Thursday, June 28, 2018

Modest Proposal for Democratic Platform

David Rothschild, a very smart fellow my department interviewed for a faculty position not long ago, suggests these planks. I would drop #5, which can and should be done, but there's no need to be loud about it and alienate confused and potentially swingy Trump voters. I would replace it with something from the Ocasio-Cortez playbook, such as guaranteed employment. Emphasize the positive!

Wisdom from Amy Finkelstein

There's more to it than you might think...
The overarching result, as the authors write in the paper, is simple: “Death is highly unpredictable.” 
Finkelstein adds: “The policy upshot is: It’s important we understand the things we’re talking about.” 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018

Early summer

Dry, dusty, and largely deserted today at Arastradero Preserve. But a tribe of gobbling and peeping turkeys is always a treat, as is a ring-necked snake, an impossibly small and beautiful thing. I hope by scaring it along I spared it from a cyclist's wheels on the popular de Anza Trail...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

When names were bigger and better

Wikipedia points me to the entry on Happy Chandler. I knew the name, but the history was vague. Larger than life. Baseball and Kentucky politics provide a cornucopia of names right out of a picaresque novel. Don't forget Wikipedia in your annual giving.

Happy Chandler
Bert Combs
Keen Johnson
King Swope
Ruby Laffoon
Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Ford Frick
James Breathitt Jr.

Four or five times

Long before there was (were?) Migos, there was (were) McKinney's Cotton Pickers. I like 'em both just fine.
We like to play
We like to swing
We like to go
Ski-dat-a-dat doh
Four or five times
Four or five times!
Bip-bop one
Bip-bop two
Bip-bop three
Four or five times
Four or five times!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Wall of Death

Richard Thompson can get a little precious for my taste, but back in the day, at his best... and this was his best...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

I Love My '90s Hip-Hop

I do! ... even though I came along 20 years too old. The Spotify station of this name reminds you of the diversity, richness, and depth... Leading off: Tribe, The Roots, The Pharcyde, Black Star, Lauryn Hill, Pete Rock... you'll have to wait a while for Mos Def, OutKast, Wu-Tang, Nas, Biggy... the great music goes on and on. Phenomenal.

Headline to be proud of

"Drama Re-energizes Trump, While Tired Aides Eye the Exits"

It's a fine art, and clearly the NY Times still has some masters.

Friday, June 1, 2018

There's aliens in our midst

Fine song from Wussy... a cover! The original is not as good (how could it be?), but seems to have been ahead of its time... The Twinkeyz, out of Sacramento no less!

The Americans finale – no spoiler

I had been losing interest during the last season, as Elizabeth increasingly became a caricature – worse, a monster. And as the end approached, I worried that the show would cop out and try to redeem her.

In a way, it did, but in a manner absolutely true to the narrative arc. It was possibly the best series finale I have seen. The tone was pitch-perfect, the acting flawless, the mini-revelations providing a jolt or two. It reminded us how great the show has been in the little things, including the secondary characters: extra special kudos to Brandon J. Dirden (Dennis), and Boris Krutonog (Oleg's dad).

Like most great series, it is a love story. Sure, Philip and Elizabeth, but also Philip and Stan. Without providing a spoiler, McDonalds plays a major role: What could be more iconically American, and more ambiguous? People are talking about the train scene, but how about the parking garage scene: simple, elegant, devastating, final, even bleakly funny. It is unlikely to be surpassed.