The Friday Political Thread: Special Kilted Edition

|

I wormed my way into another Inside Washington Weekly podcast over the weekend; the audio is here. Also,there is nothing political about this, but the thread over at the Onion AV Club review of Mike Myers' colostomy bag-cum-motion picture The Love Guru made me laugh a few times. Please turn your attention to when commenters come up with names for sequels. Some favorites: Love Guru 2: Shit Gets Real, Love Guru 2: Bigurious, Love Guru 2: Mumbai Drift, and Love Guru and Robin.

The Week in Brief
– Arizona became the 20th state to say "Uh, no thanks" to REAL ID.
– Habeas Corpus was brought back to life, and John McCain got pissed.
– A criminal surfaced to accuse Barack Obama of breaking the law, then got arrested. (If you want to see the video of the guy's lawyer bragging about his enormous crotch, it's here.)
– Barack Obama destroyed the public financing system.
– California gays got hitched.
– The Democrats caved on FISA, like you knew they would.

Above the Fold
Not So Vast. Jonathan Martin has a must-read piece on the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's agenda to stop Barack Obama. Short take? There isn't one.

Conversations with more than a dozen Republican strategists find near unanimity in the belief that, at some point, there will be a real third-party effort aimed at Obama. But not one knows who will run it, who will pay for it, what shape it will eventually take or when such a group may form. More worrisome for Republicans who believe such an outside attack apparatus is essential to defeating Obama, some key individuals and groups who were being looked to for help say they won't be involved.

This was, you'll recall, part of the rationale Obama gave for going off public financing: Scary Republican 527s. But if that argument was overblown in 2004 (lefty 527s actually spent more than right-wing ones, but lacked dynamite like the Swift Boat ads), it's utter vapor now. Even worse:

Richard Collins, a wealthy Dallas-based entrepreneur, bankrolled "StopHerNow," an entity set up to defeat the former First Lady.

"For six months, it's been do we stop her, stop him or stop somebody else?" he notes.

"We spent 18 months and millions of dollars making 'Hillary The Movie,'" laments David Bossie, head of Citizens United and a longtime Clinton tormentor. "We're incredibly proud, but the problem is the film has no relevance anymore."

Hate to say I told you so.

Below the Fold
– J.H. Huebert fails to pay his dues in the Cult of the Presidency.
– John Henke informs Barack Obama that Islam doesn't give you cooties.
– Thoreau tells Obama to sack up on FISA. (He kind of didn't.)
– Chris Cilliza ranks the 20 most volatile House races. (if every seat on his list flipped, the Democrats would gain a 244-191 overall majority.)
– Sarah Lai Stirland tells the sordid tale of how bloggers ended the "career" of Obama smear-er Larry Sinclair.

I stumbled across a video of Yes's "Onward" illustrated by paintings of the Stations of the Cross. Is it Politics 'n' Prog worthy? Ask Jesus, smart guy.

Advertisement

NEXT: Leave Martha Alone!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Weigel, you forgot to mention that would-be messiah Obama thinks that its bad so when he’s president he’s going to make sure its only used carefully.

    So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.

    See, warrantless wiretaps aren’t so bad as long as the right people are in charge of it! Right guys?

  2. Greenwald on Obama and FISA:

    Nobody should be fooled by Obama’s vow to work to remove telecom amnesty from this bill. Harry Reid is already acknowledging that this “effort” is likely to fail and is just pure political theater: Reid said: “Probably we can’t take that out of the bill, but I’m going to try.” The article continued: “Reid said the vote would allow those opposed to the liability protection to ‘express their views.'”

    We should continue to demand that amnesty is removed from the bill — and fight it to the bitter end — but this whole separate vote they’ll have in the Senate on whether to remove amnesty is principally designed to enable Obama, once he votes to enact this bill, to say: “Well, I tried to get immunity out, and when I couldn’t, I decided to support the compromise.” It’s almost certainly the case that Hoyer secured Obama’s support for the bill before unveiling it.

    Either way, Obama — if amnesty isn’t removed — is going to vote for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, and his statement today all but sealed the fate of this bill. There is no point in sugarcoating that, though we ought to continue to fight its enactment with a focus on removing amnesty in the Senate. Greg Sargent makes several good points about Obama’s statement.

  3. This Chris Dodd / Countrywide thing. Big deal or not?

  4. When John McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent out an 11th-hour fundraising e-mail, he played what he thought was his strongest card: “There are many reasons to support John McCain, but as we approach this quarter’s fundraising deadline Saturday at midnight, let me remind you of just one of them: John McCain is the only candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton.” That was the prelude to a weak finance report and a staff purge that completed McCain’s descent to hobbled dark horse.

    Yes, David, you sure did tell us so! I only kid because I love you.

  5. It seems Barack finally got his bounce.

    Obama: 51

    McCain: 36

  6. Speaking of Harry Reid, he wonders why Bush hasn’t rescinded the executive order against drilling offshore before berating Congress to repeal their ban. It’s a good question.

  7. Given the discussion yesterday of the eroding state of culture in today’s world…and the posting of a Yes song…

    I will pose a question regarding a topic that was raised in yesterday’s discussion…

    Name a contemporary (let’s say, post-Beatles) British composer/song writer that you would consider a great talent.

    It was suggested yesterday that “contemporary British music sucks.”

    I found that an odd position to hold.

    Thoughts?

  8. NM, Duran Duran.

  9. NM: Richard Thompson. Steven Wilson. Probably dozens more if I thought about it.

  10. 1. Congratulations to Weigel for finally asking someone a question! OK, it was just of someone in no one’s protection (LarrySinclair), but it’s a start. When fighting the power, you have to start somewhere, right?

    2. A minor flaw has been found in Reason’s support for “a free movement of people”. Namely, it gives power to people like this, or this, or this.

    3. Here’s how Ron Paul supporters could have an impact. And, no it doesn’t involve blimps. Rather, it involves the step none of them have been able to figure out so far: showing millions of people how RP’s opponents aren’t qualified. Not exactly a new idea, but a new idea to RP’s supporters.

    4. This week’s anti-prog applies to a lot of people we know of.

  11. In that Newsweek poll, if you strip out the undecided there is 9% unaccounted for.

    If McCain is only at 36, he better watch his back for that 9% “Other” guy.

  12. Brotherben-

    The Dems will pick a pro-life VP when pigs fly.

  13. NM: Ray Davies, Bowie, Townshend. Or are these guys so obvious you were implicitly excluding them by not mentioning them in the original post?

  14. I don’t get this: “J.H. Huebert fails to pay his dues in the Cult of the Presidency.”

    Is that like, he’s no longer in the cult? Do cults have dues?

  15. NM, right off the top of my head, David Bowie and Morrissey (I might take some heat for that one…).

  16. Speaking of music, some sad news in the jazz world this week: Esbj?rn Svensson died in a scuba diving accident. I don’t know much about contemporary jazz, but I came across an Esbj?rn Svensson Trio CD at my library, and was immediately hooked. They are/were a fantastic group, led by his piano. He was only 44.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7456031.stm

  17. Anon the anon,

    Or are these guys so obvious you were implicitly excluding them by not mentioning them in the original post?

    I was not excluding anyone.
    I was interested in how one could hold the position that “contemporary British music sucks.”

    Please don’t limit yourself to rock or pop…or, for that matter, more “serious” genres…anything is open for discussion.

    Sparky,
    I heard that…
    Here’s more info for those who haven’t heard of him…

    http://www.est-music.com/

  18. FWIW,

    I am surprised by Duran Duran (nothing wrong with them, but not really “great” in my estimation)

    Brian Eno was the first name that popped into my head given that the discussion was about “serious” music rather than “popular” music.

    But then the list proliferated quickly…

  19. Morrissey (I might take some heat for that one…)

    I believe that the Smith’s recently were voted the “most important” British band of the 80’s by BBC’s listeners.

    Joy Division is more to my taste, but my wife would agree with you.

  20. Neu Mejican,

    Well, greatness is a subjective thing, but would you not agree that DD was extremely influential?

  21. David Gilmour and Noel Gallgher haven’t been mentioned yet.

  22. No way Obama has that big a lead over McCain.
    McCain is a great candidate I think. He’s stood up to Bush on many of the areas that Bush is hated.

    And, yes, the Dems will not pick a pro-life VP anytime soon. I doubt the GOP will pick a pro-choice one anytime soon. People on that issue don’t give much.

  23. To emphasize this isn’t just about rock…

    http://daveholland.com/

    Dave Holland is an outstanding figure in Jazz.

    Gavin Bryars from the “classical” world.

  24. “but would you not agree that DD was extremely influential?”

    You mean Daredevil? I really like Daredevil. I know some people see him as a Batman rip-off, but the guy is blind, which strikes me as a major twist.

    One beef with Daredevil is how in the world would he ever hang with someone like Spider-Man (who can lift 10+ tons?)?

  25. Well, greatness is a subjective thing, but would you not agree that DD was extremely influential?

    Putting aside the subjectivity of it all…I don’t see DD as influential as much as emblematic. In other words, they were a popular version of other more underground trends, but (at the time) didn’t innovate as much as emulate.

    The same can be said of much of Bowie’s career, however, so there ya go.

  26. I know some people see him as a Batman rip-off

    Not a Batman rip-off, a Spiderman retread.

    I always liked his comic books as a kid, however.

  27. And then there is the Welsch contribution to Cheeze…

    http://www.tomjones.com/

  28. One that would be very near the top of my list is Elvis Costello.
    Elton John’s had has moments of greatness, although they’ve been kind of few and far between.
    I’d even include Phil Collins if his career had ended in the mid 1980s.
    I’d also include Sting if his career had ended in the late 1990s.
    John Wesley Harding is awesome.
    So is Robyn Hitchcock.
    I know some folks who swear by Billy Bragg, although he doesn’t do a ton for me.
    Mark Knopfler has some pretty great songs, w/ Dire Straits and by himself.
    Nick Lowe too.

    That’s probably more names than I needed to type….

  29. No way Obama has that big a lead over McCain.
    McCain is a great candidate I think. He’s stood up to Bush on many of the areas that Bush is hated.

    I do think McCain’s a pretty good candidate and in fact may have been the only candidate the Republicans could have nominated who would have a chance to win. The downside for him is that even though he’s a good candidate, he doesn’t seem to be much of a campaigner, whereas Obama is good at both. (On the other hand, for example, Huckabee seems to be a good campaigner but a bad candidate.)

    That being said, I think you’re probably right in that that poll is an outlier. I won’t be surprised, though, if the numbers do slowly start creeping up.

  30. I see him as different as Spider-man, who was always the “teen-age” superhero. Murdock was just “a” guy, with no “real” super-powers, whose parent was killed by the bad guys, all like Bats.

    And both him and Bats had pointy ears…

    SO now I realize DD meant Duran Duran. I never liked them until Ordinary World, which is great times 10.

  31. SWDWTLHJ
    Obama, McCain, whatever.
    From past threads I know you read comics:
    Daredevil, a Batman or Spider-man copy, or neither.

    We’re at war. Pick a side.

  32. McCain has demonstrated his integrity, when his party was in power he stood up to them. I don’t think Obama has done that….

  33. MNG–

    Another poll (Ispos) is Obama +7, Harris Interactive Obama +11. Theres a definite move in his direction and a big loss of ground for McCain. Go to fivethirtyeight.com and look at the map. Places like IN, VA, and NC are becoming blue-ish.

    I didn’t think he would be this strong of a candidate but McCain better try to move up soon or he will be Bob Dole Part II.

  34. Honestly, MNG, you talk about a guy like Daredevil, he’s pretty derivative but I don’t know that a clear case could be made to whom he’s more of an homage. Though if I had to guess, I’d say Stan Lee was trying to recreate his Spider-Man success rather than to rip off a character from another company.

    Whatever Stan Lee’s faults, ripping off DC never seemed to be among them. (Now ripping off Kirby, that’s another story.)

  35. No-Name Guy: I’ve been watching 538 lately too. Some of what’s going on on there is a bit surprising. The fact that all of the big swing states (plus some) are currently at least barely blue was not exactly what I expected at this point. I know this stuff is fairly unreliable at this point, but I expected Virginia to turn blue later if it did. (Though I guess I have been on record many times saying that Virginia was going blue eventually – it’s just a matter of time.)

    It looks like this could be a rough election for McCain.

  36. No Name Guy-I see McCain as stronger than Dole

    SWDWLHJ
    I still say the blind thing makes him quite different. But the lack of strength powers makes him more like Bats than Spidey.

    Are you tired of the overplay that Wolverine gets? Screw that guy. I saw a comic the other day where he knocked over the Thing. The Thing could knock Wolverine into outer space…

  37. By the way, does anyone know if Dondero has denounced Barr as a “cut-and-runner” yet? I saw Barr’s answer to the Iraq question on H&R today, and he sounds probably more in favor of pulling out immediately than even Obama.

  38. MNG: I was always a fan of Wolverine, and I think they’ve done a great job with him in the movies, but yeah, Wolverine and the X-Men in general get too much press in the comics world.

    By the way, the Thing is probably my favorite comics character ever.

  39. SWDWTLHJ-

    I tend to follow the political predictions markets (like In-Trade) more than pollsters and pundits because when people have an interest in making money off of something, they tend to be more accurate. The political predictions markets suscessfully predicted the 2004 election–they got the final color of every single state right and the spread in the popular vote.

    Right now VA has a 60% chance of going blue according to the markets, NC 48% chance.

  40. I thought they kind of crapped on the Thing in the FF movies. He should have been stronger. He’s a big Orange Monster for God’s sake!

  41. I grew up in Va. If they go Democratic I will dance naked in front of my house! No way that is going to happen…This is VIRGINIA you are talking about…

  42. NNG: Yeah how close NC was to switching was the bigger surprise to me. Being a Virginia resident, I have a pretty good idea what direction things are going here. I wasn’t sure if it’d be 2008 or 2012 when VA finally turned blue, but living here it’s pretty clear that it’s coming. NC was unexpected, though.

    538 seems to be doing a lot of work on tryiong to get things right, polls rated for past accuracy and so on. I guess we’ll see how they do when the time comes.

    Probably the best i can see Obama doing is holding McCain to:

    Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina.

    There may be a couple of these that could turn blue but I think they’re pretty unlikely. I think there’s a (very) outside chance that Obama could take Georgia due to Barr as well as the other factors that help him everywhere and in the south specifically this year. I don’t expect it, but I think it’s not out of the question.

    I think the worst Obama could do is a narrow Gore-style or Kerry-style loss.

  43. MNG Virginia will end up being like Illinois–a state that would go strongly Republican if it were not for a huge metro area at its edge pulling it into the Democratic column. New York state is kinda like that, too.

  44. MNG: Virginia’s going Democratic, it’s just a matter of time. Every year NoVa is getting bigger and the Republican areas are getting weaker. I realize that the Virginia Beach-Norfolk area is still somewhat of a counterbalance but I don’t think Virginia stays red for long.

    Actually, I thought the Thing was the best thing about the FF movies (at least the first one). They had his character right and he’s really the interesting character in the FF. If they’d not screwed up Doom so bad or if they’d spent more time on the Thing, I might have liked that movie a lot more than I did.

  45. “I think the worst Obama could do is a narrow Gore-style or Kerry-style loss.”

    I expect that is EXACTLY what Obama will do. He’s a TERRIBLE candidate. Pure fluff, he is…Dems have some orgasmic fantasy about electing the first black guy, and so have rejected all reality based thinking…. It will hand McCain, who will be a good president otherwise, the next SCOTUS choices, which will be terrible…

  46. No Name Guy: Actually that’s kind of how every state is. Urban areas pull them all Democratic while the more rural areas pull Republican. The only question is how the population stacks up in the various areas.

  47. Mr. Nice Guy:

    Daredevil cannot be a recreation of Batman. Batman has no powers at all, just the gadgets he makes. Batman’s the peak of human achievement. Daredevil is blind, and has the whole sonar sense thing going for him.

    And as for Neu Mejican’s challenge about English music… there is the whole second wave of ska to account for.

    Nephilium… who is ruder then you.

  48. They did screw up Doom.

    Doom rules.

    Doom for President!!!

  49. MNG: I realize you have a low opinion of Obama as a candidate, but I really think he’s one of the best I’ve seen: a good speaker who comes across as fair and though a clear partisan, not one in the worst way. He’s got a lot going for him. Republicans really don’t seem to have an easy time disliking him.

    On the other hand, I think Clinton would have had a very tough time. She’s got a negative perception problem and she makes it easy for the Republicans to turn out their voters (and I mean more than just the “all Democrats are terrorists” guys).

    In the end, it may just be a numbers game. joe had some primary voting numbers early on, before either race had been finalized. The numbers were pretty overwhelmingly Democratic this year. It may be that the Democrats couldn’t lose almost no matter who they nominated.

  50. What I think joe failed to mention is that closely contested primary contests tend to bring people out.

    Obama won many states in the primary that he has NO chance of winning in the general election, and the guy is weak in states that are usually Dem pick-ups (PA). The guy is a liberal indulgence. They’ll be sorry when their stupidity gives the GOP 2 more SCOTUS picks!

  51. The FF movies were kinda botched. But I really did appreciate the Commish’s performance as the Thing.

    For what it’s worth:

    Best Superhero Movies:

    1. Batman Begins
    2. Unbreakable
    3. X-Men 2
    4. Spider-Man 2
    5. The Incredibles
    6. Iron Man
    7. Spider-Man 1
    8. Superman 2
    9. X-Men 1
    10. Superman Returns

    I also like the Incredible Hulk (the one that just came out), Superman 1 and X-Men 3 (I know I’m probably in the minority on that one). I may be missing a few others, but there aren’t many more that I didn’t think were fatally flawed.

  52. I liked X-man 3 (never understood the hate on it).

    I’d put Spider-Man 1 higher (I would not rank the Incredibles, not comicy book enough for me).

  53. MNG: These numbers were when the GOP nomination was still anyone’s game as well – they still had Romney and Huckabee both in it. They were pretty overwhelming, like Obama had more votes than did all GOP candidates combined kind of overwhelming. Clinton did as well, if I recall right.

    Also, I don’t think Obama will have any trouble carrying PA. I actually think McCain will have a lot more trouble carrying VA than Obama will PA. The only swing state from the last two elections I think McCain has a decent chance to carry is probably FL. And right now, 538 even has Florida in the toss-up but slightly Obama category.

    I realize 538 is untested, but I think what they’re doing looks sound.

  54. Someone Who Should Really Get Tenure Already:

    (Assuming I remember the losing your job part…)

    I would myself rip Superman off of the list… (but I have a personal distaste for Superman), and include the 1980’s Batman. Without that movie, the recreation of superhero movies wouldn’t have started… we wouldn’t have had the really good cartoons that came out after it… I’d also move Unbreakable down the list…

    I’m also rejoicing that we have enough good superhero movies that we can argue about what the top ten are… πŸ™‚

    Nephilium

  55. I’m also rejoicing that we have enough good superhero movies that we can argue about what the top ten are… πŸ™‚

    TRUE DAT!

    There was a time when Super-hero movies were unthinkable (other than animation), we live in a blessed time!

  56. MNG: Actually, when I watched the Incredibles, I wished that the Fantastic Four movie would have been more like it.

    Nephilium:
    Someone Who Should Really Get Tenure Already:

    (Assuming I remember the losing your job part…)

    You’re telling me!

    I would myself rip Superman off of the list… (but I have a personal distaste for Superman), and include the 1980’s Batman. Without that movie, the recreation of superhero movies wouldn’t have started… we wouldn’t have had the really good cartoons that came out after it… I’d also move Unbreakable down the list…

    I was never very fond of the 1980s Batman, even the first one, though it would obviously be a good bit higher than a lot of the crap that’s out there. Micheal Keaton was OK, but I really thought Jack Nicholson somehow managed to be kind of dull and sleepy while still chewing up the scenery – wooden and hammy at the same time. I read one review that I though had the Burton Batman pegged exactly – they called it “camp noir”.

    I expect The Dark Knight to be much better.

    I’m also rejoicing that we have enough good superhero movies that we can argue about what the top ten are… πŸ™‚

    QFT my man, QFT indeed!

  57. And to stay on the geek path… something that’s amused me of late is the number of comic book movies that people don’t realize are comic book movies. The biggest ones for this are Road to Perdition (decent gangster movie, with one of the greatest hitman concepts ever…), and From Hell. Sin City is another that some people don’t realize is a comic movie…

    I have faith in the Dark Knight… and still have to make it out to see the Incredible Hulk… I’ve never been much of a Hulk fan… and after seeing the Ang Lee version (in which I understood what he was going for… and it came close… but it landed in what animators call the uncanny valley), I was ready to stay away. The one thing drawing me in to see it is Ed Norton. I can’t think of a bad movie he’s been in.

    And as I said… Batman would get credit for Batman: TAS, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, the 90’s X-Men cartoon, and the 90’s Spiderman cartoon. That’s a healthy legacy.

    The one superhero movie in the works that I fear is the Thor movie however. Weak character, almost no one knows anything about Norse mythology anymore, and I myself am not a fan of the gods of myth hero books.

    Nephilium

  58. Worst super hero movie of all time?

    The second Fantastic Four…such a shame, I always liked the Silver Surfer.

    Nephilium,
    England’s actual all about the “second wave:”

    Punk, for instance, was very much revitalized by the second wave that was started by The Damned, The Sex Pistols, Wire, etc….

    And then there is the British R&B…

    They probably get credit for the first wave with Goth, however.

  59. I am looking forward to Hellboy more than the other super hero movies this summer.

    I saw Iron Man yesterday.
    Not bad, but nothing to write home about.

    Tangential Super Hero movie pick…the original PBS version of The Lathe of Heaven…

    That dude had a super power.

  60. Here I come in a blaze of glory. Rat a tat tat. Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat. To all you cosmopolitan libertarians where the fuck is Keith Emerson on H&R? Have you no balls. Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.
    OH MY WE KILLED KENNY in pursuit of real prog. Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat. Firing in the AIR. Yes is always COOL. Bravo for ONWARD, great cut. Rear guard action exiting. Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.Rat a tat tat.
    Machine smoking. Next time I come back Gotta be some Keith Emerson. He is God!

    Encore. Rat a tat tat. from a tired virtual AK-47!

  61. Neu Mejican:

    I hereby subject you to watch the Punisher movies on a looping repeat for 12 hours… πŸ™‚

    And the Goth scene (at least in my area) has no sense of roots… I had a friend request a Siouxsie song at a goth club… to be told, “We don’t play that crap here.”

    Nephilium

  62. Hey, Neu Mejican, I’ve already posted a response to your comments on the earlier thread so you can go read it if you’re so inclined, but let me clarify again: I meant contemporary British classical music, not every type of music that’s coming out of Britain. And I actually believe today’s culture is in a great shape, thank you very much.

  63. Nephilium, admittedly the ultimate legacy is pretty good, but there was a lot of bad to go with it.

    As far as the Incredible Hulk goes, it was OK. Much better than the Ang Lee version (which I was hugely disappointed in because I like Ang Lee’s stuff a lot normally).

    For non-superhero comic book movies, I was very impressed with Sin City (especially Marv). From Hell, though, was a great comic and a bad movie. Which seems to be the end result of most Alan Moore comics.

  64. So has IWW podcast stopped sounding like ass yet? I like their content I am just sick of listening to horrible audio.

  65. Worst super hero movie of all time?

    The second Fantastic Four…such a shame, I always liked the Silver Surfer.

    The problem with “Worst Ever” lists is that most truly awful films exist in well-deserved obscurity. I’m going to jump back into 80s mode and go with Pumaman. gahhhhh

  66. NP,

    I’ll respond to your response here…

    If you lightened up a little, you would’ve noticed that my inclusion of the Beatles in that sentence was clearly tongue-in-cheek.

    As was my response (old man).

    And I meant “contemporary” in a broad sense, i.e., post-RK, and obviously classical, as this [was] a thread on classical music.

    I realized that as well, but it is such an artificial distinction I thought I would ignore it, particularly given your inclusion of, of all bands, The Beatles as a potential exception to your claim that contemporary British music sucks.

    And sure, they’re plenty of good British composers, if by “good” you mean competent and thoroughly professional. But, again, name me one British composer that will be mentioned alongside Purcell and Britten centuries from now.

    I have already said that Eno came immediately to mind. But you are assuming that you can recognize from you vantage the competent from the great while maintaining that only CENTURIES will determine which is which.

    You’re free to speak up for these composers–I’ll admit that I do listen to some of ’em once in a while for the sake of discovery–but to me life is too short to be wasted on justly obscure materials.

    So you are sort of an “anti-snob” in that you only listen to the stuff that has been vetted by popularity?

    I have already said, all that matters is what you like, so I have no problem with whatever you want to deem “I like it” music. But you are pretending that the pedestrian stuff you like is of higher quality than the “justly obscure” stuff…I find there to be less of a correlation between quality and popularity than that…even when talking centuries old music.

    As for the British pop music scene, of course I know there have been more worthy British acts than pleasant fluff like Coldplay.

    Coldplay is the most offensive music I can think of.

    But let me return to my earlier reference to the Beatles. After all is said and done, what people remember the most about music is great tunes.

    No argument.

    Much as we may decipher and discuss the cultural and socioeconomic impact of the Sex Pistols (whom I actually love) and the Clash, they will eventually be judged on purely musical value after they and their most die-hard admirers are laid to rest and make room for the next generations of bands and fans.

    True, and those two examples, neither of whom are personal favorites of mine, stand as good or better chance of being remembered than the Beatles.

    I may have mentioned the Beatles facetiously, but I have no doubt that their music will outlast that of

    the Smiths,[maybe]

    Blur, [probably]

    Pulp, [god I hope so]

    or Oasis, [perhaps]

    their most annoying imitators, [I submit for your consideration the post-Beatles McCartney].

    This is also why they will eventually outlive the Stones, though I do admit that the latter are the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band?

    Again proving you are a cranky old man with no taste…and prematurely so, it appears.

    ;^)

  67. Damned tags…missed one.

  68. Copy edit

    NM:

    I have already said that Eno came immediately to mind. But you are assuming that you can recognize from you vantage the competent from the great while maintaining that only CENTURIES will determine which is which.

    NP:

    You’re free to speak up for these composers–I’ll admit that I do listen to some of ’em once in a while for the sake of discovery–but to me life is too short to be wasted on justly obscure materials.

    NM:
    So you are sort of an “anti-snob” in that you only listen to the stuff that has been vetted by popularity?

    I have already said, all that matters is what you like, so I have no problem with whatever you want to deem “I like it” music. But you are pretending that the pedestrian stuff you like is of higher quality than the “justly obscure” stuff…I find there to be less of a correlation between quality and popularity than that…even when talking centuries old music.

    NP:

    As for the British pop music scene, of course I know there have been more worthy British acts than pleasant fluff like Coldplay.

    NM:
    Coldplay is the most offensive music I can think of.

    NP:
    But let me return to my earlier reference to the Beatles. After all is said and done, what people remember the most about music is great tunes.

    NM:
    No argument.

    NP:
    Much as we may decipher and discuss the cultural and socioeconomic impact of the Sex Pistols (whom I actually love) and the Clash, they will eventually be judged on purely musical value after they and their most die-hard admirers are laid to rest and make room for the next generations of bands and fans.

    NM:
    True, and those two examples, neither of whom are personal favorites of mine, stand as good or better chance of being remembered than the Beatles.

  69. Annnnnd scene,

    end of the smug-off

    Or is it?

    Apologize to the all politics all the time crowd.

  70. Lefty seems to have put in his vote for great English composer.

    ;^)

  71. The problem with “Worst Ever” lists is that most truly awful films exist in well-deserved obscurity.

    But it is the high profile nature of the FF movie that amplifies how bad it was…oh so, so, so, bad.

  72. Tangential Super Hero movie pick…the original PBS version of The Lathe of Heaven…

    That dude had a super power.

    I never saw the PBS version, but the A&E version made me want to spit.

    Twas a good book, though.

  73. I have to laugh when Greenwald, thoreau and the rest of the “Bush/Rove/telco execs are murdering bastards who should all be indicted for war crimes!!1!!1!” left-libertarians discover no one in power actually takes their histrionics seriously.

    Meet your new boss, same as the old boss.

  74. The problem with “Worst Ever” lists is that most truly awful films exist in well-deserved obscurity.

    Cinematic Titanic extracted this fossilized turd, sans Elvira’s cleavageriffic presentation, from the bowels of some movie warehouse.

    It’s a joyless, bitter, incomprehensible wreck of a film, so it lends itself well to Cinematic Titanic’s reincarnated MST3K-style riffing.

  75. Neu Mejican,

    I don’t know what counts as tongue-in-cheek in your book, but I don’t think most people would use that expression to describe calling someone “a cranky old fart with no taste.” And let me get this straight: you knew I was being tongue-in-cheek, but you still thought I was seriously touting the Beatles as an exception to the sucky shape of contemporary British music? Anyway, we’re not strictly talking logic here so I’ll just skip to our discussion on music.

    So you really think Eno–a self-proclaimed “non-musician” who is best known for his ambient sound-pictures and for his work as a producer–merits direct comparison with Purcell and Britten, eh? And that the great stuff from the past–which is enjoyed and respected not just by myself but by many other music lovers, serious and casual, let alone scholars–is “pedestrian”? Look, NM, if you can’t appreciate Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Britten’s Peter Grimes, not to mention the best of their exquisite songs and instrumental works, then you simply have no ear for music. I really don’t know how else to put it.

    And no, I’m not assuming anything. Anyone with a musical ear and understanding can see that Beethoven’s 9th symphony is better than his 1st, or that Bach’s solo violin and cello music probes deeper than that of his future imitators, just as a vocal teacher can tell a good singer from a bad one. And yes, “only” centuries are enough for us to cull the very best from the pile. In this information age the word (or sound) gets around quickly, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for worthy music to escape our attention. I suppose one could point to Bach as a glaring exception, but this overlooks the fact that his music was actually well known and respected by his contemporaries and succeeding generations of musicians. (Of course, it was up to Mendelssohn to finally bring the music to the public.) Downgrading relics still takes a while, but these days discovering and in turn upgrading don’t take as long as it used to. Centuries provide enough time for objective analysis and criticism.

    Now let me respond to this profound observation:

    I find there to be less of a correlation between quality and popularity than that…even when talking centuries old music.

    Actually, NM, there is a strong correlation between quality and sustained popularity. Sure, New Kids on the Block and their ilk get to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame (or is that 15 months?), but centuries (sorry for using this word again) from now, the “pedestrian” stuff I like and maybe some of the stuff you like will have proved more popular over time. I should also stress that this applies to such unpopular fare as the works of late-period Beethoven or the Second Viennese School, as their music, difficult as it is, still will be studied, played and listened to by those who appreciate it, a fairly large group.

    Music–and art in general–is a commodity; without consumers or an audience it has no value. There may well be a few works here and there that are known only to a small cohort of cognoscenti and the most fanatic groupies, and it is their job to bring the music to the broader public for popular acceptance. And it’s our job to listen and judge for ourselves, which is why I do occasionally check out the works of newcomers and obscure figures.

    As for your evaluation (or devaluation) of the Beatles, I don’t know anyone with half a musical ear or any serious rock critic who claims that either the the Sex Pistols or the Clash are musically better than the Fab Four. And the Stones? Well, you did agree that what eventually matters are great tunes, so let’s look at a few by the Stones that can compare with the best of their rivals. “Satisfaction”? Sure. And maybe “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Start Me Up” (which arguably isn’t even the best song on Tattoo You). And… what? Album-by-album comparison doesn’t favor the Stones much, either. The Beatles haven’t outsold the Stones for nothing, NW, and unless you can persuade me to take your opinions more seriously than the popular and critical verdict, let alone an objective analysis based on purely musical merits, I think I’ll stick to my current judgment. Do understand that I’m not saying the Stones will be forgotten easily, only that in a two-way zero-sum game the Beatles will prove victorious.

    I may be younger (or older, as you apparently enjoy reminding me) than you, NW, but I think I can tell who is crankier or who has better taste or a better musical ear. And I don’t know why you keep saying I have no taste, ’cause on that earlier thread you clarified, “I am not meaning to say that your taste is worse (or better) than mine.” But, again, we’re not talking logic here so I’ll let that slide.

  76. Mr. Nice Guy, if you’re wrong about Obama, I’m going to track you down, ask you about it, tape your response and upload it to Youtube. If I’m wrong, you’re more than welcome to do the same to me.

  77. Very interesting indeed. Good article.

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.to/udi

  78. NM,

    Name a contemporary (let’s say, post-Beatles) British composer/song writer that you would consider a great talent.

    Does Morrissey count as contemporary?

  79. TallDave | June 21, 2008, 3:36am | #

    I have to laugh when Greenwald, thoreau and the rest of the “Bush/Rove/telco execs are murdering bastards who should all be indicted for war crimes!!1!!1!” left-libertarians discover no one in power actually takes their histrionics seriously.

    Meet your new boss, same as the old boss.

    I have to laugh when ToolDave and the rest of the “Endless War” crowd spent years on end declaring that the Democrats are devoted to surrendering to the terrorists, right up until they are about to seize power, at which point they immediately flip flop to declaring that there are no observable differences between the parties.

  80. BTW, this is the third time Reason has assured us that telecom amnesty was totally and beyond a shadow of a doubt going to pass.

    Maybe they’ll even be right this time.

  81. Speaking of English composers, A Flock of Seagulls is one of those rare bands that is way better than I initially thought they were. Amother example would be Human League.

  82. All this talk of post-Beatles British music, and no one has mentioned The Buzzcocks?

    Singles Going Steady is a great album.

    999 is a great band, too. Dismissed in their time for allegedly jumping on the punk bandwagon, their stuff has held up a lot better than that of their contemporaries.

  83. I can only come up with 80s and 90s Brits.

    They do seem to be in a bit of a lull these days.

  84. Of course, there is “The Streets”. His first two albums are good, and “The Irony of it All” is a great, great single.

  85. Daave is just trying to re-live the “glory days” (for his crowd) of 2002-2003.

  86. Name a contemporary (let’s say, post-Beatles) British composer/song writer that you would consider a great talent.

    david tibet of current 93.

    i do like the kode 9 instrumental stuff a lot more than anything else that fits under “dubstep” but the vocals on burial are shit. (shite?)

  87. People need to start distinguishing between ‘racism’ and ‘racial bigotry’.

    Almost everyone’s a racist. That’s because racism can be good or bad.

    For example, to some people “good” racism = setting up a Department of Black People to hand out welfare to blacks (aka affirmative action programs)

    “Bad” racism = lynching people because of the colour of their skin

  88. Chris Rea, “The Road to Hell” fom the late 80s is a damn fine album.

  89. All this talk of post-Beatles British music, and no one has mentioned The Buzzcocks?

    I didn’t find much to like between them and Oasis.

  90. For example, to some people “good” racism = setting up a Department of Black People to hand out welfare to blacks (aka affirmative action programs)

    The problem with that is there’s no real difference between a program to help an ethnicity and a program that discriminates against all the other ethnicities.

    It would be better to move beyond race entirely, and help people on the basis of economics and merit.

  91. Pablo,

    Racism is prejudice or oppression based on race. Promoting racial equality and integration is neither, even if done in a manner that takes race into account. It is, in fact, just the opposite of racism.

    What you’re calling “good racism” is, in fact, racially-conscious anti-racism. And, in a sense, isn’t all anti-racism racially conscious? If one is not conscious of race, how can one even recognize that racial oppression or prejudice is occurring, and not just random meanness wholly unrelated to race?

  92. BTW, affirmative action isn’t welfare, at least in this country. It’s desegregation.

    Reparations checks could be called race-based welfare – it wouldn’t change anything except giving money to people, our society would be just as segregated as before, and the structural forces that tend to perpetuate that segregation would still be in place.

    Contrast this with a program to seek out black candidates for admissions slots or jobs. Such a program would have the effect of making institutions that would otherwise be all white (or nearly so) integrated, cause people to form social and professional networks that cross racial and (to the extent there is still segregation) community boundaries, and improve not just the net wealth of the beneficiaries in the present, but their opportunity in the furture. It’s old “give a man a fish/teach him to fish” difference, except instead of teaching someone to fish, you’re simply giving someone who can already fish a spot on the riverbank.

  93. joe-

    You left out the part about race-based affirmative action increasing racial resentment and tension by its very existence.

  94. That’s because it’s a myth, NNG.

    In the real world, race relations are better now than they were before affirmative action was implemented.

    It’s funny how the oh-so-sensitive worry themselves sick over the people who go to college X instead of college Y, while it doesn’t occur to them that economic and geographic segregation and huge, observable differences in opportunity, wealth, and quality of life between the races might themselves cause racial resentment.

  95. Perhaps some resentments tugs the heartstrings more than others.

  96. joe, I think the most nefarious effects of racial affirmative action are whenever a black guy graduates from Harvard a lot of assholes can assume “oh, he got it because hes black!” whether this is true or not.

  97. (anecdote alert!)

    My senior year of high school a black girl I was friends with got into UVA. Instead of being happy, she actually cried because she thought she got in just because she was black. She chose to go to a less elite state school instead, because she didn’t want to feel like (in her words) she was “cheating”.

  98. NNG,

    You don’t think visible success by black people generated the same response before affirmative action?

    Racists are going to be racists regardless. But their kids are going to be learning, living, and working alongside people of other races, and racial ideology has a tough time surviving in such an atmosphere.

    Desegregation erodes the ability see people of other races as “them,” because “they” become our neighbors and classmates and coworkers. They become us. If you’re weighing the net result of affirmative action even just in the realm of people’s feelings, it still comes out as a huge net gain for racial harmony.

  99. Joe I just want it to be classed based if we absolutely must have it. That would lessen the racial tension and idiots could no longer say “I didn’t get that job cause I’m white!” if they are poor themselves.

    Plus, I don’t really think Barack Obama’s daughters need affirmative action, do you? They will probably be the children of the President, for God’s sake. Why do they get it when some white kid from a trailer park doesn’t?

  100. I think it’s regrettable so many years of anti-desegregation propaganda have caused people like your friend to misundestand how affirmative action works, NNG.

    Universities show preference based on geography and income, too. It’s odd how dramatic the responses to those things differ. Nobody thinks that admitting more poor kids to college is going to harm their self-esteem or cause resentment – in fact, you see the same people decrying race-based affirmative action calling for replacing it with precisely those standards.

  101. Joe, it won’t cause resentment because in the United States race is much, much, MUCH more of an explosive and toxic subject than class.

  102. NNG, white people were saying that long before there was ever any affirmative action going on.

    How many times has Reason posted about the terrible, racist labor unions perceiving the hiring of black people as a zero-sum loss for white workers, from the late 1800s through WW2?

    Racial resentment by white people who react badly to black people “taking R jrbs” was most certainly not brought into the world by affirmative action.

    People predicted that the Civil Rights Act and other desegregation efforts of the 50s and 60s would increase racial hostility in the South, too. They didn’t – in fact, by breaking down barriers, they greatly improve race relations in the South.

  103. NNG,

    Plus, I don’t really think Barack Obama’s daughters need affirmative action, do you? No. Since the connection between race and socioeconomic status has been eroded by desgregation efforts, affirmative action programs should, and have, adapted to take this into account.

    A qualified white kid “from a trailer park” does get affirmative action, at least in college admissions, as do kids from places that have traditionally been underrepresented or economically disadvantaged. This is as it should be.

    If a kid from a trailer park in West Virgnia and a kid from the Hamptons, with even roughly equivalent grades, applied to the same school in Philly, the poor kid would leave tire tracks across the other kid’s back.

    Do you have a problem with that?

    A better question would be, should Barack Obama’s kids get preference over George Bush’s kids?

  104. …assuming, for the sake of argument, that the Bush kids and the Obama kids have roughly equivalent levels of academic achievement.

    Which…you know…

  105. I was interested in how one could hold the position that “contemporary British music sucks.”

    Nobody thinks British music “sucks”. Perhaps you misread. Lets try this

    “contemporary British cuisine sucks”.

    Yep, that must have been it.

  106. George Bush’s kids get affirmative action, too. Its called legacy (which should be trashed too). So they’d probably end up equal.

    While they do consider class in college admissions, they don’t consider it in job applications while they do consider race and gender.

    As for de-segregation and racial resentment, how’d busing work for you guys up in Mass? Not very well, huh? There ARE de-segregation efforts whose costs outweigh the benefits.

  107. Obama, McCain, whatever.
    From past threads I know you read comics:
    Daredevil, a Batman or Spider-man copy, or neither.

    Definitely a Batman ripoff. Spidey is a teenager with super powers. Daredevil (The Man Without Fear) no so much (that radar sense is kink of hokey, is he blind or not?).

  108. joe, No Name Guy, I appreciate you guys’ viewpoints. From my own (myopic) viewpoint I’ve seen that some people in the so-called “black community” also look disdainfully on “integration” (see: selling out, acting white) and I wonder to what extent this phenomenon, along with its old counterpart among bigoted white people has done harm to African Americans.

  109. While they do consider class in college admissions, they don’t consider it in job applications while they do consider race and gender.

    Job hirings are a bit different. Companies with affirmative action programs are doing so to benefit themselves, by making sure they have a diverse-enough workforce that they aren’t limiting their appeal to potential customers. It’s not really the same question as university admissions.

    There ARE de-segregation efforts whose costs outweigh the benefits. I don’t doubt that. There have been successful and unsuccessful efforts.

    The failure of bussing in Massachusetts was that it was limited to the City of Boston. The courts refused to do it fairly, and include the nearby suburbs, so it was vastly overconcentrated on a relatively small white population which, surpirse surprise, was relatively poor.

    The voluntary successor program, Metco, has worked a lot better, because it does incorporate the burbs.

  110. “Universities show preference based on geography and income, too. It’s odd how dramatic the responses to those things differ. Nobody thinks that admitting more poor kids to college is going to harm their self-esteem or cause resentment – in fact, you see the same people decrying race-based affirmative action calling for replacing it with precisely those standards.”

    People always react to classifications for government benefits that are narrow with dislike. It makes sense to me. I’m not from Appalachia nor am I poor, but I COULD be, and so to help someone in that position seems fair. But to help someone because they are black or Hispanic, well I’m never going to be that. So you’ve just set up a government program to screw me, my kids, my loved ones, etc.

    “Racial resentment by white people who react badly to black people “taking R jrbs” was most certainly not brought into the world by affirmative action.” True, but it does make their government complicit in actually depriving them of actual jobs. In any situation where there is certainly no affirmative action being carried on, then a denied white applicant could speculate that his race has hurt him in some way. But with affirmative action existing he may speculate as to its effect on him in his particular denial, but he can be certain that somewhere, in some cases, his government is actually taking jobs from whites and giving them to minorities because of their race. This gives a nice firm foundation to his resentment (for example I don’t think white people who think this are “fools” as NNG says, they may be right).

  111. Art P.O.G.,

    I don’t have anything useful to say about how black people perceive selling out.

    Haven’t the foggiest. I’m not really one of these rah rah, culture of inclusion, diversity seminar kind of guys. I’m all about people’s butts being in the chairs next to each other. And the dorms. And the lounges.

    And the banks.

    They’ll figure it out.

  112. “Companies with affirmative action programs are doing so to benefit themselves, by making sure they have a diverse-enough workforce that they aren’t limiting their appeal to potential customers.” Well, that and PR. And to pre-empt any boycotts by civil rights groups or discrimination actions from governments. I think the benefits of the racially diverse corporation are overblown. Some foriegn corporations are not very diverse and they do just fine…

  113. “The failure of bussing in Massachusetts was that it was limited to the City of Boston. ”

    I think it had to do with telling parents they were going to force their kids to go to schools that were seen as dangerous and inadequate. That would make me oppose it.

  114. And don’t forget that if you are a minority AND of low income AND from the geographical area favored, then you get preferred over the white with the same income and origin…

    I think the class based one makes the most sense. Low economic means is more inherently thwarting of the kinds of things that open up doors than merely being black, a woman or from a particular area (there are people from Appalachia who do not encounter many obstacles to success)

  115. In Adarand for example the preference was to black contractors because being black created a rebuttable presumption of economic distress. Why not just make economic distress the criteria in the first place?

  116. I think in an odd, backwards way de-seg is easier in the South because of the larger numbers of black people. In the South, blacks live in the suburbs and rural areas as well as the cities in large numbers. In the North, by the very fact it has a smaller black population, blacks are a very small minority in the ‘burbs and almost non-existent in rural areas (i.e., PA between Philly and Pittsburgh or Vermont/New Hampshire).

    You don’t need busing in the South to have diverse schools. You just need to draw a reasonable line on a map.

  117. MNG,

    Zero-sum thinking.

    I understand the internal logic of what you’re saying, and there certainly do seem to be people who reaction, but on the ground, exactly the opposite has happened, in terms of there being a backlash against advancements in racial equality.

    Objectively, race relations have gotten far better since affirmative action programs proliferated. You’re talking about a “nice firm foundation” for people feeling racial resentment? We’ve got one of those in this country, you know, and desegregation efforts have greatly helped to undermine it, on both sides of the racial divide.

    Frankly, I think you are far more concerned with the “government complicit” bit than the actual impact of affirmative action on race relations in our society.

  118. Just for clarification, when I saw “rural areas” I’m talking about the Low Country and to a lesser extent the Piedmont. The Highlands in the South, of course, are just as lily-white as upper New England.

  119. In the real world, race relations are better now than they were before affirmative action was implemented.

    In the real world, race relations were getting better before affirmative action was implemented.

    Correlation, causation etc.

  120. Oh, yes, the all-powerful civil rights groups that control the corporations. Gimme a freaking break, that is so ridiculous.

    I think it had to do with telling parents they were going to force their kids to go to schools that were seen as dangerous and inadequate. …which was a consequence of it being carried out only within the City of Boston, and not including the suburbs.

    I think the class based one makes the most sense. Of course you do. As you just explained, I’m not from Appalachia nor am I poor, but I COULD be, and so to help someone in that position seems fair. But to help someone because they are black or Hispanic, well I’m never going to be that. you can put yourself in the place of poor white people. You get that “there but for the grace of God” sensation that you just don’t get for people from other races, and feel better about afirmative action programs for them.

    That’s not a very good argument.

  121. George Bush’s kids get affirmative action, too. Its called legacy (which should be trashed too).

    Agreed. If your against race based affirmative action, you have to oppose legacy preferences to be intellectually consistent.

    But we all know that.

  122. I don’t have anything useful to say about how black people perceive selling out.

    Whoops. I don’t have anything useful to say about Affirmative Action, either. Unfortunately. I really would.

  123. NNG,

    I think in an odd, backwards way de-seg is easier in the South because of the larger numbers of black people.

    I agree with the first part, about the geographic integration, but not about the absolute numbers. In the South, even during slavery, black people were a common part of most white people’s lives. Racism there was about managing proximity. In the North, even in places that have had large numbers of black people for generations, the black neighborhoods were like the insular immigrant communities that grew up during the same period.

    The “lines on the map” in northern areas look very reasonable. That’s sort of the problem. The Boston busing experiment in the 70s being a case in point.

  124. J sub D,

    I’m not MAKING an argument about causation. I’m refuting one.

  125. On the more important topic of comic books being made into movies –

    When, in the name of all that is good and right, is this classic comic going to be made into a blockbuster movie franchise?

    I ask, is there no justice?

  126. joe
    Perhaps you are misunderstanding what I am saying. A program like Social Security is popular because while we all pay in, we can all benefit from it. Now maybe I won’t need it at all, but if I did I could get it.

    Income based affirmative action is like that. I could be poor. Race based affirmative action is not. It has less to do with putting myself in one groups shoes, it has to do with supporting something that is at least theoretically open to help me and my loved ones (as opposed to actually hurting them as the race based kind would).

    “Oh, yes, the all-powerful civil rights groups that control the corporations.” Corporations don’t want bad press and yes they humble themselves in front of civil rights groups all the time.

    “Objectively, race relations have gotten far better since affirmative action programs proliferated.” Since them, yes of course. But because or despite of them? A lot else has been going on…

  127. NP,

    I see the smug-off wasn’t over.

    So you really think Eno–a self-proclaimed “non-musician” who is best known for his ambient sound-pictures and for his work as a producer–merits direct comparison with Purcell and Britten, eh?

    Yes. I would even contend his music is more important and has been more widely influential among serious musicians.

    Look, NM, if you can’t appreciate Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Britten’s Peter Grimes…then you simply have no ear for music. I really don’t know how else to put it.

    Who said I didn’t like Purcell or Britten?
    I just said your comments indicated that you had pedestrian taste…not that there is anything wrong with that.

    Actually, NM, there is a strong correlation between quality and sustained popularity.

    Nope. You are just using this as you definition of “quality.”

    I don’t know anyone with half a musical ear or any serious rock critic who claims that either the the Sex Pistols or the Clash are musically better than the Fab Four.

    There have been plenty of serious rock critics who have made claims along this line. Your point simply emphasizes the subjective nature of musical criticism and the narrowness of your reading of “serious” rock criticism.

    let alone an objective analysis based on purely musical merits, I think I’ll stick to my current judgment.

    How would this analysis be conducted?
    What objective standard are you using for merit? (hint: you are using the “I like it” meter like everyone else, you just fool yourself into believing that this is not subjective).

    And the Stones?

    I was making fun of your claim that they were the greatest rock and roll band…not saying they were better than The Beatles.

    One of the few objective facts in music: The Stooges were the greatest rock and roll band. Really, a serious music critic told me so, so it must be true.

    And I don’t know why you keep saying I have no taste, ’cause on that earlier thread you clarified, “I am not meaning to say that your taste is worse (or better) than mine.”

    Because you list The Beatles, The Stones, and a couple of mainstream classical composers as examples of great music. And since the only metric of musical quality that matters (to me) is how closely it matches my taste, you have demonstrated that you have no taste (well some taste, you like Arvo Part)…and are out of touch with todays musical market.

    In this information age the word (or sound) gets around quickly, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for worthy music to escape our attention.

    Or does it make harder for the quality stuff to rise above the noise? [There’s that damned empty word “quality” creeping into the discussion]…I would contend that it is easier for music to find its audience, but harder for an artist to obtain general/wide recognition.

    Anyone with a musical ear… just as a vocal teacher can tell a good singer from a bad one.

    You seem to be confusing technique with musical quality. These are just as weakly correlated as “sustained” popularity and musical quality. For instance, I feel that Ian Curtis of Joy Division was a great vocalist, primarily due to his unmatched phrasing. But a typical vocal teacher would not call him a good vocalist, primarily due to his difficulty actually hitting a note in key.

    I don’t know what counts as tongue-in-cheek in your book, but I don’t think most people would use that expression to describe calling someone “a cranky old fart with no taste.”

    Okay, it wasn’t tongue in cheek…You can think of it as me “giving you shit.”

  128. J sub D
    I think Julia Roberts should play the lead.

  129. I’m not MAKING an argument about causation. I’m refuting one.

    OK. Do you accept that the effects of affirmative action on race relations are unknown and unknowable?

    Because they are.

  130. Art POG,

    The Streets is a nice call. Among British hip-hop I am partial to Tricky…I am not sure if The Go!Team count as hip-hop, but their shit is infectious.

    Dhex,
    Current 93 is one of those bands I need to delve into more…they bring to mind Coil, also, imho, great British composers of serious music.

  131. “If your against race based affirmative action, you have to oppose legacy preferences to be intellectually consistent.”
    I agree with you.
    IBut I knew a conservative guy who did oppose race based and even income based affirmative action but supported legacy preferences. His argument was basically that the legacy admits provide an important institutional tool to sustain the educational institution while also fostering committment to the institution (the kind you get when someone says “for three generations we’ve been Harvard folk”). He thought the school itself gained nothing from race or income based affirmative action because he simply did not buy the idea that race or class would, by themselves, add any intellectual diversity to the institution.

  132. J sub D
    I agree with DD being more like Batman. I always thought it was interesting when DD would sometimes scrap with Spidey. Spidey’s strength and reflexes are highly augmented (I’ve seen him pick up a car and THROW it in the comics) and I can’t see how even a highly trained regular guy could hang for very long with that…Not dissing on DD he’s a great character, just saying…

  133. Speaking of English composers, A Flock of Seagulls is one of those rare bands that is way better than I initially thought they were. Amother example would be Human League.

    WFMU has some Human League stuff you might like posted

    http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2008/06/the-human-leagu.html

    I could never get into either…although I recently discoverd, much to my surprise, that Talk Talk developed into a pretty interesting act…

    joe,
    Sounds like maybe you are in a lull ;^)

  134. MNG,

    If you were not born in West Virginia, you cannot suddenly become a kid from West Virginia, or benefit from a an admissions program that benefits people from the poor small towns of West Virgnian, any more than you could benefit from a an admissions program that benefits black kids. You just feel like you can relate.

    J sub D,

    I don’t accept such a thing. I think desegregation makes race relations better, and affirmative actions advances desegregation. But, regardless, this is a second-order effect. Desegregation is good, overcoming the entrenched effects that perpetuate segregation and racial inequality is good. If there is a convincing case that an effort to do so is causing some great to race relations, it could militate against that effort. But no such convincing case can be made based on the evidence, and in fact, there is a strong case to be made otherwise.

  135. “Amother example would be Human League.”
    Human League was prominently displayed in Don’t Mess With the Zohan which I saw this week. It was funnier than I thought it might be.

  136. But I knew a conservative guy who did oppose race based and even income based affirmative action but supported legacy preferences.

    I know liberals who are dumbshits as well.

    What can you do?

    BTW, Economic AA gets an “I dunno, probably OK” from me. I know it would be abused and mismanaged, but I’m not certain how high the level of incompetency the administration of the program would have.

  137. Art POG,

    I thought of something useful to say.

    The the extent that black kids see black faces in the boardrooms, the political offices, and the highlty-esteemed professional, working hard in school and in the professional world will be less likely to be seen as selling out.

  138. Lemmee try that again.

    To the extent that black kids see black faces in the boardroom, the government, and the highly esteemed professions, working hard in school and advancing in the professional world will be less likely to be seen as selling out.

  139. Polly Jean Harvey.

    She put out some excellent music.

  140. joe
    Do you have to born in Appalachia? I thought you just had to be “from” there. Is there a year limit that being in Appalachia would “taint” your opportunities making preference for one justified?

    I do see your point.

    Do you think set-aside programs like Adarand foster desegregation? I thought the explicit understanding there was that race was a proxy for economic need (a “rebuttable presumption”).

    So maybe we are not talking about the same thing with regard to the policy justifications of affirmative action. You’re arguing the justification is desegregation. Would you support it if based on “fairness” concerns?

    I’m not sure I think harming a person based on their race to advance a social goal of desegregation is justified.

  141. Do you accept that the effects of affirmative action on race relations are unknown and unknowable?

    I’ll take it on faith that racism begets more racism.

    let alone an objective analysis based on purely musical merits, I think I’ll stick to my current judgment. How would this analysis be conducted?

    I learned something about merit vs appearance last year that applies to both music and race relations: there was a study done a while back that changed how a lot of professional music auditions were done. The study found that if the judges could see the performers playing, they tended to rank them differently than if they were judged from behind a curtain where they could only be heard and not seen.

    Now, if only job interviews and political campaigns could be done the same way.

  142. joe @1:20,

    I agree with you. And it’s all tied in to some current event, too. I’ll think of what it is. πŸ˜‰

    I’d like to see more black engineers, physicists, etc., too. Attitudes do seem to be changing to some extent. I see rappers that make being a geek or bookworm look cool. Anyway, I’m petitioning for more R&B songs about quantum physics. πŸ˜‰

  143. joe,

    PJ Harvey is a fine choice…she’s consistently good, and always changing.

    Gallon Drunk came out about the same time, and I think they put out as close to a perfect rock album as anyone have ever produced in “You, the Night…and The Music.”

  144. Now, if only job interviews and political campaigns could be done the same way.

    Presidential candidates would probably be 35% uglier.

  145. In the California prison system there was a policy to segregate prisoners based on race. It was put into place because of racially motivated attacks in the prisons. There we have two of what I think are the three major elements of racial preferences 1. racial classifications as the basis of official action 2. a desirable policy goal (the third which is not present is 3. harm to one group simply because of their race). SCOTUS struck it down I think. How do folks feel about that one?

  146. “Presidential candidates would probably be 35% uglier.”

    The Daily Show book (which is hilarious btw, and I don’t care much for the show itself) had a gag about how TV has made people like Abraham Lincoln unelectable today. But you know, I notice our Presidents and pols are not always very good looking as is, so I wonder if it has that effect so much

  147. SCOTUS struck it down I think. How do folks feel about that one?

    I think SCOTUS did all right. I think if everyone lives in “equal danger” as it were, things probably wouldn’t change too much even if they segregated the prisoners. That’s even ignoring my objection to racial segregation in general.

  148. Concerning desegregation being easier to maintain in the deep south due to historical proximity I would argue it a different way.
    Having been born and raised in Alabama and Mississippi, my experience suggests that as a result of centuries of slavery and social separation, blacks and whites are generally more willing to live seperate but equal. There has been for a long long time societal rules of engagement between the races.

    I have heard other white folks say it like this: it ain’t as bad down here as it is in the north because down here the colored folk know the rules.

    Please don’t see this as a justification, it is just an explanation of the mindset still very prevalent here.

  149. But you know, I notice our Presidents and pols are not always very good looking as is, so I wonder if it has that effect so much

    Perhaps not, but it does affect grooming some. Otherwise, half the House of Representatives would grow handlebar mustaches and campaign wearing t-shirts with vulgar slogans printed on ’em.

  150. MNG,

    I imagine different universities have different language in their admissions standards to keep Barack Obama from moving to West Virginia so his kids can go to a school. (Hey, if the anti-affirmative action people can throw out the names of black celebrities to produce hypotheticals that bear no relation to 99.999% of how affirmative action works, so can I, dammit!)

    Do you think set-aside programs like Adarand foster desegregation? I think that contractor set-asides are becoming seriously obsolete, outside of some absurd outliers. At this point, I’d be happy with no contractor set-asides except as ordered by a court because there is a long-running problem of racist cronyism in a particular department or municipality. As a broad public policy, the government doesn’t have to take the lead in making business available to minority-owned firms anymore.

    Would you support it if based on “fairness” concerns? That could mean a lot of different things, but of course I’d support making things fair – like the example of breaking down long standing habits of racist cronyism.

  151. TallDave is shallow.

    I’ll take it on faith that racism begets more racism. Ah, look, the “color-blind” version of “Creation demands a Creator.”

    People who take a lot on faith tend to share the same intellectual habits.

  152. Just for fun, I’ve been reading stuff in the NYT archive from the run up to the Iraq War.

    We were told that it would cost $1.7 billion, total! Including reconstruction and occupation!

    How much more has it cost to date?

  153. To answer my on question, around $530 billion, and it hasn’t even ended yet.

    It also doesn’t count the amount of money we will have to spend on injured vets.

  154. NNG,

    The guy who said that, Andrew Natsios, Bush’s head of USAID, was a very competent, accomplished administrator under Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. And an honest one, too.

    I remember thinking “Good pick” when they announced his appointment.

    I don’t know what happened to that guy. I imagine the same “good solider” routine that got so many decent Republicans to go along.

  155. In all fairness, No Name Guy, about 400 billion of that money went towards hiring people to tear down statues of Saddam, cleaning up all the flower petals and confetti thrown at our soldiers during all those “Thank You For Bringing Us Democracy” parades, and of course, building schools.

  156. Who thinks we would have been better off putting the pretender to the Iraqi throne back in Baghdad and giving them an semi-constitutional authoritarian (but business-friendly) monarchy like Dubai?

  157. Human League was prominently displayed in Don’t Mess With the Zohan which I saw this week. It was funnier than I thought it might be.

    Sandler has excellent taste in music (as proved by “The Wedding Singer”). Even though most of his movies are kind of goofy, he’s done some pretty damn good work, too (see “Punch Drunk Love”).

  158. Who thinks we would have been better off putting the pretender to the Iraqi throne back in Baghdad and giving them an semi-constitutional authoritarian (but business-friendly) monarchy like Dubai?

    That would have been even worse than the “benign neglect” small-footprint strategy we had from 2003-2007.

    How would such a monarchy have stayed in power? You need some authority to be authoritarian. The old Iraqi Army was chosen for its loyalty to Saddam; no help there. And Al-Sistani was insisting on elections right from the start.

    You would have had all the same problems we have now with the added bonus of an illegitimate monarchy no one had voted for, instead of the pluralist democracy they’re evolving into now.

  159. Tall Dave, heres a pop quiz since war defenders love to compare Iraq to South Korea:

    What kind of government did South Korea have from 1945 to 1988? I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t Jeffersonian Democracy.

    BTW, I’d much rather live in Dubai than Baghdad. How about you?

  160. We were told that it would cost $1.7 billion, total! Including reconstruction and occupation!

    Another wonderful job of intel from the same CIA that was sure we’d find WMD and missed the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union.

  161. There was a story today on Weekend America on NPR about Barry Cooper, the former drug cop who now tries to help people avoid drug arrests (partly through his “Never Get Busted Again” videos). He was the subject of a couple H&R threads 1-2 years ago. They don’t have an audio link to this particular story yet, but I assume they will later today or tomorrow.

    http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/06/19/drug_agent/

  162. The army was Sunni. The King would have been Sunni. The army would have gladly defended him if they were faced with the prospect of Shia mob rule.

    It also has the added bonus of pissing of giving no advantage whatever to Iran.

  163. Er, “of pissing off and giving no advantage to Iran”.

  164. Tall Dave, nice try but in 1991 Bus the Greater was way more honest about the potential costs of war. He prepared us for the absolute worst scenario, and mercifully it turned out to be much better than that.

    Bush the Lesser gave us the most rosy unrealistic scenario possible and turned out to be horribly wrong.

    But a leader should always tell the people to assume the worst possible outcome when undertaking something as weighty as war and peace.

  165. What kind of government did South Korea have from 1945 to 1988?

    A fairly autocratic (though economically liberal) democracy. It was a military government run by the U.S. at first, which didn’t work well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_south_korea

    On August 15, 1948 the Republic of Korea was formally established, with Syngman Rhee as the first president, who was elected the President ahead of Kim Koo in July 1948. With the establishment of Rhee’s government, de jure sovereignty also passed into the new government. On September 9, 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established under Kim Il-Sung. The investiture of the Rhee government followed the general election of May 10, 1948. The country’s first constitution had been promulgated by the first National Assembly on July 17. It established a system with a strong president, who was elected indirectly by the National Assembly. While the government with Ministerial responsibilities was originally considered, the opposition by a number of politicians who was seeking power prevented its application in favour of a Presidential Government.

    On December 12, 1948, by its resolution 195 [1] in the Third General Assembly, the United Nations recognized the Republic of Korea as the sole legal government of Korea.

    Around this time from 1945-1950, United States and South Korean authorities carried out a land reform that retained the institution of private property. They confiscated and redistributed all land held by the Japanese colonial government, Japanese companies, and individual Japanese colonists. The Korean government carried out a reform whereby Koreans with large landholdings were obliged to divest most of their land. A new class of independent, family proprietors was created.

    Rhee was supported in the elections by the Korea Democratic Party, but neglected to include any of its members in his cabinet. In retaliation, the members of the party formed a united opposition Democratic Nationalist Party, and began to advocate a cabinet system which would remove power from the president. This led to a regrouping of the Rhee faction into the Nationalist Party, which later became the Liberal Party, and remained Rhee’s base throughout his administration. The country’s second parliamentary elections were held on May 30, 1950, and gave the majority of seats to independents.

    BTW, I’d much rather live in Dubai than Baghdad. How about you?

    I’d much rather live here in IL than Dubai, and most Iraqis would rather live under Maliki than Saddam Hussein.

  166. Sparky, I find L.E.A.P. also to be fascinating.

  167. Why do you think, Dave, that we supported an autocratic dictatorship in South Korea instead of holding one-person, one-vote elections while mouthing platitudes about freedom?

  168. He prepared us for the absolute worst scenario, and mercifully it turned out to be much better than that.

    As I recall, many critics at the time insisted it would go much worse than Bush I predicted.

    And it ended up leading to a 17-year conflict, so I’m not sure how well it actually turned out in the end. As with the 2003 toppling of the regime, initial success bogged down.

  169. Why do you think, Dave, that we supported an autocratic dictatorship in South Korea instead of holding one-person, one-vote elections while mouthing platitudes about freedom?

    We did hold elections. Read the wiki.

  170. I didn’t say “elections”. I said one person, one-vote elections. The election of Rhee as President is widely believed to have been rigged.

    Also, he followed his own Constitution about as much as, say, Stalin did. It was an authoritarian government. The next paragraph talks about how he assumed total dictatorial government over South Korea even before the war started.

    Why do you think we supported him in that?

  171. And was then promptly elected.

    After the armistice, South Korea experienced political turmoil under years of autocratic leadership of Syngman Rhee, which was ended by student revolt in 1960. Throughout his rule, Rhee sought to take additional steps to cement his control of government. These began in 1952, when the government was still based in Busan due to the ongoing war. In May of that year, Rhee pushed through constitutional amendments which made the presidency a directly-elected position. To do this, he declared martial law and jailed the members of parliament whom he expected to vote against it. Rhee was subsequently elected by a wide margin. He regained control of parliament in the 1954 elections, and thereupon pushed through an amendment to exempt himself from the eight-year term limit.

    Rhee wasn’t a poster child for liberal democracy, but comparisons to Stalin are hyperbolic.

  172. For a primer on how Stalinist Koreans behaved, look to Rhee’s north.

  173. A comparison to Hugo Chavez isn’t, Dave.

  174. He was a dictator on the order of a Pinochet or a Hugo Chvez.

  175. Also, unlike Stalin or Mao, who would have massacred the student protestors without qualm, Rhee resigned.

    The events of 1960, known as the April Revolution, were touched off by the violent repression of a student demonstration in Masan on the day of the presidential election, March 15. Initially these protests were quelled by local police, but they broke out again after the body of a student was found floating in the harbor. Subsequently nonviolent protests spread to Seoul and throughout the country, and Rhee resigned on April 26.

  176. And he was replaced with, what Dave? More military government.

    You still haven’t answered the damn question. Why do you think the United States favored an authoritarian government for South Korea?

  177. To answer my on question, around $530 billion, and it hasn’t even ended yet.

    Nay, nay, Moosebreath, πŸ˜‰
    I strongly suspect that the number you just quoted doesn’t factor in wear and tear on equipment, rehabilitation and disability costs for our servicemen, etc. The numers I’ve seen (credible IMHO) are ~1 trillion. And counting.

    What a bargain!

  178. “Sparky, I find L.E.A.P. also to be fascinating.”

    Art-P.O.G.,

    Yeah, they’re pretty interesting. There was a guy who used to post here regularly who was involved with them (I can’t remember his handle, but I’m pretty sure there was something about Florida in it).

    One of the H&R threads about Cooper was about how LEAP had distanced itself from his videos, in part because they were suspicious it was actually a sting to catch drug users.

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/117569.html

  179. Sure, I’d accept Chavez.

  180. “(I can’t remember his handle, but I’m pretty sure there was something about Florida in it).”

    I think it was Steve in Clearwater.

  181. Why do you think the United States favored an authoritarian government for South Korea?

    Because it was better than Communism, of course. But it wasn’t a monarchy, or a dictatorship, any more than Venezuela is.

  182. Well Dave why didn’t we insist that they become a Jeffersonian Democracy overnight? I mean, don’t you think thats a reasonable expectation for a third world country ravaged by years of brutal occupation and warfare?

  183. And I should add, with a hostile neighbor as well.

  184. I don’t think we’re expecting Iraq to become a perfect Jeffersonian democracy. Hell, our own country doesn’t meet that standard; you can’t own a gun or smoke a joint in a lot of places.

  185. Thanks for the link, Sparky.

  186. Really? Because I heard a lot of rhetoric about how it would become “Belgium with oil” almost instantly in the run up to the war.

    But (once again) why do you think the United States favored an authoritarian, autocratic government in South Korea (and Taiwan, for that matter) initially over democracy?

  187. Speaking of Austin Powers, the third one was the first I saw, and I didn’t understand why people were laughing. My date whispered that I’d have to have seen the first two to understand. I would have whispered back that that was unfair, but knowing I’d been had, I settled into my sticky seat and prayed for a quick ending. So I suppose The Love Guru is for those who have never learned?

  188. We did emphasize some rights even during our military occupation of Korea.

    The United States Army Military Government in Korea, also known as USAMGIK, was the official ruling body of the southern half of the Korean Peninsula from September 8, 1945 to August 15, 1948. Many of the foundations for the modern South Korean system were laid during this period
    ….
    The freedom of the press guaranteed by USAMGIK led to an explosion of media activity, primarily in the newspaper sector but also in radio.

    This period also saw the first flowering of Korean literature and other aspects of Korean culture, which had been severely repressed during the later years of the Japanese occupation. Journals of Korean literature and thought began to circulate for the first time in decades.

    Perfect Jeffersonian democracy? No. But some basic rights. More or less what we;re doing now in Iraq.

  189. why do you think the United States favored an authoritarian, autocratic government in South Korea

    I don’t know that we “favored” it so much as we accepted it when it happened.

  190. Dave, I wouldn’t be worried about the government censoring what I write in Iraq, mostly because the central government is comically weak. It makes the Continental Congress look like the Roman Empire.

    I would, however, be terrified of a local Shia militia paying me a visit at 3 am if I said something bad about Islam.

  191. “I don’t know that we “favored” it so much as we accepted it when it happened.”

    Um, we pretty much installed and sustained it. Why do you think that is?

  192. Why, then would we accept it? Probably because there was concern around 1960 that S Korea would go Communist:

    A military coup d’?tat(5.16 coup d’?tat) led by Major General Park Chung-hee on May 16, 1961 put an effective end to the Second Republic. Park was one of a group of military leaders who had been pushing for the de-politicization of the military. Dissatisfied with the cleanup measures undertaken by the Second Republic and convinced that the current disoriented state would collapse into communism, they chose to take matters into their own hands.

    The military leaders promised to return the government to a democratic system as soon as possible. On December 2, 1962, a referendum was held on returning to a presidential system of rule, which was allegedly passed with a 78% majority.[24] Park and the other military leaders pledged not to run for office in the next elections. However, Park ran for president anyway, winning narrowly in the election of 1963.[25

    It’s a safe bet we were encouraging them to move towards democracy.

  193. Dave, I wouldn’t be worried about the government censoring what I write in Iraq, mostly because the central government is comically weak.

    Ha. Tell that to Basra, Sadr City, Mosul, and Amara.

  194. And theres no similar concern that Iraq goes Shia theocratic? Why not?

    Didn’t you see Malaki getting kissy-kissy with the President of Iran?

  195. So I suppose The Love Guru is for those who have never learned?

    Looks like I’m going to have to skip it. OT, but Be Kind, Rewind was awesome.

  196. The central government is entirely dependent on semi-criminal sectarian militias and tribal leaders. Thats not a mark of strength.

    It would be like the FBI having to depend on the Mafia to carry out its operations.

  197. Well, this is what we “installed.”

    On August 15, 1948 the Republic of Korea was formally established, with Syngman Rhee as the first president, who was elected the President ahead of Kim Koo in July 1948. With the establishment of Rhee’s government, de jure sovereignty also passed into the new government. On September 9, 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established under Kim Il-Sung. The investiture of the Rhee government followed the general election of May 10, 1948. The country’s first constitution had been promulgated by the first National Assembly on July 17. It established a system with a strong president, who was elected indirectly by the National Assembly.

    Sounds a lot like Iraq, except for the strong President part (Iraqis being understably wary of such).

  198. I’ll be in Iraq soon enough. Here’s my plan.

    1. Get deployed
    2. Get internet in my billeting.
    3. Post on Reason
    4. ??????
    5. Profit!!!

  199. I really wanted to see Be Kind Rewind, but it didn’t show up in our local theaters.
    I should just be glad that No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood did.

  200. Here:

    The defining reality in Iraq is that there is no state. Because there is no state in Iraq, there is also no government. Orders issued in Baghdad have no impact because there are no state institutions to carry them out. Government institutions such as parliament and positions such as cabinet minister have no substance. Power comes from having a relationship with a militia, not a government office. The “Iraqi Security Forces” are groups of Shi’ite militias, which exist to fight other militias. They take orders from militia leaders, not the government. Government revenues are slush funds for militia leaders to pay their militiamen. The whole edifice Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus described exists only as a figment of the Bush administration’s imagination.

  201. The central government is entirely dependent on semi-criminal sectarian militias and tribal leaders. Thats not a mark of strength.

    Actually, Maliki has been attacking the militias, and garnering approval across sects for it. Tribal leaders have been around for millennia; exclusing them was one of our biggest mistakes.

  202. Dave, you pretend that Rhee actually followed his own Constitution. He didn’t.

    We continued to fund his army and security apparatus despite that, and made no demands that he reform.

    So why didn’t we demand he become a liberal democracy overnight?

  203. We went to war in Korea to keep the communist North from conquering the South. Mission accomplished. That the government was pretty messed up for decades after that is beside the point.

    We went to war in Iraq for the purpose of bringing freedom and democracy to that country, and a blossoming of liberal democracy throughout the Middle East. The cost of that misadventure is now measured in the hundreds of thousands of human lives and the hundreds of billions of dollars, not to mention the stalling of the war against Al Qaeda. (Obviously, given what has just been re-confirmed about the WMD and Saddam/al Qaeda intelligence being distorted by the White House, that was just a pretext.)

    If the Arab Spring promises used to justify this war don’t come true – if it ends up with military thugs like South Korea for decades – then the war will be a failure on the terms its proponents established.

    Ha. Tell that to Basra, Sadr City, Mosul, and Amara. Every single one of those places required massive US military firepower to support the Iraqi force’s efforts to prevent anti-government militias from openly controlling the city. That’s supposed to show the strength of the central government?

  204. Please, you’re going to cite Buchananites at me?

    Here, try this. Today’s NYT:

    Big Gains for Iraq Security, but Questions Linger

    BAGHDAD – What’s going right? And can it last?

    Violence in all of Iraq is the lowest since March 2004. The two largest cities, Baghdad and Basra, are calmer than they have been for years. The third largest, Mosul, is in the midst of a major security operation. On Thursday, Iraqi forces swept unopposed through the southern city of Amara, which has been controlled by Shiite militias. There is a sense that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government has more political traction than any of its predecessors.

  205. Yes Dave, I’m actually citing people who think like adults about foreign policy instead of Jacobin Trotskyists on crack. God forbid.

  206. Dave, you pretend that Rhee actually followed his own Constitution. He didn’t.

    I hear the same complaint about Bush here everyday.

  207. Yes Dave, I’m actually citing people who think like adults about foreign policy

    So you’re on board with their whole “Zionist conspiracy” deal? Adults? Come on.

  208. Actually, Maliki has been attacking the militias

    Not the Badr Corps. Maliki has been buying the loyalty of one Shiite militia as it fights another.

    Please, you’re going to cite Buchananites at me? They can’t possibly be right; they are on the record as predicting the war would go badly.

    Here, try this. Today’s NYT: They’re the ones that published Judith Miller, right? Since when does ToolDave believe the NYT?

  209. Let me know when Bush orders massacres of protesting students and imprisons his political opponents without trial, ok?

    If Bush were Rhee, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama would be out of office and under house arrest (at the least).

  210. We can’t listen to them! They’re politics aren’t right, so just ignore anything you read there.

  211. Please cite one article from TAC that talks about a “Zionist conspiracy”.

  212. Hell, find anything remotely anti-Semitic. Their archives are online, it shouldn’t be difficult if what you say is true.

    Unless you never read the magazine.

  213. Let me know when Bush orders massacres of protesting students and imprisons his political opponents without trial, ok?

    Well, keep in mind, FDR had interned 100,000 Japanese without trial around Rhee’s time. Expectations were lower then.

  214. And, of course, the CIA and State Department, and everyone except the political appointees in the Pentagon, were saying that the $1.7b figure was absurd, there would be a long occupation and insurgency, and that both would require massive investments.

    But as we’ve learned, the CIA exists for the purpose of having the White House’s incorrect and dishonest intelligence attributed to it.

  215. Buchanan, who opposed virtually every civil rights law and court
    decision of the last 30 years, published FBI smears of Martin Luther King
    Jr. as his own editorials in the St. Louis Globe Democrat in the mid-1960s.
    “We were among Hoover’s conduits to the American people,” he boasted (Right
    from the Beginning, p. 283).

    Buchanan referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory.”
    (St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/20/90)

    Writing of “group fantasies of martyrdom,” Buchanan challenged the
    historical record that thousands of Jews were gassed to death by diesel
    exhaust at Treblinka: “Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide
    to kill anybody.” (New Republic, 10/22/90) Buchanan’s columns have run in
    the Liberty Lobby’s Spotlight, the German-American National PAC newsletter
    and other publications that claim Nazi death camps are a Zionist
    concoction.

    I could go on, but read it yourself.

  216. Find something in TAC, Dave. Something anti-semitic. Specifically, mention of a “Zionist conspiracy”.

    I’m waiting.

    You might want to read their archives from ’03. They’ve been way, way more accurate than say NR, which proclaimed in 2005 on its cover “WE’RE WINNING!”

  217. Again, you’ve obviously never read the damn magazine.

  218. Do you read NR, Dave?

  219. Easy enough. March 2003:

    The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged. In a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: “Can you assure American viewers … that we’re in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?”

  220. Again, you’ve obviously never read the damn magazine.

    No, I don’t read magazines published by people like Buchanan. If David Duke puts out a magazine, I won’t need to read it either.

  221. Nothing was mentioned about a “Zionist conspiracy”. I’m still waiting.

    Was the late Tim Russert an anti-semite by your standards too, Dave? Hes the one who asked the question!

  222. More?

    Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot kicked off the campaign. When these “Buchananites toss around ‘neoconservative’-and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen-it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is ‘Jewish conservative.'” Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate attachment to Israel is a “key tenet of neoconservatism.” He also claims that the National Security Strategy of President Bush “sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon bible.” (For the uninitiated, Commentary, the bible in which Boot seeks divine guidance, is the monthly of the American Jewish Committee.)

  223. Russert is obviously not a Holocaust Treblinka denier.

  224. I want direct articles from the magazine, not commentary by war apologists. Where was a “Zionist conspiracy” mentioned?

    I know war supporters like to hysterically throw around accusations of anti-semitism, but this has to be a record.

  225. Back to the affirmative action discussion, I don’t get why people have never understood about the poor white advantage to top schools. Being from West Virginia, nearly one generation out of the mines on my mom’s side (obviously she wasn’t a coal mine employee, but her brothers and father were) and with my scores and so on, I’m sure I could have gone to any University I’d wanted. I eventually decided that going to a state school for free was better for my parents than trying to pay to go to an Ivy League or whatever.

    I suppose there is something to be said for legacy admissions and that sort of thing. The way I’ve always thought of it, it’s sort of a symbiosis: the rich legacy kids (and their parents) pay full tuition and donate and therefore keep the school open, the poorer scholarship kids make sure that the schools reputation and thus the degrees it offers retain their value. It’s easy to resent the mediocre or worse students attending a good school just because their parents “own the color blue” as Chris Rock would say, but they provide some service too, even if it doesn’t seem very noble to anyone.

    Of course with the size of endowments being what they are at some schools now, this excuse for the legacy may no longer hold as much water as it once did.

  226. Neither are the people at TAC.

    Do you read NR by any chance Dave?

    Bill Buckley opposed civil rights laws and was against hiring a Jew to be his successor because he wasn’t Christian. I guess we should discount everything from them, too.

    Also, you’ve still refused to refute (or even read) the article. You’d rather change the subject and toss around accusations of anti-semitism instead. Yeah, thats the ticket.

    Theres really nothing else to discuss.

  227. NNG,

    Those quotes are right from AmCon. Here’s another:

    The radical Zionist right to which Perle and Feith belong is small in number but it has become a significant force in Republican policy-making circles. It is a recent phenomenon, dating back to the late 1970s and 1980s, when many formerly Democratic Jewish intellectuals joined the broad Reagan coalition. While many of these hawks speak in public about global crusades for democracy, the chief concern of many such “neo-conservatives” is the power and reputation of Israel.

  228. I never called anyone an anti-Semite, I said Buchananites are unserious people who toss around “Zionist conspiracy” theories.

    The article is easily refuted. Spend about five minutes here and see what the ISF are accomplishing.

    http://www.longwarjournal.org/

  229. Do you really deny the presence of an Israeli lobby in the federal government, Dave?

    Thats not conspiracy (in fact its quite open, theres AIPAC). It is a lobby, however. Its like any other lobby, and saying it exists is not being anti-semitic. Its stating a fact.

  230. Do you read NR by any chance Dave?

    Nope. I’m not a fan of the dead trees. I get my editorials from from RCP, spanning everything from The Nation to the Weekly Standard.

  231. Yeah, all those unserious people who predicted the war would go badly, that there may not be any WMDs, and that it would cost far more than predicted and inflame anti-American sentiment around the world.

    What a bunch of whackos!

    I’m sorry, Dave, but the only people that 28%ers get to call “unserious” are flat-earthers and evolution deniers.

  232. Of course Israel has a lobby. That’s a little different than denying mass murder at Treblinka and claiming we went to Iraq at Israel’s behest because the Jews control the government.

  233. Of course with the size of endowments being what they are at some schools now, this excuse for the legacy may no longer hold as much water as it once did.

    With tuition costs the way they are, I think your argument still holds a lot of water.

  234. Yeah, all those unserious people who predicted the war would go badly, that there may not be any WMDs, and that it would cost far more than predicted and inflame anti-American sentiment around the world.

    Let’s see those predictions we wouldn’t find WMD.

  235. I’m sorry, Dave, but the only people that 28%ers get to call “unserious” are flat-earthers and evolution deniers.

    You mean the 28% that oppposed the war? I agree.

  236. You could start with Scott Ritter and Hans Blix.

    The myth that there was no one who thought Saddam Hussein had lost his WMD capacity is another Big Lie of the war apologists.

  237. You really think your view is still in the majority? Wow.

    Are you on Vicodin or something?

  238. TallDave, saying that disagreement with his politics is evidence of racism?

    No way!

  239. Are Ritter and Blix at AmCon?

    Too bad the CIA didn’t listen to them, I guess.

  240. FWIW I thought there wouldn’t be any because I believe the federal government can’t do anything right, so of course it would get the intelligence wrong.

  241. They were, you know, actual weapons inspectors from the U.N.

    But we were all told the U.N. was irrelevant, and that to say otherwise was “French”.

  242. You really think your view is still in the majority? Wow.

    Obviously I used the past tense.

    Since you’re degenrating into nonsensical ad hominems, I’ll leave you with joe.

  243. Lets review:

    Citing an article from a magazine that has been very prescient about foreign policy and the effect of the Iraq War over the past five years? Bad! Anti-semitic!

    Citing some chicken hawk war blog that most likely predicted we’d find caches of WMD, be greeted as liberators, and that the war would pay for itself? Good! Reliable source!

  244. And then there are the predictions that we’d have $20/barrel oil thanks to the war. Ah, memories!

  245. Oh, thank goodness. I thought this damn Iraq-cum-South Korea debate would never end.

    New Order is not only a great post-Beatles English band, but their classic song “Love Vigilantes” is one of the greatest troop-themed songs ever written.

  246. See also: Pink Floyd’s Final Cut album and Kate Bush’s song “Army Dreamers”.

    better than Toby Keith!

  247. The debate will end when the Republican Party realizes (hoepfully after Barr throws the election) that people want a serious, adult foreign policy. Not some ideological-driven nonsense about “Freedom agendas” and “World War IV” and the “Twilight struggle”.

  248. I know I’m missing quite a few, but if you can think of great military songs post-Vietnam onwards, please list.

    “Bunker Soldiers” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark just occured to me.

  249. Art, you might be right, tuition is getting pretty crazy. I’m glad free tuition at my school is part of my deal. If, you know, I ever have kids.

    And really isn’t almost anything better than Toby Keith?

  250. “The Rooster” by Alice in Chains and “One” by Metallica.

    I’m glad free tuition at my school is part of my deal. If, you know, I ever have kids.

    Good stuff.

    And really isn’t almost anything better than Toby Keith?

    Yes.

  251. “Uncommon Valor” by Jedi Mind Tricks

  252. People who still defend the invasion and occupation of Iraq as the “right thing to do” are very difficult to converse with. A trillion and counting, 4,000+ U.S. dead, tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women crippled for life, ~100,000 dead Iraqis, five years after the end of hostilities the electricity and plumbing still doesn’t work, ethnic cleansing in various neighborhoods of various cities, and on and on and on.

    The Iraqis had their election, but still can’t walk across town without fear of being killed. The army and police forces are riddled with members who’s loyalty to the elected government is secondary at best.

    The United State’s reputation around the world has plummeted since this exhibition of GWB’s “humbler” foreign policy.

    All of the above are facts. To still aver that invading was the right, moral or intelligent decision requires a denial of reality that approaches delusional at a minimum. I can discuss argue with someone who says “We fucked up but we need to stay to minimze the negative repurcussions of our policy”.

    I don’t even bother with those who still think it was a moral or good decision. Like the truthers, they are beyond reasoning with.

  253. Are you on Vicodin or something?

    Yes, why? Oh, you were talking to Dave.

  254. J Sub D, I agree that its worth talking to people who say “we fucked up but leaving fast might be worse, we should look at all options”. Hell I’m sympathetic to that. Its the 100 years occupation/THE SURGE!!! people that really piss me off.

  255. Alice in Chains is one of my favorite bands.

    The Rooster is not only their worst song, it is the most terrible thing in the whole 1990’s non-Disney musical universe.

  256. It is their stairway.

  257. The Rooster is not only their worst song, it is the most terrible thing in the whole 1990’s non-Disney musical universe.

    Worse than the start of “Bling bling” horseshit materialism hip-hop?

  258. Really? “The Rooster” touches me (but not in a sexual way). No accountin’ for taste, I suppose. “Them Bones” is perfect.

    Worse than the start of “Bling bling” horseshit materialism hip-hop?

    Worst shit ever. Somewhat mitigated by the fact that the song “Bling, Bling” was actually sort of humorous and the fact that the trend was somewhat contemporaneous with the emergence of artists like Outkast, Aesop Rock, Jedi Mind Tricks, et al.

  259. Speaking of weird, this has got to be one of the strangest homebrew Obama campaign videos I’ve seen yet:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/fightthetruth

  260. “Uncommon Valor” by Jedi Mind Tricks

    “Johnny Walker’s Lament” by DJ Krush featuring Anticon

  261. Re: Kate Bush,

    The album The Dreaming is her outstanding work in my opinion, but The Hounds of Love and the newest one are also fine work.

  262. The Hounds of Love is the only Kate Bush album I actually own, but I’m going to have to check out more of her stuff.

  263. “Pull out the Pin” is another Kate Bush war themed song (off of The Dreaming).

    It is about Vietnam, so I am not sure it counts for your list of post-Vietnam songs, but it’s a great tune.

  264. Tom, people who make videos like that should have their voting rights removed.

  265. Well, “The Rooster’s” about the ‘Nam, too. I just meant recorded after the Vietnam War, ’cause everybody knows those iconic songs (“War” by Edwin Starr, “Fortunate Son” by CCR, et al.)from the era.

  266. The lines “You won’t be laughing when the buzzards drag your brother’s flags to rags/You won’t be laughing when your front lawn is spangled with epitaphs” always struck me as terrifying and ominous, especially coming from an album released in 2000.

  267. re: Ace Rock

    Yeah, that and System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” were extremely prescient.

    Speaking of literacy, I wish your average teenager were more interested in Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, you know Alternative hip hop, abstract and Avanthop. I really think shit like Soulja Boy makes people more stupid when listened to in excess.
    Ever hear Lupe Fiasco’s “Dumb It Down”? It kind of makes me wonder how much stupid pop is pushed because it genuinely sells (large market) or pushed for more cynical reasons.

  268. I’ve heard rap every bit as complex and ambitious as prog rock, but while there are many artists working in a really challenging style, few are extremely popular. Anyway, I like the internet because I can discover so many great artists that get little radio play.

  269. Oh, crap. How could I forget “Soldier Side” by System of a Down?

  270. And “War?” by System of a Down.

  271. Worse than the start of “Bling bling” horseshit materialism hip-hop?

    I was never that much into hip-hop, but as far as I can tell, that is a creature of the ought’s, not the 90’s.

    It was the post-grunge anti-neu metal counter-pop ‘purity’ of hip-hop in the 90’s that led to it’s mainstream acceptance, which in turn has led to its current ‘disco’ phase.

    Now, as a caveat I am the world’s worst culture critic. I seem to be a big fan – or at least, do not possess of viceral dislike – of massed produced commodities that have has the edges shorn off from their original manifestation.

    For example, I like Linkin Park, the prequel’s to Dune written by his son, and How I Met Your Mother.

  272. “Zombie” by The Cranberries and “Enola Gay” by OMD.

  273. Kolohe, the song “Bling Bling” came out in 1999.

  274. which in turn has led to its current ‘disco’ phase.

    Although I’m not a big fan of disco (to say the least), disco and punk had a baby, and it was the most beautiful thing ever.

  275. A day late, but re: Great English music, Stone Roses. Also, Noel Gallagher. I will not debate the Stone Roses as brilliant, but I could be convinced Gallagher is not, provided the person telling me this has listened to Oasis B sides from the early career.

  276. Art-
    Ok, I didn’t know you were talking about a specific song, I thought you were referring to a general trend. I never heard of it before.

    But I was wrong anyway. The worst song of the 90’s in any genre was by Robert Van Winkle who clinched the award right out of the starting gate.

    My error was that despite graduating high school in ’91, I tend to think of anything from that summer on as ‘the 90’s’ and anything before graduation as ‘the 80’s’ (Likewise, anything from Y2K to 9/11 is still mentally put in the 90’s bin)

  277. Kolohe, I humbly submit to you that Limp Bizkit was as bad, if not worse than Vanilla Ice.

  278. NNG,

    Vanilla Ice and Limp Biquick are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same musical act…no?

    A difference without a distinction.

    It’s like arguing which is worse, Loverboy or Poison? There is no point.

  279. Ok, I didn’t know you were talking about a specific song, I thought you were referring to a general trend. I never heard of it before.

    No, you are correct about the timeframe of the general trend, I was merely pointing out that its provenance was arguably still in the mixed bag of the ’90s.

    Vanilla Ice and Limp Biquick are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same musical act…no?

    While the general obnoxiousness of Limp Bizkit and Vanilla Ice are indeed nigh equivalent, I offer the following halfhearted defense of Limp Bizkit: at least they had members with musical talent, i.e. Wes Borland and DJ Lethal. Vanilla Ice is a great evil. I could easily compile a list of 100 white MCs of tremendous talent, yet I bet Vanilla Ice is one of the 5 most famous Caucasion rappers of all time.

  280. er, Caucasian* I can’t even explain that typo.

  281. I have to throw Soulja Boy and Three 6 Mafia in the hat for “worst ever”.

  282. It’s a good thing I scrolled up, Art. I thought you were throwing out the Cranberries as an example of a good post-Beatles British band, and I was going to have to go all Dropkick Murphys on you butt.

    As for Mr. Van Winkle, I submit the following:

    “Police are on the scene
    You know what I mean?
    They passed me up
    Cold running on the dope fiends.”

    Imagine, a white rapper who brags about the police leaving him alone and going after the other guys isn’t respected in the hip-hop world. Didn’t see that coming.

  283. In fact, Soulja Boy Tell Em and Hurricane Chris are so bad, I think the record industry must hate black people.

  284. Cranberries as an example of a good post-Beatles British band, and I was going to have to go all Dropkick Murphys on you butt.

    No, it’s impossible to miss their Irishness. They’re like a leprechaun leaning against a Blarney stone while reading James Joyce.

    Didn’t see that coming.

    And they had the nerve to say Ice wasn’t authentic!

  285. They’re like a leprechaun leaning against a Blarney stone while reading James Joyce.

    I see you’ve met my cousins.

  286. I see you’ve met my cousins.

    lol. So, really, do the Catholics and Protestants of Ireland not hate one another as badly anymore?

  287. Beats me.

    The Catholics of Springfield, Mass seem to get along pretty well with them.

  288. joe,

    Ever been to Ireland?

  289. Speaking of Joyce.

  290. blech. James Joyce is overlong and unreadable. Reading Finnegan’s Wake is like, 3 days I want back.

  291. What’s with the blasphemy parade? First the Russert Cartoon and now this Jesus video. In a secular society like this one, religion is a friend of liberty (and I say that as an agnostic). The enemy of my enemy and all that.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block103.html

  292. I could never actually read “Naked Lunch” (even though a friend had a book of Burroughs quotations that were brilliant).

  293. Apaulogist,

    Look, dude, the Yes video was awesome. If anything, though, it seemed to lack enough images of the Son of Man holding a baby velociraptor.

  294. First the Russert Cartoon and now this Jesus video. In a secular society like this one, religion is a friend of liberty

    Riiiight. Just look at all those open atheists, and what with all the special privileges the faithless get!

  295. “In a secular society like this one, religion is a friend of liberty”

    That’s one of the more bizarre statements I’ve seen here. But then, Apaulaogist is a very special poster. And by special, I mean either delusional or dishonest.

    “James Joyce is overlong and unreadable. Reading Finnegan’s Wake is like, 3 days I want back.”

    The only Joyce I’ve read was Portrait of the Artist (in high school, upon pain of class failure), but I enjoyed it. Not enough to read more by him, mind you, but it wasn’t bad. Way better than another book we read that semester, The Good Earth. That crap won Buck a Nobel Prize…?!?

  296. This is too long to wade entirely through right now, but someone, I think joe, was having trouble thinking of great British bands from this century: the Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, and Art Brut, to name just a few.

    If you like the Jam, Buzzcocks, the Smiths, Wire, you’ll find plenty to like with these guys, too.

  297. Art-P.O.G.,

    Ever spoken to anyone from Belfast?

  298. I have to echo the sentiment that Duran Duran is one of the greater British bands, post Beatles.

    And no one mentioned Led Zeppelin? WTF?

  299. I could never actually read “Naked Lunch” (even though a friend had a book of Burroughs quotations that were brilliant).

    The trick to reading Burroughs is first to listen him reading his writing for awhile…and then when you read him, “hear” it in his voice.

    Without the prosody and timbre of his voice in your head his stuff just doesn’t work.

  300. blech. James Joyce is overlong and unreadable. Reading Finnegan’s Wake is like, 3 days I want back.

    That’s harsh.

    Particularly coming from someone who reveres Ayn Rand’s books.

    I ain’t a Joyce Fan (I prefer Brian O’Nolan), but it would be a hard call to choose between Finnegan’s Wake or Fountainhead…or water-boarding.

  301. Ever spoken to anyone from Belfast?

    Naw. I was asking out of genuine curiosity. What are you trying to suggest?

    The trick to reading Burroughs is first to listen him reading his writing for awhile

    I’ll have to try that. After all, Hunter S. Thompson’s work kicks ass if you imagine Johnny Depp doing a Raoul Duke voice the whole time. And the whole time I read “Breakfast of Champions” I imagined a mugging Bruce Willis playing Dwayne Hoover.

  302. The impression I have been given from speaking to Belfasters (Belfastions?) is that the majority of folks get along quite nicely, but there is a minority of hooligans on both sides who like to rabblerouse. Apart from them, Catholics and Protestants form friendships and congregate without troubles. This is anecdotal information to be sure, but in regard to that sort of situation, I believe that to be no less reliable than the sources of the violence and the sensationalist media.

  303. NM,

    (Warning to other H&Rers: long post follows)

    So you still wanna stick up for Eno, eh? Ok, let’s leave aside the fact that your claim would draw derisive snickers from a healthy percentage of music instructors on the planet. (I’d also wager that given his good taste in general Eno himself would object, but I digress.) Since we’ve already agreed what matter in music are great tunes, name me just three or four tunes by Eno that you think will still be heard along with the best of Purcell and Britten in the distant future. (I’m being pretty generous here, ’cause Purcell alone wrote dozens more, if not hundreds.) Eno may seem more important and influential now, NW, but do remember that we’re talking long term, not just the next decade or two. (And just out of curiosity, you do know that Eno produced Coldplay’s latest album, right? You know, “the most offensive music” in your book?)

    Now let me respond to this:

    Who said I didn’t like Purcell or Britten?
    I just said your comments indicated that you had pedestrian taste…not that there is anything wrong with that.

    I knew you were gonna pull this one. Go back and reread your comments. You clearly said “pedestrian stuff.” And just the fact that you consider Eno more important than Purcell and Britten shows you don’t regard the latter two very highly.

    And sorry to contradict you again, NW, but yes, there is a strong correlation between quality and sustained popularity. (Note that I didn’t say anything about the definition of quality.) I suppose you could counter that this rule doesn’t apply to newcomers (including recently resurrected works) or any junk that might still be played in the offing, but that’s why I emphasized the “sustained” part. Great music lives on, regardless of genre, while lesser music is gradually forgotten, again regardless of genre. Unless you wanna contend that a piece of music can be said to be of high quality with only a hundred or two listeners in the long term, which I’ll give no more consideration than it deserves.

    As for information technology’s role in contemporary music, you’re right that today it’s harder for an artist to obtain wide recognition, but you also apparently haven’t thought much about this issue. No one today has the time to listen to every record out there, so music, just like any other field of human endeavor, is increasingly becoming specialized: Rock critics cover rock, jazz critics cover jazz, classical critics cover classical, world music critics cover world music, and so on. It’s in fact a welcome change in our Long Tail society, as worthy artists around the globe not only get discovered but also recognized by experts in their own field, and likewise people can now focus on what they want and make informed choices based on the critical and informational sources they trust. Wide recognition is hard to come by these days not because it’s “harder for the quality stuff to rise above the noise,” as you put it, but because “the quality stuff” has already been brought to light through our advanced tech and communication and there is so much of it to choose from in an unprecedented variety of genres. To not have recognized this is, I must say, rather “pedestrian.”

    What else? Ah, yes, the technique-vs.-artistry question. I love it when people bring this up, ’cause it’s just as valid as the false dichotomy between style and substance. Look, NW, if you think technique/craftsmanship and artistry/quality are so weakly correlated, just look at your own example, which you used to argue that Ian Curtis is “a great vocalist” due to “his unmatched phrasing.” (You do know phrasing is part of a technique, right?) A degree of technique or craftsmanship is necessary for any “quality” music. But let’s assume technique and quality are indeed weakly correlated. Do we still somehow recognize “quality” regardless of the level of technique? Of course we do. Janis Joplin or Callas in her declining years didn’t have what we’d call a flawless technique or even an attractive voice, but most critics agree that the artistry was still there. And even the general public with untrained ears can see that the finalists on American Idol are better than most contestants at early stages. Now a complete lack of subjectivity is admittedly impossible in any criticism, but only a fool would argue that there’s nothing objective behind these assessments. (Just an aside: Ian Curtis doesn’t hold a candle to Ella Fitzgerald in phrasing.)

    And no, there have not been plenty of serious rock critics who claim that the Sex Pistols or the Clash are better than the Fab Four musically. Most critics in fact agree that Never Mind the Bollocks owes its success not to a great set of tunes (there isn’t any, and I say this as a fan) but to possibly the most fun and daring middle-finger-in-the-air lese-majest? in rock history. I thought we already agreed that whatever cultural relevance a band may have doesn’t matter in the end? And sure, a critic or two may say that the Stooges or some other band are the greatest rock ‘n’ roll act ever, but the overall critical consensus for the past decades has been that the title belongs to either the Beatles or the Stones.

    This actually accentuates my point about objective analysis and criticism. When a new recording of mainstream classical fare (say, Chopin nocturnes) comes out, critics generally agree as to the artistic qualify of the recording. The same is true for criticism of premiere works by contemporary composers, though admittedly to a lesser degree as it takes time to discern the good and the bad and some of the former may get mixed up with the latter and vice versa (again my emphasis on sustained popularity). And what about rock criticism, where there is less emphasis on purely musical value? There’s still plenty of agreement, as evinced by the near universal acclaim for, among recent examples, M.I.A.’s Kala. And of course there’s even more agreement on the “pedestrian stuff” like the Beatles and the Stones.

    So what does this say about objectivity? It’s that wide critical consensus is the only objective measure of artistic quality. I may think Luciana Souza has a damn lovely voice, or that Alfred Cortot is a better Schumann interpreter than most, but I have no way of knowing whether either observation is valid until I find a sufficient number of people who agree with me. (Of course expert opinion should count extra, but especially more so in classical and jazz which require a great deal of formal training.) I also think most of Radiohead is self-absorbed crap, but much as I’d like to think I’m right I currently have no objective way to validate my judgment because many critics and listeners obviously don’t buy it. Musical criticism isn’t simply a matter of “I like it,” NW. I actually prefer a lot of popular fluff to more “serious” stuff, but that doesn’t mean I consider the former better music than the latter. (As you may know, many classical listeners can’t stand most of Wagner’s music, but they don’t dispute its greatness.) Those of us who are attentive listeners don’t just subjectively say whether we like a piece of music or not; we also try to judge, as objectively as possible, whether the artist, say, performs naturally or oversings, or if the piece has a catchy tune or runs too long, and so on. Then we measure our opinions and observations against others’ so we can objectively evaluate them, and of course experienced listeners or those with training will generally have better judgment than most. This is what I mean by objective analysis and criticism.

    I think I’m ready to comment on our most fundamental disagreements, NW. Now I know it’s unfair to criticize nonclassical music due to its lack of triple fugues, high Cs or fourteen-note melismas, and in fact I argued expressly against such spurious evaluation on an earlier thread (no, not that one, another one before). Eno, the Pogues and others are great artists in their own right, and so are, by different standards, Handel and Stravinsky. (I should also add that the “lighter” stuff should have its own standards as well, e.g., Mozart serenades and the Spice Girls.) And I certainly don’t expect everyone to understand the most rarefied works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and other dead white males from the past. But when you say Eno is more Important and influential than Purcell and Britten, you not only judge the two composers by false standards, but you also show your lack of understanding of their music. There’s a reason why children’s music lessons or conservatory programs mostly consist of, yes, “mainstream” classical music, or why a work like the Mozart Requiem can move even those listeners normally indifferent to anything involving an orchestra, and it ain’t just some “pedestrian” tradition. It’s that, by purely musical standards (this is where all that formal stuff should be taken into account), classical music is considered the best there is, and its very best reaches the level of spiritual and emotional depth that other types of music do not aspire to.

    Let me end with a few words on rock ‘n’ roll. If anything, rock ‘n’ roll (at least of the “original” kind–I’m using a narrow definition here) represents irreverence, rebellion, and screw-’em rejection of anything holy and traditional (which is, btw, why it’s absurd to compare rock and classical to begin with). But these extramusical gimmicks get old quickly without the support of (again) great tunes, ’cause most listeners couldn’t care less about some rants by middle-aged juveniles (ditto with the formal aspect of music). I say the Beatles will outlive most other rock bands not only because I like their music (subjective), but because I can’t think of any other band with a comparable number of songs that so many people know and love, and with all those record sales to boot (objective). Maybe you’re right that there are other bands more worthy of our attention, but so far the Beatles have stood the test of time, just as Hank Williams has remained better known than pretty much anyone else whose career lasted as long as his. Sustained popularity and wide critical consensus may not prove artistic quality, but they are the best measures, and should a superior band emerge their artistic merit will have been measured accordingly.

    That’s all I’ve gotta say. Maybe there are a few points you haven’t made yet that are more persuasive than the ones you have, and if that’s the case I would like to hear ’em. If not, hopefully you’ll acknowledge at least some of my points and I think I’ll return to consuming some more pedestrian and even some non-pedestrian stuff.

  304. NP,

    We can’t really judge the survivability of the Beatles yet, because their original audience is still alive and buying records.

    I would say that the “Beatles generation” extends down to people my age, because even though I’m too young to have been around when they were a group, I’m old enough to remember hearing all their solo career stuff on the radio in first release. And the solo career stuff at least advertised the group stuff.

    But as listeners get younger than me, the Beatles get less and less relevant. There’s a “Great Forgetting” coming as the Baby Boom starts to die. The cultural signposts of the boomers will be consigned to the ash bin of history. Unfortunately, a great part of the culture from before the Baby Boom will disappear along with it. The people ten or fifteen years younger than me just don’t care about it.

  305. mejican, yeah, coil were something else.

    with current 93 you gotta get past the initial shock of what the hell is wrong with his voice. persona fav is of ruine or some blazing star. the new one (black ships ate the sky) is pretty neat, though, so long as you like hymns.

  306. But as listeners get younger than me, the Beatles get less and less relevant. There’s a “Great Forgetting” coming as the Baby Boom starts to die. The cultural signposts of the boomers will be consigned to the ash bin of history. Unfortunately, a great part of the culture from before the Baby Boom will disappear along with it. The people ten or fifteen years younger than me just don’t care about it.

    Fluffy,
    The Beatles are 20-30 more recent than Glenn Miller, the Dorsey brothers, Cab Calloway Artie Shaw et al. Their (big bands, swing) original fans are dead or in nursing homes, yet the music lives on with multitudes of fans. I confidently predict that the Beatles and some of the other Rock ‘n’ Roll giants will receive the same respect and adulation when I’m a doddering old man.*

    I’ll even take bets on it.

    * According to Billboard I was born at the precise beginning of the Rock ‘n’ Roll era. Rock around the Clock was #1 when I rudely entered the world.

  307. Oops.

    I was supposed to put that first paragraph in italics or blockquotes. Oh well, perfection, sometimes even basic competence, still eludes me.

  308. Fluffy,

    Yours is a valid point, but as someone who’s apparently younger than you, and who actually didn’t get to hear a single thing by the Fab Four till his teens (if you can believe it), I can say without any hint of nostalgia that a bunch of Beatles tunes are just damn catchy. Of course we don’t know how our music scene will look like decades from now, but based on my own listening experience and the current critical consensus, I think it safe to say for now that the Beatles will outlive most other rock acts.

    When I say something like this I usually get a few questions along the following lines. (No, Fluffy, you didn’t ask me. I’m just feelin’ groovy, baby.)

    So if the Beatles or any other band get forgotten, or if others get bumped up, does that mean the artistic quality of their music changed?
    – Yes.

    How can the quality of a same work ever change? You mean the “Eleanor Rigby” I listened to a few years ago is not the same one I’m listening to right now?
    – This is actually a good point ’cause a surprising number of people don’t know how to respond to it. To this I just say: Look, if the work allows only one interpretation, it’s probably not worth our time and attention to begin with.

    Another musical example: Say you’re a pianist. You take a Beethoven sonata and play it a couple of times in front of an audience. None of your performances are the same, what the audience hears isn’t the same, but it’s still the same sonata.

    But that’s different from listening to prerecorded music. A machine is different from a human.
    – Another good point, and now we’re getting into ontological quandaries that frankly nobody sane needs to care about. Hence my emphasis on sustained popularity and wide critical consensus.

    Look, what you hear from even prerecorded music can change any time. Your sound system doesn’t produce the same sounds every time. Your daily sleeping patterns and surroundings can affect your hearing. Maybe yesterday you felt blue but today you were red, so that might have created different perceptions. Just drop this metaphysical nonsense and again focus on the popularity and consensus. They’re really the only objective measures of quality. If you think most other people are full of crap, you can just keep listening to your thing, and if you feel so strong about it you can start spreading the word.

    And now let me have a little more fun in the end and give you a literary example:

    The sun shines. The clouds are white. The sky is blue.

    This doesn’t allow much room for interpretation. Baudelaire couldn’t blather like this even when he was stone-cold sober.

    Next…

    The sensuous sun casts its daily affliction. O hapless soul! To love, and to die, I drink the gentle clouds, and turn my gaze into the luminous heavens.

    Now he’s getting drunk again (or high, or maybe both–I don’t think he ever really knew what he was doing). You can actually see this could be a work of prosody. And you can clearly see that this has a better chance of being included in a prose poem collection than the pedestrian (sorry for using this word again, NM) scribble above. This is what I mean by objective criticism. You somehow know this would better qualify as poetry, and you also know most people would agree. Hopefully this clarifies my point a bit further.

  309. Ditto what J sub D said (except for the betting part).

  310. Uh… just to be safe, I was not born at the precise beginning of the rock & roll era. Damn keyboards.

  311. I have to say it again: I am stunned and terrified that we’re talking about British Rock, and I am still the only to mention Led Zeppelin.

    Come on folks…greatest rock band yet. Let’s get on the stick.

  312. C’mon, guys, why am I the first to mention Led Zeppelin????

    [keed, keed]
    [runs off ere the wrath of Randian descends]

  313. hmm, VM…I think I have the perfect song for your neck of the woods:

    “When the Levee Breaks”.

    (oooh, too soon?)

  314. First, to the thread, I would like to apologize for inspiring NP’s wall of text.

    NP,

    Despite all the words in your wall of text, you just repeat yourself.

    You have yet to come within shouting distance of recognizing the flaw in your position. But at least you state it clearly this time.

    It’s that, by purely musical standards (this is where all that formal stuff should be taken into account), classical music is considered the best there is, and its very best reaches the level of spiritual and emotional depth that other types of music do not aspire to.

    Leaving aside a discussion of what other types of music aspire to (that statement is pure elitist crap, and untrue on its face), quality is not a quantifiable characteristic of music. Any attempt to come up with a way to compare the quality (“pure musical stadards,” “artistry,” whatever you want to call it) will fail because the concept is inherently without scale.

    e.g., the technique/quality discussion…If I say, as a trained musician, that you are wrong, Ella Fitzgerald’s main weakness is her phrasing (an aspect of technique, of course), there is no possible way to resolve our dispute. Sure you could go get a gang that agrees with you and I could gather a gang that agrees with me and we could count heads, but that wouldn’t be a metric of something else. There is no scale we can use to rate the quality of her phrasing. Some aspects can be measured, of course, we can agree that EF has good pitch because their is a scale for measuring that aspect of her technique.

    Musical influence, which is part of what you are talking about when you talk about “greatness” is, on the other hand, theoretically measurable in the long run, but is distinct from the scale-free concept of quality. My contention that Eno is more influential than Britten or Purcell could be disputed with some careful study, but my sense is that the musical innovations Eno has brought into the market over the last 35 years have been incorporated into the musical output of more musicians and more musical output than anything produced by Britten or Purcell. Hell, in your own discussion you dropped the term “ambient,” a genre named and fleshed out by Eno and his collaborators.

    In the end, however, when you trot out meaningless phrases like “musically better” all you do is highlight how little you understand about the artistic endeavor or the human reaction to it by the audience.

    And I certainly don’t expect everyone to understand the most rarefied works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms…Then we measure our opinions and observations against others’ so we can objectively evaluate them, and of course experienced listeners or those with training will generally have better judgment than most.

    I laughed out-loud at those…sorry that’s just funny.

    so music, just like any other field of human endeavor, is increasingly becoming specialized

    I don’t really disagree with anything you are saying on this topic. I think we’re just talking past each other. The point was that since you are using some sort of wide consensus as a bootstrap to define quality/greatness, the larger output available today has fractured the market…”the noise” was just the term I was using to describe this fracturing.

    I am still more smug than you are, but that last couple of posts was a valiant attempt.

  315. a literary example:

    Am I the only one that found the first example more artistically worthy than the second?

    Dude you are a fucking riot.

  316. Just drop this metaphysical nonsense and again focus on the popularity and consensus. They’re really the only objective measures of quality.

    By this standard (consensus of whom?), Madonna is better than Joni Mitchell, Elton John is better than Tom Waits, and “Gladiator” is better than “Miller’s Crossing.”

    Saying that your taste in art is “objective” is like saying your religion is proved by science.

  317. as a matter of fact, one could argue that popularity is a good measure of decent music, but not excellent music. That is, if the popularity of a thing is akin to a bell curve.

  318. I submit Water’s “Amused to Death” for military songs.

  319. You know, sometimes I feel a bit dorky talking about Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek frequently. However, I can always count on the music nerds to take a music discussion so obscenely seriously that I never need feel dorky again, as you all have utterly cornered that market.

    Thank you for this service.

  320. whatevs, Epi…don’t you have some Twelfth Cyclone or some such nonsense to track down?

  321. Ayn R,

    I don’t think the bell-curve thing works.

    I think popularity is orthogonal to quality since quality is pegged to an individual’s subjective judgment. And the “consensus of experts” that NP wants to use is nothing but a subset of popularity– a double fallacy of sorts: popularity among the authorities?

  322. don’t you have some Twelfth Cyclone

    It’s cylon!

    (runs off crying like a music nerd who has been informed that Pavement sucks)

  323. as you all have utterly cornered that market.

    I submit for your consideration:

    1) Political polls and their meaning
    2) What makes a true [libertarian, socialist, authoritarian]
    3) Discussions of literature
    4) Tech talk [computers, cars, whatever]
    5) Farscape
    (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/0a/Foxtrotfarscape.jpg)

  324. I think popularity is orthogonal to quality since quality is pegged to an individual’s subjective judgment.

    Something I’ve wrestled with for a while. Do you think that the issue of “taste” ultimately leads to subjectivity in all philosophical discussions (aesthetics being a branch of philosophy).

    Of course, I suppose one could say that “quality ! = necessarily better”, but that would be a strange argument to make.

    It’s cylon!

    Do they name these cylons after men and women, depending on the year? That’s the crux, right there.

  325. NM, do you really think you’re doing yourself any favors on the dork front by linking to Foxtrot?

  326. Epi…

    Revel in the dorkness, for the bright light of hip is a blinding light.

  327. Ayn Randian,

    Something I’ve wrestled with for a while. Do you think that the issue of “taste” ultimately leads to subjectivity in all philosophical discussions (aesthetics being a branch of philosophy).

    It seems that any discussion of the “quality” of an aesthetic experience is going to be subjective at its core, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying their are no objective qualities/characteristics/aspects for consideration in aesthetics…but in the end these are purely descriptive. They don’t provide a basis for objective ranking.

    Not sure that answers your question.

    Certainly “philosophy” has room for both the objective and subjective, no?

  328. Indeed it does, but by subjective I mean that in it’s most basic sense: that the genesis for a moral/ethical (or, conversely, an immoral/unethical decision) should be left entirely to the subject to determine, with reality as the arbiter of whether he was correct.

    Of course (and this is just navel-gazing, so feel free to ignore), I start to wonder if “reality” doesn’t entail the judgements and actions of others around us, and whether those should be taken into account prior to taking an action or making a qualitative judgement.

    Back to the topic, however, when you say this:

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying their are no objective qualities/characteristics/aspects for consideration in aesthetics…but in the end these are purely descriptive. They don’t provide a basis for objective ranking.

    do you mean to say that “objectively, there are things of higher quality…however, this is a just a descriptor, not a value judgement of the quality of the thing”? Because how does one say that something is simultaneously of a higher quality, yet not “better” at the same time? It seems that we’d have to divorce “higher quality” from “better”…

  329. do you mean to say that “objectively, there are things of higher quality…however, this is a just a descriptor, not a value judgement of the quality of the thing”? Because how does one say that something is simultaneously of a higher quality, yet not “better” at the same time? It seems that we’d have to divorce “higher quality” from “better”…

    No, I was clearly not clear.

    You can talk about “louder” “redder” “more precise” “on-pitch” things like that, and these characteristics can be ranked objectively, but that ranking is only descriptive.

    Is a redder color “better” than a more muted one? Is a cleaner recording “better” than a noisier one? When talking about the aesthetic quality that is an entirely subjective judgment. The descriptive differences don’t map onto a ranking of artistic quality.

  330. And to get the thread (sort of) back on track: how was everyone negligent in mentioning Depeche Mode?

    and on purely personal grounds, how far on the sexual spectrum would it push me if I confessed a love for Dead or Alive? Hopefully not too far…I already iron my jeans.

  331. To tie back to the discussion with NP…

    “more popular”
    “more critically acclaimed”
    “more influential”

    These are descriptive, and (variably) quantifiable, but they do not provide a way to rank the “pure musicality” or “quality” of a piece.

  332. I already iron my jeans

    Once again, please note my comments above reagrding dorks. You are in Steve Urkel territory with the jeans thing.

    Now what it says about your sexuality I can’t say. Are they assless jeans?

  333. Now what it says about your sexuality I can’t say. Are they assless jeans?

    I’d tell you, but I am already concerned that I have too much sexual power and I would unfairly move you down the spectrum if I told you that.

    I do, however, wear “Sex Panther”…It’s illegal in nine countries.

  334. Bah! It’s all angels and heads of pins. Here is what you need to know about quality.

    If I like it it’s quality stuff. If I don’t, it’s sub-standard crap.

    There are exceptions. I occasionally like stuff that really is crap. Black Sabbath comes immediately to mind.

  335. NM,

    My, my. So you’re pissed, eh? Since I see I’ve wasted my time giving you a fairly respectful response (given your barrage of ad hominems, clich?s and immature dismissals), I’ll just expose the weaknesses of what you apparently considered your counterarguments and go find something better to do.

    …quality is not a quantifiable characteristic of music.

    When did I say that? Oh, right. I didn’t.

    If I say, as a trained musician, that you are wrong, Ella Fitzgerald’s main weakness is her phrasing (an aspect of technique, of course), there is no possible way to resolve our dispute. Sure you could go get a gang that agrees with you and I could gather a gang that agrees with me and we could count heads, but that wouldn’t be a metric of something else. There is no scale we can use to rate the quality of her phrasing. Some aspects can be measured, of course, we can agree that EF has good pitch because their is a scale for measuring that aspect of her technique.

    Again, when did I say there is some kind of a scale that could be used to rate artistic quality? And if you asked, say, most of the music critics at major publications and a few other available professional musicians (not just one or two individuals, I should add) about EF’s or anyone else’s phrasing and there was no clear consensus one way or the other, then no, there would be no objective way to rate it, which was actually my point. In this case you just go with the side you trust more. In fact this is what we do with our many decisions in life: We often ask others close to us for advice, which rarely turns out to be unanimous, and we pick what we think is the best. There are just fewer players involved.

    But there is clear consensus on Sgt. Pepper, Beethoven’s 9th or, yes, EF’s phrasing. Critics may cavil here and there, but very few argue it’s actually bad, and in this case one can objectively say the music or technique merits our attention and admiration. So…

    90-10 => Super
    80-20 => Yeah
    70-30 => Pretty good
    60-40 => Maybe
    50-50 => Nah

    As for EF’s pitch, anyone who bothered to read my post carefully would’ve noticed that this was not the type of measurement I had in mind, or that a half ignoramus knows one can easily measure it with today’s tech. And I don’t know whether you intended to concede that your Ian Curtis example was unapt, but credit where it’s due, I suppose.

    And unlike you, NM, I’m honest enough to acknowledge any missteps, and you’re right, I can see we were largely talking past each other. But I don’t think there’s any “fracturing” to speak of. There are more people specializing in various musical genres than ever before, and if anything wide consensus is easier to come by today. Reputation (of the good kind) is what you get when you start selling more than just a few records and performing at some place other than the streets; consensus is what you get when there are a majority of those specialists who give you a thumbs-up or -down. The biggest stars do suffer diminishing sales and maybe reputation, but everyone else benefits.

    I also should’ve said other types of music attempt to aspire to the artistic depth of classical music, but I know you’ll still attack that as elitist. So tell ya what: I don’t understand your music, you don’t understand mine. I’m fine with that. And I’m also not persuaded that Eno will prove more influential than Purcell and Britten in the long run, but I see we’re never gonna agree on this issue.

    Oh, and that second “literary” example is actually straight from Baudelaire. I just transposed a few words and threw in a Milton reference, but no one can be knowledgeable in everything, I guess.

    Nice try, though. And I don’t know whether you actually think being smug gives one some type of credibility, but considering the mighty intelligence of your response I’ll let you think whatever you want.

  336. Religions are friends of liberty, if you mean in the same way that labor unions are friends of liberty.

  337. As for this being a “secular society” that really depends very much on where you live in a country as big and diverse as the USA.

  338. since nobody has brought this up, didja know that Sex Panther is sung by Led Zeppelin?

    50% of the time they rock every time.

    Why has it taken so long to bring that up?

  339. [Shatner] MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!!! [/Shatner]

  340. You know, Robert Plant, member of one of the best bands (surprisingly unmentioned in this hier thread), Led Zeppelin, was considered to play the role of Kahn and Sulu in one episode!

    I’m surprised that this hasn’t been mentioned before. Ron Burgundy reported on this.

    Led Zeppelin also was considering a rock opera to the Fountainhead, thus starting an aquatic style of “spurt rock” and “spray rock” and “jet rock”, but Mr. Steven Crane was busy.

  341. Les,

    Check out my latest post. Hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

    Ayn_Randian,

    Let me again stress again that sustained or long-term popularity is a good measure of artistic quality. Of course they’ll always be one-hit wonders or others who enjoy 15 minutes of fame, so that’s why I emphasize that “sustained” part. And by “sustained” I mean centuries, not just a decade or two.

  342. NP – by that standard you cannot evaluate any music made after, say, the 1800s. Unless you want to pull out your crystal ball and say that bands like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin are going to be popular 100 years from now, but hell, I can do that ad no one is going to be around to call me on it.

    We need some way to measure quality without resorting to popularity, if for the mere fact that you are at least defining quality as “long-term popularity”, and I am not going to be around that long. So I think it’s best to deal in the here and now.

  343. Of course they’ll always be one-hit wonders or others who enjoy 15 minutes of fame, so that’s why I emphasize that “sustained” part. And by “sustained” I mean centuries, not just a decade or two.

    I call horsefeathers. You contend that music penned after 1808 can not be judged for quality. You do realize the amount of work that includes? Everything ever recorded, all of Copland, Brahms, Tchaikovsky works cannot be judged for artistic quality by that criterion.

    My system is better. And it’s B/S.

  344. I’m glad Barack Obama will have warrantless wiretap powers. He won’t abuse them on people for their Islamic Faith. He will wiretap the dangerous gun owning fundies who oppose a woman’s right to chose and the right to marriage for all.

  345. To the above poster-

    After defending Bush having these powers for eight years, I’ll enjoy watching you shit your pants.

  346. Should say, “after watching people like you..” etc.

  347. Ayn_Randian & J sub D,

    Ha ha. I think you guys are taking my definition way too literally. If you go back and look at my earlier posts I say that there’s a strong correlation between sustained popularity and artistic quality. And I suppose two or three centuries is an awful long time in this information age, so change that to today’s life expectancy, which Wikipedia tells me is a tad below 80 years. Better?

    Also there’s another measure for those newer artists and works you just mentioned: wide critical consensus. Take a look at my last post and hopefully you guys can figure out what I mean without additional explanation.

  348. Go Team Blue!

    Obamatarians will abide

  349. oh, and this band, Led Zeppelin ended up abandoning nautical themes, as they simply couldn’t get a H?ndel on the water music…

  350. Uh… last long post. Or do I have to explain?

  351. NP – there’s value in deferring to experts, but I don’t believe you should peg quality to a “consensus”, lest you get some Emperor’s New Clothes shit goin’ down.

    For further reference, see: George Lucas.

  352. Um, I’m voting for Barr, dipshit.

  353. When the Republican Party proves its worthy of governing again, I’ll be open to returning. But not before then.

  354. AR,

    First, when I say critical consensus I don’t mean consensus by experts only. In an earlier post I say only that expert judgment should count extra, and I also cites American Idol where even the general public with untrained ears can pick the good (finalists) from a rowdy pile (early contestants).

    And the reason why I use wide critical consensus as a measure of quality is that it’s the only objective one. Take vision, for example. You see a chair in front of you, as clearly as you can in broad daylight. But your whole family and neighbors say the chair’s not there, and it goes on like that for a few days. At that point you would reasonably begin to doubt your “observation.” (Just to be anal I should also add that you were not allowed to touch the chair in this example.)

    Ditto with music criticism. You may think Led Zeppelin is the best band ever, or I may think Boulez’s music is pure pretentious nonsense, but if everyone around us said otherwise then we’d clearly start having doubts. That’s why wide critical consensus is the only objective measure of artistic quality. Now you’re right that consensus doesn’t prove quality, which is why I also use sustained popularity as an additional measure.

    And the “sustained” part shouldn’t be taken too literally. If popularity, say, makes up just 5% of artistic quality today and consensus the rest, then a year from now it’ll be 10-90. Five years from now, 20-90. Ten years, 35-90. And so on. Now again this is only a guide; there’s no clear “scale” Neu Mejican talked about earlier. I also used this semi-facetious chart for consensus (for vs. against):

    90-10 => Super
    80-20 => Yeah
    70-30 => Pretty good
    60-40 => Maybe
    50-50 => Nah

    In the “Super” category there would be pretty much all the predictable stuff: the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Beethoven, Ellington, Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, and so on. In the “Yeah” category below you’d see (I’m assessing their entire oeuvre, BTW) Elton John, Eric Clapton, Stan Getz, etc. You see where I’m coming from.

    So yeah, I think both consensus and popularity combined are good measures of music. Let me know what you think.

  355. Darn, I’ve been writing way too much today. Make that “five years from now, 15-85. Ten years, 20-80.”

  356. NP,

    Not pissed. Amused.

    a fairly respectful response

    You’ve been about as respectful as I…your condescending tone was the main reason for me teasing you about your positions. The whole “I’m more smug than you” routine is a comment on the smug elitism dripping from your posts…but it is made in good humor (at least from my perspective). Being a smug bastard myself, I give a lot of room for the behavior in others.

    No offense is intended.

    So a couple reactions:

    one can objectively say the music or technique merits our attention and admiration.

    Nope. The admiration and attention is a subjective response that results from listening to the music. It doesn’t matter what others’ subjective experience of that music is, the “merit” one assigns is inherent in their interaction with the work …there is no way to “objectify” that response at the level of groups of individuals. Certainly people allow the opinions of others to modify their subjective experience, but that doesn’t take the admiration or attention out the subjective realm.

    And I don’t know whether you intended to concede that your Ian Curtis example was unapt, but credit where it’s due, I suppose.

    Nope. A very apt counter-example to your claim that a voice teacher can tell you objectively if you are a good singer or not. S/he can describe many things about your singing, but that opinion about whether you are a good singer or not is just subjective impression with no objective reality.

    and if anything wide consensus is easier to come by today

    What do you base this claim on? I guess will have to agree to disagree on that one.

    I also should’ve said other types of music attempt to aspire to the artistic depth of classical music, but I know you’ll still attack that as elitist.

    That would be because it doesn’t change the basic misguided claim in any way and makes it no more accurate.

    So tell ya what: I don’t understand your music, you don’t understand mine. I’m fine with that.

    I understand your music fine…what an odd thing to claim. We disagree on the relative merits of the music, but that has nothing to do with one of us “understanding” it better than the other. It has to do with us having a different subjective response to it.

    …no one can be knowledgeable in everything, I guess.

    Clearly you are making a lot of unwarranted assumptions about the overlap (or lack thereof) in our knowledge base…really, I’m having no trouble keeping up.

    And the reason why I use wide critical consensus as a measure of quality is that it’s the only objective one.

    But… it’s not objective at all…maybe you are not clear on what the term means. I hadn’t considered that (although your Led Zep example above seems to indicate that you have a least a vague sense…).

    It doesn’t matter how many subjective opinions you combine, you can’t get them to add up to an objective, mind-independent truth. It just doesn’t work like that. And adding in other tangential parameters (“sustained popularity”) doesn’t help as they are orthogonal to the thing you are trying to measure.

    I’ll give you the last word:

    I said “quality is not a quantifiable characteristic of music.”

    You responded:
    When did I say that [it was]?
    Oh, right. I didn’t.

    This,however seems to me a claim that musical quality is quantifiable…your words:

    I think both consensus and popularity combined are good measures of music

  357. JsubD,

    If I like it it’s quality stuff. If I don’t, it’s sub-standard crap.

    You’ve got it just right.

    Objectively, you are a more sophisticated music critic than NP.

    %^)

  358. NM,

    I may be a lot of things, but smug or elitist (more on this “elite” part later) ain’t one of ’em. Let’s go back and see how this t?te-?-t?te got started.

    When I made that “contemporary British music sucks” comment, I did it with the same seriousness with which I say to a friend that the only good thing about McDonald’s is their Dollar Menu: almost none at all, and without any ill will whatsoever. But you took my comment personally and called me “a cranky old fart with no taste,” so I responded that there’s no contemporary British classical composer who can challenge Purcell and Britten (a view I think even you’ll agree with). That’s how this whole thing got started. I’ll admit that my then and future responses have been condescending at times, but I was never smug, at least not intentionally. However cranky and condescending I get I always try to be open-minded, and when someone points out flaws in my arguments I acknowledge them and try to respond with better counterarguments.

    Anyway, I don’t wanna drag this catfight out for too long (for obvious reasons) and I’m guessing you don’t either, so I’ll try to make this post as short, comprehensive and civil as I can. Let me say in advance that any smugness you may perceive in this post will be inadvertent.

    I think we actually may been talking past each other, NM, ’cause your definition of “objective” seems to differ from mine. I’m not using the term “objective” as in “objective reality”; in fact I pretty explicitly said earlier that I couldn’t care less about such ontological stuff, at least when discussing something useful. And you’re right that millions of like subjective opinions don’t add up to some mind-independent truth, but again this is not what I mean by “objective.” By “objective” I mean something like “fair,” “impartial” and such, as in “objective reporter.” Here’s how our dear friend Merriam-Webster defines it:

    expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations

    Of course, the key phrase here is “without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.” That’s a pretty tall order for anyone, hence my use of wide critical consensus and sustained popularity as benchmarks. I’m not sure whether you still would disagree with me on this objectivity issue, but just in case?

    Let’s compare these two ledes on the same news item:

    “On his first day in office, President Bush signed a controversial bill that reignited the abortion debate.”

    “On his first day in office, President Bush signed an anti-choice bill that was contrived to spellbind the ultra-right-wing lunatics in his own sexist party.”

    Now obviously the second lede is an extreme example-not even The Nation would use such charged language for reporting–and we know this not just because of our own views but also through our readings, conservations and other types of communication-IOW, our interactions with others. If the vast majority of us did in fact encounter such charged language in our everyday lives then the mild first lede would seem alien to us.

    That’s why I use wide critical consensus as an objective (again, more “impartial” than “mind-independent” in meaning) measure of artistic quality. Much as I’d like to belittle Radiohead (I promise this is the last time I’ll mention them for this discussion), the current critical consensus is that their music isn’t just self-indulgent nonsense, that it’s “high” pop/rock. That doesn’t mean I can’t dispute this common judgment-as I’ve already pointed out, there’s no precise “scale” of quality we can derive from mere consensus-only that I’ll have to persuade more than just a small group of friends before I can reasonably say this “consensus” isn’t so consensual anymore.

    As for sustained popularity, I actually use it merely as a supplement to critical consensus. As I noted above popularity should play a very small role in our judgment of any new or newly discovered works, and for most of our rock veterans-the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, and other usual suspects-and for other music from corresponding eras, the “sustained” element isn’t strong enough yet for popularity to serve as a good measure of quality, either. The best of the more long-standing music, though, enjoys both wide critical consensus and sustained popularity, and for this reason I think we can say that the artistic quality of such music is pretty damn high.

    Now let me clarify what I mean by “measures” of artistic quality. As I’ve said already I don’t claim that consensus and popularity can be used to rate music, say, on a scale of 1 to 10. But, again, works like Sgt. Pepper or Beethoven’s 9th symphony do enjoy more critical consensus and popularity than, say (you see I like using “say” as an adverb), Pulp’s Freaks and Beethoven’s own 1st. Again we really can’t quantify the degrees of this gap in consensus and popularity, but we can still see the gap is there. I chose “measures” instead of some other vague term like “standards” because that would’ve made my point even more confusing, and I hope I’ve clarified it this time.

    I also think consensus and popularity can be a good measure of technique as well. Critics and trained or even untrained listeners almost always agree on the technical merits of a performer, and as for popularity, who in their right mind would say they listen to Paganini’s caprices or Art Tatum only for the “artistry”? ‘Nuff said. And going back to your voice teacher example, I recognized that those with trained ears, voice teachers (of course) included, are best suited to judge the finer points of technique, but I also said that they can generally see the artistry behind the technical cloak. Technique, like training, is only a means to an end, and the end is, yes, artistry or “quality.” That’s why I said that most music critics and professionals can still see Janis Joplin or late-period Callas as great artists despite their less-than-perfect technique and voice, and why a completely lousy (technically speaking, of course) performance, however talented the performer may be, is an artistic failure. Technique alone doesn’t guarantee artistic excellence, but an adequate level of the former is required for the latter. That was the point I was trying to make.

    Finally, I might not have phrased it properly when I said consensus is easier to come by today. Here’s what I meant to say. When you have three critics and two or even all three of ’em approve a new album, that may count as “consensus” but still doesn’t tell us much ’cause there’s an awful small number of participants involved. My guess is that only a generation ago there weren’t too many people covering, say, Mbalax or Nueva canci?n music, at least not in North America, and those who were covering it here probably had superficial knowledge of the music to begin with so I don’t think their “consensus” should count much. But today there are more specialists working in particular genres, so any consensus that arises now is probably trustworthy. Of course reputation is still hard to come by, but not so much for consensus. (I think I’ve already highlighted the difference between the two.) Hopefully you’ll find that an adequate explanation.

    I’ll stop now to give you some time to respond (and for me to get some other stuff done). I’ll comment on my supposed “elitism” later, and maybe on some music I enjoyed recently to end this discussion on a positive note. (You may be surprised to find that my taste isn’t so pedestrian after all…)

  359. NP,

    Like I said.

    My comments were in the spirit of giving you a hard time for the superior attitude that allows you to feel that there is some objective/unbiased reality to your impression (to paraphrase) that “classical music is the pinnacle of musical achievement with more emotional depth and sophistication than other musical forms.”

    I am sure you listen to lots of non-pedestrian music, but the examples you choose as examples of “quality music” are all obvious, pedestrian choices. This seems due to your belief that an impartial judgment of musical quality is somehow related to popularity or critical consensus. But popularity and notice by the critics is a complex process that involves luck as much as talent making it a piss poor measure for comparing two pieces of music/two artists. (Of course my position is that the only valid comparison is “I like this one better. What do you think?”)

    FWIW, I don’t think “impartial” really saves your position. It is less wrong than the stricter sense of objective, but the idea that I can give an impartial/objective opinion about something as subjective as musical taste/musical quality is just absurd on its face.

    So if you want to say that Ella Fitzgerald has wider critical acclaim than Ian Curtis, you are stating something that is accurate. If you want to take the next step to say that makes her a “better” vocalist, you are talking nonsense.

    The flaw comes from this misunderstanding, I think

    Technique alone doesn’t guarantee artistic excellence, but an adequate level of the former is required for the latter.

    This is a tautology. Some undefinable “technique” is required for a quality performance, but the only way to judge whether that technique is adequate is to judge the “artistic excellence.” If the work is judged “excellent” then the technique must be adequate, but there is no independent judgment of the technique that will help you predict the artistic quality you want to measure. Whatever technique produces the artistically excellent experience you are having (subjective experience that it is) must be adequate technique…even if it doesn’t meet a single independent standard you may carry around in your head for what “correct” technique is.

    You just can’t pull the subjective response out of the context of the experience in any meaningful or unbiased way.

    I started this discussion by saying that musical snobbery has its place in the development of music. It helps to promote certain ways of thinking about and creating music…it helps fund and support developing genres and provides endless hours of entertaining debate, but those who practice it need to recognize, at least intermittently, that they are just talking out their ass and trying to justify their subjective taste.

    “I think this is better than that” does not occupy the same semantic space as “this is better than that” and, despite the fact that we use the second as a shorthand for the first, it is important to recognize that there is a difference.

    A suggestion for an interesting musical experience, if you can find it, Edzayawa…(Nigeria, 1973). There will be no critical consensus on it, and it is as far from popular as anything you could come across. I like it, and I think other people would too…using JsubD’s infallible metric of quality, that makes it high quality music…important, and even great.

    I feel smug because I know about this obscure piece of music…that, it seems to me, is a reasonable smugness for a music fan to have. I don’t feel smug because my taste is better than those who don’t/wouldn’t like it.

  360. NM,

    I still think we’re largely talking past each other, ’cause most of your objections are based on misunderstanding and I actually mostly agree with the rest of your last comments.

    Of course popularity and notice by critics involve luck as much as talent, but like I said, in this information age it’s becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to not get noticed. Obviously time plays a role here, which is why I stressed the “sustained/long-term” element. And when people say a certain song is great, they really mean to say that the song is great among those that are already known or have been noticed. There may well be better songs that haven’t been discovered, and for these songs it would be wrong to use popularity and consensus as measures of quality. I thought I’ve already acknowledged this limitation.

    For example, I recently downloaded an album by this accordionist named Cathrin Pfeifer. I think it’s damn charming and entertaining, much more so than many other bestsellers I’ve heard, and I believe that given more airplay and distribution this album could become a bestseller itself. But I certainly wouldn’t use popularity and consensus to judge its quality ’cause this music’s not well known yet and I couldn’t find any full-length English reviews of the album. In this case I have no problem with J sub D’s metric of quality: I just relied on my subjective listening experience to arrive at my judgment, and my judgment is that it’s damn fine music.

    Anyway let’s look at the real source of our misunderstanding. The reason why I keep insisting on objective measures of quality is precisely because everyone’s opinion is, yes, subjective. Note that I’ve never said anyone (this includes the experts) can give an objective opinion about quality, just that consensus and popularity can serve as objective measures of quality (again, for well-known music). I’ve actually made this distinction to avoid making the mistake, which you yourself mentioned, of conflating “I think this is better than that” with “this is better than that.” IOW, we actually agree with each other on this point. Maybe I didn’t explain my position clearly enough, but I can see this is where the real misunderstanding was.

    That said I do wanna make a distinction between opinion and judgment. When good critics review something, they don’t just say “I like this” or “I hate this,” which is just an opinion, but something like “The rubatos are too contrived” or “This guy’s singing about a holiday party, but the song is over 10 minutes long and the tempo drags on and on? yeah, some party-at a cemetery,” which is judgment. This is why I say critics and experts’ judgment should count extra in the realm of critical consensus: They critique music based not merely on opinions but also on their learning, observations and objective (impartial) assessment of the music in question. Of course any judgment is still in the end subjective, but I’d still argue that judgment is more “objective” than mere opinions.

    As for your criticism of my technique/artistry claim, I’m rather surprised by your assertion that technique is undefinable, ’cause you said yourself that phrasing is “an aspect of technique.” But it’s true that phrasing is a more “subjective” technical aspect than pitch, so let’s put phrasing and other such technical aspects in the “style” basket and define technique as hitting the right pitch or note, a definition I think most people, including you, would accept. Now, one could claim that this definition would matter only in genres like classical and jazz where technique plays a relatively important role, but I’d dispute such a claim with this: Being unable to hit a precise E is not the same thing as hitting an A when you’re supposed to hit a D. Imagine someone “performing” like that throughout a whole piece, and the pitch discrepancies would be so great as to make the piece unrecognizable and thus unable to communicate. So yes, an adequate level of technique is necessary for artistry because without it there would be no art to begin with. And of course I’d refer to critical consensus to judge stylistic devices like phrasing.

    Just a short comment on this before I continue:

    I feel smug because I know about this obscure piece of music…that, it seems to me, is a reasonable smugness for a music fan to have.

    My definition of smugness is being so self-satisfied that one’s unable to evaluate his/her views critically and admit any mistakes when confronted with better arguments, but if what you said above is your definition I’ve got no problem with that. I can’t see how anyone who cares about learning could avoid being smug according to your definition.

    Now let me address my supposed “elitism” or snobbery. You’ve been mentioning my “obvious, pedestrian” musical examples, and you’re right, they were mostly obvious and pedestrian. But I actually chose those pedestrian examples intentionally, not just because I like the music but because I wanted any potential readers of my posts to recognize them. I used those examples to make my points easier, not to show any elitism on my part. And if you think about it pedestrianism and elitism are almost polar opposites of each other. Do note that pretty much all the examples Ayn_Randian and J sub D gave on this thread were pedestrian themselves (unless you consider Duran Duran and Depeche Mode non-pedestrian choices).

    You also apparently found this particular statement elitist:

    I certainly don’t expect everyone to understand the most rarefied works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and other dead white males from the past.

    But I don’t think it’s necessarily elitist for me to say that, just as I don’t think it elitist for someone to say he doesn’t expect most of contemporary avant-garde music to be understood by everyone. Bach’s Art of Fugue and Beethoven’s late music are supposed to be difficult, most of Cecil Taylor’s music is supposed to be difficult. These works aim “higher” (not necessarily an elitist idea), and they are not supposed to be as easy as Count Basie or even many of Bach’s and Beethoven’s own works. Of course many such works are also pretentious nonsense (IMO), but without this “elitism” there would be no “serious” music to begin with, which I don’t think you and I want.

    Let me now tackle my statement that “classical music is the pinnacle of musical achievement with more emotional depth and sophistication than other musical forms.” In the same paragraph where I said this I mentioned the Mozart Requiem. I strongly believe it’s the most frightening and awe-inspiring music ever written (I say this as someone who finds Mozart mostly too polite), and that it represents the highest musical expression humanly possible. I consider it as one of the, yes, “rarefied works.” And I know there are many others like me who enjoy both classical and pop/rock music and hold the same belief. So I do think-subjectively, yes-that those who don’t share my belief don’t understand the music.

    Now you said that there’s a difference between understanding and agreeing on the relative merits of music, but is there really a substantive difference? You don’t think the Mozart Requiem isn’t that great, so I feel or subjectively think you don’t understand the music. I don’t think Brian Eno is one of the “immortals,” so you say I don’t understand his music. To paraphrase a clich?: understanding is in the eye of the beholder. But I did not mean to say that my taste is better than yours or that you don’t understand “serious” music, which indeed would have been elitist. Heck, I wouldn’t be offended if some hip-hop fans told me that I don’t understand their music, ’cause hip-hop ain’t my strong suit. Just so you know I was actually trying to be civil and respectful when I wrote that “classical is da bomb” paragraph ’cause I did feel my tone was too condescending earlier. As for my claim that other genres do not reach the artistic depth of classical music, let me acknowledge that this was in fact a subjective statement and I shouldn’t have included it in the paragraph.

    Which brings to my last point. When I wrote that classical is the most “sophisticated” of all music I was judging it by its own standards. Here I was using the traditional definition of music: melody, harmony, rhythm, and form. And I think even you’d agree that by these standards classical music is indeed the most sophisticated music out there (except for the rhythm part, where Eastern music generally prevails over Western music). Now you may counter that Eno should be judged by different standards ’cause his music is about ambient texture and atmosphere (very broadly speaking), and you know what, you’d be right. Similarly, classical music would actually be considered bad by the standards of traditional folk music, where simplicity of technique and expression is a virtue. Every musical genre should be judged by its own standards. This is why I disputed your claim that Eno is more important than Purcell and Britten, and why I said Ella Fitzgerald is better than Ian Curtis in phrasing (by critical acclaim, which you seem to acknowledge), not that she was the better vocalist.

    I hope we can agree on at least some of these points. And just to end this discussion on a humorous note, let me repeat one of my previous questions: What do you think of Eno producing Coldplay’s latest album? I’m interested in what you have to say about that.

  361. What do you think of Eno producing Coldplay’s latest album? I’m interested in what you have to say about that.

    Smart move on his part. It will fund a lot of more interesting work in the future.

    John Sayles was the main screen writer for The Mummy…for similar reasons. Doesn’t bother me a bit.

    Here I was using the traditional definition of music: melody, harmony, rhythm, and form. And I think even you’d agree that by these standards classical music is indeed the most sophisticated music out there (except for the rhythm part, where Eastern music generally prevails over Western music

    Nah, I don’t agree. Even by those standards. There are folk musics in many cultures that match the best classical music in “sophistication.” And that ignores modern “non-classical” music of many genres that easily encompass the range of classical music along each of those parameters.

    Every musical genre should be judged by its own standards.

    Nah. Music is judged by the listener in the moment. The only standard that matters is the internal subjective experience of the audience. Anything else is just academic navel gazing.

    It is the activity of “judging” music in this way that is my main beef with your position. The attempt to rank and classify seems inherent in everything you are saying and I find it antithetical to music. Maybe this is just due to my formative years as a musician being forced to play in music competitions. The concept of music as sport always seemed ridiculous to me…

    I’m rather surprised by your assertion that technique is undefinable

    I didn’t say it was undefinable. I said that your statement was a tautology. It still is. Attempts to describe technique are attempts to define/describe the undefinable, which is the “artistry.” They answer a question: How’d did the artist pull off that artistry? But it is the artistry that comes first (and it is a interactive process involving both the output of the musician and the life-history of the listener). The attempts to set standards for or describe technique are secondary and academic. When artistry is achieved, the technique involved in the output side of this interaction may or may not conform to the artificial standards set for technique. It is the standards that are imperfect in this case, not the technique. The standards will need to be adjusted to capture the phenomenon they are trying to describe. But unless they take into account the listener’s history (and how could they, I can’t imagine), they will remain imperfect descriptors of the artistry.

    This is why I say critics and experts’ judgment should count extra in the realm of critical consensus: They critique music based not merely on opinions but also on their learning, observations and objective (impartial) assessment of the music in question. Of course any judgment is still in the end subjective, but I’d still argue that judgment is more “objective” than mere opinions.

    I think the word objective is not the right word here. If you want to say that a critic is able to make explicit what is left implicit to the non-expert I would agree with you. But that explicit opinion (judgment) is no more objective than the implicit reaction of the novice listener.

    The role of criticism, imho, is actually not about coming to consensus nor in any way distinguishing between good and bad music. It is about attempt to make explicit those aspects of the music that may remain implicit without the discussion. (You may say this is an attempt to make the subjective objective, but that is a project that will always fail).

    This process of explication can enhance the subjective experience of listeners who care to take part in the discussion, but it does not make the judgment of those in the discussion more valid than the judgment of those who decide to go with their gut.

    Like I said from the start. There was never animosity from my side of this discussion. And I am sure we, in real life, could have a long conversation about the music that we individually (and subjectively) find worthy. We’d certainly disagree about a lot of it. But I am sure we’d agree about a good deal.

    As long as you don’t try and convince me that The Beatles nor The Stones nor The Clash nor The Sex Pistols are somehow objectively better than their less well-known and less well critically acclaimed counterparts, I won’t try and knock you off your high horse. If you instead try and convince me why YOU like those acts, then I think we’d have a good discussion.

    I hope you take the time to read this response.

    Another act to check out (You may be familiar as this is more in your realm, I think): Stephen Scott

    http://www.coloradocollege.edu/Dept/MU/People-Scott.asp

  362. RE: I didn’t say it was undefinable.

    Okay, looking back I did use those exact words…but I didn’t intend to imply that technique was undefinable…in the sense that you couldn’t describe technique and set standards. I intended to highlight that the relationship between technique and artistry was not one of dependency. What is undefinable is “adequate technique.” Hopefully my second attempt was more clear.

  363. NM,

    (Not sure if you’ll get to read this post, but here goes.)

    This actually has been a pretty good discussion. I feel like we’ve covered enough ground for a short treatise here. The funny thing is, this back-and-forth could’ve been a lot shorter if I debated someone less knowledgeable. I could see you were an erudite guy so I assumed you’d naturally understand what I meant without me spelling it out. Too bad a good part of our discussion had to be wasted on talking past each other.

    Now a couple of points on your last comments?

    Of course there’s lots of music around the globe that can match or surpass classical music in each of the parameters. I guess the standards I used here are what some oxymoronically call “musical science”: counterpoint, formal models, etc. But I see that I made the very mistake of judging other musical genres by different standards that I warned against later in the same paragraph.

    (One amusing anecdote: I once played the Mozart Requiem to a friend who’s at best a casual classical listener. He got totally blown away and listened to pretty much nothing else but the requiem for weeks on end. And I thought I was an admirer? But I think he’s going thru the inevitable “Why the hell would you wanna listen to anything else?” phase? he’ll come to his senses eventually.)

    As for the technique/artistry issue, I guess we should’ve distinguished from the start between creation and execution. Obviously I’ve been more concerned with the latter, but let me deal with the creative aspect briefly. One may have brilliant musical ideas, but without education and training, which we may call craftsmanship (the creative counterpart of “technique”), he/she cannot express them in any communicable ways, hence no “art” or “artistry” (more on this later). Let me also note I’m presupposing the art or artistry of the creation in question.

    Back to execution. I actually agree that it’s impossible to define something like “adequate technique” to everyone’s satisfaction. But it’s also true that most of us can see, again, that not hitting a precise E occasionally is more “adequate” than hitting an A when aiming for a D all the time. Of course we rarely encounter a performance that bad, but in such cases we can both intuitively and rationally recognize the technique is “inadequate.” In more subtle cases there indeed would be more disagreement as to what constitutes “adequate technique,” but again I meant to establish not the proper confines of “adequate technique” but the necessary role technique itself plays in communicating the artistry of any creation, not to mention that of the execution itself.

    Which brings us to the even more elusive notion of “art” or “artistry.” Now this is a complex subject and we certainly could go on and on discussing what constitutes art, so instead of futile definitions I’ll just toss off a couple of examples. We all know the Moonlight Sonata (1st movement) is supposed to sound somber and reverberant, so if we heard it dispatched within two minutes, staccato throughout or without any use of the sustain pedal we’d reasonably say we just heard a poor performance. Similarly, metal fans would reasonably snigger when they heard Metallica’s “One” performed without anything but a voice as strong as a cat’s meow. We can make these judgments based on, as you said, our life-history and listening experience.

    But life-history and experience alone don’t explain how most of us somehow would agree that Joan Baez has a beautiful voice and Janis Joplin didn’t even if we didn’t know who they are. Nor do they explain how, again, we can see that the finalists on American Idol are somehow better performers than most of the earlier contestants even though they often perform songs in new arrangements that are alien to us. This suggests-not proves, but suggests-that most of us have an innate musicality that allows us to make these judgments intuitively. We cannot express such an intangible, but we can somehow feel it is there. I’d say that this intangible, along with our life-history and experience, allows us to appreciate “art” or “artistry.” And since we somehow find “Greensleeves” and Maria Callas superior to other comparable tunes and sopranos, respectively, I’d say that they are great art and possess great artistry. This definition won’t satisfy everyone, but just as we can feel love and detect love in others without knowing exactly what love is, I think we can appreciate and recognize art or artistry without a strict definition. And I think you and many others would understand what I mean with or without accepting my definition at face value.

    Now let me address the opinion/judgment issue, I didn’t mean to claim that critics’ judgment should count more than a non-expert’s just because they’re more able to “make explicit what is [generally] left implicit.” In fact any of us can exercise judgment as long as, like I said, we critique music based not merely on our own opinions but also on our learning, observations, life-history and experience (added), and objective/impartial assessment of the music in question. I say critics and experts’ judgment should count extra not just because they can explicate better than most others but also because they have more learning, life-history and listening experience. And I do think judgment is more “objective” (again, impartial) than mere opinions, but I’d grant that this may not be the best word choice (I’ll go with “impartial” then). But I don’t think “those who go with their gut” can really be said to exercise judgment, unless you meant to say they do their own explication without deferring to critics and other experts.

    And FWIW I actually agree that the main purpose of music criticism is to, again, make explicit the aspects of the music that may remain implicit to its readers. So why do I still insist on ranking and judging music? Well, like you said yourself it’s great entertainment. But seriously, we rank and judge music because life is short and there’s a lot more music than we can listen to in our lifetime. Even the very best artists produce a fair chunk of junk, so I don’t see anything wrong with heeding the current critical consensus and focusing on the good stuff first, at least among the well-known music. And if anything, distinguishing between the good and the bad among mainstream music gives us more time and opportunities to listen to the less-known, non-mainstream but worthy music like Edzayawa and Cathrin Pfeifer. Let me repeat that I don’t think critical consensus and popularity should be used to judge any music which the general public hasn’t had a chance to listen to and appreciate.

    Finally, I still gotta say every musical genre should be judged by its own standards. It’s fair to critically compare U2’s Achtung Baby with R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People not just because they both enjoy similar critical consensus and popularity but also because they’re music of the same (broadly speaking) genre. But it’d be absurd to compare either with, say, any Indian raga music: Not only are they of very different nature, the latter uses different scales (or modes) from those of Western music. (Of course, I wouldn’t object if one tried to compare, say, two Hindustani classical musicians of similar stature.) And like I said above I wouldn’t think it proper to critique rock or tango (antiguo, not nuevo) music by such “classical” standards as three-part counterpoint or the sonata form. You’re right that what eventually matters is the listener’s subjective experience, but critical consensus and popularity can still be used to judge and compare the quality of similarly known and acclaimed music in the same genre.

    I think that’s really it. Hopefully we can agree some more this time, and if not I hope you’ll at least understand why I hold my views and positions.

  364. Joan Baez has a beautiful voice and Janis Joplin didn’t

    Janis Joplin had an indisputably beautiful voice.
    Based on an impartial assessment, of course. Just look at the critical consensus and album sales.

    ;^)

    objective/impartial assessment of the music in question

    I still say that while you can describe music objectively along many parameters, once you are judging it/assessing it/placing value on it you are in the realm of the subjective. Any attempt to “objectively” value the music will fail.

  365. NM,

    Janis Joplin had an indisputably beautiful voice.
    Based on an impartial assessment, of course. Just look at the critical consensus and album sales.

    No offense, but I think that may well be your best response so far (on this thread).

    Seriously, though, Baez’s voice is a gift. One of the best I’ve heard.

    And yeah, “objective” is prolly not the best word to use ’cause people might interpret it in the most strict sense. Guess I’ll settle for “impartial” in later discussions.

    Again this was a good chat (if I can call it that). Here’s hoping that on later threads we’ll actually talk about music itself rather than this dry aesthetic stuff.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.