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Wednesday, October 20, 2010 

It's been a busy couple of weeks at work, and September/early October was insane for me in terms of travelling, concerts, and so on. There's catching up to do:

- My review of the fantastic Sam Amidon show I saw in Toronto is up now; if Sam comes anywhere near where you are, you ought to go see him.

- I've heard the argument that what Christine O'Donnell is doing here isn't so much ignorance as a covert argument (that the establishment clause doesn't say what it says), which even if true is idiotic and poorly expressed to boot. Can we please stop talking about this woman now? Canadian politics are depressing enough without having to worry that our southern neighbours are at least theoretically able to elect her to high office. (And why did this all have to happen after I fell in love with The West Wing, so that I both care and understand more than I did before?)

- A study isn't the kind of ironclad proof the press sometimes treats it as, but I find it interesting that this one suggests that, as far as actual happiness goes, getting paid anything more than $75,000 a year doesn't help. Which sounds about right to me. (Also, first world problems!)

- Jonathan Bradley has been absolutely killing it at the mighty Screw Rock and Roll for a minute now, and here are just three examples: One of the most cogent descriptions of good criticism I've read in a while ("Music criticism needs good listeners, not objective standards. We need to listen well and report our responses accurately and honestly, not to try to implement standards that circumvent our instincts in pursuit of an unachievable and undesirable objectivity.), an excellent comparison between conservatism and liberalism ("Conservatism is an ideology interested in preserving prevailing social structures — that is, prevailing power structures... And sure, I understand why folks might find such an ideology appealing: After all, it’s got us this far, and we’re doing OK. (It’s an even better argument if you are doing OK.) But I’m a liberal; I care about the individual."), and a sharp takedown of one of the more pernicious arguments against pop culture ("Culture, 'mass culture' included, is something people do. This quote understands culture only as something that is done to people. It distinguishes correct art from incorrect art, and then dehumanizes people who do not have the correct art done to them. It must, otherwise Marcus would recognize that people can respond to mass culture as strongly, as emotionally, and as authentically as she does to whichever niche interest she prefers.").

- To end, two interesting quotations that stand out rather sharply from their (perfectly fine) environs: Warren Ellis on RFID, AR, wearable computing, and so on: "We are growing more comfortable with doing business with invisible things. There’s something almost primeval about it. A sense that we’re relearning to interact with the presence of the powerful and numinous. Working with the ancestors." And Todd VanDerWerff, on one of the good bits of the deeply flawed new show Mike & Molly: "What's interesting about Mike & Molly isn't that it's a show about two fat people; it's that it's a show about two people who find love when they were pretty sure they'd never be worthy of it. It's about the weird intersection between kind of hating yourself and then realizing someone else thinks you're pretty great the way you are."

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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