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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Most likely a hit of some kind ...9:28 pm

A preview of the Mark Ronson remix of Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine is being furnished at this link today. (Previous posts here and here.) Tomorrow, it’ll be hitting the radio, if you have one of those somewhere. It’s an oddity. Somewhat amusing. Groovy, for sure, but then so is the original recording. Personally, I can’t say much more than that. There’s something vaguely embarrassing about listening to it, for me. I mean, I’m as Dylan-obsessed as the next guy, I suppose, but are we really so bereft of other music to listen to that we have to listen to quirky remixes of Dylan recordings from 1966? But then, it’s not aimed at people like me, obviously. It’s aimed at whoever is dancing these days to other records by this Mark Ronson fella. I do hope they dig it.








Schemers ...5:05 pm

Rudy Giuliani has offered the beginnings of a health care proposal.

Critical to Giuliani’s plan is a $15,000 tax deduction for families to buy private health insurance, instead of getting insurance through employers. Any leftover funds could be rolled over year-to-year for medical expenses.

The real story, though, is the immediate knee-jerk reaction from the DNC:

In response, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney said, “the Giuliani-Bush health care plan has already been rejected by the American people as a risky scheme.”

A risky scheme! Who needs Al Gore to enter the 2008 presidential race? The DNC is apparently just going to recycle all those well-worn focus-group-tested phrases that served Gore so well in the 2000 election.

Bring on the lockbox.








Monday, July 30, 2007

What a mess ...9:03 pm

Recently I’ve been reading “Lincoln,” the biography by David Herbert Donald. I was struck by this passage (… continue reading …)








Sunday, July 29, 2007

Next stop: down-under ...9:21 pm

Bob Dylan’s tour of the U.S. and Canada ended last night in Kelseyville, California. His tour of New Zealand and Australia begins in ten days. One of his recent performances, in Tucson, Arizona, included a lovely version of Workingman’s Blues #2 with a number of lyrical changes.








Round two? ...8:33 pm

The Pope’s private secretary gave an interview to a German magazine called Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. Some are predicting another “Islam-Christian blow-up” due to his remarks (i.e. similar to what happened after Pope Benedict’s speech at Regensburg).

“I believe the Regensburg speech, as it is known, was prophetic,” Msgr. Ganswein told the German magazine, because it countered a “certain naivete” among people who do not recognize that various currents exist within Islam.

“Attempts at the ‘Islamification’ of the West cannot be denied,” he said, according to an English translation in the Catholic Explorer. “And the associated danger for the identity of Europe cannot be ignored out of a wrongly understood sense of respect… The Catholic side sees this clearly and says as much.” True respect, Ganswein said, is shown in a dialogue with Muslims that is frank, open and honest.








Iraq: 1, Saudi Arabia: 0 ...5:24 pm

The ordinary Iraqi people have a desperately welcome reason for celebration tonight, as their long-suffering national soccer team has pulled off a huge upset victory in the Asian Cup.

The media will focus a lot on people being killed by bullets shot into the sky and falling lethally back to earth — and that is certainly a classically stupid behavior that takes place in that part of the world. But don’t let it overshadow the poignancy of the achievement for the population as a whole. Omar of the blog Iraq the Model was live-blogging the event from his Baghdad home:

Many Iraqis said they will be celebrating their team regardless of the result, so tonight there will be joy no matter what.

6:30 …

No, the joy is not for “no matter what” … . Our team has just won the Asian cup for the first time in our soccer history. The win came through a magnificent goal by the head of our heroic forward Younis Mahmoud at the 71st minute of the match..
Our team ruled the game by all standards; in defense, midfield and attack our players proven that they are the best … they are now the masters of Asian soccer!

Today is definitely the happiest day for Iraqis in years. Tears of joy mixed with prayers for hope on the faces of millions of Iraqis … Words truly fail me and I can’t describe the feeling so please pardon me if the post doesn’t sound coherent; I hear the cheering and music outside although the bullets of celebration keep falling on the ground and roofs here and there. But no one seems to worry about that, the moment is so great that fear has no place in the hearts of the millions of fans, neither from bullets nor from crazy suicide bombers who tried to kill our joy last week.

Our players, tonight our heroes, learned that only with team work they had a chance to win.
May our politicians learn from the players and from the fans who are painting a glorious image of unity and national pride, and let the terrorists know that nothing can kill the spirit of the sons of the immortal Tigris and Euphrates.

The fear is gone, the curfew is ignored, tonight Iraq knows only joy…

Hot Air has video highlights.








The family of Imran ...3:01 pm

Robert Spencer’s series at Hot Air, “Blogging the Qu’ran,” continues this week with verses 33 to 63 of Sura 3; verses which are evidently key to Muslim belief and teaching regarding Christianity.

“This,” says v. 62, “is the true account: There is no god except Allah …” — in other words, Jesus is not divine. Allah tells Muhammad in v. 61 to challenge those who believe otherwise: since “knowledge hath come to thee” he should say to dissenters: “Come! Let us gather together, our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves. Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!” According to [Muhammad's first biographer] Ibn Ishaq, when the Christian delegation from Najran heard this, they asked Muhammad for time to confer among themselves. Then one of their leaders told the rest: “O Christians, you know right well that Muhammad is a prophet sent (by God) and he has brought a decisive declaration about the nature of your master. You know too that a people has never invoked a curse on a prophet and seen its elders live and its youth grow up. If you do this you will be exterminated. But if you decide to adhere to your religion and to maintain your doctrine about your master, then take your leave of the man and go home.” So they went to Muhammad, declined his challenge, and went home, obstinate renegades confirmed in their rebellion against Allah.








Open door ...2:46 pm

Isaiah, chapter 22, verse 22, goes like this (KJV):

And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

In the book of Revelation, chapter 3, verses 7 and 8, John echoes the above (or “rips it off,” if you prefer):

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

And Bob Dylan offers an echo of both of these passages in his song What Can I Do For You?

Pulled me out of bondage and You made me renewed inside,
Filled up a hunger that had always been denied,
Opened up a door no man can shut and You opened it up so wide

This linkage is one of those listed by Michael Gilmour in his 2004 book “Tangled Up In The Bible: Bob Dylan & Scripture.

Click here to go to YouTube and hear Dylan performing this song live in Mannheim, Germany in 1981.

On the subject of holy scripture, by the way, Fr. Richard Neuhaus has a post in On the Square regarding the New American Bible translation which is mandated for use in U.S. Catholic churches. His post is by turns funny, instructive and tragic, and also contains links to similar things he’s written in the past on the subject (thus far of no avail).

The problem keeps coming back, not least in pastoral counseling. Take the woman who had had it with her husband’s lying to her. I mentioned to her Our Lord’s admonition to forgive “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). That’s the way it reads in every widely used English translation, including the Douay-Rheims, an earlier English translation used by Catholics. Jesus obviously intended hyperbole, indicating that forgiveness is open-ended. Keep on forgiving as you are forgiven by God, for God’s forgiving is beyond measure or counting.

But this woman had been reading her NAB, according to which Jesus said we should forgive not “seventy times seven,” but “seventy times.” She had been keeping count, and her husband was well over his quota.

Also by the way, I’m indebted to a reader who some time ago referred me to online Bible study lessons from the late Larry Wright, a Phoenix area Bible teacher and Christian pastor. The lessons are each about 40 minutes, and there are many of them (e.g. eleven for Ecclesiastes; fifty-eight for Matthew). I’ve still only listened to a smattering of them myself. I can’t say if Wright’s style would be to everyone’s taste, but if it is to your taste it’s a wonderful resource, with the files downloadable in mp3 form. And it comes at a bargain price: free. The lessons are located at this link.








Saturday, July 28, 2007

Federalism’s in fashion ...2:57 pm

In a piece from the LA Times, Ronald Brownstein explains Rudy Giuliani’s emerging “federalist” approach to issues such as abortion and gun rights.

In an interview last week, Giuliani said the key to resolving cultural arguments “where our society on a national level ends up being very divided” is to apply the “principle of federalism.” Questions on topics such as gun control, gay rights or aspects of abortion, he continued, “are issues that I think the founding fathers would say should be consigned to state and local governments, experimenting, deciding, having different views, and the federal government having a more limited role.”

Rudy’s new found appreciation of states’s rights (as a mayor he advocated strongly for much more expansive federal gun laws) only goes so far, however.

Even with this strong preference, Giuliani says “you can’t be a rigid slave to federalism.” Disappointing conservatives, he says he’s inclined to retain the nationwide educational testing requirements Bush imposed (though he would seek greater incentives for private school choice).

Nor would he “absolutely rule out” federal legislation on assault weapons if the state action he prefers proves insufficient. Disappointing liberals, he says he might eventually support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage if too many states approved it, especially through the courts.

If you’re a little cynical (or maybe just a little savvy) you might observe that Rudy is gung-ho for federalism as a way to avoid taking decisive positions on abortion or gun rights during an election season, but is giving himself a big out to ditch the concept once in office on the basis that, “well, we gave it a good try, but it’s just not working.”

Rudy’s not the first candidate — or should I say potential candidate — to suggest that federalist principles should be revived as a key part of the next president’s governing philosophy. Fred Thompson talked about it earlier this year in his ABC radio commentary. Perhaps he noticed how Giuliani seems to be attempting to put his brand on the concept, because he has now posted a relatively detailed exposition of his own views on the subject.

It is as true today as it ever was: the closer a government is to its people, the more responsive it is to the felt needs of its constituencies. Too often, however, state and local leaders have to answer to federal bureaucrats first and their constituents second. When the federal government mandates a program that states and localities are forced to implement, or when a federal grant program is created to fund a specific state or community need, it blurs the lines of accountability.

[...]

Back in my days in the Senate, I found myself on the short end of a couple of 99 to 1 votes. They involved issues that had been under the purview of states for over 200 years. I asked why we should federalize what rightly were state and local issues.

I’ve been saying it for years, and it bears repeating: what works in Tennessee may not work in Nebraska and may be different from what succeeds in Oregon. That’s why President Ronald Reagan compared federalism to letting a thousand sparks of genius in the states and communities around this country catch fire. It’s not a perfect system, but it works a lot better than the alternative of central planning.








Another kind of equalizer ...10:55 am

Sometimes, man’s best friend can be in the right place at the right time to be a thug’s worst enemy. From the NY Post today: ‘Mug’ Granny’s Dogged Savior:

Cops said the drama unfolded just before 5 p.m., when [84 year-old Jan] Garten said she was walking along Central Park West near 89th Street when she suddenly felt like someone was following her.

“I noticed an African-American kid, about 14, walking behind me, holding a big black workman’s boot over my head,” Garten said. “His skinny white friend was walking next to me with a red pen knife in his hands.”

The two thugs yelled out, “Give us your money.”

But the cool Garten said she wasn’t having any of it.

“I didn’t even turn my head,” she said. “I said in a pleasant tone of voice, “Fellas, you gotta be kidding.”

The pair kept walking next to her when all of a sudden [dog-owner Stan] Schnier and the hero pooch appeared.

“They were pushing her. They were coming up on either side,” Schnier said. “The dog was pulling me and was barking like crazy.”

Gee and Schnier were able to chase Alexander G. up the street, pinning him against a car as his friend hot-footed it away.

The one fly in the ointment of this story — for me at least — comes at the end:

“Everybody was saying what a great dog, go buy her a pork chop,” Schnier said.

“I said, ‘Why take it out on the pig?’ So I gave her some vegetarian sausages.”

Oh boy. No wonder the pooch was eager to get a mouthful of mugger.








Not so radical ...10:38 am

Thanks to Jack who e-mails in reaction to the previous post on how un-unprecedented the Most Likely You Go Your Way remix is, contrary to what the Times and other hypesters are maintaining. He provides this litany of additional precedents:

In 2001 Dylan also allowed Danish hip-hop/dance star, Funkstar Deluxe to totally remix All Along The Watchtower from John Wesley Harding. Funkstar’s version was released as a single and on his “Keep On Moving (It’s too Funky In Here)” album.

There is also John Oszajca’s “Where’s Bob Dylan When You Need Him”, which samples “License To Kill” from Infidels.

There is also “Bob Dylan” by Nine Days, from their album “The Madding Crowd”, which samples “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”.

These were fully authorized by Dylan.

As far as remixes go, one can go all the way back to 1987 with the version of “Had A Dream About You Baby” on the Hearts Of Fire soundtrack album vs. the completely remixed version on 1988′s Down In The Groove.

Or, the 1994 Brendan O’Brien remix of Dignity (on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 3), vs. the original Daniel Lanois mix found on the Touched By An Angel soundtrack CD.

I guess this point is proven, eh? I expect the Times to close its doors in shame before the end of next week.








Friday, July 27, 2007

He had his equalizer ...5:48 pm

Every once in a while, an instance where someone successfully defends him or herself with a gun actually makes the national news (see previous post). It requires some highly unusual circumstances to get that kind of attention, as for instance when the person defending himself is 93 years old and had been brutally knocked out before awakening and drawing his weapon.

An elderly man beaten unconscious by an assailant wielding a soda can later awoke and shot the man during an attempted robbery, police said.

Willie Lee Hill, 93, told police he saw the robber while in his bedroom Wednesday night. Hill confronted Douglas B. Williams Jr., 24, of El Dorado, who struck the elderly man at least 50 times, knocking him out, police said.

Hill, covered in blood from the attack, regained consciousness and pulled a .38-caliber handgun on Williams. Williams saw the gun and charged Hill, who fired one round, police said. The bullet struck Williams in the throat.

When police arrived, officers said Williams told them, “I can’t feel my legs and I got what I deserved.”







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