Being thankful

On this, my favorite US holiday, I am thankful for many things, in direct proportion to how lucky I have been in my life.

Marianne making art

First of all, I am thankful to have Marianne in my life. I am incredibly lucky to have found her, to be together with her in love, and to have been by her side while she beat back insistent health challenges, from which she appears to be free these days (I do not have in my vocabulary a strong enough superlative to modify “thankful” for this last one). She inspires young minds, seeks truth, and brings beauty to the world with her art.

I am also thankful for having had the opportunity for 28-plus years to teach in higher education, which has brought me close to many great colleagues and numerous students who inspire me and remind me daily that the daily grind of preparing classes, administrative tasks, and (yuck) grading, all give meaning to my life in proportion to what I am able to do for my students’ understanding of our crazy-complicated economic universe and for their professional lives.

I am thankful to have so many people I admire consider me a friend, be they singers, teachers, painters, artists, lawyers, or former students.

I am thankful humans have created so much beauty in music and the visual arts. I have found sustenance in music, met wonderful people through my humble musical activities, and recently discovered that, because of photographic technology, I can also be a creator in the visual arts despite being unable to draw even a convincing stick figure.

I am thankful for the millions of people worldwide who recognize the need to act to preserve our planet in a state hospitable for human life, and I am incredibly thankful the planet is still able to sustain homo “sapiens”, despite all the fouling of the nest said homo “sapiens” has done. We are all very lucky in this respect, and must strive to make this luck last.

What are you thankful for?

Thoughts on the morning after

Hatred must always be fought and vanquished. We have extra work to do now to keep vanquishing hatred, to stand by vulnerable people, to stand for our rights and freedoms, to protect the environment from the depredations of humanity.

Taking a global view, I worry that Earth’s ecosystem will purge homo “sapiens” if said species continues in its destructive ways, with strife overtaking cooperation, with walls being built instead of bridges, with mutual distrust raising the chance of hideous weapons being used again.

This election is another indication, among many in the last decades, that our species is not managing its affairs in its own long-term benefit. Thinking people, we have the duty to think of paths that will take us to a better place and to do what we can to steer humanity in its direction, with malice toward none. It’s a tall order, but I refuse to accept it is an impossible aspiration.

Or we can leave a literally scorched Earth to thriving populations of rats and cockroaches, species that seem to have awesome staying power in a changing environment. That seems eminently feasible, and inevitable if we do not actively fight the good fight.

(As posted to my Facebook timeline this morning, in reaction to the US election result.)

Holiday present buying time

Blatant promotional post coming up! (But not self-promotional.) Do you still have unticked items on your holiday present list? Then please consider this option: a calendar or two by my faraway friend Novita Listyani, a superb photographer and great friend who has been the main inspiration behind my taking up photography seriously as a channel for artistic expression. Take a look at her post about her calendars, and check our her public photography posts on Google+ or Facebook. I have already purchased her calendar for 2014 and several of her photobooks, and I can tell you that they arrived in excellent shape, printed on high quality paper.


The U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving tomorrow. For the 21st year in a row, I will be celebrating in the company of some wonderful friends in the house of one particular friend who has meant a lot to me during the darkest times of my life. At the start of the meal, we will all say what we are thankful for, and it will again be a variation of “family and good friends”, for good reason.

Tonight I want to expand on my answer. I am thankful for:

  • The people who sustain me with love, first and foremost my better (much better than me indeed) half.
  • The people who create and share beauty and teach me to do the same.
  • The researchers, doctors, and nurses who have made it possible for my much better half to be in good health more than 15 years after a scary diagnosis, delivered shortly after we were married.
  • The scientists, composers, poets, and artists of the past who have brought me the wonders of the world in its many splendors, a vast treasure that I will always be exploring.
  • My young friends who will continue on the path that no single person can ever find the end of: the path of growing in learning and beauty. As a young kid, I wanted to learn everything. I know it can’t be done, but may my young friends attain a larger measure of it than I have managed.
  • My students, past and present, who evince a thirst for knowledge and want to make the world better. They make the rigors of teaching worthwhile.

A happy occasion

On Friday, October 9, Temple University had its annual Gallery of Success awards ceremony, as part of homecoming weekend. This year the awardees included Dr. Jeffrey S. Coons, who was my first Ph.D. student at Temple University.

Jeff gave a very generous donation to the Economics Department at Temple University a few months ago. You can read a bit more about this on this page, along with a brief synopsis of Jeff’s career since leaving Temple.

Jeff Coons and DD 2015-10-09
Jeff Coons and Dimitrios Diamantaras at the Temple University Gallery of Success reception on October 9, 2015. Photo by Marianne Miserandino.

I am grateful to Jeff for his generosity to my department and its graduate students and his recognition of my work in helping him succeed in his doctoral studies. I was delighted to be able to attend the Gallery of Success event and applaud Jeff and all the other awardees for their impressive achievements.

September 11

Let us pause today and remember the banality of evil, the awful carnage, and the heroism of that day in 2001. Some things it prompts me to remind myself as I reminisce about that morning with the beautiful weather and the ugliest images:

Remember how the pursuit of one group’s favorite ordering of affairs, said to be divinely inspired, contains its own beauty in the eyes of the group but destroys beauty as well as order when the group tries to impose it on others. Stay disgusted with humanity’s immense capacity to destroy what it claims to find good. Stay skeptical of any absolute claims. Remember we are metaphorically flying planes into the twin towers of the environment of Earth, making these towers collapse slowly. Refrain from making today’s commemoration nationalistic or religion-based; the same for every commemoration of good or evil acts. Create something beautiful every day as much as you can, as humanity destroys beauty all too rapidly.

Sunset rumination

Sunset. I have taken many photos of the sunset from the guest room window, and, lately, from the bathroom window. Reading dystopian novels, as I have been doing lately, albeit slowly, might be connected to my sunset obsession by an over-eager psychoanalyst. I share Nabokov’s opinion about such analysts however. So I will keep shooting the sunset as art. I will only think of it as presaging the coming ecological disaster and the twilight of civilization when I am in a really dark mood. During the day, I will do what I can to convince people, using my knowledge, talents, and position, to do their bit to avoid the disaster. During the night, I may post more rambling paragraphs like this one.

And now, please excuse me as I return to Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, a book lent to me by my friend Troy, which somehow has captured me more than I expected before I started it.

The new Greek agreement

So it looks like the EU “institutions” (the new name for the Troika) have agreed to the Greek list of reforms and, as a result, for the time being Greece avoids a crash. I have read many comments on line. I tend to gravitate to the commentary by Frances Coppola (here is an example). But I don’t have a huge amount to add myself to the debate right now. I will end this brief post by sincerely wishing that SYRIZA will succeed in reducing corruption and tax evasion. Just like so many people from the rest of Europe, however, I remain highly skeptical about this.