Monthly Archives: May 2012

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New York Nanny Bloomberg takes a really big gulp (but this battle was lost long ago)

The world seems agog at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest attempt to forcibly improve the health of his subjects. He is proposing—and seems very likely to be able to fully implement—a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 oz at restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and street carts (i.e.: pretty much anywhere other than standard grocery stores, where fortunately you’ll still be able to take home a 2-liter Pepsi and embrace death by high fructose corn syrup).

A move like this is tailor-made for lengthy expressions of outrage over the incremental loss of freedom in modern American society. And, you know, have at it, by all means—but as for me (who happens to be a citizen of New York City), this particular effort is only good for chuckles. Is reducing the size of the available drink actually going to keep those who want to drink more from doing so? Are such people too dumb to realize that they can just order two 16 oz drinks in order to get the more fully-thirst-quenching 32 oz quantity which they desire? No one is really being prevented from doing anything here. It’s merely a perfect example of government nannyism run amok, expending pointless effort and over-regulating private enterprise with the vain goal of altering gluttonous human nature. A good knee-slapper is what it is.

As to the broader question of the rise in power of the health fascists, I believe the decisive turn in that battle was fought and lost (or won, depending on your point of view) years ago, and it too happened in New York. Continue reading New York Nanny Bloomberg takes a really big gulp (but this battle was lost long ago)

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Sure was glad to get out of there alive: Bob Dylan receives Medal of Freedom at White House [video added]

There was more than a little bit of “Day of the Locusts” about the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House this afternoon, which I watched via C-Span. Bob Dylan was the last to be introduced, and also the last to receive the medal, which is odd, since otherwise they seemed to be following alphabetical order. Hmmm. Zimmerman? Or were they trying to create some drama regarding Bob? (Why would they do that?) He was the only recipient wearing shades, which he kept on throughout. He stayed pretty low-key, not even applauding other recipients as far as I could see. When standing beside President Obama and hearing the citation read out, he shifted restlessly from side to side. Quick handshake with the President afterwards but no real words exchanged, in contrast to how it went down with several other recipients. I personally didn’t notice Dylan smiling even once.

I somehow don’t think he was planning to hang around for dinner. Nevertheless, congratulations to Bob. His country has now honored him about as highly as it can, and that’s better than a kick in the pants. Surely?

In about thirty days he kicks off a new tour in England. I suspect he’ll be considerably more comfortable on that stage, as always.

UPDATE: Video clip below.

It has to be noted that wearing the sunglasses throughout was a major statement of aloofness, as was the lack of a simple smile (contrasted dramatically, I might add, with President Obama’s grinning). I guess I’d see it as Bob trying to keep himself from appearing acquiescent to the political aromas floating around. Others will make of it what they will.

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2012 Medal of Freedom ceremony at 3:25 p.m. today on C-Span

[Update: My brief take on how the ceremony went is here.]

C-Span now has a page up dedicated to the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony scheduled for today, when Bob Dylan and a dozen other notables will be conferred with the award. (Via Expecting Rain.) There will apparently be a link on that page to live video, scheduled for 3:25 p.m. Eastern Time. C-Span 1 can also be viewed at this link.

Merely a chance to see Dylan cringe for a while and then get a medal draped around his neck, but historic all the same.

(The story of Jan Karski, who is being awarded the medal posthumously, is one that deserves to be highlighted.)

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Searching for a Soldier’s Grave

A superb rendition by three Americans named Floyd, Marcia and Evelena of this deeply poignant old song, as resonant today as it ever has been. (Via YouTube.)

You ask me stranger why I made this journey
Why I cross three thousand miles of ocean waves
Like many others my loved one was killed in action
And that’s why I’m here, I’m searching for his grave

Somewhere here among the many thousands
Of Americans who all died true and brave
That’s where I know I’ll find him resting
So I’m here, I’m searching for his grave

Beside each cross mark here all around me
I’ll kneel down and gladly say a prayer
For all those loved ones back home across the ocean
Whose heart like mine is buried over here

When I come to the spot where he’s sleeping
I know it will cause more heartaches inside
But I’ll long to be by his side once more and tell him
Tell him I love him and I will until I die

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Birthday Boy Bob Dylan: King of YouTube?

Today is Bob Dylan’s 71st birthday. He was born in 1941; that was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor, and—as he said in November of 2008—he’s been living in a world of darkness ever since. On the plus side, he’s been gifted with the talent and opportunity to write a whole lot of great songs which bring solace and joy to countless souls.

I wonder who the most covered songwriter on YouTube might be? I’m not referring just to professional recordings, which are only a fraction of what’s out there, but all of it, including the bedroom amateurs with their guitars, electronic keyboards and webcams. It would be an extremely difficult statistic to calculate, even if you had access to all of YouTube’s data, because songwriters’ names aren’t always invoked. Continue reading Birthday Boy Bob Dylan: King of YouTube?

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The primary problem for President Barack Obama

It is evidence that a serious primary challenge from a major Democratic party figure in this election cycle would have had an excellent chance of succeeding: Obama lost 40% of the vote in two Democratic primaries yesterday (Kentucky and Arkansas), without a serious challenger.

In Kentucky, where there was no challenger at all, 42% of voters chose “uncommitted” in preference to Obama. Continue reading The primary problem for President Barack Obama

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Bob Dylan to receive Medal of Freedom on May 29th

[Update: My brief take on how the ceremony went is here.]

Reuters reports that this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony will take place at the White House next Tuesday, May 29th. Bob Dylan will therefore be receiving the award five days following his 71st birthday. (I note that they waited till his spring concert tour wrapped up to have the ceremony.)

Also receiving the award that day will be Toni Morrison, Madeleine Albright, John Glenn, John Paul Stevens, Jan Karski (posthumously), John Doar, William Foege, Gordon Hirabayashi (posthumously), Dolores Huerta, Juliette Gordon Low (posthumously) and Pat Summitt. Israeli President Shimon Peres is also receiving the award this year but reportedly in a separate event. Continue reading Bob Dylan to receive Medal of Freedom on May 29th

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Facebook meltdown

(There seems to be lots of use for the word meltdown these days.) I watched in disbelief the building hoopla last week over the Facebook “initial public offering.” That’s easy to say now, I guess, with the stock seemingly on its way to a long and deep decline, but the reason I didn’t comment in advance is because I felt I’d said it all over a year ago about the decline of MySpace. Some of the words that look so amazingly wise in hindsight are these: Continue reading Facebook meltdown

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“I Believe In You” – Sinead O’Connor (1999)

I hadn’t seen or heard this particular performance until today. You may think what you like about Sinead—personally I wish her well in battling the demons that surround us all—but this is just the best rendition of this Bob Dylan song by anyone that I’ve ever heard. She gets it, in this moment, top to bottom.

Via YouTube: Continue reading “I Believe In You” – Sinead O’Connor (1999)

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I Hear They’re Dying to Get in There

Archangel slays devilIt seems that I’ve traversed a line of some sort, and passed a milestone detectable only by elite marketing professionals. Age-wise, I am somewhere in my forties (I make a conscious effort not to keep precise records anymore), and I was as of this afternoon feeling reasonable healthy. I returned from a quick run around in the park with my dog, and opened the mailbox to find a single item addressed personally to me. Continue reading I Hear They’re Dying to Get in There