Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bloomsday + Congrats to the Grads + Buffett's Giveaway + Krugman/Cassandra

It's Bloomsday! "STATELY, PLUMP BUCK MULLIGAN CAME FROM THE STAIRHEAD, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressing gown, ungirdled, was sustained gently-behind him by the mild morning air..." and you know, or know of, the rest. (If not, you can find the entire, remarkable novel, Ulysses, one of the greatest ever written in the English or any other language, here.) You can hear Joyce himself reading from it here, at Bedeutung Blog.

To commemorate today there's the annual Lilac Bloomsday Run, as well as the Bloomsday Festival in Dublin and elsewhere. Apple, steadily gaining a reputation for prudery regarding its iPhone and iPad applications (and the anti-porn comments of its founder-guru), has decided to reinstate Throwaway House's Ulysses Seen app, created by which it had previously censored because of its depiction of partial nudity (an imagined goddess's breasts, Buck Mulligan's penis, egads!)

I haven't seen this app, but given how the entire novel ends, I wonder if that was bowdlerized too. To Apple's credit, they also reinstated a graphic novel version of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, which features a strip of a male couple kissing, after having heavily censored it.  Something tells me neither Joyce nor Wilde would have been surprised.


The university's graduation doesn't officially occur until this weekend, but final grades are posted, so I think I can post without caution:


Some of the seniors (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and lit scholars writers all) at the annual Bowling challenge (fiction won, creative nonfiction finished second, and I bowled with poetry this year). Congratulations to all the graduating senior major and minors, and to the other undergraduate students finishing up this week that I taught (including those in the Conceptual Art/Writing class--you were great!), advised or worked with over the last few years!

Congratulations also to one of my graduate fiction thesis advisees, Roya Khatiblou, whose magnificent manuscript received a 2009-10 Distinguished Thesis Award! It was exciting to work with Roya, and with the other graduating fiction students I advised this year, whom I'd also taught in the past, Jennifer Companik and Wendy Schoua Musto.

Lastly, to all the students in the novella class (The Theory and Practice of Fiction, Winter-Spring), congratulations on finishing your novellas! It was a huge, speeded up, often stressful undertaking, and you accomplished in 4 1/2 months what it takes many writers a year or more do but you've all completed your little books, and deserve praise for having done so!


Warren Buffett is giving away 99% of his wealth. That's right--nearly all of it, to charity. And none is going towards endowments, but towards organizations with current pressing needs. He says that he can do this and still maintain his current lifestyle, as can his very wealthy children. This giveaway is part a push that he and Bill and Melinda Gates are making for hundreds of superrich Americans to pledge at least 50% of their wealth to charity. Their target is for their fellow billionaires to give away about $600 billion, thus changing the landscape of charity in this country.

Of course the government could solve countless problems simply by reinstating the estate tax, closing all current tax loopholes and strengthening penalties for tax avoidance, and levying another hefty tax on these folks, putting the money, which would far exceed Buffett's and the Gates' target, towards pressing national needs, of which there are many, as opposed to the idiosyncratic focuses of the superrich, but the larger idea, of giving away this almost unimaginable wealth for the benefit of others, especially at a time of several national economic crisis and of a massive gulf between the rich and the rest of the country, is admirable. Let's see how many take Buffett and the Gateses up on their challenge.

Speaking of unemployment and the struggles people are facing, some of those in power, with great wealth (c. $75 million) at their disposal, still think that people on unemployment don't want to work. It's beyond crazy, really. I doubt even Warren Buffett could get through to these people. But he or someone like him should try, since they only listen to their own.


Ironically, as Buffett is calling for this extraordinary personal charity, there's Paul Krugman (Princeton Professor, New York Times columnist and Nobel Laureate), a/k/a Cassandra, continually trying to address the terrible economic policies now sweeping the US and its major international peers, which have been gripped by deficit frenzy; against the current, he keeps sounding the anti-austerity alarm. Between the Group of 20 and the US Administration and Congress, the mania for cutting deficits through fiscal austerity and tight monetary policies has now become an article of faith.  But Krugman and a few others keep warning against this neo-Hooverism and the dangers it's already sparking. Is anyone (but his loyal readers), especially those controlling the national and global checkbook, listening?  Do they care? Is there any way to make them care?

No comments:

Post a Comment