Saturday, November 25, 2006

Listen to a Voice - and other thoughts...

Who is she? Not Sara Vaugn.

Dinah Washington - - Ella - -

Late 40s - it's that song about the paper moon - then Mona Lisa -
never heard a woman do that song before. The nat King Cole tune.

No one could do this music today. The voices and the strings - the attitude is lost.

When do you give up trying -
On to something else.

When do you decide if it's worth crying about?

Is anything worth shedding tears?

Then that Charlie Chaplain song; Smile

The Jazz Ballad. Usually about love. Rarely political - but when so, savagely tough minded - the great lyric writers and songs of that era - - -

Later, so much of it became charicature and cliche -

But at the brassy dawn of the Big Band Jazz Ballad it was nothing but hip.


There are truths that, though intensely significant moment by moment to moment, are only tacitly acknowledged by the crowd.


So he said, " Are you telling me that people from my country don't know anything about failed empires?"

Monday, September 04, 2006

PBS Pundit John McLaughlin is Senile

I was up late last night watching Public Television when 'McLaughlin' came on. Not 'The McLaughlin Group', but 'Mclaughlin - One on One' in which the cantankerous talking head attempts to host an interview.

His guests, Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, were co authors of a book called 'The View From the Center of the Universe' which posits humans as special beings made up of stardust and theorizes on the nature of extraterrestials.

This is actually a topic of some interest to me, so in spite of my loathing Mr. McLaughlin, I decided to settle in. As I pondered the hosts almost 'Trumpesque' combover it began to dawn on me that his questions were less about the book than about his own detachment from reality.

At one point the discussion veered into talk of evolution and he asked the guests if they were in agreement with Stephen Jay Gould about something, and also if they knew what Gould thought of their work. Mr Primacks response included informing the host that Mr. Gould is no longer with us. In fact, Steven Jay Gould died in 2002. McLaughlin went on to ask about another scientist ( I can't recall his name ) only to find out that this one too was no longer with us.

I wanted to find the exact quote, but the entire exchange has been edited out of the transcript available at McLaughlin's website, presumably because it is quite embarassing.

The guests themselves were somewhat surreal. Below is an excerpt from the Introduction to their book;

As a society, we have been exploiting the powers of a universe to whose existe0nce we are blind. Now we finally have the opportunity to end this alienation: the modern science of cosmology is discovering the universal reality in which we are all immersed.

Cosmology is a branch of astronomy and astrophysics that studies the origin and nature of the universe, and it is in the midst of a scientific revolution that is establishing its lasting foundations. What is emerging is humanity's first picture of the universe as a whole that might actually be true. There have been countless myths of the origin of the universe, but this is the first one that no storyteller made up - we are all witnesses on the edges of our seats......

Most of us have grown up thinking that there is no basis for our feeling central or even important to the cosmos. B ut with the new evidence it turns out that this perspective is nothing but a prejudice. There is no geographic center to an expanding universe, but we are central in several unexpected ways that derive directly from physics and cosmology รข€“ for example, we are in the center of all possible sizes in the universe, we are made of the rarest material, and we are living at the midpoint of time for both the universe and the earth. These and other forms of centrality have each been a scientific discovery, not an anthropocentric way of reading the data. Prescientific people always saw themselves at the center of the world, whatever their world was. They were wrong on the details, but they were right on a deep level: the human instinct to experience ourselves as central reflects something real about the universe, something independent of our viewpoint.

McLaughlin seemed oblivious to the significance of the authors' fundamental point - that humans can be proved scientifically to be at the some objective 'center' of the universe, and that this has profound implications for society - and his questions mostly dealt with trivial facts like how many times a dolphin's heart beats in its lifetime. Primack and Abrams used what little opportunity they had to speak to observe that humans are uniquely central to the scheme of the universe, and that if there is any other itelligent life out there, it will be close in size to us since we - as organisms - are the optimum size for intelligent life.

... more to come...

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Blues

We have a form of music called the Blues
Not everyone agrees on what the Blues is
And what the Blues is not
But we have a form of music called the Blues

We have a form of music called the Blues
Sometimes its as sad as can be
Sometimes it is mockery
It's always biography and sometimes even
And we have a form of music called the Blues

Return to the Blues when you're hungry
Or when you are likely
To crash an burn
You can't run from the Blues when you want to
The Blues will let you go when it's through with you

We have a form of music called the Blues
Always hungrier than the voices that sing it
Always angrier than the string and the reed
where it plants it's seed
We have a from of music called the Blues

Monday, April 24, 2006

Off Road Vehicles

Recent hikes in gasoline prices have returned many SUVs to their true status as 'Off Road Vehicles'. That is; since they are now becoming too expensive to drive, they are being taken off the road ... for good.

Ostensibly intended for rough terrain, most SUVs are used exclusively on ordinary paved roads. The prevalence of potholes notwithstanding, the SUV has always been an absurdity as a means of transportation for most drivers. If the cost of fuel keeps rising at recent rates, already declining sales of SUVs will ultimately reach the relatively sane levels at which they should always have remained. Those who truly need heavy vehicles with high ground clearance; forest rangers, geologists, ranchers and the like will still be able to drive a real SUV with impunity.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Spoonerism of the Day

Weed it and reap!

...Could be an ad for some kind of agricultural product....or maybe just good advice for the gardening enthusiast.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hair-brained Idea?

Scientists have discovered that hair follicles actually harbor a ready reserve of stem cells which enable hair to regenerate. It turns out that these stem cells can be tweaked to grow into brain tissue.

If we're all walking around with stem cells on top of our heads, then the cost of doing stem cell research could be drastically reduced. After all, even with the outrageous price of haircuts these days, it's got to be cheaper to get stem cells from hair follicles than from embryos.

If this pans out it will not only solve the moral problems of using embryonic stem cells, but might might lead to a revolution in hair restoration as well. Why not just use the same stem cells to grow more hair?

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Monday, March 21, 2005

The Right To Life?

The Schiavo case, currently being tossed back and forth in Congress like the political football it is, appears to highlight the issue of an individuals right to life - and the rights of families vis-a-vis the government. There's also the issue of the powers of the Legislature vs. the Judiciary vs. the Executive vs. the States....

I don't claim to be an expert in any of these areas, but it seems to me that what we have here is a perfect example of obfuscation. A philosophical shell game. Where is the real issue?

Our government tries to be all things to all people. Of course, the people who benefit most from the governments actions are the members of government. Next come the corporate fat cats, and the military. Anyone not a member of one of these elite groups has to hope that the trickle down theory is actual fact and believe in the tooth fairy, or become a counter-culture radical.

Terri Schiavo is a tragic victim of circumstances beyond her control. But what makes her case so important that the entire U.S. government must take part in deciding her fate? Why is the President so concerned about this individual? There are many tens of thousands of people on feeding tubes, just like Terri Scaivo. Why does this case - as tragic as it is - merit such special attention ?

The president signed special legislation, backed by the congress, that would prevent Schiavo's feeding tube from being removed. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee said, "It is a unique bill passed under unique circumstances that should not serve as a precedent for future legislation." If that's true, it means that congress is now in the business of passing laws which only protect the rights of one person at a time. In fact, those who wrote and signed this bill know that it will have significant impact on the future of the right-to-life debate.

Maybe they think that by declaring a brain dead woman worthy of the right to life in legal terms, they can legally justify prohibiting abortion for embryos who have yet to display any brain function. Or maybe they think that by focusing on this one pathetic individual, they can distract themselves and the nation from the much more serious issues of poverty, ecology and, ironically, health care.

It is quite astounding that the subject of the enormous financial resources being pumped into the Schiavo case are rarely mentioned in the press. The average citizen in her situation would never have such resources at their disposal. Part of what makes this case 'news' is the enormous ongoing court battle between Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, but I think this is case where the real story should be the 'news behind the news'.

Who are these people ???

``Why are they being allowed to hijack the government for their own selfish needs ???

Remember, the Congress and the President have stated that their legislation is written specifically to NOT set a precedent that will impact other they say...

And President Bush says he's worried about frivolous lawsuits driving up medical costs. Now he seems to have forgotten his pledge to defend the sanctity of marriage as well; Shouldn't this be between a husband and wife? What rights do parents have to intervene and then get the President to intervene on their behalf? Not to mention keeping 'big government' out of people's lives.

We all have the right to life. But I wonder weather the government let the Schiavos and the Shindlers life for the rest of us.

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