Goodbye, Congressman Weiner — The last two weeks have we’ve seen American public life sink to a new low. Finally, with Weiner’s resignation, we have some closure. I was astonished at how many people defended the guy when the story first broke and he hemmed and hawed his way through interviews. Then when he finally admitted the truth, there were yet others who insisted he didn’t need to resign. Wow. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this story is how it reveals that our public threshold for shock and outrage continues to rise. Recently I heard someone remark, “Our tolerance for sin rises with our tolerance for that same sin in our own lives.” Scary thought.
Just Deserts — There are three different theories of punishment. Retributivists maintain that we should punish criminals because it is what they deserve. Deterrentists say that punishment properly aims to deter crime. And reformativists argue that punishment is justified as a means of rehabilitating the criminal. The fate of this rapist, severe though it is, just might satisfy the aims of all three paradigms. In any case, I’d like to see more of them meet the same fate.
Mavs Over Heat — I’m on roll with my pro sports championship predictions, as the Mavericks defeated the Heat last week. (Well, I was on roll, as just a couple days later the Boston Bruins knocked off the Vancouver Canucks for the NHL Stanley Cup—defying my prediction. Oh well, all streaks eventually end.) The Mavs’ win was doubly satisfying, at least for me. Dirk Nowitzki finally “got his ring,” as sports journalists love to put it. I’m just glad that now they’ll shut up about his “not winning the big one” (what a crock that is, not just here but in every case that hackneyed line is used to concoct a sports “story”—blecch!) It’s also satisfying to see how the bluster of the “Three Kings of Miami” was not rewarded. Remember LeBron’s talk last summer about winning eight championships? I expect the Heat will win one eventually, perhaps more. But King James will first need to take a cue from the Mavs’ owner, Mark Cuban, who actually shut his mouth and ate some humble pie, only after which did his team win one.
Vampire Weekend — Have you discovered the world’s best Ivy League, preppie-styled, chamber rock quartet? If not, you need to check them out. Their two albums are deservedly highly acclaimed. And their videos are consistently innovative and fun. Here are two of my faves: A-Punk and Holiday. And check out these live performances in the KCRW studio: Ottoman, Run, Horchata, and California English.