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Kelvinside, Glasgow

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Winton Drive in Kelvinside, Glasgow

[Kieran Dodds for The New York Times]

Somehow I missed an article three days ago in the Great Homes and Destinations section of the NYT. I don’t know where it was buried in the print edition. But fortunately I stumbled on it online. It features a house for sale in a neighborhood Gail and I think of as our own. Well, at least I do. Gail is not as presumptuous about such matters as I am.

The title: House Hunting … in Glasgow, Scotland. The neighborhood: Kelvinside, in the West End. The article explains that

This three-story semidetached town house in the Victorian style is in the fashionable Kelvinside neighborhood in the West End of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. The West End is known for its Victorian and Edwardian architectural gems originally designed for Scottish merchants. Many of the structures have been converted into apartments.

[snip]

The quiet Kelvinside neighborhood is less than four miles from the mostly commercial city center. The West End is perhaps Glasgow’s most consistently popular neighborhood for residential living, offering trendy bars, restaurants and shops along with gracious period homes.

The photo at the top, which is part of a NYT slideshow that accompanies the article, shows a typical Kelvinside street. Below is Byres Road, also featured in the slideshow, with the caption describing it as “the heart of the West End, [with] many popular restaurants, bars and shops.”

Byres Road, Glasgow

The article oddly omits mention of the institution that lies at the cultural core of the West End, the University of Glasgow, one-time home of (among others) Adam Smith, James Watt, James Boswell, and Lord Kelvin. No visit to Glasgow would be complete without a stop at the Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery. We’re suckers ourselves for The Mackintosh House, “a reconstruction of the principal interiors from the Glasgow home of the Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) and the artist Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (1864-1933).”

The Mackintosh House -- I took this one

The house was purchased by the University of Glasgow in 1946. The generosity of the vendors, the Davidson family, led to the simultaneous gift of all of the original furniture. In 1963, the house, threatened by subsidence and next to land scheduled for redevelopment, was demolished. Prior to demolition, however, an extensive survey was made and all salvageable fitments removed to enable the future reconstruction of the hall, dining room, studio-drawing room and main bedroom. While the architects, Whitfield Partners, conceived The Mackintosh House as an integral part of the Hunterian Art Gallery, they took pains to ensure that the sequence of rooms exactly reflected the original. Virtually the same views and effects of natural light are enjoyed, as 78 Southpark Avenue stood only some 100 metres away. Other areas of the original house – cloakroom, kitchen, bathroom, and secondary bedrooms – have not been reconstructed.

Dining room, The Mackintosh House

After visiting the Hunterian, as you head back to Kelvinside, be sure to walk up Byres Road to its intersection with Great Western Road and head into the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. It’s a great place to wander through, or just to sit.

I should perhaps explain that Gail and I have made the West End our Glasgow home away from home going back to our honeymoon, thanks to our dear Glaswegian friends who live there. We’ve followed them from a flat just off Byres Road to two different houses. We can’t think of a place we’d rather be.

Maybe we should make an offer on that house the NYT features. On second thought, it’s a bit too large for us.

Categories: Architecture, Travel

War Is What I Say It Is

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

A few days ago, I wrote about the White House’s justification for continuing the war in Libya without the Congressional authorization that the War Powers Act would appear to require. As explained in the NYT article by Charlie Savage and Mark Landler, Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, and Robert BAuer, the White House counsel, argued that “American forces had not been in ‘hostilities’ … They argued that United States forces are at little risk because there are no troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange fire with them meaningfully.” (See Ted Rall’s representation of this concept above.)

On the front page of yesterday’s NYT, Charlie Savage followed up with a piece on how Bauer and Koh won Obama’s ear, and the day, despite counter-arguments by

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, [who] had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

Savage goes on to explain that “Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.”

Only in the penultimate paragraph does Savage reveal the the stunning news that “Other high-level Justice lawyers were also involved in the deliberations, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. supported Ms. Krass’s view.”

President Bush listened to his OLC, but then he made sure to appoint hacks who told him whatever he wanted, most notably by re-defining torture so that whatever he wanted to do wouldn’t count. I don’t know what’s worse, Bush’s approach or Obama’s: just keep asking around until you hear what you want, then ignore the OLC and your attorney general.

The rule of law continues to wither away.

Categories: Government, Law, War