Patterico's Pontifications


RIP Neil Peart

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:16 am

The most endangered species: the honest man
Will still survive annihilation.

— Neil Peart, 1952-2020

Growing up, one of the central things that my closest friends and I shared was a love of the band Rush. We went to several Rush concerts together and spent countless hours discussing the relative merits of the various albums, songs, and time periods of the band.

Most people who are aware of Rush are either huge Rush fans or disdainful of the band. If you’re a huge fan, you know why. There’s simply no other band that is as interesting to listen to. And arguably the main reason for that was Neil Peart.

Neil was the band’s drummer, and I firmly believe he is the best drummer rock music has ever seen and arguably the greatest drummer that has ever lived. He could take what might otherwise be a repetitive passage and completely transform it into something that was alive and new each time you listened to it. I spent a good chunk of yesterday evening listening to tracks that isolate the drums (or in some cases drums and bass) from a Rush song, and “Red Barchetta” is one of the standout examples:

Listening to that, you get a real sense of how integral the drums are to the exciting increase in the song’s intensity as it progresses, culminating in an orgy of rhythmic excitement. Here’s the original song if you don’t know it, for comparison:

But Neil wasn’t just an incredible drummer. He was also the band’s lyricist, and in that capacity wrote some of the most thoughtful and inspiring lyrics in rock history. Speaking as someone who doesn’t generally pay much attention to lyrics, Rush was the exception. I lost interest in Rush’s albums in their final years, when the songs started to sound the same to me — but at least up to a certain point in their work, I knew every word to every song. The words were moving, and powerful, and always suited the song. Again, an example will make the point clear:

The dancer slows her frantic pace
In pain and desperation
Her aching limbs and downcast face
Aglow with perspiration

Stiff as wire, her lungs on fire
With just the briefest pause
The flooding through her memory
The echoes of old applause

She limps across the floor
And closes her bedroom door

The writer stares with glassy eyes
Defies the empty page
His beard is white, his face is lined
And streaked with tears of rage

Thirty years ago, how the words would flow
With passion and precision
But now his mind is dark and dulled
By sickness and indecision

And he stares out the kitchen door
Where the sun will rise no more

I listened to this song again last night and it brought tears to my eyes. Neil died on Tuesday, January 7, at the age of 67, after fighting a private three-year battle with brain cancer. He was universally known as kind. He was private. He was a reader. He suffered great tragedy in his life, losing his daughter and wife within months of each other in the late 1990s. He reacted to these adversities by taking a long motorcycle trip through the United States and reading. He came back to the band about four years later, remarried, and had another daughter.

Some are born to move the world
To live their fantasies
But most of us just dream about
The things we’d like to be

Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it
For you, the blind who once could see
The bell tolls for thee

For Neil Peart, the sun will rise no more. But he lived out his greatest fantasy: to be a principled artist who never gave in to commercial pressures, and always stood up to the powers that be. He was a very important influence in my life, and in the lives of countless others. His voice and his musicianship, and his influence on so many people, will live on. Cancer can’t take that away from him.

Godspeed, Neil.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:33 am

[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item: Yes, we did it:

Iran has admitted it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane hours after launching ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops, blaming “human error” for the “great tragedy” that killed all 176 people aboard.

“Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter.

As if they didn’t already know this. Further, Iran couldn’t just own it – they also had to point the finger at the U.S.:

Based on a preliminary conclusion by the armed forces, “human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif tweeted

Second news item: One of three Republicans in House who voted against the war powers now being shunned:

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) vote in favor of the ‘War Powers Resolution’ on Thursday, meant to curb Trump’s authority in armed conflict with Iran, has reportedly prompted the president to complain about him and led to the White House icing him out. According to The Washington Post, a senior White House official said the administration would not be returning Gaetz’s communications, “smoke signals or his kneelings in the snow” after his “super uncool” and “quite unwise” push for other Republicans to reclaim “Congressional power” as the “Constitutional conservative position” in an email. “The Trump administration was disappointed in the congressman’s vote and is hopeful that as the president’s foreign policy continues to unfold, he will reconsider his points of view,” head of legislative affairs for the White House, Eric Ueland, told the Post. Gaetz and his spokesman have not spoken publicly on the matter.

Third news item: About “Megxit,” “Brand Sussex,” or whatever you want to call it:

This is not about Harry and Meghan going quietly into the night; what they want is a ‘progressive new role within this institution’. In other words, they want to be able to give their leftist views using the royal platform. They don’t want to be traditional members of the royal family; they want to be royal celebrities and use their royal connections to push a leftist agenda. Harry is going to make the Duke of Windsor, who abdicated to marry the divorcee Wallis Simpson, look like a model son and Royal.

We certainly know what Meghan and Harry don’t want: the dull protocol, the service to the public, the boring plaque-unveiling events in the North of England. Most of all they don’t want the burden of duty and tradition.

Fourth news item: Four U.S. embassies???:

Confronted by persistent questions about his military action in the Middle East, President Donald Trump and his top officials offered a string of fresh explanations Friday, with Trump now contending Iranian militants had planned major attacks on four U.S. embassies.

Just hours earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said the U.S. didn’t know when or where attacks might occur. Trump and other officials insisted anew that Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani had posed an imminent threat to the U.S., but they rebuffed repeated attempts to explain what they meant by “imminent.”


President Trump’s claim of bomb threats to embassies is falling apart.

1. No threat to an embassy in intelligence briefings to Congress

2. Two senior administration officials appear to be admitting to WaPo that Trump’s claim is false

Two senior officials “said they were only aware of vague intelligence about a plot against the embassy in Baghdad and that the information did not suggest a fully formed plot. Neither official said there were threats against multiple embassies.”

Telltale sign: No warning to embassy in Baghdad

“The embassy in Baghdad did not receive an alert commensurate to the threat Trump described….When the U.S. government has specific information about threats to embassies, warnings or alerts are often sent to embassy personnel”

Telltale sign: No travel advisories for Americans

Brett Holmgren, former CIA, DOD, NSC:

“it would’ve been routine for the Departments of State or Defense to issue a travel or threat warning to American citizens or US military personnel in the region”

Holmgren also adds:

“An imminent threat of attack should have triggered the Intelligence Community’s Duty to Warn obligations or the State Department’s No Double Standard Policy and resulted in some type of public alert.”

Fifth news item: AOC defends not paying her fair share:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Friday defended her decision not to pay dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), saying she would instead seek to funnel money directly to Democrats in tough races.

Asked by The Hill if she intended to pay dues to the House Democratic campaign arm this cycle, Ocasio-Cortez replied, “I don’t think so.”


Ocasio-Cortez has spoken critically of the DCCC in the past, particularly after it began sidelining vendors who work with candidates seeking to challenge incumbent Democrats in primaries.

She said that instead of paying the DCCC dues — about $250,000 for the 2019-2020 election cycle — she would seek to give directly to Democratic candidates.

“We are trying to raise the equivalent of my dues directly to other members,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill. She said the money she has raised has so far gone to backing House Democrats, as well as nonincumbent candidates.

Have a great weekend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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