Monday, March 2, 2015

Feeling No Pain — DOGGEREL!

Ah, modern medicine! Stella has been suffering sustained headaches for about 24 hours now; I don't know if they're migraines but if they are, I hope this new procedure developed at Albany Medical Center and SUNY Empire State College can help her. First a few details:

Minimally invasive migraine treatment 'reduced painkiller use in 88% of patients'

At the Society of Interventional Radiology's Annual Scientific Meeting, clinicians from Albany Medical Center and the State University New York Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, NY, explained how the new treatment - image-guided, intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks - provided ongoing relief to migraine patients.

"Migraine headaches are one of the most common, debilitating diseases in the United States, and the cost and side effects of medicine to address migraines can be overwhelming," says Dr. Kenneth Mandato, the study's lead researcher and an interventional radiologist at Albany Medical Center.

"Intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are image-guided, targeted, breakthrough treatments," he elaborates. "They offer a patient-centered therapy that has the potential to break the migraine cycle and quickly improve patients' quality of life."


The treatment is minimally invasive and involves 4% lidocaine being administered to the patient via a "spaghetti-sized catheter" inserted through the patient's nasal passage. Through this route, the lidocaine is delivered to the patient's sphenopalatine ganglion - a bundle of nerves just behind the nose that are associated with migraines.

Well, OK, that sounds good! Now the doggerel...

Research and Envelopment
Your head hurts? Great!
Now Empire State
Has something for your pain:
If you're not dead,
They've got a med
That goes against migraine.

With Albany,
Their SPG
Is playing with your blocks:
Their tiny hose
Goes up your nose...
Don't squirt it on your socks!

The lidocaine
Will ease your pain
(For eighty-eight percent of you);
Now bring your purse:
You won't get worse...
But they will have their rent of you!

- SB the YDD

‘Justice Deferred [sic]’ And ‘Too Big To Jail’

First, let me offer my thanks to friends/neighbors George and Barbara B-not-Bush, who provided me unasked with their print copy of this month's New York Review of Books. And while I do not know the man face to face (perhaps fortunately, as that is because I have not confronted the federal bench), I have come to have great respect for Jed S. Rakoff, US District Judge for the Southern District of New York, writer for NY Review of occasional reviews of nontechnical legal books, such as the one this post focuses on, Brandon L. Garrett's Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations.

I don't think I need to explain to any of you why you should care about this matter, but here's the short of it: in the past couple of decades, Justice departments of presidents of both major political parties have worked out agreements with large corporations such that the corporation is not prosecuted and not punished for clearly illegal misdeeds... and the persons responsible, be they board members, upper-level managers, legal teams, professional investment staff, or anyone else employed by these corporations, are not prosecuted or retrained at all. In other words, crimes are committed and noted, slaps on wrists are administered, and the people who committed them are not so much as formally reprimanded, let alone charged. Needless to say, the frequency of such crimes is growing greatly; that's what happens when felonies are simply neglected without any attempt to punish their perpetrators or to repair the faulty corporate procedures that allow them... indeed, encourage them... to be committed.

Judge Rakoff outlines the contents of Mr. Garrett's book much better than I can. Please read the review at the link above.

(Aside: regrettably, HPL seems not to have even one copy of this book, though they have at least one other book by Garrett in their catalog. Too Big to Jail is not even an expensive book on Amazon; I may get one myself.)

In Case You Had Forgotten, Bill Moyers And Two Legal Scholars Explain How Citizens United Allows Corp's To Buy Elections

The video below appears originally as the first video on this page. Please watch Bill Moyers interviewing Monica Youn, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Zephyr Teachout, a professor at Fordham School of Law, on the direct and indirect consequences of Citizens United:

If we want to preserve any semblance of democracy in America, we must find a way to rid ourselves of that execrable Supreme Court ruling. Otherwise the Golden Rule applies ("those who have the gold make the rules"), and we the people (except for the very wealthy) will have no participatory role in our government, and our flag may as well look like this:

I understand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a good campaign underway to rid us of Citizens United; perhaps you can join his effort. If that doesn't suit you, please find something, or prepare to lose your democracy.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Methane-Based Life On Saturn's Moon Titan? Possible, Says Team Of Researchers

Saturn's moon Titan
I'll begin with quotes from two articles in two separate publications, because this seems a subtle "discovery" (if that's even the right word) that requires some pondering.

First, from Safar Haddad at Perfect Science, we have an article titled Life not dependent on Water could exist on Saturn’s Moon Titan:
Researchers have recently presented a template for life that could exist in harsh, cold conditions of Titan, the giant moon of Saturn. Titan has a great possibility of harboring methane-based, oxygen-free cells. What the researchers have suggested from their new theory is that absence of water in seas of Titan does not undermine the chances of life existence.

A cell membrane has been theorized by the scientists, claiming it to consist of smaller organic nitrogen compounds. The cell membrane has the potential of functioning in liquid methane temperatures of 292 degrees beneath zero, said the researchers. The details of the theorized cell membrane have been published in Science Advances.

And from Muhammad Ashan at SMN Weekly, an article titled Methane-based Life Possible on Saturn’s Moon ‘Titan’:
In a new study researchers have modeled an oxygen-free form of life that can sustain on methane gas and also can reproduce in [a] way being done on earth. That type of life may exist on the methane lakes [that] exist on Saturn’s moon Titan.

“We didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t. We just worked with the compounds that, we knew were there and asked, ‘If this was your palette, what can you make out of that’,” said lead researcher Paulette Clancy.

“We’re not biologists, and we’re not astronomers, but we had the right tools. Perhaps it helped, because we didn’t come in with any preconceptions about what should be in a membrane and what shouldn’t. We just worked with the compounds that we knew were there and asked, ‘If this was your palette, what can you make out of that,’” said Clancy in a statement.

Next, let's make it clear what the team did NOT do. They did NOT...
  • send a spacecraft to Titan;
  • discover living organisms there, say, birds which they named, say, "the shy wrens of Titan";
  • do actual experiments, on Earth, with chemicals known to be present on Titan.
What they did do is use best available information about methane-based compounds present on Titan to construct a mathematical/chemical model of interactions among those compounds which might result in the formation and operation of a cell membrane, similar (if possible) to CHON-based cells on Earth. Maybe what they formally modeled is "life"; maybe not... but that's not the question they set out to answer. Theirs is perhaps a first step toward that much larger question: are all the components present on Titan to construct a methane-based cell, and what might be the processes of its chemical operation?

I'll take their question, unmodified, without any quibbles: it sounds like a good question to me, and an affirmative answer would go a long way toward suggesting that somewhere in our universe (not the whole multiverse; just what we've got here), if not on Titan then elsewhere, cells that could act "alive" could exist. I'm not betting on Yes or No, but I'm surely intending to keep track of what they find out.

(Oh, how we need Leonard Nimoy now, to write the poetry...)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy (1931—2015)

Nimoy in 2011
... dead at age 83, of complications of COPD. He was Spock and a whole lot more; I can't think of a single public figure who lived a fuller life. Just look at that works list on Wikipedia! What comes next? I don't know, but Nimoy was still wishing people LLAP ("live long and prosper," a canonical Vulcan greeting) even near the end of his life. If that's possible, Nimoy is just the post-Vulcan soul to do it.

AFTERWORD: Stella likes classic TV. I like Erle Stanley Gardner, in print or in Raymond Burr's fine realization of Gardner's character Perry Mason. Between the two of us, we watch a lot of Perry Mason, and I happened to be watching an episode on MeTV tonight, "The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe." When the soon-to-be-revealed murderer took the stand, I thought I recognized the actor, but didn't believe my eyes. When the credits rolled at the end, my initial identification was confirmed: yes, it was a very young Leonard Nimoy! His long and prosperous career as Spock notwithstanding, Nimoy was capable of doing just about anything he set his mind to, including hardboiled detective fiction.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

FCC Does Its Job On Net Neutrality

DSWright at FDL:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted today to approve a rule to regulate internet service providers to promote an open internet often known as net neutrality. The vote marks a stark loss for the ISPs who aggressively fought the rule and has said they plan to sue to overturn it.

After a federal court rejected a compromise proposal using Section 702 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 due to a lawsuit of the ISP companies, the FCC has decided to approve a more rigorous and legally sound rule under Title II authority of the Communications Act of 1934. The use of this rule means ISPs will be classified as “common carriers” and regulated as utilities.

The vote was 3-2 with both Republican commissioners – Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai - opposing the rule and citing the dangers of regulation in stopping service innovation and expansion of internet access. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the internet was too important to be controlled by either “government or corporate,” calling the internet too important to have ISP “making all the rules.”

Right... let's have just the ISP telecomm megacorp's make all the rules. As if that would be an improvement...

This is still not over, but it's a damned good start.

GOP Lawmaker: Cancer Is A Fungus; All You Really Need Is Baking Soda To Get Rid Of It

So says Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-Ignorance Nevada Dist. 4). Take your choice of sources: Kos, MSNBC, ThinkProgress, etc. etc. ad nauseam. If you still really need big blonde politicians, try Texas... the hair is probably bigger and blonder here, and the brain is indisputably larger.

Clarification: I have no objection to people's trading on their good looks (if indeed that is possible for Ms. Fiore). There are jobs for which a pleasant appearance is a primary or even a sufficient qualification. I'm afraid I don't agree that legislatin' is such a job. And the unlicensed practice of medicine is most certainly not.

Now THAT Is 21st-Century Technology!

Contributors at Juan Cole's Informed Comment outline for us an emerging technology use by Kenya's nomadic shepherds that may possibly leapfrog that nation into the 21st century in a hurry: solar panels attached to the sides of donkeys. Usage is straightforward: the panels are mounted on the sides of donkeys, which are then released for some unspecified time to graze; when the donkeys return, the charged panels are dismounted and used to power cell phones and lighting in the shepherds' manyattas (encampments or settlements, often temporary) at night:

Note how neatly this avoids the need for a grid or a connection to a grid, at least on the client end... expect TV ads here in the US, explaining to us why the same approach wouldn't work here, in three... two... one...

(UPDATE: Oh, and don't miss this:
Google Wants To Help You Buy Solar Panels For Your House. Seriously.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Heh... Gotta Laugh To Keep From Crying. OR SCREAMING...

Here's Donna Cassata of AP at TPM News:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday turned down an invitation to meet privately with Senate Democrats next week during his visit to Washington, saying the session "could compound the misperception of partisanship" surrounding his trip.

Everybody got that? Good. Don't bother trying to explain it to me.

Let's see. A foreign head of state accepting an invitation outside diplomatic channels from America's House Speaker John Boehner (R) (an elected official whose office is undeniably partisan in character) to speak to Congress... that's not partisanship; go right ahead. That same leader accepting a subsequent invitation from Senate Democrats to speak to them... oh, no, can't have that; that would be partisanship.

When, exactly, did international diplomacy become the Speaker's purview? And how is it that Netanyahu, a foreign national, became the one to decide that?

From our viewpoint, both these men
lean to the right
Before Nothin'‑yahoo became the effective dictator of Israel, I used to be a supporter, hell, even an admirer, of Israel. Bibi has just about cured me of that. And I'm not the only American to have experienced the revelation that Israel is no longer "the Middle East's only democracy," even if it once was. Actually, sometimes it seems Israel is America's 51st state... but you know that isn't so, because no other state has nearly that much unrestrained influence on our federal government.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Breaking: Obama Vetoes Keystone XL

This just happened; Meteor Blades at Kos gives the scant detail known now. GOPer override attempt expected by Mar. 3 at the latest. Thank the President and urge him to maintain a stiff spine in this matter; Keystone XL is one of the dirtiest fossil fuel pipelines ever proposed.

(FWIW, and to me it's worth something, Sierra Club was first in my mailbox informing me of the veto. Other environmental org's got around to it within a few minutes, but Michael Brune broadcast it immediately.)

Your Cell Phone: Hacked By Governments, Handed Back To You With ‘Enhancements’

(This is several days old, but I suspect it will be painfully significant for literally years. - SB)

Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley at The Intercept:
AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. ...

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to charge up my tracking device; otherwise the government might miss something I say or email or text or snap or...

Misspeak Of The Day

Electrical short
Electrical shortage
A reporter for Houston's ABC13 News said it, not once, but several times over the course of the early morning news. Referring to a residence (apartment? house? I don't remember) that burned, the reporter, obviously following a script, said that arson investigators had determined that the fire was due to an electrical shortage [sic]...

Radio Right To Rack And Ruin? Remarkably, Rush And [O']Reilly

Two articles at Kos about righties:
Ahhhh, words to gladden the progressive/liberal heart...

Monday, February 23, 2015

‘I Never Metadata I Didn't Spike’: FBI Finds Ways To Broaden Internet Dragnet

emptywheel has such details as are available in her post "How Internet Dragnettery Got Way More Permissive Under PRISM". "Metadata" is being significantly redefined for surveillance purposes, and now includes some content. Welcome to our shiny new engine of internet freedom, folks...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lesley Gore (1946—2015)

Lesley Gore, from intro to PSA version of
"You Don't Own Me," urging women to vote
(implied: for Democrats), 2012 Elections
Apologies for missing Gore's passing away about a week ago; Peter Rothberg at The Nation sums up her life and career for others who may have missed her departure, or are too young to have heard her when she was actively performing. Now there's a memory of my youth I can celebrate! I do wish she could have stuck around longer; 68 seems far too young to die.

Check out the PSA version of Gore's song You Don't Own Me, made independently as her statement on the Obama v. Romney race; it's the last video on Mr. Rothberg's post.

(If you ever have the unenviable task of posting a pic of me for my obit, please post one showing something approximating my true age at death. I am no kid; neither was Ms. Gore. My strong sense: she would want her gravitas revealed in all its glory. Me too.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

War And Peace War And Police

I promise this post is shorter than the first proposed title would indicate. But the subject it addresses - the military-style up-armoring and officer training of America's police departments - is already underway and growing rapidly. Tom Engelhardt has the basics in his article at The Nation, What Does the Future Hold for a Country Forever at War? — The domestic arms race in America is a one-way street—and the question is what awaits us up the road. Two paragraphs out of the middle should crystallize what concerns me... and of course Engelhardt himself... so much:

Reminder to officers:
Don't be a cartoon!
The occasion for such reflections: machine guns in my hometown. To be specific, several weeks ago, New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the formation of a new 350-officer Special Response Group (SRG). Keep in mind that New York City already has a police force of more than 34,000—bigger, that is, than the active militaries of Austria, Bulgaria, Chad, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kenya, Laos, Switzerland or Zimbabwe—as well as its own “navy,” including six submersible drones. Just another drop in an ocean of blue, the SRG will nonetheless be a squad for our times, trained in what Bratton referred to as “advanced disorder control and counterterror.” It will also, he announced, be equipped with “extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns—unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.” And here’s where he created a little controversy in my hometown. The squad would, Bratton added, be “designed for dealing with events like our recent protests or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.”

Now, that was an embarrassment in liberal New York. By mixing the recent demonstrations over the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others into the same sentence with the assault on Mumbai and the Charlie Hebdo affair in France, he seemed to be equating civil protest in the Big Apple with acts of terrorism. Perhaps you won’t be surprised then that the very next day the police department started walking back the idea that the unit would be toting its machine guns not just to possible terror incidents but to local protests. A day later, Bratton himself walked his comments back even further. (“I may have in my remarks or in your interpretation of my remarks confused you or confused the issue.”) Now, it seems there will be two separate units, the SRG for counterterror patrols and a different, assumedly machine-gun-less crew for protests.


The cop to viewer left
does not give me confidence...
In America, the police should emphatically not be viewed as a branch of the military, or as a separate military entity for domestic use. That way lies the demise of our freedom, probably quickly and certainly not cheaply in money or lives. The situation is not mitigated by the obvious readiness with which grand juries nationwide are willing to no‑bill law enforcement officers who may have committed crimes in performance of their purported duties. (We'll never know, will we, if no trials ever take place.). The people who put these institutions in place in virtually every big city in America (and not a few smaller ones) need to read their goddamned history! And they need to do it before we find ourselves living in pre‑W.W. II Germany. (Yeah, I know; that knocks on the door of Godwin's Law. Better that than a no‑knock raid...)

The other great loss, of course, is that of the wisdom conveyed by active public protest. (If you think there is no such wisdom, you've probably ended up on the wrong blog; maybe you need something more toward the right.) In my younger, healthier days, I felt confident in standing in the Main Street esplanade traffic circle in Houston, holding my own handmade sign or one end of a banner, with people of similar mind, demonstrating (word chosen advisedly) the nonviolent alternative to conventional wisdom to a public that might otherwise never give it a thought... the conventional wisdom always being "go to war, America!". For better or worse (I can see it either way), the groups I participated with were always orderly, never violent and on the rare occasions a permit was required (usually when we anticipated blocking traffic), duly filed for one. That was enough to keep us out of jail, though that was not a primary goal.

Today, literally any protest, however orderly, would be deemed "terrorism," and paddy-wagons full of protesters would promptly be on the way to jail or, worse, to a hospital to be patched up after they were beaten. Yes, by cops, drunk on the power conferred by all their new equipment and (inadequate) military training.

Do we want to have and keep the freedoms talked about by our nation's founders and fleshed out by many of our forebears since the founding? This is sure as Hell not the way to get to them!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Rehnquist Death Court At Work

Here we are, nearly a decade after William Rehnquist, 16th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, died, yet some of his most morally offensive, full-blown batsh!t crazy decisions continue to affect... for the worse... the world we live in. An example struck me recently (no, I was not injured) in Kos writer Shaun King's article Did you know the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that it's legal to execute an innocent person?.

If you read that post, please also skim a few of the comments (not all 200 or so; that would be injurious to your mental health): you'll find basically two kinds of comments... those by opponents of the death penalty, and those by lawyers. The latter seem to feel certain they can convince the former of the error of their ways if only they are allowed to browbeat them sufficiently on the legal issues surrounding capital punishment, not realizing that for some of us it isn't a matter of whether the state can legally execute someone, but whether they ever should, not a matter of whether it can be done constitutionally, but whether it can be accomplished humanely...

Chain of being [i.e., being whacked]

Oh, that, and the little matter of how much taxpayers' money could be saved by simply eliminating the death penalty and all the lawyers dancing on heads of pins that inevitably surround every single case in which it is sought. The cost of the trial and subsequent imprisonment for "life-without-parole" doesn't even begin to compare with the cost of the dancing... and if, in the end, the guilty verdict turns out to be factually unsupported, the punishment is a whole lot easier to reverse.

Lethal Booby Trap

Police: Michigan GOP Official Fatally Shot Herself While Adjusting Bra Holster. Contrary to what you might think from TPM's headline (or mine), she did not shoot herself in the breast; the accidental shot went into her eye. Also contrary to at least my intuition, the official was a Navy veteran, so she surely had had adequate training in firearms handling at some point in her life.

We have two choices. We could conclude that this is one of those senseless, avoidable tragedies that life hands out to the most unlikely and undeserving people. Or we could instead contemplate the fact that the woman obviously joined the GOP voluntarily, and wonder if doing so had a stupefying effect on an otherwise bright person...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Emergency Responders Saving Man Mere Moments Ago At Downtown Houston Construction Site — UPDATED

(Warning: if you read far enough into this post, you will very probably groan at the horror you encounter...)

I turned on the TV to fill the time it took me to eat breakfast/lunch (not fancy enough to call it "brunch") and immediately happened upon breaking news: at an office building construction site in downtown Houston at the corner of Main St. and Texas Ave., an emergency crew was using some sort of crane-and-pulleys arrangement to lift a stretcher containing a man who had fallen, apparently into the deep hole in which the building will eventually be built. The man was strapped securely into the stretcher, which looked more suited to an ancient Egyptian mummy; the main cable(s) lifted the stretcher painstakingly slowly, while two yellow ropes attached to the head and foot ends of the stretcher served to stabilize the stretcher so that it didn't gyrate wildly.

The fixed screen caption read something like "Construction Site, Downtown Houston, Main & Texas." The news announcer, who was understandably repeating herself quite a lot because no one had provided her any more information than the rest of us had, kept saying, "You can see the two yellow ropes attached to the ends of the stretcher." Her repeated remark made me realize I'd seen this show before, and I even knew the theme song...

Wait for it...

The Yellow Ropes at Texas.

(Oh, groooaaannn!)

When I left the screen scene, the crew had the man back at ground level and were preparing to load him into an ambulance. I'll report more when I know more, but the good news is that one thing Houston has in great abundance, packed full and running over, is hospitals.

UPDATE Wed. morning 2/18, apparently from yesterday afternoon's Click2Houston news: the man was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital (that's where I had my surgery done two years ago), and although there hasn't been a formal report of the worker's condition or announcement of his name, the consensus of people who saw him right after his fall from a crane is that his injuries were not serious and he was alert and responsive. Good... I'd hate to be laughing at his expense if he had been seriously hurt. One of many things I liked about my occupation in my working years is that it involved neither dangerous heights nor precarious balancing acts... well, there were those occasionally tense meetings with the bosses...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Not To Be Too Piketty About The Matter...

Piketty: young man, endearing demeanor,
serious book — what's not to like?
... but about six months after I put myself on the hold list at Houston Public Library for French economist Thomas Piketty's book (in Arthur Goldhammer's English translation), Capital in the Twenty-First Century, I picked it up and held it in my hands today. It is no small book, let me tell you!

Why should anyone but a professional economist read this book? There are at least a couple of reasons...
  • One is that, in the year or so since its publication (Aug. 2013 in French; Apr. 2014 in English), it has consistently caused RWNJs to soil their pants and indulge in slinging that soil as only a RWNJ can sling... for some of us, that would probably be reason enough to examine the actual contents of the book. 
  • Another is that Nobel-prizewinning economist Paul Krugman has written many columns and blog posts on Piketty and his (in)famous book. To read them, you can google "krugman on piketty"; that will get you many of Krugman's columns, his review at New York Review of Books, articles by many of Piketty's detractors (a list that overlaps heavily with Krugman's detractors), a few posts at certifiable right-wing sites that I, at least, don't spend much time at, and a handful of Krugman's articles debunking the debunkers.
I notice Piketty was born in 1971, the year I received my Master's degree. All I can say is, this young whippersnapper had better be as good as his reviews say he is...

The book is just shy of 700 pages; I'd better get started. I'll comment on it more as I absorb a bit about what Prof. Piketty has to say.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis — Antoine Forqueray And His Son; Gustav Leonhardt And His Students

I spent part of the afternoon listening to a CD of the late and truly great harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt (1928‑2012), performing works mostly by Antoine Forqueray (1671‑1745) as arranged and amended after his death by his son Jean‑Baptiste Forqueray (1699‑1782).

Father and son were reportedly both cranky people, and one of the son's arrangements was from his father's viola da gamba composition to the son's transcription for harpsichord (no small step!), with some movements newly composed by the son, all two years after his father's death. Had they lived in a different era, that family was almost dysfunctional enough to have been American!

But the music was stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful. Here is the recording (if I got the link right in spite of YouTube's new "simplified" mechanism for chaining volumes together (so "simple" that you'll likely do just that even when you don't intend to):

Life is short. Music is shorter (with the exception of a few pathological 20th-century works; some of those are still going well into the 21st century). Fathers write music and perform it; sons learn how to play in part from their parents, but again in pathological cases await their parents' departure from this world before tinkering with their parents' music.

Performers relearn the essence of a particular work sometimes literally centuries after the work was created; then they pass their own performance traditions on to their students, who do their own things with the work.

Is the work recognizable as the one the composer created centuries ago? Some performers don't care. Some care so much they obsess over every particular of style and craft. Music is an emphatically human activity, engaging every human foible; when music-making involves multiple generations of a family, well, that's when it gets really challenging.

I guess if I intend to leave any compositions to my child or my student, I'd better, first of all, write some music, and second (and not incidentally), have some kids, or at least some students...

ASIDE: lately I feel too old and tired to participate in even the passing-on-traditions part of the process (let alone passing on genes or technical advice on playing an instrument). Would one or more of you do all that for me, please? I can't promise your efforts will be appreciated, except by me...

ANOTHER ASIDE: I've had the privilege of rehearsing and performing with one of Mr. Leonhardt's excellent students, an American now living in Amsterdam (I think) with her cellist husband and their two sons. Like all of Leonhardt's students I have met, she was aware of the community in which they all participated, and, again like all of his students, was crestfallen at his death; it's going to be tough without him. But whatever tradition that family and I were once part of for about a decade in Houston continues, different in every particular in a land utterly familiar to that family and utterly foreign to me, but still a part of a tradition. I worry about humankind a little less every time I think of them.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

AZ GOPer Representative Confuses Boko Haram, Boca Raton

This article by Tracy Walsh at TPM was just tailor-made for the category label I'm using for it (see below this post):
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) confused the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram with a mid-sized Florida city during an appearance Tuesday on CNN, the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Florida reported Wednesday.

Gosar said that if the U.S. were to pay ransom to terrorists, then "every American citizen traveling abroad becomes a subject in regard for kidnapping and then the plight of how much money has been captivated in the Boca Raton group."

Not since IBM developed its first PC there in 1981 have the terrorists of Boca Raton so disrupted the world...

For Rep. Gosar's edification, I'm including pics:

Boca Raton
Boko Haram

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes