Monthly Archives: February 2012
Whitney Houston, the multimillion-selling and amazingly talented singer who emerged in the 1980s as one of her generation’s greatest R & B voices, only to deteriorate through years of cocaine, marijuana and alcohol use and an abusive marriage, died on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 48. I’m depressed ( obviously) and overwhelmed by anyone who dies at this age. We all have struggles with A, B or C. And (whatever) life seems to be an everyday trial, prosecution and defense of, all at once on you and me and what we do an don’t, on all the letters in the alphabet plus the sign language and semiotics that we simply don’t understand.
Hers was a voice of triumph and achievement, and it made for any number of stunning, time-stopping vocal performances — her version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” from the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard,” which topped the Billboard singles chart for 14 weeks; her dazzling “Star-Spangled Banner,” sung before the 1991 Super Bowl; or huge, authoritative songs like “Greatest Love of All” and “One Moment in Time,” which sounded like they could have been national anthems in their own right.
Houston’s signature was to let her Brobdingnagian voice soar unfettered — from a lesser vocalist, that would have been a gimmick, but from her, it was par for the course, just a freakishly gifted athlete leapfrogging everyone around her.
She was, alongside Michael Jackson and Madonna, one of the crucial figures hybridizing pop in the 1980s, though her strategy was unique, and far less radical than those of her peers. They were by turns lascivious and brutish and, crucially, willing to let their production speak more loudly than their voices, an option Ms. Houston did not have.
If she was less influential than they were in the years since, it was only because her gift was so rare, so impossible to mimic. She was someone more to be admired, like a museum piece, than to be emulated. Death is the ultimate insult and it reminds us that this ridiculous contract we have with (dare I say) happiness, is nothing more than a pale lollypop we suck on in the name of hope.
From “Gargolios“: We don’t understand. I don’t understand, Sir. I don’t understand. Because if I did understand, Sir, I’d say: I understand. But I don’t understand. I don’t understand. So, when I wished everyone a wonderful weekend 2 days ago, little did I know that we were entering another (perhaps) the ultimate form of hell on earth. Rest in peace, Ms Houston – in case there is any, ever. I just don’t know what to think any more.
Feb 12, 2012
This is not simply an economic story. China’s military capacity and reach are expanding. Since 2008 Chinese naval fleets have escorted more than 4,300 ships through the Gulf of Aden. Beijing’s defense spending is likely to surpass America’s by 2025. For its foreign policy activism, look on any continent: A gleaming new African Union headquarters was unveiled in Addis Ababa, Ethi o pia, last week. The $200 million-plus complex was financed by China and inaugurated by a high-ranking Politburo member, who arrived with a check for $94 million.
It is not just China that is rising. Emerging powers on every continent have achieved political stability and economic growth and are becoming active on the global stage. Twenty years ago Turkey was a fragile democracy, dominated by its army, that had a weak economy constantly in need of Western bailouts. Today, Turkey has a trillion-dollar economy that grew 6.6 percent last year. Since April 2009, Turkey has created 3.4 million jobs — more than the European Union, Russia and South Africa put together. That might explain Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s confidence and his country’s energetic foreign policy.
Look in this hemisphere: In 1990, Brazil was emerging from decades of dictatorship and was wracked by inflation rates that reached 3,000 percent. Its president was impeached in 1992. Today, the country is a stable democracy, steadily growing with foreign-exchange reserves of $350 billion. Its foreign policy has become extremely active. President Dilma Rousseff is in Cuba this week, “marking Brazil’s highest-profile bid to transform its growing economic might into diplomatic leadership in Latin America,” the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Brazil’s state development bank is financing a $680 million rehabilitation of Cuba’s port at Mariel.
“For three decades, India was unable to get any Western country to accept its status as a nuclear power. But as its economy boomed and Asia became the new cockpit of global affairs, the mood shifted. Over the past five years the United States, France, Britain and others have made a massive exception for New Delhi’s nuclear program and have assiduously courted India as a new ally. I could go on.
This is a new world, very different from the America-centric one we got used to over the last generation. Obama has succeeded in preserving and even enhancing U.S. influence in this world precisely because he has recognized these new forces at work. He has traveled to the emerging nations and spoken admiringly of their rise. He replaced the old Western club and made the Group of 20 the central decision-making forum for global economic affairs. By emphasizing multilateral organizations, alliance structures and international legitimacy, he got results. It was Chinese and Russian cooperation that produced tougher sanctions against Iran. It was the Arab League’s formal request last year that made Western intervention in Libya uncontroversial.
By and large, you have ridiculed this approach to foreign policy, arguing that you would instead expand the military, act unilaterally and talk unapologetically. That might appeal to Republican primary voters, but chest-thumping triumphalism won’t help you secure America’s interests or ideals in a world populated by powerful new players.
You can call this new century whatever you like, but it won’t change reality. After all, just because we call it the World Series doesn’t make it one.”