Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: new york times

Good manners and elegance

David Brooks, not exactly the ideal type supporter of the current American president, has written a marvellous, short article on the Obama presidency praising its ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance – something we all will, or should, miss at least a little bit.

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We needed beer

Lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation — the other human drives that make for a vibrant civilization. To free up those, we needed something that would suppress the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive. We needed something that, on occasion, would let us break free from our biological herd imperative — or at least let us suppress our angst when we did. We needed beer. Luckily, from time to time, our ancestors, like other animals, would run across fermented fruit or grain and sample it. How this accidental discovery evolved into the first keg party, of course, is still unknown. But evolve it did, perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago. … Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds. But the alcohol would have had more far-ranging effects, too, reducing the strong herd instincts to maintain a rigid social structure. In time, humans became more expansive in their thinking, as well as more collaborative and creative. A night of modest tippling may have ushered in these feelings of freedom — though, the morning after, instincts to conform and submit would have kicked back in to restore the social order.

Read the entire article on The New York Times.

For sale

I am very sorry to hear that New York Times Co. (NYT) is formally exploring a sale of the Boston Globe, its only remaining business outside the core New York Times media brand. Boston Globe is a quality newspaper, and the main provider of stunning pictures that I regularly admire on the Big Picture section of the website. I hope that won’t change with the future ownership.

José Mujica

I first read about him when I was in Bruxelles. There was a long article about him on the Courrier international – a very good French magazine, by the way. Now José Mujica is on the front page of the New York Times, that describes his lifestile as ‘Franciscan’. He is a former guerrillero Tupamaro who survived many years in prison. In 2010 he was elected president of Uruguay. He reads Seneca as a teacher of wisdom and donates 90% of his presidential salary to the poor. He drives a old Volkswagen Beetle. The cover photo shows him as he prepares to eat alone in his tiny apartment, having rejected the official residence. I personally prefer this one picture.

He is also a vegetarian. His political ideology has evolved over the years from orthodox to pragmatist. In recent times he has expressed a desire for a more flexible political left that can think outside the box.