Sound + Vision

by Ted on January 17, 2005

In the 1970s, David Bowie released a series of albums that changed the sound, look and subject matter of rock music forever. His 1977 album Low, produced in collaboration with composer Brian Eno, was recently named the best album of the 1970s by Pitchfork. Elvis Costello recently called it one of the greatest albums ever in Vanity Fair. In terms of critical acclaim and popular success, I could compare him to Kurt Cobain, Bruce Springsteen, maybe REM.

In 1983, David Bowie starred in the vampire movie The Hunger. In 1986, he starred in the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth as Jared the Goblin King.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but I know music fans. I was too young to be tuned into indie rock debates at the time, so I’m curious to ask if anyone remembers. How did Bowie fans react to these roles?

What to do

by Ted on January 17, 2005

I’m going to take advantage of my God-given right to quote my betters. From Kevin Drum:

I happen to think that liberals have basically won the church-state argument, and all that’s left is fighting over scraps that aren’t worth it. It just feeds the religious right’s feeling of righteous besiegement while gaining almost nothing in practical terms. Who really cares if Roy Moore plops a Ten Commandments monument in front of his courthouse?

Still, even though I feel that way personally, someone is going to take this kind of stuff to court. There’s just no way to stop it. And if I were a judge, what choice would I have then? The damn thing is pretty clearly unconstitutional whether it offends me personally or not. Ditto for Intelligent Design, which any honest judge would conclude after only cursory research is nothing more than creationism with a pretty face.

In the end, then, even though I agree with Nathan that some of the fringe issues being litigated today are probably counterproductive for liberals (though I’m less sure I agree with him about some of the core rulings of the 60s), I’m still not sure where this leaves us.

Ain’t that the truth. I’m looking at P.J. O’Rourke this morning, a writer whom I’ve always liked. (via Pandagon.) The self-described fun-loving Republican Party Reptile wrings a whole outraged column out of the Ten Commandments case from the summer of 2003. (Time flies, huh?) It’s part of his general thesis that the true opponents of Republicans are “jerks.” O’Rourke doesn’t seem to like the fact that jerks[1] wouldn’t let Moore install the Ten Commandments in front of a courthouse. Or, maybe he’s just responding to the wailing of jerks when exposed to the Ten Commandments in any capacity, wailing so high-pitched that only hackish[2] conservative pundits can hear it.

I’m not a Bush supporter. Rightly or wrongly, I don’t think of myself as a jerk. I wouldn’t have minded if the case hadn’t gone anywhere. What would O’Rourke like me to do? Picket the courtroom?

fn1. Incidentally, let’s not pussyfoot around about who’s to blame here. The jerks in question are the Southern Poverty Law Center, District Judge Myron Thompson, the Alabama Supreme Court, Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary, and every single judge except Moore who touched this stupid case in any capacity. I hope that they are all ashamed of themselves.

fn2. “The jerks have begun praising marriage lately. But only if the bride and groom each have a beard.” P.J. O’Rourke, channelling Ann Coulter. Shamefully hackish.

Autonomy

by John Quiggin on January 17, 2005

Following a lead from Bill Gardner (and a tip from Henry) I’ve been reading The Status Syndrome : How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity by Michael Marmot[1]. The core of Marmot’s book, which is fascinating in itself is his empirical work showing that, as you move up any kind of hierarchy (Marmot looked at British civil servants) your health status improves. I’ve done a little bit of work myself relating to the links between health, education and life expectancy at the national level, and Marmot’s micro findings fit very neatly with mine.

What’s even more interesting though (to me and to Bill, I think) is the general idea of autonomy as a source of good health[2]. He debunks, for example, the long-discredited, but still widely-believed notion of executive stress and shows that the more control you have over your work environment and your life in general, the less likely you are to suffer the classic stress-related illnesses, such as heart disease.

It seems to me that autonomy, or something like it, is at the root of many of the concerns commonly seen as part of notions like freedom, security and democratic participation. I’m still struggling with this, but reading Marmot has crystallised some thoughts I’ve had for a long time. I’ve put some thoughts over the page – comments appreciated.

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