I saw these guys live several years ago when they came to Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Man, they can play! Let's hear it for INDIGENOUS!
Blog posts February 2008
No, it's not what you think.
I checked out THE INDEPENDENT this morning, and came across THIS. It seems the newspaper recently had some sort of contest in which people were asked to identify 28 of Britain's cathedrals. As a prize, the winners received a book of poetry from a poet that I never heard of.
Anyway, during my year abroad at Leeds, I visited quite a few cathedrals - mostly because, unlike castles, there was no admission charge. It turns out that of the 28 cathedrals pictured in the contest, I'd only been inside one of them: Exeter Cathedral. Mostly what I remember is that the weather that day was cold and rainy.
I shall try to make use of the scanner on my new printer/scanner/copier to show you the picture from Exeter and some pictures from a couple other cathedrals.
Front of Exeter Cathedral 4/87
Canterbury Cathedral 3/87
Salisbury Cathedral 3/87
Obamanomics: Why small differences matter
It's a great phrase: the narcissism of small differences. Freud used it to explain group madness, suggesting that our greatest hatred is often directed at those most like us. "Closely related races keep one another at arm's length," he wrote. "The South German cannot endure the North German, the Englishman casts every kind of aspersion upon the Scot, the Spaniard despises the Portuguese."
The phrase could apply to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and their wide-eyed legions. Certainly, when compared with the differences among the Republican presidential contenders we've seen this year — Mike Huckabee, oh, proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service and replacing it with a kind of national sales tax, and John McCain has spent the winter in a raging argument with himself over the Bush tax cuts (he voted against them and now he loves them) — there ain't much difference between Obama and Clinton. Both would repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and spend most of the money to provide health-care coverage.
In fact, when the two senators rolled out their stimulus packages back in January, they were so similar that Clinton's economic adviser, Gene Sperling, had no specifics in Obama's plan to deride and was left thanking the Obama camp for following Clinton's lead. An Obama adviser acknowledged to me, "The difference is really shades of gray."
So when I sat down to write about Obamanomics, it struck me to look at the delivery, not the script. Even there, the differences are narrow. Obama presents himself as being above politics, congenitally bipartisan. But his tone on economics has the same mild populism as Clinton's.
Knowing that angry Democrats want some grit, Obama sometimes tries to seem tougher than he is. After he took his Health Care for Hybrids plan to Detroit last year — basically a grand bargain in which the auto industry would get more relief from Washington if it did more to raise fuel efficiency — he touted it as a tough, tell-them-what-they-need-to-hear speech, not pandering. But its tone was hardly the kind that would send auto executives reeling, which is why, for all the talk of change, Obama's done fine with wealthy donors, whether they're in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street. Even when he adds a couple of populist flourishes — a jab at Wal-Mart in January's South Carolina debate, for instance — they fall as flat as Clinton's jabs at, say, the pharmaceutical lobby.
Still, all said, there's something in between the lines that's exciting about Obama and what he means to business. He's bringing some change, and executives in Asprey should be taking notice as much as those cheering kids in Abercrombie have.
First, Obama's sheer abilities as a CEO haven't received much attention. There was no reason to think that a lawyer who had never run anything larger than a Senate office would really have been able to build such an amazing campaign organization. Yes, he was a community organizer, but you wouldn't expect orchestrating street protests to necessarily translate into assembling a machine that stretches from coast to coast and spends tens of millions.
One benefit of the endless primary season is that it tests not just the mettle of candidates but also that of their organizations. Obama's campaign is a testament to his abilities. It's flexible. It's fast. And it got built quickly, unlike the Clinton machine, which has been assembling itself for years, like a conglomerate that keeps acquiring new companies. (Disclosure: My wife is a senior adviser to Clinton.)
Unlike other insurgent campaigns that have found themselves suddenly within striking distance of the nomination, Obama's rose in a way that was simultaneously revolutionary and orthodox. On the orthodox side, he actually raised the money and secured the endorsements and built the ground operation. Unlike, say, George McGovern or Jimmy Carter, who defeated established front-runners to win the Democratic Party's nomination but faced frantic, last-minute, anybody-but movements led by party elders determined to snatch it from them, Obama did it the old-fashioned way, only in record time. Mitt Romney was the businessman in this race, but Obama may just turn out to be the real CEO.
Second, Obama really is bringing a new generation of businesspeople and thinkers into the race. If you look at the businessmen around Hillary Clinton, you see a lot of wizened veterans, smart and tested to be sure. There's Roger Altman, who served as deputy Treasury secretary in the first Clinton administration and could probably get the top job in the next one — unless, say, Morgan Stanley boss John Mack (if he isn't tainted by the stock drop) gets the gig by virtue of knowing the Street and having the added cachet of being a Republican Hillary supporter. And there's the perpetually youthful private equity maven Steve Rattner, who, at 55, is now older than Robert Rubin was at the start of Bill Clinton's first term.
If you look at the business types around Obama, they actually are younger, starting with Rattner's 42-year-old partner, Josh Steiner. Julius Genachowski, 45, was a top aide to Reed Hundt at the Federal Communications Commission and helped Barry Diller build and expand Interactive Corp. He's contributed to developing Obama's broadband policy, which is more detailed than Clinton's. He's also a friend of mine; the feminists used to say the personal is political, and when I find the smartest people I know flocking to someone, I tend to notice.
From the financial world, Obama's got Michael Froman of Citigroup, who was Rubin's chief of staff. (A most serious disclosure: Froman and I shared a group house in Georgetown in 1982.) Like Genachowski, he was a Harvard Law School classmate of Obama's and has helped him navigate trade and market issues.
In other words, when it comes to comparing economic positions, the choice between Clinton and Obama is a coin toss. When it comes to personnel, Obama's team is less tested but more interesting. In other areas, Obama is not without his dreary names from the past. His foreign policy team includes Tony Lake, one of the less successful Clinton veterans. But overall, the faces are fresher, edgier.
If you were designing the perfect candidate in a lab, you'd want John McCain's personal courage, Mike Huckabee's humor, and Hillary Clinton's tenacity. The ingredient you'd want from Obama isn't hope, which is, after all, hype. They all offer hope — even Ron Paul, in a creepy, Ayn Rand kind of way. But what Obama offers, I think, is executive experience that's been underrated and an entourage that is slightly fresher. These aren't huge reasons to vote for him instead of Clinton, but such is the narcissism of small differences.
Admittedly, the title is a little odd, but it's a reference to a performance of "Rent" that I saw over the weekend at the Scranton Cultural Center. To clarify, one of the main characters in the show is Roger, and he was played by a guy who won "South African Idol." The cast also boasted a former American Idol contestant as Collins*. You can see the entire cast HERE.
I had seen Rent once before, in 1999 when it was playing in London's West End. I don't remember too much about the performance except for the part when they had a motorcycle come out on stage (it may have actually come down from the rafters, but I won't swear to that).
At that time (Spring 1999), Rent was just in its first season in London after a couple years as a Broadway smash. Now, nine years later, some of the song lyrics seem dated, making reference to "the virus" and "the end of the millennium." Still, the music overall remains solid and I thought most of the touring cast did a nice job with the songs and the physical demands of their roles.
The South African Idol who played Roger had one of the best voices, though his acting seemed rather stiff. He seemed to want to look anywhere but at the audience.
I was impressed by the young woman who played Maureen. Her name is Christine Dwyer and, according to her bio, she is a recent graduate of the Hartt School (think "Fame: The College Years"). She had a lot of energy, a good stage presence and a great voice. My guess is that she has a long career ahead of her and won't have any problems paying rent.
*2/26/08 - Upon further review, having looked more closely at the cast pictures, I'm not so sure that Anwar Robinson (the American Idol guy) actually played Collins in the performance that I saw. I know that's what it said in the playbill, and no mention was made before the performance to indicate otherwise. But, I'll be damned if this guy (http://www.siteforrent.com/cast_details.php?url_identifier=devon-settles-jr) wasn't the one who played Collins. I think there was a little switch-a-roo!
There's been an Earl Weaver sighting! And Tommy Lasorda! And Billy Martin! Kick that dirt!
From old school, to older school!
Bud and Lou finish it off.
I see that, at this point, there's less snow on the ground than I thought there might be. So, I'll delay the shoveling for a little bit.
I didn't see last night's debate between Hillary and Barack, but I see that some folks who did see it saw the final handshake as some sort of signal of inevitability on Hillary's part - inevitability that Barack is going to be the nominee and not her. Maybe it was a signal, maybe it wasn't. But, I'm getting the feeling that the part about inevitability is true.
As I've noted before, I'm a registered Independent, so I have no vote in the April primary. I'll also note that I'm not opposed to Obama. After taking the Internet QUIZ which indicated that Ron Paul and I share a lot of views, I took THIS quiz. The results showed that I'm in mostly in line with Hillary. However, Barack was just one point behind. So, should he be the Democratic nominee, I can live with that. I think he's a smart guy. And, we know that he won't be the worldwide linguistic embarrassment that Bush is.
Having said all that, I was really hoping for Hillary. Maybe it's because she's a woman. Maybe it's looking back on Bill's years in office with rose-colored glasses. Maybe it's because I really think she could do the job. But, it's looking more and more like she'll come up short in the race for the top spot. Still, she can take satisfaction in being the first viable female candidate for president and, thanks to her, other women who run should be taken seriously (assuming that they're serious candidates, of course). So, maybe Hillary won't be the first female US president but, even if she's not, she still made history.
I have just finished sorting out my 2007 taxes. I will get some money back from the Feds but, because I sold some stock to pay for the much talked about BATHROOM PROJECT, I'll have to use about half of that refund to pay state and local taxes. Another issue with the local taxes is that not enough was being taken out at work - something got messed up when the station was sold and, since May, they had been taking out only about half of what they should. I can't argue that I was particularly observant about it, though, because I didn't notice the discrepancy until earlier this year when the W-2s came out.
Anyway, it's all sorted out now and, as soon as I get my refund, I'll pay the other ones. Of course, with the local taxes, I have to send in copies of all my 1099s. In the past, I usually took them to work and made copies there. But, no more! I now have my very own copy machine!
Over the weekend, I bought a new printer for my computer. It's actually a printer/scanner/copier. So, not only can I make copies, but I hope that I will also be able to scan and preserve all the photos that were damaged in the Great Moving Van Fire of '03
Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with my old printer except that it is not totally compatible with Windows Vista. The printer still worked with Vista, but the diagnostic tools were not available. So, if and when I ran out of ink, it wouldn't be possible to properly align the new cartridges. So, I figured I better get a new printer before the ink in the old one ran out.
I set up the new one yesterday and so far, so good.
I don't know why, but I've been thinking about this song lately. There's an absolutely killer solo version on WXPN's Live at the World Cafe Volume 10, but I couldn't find it on YouTube. So, you'll have to settle for this version, which is from Bill Clinton's Inauguration party in 1993!.
Ladies and gentlemen, turn up the volume and enjoy the incomparable Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs!
Imagine there's an x-y coordinate plane, but there are no numbers. Instead, x is a measure of your economic tendencies, and the farther right you are, the more conservative you are. The y-axis is a measure of your social views, and the higher you go, the more liberal/progressive you are.
Now, let's say that you are asked a series of questions. And, let's say that they are the same 36 questions contained in THIS quiz. It's a quiz designed to help you determine which of the presidential candidates is most likely to share your views.
Furthermore, let's say that you answered the questions exactly as I did. At the end of the quiz, the aforementioned x-y coordinate plane would be revealed, and there would be an oval that's mostly located in the upper right quadrant. Meaning that you - like me - are a social progressive, but are moderate or conservative on economic issues.
It will also be revealed that, based on your answers, RON PAUL (R-Tx) is the presidential candidate for you! And me! At last check, he had 42 delegates, a fair amount of buzz, and no chance in hell of winning the GOP nomination.
You will also learn that another Republican, MIKE HUCKABEE, is the candidate least likely to share your views. And mine.
I can't speak for you. But, after the quiz, here's where I stand:
- Surprised that I have anything at all in common with Ron Paul
- Not surprised that I have nothing in common with Mike Huckabee
- Happy that I don't have to vote for either one
The little hamlet where I live seems to have been spared the worst of this latest winter storm. It snowed for most of the day, then switched over to some sleet and freezing rain in the evening. By the time I left work, the roads (at least the ones I travelled) were actually in pretty good shape. Even the street I live on had been plowed down to the macadam, though some of the side streets were snow-covered. Overall, no complaints.
By the time I arrived home, there was a lull in the precip. So, I spent another half hour or so shoveling the sidewalk and driveway. I parked the car on the street so I wouldn't have to shovel around it, then pulled it into the driveway when I was finished. Hopefully, I won't have to do it again in the morning.
In two days, it will be the anniversary of the infamous 2007 VALENTINE'S STORM. Based on tonight, which was, in many ways, kind of a repeat on a smaller scale, I would say the state - and the people - learned some lessons.
This time around, it seems PennDOT did actually "keep up" with the storm. Road closures seemed to be at a minimum, and the ones I heard about, didn't last long. The interstates and main roads were plowed and re-plowed as needed. It would also seem that drivers in general stayed home. Based on scanner chatter, there were fender benders around the area - and some fool did donuts in a parking lot somewhere - but there was no indication of any major pile-up or even any severe crash. About all we found was a couple of tractor trailers that jackknifed. NBD.
We still have a lot of winter to go, but if this is the worst of it, I'll take it.
Sure, McCain raked in a bunch of delegates on Super Tuesday, but Huckabee has all the buzz! He pretty much swept the South and kept McCain from sweeping straight to the nomination.
I suppose the question now is WWMD - what will Mitt do? Some reports on MSNBC were hinting about "frank" discussions in camp Romney. Such as, maybe he will back off on attacking McCain in exchange for being allowed to make some sort of prominent speech at the convention. The thinking there seems to be that Romney may actually be thinking less about '08 and more about '12.
My take is that, overall, the GOP race on Super Tuesday turned out to be much more interesting than the Democratic side. No one expected the Dem contest to be settled. And it's not. But, there was the prospect of settling the Republican race, and that didn't happen. Very interesting.
If this keeps up, maybe the Pennsylvania primary will be relevant on BOTH sides! And, if that's the case, get ready for candidate visits and campaign ads out the wazoo. Because, in April, PA's primary is the only game in town!