Pensieve pro Presidentials?

19 December 2007
This is a worldview that detests anger as a motivating force, that distrusts easy dichotomies between the parties of good and evil, believing instead that the crucial dichotomy runs between the good and bad within each individual.

David Brooks writing in the NYTimes about Barack Obama's personality.

The Big D

10 December 2007
The dissertation does not make these pages very often. However, once in a while even it has to make an appearance. In fact, it has been somewhat like the gian elephant in the room throughout this entire blog: my most major project, yet rarely directly mentioned. It has not yet come to a standstill. It does need occasional inspirational quotes, however:
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Substituting "page" for "day" in the above would not make it less helpful where dissertators are concerned.

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World Aids Day Retrospective

04 December 2007

As usual, I'm behind. But I thought the above video from EUTube might be of interest to all. Plus, I didn't make any post about World Aids Day on 1 December. There is not much attention given to HIV/AIDS in the Czech Republic, and last I heard, condom use was on the decline (the situation in 2003). The video is a good reminder, apart from the slightly misleading depiction of the virus traveling on the bottom of shoes. Other than that, the information is, well, disturbing.

Previously at NvB: Day With(Out) Art
Electing Capitalism, or Pepino and Cold Chicken

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The Honor of Czech Music? Fine, I Quit!

03 December 2007
I just noted that Zdeněk Mácal is now the former conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. Macal was credited with bringing the orchestra back to a former prestige for the first time since the Communist era. But apparently he didn't get on well with critics in Prague. He decided to quit the orchestra unexpectedly in response, some have suggested, to a negative review in Lidové noviny.

The critic, Czech Radio Vltava editor Jindřich Bálek, does underrate the performance, but the review headline is one of those damning by faint praise: "To the honor of Czech music without an exceptional performance." Though this may seem a lukewarm criticism, insulting Czech music can be a major offense (see my post on the "Grand Tradition"). The critic lauds the orchestra for performing "little played" pieces—in this case Dvořák's Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major and Josef Suk's symphonic poem Zrání—but suggests that they be played in more impressive fashion. "After all, some works needto be rehearsed more, or they are better off left unplayed," he concludes, pointing out a missed opportunity for the orchestra to attract new audiences to classical music since the concert was broadcast on Czech Television.

Václav Riedlbauch, the Orchestra's executive director, told the CTK news service that Mácal "is a very emotional man, and he just reacted to the latest review on Friday the way he reacted." Riedlbauch apparently denied that there was any larger agreement between the conductor and management. I was incredulous, but the Orchestra's Web page does say that Mácal's tenure ended 8 September.

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