Sean LaFreniere

Independent News And Political Commentary
Welcome to Sean's Blog blog | home | contact
The Blogger
Blogger Bio 
The Archives
Search This Site

Site search Web search

powered by FreeFind

Support This Site
Favorite Links
World Trade Center Attacks
Bali Nightclub Attacks
Beslan School Attack
London Underground Attacks
Raddison Hotel Bombing
Katrina Hits New Orleans
Defend Denmark's Free Speach
The Anglosphere
Support Democracy In Iraq
Democracy Whisky Sexy
Chief Wiggles
Anderson Cooper's 360
The Command Post, making CNN look like the school newspaper.
Andrew Sullivan Dot Com
The Argus, Central Asian news.
Winds Of Change Dot Net
Free The Chief's Iraqi Generals
Michael J Totten
Blog Iran
Moderate Risk
Roger L Simon
free iran petition
victor davis hansen
Save Angel
Oregon Trip Check
iraq's election news
The Hitch
Game Of Life
Sponsored Links
Find info on VA loans and watch this video on the VA loan process.
News Links
Arab News Portal
Belfast Telegraph
BBC News
Dublin News
Edinburgh News
French News
German News
Iran Daily
Iran News
Iraq News
Irish Abroad
Irish Emigrant News
Irish News
Irish Quarterly
Israeli News
Jerusalem Post
London Local
London Times
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Pakistan News
Persian News
Roman News
Scottish News
Translated News
World Wire
Magazine Links
The Atlantic Monthly
The American Prospect
The Economist
Foreign Affairs
Front Page Magazine
Mother Jones
The National Review
New Republic
New Yorker
NY Review Of Books
Policy Review
Tech Central Station
Washington Monthly
Weekly Standard
Movie Links
Film Jerk
McMenamins Theatres
Movie News - Trailers
Rotten Tomatoes
Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:



Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.



Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.


Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.



Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.



Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.


The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.


The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.


Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income



Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market



Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.



Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.


Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.



Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.



Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.


Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President



Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

Blogging Resources
Technocrati Link Cosmos
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by
Site Meter
Blogroll This Site
(Copy image and hyperlink)
Sean LaFreniere
Support This Site

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Village

I liked the new M. Night Shymalan movie, the Village. Really. Screw the critics.

True... the Symalan schtick of "the twist" is beginning to take over (and ruin) the filmgoing experience. He needs to do some standard movies to keep his twists a surprise and interesting.

But the story is very provacative, the acting is top notch, and the filmcraft is excellent (both plain storytelling and pretty camera work).

The monsters are also an inspired design feat (being an architecture student, issues of "design" are omnipresent thesedays - like buying a new VW and then seeing them everywhere).

There. Now go see it and stop a) comparing Shymalan to Hitchcock and b) looking for "the twist"... the twist isn't what you thought anyway.

Sean: Saturday, July 31, 2004 [+] |
Friday, July 30, 2004
Patriotism and Scoundrels

Mark Twain is widely quoted by the Left as supporting their lack of support for the war in Iraq, the wider "War on Terror", the troops, or the President...

The Left quotes Twain like this: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel!"

The actual quote is this:

Cizitenship should be placed above everything else, even learning. Is there in any college of the land a chair of citizenship where good citizenship and all that it implies is taught? There is not one--that is, not one where sane citizenship is taught. There are some which teach insane citizenship, bastard citizenship, but that is all. Patriotism! Yes; but patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest.
- Speech, 5/14/1908

What many of these drones probably do not realize is that Twain was paraphrasing an earlier writer, Samuel Johnson, in 1776(ish)...

From Boswell's Life of Johnson:

Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start: 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.' But let it be considered, that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest.

Another thing they probably don't know is that Twain was himself a deserter during the Civil War and had more than a little chip to shoulder on this issue. And for those who point out that he deserted from the South, it should be kept in mind that a) Twain volunteered for the Confederate Cavalry and b) his entire unit deserted in mass rather than face a superior Union force. Furthermore, he headed for gold in California. So there really isn't much of a moral high horse there.

More importantly, both Twain and Johnson were not criticizing ALL patriotism, or patriotism in general, but were complaining about false and showy expressions of patriotism. Neither man would have made their comments to a marine in Baghdad, to the President, or to any serious supporter of the WOT or the war in Iraq. Misuse of their statements is a moral shortcut.

Using these quotes is also a curious activity for anyone who considers themselves a Liberal. As noted in my political dictionary on the sidebar to the left, Conservatives are the ones who traditionally rely upon emotional feelings and who cite the opinions of authority figures (dead white guys) as support for their convictions. So when I hear a "conservative" giving a well thought out rational for the war and a "liberal" telling them that "war is not the answer" pr quoting Mark Twain or Michael Moore (not a fair comparison) it makes my head swim.

Come on Lefties... think for yourselves!

Sean: Friday, July 30, 2004 [+] |
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Even Moore Idiotic

The Drudge report captures an "interview" between Michael Moore and Bill O'Riley... Now I find both men to be egotistical jerks... And I have caught O'Riley twisting the truth on numerous occasions (Moore too, but up till now I guess I was giving him a pass because he was on my tack - as far as Flint goes). But this exchange clearly goes to O'Riley... Moore makes himself look like the obnoxious adolescent that he is.

Moore seems pathologically unable to cede O'Riley the point that Bush did NOT lie about WMD in Iraq.

He also repeatedly refers to our soldiers as "children", a rhetorical ruse that gives away the dishonesty of those who use it immediately...

Whatever your argument about the use of force you should never denigrate our armed forces or attempt to manipulate the person you are talking with by calling them "children." Our soldiers are all volunteers and all adults. Many are career military men and women who have been in the force for decades and have children, real children, of their own.

"Why should Bush sacrifice the children of people across America for this?"

Let's at least keep the debate honest. Our military are consenting adults, they were called up by our President in good faith to remove a potential threat to our own security and in the process both liberate a nation and liberalize the political tenor of an entire quarter of the earth. You can argue over whether this is our role or whether it is "worth it" in geopolitical terms, but that's about it.

Why should Bush sacrifice the children of people across America for this?

Over and over again. This is a snapshot of Moore at work in his films as well... He is trying, desperately, to create the impression that Bush is sneaking into homes and abducting toddlers to feed to his personal war-for-oil machine. Moore knows that this isn't true, but the filmmaker (propaganda minister) in him knows that this gets people's emotions hot. Basically, that's his film in a nutshell, there, now you don't have to waster your money on the thing.

"How do you deliver democracy to a country? You don’t do it down the barrel of a gun. That’s not how you deliver it."

That's funny. I bet the British see it a little differently. I mean, in 1776 a small elite of wealthy white land owners rebelled against their lawful government with muskets, economics, and (frankly) terrorism. The only thing that made their revolt legit was that the British gave up. All the nice words in the Declaration were mere rhetoric to excuse their rebellious actions. The later Constitution was nice too... But the Constitution that came nearly a decade later in no way made the British or their remaining loyal colonists feel any better about the revolt. In the end, few would argue that democracy did not come to America... But it certainly came at the barrel of a gun.

"Why didn't they [the Iraqis] rise up [like the French]?"

Here Moore simply reveals his historical ignorance and lack of political sophistication. The French no more "rose up" than the Americans. Instead, a few wealthy men with radical political ideas caused riots and other activities that eventually led to the overthrow of the government. The vast majority of French peasants were actually quite ambivalent about the whole affair. Meanwhile... The democratic and communist ideals that cloaked their revolt were shelved in short order with the rise of the military dictator Napoleon Bonaparte, to be itself replaced by the return of the monarchy. Later France would have several more republics and another military dictatorship (Vichy). Today France is ruled by its Fifth Republic. And many argue, with good cause, that today's regime is barely democratic, instead it is largely an oligarchy of "diplocrats" with the odd referendum or general strike to influence the rule of a few over many.

Revolution is hard work, and it often fails. In fact, with a dictator who is brutal enough (Napoleon, Stalin, etc) it can be held off nearly indefinitely. One of the roles of liberal democracies such as the United States, Britain, and even France has always been to foment, support, and sometimes fight in rebelions for the liberation of other peoples (it was the British under Wellington who ended the regime of Napoleon, not the French people). Fear of such "help" lead the German, Russian, and Austrian empires to form the Holy Alliance to ward off the spread of liberal self-government. Again, democracy has often come from the barrel of a gun, often someone else's gun!

Moore appears to have a child's view of the world and comes to childishly illogical conclusions about world-affairs. Our army is made up of someone else's children (hey, everyone is someone's child!). Our President must never say anything that is not true (even if he believes it, and so does the rest of the world). And nations should always "rise up" against their own dictators, if they don't then it means they like their tyrants and should be left to rot under them.

I've never heard anything more silly.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Sean: Wednesday, July 28, 2004 [+] |
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Iraq's Resistance Bound To Act

CNN reports that US military sources reveal that in some cases the so-called "suicide bombers" in Iraq were actually bound with rope, had their families held hostage, or were otherwise "coerced" into carrying out their attacks.

Sean: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 [+] |
Monday, July 26, 2004
Israel's Security Fence and the ICJ

Andrew Apastolou writes about the ICJ's "advisory opinion" against Israel's "security fence" in this month's NRO. He makes a strong argument that the ruling does more damage to the legitimacy of the ICJ than to that of the fence.

The ICJ mentioned that "Israel has to face numerous indiscriminate and deadly acts of violence against its civilian population", but did not characterize this violence as terrorism. The justices of the ICJ thereby turned a blind eye to illegality. Terrorism is a war crime, an act of unlawful belligerency that knowingly and deliberately violates the laws of war. Individuals and states that use terrorism ought to be considered political and moral pariahs. Instead, the ICJ has made the Israeli victims international legal outcasts while giving the Palestinian movement, which glorifies terrorism, a legal seal of approval.

Any so-called court that so obviously contorts international law is less than worthless. Meanwhile, the obvious has been ignored... Palestine does not legally exist, yet, and cannot bring suit in the ICJ.

The Palestinians, who have no state and so cannot approach the ICJ, had the U.N. General Assembly do the petitioning for them. The possibility that the U.N. General Assembly will extend the same favor to other stateless groups, such as the Kurds or the Gypsies, is close to zero.

I don't think that either Andrew or myself believe that the Palestinians do not deserve a) a state or b) the ability to operate in the UN and c) seek justice in the ICJ... but they do not deserve this alone or before these other groups... who do not utilize terrorism in the same way (the Kurds did, but gave it up after Turkey threatened to execute its leader).

I expect that I will always refer to "international law" with a healthy dose of irony and irreverence. Until the UN General Assembly, or at least the Security Council, is restricted to only liberal democracies, I don't believe that we will ever have, or should have, anything approaching either international law or an international court of justice.

Sean: Monday, July 26, 2004 [+] |
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Politics Is Fun(ny)

One of the best new political humor pieces in a long time can be found at jibjab.

Sean: Wednesday, July 21, 2004 [+] |
Monday, July 19, 2004
The Lies Moore Told

Michael Moore's latest film "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a blatant piece of leftist propaganda. Dave Kopel details at least 59 "untruths" in the film here.

I liked Moore's film "Roger And Me". Moore was talking about "his people" and simply filmed himself in action - doing what all of us would like to do when laid off with out warning or cause, chase "the man" down.

Moore, who dropped out of college and was fired from the GM plant his father worked at, should have stuck to subject matter that close to home. He knows very little of the wider world and it shows when he tries to tackle the most pressing subject matter of the day - terrorism. The truth is that Moore knows less about 9/11 than he did about Colorado or gun control.

I made a list of inaccuracies and biased reporting while watching Fahrenheit. The list was huge... from his insinuation that a distant relative of Bush at Fox news somehow "fixed" the election, to his retelling of tired lefty urban legends such as a proposed oil pipeline in Afghanistan being the real cause for the war, to the disgusting overuse of one military mom's family loss...

Much of Moore's film could be re-shot, scene for scene, from the other point of view with little effort, just choose different shills - I mean interview subjects.

All of the hype over this film once again misses the truly Liberal and leftist concerns about the Bush administration that should be used to rally the troops... "salvage" logging, tax cuts for the rich, social security, health care, education, etc. etc. etc.

Meanwhile the Dems will probably blame their upcoming defeat on poor Ralph Nader again... when he's the only one talking about real issues anymore. Maybe Moore will do a film on the "Castigation Of Nader" in which he reveals that Ralph conspired to have himself politically flogged.

Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Sean: Monday, July 19, 2004 [+] |
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Tony Blair Responds On Iraq Intelligence

Andrew Sullivan provides a much deserved quote from British PM Tony Blair on the flap over Iraq intelligence:

No one lied. No one made up the intelligence. No one inserted things into the dossier against the advice of the intelligence services. Everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good faith for the country in circumstances of acute difficulty. That issue of good faith should now be at an end ... But I have to accept, as the months have passed, it seems increasingly clear that at the time of invasion, Saddam did not have stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons ready to deploy ... I have searched my conscience, not in the spirit of obstinacy, but in genuine reconsideration in the light of what we now know, in answer to that question. And my answer would be that the evidence of Saddam's WMD was indeed less certain, less well-founded than was stated at the time. But I cannot go from there to the opposite extreme. On any basis he retained complete strategic intent on WMD and significant capability. The only reason he ever let the inspectors back into Iraq was that he had 180,000 US and British troops on his doorstep ... Had we backed down in respect of Saddam, we would never have taken the stand we needed to take on WMD, never have got progress on Libya ... and we would have left Saddam in charge of Iraq, with every malign intent and capability still in place and every dictator with the same intent everywhere immeasurably emboldened. For any mistakes made, as the report finds, in good faith, I of course take full responsibility. But I cannot honestly say I believe getting rid of Saddam was a mistake at all. - Tony Blair

Sean: Wednesday, July 14, 2004 [+] |
Monday, July 12, 2004
Dirt In His Teeth

Michael Totten is drudging through the desert of north Africa as you read this post. He gives us an update on sand and scorpions here. This is one of his most eloquent writings in a while. Give it a read.

BTW, Mike gets a write up in the Willamette Week (a Portland weekly free paper). Give it up for the man!

Sean: Monday, July 12, 2004 [+] |
Thursday, July 08, 2004

Studying modern architecture often involves memorizing names, dates, and places. However, living with architecture is more about feelings and personal taste. Occasionally the two activities converge, as with a recent field trip to Mount Angel, Oregon.

Mt Mt Angel, Oregon

Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was a Finnish architect who worked from the 1920's until the 60's. He was trained in the Finnish National Romanticism movement, worked in Helsinki, chaired the Finnish national association of architects, and taught at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mount Angel boasts a library that is one of only two examples of his work in the US.

Finnish Finnish National Museum

Aalto was influenced by travels in Italy in the twenties. Through the Bauhaus teacher Lazlo Moholy-Nagy he was impressed with the Modernist and Functionalist movements. In 1932 he designed a tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio, Finland that has been recognized as a masterpiece of modern architecture.

Paimio Paimio Sanatorium

After the success of Paimio Aalto won a design competition for the Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia. With this project Aalto was able to incorporate furniture designs that he developed with carpenter Otto Korhonen. Designing the entire program for a building, including the furniture, was a modern idea that became an Alto halmark.

Viipuri Viipuri Stools

Success allowed Aalto to build his own home in the Helsinki suburb of Munkkiniem in 1936. This home was followed the next year by Villa Mairea, a country house for his friends Mairea and Harry Gullichsen. This home combined modern tenets of simplicity and industrial fabrication with a Finnish national favor for natural materials and appreciation of the outdoor surroundings.

Villa Villa Mairea

The library at Vyborg was followed by several similar buildings and designing libraries became a strong business for Aalto. In 1960's Fr. Barnabas Reasoner asked Aalto to design a library for the Benedictine abbey at Mount Angel, Oregon. The resulting building was completed in 1970 and is now a quietly famous structure (seemingly only professors, students, and fans of modern architecture make it a tourist destination).

Benedictine Benedictine Order

Aalto is famous for his use of wood and natural light. In the Mt Angel library wood is used to soften both utilitarian objects such as firehose cabinets and structural features such as the posts holding up the entry porch. Light is brought in through many high windows, modulated by wooden slat screens.

Mount Mount Angel Library

I dislike most modern architecture, especially for domestic buildings (factories and bridges are another matter... check out Albert Kahn's factories). I find it cold and alienating, and simple to the point of boring. I also agree with architect, professor, and theorist Christopher Alexander that the West has largely lost its bearings, ignoring its own "form language", in the persuit of "image architecture". Most modern buildings have to be explained, in a usually long-winded and obscurant manner, to the lay public and it seems that the idea behind buildings has come to dominate the people the buildings are meant to serve.

Chrysler Chrysler Factory

I appreciate Aalto's focus on the human occupants and activities. The library at Mt Angel is at a much more personal scale than many modern projects. It does not shout for attention with either size or height or flashy materials.

Library Library Facade

Inside the spaces are obviously designed for just the activity that they are used for, such as the rare book room, the ecclesiastic archives, and the music room. The specially designed door hardware, light fixtures, and furniture helps complete the creation of a unique space within the library. I also appreciate the presence of wood and soft natural light which are vital to the creation of a welcoming reading place.

Library Library Atrium

A few elements of the Mt Angel library leave me aesthetically unsatisfied. For a building with so many windows on such a prominent hillside site, the building fails to engage the stunning views of the Willamette Valley. The best views are from private offices that ring the exterior perimeter while library readers can only gaze upon frosted glass.

Library Library Views

And, obviously, as a modern building, the structure cannot avoid clashing with the Romanesque abbey campus - no matter how low slung a facade it wears.

Abbey Abbey Church

The furniture is of a style that has now become almost cliche with the prevalence of Dania and Scandisign stores. The woodworking is of a modern style, clean simple lines with lots of curves, which can become very boring when repeated in large quantities with little variation. And on a technical note it appears that many pieces were either added later or replaced and many of the wood tones do not match.

Library Library Furniture

My criticism is not meant to diminish the building or the architect. I attribute most of my negative reaction to the modern programme as a reaction against the proscription qualities of the style itself. In attempting to design the entire aesthetic experience within the building, a typically modern approach, Aalto probably cannot avoid offending the tastes of a person born after the 1960's rebellion against such ordering paradigms.

Architectural Architectural Blunder

I am pleased that Oregon can host the work of such a prominent architect. Through my exploration of the Mt Angel library I am educating myself about modern style and values - or one variation. Alvar Aalto shows a more natural and humanist approach than I expected from modern architecture and his work encourages me to investigate further.

Sean: Thursday, July 08, 2004 [+] |
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Anglosphere Strengthens Defense

CNN reports that Australia and the US have reaffirmed their defense ties. The two nations will work towards a missile shield and further harmonize military operations.

Remember all that talk about "unilateralism" and our lack of allies?

Australia will join South Korea, Japan, Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain among countries working with the United States on missile defense, a U.S. official said.

Oh, and "China bristles..." What's new?

Sean: Wednesday, July 07, 2004 [+] |
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
North African Dispatch

Michael Totten found himself an Arabic keyboard and an internet connection. Check out his travel update. Keep an eye on the French.

Sean: Tuesday, July 06, 2004 [+] |
Welcome aboard, we're beheaaddding youuu!

The Command Post has a new photoshop contest... outasight!

Sean: Tuesday, July 06, 2004 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere