Easter Thoughts (2014Apr20)


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Sunday, April 20, 2014               5:54 PM

Well, I’m well satisfied with my essay—and Mike Cook liked it a lot, so there I am. He says it will be included in his July newsletter. While that is happy news, I feel tremendously let down. ‘Post-partum’ depression is part of a creative person’s life—the thrill of writing, drawing, or performing something new, something all one’s own—it can’t just Stop. The aftermath is a frustrating combination of wanting to wave it in front of the whole world saying, ‘Look what I did!’ and of having nothing to turn to where that project once was. Starting a new thing is the only cure but that can’t happen until the reverberations of the finished project have died down inside my head.

My family's first home in Bethpage, LI, NY

My family’s first home in Bethpage, LI, NY

So I’m familiar. Been there, always do that. My self-image is a constantly shifting mass of shards—one piece glinting here, another flashing there. I have been an artist my whole life—but I have never been an artist. I have never tied myself and my creations to any money-making venture. Conversely, I only work for the audience in my bathroom mirror—so I can’t complain that I have no artistic career. But I’m proud—I think some of my stuff is fantastic, and I know that I need courage to do what I do and to live my life the way I do.

My Family's 2nd home in Katonah, NY

My Family’s 2nd home in Katonah, NY

I don’t look down my nose at successful artists—if anything, I envy them. Nothing suggests substantial worth like a high price tag—making money would be a great help in shoring up my self-image. But that, I see now, will never happen. I’ve done some copywriting and some illustration in my day, in passing, and I can attest to the fact that there is a world of difference between being an artist (a spiritual, or at least innate, condition) and being commercially artistic. The cardinal difference is in who says the work is done and satisfactory. If I say it, I’m being an artist. If my ‘boss’ has the last say, that’s commercial art.

Central Blvd. Elementary School, Bethpage, LI, NY (My grades 1-5)

Central Blvd. Elementary School, Bethpage, LI, NY (My grades 1-5)

I remember graduating from high school a year early, going to college for maybe a month, quitting and coming home—somehow, I was standing in the back of my high school’s auditorium during the graduation awards ceremony—students were being given prizes for excellence in Art, Writing, Math, etc. In my former life, such a ceremony would have included me in some category. But then and there I was visiting a school, not being a student—and none of the prizes were for me. I understood it, but I still had trouble dealing with it. Everyone has told me (now that it’s too late) “O! You should’ve never skipped your senior year of high school—that’s the best part.”

John Jay Jr High School (Now Middle School) in Cross River, NY

John Jay Jr High School (Now Middle School) in Cross River, NY

So I’ve always had a sense of where things matter socially and where things matter personally. Public notice is something I wouldn’t like—some financial success would have been nice, don’t get me wrong—and the critic in my head is far harsher than anyone else has ever been. Also, I’m 58 now—misconceptions about honor, glory, power, and riches are long behind me already—as I’ve grown older, my focus gets tighter and tighter on the question of ethics. I’ve left behind all my generalizations and objectifications—I see people as people now. I see them as myself now. I hurt when they hurt—I smile when they are happy.

Katonah Elementary School, Katonah, NY (My grade 6)

Katonah Elementary School, Katonah, NY (My grade 6)

That isn’t so much—everyone has that feeling about their family—but I am learning to extend it to every person, even people I don’t like, people who do wrong. I don’t behave this way because of a religion—although the idea may have come from any of the major faiths—I live this way because it is sensible. Humankind is a family—and the less we recognize that, the more we fail. We are failing now, right now, and we have been for a long time. Yes we have wonderful things, great tech, delicious foods, fast cars—but we have decided to ignore the warnings of scientists about how our ways are killing the planet that gives us food, water, air, and so much more. That’s a fail.

JJHS, Cross River, NY

JJHS, Cross River, NY

Say what you want in defense of high-tech capitalism—speak any doubts you have over the truth of global climate change—none of that will matter when the Mighty Quinn arrives. Sane people like myself feel the giddy spin of madness, calmly watching as A-type personalities muddy the waters of common sense, while the pens of CPAs are destroying all the best that our world has to offer. I could join a group and fight the power—but that’s thinking too small. We would need a sweeping gestalt-change no less overpowering than the beginning of the Christian Era. But Christs are in short supply—and even he couldn’t stretch a few loaves and fishes enough to feed seven billion people.

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Reed College, Portland, OR

I see most of the obvious actions in that context—if it isn’t a sweeping, overall revision of the human vision, it isn’t enough—and, worse yet, it simply adds to the turmoil and confusion. So I do nothing, in the public sense. I do not act. It’s just as well—if I succeeded in improving mankind’s fate, I’d get a big head about it and I wouldn’t be fit to live with. My mission, as I see it, is to post a lot of nonsense like this on the Internet, to help other people whenever I have the opportunity, and to make my own life, as far as possible, an example to my children. And even on that point I’d prefer they copy their mother’s example of steadfast strength and unceasing love and happiness.

SUNY at Oswego, NY

SUNY at Oswego, NY

I say I am proud; I say I want to set an example for my kids; I consider myself unique and special—but that’s not the end of it. I also doubt myself; I feel a touch of fear about what I may be doing wrong; I look around at everyone else’s priorities and valuations—and even my outsized self-confidence quails at the thought of so many people valuing what I ignore, and ignoring what I value. Still, my long adherence to atheism is an even bigger disagreement between me and the majority—and if I’m going to trust in my own judgment on something so vital, it’s not much to tack on my little perceptions as to aesthetics, or ethics.

Castleton State College, Castleton, VT

Castleton State College, Castleton, VT

Although I have been getting used to disagreeing with an entire classroom full of my peers from a very early age, I still feel an atavistic cringing at the thought of facing one way while everyone around me faces the other. It is a natural impulse to get along and go along—we are a social species and I have as much desire to fit in as the next person. My parents were wrong to ask me, ‘Would I jump off a bridge if all my friends were doing it’—the answer is, of course, no—but then if I take that and apply it to my whole life, I’m likely to find almost everything in our crazy, modern society to be in the category of ‘jumping off a bridge’. And that’s exactly what happened.

SUNY at Stony Brook, LI, NY

SUNY at Stony Brook, LI, NY

Thus I’m left in a social vacuum of my own making—I like to read books, I listen to classical music, and I play the piano. That is probably true of many people—but even ‘many’ people can come to a per capita of 0.0005%. So, in a small community like Somers, that would only be three or four of that ‘many’, at best, and even then, I like certain books and dislike others; I like instrumental classical music but I don’t care for opera; and I play the piano, but not very well. Now most people that play the piano are pretty good at it, otherwise they usually give it up—the number of people like me—people that persist in struggling with our limitations, is vanishingly small.

SUNY at Purchase, NY

SUNY at Purchase, NY

Other people, perhaps more emotionally stable people, would concede to popular acclaim and start watching sports on TV, or join a group of online gamers, or join a book club. But I have to work with what I have. I’m a pretty bad liar, I think. And I have no patience—none—especially in conversation. When I hear someone say something stupid or hurtful I turn and walk away—unless the stupid one is picking on someone younger or smaller—then I find myself saying stupid, hurtful things right back at them. I have no self-control to speak of.

Pace University

Pace University

But I spent most of my life being right when everyone else was wrong—in school, in business, in computers—and that’s a hard attitude to change. Even in my reduced mental capacity, there are many people on TV who are demonstrably stupider than I am now. That seems to me like an overabundance of stupid, being not very pleased with my own stupidity. And being half-a-shut-in doesn’t help expand my social circle, either. But I have good friends, nice people, even good neighbors (except for this one guy who just moved in behind us!) and my family, and that’s more than enough people for me to interact with—any busier and I’d be exhausted—I get very tense around other people nowadays, just trying not to say anything that might hurt their feelings, and not to say anything when I disagree with what they’re saying.

Married 1980

Married 1980

I’m big on argument—always have been—but in my ‘second’ life I’ve started to trust humanity to be self-adjusting. If I think someone is wrong, they’ll find out if I was right or not, whether I tell them or not—and nowadays I can’t always be sure that I’m right about anything. Most people misunderstand anyway—I’ve never corrected anyone in any spirit other than a desire to be helpful—but for many, any argument is an attack, so I just upset them instead of helping them.

Jessica Duffy  born 1982

Jessica Duffy born 1982

There’s more I should say, I suppose, but I am just exhausted with trying to talk honestly about myself. I’m actually seven feet tall, a Nobel prize-winner, and a legendary Latin lover—I am ‘the Most Interesting Man in the World’ (but I don’t drink Dos Equis, because of my liver transplant). I’m Superman; I can fly; I’m just incredible…

Spencer  -born 1988

Spencer Thomas -born 1988

I am here

I am here

Clean Up and Apology (2014Apr15)


Here are the final four videos I will be shooting with the broken, busted, blurry camcorder–a new unit is on its way. If I can control my compulsion to make videos until Friday, I should be all set.

As for the titles, yesterday’s improvs seemed a sorry result for all my decades of listening to and performing classical music. So, these titles are by way of apology to the titans of classic music.

Today’s title should not be unfamiliar to anyone pressed for time on April 15th.

In spite of being unwatchable, I do hope some of you may enjoy listening to these videos…

 

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20140414XD-Improv-Brahms_s_Downfall(TitlesCARD)

 

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Blurry (2014Apr14)


Unfortunately, my camcorder has opted for ‘permanently out of focus’, so until I can replace it, and since it can still record the audio alright, I’ll be posting blurry videos. My apologies in advance–will put a rush on the replacement, but first must get OK from the boss (Claire)…

 

 

Two For The Road (2014Apr09)


Well, tomorrow is Claire’s Birthday! We’ll be having a joint celebration–because Jessy and Seneca (& Tuesday, the Wonder Dog) will be leaving on a road trip to California the next day.

I’m hoping they have a great trip–and that they find many new and exotic experiences out on the shore of the Pacific.

Their transportation (bought, paid for, registered, insured and inspected just today) is a 2006 Volvo hatchback–a beauty of a car (I’m jealous).

Thus today’s two improvs:

 

There are No Free Lunches—Unless You Own the Deli (2014Apr07)


Monday, April 07, 2014              2:28 PM

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It’s so simple. All we have to do is be fair with each other, to care about our community, and to refrain from judging each other. If we did that, we wouldn’t have income inequality—we’d have a generous support system that makes working an option rather than a necessity; we wouldn’t have a powerful group of organizations trying to perpetuate ecological destruction—we’d have a powerful Environmental Protection Agency with the authority to force businesses to curtail their air-and-water-and-ground pollutions, to go bankrupt, if necessary, to protect the global environment; we wouldn’t have underground currents of bigotry in our society—we’d have social norms that insisted on equality for women, non-whites, and the disabled.

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It would mean adding an entirely new level to our evaluation process—once a business was determined to be profitable, it would also have to be seen to be a sensible activity—one which doesn’t turn a blind eye to the ecological or humanitarian downsides that certain businesses might engender. Profit should not be at the top of our decision tree. Human survival should have that spot. And human decency should be in there ahead of profit, too. Damage is not being recognized as part of our evaluation process. Neither ecological nor humanitarian destruction is considered—only the figures on the balance sheets and the laws lobbied into existence to pre-empt any do-gooders that might sue them for such destruction.

Museum of Science and Industry

Corporations with no loyalty to humanity should not be given the latitude of legal ‘person-hood’—they are not our friends, they represent a cancer of morality that threatens our continued existence. Because a corporation cannot feel pain, it doesn’t include human suffering into its calculations—it has only one goal—revenue—and only one law—economize. A few decades ago, the people that ran corporations felt a moral compunction against ‘doing evil’—they had not yet separated, in their minds, their responsibility as people from their actions as managers of a corporation. Today, the only question that concerns them is whether their lawyers are good enough to shield them from whatever thoughtless, profit-making scheme they can come up with. They tell themselves that the world works that way—which it didn’t always, and which only works now because so many of the rich and powerful are shameless enough to hide behind it. They tell themselves that if they didn’t do their job, someone else would, and the only difference would be that their children had to go to public schools, and that the only work for an honest man these days pays minimum wage.

Milwaukee Art Museum

But here’s the thing the rich folks don’t want to think about: people no longer have to work to survive. Let me back up a bit for this one. Ancient nomadic cultures disliked the idea of agriculture—it gave people a surplus of food, and that surplus went right back into feeding a standing army, which protected the grain and livestock from raiders and thieves. As agriculture grew, and civilization matured, these permanent emplacements became small cities—the work required for survival drops even lower, and an upper class appears—people who have the power to command others and excuse themselves from daily labors, even to the owning of slaves.

Thus began the standard equation—special people were in charge, and un-special people were expected to do what work remained obligatory. As time went on, the idea of retiring more people from the full time work force expressed itself as a middle class—those who did less work and had more discretionary time than the un-special in general. Had this continued, the middle-class would have experienced a growth, per capita, of middle-class people, and a decline in the number of ‘un-special’ people until they were no more.

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But the wealthy of our present day insist that only a person who works for the ruling class eight full hours a day should ‘deserve’ a subsistence living wage—and only a few, who are expected to work ten-or-twelve hours a day, should enjoy the relative ease of middle management. This is madness from at least two perspectives.

The first—the idea that our present-day global community requires 99% of us to work all day, every day, is ludicrous. Second—they include themselves in the ‘workforce’—as if deciding where to eat lunch was equivalent to the labors of road-pavers and electrical linemen.

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Factories made it possible to do the work of hundreds of craftspeople in a single day, with a handful of employees running the machinery. Today, factories are becoming roboticized to the point where only one or two people can do the work of thousands—or, to be more precise, one or two people can watch over the machines that do the work of thousands. But more importantly, this is also true of agriculture—huge tracts of farmland are tended by a small number of machine drivers, freeing the hundreds of man-hours farming just a few acres represented, up until a century ago. Armies, too, are doing more killing and destruction with better and better machines, and less and less soldiers.

And now, the latest development—our economy implodes, and when the economy finally climbs back out of the hole, it leaves the American work-force behind. Employment still lags, even while big business has an historic boom. The rich still insist that we peasants are too lazy to get a job—but they don’t have any jobs to offer. The economic straits of the 99% are worthy of at least as much effort as was exerted to alleviate the citizens that starved and froze during the Great Depression—but no, say the rich, you’re all just lazy.

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Having a good job isn’t the be-all it used to be—it is becoming a rarity, a luxury. There are a lot of jobs in one labor-marketplace—the minimum wage, part-time, ‘not enough to live on’, ‘not enough to raise a family on’-type jobs. This is the last straw. The rich suppose we should all work long and hard every day—even if we don’t get paid fairly. Meanwhile, the amount of work required to keep the wheels turning in our present society gets smaller and smaller.

I don’t have a job. I don’t have any prospects for finding a job. Does that make me unworthy of living? Should I just kill myself? Don’t answer that. I believe that our government should address this slow but steady change in our paradigm. Single mothers (and fathers) should be subsidized—whether they work outside of the home, away from their children, should be a choice, not a necessity. Young people should have their education-loan debts forgiven. Corporations should be taxed, and heavily, as should the super-rich citizens. You’d think corporations and the super-wealthy would want all these things, because they promote a healthy business environment.

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Perhaps they’re scared—after all, once you start given money to poor people, it’s only a matter of time before you start taking money from the wealthy! Well, boo-hoo for them. Income inequality begins with the wealthy getting greedy, not from the poor getting lazy. Work ain’t what it used to be.

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Session of Fools (2014Apr01)


Peter Cianflone came by on April Fools Day and here is the result, played on Piano, Bongos, and Assorted Tympani….

 

The Girl from Ipanema

The Girl from Ipanema

 

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April Fools Improv No. 1

 

April Fools  Improv No. 2

April Fools Improv No. 2

 

The Look Of Love

The Look Of Love

Telstar (Original Recording – 1962)


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Monday, March 31, 2014           10:04 AM

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What is it about this Tornados track that makes me play it again and again?  It could be that it was inspired by a dream Joe Meek had. It could be that the inspiration for the title was the launching of the first Telstar Telecommunications Satellite launched into orbit on July 10th, 1962. Did you know?—the Telstar (or ‘geosynchronous-orbiting satellite’), or rather the idea behind it, originated in an Arthur C. Clarke story! The science fiction and the rocket launchings of the 1960’s broke my childish mind into fireworks-like dreams of flight, exploration, and technology. If you are interested in learning more about the song, watch “Telstar: The Joe Meek Story” (2008)—it is an excellent film and a real slice of history, painlessly presented by a very entertaining director.

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Judging from the dreams it calls up from deep in my memory, the AM radio playing on the dashboard of my parents’ station wagon while we drove home from Jones Beach, I heard it at a time when I was happy in the way only children can be happy. One of five siblings, I was usually rolling around in the back of the wagon, avoiding the back-seat infighting (and the ensuing parental yelling).

Those trips to Jones Beach were happy, but they were full of fear, too. The waves could sometimes become (to my young eyes) skyscrapers of water, looming above, letting me know I’d be crushed and rolled and dragged over the rough surface beneath the water. I often wondered whether I’d be let back up again before my breath gave out.

Sometimes there was sky-writing!

Sometimes there was sky-writing!

And there was separation anxiety, too. Jones Beach was huge, disappearing into the horizon in either direction, thousands of families and friends laying out the towels that made the space temporarily their own. All the new ‘portable radios’ were tuned to the same AM station (Cousin Brucey) and the songs followed along wherever one went.

There were regularly spaced Life Guard Towers every hundred yards or so. If the waves tumbled me too far along the shore I would be faced with a beach that looked exactly like the one from which I had walked down to the surf.

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The only difference would be that my family was nowhere to be seen. This was a tricky little trap, for me at least—if all my siblings were in the water (which was always) I’d be looking for our blanket and cooler—not much to go on in the ‘Where’s Waldo’ world of Jones Beach in High Summer.

Plus, if I chose to go the wrong way, the result was getting further from my goal instead of closer. In the end, my mom usually had to yell at her confused, lost-looking little boy from her place beneath the Sun Umbrella. O, yeah. I forgot to mention, almost everyone had eight-foot-tall sun umbrellas—like patio umbrellas, but with a big spike for sticking it into the sand.

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But aside from all that, I loved Jones Beach. Ice cream and hot dogs and soda never tasted so good—even if the line at the Snack Concession was stupendously long. The sand was perfect for sculpture and construction—and the ebb and flow of the tide made everything transient—even if it wasn’t kicked over by some other kid.

But just imagine it—the TV was full of ‘space race’ news, the beach was full of joy, and the music coming out of all the radios was futuristic and new—but none compared to “Telstar”. We have become overly familiar with synthesized sounds—in the 1960s it was unheard of except for “Telstar”. To hear in the music itself the sound of electronics—it was a Pentecostal experience, but for the ears instead of the tongues. From that point on, I was less and less interested in acoustic music (and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in that) and more and more craving the sounds of synth.

And that was actually a logical progression—one of the draws of rock n’ roll was the electrified sound of the guitars and the reverb, wah, and other effects added to the players’ or vocalists’ amplified sounds. But nothing says Synth like a keyboard.

I remember playing Wendy Carlos’ “Switched-On Bach” for my family, expecting them to be as enthralled with the sound (and the idea) as I was. But my Uncle John said it sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks playing classical music. Everyone roared with laughter—and I was nearly in tears. What can I say? Music has always been very important to me.

The things music can do never cease to amaze me—it can make a chill go down my spine; it can make the hair on my arms stand up; it can bring me near tears; it can make me jump up and start dancing; it can make me laugh, sing along, howl along (if drunk enough), and even make me stare into space, lost in the wonder of it. I haven’t been to Jones Beach in decades—but music can still take me there.

 

One Grisly Nightmare [& Two(2) Piano Covers]


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Five Spot for (2014Mar26)


You’ll find lots of flubs and fluffs in the two sheet-music videos–can’t be helped. Try the three Improvs–they’re more listenable.

Early To Rise (2014Mar24)


Got up with the sun today–see how it changes my lighting……

 

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If that doesn’t work, please click here:

The Dividing Line


Tuesday, March 18, 2014           2:52 AM

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Someday public schools will be civilized to a fare-thee-well, in keeping with the future’s streets, which will be safer than one’s own living room, and far more courteous than the sidewalks of the present. I suppose we could say that, as go the public thoroughfares, so goes the public schooling environment. After all, school prepares us to join society—not just any society but, specifically, the immediate area’s society.

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It’s odd (but I was rather precocious) that I sensed, as I neared the end of Central Boulevard Elementary School in Bethpage, Long Island, that I would not ‘get on well’ in the high school, or even the junior high. The stories my elder siblings related gave me a sense that those places were dangerous—and so they were, and most likely are so, today, for all I know. I’ll never know, having been moved to Katonah just in time for sixth grade at Katonah’s Elementary School.

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And I found them dangerous, as well, as were the John Jay Junior High and John Jay High School that ensued. In a different style?—maybe sometimes but not too much. As I’ve mentioned many times earlier, I didn’t view my family’s house as a paragon of warmth and comfort—although there were, I’m sure, glimmers of it here and there. And then school became a trial.

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There always seems to be at least one bully in every class group, in every outdoor recess, who gets by on the same demographic trend that keeps cable news channels and reality-TV shows on the air. They relieve boredom, if only for a while—and in an unpleasant-feeling manner. I was a perfect target—pre-traumatized, unsure of my community, and preferring a good book to most other things. Only once did I throw a punch—on the playground back in Bethpage. It horrified me. I don’t know if I like fighting or not, whether I’m good at it or not—all I know is that it feels bad hurting someone else.

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Usually when I call someone out as ignorant, I’m referring to the ignorance of this one, crystal-clear truth—hurting other people feels bad. If it doesn’t feel bad to you, if you enjoy it, I don’t know what to tell you. Get over it, because even if you aren’t bothered about it, other people are.

Bear2007May 040

If people witness a traumatic event, a fatal car-crash, or a gang-shooting—the horror that goes through all those witnesses’ minds at that second is immense. People are horrified just to see it happen, never mind actually assaulting someone or being assaulted.

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People tend to overlook this point. Survivor guilt is in the same category—watching others die, and living to tell about it, also horrifies the hell out of people. Our hearts do bleed for them. Military action veterans are not all incapacitated by PTSD, but they none of them come home unchanged.

Bear2007May 030

Some people still insist that hitting your kid is the only way to get them to mind. That may be true, but maybe kids aren’t necessarily required to listen to a parent’s every command—we raised our two kids without any violence of word or tone or deed. I admit, they have minds of their own—but I count that as a win, not a loss. The vice-principal of the Somers Middle School called the house one day—I picked up—he said, “Mr. Dunn, are you aware your daughter has blue hair?”

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I said, “Yeah. ..” (I wasn’t really—but it didn’t surprise me.)

He said, “Aren’t you concerned that your daughter might cause a disruption in class?”

I said, “What? For having blue hair?”

He said, “Yes. No one else in her grade has blue hair!”

I said, “We encourage her to express herself—I can’t exactly tell her not to dye her hair different colors. Besides, who does it hurt?”

By this point, the Vice Principal had the measure of me—‘one of those parents’—and with a few more gruff grunts he hung up. I stood there thinking—‘That guy wanted me to yell at my daughter for coloring her hair blue!’

Bear2007May 028

As Politics, being at its root all about selflessness, still attracts mostly egoists, power-graspers, and prima donnas—so too, does Teaching, being at its root all about nurturing the incipient excellence of every child, still attract people who despise children, or worse, simply enjoy being in loco parentis to a captive crowd of squirming children—and ‘learning’ comes later, if at all. There are other livelihoods that seem to attract those least invested in the root ideals of their jobs—and more interested in some self-gratification opportunity behind their masks of esprit de corp. One of humanity’s great mysteries, says I.

Bear2007May 027

However, if I may return to my original point, I think the theory that public schools reflect their environment could be applicable to more than the physical neighborhood, to include the local ethical baseline, as well.

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I can say this, having been a student in a poor area and in a wealthy area. The ethics of the wealthy can be pretty ugly—where they exist at all (‘But I kid the super-wealthy, they’re really very nice people…’ – Bill Maher). Cheating is shameless in wealthy communities’ schools—sometimes it’s a downright familytradition. Extortion is more prevalent in the leaner communities, as it is played out every day in areas where a buck is hard to come by, but bills they gotta lotta.

Bear2007May 018

Regardless, as schools are intended to prepare us for the future, we can’t expect them to do anything better than to prepare them for where they live. That sounds a lot more fascist than I intended—but if survival, or gainful employment, in one’s own neighborhood is not the goal of the school, what should it be? One thing most schools have in common is a pathway to advanced learning for gifted students—but let’s face it, not everyone is quote-unquote gifted. Still, wasted greatness is more likely in a depressed area than in, say, Beverly Hills.

Bear2007May 016

The biggest problem regarding depressed areas is that they have permanence—change is less welcome in places where security is hard to come by. Becoming poor, aside from being a tortuous hell-on-earth, is also an indoctrination, a training process in which we learn to suffer—and growing up poor is even more damaging to one’s self-image.

Bear2007May 015

Most of the ‘educational dispersal’ is used only by the rich kids. Upper-income families see their kids go to schools of higher learning in far-away places, and aren’t surprised when, after graduation, their kids then go to a random metro-area to try to ‘make it’. But for lower-income families, travel is rare—and travel is a rarity for many different reasons—some of the same reasons that didn’t allow their poor parents to go to every game or performance, every year—and didn’t give them much time to help their kids with their homework, etc., etc., and so on. But the vicious cycle which ensnares the impoverished is well-known for its interconnective stickiness. I won’t belabor the point any further.

Bear2007May 009

Finally, I think it’s plain to see that schools cannot be improved in a vacuum. Conversely, if the neighborhood gains access to good, steady jobs—that influx will be reflected not only in the public schools, but in every part of the neighborhood’s character.

Bear2007May 007

Business is the trouble. The higher the price-tag on a deal, the less said against it by good people or bad. We can exercise the generosity of the Buddha when it comes to tipping, or leaving pennies in the dish—but when we’re talkin’ thirty-five-mill, buddy—just keep your trap shut if you know what’s good for you.

Bear2007May 006

And there stands the dividing line.

Good people can’t be comfortable taking advantage of others, or endangering others, or lying about something important. And all top-executives (and most of middle management) know that those three things are required of a ‘business man’. Does this ad demean women? Only a little. Isn’t the mark-up a little high on this? It’s what the market will bear. What if some kid gets hurt? You’re creating problems that nobody needs right now….

Bear2007May 004

And this divides people because all the jobs that pay good money involve becoming a ‘business-person’. People think we need higher education for these jobs—that’s just a ‘maybe’—the only absolute requirement is that you pick a side and the hell with all the rules.

Bear2007May 003

There are other jobs. There are jobs where you get to talk to people, do some good, get something done that you’re proud of—yeah, we got those jobs. None of them pay more than minimum wage, some pay nothing at all—but they’re there.

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I suppose that’s what we ought to expect. If we want to get paid a lot more money than the average person, we have to do something special, something that separates us from the mob. It’s a shame that the price is somehow ‘letting go’ of what you wanted to believe in. And anyone with kids is an automatic blackmail victim—sure, stand on your principles—but your kids will lose the roof over their heads and a lot more. It’s a strange world—I hated it so much that I’m actually happier being a ‘useless vestige’ than to have to jump back in that cesspool of commerce.

Natural History Museum London

Natural History Museum London

I heard on the news that 40% of corporations have job openings going begging for lack of qualified applicants. So, does that mean these corporations have excessively high expectations, or does it mean that half the working population is not well-educated enough to do jobs which involve anything more complex than simple addition and subtraction?

Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

I little of both, I hope. Otherwise the USA may be heading economically downward simply for the lack of educated young people. What a wonderful plum that will be on the plates of the Conservative Right-wingers, huh? The country that invented public education will soon be the worst educated of the developed countries (if we aren’t already—you Google it, I can’t stand to look).

Field Museum of Natural History

Field Museum of Natural History

It’s difficult to gauge, but I think, overall in a historical sense, that Christian fundamentalists have done far more harm (and for far longer) than the Muslim fundamentalists. This is one of the many reasons I publicly announce my atheism whenever the chance pops up—it isn’t so much that I’m sure about the whole question of a God existing or not—I really don’t know. What I do know for sure is that all these old, established religions with their texts from BCE, are the result of civilization and human nature.

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Claiming to speak for God is a powerful gig, if you can pull it off. Once one attains such authority—one can even gainsay Kings and Presidents. We now have learned (those of us who didn’t experience it firsthand) that the priesthood was for centuries a haven for child-abusers and sadists—and they got more respect back then, when their ranks were rife with pederasty, than they do now that the Church is actively scraping this ancient scum out of their institutions. Others, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, had their expiration date, AKA their ‘day of judgment’, their ‘end-times’, their ‘rapture’—come and go without even a tiny cloud forming overhead. How do you polish that turd?

New South Wales Art Gallery - night

New South Wales Art Gallery – night

The Muslim fundies’ pre-occupation with suicide bombing seems to have alienated quite a few Muslims who don’t see anything in their Quran about suicide-vests. And the Jews are ahead of the game, having split into orthodox and reform at the same time they founded their own nation—quite a while ago—plus they’re generally more sensible about interpreting the Bible than any of the ‘youngster’ religions Judaism spawned.

Still, heaven was originally overhead—an unreachable place. Well, too bad, we’ve gone and reached it, and ‘no heaven’ up there anywhere close to Earth orbit—what can you do? Hell is even worse—once imagined to be deeper (and hotter) than the lava that flows from the Earth’s depths. Trouble is they made up Hell before they realized we’re standing on a globe—so Hell is even less underneath than Heaven is overhead.

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And then there’s the archeological evidence of the evolution of religion from its primitive mythology to the modern rites and scriptures of today. And there’s archival proof of human editing of these holy writings to shape ‘what was holy’ to suit sometimes-unholy ends. Our centuries-held misogynous attitudes were a by-product of the early Christian proselytizers’ campaign against the healing-women and other important women’s roles in early Western Europe, naming them Witches and labelling their familiarity with herbs and healing practices as Witchcraft.

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Science, too, was repressed for centuries—chemical experiments were known as alchemy, i.e. black magic. The church’s problem with astronomy is well-known, even today—for it is a glaring example of religious leaders ignoring anything outside of their orthodoxy, at times to the detriment of common sense.

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Literacy was confined to the ruling class—a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so you can imagine what a lot of knowledge might lead to… And most of the nobility didn’t even bother to take advantage of their access to reading—back then the ethical slant was that their education was a luxury, almost a sin—not to be used, unless being trained  for clergy themselves. Even having learned Latin or Greek, a layman was not supposed to go reading through the Bible himself, he was supposed to listen to the words of the priests at Mass, and leave the comprehension to them. This is still true for many of the Islamic faith—reading the Quran is not recommended, its wisdom should be dispensed only by the Imam.

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So I see established religions as being a bigger detriment to civilization and enlightenment than any other obstacle on our path towards ‘world peace’. Money has become the new religion for many people—and a blind acceptance of Capitalism is not much different from these old religions. Simple things like ‘the Earth needs husbanding’ are suicidally left undone just because it would be bad for the Economy. And what good will this ‘Healthy Economy’ be to us when the Earth can no longer support human life?

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We are captives of A Healthy Economy—even the slightest wobble sends mobs of upset people into supermarkets and delis, clearing the shelves in a matter of hours, if not minutes.

Stars

Thus I prefer not to rail at religions—they are on the ropes already—and the real problem with our society lies in Capitalism and its cancerous consumption of the Earth, of all our days, of all our efforts—not to mention Capitalism’s ugly sister, Poverty—and less than one person in a thousand gets to enjoy their lives, rich or poor.

Opnamedatum: 2010-03-01

Our scientific achievements have become proprietary assets rather than blessings from science. Our schools are veering away from a well-rounded education, towards a more technical-vocational-training kind of schooling—instead of producing fertile, active minds, we now want our schools to provide fodder for the workplace. Not quite the American Dream, these days…

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Capitalism used to work well. Endless growth was once a possibility. There was enough for everyone—there was room to grow. Again, business is the trouble—the higher the price-tag on a deal, the less said against it by good people or bad. And now economic inequality has pushed us back towards the times when rich people felt entitled and poor people felt helpless—war will be its result—the fight over shrinking resources, plus the ongoing toxification of the planet, together will create conditions that make today’s uproars in Syria, Crimea, and Afghanistan and the radiation in Japan, the islands of plastic waste in the oceans, and the drought in California seem like a walk in the park.

Charles I with M de St Antoine (1633) by Anthony van Dyck

Charles I with M de St Antoine (1633) by Anthony van Dyck

Global instances of unprecedented coastal flooding are numerous—the sea-level is rising. There are reports that some popular fishing areas have become so overrun by jellyfish that they’ve not only eaten all the fish, but have become a menace to navigation. As are the aforementioned ‘floating islands’ of refuse that have appeared on the seas, mostly plastic junk but massive enough to create havoc in a busy sea lane.

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Weather extremes of heat and cold do not ‘put the lie’ to Global Warming, they have enlightened us that the correct term is ‘Global Climate Change’. The real danger is the amount of added energy our global combustion-exhaust gives to the global weather system. The recent Polar Vortex is an example of an ‘over-revved’ atmosphere that went spiraling down to freeze crops in California and Florida shows that weather phenomena are beginning to cause the kinds of disasters conservationists have been warning us about since the 1960s.

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The reason for (and the problem with) this is that the large corporations have a half-century of practice at mis-informing the public and lobbying the government. They will nay-say us all into destruction, all for the dirty green.

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When You Wish Upon A Piano (2014Mar16)


XperDunn plays Piano Covers
March 16th, 2014

Improv – Th’Irish Wristwatch:        All credit goes to Geo. Takei’s FB post of this seasonal (St. Pat’s Day) tongue-twister!

Improv – Debbie Reynolds & Tony Randall:    I just watched their amusing movie (on Turner Classic Movies channel): “The Mating Game (1959) is an MGM film directed by George Marshall and starring Debbie Reynolds, Tony Randall, and Paul Douglas in his final screen appearance…          It’s a great film, especially if you enjoy 1950s-1960s rom-coms. It stuck with me, and I needed a title for this piece….QED

George Winston’s “Longing” and “Lullaby”:  I’m a rabid fan of George Winston–when I first began piano lessons, one of my goals was to be able to play some of his music someday–and while that day is yet to come, I get a real kick out of sight-reading through the music-book score!

 

 

 

Two – fer (2014Mar14)


**************    **************    **************

**************    **************    **************

 

 

**************    **************    **************

**************    **************    **************    -bye!

Thoughts of a Mathematical Nature (2014Mar13)


Thursday, March 13, 2014                   7:13 AM

Five Senses

The old phrase, ‘the five senses’, has become far too primitive a notion to retain its use. Even when we thought in terms of the traditional ‘sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch’ biologists still had to append that touch was actually an amalgam of the various nerves in the skin, each with the specific sense of heat/cold, texture, pressure, and pain.

Moreover, the tongue’s taste-buds aren’t one-size-fits-all, either—there are areas for sour, sweet, salt, and who knows what else—you Google it. Plus, the tongue also has all the sensory nerves of skin. The tongue is doing more work than any other sense organ, if you ask me.

The sense of smell, too, is multifaceted, comprised of several specific olfactory phenomena—the research labs attempting to digitize this ‘sense’ are stunned by both the sensitivity (measured in parts per million) and the virtually countless smells that we sniff without a second thought—not to mention the nose of a search dog. I heard of a digital sensor that is now used in place of dogs, but it only works on one thing, like explosives or cash—all I know is that we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for smell-o-matic machines for the consumer.

And there’s a sense of balance—this sense is taken too much for granted except by enlightened people like myself, who miss it dearly. It works through a sensory attachment to fluid in the inner ear—much like a carpenter’s bubble level. I think we can agree that a sense of orientation, in a world of Gravity, is an important perception. Think of this as the Stand Up Straight sense.

Then there’s proprioception, the ability to sense where ones parts are, without having to look at them, a sense of location, if you will. Think of it as the Kicking You Under The Table sense.

Perhaps it’s nothing more than semantics. Some of us have a sense of direction. Others get hunches. Old people can tell when the rain or snow is coming (which I guess makes me old). Nobody can fully explain gestalt leaps or intuition—they may be overlooked simply because the brain is doing so much thinking, it isn’t stopping to show its work, but the input is still the same nerve endings. The brain does do most of the work, anyhow—it takes the signals from the nerve endings, and taste buds, and rods and cones—and it processes them into our perception as the things we call vision, smell, etc. We can’t see our inner ear, so we think of our sense of balance as a brain-thing, magically producing information without any sensory input. We can reach back behind ourselves and pick up a beer off the counter without breaking eye contact—but we think of that as being clever, not proprioceptive.

We have a sense of time elapsing. It isn’t completely punctual, but it does keep us pretty nearly aware of the time of day, most of the days, most of the time. You got me as to what sensory input this works on—I think it just goes as fast as it can, trying to keep up with reality. In extremes, the adrenalin in our bloodstream causes a slowed sense of time, allowing for better strategizing on the fly.

I’m very interested in this question of senses, partly because it would help me understand how there could be eleven or twelve different dimensions to reality, and we’re only aware of four. Now that the thought occurs, it seems quite obvious—we’re aware of much more than the height, length, width, and passing time of our universe. Perhaps we should be exploring the connection between our senses and our measurements—there are far more than just five senses, so it stands to reason that there are more than four dimensions.

Maybe we should stop thinking that dimensions five-through-N are ‘invisible’—and start thinking of those extra dimensions as ‘unrecognized’. We might learn something (aside from the usual ‘never assume’).

 

Average Life Expectancy

It just occurred to me—knowing to what age we can probably live is very different from how long we actually live. If you’re like me, you see something like “an average life expectancy of 85” and you think, okay, I’ll live until I’m about 85. But you won’t—because there’s a difference between probability and reality. Eighty-five, in this example, would be the ‘probability value’ of our life expectancy and because that value is an average, what it really means is that half of us won’t make it to 85. Half of us will die before we reach 85—that’s all the hard info that particular statistic offers us. It’s an average—so it doesn’t even give the survivor-half-of-us any idea of how much longer life will last. If anything, what is really says is that, for the half that live that long, their 85th year will be their heaviest ‘funeral season’ year. It should be called The Year You’ll Wear A Lot of Black.

Of course, optimists may prefer to see “an average life expectancy of 85” as an even bet that they’ll live way past 85, at the very least—it comes to the same thing, but it sounds more positive.

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One Solo, One Duo (2014Mar05)


 

 

Thudeh, Thudeh, Thudeh, That’s All, Folks!

I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do, I Do…. (2014Feb26)


I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do, I Do….

Wednesday, February 26, 2014          1:00 AM

A Thought:

So I wanted to say to all my friends that in spite of my being atheist, I still believe in the impossible—and I believe in magic, spirits, UFOs, and anything else—but having said that, I don’t believe any of us really knows anything—thus it would be idiotic not to believe in the unknown.

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The thing about most religions is that they seem convinced they have specific knowledge of something none of us can possibly know—like what ‘happens’ after we die. I haven’t the slightest idea, but I don’t think anyone else does either. And I’m highly suspicious of anyone who says they do.

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People say, “You have to have faith in God”, but all I really need is to have faith in the person or persons saying that. If God wants me to have faith, he/she/it should say so, and stop all this passive-aggressive nonsense. If someone wants me to have faith, they need to start with first principles—why should I trust the person speaking? I’d be likelier to clap for Tinker-Bell than to pray to a God who is at once so unknowable—and yet so well-known-and-understood by the leadership of these religions.

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Another Thought:

I saw a TV ad for a drug—the announcer was saying something about side-effects ‘may include swelling of the lips or throat’, but I misheard it as, ‘smelling of the lips’—and that got me thinking about random side-effects—this is a bit that Colbert (on his ‘Report’) does a lot—and I came up with—

Side-effects may include:

smelling of the lips, lobster-jaw, enphlegmation of the flamm, kitten-sneeze, and boxer/brief bruising..

(But, with my useless memory, I may just be sub-consciously plagiarizing Colbert for half of these.)

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Yet Another Thought:

I’ve just burned my newest CD of improvs—a full hour and twenty minutes worth of what I consider some of my most listenable piano-playing ever—if I could just remove my first 1,332 videos, maybe someone might actually listen to the last 15—still, I had to post the 1,332 to get here, so nix mox…

I’ve also written an entertaining essay or two (although, as with my music, amongst the dross of hundreds of essays) but it has become clear to me that there aren’t a lot of people looking online for witty banter in essay form—who’da thunk it?

Lately I’m really upset about my hands shaking—drawing wild pictures was always my big crowd-pleaser, and now that I have the globe for an audience—I can’t draw!

Sucks to be me. But only once in a while…

Godessette

I am now———-Thoughtless. 

‘til later….

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A Great Bounty (2014Feb24)


Please enjoy:

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20140224XD-Improv-Intrelago(TitlesCARD)

20140222XD-SomeSongs(TitlesCARD)

Seven Songs from the Sixties:
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[NOTES & CREDITS]
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Strangers in the Night
[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“Strangers in the Night”
is a popular song credited to Bert Kaempfert with English lyrics by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder. Kaempfert originally used it under the title “Beddy Bye” as part of the instrumental score for the movie A Man Could Get Killed. The song was made famous in 1966 by Frank Sinatra.

“Strangers In the Night”
Song by Frank Sinatra from the album Strangers in the Night
Released 1966
Recorded April 11, 1966
Genre Traditional pop
Length 2:35 (original album/single version, incorrectly listed as 2:25 in the original back cover)
2:44 (extended version from “Nothing But the Best”)
Label Reprise
Writer Bert Kaempfert, Charles Singleton, Eddie Snyder
Composer Bert Kaempfert
Producer Jimmy Bowen

Strangers in the Night (1966)
Writer : Bert Kaempfert, Charles Singleton, Eddie Snyder
Composer : Bert Kaempfert
========================================
Suzanne
[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“Suzanne”
Song by Leonard Cohen from the album Songs of Leonard Cohen
Released 1967
Genre Folk
Length 3:48
Label Columbia
Writer Leonard Cohen
“Suzanne” is a song written by Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen in the 1960s. First published as a poem in 1966, it was recorded as a song by Judy Collins in the same year, and Cohen himself recorded it for his 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen. Many other artists have recorded versions, and it has become one of the most-covered songs in Cohen’s catalogue.

========================================
The Sweetest Sounds (1962)
Song by Richard Rogers

The Sweetest Sounds
[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“The Sweetest Sounds”
Song from No Strings
Published 1962
Writer Richard Rodgers
Composer Richard Rodgers

“The Sweetest Sounds” is a popular song, written by Richard Rodgers (unlike most of his compositions, writing both music and lyrics) for the musical No Strings, in 1962. It is also used in the film adaption Cinderella starring Brandy, Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg in 1997. Barbra Streisand recorded the song for “Barbra Streisand…And Other Musical Instruments”. Sergio Franchi recorded the song in 1963 on his RCA Victor Red Seal album Broadway, I Love You. Ella Fitzgerald’s swinging version can be heard on her Verve Records release “Hello, Dolly!”. The melodic theme appears to have been inspired by an orchestral figure in the final movement of Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 (Brahms) (measures 64-80).

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Those Were The Days (1968)
Writers: Boris Fomin and Gene Raskin
Those Were the Days (song)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the All in the Family theme song, see All in the Family#Theme song.
“Those Were the Days”
Single by Mary Hopkin
B-side “Turn! Turn! Turn!”
Released 26 August 1968 (US)
30 August 1968 (UK)
Format 7″ single
Recorded mid-July 1968
Genre Folk[1][2]
Length 5:05
Label Apple
Writer(s) Boris Fomin and Gene Raskin
Producer(s) Paul McCartney
“Those Were the Days” is a song credited to Gene Raskin, who put English lyrics to the Russian romance song “Dorogoi dlinnoyu” (“Дорогой длинною”, lit. “By the long road”), composed by Boris Fomin (1900–1948) with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevskii. It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism.

Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli (1900–1968) and Russian singer Alexander Vertinsky made what were probably the earliest recordings of the song, in 1925 and in 1926 respectively.
The song is featured in the 1953 British/French movie Innocents in Paris, in which it was sung with its original Russian lyrics by the Russian Tzigane chanteuse Ludmila Lopato, but is probably best remembered in English-speaking countries for Mary Hopkin’s 1968 recording, which was a top-ten hit in both the US and the UK. On most recorded versions of the song, Raskin is credited as the writer, even though he wrote only the later English lyrics and not the melody.

History:

In the early 1960s Raskin, with his wife Francesca, played folk music around Greenwich Village in New York, including White Horse Tavern. They released an album which included the song, which was taken up by The Limeliters.

Raskin had grown up hearing the song, wrote lyrics in English and then put a copyright on both tune and lyrics. The Raskins were international performers and had played London’s “Blue Angel” every year, always closing their show with the song. Paul McCartney frequented the club and, after the formation of The Beatles’ own Apple Records label, recorded the song with Mary Hopkin, McCartney’s agent having purchased the song rights from Raskin’s.

The song was subsequently recorded in over twenty languages and by many different artists and Raskin was able to live very well on the royalties, buying a home in Pollensa, Mallorca, a Porsche Spyder and a sailing boat.

At the peak of the song’s success, a New York company used the melody in a commercial for Rokeach gefilte fish, arguing that the tune was an old Russian folk-tune and thus in the public domain. Raskin successfully sued and won a settlement, since he had slightly altered the tune to fit his lyrics and had taken out the valid new copyright.

Although the song was popularized in the early 1960s by The Limeliters, Welsh singer Mary Hopkin made the best known recording, released on 30 August 1968, shortly after Hopkin had been signed to the Beatles’ newly created Apple label. Hopkin’s recording was produced by Paul McCartney and became a #1 hit in the UK Singles Chart.

In the US, Hopkin’s recording reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Easy Listening charts for six weeks. In the Netherlands it topped the charts for 2 consecutive weeks.

The Russian origin of the melody was accentuated by an instrumentation which was unusual for a top ten pop record, including Balalaika, clarinet, hammer dulcimer, tenor banjo and children’s chorus, giving a klezmer feel to the song.

Paul McCartney, who produced the session, also recorded Hopkin singing “Those Were The Days” in four other languages for release in their respective countries: Spain, Germany, Italy, France.
========================================
A Time For Us
-Romeo and Juliet (1968 film soundtrack)

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:

Romeo and Juliet 1968 film Soundtrack album
Released October 8, 1968
Genre Film score
Label Capitol
Producer Neely Plumb

The soundtrack for the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet was composed and conducted by Nino Rota.

It was originally released as a vinyl record, containing nine entries, most notably the song “What Is a Youth”, composed by Nino Rota, written by Eugene Walter and performed by Glen Weston. The music score won a Silver Ribbon award of the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists in 1968 and was nominated for two other awards (BAFTA Award for Best Film Music in 1968 and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score in 1969).

The soundtrack is referred to as “Original Soundtrack Recording” on the front cover with further credits to the film itself.

Composition:

The original track list includes anthems, song snatches, compositions for the ball and for a strolling trombone player.
The neo-Elizabethan ballad “What Is a Youth” is performed by a troubadour character as part of the diegesis during the Capulets’ ball, at which Romeo and Juliet first meet. The original lyrics of “What Is a Youth” are borrowed from songs in other Shakespearean plays, particularly Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice.

Although Rota’s original manuscript is believed to be lost, the love theme is known to have an original published key of G minor. Romeo’s theme was described as “a slow-paced minor key idea, first played by a solo English horn with strings”. In the scene, where Romeo sees Juliet dancing with her family, the theme is sounded by a solo oboe over a background of tremolo strings.

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The Times They Are a-Changin’ (1963)
Song by Bob Dylan

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“The Times They Are a-Changin’”

Single by Bob Dylan
from the album The Times They Are a-Changin’
Released January 13, 1964 (album)
March 8, 1965 (single)
Format 7″
Recorded October 23 – 24, 1963 at Columbia Studios, New York City
Genre Folk
Length 3:15
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Bob Dylan
Producer Tom Wilson

“The Times They Are a-Changin’” is a song written by Bob Dylan and released as the title track of his 1964 album, The Times They Are a-Changin’. Dylan wrote the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the time, influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads. Released as a 45 r.p.m. single in Britain in 1964, it reached number 9 in the British top ten and was Britain’s hundredth best selling single of 1965.

Ever since its release the song has been very influential to people’s views on society, with critics noting the general yet universal lyrics as contributing to the song’s everlasting message of change. The song ever since has been an occasional staple in Dylan’s concerts. The song has been covered by many different artists, including The Byrds, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Phil Collins and Bruce Springsteen. The song was ranked #59 on Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Inspiration and composition:

Dylan appears to have written the song in September and October 1963. He recorded it as a Witmark publishing demo that month, a version that was finally released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991. The song was then recorded at the Columbia studios in New York on October 23 and 24, and the latter session yielded the version that became the title song of Dylan’s third album.

Dylan recalled writing the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment. In 1985, he told Cameron Crowe: “This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced of course by the Irish and Scottish ballads …’Come All Ye Bold Highway Men’, ‘Come All Ye Tender Hearted Maidens’. I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time.”
========================================
Try To Remember (1960) from “The Fantasticks” -
with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:

“Try to Remember” is a song from a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, “The Fantasticks”.

It is the first song sung in the show, to get the audience to imagine what the sparse set suggests.
Its lyrics famously rhyme “remember” with “September”, “so tender”, and “December”, and repeat the sequence -llow throughout the song:
Verse 1 contains “mellow”, “yellow”, and “callow fellow”;
verse 2 contains “willow”, “pillow”, “billow”;
verse 3 contains “follow”, “hollow”, “mellow”;
and all verses end with “follow”.

“Try to Remember” was originally sung by Jerry Orbach in the Original Off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks.
“Try To Remember” made the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart three times in 1965 in versions by Ed Ames, Roger Williams, Barry McGuire, The Kingston Trio, The Sandpipers, and The Brothers Four. Patti Page released a version in 1965 on her album Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Andy Williams released a version in 1966 on his album The Shadow of Your Smile. Perry Como released a version in 1968 on his album Look to Your Heart.
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The Finger On The Button (2014Feb20)


Thursday, February 20, 2014               12:52 AM

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The beauty of the world can be so sharp it cuts—the singer’s voice, the crystal etched, the colors of the paintings, the smell of weather outside the front door—it’s really quite painful when one fully opens oneself to it. So, with paradoxes like that, it seems lunatic to expect our society to make the least bit of sense. Michelangelo said that there is no beauty without some strangeness of proportion—and the Japanese craftspeople always add an imperfection to finish their works, as a concession to the Universe. We research scientific minutiae without the slightest regard for all the really big, completely unanswerable questions in life. We speak of differences of opinions and orthodoxies of faiths—we know nothing, we understand nothing—we care only for ourselves, except when love kills our sense of self-preservation.

I was just watching “The Life of Emile Zola” (1937) on the TV—its ending focused on Zola’s championing of Alfred Dreyfus, the French Officer falsely accused of treason and kept imprisoned on Devil’s Island even after the French War Dept. were informed of his innocence—just to save the Army Ministers from the public embarrassment. It is a damning portrayal of corrupt authority and the injustices it forces on all of the people they purportedly serve. Then, before I turned off the TV, CNN showed footage of the Kiev riots, in Ukraine.

Those Ukrainians were protesting their government’s choice to sign a trade agreement with Russia, rather than sign a trade agreement with the EU. Many people were killed and hundreds wounded as Kiev riot police clashed with huge mobs of protestors—I couldn’t say what the truth is, concerning the Trade Deals, but I do know that it is much easier to have a meeting with concerned groups’ leaders than to start a pitched battle in the streets of the capitol city.

There’s been a lot of news stories lately about legislation that is in the interest of banks and corporations, rather than the good of our country’s citizens. These, combined with recent rulings allowing unfettered financial support to political campaigns, are only two of the many unsettling changes we seem to face in 2014. Capitalism has evolved into a modern weapon, and the taking hostage of our government is its most threatening act. We were fine with using it against other countries, subsuming their living culture into our consuming culture, but now that it has turned on us we are at a loss. What can we do against the owners of everything, even those who own the right of self-expression, i.e. the media moguls? How do we fight an enemy that we use as a reference source? How come history is so full of stories about corrupt leadership and self-interest among authority, yet we still act as if our leaders are honorable folk?

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When I see a parade of legislators on TV, each making statements more ignorant than the one before, I always wonder why anyone takes these people seriously. Whenever they lobby to roll back some piece of modern progress I am stunned to hear them advocate racism, sexism, rejection of science, rejection of our social conscience, and the social services it compelled.

These are double-whammies in that a supposedly sane and educated person mouths these foul sentiments and that our media amplifies their ‘legitimacy’ by covering such things in lurid detail, leaving no even-stupider sentiment go unheard in the process. There should be a military base somewhere, with a guy whose finger is on the button, ready to call ‘bull-squat’ on any of these distracting idiots, and cut them off from all media notice with the touch of a red button. Now, that’s national defense. Call it Home-brain Defense—stupidity, psychos, and rank fiction will no longer be tolerated.

Trouble is we’d probably have to impeach every member of both houses, at least 48 governors, and who knows how many mayors.

Beautiful Weather We’re Having…

This Means War (2014Feb19)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014          12:21 AM

Whenever our ethics are discussed the conversation goes on and on—like philosophy, it’s all just a bunch of words we use to entertain ourselves. But whenever such issues become a question of income, we fold like cheap lawn-chairs. When it comes to supporting our loved ones, we will brook no risk to the family’s shelter and security. Having had personal experience of the question, I can’t argue the point—like all behavior based on our instincts; there is no rebuttal, no matter how intellectual or attractive the alternative view.

But foresight is part of our nature as well. Long-term threats allow us to break out from domestic security and go to war. And war is just as much a part of human nature as protecting ones family. Wars were much simpler back when the paradigm was one-leader-vs-another leader, one nation against another. But modern warfare is more about fairness in leadership—one country after another exploding into violent rebellion against the powers-that-be, who (let’s face it) are often more concerned for themselves than for the needs of their citizens.

We here in the USA are struggling to hang on to the image of ‘protectors of democracy’ while ignoring some of the more egregious retaliations against popular uprisings throughout the globe—and while becoming, through corruption, a bastion of Capitalism rather than a bastion of Constitutional laws and humane ideals.

Being public-spirited is no longer considered a serious part of one’s character. It’s okay to be a liberal activist or a tea-partier protestor, or an advocate for a specific cause; it’s okay to be angry and forceful and even unreasonable in support of one’s views. It is not okay to simply want to make a contribution to our communities’ maintenance and progress—today’s civic duty is to pick a side and fight like hell.

And so, we have fought amongst ourselves, goaded by extremists of every stripe who are, in turn, funded by more well-heeled extremists with a big stake in continued, unregulated Capitalism. Our global civilization’s growing complexity, coupled with its sudden ability to talk person-to-person with virtually everyone else in the world, has filled our media and our minds with struggles and debates and injustices and dangers. We have become used to this chaos teetering on the edge of our self-extinction, this roiling debate fueled by the urgency of a world grown more fragile with every technological miracle we dig up.

We are so inured to our ‘situation’ that we now accept ‘apocalyptic’ as a new entertainment genre. What worries me about all those movies and shows is that they describe the horrendous aftermath of just one thing going wrong. No one has yet shot a movie where everything goes wrong at once. But there are scores of issues that threaten our health, our happiness, our lifestyle, our rights, our freedom, and our equality. I’m guessing at some point we will all realize that discussing all this stuff is not enough.

We will eventually go to war against Capitalism. And our beloved USA will almost certainly be on the wrong side of that fight. What is today our strength will become the millstone ‘round the neck of our tomorrow. When rebels start agitating against big money—corporate or personal—they will find, I fear, the United States leading the fight against them. By destroying (or absorbing) all alternative socio-economic cultures, Capitalism has become a twisted exaggeration of the system that once allowed ethics and power to work hand in hand—by becoming the only game in town, Capitalism slowly but surely eclipsed every other ‘value’ we once valued.

Money has become power. Once, capital was mere wealth—a questionable luxury, as often responsible for unhappiness as is stark poverty. But now one can buy security teams, private jets, and multi-media opinion generators, etc.—things that promote a disconnection between the money-empowered and the money-enthralled.

But the skewed perspective imposed on us by Capitalism is not a scientific fact—it is a consensus. It is a collective choice. Once capital ceases to be the choice of the majority, its power will evaporate—but that can only happen in a world with a viable alternative—and what could that be? I wish I knew.

Three Songs And An Improvisation (2014Feb12)


 

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XperDunn plays Piano
February 12th, 2014

3 Standards: ‘Look of Love’, ‘Lovers Concerto’, ‘Love Is All Around’

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[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

The Look of Love (1967 song)
Released January 29, 1967
Recorded Philips Studios, London
Composer: Burt Bacharach Writer: Hal David

Ursula Andress inspired Burt Bacharach to compose “The Look of Love” watching her in an early cut of the film Casino Royale.

The track is played while Vesper Lynd seduces Evelyn Tremble, observed through a man-size aquarium.

“The Look of Love” is a popular song composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and sung by English pop singer Dusty Springfield, which appeared in the 1967 spoof James Bond film Casino Royale.

In 2008, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It also received a Best Song nomination in the 1968 Academy Awards.
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[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

“A Lover’s Concerto” a single by The Toys

from the album: The Toys Sing “A Lover’s Concerto” and “Attack!”
Released 1965
Writer(s) Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, Christian Petzold

“A Lover’s Concerto” is a pop song, written by American songwriters Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell and recorded in 1965 by The Toys.

Their original version of the song was a major hit in the United States, the UK and elsewhere during 1965. It peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 2
====================================
[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

“Love is All Around”
Single by The Troggs
Released October 1967
Label(s): Page One/Fontana UK; Fontana (Mercury) US
Writer(s) Reg Presley

“Love Is All Around” is a song composed by Reg Presley and originally performed in 1967 by Presley’s band, The Troggs, featuring a string quartet and a ‘tick tock’ sound on percussion, in D-major. Purportedly inspired by a television transmission of the Joy Strings Salvation Army band’s “Love That’s All Around”, the song was first released as a single in the UK in October 1967.

On the US Billboard Hot 100, the record entered at No.98 on 24 February 1968, peaked at No.7 on 18 May 1968, and spent a total of 16 weeks on the chart.
====================================
Lastly, the graphics are by Hokusai

2044


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Friday, February 07, 2044          6:59 PM

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Farewell:

I’m the one. Fate had to pick someone to be here, now, at the end. Well, not the end—you know what they say about endings. Say rather at our leave-taking. And I am the one who last boards the last shuttle, after all the others have embarked. I look around—not too bad, ‘though pretty bad, of course—but there’s hope of recovery in a distant future…

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Take-Off:

As I strap myself into the lift-seats in the Maintenance section (back of the rocket, as it were) my mind is suddenly filled with the enormity of it—here we are, following in the footsteps of the Fell, taking wing into the cosmos. As I leave this planet, we repeat a step that many have taken—the Fell, and who knows how many sentients before them. We say good-bye to planet Earth.

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MRB 2:

The ‘ancient aliens’ nuts had it partly-right—we weren’t the first ones here—but we came from here—we evolved within the mega-ecology of the ‘virgin’ Earth. The way it was told to me was that the Fell left Earth for good, many millions of years before we did. Once they had left—and enough time had passed—this holy planet reverted to its teeming oceans, crowded with whales, sea-beds covered with lobsters—forests grown so profusely that a person couldn’t walk into one, never mind walk through one. The plains spread out over fertile lands packed with maceratory herds—and permafrost and sand covered the cold and the arid. Flocks of birds once again filled the skies, sometimes, during migrations, blocking out the sun for days.

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That’s what makes it holy. No matter what damage we do to her—we eventually do one of two things: we disturb this place until it can no longer support us—or we wise up and hit the road—and having done either of those things, we relieve the Earth of her burden of sentients—and she re-purifies herself.

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MRB 3:

Eventually, even the metals used to make orbital-labs and satellites will come back down to where they came from, back into the Earth. It’s isn’t a fast process. It takes long enough that by the time a new sentient species evolves, it has petroleum underground and rare metals scattered all over the world. Those millions of years—those are ‘user-transparent’ (as we used to say)—the new species will never have any inkling that their world has been used before. In the face of supereons, even gems and stainless steel parts become dust in the wind.

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Orbit Approach:

There’s a trick to it—that’s why all sentients are clever—if you miss the tricky part, you never leave. Earth is a playpen—each of the new, sentient species must grow up in it. You can just imagine how much time it takes an entire civilization to grow up—hell, even thirty years ago we had no idea of the ‘trick’.

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But we got lucky—some gal with enough money to make herself heard managed to convince some people to prepare for leaving Earth, and they convinced others, etc. until it became a world-wide issue. Leaving Earth is the tricky part—the Earth is a great place to grow up—but being confined to a playpen as a teenager is simply wrong. Our survival depended on our maturity—if we lacked the courage to leave the nest, we would stay there until starvation ended us.

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Trans-Earth Orbit:

So we had a world-wide consensus (not without detractors, of course) by 2030. The next decade was an epic parade of cooperative construction on massive ships, colonies, and space-platforms. Countless boosters pushing away from Earth’s gravity-well filled the horizon like distant fireworks. A few scientists began focusing on the technology that would transform space-debris into water, atmosphere, fertilizer, and building materials. Sub-ecologies, like Kansas farmland and Louisiana rice paddies, had to be transported to labs where they could be the ‘sour-dough’ that we would use to create new fertile growing areas amidst the vacuum of space.

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The whole project was weakened by lack of a plan to get everybody off the planet—until, in 2038, materials science finally gave us Arthur Clarke’s holy grail—a space elevator! Ethical qualms thus reassured, the only remaining difficulty was the significant number of people that didn’t want to go. Removing people against their will was a non-starter—we weren’t going to do this if it demanded blood on our hands—our future voyage, as mankind, could not begin with a mass murder.

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The problem was picked at—turns out that any one past menopause wasn’t a problem, anyone too young would be legally required to go with their families, and most adults that didn’t want to go weren’t all that ambitious. Holdouts were informed that most factories and industrial facilities would be destroyed as a final, helping hand on Earth’s long voyage to its next sentient explosion.

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Station V-5:

Great, curved windows showed the glowing, blue ball with the white stripes. There were less than a hundred-thousand humans remaining on our old playpen—scattered widely enough that they’ll never join up, in small enough groups that inbreeding will doom them, if it isn’t something else first. What reasoning could be done had been done—they know the same facts. They’re just downright ornery—who knows? Maybe that’s the last cut of the umbilical—shedding the downright ornery, those so well adapted to their cradle that they will die in it rather than be discomfited.

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I think of the billions of us out here, a fledgling civilization, not even ready yet to pass across to neighboring stars—and how long it will take us to fill up our new home and suck dry the solar system’s vast resources. And I wonder if it will last long enough for humanity to reach for the stars.

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Keep On Keeping On (2014Feb05)


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Wednesday, February 05, 2014          5:40 PM

There was a kerfuffle in the news media not too long ago over the idea of Business Owners being taxed more—the conservative argument was that these titans of industry had created their empires by the sweat of their own brows, single-handedly; and the liberal rebuttal was that America, as a work environment, deserved some credit since it provided a friendly culture for the yeast of business owners’ phenomenal growth and profits.

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That is to say that having paved roads, well-regulated commercial practices, and well-funded customers—all had something to do with any single businesses’ success. The furor disappeared quickly—but on further thought, that may not have been the best outcome. One way in which businesses resemble their individual employees is that when they stop carping, they can seem to be reasonable—even wise.

No, having had a think, I’m thinking the conservatives didn’t suddenly become reasonable over a logical dispute. I’m thinking some one of them was clever enough to foresee the ultimate terminus of the debate—that the interaction and interdependence of businesses and government and the rich and the rest of us—is quite total.

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For my money (pardon the pun) whenever the high-muckety-mucks start to bitch about a government plan that means reductions in their profits, when the other side of the argument is perhaps sheer survival for millions of homeless, of the poor—and all their children, as well—I get angry! Who the hell do they think they are? I experience a profound wish that they were stuck on a street corner tonight with no money, and their kids there too. Maybe that would influence their ethics—or perhaps, by reflex, they will simply stop a passing stranger and take everything they own.

TCB, Money Talks, I Got Mine Jack, and other hillbillian hits through the years have always enforced the Prime Directive: money isn’t everything—it’s the only thing. But where do we start? How do we push back against this societal virus whose only claim to legitimacy is that —after having bested Fascism and Divine Unification—it has done better than Stalin’s purges and Mao’s purges? Capitalism hasn’t shown itself to be the more humane form of democratic government—it has only proved that it’s the lesser of five evils.

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Our faith in Cash is as willful and self-determined as our faith in our religious institutions—and both have proved, over and over, to be rather leaky vessels under the waves of real life. If one decides cash is worthless, it ceases to have worth—if a person won’t sell anything they own, or buy anything with money, they have effectively removed themselves from Capitalism. But that person has not removed his or her Society from Capitalism—so Capitalism’s power will still control that person’s fate. Indeed, if someone did it really well, capitalists would spring from the bushes, copy the basic concept, and start marketing it.

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One beachfront to be considered is this: changing the positive status-symbol of continuous acquisition of more wealth into a symbol of childishness—and create a status symbol out of divesting oneself of wealth and possessions—Wouldn’t it be funny if ‘poor’ people resented not having enough money to give any of it away? If they got annoyed by the persistent nagging of ‘..would you like a better apartment?; …would you like to eat at a great restaurant?; …does your family have enough blankets tonight?’ Imagine annoying people by trying to give them too much, instead of cancelling ‘milk for enfants’ (How any congressperson could allow that and still look at themselves in the mirror is beyond me).

20140205_midl_rght_detail_(smallversnOf_SK-A-3147-B)And I’m beginning to see the conservatives’ attraction to Christian Fundamentalism—it allows us to talk a good prayer, without actually taking responsibility for anything changing—whereas Ethical Humanism actually requires a person to take part in a humane society. If that got popular, Capitalism would start to see some real push-back. While I recognize the great comfort that billions are afforded by their respective religions, I cannot accept any premise based on pure faith. To me, faith is something we have in each other, regardless of our spiritual choices. Someday someone will figure out how to make it easier for us to have faith in each other, even though we can see each other’s faces (and we don’t even like some of them). We would lose the feeling of being entitled to let other people suffer needlessly. It would be very unglamorous, except perhaps for the result.

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So I keep dreaming up possible ways to make society less dysfunctional. I keep getting angry when I hear about rich people and big corporations that look down at us, coldly calculating the next advantage Capitalism will allow them to take of us. I keep feeling sorry for all the people whose world is too isolated to realize that their critics are the only ones who have anything to apologize for—that there is nothing wrong with their differences—that their differences are, in fact, a part of what makes them a whole, beautiful person. I keep worrying that America will not supersede itself, that we will allow some more regimented dominion to perpetuate the cycle of entitled carelessness by a chosen few—and suffering for the rest. And I keep on keeping on.

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Happy Birthday To Me!


rapidly expanding supernova ejecta.

rapidly expanding supernova ejecta.

Today being my birthday, I was sung to quite a bit. It’s a nice song, but I went ahead and played two improvs of my own: ‘Happy’ and ‘Birthday’. I hope they sound happy–I certainly felt that way while playing them.

Happy

Happy

 

Birthday

Birthday

 

 

SuperNova

SuperNova

 

Surprise, I Run This Hell-Hole!


dali1

 

Friday, January 31, 2014             8:59 PM

Unfortunately, my PC’s sound system is not up to drowning out “Undercover Boss”’s final reveal moment in the next room. The unctuous ‘boss’ is being patrician in stages, ticking off each of his encounters with the female employee and the ‘prizes’ that come with each so-called lesson he’s learned in ‘his time with her’ (a condescending angel in the lower muck of the masses, I guess) which I couldn’t hear clearly but were obviously greater and greater ‘gifts’, judging from the female employee’s greater and more tearful outbursts of thanks and disbelief with each new debt paid off, new car given, and all culminating in her promotion to some heavenly post within upper-middle management.

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I have two problems with this noise blaring through from the TV room. Firstly, it’s mostly men bosses and female employees—just as well since a female boss would not need to ‘learn’ that it matters how the staff are treated; that not everyone can charge off whatever comes along on the old Amex card; or that human nature creates office politics like air comes from trees.

Secondly, it seems to encourage an attitude of ‘classes’ of people—something that is never acceptable outside of the workplace. Most bosses take advantage, consciously or unconsciously, of the fact that employees aren’t actually answering a bosses questions so much as answering the question ‘Do you want to keep working here?’’ When the boss smiles, the employee smiles back—what in hell else is he or she supposed to do?

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And no acknowledgement is made of the fact that of the many millions of ‘employees’ (AKA people) who are not appearing on “Undercover Boss” this evening—that all the fairest and rightest things gone awry in their lives, find their only succor in daydreaming about being this poor working girl who is brought to tears by the idea of living without fear and want and injustice (or, at least, with less fear and want and injustice.)

Besides, all this ‘reality-TV’ stuff gets my goat—people, like Heisenberg’s sub-atomic particles, change their behavior as a function of being looked at—and these programs are the best evidence of this theory I’ve ever seen. Not so long ago, most citizens would back away from the idea of being on camera—it is only with the decades of reinforcement that TV equals money, that celebrity equals money—people nowadays are actually becoming sociopaths to achieve this new ‘goal’ which, only a generation or so ago, required professional people be well-paid to even consider doing. Comedians are laughed at in theaters and on TV, around the world, for a virtual eternity—how many of us are comfortable with that idea? Not to even mention paparazzi…

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Four by Three (2014Jan29)


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Please Note: The last video is two song covers of songs written by : Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Dancing in the Dark (Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz song)

“Dancing in the Dark”
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics by Howard Dietz
Published 1931
Recorded by Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, et. al.

“Dancing in the Dark” is a popular song first introduced by John Barker in the 1931 revue The Band Wagon.
The 1941 recording by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra earned Shaw one of his eight gold records.
It was subsequently featured in the classic 1953 MGM musical The Band Wagon and has since come to be considered part of the Great American Songbook.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Alone Together (song)

“Alone Together” is a song composed by Arthur Schwartz with lyrics by Howard Dietz.

It was introduced in the Broadway musical Flying Colors in 1932 by Jean Sargent. The song soon became a hit, with Leo Reisman and His Orchestra’s 1932 recording being the first to reach the charts.
The first jazz artist to record the song was Artie Shaw in 1939.
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Rebellion In The Ukraine (2014Jan29)


 

 

 

Please note: these photos are from “The Atlantic”.

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[ "Thanks to Chris Kearin, for pointing out this post from "www.theatlantic.com" ]

 

Rowynn | Subjective


Rowynn is the Cianflone Bros.

Richard and Peter Cianflone (fresh off the plane from their whirlwind European tour)

Rowynn | Subjective

Richard and Peter Cianflone’s most excellent CD!

“Rowynn | Subjective” is Brand New….

Buy Now–show your support!

must kill!

The Brothers Cianflone (In a former Era)

(or get it at Amazon: “Subjective” from Amazon)

I enjoyed multiple listenings to this wonderful album–yes, they are old friends, but that’s beside the point. I would feel quite an idiot if I were to recommend any music other than my own favorites…

So, enjoy..

What Do We Need? (2014Jan26)


merit

Sunday, January 26, 2014             4:48 PM

I’ll tell you what gets me about the whole thing—in a time when we demand incredible precision in our electronics, we have ceased to respect precision of thought. We’re showing our respect for the luckily talented and / or rich—we get behind slogans that can never be specific. Celebrity, the once onerous duty of the great and justifiably famous, is now available to our most decadently wealthy and our sickest sociopaths. And with all those psychopaths being scrutinized in the media, our kids have taken that as encouragement to bring small arms to school—and even to use them on their teachers and classmates.

In an incredibly complicated world we tend to overlook the details—just as these details become more important. We reject the unfamiliar and cling to what used to be good enough. We are impatient with explanations—and our TV journalism responds by being more about sensation and less about information.

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A lot of the trouble comes from two things: parents and pastors. Now, wait—there is nothing better for a child than a good parent—or even a pair of them; and nothing is more edifying for a community than a good pastor. We both know this is true—however, we do not have any definition of a good parent. Indeed, defining a ‘good parent’ may be an impossible goal—even more so may be defining a ‘good spiritual leader’ for a community.

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On the one hand we have the premise that parenting is natural, instinctive… whatever your word for ‘seat-of-the-pants’ happens to be. On the other hand we have Child Services—a municipal recognition of the fact that some people are ‘bad’ parents. Some parents are so un-good they are a danger to the welfare of their child or children. But Child Services can only respond to really gross, bare-faced parental misconduct—and even then, only if some Samaritans (or the children themselves) report it.

There is a new-ish concept in health care known as Preventative Care—meaning the pro-active inculcation of a healthy life-style combined with enough testing to catch serious maladies in their earliest, most treatable stages. The main idea of this being that it is easier to keep someone healthy if they don’t wait to see a doctor until they’re already very ill—and this idea has borne improved health stats and lower health costs.

Parenting might do with some of that thinking, too. I’ve heard that a person’s psyche is almost set in stone after the first few years of life—a time when infants are almost exclusively under the care of parents (or other relations). By the time children get to public schools, their ability to deal with social situations, learning and study habits, and personal hygiene—all these things have already been imprinted—for good or bad. So why don’t we monitor new parents’ interaction with their first-born?

housOclay

Because parenting is sacrosanct—if liberty ever had a highest value, it is the value of being free to raise one’s children according to one’s own lights. So it is, in some ways, even more important than freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Yet Child Services is still standing by—if you abuse your responsibilities as a parent to such an extent that it becomes known to them.

But we can’t define ‘good parenting’. A bell-curve, often used in sociology, implies that for all the bad parents, there are many more not-so-bad parents who raise their children badly, but not so badly that the children are taken away. With a significant percentage of the population parenting poorly, it would seem that we should have some standards—but we can’t have standards without first having definitions. And until we do, parents will remain a crap shoot.

Thought

Worse still is the problem of spiritual leadership. We consider religious freedom very important in the USA—even if it involves poisonous snakes or sacrificed chickens—so when a church authority goes bad, he or she has a lot of latitude to take advantage of the community. And if we could define ‘spiritual leadership’, we could hold them to account more rigorously—sadly, as with parenting, only the grossest of misconduct sees the light of our judicial system. Despite its huge importance to a community, ‘spiritual leadership’ may be the most undefinable quality of all–what is it? Is it Goal-Setting? Supplier of Meaning? Practicing Self-Control? Perhaps one, perhaps all–the only sure thing is the definition will differ with each individual.

And this is the trouble with overlapping value systems—what is good as a ‘freedom’ may not be good as a ‘behavior’; what we want and what we need are rarely the same thing.

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Facts (or Competing Insanities) (2014Jan20)


Opnamedatum: 2012-08-31

Facts:

We are destroying our environment, and even now that we know how deadly that is, we’re still doing it.

We are killing each other and we won’t stop, even though killing someone never accomplishes anything.

We know that it is foolish to trust a banker, but we still give them our money to hang on to for us.

We know that throwing people in prison never makes them change, but we keep doing it.

We know that elected officials are usually corrupt, but we still vote them into office every Election Day.

These are all simple, indisputable facts—and a fair indication of how much we value common sense (i.e. really not much at all).

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No, I can’t write another poem—it’s not like there’s a button I push and bam, the poem comes into my head. I wish there was, of course, but too much poetry can rot your brain, so just be thankful you’re not getting any here, today.

I started to try to make a poem. I listed all the plain facts about us Americans that show how crazy, almost sociopathic, our culture is. Look at foreign ‘first-world’ countries like Sweden or Spain—they’ve broken step with our ‘march towards the future’. They’ve banned putting hormones into cows; they banned Genetically Modified grains such as those sold by Monsanto. They are pushing ahead with alternate-energy infrastructure and non-petroleum car fuels. The most advanced thing the USA has managed is a recent ban on making electric light bulbs exactly the way Thomas Edison made the first one—whew! —my head is spinning.

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Meanwhile, we gouge the planet for rare earths useful in electronic components and batteries—third world kids have day-jobs in China and India, just chipping these precious (and highly toxic) elements out of old motherboards and Intel processors. Taking these minerals out of the Earth seems no like big thing—but you’re forgetting the most important part of their name: ‘rare’. To get this stuff, they chew away entire mountains, forests, islands—wherever it is, it is far more valuable on the open market than the lives of the helpless people who used to live on top of these ‘earths’.

But today, I’m trying to stay away from rant-territory. I want to talk about how we see sanity and insanity. Everything is fractal these days, so a small crook gets a big punishment, and a big crook gets to take over his domain; small lies are despised, but really big lies form the bedrock of most political platforms; insanity in an individual gets you locked up, but refusing to accept society’s insanities is even more likely to get you locked up.

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These insane ‘givens’ are so important to us that we get angry, or at least annoyed, at anyone who wants to talk about them. We do this because we believe that insanities such as bigotry, pollution, etc. cannot be changed—we believe that talking about these ‘infra-problems’ is a waste of time.

We believe this mostly because these problems are only symptoms of the big problem—differing attitudes. Some people will take advantage of a good deal to the point where they get more than any one individual was supposed to get—leaving some less-pushy, less-advantaged people to go without. This happens with food, with shelter, and especially with money. It happens with everything, really.

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And the reasons can vary—some takers are selfish, but others feel ‘self-less’ because they’re taking all they can for their children. We all accept that insanity is part of being a parent. But we also laugh at comedies which exaggerate this trait in some characters, especially the mother-roles. This indicates that we recognize that parental drive, but we also recognize that society requires us to keep a grip on it and not get carried away beyond all fairness. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean we all get it, just that it is there to see, if you’re looking.

Divisiveness comes in a million flavors: from benign loyalty for your local sports team to cabals of bigots trying to manipulate legislation. Competition is a good thing, in its place. But I think we need to decide where competition’s place is, and we need to keep it in its place. Competition is fun, when it’s just for jollies—but is competition a perfect way to choose a leader? Is competition a perfect way to drive our economy? Does competition have no limits in our society because we can’t change the rules, or because we don’t want to change the rules? The later, I think.

Opnamedatum: 2012-06-28

It becomes ever clearer that we will need to supply base-minimum revenue to all citizens—computers and automation are shrinking the job market while our population grows. This can only end in disaster for the huge number of people who don’t have jobs—or have jobs that pay less-than-subsistence wages to easily-replaced employees. Workers’ strikes hold little punch when laborers in ‘emerging’ countries are already siphoning away all the unskilled-labor jobs. And it’s hard to form an effective global union—Europe is having enough trouble just trying to standardize their currency, and unions are a much harder row to plough.

The business owners that still say ‘An honest worker can always find a job, if the worker tries hard enough.’ are living in the 19th century. Back then, our whole world was work—no electricity, no appliances, no cars, no supermarkets —more work than you could shake a stick at. But here in 2014, things have changed—there are lots of jobs, but those jobs aren’t nearly enough to employ the full workforce available.

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Look at our ‘recovery’ from the Great Almost-Depression—stocks are up, profits are up, bonuses are up—but jobs, not so much. Between my camcorder and my PC, I can make an hour-long video in HD and Dolby sound, entirely by myself. Claire has software that does her taxes in April (and emails in the return). I correspond with people from all over the world, nearly every day, in e-print, audio mp3, or video uploads; I can post photos on my blog, share e-documents for my online-university professor to grade; I can even shop for virtually anything without leaving the house—and it will be on my doorstep the very next day.

Yes, yet another list of ‘the wonders of modern technology’—but that is not my purpose. I want you to imagine all the jobs that a person could have held in 1964, just 50 years ago, that would play a part in all these things—all the lighting and sound and film-development and film-delivery and editing people needed to create a TV video in 1964; all the accountants and mail carriers and bankers that were a part of annual tax-filing in 1964; how difficult, not to mention expensive, it would have been to send notes and photos and make telephone calls every day to people in Germany, South Africa, or Iran—hundreds of film-developers, color-film producers, switchboard operators, and telephone linemen.

Well, the telephone linemen are safe, for now, I guess—at least until optical-cable replaces phone-lines completely (and they’re still going to need someone to run those cables) so who knows. But my point, I think, still stands—millions of jobs are now mere memories of the quaint, pre-digital America. And the race to create new jobs is being undercut by the race to automate whatever can be automated (destroying jobs).

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And, no, the answer is not to stop automation. Repetitive or difficult work should be given to machines—it’s more efficient. But if progress is to maintain its position as a positive force, we will have to stop making people compete for jobs—this isn’t Thunderdome. FDR began the process when he called for support of those who couldn’t support themselves. Those people were then considered ‘excused’ from the competition to survive—partly because they were doomed to failure in that competition, and helping them seemed preferably to watching them starve in the streets.

Well, I think the time has come to at least start thinking in terms of the day when a miniscule job market dooms virtually everyone to fail in finding work. The day is coming soon when significant percentages (even majorities) of the population cannot possibly find work in a shrinking job market. What will we do? Don’t healthy, well-educated people deserve as much respect and comfort as senior citizens on Social Security or wounded veterans on Disability? How can we condemn someone for not working when there is no work to do?

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And the first thing, as usual, that needs to change is our point of view. I’m old enough that the idea, to me, of being unemployed is an embarrassing one—we are used to thinking of jobs as something we compete for, and not finding a job makes one a ‘loser’. But things don’t work like that anymore. We should get the ball rolling by granting revenues to the millions of long-term unemployed—the ones so long out-of-work that their length of joblessness makes them undesirable—and the ones who just gave up, after years of sweating the job market, chasing interviews, printing resumes—when the futility of it all finally beat them.

These are not lazy people. These are not shirkers. These are people like me and you, but without any revenue, or any hint of a possibility of a revenue-producing job. There are not enough jobs for these people—even with vocational training, the new jobs just aren’t there. I think it’s time we stopped waiting for that to end—I believe it’s only the beginning of a new paradigm. The future is a place where having a job is a status symbol, not a dire need. Without any change in this direction, we can just sit and watch while the USA tears itself apart—rich against poor, race against race, violence for its own sake.

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You know, all those crazy suicide bombers in the Mid-East—they didn’t start out that way—they weren’t born with a compulsion to lash out at the Powers-That-Be, they weren’t born with the desperation that devalues life itself. They become crazy because of the hopelessness and want and fear that they grow up in.

We have to start thinking about how much more gets done through cooperation than competition—we may need to find something else to compete about in our daily lives—I don’t know if people can be happy without competition. But we need to stop making survival a competition. If half the country is out of work and we still produce the same, let’s give revenues to the unemployed half—it’s better than letting them starve in the street, and it’s much nicer, which (in my view) is always a good thing.

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And don’t think I’m talking pure charity here—an economy can’t function if everyone is broke—and hungry, rioting mobs just ruin property values and insurance rates. We need to have everyone supported, even if we don’t all work for our revenue. Science fiction tales such as Star Trek are always positing a future where money is obsolete, where people only work at what suits them—well, believe it or not, it’s time to start planning how to really do that.

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A Sobering Tuesday


 

(with my apologies for the mistakes…)

 

Notes:

Illustration from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner”
Engraved by “Paul” Gustave Doré [Jan. 1832–Jan. 1883]

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)”

Single by Barbra Streisand
from the album A Star Is Born: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

B-side “I Believe in Love”
Released December 1976
Label Columbia

Writer(s) Barbra Streisand, Paul Williams
Producer Barbra Streisand, Phil Ramone

Streisand and Williams earned an Academy Award for
Best Original Song as composers of the song.

With “Evergreen”, Streisand also earned a
Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

She and Williams also won Golden Globes
in the category of Best Original Song for the song.

Three Films just out on VOD (2014Jan14)


Tuesday, January 14, 2014           6:23 PM

Just watched “The Butler”—very inspiring and uplifting. Even Cuba Gooding, Jr. was afraid to make a joke. There’s such a division between me and black people—their last half-century is a history of struggle and strength and dreams and has, for the purposes of this movie, at least, found a happy, even glorious, ending in Obama’s 2008 election as the first African-American President of the United States. My last half-century has been spent resembling the rednecks whose behavior and ignorance have brought shame to all Caucasian-Americans.

But enough about me—every president in the movie is a major star (I can imagine the wrestling agents, maddened by the blood-scent of a good cameo role). As the story of one man going through his life, the only meaty roles went to Oprah Winfrey (Gaine’s wife) and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (White House co-worker). There were many characters in passing, which I didn’t even get a good look at before their brief time on screen ended, but whom I learned watching the ‘Cast’ credits, was over-stuffed with actors and actresses who wouldn’t normally be seen in bit parts.

I also watched “Enough Said”, James Gandolfini’s last film, which also starred Julia Louise-Dreyfus, and in which both are confident, comfortable actors with a great script. Humorous, but not cringe-worthy—and I think that’s a rare compliment among Hollywood’s recent romantic comedies. Granted, the two star-crossed lovers are divorced fifty-year-olds—but as a fifty-something myself I can tell you that it was a much-appreciated crumb thrown in the direction of we ‘old people’.

Last night, I screened the current remake of Stephen King’s “Carrie”, which kept me awake until 3 am, but not because I was scared. Perhaps I was put off by the demonstration of how mean girls of today torture their classmates—worlds away from 1970s practices, but no different in their cruelty. In this case, a reminder that ‘the only constant is change’ was an unwanted one. Modern CGI gave a few interesting moments to the graphics, but they forgot to put anything behind the characters’ faces–which made it very hard to stop seeing them as actors and to get involved in the story.

Growth Spurt


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Techo-Industrial progress is generally thought of as a growth process, a progression of steps towards a brighter future. But as I look back on my Computer-Whiz career, I can see that digital technology outgrew me. It outgrew me and thousands of others, men and women who had struggled through the early days of the digital office revolution.

In the 1970s and 1980s there were hundreds of new products and programs every month, eldritch code and cabling that went through an evolutionary maze from Pre-PC, room-sized standalones, to PCs using Basic, to PCs using dBase, to LAN-connected PCs, to PCs with Windows 2.0, to email, bulletin boards, and the dawn of the World Wide Web—and all these stages had commensurate enhancements in printer technology, analog-modems to cable, cabling, through its various incarnations of ports and plugs, to wireless, Faxes, scanners, laser-printers, mice, keyboards, and monitors, in-house programmer to off-the-shelf-software to Office Suites, Adobe graphics suites, ‘Meeting-minder/Contacts’ Sales suites, and bookkeeping programs galore.

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I began as one of those ‘in-house guru’-types, doing everything computer—setting up the machinery, running the cable, hardware repairs, software programming, user-training, de-bugging, printer-paper schlepper, printer jam un-jammer, etc.

In the course of the next two decades, I would read badly-translated-Japanese users’ guides on modem installation, hard-drive installation, balancing the voltage on the CPU, 200-page tomes on how to set all the settings for all the users of a new LAN version, dictionaries of code-syntax, and a lot of other documentation that would never make the bestseller list (or in some cases even qualify as being written in English).

I sucked it all up in my brain and it was quite a suck—but I was pretty sharp back in the day. Twenty years—the computer industry from its first shoots, growing into the ‘monster with a billion tentacles’ we have today—I rode the wave and fully enjoyed being up on that big tech wave with relatively few peers.

Now, I’m in no shape to go back to a life of coding, so you needn’t think this is sour grapes, but the digital culture has outgrown all the many things I once knew or used. Anybody can use a computer now, hell, it’s not even a PC anymore, it’s just your phone mostly now. User-friendliness, once a big issue, has disappeared from the lexicon, owing to how completely it has been achieved. Even someone with a PhD in Computer Science, in 1989 (assuming no further education) would be as digitally-illiterate today as I am. Technology simply outgrew the need for our skills.

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But we are not lonely in that category—millions of others are in this group with us—letter carriers, phone-jack installers, radio DJs, journalists, fighter pilots, astronauts, camera and movie film processors, electronics cable manufacturers. Now there’s talk of 3-D printing opening wide someday soon—there goes factory work—whatever hadn’t already been replaced by robots, that is. Fortunately, we have some breathing space in this area—it’ll be quite some time before 3-D printers will be cheaper than 3rd-world labor. I’d bet a guy with a fax machine business in 1990 probably thought it would last.

New jobs? Sure, new tech is bound to create some jobs—but not for hordes of employees. Most innovation these days is achieved through enhancements in software and the electronics—the small part of innovations that create new jobs usually create only one or two jobs, and very specialized ones, at that.

And so we see progress. Our technology is growing like a weed. It is outgrowing the need for hands and eyes. Soon the cars won’t let us drive ourselves—too risky. And virtual meetings take the place of many arduous junkets to far-off customers or suppliers. Wikipedia is, for virtually everybody, a better memory than the one we were born with—and if some of its data is false, just imagine how much data inside your own head is a bunch of BS and you can rest easy that it’s still a good trade.

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Luckily, no one has a job remembering, so at least the economy is safe from Wiki—if you don’t count World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica—both of which no longer print paper-books, having migrated online years ago, so those printers were out, regardless of Wiki.

But I like work. Our cultures are always founded on work—our bodies need work to stay healthy, our minds need work to stay sharp. Mobs of farmers used to get plowing, sowing, reaping, milling, whatever. Craftspeople used to make stuff with their hands—that sounds like a nice way to go through life. But there’s no need any longer. Machines do the farming, factories make stuff in bunches—and all of it quicker and cheaper than people.

Without the need for those masses of workers, there’s still plenty for a person to do. Medicine, Computers, Law, Construction—jobs all over—for now. But that doesn’t mean those jobs are still going to be there in ten or twenty years. As technology grows, its growth accelerates—the more jobs it does for us, the faster it will be taking more jobs away. Even if our profligate consumerist lifestyle wasn’t killing the planet, our notion of ‘progress’ has our own erasure from the list of significant things built into itself. We are rushing towards our own uselessness. Onward!

Thought

Magnificent Seven (2014Jan06)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I watched “The Magnificent Seven” yesterday and was reminded of one of the reasons it’s a classic–that incredible Elmer Bernstein score, including the theme used for so many years by ‘Marlboro Man’ TV spots, back when Marlboro cigarettes were allowed to advertise on TV. Unfortunately, my improv has no connection with that stirring music, except as the inspiration for today’s title…

Perhaps it will help if I include a YouTube link to the M7 soundtrack

(It’s most Magnificent thing about the movie):

Winter Outside


Cold? O yes! The whole Atlantic seaboard region is below zero—and that’s in Fahrenheit, folks. We here in Northern Westchester are right in there, as is NYC, though the urbanites have the standard ten degree boost upward that all big cities generate (in waste heat). Up here in ‘god’s country’ the temperature is closer to the rest of the Hudson Valley, but not quite so cold.

Our snow is middling, less than a foot high—and hasn’t fallen anew for two days now. Our house has no insulation worthy of the title and our windows are all old school, requiring the summer screens and the winter storm-windows, of which we have none. And the glazing is so old the panes rattle in the frames.

We do all right, indoor-temp-wise, as long as the wind doesn’t blow. That’s when things get dicey at the Dunn homestead. A stiff wind can blow, seemingly, right through our living room and into the kitchen! The rooms that withstand it best are those that are stuffy at any other time. But ice on the trees can knock out the power lines—and does, on an average of twice a winter. The house becomes a dank, dark cave—then it’s time for staying in bed with extra blankets and warm clothes. Better to move to Nana’s, over in Heritage Hills—unless she’s got power out, too.

So winter is my least favorite season—I’ve always been overly sensitive to cold and my tobacco-smoking makes me even colder in my extremities due to clogged capillaries. I can easily stay warm by active exertion, but only until I get tired and sweaty—and then the sweat makes things worse. Plus, I get tired out in about 90 seconds, nowadays, so that’s no help at all.

But winter can be wonderfully silent. All the windows and doors are closed; none of the hot-rods are burning rubber in the street; no one is setting off fireworks—and the snow is something of a sound-baffle, absorbing sound rather than reflecting it. With really deep snow, we do get snowmobiles dragging around the local streets and that noise is terrible, but that’s only when the snow falls so hard and thick that the plows can’t keep up.

I’m always struck by the uselessness of modern homes without electricity running through them. It’s all fun and games until the power goes out. Suddenly, there’s no heat; there’s no running water (toilets don’t flush); there’s no phone or lamps or TV or Internet. In the warmer weather, a power outage can destroy hundreds of dollars-worth of frozen and refrigerated food—that’s the one advantage of a winter power-outage—the frozen food is still safe, if I put it on the porch. Small comfort, when it gets so cold that I go outside to warm up; when reading is only possible during daylight; and when, the one time I really need the comfort of music, the iPod never outlasts the outage. Play my own music, you say? Sure, but when my fingers are cold nothing is more painful than playing on keys that are colder—when my fingers actually get colder from touching the keyboard!

When I said winter was nice and quiet, I didn’t mean quiet during a power outage—unlike me, everyone else in this neighborhood has a generator. It’s a chorus of diesel combustion engines, night and day, until power is restored. Now that’s annoying—and no less so for knowing those thumping-generator-people still have lights and running water—probably even heat. Speaking of which, I should like to know who designed home-heating furnaces to require electricity?—the darn things burn fuel, a AAA battery could handle the thermostat’s requirements—it’s poor design that’s lasted decades, and will no doubt remain for decades longer! O, I get so mad.

Luckily for me, I had just received my two new blankets, a queen-size and a throw, from Amazon when this cold snap arose—I had a wonderfully cozy few nights, rather than cursing the drafts and wishing I had more blankets. This new ‘plush’-type blanket material is very soft and warm—and they’ve somehow determined how to make them less static-ey than wool blankets, which is great. And my fears of a blackout during this big freeze were without cause.

I love winter when it stays outside.

A New Year Extravaganza! (2014Jan03)


Okey-smoke, folks.

Snow has fallen. Air is sharpened by wind. Good day to stay inside.

Jessy lost one of her memory cards–if anyone knows where she left it, please advise…

Well, I don’t usually inflict an entire Bach keyboard partita on my long-suffering followers, but today I had a whack at the a minor, see results below.

 

 

Hope you like it….