Open Thread

Open Thread


We’re very sad here in the Jacob household (New Jersey).

We took the dog out for a walk and she burst into flame.

I have no idea what to tell the kids.

What’s on your mind?

  • Chris

    That it’s unbelievable that a majority of the conservatives in this country want sarah palin as president.

  • the Word

    What’s sad is that it is believable. (captcha According implode) Bill Buckley spinning in his grave may provide for endless power if harvested though.

  • Chris

    Well you’re right that it is believable, but I guess I meant that it’s sad.

  • WHQ

    I attended a memorial service yesterday in a 300-year-old Quaker meeting house, about as full of people as it can be, in New Jersey. Of course, such a place does not have air conditioning. Shortly before the end of the service, most blessedly, thunderstorms rolled through and the temperature outside dropped about 30 degrees in a matter of minutes. But it’s been very hot in Jersey this summer. My kids haven’t been playing outside much. It’s like winter in terms of there being few people outside in the neighborhood. I’m ready for fall (and football!).

  • Chris

    yeah it’s been hot and humid here too, but not as bad as the east coast. Did the meeting house have hard seats too? Gotta make sure to keep you awake.

  • Jacob

    Heh – renewable energy brought to you by the GOP. Bizzaroworld headlines.

    WHQ – That storm was magnificent! It was like a years worth of rain.

  • kranky kritter

    Went to the East Benton Fiddler’s Convention in E. Benton, ME this weekend. Had a great time. It was interesting to me to finally consciously notice that this kind of fiddle-playing came from the roots of whatever heritage various European immigrants brought with them. Then it evolved into bluegrass and country. Sort of explained to me why I like bluegrass and old county music ok, but don’t really like modern country music much at all.

    Tried some new beers Shipyard Summer Ale and regular Shipyard, both Portland, ME products. I thought the former was pretty good. But I didn’t like the regular shipyard very much. It was IMO unremarkarkable aside from a metallic note accompanying the bitterness.

    A few weeks back I tried Mayflower Rye Ale, made in Plymouth MA, As the name suggests, it includes some rye malt in addition to the usual barley. It had an unusual tangy sourness up front which I found refreshing and different. Gonna have it again. Recommended.

    Played golf and got matched up with a twosome of retired firefighters, which I mention only because it brought me face to face with what i think is a self-servingly schizophrenic demographic: retired public employees who lean conservative but complain about big government.

    According to my golfing mates, Obama is “ruining this country.” They didn’t go into detail, but they were certain he was taking the wrong direction. Bear in mind, these are brave guys who did a dangerous job for many years, and then retired in their 50s to a very generous pension and healthcare plan. If you want that particular retirement deal going forward folks, government work is the only place that offers it to rank and file footsoldier type workers outside of management.

    I am not eager to pick on firemen or rank-and-file government workers. But I do wish Americans nationwide would try harder to connect the dots on the problems America faces, and see their own blind spots. It’s a problem.

  • Chris

    It’s a problem with humanity.

  • WHQ

    Did the meeting house have hard seats too?

    Yes – wood, but they put some thin cushions on them a few decades or so ago. They help your butt for the first 15 minutes, but not much after that. It’s actually a really cool place (but not temperature-wise in the summer). You can easily imagine, as you sit there, the English Quakers who came here to flee persecution meeting in the same room centuries ago. I’ve been inside the place three times, every occasion both emotional and emotionally mixed. I’m pretty much agnostic, but I definitely get a spiritual vibe in there. And it’s just cool to have that kind of history right in your little corner of the world.

  • Chris

    Yeah meeting houses generally give off a pretty good vibe.

  • Mike A.

    I find that, if we can find some way to harness the energy from dogs bursting into flame during their walks, we could break our dependency on fossil fuels.

    Along a different line – just got back from visiting 7 countries in europe. Many people wanted to talk about Obama….most seemed inspired by his election and believed the US was on the right track. It was strange to have people want to discuss Obama in a positive light….

    Europe has it’s issues, but it also has it’s successes. The “not invented here” syndrome blinds us to opportunities to learn from others. History has shown us that the arrogant rarely survive….

  • Jeremy

    One nation under money, divisible, with liberty and justice for ‘some’ (if you got money)

  • the Word


    Might want to check out the movie Songcatcher about a musicologist going to Appalachia and researching the origins of hill (Bluegrass) music.

  • WHQ

    I caught part of a documentary on PBS about Appalachia last week. It think it was called “Appalachia” or at least that was in front of or behind a colon in the title. Bluegrass and Country music were very prominent, and the biggest influence was Irish/Scots-Irish music, with some African rhythms added. A bit of English and Welsh folk music went into it, too, among other things. After a trip to Ireland a few years back, it became pretty obvious to me that the stuff I heard people playing in the pubs; mainly on fiddles, mandolins and guitars; was pretty damned similar to Bluegrass.

  • kranky kritter

    Thanks, word, that sounds really interesting. I’ll see if Netflix has it.

    WHQ, I’ll probably look up the one you mention as well. I learned how to play guitar pretty well as an adult AFTER previously having developed some pretty snotty college musical tastes. So I have something of a unique perspective on music and whether I like it and what’s any good.

    My perspectives on that have changed so much from 20 to 46 that it astonishes me to think about it. Making the transition from a geeked up fanboy to an actual player is to take the journey from the ice-thin level of marketing and surface appeal down to the deep, rich, and infinitely more interesting layer of underlying form. When you crack into that layer, you discover some things that are very inconvenient truths for a fanboy.

    American bluegrass without a doubt has its roots in whatever musical traditions and abilities various european immigrants brought with them and continued to develop in a variety of informal settings over the course of generations. If one is a fanboy like I was, this can be hard to hear, and easy to dismiss as something that has evolved so much as to be functionally unrelated to the original. But it only feels unrelated on the surface appeal level. Once you crack into underlying form, it’s richly related.

    Honestly, there aren’t many things I enjoy more than revisiting something I once rejected and discovering a bunch of worthwhile stuff I had missed the first time. I used to hate country music, and now I nibble enthusiastically around the edges of the old dark authentic stuff, for example.

    Right now, my working hypothesis is that what i like is a combination of emotional sincerity, domain-specific virtuosity, and originality. In other words, you can really play, you’re passionate about your craft, and you’re still growing.

  • the Word


    I call Bluegrass – Country with talented musicians. Gotta like their chops even if you didn’t like the music so much. (There are some really good instrumentalists )

  • WHQ

    I’m mostly into metal, and one of the bands I like is Mastodon. One of their guitarists is from Georgia, and has some background in Bluegrass. He throws Bluegrass-based riffs into his leads, intros and runs fairly often and to great effect. It sounds wonderfully vicious – Evil Bluegrass. (It’s like the devil really did go down to Georgia.)