Leap Day music history

February 29, 2012

On this day in 1792, Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini was born. He would write, among other works, the wonderful opera buffa, “The Barber of Seville.

And, sad to say, today marks the passing of Monkees lead singer Davy Jones.

Amongst the hipperari, 60s “bubblegum” is habitually disparaged, but, darn it, some of that was great dance music. The Monkees did a jaunty cover of Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer:”

Then there were the Archies with “Sugar, Sugar,” and Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy.” (If I can ever find it, a friend of mine cut a killer heavy-metal version, but I lost the effing CD.) It might have been kinda dumb, but it was fun dumb, and you could always move to it. Kinda what rock ‘n’ roll was about back at the beginning.

And it’s worth remembering, the Monkees out-sold the Beatles for a time there. Some of rock `n’ roll’s notables auditioned for the band, including Steve Stills and Harry Nilsson. I can’t see Stills, for sure, performing bubblegum, and I’m actually glad he didn’t join Jones and the others. We probably wouldn’t have heard “Suire: Judy Blue Eyes,” written for then-lover Judy Collins, or “Carry On,” or “For What It’s Worth.”

And, in 1967, the opening act for the Monkees’ tour was one Jimi Hendrix . . . . Think about that double-bill.

So, Davy and company, thanks for the fun.



Don’t know much about (fill in blank here)

February 28, 2012

Rick Santorum is a never-ending source of amusement and disbelief. Now he’s attacking the idea that more people should go to college; because it will make them, among other things, less religious.

The crew at Talking Points Memo makes quick hash of this.

Let it be noted Santorum has a bachelor’s from Penn State, an MBA from Pitt, and a JD from the Dickinson School of Law. All that secular education apparently made nary a dent in his devotion. He either has very strong beliefs, or a very thick skull.

More on this topic in my next post, but now it’s time for bed.


Bet this one makes it on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me

February 28, 2012

A new study by team of professors from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the University of California, Berkeley has found that rich people are more like to lie, cheat, and break the law and less likely to donate to charity that lower-income people.

And note something we’ve discussed before on this blog: Other research has found that those who are well off have a reduced concern for others.

Let them eat cake, indeed.

Had to link to a news report; couldn’t find the actual article on the PNAS website. Once I find the original paper, I’ll update.

Thanks to Robbie Harold for passing that one along.

UPDATE – Barry Goldman, an arbitrator/mediator and author has this op-ed in the LA Times today, describing how the wealthy never think it’s their fault. All that talk on the Right about individual responsibility is, apparently, indexed to income.


Oscars – hurray for “The Artist,” La Streep, and Christopher Plummer

February 27, 2012

I was pulling for The Artist for best picture and for Mary Louise Gummer for a long-overdue third statuette.

Was hoping George Clooney would win, but Jean Dujardin was certainly deserving. Also happy for Christopher Plummer. His calm, mature style has been taken, I think, for granted for too long.

Kudos, too to Olivia Spencer for Best Supporting.


Politics, policy, and the role of faith

February 26, 2012

In the wake of the latest tsunamis about abortion and contraception, on which I’ve commented briefly earlier, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how faith should fit into how we set the rules for society through our government.

First, it’s more than a little ironic that we’re here 50 years after candidate John Kennedy felt compelled to give a speech reassuring America he would not be under orders from the Vatican.

Religious doctrine is often complex, and it’s pretty easy for zealots of any stripe, from the jihadists to Rick Santorum, to cherry-pick holy writ and use it to justify exercising power – even committing violence – in the name of one’s chosen faith, or, perhaps more accurately, one’s chosen interpretation of faith. (Perhaps even more accurately, in the name of powerful interests who are bankrolling them, using religion as a smokescreen.)

In this country, the Right loves to pull stuff from the Old Testament; they like all the fire and brimstone and punishing sinners. But they tend to ignore the New Testament, including, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, which I consider to be Christianity’s mission statement. Of course, even that is open to interpretation. It’s worth it, if you have the time, to dig into the scholarship, but bloggers like me have to skate the surface.

I’ll have something original to say later, but in the meantime, blogger Armando, writing at Daily Kos, has what I think is a good, thoughtful piece.


And now, the Voting Rights Act

February 25, 2012

In case you had any illusions that we are not actually under sustained and multi-pronged attack from the Right, abandon those now. The threats are clear to unions, social welfare legislation, choice, public education, the environment, and that most fundamental American right – voting.

Republicans have been relentless in recent years in their efforts to prevent minorities, who swing Democratic, from exercising their franchise. Greater restrictions on voting are becoming increasingly common and voters are finding new barriers are being set up between them and the ballot box.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU is keeping tabs on what’s going on, and they have a cache of research on the phantom that is voter fraud.

The Justice Department is tangling with South Carolina and Texas over their attempts to restrict voting.

A few days ago, Politico described a legal challenge from Alabama that will very likely end up in the laps of the Right-dominated Supreme Court, the same court that opened the floodgates to corporate money now overwhelming our elections system. Care to guess how Roberts, Scalia, & Co. will come down on this one?

Friends, people died in the effort to get the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. Some argue there’s no longer any need for the Act, since we’ve moved beyond all that. The current assault on voting rights proves that is the real fraud.


And they wonder why people don’t like them?

February 25, 2012

Banker leaves a leaves a 1% tip on a $133 lunch tab, scoffing at the server to “get a real job.”

As a former waiter/cook/bartender, there’s lots I could say, but, really, do I need to?