Potpourri ($3.78)

1.   “Measure for Measure” at the Shakespeare Theatre.  To me, this Shakespearean “comedy” is such a bad play, that it’s good.  The Viennese duke stages a fake departure from town, giving his cousin/deputy full authority in his absence.  The law against sexual relationships out of marriage is firm, and death the sentence.  While the duke is known for his leniency and mercy, his deputy is not, and it is clear that poor Claudio will be put to death as a result of Juliet’s pregnancy.  The duke did not really leave town, though, but rather is masquerading as a priest, and figures he must device a scheme to save Claudio’s life.  Proving that the shortest point from A to B is not a straight line, he devises a ridiculous plot, involving and threatening everyone, until the play ends with an “all’s well that ends well” ending, or does it?  The Shakespeare Theatre’s rendition of this hard to produce play keeps your attention all the way, with quality performances, and a versatile, clever set.  But unless I knew I was going to a first class performance of “Measure”, I would probably stay home.

2.  Also at the Shakespeare, I went to a noon time Happenings where dancers from the Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company, with one guest from India, demonstrated not only Indian dance, but also examples from other parts of the world, including ballet, modern dance and salsa.  An enjoyable hour, with the Indian bharata natyam dance (and some teaching on hand signals) and step dancing standing out.

3.  A wonderful lecture at the National Archives by U. of Missouri/St. Louis professor David Robertson talked about his new book, “The Original Compromise” about the Constitutional Convention.  Clearly a master teacher, he made everything sound so simple.  The strong federalists, led by a young James Madison, an expert politician who figured out that he could control the convention if he could control six states.  The states rights group led by an older Roger Sherman of Connecticut, who thought that all that was needed was some tinkering with the Articles of Confederation.  But everyone knew something needed to be done, so compromise was reached on a number of issues.  Congress (two senators per state, and representatives by population), slavery (3/5 of a person for census purposes), presidency (Senate must approved treaties and appointments) and relative state/federal power (in some cases clear, in some ambiguous).

Asides:  Federalist Papers left out certain topics, like slavery.  Ratification in the larger states was the toughest.  Rhode Island considered a bit crazy, due to various state moves – others almost hoped they would not come to convention.

4.  Interesting breakfast presentation on FDR and the Jews, perhaps giving a more sympathetic picture than many recent books have shown.  Roosevelt as subject to various political pressures, questions of what was needed to win the war, Jewish groups then often opposed to action – today all favor that there should have been more action.

5.  Interesting talks in New York about Ben Gurion University professor Eli Papo on a History of the Balkan Jews, and another on the Book of Jonah as parody.  Also by Prof. Oren Regev, on sabbatical at Texas Tech, working on nano-tubes, ultra thin carbon tubes used for the strengthening of materials, such as airplane bodies, and for the delivery of medicine.  Very good teacher – the tubes are now cheap to buy and design and the uses increasing.




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