August 9th, 2008


In the Old Downtown

I'm not sure why I'm up so early today. I'm not tired now, but I wouldn't be surprised if my tiredness comes to stab me in the back later today.

So, okay. Laura Cantrell last night. That's a sentence fragment, isn't it? Oh, well. You can see my pictures of the concert (as well as a few other things in Philadelphia that I thought were worth photographing) here, but I'll admit that most of them didn't come out too well, since I didn't use a flash. I'd bought the tickets for the show a while ago, and didn't realize at the time that it would be a split bill with someone named Carrie Rodriguez. And even though Laura was the one who received higher billing on the website, I think Carrie's set was actually longer. Anyway, Laura was accompanied by mandolin, guitar, and upright bass players; and they started the set with "Don't Break the Heart." Laura messed up a little in the second verse, but I'll forgive her. {g} Most of the rest of the set was from her new EP of covers of travel-related songs, Trains and Boats and Planes. After her set, I bought a copy of the EP, and she signed it for me. I mentioned that I saw her before the last time she came to the Tin Angel, which was during a snowstorm. She was apparently six months pregnant at the time, but I didn't even realize that. While I was buying the EP and meeting Laura, some old guy was talking to bethje.

As for Carrie, I thought she was talented, but kind of forgettable. I do give her credit for playing both guitar and violin (not at the same time, though {g}), and for her Art Nouveau girl look.

After leaving the venue and paying $22 to the parking garage (I think I need to find another parking place next time I go to the Tin Angel), we went to eat at Friendly's. I couldn't finish my whole meal, but I brought the rest of it home. I'll have to remember to eat it tonight; I'm often bad about remembering leftovers. I also had the Wattamelon Roll sundae, and Beth kept mentioning some Conan O'Brien bit that mentions that dessert. I thought it was good, but chocolate chips really don't go too well with sherbet.

Incidentally, I didn't realize my voice post would be automatically transcribed, and very poorly at that. "I read a little more of the O'Reilly book" became "I run away when I'm bored," and "Al Franken" became "out for anything." Oh, you crazy automatic transcribers!
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    Laura Cantrell: Love Vigilantes
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The War on Everything

Chapter Six of Culture Warrior sees Bill O'Reilly start out by talking about Al Franken, and his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. O'Reilly writes that Franken "had made good money with his Limbaugh attack book, but then had bombed with a book touting himself for president." Uh, Bill, you DO realize that Why Not Me? was a joke, right? Granted, Franken has since gone into politics, but I doubt he had that intention back then. Anyway, according to Franken and his book, O'Reilly lied about where he grew up, and Bill is so livid at this that he included a copy of the deed in the book (and also showed it to David Letterman at one point). Franken says he got the information from O'Reilly's mother, and Bill says that Franken never talked to his mother. But, if you read the quote that O'Reilly conveniently provides, Franken never says he did, but rather that he read a Washington Post article quoting Mrs. O'Reilly. I've read Lies, but I can't recall whether he included a more specific reference for that article. If he didn't, O'Reilly has a legitimate gripe, but that's not the gripe he makes. He also states that his mother has been suffering from dementia for years (and while that's too bad, you just know the snark in me was wondering whether it runs in the family). Is he suggesting she was in a state of delirium when interviewed by the Post? But if that were the case, wouldn't part of his beef lie with the lack of fact-checking at the paper? It kind of seems like he mentions his mother's dementia to imply that Franken is a horrible person for even MENTIONING her, even though he didn't actually say anything negative about her, and O'Reilly picks on a war widow (Cindy Sheehan, of course) in the next chapter. His other target in this chapter is Terry Gross, who questioned him about accusations against him during a Fresh Air interview, was criticized for it by NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, and then didn't mention the rebuke in her book where she mentioned the subject. Then she appeared on the Factor to discuss this, and he thinks people felt sorry for her because "[s]he's about five feet tall, wears glasses, and looks like a librarian." Wait, I'm a librarian, and I look nothing like Terry Gross! {g}

The chapter on the War on Terror is mostly just the typical stuff about how the secular-progressives think they can bring about world peace by inviting Bin Laden and Ahmadinejad to a picnic. Now, I'm a fairly pacifistic kind of guy, but I'll admit there are situations where violence might be the best option. I just don't think it should be the first and only option. But, well, O'Reilly is the kind of guy who sees anything that irritates him as a war, so it's no wonder he'd have a belligerent attitude. If I ever write a rant-filled book of my own, I'm sure at least a chapter will be about how dumb tough-guy posturing is. O'Reilly writes, "Osama bin Laden has got to be thrilled that he has unwitting allies in the ACLU and, indeed, the entire S-P movement." In the next chapter, he says he'll "be harshly criticized for writing that last paragraph." Probably so, but it's really just standard Neocon rhetoric at this point. I'm hardly shocked that Bill would say it, but I AM shocked that so many people buy into it. Well, not that shocked. I guess "annoyed" would be the better word. He also says that "coerced interrogation" is not torture. While he doesn't say it in the book, he once said on his show that waterboarding was where "they splash a little water in your face," or something like that. Yeah, and the rack is just like aerobic stretching exercises, right? Near the end of the chapter, he returns to George Lakoff, his favorite target so far in this book, and a guy whom he admits in the first chapter is relatively unknown. I wonder if O'Reilly uses Lakoff as an example so often because he IS obscure, and hence less likely to be defended than a more famous and popular figure. Anyway, O'Reilly provides a quote from Lakoff about how eliminating the despair and poverty in Islamic nations would greatly reduce terrorism, and then says, "Lakoff apparently believes that the United States has the power to eliminate poverty and change social conditions in places like Pakistan." But the quote doesn't say that the United States should bear sole responsibility in such changes, or that it's something that would be easily accomplished. If Lakoff says those things elsewhere in his book, then O'Reilly really needs a lesson in effective quoting. If he doesn't, then Bill needs a lesson in actually reading the things he quotes. Oh, and there's also a comparison to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies. Nope, haven't heard THAT one before, Bill!

The last chapter in the first part of the book is about how socialism is selfish. That seems a little backwards to me, but he argues that it's based on the idea that the government owes its citizens a certain level of prosperity. He also trots out the old standby that it's not what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. The Founding Fathers had some brilliant ideas that were truly ahead of their time, but they were also rich guys who thought that only white property owners should be allowed to vote. But more importantly than that, who really cares what they would have thought? Hasn't the country progressed beyond the ideas of people over two centuries ago? Not to mention that it's a bit presumptuous to assume what dead guys would have thought about something. Sure, you can gauge their reactions to similar situations, but there's still a lot of guesswork involved. Yet O'Reilly also says that Charles Dickens probably would have liked him, Tiny Tim definitely would have (yes, I know he's a fictional character, but still), and Jonathan Swift "would be made physically ill" by Franken's variety of satire. Maybe Bill consulted a medium about these things; I don't know. Anyway, I have to give him credit for admitting that "Americans born into poverty do not have the same opportunity as those born into wealth," and that "specific entitlement programs [for African and Native Americans and the poor]" can "help level the playing field." So he's not as radical as the people who insist that ALL leg-up social programs are bad, but most of the chapter is the same tired old spiel about how people "are not willing to work to earn prosperity." Well, guess what? I know a lot of people who are willing and able to work, but can't find jobs that fit their (eh, I might as well just say "our") skill sets. Why shouldn't there be government programs to help such people, and not just by sprucing up their résumés or telling them to go to community college? O'Reilly also makes the straw man argument that "the S-Ps believe that the government has an obligation to provide Americans with prosperity and happiness." Uh...what? How in the name of O'Reilly's vengeful God did happiness get into the equation?
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    Laura Cantrell: Howard Hughes' Blues
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