Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eight-four Seconds That May Change How You Feel About Classical Music

Glenn Gould plays Bach.

Things That Go Bump In The Late Afternoon Between 3:00 And 5:00

OTR usually confines his literary notes to the writers of Georgia, but now and then something emerges in the broader arena that deserves our attention. This is one of those times. It involves the reclusive American poet, Emily Dickinson and her brother's mistress, Mabel Loomis Todd, who brought virtually all of her work to the public's attention after her death. Glenn Reynolds provides the link to the story. It surely helps explain why we have this eccentric, strange, and mysterious poetry that many experts say was generations ahead of the Age of Alienation in the Twentieth century.

Reynolds blogs daily at Instapundit.

JournoList As The Voice Of The State Media

If you believe in freedom of the press, you need to pay attention to this story and be sure to access the Gateway Pundit link at the bottom of this post.

Michael Calderone describes JournoList as "an off-the-record on-line meeting space." JournoList founder Ezra Klein says not to worry because his creation is "just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely." But JournoList is not for everyone. Only liberals/leftists need apply. So what happens when The Washington Post hires a reporter - Dave Weigel - to cover conservative politics and it turns out the guy is a liberal and JournoList member who really loathes conservatives? For one, Weigel's vicious off-the-record list remarks get leaked and he's finished, at least at the Post. (Does anyone care that he has a new job at MSNBC? I suppose their viewer should be pleased.)

Today, Andrew Breitbart entered the picture with $100,000 to anyone who can produce the JournoList archive. I can only imagine what other lefty list members, over 400 of them, have said in their off-the-record discussions. Will Breitbart find a willing seller? We'll have to wait and see as the tension builds.

There is one obvious lesson emerging from this story and virtually every journalist should know it. That lesson is: there is no such thing - really never has been - as "off-the-record" speech. I'm surprised that they could be caught in their own trap. Perhaps they've been overwhelmed by the evolution of journalism in the Internet Age. And something quite sinister could emerge from JournoList as well if its archive finds the light. That is the confirmation of "evidence that this group of prominent leftists work together to organize and promote their agenda in the state-run media." Jim Hoft has the story at Gateway Pundit.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frank Loesser, Songwriter

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great American songwriter, Frank Loesser. In his Powerline post, Scott Johnson adds his perceptive commentary on this event, as one would expect when he ventures into the world of music. Johnson's entry includes several media links as well as a tribute from Mark Steyn, who in another life is a first-rate authority on musical theater and the Great American Songbook. Enjoy.

For more information on Loesser's life, legacy, and more, go here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Stupid Gap

My friends, I hate to seem like my blog channels so few blogs as an aggregator, but some just seem to have it so together they can't or shouldn't be ignored. Glen Reynolds and Instapundit happen to fall into that category today with a super article on wealth distribution. Here's a direct link to the TaxProf article and its links. But here's the heart of the issue:

People who get an education, stay off of drugs, apply themselves, and save and wisely invest their earnings do a lot better than people who drop out of school, become substance abusers, and buy fancy cars and houses that they can’t afford, only to lose them.
How simple can the formula get? Is there any wonder we have witnessed a concentration of wealth in the last few decades?

Finding Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is a universal goal. Who wants to be unhappy? Unfortunately, defining happiness is akin to defining what's valuable in your neighbor's yard sale: one person's trash is another person's treasure. Glen Reynolds has posted an interesting Atlantic article by Tony Woodlief that assesses children as a source of happiness. The article includes a few references readers may want to pursue. The comments contribute significantly, as well, and are an essential read.

As an experienced participant, I must agree that raising three children to adulthood - into adulthood in this economy - has been costly on many fronts. In terms of happiness, my "investment" in parenthood has returned handsome rewards. Though my wife and I would do some things differently in child rearing, I think there is no question we would do it all over again given the chance. In fact, we're almost thankful we didn't marry before our 30s; otherwise, we could easily have ended up with a football team of wee bairns, a book advance, and a series on The Learning Channel.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Speech

In October 1964, I was a freshman at the University of Maryland. For years, I had always hoped to live in or near Washington and take in the Potomac Fever that swirled around the seat of American politics. In that year - the first of eleven years in DC - my presidential candidate was none other than Barry Goldwater. He would go on to lose the election the following month, but his campaign did give the American voters an opportunity to see Ronald Reagan launch his political career on a national stage. The vector has become known as "The Speech." I never heard it. In fact, I never read it, but Scott Johnson's blog entry on Powerline gives all of us a chance to explore this important event. The link includes a video of the speech and links to the text and a five part discussion on Peter Robinson's Uncommon Knowledge. Robinson is joined by Mark Steyn and Rob Long. For political junkies, it doesn't get much better.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oh Man, Beware, And Look Toward The End Of Things That Be

The classicist and military historian, Victor Davis Hanson, has written another superb piece on human character. He reaches deep into Greek theater at the dawn of Western civilization and links ancient tragedy to the disaster unfolding every day in the Obama White House. Hanson is a remarkable observer of time past and time present. I have described him previously as a real, live Tralfamadorean, an alien character from the mind of Kurt Vonnegut. Tralfamadoreans had the ability to see all time as a single moment, a temporal landscape as an image much like what we would see looking at the Rocky Mountains. Oh that we could all have such perception of worlds past and present. I could go on from several perspectives, but I'll leave you to read the article and ponder the wisdom of the Greeks that lives within our own time.

Title: from the final chorus of Sophocles's Oedipus, King of Thebes, warning us that we cannot judge until the story ends.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Weimar History Repeats Itself

A festival in Hanover, Germany was interrupted today when Arab youths stoned a Jewish dance group. The politics may be different, but the very act and message are hauntingly like the Germany we saw almost a century ago. John Hinderaker has some comments and a link to the full story here.

"Marxism [communism] is the guardian angel of capitalism." - Nazi propaganda poster, 1932

Child Sacrifice

Here is another example of the pathology presented by radical Islam. This video is making the rounds today on several blogs. It is unfortunate that peaceful elements within Islam do not condemn this horror.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Blessed Plot, This Earth, This Realm, This England

Around 350 years after Shakespeare penned the words in the title of this post, Winston Churchill, another master of the English language, delivered perhaps his most memorable speech in the darkest hour of his beloved country. Today marks the 70th anniversary of that speech. Powerline's Scott Johnson has made note of the event in a post featuring a brief exerpt and a link to a Telegraph article on Churchill's agony in writing it. In addition, you will find a link to the Library of Congress video of the address.
Churchill received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1953 for his many volumes of history, biography and other works. He possessed a vivid, lively writing style well worth reading for information as well as enjoyment. For more on this remarkable leader, here is a link to his Wikipedia entry.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Age Of Brightness

The first week in June was a busy one in OTR's house; therefore, it was easy to miss a Powerline post by one of my "must read" bloggers, William Katz, who can be found blogging at his own site, Urgent Agenda. Katz's post focused on the "brightness" of Barack Obama and how he was sold to the voter in the context that such brightness translated into knowledge and competence. Of course, the last eighteen months have demonstrated this is not the case, as if we didn't know it all along.

The post elicited a notable response from Frank Tipler, a mathematical physicist at Tulane, that expands the theme and brings two extraordinary people to our attention, neither of whom thought of as "bright" in their formative years. Who are they? Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. Everyone responds to the Einstein story, but few people today will likely respond to the name "Richard Feynman" unless they are in the field of physics. He's one of my favorite personalities, thanks to Mr. Howard's high school physics class and an interest in education, and one deserving perpetual attention and appreciation. My thanks to Powerline's Scott Johnson for posting Tipler's response and its many links to Feynman. You can link to the response and Katz's original post here. Don't be put off or intimidated by physics; I think you're going to enjoy what you read. And please choose to explore more about Richard Feynmen, especially if he is new to you.

Reading For Cranky Types

John Derbyshire has suggested five books for the curmodgeonly among us. Unfortunately, the June 12 WSJ Opinion Page link seems to be unavailable, thus depriving us of Derbyshire's accompanying commentary. His list:

Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
Life of Johnson, James Boswell
A Mencken Chrestomathy, H.L. Mencken
The Essays, Articles And Reviews of Evelyn Waugh, Donat Gallagher
Collected Poems,Philip Larken

Should the link become available, you'll find it here in an update.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major Generalist

If there is one writer who can wrap popular culture, contemporary politics, and historical perspective into an entertaining and superbly written piece, that writer is Mark Steyn. I think he outdoes himself in this NRO post where he discusses the growing feeling that Barack Obama is perhaps quite detached from much of his surroundings. Here's a sample:

No doubt my observations about Obama’s remoteness from the rhythms of American life will be seen by his dwindling band of beleaguered cheerleaders as just another racist, right-wing attempt to whip up the backwoods knuckle-dragging swamp-dwellers of America by playing on their fears of “the other” — the sophisticated, worldly cosmopolitan for whom France is more than a reliable punchline. But in fact my complaint is exactly the opposite: Obama’s postmodern detachment is feeble and parochial. It’s true that he hadn’t seen much of America until he ran for president, but he hadn’t seen much of anywhere else, either. Like most multiculturalists, he’s passed his entire adulthood in a very narrow unicultural environment where your ideological worldview doesn’t depend on anything so tedious as actually viewing the world.
And here's the visual that is a perfect capture of Stein's point, one driven home oh so well in his title.

May Gilbert and Sullivan live forever.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WSJ's Rabinowitz On The Alien In The White House

Dorothy Rabinowitz is a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board. Her column today comes closest to capturing my growing feeling that the current occupant in the White Houses poses a dire threat to the republic. With the great national political traditions witnessed in the last half century, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this would come to pass in my lifetime. At this point, common sense Americans are awakening to an economic and political reality they do not like. As the national mood cycles - as it always does - the Democrat Party will pay a dear price for this tawdry affair with the leftist fringe.

Source: Moonbattery post by Gregory of Yardale

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Economics 101

The study of economics has come a long way in the last sixty years. Some of those long, cryptic formulas we saw scratched on blackboards are beginning to spit out some reliable predictions. Some thinkers, including the biologist and theorist, E. O. Wilson, believe economics will be the key to unifying science and the humanities - see his Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998) - into a single body of understanding. That's a big leap into the future, but we don't have to wait for the future to see some predictions coming out of the minds of our best economists today. Unfortunately, the forecasts coming out these post-Keynesian thinkers don't look too promising for the United States. Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard has the details through links to a Wall Street Journal article by the economist Arthur Laffer and another by The New York Times business correspondent David Barboza. Here's your link to Gaius's "All Aboard."

When you read these articles they're going to make easy sense, almost too easy. For example, tax cuts that expire in 2011 will result in shifting income and production to 2010. That shift with dampen recovery or possibly lead to a double dip recession. Simple enough. I'm left with the impression that our "leadership" in Washington is either completely clueless interpreting the simplicity or looking forward to the unpleasantness as a means of establishing a Marxist state. OTR suggests a tight grip on reality. Could be a very rough ride.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6, 1944

Saturday, June 5, 2010

That Old 1930s Feeling

OTR has referenced what he calls the "Weimar Effect" and the 1930s in several posts. Again, those themes appear in two thought provoking posts, The Forgotten Rachels, at Powerline, and It's the Thirties all over again - time to blame the Jews, a Pajamas Media post linked by Instapundit.

The rise and celebration of extremism, weak leadership in the face of ominous threats, world-wide economic malaise, emotion outweighing reason, broad interpretation of law and constitutional authority, and anti-Semitism. All of these elements were present in the 1930s and they are with us today. The coincidence bears watching.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Liberal Moment

We're ten years out from the 2000 presidential election. That's a long time for dysfunction and disease to invade any circumstance. That brings OTR to the pending separation of Tipper and Al Gore. No motive for this action has been expressed by the parties involved, thus, the answer remains an open question and subject to broad speculation. The Gores say they simply want to go their separate ways after forty years of marriage. Instead of leaving it at that, the risible liberal CBS News "journalist," Katie Couric, delivered the story mentioning only one potential cause: George Bush's Electoral College victory over Gore's popular vote win in that 2000 election. She based her finding on the word of Sally Quinn, another liberal operating - by marriage and otherwise - within the empire of Washington's elitist class.

All of this leaves OTR a bit exhausted for the Democratic Party. He wonders how much longer Bush Derangement Syndrome will remain at the core of the party's behavior. Like the hopeless alcoholic, the party's still hasn't hit bottom where the first signs of recovery can set in. Watch the delusion at work here.

For now, we are content to watch George W. Bush haunt the party at every step as we near November's election and a political reawakening for the Republic.