31 January, 2009

Good news

Doesn't make headlines as they say. But this is unequivocally good news: Samantha Power is getting a senior staff position at the National Security Council. For those who don't know what the NSC is/does (and I didn't before I took a class on it...), the NSC is the most elite foreign policy-making group in the White House. It consists of the President's cabinet as well as specially designated Senior Advisers, and it is the principle forum in which Presidents hash out foreign policy decisions. Thus, who serves in the NSC will tell you a lot about what kind of thinking is getting directly to Obama on daily basis. And Power is both brilliant and, more importantly, creative. As Spencer Ackerman says, "If you want someone who refuses to accept the facile boundaries of stale foreign policy debates, you hire Power."

Here are her writings: "A Problem from Hell", on the problem of genocide in foreign policy, and "Chasing the Flame", a history of the UN as told through the story of one of its most intrepid diplomats.

Also, she's Irish.

Also, she has a blog!

30 January, 2009

mah kitteh


Create Your Own Sea Kitten at peta.org!

Olmert: War crime now official Israeli policy

Today Israeli PM Ehud Olmert announced that his nation will respond aggressively to further provocations from the Gaza Strip. Fine: in an counter-insurgency mission (which is basically what Gaza was supposed to be) gross overreaction is strategic blunder 101, and its unfortunate for Israel that its leaders insist on digging larger and larger holes to crawl out of, but that's Olmert's decision to make.

Then he said, by way of clarification, clearly and in quotes, that such response would be "severe and disproportionate". Olmert is literally declaring ahead of time that a preconceived and planned military operation authorized directly by him personally will have as a purposeful feature the direct violation of one of the most basic rules of waging war. And besides proportionality, this is also clearly a reference to a purposeful policy of collective punishment, an equally serious offense. I know its anti-semitic and unserious to say so too loudly, but Olmert is a confessed war criminal and he's admitting that Israeli military policy intentionally consists of massive war crimes. But it has to be said. This kind of thing obviously doesn't do the peace process any good but it also doesn't do Israel any good. US policy needs to save Israel from itself here by showing some tough love.

A Kompetition Entree...I mean entry...


Create Your Own Sea Kitten at peta.org!

This is a clear winner, because of its many obviously kitteh-like qualities.

I mean, just look at the string!

More of a Sea Puppy


Sea Kitten Kompetition, Entry 2

While Eremita's Sea Kitten is "cute", it is I that has devised perhaps the most delicious and illicit of all Sea Kitten meats: a delectable combination of royalty, fantasy, and African Elephant Kittens.


Create Your Own Sea Kitten at peta.org!

"No one would hurt a sea kitten!"


Create Your Own Sea Kitten at peta.org!


Sea kitten (aka first cuteness defense against omnivores), by Eremita.

29 January, 2009

PETA does...something right?


I'm someone who is pretty skeptical of PETA even though I'm marginally sympathetic to their cause. By that I mean that I am in general concerned about egregious, wide-spread abuse of animals and convinced of the need for a much less meat-centric diet/ food economy, but I also 1) do not think that omnivorism per se constitutes cruelty to animals, 2) don't think that animal rights would clock in anywhere near the top public policy priorities even if I did, and 3) it seems to me that PETA's media strategies are usually pretty counterproductive and mockable. Like, really? Sea-kittens?

But with this sexy new ad, I think the animals-are-people-too crowd has done itself some good. First of all, they cleverly maximized their impact by, it seems, purposely submitting an ad to the Super Bowl ad committee that was going to be judged too racy for prime time - however, the rejection has catapulted the ad campaign into the consciousness of the MSM (as well as YouTube) far better and much more cheaply than had the ad actually ran.

Equally importantly, though, the whole tone is way better. First of all, this ad makes you laugh with, rather than at (see: Sea Kittens) PETA. Liberals in general and environmental/animal rights activists in particular have a reputation for being humorless scolds who want to stamp out all that is good in life. And its true in one respect - activist groups spend far more time yelling at people about what they shouldn't do (like the PETA activists in my neighborhood who dress in creepy bunny suits and yell at all the little old ladies wearing fur coats...) and not nearly enough time pushing a positive, persuasive vision of why life is a lot better with more asparagus (which it is!) or whatever.

Not that I think that PETA is going to change many people's minds going forward - but just wanted to note that having gorgeous women rubbing your argument all over their bodies is a much better direction to be going in.

New in the world of Zombie Apocalypses!


Has the world gone mad?

This appeared on the morning news (don't ask why I was watching FOX), and I thought, "Oh God, it's really happening. At least all my preparation will pay off."

Apparently, in the wee hours of January 19th, someone hacked a portable sign in Texas, causing it to flash "Zombies Ahead!" "Head for cold climates" "The end is near!" Pretty funny, actually--but according to Chris Lippincott of the Texas DoT, "not at all helpful."

It's things like this that give me flashbacks to that super-old Angelina Jolie movie, "Hackers," and make me want to run wantonly through the streets shouting "Hack the Planet!!"

23 January, 2009

Why not close Guantanamo?


In the comments section of the last post, Cassady wonders "what does it really matter if they [detainees] are in the country proper or in Guantanamo?" and challenges anyone to provide a defense of Camp X-Ray.

The reason it mattered whether or not the prisoners were on US soil or in Guantanamo was that the Cuban prison served as a legal netherworld. Prisoners there weren't subject to US laws and legal constraints, so the argument went, and neither were they subject to Cuban laws, since Cuba has no jurisdiction over the base in the terms of the original treaty. Thus, legally, the detainees didn't exist.

This was a nice idea until the Supreme Court ruled that in fact detainees in US custody did possess certain basic legal rights such as the right to challenge their detention in American courts. Once that ruling occurred, there really was no logic to Guantanamo: we got all the bad things associated with it (damage to our image, recruiting tool for extremists, etc) and none of the "good" (indefinite detention subject to no laws of any country). At the end, even Bush realized this and said the base should be closed.

Spencer's point that by closing Gitmo we may be releasing people who wish us harm back into society is exactly the one that people like John Cornyn are arguing. Call it the Willy Horton argument: do you want Khaled Sheik Mohammed to be released into your home town?

Which I guess is a reasonable enough concern, in theory. But in practice, the reason why KSM poses such a conundrum is because all the legitimate evidence we have against him (which I understand is copious) is basically worthless in a real judicial system because the man was tortured and the evidence obtained under duress. One should note that there is a difference here between the right to torture and the right to detain indefinitely. Torture is never acceptable and usually counterproductive. Indefinite detention, however, is a mainstay of war - prisoners of war, under the Geneva Conventions, do not need to be tried by any court. They do, however, need to be treated with a certain standard of decency.

Bush, of course, defended the mistreatment of prisoners on the grounds that they were not traditional prisoners of war. But there is a obvious compromise that both upholds our values and maintains the flexibility we need to keep those like KSM from being released onto the streets: define those captured in the fight against terrorism as prisoners of war, meaning that we at once eschew the use of torture (which is ineffective in intelligence gathering) and maintain the right to indefinite detention. This being fully consistent with US and international law, there is no need for legal netherworlds such as Guantanamo or shadowy CIA renditions.

There are two points against this that I can think of. The first is that while such a system would be fine going forward, it is still the case that we have in our custody people like KSM whom we have tortured and whom we thus probably have no legal right to keep in detention. The second is that keeping people as prisoners of war necesitates that we are at war as declared by Congress (which we aren't) and that at some point, there will be a recognized end to the hostilities (or at least, such has been the case up until now). The first I feel like we can get around through legal maneuvering and appeals to our allies to take released detainees into their countries. The second is much more profound - are we at war? if so, how will we know that it has ended? - and gets to the heart of the challenge terrorism poses to open societies. Do we fight it as we would a criminal conspiracy, with police actions? - in which case, I don't see how we detain suspects at all, since evidence is usually circumstantial at best. Or do we fight it as a war, even though such a war would have no discernable end-point? I really have no good answer to that question.

22 January, 2009

Change!


Obama's first days have been busy:

For all the talk about Obama not governing as a progressive, take a look at his first not-even-48 hours in office. He's suspended the Guantanamo Bay military commissions, a first step toward shuttering the entire detention complex. He's assembled his military commanders to discuss troop withdrawals from Iraq. He's issued a far-reaching order on transparency in his administration that mandates, among other things, a two-year ban on any ex-lobbyists working on issues they lobbied for. And now he's shutting down the CIA's off-the-books detention complexes in the war on terrorism.

As Yglesias mentioned, Obama's new pay ceilings for White House staff are at best a political gimmick and at worst a disincentive for retaining the most qualified public servants. But the rest is consequential, it goes further already than many (at least in Washington) were expecting, and I think it signals Obama's intention for bold movement right off the bat. All good things.

19 January, 2009

Finally, America's got swagger... we're cool now.

Oprah is filming from D.C. this week because of Obama's inauguration. All the famous people with her had lots of great things to say about the force that MLK had put in motion to get us to that dreamy day tomorrow, as well as the force we can put in motion today for the coming years.

Will.i.am has teamed up with music producer David Foster to create America's Song. Included in the performance is Faith Hill, Bono, Seal and Mary J. Bilge. Oprah's website has the download available for free until 5 tomorrow. Enjoy!



p.s. the title is the statement Justin Timberlake made when Obama was elected...or at least what he was feeling.

I don't see the resemblance...or do I?


Heard on MSNBC this morning: Analyst refers to Obama being the Dr. Huxtable of the nation. That's it. No real explanation.

However, having recently received all 8 historic seasons of the Cosby Show in one glorious boxed set, I'm beginning to see some similarities, and much like Cliff's feel-good antics, it makes me giggle a bit.

Bill Cosby said of his long-running sitcom that he just wanted to make a show where the parents had taken the home back. Some of you will remember such quips as, "I want you to go upstairs...and kill that boy," or "Chocolate cake! This is HEALTH FOOD!"

Could Obama be just what the doctor ordered? A family man who takes the lessons of child-rearing to Washington and turns political turmoil into easily resolvable half-hour segments with an enjoyable laugh track to bring the viewers at home closer to the action?

I, for one, relish the thought.



15 January, 2009

Some people got the right idea...

Sweatshops are a symptom, not a cause...

This point has been made before, but I am glad to see Nick Kristof devote a column to it:

Before Barack Obama and his team act on their talk about “labor standards,” I’d like to offer them a tour of the vast garbage dump here in Phnom Penh.

This is a Dante-like vision of hell. It’s a mountain of festering refuse, a half-hour hike across, emitting clouds of smoke from subterranean fires.

The miasma of toxic stink leaves you gasping, breezes batter you with filth, and even the rats look forlorn. Then the smoke parts and you come across a child ambling barefoot, searching for old plastic cups that recyclers will buy for five cents a pound. Many families actually live in shacks on this smoking garbage.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats who favor labor standards in trade agreements mean well, for they intend to fight back at oppressive sweatshops abroad. But while it shocks Americans to hear it, the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don’t exploit enough.

Talk to these families in the dump, and a job in a sweatshop is a cherished dream, an escalator out of poverty, the kind of gauzy if probably unrealistic ambition that parents everywhere often have for their children.

13 January, 2009

Adversarial journalism: con

Here is hilarious video of Joe the Plumber reporting from near the Israeli-Gaza border. Can't seem to find the embed, but click through to watch as Joe valiantly stands up to the virulent pro-Hamas reporters. Only, they're Israelis! Oops!

(h/t TNC)

Yglesias/Douthat



On the true story behind the "hi-jacking" of Yglesias' blog, Elliot's concept of adversarial journalism, and some about Gaza.

12 January, 2009

Cities Make You Dumb?

According to a new psychology study:

Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it’s long been recognized that city life is exhausting—that’s why Picasso left Paris—this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so. “The mind is a limited machine,” says Marc Berman, a psychologist at the University of Michigan and lead author of a new study that measured the cognitive deficits caused by a short urban walk. “And we’re beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations.”
Here is the full article in the Globe; I found it very interesting.

Suppose it is the case that living in a city makes true reflective thinking more difficult. Yet cities have been the nexus of intellectualism and innovation since Socrates roamed the streets of Athens. Most elite universities are located in or near large cities as are other centers of thought, major media outlets, think tanks, political institutions, etc. It's the fact that so many thinkers are clustered together that make cities so effective at producing knowledge. The interactions are what's important, not the brainpower of any particular person.

I'd also connect this with Malcolm Gladwell's thesis in Outliers that cognitive brilliance isn't a necessary or sufficient condition for success. Rather, it's hard work and taking advantage of opportunities. Cities provide those opportunities plentifully. I think our culture has a lot of romantic notions about solitary geniuses who discover deep and mysterious truths, but these notions should be disabused. Most progress in knowledge comes from a lot of people working very hard together over a long period of time.

11 January, 2009

Voting Stuff...


In the theme of recent posts, here's a graph of Obama's vote share vs. turnout and a quadratic fit to the data with a 90% confidence interval. What I thought was interesting was that the peak of turnout was not in the states that were split evenly, which is what you might expect if voters with the best shot of affecting the election are more likely to vote. But the maximum predicted turnout actually occurs at 55.5%.

More Voter Turnout Stats

Some more voter statistics - basically the hodge-podge of the stats I found most interesting, check out the links for more.

From nonprofitvote.org (using US Election Project):

Voter turnout by state:
Massachusetts 3,060,000 of 4,621,954 eligible voters = 66.2%. 4.1% increase from 2004
Pennsylvania 5,950,000 of 9,376,750 eligible voters = 63.5%. 1.0% increase from 2004
Virginia 3,725,000 of 5,508,834 eligible voters = 67.6%. 9.9% increase from 2004
Wisconsin 2,970,000 of 4,115,502 eligible voters = 72.2%. 5.9% decrease from 2004
Highest % voter turnout? Minnesota with 77.9% (w00t)
Highest % increase from 2004? North Carolina with 11.4%


From CNN Exit Poll: Voter Support by Income

Obama's support is greater among:
Under $15,000
$15-30,000
$30-50,000
$75-100,000
and
$200,000 or More

McCain's support is greater among:
$50-75,000
$100-150,000
$150-200,000

Making politics sexy again

Now that the size and shape of Obama's package and the extent to which it will be able to stimulate is on everyone's mind, this video deserves a replay:

Youth Voter Turnout 2008



I thought I would compile some early statistics on the youth vote in 2008. The increase is promising, but not the monumental kind of shift I was hoping for. It doesn't seem likely that we'll see a better youth turnout in future elections... I can't imagine that a more appealing candidate will appear, although perhaps youth voter turnout would increase if something pretty major and of direct youth concern, like a draft, were to happen.

From The Center for Information & Research on Civil Learning and Engagement (Tufts U, data from NEP):

2008 Youth (18-29) is estimated at 23 million or 52% of eligible youth voters. This is up 3.4 million or 4 points from 2004. Overall voter turnout in 2008 was 61.5% of eligible voters; with youth voters comprising about 18% of total voters, up from 17% in 2004 (nonprofitvote.org).

68% of youth voters supported Obama, significantly higher than the 45% who identify as Democrats. Initially I suspected this might be because youth are more likely than older voters to identify as Independents while maintaining a strictly Democratic voting record. Interestingly, only approximately 38% of older voters identify as Democrats. Support for Obama among older voters totaled 52% for 30-44 year olds, 49% for 45-59, and 47% for 60+.

Youth support for Obama was surprisingly evenly distributed over levels of education - between 63-68% support for Obama for all levels. In contrast, the general population showed more significant differences in education as correlated with support for Obama:
(CNN Exit Poll)
No HS - 63%; HS Grad - 52%, Some College - 51%; College Grad - 50%, Post-Grad - 58%

Youth votes. Discuss.

10 January, 2009

Frost/Nixon


Went and saw Frost/Nixon last night. I didn't read any reviews before I went, but now that I look around a bit, I see that there is some controversy over the movie's interpretation of the historical record. Or rather, its complete inversion of the premise of the interviews. (Spoiler alert!) While Frost is portrayed as forcing Nixon to concede that he engaged in a criminal conspiracy and then apologize to the American people for it, it appears that what actually happened was more along the lines of a premeditated choice on the part of Nixon that he would make a sort of public apology - and in the actual interviews, he never did admit to anything more than "mistakes".

So there's that. And that's important to know. But I think a more interesting part of the movie is of a rather different order and more-or-less untouched by the above convenient fiction. Namely, that the invention of the story of Frost as Nixon's antagonist - who, in the words of one of the characters, is using the interviews to get a "conviction" - makes sense and resonates because that intense desire for a conviction, an admission, for some sort of closure, actually existed for a huge number of people. Nixon's abuses really seemed to cause a national trauma, a tear in the fabric so to speak - people were pissed that Tricky Dick was going to get away with taking a shit on the constitution and acting like it smelled like a rose. In that sense, the movie's fictional take on history gets to the truth of its times, and it begs the question of why our times are different. Bush has broken the law, lied to the American people, and violated constitutional limits on executive power - yet I don't get the sense that we are emotionally invested in the catharsis of hearing him confess, that we will feel robbed of our due if he is never convicted in court.

Perhaps because we think of him as an idiot and not a mastermind? Perhaps because his crimes are not reducible to a single, dramatic incident, or because they are spread out over many people such as Yoo, Addington, Gonzales, etc? I think most likely its because Obama has served as that catharsis, campaigning on wiping away the sins of the past much as Jimmy Carter did, and constituting a near complete conviction of Bush in the court of public opinion. So are we going to be free of the need for revenge, or will Bush haunt us like Nixon clearly continued to haunt his generation?

Note: These reflections grew out of an extended conversation with Eremita in the aftermath of the movie-viewing experience, and are significantly indebted to her insights.

09 January, 2009

New Year's Cheer

I actually looked up the words to Auld Lang Syne, having totally failed on New Year's Moment to recall them. According to wikipedia, the English lyrics are:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old times since?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS


To continue the New Year's debate: is it
(1) a song about how we SHOULD forget old times [unlikely and ungrammatical, but this is what I always think about]
(2) a song answering the question "should old times be forgot" [this probably gets my vote]
OR
(3) a song outlining the appropriate reaction IN THE CASE THAT old times are forgotten?

Thoughts?

Drug Importation

Ezra's right that drug importation is completely absurd. Basically, US pharmaceutical companies make the drugs. They sell them here very expensively and sell them in Canada very cheaply. Drug importation would allow people to legally drive to Canada, pick up their Viagra, and drive back. (Or, presumably, mail-order it.) But this is ridiculous--we just shipped the drugs there, why are we shipping them back?

As Ezra points out, Canada's national health care system has been able to use its monopoly power (technically, monopsony) to bargain a cheaper price. In our system, no one entity has the power to do that. Thus, cheaper drugs in Canada, more expensive drugs here. So why don't we just do that?

The crux of the matter, which Ezra doesn't mention, is that someone has to compensate the drug companies for their research and development costs. Also, keep in mind that the vast majority of drugs in development end up not working or not getting through FDA testing, so someone has to compensate the drug companies for all of the drugs that fail, too. If they aren't allowed to make serious profits on the drugs that succeed, it won't be worth it for them to develop any new drugs at all, which would be pretty bad for people with uncured diseases.

Unfortunately, every other country has negotiated cheaper drugs and we've basically been left holding the R&D bag. If we do it too, it seriously reduces the incentive of drug companies to produce new and innovative medicines. So the discussion shouldn't be about how do we get cheaper drugs, but how do we get cheaper drugs while maintaining the current level of innovation?

One proposal is that tnstead of a patent system, where drug companies get monopoly profits on drugs they invent for 20 years or so, we could have a prize system. The government would set prizes for certain discoveries, say $1,000,000,000 for achieving a proven cure to Parkinson's. The first company who cured it would get the prize, but would have to release their discovery to the world. Then the drug could be produced by generic producers and sold at cost instead of at monopoly rates. We'd still be funding the world's pharma R&D, but at least more people would have access to the drugs.

Another proposal is to leave the patent system in place, but allow the US government to buy out patents. After a patent is bought out, the drugs could be produced generically. This way, drug companies would get their payout and we would get our cheap drugs. Another option would be for the government to simply subsidize drugs so that consumers can purchase them at cost. All of these proposals have different pros and cons, but they're all better than drug reimportation.

08 January, 2009

The Most Delicious Meat Cubes

Here's a recipe we tried tonight from Madhur Jaffrey called, simply, "The Most Delicious Meat Cubes". And, God help me, they are the most delicious meat cubes I've ever had. You'll want to prepare the ingredients ahead of time because things happen quickly. I also modified the recipe a bit.

Get a pan with a cover. It should be large enough to hold the meat and a fair amount of liquid. In the pan, put

1. enough oil of your choice to cover the bottom of the pan.
Get it good and hot, then throw in
2. 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed,
3. 1/2-inch piece of ginger root, chopped or grated,
4. 15 fresh curry leaves.
The curry leaves are the hard part here. We got them at the Indian store a few blocks from our house. Jaffrey says use them "if available", but since we've never used these before, I think they might be the secret to the deliciousness. Do not substitute curry powder here! Curry powder and curry leaves have nothing to do with each other, apparently, except that sometimes one or the other is used in Indian cooking. Some reading on the web tells me that you can perhaps substitute basil or Kaffir lime leaf, but if you can't get curry leaves it's probably better to just leave them out all together.

Stir this mixture a bit. When the garlic browns, add
5. 1 lb. meat, cubed.
We used pork, 'cause it's cheaper, but lamb, beef, or goat would probably work just as well. Our cubes were about an inch by an inch, but anything in that range would be fine, I think. If you increase the amount of meat, make sure to increase all the spices and other ingredients by the same ratio! Stir the meat around and add
6. 2 tsp garam masala,
7. 1 tsp ground (grand?) cumin,
8. 1/4 tsp turmeric,
8. 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper,
9. 1/2 tsp salt,
10. 2 hot green chiles, chopped.
For the chile, we used the green ones that are about 2 inches long that you can get at Asian markets. In general, something hotter than a jalepeno is preferred and leave the seeds in. Stir this all together so it gets mixed well. Then add
11. 1 cup water,
cover, and put the heat on low. Leave it be for about 50 minutes. It should be at a good simmer, with visible bubbles, but they shouldn't be too big.

After 50 minutes, take off the cover, jack it up to high heat, and cook off nearly all of the liquid. At least to the point where you have a really rich, thick sauce. Then take it off the heat and stir in
12. half a lemon's worth of juice,
13. freshly ground black pepper.
Unfortunately it was devoured too quickly to get a picture, but if we make it again, I'll be sure to put something up. Serve with, you know, rice or naan or something.

An Inspired Choice

Obama picks Cass Sunstein to be the head of OIRA, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

I like this pick for a few reasons. First, Sunstein is firmly committed to cost-benefit analysis. Here is his paper on "The Cost-Benefit State". I think he'll be open to things like experimentation in the regulatory realm. Second, his intellectual ties will be a lot stronger than his institutional ones, which will be important when it comes to canning crumby rules. Third, his recent book with Richard Thaler, Nudge, is a major advance in regulatory thought. I haven't actually read it, but the point is that people have lots of biases in how they think and very light-handed regulation can push people to much better outcomes. The famous example of this is requiring businesses to have people opt out of 401k plans instead of opt in to them. Same difference to a rational actor, but it greatly increases 401k participation.

ADDENDUM: And the guy is boning married to Samantha Power!

UPDATE: Ezra Klein seems a bit confused about Sunstein's views. Or something:

Then came George W. Bush, who appointed the noxious John Graham to OIRA. Graham was famous for his cost-benefit risk analysis techniques, which had spurred him to declare regulations against PCBs, saccharine, and nuclear power evidence of society’s “flustered hypochondria.”
But Sunstein is for cost-benefit analysis. In fact, he wrote a paper (and a book) called "The Cost-Benefit State" where he lays out in detail why regulation should be done on a cost-benefit basis.

07 January, 2009

On Wisconsin!

A few months ago, I discovered Bon Iver (franglish alias/band name for the work of Justin Vernon). He's from Eau Claire, which is always a plus AND explains the name. Wikipedia says the choice was inspired by Northern Exposure - how much more down-home midwestern can you get?

Anyway, I had a conversation about him today with a friend and afterward listened through his album 'For Emma, Forever Ago.' I realized that I could almost never understand what the hell he was saying (you get caught up in the melodies though), so I looked up his lyrics. Apparently, he's one of those artists where even when you read the lyrics you still have no idea what they mean.

"Only love is all maroon
Gluey feathers on a flume
Sky is womb and she's the moon"
Wonderful!

Hum along to one of my favorites, Skinny Love, or check out several on hypem.

01 January, 2009

Happy New Year!

Coincidentally, this is our 400th post.

Please post your hopes and dreams for the new year in comments.