Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On Parks

I had occasion to go to a city park yesterday evening with my daughter. It wasn't very late, just the hour or two before sunset. An unusual time for me to go, typically I take her in the early afternoon before lunch and this was the latest I'd had her out.

I was struck by what a difference it makes in the composition of people, their activities, and the atmosphere between daytime and evening.

First it was a much more diverse crowd ethnically, economically, and in age. Many more tattoos visible, more people speaking spanish (very few in day time), more parent couples rather then individuals. Also many more young adults using the park for sports and recreation, in daytime it's pretty exclusively the domain of parents (or au pairs) with kids, and the homeless.

The biggest difference was atmosphere- much more energetic and fun. People were relaxed and eager to talk with each other, eager to improvise and blow off steam. The daytime crowd in contrast is reserved, the parents intently monitoring their children's activity.

I think the fundamental driver was that the evening crowd was people coming out after work rather then housewives (or husbands) killing time. The evening crowd was playing, very conscious of not being under the restrictions that govern work whereas the daytime crowd for the most part was AT work, taking care of their kids.

An unexpected experience.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reading Now: Intervention!

One of the passages that struck me most in Nixon Agonistes was Wills critique of the American obsession with elections, the belief that elections can create something rather then being a mere side effect of existing conditions (free people create elections, not the other way around). And Wilson was the archetype of American naivete, blundering into his own obscure Vietnam south of the Rio Grande. Wanting to know more I pulled the subtly titled Intervention! from the local stacks.

This looks to be a quick read, broadly surveying the cast and principle actions around the entry of American troops into Mexico during the 1910's.

Things to look for:
- Bad judgement by Wilson
- Reaction of Mexicans to foreign troop presence
- Conflict scorecard- what exactly were the Mexicans hashing out?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Nixon Book

I'm almost done with Nixon Agonistes. It's too complex for me to summarize in a review, look here for a good one. I will say that it provided a lot of context about an era I tended to ignore, under the assumption that most people in the 60's were either stupid or confused. Too much confusion, people were trying to build sand castles underwater. What I didn't know was how interesting it all is, how much of what we take for granted now was born in that era. Definitely worth reading.