Friday, November 29, 2002
Exposing Kids to Classical

My son and grandson are in the next room watching a Muppets Christmas special. I just heard a little bit of the Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem. I grew up hearing snippets of classical music in Warner Brothers cartoons but I don't hear it very often in today's kids' shows. That's too bad. I don't know if that little bit of early exposure had any effect on my later "mature appreciation" of classical music but it apparently didn't do any harm.

Another Neighbor

I've just quickly looked over okansas. Looks like another worthwhile blog from one of my neighboring states.

Holiday Weekend

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Now the shopping begins. Here's a tip: stay out of the stores. There's still time to shop online. Just sit there in your pajamas and get it all done the easy way. I'll be doing some shopping here and here and maybe here.

Have a great weekend.

Update:Meow.com, the first of the links above, does not have an online store. Too bad. If you like cats you really must request one of their paper and ink catalogs even if it will arrive too late for Christmas shopping.


When I saw this title in Blogger's recently updated list - Blogger Support Sucks - of course I had to click on it because Blogger support (Blogger has Support?!?!?!) does suck. I was a little disappointed to find that it does not actually say anything about Blogger Support and "Blogger Support Sucks" isn't even its real title. On the postive side though, it is a nice page design.

Update:I took a closer look at the page linked above. On the left is a list of blogs by the same blogger, including...ta daaa...Blogger Support Sucks. An amusing idea. I'll be watching to see if it works. I seriously doubt it. As Andy says in the comments we're not exactly paying through the nose for Blogger, but their free service isn't exactly a great advertisement for their paid service either. I have been getting Error 503, along with the "we're working on this" note, for several months. I usually have to refresh and click the publish button again several times before the page will show the latest post.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002
This might work!

How to get liberals on board for the war against Iraq.

It's de-lovely, It's de-lightful, It's de-linking

I haven't read Cinderella Bloggerfeller before but if this is typical of his writing I really must start reading his page frequently even if it does take too long to load. A masterpiece of heavy-handed satire.

Thanks to Kathy for pointing this one out.

Dear Santa

Not your typical letter to Santa.

By the Same Name

This is hilarious. If I had $3000 I would buy the painting myself. Even if the controversy doesn't increase the value the title is delightful.

Thanks to Alexandra.

Not So Easy

Porphyrogenitus points to this good advice.

Like a lot of good advice, it's hard to take. I don't have any friends who are real anti-defense nuts, but then I don't have a lot of friends anyway. My friends are all family and we tend to avoid politics. Last 4th of July someone asked me what I thought of the Pledge of Alliegence controversy, which was a hot topic at the time. I told her the same thing I said here: that I think the words "under God" should not have been added to the Pledge but that the words don't hurt anyone and everyone was getting way too worked up over the whole issue. Everyone found a different topic of conversation real fast. I got the feeling that she was hoping to start a good old circle rant about those "godless liberals out there in California" and I spoiled the fun.

Online most of my friends used to be liberals. Several people I had considered my "best friends" had already drifted away long before September 11th. Sometime after September 11 I started deliberately drifting away from the few who were left and ended up here. I miss some of my old friends and would like to hear from them but at the same time I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of them seeing what I write here. I don't know where most of them stand on the current issues.

I now feel cut off and distant from everyone. I both like and dislike that feeling. There are a lot of bloggers I like and often agree with but I haven't made a close friendship connection with anyone the way I did with a few people in discussion forums. In a way that's good because if you're not close to anyone you're not likely to get hurt, but I miss having friends to talk to.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Sad News

I don't know what to say. I'm very upset about this. I'm sorry I couldn't find a longer article. I guess it just goes to show how little most people care.

Shakespeare's Women Quiz

I am...

Which woman of Shakespeare are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

More Publicity for LGF

The Lefties are getting all worked up again about that evil warblogger Charles Johnson. Steven den Beste writes:

Of course, there are always people who take themselves too seriously and who think they are more important than they truly are. And an unfortunately large number of those are on the political left, where there is a rising horror at the way that we bloodthirsty rabid warbloggers are perverting their medium to deliver the wrong message.

One site, "Rittenhouse Review", has decided to do something about it. Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs has been a major blip on the leftist radar for a while now, and RR has publicly stated that from now on RR will not link to any site which itself permalinks to LGF.

This strikes me as a beautiful example modern leftist activity: it's public, it's in-your-face, it demonstrates moral and ideological purity, and it will have negligible practical effect. It's pragmatically null. It's a tempest in a teapot.

Not only is it a "tempest in a teapot," these little crusades actually help the blogger they are trying to hurt. How many extra links will LGF get out of this? I'm betting he will gain more than he loses.

Personally I'm an equal opportunity linker. In fact I might add a few idiotarians as soon I can think of a sufficiently annoying category heading. The word "twit" seems to work extremely well for pissing people off but I was hoping to come up with something a bit more grandiose sounding - in a heavily ironic way, of course.

UAE Beauty Contest

Via LGF:

The United Arab Emirates has held its first national beauty contest for camels with a prize fond of about $27,000 and various trophies for winners.

"The aim is to mark the respect and love the UAE have for the camel," member of the UAE's National Federal Council Faraj bin Hamouda told the Khaleej Times newspaper.

This story is just begging for a crude joke or snide remark but I can't think of one right now. Feel free to supply your own.

Copyright Blog

Just found this blog dedicated to copyright issues. All links; no commentary.

Blogging Forecast

I might not do much blogging for the next few days, maybe a link now and then. I have shopping to do today, baking to do tomorrow and hanging out with the family to do on Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Another World Domination Plan

Bigwig has a plan to manipulate Blogdex.

It's possible to manipulate Blogdex. We do it every week when I beg for links from the Blogdex registered among you. Not only is it possible, it's fairly easy. 7 or 8 links is all that it takes to put a site on the front page.

He admits, however, that it could get the participants kicked off Blogdex.

Monday, November 25, 2002
Sci-fi Break

I spent several hours today immersed in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead. I started it over a week ago. It normally takes me a long time to get through a book because I'm always doing so many other things, but I got about halfway through and couldn't put it down until I finished the last page.

I enjoyed this one more than the first book in the series, Ender's Game, which I did like very well. There's a lot to think about in Speaker for the Dead. I naturally want to try to relate the story to events in the real world, but it's not a very good fit. The story uses a rather typical sci-fi formula - two very different cultures meet, misunderstanding threatens to cause war between species, far away bureacrats who have no idea what's really going on screw things up almost beyond repair, colonists and aliens/natives rebel against authority and save the day - but excellent writing, realistic characterization and original ideas put Speaker for the Dead a cut above the ordinary. It feels epic.

I look forward to the next book in the series but it will have to wait a while. Another member of my family has just started reading it.

Why Johnny Can't Read Maps

No wonder so many people can't find anything on a map.

Via PejmanPundit.

Sunday, November 24, 2002
Loose Connections

A long time ago, when I was still too young to worry about such things, I read that after age 35 you start loosing brain cells. I don't know if that's scientifically valid but it does seem to describe what happens to most of us. I think it's more likely that my head is just stuffed full of mostly useless information without any kind of logical filing system. I can remember all kinds of crap but pulling out the specific bit of information I need at any given time is like searching through your grandmother's attic for one particular trinket that's been missing since 1964.

This evening the following search string appeared in my referral log: +The+Spirit+of+Ink+Hovhaness. I had not heard of that work before but for some reason I was sure I had seen a blog called "Spirit of Ink" in someone's blogroll. I looked through the blogrolls of all the blogs I've visited today and haven't found it so I have to conclude that it was probably just a loose connection in my aging brain.

The good news is that I did find this Overview of the Music of Alan Hovhaness. I was a little put off by the first sentence: "Approaching the music of Alan Hovhaness can be a daunting prospect for new listeners..." Hovhaness, daunting? Please! Wagner is daunting. Even Bach might be considered daunting. Hovhaness is easy to get into. However, the essay did give some good recommendations and brief descriptions of many of Hovhaness' compositions.

I do not agree that "By far the best performance of Mysterious Mountain is the 1958 recording by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra." It's certainly a good performance but I prefer Gerard Schwarz' recording, which is also mentioned. I also have the Koch CD which includes Celestial Gate, Mountains and Rivers Without End and Return and Rebuild the Desolate Places. There are several more that want to get. Unfortunately the piece that led me there in the first place, The Spirit of Ink, is not available on CD.

A Great Time to be Alive

From Pejman:

Think about the fact that in Wagner's time (and for that matter, in Mozart's, Bach's, Puccini's and Rossini's times), the average citizen would have to scrimp and save, make long treks to different cities, and perhaps even have a few favors done on his/her behalf in order to enjoy such transcendent music.

Nowadays, genius is at our command. All we have to do is pop the CD in the CD player, and we can enjoy an entire opera in our homes. To have such luxuries at our fingertips is a nearly unthinkable and unimaginable blessing that we take for granted everyday.

My feelings exactly.

Out of the Ordinary

I'm always thrilled to find unique blogs like Visible Darkness. Well written essays and interesting black and white photographs. Jeff is in Little Rock, Arkansas so now I have to decide whether to add him to "Special Interest" or "Neighbors."

Jeff had some interesting comments about Judith Butler and academic writing. Butler won the 1998 Philosophy and Literature Bad Writers Contest for this sentence:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Jeff comments:

I’m really scared that I find Butler’s sentences quite comprehensible. What the hell is happening to me? Have I acquired the virulently pernicious academic gene? Maybe I’m even more terrified by the conversation I had today with the director of the graduate program here. We had a nice talk about my project, in post-structuralist terms that we were both quite comfortable with and she stopped to point out that our conversation would have been totally incomprehensible to most people in the department. I hadn’t thought about it. I was just talking.

The "Bad Writing Contest" seems to me like just another populist celebration of ignorance. Maybe I'm wrong. I have to admit that I didn't understand Butler's sentence, but being difficult to understand does not necessarily make it bad. To judge whether it is good or bad I would have to understand it completely.

I envy people who can talk and write like that - to write not just competently but beautifully and to express complicated ideas. I actually love to read stuff that's hard to understand and to try to decipher the meaning. I've never read anything that is as hard to understand as some people - people who seem to be perpetually bored and yet are unwilling to explore any of the many possiblities for long term relief from their boredom.

Oh well, I've been up on this soapbox before. Reality calls. It's time for me to climb down and go fix lunch.

Saturday, November 23, 2002
What is your Sullivan Number?

If I understand the system correctly my Sullivan number is 2. Obviously the whole idea is flawed. I'm nowhere near as popular or important as that number suggests.

Via Still Life with Woodpecker

Hypocrisy Alert

Well, well, well... It seems that Muslims - you know, those peaceful, devout folk who are so worried about their culture being contaminated by Western commercialism - like a good shopping and feasting holiday as well as anyone else, or at least Saudi Arabian Muslims do. Vicky has the goods. (Nov. 22, 7:08pm)

Rachmaninov's Vespers

Found in my referral log this morning:

Rachmaninov lyrics Vespers

Once again... if you are searching for the words to classical or traditional religious music you will be more likely to find what you are looking for if you use the word text instead of the word lyrics. Unfortunately, in this case I didn't have any better luck. However, I did find a page with some information about Rachmaninov's Vespers, which happens to be one of my favorite choral works.

Friday, November 22, 2002
Where were you when...?

I had almost forgotten what day this is. I was only five years old when President John F. Kennedy was shot. We were at my grandmother's house. She learned of the shooting via a phone call from one of her neighbors. Someone turned on the television at the same time someone else turned on the radio and I clearly remember someone saying, "Are we going to watch it on TV or listen to the radio?"

Those are the only details I remember. I had never thought about our leaders at all up to that point. Like most little kids, my awareness was filled with fairy tales about kings and queens and other royalty. I do not remember now whether I had known, before November 22, 1963, that the U.S. has a president, but I do remember wondering why we have a president instead of a king and I wondered what happened when a president died. It was the first time I had ever thought about these things. However, I sensed that it was not a good time to ask questions.

Did the world change that day? It would require someone older than me to answer that but I feel that it did because every such event changes the world in some way. I got the feeling that the adults I knew didn't like President Johnson very much. I never heard anyone say anything bad about President Kennedy while I was growing up, therefore I grew up with the notion that Kennedy was a great hero, the last great president, almost sainted.

Later it became fashionable to tear down heros, to reveal the "truth" about highly respected persons. President Kennedy and other heros were never more than human. We made them heros in the first place. We chose to look only at the great things they did, overlooking anything that did not contribute to the purely heroic image.

Have we "grown up" since Kennedy's assasination, or just grown cynical? I honestly don't know. Blind hero worship can be dangerous but, on the other hand, is it necessary to make a villains of all our heros in order to prove that we are not naive? Can't we be aware of the imperfect human and still honor the hero?

My Kind of Top Ten List!

Pejman and Gregory have both posted Top Ten Lists of Badass Classical Music. As soon as I read them I immediately wanted to get in on the fun but Pejman has already posted half my list and there's so much to choose from I'm not sure what else to add. I can't resist making the attempt anyway so here it is, very much off the top of my head.

1.Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor - Of course! And I totally agree with Pejman that it must be on the organ. I do like the orchestration but no instrument is as "badass" as a huge pipe organ.

2.Mozart, Requiem - Pejman's favorite part is the Confutatis. I love it all but I think the Dies Irae fits in with this list a little better. In fact, I think you could fill the entire list with the Dies Irae from various Requiems. Dvorak and Verdi are a couple of my other favorites.

3.Mozart, Piano Concerto in D minor - Another one stolen from Pejman's list as are the next two.

4.Carl Orff, O Fortuna

5.Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries - A must for every list of "badass music."

6.Brahms, German Requiem - Pretty darn good even if it isn't Latin.

7.Dvorak, Symphony No. 9, "From the New World" - I considered that this might go better on a follow-up list of celebratory music but the final movement can definitely go here.

8.Stravinsky, Rite of Spring - Not one of my personal favorites but it will definitely scare anyone who thinks classical music is all pretty and prissy. (Update: I considered replacing this one with Viktor Suslin's "Dawn Music," a double bass solo. I like it a lot better but Rite of Spring is probably more scary.)

9.Mussorgsky, Night on Bald Mountain - I once heard a classical DJ call this the "scariest piece of music ever written." I find that hard to argue with. I like the version with the quiet ending which, if I'm not mistaken, is the later orchestration. The beginning may take your breath away but that ending will send chills down your spine.

10.Mozart, String Quartet in D minor, K421 - Number 10 on any Top 10 list is always the toughest because at this point I can always think of at least 5 more, but I have to include this one. It sounds like a manic-depressive finally going off the deep end.... or maybe it's all just a joke. Just kidding, everything is fine, go to sleep now, hehehe...

Inspector Magoo

John J. Reilly writes:

Why did I immediately think of Mr. Magoo when I heard that Hans Blix had arrived in Baghdad to begin the leisurely process of looking for weapons of mass destruction?...

Mr. Blix does seem to have more than his share of Magoo-like qualities. He, too, is an amiable old gentleman whom it is easy to imagine stumbling into a doorpost and saying: "I beg your pardon, madam!" This is the man who gave Iraq in the late 1980s, and North Korea in the early 1990s, a clean bill of health with regard to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. In the latter case, he even tried to get the inspector who blew the whistle fired. Like Mr. Magoo. he is quite capable of walking through a minefield and declaring, when he reaches the other side, that he had never seen a finer rose garden.

I hadn't thought of it quite like that but I have had my doubts about the ability even of competent inspectors to effectively search an entire country for weapons.

Thursday, November 21, 2002
Learn to Love Big Brother?

N.Z. Bear has a different take on the scary Total Information Awareness System. It would be hard to lift a representative quote so just go read it.

He has a sensible way of looking at it, if a little rosy. I've said before that the doom we expect rarely comes to pass. However, I'm still worried. I'm not worried that TIA will make our lives hell; I'm worried that it will erode our freedom and privacy so subtly and gradually that most people will simply accept it, first as an inconvenient necessity, then eventually as a "normal" part of life.

NZB believes that the TIA might actually protect civil liberties. It makes sense the way he explains it. I think there will be many benefits but I worry about the potential for abuse.

Digital Art

Thanks to Andrea for pointing the way to Terragen, a free digital art program. I might get brave and give this one a try. I tried to find something like this a few months ago and downloaded a free program that was supposed to be "easy." HA! I can't remember the name of it now but it was totally incomprehensible. (to me) It apparently worked something like HTML but it was a thousand times more confusing. What I want is a super 3-D version of Paintbrush where you can just point, click, drag, etc.

Update:I downloaded Terragen (10 minutes) and it is easy to use. I created a picture in only a few minutes. Learning to create a picture that looks exactly the way I want it to look will take a while longer.

Creative Language

My favorite substitute profanity to date: corksoaking icehole. Bravo to Charles.

The List

I've rearranged my links again, and added a few. The Neighbors category includes bloggers in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas. If you belong in that group let me know. I don't know everyone's location. The Frequent Reading category is likely to change frequently.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Tip Jars

Tip jars are the latest thing that people are getting anal about in the blogosphere. I was pretty much ignoring it until I read Laurence's fisking of Skippy's rant. Lair, you were way too nice to the little twit.

If I switch to MT I will definitely add a tip jar myself. I've considered doing so anyway even though this isn't costing me anything. The reason I haven't has more to do with the lack of an audience. I'm getting about 80 - 100 visits a day, according to Sitemeter but I figure that I have only 10 - 15 regular readers, and that's likely an overestimate. Having a tip jar for everyone to ignore would be almost as depressing as the comments box that everyone is ignoring.

But back to Skippy:

if you can't afford a computer and an on line browser to accesss one of the many free bloggging software programs available, maybe you should get a pen and piece of paper.

Well then I would really need some kind of tip jar. You say "pen and paper" so that means I will be writing by hand. First expense will be making copies. I know a place that makes copies for only 10 cents a sheet so depending on how many readers I have and how much I write, which varies, we're talking about maybe a dollar or two or three a day. Let's be conservative and say copies will cost me $30 a month. Well, that's already more than hosting would cost me so I won't even bother to figure in postage and other expenses. Get the picture?

i strongly suspect that everyone who blogs, with the exception of that homeless guy, has a day job which pays for every other d*mn hobby they participate in

Sorry, at present my day job and night job is "domestic goddess." Except for some great fringe benefits it doesn't pay very well.

so to us, it's a bit like asking people to pay to watch our pick-up game of basket ball so we can buy better sneakers to play in.

No, actually I think it's more like the street performers I used to see in New York putting their hat down on the sidewalk. Everyone's free to stand there and watch and listen then either drop some change into the hat or just simply walk away without giving a penny. But on the other hand... if the basketball players put down a hat and if they were really good...

if you want to write for a living, then do it the hard way...write and submit and get rejected and write some more and get rejected some more and keep writing because you have a burning desire to share your point of view until finally some schmuck with a checkbook likes what you do and then pays you for it.

Why? There's a better way now. Instead of schmucks with checkbooks we have schmucks with PayPal accounts.

but don't expect the world to support your own diary (which is, after all, what a blog is)

You don't actually read very many blogs do you?

and espcially in light of the level of sophistication that is apparent from the vocabulary

Yeah! Not to mention that some people don't even capitalize! (Some of ya'll knew that was coming didn't you?)

jesus h. christ on a rubber pogo stick, there are about a billion more things far more deserving of charity than bloggers who don't want to shell out the extra bucks for more band width. children are dying out there, and these folks want us to click on pay pal?

Oh! There it is! "The Children." Okay folks I think we're done here.

I'm amazed that anyone could really be all that bothered by tip jars. (Maybe he's not really. Maybe he's just trying to boost his traffic. Heck, that's what I'm doing) Ignore the freakin' tip jars if you don't like them! Ignore the whole damned site if you just can't stand seeing the tip jar there. Quite frankly, it's none of your damned business what anyone else does with their own blog.

Karl Barth

A couple of days ago I posted my result in the "Which Theologian Are You?" quiz. It said that I was Karl Barth and I remarked that I had never heard of him. Wanting to know more about this person with whom I supposedly have something in common, I did a Google search. Amoung the many Karl Barth pages are this and this.

The New Look

Please let me know what this looks like to you. I was in the middle of making changes when Blogger went into its daily coma this morning. After it came back up and I finished making the changes what I ended up with didn't look anything like I expected. One color code gave me two completely different colors in two different places. Then, without me doing anything, the problem just fixed itself. At least it looks fine to me but it's been acting so weird I'm worried about what everyone else is seeing. Hopefully you are seeing a very nice light beige, not an icky shade of yellow.

And another thing... What happened to the Blogger button? It should still be there right above the Sitemeter button.

Has Hell frozen over?

To whoever has been hitting Peter Singer over the head with a clue-bat: good job! It looks like you might be starting to make an impression.

If we did away with globalization, would the poor of the developing world be better off? No, he answers, to do so would leave them worse off. This is the big point missing from the whole debate, and it's impressive that Singer has locked on to it...

"What matters is people's welfare, not the size of the gap between rich and poor," Singer writes. ... "Without globalization the rise in inequality would have been greater still," believes Singer.


Keep that clue-bat handy. He's made progress but you never know when he might need a few more whacks.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
How do you like your chocolate?

Scott linked to this article about putting weird stuff in chocolate. Except for animals without backbones, I'm fairly adventurous when it comes to food so I actually would like to try some of these.

Tangerine - sounds good to me. This is supposed to be weird?

White chocolate with cardamon - OMG! Where can I buy some? I must try this.

Red chili - hmmmmm. Oh well, why not? I don't remember ever tasting anything with chili peppers that I didn't like.

Rose or violet truffle - Okay, what's the deal with putting flower petals in food? (I'd probably try this one too)

Pepper - Do they mean ordinary black pepper? I think I'll pass on this one.

Oh, here we go. This sounds like something else I must try. Hey, I bet I can mix this up myself! "At Jacques Torres Chocolates...the big seller is Wicked Hot Chocolate, ... With ancho and chipotle peppers, cinnamon and allspice..."

I'm going to have to give this some thought. I bet I could come up with some really interesting ideas of my own. Holidays are coming up. I need something truly original to bring to our annual Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers.

Le Pew

Here is another reason why I am unspeakably thrilled that I was born in the good ol' U.S of A!

Do unto others...

The Militant Pagan tells it like it is:

We cannot be nice, kind or tolerant to an entire culture that is devoted to wiping us off the face of the earth and feels justified by doing so based on dusty books interpreted by mean-spirited, hateful little men. We cannot sit idly by wringing our hands over the murders of our countrymen and clinging to the ideals of non-interference and pacifism. We cannot embrace these monsters with open arms, and far too many Americans continue to do so.

Read the whole thing. Nov. 13, 12:58pm. Permalinks not working correctly.


Vicky has a nice new page design with a great header.

I really must get around to adding her and several others to my links list soon. Also, I'm starting to get the redecorating bug myself (I understand that's a female thing) so you never know what you might find here in the next week or two.

I don't think Blogger likes this template even though it is one of Blogger's standard templates with a little tinkering by Scott and me. (Yes Scott, I did finally order the sweatshirt.) Does anyone else on Blogspot still get the 503 error? Mark was having the same problem only worse but changing templates seems to have fixed it. I like having three columns though so I'll probably just stick with this template. It works most of the time.

Never Say Die?

Okay, so Ray Kurzweil is just plain nuts, but a little positive thinking can't hurt, right?

Via Neuroprosthesis News

Monday, November 18, 2002
Software Pain

Is anyone else out there using Norton Internet Security? We used to use Pop-up Stopper and several security programs that you can download for free. When it came time to upgrade our Norton Utilities we decided to get the "Internet Security" version which would replace the several free programs. I am not pleased with result. Pop-up Stopper was great. It was easy to turn on and off with just two clicks. It takes at least three clicks to turn Norton's ad-blocker on or off, but that's only on those rare occasions when it actually works like it's supposed to. Most of the time when you try to turn something off in Norton, even though it says it's off it doesn't turn off until you've tried several times.

That goes for the "Parental Control" also which we don't really need because the youngest "child" using the computer is 18. But it's there and just as hard to turn off and keep off as everything else. You're supposed to be able to edit the list of banned sites but that doesn't work right either. And speaking of that list... it must have been programmed by a clone of Pat Robertson. Norton bans more sites than the Chinese government. I wasn't too surprised when it wouldn't let me go to Victoria's Secret but when I couldn't even go to Yahoo Mail that was just too much! Oh well, it's bought and paid for and the other half likes it so I guess we're stuck with it.

Controversial Art

I've seen comments about this painting on several blogs. I think A.C. Douglas has a good interpretation though not necessarily the only one. Whatever the interpretation, I am amused by all the uproar over this rather ordinary piece of "pop art trash" as ACD calls it. I think the best comment I've seen was in Nukevet's comments: "history is the only art critic that matters." Some of the greatest works of art of all time have incited moral outrage. I wouldn't say that all works of art must be publicly displayed in spite of protests, but when will the philistines of the world ever learn that such reactions only serve to validate works of art that would otherwise soon be forgotten?

A recent newspaper article alerted me to Why Religion Matters, a book by the well-known religious historian Huston Smith. Apart from its very existence, the article drew my attention because of the familiarity of the charges it leveled against science and skepticism. I bought a copy, and while it was difficult to struggle through the whole thing, it was a valuable exercise. It served as an excellent window into the mainstream religious mind - many of the arguments in the book had a familiar ring to them. In fact, the book was quite a nice summary of the prejudices and fallacies about Freethought that are taken for granted in society at large.

This central premise of the book is that we are in the midst of a moral and spiritual crisis, a claim that is becoming ever more familiar. Religious commentators, most especially the very conservative/fundamentalist, love to portray the USA as a spiritual battleground. The godly are in constant battle against moral decay and contempt for religion. Their foes are academia, the media and the government. If you believed everything that they wrote along these lines, you couldn't help but conjure up an image of a Christian family barricaded inside their home while drunken atheists loot and burn their neighborhood.

Read it all.

Via Ye Olde Phart

Welcome Chinese Readers!

Apparently there was an error that caused all sites to be reported as banned in China. When I check a few minutes ago this blog was reported as accessible in China. I suppose that now I will have to actually work at convincing the Chinese government that my opinions are dangerous.

Are You Next?

Another battle in the other war against Americans.

Via A Century of Crap.


I finally started reading Speaker for the Dead last week. I've had the book for a couple of months but I've had to wait while three other family members read it. Every time I thought I was going to get to read it one of my guys snatched it up. I was beginning to think I was going to have to buy another copy. Actually I think it's pretty cool that we all like the same books so much that every time we get a new one we compete to be the next to read it.

So far I'm liking the book very well. Got mixed reviews from other family members.

Pretty Good Tea

I recently discovered Island Rose Rum Vanilla Tea at a local grocery store. Normally, I don't buy tea from the grocery store unless it's an emergency (If I'm out of tea it is an emergency) but I had never seen rum vanilla tea anywhere before so I gave in to the impulse and bought it. I'm glad I did.

Science Blog

Just found in the recently updated list: Neuroprosthesis News. Interesting stuff.

Theology Test

Will you laugh if I admit that I've never heard of this person? Whoever he was I think he might have been an okay kind of guy.

"We reject the false doctrine that the church could have permission to hand over the form
of its message and of its order to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the
prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day."
You are Karl Barth!
You like your freedom, and are pretty stubborn against authority! You don't
care much for other people's opinions either. You can come up with your own fun, and
often enough you have too much fun. You are pretty popular because you let people have their
way, even when you have things figured out better than them.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

Via LilacRose.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

This blog is banned in China. I am outraged! I am seriously pissed! A billion people are denied the benefit of my wise opinions and observations. This is absolutely unacceptable. It's a good thing for the Chinese government that I'm not a hacker. I would make them so sorry they dared to ban ME!

Seriously, are all Blogspot sites banned? You can test any site to see if it is banned in China. I would be interested to know if anyone on Blogspot is not banned.

The Arts vs. Popular Culture

Friedrich at Two Blowhards has actually read all of Adorno's 16,000 word essay "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment As Mass Deception" and written a good summary and commentary on it. These are just some of the main points; be sure to go read it all. (Friedrich's essay, not Adorno's)

#1—Modern popular culture represents the triumph of fixed entertainment formulas:

#2—Modern popular culture gains authority from its mechanical reproduction:

#3—Modern popular culture imposes a rigid “house” style on all artworks:

#4—Modern popular culture converges with advertising:

I'm afraid I can't find much to disagree with in these four points. Most people get quite indignant if you dare to suggest that the vast majority of the population are little more than zombies mindlessly consuming whatever the movie, television and music industries shovel out. Like all generalizations, this one is no more than partially true but I do see some truth in it. It's not so much that people are zombies being controlled by advertisers. Rather, the advertisers are extremely clever. By satisfying consumers' most immediate wants and needs they take away the need of individuals to put forth effort to satisfy those wants and needs. It's all right there in front of us; one has only to choose from the standard menu.

The primary goal of advertisers is to make a sale. Offering immediate gratification is the best way to a sale. The fine arts don't normally lend themselves to instant gratification. With patience they will give a deeper and more lasting kind of gratification but, being surrounded by offers of instant gratification, most people see no need to look for anything else. Anything that doesn't provide instant gratification is "boring."

I believe that the fine arts could be successfully marketed without reducing their quality or the dignity that has always surrounded the arts. As an example of a different approach to advertising look at banks and investment companies. They are different from most advertisers in that they are selling long term benefits not instant gratification. They have to sell trust in their integrity. There are other kinds of "high class" products that are successfully advertised - wine and diamonds for example. There are some "instant gratification" aspects of these items but elegance, taste and lasting value are emphasized.

Unfortunately what little arts advertising there is tries to reduce the arts to fit pop culture attitudes and the desire for instant gratification. To take a particular pet peeve of mine, look at all the pop-classical CDs, all the Mozart for the Mind and Bach for Relaxation type CDs and the selling of mediocre performers like Charlotte Church as pop-culture icons. This kind of marketing works - for Sony and the other major labels. What it does not do is increase appreciation of classical music. Classical music packaged in this way is every bit as boring as most people think it is. People need to be sold on the idea of classical music as an active interest, more like a sport or a hobby, rather than entertainment which is basically always passive.

Getting people into museums is a similar problem. Not long after I started blogging, a friend asked me to comment on a statement he had heard someone make - something to the effect that she couldn't understand how anyone could just "stare at paintings." This is the attitude of the TV generation. When we look at something we expect it to move on its on - "don't just sit there, do something, entertain me." The arts should be marketed but somehow we have to sell people the idea that they should be (mentally) active participants not just passive viewers or listeners.

That Question Again

(NOTE TO SELF: Stop wasting so much time blogging about blogging and instead blog about something that someone might actually want to read...and maybe even link to!)

Well, here I go again already. I wasn't going to do this anymore but Alan of Amax Weblog asks - I wonder if other bloggers might do a quick rationale for their own blogging? - and since a half joking remark I posted in Misha's comments yesterday has me musing on the subject again I can't resist, one more time, answering the question "Why do you blog?"

I've written before that I blog because I like to write and I like being part of an Interenet "community." Those things are still true, but I also blog because I want someone to know me for who I really am. All my life I've been a very ordinary person and I hate being ordinary. In high school I was a nobody, neither popular nor very unpopular. In my adult life I've always been the quiet one, whom nobody knows anything about. I hate that. I'm not as "ordinary" on the inside as I appear on the outside, but in face to face situations it's hard to open up and let people know the real me. I just follow the flow of conversation and since more often than not it doesn't flow anywhere that I'm interested in going I just sit quietly and wish everyone wasn't so freaking boring.

I have to admit (we're taught while we're growing up that this is a bad thing) I would love to be the center of attention. It has never happened and in the blogoshpere I'm still a nobody. It's frustrating sometimes when I seem to be the only one not getting any links from the latest blogburst and I feel the childish urge to jump up and down and scream 'why isn't anyone paying attention to me?'

I know there are a lot of bloggers who hate that attitude and think you can't be yourself if you're always "whoring for links" but I hate that attitude. It's certainly not true that you can't be yourself and try to build traffic at the same time. Why write and put your stuff out there where the whole world can see it if you're not wanting at least some attention. If you're really writing only because you like to write then why not just write it in Word and leave it on your hardrive where nobody but you will ever read it?

Well, enough of that - really - I do think I do too much blogging about blogging and I intend to move on to something (hopefully) interesting but sometimes you just have to take time for a little navel gazing.

Saturday, November 16, 2002
New Additions

Legal Bean - I used to have this one on my list then dropped it when he didn't update for a while. I just discovered today that he is back in action and has a new blog design.

Amax Weblog - One of the most interesting blogs I've ever read, even though a lot of it is way over my head. I've had it bookmarked for a few weeks. Alan lives in Australia and writes mostly about technology and occasionally about other topics including current events.

That's weird!

I just tried to go to my blog and ended up at Preacher Blog, a Portugese blog with a disturbing header. I would link to it but I don't know the correct URL.

Friday, November 15, 2002
Excuse me?

I found a link to this article about Nancy Pelosi at Random Nuclear Strikes.

Pelosi will not take the party to the right or left, but instead “she will take us forward,” said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. “And by being the first woman (to lead a party on Capitol Hill), she immediately convinces half the voters that Democrats are in the 21st century, which is a good start.”

Well Mr. Conyers, I assume that the "half the voters" you are referring to are the female half. It just so happens that I am a member of that half and it will take a whole lot more than picking a woman to head the party to convince me that Democrats are in the 21st century.

Thursday, November 14, 2002
What are we doing here?

I feel the need to fisk a couple of lines quoted by Michele. I'm not going to link to the little brat who wrote these lines. They're not original anyway, just part of the usual whiners' litany. I don' t know if this will actually qualify as a "fisking" but whatever you want to call it here we go.

i absolutely hate what blogging has become

Umm...what exactly has blogging become? I wasn't in on it from the beginning so I don't know the history first hand, but from what I have read in several places, weblogs were orginally used by technical people to record and share information and were almost unheard of by anyone else. Then, after September 11 those we now call warbloggers came on the scene and popularized blogging. I don't know exactly when the personal journals came along but they seem to make up the majority of blogs.

As an example of what blogging has become, you can take a look at my links list. Notice the "Different Keystrokes" category. Obviously this is a take-off on the saying "different strokes for different folks," and the blogs here are indeed different. They are all well written, most about a specific subject - for example Badgett's Coffee eJournal is in fact all about coffee - and not a single one is a warblogger. In the main list there are some warbloggers but there are also many eclectic bloggers - a personal journal or two, people who write about life in general as well as news, and just general ranting and musing.

In short, blogging has become a way for everyone to express themselves on any subject they happen to be interested in or no subject at all. And someone thinks that's a bad thing? Sounds like someone who wants freedom of expression only for themselves and the few people who agree with them.

do bloggers in general actually feel like they are contributing to anything?

This is not so much a question as a childishly petulant complaint. I think "bloggers in general" (whoever they are) don't really care whether they are contributing to anything. Most of us are blogging primarily because we enjoy doing it, but of course we are contributing to something. We are contributing our voices to the community of bloggers. Bloggers contribute in many ways, just as individuals in "meat-space" (term borrowed from Andrea) contribute to their communities in various ways.

As a group bloggers might have some influence on the world as a whole, or maybe not, but in small ways some bloggers do make important contributions. One blogger who made an important contribution to my mental well-being was the Muslim Pundit who, sadly isn't updating his blog anymore. At a time when we were being force fed the line about the "religion of peace" and other "moderate" Muslims denounced terrorism merely as a jumping off point for criticising U.S. foreign policy, Adil was offerring informative and original commentary. This meant a lot to me personally and I'm sure there are many other bloggers out there who, in sharing their personal thoughts, touch some readers in a meaningful way. These person-to-person connections are the most important contribution.

Blogging is all about freedom of expression. You can say anything you want to and nobody can stop you. They can criticize but they can't stop you. If, by expressing yourself, you are able to contribute something that's great. If not that's fine too. And if you don't like what some blogs have become... just quit reading them!


What's in a Name?

Nukevet considers blog names.

Via Spleenville.

My Sob Story

It's not much of a sob story but everyone likes sob stories so, lacking a real one, this will have to do.

This morning I was still limping along with my crippled keyboard. I had taken some of the keys off and managed to get the spacebar to work most of the time but the "b" was so difficult that I found it easier to copy and paste a "b" whenever I needed one instead of banging on the key over and over again with all the strength in my frail little hands. But still, I had to blog, so this morning I was slowly and laborously typing a fairly long entry which I felt simply could not wait. As if the keyboard weren't enough of a problem, my piece-of-crap old mouse which we have been fixing almost daily for several months now started getting tired and stubborn with the excessive copying and pasting action. Finally, when I was almost finished, the screen completely locked up. I lost everything I had spent almost an hour typing.

Now for the happy ending. I went to Wal-mart a couple of hours ago and checked their electronics department to see if they had replacement keyboards and to my surprise they not only had them, they cost a lot less than I expected. I had no idea that keyboards are so cheap. Last time I priced one the cheapest I could find was almost $70. Today I bought a standard keyboard for just a few pennies under $10. Since that was such a good price I bought a new mouse too and that's the other surprise - mice don't have balls anymore! I had heard of optical mice before but I thought the "optical" part was just to take the place of the cord and that they still had a ball for tracking. The one I bought has a cord but no ball. It works great. I feel just a wee bit sentimental about the ball though. I've always thought it was sort of cool the way mice work, but I'm sure I won't miss having to take thing apart and clean it.

Anyway, everything's back to normal here and I will try to recreate my lost entry and do some more blogging later when I have time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002
The Cult of Gould Worship

My sincere thanks to A.C. Douglas for pointing out this very enjoyable essay by Kevin Michael Grace. I am not qualified to comment specifically on Glenn Gould, having heard so little, but I have observed that people who get caught up in the cult-like worship of popular performers are almost invariably people who, though they might have heard a lot of classical music, still don't get classical music. Though we all have favorite performers, it should be understood that, unlike pop music, classical music is composer centered not performer centered.

As for Gould, I heard his recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations on the radio when I was still fairly new to classical music and at the time I was not especially impressed. Later on someone who shared many of my musical preferences and whose opinion I respected had some very negative things to say about Gould therefore I have never bothered to listen to any more. After all there are a number of other brilliantly talented pianists and more music than I will ever have time to listen to. Since I'm mainly interested in what the composer had to say I figure I'm not missing all that much in depriving myself of Glenn Gould's alleged genius.

Besides... everyone knows Bach sounds better on the harpsichord.

Cat Logic

"No matter how much food is in the dish, if I can see even a tiny part of the bottom of the dish I cannot eat until you add more food to the dish."

Cat Paintings

Here. Be sure to look at all four galleries of cat paintings. (If you like cats that much)

Republicans, now that you've won...

I'll second that! Unfortunately, I don't think they're going to listen to either one of us.

Where is Osama bin Laden?

Splattered all over the walls of a cave in Afghanistan?

Living in luxury as an honored guest of the House of Saud?

Driving a taxi in Manhattan?

Working at a 7-11 in Hoboken?

Working at the DMV in Los Angeles?

Teaching “weapons safety” at a gun club in Alabama?

Working as a janitor at the Al Jazeera TV studio?

Working as a janitor at Disney Studios?

Living in London and writing for The Guardian? (using a psuedonym of course)

Please add your own theories in the comments. No idea is too ridiculous. Speculation as to which Guardian writer is really Bin Laden is also welcome.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Yeah, yeah, yeah...we all know movies are unrealistic. Who cares? Just forget the physics and sit back and enjoy the freakin' movie! Actually, some of the stuff at this site is sort of interesting.

Evidence That Bin Laden is Dead

If he was alive and wanted to prove it, wouldn't a video tape be more convincing than an audio tape?

Monday, November 11, 2002

Still having keyboard trouble. Typing is slow because the two sticking keys only work if I hit them as hard as I can. Sometimes I have to hit the spacebar several times before it will work. Naturally, I won't be blogging much until I do something about it, but I have to link to this. Sat. Nov. 9, no permalink. Good discussion in the comments.


Sunday, November 10, 2002
Science Fiction Discussion

A discussion of sci-fi literature has started at 2Blowhards in response to a post by Michael.

One thing I notice over and over that I've never managed to make much sense of is the appeal sci-fi seems to have for many libertarians. Can you help me with this?

I confess that the taste for sci-fi makes me a little suspicious, though this may not reflect well on me. Shooting entirely from the hip... Sci-fi has always struck me as an early-adolescence taste: Superman fantasies crossed with a craving for feelings of, "Ah, to be entirely unfettered from earthly shackles." The storytelling and characters never seem the point; the energy always seems to go instead into things (alternative universes; "philosophy") that don't interest me much as entertainment goals.

As a sci-fi fan I run into this attitude a lot and naturally find it disturbing. Conversely, I have to confess to holding an opposite prejudice: I'm always a little suspicious of people who don't like sci-fi if I find out about this dislike before I really get to know the person. The things that go through my mind when I meet someone who expresses a dislike for sci-fi are: "Not intelligent enough to understand it," "Lacks imagination," or "possible religious fundamentalist." I want to emphasize that I know these things are not true of all people who don't like sci-fi; it's just my immediate gut reaction.

Whether or not you like science fiction has a lot to do with which book you pick up first. There is a lot of trashy science fiction out there, but that's true of other genres also. There is a great variety in science fiction and fantasy. Some of it is mere escapism; some of it tries to make political statements; some is aimed at ultra-geeky readers who are into high tech gadgetry and speculative science; and some is very human and deeply psychological. I generally go for the latter category. In these the storytelling and the characters are exactly the point and science fiction allows for situations that would not be possible in mainstream fiction.

A very good example of this is a book titled The Death of Sleep by Anne McCaffrey. In this book a woman must leave her young daughter behind to take a job on another planet. It is only supposed to be for a couple of years but something goes wrong and the woman ends up spending several decades in "coldsleep." There is certainly a lot of high tech gadetry and exotic locations in this book but the meat of the story is the human relationships and the psychology of loss and being out of one's own time.

Regarding the libertarian connection with sci-fi. I hadn't really noticed but I guess it makes sense. I assume that Michael is talking about the radical sort of Libertarian who wants to eliminate all government. Setting a story on another world or in the distant future makes it possible to present ideas that wouldn't work in a story set on present day Earth.


Art and Communicating Ideas

From Out of Lascaux:

Art is about ideas, but it is also about communicating ideas. If art doesn't say something to the audience besides "I bet you're too stupid to figure this one out," then it has failed.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Required Reading

Don't miss this one.

I don't feel so good

I don't feel all that bad either....yet. All day I've had a headache, a general lack of energy and a hot, dry feeling in my throat. Soon I will either have a full-blown cold, complete with all the usual nasty, uncomfortable symptoms, or it will just go away. Yes, sometimes it does just go away. It's comforting to think that my actions might have something to do with that - drinking plenty of fluids, taking extra vitamins, mind over illness - but I know that I have no control. Still...if I could only make myself believe that it's possible to just think myself well...maybe....


Toward Better Blogging

If there is a down side to blogging it's that it makes me impatient with longer articles. Generally I don't have any problem reading long essays or even complete books online but when I'm blogging I want to get around to reading as many blogs as possible and find myself skipping longer articles or just skimming them to get a general idea of what they're about. I link a lot, make short comments and write less.

I can't entirely blame blogging. There is an overwhelming wealth of things to read on the Internet. I found the Access the Great Books site long before I started blogging. I go there and spend hours just browsing. The Internet itself invites us to browse, to keep clicking on the next link and the next one. We might make mental notes to come back and take a closer look at the most interesting sites when we have more time but there is never more time because there's always another link leading us to more treasures.

I tell myself that I need self-discipline. I need to designate two or three days a week as non-blogging days, or to limit my blogging hours and spend a couple of hours every day just reading on the Interent. But the lure of the blogs is powerful. I must check in regularly and catch up on the latest. I must put my two cents worth in while the topic is hot. I must chase after more links. I must attract more readers. There is the danger: if I try too hard I risk chasing away what I'm chasing after.

In blogging, as in most things, balance is needed. The best bloggers are those who interact with other bloggers and post often but also make time for things other than blogging.

The Human Side

Dave Trowbridge linked to Cody Clark's thought provoking essay about Jesus' humanity, which includes his unique take on Andres Serrano's infamous photograph.

I find the idea of bodily fluids as artwork disgusting, but, from the very beginning I thought that most people were probably missing the point of Serrano's controversial art photo. Too many people don't stop to question what a work of art might mean - what the artist actually had in mind - it's just an immediate, knee-jerk, eeuuuwwww reaction. No one says you have to like it but at least put forth the mental effort necessary to understand what you dislike. That's what humans do. Lower animals act on instinct; humans think.



I believe that we should own up to our mistakes, even when those mistakes are quite embarrassing. So, I have to admit to being guilty of political stereotyping and of simply not paying enough attention to what is really going on.

In this post I made a parenthetical comment about Republicans "letting their corporate pals into our computers." Well it seemed like a natural assumption to make. After all it is the Republicans who are infamous for cozying up to corporate bigwigs and protecting them from their evil, greedy customers and employees. But Andrea left a comment pointing to this relatively short and to the point essay by Steven den Beste on the impending death of the "Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act." Now if I'm understanding things correctly, this nightmarish little piece of legislation was actually the Democrats' baby. Imagine that!

Has everything changed, or does the party not in power - whether Republican or Democrat - always do desperately stupid things?

Friday, November 08, 2002
Weblog Life Cycle

Link via Alan Daniels.

Someone Confused?

From this morning's referral log:


Mozart's 9th is one of those early Mozart Symphonies that I haven't gotten around to yet but I'm pretty sure it doesn't have any words. The searcher was probably thinking of Beethoven.

One more thing: A tip for Web surfers searching for classical music stuff: we classical folks are way too uppity to use the word "lyrics." Try substituting the word "text" or, for opera, "libretto."


Dammit! If my kids don't stop eating at the computer I'm going to glue their fingers together! The shift key keeps sticking.


Enough of a Good Thing

I got an email from Amazon announcing yet another Dragonriders book by Anne McCaffrey. I loved the original trilogy and the Harper Hall trilogy but most of the later books in the series were disappointing. I will probably read this one too when it comes out in paperback - can't resist - but I'm prepared to be disappointed again. I suspect that it is the fans who are responsible, continually demanding new Dragonrider books, but I am a big fan myself and I say 'enough already.' It's time to move on.

Thursday, November 07, 2002
Musical Instruments

Medieval and Renaissance Instruments - a very informative reference including history, photos and WAV and MP3 files.


Ancient Melodies

Is it possible to reconstruct ancient Greek music? I am excited by the idea but skeptical. Scholars will have to decipher a completely different system of notation. How can they determine which mark on an ancient papyrus coresponds to the note we call "C," for example?


Too Many X-Files Re-runs?

I have no idea what this is all about but I bookmarked it in my "Sci-Fi and Weird Stuff" folder and hope I remember to check it on March 8, 2003.

Via Red Writing.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Quote of the Day

From Kathy Kinsley:

I hope you Republican politicians will keep in mind that a lot of people held their noses to vote because of the war on terrorism. It doesn't mean we want you in our bedrooms, ok?

Amen to that! And we don't want you in our computers either. (or, to be more exact, we don't want you letting your corporate pals into our computers) I haven't posted anything about yesterday's elections because I have mixed feelings about the outcome. I have serious concerns about a Republican majority but so many Democrats have been acting like idiots I would also be worried if they had a majority.

I voted for Congressman Brad Carson, a fairly sensible Democrat, and he won by a wide margin. I disagree with him on a lot of issues but anyone who agreed with me on most of the issues could never get elected in Oklahoma anyway. He got my vote based on two things: he supports President Bush in the War on Terrorism and he has made himself very accessible to constituents.

For Governer I voted for Steve Largent and he lost, just barely. This was a tough decision. I didn't actually decide until two days before the election. I decided right away that I couldn't stand Richardson, the Independent, but both Largent and Brad Henry have said things I like and things I dislike.

Oh well. It's all over now and all we have to do is wait and see what happens. One thing that won't change: there will be plenty of reasons for bitching on both sides.


Sick of motivational posters? Try these instead.

Via Amber Bach.

The Power of Sound

Australia has made some progress toward developing a sonic weapon.

Things You Never Knew Existed (...and wish you still didn't)

Did you know that you can buy dryer sheets that are made to make clothes smell like dirt? Why? It's a bowhunting thing. And that's not the worst of it. Ladies, you have dragged your husband or boyfriend along with you shopping for shoes and clothes. Turnabout is not only fair, it can be very educational. Go on...pay a visit to the bowhunting section of the nearest sporting goods store. You might be shocked at what you see there.

The dirt scented dryer sheets aren't so bad. The smell is subtle and doesn't linger. But if he ever brings home doe urine scented dryer sheets he's moving the dryer out to the garage and buying me a new one for in the house.

More Music Geekery

Take any Koechel number 100 or higher, divide by 25 then add 10 and you will get Mozart's age (plus or minus one year) at the time he wrote that piece. Example: Symphony No. 25 is K183. 183 divided by 25 is 7.32. Add 10 to 7.32 to get 17.32. Mozart was 17 years old when he wrote Symphony No. 25.

Mozart Recordings

In the comments to my earlier post about Mozart Piano Concerti, Scott Chaffin* requested an Amazon link. I checked Amazon and couldn't find the CD that I have so here it is at Tower Records. It's a two disc set and everything in it is excellent. I've heard other recordings of most of these and I've never heard better.

I'm not sure what to recommend for the String Quartet in D minor, K421. The recording I have and love is by the American String Quartet on the Music Masters label and I think I got the last one that BRO had. I can tell you, whatever you do do not get the Naxos recording of it. They made a mush of it. One other recording that I've heard is by Quator Mosaiques. I guess it's not bad. I've talked to a couple of people who like it but I have two serious problems with it. One, Quator Mosaique performs on baroque instruments which is okay for some composers but I'm just not used to that sound with Mozart. Second, and worse, the tempo is way way way too slow. You might look for it on Philips. So far I haven't heard anything bad on that label. By the way, do watch the K number on this one. There is another, much earlier String Quartet in D minor by Mozart in the K100's.

*Sorry I didn't link to Scott but every time I try to go to his blog I get this thing asking me if I want to download something.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Strange Search Strings


Hmmm....I wonder what that person was looking for.

More Good Stuff From Spleenville

BlogBasher is a blog with nothing but polls about other blogs. It's not exactly unbiased, which means that it's a lot of fun. I liked the Warblogger Watch poll, but it needs to have - "All of the above except maybe number 3" - added to the choices.

Update:I've been quoted in BlogBasher's sidebar! It's my first sidebar quotation.

Chasing After Traffic

wKen said that linking to his blog is a good way to increase my traffic. Okay, here's your link. My number of hits better go way way up tonight or I'll...I'll....I don't know, I'll think of something.

This silly post is all Laurence's fault.

Two Mozart Favorites

Josh compares Mozart's Piano Concerti in A major (K488) and C minor (K491):

Mozart was the supreme craftsman: he often did the unexpected but, whatever he does, it always feels so right. The movements of each work slot together as part of a magical and continuing whole. Or do they?

If we compare the two concertos movement by movement, the first two 'draw': they are both incredibly beautiful, both melodically and structurally, and they 'belong' together. The third movements provide the greatest contrast. The A major finale is gay and light, a release of tension after the searing poignacy of the adagio. The C minor finale, on the other hand, deepens the tension, rather than releasing it. ...

Therefore, the argument pivots on the nature of the third movements and whether or not they are appropriate. When I listen to K488, before the third movement starts, I know what comes next but I would prefer something heavier; I sometimes feel that the finale belongs to another work On the other hand, K491 ends totally idiomatically, just as I want it to. So, K491 gets my vote when my arm is twisted. But I would rather it weren't...

Read it all.

I can't argue with Josh's analysis at all, but one thing that I find appealing about K488 is the contrast between the deeply touching adagio and the light, cheerful final movement. The adagio is like the night and the finale is like the sun coming up in the morning. They go together perfectly.

The incongruity in some of Mozart's music is part of what makes it so charming and fascinating. The G minor String Quintet is another work with an incongruously cheerful finale, even moreso than K488. My favorite of the String Quartets, K421 in D minor, has more ups and downs than a roller coaster - utter despair one moment, light and playful the next, then immediately back into the depths.

Picking favorites is impossible with Mozart. I know I have said more than once that K488 is my favorite piano concerto but it's more or less tied with K466 in D minor and K491 is way up there on my list too. So, Josh, you will get no argument from me as to which is the "finest."

This is getting ridiculous!

For quite a while most local stores have been keeping Sudafed behind the counter. I don't know the whole story behind that one; apparently someone has found a way to get high on it. Last night I heard on the news that many stores are also starting to keep vanilla extract behind the counter because of its high alcohol content. (And they just recently discovered this fact?) Hey, why don't we just completely change the way stores operate? Since almost everything has the potential to hurt someone if misused let's just put everything "behind the counter" and have store employees take our lists and do our shopping for us. [/sarcasm]

If they keep up this trend I think I'm going to start buying everything non-perishable over the Internet.

Why Hannibal Loves Classical

Ampersand has a response to my earlier post about villians and classical music. I haven't seen the Hannibal Lecter movies nor read the book but I think he's probably right. Any time movie-makers want to drive home the point that a character is "upper class" and sophisticated they have that character listen to classical music.

There's actually no longer any reason for classical music to continue to carry this association with the upper classes. You can buy classical CDs for less than the price of most other music and tickets to rock concerts often cost as much or more than tickets to a classical concert or opera. It's not just "snooty upper class" music or "dead white male" music anymore. I don't think it's entirely a bad thing for classical music to have an image of class and sophistication; the bad thing, in my opinion, is the negative attitude so many people have toward anything associated with the upper classes. Dignity, sophistication and an appreciation for fine art is something that is acheivable by anyone but it's easier to drag someone else down than it is to lift oneself up.

Calling All Southern Bloggers

If you have a blog and you live in one of the southern states in the U.S. go introduce yourself to Vicky. She's lookin' fer ya.

Monday, November 04, 2002
Big deal! Even a human could do that

Look at this and this (Yes, it's from Berkeley. Did I hear snickering?) and this.

In a way, I do feel bad about being jealous. After all, the money is going to care for members of an endangered species. But probably the most common disparaging remark about modern art is, "It looks like something my six year old painted," and now elephants are painting pictures and getting paid up to $900 per painting. (By the way I think Nellie's paintings are much better and they sell for only $35)

Tomorrow I think I'll go out and buy some art supplies. I know that I'm starting out at a disadvantage, being human and all, but you never know... Maybe I'll start a movement.


I haven't done one of these silly quizzes in a long time. I saw this one at Ravenwood's Universe and thought 'why not?' The funny thing is, like most of them none of the answers were right for me so I just sort of randomly clicked but it turned out to be not too far off.

I also did the "which era in time are you" quiz and got the same result as Andrea but I refuse to consider valid any quiz that asks a music question and doesn't include classical in the possible answers. (BTW, I picked the Beatles on that question, just in case you were wondering)

Useful Word

My son pointed this one out to me:

Disasturbate, v. To idly fantasize about possible disasters, without considering their actual likelihood or the prospects for preventing them. Disasturbation, n.

Found in The Godling's Glossary.

Sunday, November 03, 2002
Good Question

Brian of Samizdata.net asks:

Why do so many of the villains of popular entertainment like classical music?...
The ultimate movie bad person of recent years, Hannibal Lector, is so fond of classical music that he actually listens to it while committing his murders.

This is something that gets under my skin too. Hollywood just loves to perpetuate negative stereotypes of classical music fans.

Brian continues with a very interesting commentary about emotions and the image of classical music fans. He surmises that to many people classical music seems "heartless and unnatural." I think he's right. To me, classical music is the most emotional of all music but I know that a lot of people who are not familiar with it consider it to be totally lacking in emotion. Many people misunderstand the quiet reverence with which we enjoy classical music. Accustomed to rock concerts where fans scream and dance right through the music a classical concert seems too polite and sedate.

Oh how can I describe the emotional enjoyment of classical music? This is what cuts classical music fans off from the rest of society - this lack of understanding. I seek out other classical fans like a visitor from a foreign country seeks out people who speak his native language. To those who don't understand the emotional language of classical music we are foreigners, strange and suspect.

Alice Bachini responds:

Genuinely evil people are not sexy and do not appreciate music or any other kind of beauty. They might look like they do, but that's not appreciation, it's fakery.

The Nazis with their orchestras-on-the-way-to-the-gas-chambers were trying to convince the world that they were the goodies, and they knew that assuming a love of classical music would confuse us. We are still confused. But whatever it was the Nazis had for music was not love. Evil people don't love. Love is a manifestation of goodness.

I don't know about that. It might be nice to believe but real people are more complicated than that. Is any real person actually as completely, inhumanly evil as a character in an action adventure cartoon? Or do evil people in the real world share many of the same emotions as a normal person, but deal with certain emotions in a socially unacceptable manner?

In Alice's comments Matt says:

So Hannibal liked Bach, at least people are still being exposed to classical, even in a slightly tainted way.

I've thought about that too. Though the stereotypes are irksome, anyone who is gullible enough to actually swallow whole anything that Hollywood offers is probably hopeless as far as appreciating the Arts is concerned, but perhaps there are a few people out there who will hear classical music in a movie and want to hear more.

By the way, Matt has a blog which at first glance looks very interesting. I find some of the best blogs in other blog's comments.

Cool Link of the Day

Link "stolen" from Andrea.

Here's another cool link. I've had this one in my bookmarks for a couple of years. I find it strangely soothing. (not to mention addictive)

More on the Cockfighting Question

I've had a couple of responses to my little rant about cockfighting, in the comments and here.

Two things about this have been misunderstood. First, I don't feel all that strongly about this issue. I can understand how someone could have thought I was very serious but it was just one of those little things that come to mind that I decided to write about because I thought someone might find it entertaining. Until they started running the ads on television a few weeks ago I had no idea that cockfighting was legal anywhere in the U.S. I do find it embarrassing that Oklahoma is one of the few states where it is still legal. I have run into quite a few people from other states who have a very negative image of Oklahoma and this just fits right in with all the stereotypes.

The other misunderstanding is that Acidman seems to have assumed that my objection has something to do with animal cruelty. I do not share his negative opinion of chickens. I like chickens and I don't fault them for not living up to human social and dietary standards. Hey, they're chickens! I have more respect for the chickens than I have for the low-lifes who consider cockfights a form of entertainment. But on the other hand, don't get the idea that I'm going all PETA all of a sudden. You put a couple of roosters in a ring together and they do what comes naturally - they fight. The only unnatural thing about it is the small blades strapped to their legs and that is cruel.

Whether SQ 687 passes or not doesn't make a lot of difference to me. I will vote yes on principle - I simply could not bring myself to vote no - but it actually might be a good thing if it fails to pass. If it didn't pass life in Oklahoma would go on as usual. If it does pass we will have the problem of enforcement to deal with. It's not suddenly going to stop just because it's illegal.

I also have to consider the question of why we should outlaw something that some people enjoy just because we find it and the people who enjoy it gross and disgusting. I don't know. Why do we ban anything merely because the majority disapproves? Why can't I take my top off at a football game. Men do it (including some who have boobs bigger than mine) but if I do it I'll get arrested. Isn't that discrimination?

I sort of like the way we do things here in Oklahoma - putting the question on the ballot. There are problems with letting the Majority decide. The Majority tends to decide questions based on gut reactions. Sometimes the Majority tramples on the rights of minorities. The Majority is often wrong. But I can't think of a better way to decide things. One individual or a small group of individuals can be just as wrong.

You know... what's really embarrassing about this is that now I'll probably get lots of referrals for the word "cockfighting." First wrestling and now this.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

I think I am over my hypersensitive stage. Statements that hurt deeply up until a few months ago are now merely contemptible. On the day the world changed I was still actively involved in my favorite message board even though the quality of discussion had been declining for a long time. It was wonderful to have the sympathy and support of friends all over the world. From the very beginning there were disagreements over what the proper response should be, but there were only two of the "America deserved it" types. One was a snot-nosed European brat who had long been in the habit of posting smug anti-American screeds. The other one - the one that really hurt - was an American. I can't say he was ever a friend but I had considered him a likable, intelligent person and I had always enjoyed his posts.

Back up a few years. There was a guy in his late teens to early twenties who used to post on this same message board. He was charming and witty and in a short time I became very fond of him. We didn't agree all of the time of course - no two people ever agree one hundred percent of the time - but it was uncanny how often he posted exactly what I was thinking. Eventually he got busy with various things, quit posting on the message board and didn't stay in touch. After September 11th I thought about him and wished I could talk to him. I wanted to know his thoughts and feelings. Then a terrible thought occurred to me: what if he was with the "it was America's fault" side? I was ashamed for thinking that way but a lot of people I knew had surprised me so it seemed like anything was possible. I only knew that in this case I really didn't want to know.

A week or so back I got an email from another friend. It caught me by surprise. He forwarded me that Guardian article by Woody Harrelson that so many in the blogosphere have been making fun of. I hardly knew what to say. Here was a friend whom I considered to be sensible and intelligent (and in fact I still do) and he was forwarding me this ridiculous piece of crap along with a note that clearly suggested that he thought the article was worth taking seriously. Well.... talk about inner conflict!

Michele at A Small Victory is in the middle of some conflict that is not all "inner." Some of her friends do not like the way she has "changed" and a few have publicly and with much fanfare announced that they are removing her from their blogrolls. None of us are obligated to link to anyone nor to keep a link in perpetuity but using links as punishment and reward is childish. There are some links in my blogroll that I have felt a little uncomfortable with but when I thought about it I felt equally uncomfortable with dropping them. I have dropped a few, most because I simply lost interest. Whatever reason you have for dropping someone from your blogroll is your business and you don't have to justify it to anybody, but knock off the grade school stuff already. We should be long past the "I'm not going to play with you anymore if you play with so-and-so" phase.

I noticed in Michele's comments that some people have complained that she has changed and they don't like the "new Michele." I haven't known her long enough (and still don't know her well) to have a clue as to whether she has actually changed or not, but I think most of us, at least to some extent, build fantasy personalities for people we know online. This may be true of people we know face-to-face also. No one reveals everything about themselves so we tend to fill in the blanks with our own assumptions. If we are honest about this we are always ready to make adjustments whenever we learn something new about a person and instead of saying "I don't like the 'new' [whoever]" say "Oh, I didn't know that about her."

People do change in response to life experiences. A good friend does not drop a friend because he/she is uncomfortable with the changes. You don't have to approve of all of your friends' opinions, but a friend at least tries to understand. Sometimes you might even find that you want out of a friendship, but if you ever cared anything about that friend you'll do it gently.

Friday, November 01, 2002
"Proud to be an Okie..."

Lately it is becoming increasingly embarrassing to be an Oklahoman. Let's take for example, cockfighting. I guess I shouldn't be shocked to see people coming out against the proposed ban but I am. I can't tell you how appalled I am that there are actually some people so lacking in shame that they come right out in public - on television - and defend cockfighting as just another form of entertainment, like we were trying to ban baseball or something.

And then there's the commercial that shows all the war veterans and talks about the harm we will be doing to these noble men who sacrificed so much for their country and now only want to be left alone to breed their gentle game birds. And of course we musn't forget the ever popular "Oklahoma Values." Every time someone wants to change something we must blame it on those evil folks from out of state. Yes that's right, all the people in other states are evil and want to attack our "Oklahoma Values" and our way of life, especially the Evil Californians and the Evil East Coast. Does this sound familiar?

Apparently these pro-cockfighting people don't realize, or more likely just don't care, that cockfighting is the ultimate symbol of backward, stupid, white trash, low-life, scum of the Earth, low down filth that even a snake wouldn't slither over for fear of contaminating itself. Is it any wonder that the rest of the country thinks Oklahoma is backward? But of course we don't care. We are Oklahoma and we're proud and we must keep the rest of country from stealing our children and contaminating them with those evil 20th century ideas.

I could probably be kicked out of the state for this. I'm not even a "real" Oklahoman. You see to be a real Oklahoman you have to either be a Native American or you have a "grandaddy who was in the Land Run," preferably the latter. And don't even think of running for public office if you didn't have a "grandaddy who was in the Land Run."

Damn, I'll be glad when this election is over!