New post on Weirdomatic: Carnivorous Plants

FotB Alexandra has posted another of her well-curated photo galleries at Weirdomatic, this time focusing on plants that eat animals.

Do you favor or oppose ___ serving in the military?

Thanks to Language Log for results of a CBS News poll showing these response rates:

Do you favor or oppose homosexuals serving in the military?  Strongly favor, 34%; somewhat favor, 25%; somewhat oppose, 10%; strongly oppose, 19%

Do you favor or oppose gay men and lesbians serving in the military?  Strongly favor, 51%; somewhat favor, 19%; somewhat oppose,7%; strongly oppose, 12%

Classical Ukulele

For some days I’ve been thinking that I ought to put up a series of posts focusing on the ukulele as a classical instrument.  The more I thought about it, the clearer it became that what I was thinking of was something that could and should stand on its own.  So I’ve set up a blog called “Classical Ukulele.” 

Below I’ve pasted a copy of the inaugural post, a tribute to the late, great John King.  There’s also a post up in which we see videos of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” in John King’s and other arrangements for ukulele.  Among these arrangements is one Colin R. Tribe posted on YouTube today, which gave me the idea for the post; a characteristically exquisite rendition by Valéry Sauvage; and a performance the Langley Ukulele Ensemble  did last year that will rock your socks. 

John King plays the Bouree from Bach’s Partita #3

When John King died in April 2009, his New York Times obituary explained that it was no great leap for him to come up with the idea of arranging Johann Sebastian Bach’s third Partita for the ukulele:

After attending Old Dominion University in Virginia, Mr. King became a guitar instructor at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. He also worked in the campus bookstore.

He picked up a ukulele occasionally, but not successfully. Then he learned that the diminutive ancestors of today’s guitars were tuned like ukuleles. He tried Bach on the ukulele and was deeply intrigued. He soon commissioned Gioachino Giussani, the Italian luthier, to make a ukulele expressly for classical music. After a decade of practice, he put out a record, including the Bach partita, on his own label in 2001.

Pepe Romero concluded in the liner notes: “The sound of the ukulele is exquisitely well suited for Bach’s music, and I delight in this discovery.”

The whole Partita #3 is available on the CD “The Classical Ukulele,” John King’s label was Nalu Music.

Here’s another of John King’s performances of Bach, preserved on YouTube.

Prelude from Cello Suite #1

Comments on youtube by Howard Zinn

You guys might be interested in this.

Alternative CPR

Good Old Lou

 A while back, I said I would do posts about Lou, the baseball player, because I think it is sad that he got a disease named after him.  There was so much more to him than the way he died.  Here is a quote from him that I find interesting:

“Lets face it. I’m not a headline guy. I always knew that as long as I was following Babe to the plate I could have gone up there and stood on my head. No one would have noticed the difference. When the Babe was through swinging, whether he hit one or fanned, nobody paid any attention to the next hitter. They all were talking about what the Babe had done.”

I guess it would have been difficult to be a baseball player in Babe’s day, if you did not want to melt into the background.  I think it would have been awesome if Lou would have tried standing on his head.

Bioethics as a profession

ALDaily named its link to this article about the profession of bioethics “How are these people experts?”  A quote:

Is it politically desirable for society to credit a designated group called “bioethicists” with expertise in resolving the most difficult moral questions? If so, what is it that gives ethicists a more legitimate claim to wisdom about right and wrong than the rest of us? The matter of ethical expertise — what it looks like, who can claim it — is a profound one. The place of bioethics in the academy, in the clinical realm, and in society turns on it. For most of us, the very idea of the “right” answer to a complex moral dilemma seems absurd on its face. After all, its derivation depends upon which moral theory one favors: deontological, consequentialist, natural law, situational, and so on.

By no means does this negate the possibility, let alone the importance, of serious moral reflection, but such analyses may be too lost in the foundational questions to be of much everyday use. And, of course, many bioethicists rely on their own philosophical biases. So, for example, when bioethicists condemn organ donor solicitation with the argument that it gives unfair advantage to some or violates human dignity, we must ask what makes them sufficiently sure of their view to impose it on others? Finding the “right” moral answer — assuming for a moment one exists — is not the business of applied ethics. So what can bioethics offer? What is its technical expertise?

[Hoover Policy Review]

A Funny Moment

Table of Contents

No, these aren’t questions about people such as Margaret Fell Fox and George Fox. 


They are questions about Quaker Parrots like the one pictured here.

   “A” and I laughed long and hard the first time we read these questions, because we could not help but think of our human Quaker friends, such as myself, as we read them. 

Not quite as much like an episode of The Twilight Zone as it sounds

The New Scientist, via Neatorama:

Our World May Be a Giant Hologram

The idea that we live in a hologram probably sounds absurd, but it is a natural extension of our best understanding of black holes, and something with a pretty firm theoretical footing. It has also been surprisingly helpful for physicists wrestling with theories of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.

The whole article is remarkably clear.  You may have to click the link twice to get past The New Scientist‘s subscription pitch, but it’s worth the effort. .

The Nation, 22 February 2010

Some left-of-center readers may become impatient with this blog from time to time.  Quite often, I post notes about The American Conservative or Chronicles in which I quote pieces in these right-wing publications calling for a return to a conservatism that, they tell us, once existed in the USA, a conservatism that was critical of capitalism and of militarism.  Surely, readers may ask, there’s a reason why the left came to have a near-monopoly on incisive critiques of these things.  Neither nostalgia for a precapitalist order in which the peasantry could thrive nor an appeal to an imaginary sort of “free enterprise” in which the owners of capital disdain corporatist state intervention and seek advantage over their competitors only in the open market can offer a useful economic policy for the world in which we actually find ourselves.  Nor can any amount of regional resentment or localist suspicion of the government in Washington immunize the public against the siren song of nationalism, and the lure of big defense contracts coming to town.  Only a politics that is willing to put social equality front and center can really challenge the power elite and remake America as a humane, just society. 

So it may be.  But the idea of a better Right, a conservatism that once graced American life with its principled opposition to the dehumanizing aspects of mass society and the modern state, does make an appearance in this issue of The Nation.  Alexander Cockburn, himself a frequent contributor to Chronicles, quotes the cover story of the current American Conservative, in which its publisher analyzes crime statistics indicating that, contrary to popular opinion, undocumented workers are not in fact more likely to commit crimes than are other residents of the USA.  The “Noted” column begins with a paean to, of all people, the late Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist.  I have to quote it in full, since no abridgement would sound like anything that could possibly have appeared in The Nation:

WHAT WOULD REHNQUIST DO? The Supreme Court’s gift of constitutionally protected political speech to paper entities in the Citizens United case would have elicited a vigorous dissent from the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist for a simple and compelling reason: he was a conservative. As a conservative, he would have agreed with dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens that the decision “represents a radical change in the law.” This is clear from Rehnquist’s mostly forgotten dissent in a 1978 case, First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti.