Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I did some driving today and listened to some NPR. Sigh. Like many Americans today (including, evidently, our President) there is some confusion as to the purpose of Memorial Day. All of the shows had Veteran oriented themes, but that would more appropriate to Veteran's Day, which we don't celebrate much anymore. Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring the dead. (I can understand NPR's dilemma. Dead people make for poor radio.)

Any way no one has ever said it better;

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Stupid now and then

Stupid now and then, 2nd in a series of rants

Consider this person: Graduate of Oxford, quotes classics in day to day conversations, has an extensive written and spoken vocabulary, speaks 2 languages, seeks and takes the advise of experts on subjects that he is lacking in. Can do complex probability calculations in his head.

Sounds like a pretty bright guy right?

I, of course mean Bertie Wooster, the touchstone of "stupid" of a bygone era. Yes, lacking in common sense and needs that first cup of tea in the morning, but all in all, a bright fellow, by modern standards.

When I had my moment of clarity it also came to me that Bertie, despite what Jeeves and his Aunts say, isn't dumb, he's just not devious and, to be truthful, missing a bit of common sense.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Westside Story and the fall of American Cities

A random rant, first in a series.

Arthur Laurents,Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim are responsible for the crack drug disaster of the late 20th century. László Benedek and Stanley Kramer also have a lot to answer for.

At a critical point in American recent history, when drug gangs were starting to make their selves felt on the inner cities of the both the rust belt and SoCal, a large part of White Bread America heard the term "Youth Gangs" and instead of thinking "this is some thing that needs to be done about RIGHT FREAKING NOW" thought "Westside Story" and blew it off. At worst they though "The Wild One", regardless, they didn't take it seriously. The result? Millions of lives destroyed, large parts of American cities made "No Go Zones", not to mention rap music and the whole hip/hop culture, a target of a future rant.

In real life the cycle of violence was not broken, in real life Maria would have pulled the trigger over Tony's body and the two gangs would not have ended their blood feud because of one crying woman. In real life their would have been a major gun battle. In real life Lt. Schrank and Sgt. Krupke are, or should be, the heroes, not a bunch of murdering thugs. As much as I would like to blame this one on boomers, I can't. They weren't quite in charge when the youth gang crises started. This, like a lot of other things, can be laid squarely in June Cleaver's lap. Why I said June, not June and Ward is also the subject of another rant.