Excellent Things I’ve read, 9/9/09

Wow. I didn’t realize today was one of those weird number days until I wrote the title.

Taunter on financial regulation. Take the time to read it – it’s a good blueprint going forward, silo-ing out the core things we need financial industry to do, while allowing innovation at the edges, but in a “you are on your own” fashion.

The bizarre history of Ave Maria Law School. Founded in Michigan by the former owner of Domino’s Pizza, Tom Monaghan, he took too much control and moved the university out of its original setting. Why? Because the local town wouldn’t let him build a 500-foot cross. It moved into a former retirement home in Florida. It has more or less collapsed. I knew a Catholic women who wanted to transfer out of her then current law school to go there when it was founded – it must have been exciting for the first wave of students until they realized how unstable it was going to be.

Felix rounds up the debate on matriculation rates. Please please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure matriculation rates don’t go into almost any rankings of colleges (as opposed to yields of those getting in), and given it is a money maker (senior classes are more expensive to give) it doesn’t surprise me it isn’t taken care of well inside the system. I’m especially interested in peer effects as more and more education goes online and virtual.

Matt Steinglass writes about Health Care and Fugazi’s Waiting Room. As we are all waiting on tonight’s speech, it seems appropriate.

Matt writes: “This Fugazi video seemed the apposite one for the day, not just because of its nice linkage of health care, boredom, anxiety and repressed fury — the mood of the moment — but because in many ways it encapsulates the exasperation of a progressive left that is still waiting for its moment, twenty years after the end of Reagan’s presidency.”

This reminds me of one of the favorite things I heard someone say over the past 9 years: In mid-2008, after discussing some terrible shows we’ve seen, a friend said “You know, we had to live through the Bush Years, and we didn’t even get a decent punk band out of it. All we got was Vampire Weekend!”

Did we get a Fugazi in the 2000s and I missed it? Very likely. I’m still amazed at Fugazi’s 2001 “The Argument.” The opening line of the album, sung in a surprisingly foreboding but melodic voice (for Ian, anyway), on the song Cashout, “on the morning of the first eviction…” – how much does that sting now? That’s an amazing track, about the knee-on-throat world of urban gentrification and mass evictions (“the furniture’s out on the sidewalk / next to the family”). In the song it’s about the city building a stadium; I think our heads would have exploded if we realized in 2001 it would be the country, and it would be about the financial markets using that family as collateral for gambling for an extra 1% by leveraging up in the repo markets.

For me music in the 2000s was more about a cynical sigh of resignation. I listened to The Walkmen’s 2002 “Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone” a lot, with the opening of They’re Winning (“They’re Winning / I know it’s not fair / But what is?”) getting me through a fair share of the Bush Years.

As we approach its end, what music got you through the 2000s?

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6 Responses to Excellent Things I’ve read, 9/9/09

  1. racerx says:

    …“You know, we had to live through the Bush Years, and we didn’t even get a decent punk band out of it. All we got was Vampire Weekend!”

    Excellent observation. Reminds me of an episode of Family Guy

    Brian Griffin: They want me to contribute to The New Yorker.
    Stewie Griffin: The New Yorker? Oh, you’ll fit in there as well as I did at Woodstock.
    [cutaway to Stewie at Woodstock]
    Stewie Griffin: Uh, excuse me, it’s been brought to my attention that a few bad apples out there are smoking marijuana. Uh, I’ve got news for you, my friend. Marijuana’s illegal. Not cool. [audience starts booing] Alright then. [Begins singing, to the tune of America the Beautiful] Establishment, establishment, you always know what’s best…
    Man in audience: You suck!
    Stewie Griffin: Learn the rules!

  2. Matt Frost says:

    Good question, and a good line about Vampire Weekend, although I would have said “all we got were the Strokes.”

    I lived in a cave, musically speaking, for the first half of the decade, so I can’t say with assurance that there was no Fugazi analogue, but I suspect the zeitgeist is such that earnestness is taking the decade off.

  3. Joey M says:

    Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice released in 2002 still holds up as a great album imo…I Hate The Kids is an awesome opener starting off with “Nobody does anything wrong / Nobody is a dilettante / Everybody does everything / Everything they want” and closing with “the older you get / the less you’re worth / you’re gonna hit the market full force / I hate the kids”. Agree with The Walkmen, though I liked Bows & Arrows more. McLusky tooo

  4. Definition Nazi says:

    Matriculation: to enroll in a college or university as a candidate for a degree. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/matriculation)

    I think the term Felix means to use is Graduation Rate. Matriculation rate would refer to the number of students accepting offers of admissions.

  5. Ted K says:

    The Live version of Pink Floyd’s “Sorrow” from “PULSE”

  6. Mike says:

    Definition: Whoops!

    Matt Frost: I like that too, but I think there was a whole segment (maybe the segment) that was quite sincere about how much better off they were being in a band in Brooklyn than in rural Wisconsin or wherever. And I liked Interpol enough that I feel I should give the Strokes a pass.

    JoeyM: Excellent stuff – I posted a video of “I Hate The Kids” here once, though that song is all about shrugging at how terrible its gotten:


    One of my few regrets is missing the Hot Snakes show when it came to Chicago. I was deathly ill; my friend opened for them, my other friend called me in the middle to say he had done a shot with Scott Lucas from Local H and I Hate The Kids was playing and where was I, etc. I so wanted to go; I was also incapable of standing.

    I saw The Night Marchers recently in SF; they were good, really good even. But it wasn’t the same.

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