Thursday, October 31, 2002
What time is midnight?

I was going to post something in William Slawski's comments in response to this post but his comments are not working.

Midnight... Is it the end of one day, or the beginning of the next? I had to know.

The answer? It falls on both days.

I clearly remember, though it was more years ago than want to admit, learning in school that 12:00 is neither AM nor PM. It's always simply 12:00 noon or 12:00 midnight. Of all the things I learned in school this one stuck. Now whenever I see "12:00AM" or "12:00PM" I am totally confused.

No Greater Treasure

Jason Rubenstein of Tonecluster has posted a beautiful essay about his musical experiences.

Halloween Celebration

Mark at Intricate Plot has done some redecorating for Halloween. He also has a list of the scariest books of all time and the spookiest musical instrument. Well, it's easy to be spooky with electronics. What about the spookiest acoustic instrument? I'm not sure. I've heard some pretty spooky things done with strings but one likely candidate would be the glass harmonica. (Listen to track 10)



Musical Generation Gaps

James Lileks has posted an excellent essay on music, war, parenting and generation gaps.

Believe it or not, I grew up on mostly country music. My mom had a few records of other kinds of music. She had (probably still has) Nancy Sinatra's These Boots are Made For Walking. Floyd Cramer's solo piano versions of country and pop songs, an instrumental version of MacArthur Park. (I didn't even know it had words until maybe 10 years ago) There was a Christmas album that I was very fond of which included The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, possibly my first exposure to classical music. (It was either that or the Warner Brothers cartoons)

Around the time I was 13 or 14 I decided that my parents were so out of it and country music was just so...so.....backward! My favorites were all of those '70s songs that give people so much reason to poke fun at '70s pop music. By the time I started liking the "good" '70s songs they were considered oldies. (Even more embarrassing, considering recent news items, I went through a really intense Streisand obsession during the 70s)

My kids grew up with a combination of '70s songs and "adult contemporary." I didn't really start getting into classical music until about 1995 or so. I was always interested, based on those few little snippets that everyone hears, but without anyone to show you the way it's really hard to start listening to classical music. Except in the big cities most of the CDs you see in the classical section of local stores is crap. Thank goodness for the Internet!

I wonder if we're all pre-wired to like whatever music we like. My oldest son likes a variety of music including some classical and some '70s stuff but mostly he's afraid to let me hear what he likes. And my younger son likes contemporary Christian music. Go figure! And look at me - growing up on country and the worst of '70s pop - who could have predicted that I would end up a classical fanatic?

Right now I think what we need are some rousing war songs. For all I know they might exist and I just haven't heard them. I'm thinking of stuff like these two from the '80s: Bomb Iran (to the tune of Barbara Ann) and Charlie Daniels' Letter to the Ayatollah. Anyone remember those? There is so much material for songs like that right now.

Cover Art

I wish there was a coffee table book of Naxos best cover art. I especially like some of the cover art for the recordings of 20th century composers. For example:

Schnittke, Cello Concerto
Schnittke, Piano Quintet
Arnold, Symphony No. 9
Arnold, Chamber Music

And if abstract art is not your cup of tea:

Sibelius, Symphonies 4 & 5

I have all of these CDs. Schnittke has some interesting moments and even some pleasant moments but requires patience. I'm very fond of Sir Malcolm Arnold's Symphony No. 9 - lovely, intriguing 2nd movement; very bleak, sparse 4th movement - and his Fantasy for Cello from the Chamber Music CD.


Have you ever tried to send someone an email that was really no big deal because you just wanted to tell them about something they might be interested in, but when the email gets bounced back and you can't find any other way to contact that person suddenly it is a big deal? An email that didn't matter all that much becomes very very important as soon as you realize that you can't send it. I guess it's not so much the email itself as the inability to communicate that's frustrating.

Halloween Fun

Rodger Schultz has listed the Top Ten Reasons Trick-or-Treating is Better Than Sex.

More Mail

I had three emails in my inbox this morning and two of them were from actual people! Julie wanted to know where my "about me" stuff is. I guess I should write something. I have thought about writing a "100 Things About Me" list but the idea of trying to come up with 100 things about myself is a little scary - first of all just thinking of that many things, and second, I don't really want the whole world to know a lot about me. But those lists are kind of fun so maybe I'll do one someday. For now, just the basics: female, mid-40s, married, two sons, one grandson; interests: classical music and other artsy stuff, sci-fi, nature and outdoorsy stuff.

Julie has a very attractive blog called The Yellow Bug News. I love those colors.



I am not perky, and 42 was a couple of years ago. Sorry, hope you weren't too disapointed.


I received a nice email this morning from Ariel Beery, a man whom I mistakenly referred to as "she." My apologies. I know most guys don't find that kind of mistake as amusing as I do when it happens to me. I have been mistaken for a male a couple of times.

If you haven't been to Ariel's blog, Middle East and Morality, please do pay him a visit.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Uh oh...Here come the Food Holidays

This afternoon I bought Halloween candy. To look at the amount of candy I bought you would think that we were one of the most popular trick-or-treating stops in the state. You would think we were expecting literally hundreds of trick-or-treaters. Alas, you would be wrong. In the six Halloweens we have spent in this house we haven't had a single trick-or-treater. But you never know; it's possible that some kids might walk the two-tenths of a mile up our curving driveway in the dark to our house, which is just barely visible from the road, and expect to get some candy. So we have to buy some just in case. And of course we have to be sure we have enough. Like I said, you never know.

This is only the beginning, of course. After Halloween come the really big food holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Someone described Thankgiving as the day when we get up before dawn, cook all morning, eat till we can't move, watch football all afternoon, then eat again until we can't move. As an adult, shopping and eating are my favorite things about Christmas. Getting gifts is nice but buying them for other people is much more fun. Decorating is a chore. But eating...ahh...mmmm.

After Christmas we have a little more than a month before Valentine's Day and all those heart shaped boxes of heavenly, delicious chocolate. Think nobody can eat just one potato chip? You really can't eat just one chocolate candy! Valentine's Day is the last fling before the dieting months - half of February and all of March, April and May.

Come to think of it, is there any holiday that we don't use as an excuse to eat more than we should? The true meaning of some holidays is obscured by the tradition gathering the family around tables piled high with massive quantities of the most fattening foods ever consumed by mankind. My point? I guess I don't have one. If anyone could ever invent healthy calorie-free food that is just as good as the real thing (like the replicators on Star Trek: TNG) he or she would be the ultimate hero of millions of grateful women.

Don't miss out on the fun

Bill Quick is running a contest. Go nominate your favorite bloodthirsty blogger...or go campaign for yourself...or just read the comments. What fun!

"Shut up and let ME talk"

It seems like almost everyone these days is complaining that someone else is trying to take away their right to freedom of speech. This morning I found a blog with the intriguing name Religious Left Watch via a link at Lilac Rose. I noticed the following in his sidebar.

I've got serious concerns about how some people try to limit the freedom of others, especially Christians, to speak out on important issues in order to protect their own religious, political, and cultural beliefs from criticism...

That struck me as kind of funny because it seems to me that Christians speak up and state their beliefs more freely than anyone else and are the second most likely (after the looney Left) to try to limit the rights of others. If you don't believe it just ask a Wiccan.

I have this free webpage where I can say anything I want to, so I'm not about to start whining that I'm being oppressed because it's just not true, but the reactions I get to certain topics do make me feel reluctant to write about those topics. Religious people, whether believers in a religion or people who believe "religiously" in some secular ideology, cannot take criticism of their beliefs. It would be interesting to have a purely intellectual discussion of religion but that simply isn't possible unless everyone involved in the discussion are either aetheists or members of the same faith.

Again, no one is actually preventing me from writing about religion or anything else. My freedom of expression is intact to the extent that I choose to exercise it. I would simply ask others to realize that the same is true for you also. Okay, so maybe some people would like to shut you up, but they haven't succeeded in doing so and in America or on the Internet they never will. I think maybe the real problem some people have is that there is more freedom than ever before - even for people we disagree with. Go ahead and speak your mind but respect the rights of others to tell you that you're full of it if that's what they believe.


Thanks to Joni Electric for the link. As I said in her comments box, the main thing that made me decide to add comments was that it might give me a chance to get to know some of my non-blogging readers, but now that I have comments it's sort of depressing when I look down this page and see "Comment (0)" over and over again. On the other hand, I suppose it could be worse. I've only had one troll so far and no flame wars and no 10,000 word dissertations so I guess I should count my blessings.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

One of Daniel Ehrlich's readers wrote to say that she hates exclamation points. Well you know what I hate? I hate people who hate exclamation points! (No! Not really!! Just kidding!!!) Seriously, (but not too serious) I'm surprised that anyone could be that bothered by a simple punctuation mark and read so much into it. Exclamation points shouldn't be overdone but they are useful, sometimes even necessary. In casual or conversational writing, as in chat rooms, and personal letters and emails, I see no problem even with using multiple exclamation points.

Now what seriously bothers me (Have I mentioned this before?) is the lack of proper capitalization. I suppose some people would say that this also is okay for casual writing but I can't take seriously anything that is written completely without the use of the shift key. When I see something written in all lower case I usually don't even bother to read past the first line. And if it's whole paragraphs in all caps I don't even read the first word.

Trick Spam

Now here's an interesting twist. I received the following email today.

From: marthagoodman@HotPOP.com | This is Spam | Add to Address Book
To: lavenderrain2002@yahoo.com
Subject: Removal Request
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 04:15:53 +0100


WE PLAN to send you some very important information about an Automated
Online Recruiting System and even some notices about a Free Leads
Affiliate System.

But before we send you this Free Info about Online Marketing and how to
make Monthly Paychecks from home, we want to make sure you are still
currently open to such income potential.

IF YOU ARE NOT, then please reply to this message without removing the
subject line.

IF YOU ARE....Then simply do nothing. You will receive a new email in a
few days with information about this unique offer.

Thank you
Martha Goodman

I was not born yesterday. I expect I will continue to get spam from these people whether I reply or not, but I'm sure many people will fall for this underhanded tactic.

Serial Killer Bar

A Waterfront Tavern in Bellingham, Washington has had an unusual number of serial killers as customers. (Oct. 29, no permalink)

Good Reading

Thanks to Where is Raed for linking to this: Culpepper Log. I'll be keeping an eye on this one for a while and will probably add it to my constantly growing list of blogs. I especially loved his comments about Harry Belafonte. Who is really the house slave? (10/10, 12:12am)

By the way, I do believe that Salam is for real (10/27) and I'm shocked to read that he's getting only about 20 hits a day. Even I'm getting more than that. As much as we talk about Iraq you would think an Iraqi blogger would be extremely popular.

Another Move

The Acidman has new digs.

Dear Saddam

Saddam Hussein has an email address.

Via Dustbury.

Monday, October 28, 2002
"Voices in the Wilderness" Indeed

The New York Times reports on a peace protest in Bagdad by 12 members of Voices in the Wilderness, led by Kathy Kelly. But the view from inside Bagdad is quite different.

I read thru it wondering if Mr. JOHN F. BURNS is reporting news from the same baghdad I live in. Nothing in the news about it, and no one at work making any "look at those poor deluded souls going at it again" comments (which is one of two responses to this sort of thing, the other being "I wonder how much money are they getting as a 'thank you' gift from saddam"). ...Dear american friends, please stop sending her over here, she is not helping. Some people might think that this sort of thing I like to see happening. It is NOT.

Go read it all. Salam is wickedly funny when he's going after us dumb Americans.

A name...any name

The post below this one brings up one of my pet peeves: no-name bloggers. I understand why some people choose to use a pseudonym. There are a number of very good reasons. But what I am talking about are bloggers who use no name at all. You get to the bottom of a post and....nothing. The lack of a name makes responding to their posts rather awkward. My message to these nameless bloggers: Give us something to call you or we will make something up, and you might not like the names we come up with.

"La la la la...I can't hear you...la la la"

This lengthy, rambling piece of idiotarian nonsense has been getting some attention from Andrea, Steven and others and I can't resist joining the party.

First of all the plasticbag.org blogger does not have a name so I will just follow Andrea's lead and call him "Plasticboy." Plasticboy started out with a metaphor about the solar system and gravity, during which he nearly lost me and I still don't understand what it had to do with anything else he said but maybe I'm dense, seeing as how I associate with those "evil warbloggers" and all.

Finally he gets around to what looks like - gasp! could it be? - a point.

Let's move in a different direction for a moment. Must we as liberal individuals believe in a world that gives each and every opinion equal weight. Are all views equally "valid", "worthwhile", "right"?

Well, I don't know... Must we as libertarian individuals believe in a world that gives each and every opinion equal weight?

And where does this leave us when we vehemently disagree with the tactics that people promoting these views start to use?

Oh dear! People who disagree with Plasticboy actually dare to promote their opinions. Poor baby!

And where do we end up when the views we must consider "valid" are precisely those views which don't believe other views to be "valid", "worthwhile", "right" and are prepared to say so, and/or do something about it.

Ohh...a paradox! Owww, my head hurts. I can't take it anymore. [/sarcasm]

...a world in which we - as individuals or groups - are unable to extert any kind of pressure on anyone else for doing what we believe to be wrong resembles a solar system without gravity - an immediate explosion occurs, critical divergence, utter lack of stability. And a world in which we - as individuals or groups - are able to extert total pressure on anyone else for doing what we believe to be wrong resembles a solar system with absolute gravity - an immediate imposion occurs, monolithic thinking, totalitarianist repression, totally lack of motion, inertia, death.

Ahh...that solar system metaphor again. It's obvious why Plasticboy needs this metaphor. He dares not admit, even to himself, what he really believes. I'm sure my more intelligent readers have seen it already but I'll translate for anyone out there who's a little slow. What Plasticboy really means is: Freedom of expression should be reserved only for people who agree with me, and totalitarian repression is a good thing as long as it's my side who's doing the repressing.

He goes on: (and on and on)

And I now believe that as an individual operating responsibly in this sphere, I have to be aware of any and all potential abilities I have to legitimately (ie. without lying, cheating or unfairly manipulating the situation in any way) exert whatsoever influence I might have in order to stop what I perceive to be morally wrong, corrupt politics, cheap argument and potentially warmongering. ...
[a great deal of rambling skipped over here]
...What I'm suggesting is that there is a power that comes with being linked to - and it's a power that one should not only be aware of, but should feel the responsibility to employ - whether by sending a simple e-mail askind the link to be removed ("I do not wish to be associated with the bile-ridden drivel on your site"), or more proactively and campaigningly by using an .htaccess file or something similar to serve up a page which declares that you refuse to be associated with the views of the person whose site you've just left.

Do you get that? Plasticboy doesn't want any evil warbloggers to link to him. Now there's a paradox for you! Warbloggers are evil totalitarians who are trying to stifle dissent... by linking to people we disagree with! Wow...that is just too deep for my little peasant brain to handle. You give dissenting voices a place on your page and by doing so you are actually trying to supress those voices. To make it even more confusing, I have seen where anti-defense bloggers have criticized warbloggers for linking only to bloggers they agree with. So, if we link to bloggers who disagree with us we're being evil and repressive and if we don't link to them.... we're being evil and repressive. It seems the only answer for anyone who believes in freedom of expression is to quit blogging. (NOT!)

Perhaps Plasticboy needs to take the plastic bag off of his head and get some more oxygen to his brain.

Sunday, October 27, 2002
Canine Review (and Other Classical Follies)

Dave, of the Redwood Dragon commented on a study which shows that dogs are more relaxed and well behaved when they listen to classical music.

People are often surprised to find that I am not the least bit impressed by studies apparently proving the beneficial effects of classical music. In fact, I think they do more harm than good when it comes to encouraging appreciation of classical music. I do tend to believe the findings but studies such as this one and the famous Mozart Effect study are flawed and inconclusive. Inevitably other researchers will come along and disprove the findings, providing more amunition for anyone who already has a negative opinion of classical music and the people who listen to it.

Perhaps even worse, some of these studies have gained some popular acceptance and created a market for CDs of blandly performed excerpts that are not even representative of the complete works they were lifted from let alone classical music as a whole. Thus another generation is indoctrinated in the misconception that classical music is soothing, relaxing, calming... in other words, bland, boring "elevator music." Truly, classical music is soothing. But it's also tremendously exciting and uplifting and encompasses a rich variety that few people are aware of.

Dave comments:

But seriously, this result supports a bias of mine: that, while it may not make sense to characterize one kind of music as "better" than another, there does seem to be a sense in which some kinds of music are more "natural." That is, they seem to fit some basic sense of acoustic fitness that is shared by all human beings, and, it now seems, some higher animals as well. And paramount among these forms of music is the Western "classical" tradition, especially the baroque and classical periods.

My gut reaction is to agree with this completely. My personal bias is the belief that music reached the peak of perfection in the 18th century but I've had plenty of heated discussions with people who vehemently disagree, particularly devoted fans of modern 12-tone Art music. (which is part of the classical tradition) Perfection and "naturalness," like beauty are in the eye - or ear - of the beholder.

It does seem that people from many different cultures take to western classical music. A great many talented classical musicians and modern composers come from Japan and China. The fact that relatively few Westerners are interested in Eastern music could be from lack of exposure. The same could be said for 12-tone music, which most people find unpleasant on first listening. I'll bet they didn't play any Elliot Carter for the dogs in that study.

Later Dave responded to a question asked by Steven den Beste with lots of information about canine behaviour, a subject he knows much better than I do. I'm more of a cat person myself. My cats do not seem to care what I play, except for a cat I used to have that acted very nervous and agitated whenever Bach was on the stereo, especially the cello suites. Obviously a very strange creature.

Saturday, October 26, 2002
The mysterious disappearing comments have reappeared.

A Night at the Opera

Since last night was only the second time I've been to an opera performance I don't feel qualified to give a complete review. I can only say that I enjoyed it and my son, though not exactly an opera convert, said he wouldn't mind going again.

As I said in a comment below, which has since disappeared, my kids are normally not very resistant to stuff like this. If I have a problem child when it comes to culture it's my husband but since a lot of his negativity is in the form of jokes and I have never really pushed the issue, it's hard to tell what he really thinks.

My first opera was The Marriage of Figaro in the spring of 2001 and there's sort of a funny story behind that one. In the summer before that season, right after they had announced the schedule, my two boys were having one of those endless conversations about cars. Intending only to annoy, I interrupted with the casual announcement that The Marriage of Figaro was on the Tulsa Opera's schedule for the coming season. I was anticipating the customary eye roll and a couple of smart alec remarks, but to my surprise my younger son, then 16, lit up like a 5 year old on Christmas morning and said, "I'd like to go to that." Since he actually asked to go Figaro I thought I would press my luck and ask him if he would like to go to Mozart's Requiem also. The answer was yes!

This year he gets Bellini. I'm saving the best for my long time number one guy.

Laughing at the Race Issue

Both of these are via Inoperable Terran.

This cartoon is too true to be very funny.

On the other hand, this bit about Jesse Jackson is hilarous. A group of black cosmetologists are threatening to sue if Jackson doesn't apologize for his remarks criticizing the movie Barbershop.

I am more optimistic about race relations than I have been in a long time. A lot of feathers are being ruffled but I think that's healthier than stifling all but a very narrow set of opinions.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Tomorrow night is the night. Not all that big of a deal, really. Well, actually, it is a big deal, and when I'm looking forward to something I can't keep myself from expecting something horrible to happen.

This year is the first time I've ever bought season tickets for the opera. Tulsa only presents three operas each season. That works out perfectly for me - one for each of my guys to be dragged to kicking and screaming. (okay, actually, bitching and whining) The first one is La Boheme and it's number one son's turn. (number two son and his dad will be at the football game) He's actually being very good about it. I might have to allow myself to be dragged to a heavy metal concert at some point in the future but I'm okay with that.

The problem is, I'm a nervous wreck waiting for disaster to strike. A couple of weeks ago on the local news, during the usual closing banter, the anchor asked the meteorologist to predict the date of the first snow. Obviously just picking a date out of the air he said "October 25th." No, no, no! It never snows that early in Oklahoma, but all this time I've been thinking "what if?" Of course no snow is forecast for tomorrow, but there are still a dozen other possible disasters: son unexpectedly has to work, son decides whiney girlfriend is more interesting than going to the opera with mom, son meets new girl who is way more intersting than going to the opera with mom, son's truck dies, transmission on mom's truck quits, brakes on mom's truck quit, we die in a horrible accident on the way to Tulsa, terrorists.... and on and on.

Of course the chance of any of those things happening is as remote as the chance that it will snow tomorrow night. All this worrying may be a good thing though. The things I worry about happening never happen. When things get screwed up it's almost always totally unexpected. So I just have to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and drive myself nuts worrying about it and then everything will be fine. Right?

What the...?!

A country DJ at an Atlanta radio station has been fired because, according to the station's program director: "If you listened to Moby's dialect, it didn't reflect the average Atlanta day." In other words, Moby has a southern accent. Interestingly, a rock & roll station in the same city apparently had no problem with his "dialect" and hired him.

Via Spleenville.

From the "Johnny Can't Read" Files

Meryl posted a good response to this stupid argument which has been going on forever it seems like.

If the Warblogger Watch crowd is correct, then so is the following logic: If you haven't walked the walk, you can't talk the talk. Right? Well. Let's take a quick imaginary tour of what the world would be like under those rules:

If only people who have fought in wars are able to make the decision to send others to fight in wars, then...

She continues with a number of examples. Later she shares some of the mail she received in response to her post.

Bill Allison wanted to let me know that I was being unfair to modern American fathers in my line about how only women would be able to make the laws on abortion and child care.

I think Lileks, for example, provides quite a bit of child care to his daughter (to cite one very famous example from the blogosphere). I think I provide a fairly decent amount of child care to my son as well.
The assumption that men don't provide child care is a little outdated. Have you been overdosing on the Leave it to Beaver repeats?

Bill, what have you been overdosing on? It is obvious that Meryl does not believe that anyone who can't have kids shouldn't decide how they are cared for. It was an "if/then" example - if A is true then B must also be true - intended to prove that A is not true. Since she was obviously trying to prove that A is not true she would not have used examples that she believes are true. Am I making that too complicated?

Wednesday, October 23, 2002
A Noble Bird

I thought some of you might be interested in some details on this often maligned species. Here is a better picture. Truly a beautiful creature.

Betrayed by the Left

Ariel Beery writes: (Oct. 23, 8:41am; permalinks don't work)

I even feel betrayed by my fellow human beings, by my friends on the left and by Europe in general. I feel betrayed because I, like most of the world, made the solemn promise of “never again;” and now, and for the half century, instead of fulfilling our pledge and learning from humanity’s mistakes we are forsaken those rights that give us the right to be free humans. By bickering and arguing about the external aspects of going to war in Iraq, and the abstract question of whether Iraq poses a threat to the world community, we are forgetting what reality has had in store for all of those Kurds and Shiites who have faced the very real threat of continued rule of Hussein.

Half a century ago the United States was faced with a very similar question, and our bastion of morality, FDR, decided that he would not risk American power in bombing the train-tracks to the death camps in Europe. Nearly my entire family was in those very death camps, along with millions of others that were brutally murdered because America wouldn’t risk it. (Although he did risk it in bombing Dresden—a far worthier cause then saving Jews.)

And I am appalled that the left is more concerned with putting roadblocks up to Bush than saving the hundreds of thousands of lives that Hussein threatens. No, the war is not against the Iraqi people. Yes, the war will cause casualties, but, due to changes in military doctrine the focus will be military targets, read: those who oppress and murder and rape with the consent and direction of Hussein.

Read it all. She has much to say about Germany, France, Russia and others.

Another Move to MT

Wow! Check out this hot new page.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002
From Inside Iraq

I need to add Where is Raed to my list. I have it in my bookmarks and read it once or twice a week. It is the blog of a couple of "regular guys" in Bagdad. (their English is very good) There are a couple of entries on Oct. 20 that are well worth reading for the inside view. This and this. I am a little hesitant to lift a quote from it for fear of taking something out of context so please go read it all, but I found this particularly interesting:

I'm afraid most Iraqis fail to see what will be brought about by an american "invasion" correctly. It should be seen as a catalyst for change. We have to do the hard work ourselves, change has to come from within, it is no use to sit and wait for others to solve our problems, and iraq will be ruled by foreigners if iraqis don't take an active part in whatever will happen. The problem is that years of being told what to do has turned us into a bunch fatalists who see whatever happens to us as "maktub" - written by the hand of god, and submit to it, like all good faithfull people should.

I wish I could find more English blogs (or translations) from that part of the world. It would be worthwhile to get to know the people we spend so much time talking about.

Update:I have to call attention to the most recent entry, which appeared a few minutes ago.

Getty Complex vs. The Acropolis

A comparison with photos.

More Starvation in Zimbabwe

Why isn't PETA trying to do something about this? I suppose it's okay to starve animals as long as you're not an American corporation insulting their dignity by using them in TV commercials.

Via Voice from the Commonwealth

Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.
-- Peter Marshall

The Origin of Abstract Art
Mystery has shrouded abstract art since it emerged in the late 19th century. Where did it come from? How did shape, color, and line -- in and of themselves -- come to be the vocabulary of the modern painter? I propose that two catalysts contributed to the precipitation of abstract art: the scientific worldview that developed after the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection and the secular concepts of the spiritual that developed thereafter.


A question that I have always had about abstract art - one that is sure to mark me as a philistine - is since I can paint stuff like that too why can't I be as famous as Pollock and Rothko? Of course, I know the answer. To be in the art world you have to be in the right place and know the right people but nobody wants to admit that. I could slap some paint on a few canvases and take them down to a local arts and crafts fair and watch the parade of rednecks walk by with puzzled or disdainful looks on their faces, many of them declaring - as if this is the most damning statement possible against a work of art - "I could do that. (Well yes, you could. So why don't you?)

Anyway, I seem to have gone off on a tangent there. I like abstract art but most ordinary people like me think art should look like the stuff Thomas Kinkade does. The supposed connection between Darwin and the rise of abstract art is interesting because it seems like both art and science reached a point where many people couldn't keep up. Of course new ideas have always been rejected but you would think that a hundred years would be enough time for most people to catch up, but here we are in the year 2002 and there are a surprising number of people who still reject both Darwin and modern art.

It's all about....Plastic?

From Heretical Ideas (permalinks not working correctly)

But gasoline isn't the only product of oil. So are plastics. And lubricants. And medicines. Have you ever stopped to think about just how much of your life is dependent on plastic? (insert obvious credit card debt joke here). It's the essential material of pacemakers and life support systems. It's used in building materials, computer components, grocery bags, picture frames, cell phones, and damn near anything else you can imagine.

Good point, but probably not good enough for the "no blood for oil" folks. I might be willing to respect those people if they were actually willing to live according to their convictions. To do that they would not only have to stop driving cars, they would also have to stop using computers, stop listening to the radio or CDs, stop wearing clothes with buttons or zippers, stop using ink pens, and on and on and on.

Alex concludes with some interesting speculation:

the argument against our "dependence on oil" isn't an attack on the use of oil. It's an attack on a particular use of oil. In automobiles. ...

Attacks on the automobile, attacks on urban sprawl, and attacks on fewer downtown areas tend to be made by more liberal thinkers. And I wonder how much of their distaste for Midwest style decentralized living comes from their distaste not only for the lifestyle itself, but the fact that residents of such areas tend to be more conservative than city dwellers?

Interesting, but I doubt any of the enviroweenies have put that much thought into it. The whole anti-oil, anti-SUV, anti-corporation thing is all just part of their particular fantasy ideology.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Remember all the lefty whining about conservatives trying to squash dissent? Remember those lefties who are so oppressed here in their own country that they have to go to England to be heard? We all know that liberals support freedom of speech and fight censorship in any form, right? Well, read this.

This sort of thing brings out my evil side. I know from my own experience with discussion forums that the administrator's power is actually more limited than he realizes. Like any ruler he only rules with the consent of the governed. (or however that saying goes) The dictatorial young admistrator of a message board I used to frequent once made the mistake of taking sides in a dispute and banned a popular member and learned just how limited his power as an adminstrator really was. So what I'm thinking is that we all need to go register at the Democratic Underground Message Boards and inundate them with anti-idiotarian messages. If there are enough of us we can register and post faster than he can delete and ban.

Ain't I a stinker?

Seriously, it would be fun but it would take too much time away from blogging.

More Blogs

If you think my right-hand sidebar is getting long you should see my bookmarks. Almost every day I find interesting new blogs. Here are a few recent finds.

Amax Weblog - So many facts it makes my head hurt. He has written a lot of stuff about the Slaver sunflowers from Larry Niven's Ringworld. He might even have written more about them than Niven did. He also posted an email from my son, who is a big fan of Niven's.

Inoperable Terran - Heavy linker, short comments. He reads some of the same blogs that I do.

Special K and Coffee - This one's brand new, started Oct. 18. I was attracted to the name of course. A diary style blog. American college student, Christian, football fan. Writes well.

Robin Goodfellow - Medium to long essays on politics, religion and computers. The latest is an entertaining essay on the Mac vs. the PC.

American Sentimentalist - In depth, well written essays on recent events.

No More Tears

According to this article in New Scientist Japanese scientists have announced a no-tears onion may soon be possible.

Onions that taste as good as the original but do not have you weeping over the chopping board are now a possibility, say Japanese researchers.

The team have identified the gene responsible for making the tear-inducing substance. They say it would not be difficult to make genetically modified onion varieties that lack the substance altogether.

Pardon me for being less than impressed. I have been using red onions for years because they rarely cause tears. The possiblity that they might be able to grow other varieties that are non tear-inducing is nice but not exactly miraculous.

Everybody's Doing It

Everybody is moving to Movable Type. The War Liberal is one of the latest. I'm normally not one to follow the crowd but the last few days I've been comparing hosting companies, thinking of possible domain names, designing my new site in my head and so forth. It will probably be a while, if ever, but don't be too surprised if I join the exodus.

Interesting Search String

Funny, I never thought about it before but I have no idea what is considered to be the typical platypus disposition. (Note how I'm carefully avoiding the plural of platypus...whatever that is) It doesn't seem like the kind of animal that would attack. I guess we Americans are just too fascinated with the weirdness of Australian wildlife to think about what the actual living animals might be like.

Neighbors Suck

I suppose we’ve been luckier than some people but almost everywhere we have ever lived there has been at least one neighbor whom we could have happily lived without. My ultimate fantasy is to own an entire square mile and build my house exactly in the middle of it so that I would be at least half a mile away from my nearest neighbor.

Our first apartment was two rooms in a cement block building containing six identical apartments. The neighbors there were not usually a problem but there was a guy who got drunk one night and shot six holes into his ceiling. Fortunately he lived on the floor above us.

Our first house was in a small town in Arkansas. The lots in this neighborhood were very small, but fenced. The older lady next door was missing a few screws. She was, on several occasions, seen outside in nothing but her underwear. Her front yard was always a mess. She would walk to the Safeway store a few blocks away to shop and always took one of the store’s shopping carts home with her. Once in a while she would return one but there were always several shopping carts in her yard along with a variety of other junk. At one point she had as many as ten dogs. The smell coming from her house was horrible.

She was never a huge problem though until we decided to sell our house. She also owned the duplex on the other side of us and when she found out we were selling she got the notion that she had to buy our house so that she would own three houses in a row. Okay, no problem. A buyer is a buyer, right? The problem started when I found her in my yard, inside the fence, sweeping off the sidewalk leading to my front door. I was outraged that this old woman whose yard was the trashiest in the entire town had the nerve to come into my nice neat yard and start “tidying up.”

We exchanged a few words and she finally left. When my husband found out about the incident he decided that we were not going to sell the house to the old bat. That really pissed her off. She started throwing bricks at our house. Small town police have got to be the most useless creatures on Earth. Their response, “Oh, she’s just an old woman; she’ll settle down in a little while.” I don’t know if she ever settled down or not. She certainly didn’t while we were still living there. We heard several years after we moved that her family had finally come and taken her away.

We lived in New York for almost a year in 1982 and 1983. We didn’t really get know any of our neighbors there, but none of them were a problem to us other than keeping us awake half the night with car alarms and intimate lovers’ fights, of which a clearly heard “You better spread your legs, bitch,” was fairly typical.”

When we first moved to Portsmouth, Virginia we lived in a second story apartment for a few months where the woman on the other side of the stairs from us babysat with a large number of children. Her idea of childcare was to lock the babies and todlers inside and lock the older kids out. The kids were constantly knocking on her door, which was only about six feet away from ours, to get back in and whenever we went out there were always at least four to six kids sitting on the stairs and in no hurry to get out of the way.

There were several other places where the neighbors were a relatively minor annoyance. There were the people who loved the horribly ugly hedge on the property line between our yard and theirs. And there were the people who frequently parked their car in front of our house on garbage day so the garbage truck wouldn’t stop and pick up our garbage. There were the kids who were always hanging out in front of our house and sitting on our car. And the annoying old man who knew how to do absolutely everything and insisted on telling us that we just did everything from planting flowers to washing the car all wrong. And of course the all time most popular annoying neighbor activity: playing the stereo too loud until all hours of the night.

When we moved here in the mid ‘90s we felt that we had found neighbor heaven. On the north side there is an older couple. Occasionally we will help them and they will help us just like old fashioned neighbors but most of the time they stay to themselves. When I first saw the place to the south of us I was worried. There’s a large shop behind the house and there were about ten junk Volkswagens in the yard. I imagined engines revving and loud so-called music at all hours of the day and night. But I was pleasantly surprised. Kevin was one of the best neighbors we’ve ever had. He was friendly but never a bother.

Sadly, Kevin died last fall. The new people who moved in a few months ago seem okay so far. He plays his boom box outside sometimes but not terribly loud so it’s only a little annoying. I have been tempted to borrow my son’s boom box and take it outside and crank up Verdi’s Requiem but it’s best not to get into that kind of war. I do have one huge complaint. They have a big black dog that barks at everything that moves. We used to see deer in our yard almost daily, but since the dog moved in we haven’t seen a single one. I miss the deer. That big annoying dog has spoiled my little wildlife preserve.

I guess I should feel lucky. It could have been much worse. But I still think it would be nice to have a half mile between me and my nearest neighbor.


I'm stealing this quote from Heretical Ideas. (I was going to just link directly to it but the permalinks are not working correctly)

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty."
-- Robert Heinlein

Sunday, October 20, 2002
Virtual Museum

Thanks to Alexandra for pointing out this great online museum. There are hundreds of paintings by famous artists and it's perfectly organized for easy browsing.

Entertainment Rules

Bryce at Social Commentary (Oct. 20) has more thoughts on kids and newspapers, in response to the Dave Barry column that I linked a few days ago. He's absolutely right. To be honest, kids weren't so different when I was growing up, but these days it seems like adults, instead of providing mature guidance, are just playing along with the kids. Heaven forbid that we should risk damaging a child's delicate psyche by telling him that his attitudes about the world might actually be wrong.

Truth in Advertising

Take a look at these banner ads.

Friday, October 18, 2002
German Life

This student in Germany had some nice things to say about my blog so I'm linking back. I found this one via the Haloscan forums and I've just taken a quick look but I think there might be some mutual interest. He mentioned playing in an orchestra.

New Blogger

I received a courteous request for a link from this blogging newbie: The Gutless Pacifist. The description of this attractive weblog reads: "A Place for Dialogue about Faith, Politics and Peace". He is a minister. I'm not sure where he is from but his link to the Duke basketball schedule might be a cule.

F Score*

My F score is 3.333333333
You are disciplined but tolerant; a true American.

Via AC Douglas.

* F stands for Fascist. What were you thinking?

Art Blog!

Found via my referral log: Out of Lascaux.

Interesting Search Strings



You know...I'm starting to seriously regret my choice of blog title. It seemed so clever at the time. I'll stick with it for now but if I move to MT I'd like to come up with something truly original. With the right title I'm sure I could attract some real weirdos.

Wisdom From The Simpsons

Judge on The Simpsons: “As for religion and science, I’m issuing a restraining order. Religion must stay 500 yards away from science at all times.”

If only it were that simple!

Thursday, October 17, 2002
Kids Don't Read Newspapers

A teacher at Crestview Middle School in Ellisville, MO used one of Dave Barry's columns for an English assignment. In the column Dave complained that young people don't read newspapers and care more about Britney Spears than they do about the Middle East. the students proved his point in their responses to the column.

''Dave Barry I suggest that you get a life you annoying little Baby Boomer!''

''Why do young people read newspapers? Two words: not Britney Spears.''

''Some things we are interested in are bands -- not boy bands, but like Slipknot, New Found Glory, MxPx, Jimmy Eat World.''

Some of the students had suggestions for making newspapers more interesting.

''I don't like reading about death, war and government. Write about things that we can relate to.''

''Make the newspaper more humorous, it is soooo boring. Talk about skateboarding, it is so huge now you don't even know.''

''Talk about not boring stuff. Like the peace thing. It's very important, I understand that. But it's boring.''

'Don't use jokes that we don't understand. In your article, you said, 'a much higher percentage than the general population voted for Stalin.' Who is Stalin? Put in jokes kids understand.'' (This one's just sad!)

''When you talk about this stuff make it interesting. Like when we kill a terrorist, don't just say he died, say he blew up in a million pieces or something like that.''

Oh horror of being bored! First of all, most of these kids need to learn to understand the purpose of a newspaper. HINT: It's not to entertain. I suspect that a lot of adults share their feelings of boredom with newspapers even if they understand a little better what's important and I do think there is room for improvement in newspapers. First of all get rid of the editors. Except for columns like Dave Barry's everything in a newspaper looks like it was written by the same person. There's no personality. If the writer can't write well enough that he doesn't need an editor get rid of him. Proofreaders are obviously still needed; in fact, they need more - or maybe just better - proofreaders. (Someone who at least knows the difference between "rein" and "reign" would be useful)

Hmmm... sounds like I'm trying to make newspapers more like weblogs. Now there's an idea. I'd like to see a teacher assign weblogs as homework. Maybe that would get kids interested in the news.

From Scott at AMCGLTD.

Coffee and the South

As my 2 or 3 regular readers know, I'm slightly fascinated by the number of blogs with "coffee" or "caffeine" in the title. I found another one this morning - Coffee Circles. It looks like it might be worth a daily read. (~sigh~ I have too many daily reads already)

A few days ago he had some comments on the South:

Having spent my entire life in the south this is home to me, but over the last few years I have considered moving away. As a technology worker who through the web is aware of the opportunities in other parts of the country, I have at times felt that the south is behind the times and that I could move to another place that is more modern in terms of race relations, technology, education, and simply overall economic development.

I'm surprised to read something like that from someone who actually lives in the South. This is more like the northern stereotype of the South. Certainly there is still racism, but racism is not limited to just the southern states. As for ecomonic development, I don't have facts and figures but I've been under the impression that the South is the fastest growing area in the U.S.

Later in the essay:

Many see all the confederate flags, civil war fanaticism, black pride parades, and calls for reparations as reminders of a history that America should just forget, I see all these are strong influences that keep us debating, keep us trying to work out a future in which historical oppression doesn't mean that your family is doomed to a life that you don't want for them.

Well, that's one way of looking at it, but once again, except for the Confederate flags, I don't think these things are limited to the South. I personally would like to seen an end to the civil war fanaticism, [any group] pride parades and calls for reparations, not because I think we should forget but because, after more than 100 years, it's time to move on. There are a lot of people, little more than a year after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and with a war barely started, let alone finished, who are already saying that it's time to get over it and move on. And yet some of the same people are still unwilling to get over a war which happened over a hundred years ago and which no living person experienced.

Well, come to think of it, I think I just argued against the point I was trying to make. There are some people in the South who still have "issues" but there's a lot that's great about the South too. The majority of people here are not racists. Quite a few are casual racists, ("some of my best friends are..." etc.) and there are a few who are racists of the hateful kind, but they tend to be cautious about speaking out when they're not in their own groups because they know their opinions are generally not acceptable.

But the main point I want to make is that racism is not the defining characteristic of the South.

(BTW - I know that Oklahoma is not really part of "the South" but I have lived most of my life in the South and eastern Oklahoma is sort of an area of cultural overlap between the South and Southwest)

Muslim Sensitivities

Via Instapundit, here's a great essay on the conflict between free speech and Islam.

for some south Asians Falwell's remarks are not just objectionable. They are not free speech or an exchange of ideas. They are insulting the Prophet, a crime that in Muslim history has traditionally been a quick ticket to capital punishment. In past centuries many Christians met their end by insulting the Prophet. Things have only become worse as Wahhabism has grown powerful. (The notion that Islam before Wahhabism was tolerant of these crimes is historically naive.)...

We face a choice: Either chill our speech about Islam and its Messenger, or accept that innocents will sometimes pay for it with their lives. Today's rioters would teach us to keep certain answers to ourselves and confide only in those we can trust. They are our McCarthys, our Lenins, our Robespierres. They are also the Robespierres of the Muslim world, who keep not only Christians and Jews but doubters and Muslims alike in intellectual dhimmitude.

Ultimately I think they will fail, but at the moment they are enjoying a remarkable degree of success.

I think a lot of the criticism of Falwell over his latest ill-considered remarks are not so much concern for Muslim sensiblities as instinctive contempt for Falwell, who can't seem to open his mouth without saying something stupid and bigotted. His recent comments insulting Muhammed, however, are not very far from the opinions of many of us who also despise Falwell. On the other hand, I would like to see Falwell's reaction if a Muslim cleric publicly insulted Christianity, say for example, if a Muslim said that Jesus' Mother made up the whole virgin birth story to explain away the natural result of some pre-nuptiual hanky-panky. Yeah, that would be entertaining.

My point is, of course, that Falwell is no more open minded than the Muslim clerics who have issued a fatwa calling for his murder. Fortunately, in America we don't execute people for insulting God or His prophets. There will always be overly sensitive Muslim clerics just like there will always be Jerry Falwell's. Separation of Church and State is needed to keep their kind in their place.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Nimoy Book Controversy
Actor Leonard Nimoy has pulled out of a fund-raising event in Seattle over a dispute with organizers concerning his new book of photographs, which includes nude pictures and revealing images of women donning tefillin and prayer shawls.

The legendary "Star Trek" actor told the Forward that he decided this week to skip the October 23 event because officials at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle were refusing to let him show a "representative" collection of slides from the book, "Shekhina" (Umbrage Editions). Nimoy is slated to promote the book, billed as the actor's "intensely personal photographic inquiry into the feminine manifestation of God" ("shekhina" in Hebrew), at several Reform synagogues and Jewish cultural venues across the country, as well as at secular institutions.


A Letter From Iran

This deserves maximum exposure. Read it. Link to it. Forward it to your congressman. Print it out and give it to people who think they can get all the news they need from TV.

Everyday, my peers and I sit and talk. We want only one thing: Freedom. Basic human rights. The same thing those who fled Iran 20 years ago now enjoy in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Washington. Sometimes I check the Internet for news. At other times, my friends and I watch satellite television or listen to the short-wave radio broadcasts of the freed world.

We are constantly amazed, though, at how different our reality is from what some American journalists, academics, and opinion-makers portray it as. So often, we hear self-described Iran experts on CNN and reporters in America's leading newspapers explain away the dictatorship under which we suffer. ...

Secretary Colin Powell, Senators Arlen Specter and Chuck Hagel, please understand that Iranians are no less deserving of freedom and equality than are residents of Pennsylvania or Nebraska. You cannot fall for the so-called reformers who by design attempt to sway world opinion with promises, yet fail to deliver a single reform at home. Please understand that Iranians themselves have come to the conclusion that the only solution to our present dilemma is a Western-style democracy, complete with freedom of the press, secularism, equality between sexes, and respect for other religious and political beliefs.

Read it all. Then spread it around.

Via the Rottweiller.

Sorry, wrong page

Today's creepy search request: hairy+armed+woman+pic

Rating Blog Designs

Scott Wickstein is rating blog designs so with my usual morbid curiosity and masochistic tendency to invite verbal abuse, I asked him to rate mine. He graciously obliged and his review is better than I expected. In fact I plan to take his suggestions. It had crossed my mind that the archives could really get out of hand if I keep on blogging for years but I just hadn't thought of changing to monthly archiving. I have thought about the header. I've been thinking of changing to an italic or script font. It would be no problem to make it a little larger.

By the way, Scott guesses that I'm from Texas. I was born there but haven't lived there in a long long time. He probably saw my Texas Chili link. That's actually the link to my other blog, which I started just for silly, light-hearted stuff. I only update it once or twice a week so I got the idea that maybe I could let everyone know when it had been updated and attract more visitors by spotlighting the latest entry. It's not working. No one wanted to find Inner Peace and no one is interested in Texas Chili either. Oh well. The Texas Chili story is hilarious. (and very crude) If you haven't read it you are really missing something. For some reason I can't get the permalinks to work. I'll probably add something else soon so you'll have to scroll down to find it.

Getting back to the topic of blog designs, I agree with some of Scott's ratings and disagree with others. To be honest, I never thought much of Instapundit's page design. Not that there's anything wrong with it; it's just not very attractive.

Scott mentioned the orange text at VodkaPundit, I can't resist pointing out this page. Yikes!

I won't do ratings but, inspired by Scott, I want to review some of my favorite blog designs. Remember this is only about design not content.

The Spleenville Journal. Simple, readable and elegant. I like an appropriate graphic in the header or sidebar. It gives you a little clue at first glance about the blogger's personality.

Daniel Ehrlich. I can just hear everyone complaining about the bright colors burning out their retinas but I like it.

Caffeinspiration. I like the Coke can. Something has changed though. This page is now too wide for my screen. It wasn't always like that.

Common Sense and Wonder. This looks like a Blogger template that has been altered. I like the shell pink with light beige text boxes. Very attractive.

Dustbury. Another two tone beige color scheme. I love the bird. (goldfinch?) The blue title and links are a nice touch. Perfect.

Fuzzy Blogic. Soothing green color scheme and an intriguing header photo.

Sgt. Stryker. Not the most attractive color but it's a perfect fit for this particular blog.

Truth Laid Bear. Scott mentioned this one. I like the newspaper theme.

Hidden Thoughts and Interests. This looks like another Blogger template but I like what she's done with the colors and the borders.

I might add some more later. I can't believe how long I've been sitting here at the computer! "Real life" calls.

President Douglas

A.C. Douglas, with some encouragement from Pejman, has outlined what he would have done last fall if he had been president. I can't pick a representative quote from it so go read it then come back here.

I don't think there is only one right way to defend the U.S. but there are some clear advantages to ACD's plan. The main one I see is in the timing and having the support of the American people. In September and October 2001, eighty percent of us were ready and eager to go bomb someone. Lust for revenge? Of course. So what? The desire for revenge does not cancel out the need to defend our country so use it while you've got it. War is horrible. Contrary to the empty, knee-jerk accusations of peace-activists, we all know that. War is something to be avoided if possible. As time wears on with no action and no additional major attacks on the U.S. more and more people will be enticed by the pleasant fantasy that diplomacy can always work. It's not a matter of Bush "making the case for war." He's already made it. It doesn't matter. The longer we wait the less support there will be for war.

Last fall I was encouraged by the actions of the Bush administration. Though I was impatient, taking our time, building a coalition, seemed like the right thing to do. Now I'm not so sure. A precedent has been set and now we are expected to always have the approval of the rest of the world before we take any action. Sometimes I think our biggest problem is that we so desperately want to be "the good guys." I don't think our reputation would have sufferred very much if we had done what any other nation would have done in similar circumstances.

Old News By Now

Tim Blair is on his way to NY, or possibly already here by now. (This is what I was about to post when I discovered that Blogger was hosed)

Am I back on?

Well, I have my full editing page back but the last thing I posted still won't publish, so I don't know if this will work or not. I'm starting to get sick of Blogger. I haven't complained as much as some people. I can live with a few errors. After all it is free; how much should you expect. But when I can't post anything at all.... well, I've gotten used to having this little soapbox and I really hate being cut off and out of touch. It's tempting to move on to something else (Moveable Type, maybe?) but a couple of things stop me. One I can't justify paying for something that is nothing more than a hobby. Second - and this is probably the bigger reason - Blogger is easy for dummies like me who look at HTML and think it would make almost as much sense if were written in Farsi.

Anyway, here's hoping this works this time.... or soon.

Blogger is still hosed
Testing. The bottom half of this screen has a "page cannot be displayed" notice on it. I don't know if this will publish or not. I hope they get this fixed soon. I don't want to lose my few readers.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Optical Illusion

Here is an interesting essay on the history of optical illusions. Optical toys were once much more popular than they are now, which is not surprising since they had no magic electronic box to provide hours of visual "stimulation."


I love the Internet

This morning's entertaining reading found via a link at AMCGLTD.

Green Winter

It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining through the trees at a low angle, producing a stunning effect never seen during the summer. The leaves are still green, barely touched with red and gold. Everything is beckoning, silently calling, "Come on...come outside." Everything, that is, except for the thermometer on the back porch which is pointing at 46 F/8 C, about 6 degrees warmer than it was an hour ago.

It will be much warmer later. We built our first fire of the season yesterday. Wood heat is wonderful when it's cold and stays cold all day, but this time of year we build a fire in the morning and by afternoon I have all the doors and windows open trying to cool down. So today we just skipped it, relying on our feeble electric furnace to take the worst edge off the morning chill. I hate being cold. I think it's time for another cup of tea.

Monday, October 14, 2002
More on the Harpsichord

Have we exhausted this topic yet? Last week there were brief discussions here and at A.C. Douglas' blog and I had more to add but got distracted over the weekend. ACD wrote:

Unlike a piano, the strings of a harpsichord are plucked from beneath by a device called a plectrum (made of either quill or hard leather in the period instrument), rather than struck from above by a felt-covered hammer as in the piano.

The strings of the harpsichord can be plucked in one way, and one way only, no matter what the harpsichordist does with his fingers at the keyboard (that's not entirely true, but true enough for the purpose of this article). A string is either plucked or not plucked, a kind of binary affair, and the sound produced is the same always: very precise attack, and short decay due to low string tension and relatively rigid sounding board.

One of things that fascinates me about the harpsichord sound - and I'm just going by what my ears tell me; I don't know what I'm talking about the way ACD does - is the variations in tone quality. I'm not sure if that's the right way to describe what I'm talking about. On the piano there's a kind of uniformity between the higher and lower notes but on my favorite harpsichord recordings there's a noticeable difference between the higher notes, which are light and tinkly, sometimes almost piano-like, and the lower notes, which are very full and resonant. Overall these variations make the harpsichord a much richer sounding instrument than the piano.

Besides Ton Koopman's recording of the Goldberg Variations, which I have raved about repeatedly, another of my favorite recordings is a disc of sonatas by Marcello. The harpsichord on this recording has the most remarkable tone! It is very clear and distinct, the most guitar-like sound of any harpsichord I have heard, but of course much more than a guitar. The harpsichordist is Hans Ludwig Hirsch and the instrument is described as Harpsichord with two keyboards by William Dowd, Paris, 1978, built after a model by Nicholas and Francois Blanchet 1730.

Another intersting harpsichord recording is by harpsichordist Martin Souter, performing Handel, Thomas Arne, Johann Christian Bach, Thomas Chilcot and some very early Mozart, on a restored harpsichord that belonged to King George III. The sound of this instrument is a little more metallic than the one described above and slightly less pleasant to my ears but still one of the better ones that I have heard.

I should also add that my music collection is very small compared to those of most serious classical fans. I can describe what I like but I don't have much basis for comparison.


Bruce Baugh has moved back to Blogger. Good-bye Writer of Fortune, hello An Image of Truth. For sentimental reasons I'm leaving Writer of Fortune in my list for at least a little while. There were some very good posts there.

Palestinian Spam

I received a very long, very strange email, titled Barenboim; August 28, Part 6-Plus, from an individual using the name "Jiwon," address thorny@netsgo.com
The address seems vaguely familar but I do not know who it is. A blogger, perhaps? The email was 85K and while I was scanning through it I received two more equally long emails from the same person. I blocked the address mainly because Yahoo has a limited size mailbox and too many of these large emails will fill up my mailbox in no time.

I only saved the first of the three. I haven't taken the time to read through all of it. It seems to be a series of messages with the most recent first. I will just post a few "interesting" excerpts.

Dear my Mail Recipients,
Could you please see P.S.2 first? After sending this mail to AP, I wanted to stay away from the computer for a while. Then, something was waiting for me again. My relationship with the New York Times started couple of years ago. So, if you want to know the reason of two Barenboim-articles, which were written after this message, please contact the JSO jso@inter.net.il, or Bashkirova+Mehta’s Agency enquiries@transartuk.com . They will explain all the details about WHO destroyed/saved Barenboim’s life and HOW, and WHY even the NYT wanted to join my Barenboim-mailing. Thanks...

October 2, 2002, 5:19 AM EDT Jewish musician Barenboim and Palestinian scholar Said pursue Middle East harmony... to publish a new book, “Parallels and Paradoxes,” about the power of culture to transcend political differences… Days after the Ramallah visit, ultra-Orthodox Jews..Barenboim's wife, pianist Elena Bashkirova, pelted the group with her salad.

Basically, it was Yediot Aharonot, Israel Insider and Haaretz, which started spreading this trashy journalism. (Argentinean Clarin also did it and they immediately received my warning. Its Jerusalem reporter would have to pay me, anyway.)...

1. Haaretz did it “again”, even after I sent my last warning to the Jerusalem Post. This professional music critic reminds me of American female professor, who was an epitome of competitive mind. She believed that she could own me as her naive toy if she could manipulate my jealousy/temper. Her strategy was so dirty, so childish. But it worked with most males. I don’t know why.
2. Israel Insider also treated my Barenboim-message a nut case. This intelligent newspaper even didn’t fix their problem about the wrong information, Barenboim’s Wagner, which I pointed out last summer.
3. If Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s board is the one, who conducted all the happenings, I will bring this chairman, Yeheskell Beinisch, into the legal case. I will. No matter what their reason is, they would have to be responsible for their trashy journalism.
They would have to pay me.

It has been YEARS.
1. What a hopeless job Barenboim was doing when I first flew to Chicago? How my involvement was able to save his dying life?

2. How Barenboim was attacked by Bashkirova’s Berlin friends and forced to leave his Berlin job? How I solved IT?

3. Please ask Israel Insider. When the Berlin Philharmonic played Wagner in Barenboim’s Israel Festival? Its members have only established Bimbo’s Jerusalem Festival in 1998. They wanted to make this bitch a Berlin-Queen and put Barenboim under their power. Then on June, 1999, they threw shit on Barenboim after “understanding” my Barenboim-Furtwaengler message. Then, they invited all their friends to Jerusalem Festival 2000. They did it to ridicule my bimbo-message. They did it to make this trashy Jerusalem event into a twin brother of Barenboim’s Divan Workshop. They did it to make this bitch a Jewish Queen. It was an event of the century, according to the professional music critic.

4. Gidon Kremer also joined them to take care of his second Wife-or-Ex, and ALL his friends joined this bitch. They did it with their heart, because the more dying music Barenboim proved, the more brilliant professional success they were able to achieve. Who are THEY?

5. Even Barenboim’s own employees joined them, because I made it clear that there is no hope in Barenboim’s Furtwaengler dream with their dull music.

It has been YEARS.
It has been YEARS that I warned, warned and warned the BPO members and JSO’s board that they should NOT destroy Barenboim’s Middle East Peace Project. (Berlin Phil. and Jerusalem Sym..)
Now, Barenboim finally received a death threat from Inside Israeli.
Without those trashy human beings, whether Jewish or not, Barenboim could have proved his naive patriotism without causing any trouble, even in Ramallah.

It has been YEARS.
It has been YEARS that I sent my Barenboim-messages to all the possible places, which Bashkirova-Family treated inferior enough to “fake” their music business.
They believed that they could succeed in their bimbo-project there.
There, this bitch has boasted her loud mouth as a Berlin-Queen.
Where are those places? From Argentine, Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Canada... and to America.
Recently, I had to ask my mail-receivers AGAIN, including Spain’s ABC, to share my Barenboim message with everyone in their country.
But still,

Elena Kremer was born to destroy Barenboim’s everything, from professional career, starting from Paris, to even his private life as a Jewish father. While reading Barenboim-article by Jewish writer, I was even surprised at that Barenboim’s legal decision "shortly" after du Pre’s funeral to take care of his Jewish kids disappointed Jewish Folks. I promise you. Without this bitch, Barenboim’s painful life with dying du Pre during their late years could have been quite a different story.

Whoever I am, I am the one who was saving or protecting Barenboim in all the cases. Then, I never want to share my money with those useless little Barenboims. Barenboim already made it clear that they are not Israeli. Israeli patriot’s two sons, who have never proved their Jewish identity as proud Israeli? Furthermore, their Russian prostitute mother wants to take care of ALL the Jewish young talents, except her own kids? Go to the hell. Du Pre’s conversion to Judaism was mainly due to her willingness to raise her kid(s) under Barenboim’s Jewish tradition.

It goes on and and on like that. I can hardly wait to read the comments on this one so please don't hold back.


I'm not sure what the problem is with Haloscan. The comments link was missing; now it's back again. I have been thinking about trying a different commenting system. I don't see any way to ban trolls with Haloscan. Most of them though, seem to have one problem or another.

Whatever will be will be

I have decided that I need to try not to worry so much. I have been afraid that we will do nothing about Iraq and, contrary to the lame accusations of the anti-defense crowd, I have been dreading a war with large numbers of casualties. (see my post in Sgt. Stryker's comments) It is impossible to stop worrying completely but keeping certain things in mind will help.

When we were preparing to invade Afghanistan there was much hand-wringing over how difficult it was going to be - the American military was too soft; the Afghanis were brutal fighters whom even the Soviet Union couldn't defeat; and of course there was the "brutal Afghan winter." It's true that Iraq will be different. The pundits who are predicting high numbers of casualties could be right, but they could also be wrong.

I was one of those people who thought Bush was an idiot. In some ways I still do think he's an idiot. He's also an embarrassment to the country every time he opens his mouth. The president of Afghanistan speaks better English, for crying out loud! But last fall President Bush surpised us and did the all the right things. I'm impatient; I want to see some action - if not war then something. When we get impatient we should remember these words from Bush's September 20, 2001 speech: Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. There are things going on that none of us are aware of.

Arguing with the anti-defense bunch is about as useful as arguing with a doorknob but, one more time, I want to try to make a couple of points. First of all, it's not all about us. Like it or not the U.S. has a responsiblity, as the most powerful nation on Earth, to defend freedom around the world. We also have a responsiblity to clean up the mess we made.

Another reason that we should remove Saddam from power is that he supports terrorism. Whether or not there is a direct link with al Queada is irrelevant. There is a lot of talk about Weapons of Mass Destruction and I sense a tendency to think in military terms. We think of missles that can cross the ocean and destroy American cities and seeing that Saddam does not have any such weapons some people would say he's not a threat. Instead we should think in terms of car bombs and suitcase bombs. Think of a terrorist releasing poison gas in the NY subway system, or dumping smallpox in city water supplies. Think of the approximately 200 tourists in Bali who died in a bomb blast while they were out having fun and think of that happening in New York, Atlantic City, San Francisco, Las Vegas or any other American city. Think of it happening lots of times.

And finally, here you go... are you ready for it? OOOIIIIILLLL! Yes oil is a consideration. So what? What do you think powers the cultivators and harvesters used by American farmers to grow food that is shipped around the world? And so what if Bush and his cronies get richer? Most of the thousands of jobs in the U.S. wouldn't exist if someone hadn't seen a possibility of getting rich. If oil was the main consideration we wouldn't still be sitting around debating what to do about Iraq. We would have invaded and taken over a long time ago. But oil is something we have to keep in mind and for damn good reasons.

I read something at ACD this morning that literally made me laugh out loud:

I've received several eMails inquiring why I'm talking about Bach when our War On Terrorism is still ongoing, and our shooting war against Iraq is imminent.

So...because "war against Iraq is imminent" we should just stop talking about everything else? Unbelieveable! To find some other bloggers who also have other things to write about look in my "Different Keystrokes" category. C'mon...take a mental health break once in a while. As for myself, I want to try to get back to talking about Bach and harpsichords later, and I have some Mozart in mind too. I'm not saying I'm giving up on "warblogging;" I'm just saying that while we're waiting we might as well breathe a little.

No Bystanders Allowed

Another excellent essay by Steven den Beste:

There are many who believe that the kind of peace and freedom that we enjoy is the natural state of the human race, the default to which all will return if only they could somehow convince us all to disband our armies and stop fighting. But the natural state for humans is barbarism, cruelty, violence and death; our peace and prosperity is an artificial bubble which must actively be maintained and defended at all times. If we cease to be vigilant it will vanish. My ideological opponents think that armies cause wars, and that war can be prevented by getting rid of armies. But you don't need an army to fight a war; no army attacked Bali last night.

Read it all.

Our Guys and Gals in Uniform

This morning I found GI Party via Light of Reason. While we are fighting about whether or not we should fight let's go look and see what the men and women who will actually be doing the fighting have to say. I especially like this.

Sunday, October 13, 2002
Words Are Not Enough

I don't know what to say about the terrorist attack in Bali. Yes, I will call it what it is. No denial here. I am angered by how little attention this has gotten in the American media. As usual on the weekends, the TV has been on all day starting at 11:00am yesterday. If it weren't for the Internet I would not even be aware that this had happened. Well, we can't interrupt those all-important football games now can we?

At last count more than 180 people killed and 300 injured, out of a population that is only a fraction of ours. Surely this is as big to them as September 11 was to us. And what of the ecomomy of Bali? The tourists are leaving. What will Bali do without its tourists? Surely we could take a break from football to show a little concern and sympathy. We - all of us who value freedom - are in this together.

Saturday, October 12, 2002
What's wrong with these quotes?

Read all of these quotes, note the consistency, then be sure to read the sources at the end.

Via Tonecluster.

Friday, October 11, 2002
Iron Fisk

With apologies to all the other great fiskers out there this superlative fisking inspires me to declare Riyahd Delenda of Cato the Youngest, the Master Fisker! Bravo and more bravos!

But I'm too young to have Alzheimer's!

Sometimes I worry about myself. Not to brag, but some people used to say I was a "walking dictionary" and my family are still always asking me how to spell words but in the last few years I've had a more difficult time with spelling than I used to. A few minutes ago, posting in the comments at Amber Bach, I typed the word fantasize. The end of it - the -size part - looked wrong and after trying a few variations that all looked wrong I reached for the dictionary that I keep by the computer (Sometimes I use an online dictionary. This time I was in the mood for paper.) and I immediately turned to the ph section. I had just typed fantasize with an f, knowing that part was correct, and I turned to ph to look it up to see how the last part of the word was spelled! How much more time do I have, Doc?

A Patriotic Left

Micheal Kazin writes:

I love my country. I love its passionate and endlessly inventive culture, its remarkably diverse landscape, its agonizing and wonderful history. I particularly cherish its civic ideals-social equality, individual liberty, a populist democracy-and the unending struggle to put their laudable, if often contradictory, claims into practice. I realize that patriotism, like any powerful ideology, is a "construction" with multiple uses, some of which I abhor. But I persist in drawing stimulation and pride from my American identity.

Regrettably, this is not a popular sentiment on the contemporary left. Antiwar activists view patriotism as a smokescreen for U.S. hegemony, while radical academics mock the notion of "American exceptionalism" as a relic of the cold war, a triumphal myth we should quickly outgrow. All the rallying around the flag after September 11 increased the disdain many leftists feel for the sentiment that lies behind it....

In the wake of September 11, the stakes have been raised for the American left. Even if the "war against terrorism" doesn't continue to overshadow all other issues, it will inevitably force activists of every stripe to make clear how they would achieve security for individual citizens and for the nation. How can one seriously engage in this conversation about protecting America if America holds no privileged place in one's heart? Most ordinary citizens understandably distrust a left that condemns military intervention abroad or a crackdown at home but expresses only a pro forma concern for the actual and potential victims of terrorism. Without empathy for one's neighbors, politics becomes a cold, censorious enterprise indeed.

Read it all. Via Andrew Hagen.


If you haven't visited Polynym yet go check it out. It's a very unique blog featuring translated poetry and occasional quotes. The title at the top of the page changes at least weekly. When I first linked it it was "Truth and Aspirin;" now it's "mute cavalcade." I like the most recent poem, Cetacean. Unfortunately there are no permalinks.

"Fighting Good Science"

Take a look at Fiends of the Earth, a satire site linked by Bizarre Science , a greenie debunking blog found via the Rottweiller.

Thursday, October 10, 2002
The Link Changes Everything

Lileks on blogging:

The link changes everything. When someone derides or exalts a piece, the link lets you examine the thing itself without interference. TV can’t do that. Radio can’t do that. Newspapers and magazines don’t have the space. My time on the internet resembles eight hours at a coffeeshop stocked with every periodical in the world - if someone says “I read something stupid” or “there was this wonderful piece in the Atlantic” then conversation stops while you read the piece and make up your own mind.

Yes! He gets it! Now if only somebody could explain it to those sites that try to prohibit linking.

Via Instapundit.

Support for War Against Saddam

I don't watch Oprah or any other daytime TV show but I'm sorry I missed this. My respect for Oprah just went up several notches.

The Visual Brain

Michael at Two Blowhards on visual people:

I find visual people to be in many ways like performers -- talented, rarely gifted with much in the way of intellect, and full of meaningless chatter, which is, however, interrupted now and then by brilliantly helpful, offhand observations and statements. Like performers, they seem to have no idea when they're being idiotic and when they're being insightful. Listening to them is a peculiar experience...

It seems to me that it would be a common experience. Aren't most people "visual"? A test that someone gave me on a diskette told me that I'm exactly 50% visual/50% verbal. (hmmm....maybe that's why I have trouble communicating with some people) Of course I don't put a lot of faith in tests like that. It also said a lot of flattering B.S. about me that made me think the real purpose of the test was to give the person taking it an ego boost.