Pat Metheny – Cherish


If you were alive in the late sixties, you probably heard The Association’s “Cherish” literally hundreds of times on the radio, to the point of absolute numbness. Pat Metheny’s genius is that he can take such a worn out song and expose the beauty that is still (and always was) hidden just beneath its conventional surface. On his latest album, What’s It All About?, Metheny repeats the magic on a number of tunes that boomers will remember as part of the soundtrack to their first kisses (or dreams of them). It’s not among his very best work, but for nostalgic boomers, it more than satisfies. Here’s a performance of Cherish-

All The Way From China


A few days ago, I bought a cute little recharging dock for my iPhone. It cost $29.00; the shipping came to $4.00. Here’s an image of it-

A few hours after completing the transaction, I received an email from Apple telling me that my dock was on its way, along with a tracking number. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the number and discovered that the unit had been placed on a flight out of a little town near Hong Kong, and that I would have it in a few days.

This got me thinking about the global economy. You’d think that it would be worthwhile for Apple to locate a factory in, say, Tennessee, and make such relatively low-tech doodads there. After all, they clearly don’t require a lot of labor to produce. At the very least, you’d think it would be worthwhile to stockpile a few thousand of these things in a warehouse at some central location – maybe Topeka, KS – and ship them to U.S. customers out of there. But no, it turns out that it’s cheaper to make these things in China and ship them to lone customers such as myself literally halfway around the world.

Wasn’t it Groucho who said that “If capital is international, so must be labor”? Or was it that other Marx brother?

Hopper’s Whopper


I never watch political ads on t.v., mainly because I never watch any ads – I record all the shows I watch on my DVR, and fast-forward through the ads. I save many, many hours of my life over the course of a month by doing this. So I haven’t personally seen the ad to which this Oshkosh Northwestern editorial refers, but I think it is notable that such a centrist newspaper has called out Randy Hopper, the incumbent Republican State Senator, for literally lying about his Democratic opponent, Jessica King, in his recent ad-

When does a political ad stretch and twist the truth so blatantly that it crosses the line into an outright lie? It is not always apparent in the sea of asterisks and other official explanations used to support the conclusion that a candidate’s opponent does not support motherhood or the flag.

Yet even if voters expect hyperbole and leaps of logic when a distorted image appears on a TV screen, they don’t expect to see the complete disregard for the basic facts found in an ad paid for by State Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Empire.

The last segment of the ad accuses Jessica King, his Democratic recall opponent in the 18th Senate district, of supporting a pay raise while she served on the Common Council. Not only is that false, she in fact, voted against the ordinance raising the pay for council members and the mayor in 2008, the ad uses distorted math to arrive at a purported percentage of 63 percent that she increased her own pay.

Hooper’s whopper strains his credibility on three counts: Saying King supported a pay raise she voted “no” on, using fuzzy math for a gotcha percentage and taking a logical nose dive that a her vote in favor of the city budget is an indication of support for a pay raise.

Did I mention that the recall election is in two weeks? 14 days? 336 hours?

The Problem With Open Primaries


Well, the first round of the wasteful 2011 Wisconsin primary elections are over, and, unsurprisingly, the real democrats beat the fake democrats nominated by Republicans to slow down the recall process. Here are the results, as reported by

As you can see, the real Democrats won handily. But… what about all those votes for the fake candidates? I figure that they must fall into one of two categories-

(1) Republicans seeking to undermine the primary process, or at least to protest the very idea of a recall election in present circumstances.

(2) Democrats that are so uninformed they don’t know they are voting for fake candidates.

Let’s take (1) first. The Republicans who nominated the fake Democrats got what they wanted: a delay in the general election. Why would they go on to actually vote for the fake Democrat? No doubt, to express their displeasure at the audacity of those who want a recall election to begin with. But here’s the rub: what if they actually won? Notice that in District 10, only about 10 percentage points separated the two candidates. If, due to Democratic voter apathy (or simply their ignorance of the danger), the fake Democrat had actually won, that would have undermined the electoral process; after all, a primary election is supposed to allow a party to pick its candidate. If the fake Democrat had won, this would have undermined not only the Democratic Party; it would have undermined democracy itself (and by the way, these same points apply to the upcoming primaries involving the fake Republicans that were nominated in response to the nomination of the fake Democrats – I hope that Democrats won’t vote in those elections). I understand the impulse to cast a protest vote, and Republicans will have a fair chance to have their voices heard on general election day, but we just witnessed the problem with open primaries (i.e., those in which members of one party can cast a vote for a candidate of another party): they invite anti-democratic, ultimately anti-American consequences.

As for (2)… well, let’s just hope that few votes fell into that category.

Wisconsin Recall Election Dates


Are you wondering if there is both a (fake) primary and a general election in your district, and just when they might be? Although I consider myself fairly well-informed, I wasn’t sure what the answers to these questions were until today. Here are a couple of helpful sites: somewhat buried on the Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board’s web site is finally a list of who is running where and when. Then there’s an interactive map on the “onpolitix” site (“powered by FOX11”, of all people) that is actually quite helpful, at least regarding the elections to take place in northeast Wisconsin. You click on the blue or red areas of the map to see who is running in the upcoming “primaries”. When I click on my home town of Oshkosh, here’s what pops up:

Notice the “No Photo Available” icon for John D. Buckstaff, the dishonest (other adjectives come to mind, but this is a family blog) Republican-running-as-a-Democrat who at best is delaying the general election and at worst is trying to sow confusion among the voters. It’s not surprising that he and all the other fake candidates are reluctant to show their faces (although the Republicans obviously deserve more blame for having instigated the tactic in this election cycle).

They Came To Play


Alex Rotaru’s 2008 documentary, They Came To Play, is well worth a watch, especially if you love classical piano. The film follows several competitors through the annual Van Cliburn competition for (dedicated) amateurs, and it’s quite inspiring in its own quirky way. If you don’t love this genre of music, no need to worry – the concert footage has been cut to (quite impressive) snippets of no more than a minute or two. Although Rotaru clearly appreciates the artistry of the pianists, he’s far more interested in their rich, non-musical lives. Each one is an entertaining character. Ultimately, the film is an ode to the making (or appreciation) of art for art’s sake, and the joy (or horror) of competition for competition’s sake. We found it streaming on NetFlix. Here’s the trailer-