Saturday, August 04, 2007

Look For the Good in Others and They'll See the Good in You

Again, aimless drifting around YouTube turned up a video for one of my all-time, Top Ten favorite songs, Look For the Good in Others and They'll See the Good in You by New Zealand band The Chills. This video is from the late Eighties and features one of the band's best line-ups. I got to see them here in Memphis around 1990, when they played the Antenna. One of my most favorite shows. The sound is a bit light on the keyboards, which add a carnival midway feel to the song. But it's an energetic, speedy performance that's completely winning.

Because you asked nicely and I like y'all so much, here are the lyrics:

I used to be in love but that is long since through.
You know we used to be one living thing, now we're back to two.
Oh, I was driven for a while, now I know it's true:
Look for the good in others and they'll see the good in you.
Fa fa fa faaaaa.

I used to look for too much in the people that we are.
You know we used to have a reason for doing things the way we do.
Sorrow's my reward 'cause I'm unhappy with me too.
I've learned that I am me and me is not the same as you.
Fa fa fa faaaaa.

Last week just for a while, I thought I'd found someone at last.
The woman in my future was a child from my past.
Oh that was cruel of fate to give me hope -- first time in two years!
But I've learned just who my friends are and no one really cares.

I trade away my loving soul; filled me with despair.
The dreams they all seem pointless and the talent cupboard bare.
Through all this there's still one thing, sometimes sets me free:
How it's good to be an adult and still believe the child in me, ohhhh --
Fa fa fa faaaaa.

Probably three of the most transcendent minutes I'll ever know in this life. You can hear echoes of the Buzzcocks and the Beach Boys there, with a wonderful South Pacific breeziness.

And then, this murder song with a chilling twist, Pink Frost. It's the first time I've ever seen this appropriately atmospheric video.

There are plenty more links available to more Chills music. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Random Web Comment of the Day

i love this song it reminds me when me and my boyfriend first met this song was on weve been together 3 mnths on sunday x
Sigh... teenagers.

From the comments to a video posted to YouTube. (Poison by Alice Cooper, if you must know. Don't laugh!)

INSTANT UPDATE: While digging up Alice, I ran across the video to Elected, from the mid-Seventies. Gotta love the YouTube. And the song seems appropriate to the season here in Memphis.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Faces to Names

Earlier tonight, I was at a meeting here in Midtown and got to talking with a guy named Roy. I mentioned my name and starting to say, "I'm with Main Street-- " when he jumped in with, "Half-Bakered!" Turns out he is The Gates of Memphis!

Small world here in Midtown, indeed. We seem to be infested with bloggers. I was in Otherlands a month or so ago and as I was walking out, there was Paul Ryburn!

Actually, I guess I should say Memphis is infested with bloggers. At last month's Dutch Treat Luncheon, the moderator asked how many in the crowd were bloggers and I think about a dozen hands went up. Wow.

Roy and I talked of this, that and the other. Turns out we share a mutual skepticism of the whole "Creative Class" concept, but for differing reasons. I really like Roy's blog, though I don't read it often enough. We also have a mutual love of the history of this city, something I like about his blog. Anyway, he turned out to be a thoughful and intelligent person, surprise, surprise.

As always, it's nice to put faces to the bloggers of Memphis.
Better News Than the Paper!

Lots and lots of news about closing and opening businesses in this thread on the Goner Records board. Seems there's a flurry of activity in my little area of Midtown of late.

The info about "Hung" of Pho Hoa Binh is amusing to me, as on my block (right around the corner!) it's widely assumed he's the big drug kingpin for the crack dealers in the area. I've heard this several times now from a variety of people. We see him all the time just walking the block, watching everything that's going on. Sometimes he'll wander back into the apartments and just stand there., looking around and watching Sometimes he'll just stand on the corner (Monroe & Avalon) for hours, watching the street. He never speaks to anyone.

I'm sorry to hear about the closing of PHB, as they make a killer curry-potato soup. The first time I ate there, I was halfway into a plate of the lunch buffet before I realised it was tofu!

Link via Mixmaster Mark.
Neologism of the Day

Frenemy: A conflation of friend and enemy. Derived from the Sun Tzu maxim: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Implies a false veneer of friendship over a watchful, distrusting actuality.

First heard: Kyle XY. (More on Kyle XY another day.)
The Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty

Via Instapundit, comes an intructory essay on a legal and constitutional principle called The Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty. Basically, it's the idea that courts (and especially the Supreme Court) are and operate as anti-majority anomalies within a constitutional system. It's a very short essay but it launches a lot of deep thinking on a vital issue.

One corrolary issue with courts is the anti-democratic idea of serving for life. Yours truly is a deep appreciator of the basic democratic impulse of our constitutional representative republic. (That's what we are, and not a democracy. It's a very important distinction to make and one most folks just can't quite grasp.) Responsiveness to the will of the people is very important to our form of government. By definition, a judge appointed for life becomes unresponsive to the people as he's increasingly shielded from them politically.

When our Republic was launched, it wasn't quite such a problem, as people just didn't live that long and politicians tended to appoint older men to the job. But as science has progressed, it's not at all unlikely for someone to serve forty years or more. That's just too long.

I support the idea of making high judicial terms of office. Say twenty years, then the person must step down and someone new appointed; no re-appointment. Or twenty years and then a simple up-or-down vote on retention. Tennessee does this with some judges and if you remember the last election, it led to a huge roster of judges needing reconfirmation. So, there's downside, or an place to rethink who and how many and how.

There's also the idea of judicial review. That's where the Supreme Court usurped the role of arbiter of constitutionality. The very first Supreme Court announced it would (and did) review the constitutionality of any laws passed by Congress that came before it. And it's been that way every since, unchallenged.

The Founders didn't give the Supreme Court that power, but almost all of them were alive when it happened and don't seem to have been seriously angered by it. There's a good argument for its check-and-balance role in a constitutional system but it also works to remove the Supreme Court from the rest of the interlocking roles of the Executive and Legislative branches.

Quick question (and one of my favorite bar challenges): what is the center of power of the US constitutional system of government? You'd be surprised how many say, "The President." That's horrifying to me, as it's evidence of latent authoritarianism and willingness to submit to a king. (Yeah, I worry about such things.) The President was never meant to be more than the executor of the will of Congress, slightly removed so that the blunt force of Congressional power could be hamstrung just a bit for the protection of the People.

No, the correct answer is the House of Representatives! Yep, the lowly House. It's members are all put up for election every two years, so turnover is (at least in theory) guaranteed and responsiveness to the will of the people is increased. Look at the important powers vested solely in it. (Go ahead, read for yourself. It's your government, you ought to know how it works.)

The Senate exists as a brake on the volcanic, protean power of the House. Its job is to slow down and even stop the actions of the House so that passions can cool and clearer heads get a look in. Same for the President. By having him separate, the actions of the House are once again blunted and a level of difficulty in unified action introduced.

The Founders were strong believers in democratic principles. In some ways much more than we are today. But they also realised that the people are also very emotional and quick to action. Something must happened to give reason a chance to enter the discussion meaningfully. (Because those guys were all devotees and student of ... The Age of Reason! How 'bout that?)

So having the Supreme Court (and other courts in imitation) set itself aside, and having judges hold themselves apart, tends to break our system in ways that we have to deal with today.

Anyway. This post is nearly as long as the essay now. Go read it and think about this today. No exam, but we'll discuss it further one day soon.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lincoln: Conservative, Radical, Revolutionary

Very absorbing essay from James Livingston on Lincoln the Revolutionary. He argues that Lincoln's strictly conservative reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as regards the proposition that "all men are created equal" and that slavery is guaranteed in those states that already have it, came to a clash in his belief that slavery be stopped from spreading and strenously contained to only those areas of the nation where it existed.

Some quotes:
Here he spoke the language of radicalism: "Equal justice to the south, it is said, requires us to consent to the extending of slavery to new countries. That is to say, inasmuch as you do not object to my taking my hog to Nebraska, therefore, I must not object to you taking your slave. Now, I admit this is perfectly logical, if there is no difference between hogs and negroes. . . .But if the negro is a man, is it not to that extent, a total destruction of self-government, to say that he too shall not govern himself? If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that `all men are created equal,' and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another."
But Republican Party leaders and ideologues, most notably Salmon P. Chase, founding father of the Free Soil Party, and Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, seized on this rift in the Democratic Party to promote Douglas as their perfect presidential nominee in 1860: he was the Western moderate who would carry Illinois and Indiana and maybe even Buchanan's home state of Pennsylvania.

Chase and Greeley were the mainstream of the Republican Party in 1858. They weren't interested in questions of equality between black and white folk, and they avoided the moral issues that slavery presented because they knew that the sanctimony of the abolitionists got them nowhere with voters. Like most adherents of the Republican Party, they were ideological descendents of the Free Soil Party of 1848, which proposed to limit the spread of slavery and to limit the influence of Southern Democrats in the Congress. In their view, the prospect of Douglas as the Republican nominee had no drawbacks.
Such political calculations sound familiar, do they not? And the descriptions of the parties' views?
This blending of radicalism and conservatism made Lincoln a revolutionary, perhaps even a revolutionary despot on the order of Cromwell, Robespierre, Lenin, and Mao. He did carefully observe constitutional scruple in defining the Emancipation Proclamation as a necessary war measure in his capacity as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States" (notice: not of the people as such). But that proclamation made the end of slavery the condition of Southern re-entry into the Union and revoked the possibility that, short of Confederate victory, slavery could be restored or salvaged by some compromise between North and South. It also enabled total war against the South-that is, war against the civilian population-and begged the slaves to enlarge their "General Strike" by fleeing to Union lines.

Moreover, before the war commenced, Lincoln had dispersed the pro-secessionist Missouri state legislature at gunpoint; had placed Baltimore and Maryland under martial law; and had guaranteed an anti-secessionist vote in Kentucky by smuggling guns to pro-Union forces and stationing Union troops at the polls. By the time the war closed, Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeus corpus throughout the North.

He had also used the Union Army to suspend the publication of 60 anti-war periodicals; to jail at least 80 pro-Democrat editors on the eve of elections; to keep a Republican majority in the House in 1862 by suppressing Democratic turnout in the border states, including Delaware; and to prevent the election of an anti-war "Copperhead," Clement Vallandigham, in the Ohio gubernatorial race of 1863, by court-martialing him.
Kinda puts the bleatings of modern Democrats about George Bush into perspective, yes? Can you imagine him trying to exile Cindy Sheehan to Canada, as Lincoln did with Vallandigham?

Like I said, a thought-provoking essay with good lessons for us today. Well worth the time to read.