Monday Musings: Grammy Awards; Cancer Risk Premium; 19th Century Beer

I actually watched a lot of the Grammy telecast last night. I don’t have much use for the Grammy’s: any organization that’s given Neil Young only two awards (and one of those for liner notes) isn’t exactly on top of things. But it wasn’t horrendous, with the usual attempts to create pairings that would appeal to every group and yet not offend anyone.
I did enjoy listening to Bob Dylan rasp out “Maggie’s Farm” with the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. And in spite of the annoying lighting and BMX bikes racing around the stage, Arcade Fire kicked ass on “Month of May.” Cee Lo Green’s rendition of “F*** You” (changed for TV to “Forget You”) was another highlight, as was seeing it called “The Song Now Known as Forget You” every time it was listed for an award.
The biggest shocker is that Arcade Fire won Album of the Year for The Suburbs (one of my best albums of 2010). I figured they had a snowball’s chance, just added to provide some artistic credibility to the list. Yet somehow they won. Amazing. They seemed as shocked as anyone else. I even heard Win Butler say “What the hell” just after it was announced. Way to go, guys!
Completely different topic: the EPA is trying to determine how much new regulations will cost, and whether or not people will pay for those regulations if they save lives. This is controversial as, in essence, they’re asking “how much is your life worth?” For all the slamming the government takes for what it does, I’m extremely impressed by the thinking and science that’s gone into this process. But as David Ropiek notes in an excellent op-ed in the Washington Post, they’re treading on dangerous ground by adding a risk premium for cancer deaths, basically saying that since people are more afraid of cancer (even though heart disease is a greater killer), people are willing to pay more. As Ropiek points out, it’s the essence of democracy since it goes with what people want, but it also panders to emotion over science. In a time when we so often ignore science and facts if they happen to be inconvenient, I’m not sure this is the way we want to go.
Reviving ancient beer? The Finns are hoping to recreate a beer from the 19th century recently found in a shipwreck:

3 replies

  1. Great post Keith. Thanks to you I don't have to worry about missing anything much important these days… Your blog is far more palatable than the news…


  2. I actually thought the Grammy's were pretty entertaining in general. I was blown away by Arcade Fire's win and I was thrilled for them …. but I thought \”Month of May\” was terrible (the BMX bikes and light show were just brutal). Given how mainstream the Grammys are…. I think \”We used to wait\” or \”Ready to start\” would have been far better (and more appropriate) songs to open with. I can see how \”Month of May\” followed by their winning of Album of the Year didn't sit well with many. Regardless… congrats to Arcade Fire and a huge win for anything that isn't Rap, Hip Hop, or Pop!


  3. @Den: Thanks!@Tim: Agreed. The blast of energy with Month of May was desperately needed, but either of the other two songs (or Empty Room) would have been more representative of the album. It was fun to hear them thank people in French, and the win is thrilling!


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