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May 18, 2004 7:53 am

#@%!&$ ...

You'd think that years of experience would have taught me that envy may be an effective motivator, but it can motivate you right into the bowels of hell. But, N-o-o-o- ...

So, I'm sitting here browsing the net and find that our friend, Abu Aardvark, has got his blog a neat little theme song: "The Intermission Song" by the Aaaaardvarks. It's neat. Sort of reminds me of"Plant a Radish" from The Fantasticks. So, why doesn't Cliopatria have a nice theme song? I'll TELL you why! I did what any simpleton would do and googled things like"music,""history,""lyrics,"" cliopatria," and"Cleopatra" and got the usual list of suspects.

Well, I've got as much business at the keyboard of a computer as my wife had at the wheel of a car when we first got married. I kid you not. She came home from the gas station one day and I asked her if she'd had the oil checked."Yes," she said. The attendant (that gives you some idea that we've been married a long time) told her it was a quart low. Asks I,"did you tell him to put in a quart of oil?""No," says she."I thought that you let it go down to empty, just like you do gasoline." Another example, since Grant Jones berates Cliopatriarchs for not offering evidence: I get home from a convention, only to find that the gas tank cap is missing from the side of our old Plymouth station wagon."Where's the cap to the gas tank?" I ask her."Oh," saith she,"I was wondering what that hole in the side of the car was." ! - ! - ! - ! - ! Now, if you repeat those stories back to her, I'm entitled to come after you for your life or your money.

Now, where was I? Oh, my incompetence at the computer. Anyway, I click on one likely looking offering (we're looking for a theme song for Cliopatria, you'll recall). Well, it just committed me to internet hell for at least the next two or three hours. First, I was delivered unto"pop-up" torment. My screen filled with flashing promos for things I didn't want and didn't even know existed. Then, surprisingly enough, it filled with warnings about vulnerability to"pop-ups" and"relatively inexpensive" inhibitors to"pop-ups." Then, I found that my computer somehow didn't give me access to comments at any number of websites (which isn't a bad idea, now that I think about it). Beyond that, I was saddled with a new and unwanted toolbar across the top of my screen. But, the final indignity was that my homepage was displaced by some alien thing that I had never intended as mine. It's rather like coming down your street and finding that some CVS drugstore has been built on the lot where your house used to stand. And, nobody had even bothered to tell you!

Anyway, I had to go into"Command" on my computer. Now, I've got as much business going into"Command" on my computer as my wife had getting behind the wheel of a car when we first got married. Or, did I say that already? Anyway, some technology removed or quarantined some 31 unwanted files before I got out of there. CVS is still standing where I claim my house is supposed to be. We'll eventually find a way to restore my homepage, but you'd think that they'd at least have the decency to put a quart of oil in the gas tank while they're sitting there.

Oh, and by the way, Cliopatria still doesn't have a decent theme song. But I'm gonna leave that up to my more talented colleagues from now on. In the meantime, if you're interested in an excellent essay on America's secular tradition, try Scott McLemee's"Pleading the First" for Newsday.

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David Lion Salmanson - 5/19/2004

I like the Damn Yankees reference, but the Joel song is just awful: boomer nostalgia at it's worst. The vast majority of the song covers the fifties and early to mid sixties and then crams about 25 years into the last verse. It's awfully selective and really suburban in it's focus yet it isn't really history, it's a chronicle - a list of events without interpretation. I'll stick with Costello's cynicism and ambiguity. Or maybe the Smiths "The Bomb will bring us together" or to capture the religiously informed yet secular outlook of Cliopatria just about anything off The Call's Modern Romans album. I was keeping this to myself since it's the epigraph to my diss but I'll share. Here are the words to Midnight Oil's "Forgotten Years" (another evangelical leftist band):

Few of the sins of the father, are visited upon the son
Hearts have been hard, our hands have been clenched in a fist too long
Our sons will never be soldiers, our daughters will never need guns
These are the yrs between
These are the yrs that were hard fought and won
Contracts torn at the edges, old signatures stained with tears
Seasons of war and peace, these should not be forgotten years
Still it aches like tetanus, it reeks of politics
How many dreams remain? This is a feeling too strong to contain

The hardest years, the darkest years, the roarin' years, the fallen years
These should not be forgotten years
The hardest yrs, the wildest years, the desperate and divided years
We will remember, these should not be forgotten years

Our shoreline was never invaded, our country was never in flames
This is the calm we breathe, this is a feeling too strong to contain
Still it aches like tetanus, it reeks of politics
Signatures stained with tears, who can remember
We've got to remember

The hardest...
Forsaking aching breaking years, the time and tested heartbreak years
These should not be forgotten years
The blinded years, the binded years, the desperate and divided years
These should not be forgotten years, remember

Josh Kaderlan - 5/18/2004

The Google toolbar is a wonderful thing, but Mozilla Firefox is even better. Not only does it block popups, but it doesn't have the other security holes endemic to Internet Explorer.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/18/2004

Sounds like we had the same thing. I'm running my virus scan over the whole computer for the third time.

Adam Kotsko - 5/18/2004

I think I might have gotten the same thing -- for me, it took a few trips through Ad-Aware and several reboots, and a long time of just trying to delete files and registry entries by hand, to get rid of it. It kept me up until 3:00 AM and I still had more work in the morning.

Jonathan Dresner - 5/18/2004

We should probably refer copyright problems to Eugene Volokh, if we can afford him. He was quoted extensively in the Schwarzenegger Bobblehead Lawsuit I read recently.

My suggestions, for good history songs? Not much, is there. Lots of songs in the folk tradition about specific historical events (I could make a list....), but songs about historical process?

My personal favorites: Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" and "Those Were the Good Ol' Days" from Damn Yankees.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/18/2004

Right. I've got the Google toolbar and mine's blocked almost 1700 pop-ups, but this latest incursion gives a second toolbar precidence over the Google's. Whoever is behind this thing sure doesn't mind planting hatred in my heart.

Adam Kotsko - 5/18/2004

... is the answer. I have had it for several months, and it has been a long time since I have been sucked into the "porn vortex" as we used to call it in college. It also keeps a body count for pop-ups: 407 blocked so far. Best of all, it's not just relatively inexpensive, it is absolutely inexpensive: free.

This has been a paid commercial announcement.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/18/2004

Terrific suggestion, David. I'm still looking forward to having your legal advice. Meanwhile, I'm still in internet hell this a.m. Back into "Command" and more file deleting!

David Lion Salmanson - 5/18/2004

...which is from the excellent CD Philadelphia Chickens by Sandra Boyton (sp?) an as yet unproduced musical with no plot and lots of great songs about animals. One of my daughter's favorites. As for theme song, Elvis Costello's Beyond Belief is most appropriate. The opening lines are:

History repeats the old conceits
The glib replies the same defeats
Keep your finger on important issues
With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues

and ends with:

I've got a feeling
I'm going to get a lot of grief
Once this seemed so appealing
Now I am beyond belief

Does this constitute fair use? That's a subject for another post.

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