Tough love from Marc Cooper

Powell’s review-a-day reprints an Atlantic article with some pretty scathing criticism of that damnable George Lakoff book all the liberal kids are eating up. My own take from what I’ve read of Lakoff in articles & interviews is that he gets a lot right about in documenting how successful conservatives have been at framing the terms of political discourse in the country, but his counterstrategy is just about completely useless.

Anyway, I find myself in complete agreement with Cooper’s closing:

The trick of effective politics — as opposed to thinly disguised self-affirming psychotherapy and aesthetically gratifying rebel poses — is precisely to unite people with different views, values, and families around programs, candidates, and campaigns on which they can reach some consensus, however minimal. Before liberals and progressives dash out with their new vocabulary to try to convince others of the righteousness of their values, they might consider spending some time listening to others instead.

The article that changed the world

Great Guardian article:

It’s the fault of American author Mark Kurlansky. In 1999 he wrote a book that set off the fashion for what Waterstone’s categorises as “biographies of things”, called Cod: a biography of the fish that changed the world. But not only did Kurlansky start a new trend in subjects – he went on to write a follow-up called Salt, and is rumoured to be working on Chips – but he also began a new and metaphysically dubious trend in subtitles.

Now each new biography of a thing thrusts itself on the reader with the justification that it was so vitally important that it transformed the planet. The style, “X: the [thing] that changed the world”, is now entrenched throughout the land.

Yes, yes, yes. Right on!


It was beautiful today, one of those days where all anybody can do is talk about about how beautiful it is.

When I got home from work, Terri & I took a walk, and ended up over on the Tufts campus just after sunset. We walked up to the library roof, and caught the awesome view of the Boston skyline. The lights in a line in the sky are planes headed into Logan.
boston skyline

blueAlso of note, Terri’s been taking some interesting photos for her photo class. (Note: not all in the set are for the class, just the most recent ones).

The Charlie Parker of the recorder

There’s this guy that plays the recorder in the Harvard and Central T stations. He is, uh, very much in a world of his own. He’ll mumble introductions to songs as if he’s addressing a vast audience. He’ll then proceed to blows tunelessly into the recorder.

But sometimes. Sometimes. You’ll catch a fragment of something he’s playing. And it’s totally brilliant. You’ll realize that the music has some really interesting shape, that he’s repeating things he played a few minutes ago. And it always makes me wonder if he’s really usually blowing tunelessly into the recorder, or that he’s actually just tapped into something that the rest of us aren’t quite ready for.

I haven’t seen him in a long time, so when I saw him at Central the other day, I snapped some pictures.

charlie parker of the recordercharlie parker of the recordercharlie parker of the recorder
charlie parker of the recordercharlie parker of the recordercharlie parker of the recorder

Are you ready for some baseball?

It’s opening night.

We have assumed the baseball positions, with Terri knitting and me blogging.

I have nothing intelligent to say about the actual game that hasn’t been said already, so I’ll point out that I’m happy to see that Don Orsillo has taken over play-by-play from Sean McDonough on UPN. I know people might like McDonough, but I find him insufferable.

Hawks for hybrids

The Salon war room reports that

In an open letter to the President on Monday, such unlikely Prius advocates as former CIA director James Woolsey, Reagan administration national security advisor Robert C. (Bud) McFarlane, and Center for Security Policy head and Reagan-era Defense Department official Frank Gaffney, asked that the Bush administration pledge $1 billion over the next five years for hybrid technology research.


Boing Boing points out a nice Eno quote from an old interview: “The advantage the popular arts have is that they are not ideologically proud.”

I also meant to post a link to Eno’s talk at a Long Now seminar a few months ago. But now that I’ve started to think in 10,000 year spans, who cares about a few measly months? Seriously, it’s kind of an interesting project. Some of the mid-90′s Wired-magazine-esque wankerdom can get a little self-important and overinflated, but I’m definitely attracted to something that aims to shake modern people out of their temporal myopia and chronic amnesia. It’s the same impulse that led me to that ol’ history degree.

Pope Yes!

I have no special feeling for the pontiff, but I am actually pretty happy that the pope managed to hang on until midnight.

You see, a friend’s stepdad has this schtick about calling the fried chicken chain “Popeyes” “Pope Yes”. They’re basically spelled the same way, just with an extra space, and the type on the logo has a very pronounced “y”. So I have a long-running schtick with him and his wife about opening a fast food chain that serves chicken and has a pope theme (e.g., hands out miters to kids instead of crowns).

So, what with Frank Perdue dying today, and the pope receiving last rites, if both died in the same day, I was taking it as a sign from God to quit my job and start this chicken chain. But really, i don’t want a chicken chain, so I was happy he hung on until after midnight. Though, as Amy pointed out during dinner, it was already past midnight in popeland, so I’ve been out of the woods for several hours. A happy serendipitous series of events led to our having dinner with Amy & Doug at the West Side Lounge tonight, which was lovely. Now cats are scratching, and I’m drooping.