Economics, finance, US Politics, USA

Paul Krugman agrees…

in the NYTimes after the US House of Representatives voted “no” on the Wall Street bailout plan. He’s right of course, that “flip-flopping” on issues like this in the way it happened isn’t exactly a sign of a well functioning representative democracy. On the other hand, it’s also true that this vote is a sign that Congress still matters, even if it needed a figure with 11 zeros to balk at the administration. So, does that make the US a Banana Republic as Krugman argues? I think the decision on that is still out – after all, the bailout plan would/will have distributive consequences that would have/will make made the US income structure even more reminiscent of a classic Banana Republic.

Paul Krugman – OK, we are a banana republic

music, songwriting

Suzanne Vega writes about songwriting

I just discovered that the NY Times has a songwriter blog called “Measure for Measure“. In one of the last entries, Suzanne Vega explains how her writing style and method have changed with time and that she has a non-standard relationship with melodies.

“I would start to write a song sometime late Saturday afternoon. Then, after dinner, when everyone in my family was doing other Saturday-night things, I would go into my room by myself and fool around with the guitar for several hours, usually managing to hammer out some kind of idea. In those days the chords came first, and they depended on what I was singing about. Then the melody, and lastly the lyrics.

Each chord told a piece of a story, and by putting the chords together in a certain way you had a musical narrative. Major chords = happy. Minor chords = sad. Sevenths were sort of sexy and bluesy. Augmented and diminished chords were spooky and spiritual, so I had a lot of those.

Most of the time I didn’t know the names of the chords or what kinds of chords they were; I learned that later when I worked with a band and producers. But in the beginning I worked from a book called ”Pop Songs of the Sixties” that had little pictures of the fretboard and showed where to put your fingers. (Actually, I have never learned to read music and still don’t to this day. I have always depended on the
kindness of arrangers! Hahaha.)”

US Politics, USA

Bill Clinton’s libido is responsible for Iraq.

Well, at least in the sense that he caused the Presidency of George W. Bush. And it’s his fault, too, if his wife won’t be nominated or elected president. Sounds farfetched? Well, not to Bob Herbert. NY Times columnist, who argues, apparently seriously, that Bill Clinton’s famous touch has always been poisenous for other Democrats and that

“[w]hen Mr. Clinton left office in 2001, … , … the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment had opened the door to the era of George W. Bush.”

A little too reminiscent of the tale of Sex, Lies, and Dossiers which a young Texan student called Amber told me in June 2003 on the train to Prague, the myth that Bill’s unsatiable libido can be blamed for just about everything from global warming to Abu Ghraib. Maybe that’s some kind of conservative Godwin’s law equivalent, but I just wouldn’t have thought this kind of thinking has made it into the NY Times. Well, maybe the Times are a changing.