Sunday, June 30, 2013


A cool optical illusion. H/t FrS.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Allman Brothers Band - Hot'Lanta

From the Duane era. Wonderful ensemble playing.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Krugman on the New Climate Plan

Professor K discusses Obama's new climate plan, which, as he points out, was announced during such a busy news week that it's received only a little attention.

So, what is the plan? Mainly, Mr. Obama announced his intention to use the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency to impose limits on carbon emissions from power plants. Such plants aren’t the only source of greenhouse gases, but they do account for about 40 percent of emissions. Furthermore, regulating power-plant emissions is standard practice; we already have policies limiting these plants’ emissions of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and mercury, so adding carbon to the list isn’t that much of a departure, at least in principle.

But wouldn’t imposing carbon limits raise the cost of electricity? And wouldn’t that destroy jobs? The answer is, yes and no.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Texas State Senate Fails to Pass SB5

H/t thereisnospoon @ Digby's blog for the link to this story from the Texas Tribune.

The nation watched on Tuesday — and into Wednesday — as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation in a storm of screams and shouts as the clock struck midnight.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bobby Blue Bland - Turn On Your Love Light

RIP Mr. Bland, who possessed one of the finest voices of his time. It was a voice like thick honey, sweet but  tough, and capable of expressing passion in a way matched by few others. Here's one of his classics, later to become a standard for the Grateful Dead.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cream - Deserted Cities of the Heart

I was going to post something about politics but got too depressed. So instead, more music more music more music.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lauritz Melchior sings Wagner

No matter what the genre, a great singer is a great singer. The clip is a little awkwardly cut at the beginning and end, but what the hell - in between it's magic.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Roland Kirk - Skater's Waltz

With Jack McDuff on the organ. Just an example of the state of the art in jazz in 1961: taking a cliched easy-listening sort of tune and making it bop.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Amy Winehouse - Take The Box

As so often these days, I'm posting a song just because I've had it in my head lately. But if a song is staying in your head, it's there for a reason.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

RIP James Gandolfini

Like everyone, I was shocked by the news of James Gandolfini's sudden death. There'll be a lot of Sopranos clips posted in tribute, and rightfully so, but Gandolfini was good in a lot of things, such as the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There. Here he has a scene with Billy Bob Thornton.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Krugman on Whether or Not There is a New Economy

Professor K is different from most commentators, and one way is that he's often willing to ruminate rather than pontificate. This is not a weakness if it's done well.

There is at least one important respect in which the 21st-century economy is different in a way that ought to have a significant effect on macroeconomics: the much larger role of rents on intangible assets. This isn’t an original insight, but I haven’t been finding systematic analyses of the point.

What do I mean by the role of rents? Consider the changing identity of the most valuable company in America. For a long time, it was GM, then Exxon, then IBM. These were companies with huge visible production activities: GM had more than 400,000 employees, which was amazing when you consider that the overall national work force was much smaller than the one we have today, Exxon had oil refineries. IBM was an information technology company, but it still had many of the attributes of an old-style manufacturing giant, with many factories and a large, well-paid work force.

But now it’s Apple, which has hardly any employees and does hardly any manufacturing. The company tries, through fairly desperate PR efforts, to claim that it is indirectly responsible for lots of US jobs, but never mind. The reality is that the company is basically built around technology, design, and a brand identity.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

RIP Bernie Sahlins

The driving engine for innovation in American comedy for the last forty years or so has been the improvisational comedy movement, and one of the primary founders of improv comedy was Bernie Sahlins. He was the only surviving co-founder of Second City in 1959. Here's the Chicago Tribune obituary.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Robert Quine and Fred Maher - Bluffer

Robert Quine was one of the premier electric guitarists of the 1970-80s, but it is still relatively little-known. That's surprising considering that he played with people as well-known as Lou Reed and Tom Waits. But he sought out interesting work rather than fame, which means that he left a body of great work rather than a pile of cash. Here's a piece that puts his unique sound right up front.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Judy Collins - Pretty Polly

From 1968. Call it a late piece of folk/rock, because it's an old folk song done as rock music. Note the musicians listed at the beginning of the video: some stars, some master musicians. And Ms. Collins shows the strength of her voice as she rarely did.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Webb Pierce - There Stands the Glass

Classic country music. This song is old enough that the steel guitar is not a pedal steel guitar.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Krugman on the Changing Labor Market

So the question is: is the era when a college education taught you valuable skills so you could get a good job coming to an end? There's evidence that it's so. And has such a situation, in which painstakingly earned skills became less valuable, happened before? Krugman explains.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon

Always one of my favorite Kinks' songs since it came out. I've never seen this video before, but apparently it was released with the song in 1966. The video itself is a fascinating artifact: the irony of the lyrics mentioning "a sunny afternoon in the summertime" while they're standing in snow and Ray's breath is visible in the cold; the instruments (a Fender acoustic, Gibson Flying V, and Gibson bass) that would make a vintage-instrument fancier drool; the simple fact that it exists, since such promos were rare at the time, and the glory days of music videos were a decade and a half in the future. In the end, however, what matters is the song, and it's a good un.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Spiders - Bells In My Heart

I've posted this song before, but not the original version, so here it is. A doo-wop classic from 1955.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

RIP Joey Covington

Joey Covington became the drummer for Jefferson Airplane after Spencer Dryden left the band in early 1970, so he wasn't part of their glory years, but he contributed a lot during his tenure. I've already posted what I think is his sole songwriting credit with the band, a bit of psychedelic weirdness called "Thunk." Here's a clip of him with the band in 1970 doing their biggest hit from three years earlier. H/t USA Today (of all people).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Joan Baez - Silver Dagger

The first song on her first album. She was eighteen years old, and the purity of that voice is...well....words fail me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Paul McCartney - Little Willow

One of his lesser-known later songs. When he dials back the schmaltz, McCartney writes very good songs in the slow-and-pretty category.
According to Wikipedia, the song was written for the children of Maureen Starkey, Ringo's ex-wife, who had recently died of cancer. Since McCartney's own mother had died of cancer when he was a teenager, he's clearly drawing on his own experiences. The gentle reminder of life's vicissitudes - "No one's out to break your heart/It only seems that way" - pretty much makes the song.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Krugman on the Future of Social Security

Professor K lays some knowledge on his readers.

Start with Social Security. The retirement program’s trustees do foresee rising spending as the population ages, with total payments rising from 5.1 percent of G.D.P. now to 6.2 percent in 2035, at which point they stabilize. This means, by the way, that all the talk of Social Security going “bankrupt” is nonsense; even if nothing at all is done, the system will be able to pay most of its scheduled benefits as far as the eye can see.

Still, it does look as if there will eventually be a shortfall, and the usual suspects insist that we must move right now to reduce scheduled benefits. But I’ve never understood the logic of this demand. The risk is that we might, at some point in the future, have to cut benefits; to avoid this risk of future benefit cuts, we are supposed to act pre-emptively by...cutting future benefits. What problem, exactly, are we solving here?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Lively Ones - Surf Rider

Pulp Fiction was on one of the cable channels, and I got reminded how cool this song is.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Altered Images - Happy Birthday

To mark a couple of birthdays, here's one of the earliest popular music videos, from 1981.