Footnotes to Plato

by John Holbo on May 5, 2007

So a former student invited me to give a talk on Plato at the Junior College where he now teaches: The Republic, in an hour and a half. So I’m busy condensing my notes and I’ve got this chunk about craft analogies: ship’s pilots and farmers and shoemakers and all that Platonic palaver. Bah. Shoemaking. Not relevant to today’s modern world (I don’t really know what I was thinking.) Then I went out to catch a cab to go give my talk and – I kid you not – the bottom of my shoe fell off. Well, not quite all the way off. But, like, halfway off.

In search of the Volk

by Chris Bertram on May 5, 2007

We had an interesting discussion the other day after Harry’s “post”: about Show of Hands and their song “Roots”. That argument was partly about the possible recuperation of song by the radical right despite the inclusivist politics of the songwriter. Yesterday’s Guardian had “an interesting piece”:,,2071468,00.html attacking the the politics at the origin of folksong as a distinct genre, and especially the politics of the folksong collectors Sharpe and Lomax. Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor argue that the search for authenticity and the untainted roots of distinct national tradition as embodied in besmocked peasants (and so on) is imbued with ghastly racist assumptions of various kinds and that we should simply reject the idea of a distinction between folk and popular song.

Flower Mound?

by Kieran Healy on May 5, 2007

The NYT has an article about Bruce Sperling, who apparently publishes a series of rankings of U.S. cities, with separate rankings for Singles, Young Couples, Families with Children, Empty Nesters and Retirees. Through the magic of weighted averages (of data on economy and jobs; cost of living; climate; crime; transportation; arts and culture; etc) we get a string of Top-10 lists and more. Like many such ranking systems, Sperling is free to put his thumb on the scales if he feels that people are caring more about variable _x_ these days.

In the Top 10 for Singles are the fun, densely-populated places you might expect: New York, L.A., Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. For Young Couples, we have cool hangouts like Portland, Austin, and Boulder. Empty Nesters get to kick back in Bellingham, Santa Fe, Tahoe and Berkeley.

But what does my demographic, Families with Children, get? Number 1 in the nation: Louisville CO. It’s followed closely by Gaithersburg MD. Roswell GA, Lakeville MN, and Flower Mound TX round out the top five. Now, I don’t want to offend the many fine people of Gaithersburg, MD or Noblesville IN, but Roll on the Empty Nest, I say.

_Update:_ Sorry, but I am going to resist sundry efforts in the comments and elsewhere to stretch this small joke to fit the Procrustean bed of “Elitist Liberals Hate Regular Folks and All-American Suburbs.” Dan Drezner thinks I display “shock” and “distress” at these family-friendly places and that part of me “shudders with dread about the exemplary suburban locale.” I don’t think so. New York … San Francisco … Gaithersburg. That is a set-up and punchline. It could be the opening montage of any number of comedies about family life. By the way, child-free urban hipsters in restaurants or shops can bite me, too.