Mr. Bill George Presents

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Why I Hate Country Music

In Music on September 7, 2009 at 4:38 PM

What kind of music do you like?

In my experience the archetypal answer, at least for everyone around these parts is that they like pretty much everything, except for rap and country. Recently, rap has sort of fallen off that list. So why does country music never make the cut? In a society where people are exposed to, and seem to enjoy more and more types of musical genres it becomes difficult for people to say that they are fans of any type of music, so they simply say everything but country? Poor country.

I think, that in my years of listening, I have stumbled upon the reason why I am not too fond of a lot of country music, and I’m guessing that this might apply to a lot of other people as well. It’s not the excess use of peppy fiddle or the strumming of acoustic guitar, both of those I rank up in the awesome category. It’s certainly not the down home vibe that it gives off, as I’m a fan of folk music and it usually carries with it a similar imagery (albeit usually sans cowboy hats). I think it’s the fact that Country, more than any other genre of music, over-utilizes as type of song that simply doesn’t resonate with me. The story song.

Have you all heard the story song before? It starts off on some rainy night when the singer was a kid, or maybe during a conversation with an auto-mechanic or your dad, you enter into a situation thinking one thing or feeling one thing, and thanks to an odd circumstance, or conversation or a bit of imparted wisdom you’re able to get over your sadness, frustration, being cheated by the car dealer and become better or smarter for it. Blech.

I’m sorry Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Brooks, and Dunn. Story songs are stupid. Really, really stupid. They just don’t hit me at all. They tend to start off on a shaky premise, and end up feeling forced and hokey. There are some notable exceptions to this. The Gambler by Kenny Rogers being the first that comes to mind. The Gambler is a story about a man got some advice from a wise poker player about how to live his life. It’s catchy, and it really, really hits me. It’s a story, but it’s a story from a moment in time. There’s no resolution except that the dude was like “Wow, good advice.” Kenny Rogers was smart enough not to end that song with some rhyming version of happily ever after. He didn’t grow and change and go home and kiss his wife because of what “the gambler” said. Plus, I’m pretty sure that the gambler dies in the song, which is always dramatic. Stuff happens, a story is told, and it’s cool! It’s cool because they leave something up to the imagination.

Look country music writers: When we lend you our ears for two to five minutes we’re not looking for a story. We’re not looking for you to smirk and tell us about the time that you outsmarted your friends. Or learned a lot about life, or how you’ve grown as a person. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I would love to hear how you’ve grown as a person, just not in lyrical form. People tune into music in order to feel something, and 5 minutes is far too short of a time to go through conflict and resolution. Just leave it at conflict. Take the song for what it really is, a moment in time, and just belt out how effing miserable you are. Don’t grow, don’t change, don’t rethink your life. I don’t want that. At least not in your music, and if you’ve got a story to tell, please for the love of all that is musically good, don’t end the story. It doesn’t need an ending.

So I guess that’s why I hate (some) country music. How about everyone else? What makes you hate (insert genre here) type of music?

Whole Foods And Healthcare

In Business on August 26, 2009 at 2:44 AM

This is slightly old news at the moment but the C.E.O of Whole Foods, John Mackey, posted an article that caused some controversy. “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare” was shown on the Wall Street Journal’s website and caused a great deal of disturbance among more liberal Americans, who in most cases are the ones that go to Whole Foods. The entire thing was a P.R. Nightmare. People are boycotting the natural foods markets all over the country to show their opposition to Mackey’s opinions.

I think, after reading the article, that Mackey really doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, which is unfortunate given that he is the C.E.O. of a major corporation (though given how major corporations have been faring lately, it’s hardly atypical). And while I disagree with his overall message, he does make some interesting points, and provides what in my mind appears to be the conservative ideal for privatized health care. He does a very good job of playing a responsible and caring C.E.O. while ultimately not doing much for health care or his company.

What follows are his list of suggestions with commentary/rebuttal where appropriate:

Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

Mackey goes on to suggest that this would solve a lot of problems with our health care system and provide an example for how his company utilizes high-deductible plans. What he doesn’t bother to explain is what high-deductible means. It means that you’ve got to pay out quite a bit of money before you start getting fully insured. Would this ease some of the financial burdens on people on a paycheck to paycheck basis? Absolutely. Would it allow insurance companies to spend a lot less? Sure it would, but as soon as someone has a health problem they’d better have $2,500 in the bank. Which doesn’t sound like much to your average middle class American, but your average middle class American also isn’t bagging groceries at Whole Foods. Mackey also suggests that this creates an incentive to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. No it doesn’t, it creates an incentive to avoid spending that $2,500 at all. I’ve had a toothache for the past few months but have I gone to the dentist? Nope! Thanks high deductible insurance plan! Realistically speaking this only really helps solve health care problems for people that can afford to have some health care problems to begin with. It’s a great way of working within the system we have, but nothing near what a proper universal heath care system could offer.

Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Read the rest of this entry »