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Death of a Right Whale, Betty Friedan, Liberace and a Disgrace to the Uniform: Live Wire Weekend

| February 4, 2011

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Jeb Bush Rising (Again)

From Politico: “Jeb Bush’s status as Republicans’ favorite 2012 non-candidate has brought him to the cover of National Review next week, with the magazine’s John Miller examining his staying power and the impact he’s had on education policy. “We’ve been picking up a lot of interest about Jeb in ’12 among conservatives,” said National Review editor Rich Lowry in an email. “We’ve put him on the cover in light of that, and of his continuing importance in the broader policy debate.” In the story, which reports that “Jeb is quietly building a legacy as something other than the Bush who didn’t reach the Oval Office,” the former Florida governor again rules out running for president in 2012. The article continues: “With the tools at my disposal, I can do the work of three or four Jebs of 1990,” says Bush. “Yet government and the things we ask government to do are mired in the middle of the 20th century.” He cites health care as an example: “We’ve created a whole system based on a policy of employer-provided insurance that was maybe useful in 1950. The result is that people aren’t engaged in their own health, they don’t know the price of anything, and there’s no market.” The approach of President Obama is fundamentally wrong, says Bush: “He should have taken a pause and figured out what health care should look like. Instead, he asked for a monstrosity that locks an old model in place.” It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to picture Bush saying such things on the campaign trail. In January, National Journal released its latest “Insiders Poll.” In it, Democrats ranked Bush as the GOP’s third-strongest potential presidential nominee in 2012 (after Mitt Romney and Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana). They apparently see Bush’s last name as less of a liability than some Republicans do.” The full post.

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Death of a Right Whale

Click on the image for larger view. (© Christine Sullivan)

Live friend and livelier blogger Christine Sullivan reports today on an unhappy event off the shores of Flagler: the death of a whale. “She was found “swimming dead” about 12 miles off of our beach here in Palm Coast and towed to Butler Park / St Mary’s beach for the necropsy (combination autopsy and dissection). This took most of the day after starting at first light,” Sullivan writes. “Knowing that the population is already down to approximately 350…or 349 after today, gives height to this tragedy. To help convey what is involved in a whale autopsy I put together a video I think you will appreciate.” See Sullivan’s full post, and the video.

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Against Economic Disaster Porn

From the New Republic: “We have begun to think of Detroit as a still-life. This became clear to me recently, when the latest set of “stunning” pictures of Detroit in ruins made the rounds, taken by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre for a book, The Ruins of Detroit. (More such pictures here and here.) They were much tweeted and blogged about (including by TNR’s own Jonathan Chait), as other such “ruin porn” photosets of blighted places have been, and were described variously as wonderful, as beautiful, as stunning, as shocking, as sad. They are all of those things, and so I suppose they are good art. But they are rotten photojournalism. […] These indelible pictures present an un-nuanced and static vision of Detroit. They might serve to “raise awareness” of the Rust Belt’s blight, but raising awareness is only useful if it provokes a next step, a move toward trying to fix a problem. By presenting Detroit, and other hurting cities like it, as places beyond repair, they in fact quash any such instinct. Looked at as a piece of art, they’re arresting, compelling, haunting … but not galvanizing. Our brains mentally file these scenes next to Pompeii rather than a thriving metropolis like Chicago, say, or even Columbus.” The full piece.

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Classical Music = High IQ

From Miller-McCune: “Like Mozart or Mahler, researcher Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Political Science takes a few imaginative leaps to arrive at his conclusion. His latest paper, just published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, may prove as controversial as his last one, which suggested highly intelligent people are more likely to be atheists and political liberals. Using theories of evolutionary psychology, he argues smart people populate concert halls and jazz clubs because they’re more likely to respond to purely instrumental works. In contrast, pretty much everyone enjoys vocal music. His reasoning is based on what he calls the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, which suggests intelligent people are more apt than their less-brainy peers to adopt evolutionary novel preferences and values. Pretty much everyone is driven to some degree by the basic behavior patterns that developed early in our evolutionary history. But more intelligent people are better able to comprehend, and thus more likely to enjoy, novel stimuli. […] Songs predated sonatas by many millennia. So in evolutionary terms, purely instrumental music is a novelty — which, by Kanazawa’s reckoning, means intelligent people are more likely to appreciate and enjoy it. […] Like the Americans, the British teens who scored high marks for intelligence were more likely than their peers to prefer instrumental music, but no more likely to enjoy vocal selections. Now, Beethoven symphonies are far more complex than pop songs, so an obvious explanation for these findings is that smarter people crave more complicated music. But Kanazawa doesn’t think that’s right. His crunching of the data suggests that preference for big-band music “is even more positively correlated” with high intelligence than classical compositions. “It would be difficult to make the case that big-band music is more cognitively complex than classical music,” he writes. “On the other extreme, as suspected, preference for rap music is significantly negatively correlated with intelligence. However, preference for gospel music is even more strongly negatively correlated with it. It would be difficult to make the case that gospel is less cognitively complex than rap.”” The full article.

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Apparently I am a “Disgrace” to the Uniform

Kayley Nammari writes in Army Strong Stories, a blogging site for soldiers: “This is a message that greeted me when I logged in to my Facebook account today:


At first I was appalled, as I am hoping anyone who reads that is. I don’t openly talk about my political preferences and my religious faith on this blog for the reason shown above. But just to clear the air…I usually vote as an Independent, when taking the DADT survey the Army emailed to all its soldiers I aired on the side of “If you are a good soldier and do your job, I could care less who you are attracted to”, I’m also a devout Catholic who strives to accept everyone for who they are and practice kindness, and of course I support President Obama, he’s my Commander in Chief.

I also don’t engage in pre-marital sex because ummm I’m married. Whew! I knew you worried about that one.

From now on, I will not be taking any messages on Facebook. Before today, I was happy to answer anyone’s questions about the Army through my Facebook account; however, if you do have a question, please reply to a post on this blog and I will answer you from there. This is not the first message I have received on Facebook from a complete stranger who’s referenced my writing on Army Strong Stories but it will be the last. I will not, I repeat, NOT tolerate hate-filled attacks on my personal values. I am a good person who is doing her best to navigate her way through the military while helping those along the way.

Did we not as a country go through a horrible tragedy just last month in Tucson? Did we not see what hate can do? Did we not learn anything from that?

Here is my plea: let us please stop attacking one another. What good does it do? Why are not we not treating each other with the same amount of respect we would want in return?”

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Gertrude Stein, Rejected

From Letters of Note: “For those unfamiliar with the late-Gertrude Stein’s notoriously difficult writing, a quick glance at one of her most famous pieces, Sacred Emily, should provide enough background with which to appreciate the following rejection letter; sent to Stein by her despairing editor in 1912 after receiving one of her rambling manuscripts.” If only all rejection letters were this wonderful:

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Henry Miller in the Bathroom

You’ll never think of art, bathroom art especially, the same way. The great Henry Miller explains:

Henry Miller’s Bathroom Monologue, Part II:

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Hardison Special: Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Little Ghost

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high — higher than most —
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Till after she was gone —
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown’s white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do — and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled — there was no hint
Of sadness in her face.

She held her gown on either side
To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
And is of ivy bare
She paused — then opened and passed through
A gate that once was there.

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Betty Friedan Liberace Day

The Now Founding Mothers

It was on this day (Feb. 4, 1921) that Betty Friedan, co-founder and first President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), was born. She died in 2006. It’s also on this date in 1987 that Liberace, who was to the liberation of flaming flamboyance what Friedan was to the liberation of women, died. Our gratefulness for his existence can never cease, not least because he made the Reagan years go down easier. We used to have the Liberace Museum, but even that closed its doors last year, as Liberace’s popularity went the way of his facelifts: botox only goes so far. The museum has given way to the Liberace Foundation, which has provided more than $6 million in scholarships to students in the performing arts since 1976. As for NOW, no need for botox: its influence is still powerful, and oddly, sadly, just as necessary: misogyny is not only a problem in Islamist-addled societies.

From NOW’s 1966 Statement of Purpose, which, most people forget, still quaintly put men not only in its preamble, but ahead of women (the sort of detail that once gave Updikean sexists little thrills of nostalgia): “We, men and women who hereby constitute ourselves as the National Organization for Women, believe that the time has come for a new movement toward true equality for all women in America, and toward a fully equal partnership of the sexes, as part of the world-wide revolution of human rights now taking place within and beyond our national borders. […] the time has come to confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of choice which is their right, as individual Americans, and as human beings.” Note, too, the emphasis on human rights, rights disturbingly absent from more recent discussions about health care, jobs, dignity.

Speaking of which: here’s your Liberace moments:

And here he is pre-hair plugs:

A Few Good Links

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2 Responses for “Death of a Right Whale, Betty Friedan, Liberace and a Disgrace to the Uniform: Live Wire Weekend”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    A lot of meat this weekend to chew on. Not much fluffy filler. Edna St. Vincent Millay for god’s sake! Pierre, you sure won’t be mistaken for TMZ here. In order:

    1.- Jeb. Jeb was always supposed to be the Bush that took over the dynasty. GW was a fluke and just was used by Cheny and the Neocons. Almost ruined it for Jeb and the Bush Dynasty and the old money CIA eastern establishment. Set them back a few years in the plan to solidify their hold, but they sure made a lot of money in Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans! But if you doubt the hold they still have on the Republican Party, just look at how smoothly they put their butt-boy Marco Rubio in office. You will see more and more of Jeb in the media in the next year or two. He might not run in 2012, but he will be in charge come 2016, mark my words.

    2.- Intelligence and classical music: Of course you would expect a person trained in classical music to be smarter than the average bear. But the big band thing is explainable. It’s the same complexity, but it is more free-form, though still structured. It can change and require performances that are not rigidly structured as in classical music, and required some improvisation on your feet to flow with the band. But you still have to fit in with the large ensemble.

    But true Jazz, or what Rahsaan Roland Kirk insisted be called Black Classicle Music, I believe requires the most intellegence of all forms of music to do well. The constant changes and flow of the composition needs someone fast on their feet to not only play it, but listen to it. It varies each time it is played and as the musicians change playing it. The more genius that is performing it, the better it is.

    But, it is not an intelligence that lends itself to IQ type tests, or even one that will necessarily is a gift. It can often found not to be positive commodity, but one that can be a burden to posses if you desire a normal life.. An abnormal way of looking at music that makes it difficult to put the effort into living a life as others around you strive for, people who can’t understand how you can ever listen to that shit, let alone think of much else. It’s probably why so many Jazz musicians died young and so many Jazz fans are, shall we say, lacking in social skills. And both of them are perfectly content with their lot. I know I am.

    This got way deeper than I expected. Here is someone who can explain it much better than me:

    I was going to recommend some manly poetry too, but enough annoying entertainment for one night.

  2. PC MAN says:

    A music teacher once told me the only thing a jazz musician could get on his SAT’s was drool. I wonder if that goes for listeners as well ?

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