- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Nirvana’s ‘Seasons’

“With its outtakes, rarities, and B sides, the long-awaited Nirvana boxed set turned out to be the table scraps of a once-bountiful buffet. There is one moment, however, that’s well worth seeking out: a ghostly rendition of the infamous pop hit ‘Seasons in the Sun.’ …

“For those of a certain age, Terry Jacks’ 1974 chart-topper ‘Seasons in the Sun’ remains an unsurpassed nadir of pop music. … During those mid-Watergate weeks and months, the whole country seemed eager to wallow in tuneful misery. ‘We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun/ But the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.’ …

“In his epic bad-song survey, Dave Barry put ‘Seasons in the Sun’ in a class of its own, and voters emphatically agreed. Yet Nirvana is hardly the only band to cover the tune — there’s been a recent revival of sorts. If it’s so universally despised, then why does this song refuse to die?

“Part of the allure, at least for connoisseurs of Continental cool, is the song’s source. The lyrics, written by the mass-market poet Rod McKuen, are a translation of the French tune ‘Le Moribond’ (‘The Dying Man’) by Jacques Brel.”

James Sullivan, writing on “Goodbye, Papa, It’s Hard To Die,” March 16 in Slate at www.slate.com

Racial shorthand

“If modern anthropologists mention the concept of race, it is invariably only to warn against and dismiss it. … The idea that human races are only social constructs has been the consensus for at least 30 years.

“But now, perhaps, that is about to change. Last fall, the prestigious journal Nature Genetics devoted a large supplement to the question of whether human races exist and, if so, what they mean. … Beneath the jargon, cautious phrases and academic courtesies, one thing was clear: the consensus about social constructs was unraveling. Some even argued that, looked at the right way, genetic data show that races clearly do exist.

“The dominance of the social-construct theory can be traced to a 1972 article by Dr. Richard Lewontin, a Harvard geneticist, who wrote that most human genetic variation can be found within any given ‘race.’ … Most scientists are thoughtful, liberal-minded and socially aware people. It was just what they wanted to hear.

“Three decades later, it seems that Dr. Lewontin’s facts were correct. … His reasoning, however, was wrong. …

“Race is merely a shorthand that enables us to speak sensibly, though with no great precision, about genetic rather than cultural or political differences.

“But it is a shorthand that seems to be needed.”

— Biologist Armand Marie Leroi, writing on “A Family Tree in Every Gene,” March 14 in the New York Times

What she wants?

“Why hasn’t Michael Schiavo divorced Terri, since he’s gone on to start another family with somebody else? …

“Michael Schiavo says that he is only doing what Terri would ‘want.’ Take that at face value for a moment. Michael Schiavo has had a girlfriend and two kids since this happened to Terri. Since he’s so concerned about what ‘she wants’ would she ‘want’ him to remain married to her while he’s having kids with another woman?

“Michael Schiavo’s refusal to divorce Terri only makes him a ‘guardian’ with an agenda.”

— Doug Powers, writing on “What would Terri ‘want’? Not a cheating husband,” Monday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

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