but haphazard civilian deaths caused, for example, by government planes dropping barrel bombs on masses of non-combatants. Next, let’s consider the nameless and faceless refugees who are killed while seeking to escape war zones. Dying randomly is a given for many refugees: those from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan; those from Africa who die in the Mediterranean; those locked in the back of trucks by people smugglers who simply walk away from men, women, and children leaving their nameless victims without food, water, or air. We can’t forget to include those unlucky enough to be slain in the periodic mass murders that occur, especially in the United States. Thousands more are killed on our streets each year from gunshots. A particularly gruesom shooting took place in Chicago on November 9 when a nine year-old boy was targeted for execution by a gang. The boy’s father, a gang member, spoke of how he knew it was an intentional hit by the placement and quantity of the wounds. He then refused to cooperate with the police investigation. Add in the litany of suicide bombings in post-war Iraq, and those who have perished anonymously in Sudan (in both Darfur and South Sudan). Throw in the never-ending victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–frequently unexpected and indiscriminate. Next, we’ll addin the killings of the drug cartels and their unceasing violence towards helpless Mexican and Central American populations. Climate change has haphazardly stolen lives via super-cyclones, tsunamis, floods, tornados, fires, new disease vectors and other natural catastrophes. In one case, almost mordantly funny, a sink-hole suddenly opened and swallowed a house in which a man was sleeping; he woke up to scream and die. Technology is completely hit-and-miss in the deaths it causes; each year, more than 30,000 in this country die unexpectedly in auto crashes. Airplanes crash: including those passengers unlucky enough to be on a plane flown into a mountain by one of the pilots. Trains crash. Busses and trucks crash. Thousands more are the unintended victims of doctors who make medical errors in hospitals. And the cherry on this bloody cake will be when that nuclear bomb detonates. Then our civilization might very well achieve a mathematical parity with the six million. And instead of “Never Again,” the total of the second Holocaust will just keep rising.

Food

PIZZA.1EDIT
One summer, when I was a young man, I often hung out at an urban beach with a friend. When we left for the day, we headed over to a neighborhood pizza joint for a slice. In New York City, there seems to be a pizzeria every 100 feet. Although there’s some controversy, it’s generally acknowledged that in 1905, NYC was pizza’s entry point into the country from Italy. This perfect food has gone on to claim an exalted place in the national food culture. Every day, Americans consume more than 8,000,000 pizzas. Men, women, and children eat 365 slices per second. The average American scarfs down 23 pounds of pizza per year, much of it at the nation’s 70,000 pizzerias (of which 65% are independent businesses). The annual domestic revenue of the pizza market is $38 billion, with an additional $4.4 billion spent annually on frozen pizzas. The international pizza market triples the number to $130 billion. Earth is a pizza planet, with humans feasting on five billion pies each year; the U.S. accounts for 60% of the total. The top ten pizza-consuming nations, from lowest to highest, are: China; Japan; Australia; France; Russia; Italy: Germany; United Kingdom; United States; and Norway. Hard as it may seem to believe, per capita, Norway exceeds the U.S. in pizza eaten by each and every citizen. Men account for 15% of total American consumption, and women, 11%. Children, ages 2 to 19, eat the most: 20%. Pepperoni pizzas account for 36% of all pies ordered in the U.S. The largest pizza ever made measured 131 feet in diameter and weighed 25.5 tons. Although pizza started as a cheap food for the masses, in recent years the artisinal movement has elevated this humble meal into high-end status replete with celebrity chefs. Certain cheeses, sauces, and dough recipes are held to be the “true” ingredients and toppings now include whatever can be imagined. Then there is the thin-crust versus deep-dish competition. Cooking too provides many choices: for example, coal-fired ovens; and hand-made wood burning ovens specifically designed for baking pizzas (and which sell for thousands). There’s even a bozo pizza song!

Spies

ISRAELIFLAGS.1EDIT
Indelible images from World War II are crowds of docile Jews neatly marching off to oblivion in the Holocaust. There were many exceptions–such as the Warsaw Ghetto uprising–but at least in terms of pop culture, the doomed Jews of Europe did not seek to fight their German butchers. The State of Israel was born in 1948 out of the ashes of the death camps. Immediately, upon the unfurling of the Israeli flag, the country was invaded by an overwhelming number of Arab troops from five nations. The Arab concept of victory was to drive both native-born and regugee Israelis into the sea and essentially finish what Hitler had started. But the Israelis proved to be able warriors and defeated the combined Arab onslaught. This was the beginning of a different vision of Jews: the Israeli war machine (with significant American aid) has become the dominant military power in the Middle East. Likewise, the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, is viewed as world class, on a par, or better, than the CIA, MI-6, and the KGB (or its successor). An American novelist, Daniel Silva, has created 14 thrillers featuring a hero, Gabriel Allon, who is a Mossad superstar in terms of strategic and tactical planning, as well as being an unstoppable practitioner of the black arts. He is Super Jew. In the series, Allon “made his bones” by mounting an operation targeting each member of the Black September terror squad that murdered Israeli athletes at th 1972 Munich Olympics. (In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized such a mission, which was made into the film Munich.) In most of Silva’s Gabriel Allon books, a “Mission Impossible” type operation is mounted by Allon leading his Mossad colleagues. The consequences are usually so high that the operation is almost inevitably submitted to the Israeli Prime Minister for approval. These tales are exciting, the bad guys are genuinely evil, and Allon inevitably triumphs. He is assisted by a hand-picked team of specialists, such as computer wizards and research analysts. Allon’s cover is that of a master art restorer, which allows Silva to introduce philosophical and aesthetic questions. The hero, in effect, is schizophrenic: as an art expert he is non-violent and superbly talented; the son and grandson of artists, Allon in another life might have found himself on the staff of the Met, Tate, or Louvre. In this iteration, Allon is hopeful and open to new possibilities. In his intelligence role, all Allon observes are threats and opportunities. Allon has become a kind of terminator: relentless, unstoppable, able to overcome whatever wounds or obstacles he encounters. The latest work, 2015’s The Heistas always mixes art and espionage–as well as the computer theft of a huge sum of money from the bad, bad, bad guy. Allon is tightly compartmentalized in terms of his two personalities: for example, he never questions the occupation of the West Bank, or the rights of the Palestinians to a nation state, or the sometimes brutal actions of his government. Or they are acknowledged and minimized in terms of the greater good. I have a feeling that Silva consciously keeps Allon away from these controversies so as to not unintentionally alienate any potential readers. The Allon series–wonderfully readable with great plots–has been translated into 30 languages.
THECONFUSIONOFFRANCEANDITALYLOW.
Ken Handel. The Confusion of France and Italy. 2015. 18 x 24. There’s no confusion in either country today about Friday’s attacks on Paris. This, and more than 20 other original artworks are available as prints at Etsy.com.

The Points of Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

POINTS OF COLOR

November 7, 2015

Opening Quote

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) led a dissolute, pleasure-centered youth. But in his mid-20s he began actively to embrace God and his Church. He believed God had spoken to him and opened him to new ideas. That led Francis to embrace a leper, to give up all his possessions, and to repair a church using his own hands and labor. He vowed to live by the Gospel, and soon attracted a following. Putting word to deed, he honored all–rich and poor, sick and healthy. He felt that all of God’s creations–including nature and animals–were part of God’s brotherhood, and he found joy in that realization. Eventually, Francis’ hard life took his health be he did not doubt; his fatal illness reaffirmed “his brotherhood with creation in praising God.” He lived in Umbria, in Italy, and was the founder of the Franciscan orders as well as being the patron saint of ecologists and merchants.

Rich

In the film comedy A Fish Called Wanda, Jamie Lee Curtis angrily confronts Kevin Kline, her magnificently moronic brother: “To call you stupid,” she says, “would be an insult to stupid people.” Which is an equally accurate insult to Donald Trump. Trump–as Ann Richards described former President George H.W. Bush in 1988–“can’t help that he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Trump isn’t smart enough to know that his shoot-from-the-mouth style discredits everything he is. Thus, on October 26th, he revealed that his father had lent him $1 million to get him started in business. Doesn’t every American parent help their child in this way? Trump’s blithely unaware that nearly 50 million Americans live in povertyHis megalomania has led to a form of blindness obscuring all (except what he chooses to see). Unfortunately, wealth frequently is accompanied by an increase in stupidity–as verified by Congress. Time, in 2014, described how more than 50% of Congress, or 268 members, had an average net worth exceeding $1 million. CQ Roll Call, which focuses on everything congressional, has, since 1990, published a list of the 50 wealthiest membersThe top five in terms of net worth in 2015 are: Rep. Dale Issa (R-CA), $357 million; Sen. Michael McCaul (R-TX), $117 million; Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), $111 million; Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), $108 million; and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), $95 million. The current presidential candidates for both parties are quite wealthy as well, with Bernie bringing up the rear with only $700,000. To end on a comic note as we began, watch Gary Gulman skewer Trump by comparing him to Bill Gates in the video, “In This Economy.” There’s a very funny riff in which Gates mocks Trump for being so poor. To paraphrase, Gates says, “Trump, I understand why you’re so sad. I have $79 billion and you have a measly $4.5 million.”
EMUNCHTHESCREAM.
Edward Munch. The Scream. 1893.

Art

Norwegian Edward Munch (1863-1944) is among my favorite artists. I first encountered Munch through his masterwork, “The Scream” (1893), one of the most famous paintings ever. However, Munch was far more than the creator of a single iconic work. In fact, he was quite prolific and after his death a studio inventory revealed more than 1,000 paintings, as well as thousands of drawings and prints. He donated all of this art to Norway. In 2006, I was able to appreciate the scope of Munch’s genius at a major retrospective of his work organized by New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. One reason for my admiration is that I believe Munch was one of the first artists to give visual life to the anxiety created by modern life. In “The Scream,” the suffering individual could be anyone, and this anonymity increases its resonance. Other artists soon obliterated reality in cubist and surreal works, but Munch merely bent representation to his needs. That’s why I think “The Scream” remains so emblematic for so many. Many years ago I made what seemed to be a discovery about the painting. I was caretaking my elderly maiden aunt, and eventually she wound up in a nursing home very close to where I lived. On the day she died, I went to say farewell to her. I arrived only moments after her passing, and the first thing that struck me was that her mouth was shaped in precisely the manner Munch used in “The Scream.” This made me wonder whether the idea for the painting came from an encounter Munch had with death (and whether “The Scream” captures a universal post-mortem facial expression?)

Radio

In the dark ages, before the web, and Spotify, and MP3, radio was king in terms of the portable and public output of music. Muscians needed to get air play and executives were only too happy to play God and decide which bands got heard and which didn’t. Bribery and kissing ass was rampant, and Elvis Costello wrote a bittler little pill describing his anger at the system called “Radio, Radio.” In it, he sang

“I wanna bite the hand that feeds me

I wanna bite that hand so badly

I want to make them wish they’d never seen me”

Past or present it has always been tough to find decent radio, but now with its screaming commercialism,  it has gotten tougher. Turn the dial and you’ll find everything you don’t want: right-wing narcissists, synthetic pop from the music industrial complex, sports junkies with OCD. A great station plays marvelous music, with an intriguing playlist that someone has actually thought about and put together. It is live and not prerecorded. It is usually non-commercial as well. Great radio surprises you and features intelligent, charismatic human beings at the microphone–people who share interesting anecdotes and observations. Turning on a particular station means you are temporarily joining a community; it’s the same distinction as going out to a movie or watching television at home. My favorite station is WFUV. The call letters represent “Fordham University’s Voice,” and the station comes out of the Bronx. The station plays both new music and songs that have stood the test of time. At the end of a long set, the DJ actually goes through the playlist so you can identify music you want to know more about. Monday through Friday, FUV broadcasts what it calls “adult album alternative music.” Music Director Rita Houston has been at FUV since the mid-90s and has won numerous awards. She turned me on to the British group, Gomez. The DJs at FUV are not students but professional jocks and music people. At the end of the year, there’s a nifty feature: “best of” lists done by the DJs, staff, and listeners. The website is rich–with a concert schedule, archives, and much more, and the station also occasionally broadcasts concerts live. This isn’t typical radio in any way. You can listen to it whenever you choose, and wherever you are, because the station streams live online at WFUV.org.

Space

On November 2nd, CBS announced that a new television version of Star Trek would debut in January 2017. (Star Trek corporate ownership has passed through many hands since 1966, when the original series, created by Gene Roddenberry,  premiered on NBC). In its lift-off season, Star Trek introduced the world to Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy), his Vulcan First Officer. A major character as well was the starship Enterprise, the vessel that carries the crew around the galaxy at warp speed. However, the show wasn’t fast enough to avoid cancellation after three seasons, and for more than nine years fans had to go cold turkey given the lack of any Star Trek. In 1979, Hollywood acknowledged that the show’s fans exhibited an enduring comittment to the show, and released the first cinematic version of Star Trek; eleven additional films would follow. A second TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, ran from 1987-1994. Set in a future 100 years advanced from the previous show, Patrick Stewart, the celebrated British actor, portrayed the Captain while Brent Spiner gave life to the character of Data, an android firmly in Spock’s realm of primarily emotionless intellect and logic. In 1995, Star Trek: Voyager appeared with the revolutionary concepts of a woman (Kate Mulgrew) in command as well as a Vulcan of color (Tim Russ) providing the Spockian perspective. This version was set close to the end of  the 23rd century–or hundreds of years in the future, and the starship Voyager was a sleek and fast iteration of Enterprise (70,000 light years from home). The journey back to Earth lasted until 2001, when Star Trek: Enterprise premiered; it served as a prequel to the first series–and ran until 2005. Scott Bakula served as the captain while Jolene Blalock was the Spock-like add along, albeit as a gorgeous alien babe. In this show, Enterprise was rather primitive and utilitarian, and one saw the transition from a purely scientific vessel to one heavily armed for defense against nefarious aliens. Yet another iteration, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was not set on a starship but rather upon a far-off space station, and was on from 1993-1999 and commanded by an African-American, Avery Brooks. Readers will note that from 1987 to 2005–or 18 years–there was always some version of Star Trek for viewers to watch at home (plus the periodic release of films). For the last decade, there have been no new shows, although all of the previous ones are available on broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms. But viewers yearn for a new weeky series after such a long void–as indicated by the critical and commercial success of a “reboot” of the film series featuring a young Kirk and Spock that was released in 2009. It may be that the making of a new Star Wars film, due for U.S. release in December, has refocused interest in Star Trek as well. What both of these franchises reveal is a dissatisfaction with life as it is together with a desire to exist in an alternate reality. It’s immaterial, as one writer has noted, that the two properties represent different visions of the universe. Star Trek is at home in a world dominated by science and technology; many of the artifacts depicted in the show have inspired real world innovations, such as cell phones, which were modelled on Star Trek communicators. Conversely, Star Wars is an exercise in faith, a contest between the Force and the Dark Side. When Leonard Nimoy died this year, there was world-wide mourning for Nimoy/Spock. He realized his duel status when he changed the name of his second memoir: the first was I Am Not Spock (1975), the second, I Am Spock (1995). 
A work combining my love of geometric shapes together with a pointillistic conception of deep space
Ken Handel. Geometric Universe. 2014. My love of space has been heightened by Star Trek. Geometric Universe and more than 20 more of my artworks, are available as prints at Etsy.com.

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

POINTS OF COLOR

October 30, 2015

Opening Quote

“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.”

Ralph Marston is a self-improvement whirlwind. He is the author and publisher of The Daily Motivator website, which is described as “one of the most popular and enduring destinations for daily positivity.” Marston’s also written three books: The Daily Motivator to Go (1997), Living the Wonder of It All (2009); and The Power of Ten Billion Dreams (2011).

Amazin’

Since I was a child, my favorite baseball team has been the Mets. And 29 years ago this week, the Mets and Red Sox played one of the most exciting and memorable world championship series in the long history of the game. The Red Sox took the first two games, and the Mets rebounded to take Games Three and Four. Then Boston won the fifth game. With a 3-2 lead in a seven-game series, Boston only needed a victory in one more contest to give the Red Sox their first World Series title since 1918. If they won, they could also finally free themselves of “The Curse of the Bambino”–the result of Boston selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919. So here we are in pivotal Game Six–which goes to extra innings. The score is tied 3-3. In the top of the tenth, Boston takes command, and seemingly guarantees its triumph by scoring two runs. And then, in the bottom half of the inning, the Mets’ first two batters are easy outs. Next up is catcher Gary Carter, who lines a single to left. Outfielder Kevin Mitchell pinch-hits and powers the ball into center for another hit. Third baseman Ray Knight gets the Mets’ third consecutive single, and Carter scores. Now the Mets are down by just one. Outfielder Mookie Wilson fouls off a number of pitches from Boston reliever Bob Stanley until he uncorks a wild pitch, with Mitchell coming home to tie the game! Amazin’! The count’s now 3 and 2 and Mookie nuzzles a Little-League dribbler to first. Bill Buckner, a Major Leaguer for more than 20 years, reaches down for the ball on his bad knees and miraculously, the ball dribbles through. Knight scores the winning run and the Mets have won a game for the ages. The seventh and deciding game was almost anti-climactic. Boston jumped on top with three in the second, which the Mets matched in the bottom of the sixth. The Mets then broke loose for three more in the the seventh–and two more in the eighth–taking the game 8-5, as well as the 1986 World Series trophy. The historic win followed one of the best National League Championship Series ever in which both the Mets and the Houston Astros played magnificently. Four of the six NLCS games were decided by one run, and three went to extra innings before the Mets triumphed. The Mets are now back in the Series and lost the opening two games to the Kansas City Royals. Could they just be setting up a replay of the 1986 miracle? Let’s Go Mets !

Android

Star Trek’s Data was an android for the ages: brilliant and courageous, curious and compassionate. Jill Schlesingerin contrast, is an insipid and uninspiring droid who occasionally delivers economic analysis on the CBS Weekend Evening News with all the credibility of a demented cheerleader. On Sunday, October 25, the question posed by CBS Sunday-evening anchor Jeff Glor was what’s going on with healthcare costs–why are they skyrocketing? Schlesinger then spewed forth a chirpy litany of cost increases as if she were describing her shopping list. There’s a ton of data about the higher rates. Forbes noted that from 2000-2011, health care costs rose 91%, with much of this increase being passed on to consumers. The Los Angeles Times pointed out that “annual increases in work-based health plan premiums rose three times faster than wages from 2003 to 2013.” But that’s not the whole story. “Since 2010, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation commented, “both  the share of workers with deductibles and the size of those deductibles have increased sharply. These two trends together result in a 67% increase in deductibles since 2010, much faster than the rise in single premiums (24%) and about seven times the rise in workers’ wages (10%) and general inflation (9%).” And we’re still not done. Annual co-pays can amount to thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket charges each year. The bottom line is that from 2002-2012, the cost of family health insurance has almost doubled, from $8,003 to $15,745. Simultaneously, median household income has decreased by 12.3%–from $68,941 (2000) to $60,462 (2014). One reason for this contraction is that wages have not kept up with increased expenses. In 2014, the Pew Research Center stated: “For most U.S. workers, real wages–that is, after inflation is taken into account–have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs.” Android Schlesinger didn’t explain any of this, nor did she mention an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study, that asserted that , “The U.S. leads all other industrialized nations in the share of national health care expenditures devoted to insurance administration.” Health insurance CEOs, like most corporate leaders, earn an obscene amount of yearly compensation. Mark T. BertoliniAetna’s Chief Executive, received 2014 compensation of $15,043,936. It’s clear that android Schlesinger doesn’t want to rock the boat. A graduate of Brown University, an Ivy League school, she began her career as an options trader. She then went on to co-own and serve as chief investment officer for an investment advisory firm. For her, deregulated capitalism is as good as it gets. Why would she convey that the U.S. spends 17.7% of its Gross Domestic Product on health care while the OECD per capita average is 9.3%. And that the Prime Directive for free-market capitalism is ever-larger corporate profits, and not improved health care. During her presentation this uncritical droid was positively jaunty. On Star Trek: The Next Gerneration, Data hardly ever smiled.

Photography

Marvin Koner (1921-1983) was an extraordinarily skillful and talented photographer who never sought celebrity through his work; just his next assignment. His first experience with a camera came during World War II while serving in the Army’s Photo Intelligence Unit. He trained with the legendary Alexey Brodovitch, a graphic designer and Harper’s Bazaar’s art director for 25 years. Koner was admired as both a photojournalist and as a commercial photographer. His eye was omnivorous and he produced unforgettable images celebrating the common man–as in his 1963 series, “Dublin: Then and Now” and a photo essay documenting “An Italian Family’s Migration to America.” He also photography royalty: of the musical kind (Leonard Bernstein, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash); the political (President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt); and Hollywood (Paul Newman). His work displays such unique insight that his photos are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the International Center for Photography. Last month, Pam Koner, Marvin’s daughter, created the Marvin Koner Archive, a site where everyone is able to appreciate her father’s photographic art. His images will be available for sale, and the income will help fund Family-to-Family, a non-profit hunger and poverty-relief organization founded and directed by Ms. Koner. The group’s agenda is profoundly simple: link families that have done well with families that need help. The genesis of F-t-F was one indelible newspaper image and article from 2002 that described a poverty-stricken, hungry familty living in Third World conditions about one hour outside of Chicago. For the food deprived, frequently, by the last week of the month, the pantry is empty. Feeling the need to do something about so many men, women, and children going hungry, Pam began asking families with whom she had connections whether they would be interested in going to the supermarket and buying food basics to assist poor families. Many said “Yes,” and Family-to-Family was born. Today, it’s active in 12 states and each month provides more than 12,000 meals to 1,800 families.The need has been so great that F-t-F is now a national organization that also immerses itself in disaster relief and literacy projects. But the core idea is still one family packing a carton that will be opened by another family that desperately needs what’s inside. Often, snapshots and notes are included fostering loving communication between neighbors who might live hundreds of miles away. As the Christian Science Monitor put it, “How can you describe someone who has changed the lives of thousands of people from the basement of her home?” The Archive/F-t-F connection is definitely a win-win deal. Amaze yourself with Marvin’s photos, and then, if the spirit moves you, consider purchasing one. Besides obtaining an image to treasure for a lifetime, you’ll also be helping Pam to continue her struggle against American poverty.
[NOTE: Pam Koner has been one of my best friends for decades. I was fortunate to know Marvin Koner and one his his prints is hanging in my kitchen.]

Crazy

Maybe it’s the Cadillacs buried headfirst in the ground outside of Armadillo. Maybe it’s “Keep Austin Weird,” the unofficial slogan for Texas’ state capitol. Maybe it’s that Texas has executed nearly five times as many prisoners as any other state for decades. But whatever the reason, in Norway, when someone refers to something as “crazy” he or she says it’s “texas.” According to the BBC, a very common expression in Norwegian newspapers is “helt texas,” or “completely crazy.” Who would have thought that the bucolic Norwegians were such snarky little devils? Of course, any state that houses a library and museum dedicated to George W. Bush, one of the worst presidents ever, must be completely crazy.
CADILLACRANCH.
A view of Cadillac Ranch, near Amarillo, Texas.
This is the first work in which I used the technique of pointillism. It won first place in a group exhibition.
This is the first work in which I used the technique of pointillism. It won first place in a group exhibition. A Walk in Paradise and more than 20 more of my artworks are available as prints at Etsy.com.

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

POINTS OF COLOR

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

POINTS OF COLOR

October 23, 2015

Opening Quote

“When you’re through changing, you’re through.”

Bruce Barton (1886-1967) was a founder of the celebrated Batten, Barton, Durstine, and Osborne (BBDO) ad agency and served as the firm’s leader from 1919 to 1961. He was also a well-known author and a champion of optimism; his columns and quotes were collected in two volumes: More Power to You (1919) and Better Days (1924). Two more books examined Christian values–The Man Nobody Knows (1925) and The Book Nobody Knows (1926). Barton was an advisor to the Republican party for many years and served in Congress representing a district in Manhattan from 1937 to 1941. He unsuccessfully ran for a New York Senate seat in 1940.

Dirt

In 1940, the United States couldn’t defend itself. It had a tiny, mostly obsolete air force and the 17th largest army in the world. As Hitler’s Blitzkrieg conquered most of the European continent and turned it into a Nazi fiefdom, the U.S. had soldiers on maneuvers; they were forced to use beer cans filled with sand because there were no hand grenades available. A recent history, The Arsenal of Democracy by A.J. Baime, describes the massive industrial effort that transformed the U.S. into the strongest nation in the world and a fount of material support for Great Britain and Russia, its allies in distress. Much of this amazing story unfolded in Detroit, and specifically at Ford. Readers are taken inside the Ford family and discover that Henry Ford, in addition to being a business genius, also abused Edsel, his son, for virtually Edsel’s entire life. (Edsel’s widow accused the father of killing his son.) Ford also hired Harry Bennett, a thug, to create a gangster security froce to frighten and intimidate his workforce and to brutally suppress any union activities. Henry also was a world-class anti-Semite. Where Edsel sought to lead the nation in wartime production, Henry, a staunch isolationist, vetoed the action. Although Edsel was company president, Henry belittled him by frequently overruling his decisions and thereby causing Edsel to be savaged by the press and throughout the nation. Henry also received a “Grand Cross of the German Eagle,” a Nazi medal made of gold and featuring four swastikas. (Charles Lindbergh received the same award.) It’s no wonder that in the early days of the war Hitler described the United States so disparagingly: “What is America but beauty queens, millionaires, stupid records, and Hollywood.” But America proved the Fuhrer to be fatally wrong. In a dazzling display of the power of mass production, Edsel Ford and his associates created the first assembly line for the production of a complex four-engine airplane. The concept of mass producing B-24 heavy bombers was mocked and disparaged. General thinking at this time was that you needed a specialized aircraft company to build planes. Edsel proved his critics to be dead wrong. At its peak, Willow Run, the huge revolutionary factory he developed to produce Liberators, was rolling one B-24 off the assembly line every hour. Following the death of Edsel and Henry the internal squabbling continued at Ford. Bennet, Henry Ford’s gangster-in-residence, sought to become Ford’s chief executive but was defeated by Henry Ford II, Edsel’s son. Bennet was forced to ressign (after being convinced at gunpoint).

Arts

The vast majority of Americans do not go to museums to revel in the creativity of the world’s greatest artists. In fact, in 2012, only one-in-five visited an art museum or gallery, a figure down more than 5% from 2002. The National Endowment for the Arts conducted a survey to determine why men and women did not attend all kinds of visual and performing arts attractions, and the key reasons cited were: lack of time (47%); cost (38%); access (37%) and lack of someone to attend with (22%). The U.S. boasts 35,000 musuems but many are very small. Focus on the most visited museums in the country and the number melts down to 61. Then specify fine arts and the total drops further–to 31. Although art museums in 2014 had a total attendance exceeding 61 million, a significant proportion were domestic and foreign tourists. According to data from 2008, American museum-goers are overwhelmingly white (78.9%), with African-Americans (5.9%) and Hispanics (8.6%) at very low percentages. In terms of programming, contemporary art does not fare as well as more traditional works. The British newspaper The Daily Mail sent visitors to a London museum. They were timed on how long they stopped to view each of the art works selected. Viewers tended to glance quickly at the contemporary works and move on; the traditional pieces held their interest for a significantly longer time. In addition, listings of the “most famous” paintings usually incorporate only a tiny handful of art works from the second half of the 20th century, and none from the past 25 years. About seven years ago I took my youngest daughter to the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennal. After walking around a bit and taking in what was on display, she commented with teenage certainty: “This is not art.” That opinion, of course, is wildly incorrect. However, I must admit that much of today’s art does not move me. I worked in a fine arts museum for four years and tried to collaborate with currators who sought to tightly control the artist and exhibition information they had developed. Since my task was to fashion compelling, easy-to-read marketing copy that would entice visitors to the exhibition in question, this situation was highly problematic. In addition, in critical discourse, there is a jargon-laded voice that is virtually indecipherable to most people. And it’s that mindset that pervades a good deal of today’s art, which seems to be appreciated chiefly by a closed circle of museum curators, art historians, critics, fellow artists, auction houses, and collectors. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to my taste, in much of what passes for art today, there’s far too little beauty.
BOSCHTHEGARDENOFDELIGHTS.
Bosch, Hieronymus. The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1590-1610). Prado, Madrid. On the Listology site, this painting is listed as Number 1 in “The 100 Greatest Paintings of All Time.”

Income

On October 13th, actress Jennifer Lawrence complained that men made more money than women in movies. “When the Sony hack happened,” Ms Lawrence wrote in her friend’s newsletter, “and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.” It might surprise the star of The Hunger Games–who is Hollywood’s highest-paid female actor, earning $52 million pre-tax in one year—that women are beginning to succeed as negotiators and are earning more than men in some cases. In August, a report from the Federal Reserve of New York disclosed that in 29 of 73 college majors–including engineering, treatment therapy, construction, and business analytics–new female graduates are being paid more than their male counterparts. A 2010 study pointed out that in major cities, unmarried, childless 20-something women now earn a median of 8% more than equivalent male workers. The reason: higher education. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2014, 37.2% of women had earned a bachelor’s degree compared to 30.9% for males; in graduate studies, 9.3% of women had received master’s degrees or higher while only 5.9% of males achieved this level of educational attainment. Although it is relatively miniscule, the trend of higher-earning women is taking root; data released in April listed 22 cities where women out-earned men across all occupations. In the summer, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report assessing the earnings of husbands and wives. In couples where both partners are employed, 29.3% of women make more money than their husbands. However, the United States is still a patriarchal society in which motherhood is economically punished. As President Obama commented in his 2015 State of the Union speech, “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.” In the past, unions and government agencies might have negotiated these practices with corporate leaders. But unions have been gutted and conservatives continue to slash the budget. It’s all part of a macho, Darwinian business environment in which any time off–a few sick days or a few years to care for a child–is viewed as feminine weakness. Real men aspire to male role models such as Army Rangers or Navy Seals and don’t need–or want–time off. In many nations, workers are required to take vacation time: France, 30 days; Sweden, 24 days; Germany, 24 days; Canada, 10 days; and the U.S., 0. Women choose to have children so they deserve to suffer. Meanwhile, coporate profits go through the roof. The Federal Reserve study points out that after starting their careers as higher wage pioneers, by mid-career males are back on top by 15%. And throughout the nation, taking the economy as a whole, the gender gap in income persists: the census reports that “median earnings for women working full time, year-round have been just 77% of men’s earnings.”

Technology

In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible, in Latin, became the first work to be printed on a press with movable metal type. Fifty-one years later, or in 1516, the Bible was printed in Greek; 1530, France; and 1534, Germany. A flood of clasical works followed, translated and printed in the vernacular, and this sudden injection of knowledge hastened the Enlightenment. Previously, these classical Greek and Latin books were solely available in fragile, hand-scribed editions and never became available for wider dissemination. The Internet became a mass medium of communication in 1999–only 16 years ago. It was designed to be as open and easy to use as possible to facilitate back-and-forth communication. Yet, this very accessibility may force the Internet to change as fundamentally as printing did when it began spewing out titles in different languages. Because right now, the web is virtually a cookie jar which may be abused at will be savvy individuals and nations. Fromer Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta put the potential danger in context: “The potential for the next Pearl Harbor,” he told a Congressional committee in 2011, “could very well be a cyber-attack.” (This is a different magnitude of threat than the almost routine hacking of corporations, non-profits, and individuals that’s driven by greed. One estimate put the total cost of computer breaches across the economy at $100 billion. The security expertise of the intelligence and military communities are not extended to the private sector, so security varies wildly for each individual organization.) Giving reality to Panetta’s fearful vision is the U.S. nuclear stockpile, which receives millions of daily hacking attempts. Critical infrastructure we take for granted–the electric grid, gas pipelines, water deliver systems–are open to disruption by a few keystrokes, and might take months to repair. For example, imagine a cyber-attack on a huge hydroelectric turbine. The government ran this scenario in 2007’s Project Aurora, and cameras revealed how easily a turbine could be permanently crippled by a remote computer. A machine of this size and complexity could not be replaced in a day or a week. Now imagine someone targeting key electric generation and distribution facilities across the nation, and suddenly you are considering an extended blackout that would devastate the economy and change the way we live. Nations have already militarized the Internet. The first cyber-war was fought in 2007 between Russia and Estonia. The Russians tried to get the Estonian system to crash; Estonia, with U.S. and NATO support resisted the attempt. Stuxnet was the initial cyber-weapon, a joint U.S.-Israeli undertaking that successfully targeted Iranian centrifuges dedicated to enriching uranium; the deadly worm knocked out nearly 1,000. China has been accused of an exceedingly embarrassing hack in which highly sensitive security clearance data maintained by the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management was looted. Extremely sensitive information for four million current and former workers was compromised. The Sony Pictures hack, by North Korea, exposed top executives to ridicule and worse, led to key executives leaving the corporation and could cost Sony up to $100 million. For the future, the U.S. is seeking to create the most destructive possible offensive cyber-weapons through the Department of Defense’s Cyber Command. The undertaking, now five years old, is budgeted in 2015 at $509 million (and that does not include construction costs for new facilities to house the organization.) There is some humor in this potentially catastrophic corruption of a peaceful, individually empwering web. A few days ago, a high school student successfully hacked the personal email of CIA Director John Brennan and Wikileaks published the results. Two sources will bring you up to date on the national security aspects of the Internet. Nova broadcast an episode dedicated to cyber-warfare that was broadcast on October 14 and is available for immediate online viewing. Experienced broadcast reporter Ted Koppel has written a new book: Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath. This new title is officially scheduled for publication October 27. Fifty years from now it will be interesting to see how the Internet has evolved. For example, will there be multiple webs: some as open as now for consumers and others with highly restricted access for encrypted data that requires significantly more protection?
THECONFUSIONOFFRANCEANDITALYLOW.
Handel, Ken. The Confusion of France and Italy. 2015. This piece, togehter with more than 20 others, are available as prints at Etsy.com.

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

POINTS OF COLOR

October 17, 2015

Opening Quote

“Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.”

David McCullough is a historian and biographer who has written a number of bestselling, critically noteworthy books. His latest work, The Wright Brothers (2015), investigates how two bicycle mechanics from Ohio were able, in 1903, to achieve the world’s first powered flight. Additional McCullough titles include: The Path Between the Seas (a history of the Panama Canal–and winner of the National Book Award in History, 1977); Mornings on Horseback (the young Theodore Roosevelt, and also a National Book Award-winner–in biography; Truman (President Harry S. Truman, Pulitzer Prize in Biography, 1993); and John Adams (a second Pulitzer Prize, in biography, 2002).

Income

As reported by Business Insider, Wall Street average salaries and bonuses were $404,800. Fortune reveals that the average 2014 Main Street salaries of American workers were $45,786. Welcome to income inequality. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, and an author and economic analyst–explains this phenomenon in a fascinating video, Inequality for All (available on DVD from Netflix). Reich has also published a new book on the topic, Saving Capitalism.

Counting

In Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution the Federal Government is required to conduct a count of the nation’s residents every ten years; the latest population estimate is 318,857,056 (2014). The first cenus took place in 1790–just two years after the Constitution was ratified. Given the nature of our government, one vital function of the census is to determine the number of Congressmen to which each state is entitled. The count also determines the distribution of Federal funds. The Census Bureau constantly seeks to upgrade its accuracy and efficiency. One example of this institutional self-improvement took place in 1890 when the census employed the world’s first electronic tabulating system. Today, the Census Bureau must stay ahead of the curve in regard to new scientific and technological breakthroughs. Yet, every time the census publishes its ten-year report, it is criticized. In 2010, the major complaint was the undercounting of 1.5 million people: African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans as well as young men and renters. In their zeal to shrink the size and impact of the government, Republicans want to cut the Census Bureau’s budget. President Ronald Reagan set the tone for decades of self-inflicted wounds in government oversight when he quipped, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” Of course, this is purely right-wing drivel. But conservatives and powerful interests–with their huge campaign contributions, army of lobbyists, and wealthy political action committees–control the country’s narrative. As if to prove just how obstructionist they can be, House Republicans narrowly averted a government shutdown by agreeing to a short-term spending bill that will expire two weeks before Christmas.

Politics

Let’s go to the video tape! In their first debate–on October 13th in Vegas–the Democratic presidential candidates experienced the joy of victory and agony of defeat. There was Hillary, acting like she was already the winner and had already avenged her loss to Obama in 2008. Bernie burned. He was a scalding avenging angel, while the television medium is cool. Former Senators Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee were like special ed students. Webb was whiny and sulky; why didn’t anyone want to listen to him? And Chaffee was this far away from resurrecting Al Gore’s lock box. Martin O’Malley,  former Maryland Governor, scored a knockdown: keeping focused on compassionately coping with income inequality and climate change and all the other things that are invisible to Republicans. He was Bernie without the fire, and Hillary without a clitoris. In this Greek drama, will O’Malley be the God who denies the Golden Fleece to Hillary once more? Or is he a little short and a little late? The only way Bernie gets to play in the White House is if he succeeds in recreating what used to be known as the movement. Because voter alienation, anger, and apathy are so entrenched that turnout in the 2012 presidential election was an anemic 57.5% while in the 2014 midterms it was a shamefully low 36.3%. Those kind of numbers spell doom for the Democratic Socialist.

Award

Oscars, Emmys, Tonys–and Webbys? How about some digital glam? Each year, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) hands out awards recognizing Internet excellence in five major categories: Websites, Advertising & Media, Online Film & Video, Mobile Sites & Apps, and Social. Two winners are announced in each area. The 1,000 members of IADAS vote to select Webby-winners; a People’s Voice Award is determined by online popular voting, which, in 2015, attracted more than 500,000 ballots from more than 200 nations and territories. The annual IADAS gala was held at New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street on May 19, but highlights of the event are available for current viewing at webbyawards.com. There are also special Webby categories recognizing Lifetime Achievement, Breakout of the Year, Best Actor, Best Actress and more. Fame and talent mingle on the panel responsible for selecting these winners. Within the five major award groupings are dozens of topic-and-service-specific website categories. I happen to know that Unroll.Me won the Webby for “Mobile Sites and Apps Services & Utilities” because Julia Handel, the company’s marketing and communcations manager, is my eldest daughter. Unroll.Me enables you to organize the inbox on your email. It creates a “Rollup”: a daily digest that provides an overview of all the subscriptions you receive. Your overstuffed and disorganized inbox becomes far easier to manage because your subscriptions now reside in an Unroll.Me folder. The service makes it easy to unsubscribe from unwanted vendors and to discover new publications and newsletters that you do want. Unroll.Me also allows you to screen personal contacts. In other words, the service empowers you to take control of your email rather than vice versa. That surely merits a Webby!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Handel, Ken. Julia at 22. Julia Handel is marketing and communications manager at Unroll.Me.
CAROLINEAT19LOW.
Handel, Ken. Caroline at 19. This work, and more than 20 other of my artworks are available as prints at Etsy.com.

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

POINTS OF COLOR: DEMOCRATIC DEBATE MY WAY

POINTS OF COLOR: DEMOCRATIC DEBATE

HILLBERN.2
Hillbern
Let’s go the video tape! In their first debate–on October 13th in Vegas–the Democratic presidential candidates experienced the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. There was Hillary, acting like she was already the winner, and had already avenged her loss to Obama in 2008. Bernie burned. He was a scalding avenging angel, while the television medium is cool. Former Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) andLincoln Chaffee (R-RI) were like special ed students. Webb was whiny and sulky; why didn’t anyone want to listen to him? And Chaffee was this far away from resurrecting Al Gore’s lock-box. Martin O’Malley, former Maryland Governor, scored a knockout: keeping focused on compassionately coping with income inequality and climate change and all the other things that are invisible to Republicans. O’Malley was Bernie without the fire and Hillary without a clitoris. In this Greek drama, will he be the God who denies the Golden Fleece to Hillary once more? Or is he a little short and a little late? The only way Bernie gets to play in the White House is if he succeeds in recreating what used to be known as the movement. Because voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election was an anemic 57.5% and in the 2014 midterms a shamefully low 36.3%. Those kind of numbers spell doom for the Democratic Socialist.

BLOG UPDATE

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

POINTS OF COLOR

UPDATE

October 10, 2015

In yesterday’s blog post there was an item about the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. President Obama flew out to comfort the families–and prompted protests by Roseburg residents that Obama was merely using his visit to impose a gun-control mindset–which they opposed 100%. Meanwhile, exemplifying the nutsyness of the presidential campaign, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called Obama’s Oregon visit manipulative and “obscene.” Criticism of Obama got equal play in some news venues to the fact that as the president was in Roseburg, there were two more college shootings. At Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ, the tally was one fatality and three wounded. And at a residential site for Texas Southern University students, there was one dead and one wounded. This is turning into a new NCAA sport.