"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Birthdays Today

Claude Monet was born today in 1840.  One of my favorite memories is of a private party my firm threw at the Art Institute in Chicago where, at one point, my wife and I find ourselves alone in a huge gallery of Monets.   She's a real art lover (I somewhat less so), but the really amazing thing is just that two average people who grew up in Midwest suburbs could end up in a room with some of the greatest art ever.   What a great country, where the greatest art is not in private collections of kings or those with great wealth, but in public museums where anyone can see it.

Also born today, in 1900, the great American composer, Aaron Copland.  Here is one of his great works, the "Hoedown" from "Rodeo," played beautifully by an Asian Youth Orchestra: 

Finally, born today in 1947 was the comic political writer, P.J. O'Rourke, one of my favorites.   O'Rourke once wrote, "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."   The title of an earlier book of his, The Parliament of Whores, tells you what he thinks of Congress as an institution.  A very funny guy.

His newest book is called Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards.  

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