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The 2014 mix is here!

2014rockMy mix is here, just six days after year’s end. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying that the promptness and alacrity are nothing short of historic.

This was a great year for music and consequently this is the strongest mix in several years, at least in my humble opinion. You can download it directly from my Dropbox account. If you’re into bittorrent, you can get the torrent file here.

A few notes:

1. As always, if you would like a copy on CD, I will send you one free of charge. I enjoy making them for the rapidly shrinking group of people who still listen to CDs. It’s the ideal way to hear the mix: high-quality lossless files, in the proper order, preferably while driving on a long highway. Just email me your address and I’ll mail you one. Really!

2. I say this every year, but I’ll say it again: please listen to the mix in order at least once. It’s meant to be played as an album.

3. If you buy the tracks from iTunes or listen to them on Spotify, you won’t have the same experience. I’ve edited just about all these files in some small way, ditched some skits and outros and trailing silences, to help them flow together better.

4. If you’d like a lossless (FLAC) version of the mix, I can get you one.

Spread the word! Here’s the playlist:

Continue reading The 2014 mix is here!

foreign policy

It is very much a vital and open question at the moment: what will a John Kerry foreign policy look like? More broadly: what _should_ it look like?

I waver on these questions, and don’t find much to agree with in either the far right or the “anti-imperialist” etc. far left. Today I stumbled on this post at, by a commenter named praktike, and while I don’t agree with everything in it, I find it extraordinarily though-provoking. I wish discussions at this level took place more often.


Admittedly I’m not exactly tapped into mainline right wing thinking, but just from reading around it sounds to me like lots of folks on the right are jumping off the Bush bandwagon. I’m thinking of libertarians, who are disappointed with his disastrous fiscal policy, and hawks, who are disappointed with his disastrous handling of the Iraq war. Pretty soon all he’s going to have left are the hardcore zealots, and (thank christ) they are not numerous enough to win him the election.

This post by Jacob Levy summarizes the trend well. It’s short — you should read it.

*UPDATE*: Here’s a follow-up Levy post, moving his endorsement of Kerry from provisional to positive (thanks to the Edwards pick), and explaining some more about his reasons. Interesting.

michael moore

The final word, from the New York Press:

Michael Moore may be an ass, and impossible to like as a public figure, and a little loose with the facts, and greedy, and a shameless panderer. But he wouldn’t be necessary if even one percent of the rest of us had any balls at all.

Say what you want about Moore, but he picked himself up and _did_ something, something approximating the role journalism is supposed to play. The rest of us — let’s face it — are just souped-up shoe salesmen with lit degrees. Who should shut their mouths in the presence of real people.

*UPDATE*: Okay, that wasn’t the last word. The last — and to my mind, best — word on Moore’s movie is contained in this Paul Krugman column. It’s a must-read.

our pathetic press

The right is heavily invested in the myth that the American press is “liberal,” but the problem with the press is not political bias, but laziness, sloppiness, and fecklessness. They go for the easy, cheap, sensational story every time. This was never more clear than when they were covering Clinton, and it’s become depressingly clear all over again with the release of Clinton’s book. It makes me sad, but you really should read this post from Brad DeLong anyway.

‘strict father’ vs. ‘nurturant parent’

I wasn’t sure whether to post this here or over on the grip diaries — it’s one of the few subjects that bridges the gap.

George Lakoff is a cognitive scientist that’s done a lot of work on metaphor and how our thoughts — and even our brains — are structured around them. (It’s pretty wonky.) When he turned his attention to politics, the result was a new book. His thesis (which you can read about in great detail here) is that what divides liberals and conservatives at root is not so much a set of policy positions as a deep-seated, fundamental metaphor for parenthood.

You might wonder what parenting has to do with politics. Quite a lot, Lakoff thinks.

Conservatives, he says, subscribe to the “strict father” model. Here’s a too-long description:

Life is seen as fundamentally difficult and the world as fundamentally dangerous. Evil is conceptualized as a force in the world, and it is the father’s job to support his family and protect it from evils — both external and internal. External evils include enemies, hardships, and temptations. Internal evils come in the form of uncontrolled desires and are as threatening as external ones. The father embodies the values needed to make one’s way in the world and to support a family: he is morally strong, self-disciplined, frugal, temperate, and restrained. He sets an example by holding himself to high standards. He insists on his moral authority, commands obedience, and when he doesn’t get it, metes out retribution as fairly and justly as he knows how. It is his job to protect and support his family, and he believes that safety comes out of strength.

In addition to support and protection, the father’s primary duty is tell his children what is right and wrong, punish them when they do wrong, and to bring them up to be self-disciplined and self-reliant. Through self-denial, the children can build strength against internal evils. In this way, he teaches his children to be self-disciplined, industrious, polite, trustworthy, and respectful of authority.

The strict father provides nurturance and expresses his devotion to his family by supporting and protecting them, but just as importantly by setting and enforcing strict moral bounds and by inculcating self-discipline and self-reliance through hard work and self-denial. This builds character. For the strict father, strictness is a form of nurturance and love — tough love.

The strict father is restrained in showing affection and emotion overtly, and prefers the appearance of strength and calm. He gives to charity as an expression of compassion for those less fortunate than he and as an expression of gratitude for his own good fortune.

Once his children are grown — once they have become self-disciplined and self-reliant — they are on their own and must succeed or fail by themselves; he does not meddle in their lives, just as he doesn’t want any external authority meddling in his life.

Liberals, he says, subscribe to the “nurturant parent” model:

The primal experience behind this model is one of being cared for and cared about, having one’s desires for loving interactions met, living as happily as possible, and deriving meaning from one’s community and from caring for and about others.

People are realized in and through their “secure attachments”: through their positive relationships to others, through their contribution to their community, and through the ways in which they develop their potential and find joy in life. Work is a means toward these ends, and it is through work that these forms of meaning are realized. All of this requires strength and self-discipline, which are fostered by the constant support of, and attachment to, those who love and care about you.

Protection is a form of caring, and protection from external dangers takes up a significant part of the nurturant parent’s attention. The world is filled with evils that can harm a child, and it is the nurturant parent’s duty to be ward them off. Crime and drugs are, of course, significant, but so are less obvious dangers: cigarettes, cars without seat belts, dangerous toys, inflammable clothing, pollution, asbestos, lead paint, pesticides in food, diseases, unscrupulous businessmen, and so on. Protection of innocent and helpless children from such evils is a major part of a nurturant parent’s job.

Children are taught self-discipline in the service of nurturance: to take care of themselves, to deal with existing hardships, to be responsible to others, and to realize their potential. Children are also taught self-nurturance: the intrinsic value of emotional connection with others, of health, of education, of art, of communion with the natural world, and of being able to take care of oneself. In addition to learning the discipline required for responsibility and self-nurturance, it is important that children have a childhood, that they learn to develop their imaginations, and that they just plain have fun.

Through empathizing and interacting positively with their children, parents develop close bonds with children and teach them empathy and responsibility toward others and toward society. Nurturant parents view the family as a community in which children have commitments and responsibilities that grow out of empathy for others. The obedience of children comes out of love and respect for parents, not out of fear of punishment. When children do wrong, nurturant parents choose restitution over retribution whenever possible as a form of justice. Retribution is reserved for those who harm their children.

The pursuit of self-interest is shaped by these values: anything inconsistent with these values is not in one’s self-interest. Pursuing self-interest, so understood, is a means for fulfilling the values of the model.

Basically, to cut an already-long story a little shorter, people carry these models into politics. Lakoff goes on about it for many hundreds of pages.

Lots of people think this theory is grande horseshit. I think it’s about medium horseshit. It’s partial, only a truncated facet of a bigger picture, but it is suggestive and worth giving some thought. It rings true to my formative experiences (to put it delicately). The intriguing thing is that according to the many empirical studies Lakoff cites, the nurturant parent model produces more productive, healthy, happy adults, as measured by a range of criteria from economic to psychological.

There’s no such consensus about the models in politics, but suffice it to say, my political views follow pretty directly from my belief that the “nurturant parent” model — a term I loathe, incidentally — works best in domestic and international politics as well. It’s hard for me to see how it could be so clearly true for familial (and communal) matters and not for anything broader than that.

baby blog

Incidentally, I found the previous story through this site, which is a blog about babies. It differs from this blog in that a) it’s about babies in general, not just one baby, and b) it’s updated several times a day, as opposed to sporadically every few months. It’s got some interesting stuff on neonatal health, childcare, baby yoga, etc. etc. Check it out.

i know best

Particularly at this stage of things — with the kid clinging to his mom like she’s a buoy in a large and hostile ocean — it’s nice for us dads to get some affirmation. Turns out a new study at Yale shows that fathers bring a different style of parenting and problem-solving that is crucial to healthy childhood development. We all knew that, right? But it’s nice to see science say it. This comes from an article in USA Today that is short enough to reproduce in its entirety, below the fold:

Dads do make a difference in a child’s life.

Experts say — and new research suggests — that fathers bring a different parenting style to everyday activities like getting dressed in the morning or kicking around a soccer ball.

Dads often take an active approach that encourages children to solve problems on their own rather than asking for help, says Kyle Pruett, a child psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine.

If a child is having trouble with homework, a father is likely to coach the child first and help out only when that approach fails. “The average father will let the frustration meter heat up a little more,” Pruett says.

Kids need both parenting styles, but the father’s contribution can be crucial: It helps kids develop a can-do attitude and helps hone their problem-solving skills, he says.

Fathers often adopt parenting methods to help prepare kids for the real world, Pruett says. That’s why so many fathers line up to watch a soccer match, he says. And after the game, they often help the kids figure out how they could have played a little better or how to cope with defeat.

“It’s not just about the sport,” he says. “It’s about the lesson that life isn’t always fair.”

bush going negative

This should surprise exactly no one. Bush has nothing positive to run on, no accomplishments, so he’s going negative on an unprecedented scale. This is what the modern Republican party does, though. It’s what they’re good at. Expect a long campaign season full of lies and vicious attacks as Bush’s people try to convince people to hate Kerry enough to vote for a man whose incompetence has been unambiguously demonstrated.

And this isn’t a case of “oh, they all do that.” Read the article. Bush is going more negative, more often, and telling more lies. It’s not a tit-for-tat situation, as much as the right would like you to believe it is.