Archives for the Month of January 2007 on Jeffrey Quick's Blog

Early music and pinkos

I just read an interesting article in American Music, 24/4 (Winter 2006): "Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro Musica: Medievalism and the Cultural Front" by Kirsten Yri. The gist is that Greenberg's Trotskyism led him to specific decisions in his performing editions of Play of Daniel and Play of Herod. It also explores the broader cultural substrate of early music, folk music and the Left, particularly the widespread tendency (not just of the hard Left but certainly embraced by them) to see the Middle Ages as a Golden Age. The nostalgia for community and social meaning overwhelmed the realities of starvation and serfdom. A cynical capitalist might be forgiven for thinking that Marxists loved the Middle Ages because then the workers knew their place.

Of course, Greenberg was not the only one constructing the social meaning of early music. ("Constructing the social meaning"...God, I can't believe I'm using that phrase!). The recorder in particular was steeped in socialism (National and international). On the other hand, that was not the only possible narrative. The other story was specifically Catholic, with a leading light in the early years of the revival being Vincent d'Indy. If Vatican II had never happened and the Church had had the resources to put into performances of its patrimony, we would have a different view of early music today.

The question then arises: did early music in general have "a meaning" and did that meaning change? Looking over the past 30 years, I'd say "yes". In the 70s, all forms of early music, even Baroque, were anti-establishment. That generally had a Marxist tinge, just because there were no broad anti-establishment movements that were not of the Left (The Libertarian Party was founded in 1972, but was not really important - if it is important - until 1980. And the individualist strain of hippiedom was just that: individualist.) Since then, a number of things have happened. Baroque music has gone Establishment with the development of star conductors and soloists. The orchestra was always the the model par excellence of capitalist art: the privileged Boss conforming the workers to his will, each player with his specialized job. A baroque orchestra is a smaller shop, with fewer specialized jobs, but its basic nature is the same. Meanwhile, Renaissance music has been divorced from the peasantry. We expect skills from instrumentalists that are more in line with their highly trained professional forebears. The Church has begun reclaiming early music from the secularists, with the gradual and fitful return of the Latin Mass. And even the "we're all peasants here" Renaissance Fairs increasingly seem to eschew serious early music performers, finding more value in hiring pub singers with guitars. In addition, there is now new music that can be listened to without offence to the ears, so there is less impetus to make newness out of the old. Overall, I'd say that early music nowadays has very little political or social significance; we play the stuff because we like it.

Merck out to buy vaccination laws

$360 a dose is a lot to spend for every 12 year old girl in the country. But don't worry, girls, it's for your own good. Merck's purchased legislators say so.

Jo Frost in the 'hood

Last night, as is her wont, Darling Wife was watching SuperNanny. And the chosen household had a cop husband and a stay-at-home mom, in a beautiful house. Or so she tells me; I wasn't watching at all until the end, where I was in the same room. Wife was dubious about whether a policeman could afford such a beautiful house. "Overtime," I said. "No, he's dealing drugs on the side," she said. And then we thought: we've never seen SuperNanny visit anything but the most solidly middle-class homes. Why is this? Do the poor have parenting skills so superior to their other life skills that they don't need her? Observation suggests otherwise. Is it part of the conceit of "having a nanny", which is an upper-class thing? Surely the selected families don't pay for the privilege of having their private lives exposed.

We decided that we really want to see Jo visit a trailer park. "This is such a (sniff sniff), uh, beautiful home you have here (as she steps over the puddle of cat pee in the kitchen floor). And that macaroni and cheese is such a pretty bright orange color!" Actually, I'd like to see some fusion shows: "SuperNanny visits Jerry Springer" "SuperNanny on Wife Swap". And the big question: does Ty Pennington have any kids, and are they on Ritalin? That would be a SuperNanny episode to watch: "Here are the rules: no kickinn, no fightinn, no screaminn in the megaphone, no tearinn down the house and rebuildinn it in a week."

There's a draft in this voting booth

Jenny Brunner, Ohio SS (seems like a more fitting abbreviation for Secretary of State) of the party of Lyndon Johnson and Charles Rangel, is carrying on her party's tradition by supporting the draft...for poll workers....something only proposed in 2 other states and implemented in none. Gotta love that adventurous leadership!

"Just like jury duty!" Considering the quality of juries these days...

Let's see...the problem we've had in Ohio with poll workers is that they aren't well enough trained or up on the ever-changing technology for stealing counting votes. So we're going to staff the polls with people who don't want to be there and don't care? What's next, drafting voters? They're going to great extremes today to shore up the legitimacy of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Actually, if we're going to throw out the 13th Amendment anyway, why can't we chuck the state constitution and draft LEGISLATORS, by random lot. They would certainly be more representative of "the People's will" than the ones we have, no more corrupt, and since they would not be running for re-election (not having been elected to begin with) they'd have to take graft directly (which is far easier to police; just look for the foil-covered Franklins in the freezer).

Planned Parenthood a little confused on property rights

"It's bad enough that pharmacists think they could refuse to refill a prescription, but Plan B has over-the-counter status," says Mary O'Shea of Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland. "It has the status of cough drops. How does a pharmacist think he has the right to say no to this?"

Uh, Mary...
the pharmacist can refuse to stock cough drops, if it's his store. He doesn't have to sell Plan B pills...or aspirin...or Bibles....or burqas. It may be bad business, or stupid in a hundred other ways. But he has as much right to say no as Planned Parenthood has to not sell anti-abortion books.

Why I am NOT a postminimalist

Kyle Gann has a really intriguing (and long) blogpost about postminimalism.As a manifesto, it certainly clarified for me a lot of what's happening now. But like most really provocative writing, it asks more questions than it answers. So we're going to play a bit:

[Postminimalism] inherited from minimalism one thing: the value of limiting one's materials, of composing within a circumscribed range.

Limited materials have been the norm in music; it is only within the past century (and since WW II especially) that we've tried to make art out of everything. The possibilities within a classic-period symphony are pretty circumscribed, not only by style, but by the dynamics of how the thing works structurally...and even by the instruments (particularly the brass). The possibilities grew during the 19th cetury, and one can see serialism as an attempt to re-impose economy and consistency on music. There's a perception that "all serial music sounds alike". But all classical symphonies pretty much sound alike too. As Gann points out, individuality comes from what you don't use. But that only works if everyone is not restricting their materials in the same way. Mozart is not J.C. Bach because of his approaches to counterpoint and chromaticism; it's augmented, not diminished.
For postminimalism, there are no laws outside the composition, all tendencies are defined arbitrarily by a logic created within the specific piece of music,

The problem here is that no piece can be entirely self-referential. This is where Gann gets himself in trouble, logically, because later he says:

Thus, nothing is more characteristic of postminimalist music than that it avoids the representation of anxiety. Even when postminimalist music is partly dissonant, harsh, or rhythmically complex, it has a sustained, continuous character that gives an impression of overarching calm.

If the piece creates its own world, how do we know it's calm? And how do we know, outside of a statement of intent by the composer, that it's "meant" to create a better world? Perhaps it's all a description of the calm postnuclear world. Maybe it's prophetic instead of therapeutic.

I'm a compositional pragmatist at heart. I use what works for an audience to communicate various emotional states. Unfortunately, that leads to more involvement with received musical language than is ultimately good for my career. I've always reflected on "what I do-what I don't do". But I have to hold this as generalization rather than prescription, otherwise I risk writing the same piece over and over.

You need to read Gann. Certainly, I'm only touching the surface of his argument. But before I leave, one further comment:

Theoretically one could have argued that, if all materials are equally acceptable, then a piece of music could include anything and everything. This has certainly been the message and strategy of some of the so-called postmodernist composers such as John Zorn and William Bolcom, and one might even include the more traditionally Ivesian Henry Brant. But to allow and include everything in your music flirts once again with the idea of representing the world, reviving the illusion of non-artificiality.

But Bolcom is NOT an all-inclusive composer, even in the stylistically promiscuous Blake cycle. The music between borrowings always has stylistic fingerprints. Even the little piano piece that Billy Bolcom had published in Etude when he was 11 sounds like Bolcom. And even the music in borrowed styles does not sound like other music in those styles.

Tancredo wants Black Caucus shut down

"It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race," said the Colorado Republican, who is most widely known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration.

Well, I say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em; start a Caucasian Caucus. Of course, you know how that would go over. And Tancredo is the wrong guy for the message, since he's already been accused of being a racist.

The issue here is freedom of association. Congress believes that their members have a right to gather in race-oriented groups and to exclude members of other races. Indeed, freedom of association gives them that right. But they deny that right of free association to the general populace. If I decided not to rent the bottom of my duplex to purple people, I would have the National Association for the Avancement of Purple People filing a lawsuit. The further issue is that of Congress being above the laws they form for the rest of us. Maybe if Stephen Cohen took the uncollegial action of suing the Black Caucus for discrimination, something might change. Unfortunately, that something would probably be "Cohen's chances of re-election". But what's wrong with Congress following our rules?

Overture in Organum

We haven't had any band music here (or any large ensemble music at all). This is a reading by Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony 1, directed here by Bill Ciabbatari. There are a few scoring changes in the final version (most notably, thinned-out percussion).

1st Amendment void in Brazoria TX

If Mayor Ken Corley has his way, using the "n-word" in his town will be punishable by a $500 fine...unless it is a "term of endearment" and nobody complains. Not that any civilized person would want to use that word, endearingly or any other way. But where will we draw the line? The F-word will be worth, what, $100? I mean the 4-letter one; I'm sure that "f-----m" will merit the death penalty.

Modest proposal to improve SOTU speeches

OK, I didn't watch Bush last night. Almost anything from anyone that could be considered a "public policy proposal" will make me unhappy, and I'm way too busy these days to make myself deliberately unhappy. Reading the transcript, I'd have to say that it's less objectionable than most (including his first), and he did a deft job in kissing the Pelosi's posterior. But it's still just an announcement for an upcoming auction of stolen goods.

All patriotic Americans need to band together to control the rhetorical and policy excesses of the State of the Union speeches. What I propose is that friends gather together to watch, and whenever a new initiative is proposed, they should down a shot of their favorite distilled beverage. This can unite our fractured political landscape and foster bipartisanship. Republicans will drink to Bush's proposals; Democrats will drink to forget them. And vice-versa, of course, when the other wing of the Boot On Your Neck Party holds the office.

This will require great self-sacrifice. If practiced conscientiously, the outcome of any SOTU would be acute alcohol poisoning. If we can get enough Americans involved enough to die for the Presidents' promises, maybe he'll quit making them.

Unus ex discipulis

Download file

This is the third (and last) of the excerpts from the Responsoria, alternating between rage and lamentation. There are still 6 that haven't been performed or recorded yet, so if you have a choir...


Kyle Gann comes out swinging against mediocrity, and -- oh horrors! -- Names Names:

Most of all, there is no buzz about the kleinmeisters among younger composers. Harbison, Chen Yi, Penderecki, Higdon, Zwilich, Sierra, Paulus, get to command vast musical resources, but no young composers heatedly argue the merits of their pieces.

You can't argue. There's a lot of solid and safe contemporary music out there, the Henry Hadleys and Emerson Whithornes of the age. What interests me is music that is either far-out, or so retro that it's far out... guys like Rosner or Sowash. Whatever it is, it doesn't have that whiff of "product" about it. That's a learned thing; I hear a bit of it in Lowell Liebermann's recent music but not the stuff he was writing at age 15.

I was lucky, I guess...rejected as a comp major during the 70s, then getting an MM in composition at a fairly minor league comp school (Cleveland State) which did have the advantage of a resident orchestra...and then having my mentor discouraging me from a doctorate in composition because "I didn't have a voice" (when I'd been experimenting and following my prof's leads because I thought that's what a student does.) It hasn't all paid off with some huge career (or any career at all really), but I'm writing what I want and am happy about it, and performers seem to be happy with what I write (a trap in itself).

Beer for dogs?

An Amsterdam pet shop owner has created a nonalcohlic beer for dogs.

What's the fun in that? My parents once had a dog who would drink Busch Natural Light from the can, standing on his hind legs. Several times he became so intoxicated that he could barely stand or bark.

Was it animal abuse? Oh, probably. But he had a happy life.

Cleveland Chamber Symphony 1/21/07

Yesterday's concert began with a performance of Ives' 3rd.

Continue reading "Cleveland Chamber Symphony 1/21/07"

New front in the abortion war

There's a small problem with abortion providers practicing medical confidentiality:

"In all 50 states, sexual activity with underage children is illegal. Also, every state mandates that if a healthcare worker has reason to suspect that an underage girl is being sexually abused, they are required by law to report that information to a designated law enforcement or child protective services agency. That agency is then responsible to investigate the possibility that the child may be the victim of sexual abuse or statutory rape," according to Life Dynamics.

Now there's a movement to cut off Planned Parenthood's Title X money for violations of these laws.

To some extent, the abortion industry has painted itself into this corner by fighting parental notification laws. It really should be up to the parents to prosecute abuse. Yes, that's harder when one parent is the abuser, but if both parents are notified, chances are good that something will happen. When parents aren't notified, the State must be hyper-vigilant about the rights of the child, which means they need the information.

If this strategy is successful, we're left with the case of the 20-40% of pregnant girls 15 and under who were impregnated by minors (per the story's stats, which I'm skeptical of) not having access to abortion. That will undoubtedly make some folks happy, but I'm not one of them.

Why conservatives are hopeless, Take 2

Today's example is from Carl Hames of Little Elm, TX, writing in the Feb. '07 Mother Earth News:

I am a die-hard conservative Republican ... not particularly convinced that humans are causing global warming ... But for the life of me, with solar power being so easy to install and so cheap ... I don't know why every state doesn't mandate that every new home being built must come with a solar-electric system. It's a no-brainer. I'm going to send this suggestion to every member of our State Assembly.

...with public schools being so easy to send to and so cheap...
...with abortions being so easy to obtain and so cheap...
...with local police SWAT funding being so easy to obtain and so cheap...
...with government health care being so easy to obtain and so cheap...
...with ID chips for animals being so easy to obtain and so cheap...
...with eminent domain for redevelopment being so easy and so cheap...

Why doesn't "every state mandate", Carl? I haven't the foggiest. I mean, it's not like any of them actually believe in private property.

Ney: bend down and give me 30

OK, so Bob Ney is a lush. Not surprising; no sober man would have done what he did.

But this guy sounds almost as bad:

Bill Livingston, a GOP ex-congressman from Louisiana who also served on the Ethics Committee, said the compressed Tuesday through Thursday work week adopted by Republicans let congressmen operate without enough supervision by peers, and said longer hours imposed by Democrats might remedy matters.

“There’s a reason Bob Ney ran into problems,” Livingston said. “It’s because people weren’t watching him.”

'Scuse me? These are the guys "we" hire to set rules for the rest of us (or so the mythology says). If they can't govern themselves, how can they govern us? And who will act in loco parentis for wayward Congressdroids, and who in turn are their parents?

The economics of student loans

Jacob Sullum elucidates the dysfunctional market in higher education, hinting at but not quite defining the solution. Which is: abolish subsidized student loans.

There, I said it. I expect the wees who were all upset about my take on the minimum wage will be really pissed off now.

Artist gives new meaning to "eat me!"

Y'all remember when I worried that liposuctioned biodiesel might find its way into the food supply? Well, an ahtiste has fried meatballs in his own liposuctioned fat and fed them to friends (or maybe former friends). And he's sold a couple cans to collectors for $23K each.

Every time I think I know where weird will end up, it leapfrogs over that.

MI: cheat on your wife, get life

The randy crowd in the Michigan Legislature may have screwed themselves, by passing a law describing it as first-degree sexual misconduct when "sexual penetration occurs under circumstances involving the commission of any other felony." The case at issue involved some poor shlub giving a waitress Oxycontin in exchange for sex. But the judges of the Court of Appeals pointed out that since adultery is a felony in Michigan (even though there hasn't been a conviction since 1971), any adulterous intercourse is equivalent to rape, something which doubtless delights the University of Michigan's legal genius Catharine MacKinnon, but which criminalizes all kinds of relatively decent people, like the Michigan Attorney General.

Personally, I think the Court of Appeals is full of it. Section 29 of the Michigan Penal Code defines adultery as "the sexual intercourse of 2 persons, either of whom is married to a third person." I suppose, in a counter-Clintonian sense, that one could have sexual intercourse that did not involve sexual penetration. But that's certainly not how the average person understands the language. So, if penetration is one of the defining elements of adultery, then adultery could not be construed as "any other felony", because it would be the same act.

While I love it when a legislature gets caught writing bad law, locking up cheating spouses and throwing away the key is a bit excessive. Amazingly, the fundy-heavy readership of World Net Daily agrees with me.

Feeding the meters with poison

The mild-mannered British are blowing up parking meters in Thomas Paine's home town.

If they ever catch the culprits, I think the US should offer them political asylum.

RIP Robert Anton Wllson

Bob disincarnated at about 4:50 Pacific time yesterday morning.

My keenest memory of him was from a Thursday night jam at the Starwood festival, back in the old Whispering Winds/Devil's Den days. Pasha and Prudence had just sung "Kathusalem",

"Oh, Kathusalem,
whore of old Jerusalem,
prostitute of ill-repute,
the daughter of the Baba."

and RAW was misty-eyed. "I haven't heard that since my college days."

He seemed perfectly lucid, but I was told later what all he had consumed, and his adventures getting back to his campsite (a cabin or trailer or something, in deference to his age.)

For me, he was to personal psychology what Ayn Rand was to philosophy, Hazlitt to economics, Partch to the pitch spectrum...the guy who blew it all open and showed us the possibilities. He remained sanguine while the Endarkenment grew around him. I'm going to miss having that mind in this world.

Thanks to Beck. More memorials here and here.

Kim Jong-Il's hare-brained scheme to feed his people by raising German grey giant rabbits, which can grow to as large as 23 lbs but are usually 15 lbs.

Rabbit is a good choice for impoverished nations, as they can subsist on things people don't eat (clover, alfalfa etc.) But generally, the giant breeds show poor feed conversion. Even New Zealands (the meat industry standard, and what I raise) are butchered way before maturity, as the conversion ratio drops off after about 8 weeks.

The ideal solution would be to let Party members Serve The People in an ultimate sense, with the Glorious Leader the first to become what he has turned North Korea into. Without that little impediment, I'm sure the Norks could feed themselves quite easily.

Be afraid, very afraid...

...of 30 million underachieving and very horny Chinamen, aka "cannon fodder". The military has always been a stepping stone for the underclass, and rape has always been part of war.

Liu said the sex ratio imbalance was not connected to China's family planning policy. "It is more a result of the deep-rooted notion in Chinese culture that men are superior to women," she said.

I suppose she had to say that, though it's rampant nonsense. When the policy is "one child", abortion is not only permitted but encouraged, and you have the technology to sex the fetus, I think we'd have the same outcome here.

Ron Paul for President!

OMG! Ron Paul has thrown his hat in the ring.
He's not going to get the nomination. Any party which claims to speak for limited government, yet has John, son of Cain as Presidential front-runner, is not going to go for Ron Paul. But if he makes it into the Ohio primary, he has my vote. And if he gains the nomination and the LP candidate doesn't step down, the party deserves to go down in flames.

House votes price controls on labor

I bet you didn't see that headline in your paper. But it's the truth. You probably saw something about a "boost in wages", as if Congress actually had that power.

Workers at the Wendy's in Cuyahoga Falls are cheering about their new-found wealth...oh wait, there ARE no workers and no Wendy's there; it got closed up by the voters of Ohio, acting under the delusion that they were granting a "boost in wages."

At least a federal minimum-wage boost will equalize the misery. But Steve LaTourette knows better than he voted.

Score spamming

People love to give things to libraries. These are generally things they have no use for and think the library might (as opposed to things the library could use but they couldn't, like pamphlet binders, shelf label protectors, etc.) Sometimes these things can be very nice indeed.

Continue reading "Score spamming"

Paul Hackett, hero

I haven't been a fan of anti-war Democrats in general, or of Paul Hackett in particular. But I was impressed to read that he'd chased some bad guys down and held them at gunpoint until police arrived. Of course the civilian AR15 is not an "assault weapon" (assuming that word to have some objective meaning besides "scary gun"), but the reporter tried.

Gotta love this line:

"He said he had done this about 200 times in Iraq, but this time there was not a translation problem," the police report said.

Open season on historians in Atlanta

The American Historians Association recently held their conference in Atlanta, at the Hilton and Marriott hotels, which are across the street from each other, and in the middle of the block. So the AHA members jaywalked, just as they did as students. The cops copped an attitude.

On Friday the Tufts historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto was arrested by Atlanta police as he crossed the middle of the street between the Hilton and Hyatt hotels. After being thrown on the ground and handcuffed, the former Oxford don was formally arrested, his hands cuffed behind his back. Several policemen pressed hard on his neck and chest, leaving the mild-mannered scholar, who's never gotten so much as a parking ticket, bruised and in pain. He was then taken to the city detention center along with other accused felons and thrown into a filthy jail cell filled with prisoners. He remained incarcerated for eight hours. Officials demanded bail of over a thousand dollars. To come up up with the money Fernandez-Armesto, the author of nineteen books, had to make an arrangement with a bail bondsman. In court even the prosecutors seemed embarrassed by the incident, which got out of hand when Fernandez-Armesto requested to see the policeman's identification (the policeman was wearing a bomber jacket; to Fernandez-Armesto, a foreigner unfamiliar with American culture, the officer did not look like an officer). The prosecutors asked the professor to plead nolo contendere. He refused, concerned that the stain on his record might put his green card status in jeopardy. Officials finally agreed to drop all charges. The judge expressed his approval. The professor says he has no plans to sue. But the AHA council is considering lodging a complaint with the city.

That's horrifying. But the story mysteriously continues:

The AHA is mainly very anti-war and that doesn’t sit well with many of the authoritarian types in the police in the deep South.

Now, if this is true as stated, i.e., if the AHA as an organization is anti-war (as opposed to the individuals of the AHA), there's something wrong here. A professional society should be dealing with its profession, not with politics. Granted, historians know more about war than almost anyone. But they don't and can't have a historical long view about current wars. And unlike the ALA and Cuban librarians (also arguably a political matter), they aren't dealing with the professional conditions of other librarians (the ALA isn't dealing, period, preferring to see Cuba's incarcerated librarians as "not librarians" because they don't have a MLS).

This is shameful. But given the tendency of academics to become court intellectuals and coutesans to power, this might wake a few of them up.

Tip o'hat to Claire Wolfe.

Strickland begins with a bang

Our governor has a different idea of "10 days" than the legislature does, thus beginning his regime with a constitutional crisis.

It's hard to feel sorry for the Republicans in this. If they'd done their work instead of waiting until the last minute, and if Taft hadn't fecklessly pocketed the bill, this wouldn't be an issue. I'm mildly in favor of the noneconomic damage limits, but hey, it's a new regime. If they're such an obviously good idea, the legislature can override the veto, yes?

But what's just bizarre is this:

Attorney General Marc Dann, who, like Strickland, is a Democrat, said he would "vigorously" defend the governor's veto. But he also said he would offer legal counsel to members of the Ohio General Assembly if it wanted to sue.

Can you say "conflict of interest"?

Ohio's next employee-health crusade

Jacob Grier calls pizza "the widowmaker":

Driver-sales workers — pizza delivery guys, vending machine stockers, etc. — clock in as the fifth most dangerous occupation with 38 deaths per 100,000 workers every year. The risks of traffic accidents and crime combine to make this one pretty perilous profession.

In other words, dialing up a pizza from Domino’s is just as bad, probably even worse, than lighting up in a bar. If smokers can’t force bar and restaurant workers to inhale their fumes, then surely people too lazy to cook or pick up their own dinners shouldn’t be able to force drivers to risk their lives delivering food. No worker should ever have to choose between his safety and his livelihood. How many innocents must die bearing midnight snacks for the gluttonous and slothful before we put a stop to such irresponsible behavior?

The lesson is clear. For the sake of the pizza delivery guys, we must ban pizza delivery. Working together, we can have a Delivery Free DC by 2008.

Long-lost cousin?

The Quick and the Ed is an education blog. And apparently there are no Quicks involved in its production. Given that the head article today praises affirmative action, it's not likely to be a regular stop. But it ws a fun accidental discovery.

Colleges holding public schools accountable

Rightwingprof has some interesting ideas about No Child Left Behind and federalism. Being a wingnut, of course he isn't going to suggest just pitching the whole putrid mess of public education...and that's OK. But this, I think, is not:

If universities started exercising the power they have by refusing to accept graduates of schools with low SAT scores, those schools would have no choice but to raise their standards and change what they do.

The problem here is that it's individual punishment for somebody else's guilt. If the university refuses to accept brilliant students who learned in spite of their schools (that could describe me) because of the school's ineptitude, it's a negation of the American individualist tradition...not that a wingnut would care about that. And while RWP might be willing to accept a few martyrs for the cause of school reform, I think he would get more than he bargained for, because of the entrenched interest in the status quo. He thinks the schools are reformable; I don't. Putting the doughnut on may get us back on the road short-term, but it doesn't fix the flat tire.

The sky is falling! Pesos for pizza in US

The dextrosphere has its panties in a bunch over the decision of the pizza chain Pizza Patron to accept pesos as payment. Evidently this is the first stage in the adoption of the Amero, shameless pandering to illegal immegrants, and The End of America As We Know It (TEOAAWKI?).

I grew up in (or rather, near enough) a border town (Port Huron MI) that the issue was not "Will you take Canadian dollars?" but "What's your discount rate on Canadian dollars?". And vice-versa, of course.

This is a chain-wide decision, not just for border outlets, so the claim is that the parellel doesn't work. 'Scuse me, but Pizza Patron is a private business. As such, it has a right to accept payment in any way it sees fit, be that Federal Reserve Notes, pesos, euros, gold, Liberty Dollars, or crack rocks. (OK, it's not legally permitted to accept crack rocks, but it has a right to...see the difference, Grasshopper?). As long as they continue to accept the stuff that says "this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" (the paper that Case gives me under pretense that it's real money, a pretense that my creditors fortunately also share), I'm cool with it.

Addendum: actually, I'm cool with it even if they don't take Federal Reserve Notes. It IS their business. But I wouldn't be happy if I really wanted a pizza and had no pesos to pay for it.

On his last working day...

"Milhous" Taft decided his reputation couldn't get any worse, so he vetoed a bill to restrict spycams at intersections, citing "home rule".

If the Village of Windham decided to legalize marijuana smoking within village limits, or NOT ban smoking in restaurants, I'd like to see how that "home rule" business would play.

Don't let the door hit you on your behind, Bobby.

Dr. Duffin's book is catching on

I was at a party on Christmas night, and one of the guests asked, "Have you read Ross Duffin's new book? it seems like half the St. John's Cathedral Choir is carrying it around." It may be indicative of the the kind of parties I go to that anyone would ask...and that I could answer in the affirmative.

But lo, it got a review in the Wall Street Journal, after which it made it to 281 in the Amazon rankings (it's 550 as I write this).

Inevitably, there's been a certain amount of snark in the Dr. Duffin has posted a letter to his readers, including some examples of late-19th century music played in the Lehman Bach temperament.

I like Ross, and am glad to see him doing well, and particularly glad to see this particular topic being opened for debate.

Another employer driven from Ohio

BPNC Distillery has left Ohio, largely thanks to harassment instigated by our now blessedly-former First Lady, Hope Taft. Brian Pearson's crime? Manufacturing pre-made Jello Shots. Ironically, he's now in Temperance (MI), right across the border, where they know how to treat an entrepreneur and former Marine.

The Religious Right won't be able to ruin Ohio's economy any more. Now it's the unions' turn.

A Ford, not a Lincoln

On day when People's Employees (except wife) have day off to honor death of only non-elected* President of glorious Fatherland, capitalist running-dog Joseph Farah remembers Gerald Ford.

*One of my colleagues took offence at this, claiming that Ford was "one of two". Without debating the facts, I am willing to change that to "Only President to serve without pretense of election".

All the best lists

I occasionally twit Mano Singham for leftism. But he's spot on here. If you aren't on some government list somewhere, you aren't doing your job.

As a matter of strategy, I'm not sure it's worthwile to get on as many lists as possible. Surveillance is expensive, after all, so why give them more reason to tax us to spy? On the other hand, enough spying can lead to the collapse of the system. It didn't help the East Germans that a quarter of the population was working for the Stasi. Ignoring the government's list-making and getting on with life is probably best. This also means not volunteering information for lists. That's hard to do nowadays, with employers increasingly becoming an enforcement arm of the state (can you say "fascism"?). Case demands my socialist insecurity number and takes Danegeld out before I see it, just like any employer. At least they aren't using it as a library ID number any more. And I don't use it any more than I absolutely have to. Nor do I co-operate with private snoops. "What's your zip code?" the cashier asks as I hand her CASH. "99999" I answer...she blinks, but they don't pay her enough to argue. And they don't pay me to do their marketing research.

Hey students, hire a hacker to improve your grades

I guess you don't need to be really bright to be the Congressional press aide from Montana, and you don't need to have good grades from some obscure Christian college in Texas. But Todd Shriber thought he could have a hacker boost his grades (like, they don't back up transcripts?). He's out of a job now. And his grades still suck.

Cheese is junk?

And speaking of the British, who are known for their efficient bureaucracies, they've got a ban on advertising junk food on children's TV shows. The definitions are very objective, based on amounts of fat, salt, and sugar per 100 grams, and have nothing to do with positive nutrient values. Thus, cheese is junk food because of its fat content.(The cheese pictured in the article is probably pretty junky.) Breast milk would qualify as junk food too, were it an item of commerce. But diet soda? Bring on the neurotoxins! Ketchup is junk (here it's a vegetable). And Marmite, at 11% salt, is definitely out. (Most Americans would debate whether Marmite is even a food, let alone a junk food.)

Brits, stay home!

Really, I mean it. I love you guys, and this country could certainly use your money. But if you're going to lose your privacy for the simple act of visiting the States, why come here?