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Monday: March 31, 2008

We Need Two Parties, but Which Two?

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:19 AM UTC

On a more serious note:

A. J. Strata ponders the trainwreck that will ensue if the Democrats dump Obama and Clinton and nominate Al Gore:

The conservative in me says go for it, end the suffering of the democrat party quickly – bury it. I hesitate as an American because we need two viable parties. But if the dems go this route they are no longer viable anyway, so I would expect to see a far right wing party pop up to create some ‘balance’ as the GOP moves to the center.

I’m surprised that the Democratic Party has lasted as long as it has. I expect it to shrivel up into insignificance some time in the next 10 or 15 years, perhaps quite suddenly, though I don’t quite see it happening this year. I also expect the Republican Party to split in two, but I think these two will not be a moderate and a far-right party but a conservative party and a libertarian party.

My reason is simple. The economic question has been settled. With all its faults, capitalism works, and no alternative comes close to working. Socialism is dead, though (like a zombie) still walking around in some countries. However, that leaves a wide range of moral and social questions on which consensus seems unlikely. Issues such as abortion, the death penalty, pornography, gay marriage, vegetarianism, drug legalization, smoking bans, pâté de foie gras, consumption of dog and horse meat, cloning, the clubbing of baby seals, paying for transplanted kidneys, and so on, will continue to divide Americans, since they cannot be solved empirically. These issues should suffice to divide Americans into two economically-liberal parties for years to come.

Sunday: March 30, 2008

What Were They Thinking?

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:57 PM UTC

The second comment on this post on The Little Professor recommends a bookstore called Caveat Emptor. What kind of name is that for a business? And what is their return policy? Do they pull a gun on you if you even look like you’re trying to return a book?

Bowdlerized Country Music

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:49 PM UTC

I know of three examples of this interesting phenomenon. Can anyone add more?

1. The second stanza of “The Wreck of the Old 97″:

Then he turned around and said to his black, greasy fireman,
“Shovel on a little more coal.
And when we cross that White Oak mountain,
Watch Ol’ ’97 roll.”

On at least one of this albums, Mac Wiseman changes this to “big ol’ greasy fireman”. Of course, the original text has nothing to do with race. Any man who spends his day shoveling coal into the open door of a furnace is going to be black from the soot and greasy as soon as he works up enough of a sweat to mix with the soot. Granted that some firemen may have been black to start with, there’s no reason to suppose that this one was, or that it would have made any difference to the song if he were.

2. One couplet of Bob Wills’ rather disjointed “Take Me Back to Tulsa” reads:

Little bee sucks the blossom, big bee gets the honey,
Dark man picks the cotton, white man gets the money.

On The Archive Series, Vol. 2, Dan Walser changes this to:

Well, the little bee sucks the blossom, but the big bee gets the honey,
The little man raise the cotton, but the big man gets the money.

3. One of Johnny Cash’s best-known lines is this, from “Folsom Prison Blues”:

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

On Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash, Keb’ Mo’ changes this to:

They say I shot a man in Reno, but that was just a lie.

I can see why a black man might not feel entirely comfortable singing the original lyrics, but the change wrecks the song. It would have been better to pick another song if he couldn’t do this one ‘straight’.

Eavesdropping in Annapolis

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:36 PM UTC

Joanne Jacobs writes of a (not entirely serious) proposal that high school students be fitted with shock collars to encourage good discipline. That reminded me of something I overheard in a restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland 15 or 20 years ago. Two 40ish female teachers were lunching at the next table, and one of them said “I think we ought to bring back capital punishment to the schools! Sorry, I meant corporal punishment — I always make that mistake.”

Two policemen were lunching at another table, and one of them said “Hey look! We made today’s paper.” After a pause to read the story, he said “It says we ‘subdued’ the suspect”, and the other policeman said in a satisfied tone of voice”Yeh, we subdued the Hell out of him”.

Nouvelle Vague

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:18 PM UTC

In a post on “Cover songs almost as good as the originals (and sometimes better)”, VodkaPundit writes “‘Nouvelle Vague’ is Portuguese for ‘New Wave’”. Actually, the phrase is French, not Portuguese, and was used to describe the movies* of Godard, Truffaut, and some of their contemporaries long before the band (which I’d never heard of) borrowed the name. According to Wikipedia, the band’s second album was Bande à Part, which is also a 1964 Godard movie, so the name must be homage rather than coincidence.

When the original ‘nouvelle vague’ appeared in the 1950s, the phrase puzzled Evelyn Waugh, who couldn’t tell whether it was supposed to mean ‘new wave’ or ‘vague novel’.

For the subject of VodkaPundit’s post, I nominate Dwight Yoakam’s cover of Baby, Don’t Go (with Sheryl Crow). It’s the best thing on the album Under the Covers. Until I heard it, I hadn’t realized that Sonny Bono had ever written a song that was any good at all. Yoakam’s cover of Kinky Friedman’s Rapid City, South Dakota is (in my opinion) slightly better than the original.

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Yes, I know, I should call them ‘films’ or ‘cinema’. Sorry, not going to do it.

Decline and Fall

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:06 PM UTC

The spine of Volume 5 of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians lists the contents as ‘Canon to Classic Rock’.

Who Put the Chav in Chavismo?

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:00 PM UTC

Austin Bay on Castro’s Mini-Me:

Chavez styles himself as South America’s new liberator, a new Simon Bolivar. Chavez’s “Chavismo” (echoing Fidel Castro’s “Fidelismo”) combines machismo, socialism, caudilloism, populism, anti-Americanism and the flamboyant dream of a new “Bolivarian state” in South America.

Etymologically, shouldn’t ‘Chavismo’ be ‘Chavezismo’? The -ez seems an essential part of the name. More important, do Brits find ‘Chavismo’ an amusing name? According to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English, ‘chav’ is “derogatory slang” for “the lower class; uneducated and ignorant people” — derogatory British slang, I would have said.

Where Was the Editor?

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:16 PM UTC

InstaPundit quotes a story from the Des Moines Register:

A pizza deliveryman told Des Moines police that he shot a man who robbed him at gunpoint when he delivered a pie late Thursday to a south-side address.

My first thought was that the pizza deliveryman was late delivering a pizza on Thursday night, and that’s why he was robbed. Perhaps the buyer misunderstood the usual ’30 minutes or free’ guarantee as allowing him to point a gun at the pizza guy to make sure the pizza was free. It was only when I reread the sentence that I realized that it probably meant that the pizza deliveryman was robbed late at night on a Thursday, and that he was (presumably) on time. We are often told that the difference between traditional and new media is that newspapers have editors to correct inaccurate and ineptly written first drafts. The system is far from foolproof, at least in Des Moines.