The NY Times columnists, Gail Collins and David Brooks, have a chat on Wednesdays in the online paper. The most recent started off about Margaret Thatcher and how non-introspective she was. David Brooks, obviously a fan, thought that it might be a necessary thing for a president since he wasn’t able to remember anyone since Carter who was introspective and he, of course, was a terrible president.

When you make things, you have to be decisive. Blue prints are to be followed to exactitude because if they aren’t the final product will be a dud. (Is this why the Edsel was a flop?) There is no room for creativity as every new addition needs to be drawn into the plans so that concomitant work will also fit. Only artists get away with extemporaneous abstractions.

David Brooks appreciation of Margaret Thatcher might also extend to Shariah Law—no introspection there. Or perhaps to Kim Jong-un. Or perhaps to Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro. I don’t think introspection hinders a politician in the slightest. It is the press that doesn’t want their politicians to be introspective. Everyone wants firm resolve from their leaders. Thinking has never been less fashionable.


There was no wind the other morning at 6 AM when I went to the reservoir for my morning lap. Sunrise was imminent, but gray clouds just hung there. The water was smooth and reminded me of the silver gray hues of Vauxhall glass. The scene was, for my aging eyes, crystal clear, soothing and beyond beautiful. Moments such as these lend themselves to the spiritual if you are so inclined. If you are not, you do your best to remember them because they are beautiful.

Top quality Vauxhall mirror plate has a wonderful tonal quality that reflects both age and how it was made. Mirror plate is glass with silver leaf adhered to it. The method of getting the silver to adhere in the 17thcentury was with hot mercury, a highly poisonous process. (This was also how gold leaf was applied to brass or bronze.) Coupled with the intense pollution of stoking glass furnaces and the hot mercury, Vauxhall could not have been an ideal place for a home in the late 17th century.

There is a limited amount of antique Vauxhall plate in the world and I am quite certain it diminishes each year. There is a sublime quality to owning a looking glass that has a great original plate. (Not all plates age in the same fashion and some just lose their silver altogether.) The softness of the glass with the silver has an aesthetic quality that is sublime. And that is what I search for more than anything. And when I am really lucky I can find it anywhere, even at the Central Park Reservoir.


Dominant power in any situation is always temporary. Societies, religion, business all seem incapable of holding a center. Inevitably, there is change be it for better or worse if only because societal inertia is so implausible. This is equally true in our own lives. Change, however it manifests itself, whether in subtle or dramatic fashion, is a source of renewal and, ultimately, creativity.

In the 18th century, craftsmen were the interpreters of drawn designs, many of which had no specifics to guide them. Craftsmen of that era were concerned with method and procedure so that their creativity often looks like a natural evolution of what went before. When you think about the migration of styles through the 18th century, you just have to marvel at the subtle evolution of design. The role of craftsmen is often unheralded, but it was both essential and fascinating. Look, for example, how drawer construction developed or how moldings evolved. There was constant alteration.

The most interesting aspect of change is how we either adapt or attempt not to adapt to it. As inevitable as change may be, it is comforting to think that some things never change. Clearly, not all change is good nor for the better, but that doesn’t mean that you can stop it. You might wish to influence it somehow, but even then, change isn’t a function of social engineering. If it was, we might still be in the Garden of Eden. Then again, maybe not.