The beautiful sting of a scorpion

Tonya is wearing out the Duran Duran reunion CD, Astronaut:

i was just wondering if you ever got the new album and if so, what do you think of it? maybe you should post a full review just to tee off nate! 🙂 my own thoughts, since you asked, are that it’s pretty good. that it definitely grows on you. that they are best when doing wonderful, catchy pop and that they tend to sound like morons when pontificating about “deeper things.” and that when simon sings the line “.. so FRESH! from your lips is born the melodeeee… melodeee…” from the song Taste the Summer, that he can’t really, actually be serious. oh, and that whoever thought Bedroom Toys was a good idea should be thrown into the ocean. still, it hasn’t left the CD changer in awhile. all in all, i think i’d give it a B+.

Space Bunny gave it to me for Christmas – I reciprocated with Robbie Williams Greatest Hits, which are about as well-crafted as modern pop songs can be – and while I’d give Astronaut a B myself, I have to seriously disagree on two counts. First, Bedroom Toys is my favorite song on the CD and perfectly captures Duran Duran’s unusual ability (almost unique in a world of pompous pop stars such as Bono and Sting), to lampoon their own image. Not only is the bass easily the best on the CD, but the image the song conjurse of a jaded, self-important eurosophisticate nonchalantly strolling into the boudoir of his soon-to-be latest conquest and bursting out with an English-accented “Oh my God, what’s this” not only cracked me up, but had the Perfect Aryan Male and the Potential Aryan Female in hysterics the first time they heard that followed by the chorus.

I saw your bedroom toys, now I’m stalling
I can’t believe my eyes

It’s just not meant to be taken seriously; even LeBon’s sing-song, glottal-stopping delivery indicates this. I liked it stylistically too, as it reminded me of something off the Notorious album.

As for the rest, I actually thought that the music and lyrics showed a band that has grown comfortable with their maturity and past-it status, unlike, for example, U2. Certainly the shift from the voracious predation of Hungry Like the Wolf – still one of my all-time favorite songs – to the themes of protectiveness, love and affection that permeate the CD is significant.

The one element missing is the song structure. This is very apparent when switching from the virtuoso songwriting of the Williams CD, where the verse flows flawlessly into the bridge and on into a big climactic chorus. They are very good musicians, (Tommy Lee, of all people, speaks highly of them), and decent pop songwriters and one can often feel the potential lurking about inside the song, but it never comes fully together and clicks on all cylinders. Ordinary World aside, I think Duran Duran has always been at their best when they attack a song, leading with the bass, and they just don’t seem to have the energy for that anymore.

In summary, Astronaut is good, it’s solid and it’s enjoyable if you like their style, but it isn’t great. It’s more So Red the Rose than Rio.

And you think I’M a conspiracist!

Maybe Paul really is dead…. Courtesy of the thankfully inimitable Bane. Being born after the “Paul is dead” hooplah, I’d never given the matter a moment’s thought, but speaking as someone who has written a few songs professionally, I have wondered about the qualitative difference between the melodies flowing through the early Beatles music and the rather leaden tunes of post-Beatles McCartney-written songs. When Douglas Adams referred to Paul McCartney as a phenomenal songwriter* – I was first reading Hitchhikers when the Wings were still active and I really didn’t know much Beatles’ music – I had no idea how on Earth he could possibly write that.

*in describing the sweetly xenophobic songs sung by the people of Krikkit

God and governments

The Farmer combines ideology with theology:

As a Christian I am subject to all three systems of law, the family, the natural law and the church. The arguments today are over who enforces the natural law. If God sets up human governments, and he clearly does. Then how will those governments enforce the natural law…. Some of you seem to be saying that no law or system would be preferable to what we have here in the US of A now. God did not create that kind of a system and some distorted kind of government would naturally form to fill the void

I’m curious to know if Farmer Tom supports the war on Iraq. After all, if God is setting up human governments, then there’s no more reason for the American people to wage war on the God-given Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein than there is for libertarian Americans to disdain their current federal government in favor of one that respects individual rights.

A major flaw in this submission-to-the-state argument is that it applies as equally to the murderous Khmer Rouge regime as to our former Constitutional Republic. I further note that it was in Satan’s power to give all the kingdoms of Man to Jesus. Either Christians have the authority – and the responsibility – to act in ALL circumstances or we lack it in every one. Most Christians lionize men of faith such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer; shall we criticize him instead for violating the laws of God-given Nazi Germany?

A better idea would be to fix the now corrupted system that the founders established . They set up a triune system of government. A constitutional representative republic. All three are necessary for the system to work. Both the people and the representatives must obey the law. The law cannot be changed with out consent of the governed.

What Farmer Tom appears to be missing is that most libertarians would be quite happy with a genuine constitutional republic. What we have today is the form without the substance; given the failure of the previous model, libertarians are focused on devising conceptual schemes to ensure that Leviathan is sufficiently crippled so as not to escape his bonds the next time around. What must be kept in mind is that the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties do not believe the system is corrupted as they are quite happy with their bifactional ruling party.

Libertarianism is, sopratutto, a reaction to government corruption and tyranny. Libertarians will support almost ANY system that genuinely reduces the power of the central state. The primary difference between libertarians and fraudulent advocates of “small government” is that libertarians do not covet control over other individuals. This is not inherent to libertarianism per se, but it is the essence of the libertarian spirit and dates back, I would argue, not only to Cincinnatus, but to the stayed hand of the Almighty.