Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Brad Hennessey, 32. He was still hanging in there in the minors, in the Astros system, in 2011; I'm rooting for him to make it back.

And now the good stuff:

1. I'm fascinated by the data on House staff turnover rates, from Lee Drutman at the Sunlight Foundation.

2. Josh Putnam makes sense about the future of the Nevada caucuses. Excellent points.

3. Evan Haglund looks at current executive branch vacancies -- and adds some complexity to the question of vacancies from the political science literature.

4. I think Jonathan Cohen gets the recent contraception decision just about right. See also Sarah Kliff's excellent FAQ.

5. And I've always thought that Quadrophenia was a far better album than Tommy, which has great songs but in my view is far less than the sum of its parts; Tobi Vail explains the appeal of the later album in generational terms, which I'm not sure is correct but I'll buy because it's another marker that I'm not a baby boomer (I count according to the demographers, but I'm too young -- I would argue -- culturally). I don't know: when do you think the cultural line is for the younger edge of baby boomers?


  1. I'll bite on the last one. I'm a Boomer, born 1949. If you want to look at cultural lines, consider the popular music that you listened to in high school. I am an original Beatlemaniac. I also followed the rise of the Stones and came of age in the Summer of Love, 1967, "The year of Sgt. Pepper and Are You Experienced" to borrow a line from Porcupine Tree's "Time Flies."

    In the mid to late 1970s, the heads were still listening to deep album rock, but the radio was starting to pick up a lot of other stuff like Disco and Punk. Then we had the 80s. You find that point of demarcation, you find the inter-generational shift. I've never bought that we went from the Boomers to GenX; there's another generation in between that is distinct, but doesn't have a readily identifiable name.

  2. Mid-years Boomer, born in '53. Can only speak for myself, but here's how I'd describe this situation:

    Cooler-than-thou Boomers think The Who Sell Out is their best album, and "A Quick One While He's Away" is their best "opera". We think "The Who" died with Moonie.

    Average Boomers think Who's Next is their best album, and Tommy their best opera.

    Punk and disco are the initial points of demarcation, with hip-hop soon to follow. The average Boomer ignored disco when they weren't making fun of it, became nostalgia freaks who thought Tom Petty rooled when punk split rock fans in the middle, and became just like their own parents when hip-hop happened.

    1. OK, but I can't imagine that there's anyone other than Pete Townshend who doesn't realize that the Who didn't actually outlive Keith Moon.

      I'm open to arguments that "A Quick One" > Quadrophenia. It's awful good, and the live performances are excellent. The 1970s Who sound hasn't worn very well, but for whatever reason I don't hold that against Quadophenia.

  3. Sadly, Keith Moon didn't outlive "Keith Moon".

  4. Has anyone read Sean Trende's new book, "The Lost Majority?" I scanned it, and felt it worthwhile, although certainly biased toward a right-wing interpretation and often repeating points that have been worked over in other books or forums. Particularly good, I thought, was his analysis of political parties in America as being not so much parties as coalitions of interest groups with loose ties of alliance, thus fostering intra- and inter-party realignments while preventing the establishment of permanent partisan majorities. Nothing new, but worth emphasizing in an age when the parties are often cast as "givens" in the political environment.

    Having said that much of it also played as the latest salvo in his skirmishing with Ruy Texeira and others over the question of whether demographic change means advantage to the Dems (or more specifically, to groups favoring more progressive policies). I think that Texeira, et. al., tend to win that one overall, but I'll have to leave the nitty-gritty analysis of that to Mr. Bernstein and others more expert than I.

  5. Thanks for bringing Quadrophenia into the discussion - I don't know the answer to your question, but I sure appreciate your perspective that Q. outshines Tommy by a long stretch. Liked Tommy, but was truly moved by Quadrophenia. "Only Love" still makes me cry; also, I always filter my view of Sting through the BellBoy character.

    Most awesome rock opera ever.

  6. If you are young enough to have used a personal computer (i.e., a word processor in lieu of a typewriter), you are not a boomer.

    1. Oops, I meant old enough to use one in college.

  7. You need to distinguish between the Early Boom (or "Boomer Classic") and the Late Boom. The cultural experiences were fundamentally different, but the Late Boom gets lost between Boomer Classic and Gen X. Probably you, like me, are a Late Boomer. A long time ago, the year I turned 30, there was a cute little item in Parade magazine contrasting the two Booms. For instance: the early memories of Early Boomers include getting the first family TV, while those of Late Boomers include missing all the weekend kids' programs because of JFK's funeral. (I would say the more significant difference is: Early Boomers had no trouble finding jobs, while Late Boomers have had to scrap and claw for everything because the Early Boomers took it all first. OTOH, the various liberalizations that Early Boomers had to fight for were already in place for Late Boomers. Still, I think I would rather have had the jobs.)

  8. Gordon --

    See, I'm right on the cusp on that one; my frosh class all arrived with typewriters. Sophomore and junior years, I started using computer word processing -- but it was a dumb terminal using the campus mainframe. Then, senior year, I used a PC in the campus computer lab, and some (I think relatively few) frosh that year arrived with computers.

    Jeff --

    I was born (just) after JFK. IMO, that's a clincher, but again the demographers disagree.

  9. I was born (just) after JFK.

    Birth rates returned to the prewar norm in '64, so that is right on the very edge. Definitionally it could go either way.

    The typewriters-in-college metric is a good one. I did have to spend a few more years typewriting, but on the other hand, I'm pleased I had a few years of young adulthood before Reaganism hit.


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