Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Hope you enjoy it and find it informative. Leave comments, here or there.
I don't know whether live performances in classical (or at least strictly composed) music are becoming a thing of the past or not. The audience is relatively small, and the exigencies of smaller, even very good amateur groups often mean that those who might be interested never hear about something they would enjoy. I think the urge to perform will remain, combined with intelligent efforts to get better at it guided by people with leadership ability and knowledge, however, is unlikely to disappear entirely. Nonetheless, this kind of serious singing is ever endangered.
All this is to say that if you like choral music at all, or Christmas-themed music, you may be in for something of a peak experience if you come to one of our concerts this December. Here are the details:
December 5, at the Fallbrook Performing Arts Center, at 8:00, with brass choir. We thought it was a closed performance, but apparently they're selling tickets, though it's a little pricey at $30. Then on Sunday, December 7, at Promise Lutheran Church in Murrieta (25664 Madison Ave, behind the Wal-Mart) at 7:30 pm. No brass, but more reasonable prices -- $12 in advance, $15 at the door. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want tickets.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"Cantus" is a group of nine men out of Minneapolis, each exceptionally skilled, and together they make, on their new CD, "While You Are Alive," some of the richest, deepest, most sonorous choral sounds I have heard. All-male groups are not to everybody's taste, and this is a pretty modern group of songs (three world premiere recordings here), but while there are some strange harmonies, most of it is quite tonal. I am especially entranced by "Lux Aurumque," by Whitacre, and "Lullaby" by Nelson. The major new piece, "A Sound Like This," by Hill, a series of original songs, has some really nice places and a few I haven't quite warmedup to yet, though I like even the odd places sound better each time I listen. "Things I Didn't Know I Loved," by Takach, is also sonorous and adventurous, but the whole thing is worth listening to and repays repeated listening.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Rose Friedman, now 97, is a phenomenon. She did better with an arm to lean on, but she can still get around, if slowly. She is incredibly tiny. Her mind is still quite sharp. Her mother lived to 103, so I hope the world can enjoy the pleasure of her company for a long time to come. I remember having a fairly lengthy discussion with her, probably in the late 1980s at a Pacific Research Institute function in San Francisco (about what she thought were diminishing prospects for liberty) and thinking that Milton Friedman was a lucky man to have found such an exceptional person as a life partner. The title of their joint autobiography, "Two Lucky People," bore out my intuition.
I first met David Friedman, Milton's son, in 1967, the summer I was a journalism intern at Human Events. One night I went to Dupont Circle, the closest Washington came to having a countercultural gathering place back then, and there was this comnpact, curly-headed young man earnestly explaining to somewhat befuddled but fascinated hippies and longhairs that if they really wanted freedom and self-actualization, they should be fans of free markets. It was David Friedman. I still don't know what he was doing in Washington that summer, but we formed an immediate bond, even though he is one of the few people I have met about whom I think that his brain operates on a rather different and decidedly higher plane than mine. (Among the others are Durk Pearson and Richard Epstein). We haven't been close since then, but run into one another every few years. He at least expressed something like relief in the lobby yesterday at seeing a familar face (though I wouldn't be surprised if he was checking out my name tag to be sure).
The dedication was folowed by a panel discussion, featuring David, Nobel Prize economist Vernon Smith (now at Chapman) , and veteran UCLA profs Harold Demsetz and Arnold Harberger (who told me later that Bill Niskanen was a student of his) on the general topic of "What Would Milton Do?" about the current financial crisis. I'll report further on it in future posts.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Reason will give a special award to the Dave Threshie and Dick Wallace families, in recognition of the fact that they have kept Freedom Communications in the family and determined to continue propagating libertarian ideas during a really tough time for the newspaper business. Doing so has literally cost them millions of dollars (although they're hardly hurting for money).
It strikes me as a particularly critical time for the freedom movement. Although the financial crisis was sparked almost exclusively by the government, there's a widespread notion out there that it was the result of excessive deregulation; that comes from the Republicans talking incessantly about deregulation but never doing it when they have power; they get the reputation without the reality. We have our work cut out for us reminding peoiple of reality, and the outcome is far from certain.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
As Ted puts it, "It will not be an improvement if an Obama administration withdraws troops from Iraq only to launch new interventions in such strategically and economically irrelevant snakepits as Darfur or Burma."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
However, whetheror not there is a challenge from al-Qaida, some other terrorist organization, or a country bent on undermining the U.S., he will also face a difficult set of foreign challenges, and that was the subject of my column this week for Antiwar.com. From his determination to ramp up the war in Afghanistan to possible related troubles with Pakistan, to the emergence of Russia as a locally aggressive potential Great Power, to likely complications in winding down the war with Iraq, to Iran, his plate will be full. I suggest his honeymoon will be short.
I don't vote because "democracy" to me is simply this era's version of the Divine Right of Kings, a mechanism whereby the appaling people who rule us can claim a shred of legitimacy. I'm hardly alone. Here's an argument against voting and another and another and another.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Our major concert this year will be December 7 at 7:30 pm at Promise Lutheran Church in Murrieta, featuring Christmas music from Palestrina to Britten to Frosty the Snowman, including several antiphonal works, and I'll be unashamedly soliciting ticket sales (they're $12 in advance and $15 at the door) several times between now and then. E-mail me at email@example.com if you're even a bit interested. Tonight's rehearsal was esepcially revealing. We've gotten quite good by now, but a few people haven't quite mastered knowing the music cold and Don was unsparing. He says he's not content with good enough or even very good. He wants people to hear this group and think it's the best choral group they've ever heard. I think we'll be close.
We're also doing a concert in Fallbrook on December 5 that we at first thought was a private one for members of the Fallbrook Music Society (this one with a brass ensemble), but apparently they're selling tickets to the general public at $30 ($10 for students). Check out the Website and listen to some of the past performances. This is an excellent group with which I'm proud to be associated.
Friday, November 07, 2008
We’ll have a piece in either Sunday’s or Monday’s opinion section (I read so many proofs today I’m a bit bleary-eyed), but it echoes some of my thoughts. We’ve seen all these angry demonstrations organized (and/or arising spontaneously) by gays in Los Angeles (and in San Francisco and Long Beach), including one centered on the Mormon Temple in West L.A. It’s not that it isn’t legitimate to criticize the Mormon church, whose members (not all of them, of course) reportedly kicked in about $20 million of the $30-million-plus the Yes on 8 side raised, some in huge quantities from out of state (yes, I recognize contributions for the No campaign came from out of state, and it’s not illegal or fundamentally illegitimate, just interesting). All this was well known before Tuesday. Where were these protesters before Tuesday? I’ll wager they weren’t out walking precincts or making phone calls or donating money or stuffing envelopes. This was a close race. If there had been this kind of enthusiasm — a little more controlled and a little less angry, to be sure — shown before the election I suspect Prop. 8 would not have passed. As it is these after-the-fact demonstrations look a bit like childish rants and I suspect are more likely to discredit the cause than to advance it.
I have a few more criticisms of the No on 8 campaign — from somebody who wanted that side to win. I think it was too timid, hardly ever (at least in the TV ads) uttering the words “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage,” which to my mind conceded the moral high ground to the other side and made it seem as if the proponents of gay marriage were ashamed of it and maybe even figured others would find it shameful. I think the “teach gay marriage in school” issue could have been confronted more straightforwardly too, conceding that if Prop. 8 were defeated those schools that had marriage in the curriculum would probably have to mention the fact that gay marriage is legal in California, but this wouldn’t be “indoctrination” or “recruitment” or propaganda about how kids had to approve it and love it. Not doig so left the campaign open to charges of being dishonest.
There was no way to get rid of the footage of Moron Mayor Gavin “whether you like it or not” Newsome of San Francisco, which I think was the single most effective thing the Yes on 8 people had going for them. But all those “taking away a right” commercials without mentioning what the right was confused people, I suspect. It might not have been a bad idea to have a few couples interviewed on just what marriage meant to them. I think the No campaign underestimated the tolerance of the people of California and that’s part of the reason it lost — besides the fact that a lot of gays who could have been involved sat on the sidelines until it was over.
However, I have my guacamole and my UCLA T-shirt and cap ready. I'm hoping the Bruins -- perhaps jolted by the suspensions? -- have made good use of the bye week and settled down to some serious work on avoiding careless mistakes. And it might just be that this is the week Kahlil Bell, who has shown signs of being a really good back but has been sadly hampered by injuries (as well as bad offensive line play) this year, is ready to break out and show that he's more than just potential. It is his senior year and he still does, despite all the tough luck he's experienced, have NFL dreams.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
And we thought we were getting away from dynasties and monarchical tendencies when we broke with Old Blighty!
I was in California, writing editorials for the Register in 1982, and I remember a few things some have forgotten. Also on the ballot that year was Prop. 15, a gun-control measure whose details I have forgotten, but I'm about 98% sure Bradley supported it. Anyway, it brought out the pro-gun people in more force than usual to defeat it (I think it was leading in the polls too) and while they were at it they voted against Bradley. I'm reasonably sure race had little or nothing to do with it. Jerry Brown was running for the Senate that year and leading in the polls, and he lost also.
Few expected, however, that reminders of the messiness of the world outside our borders would come so quickly, long before he even took office, with Russia announcing it would plant some missiles near Poland if the U.S. went ahead with putting anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, Afghan puppet Hamid Karzai trying to break his strings by protesting about the U.S. bombing weddings (the nerve!) and North Korea releasing photos purporting to show that Kim Jong-Il is really alive and well. Heaven knows what will be in the cards when he actually takes office.
OK, those aren't really major crises, and they're not Obama's to deal with yet. But one dubts that the timing was strictly coincidental. Here's the Register's editorial today on some of the things we already knew the new president would have to face: two wars, a financial crisis, a Democratic Congress eager to tax and regulate, and other aftermaths of the years of a dysfunctional administration. He may have little choice but to have a modest agenda and govern "from the center," whatever that means.
It was especially disappointing since, on the same night, Michigan passed a medical marijuana initiative and Massachusetts passed what was essentially decriminalization of marijuana -- a $100 fine and no criminal record for simple possession of an ounce or less. (Here's a link to the Register's editorial on various state initiatives across the country.) The sentiment for drug law reform is out there, but we couldn't get it done in California (the Register was the only major newspaper to endorse Prop. 5).
Tuesday night's results make me wonder if working for simple decriminalization might be a more productive path. Prop. 5 was carefully, almost exquisitely crafted, with carefully balanced criteria for which offenders would be eligible for treatment. But it would have earmarked money fro treatment programs and it was long and fairly complex. It's not unusual for voters simply to vote No on propositions they don't quite understand, especially if some valid-sounding doubts have been raised (Dianne Feinstein did commercial against it). But the Massachusetts result suggests that voters might be ready for simple decriminalization, at least of marijuana. That would ease a host of law-induced social problems.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I'm sad that this is a political issue at all. If I had my way the State would not be involved in marriage at all, but it is, at many levels. I do wish Prop. 8 had been defeated.