Saturday, November 17, 2018

I guess that explains it........................


Thirty years ago, during my second year of teaching humanities at the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts (1985-86, I created an elective two-semester course called "Lyric" that began with ancient Greek poetry and ended with modern song lyrics, from Broadway musicals to folk-rock. ...

     While Joan Baez has unfailingly impressed, her colleague and sometime flame Bob Dylan has not.  To my dismay, Dylan was a very hard sell in my classes throughout the 1980s.  His voice struck many students as thin and grating, while the hyper-verbalism and attack style of his protest songs seemed out of sync.  That thankfully changed in the 1990s, probably because of aggressively political rap, which had become hugely popular among white male teenagers trapped in the blandness and materialism of suburban shopping-mall culture.  Dylan's message-heavy intensity seemed relevant again, a recovered stature happily sustained in the new century.

-Camille Paglia, from her essay Art of Song Lyric


Joan Baez.................................................................Silver Dagger



Don't sing love songs, you'll wake my mother
She's sleeping here right by my side
And in her right hand a silver dagger
She says that I can't be your bride
"All men are false", says my mother
"They'll tell you wicked, lovin' lies
The very next evening, they'll court another
Leave you alone to pine and sigh"
My daddy is a handsome devil
He's got a chain five miles long
And on every link a heart does dangle
Of another maid he's loved and wronged
Go court another tender maiden
And hope that she will be your wife
For I've been warned, and I've decided
To sleep alone all of my life

Bob Dylan.................................................Desolation Row



They're selling postcards of the hanging, they're painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors, the circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner, they've got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker, the other is in his pants
And the riot squad they're restless, they need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight, from Desolation Row
Cinderella, she seems so easy, "It takes one to know one, " she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he's moaning. "You Belong to Me I Believe"
And someone says, "You're in the wrong place, my friend, you'd better leave"
And the only sound that's left after the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row
Now the moon is almost hidden, the stars are beginning to hide
The fortune telling lady has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel and the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing, he's getting ready for the show
He's going to the carnival tonight on Desolation Row
Ophelia, she's 'neath the window for her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday she already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic she wears an iron vest
Her profession's her religion, her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon Noah's great rainbow
She spends her time peeking into Desolation Row
Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood with his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago with his friend, a jealous monk
Now he looked so immaculately frightful as he bummed a cigarette
And he when off sniffing drainpipes and reciting the alphabet
You would not think to look at him, but he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin on Desolation Row
Dr. Filth, he keeps his world inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients, they're trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser, she's in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read, "Have Mercy on His Soul"
They all play on the penny whistles, you can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough from Desolation Row
Across the street they've nailed the curtains, they're getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera in a perfect image of a priest
They are spoon feeding Casanova to get him to feel more assured
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence after poisoning him with words
And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls, "Get outta here if you don't know"
Casanova is just being punished for going to Desolation Row"
At midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row
Praise be to Nero's Neptune, the Titanic sails at dawn
Everybody's shouting, "Which side are you on?!"
And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot fighting in the captain's tower
While calypso singers laugh at them and fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much about Desolation Row
Yes, I received your letter yesterday, about the time the doorknob broke
When you asked me how I was doing, was that some kind of joke
All these people that you mention, yes, I know them, they're quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces and give them all another name
Right now, I can't read too good, don't send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row


Total agreement here......................


"... I personally would trust more in those who admit ignorance that in those who claim infallibility."

-Yuval Noah Harari

Give him an "A"................


........................................for strategic use of weasel words:

"Every religion, ideology, and creed has its shadows, and no matter which creed you follow you should acknowledge your shadow and avoid the naive reassurance that "it cannot happen to us."  Secular science has at least one big advantage over most traditional religions - namely, that it is not inherently terrified of its shadow, and it is in principle willing to admit its mistakes and blind spots."

-Yuval Noah Harari,  21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Fifty years ago..........................


The Beatles...................................................Eleanor Rigby



for all the purists out there, I know this tune was first released as a single and on Revolver in 1966.  But, it also was featured in their 1968 movie, Yellow Submarine

Friday, November 16, 2018

Meanwhile, only 5,000 light years away......




enlargeable photo and back story here

On rhetorical battles.........................


....................if you want a reason to smile today, read this one.

Like zombies and Russian spies, there are more economists among us than you might think. This can be dangerous because studies show that economists are more likely than normal people to graze their goats too long on the town commons, to rat out their co-conspirators in jailhouse interrogations, and to show up drunk on their last day at a job. This appears to be both because unethical people are drawn to economics and because economics itself teaches people to be both untrusting and untrustworthy. This feedback loop has led to the creation of famously difficult economists like John Stuart Mill and….well, it’s a long list. Like halitosis and comb-overs, the problem is worse in Washington.

-William Carrington

To think that occasionally..............


.....................................academic researchers get something right?

7. What is your response to the academic research that people are terrible at forecasting future behavior?

-Question culled from this Barry Ritholtz post

Wishful thinking.......................


"... an outcome that allows, for one night at least, the faintest hope that the crazy train of American politics over the past two years may be slowing to a more sensible pace."

-Eric Boehm, as cut from here

And now a word....................


.......................................................from Seth Godin:

"An idea shared is more powerful than one that’s hidden." 

Ray is actually.......................


..................................one of those rekindling kind of people.

Color me doubtful.....................


     For similar reasons, secular education does not mean a negative indoctrination that teaches kids not to believe in God and not to take part in any religious ceremonies.  Rather, secular education teaches children to distinguish truth from belief, to develop compassion for all suffering beings, to appreciated the wisdom and experience of all the earth's denizens, to think freely without fearing the unknown, and to take responsibility for their actions and for the world as a whole.

-Yuval Noah Harari,  21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Fifty years ago..........................


The Beatles.........................................................Revolution 1



You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
Bt when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be 
All right, all right, all right
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be 
All right, all right, all right
You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be 
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A pretty low bar...............................




        via

On point in time data.................


One of the reasons the fire-hose of information can actually make it harder to analyze the state of the world is because many people simply use point in time data instead of taking time to look at the overall trend.
Current data tells you very little unless you’re able to provide context about where it’s been and where it’s potentially going next.
-Ben Carlson, as lifted from here

The echoes of history...................


     Nevertheless, that burden of past glory loomed over Alcibiades' age group just as the accomplishments of  the "greatest generation" of World War II do our own, especially when men like his guardian Pericles constantly harangued younger Athenians about their imperial burdens.  Spartans also fled similar apprehensions about becoming soft in comparison to their roughneck Lacedaemonian granddads who had died blocking the pass at Thermopylae.  thus, the Corinthians remonstrated with the Peloponnesians on the eve of the battle:  "It is not a just thing that all that was won through poverty should be destroyed through prosperity."

-Victor Davis Hanson,  A War Like No Other:  How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War

Fifty years ago............................


The Beatles..............from Yellow Submarine:  All Together Now

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Opening paragraphs.................


The house, on the northeast corner of Opdyke Road and Woodward Avenue, was unlike any other.  The giant old mansion, nearly seventy years old, stood lovely and lopsided in its asymmetrical design, with its roofs and lofts of varying heights and chimneys that reached into the sky.   Here in Bloomfield Hills, a wealthy northern suburb of Detroit where top executives of the automobile industry spent their evenings and weekends in rustic comfort with their wives, children, and servants, the unusual dwelling was more home than a family needed.  It sat on a country estate that spanned some thirty acres of former farmland, with a gatehouse, gardens, barns, and a spacious garage that could hold more than two dozen cars.  It even had its own name, Stonycroft, a harsh and daunting moniker for a tranquil, out-of-the-way setting.   There were few neighbors for miles around and no distractions to disturb its residents from their serenity, aside from the occasional slicing at golf balls that could be heard from a nearby country club.  More often, the chilly residence echoed with its own emptiness while its current tenants left many of its forty rooms mostly unoccupied, unheated, and unused.  But on its highest floor, spanning the vast width of the house, was an attic.   And in the attic was a boy.

-Dave Itzkoff,   Robin


Let's all take good care........................


.................................of the Goose that lays the golden eggs:

A dynamic chart of the Top 10 Gross Domestic Products since 1961


via

Gladly............................


21.  If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed, I will gladly change.  I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody.  It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm.

-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations, from Book Six

Nature..............................


"Nature helps every man to the gratification of the thoughts which he most encourages, and opportunities are presented which will most speedily bring to the surface both the good and evil thoughts."

-James Allen,   As A Man Thinketh

Privilege..........................


"Is it then too much to assert or is it too uncharitable to suppose, that a man who has injured you in your Bread would also injure you in your life, if he thought he could do it with legal impunity."
     Jacob was well aware that his older brother, while brilliant, had emotional blind spots.  Benjamin, he knew, had no real idea what men of privilege were capable of doing to keep that privilege.

-Stephen Fried,  Rush:  Revolution, Madness & The Visionary Doctor Who Became A Founding Father

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Fifty years ago.................


The Beatles................................................Long, Long, Long

I wondered.......................


................................what had happened to all the statesmen.

There had been relative peace across the Continent continuously since 1815 (the end of the Napoleonic Wars), with irruptions of violence successively contained by the machinations of the old aristocratic order. But as the lordly whig Asquith said, as the clouds gathered in 1914, suddenly he felt trapped in a lunatic asylum. He was referring specifically to the extraordinary power of manipulated mass movements, which restricted the diplomacy of the statesmen, and compelled them to persist on courses they knew to be unwise and potentially catastrophic, under the impulse of national (as opposed to personal) “honour.” To do otherwise would mean losing power themselves — to be trampled under the mob, as it were — which was of course unthinkable to them. For they were no longer statesmen, but had become politicians.

-David Warren, as extracted from this post