Wednesday, March 22, 2006


In a brilliant piece in Reason about how development economists explain why poor countries stay poor, using Cameroon as a case-study, author Tim Harford vividly illustrates a key point from economist Mancur Olson's indispensable book Power and Prosperity. The argument is commonly [mis]used, but entirely relevant to the current political climate:

Imagine a dictator with a tenure of one week—in effect, a bandit with a roving army who sweeps in, takes whatever he wishes, and leaves. Assuming he’s neither malevolent nor kindhearted, but purely self-interested, he has no incentive to leave anything, unless he plans on coming back next year. But imagine that the roaming bandit likes the climate of a certain spot and decides to settle down, building a palace and encouraging his army to avail themselves of the locals. Desperately unfair though it is, the locals are probably better off now that the dictator has decided to stay. A purely self-interested dictator will realize he cannot destroy the economy and starve the people if he plans on sticking around, because then he would exhaust all the resources and have nothing to steal the following year. So a dictator who lays claim to a land is a preferable to one who moves around constantly in search of new victims to plunder....a leader who confidently expects to be in power for 20 years will do more to cultivate his economy than one who expects to flee the country after 20 weeks. Twenty years of an “elected dictator” is probably better than 20 years of one coup after another.
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Art Buchwald is unwell....the legendary Pulitzer prize-winning humorist and Washington Post columnist has been in a D.C. area hospice since Feb, chosing to forgo dialysis treatment. He has in effect, chosen to bravely tackle the great inevitable head on, and in inimitable fashion, wrote a column about it.... Buchwald will certainly go down in history as one of the greatest columnists since the late, great, Jeffrey Bernard---whose feckless nature lead to the Spectator's habit of printing the infamous one-line apology, Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, when he was too drunk to write.
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William H. Gass on Autobiography:

History is something we catch in the act, and only acts have public consequences. Internal states are not even evidence, for pains can be imagined or misplaced, their groaning faked; better to see where the bone is broken or toothe decayed (John Dewey once argued that an aching tooth was not sufficient evidence of something anywhere amiss), and if I promise to give another all my love, it would be wise of the lucky recipient to wait and weigh what the offered love improves, and count what its solicitude will cost.

From Finding a Form.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

ArchNewsNow and The New York Observer’s Tom McGeveran point out this interesting exchange with architect Rafael Viñoly from an interview I did with him a few months back---prophetic in light of the Kimmel Center's $23 million lawsuit against him which has since been settled.

Is that why you might be drawn to the civic function of a museum, as opposed to more corporate architecture?

No, it has nothing to do with corporate…it has to do with the use of funds that have to be within logic, and that logic to me is what defines the capacity of an architect to produce a great idea, with less rather than more.

You can read the full interview here.

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My recent interview with Belgian painter Michael Borremans is posted on Artinfo. I can’t recommend his current show, ‘Horse Hunting’, at David Zwirner, highly enough.
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If you haven’t read the brilliant Celia Farber article that has supposedly done ‘irreparable damage’ to Harper's, it’s definitely a must read. And for background on Peter Dusberg and the virus myth thesis, click here and here . I confess I was thinking about interviewing Duesberg for a publication recently....
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Le Monde Diplo looks at 'independent but not free' Tunisia, which celebrates it's 50th year of independence this month, but where "hopes raised by the end of French rule and early reforms have long evaporated".
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openDemocracy looks at the implications of the lawsuit filed against Craigslist for violating fair-housing practices. The lawsuit cites [all too common] ads for roommates that include such things as "African Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me so that won't work out", and "Requirements: Clean Godly Christian Male". “

“Yet what these laws do is perpetuate an illusion. They do not protect people. Early in the days of Craigslist I remember reading a question posted by a frustrated black man who was looking for a room to rent in New York. He felt that when he went to view apartments to share, people of other races changed their minds about him when they met him because they didn't want to live with a black man. His question was, should he put his race in his ad and replies to ads or not? My instinct would have been to tell him not to, but I was swayed by the blunt wisdom of one man who replied succinctly: "Yes, put your race in. Why waste your time going to meet bigots?"

Monday, March 06, 2006

NADA Artists Talks; Schmidberger, Austrian Cultural Forum

I will be doing an artist talk with painter Christoph Ruckhäberle about his current exhibition of paintings at Zach Feuer Gallery, 530 W. 24th St, at 11:30 am on March 11.

The discussion is part NADA's 2006 series of public programming and events, and are free and open to the public.