what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

vision and commerce


Had been worried about black specks floating occasionally in my vision and managed on Friday to get a session with an optician who gave me various tests and pronounced me clear of glaucoma but suffering from further deterioration of sight and therefore now in need of driving glasses. Idea of variable glasses came up – allowing one to have perfect distance and reading vision in one set. And so I duly popped in on Monday to a shop which explained (visually) the 3 levels of such glasses – in such a way, it must be said, that left little option than to ask for the “individualised” rather than the “standard” or “optimum” models. Running my parameters through their computer produced a figure of 360 euros for each lens plus the frame – meaning a bill of 1,000 euros. That explained why each customer had a cubicle to himself – and a seat on which to collapse! Belgium is, therefore, not immune from the crass commercialisation which has overtaken healthcare – and well analysed and critiqued in a book I bought later in the day from Waterstone’s – NHS plc by Allyson Peacock.
I managed to resist the other titles – simply noting them for Amazon purchases which work out at half the Waterstone prices. They included new collections of articles by Garton Ash, John Gray; an intriguing psychology book (The Compassionate Mind by Prof Paul Gilbert); a book on the politics of the present economic mess by the admirable BBC economic commentator Robert Peston; and John Kay’s one on markets; a large historical overview by John Keane, the great writer on democracy; and a delightful one on poetry by the renaissance man Stephen Fry.
Tuesday morning started with the luxury of reading another edition of New York Review of Books which I had also managed to pick up at Waterstone’s – and was very struck with an article by Mark Lilla which helped make sense of American politics - http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/may/27/tea-party-jacobins/
The picture is a de Brakeleer from the Brussels Musee des Beaux Arts

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