Archive for September, 2007
With all the talk recently about how Republican candidates measure up to The Gipper, and a couple contrarian articles about how Reagan is remembered more fondly now than he was while he was president, I started to wonder why Reagan is the standard bearer. I know the obvious reasons. He was like-able and funny. He killed communism with his pinkie and directed Ollie North to kill Iran, or Contra, or something. But in a century of world wars and social upheaval, why is Ronnie such a standout?
Part of my conclusion, oddly, has to do with his disease. His Alzheimer’s forced him from public view. He retreated into seclusion. But as a result, the last memories we have of him are at his best. Strong, friendly, good natured. We didn’t watch him grow old(er) in the public eye. We didn’t have to watch him make idiotic statements and embrace dictators like some other former presidents running around. The other similar case is obviously Kennedy. However, while we didn’t get the chance to see Kennedy grow old, his memories are tainted by the fact that we saw him die. With Ronnie, he just rode off into the sunset to his shining city on the hill. How different would his legacy be if he had remained in the public eye long enough to make talk show blunder or two? And would he still be the conservative patron saint if he had?
I saw two interesting, and interestingly divergent, takes on the recent news that the European Union voted to allow Great Britain to sell some goods under the imperial system instead of going fully metric. So you can still buy a pint of beer in a pub instead of having to ask for 475 mL or some other quantity.
Here’s one response from TAPPED and another from Reason. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn they take opposite positions on switching over to metric, at least by some kind of government mandate. I find myself vaguely indifferent. I’m lazy enough to not really want to have to get used to new measurements, but I’m not so desperately fond of the imperial system that I couldn’t stand to change.
I think people could get used to it. Whether a bottle of juice is labeled “8 ounces” or “1/4 Liter,” people are going to buy juice by the bottle and not volume. If the sign says “Bananas 49-cents/pound” or “Bananas $1/kilo,” people are going to buy the number of bananas they want (or no bananas, as the case may be). (I couldn’t even tell you how much a banana weighs.) My proof of this is how Coke used to sell 20-ounce bottles and now they’re 500 mL. I know I sound like Andy Rooney if I complain that we’re getting less Coke per bottle and still paying more, but the point is that you still buy Coke by the bottle, regardless of whether the label is in metric or imperial.
So people could handle it, if they had to. (I also wonder if an increased immigrant population will bring a familiarity with metric measurement to America.) Of course, I don’t think it will happen, at least not in my lifetime. The tipping point will come if the NFL ever switches to 100-meter fields. Hell, they don’t even do that in Canadian football!
Anyway, all of this reminded me of the classic Dan Aykroyd commercial parody from Saturday Night Live when he introduced the “Decibet,” the new “metric alphabet.” (It also reminded me of this old post of mine I liked.) Nick Gillespie at Reason raises the specter of Esperanto if we submit to internationally-instituted metrification, but I think even he would prefer that to the Decibet.
You know you need to get with the times when you see the headline, “Falco books guest role on ’30 Rock,'” and you picture the Austrian music legend Falco. It turns out that the Falco in question is “Sopranos” star Edie. And it turns out that the “Rock Me Amadeus” Falco has been dead for almost ten years. Still, it would have been cool to see him on “30 Rock.”
Recently, I saw a reference to Tenth Circuit Judge Timothy Tymkovich, and it got me thinking about double-named people like him. Of course, his isn’t a perfect example, but it was close enough to start me mulling. And then there was a recent episode of the TBS sitcom “My Boys” in which one character was named Frank Franklin. Another character said he liked those names, and wished another one was named Andy Anderson.
And there’s Jack Johnson the boxer, Robbie Robertson of The Band, Dave Davies of The Kinks, Bob Roberts from the movie by that name, Jimmy James from “NewsRadio” (the man so nice they named him twice), and of course good old Yon Yonson from Wisconsin. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch more famous examples, but you get the idea.
I’m not sure why, but these people always strike me as a little weird. It’s not their fault, really, although they could have decided to go by their middle names. But it makes me wonder what their parents were thinking. They should have worked as hard to find a suitable name as this Mr. Johnson. Or am I crazy? Do people find these names charming? The fictional Bob Roberts was running for Senator, but would we really elect someone named Steve Stevenson or Dan Daniels or the like? Would you marry someone named Bill Williams or Jenny Jenson?