Archive for November, 2008

During the new Obama administration and 111th Congress, the old South will be shut out of power, for only the third time since 1930. The other two times were brief (1953-54 and 1965-66).

If Obama does well, then the coming dry spell for the old South could match the post-Reconstruction record of 14 years (1897-1910).

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Darn Coogs…

So I was all set to head to a bar tonight with a fellow Houston refugee to watch the University of Houston men’s basketball team play against mighty Duke on national television. All the Coogs needed to do was to beat Georgia Southern yesterday afternoon, and they would be in the game tonight. Easy, right?

Apparently not. Yesterday’s final score: Georgia Southern 65, Houston 63. Not nearly as bad as the Coogs’ loss to Prairie View A&M that Thomas Gray and I saw live and in person lo these many years ago, but still…

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AT&T >>> Comcast

I’m using my iPhone to blog from home because my home network has gone down. Again.

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Armistice Day

The 11th minute. Of the 11th hour. Of the 11th day. Of the 11th month.

Ninety years ago today, Europe ended its first attempt at collective suicide. At war’s end, France had suffered 1.7 million dead and 4.3 million wounded from a population of 39 million; it had been “bled white”. Ninety years later, as the war is close to slipping from living memory, France has perhaps finally recovered.

A generation later, the United Kingdom and Germany would be bled white in turn.

I wonder how aware Americans are about the fact that we ourselves are not immune to such a fate.

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Tom Hayden is still not a member of the reality-based community.

If we’ve learned anything from the last eight years, isn’t it that evidence is a good thing?

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The Empress (Card 3)

The Empress

We have just seen the close of two major presidential campaigns: one driven primarily by love and hope, and the other driven primarily by hate and fear.

The campaign that was driven by love and hope was a productive and fertile campaign, amazing observers with a stream of innovative methods and creative output; appealing to voters on a variety of different levels.

The campaign that was driven by hate and fear produced little but anger and backbiting, disgusting most of those who watched it sputter and die.

It is true that anger and hatred can lead to creativity—how else can we explain the impressive career of Elvis Costello?—but I have come to believe that the highest and best creative effort comes from love and joy.

The Empress card in the tarot deck symbolizes (among many other things) the loving fertility that makes life both possible and worth living.

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It just hit me what Barack Obama’s biggest accomplishment was this week.

Let’s look at the last three Democratic presidential wins. When Clinton won in 1992 and 1996, Republicans could blame Perot. When Carter won in 1976, Republicans could blame the long-departed Nixon.

Obama’s win was the first time since 1964 that the Republicans have lost the White House without having any plausible excuse for it. The GOP was flat-out, straight-up beaten. Many prominent Republicans have never experienced that before, which might explain the shock we’ve been seeing.

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Headline of the day

You cannot convince me that this headline was not deliberate.

(…”members of the FMC brought an open, empty guitar case to the meeting”…)

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“Moonlight in Vermont”

I’ve been listening to a lot of ’50s recordings of standards lately, and I enjoy listening to how various vocalists handle these lines from “Moonlight in Vermont”:

People who meet in this romantic setting
Are so hypnotized by the lovely
Evening summer breeze

The phrasing is awkward, which I think is exactly why the lines can be so touching when sung in the right way.

(A side note: “Moonlight in Vermont” and “Autumn in New York” can sound very similar, and when the lyrics are running through my mind, I sometimes mix them: “Moonlight in Vermont / Is often mingled with pain”.)

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Heckuva job, Rovey

Karl Rove aspired to be the Mark Hanna of our time.

He has ended up being its Harry Daugherty.

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[Vauvenargues] warns, following Spinoza, that it serves no useful purpose to engage in revolution, or throw out a tyrant, if the people do nothing to change such systems of law and authority as pave the way for despotism. If the people want no more tyranny then they must learn to change their laws and create a well-ordered republic or constitutional monarchy.

— Jonathan I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment (New York: Oxford University, 2002), page 71.

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February 17, 1955. Frank Sinatra is in one of his final recording sessions for a new album, a concept album. An album for the weary, the sad, the broken. “In the Wee Small Hours”, he was going to call it. In the last two days, he had cut eight songs that would end up on the album. They had been long days. Frank Sinatra is tired.

Nelson Riddle, the funny man with the hidden depths, looks into two tired old blue eyes and decides to chance it.

“One more, Mr. Sinatra?”

“Make it worth my while.”

“It’s one you haven’t seen before. It’s not from here or from the boys in New York. It’s from Sweden, if you can believe it. But I think you’ll like it.”

Minutes pass.


“Mr. Sinatra?”

“Have you written an arrangement for this number?”

“Yes, Mr. Sinatra.”

“Let’s give it a try.”

Mamma Mia

Here I go


My my

How can I

Resist her?

Mamma Mia

Does it show


My my

Just how much I miss you


I’ve been broken-


Ooooooooooo since the day we


Why? Why?

Did I


Let you go?…

To this day, Sinatra-tologists regard the song as the finest expression of Sinatra’s ambivalence between his love for his first wife, Nancy, and his longing for his second wife, Ava Gardner.

And the songwriters? They went on to have successful careers of their own…

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WordPress for iPhone

I bought an iPhone on Thursday and my first application from the App Store was WordPress for the iPhone. It took just a few minutes to get it figured out, and now I can blog remotely. Very nice.

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