Thursday, March 28, 2013

From "The Lawful Path"


Some Statistics
on Guns and Doctors

Doctors

  1. The number of physicians in the U.S. is approximately 700,000.
  2. Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are approximately 120,000.
  3. Accidental deaths per physician is 0.1714286.
Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.

Guns

  1. The number of gun owners in the U.S. is approximately 80,000,000. (Yes, that's 80 million)
  2. The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
  3. The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.0000188.
Statistics courtesy of FBI.

So,statistically...

Doctors are more than 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.
Remember, 'Guns don't kill people, doctors do.'
FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT
Almost everyone has at least one doctor.
This means you are over 9,000 times more likely to be killed by a doctor as by a gun owner!!!

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!
Out of concern for the public at large, We withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention!

Source:  http://land.netonecom.net/tlp/index.shtml

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the Cyprus heist is really important


Cyprus and the Death of Deposit Insurance

By Robert Tracinski - March 19, 2013

From the beginning, the European crisis has been a story of small countries on the Eurozone's "periphery" revealing fundamental problems at the heart of the system. Now a very small country on the outer edges of the periphery—the tiny Mediterranean island of Cyprus, with about a million inhabitants and 0.02% of Europe's GDP—is triggering the latest wave of the crisis.

This is not really about Cyprus, of course, but about the precedent that is being set there. In exchange for an infusion of capital into the nation's banks, Cyprus is being asked to impose a "special bank levy" that would take 6.75% out of all bank deposits up to 100,000 euros, and 9.9% above that.

This is described as a "wealth tax," except that it's not a tax. A tax is a regular rule that operates uniformly according to a pre-determine formula. A one-time, ad hoc seizure of money isn't a tax. It is confiscation. Or we can use a plainer word for it: theft.

The big news isn't this bank heist, but who is pulling it off. The plan was imposed, not by some wild-eyed revanchist Communists, but by the finance ministers of respectable European countries, who thought up the idea and imposed it on Cyprus. Like Willie Sutton, they know where the money is.

There are special circumstances that made them think they might get away with it. Cyprus is a small island with a large banking center that holds deposits many times larger than the local economy. A lot of this money comes from Russia, and Cyprus is reputedly a tax haven for Russian "oligarchs" (politically connected billionaires) and mobsters. In an American context, you might compare Cyprus to the Cayman Islands, which have been so vilified just having a bank account there is enough to end a politician's career. Just ask Mitt Romney.

But in showing us what they'll do to an unsympathetic target, Europe's leaders are showing us what they would like to do everywhere: dig themselves and the crony banks out of a tight spot through the mass confiscation of wealth. It's the ultimate bailout plan: they just take whatever they need.

And there is more to it than that. This is confiscation, but it a particular kind of confiscation with particular implications. It is the end of deposit insurance. Depositors, particularly small depositors, are supposed to have an ironclad guarantee that their money will always be there, no matter what—that they won't wake up one Monday morning to find that 6.75% of it is gone.

That's why the Cyprus heist is really important. It is a warning that the whole system of deposit insurance is coming unglued.

Deposit insurance is central to modern banking—or rather, it is central to the contemporary system of government-guaranteed, government-regulated, too-big-to-fail banking. Here is how the deal is supposed to work. The government guarantees ordinary bank deposits, but in exchange it imposes regulations meant to prevent banks from failing so that they will rarely have to call on the government guarantees. But then there's a complication. While the government's deposit insurance raises enough money to handle the failure of a limited number of smaller banks, there are some institutions that grow so big that the government doesn't have enough money to cover their losses if things go wrong. That's one of the reasons why these banks become "too big to fail," which necessitates even more government support, in exchange for which they are supposed to be placed under an even heavier layer of regulation.

Cyprus is a signal that this whole system is failing. Government regulation doesn't actually guarantee solvency; in fact, it is the insolvency of the governments themselves that triggered the Euro crisis. Moreover, when things really go wrong, the government can't actually guarantee all of the deposits—and now we're starting to wonder whether they're still interested in trying.

When this system starts to come apart, its consequences are worse than an ordinary bank panic. In the bad old days, when individual banks and their depositors were on their own, if one bank failed—and if it was not bought out or rescued by another bank—its depositors might take a haircut, but only after shareholders and bondholders were wiped out. This gave all of the parties a strong incentive to make sure the bank was solvent and wasn't taking too many risks. Under the current system, all of these parties are absolved from such a responsibility, but we pay a heavy price for it. When things go wrong, every depositor at every bank gets a haircut, while politics decides who gets hit worse. In the Cyprus deal, European bondholders will be protected, but Russian oligarchs will be looted, and small Cypriot depositors will get caught in the middle. Remember, also, that all of this is being done to avoid a run on the banks—but that is precisely what has been happening in Cyprus, with depositors emptying the nation's cash machines in an attempt to withdraw their money before it could be seized.

Combine this news with Gretchen Morgenson's summary of a Senate inquiry into huge trading losses at JPMorgan Chase, one of our too-big-to-fail megabanks. The bottom line is that big banks are still too big to fail and they are still taking undeclared risks backed by taxpayer money. Across the board, the general sense is that the system is failing and government leaders aren't really trying to reform it. They're just trying to restore the status quo ante, setting us up for a whole new round of financial crisis.

Can Cyprus happen here? Well, some on the left are already floating plans to rescind the tax exemptions on retirement accounts, making a grab for a big pile of your savings.

But will they do what Cyprus is doing with our bank deposits? Probably not. If history is any guide, our political czars wouldn't attempt something so crude as to just grab money from our accounts. No, they'll do what they have always done: siphon it gradually by printing lots of money and inflating away our savings.

I understand if you don't find that very reassuring. 
//
Robert Tracinski is editor of The Tracinski Letter and a contributor to RealClearMarkets.
Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/03/19/cyprus_and_the_death_of_deposit_insurance_117513.html at March 20, 2013 - 05:52:47 PM PDT

Take THAT, Wiley! You big bully.

AALL's Washington Blawg



Posted: 19 Mar 2013 12:45 PM PDT
In a victory for libraries and consumers, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a 6-3 opinion in favor of petitioner Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai student who resold textbooks lawfully purchased by his family at bookstores in Thailand. AALL’s Copyright Committee chair Tracy Thompson-Przylucki wrote on the Copyright Committee blog:
In its opinion in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a decision released today, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the first sale doctrine is not subject to any geographical limitations (Justice Ginsburg dissents). The Court’s decision means that purchasers of works produced outside of the U.S., if the works are lawfully subject to U.S. Copyright protections, are entitled to invoke the first sale doctrine to justify their subsequent sale, lease or loan of those works. This is an important victory not just for consumers like Kirtsaeng, but for libraries and library users.
AALL is a member of the Owners’ Rights Initiative, which released the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Shore:
ORI is gratified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Supap Kirtsaeng in this important copyright case. This decision is a landmark win for consumers, small businesses, online marketplaces, retailers and libraries nationwide and an affirmation of the ORI motto, ‘you bought it, you own it.’ This decision definitively affirms the first sale doctrine, cementing the right of consumers and organizations to sell, lend and give away goods that they bought and own, regardless of where those goods were made.
While we are energized by this decision, we expect that some will continue attempts to eliminate owners’ rights, reduce competition in the marketplace and restrict the global trade of authentic goods. ORI will continue to be vigilant and diligent in protecting owners’ rights now and in the future and we expect policymakers to do the same.
For more information about the case, please see AALL’s issue brief by Amy Ash, member of the Copyright Committee and George H. Pike, 2011-2012 chair of the Committee. AALL submitted an amicus brief in support of Kirtsaeng with Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Special Libraries Association, and U.S. PIRG.


Alexander Litvinenko


Russia's Interest in Litvinenko

November 30, 2006 | 0314 GMT

By George Friedman
The recent death of a former Russian intelligence agent, Alexander Litvinenko, apparently after being poisoned with polonium-210, raises three interesting questions. First: Was he poisoned by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB? Second: If so, what were they trying to achieve? Third: Why were they using polonium-210, instead of other poisons the KGB used in the past? In short, the question is, what in the world is going on?
Litvinenko would seem to have cut a traditional figure in Russian and Soviet history, at least on the surface. The first part of his life was spent as a functionary of the state. Then, for reasons that are not altogether clear, he became an exile and a strident critic of the state he had served. He published two books that made explosive allegations about the FSB and President Vladimir Putin, and he recently had been investigating the shooting death of a Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who also was a critic of the Putin government. Clearly, he was intent on stirring up trouble for Moscow.
Russian and Soviet tradition on this is clear: Turncoats like Litvinenko must be dealt with, for two reasons. First, they represent an ongoing embarrassment to the state. And second, if they are permitted to continue with their criticisms, they will encourage other dissidents -- making it appear that, having once worked for the FSB, you can settle safely in a city like London and hurl thunderbolts at the motherland with impunity. The state must demonstrate that this will not be permitted -- that turncoats will be dealt with no matter what the circumstances.
The death of Litvinenko, then, certainly makes sense from a political perspective. But it is the perspective of the old Soviet Union -- not of the new Russia that many believed was being born, slowly and painfully, with economic opening some 15 years ago. This does not mean, however, that the killing would not serve a purpose for the Russian administration, in the current geopolitical context.
For years, we have been forecasting and following the transformation of Russia under Vladimir Putin. Putin became president of Russia to reverse the catastrophe of the Yeltsin years. Under communism, Russia led an empire that was relatively poor but enormously powerful in the international system. After the fall of communism, Russia lost its empire, stopped being enormously powerful, and became even poorer than before. Though Westerners celebrated the fall of communism and the Soviet Union, these turned out to be, for most Russians, a catastrophe with few mitigating tradeoffs.
Obviously, the new Russia was of enormous benefit to a small class of entrepreneurs, led by what became known as the oligarchs. These men appeared to be the cutting edge of capitalism in Russia. They were nothing of the sort. They were simply people who knew how to game the chaos of the fall of communism, figuring out how to reverse Soviet expropriation with private expropriation. The ability to turn state property into their own property represented free enterprise only to the most superficial or cynical viewers.
The West was filled with both in the 1990s. Many academics and journalists saw the process going on in Russia as the painful birth of a new liberal democracy. Western financial interests saw it as a tremendous opportunity to tap into the enormous value of a collapsing empire. The critical thing is that the creation of value, the justification of capitalism, was not what was going on. Rather, the expropriation of existing value was the name of the game. Bankers loved it, analysts misunderstood it and the Russians were crushed by it.
It was this kind of chaos into which Putin stepped when he became president, and which he has slowly, inexorably, been bringing to heel for several years. This is the context in which Litvinenko's death -- which, admittedly, raises many questions -- must be understood.
The Andropov Doctrine
Let's go back to Yuri Andropov, who was the legendary head of the KGB in the 1970s and early 1980s, and the man who first realized that the Soviet Union was in massive trouble. Of all the institutions in the world, the KGB alone had the clearest idea of the condition of the Soviet Union. Andropov realized in the early 1980s that the Soviet economy was failing and that, with economic failure, it would collapse. Andropov knew that the exploitation of Western innovation had always been vital to the Soviet economy. The KGB had been tasked with economic and technical espionage in the West. Rather than developing their own technology, in many instances, the Soviets innovated by stealing Western technology via the KGB, essentially using the KGB as an research and development system. Andropov understood just how badly the Soviet Union needed this innovation and how inefficient the Soviet kleptocracy was.
Andropov engineered a new concept. If the Soviet Union was to survive, it had to forge a new relationship with the West. The regime needed not only Western technology, but also Western-style management systems and, above all, Western capital. Andropov realized that so long as the Soviet Union was perceived as a geopolitical threat to the West and, particularly, to the United States, this transfer was not going to take place. Therefore, the Soviet Union had to shift its global strategy and stop threatening Western geopolitical interests.
The Andropov doctrine argued that the Soviet Union could not survive if it did not end, or at least mitigate, the Cold War. Furthermore, if it was to entice Western investment and utilize that investment efficiently, it needed to do two things. First, there had to be a restructuring of the Soviet economy (perestroika). Second, the Soviet system had to be opened to accept innovation (glasnost). Andropov's dream for the Soviet Union never really took hold during his lifetime, as he died several months after becoming the Soviet leader. He was replaced by a nonentity, Konstantin Chernenko, who also died after a short time in office. And then there was Mikhail Gorbachev, who came to embody the KGB's strategy.
Gorbachev was clearly perceived by the West as a reformer, which he certainly was. But less clear to the West were his motives for reform. He was in favor of glasnost and perestroika, but not because he rejected the Soviet system. Rather, Gorbachev embraced these because, like the KGB, he was desperately trying to save the system. Gorbachev pursued the core vision of Yuri Andropov -- and by the time he took over, he was the last hope for that vision. His task was to end the Cold War and trade geopolitical concessions for economic relations with the West.
It was a well-thought-out policy, but it was ultimately a desperate one -- and it failed. In conceding Central Europe, allowing it to break away without Soviet resistance, Gorbachev lost control of the entire empire, and it collapsed. At that point, the economic restructuring went out of control, and openness became the cover for chaos -- with the rising oligarchs and others looting the state for personal gain. But one thing remained: The KGB, both as an institution and as a group of individuals, continued to operate.
Saving the System: A Motive for Murder?
As a young KGB operative, Vladimir Putin was a follower of Andropov. Like Andropov, Putin was committed to the restructuring of the Soviet Union in order to save it. He was a foot soldier in that process.
Putin and his FSB faction realized in the late 1990s that, however lucrative the economic opening process might have been for some, the net effect on Russia was catastrophic. Unlike the oligarchs, many of whom were indifferent to the fate of Russia, Putin understood that the path they were on would only lead to another revolution -- one even more catastrophic than the first. Outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, there was hunger and desperation. The conditions for disaster were all there.
Putin also realized that Russia had not reaped the sought-after payoff with its loss of prestige and power in the world. Russia had traded geopolitics but had not gotten sufficient benefits in return. This was driven home during the Kosovo crisis, when the United States treated fundamental Russian interests in the Balkans with indifference and contempt. It was clear to Putin by then that Boris Yeltsin had to go. And go he did, with Putin taking over.
Putin is a creation of Andropov. In his bones, he believes in the need for a close economic relationship with the West. But his motives are not those of the oligarchs, and certainly not those of the West. His goal, like that of the KGB, is the preservation and reconstruction of the Russian state. For Putin, perestroika and glasnost were tactical necessities that caused a strategic disaster. He came into office with the intention of reversing that disaster. He continued to believe in the need for openness and restructuring, but only as a means toward Russian power, not as an end in itself.
For Putin, the only solution to Russian chaos was the reassertion of Russian value. The state was the center of Russian society, and the intelligence apparatus was the center of the Russian state. Thus, Putin embarked on a new, slowly implemented policy. First, bring the oligarchs under control; don't necessarily destroy them, but compel them to work in parallel with the state. Second, increase Moscow's control over the outlying regions. Third, re-create a Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. Fourth, use the intelligence services internally to achieve these ends and externally to reassert Russian global authority.
None of these goals could be accomplished if a former intelligence officer could betray the organs of the state and sit in London hurling insults at Putin, the FSB and Russia. For a KGB man trained by Andropov, this would show how far Russia had fallen. Something would have to be done about it. Litvinenko's death, seen from this standpoint, was a necessary and inevitable step if Putin's new strategy to save the Russian state is to have meaning.
Anomaly
That, at least, is the logic. It makes sense that Litvinenko would have been killed by the FSB. But there is an oddity: The KGB/FSB have tended to use poison mostly in cases where they wanted someone dead, but wanted to leave it unclear how he died and who killed him. Poison traditionally has been used when someone wants to leave a corpse in a way that would not incur an autopsy or, if a normal autopsy is conducted, the real cause of death would not be discovered (as the poisons used would rapidly degrade or leave the body). When the KGB/FSB wanted someone dead, and wanted the world to know why he had been killed -- or by whom -- they would use two bullets to the brain. A professional hit leaves no ambiguity.
The use of polonium-210 in this case, then, is very odd. First, it took a long time to kill Litvinenko -- giving him plenty of time to give interviews to the press and level charges against the Kremlin. Second, there was no way to rationalize his death as a heart attack or brain aneurysm. Radiation poisoning doesn't look like anything but what it is. Third, polonium-210 is not widely available. It is not something you pick up at your local pharmacy. The average homicidal maniac would not be able to get hold of it or use it.
So, we have a poisoning that was unmistakably deliberate. Litvinenko was killed slowly, leaving him plenty of time to confirm that he thought Putin did it. And the poison would be very difficult to obtain by anyone other than a state agency. Whether it was delivered from Russia -- something the Russians have denied -- or stolen and deployed in the United Kingdom, this is not something to be tried at home, kids. So, there was a killing, designed to look like what it was -- a sophisticated hit.
This certainly raises questions among conspiracy theorists and others. The linkage back to the Russian state appears so direct that some might argue it points to other actors or factions out to stir up trouble for Putin, rather than to Putin himself. Others might say that Litvinenko was killed slowly, yet with an obvious poisoning signature, so that he in effect could help broadcast the Kremlin's message -- and cause other dissidents to think seriously about their actions.
We know only what everyone else knows about this case, and we are working deductively. For all we know, Litvinenko had a very angry former girlfriend who worked in a nuclear lab. But while that's possible, one cannot dismiss the fact that his death -- in so public a manner -- fits in directly with the logic of today's Russia and the interests of Vladimir Putin and his group. It is not that we know or necessarily believe Putin personally ordered a killing, but we do know that, in the vast apparatus of the FSB, giving such an order would not have been contrary to the current inclinations of the leadership.
And whatever the public's impression of the case might be, the KGB/FSB has not suddenly returned to the scene. In fact, it never left. Putin has been getting the system back under control for years. The free-for-all over economic matters has ended, and Putin has been restructuring the Russian economy for several years to increase state control, without totally reversing openness. This process, however, requires the existence of a highly disciplined FSB -- and that is not compatible with someone like a Litvinenko publicly criticizing the Kremlin from London. Litvinenko's death would certainly make that point very clear.


U.K.: 'Rogues' Possibly Killed Litvinenko

December 1, 2006 | 1853 GMT
There is a possibility that ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko's death by polonium-210 poisoning was the work of "rogue elements" within Russia, the Guardian newspaper reported Dec. 1, citing British intelligence officials. Official involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government has been ruled out, the report added.

Read more: U.K.: 'Rogues' Possibly Killed Litvinenko | Stratfor 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2009


Casey at the Bat, in Hebrew translation

Below is my newly-completed Hebrew translation of the classic baseball epic poem, Casey at the Bat (1888), by Ernest Lawrence Thayer.

Naturally, there are some bits I'm less than 100% satisfied with, and I'm sure I've made some errors in nikud (vowel points), but overall I'm pleased and I hope you enjoy it too. Corrections and suggestions for linguistic improvements are welcome.

I'm considering whether to submit it to a newspaper or literary publication; if you have any practical suggestions please let me know. I'm hoping to write a Hebrew commentary for the non-baseball-savvy reader.

I was just about to write that I am unaware of any previous Hebrew translations, when I noticed an update to the Wikipedia entry since the last time I checked it - and since the last time I worked on this - referring to a translation by sports journalist Menachem Less. His approach is very different from mine, though.

Okay, here it is:

קֵיסִי בַּמַּחְבֵּט
בָּלָדָה לָרֶפּוּבְּלִיקָה מוּשֶׁרֶת בִּשְׁנַת 1888
מֵאֵת אֶרְנֶסְט לוֹרֶנְס תֵ'ייֶר

הַצֶּפִי לְתִשְׁעַת מָאדְוִיל כְּבָר לֹא מַמָּשׁ זָהַר:
פִּגְּרוּ אַרְבַּע לִשְׁתַּיִםרַק סִיבוּב אֶחָד נִשְׁאַר.
וּכְשֶׁקּוּנִי מֵת בְּבָסִיס רִאשׁוֹןוּבָּארוֹס גַּם נָפַל,
דְּמָמָה חִוֶּרֶת אָפְפָה אֵת אַנְשֵׁי הַקָּהָל.

מְעַט עָמְדוּ לָלֶכֶת בְּיֵאוּשׁ עָמֹק. הַשְּׁאָר
אָחֲזוּ בַּתִּקְוָה שֶׁנּוֹבַעַת בְּלֶב כָּל בַּשָׂר;
חָשְׁבוּ שֶלּוּ רַק קֵיסִי יְקַבֵּל תוֹר לְהַכּוֹת –
נַכְפִּיל אֵת הַהִמּוּר עַכְשָׁו אִם קֵיסִי יַחֲבוֹט.

אָךְ פְלִין קָדַם לְקֵיסִיוְגִ'ימִי בְּלֵיק גַּם כֵּן,
וְהָרִאשׁוֹן הוּא לַפְלַףוְהַשֵּׁנִי מִסְכֵּן;
וְכָעֵת עַל הֶהָמוֹנִים גַּל עֶצֶב מַר נוֹחֵת,
כִּי אָפְסוּ הַסִּכּוּיִּם שֶׁקֵּיסִי עוֹד יָרִים מַחְבֵּט.

אָךְ פְלִין חָבַט לְסִינְגֶללְתַדְהֵמַת כֻּלָּם,
וּבְּלֵיק טָרַף אֵת הַכַּדּוּר – כִּסּוּי הָעוֹר נִפְרַם.
וּכְשֶׁרָאוּ מַה שֶׁקָּרָהכְּשֶׁהִתְפַּזֵּר הָאָבָק,
גִ'ימִי עָמַד בְּבָסִיס שֵׁנִיוּפְלִין אֵת שְׁלִישִׁי חָבַק.

מֵחֲמֵשֶׁת אַלְפֵי גְּרוֹנוֹת וְעוֹד עָלְתָה הַצְּעָקָה;
הִיא רָעֲמָה בָּעֵמֶקזִעְזְעָה אֵת הַגִּבְעָה.
הִיא הָלְמָה בְּרֹאשׁ הָהָר וְהִדְהֵדָה מִתַּחַת,
כִּי קֵיסִיקֵיסִי הָאַדִּירנִגַּשׁ אֶל הַצַּלַחַת.

צָעַד לוֹ בְּנוֹחוּת כְּשֶׁאֶל מְקוֹמוֹ פָּסַע,
עַל פָּנָיו הָיָה חִיּוּךְוּבְקוֹמָתוֹ גַּאֲוָה.
וּכְשֶׁהֵסִיר אֵת כּוֹבַעוֹ מוּל הֶהָמוֹן הָאוֹהֵד,
גַּם זָר יָדַע לְלֹא סָפֵק שֶׁקֵּיסִי שָׁם עוֹמֵד.

עֲשֶׂרֶת אַלְפֵי עֵינַיִם רָאוּ שֶׁמָּרַח בְּעָפָר יָדָיו;
חֲמֵשֶׁת אַלְפֵי לְשׁוֹנוֹת הֵרִיעוּ כְּשֶׁנִּגֵּב בְּמִכְנַסָיו.
הַמַּגִּישׁ הִתְפַּתֵּללָחַץ אֵת הַכַּדּוּר אֶל הַמָּתְנַיִם,
עֵינָיו שֶל קֵיסִי הִתְרִיסוּבְּבוּז עִקֵּם שְׂפָתַיִם.

עַתָּה הַסְּפֶרָה כְּסוּיַּת-הָעוֹר שֻׁגְּרָה אֶל הָאֲוִיר,
וְקֵיסִי עָמַד וְהִבִּיט בָּהּ שָׁםשַׁחְצָן וְגַם יָהִיר.
טָס הַכַּדּוּר לְלֹא תְּגוּבָה לְיַד גוּף הָחוֹבֵט –
"זֶה לֹא לְטַעֲמִי", אָמַר קֵיסִי. "סְטְרַיק וואָן", אָמַר הַשּׁוֹפֵט.

מִסַּפְסָלִים שְׁחוֹרֵי אֱנוֹש עָלָה קוֹל שְׁאָגָה,
כְּמוֹ הַכָּאָת חוֹף יָם רָחוֹק בְּגַלֵּי הַסְּעָרָה.
"מָוֶתמָוֶת לַשּׁוֹפֵט!" צָעַק צוֹפֶה אֶחָד;
וְהָיוּ אוּלַי הוֹרְגִים אוֹתוֹ לוּלֵא קֵיסִי הֵרִים יָד.

בְּחִיּוּךְ שֶׁל חֶסֶד וּקְדוּשָׁה קָרַן עוֹר שֶׁל פָּנָיו;
אֵת הַמְּהוּמָה הַגּוֹאָה הִשְׁקִיט בְּהֶנֵּף יָדָיו;
הוּא סִמֵּן לַמַּגִּישׁ וְעוֹד פַּעַם הַסְּפֶרוֹאִיד נָסַק;
שׁוּב קֵיסִי לֹא הֵגִיב לוֹ. "סְטְרַיק טוּ", הַשׁוֹפֵט פָּסַק.

"מָכוּר!" קָראְוּ הָאֲלָפִיםוְהֵד עָנָה "מָכוּר";
אָךְ מַבָּט לוֹעֵג מִקֵּיסִי וְנִפְסַק כָּל הַדִּבּוּר.
רָאוּ שְׁרִירָיו הַמְּתוּחִיםפָּנָיו קָשׁוֹתקַרוֹת,
וְיָדְעוּ שֶׁקֵּיסִי לֹא יִתֵּן לַכַּדּוּר לַחֲלוֹף לוֹ עוֹד.

מִשְּׂפָתָיו נֶעֱלַם הַבּוּזיֵשׁ אֵיבָה בְּמַבָּטוֹ;
הוּא הוֹלֵם בְּאַכְזָרִיּוּת עַל הַצַּלַחַת בְּאַלָּתוֹ.
הַמַּגִּיש בִּרְצוֹתוֹ אוֹחֵז כַּדּוּרוּבִרְצוֹתוֹ שִׁלַּח,
וּבְמַכָּה אַדִּירָה אַחַת שֶׁל קֵיסִי הַאֲוִיר נֶחְתַך.

הוֹאֵי-שָׁם בְּאַרְצֵנוּ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עוֹד זוֹהֶרֶת,
אֵי-שָׁם הַלְּבָבוֹת קַלִּים וְתִזְמֹרֶת מְנַגֶּנֶת,
אֵי-שָׁם מִתְלוֹצְצִים הָאֲנָשִׁים וְטַףאֲבָל
אֵין כָּל שִׁמְחָה בְּמָאדְוִיל – קֵיסִי הָאַדִּיר נִפְסַל.

-- תֻּרְגַּם ע"י יַעֲקֹב (גֵ'יסוֹן) אֶלְבַּאוּם, יוני 2009. כל הזכויות שמורות.
Copyright 2009 Jason H. Elbaum.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Biedermeier




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Biedermeier refers to work of literature, music, the visual arts and furniture in the period between the years 1815 (Vienna Congress), the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and 1848, the year of the European revolutions and contrasts with the Romantic era which proceeded it. It was the age of the Austrian Chancellor Metternich, Prince Metternich, whose diplomacy and influence dominated much of the post-Napoleonic period. It was a period of conservative politics in reaction to the horrors and chaos of the French Revolution and Napoleons wide-reaching conquests. Liberalism and popular movements were viewed askant and suppressed. It was the heyday of the secret police.

But it was also a time of great creativity. Great names like Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss the Elder and Joseph Lanner dominated the Viennese music scene. Despite censorship, theatre and literature flourished. It saw growing industrialisation and the resulting migration from rural to largely urban life. It was also the beginning of the Railway Age in almost all European countries. The Biedermeier period came to an end in the revolutions of 1848. At the same time the so-called Metternich System of conservative and diplomatic conferences with the major powers to try and repress or maintain order by acting concertedly in Europe, also came to an end.

Biedermeier applied at first in a joking spirit. It is believed to have been named for the worthy, bourgeois-minded "Papa Biedermeier," a humorous character featured in a series of verses by Ludwig Eichrodt, published in Fliegende Blätter. The Biedermeier period found expression in comfortable, homelike furnishings, simple in design and inexpensive in material, fitting the requirements of the people in a time of little wealth following the Napoleonic Wars. Biedermeier designs were simplified forms of the French Empire and Directoire styles and of some 18th-century English styles, and were often elegant in their utilitarian simplicity.

Vienna was in many ways a spiritual and artistic center, strong enough to blend the most varied impulses into its own synthesis. Already in the production of Empire-style furniture, the Vienna furniture builders had found their definitive expression. Their more cherished and fantasy-filled designs differed clearly from those of French taste and the latter's German derivatives. Viennese furniture makers worked securely and solidly, which is reflected in the charming home furnishings of the artisans' best quality. Austrian furniture is lighter and designed for livability, elegance and private life. Viennese Biedermeier furniture can be seen more than elsewhere in its relationship to and partial transition from Empire style, and it shows itself in especially striking, artistically mature products of high quality.

 In 1816 there were 875 independent master cabinetmakers in Vienna, in 1823 already 951. Some ran genuine factories, the best-known and most influential of them was Josef Danhauser, who was already employing 100 workers in 1808. Danhauser sold not only funiture in his factory, but also home furnishings such as drapes, carpets, clocks and even glassware. The Viennese Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) has over 2500 of Danhauser's catalogue drawings. They show the never-ending fantasy and decors. Nowadays Biedermeier became very popular due to its timeless design and therefore collectors enjoy Biedermeier furniture as lasting appreciation. Its high functionality and simple forms suits today's modern sense of living.

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