We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, April 27. 2010
Guitarist and harmonica player Reed was really the first cross-over bluesman. Whether he was marketed as blues, rhythm and blues, or rock and roll, he was really a bluesman all the way. His music feels familiar even to those who have never heard him because so much of his style was borrowed by rockers in the 60s.
He drank too much, died at 51.
Maggie's Farm poster girl Marianne asked me to search out a cut from Harry Belafonte's 1958 album "Harry Belafonte sings the blues." The closest I could find was this, from 1959:
To which I'll add this other chestnut from Harry, with love to Marianne:
We'll forgive the artist for his voice and verve transcending his sometimes errant politics.
Excellent, from Daniel Pipes: In Europe, Remorse Has Turned to Masochism. He nails it. One quote:
Related, Sowell's Misusing History: Inhumanity, like humanity, is universal.
We saw this play in NYC a year or two ago, but now it's back in town at the Westside Theater: The Screwtape Letters.
It is straight from CS Lewis' book. Mrs. BD's lady's Alpha group is going to see it together.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:55 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
"After a century of épater le bourgeois, why on earth can’t le bourgeois épater l’artiste primitif? And why is the bourgeois and reactionary management of the Museum of Modern Art stifling the artistic creativity of its customers?"
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
More on the Stanford education prof's failed charter school at Pajamas. A quote:
The psychoanalyst Alice Miller has died. She was not an MD. I blame her popular writings - all on the one theme of the evil of parents - for fueling the "victimization" and "trauma" crazes in pop psychology of the late 20th Century.
You can term people who take one idea to explain everything as monomaniacs but, to try to be charitable to the recently dead, I would term it hopelessly if not crazily reductionistic.
In the human soul, easy answers and simple explanations of things never do any good. Her sorts of explanations got their traction by absolving people of their own decisions and choices by blaming others, thus further denigrating the powers and potentials of the human soul.
Blues is not about sadness. Blues is about releasing the energy of true feelings. Blues is about sharing your soul. Nina Simone was one of the best.
Last night's Chuck ending scene melded Nina Simone's Feeling Good with the feelings shared by Chuck and Sarah (IMHO, the hottest, realest woman in any TV series).
You can catch it after the 41st minute:
For the whole Feeling Good, try this YouTube:
Plus a reminder: in NYC, despite Nanny Bloomberg, you can still abuse tobacco like
Col. Frederick Gustavus Burnaby. What a guy.
A newspaper war: Wall Street Journal revs up New York Times rivalry
Why GM is paying money back
What should be done for these poor souls? There are lots of people out there who want to help them, but they are difficult to help.
Scapegoating Goldman: Best short version at Legal Ins. The bubble was obvious to everybody. If you were long mortgages, it was only rational and responsible to hedge that bet.
Americans seem to prefer legal immigation: 60% of Americans Agree With Arizona Bill… Only 31% Agree With Radicals & Obama
The Dodd Bill is a bailout bill
The real Tea Party agenda isn't particularly radical. Sounds like what ordinary Americans want: Leave us alone and quit doing us "favors." We aren't as dumb as you think.
Monday, April 26. 2010
Driscoll: Modern art comes full circle
Green corruption in the White House
What tradition knows: Overcoming Bias
Andy Revkin going after the children
The normally tepid Douthat on the South Park subject:
Far be it for me to be a profound social critic but the brouhaha over the censoring of Southpark’s depiction of Mohammed reminds me of the musical Cabaret.
A central progression in Cabaret is the audience transforming from enjoying the subversive cultural progressivism to its jolly enjoying the triumph of Nazism.
Southpark has led in revealing the inanities and contradictions of almost everything. Yet, it became too much for Comedy Central to allow Southpark to depict Mohammed and Comedy Central also censored Southpark's defiance of self-censorship to avoid the wrath of ideologic gangsters.
Comedy Central features the funniest and the most vile forms of comedy, never before to my knowledge censoring itself in targeting or revealing cultural inanities and contradictions or denigrating cultural pieties.
Yet, now Comedy Central reveals itself in allowing the takeover of its Cabaret by thugs, becoming itself complicit.
Comedy Central reveals itself as enjoying the profits of decadence until its lack of spine collapses upon itself. Comedy Central transforms from the presenter of any irreverence to become the channel of self-imposed cultural decadence that refuses to resist and indeed joins in capitulation to thugs.
Are we to be that Cabaret audience?
Other takes, from Memeorandum:
Ross Douthat / New York Times:
Not Even in South Park? — Two months before 9/11, Comedy Central aired an episode of “South Park” entitled “Super Best Friends,” in which the cartoon show's foul-mouthed urchins sought assistance from an unusual team of superheroes. These particular superfriends were all religious figures …
Discussion: TalkLeft, Balloon Juice, Commentary, Weekly Standard, Vox Popoli, DaTechguy's Blog, Pajamas Media and The Corner on National …
Big Tent Democrat / TalkLeft: Freedom Of Speech — Glenn Greenwald touches on Ross Douthat's …
Datechguy / DaTechguy's Blog: You know I was thinking I was a little hard on Balloon Juice last night...
My internet discovery of the day: The Internet Bird Collection. Videos and photos, worldwide, by category. They are up to 40,000 videos thus far.
Ed. note: This is a wonderful resource. I just perused their videos of the Parulidae (New World Warblers). Fantastic. Identifying many of the female warblers remains just as tough for me as ever, I am sorry to say. When they are flitting through the treetops, I am lucky to get a glimpse. For example, below, female Tennessee Warbler, via CLO:
I mumbled briefly about Positivism last week, alluding to its potential as a fuel for hubris. No philosophy is the "cause" of human evil and destructiveness, but Human Nature is. Pure rationalism (if there is any such thing) is a frightening way to run the world, or to run anything.
This weekend, in timely fashion, I stumbled on a review of Grayling's latest screed against irrationalism by the esteemable John Gray. One quote from the thoughtful review:
American Self-immolation. Pravda
Climate scientist sues newspaper for 'poisoning' global warming debate. So he admits that there is a debate?
The White House wants churches to advance its climate change agenda.
Just when you thought puff peces couldn't get more ridiculous: Obama loves pie
Q and O: Immigration and the welfare state
Republicans Threatening Congressional Seats Long Held by Democrats
John at Powerline: The Paranoid Style of American Liberalism
Just One Minute on The NYT:
Sunday, April 25. 2010
I posted this early Sunday morning:
Farm chores for my aging parents regularly pull me away from church, but this morning we trek down to NYC to meet the pup at Gascogne for a cheap brunch (I'll have the mussels - I always do when they are on a menu - and a healthy and organic Bloody Mary) before treating her to Paul Taylor ll's final day at the Joyce.
Mrs. BD is a big Taylor fan. Our blog pal Neoneo loves Taylor too. Despite being married to a dancer/choreographer for about 100 years, I remain a bit of a dance agnostic. I always did like Merce Cunningham, though, and Meredith Monk. Very quirky.
It was a wonderful program from the Paul Taylor ll (the 80 year-old Taylor's 6-person touring company), but I would have been fine just seeing Esplanade. In fact, just one dance is really all my brain can process in one day. Powerful stuff, Esplanade. Substantial. Recklessly physical and driven by physical momentum, romance, and gravity and, as I sometimes say about some dances, a poem without words - or like a dream. Mrs. BD could discuss it endlessly; how his Graham background evolved and how ballet training is essential to modern dance, etc., but I lack the skill, the words, and the knowledge. The dance is in my head, though, along with the Bach.
Brunch was good, too. Free Bloody Marys. And it is always a treat to spend some time with the Bird Dog pupette Wall Streeter who returned to work after the performance. Those folks work on weekends, keeping the engines of capitalism humming so that people have money to support Paul Taylor.
I have never seen the TV show South Park, but I have heard that it is clever in a goofy, sophomoric and irreverent sort of way.
You have probably heard that fanatics have threatened Comedy Central about South Park's irreverence towards Mohammed (pbuh). Comedy Central folded like a cheap camera. Hence South Park now has the Prophet appearing in a bear costume, and as Santa Claus. Kinda funny, if you can take a joke. Doubt they can.
As Kate observes:
If you want to have religion in the world today, you have to be big enough to take some teasing and/or annoyance from those who don't get it. If you have a religion with vocal murderous and hateful people in it today, teasing is the least one should expect.
But Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is just teasing.
I stumbled onto Myron Magnet's fine 2003 essay of the above title. Magnet says that good writing is about higher and deeper truths than "knowledge," "information," or "data" can provide, and I agree of course.
He includes a smack-down of the one-dimensional pomo critics, but that's far from his main point.
And since Magnet mentions Cosi Fan Tutte so often in his piece, here's the truly ridiculous and lovely Act 1 Finale, in which the cheating suitors fake committing suicide to re-engage their girlfriends:
Hot-button issues like immigration, ObamaCare, bailouts, taxation, national security, faith divide us mostly along what has been labeled conservative-liberal.
At root, however, the differing views are more rooted in who gives and who takes.
Our “betters” are largely insulated from the consequences of their views, catering to themselves and our “lessers.” Then, there’s the “rest of us.”
The primary divide is between the rest of us who struggled, strived and gave versus those whose advantages parachuted them into powerful positions they abuse for their own wealth and to then take away the more meager advantages earned by others to give to the lessers who haven’t.
The rest of us favor immigration by those willing to work, but not to those who aren’t able or who just demand benefits.
The rest of us favor aiding the truly poor or disabled to adequate health care, but not to those who waste their money on frills and then demand providers to impoverish themselves and us not be allowed to make our own life decisions.
The rest of us favor business creating jobs and opportunities, but not lazy management and crazy schemes then feeding at the taxpayer trough.
The rest of us voluntarily pay our more than fair share, but not basic services being cut to enrich politicians and government workers who create more ways to tax in order to feather their own nests by creating more dependent lessers.
The rest of us support and serve in danger to preserve our freedoms and protect others’, but not to be frittered away through lack of priorities or will.
The rest of us thank G-d for our being and opportunities, but not to tolerate those who would deny us or others theirs.
The rest of us may become polarized but at root are not. The rest of us just feel caught between those who consider themselves our betters, who perpetuate themselves by allying with the lessers without due claim upon us, whether at home or abroad. These betters denigrate the legitimate concerns of the rest of us, but their scorn is hollow, ludicrous, and, indeed, energizing.
Our parents and grandparents were great generations whom we identify with because they were the inspiration for the rest of us. My baby-boomer peers have largely been the selfish punk generation of wastrels. Coming again, the generation of the “rest of us.” Those who want to lead, who deserve leadership, are recognized as authentic in being of, by and for the rest of us.
Our Editor recently described himself, and Maggie's Farm, as "resolutely middlebrow." I cannot disagree, but with the caveat that we repeatedy take adventurous forays into the lowbrow.
As confirmation of the above. I have been thinking about Positivism lately and found myself needing to refer to Wiki for a refresher on the late Enlightenment thinker Auguste Comte, known as "The Pope of Positivism," and the inventor of Sociology.
Comte, interestingly and paradoxically, wanted to use a science of society in order to create a new religion for humanity. His grandiose dream lives on.