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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Forest for the Trees

A lot of people today who consider themselves to be liberal simply don’t qualify for that honor, at least not how this category has been defined in the past century. 

Elizabeth Warren said she was in favor of providing federal prison inmates with gender transformation surgery. Perhaps I am severely underestimating the good people of Red State America, but I doubt this bit of her platform will go over well in rural areas. I doubt it would fly in rural Denmark.

I firmly believe that Democrats should steer well clear of anything associated with gender politics in the upcoming election, that is, if they want to win. We need to look at the big picture, and transgender operations for federal inmates is definitely not the big picture. Take any of a dozen major issues: the wealth gap and raising taxes on the rich, the environment, rebuilding our declining infrastructure, the Supreme Court make up, and many more things. Democrats could run and win on any single one of these issues, but not if they are saddled with divisive topics related to gender politics.

No one is saying that these things are unimportant, it’s just that Democrats have to be in full control to do anything about them. It’s analogous to Obama striking down the military’s mealy-mouth “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. Obama didn’t run on this issue; I don’t think that he even mentioned it in the 2008 election campaign. He simply had the power once he was in office to finally do the right thing and allow gays to openly enter the military.

Now all Democrats need is a decent candidate, one who isn’t past retirement age.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Rock Died Years Ago. Can We Please Bury it?

“That’s because he (Johann Sebastian Bach - 1685-1750) is arguably the most important figure in not just classical but all music: his influence is as keenly felt in music today as it ever was.”

Year of WonderClemency Burton-hill

As if The Beatles haven’t been praised enough over the course of the past 55 years or so, there is a nice little movie called Yesterday which heaps on a bit more tribute to this rock band. In one scene, the protagonist claims that the film’s eponymous song is one of the greatest songs ever written. Wow, really? I guess he’s never listened to Bach, or Mozart, or Beethoven, or dozens of other composers if he can rate a simple little rock ballad among the greatest songs ever written.

Am I the only person who thinks that rock & roll has been around way too long? For me, rock started repeating itself by the end of the 1980s.

What I resent about rock is that it has produced so few remarkable musicians. There isn’t a single piano virtuoso to come out of the genre, no great saxophonists, violinists, or any other instruments besides the guitar and drums. Rock had already endured far longer than the heyday of jazz which only dominated the music world for perhaps 40 years, beginning its sharp decline when rock ascended.

And just forget about rap music. They don’t play instruments, and they don’t really sing. It should have been a brief side-note in music yet has been with us for 30 years or more. Sorry rappers, rhyming just isn’t that much of a skill, and your puerile doggerel hardly ranks as poetry.

Jazz produced legions of great musicians on a number of instruments. In the age of jazz, talent mattered more than anything. There were no poseurs or lip-synchers in jazz. If you couldn’t play, you weren’t going to spend much time on the stage. 

To take the center stage in the rock era, all you need are a few simple chords and anything resembling human speech. Singing is optional, as we have heard in rap music. Most of popular music today is more about image than what you can hear. Why should it matter what someone looks like in music?

Sunday, September 01, 2019


You fucking half-wit!  or You killed our sister!

Even the most tired subjects in humor take on new life when you add profanity or horrific violence. Those old Family Circus cartoons were tedious, even back when I first learned to read. Add something terrible, and the humor spikes.

 Have you ever noticed that the expression “Who died and made you the Pope?” doesn’t make any sense at all? I’ve been thinking about that all day. I mean, obviously, the person who died must have been the Pope because if not, we wouldn’t need a new one. And the College of Cardinals elects the new Pope—at least that’s the way it was before I got kicked out of Catholicism. So, both questions are answered: The Pope and the College of Cardinals.

There are a lot of things to complain about when it comes to cell phones, but the worst thing is that there aren't any pay phones around these days which means you can't pick up a ringing phone—say at the train station—and have a conversation with a total stranger.