Monday, October 31, 2011

Krugman on Republican Hypocrisy, Part XXXVII

Maybe shamelessness is a survival instinct. Krugman discusses why Republican members of Congress want to cut all types of government spending except big weapons systems.

But why would anyone prefer spending on destruction to spending on construction, prefer building weapons to building bridges?

John Maynard Keynes himself offered a partial answer 75 years ago, when he noted a curious “preference for wholly ‘wasteful’ forms of loan expenditure rather than for partly wasteful forms, which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.” Indeed. Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, “Solyndra! Waste!” Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Miles Davis - Go Ahead John (Part 2 [A])

Some of the music being made in the spring of 1970. From The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions, Miles creates a musical environment in which John McLaughlin lets loose. McLaughlin on guitar, Dave Holland on electric bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Steve Grossman on soprano sax. Miles lays out, but his presence is everywhere.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nahawa Doumbia - Banani (Mali)

A singer I just learned about.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly, Part 3

There actually may be a light at the end of the tunnel. No, really.

If you’ve been reading accounts of the financial crisis, or watching film treatments like the excellent “Inside Job,” you know that Iceland was supposed to be the ultimate economic disaster story: its runaway bankers saddled the country with huge debts and seemed to leave the nation in a hopeless position.

But a funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland’s very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules. Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Draughtsman's Contract - Opening Scene

Peter Greenaway is sort of the anti-Michael Bay, gaining small audiences while doing intelligent work. Like Bay, however, he never pretends that he's showing the viewer something realistic. IF you haven't seen any of his work, it's definitely worth seeking out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Your Morning Python

In 1975, ABC had a not particularly successful morning show called AM America. To boost their ratings, one morning they had three members of Monty Python -- Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, and Eric Idle -- more or less co-hosting while promoting their new movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The results were predictable if you knew the Pythons, but apparently came as a surprise to the people running the show. H/t HuffPo.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Krugman on Official European Folly, Part 2

Yes, it is possible for things to get even worse. And the sad thing is that it could be avoided, but there are no indications that it will be. Krugman explains.

The story of postwar Europe is deeply inspiring. Out of the ruins of war, Europeans built a system of peace and democracy, constructing along the way societies that, while imperfect — what society isn’t? — are arguably the most decent in human history.
Yet that achievement is under threat because the European elite, in its arrogance, locked the Continent into a monetary system that recreated the rigidities of the gold standard, and — like the gold standard in the 1930s — has turned into a deadly trap.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Miles Davis - Walkin'

The second great quintet, in Germany in 1967, tearing into a song from Miles's early fifties period. Tony Williams, who'd been with Miles for four years, was still only about twenty-one.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Johnny Thunder - I'm Alive

In an interview he gave in 1969, Bob Dylan said that this was one of the best songs he'd heard recently.

Friday, October 21, 2011

RIP Barry Feinstein

Hate to do two RIPs in a row, but Barry Feinstein was an often unnoticed but significant part of popular music in the sixties and seventies, and his passing deserves notice. His NY Times obituary has the details, as well as some examples of his best-known work.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Spirits of Rhythm - Nobody's Sweetheart

Still following up on musicians who were favorites of Jerry Wexler. The Spirits of Rhythm were a string jazz band, as opposed to the far more common horn bands. Their energy in this 1933 recording drives the song, but the musicianship, top-notch all the way, lifts it to become something memorable.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

RIP Sue Mengers

Probably the only Hollywood agent I ever knew much about, Sue Mengers was a towering behind-the-scenes figure in the 1970s film industry. Here are appreciations from the L.A. Times and Vanity Fair. Recommended viewing: What's Up Doc, which starred two of her clients (Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal) and was directed by a third (Peter Bogdanovich), plus S.O.B., in which Shelley Winters plays a character based on her (not very flatteringly, but then Mengers and Blake Edwards did not get along).

Monday, October 17, 2011


A sparrow came up to pick food off the ground while I was eating outdoors at a restaurant.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Ravens - Summertime

Another one of Jerry Wexler's favorite acts, about whom I knew very little until I read his autobiography. (He didn't produce them, he was a fan.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Eddie Hinton - Very Blue Highway

Still on a kick of posting musicians that Jerry Wexler mentioned admiringly in his autobiography. Eddie Hinton was one of the session players associated with the Muscle Shoals scene, but then began to carve out a career as a songwriter and singer. He never became as famous as his admirers thought he deserved. Still, the body of work he left is still resonating today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs - AV Club's Take

There may be better appreciations of Steve Jobs out there, but this is the best one I've read. From the AV Club:

But all revolutionaries, once they actually change the world, become the de facto establishment. And it’s to Jobs’ credit that—no matter how many hubristic quotes there are collected on the Internet, or reports you will find of his difficulty as a boss, or the amount of exacting control he exercised over his products—he always, always strove to use his powers for good, and reward his followers for their incredible loyalty. And reward them he did, time and again.
The Apple II, the Macintosh, the iMac, the iPad—for many, Jobs’ computers were all they ever knew, and they were the tools that helped them create just about everything they ever did in their lifetimes. (It's no surprise I’m writing Jobs’ obituary on a MacBook Pro; ever since I played my first game of Oregon Trail on an early Macintosh, I've done nearly all of my personal computing on a Jobs invention.) And as if these things alone weren’t enough to earn Jobs a huge debt of gratitude, he also changed music—the way we listen to it, the way it’s bought and sold, even the way it’s envisioned by its creators—nearly overnight.
The iPod was an invention that was so forward-thinking that no one even knew they were supposed to want one until it was announced—and then, setting a pattern for so many Apple products to follow, everyone absolutely needed one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Krugman on Thin-Skinned Billionaires

The K-man lays it out.

What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Faux Candidate in Arizona

The prime mover behind Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration, State Senate president Russell Pearce, angered so many people that a recall campaign against him was created. In the subsequent special election, a candidate appeared out of nowhere, a Mexican immigrant, who turned out to have been persuaded to enter the race by none other than people working with Pearce, in an apparent attempt to split the votes of those who oppose him. From the NYTimes:

Critics of Mr. Pearce’s hard-line approach to illegal immigration collected enough signatures to force him into a recall election in November. But allies of Mr. Pearce, who is one of the state’s most powerful politicians, did not take that humiliation lightly. They recruited Ms. Cortes in what was an effort to split the anti-Pearce vote, particularly among Latinos, a judge later found.....It remained unclear who exactly financed Ms. Cortes’s short-lived campaign.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bert Jansch - Blackwater Side

I neglected to note the passing this week of Bert Jansch, deeply influential English guitarist. Here he performs one of his best-known songs, "Blackwater Side." It's based on an old folk song, and was later appropriated by Jimmy Page for his "Black Mountain Side," which puts Jansch somewhere in the middle, somehow, I guess. But it's wonderful stuff, and if you don't know his work you should check him out, especially if you play guitar.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs - "The Crazy Ones"

One more Steve Jobs post. The version of this ad that was aired used the voice of Richard Dreyfuss, but the first version had Jobs himself providing the narration. Here's what it sounds like.

At the Wikipedia page for this ad there is a list of the people shown in the ad.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs


If you really care about digital technology, then as Leonard Cohen once put it, "Everybody got this broken feeling / Like their father or their dog just died."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Augustus Pablo - King Tubby's Meets Rockers Uptown

Augustus Pablo is the credited performer, but what makes this performance is King Tubby's mixing. Considered by some to be the best dub ever.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Digby Said About What Herman Cain Said

Are things ever going to get better? La Digby as usual gets to the nub of things.

"Playing the race card" has a very specific meaning. It means mentioning Republican racism.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Krugman on US Response to China's Currency Policy

Cross your fingers, maybe something good will happen.

In the last few days a new objection to action on the China issue has surfaced: right-wing pressure groups, notably the influential Club for Growth, oppose tariffs on Chinese goods because, you guessed it, they’re a form of taxation — and we must never, ever raise taxes under any circumstances. All I can say is that Democrats should welcome this demonstration that antitax fanaticism has reached the point where it trumps standing up for our national interests.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Train to Mars

This is very cool. It's been proved that space travel is possible -- the next step is to show that it can be practical and routine. H/t DailyKos.