Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Condition My Condition Is In -- Bettye Lavette (1968)

I woke up this morning with the sundown shining in
I found my mind in a brown paper bag but then
I tripped on a cloud and fell-a eight miles high
I tore my mind on a jagged sky
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah, what condition my condition was in

I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in
I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in
I got up so tight I couldn't unwind
I saw so much I broke my mind
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah, what condition my condition was in

Someone painted April Fool in big black letters on a Dead End sign
I had my foot on the gas as I left the road and blew out my mind
Eight miles outta Memphis and I got no spare
Eight miles straight up downtown somewhere
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

I said I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

Songwriters: NEWBURY, MICKEY

Friday, January 30, 2015

Come Out and Play -- The Offspring (1994)

You gotta keep 'em separated

Like the latest fashion
Like a spreading disease
The kids are strappin' on their way to the classroom
Getting weapons with the greatest of ease

The gangs stake their own campus locale
And if they catch you slippin' then it's all over pal
If one guy's colors and the other's don't mix
They're gonna bash it up, bash it up, bash it up, bash it up

Hey man you talkin' back to me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey man you disrespecting me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey don't pay no mind
You're under 18 you won't be doing any time
Hey come out and play

By the time you hear the siren
It's already too late
One goes to the morgue and the other to jail
One guy's wasted and the other's a waste

It goes down the same as the thousand before
No one's getting smarter no one's learning the score
Your never-ending spree of death and violence, and hate
Is gonna tie your own rope, tie your own rope, tie your own

Hey man you disrespecting me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey man you talkin' back to me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey don't pay no mind
You're under 18 you won't be doing any time
Hey come out and play

It goes down the same as the thousand before
No one's getting smarter no one's learning the score
Your never-ending spree of death and violence, and hate
Is gonna tie your own rope, tie your own rope, tie your own

Hey man you talkin' back to me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey man you disrespecting me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey don't pay no mind
You're under 18 you won't be doing any time
Hey come out and play

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dexter Holland, doctoral candidate in molecular biology

Dexter Holland, senior class photo, Pacifica High School

Dying Scene

"Everybody in the punk scene knows who Dexter Holland is. Not only is he famous for being the guitarist and lead singer of The Offspring, and the founder of Nitro Records, but there is bound to be a good amount of trivial knowledge that you don’t know about the O.C. punk legend who has been active in the music industry for more than 25 years. To test the extent of your knowledge we thought it would be fun to put together a list of 10 things most people probably don’t know about Dexter.

1. In The Offspring’s early days, they were known as Manic Subsidal.
2. The reason he got the nickname Dexter is because he was class valedictorian and head of the maths team [that's "Mathletes" to Americans] at Pacifica High School, where he met his Offspring bandmate Greg K. at a cross-country team.
3. Dexter has a pilot’s licence and owns his own private jet, which he named “Anarchy Airline” because of the huge Anarchy sign on the tail of the plane. He is also a Certified Flight Instructor who has made a solo trip around the world in ten days.
4. Dexter was a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Biology at the University of Southern California, but abandoned it because of his desire to focus on The Offspring. He also has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University of Southern California.
5. Dexter has his own brand of hot sauce called “Gringo Bandito”.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Feeling Good -- Nina Simone (1965)

Be sure to hang on for the drop at 0:39

Birds flyin' high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by, you know how I feel
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me.
Yeah, it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, ooooooooh...
And I'm feelin' good.

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel
River runnin' free, you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me,
And I'm feelin' good

Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean, don't you know,
Butterflies all havin' fun, you know what I mean.
Sleep in peace when day is done: that's what I mean,
And this old world is a new world and a bold world for me...

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Yeah, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel:
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me
And I'm feelin'... good.
Written by: Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Street Reporter Asks Paranoid Schizophrenic Steve Spiros, "What's Your Name?"

Reporter. What’s your name?

Man. My name? Oh. Let me tell you my name. Ah… I’m confused. Because, uh… you know… we’re supposed to believe in the ministry, right? So, is… is… is the church and state supposed to be separate? I’m confused cause I never went to school. Right? Is a confused person get a resolution? I don’t understand. You see, when you go like that (holds up crossed index fingers), right, you have a cross. Two sticks. Right? And that’s how I felt, when I was in Waterloo. Because when I walked, in Waterloo, and smiled at people, they treated me like a vampire. They used the cross, and they went like this (again holding up two crossed index fingers), by not smiling at me. In Toronto – oh, hi guys (waving at camera), you know me, Steve Spiros, easy going? Those who know me, I’m a nobody. You understand? And you can’t kill a person with no body. So… why am I afraid? I’m not afraid. I’m afraid of the Boogeyman! Who’s the Boogeyman? You figure it out! I’m getting outta here! I’m going back to Waterloo where the vampires hang out! And I’m gonna wear my sunglasses at night! You know why? Because women show their tits… have short skirts, and then they feel violated when I look at them! Why? Because I have sunglasses on and I’m weird.

Uh… I’m from Humberside. I’m sorry if, uh, I made a fool of Humberside but, all those people who called me a sleepwalker… I woke up. Now I’m going back to sleep because I’m gonna be committed in an isolation room because I’m going to go back to the Ministry and allow them to perceive me as I am. A FUCK-UP!!! (Starts to go, turns back.) GOOD-BYE!
(Cut, as man presumably walks away and comes back.)
Hey Toronto the Good, look at, look at this square. It was a shit hole when I worked here. Now it looks like New York, Manhattan.
Where are the bums? There’re no bums here. Toronto doesn’t have bums. But Waterloo, they’re creating bums! They created me! Why? I don’t know! Maybe it’s the Church. Talk to the Pope, he knows everything. I’ve had it! I’m gonna die. How can you ki– die when you’re dead?!
Oh wait a second. I’m going to be crucified right? (Tears open shirt, wipes back of right hand across forehead.) I’m not gonna raise my voice. Because I’m committed to the Lord.
I love you.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Centipede -- Knife Party (official video)



Giant tropical centipedes share their territories with tarantulas. Despite it's impressive length, it's a nimble navigator, and some can be highly venomous. As quick as lightning, just like the tarantula it's killing, the centipede has two curved hollow fangs which inject paralyzing venom.
Even tarantulas aren't immune from an ambush.

This centipede is a predator...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna -- Charles Wolfe (1791-1823)

Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore

NOT a drum was heard, not a funeral note, 
  As his corse to the rampart we hurried; 
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot 
  O'er the grave where our hero we buried. 
We buried him darkly at dead of night,         5
  The sods with our bayonets turning, 
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light 
  And the lanthorn dimly burning. 
No useless coffin enclosed his breast, 
  Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;  10
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest 
  With his martial cloak around him. 
Few and short were the prayers we said, 
  And we spoke not a word of sorrow; 
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,  15
  And we bitterly thought of the morrow. 
We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bed 
  And smooth'd down his lonely pillow, 
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head, 
  And we far away on the billow!  20
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that 's gone, 
  And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him— 
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on 
  In the grave where a Briton has laid him. 
But half of our heavy task was done  25
  When the clock struck the hour for retiring; 
And we heard the distant and random gun 
  That the foe was sullenly firing. 
Slowly and sadly we laid him down, 
  From the field of his fame fresh and gory;  30
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone, 
  But we left him alone with his glory.

The 42nd Highlanders storm the French positions at the Battle of Corunna, 1809



Friday, January 23, 2015

The brain stores trivial memories, just in case

Well, maybe not, internet quote graphic.

"The surge of emotion that makes memories of embarrassment, triumph and disappointment so vivid can also reach back in time, strengthening recall of seemingly mundane things that happened just beforehand and that, in retrospect, are relevant, a new study has found.
The report, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggests that the television detective’s standard query — “Do you remember any unusual behavior in the days before the murder?” — is based on solid brain science, at least in some circumstances.
The findings fit into the predominant theory of memory: that it is an adaptive process, continually updating itself according to what knowledge may be important in the future.
The new study suggests that human memory has, in effect, a just-in-case file, keeping seemingly trivial sights, sounds and observations in cold storage for a time in case they become useful later on."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Psy-feld class brings psychiatry training to a new low
"It’s 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and 10 medical students sit around a conference table covered by coffee cups and clipboards. Preparing to start their morning rounds, the students chat about what they watched on television the night before.
“Jerry’s girlfriend doesn’t like George,” third-year student Marlene Wang says, referring to the iconic 1990s sitcom "Seinfeld." “And he just couldn’t live with the idea of this person not liking him.”
This isn’t a discussion about nothing. More than 15 years after the final episode, "Seinfeld" is the basis for “Psy-feld,” a teaching tool designed to help medical students identify and discuss psychiatric disorders."

Personally, I find this horrifying. This is training in psychopathology, I suppose, but for bright high school juniors -- not psychiatry residents. I wonder if part of the reason for this approach is that most of the psychiatry residents are foreign born? Watching American sit-coms might help them learn some idioms. But when they practice, all they are going to do is diagnose you as "bipolar," give you (oddly) an antidepressant, and when that doesn't work, add an antipsychotic. If they like you, they'll give you Xanax, too. Oh, and ADHD meds for the kiddies.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Persisting psychogenic deja vu in a 23 year old college student

Telegraph (UK)
"A student was forced to drop out of university after a bizarre case of chronic déjà vu left him unable to lead a normal life.
The 23-year-old even stopped watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading newspapers or magazines because he believed he had seen it all before.
He told doctors that he was "trapped in a time loop" and said he felt as if he was reliving the past moment by moment.
Details of the case have been revealed in a report published by the Journal of Medical Case Reports.
Doctors are baffled because the man does not suffer from any of the neurological conditions usually seen in people who normally suffer frequently from déjà vu - which is French for "already seen"."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Celebrity Fertility Antics

All of the following could be avoided, if we just told young women the truth about fertility. Plan your life so that all your children are conceived before age 35. If you want 3 kids, spaced 2 years apart, a year of wedded bliss prior to the first pregnancy, and a year to plan the wedding, then you have to be engaged by age 28. Tick tock.

Hollywood Reporter
"At a time when Apple and Facebook are picking up $20,000 tabs for employees to freeze their eggs as well as offering other generous high-tech fertility benefits, it's clear that professional women have more and more options with assisted reproduction technology. Many of them will need it: At least one in eight couples overall suffer from infertility, and much of that is due to delayed childbearing. Even as the U.S. birth rate is at an all-time low, multiple births have skyrocketed from fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization treatments involving multiple embryos. In 1980, there were 70,000 twins born in the U.S.; in 2012, there were 131,269, along with 4,598 triplets and 276 quadruplets.
Credit goes to the 450 high-tech fertility clinics in the U.S., 75 of them in California....
...Even so, media coverage of glowing older celebu-moms — from Halle Berry, who just had her second child at age 47, to Laura Linney, who gave birth to her first child in 2014 at 49 — can mislead. "My concern is when celebrities in their mid- to late-40s announce they're pregnant," says Guy Ringler of California Fertility Partners, one of Southern California's most in-demand clinics. "It gives many people false hope that you can get pregnant at any age. It's not realistic."
L.A. women in particular have misguided expectations, adds Ringler: "Many of our patients eat well, exercise, are very health-conscious." Then they realize physical health and appearance largely are irrelevant to the viability of their eggs... "They've done studies that found going through infertility is equivalent in stress to cancer or HIV."
...IVF is a more complicated process in which sperm and harvested eggs are joined in a petri dish to become 100-cell blastocysts. The best one or two embryos are implanted; the rest are frozen for later use. A round of IVF costs from $15,000 to $18,000; most women in their late 30s or 40s require more than one round.
...Genetically testing the embryos, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, is one way to stack the odds in favor of a pregnancy. Nearly every embryo that Steinberg transfers has been tested to confirm that it has the correct number of chromosomes; other tests confirm the lack of certain inheritable-disease genes such as BRCA, the breast cancer gene that Angelina Jolie carries. Steinberg says PGD reduces miscarriages: "What that's done is eliminate Down syndrome. We can't guarantee a perfect baby, but we can guarantee that anything you're concerned about isn't there." (Including the wrong eye color: In 2009, after admonishment from the Vatican and the medical community, Steinberg stopped allowing parents to choose their babies' blues — the most popular color — but quietly started up again with 15 infants last year: "There's a huge interest. Even when we retracted, the emails just kept coming in.")
Despite genetic testing, IVF still has significant limitations. "A woman in her 40s has a less than 5 percent pregnancy rate per treatment cycle," say Ringler, while a woman in her early 30s has up to a 70 percent rate. One proven way to conquer fertility decline from aging eggs is using a donor egg. (A woman's eggs start to decline in fertility in the late 20s. "At 40, most women drop off the cliff," says Steinberg.) "For a woman in her mid-40s who uses a donor egg, her pregnancy rate jumps up to 75 percent per treatment cycle," says Ringler, who thinks donor eggs are the best option for "all women 44 and older, an age when 95 percent of eggs are chromosomally abnormal." Adds Steinberg, "Nature won't let abnormal embryos make babies."
...Most donor eggs come from women in their 20s, paid $5,000 to $10,000 to undergo egg retrieval. "Bloating was the biggest downside," says an egg donor named Sara, who first donated eggs in 2007 when she was a 22-year-old acting student. (Sperm donors are paid $75 to $150 a go for a vial of sperm that might sell for $700 or more.)...
Disclosure is one of the stickiest issues with egg-donor use, which one L.A. mom, who suffered three miscarriages on the way to a biological son at 42, calls the "last bastion of shame" in fertility medicine. It's common for couples to seek out a donor who resembles them to "pass" — letting family, friends and the kids themselves believe they are the genetic parents. Several Westside fertility doctors say that about half their patients plan to keep their offspring's origins under wraps; Steinberg estimates 70 percent of his patients do.
...Oddly perhaps, hiring a stranger to carry a child for you has become less taboo than buying an egg. Nicole Kidman used a surrogate for her youngest child, born when she was 43. Sarah Jessica Parker used a surrogate to carry her twin daughters, who went home to a 44-year-old mom. Both actresses were effusive in their thanks to their carriers but avoid discussing the genesis of the eggs.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Grade inflation

A chemistry lecture hall at University of Texas.

"A 2013 study conducted by the University of North Texas’s Department of Economics might help explain the forces behind recent grade inflation, suggesting that several key players could be responsible for the overall trends. For one, the study shows that classes in certain subject areas are more prone to inflation than others. English, music, and speech courses experienced higher rates of inflation compared to those in math and chemistry, for example.   

Class size also appears to be a factor. One theory is that departments with smaller student-faculty ratios have a greater tendency to exaggerate grades because those instructors have less job security than their colleagues in larger-scale college divisions...[In my experience, grades are higher with smaller sections because students feel that the spotlight is on them and so produce their best work.]
The instructor’s gender could be a factor, too: Inflation is much higher among female educators than it is among their male counterparts. [Ironic that women are easier graders but still get worse student evaluations.]
Meanwhile, student evaluations could incentivize instructors to give their pupils higher grades than they deserve in an effort to “buy” higher evaluation scores, the study says. [So tenured faculty should grade harder than non-tenured faculty. I wonder if that is what the data show?]
Whatever the cause, an analysis of average test scores—as well as literacy levels—over time confirms that rising GPAs are not a reflection of increasing academic achievement. Though standardized exams are certainly flawed measurements of intelligence, comparing trends in scoring with those in grades is revealing: Unlike average GPAs overall test scores have remained relatively steady over time, demonstrating that the grade inflation is artificial. Graduate literacy has also kept constant; the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that average literacy hasn’t changed since 1992." [SAT scores are stable but GPAs are rising.]

The article's conclusion is great:

We’re not in an era of strong, moral ethical leadership in higher education,” Rojstaczer said, “Leaders are obsessed with national reputation and the size of their endowment and not very concerned about the quality of education.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hawk Roosting -- Ted Hughes

I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.
The convenience of the high trees!
The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray
Are of advantage to me;
And the earth's face upward for my inspection.
My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot
Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly -
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads -
The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right:
The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Straight Outta Compton (cover) -- Nina Gordon

Nina Gordon

The singing starts about 20 seconds in.

And here's Brian Williams' cover of the NWA classic (1988).

And the original.


Friday, January 16, 2015

The Civil War: A Narrative -- Shelby Foote

Why aren't Mr. Foote's three volumes required reading at VMI? Why isn't Homer? Or Hemingway?

"Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that there is “properly no history; only biography,” and to reread Foote is to see how the greatest historians are those who recognize that the past, like the present, is shaped by flawed, flesh-and-blood individuals, from presidents to foot soldiers. “The whole thing is wonderfully human.... In that furnace (the War) they were shown up, every one, for what they were.”
Though he dropped out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Foote was a literary man by inclination and training. One of the great readers of his age, Foote consumed Proust, Hemingway, Homer, the Russians—nothing of note seems to have escaped him. It was this immersion in the most enduring works of imaginative literature that informed his rendering of the Civil War. “The Iliad is the great model for any war book, history or novel,” he said.
Like Homer, Foote focused on two things: the clash of arms and the lives of the warriors. The grand issues of politics and diplomacy, of economics and culture, mattered less to Foote than re-creating the reality of battle. “The idea is to strike fire,” he wrote, “prodding the reader much as combat quickened the pulses of the people at the time.” Critics took Foote to task for this single-minded focus, but he believed in his approach, and stuck to it. “I think the superiority of Southern writers lies in our driving interest in just…two things, the story and the people.” In a way, Foote is one of the little-noted pioneers of the New Journalism, the movement to bring fictional technique to nonfiction subjects, elevating journalism, history, and biography to the level of literature."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Writing a Masterpiece -- Cyril Connolly

"Between autumns of 1942 and 1943, the English critic Cyril Connolly took a break from writing articles and set out to write a masterpiece. This, he wrote on the first page of his book, is the true function of a writer. Nothing else is of consequence. “How few writers will admit it,” he wrote “or having drawn the conclusion, will be prepared to lay aside the piece of iridescent mediocrity on which they have embarked! …. Every excursion into journalism, broadcasting, propaganda and writing for the films, however grandiose, will be doomed to disappointment.”
“Writers always hope that their next book is going to be their best,” wrote Connolly, “and will not acknowledge that they are prevented by their present way of life from ever creating anything different.”
It was agreed that Connolly’s previous books — a satirical novel about the decadent life in the South of France, a collection of essays — had not been masterpieces. For his third attempt, Connolly had three little notebooks and a “private grief” to help him. What makes a masterpiece, wrote Connolly, are the following: A love of life and nature; an interest in, mingled with contempt for humanity; and a lack of belief in the idea of progress. The Odes and Epistles of Horace, the essays of Montaigne, the poems of Leopardi, the Pensées of Pascal. All of these masterpieces represented for Connolly “a self to which he is afraid of confessing.”"

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Academic Psychology's Leftist Conformity -- Jonathan Haidt

From Robert Trasincki's recent piece in The Federalist:

"A recent study that has been making the rounds argues that “academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years.” The paper examines historical data and concludes that party and ideological affiliation in university psychology departments used to be split close to 50-50. By the 1960s, the ratio of Left to Right had climbed to about 4-to-1, and then in the 1990s academia was transformed. Conservatives were chased out, and current left-to-right ratios are estimated at 11-to-1 or higher.
Jonathan Haidt, the lead author of the study, is an honest liberal who admits—and the paper goes on to demonstrate this—that the dominance of the Left distorts the scientific output of academic psychologists. When there are no dissenting voices, it’s a lot easier to confirm each others’ biases.
I’m pretty confident you would get similar results for most other academic disciplines. When I was in college in the late 1980s and early 90s, my sense was that there was a generation of elderly scholars holding the line against “political correctness”—the term had just become popular—but as they retired or died, the new orthodoxy was taking over among their replacements. I’ve seen the same thing elsewhere: an older generation who are at the very least non-ideological and apolitical, followed by a younger generation who are steeped in the neo-Marxist dogmas of “race, class, and gender.”"

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Un peuple se leve

This is a communist paper (yes, they have those in France), covering Sunday's mass rallies in France ("Je suis Charlie"). They are probably just referencing Francine de la Gorce's book, "A People Rises: 1963-1968," but I wonder if they caught the other reference (see below). Being atheists, I would think not. The Biblical reference is a hell of a lot more frightening, especially if you are an Islamist living in France.

Numbers 23:24

"C'est un peuple qui se lève comme une lionne, Et qui se dresse comme un lion; Il ne se couche point jusqu'à ce qu'il ait dévoré la proie, Et qu'il ait bu le sang des blessés."

"The people rise like a lioness; they rouse themselves like a lion that does not rest till it devours its prey and drinks the blood of its victims."

File:Holman Balaam and the Angel.jpg


Monday, January 12, 2015

Suicide by Cop -- Posthumous Apology by Victim

Washington Post
"Those who commit suicide by cop don’t usually have the chance to apologize. But a man killed by police in San Francisco on Jan. 4 after he threatened them with what turned out to be an air gun has done just that.
“Please, don’t blame yourself,” read a note to police found on the cellphone of Matthew Hoffman, the 32-year-old man who was killed Sunday, as the Associated Press reported. “I used you. I took advantage of you.”
Hoffman staged a standoff with police in the parking lot of a police station. When he brandished the gun, two officers shot him a total of three times. 
“You did nothing wrong,” Hoffman’s note said, as SF Gate reported. “You ended the life of a man who was too much of a coward to do it himself … I provoked you. I threatened your life as well as the lives of those around me.”"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Summer 1969 -- Seamus Heaney

While the Constabulary covered the mob   
Firing into the Falls, I was suffering
Only the bullying sun of Madrid.
Each afternoon, in the casserole heat
Of the flat, as I sweated my way through   
The life of Joyce, stinks from the fishmarket   
Rose like the reek off a flax-dam.
At night on the balcony, gules of wine,
A sense of children in their dark corners,
Old women in black shawls near open windows,   
The air a canyon rivering in Spanish.
We talked our way home over starlit plains   
Where patent leather of the Guardia Civil   
Gleamed like fish-bellies in flax-poisoned waters.

‘Go back,’ one said, ‘try to touch the people.’   
Another conjured Lorca from his hill.
We sat through death-counts and bullfight reports   
On the television, celebrities
Arrived from where the real thing still happened.

I retreated to the cool of the Prado.   
Goya’s ‘Shootings of the Third of May’   
Covered a wall—the thrown-up arms   
And spasm of the rebel, the helmeted   
And knapsacked military, the efficient   
Rake of the fusillade. In the next room,
His nightmares, grafted to the palace wall—
Dark cyclones, hosting, breaking; Saturn   
Jewelled in the blood of his own children,   
Gigantic Chaos turning his brute hips   
Over the world. Also, that holmgang
Where two berserks club each other to death   
For honour’s sake, greaved in a bog, and sinking.
He painted with his fists and elbows, flourished
The stained cape of his heart as history charged.
British troops in Belfast, 1969

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Father and Son -- Cat Stevens


 It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

 How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

 It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them you know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Corrupt ex-Governor Bob McDonnell sentenced to two years in prison!

PHOTO: Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are pictured in a Ferrari in this image submitted as evidence during their corruption trial.
Lesson: If you are a governor, don't ask someone who is seeking to profit from his association with you to use his Smith Mountain Lake summer house and drive his Ferrari while you are there. That's called a quid pro quo. This photo was an Exhibit in McDonnell's federal prosecution.

"Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell asked a judge for mercy for his wife, as well as himself, before being sentenced to two years in prison for public corruption.
A jury in September convicted the McDonnells of corruption for taking more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from wealthy vitamin entrepreneur Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his products.
Prosecutors originally sought a sentence of more than 10 years for Bob McDonnell, whose lawyers recommended three years of community service.
McDonnell is the first Virginia governor, and the 12th nationally, convicted of corruption, federal officials said."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jumpers -- Tad Friend (2003)

Good thing Kim Novak didn't jump off the bridge; Jimmy Stewart wouldn't have been able to save her.

This great New Yorker article is required reading in my Abnormal Psychology course:

"As Joseph Strauss, the chief engineer of the Golden Gate, watched his beloved suspension bridge rise over San Francisco Bay in the nineteen-thirties, he could not imagine that anyone would use it without due care for its designated purpose. “Who would want to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge?” he told reporters. At the bridge’s opening ceremony, in May of 1937, Strauss read a statement in a low voice, his hands trembling. “What Nature rent asunder long ago man has joined today,” he said. The class poet at Ohio University, class of ’91, Strauss also wrote an ode to mark the occasion:
As harps for the winds of heaven, 
My web-like cables are spun; 
I offer my span for the traffic of man,
At the gate of the setting sun. 
Three months later, a forty-seven-year-old First World War veteran named Harold Wobber turned to a stranger on the walkway, announced, “This is as far as I go,” and hopped over the rail. His body was never found. The original design called for the rail to be five and a half feet high, but this was lowered to four feet in the final blueprint, for reasons that are lost to history. The bridge’s chief engineer, Mervin Giacomini, who recently retired, told me half seriously that Strauss’s stature—he was only five feet tall—may have been a factor in the decision. Known as “the little man who built the big bridge,” Strauss may simply have wanted to be able to see over its side.
In May, 1938, Strauss died of a heart attack, likely brought on by the stress of seeing the bridge to completion. A plaque dedicated to him at the southern end of the bridge a few months later declared the span “a promise indeed that the race of man shall endure unto the ages”; at that point, six people had already jumped off. And at the dedication ceremony A. R. O’Brien, the bridge’s director, delivered a notably dark eulogy. Strauss “put everything he had” into the bridge’s construction, O’Brien said, “and out of its completion he got so little. . . . The Golden Gate Bridge, for my dead friend, turned out to be a mute monument of misery.” 
In the years since the bridge’s dedication, Harold Wobber’s flight path has become well worn. I spent a day reading through clippings about Golden Gate Bridge suicides in the San Francisco Public Library, hundreds of two- or three-inch tales of woe from the Chronicle, the Examiner, the Call-Bulletin: “police said he was despondent over domestic affairs”; “medical discharge from the army”; “jobless butcher”; “the upholstery still retaining the warmth of the driver’s body”; “saying ‘goodbye’ four times and looking ‘very sad’ ”; “ ‘sick at heart’ over the treatment of Jewish relatives in Germany”; “the baby’s cries apparently irritated him past endurance”; “footprints on the fog-wet girders were found early today”; “using his last nickel to scratch a farewell on the guard railing.” The coverage intensified in 1973, when the Chronicle and the Examiner initiated countdowns to the five-hundredth recorded jumper. Bridge officials turned back fourteen aspirants to the title, including one man who had “500” chalked on a cardboard sign pinned to his T-shirt. The eventual “winner,” who eluded both bridge personnel and local-television crews, was a commune-dweller tripping on LSD.In 1995, as No. 1,000 approached, the frenzy was even greater. A local disk jockey went so far as to promise a case of Snapple to the family of the victim. That June, trying to stop the countdown fever, the California Highway Patrol halted its official count at 997. In early July, Eric Atkinson, age twenty-five, became the unofficial thousandth; he was seen jumping, but his body was never found.
Ken Holmes, the Marin County coroner, told me, “When the number got to around eight hundred and fifty, we went to the local papers and said, ‘You’ve got to stop reporting numbers.’ ” Within the last decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology have also issued guidelines urging the media to downplay the suicides. The Bay Area media now usually report bridge jumps only if they involve a celebrity or tie up traffic. “We weaned them,” Holmes said. But, he added, “the lack of publicity hasn’t reduced the number of suicides at all.”"



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Most Doctors Don't Listen to Patients

"Dr. Martin" is the vignette below is in all likelihood a clinical psychologist. We rule.

"HARRISBURG, Pa. — BETSY came to Dr. Martin for a second — or rather, a sixth — opinion. Over a year, she had seen five other physicians for a “rapid heartbeat” and “feeling stressed.” After extensive testing, she had finally been referred for psychological counseling for an anxiety disorder.
The careful history Dr. Martin took revealed that Betsy was taking an over-the-counter weight loss product that contained ephedrine. (I have changed their names for privacy’s sake.) When she stopped taking the remedy, her symptoms also stopped. Asked why she hadn’t mentioned this information before, she said she’d “never been asked.” Until then, her providers would sooner order tests than take the time to talk with her about the problem.

[C]ommunication failure (rather than a provider’s lack of technical skill) was at the root of over 70 percent of serious adverse health outcomes in hospitals.
A doctor’s ability to explain, listen and empathize has a profound impact on a patient’s care. Yet, as one survey found, two out of every three patients are discharged from the hospital without even knowing their diagnosis. Another study discovered that in over 60 percent of cases, patients misunderstood directions after a visit to their doctor’s office. And on average, physicians wait just 18 seconds before interrupting patients’ narratives of their symptoms."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What are the obligations of citizenship?

Socrates knew his civic duty. He didn't make a fetish of his civil rights.

Note that 75% of Americans said that voting is "a very important obligation," but only 36% of eligible voters showed up at the most recent national election. It would be interesting to see what people would spontaneously volunteer if they were asked, "What are your RIGHTS as an American citizen?" The following question should be, "What are your DUTIES as an American citizen?"

Interesting to recall what the Athenians considered the duties of citizenship: Being married, having children, being financially independent, owning the arms necessary to defend the city, training regularly in the use of those arms, and participating in debates in the assembly.

ABC News
"An Associated Press-GfK poll repeated questions asked in 1984 about six civic-minded activities: voting, volunteering, serving on a jury, reporting crime, knowing English and keeping informed about news and public issues.
Of the six, only voting and volunteering were embraced about as strongly as three decades ago, when NORC at the University of Chicago posed those questions to Americans on the General Social Survey, but volunteering doesn't rank very high on the list for many.
While just 28 percent say volunteering is "a very important obligation" that a citizen owes the country, three-fourths of Americans consider voting central to citizenship.
Nonetheless, only about 36 percent of eligible voters turned out for November's midterms, according to University of Florida Associate Professor Michael P. McDonald's analysis. That's the lowest since World War II.
Despite some sliding, Americans still think U.S. citizenship carries some duties as well as rights.
About 9 out of 10 say that reporting a crime you witness, voting in elections, knowing English and serving on a jury when called are at least "somewhat important" obligations.
And each of those is still rated "very important" by a majority. It's just that, except in the case of voting, those majorities have slipped by an average of about 13 percentage points.
"There are a lot of arguments about how our society has shifted toward a rights focus instead of an obligation focus," said Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center. But Keeter isn't convinced there's enough evidence to support that conclusion.
"It's a little early to pull the alarm bells about the demise of our civic culture," he said.
Young people are feeling less dutiful, or maybe just showing their libertarian streak.
In every category except volunteering, adults under 30 were less likely than their elders to see any obligation, and also felt less obliged than young people of the past.
In 2014 about a fourth of them said there's no duty to keep informed, volunteer or speak English."

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Tragedy of the American Military -- James Fallows


James Fallows has a lot worth reading in this article, from our popular culture's unfortunate inability to poke fun at the military, to the corrosive influence of the military-industrial complex (F-35, anyone?). He also repeats the observation that despite the repeated failures to achieve victory in either Iraq or Afghanistan, not a single American commander has been relieved of a combat command since at least 2001.
"Ours is the best-equipped fighting force in history, and it is incomparably the most expensive. By all measures, today’s professionalized military is also better trained, motivated, and disciplined than during the draft-army years. No decent person who is exposed to today’s troops can be anything but respectful of them and grateful for what they do.
Yet repeatedly this force has been defeated by less modern, worse-equipped, barely funded foes. Or it has won skirmishes and battles only to lose or get bogged down in a larger war. Although no one can agree on an exact figure, our dozen years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and neighboring countries have cost at least $1.5 trillion; Linda J. Bilmes, of the Harvard Kennedy School, recently estimated that the total cost could be three to four times that much.
Yet from a strategic perspective, to say nothing of the human cost, most of these dollars might as well have been burned. “At this point, it is incontrovertibly evident that the U.S. military failed to achieve any of its strategic goals in Iraq,” a former military intelligence officer named Jim Gourley wrote recently for Thomas E. Ricks’s blog, Best Defense. “Evaluated according to the goals set forth by our military leadership, the war ended in utter defeat for our forces.” In 13 years of continuous combat under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the longest stretch of warfare in American history, U.S. forces have achieved one clear strategic* success: the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Their many other tactical victories, from overthrowing Saddam Hussein to allying with Sunni tribal leaders to mounting a “surge” in Iraq, demonstrated great bravery and skill. But they brought no lasting stability to, nor advance of U.S. interests in, that part of the world. When ISIS troops overran much of Iraq last year, the forces that laid down their weapons and fled before them were members of the same Iraqi national army that U.S. advisers had so expensively yet ineffectively trained for more than five years."

*I would characterize the assassination of OBL as more of a symbolic victory than a "strategic" one. I would also characterize the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as "strategic," not merely tactical. But it's a damned shame we didn't immediately partition Iraq into three countries, install puppet strongmen, and then get the hell out of there by 2005.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Things to Remember -- William Blake (1757-1827)

A Robin Redbreast in a cage,
Puts all Heaven in a rage.

A skylark wounded on the wing
Doth make a cherub cease to sing.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.                  


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cannonball -- The Breeders (1993)

Yeah, they're identical twins.

Check, check, check
One, two, one, two
Spitting in a wishing well
Blown to hell, crash
I'm the last splash

 I know you, little Libertine
I know you're a real koo koo
Want you, koo koo, cannonball
Want you, koo koo, cannonball

 Hey now in the shade, in the shade
Hey now in the shade, in the shade
I know you, little Libertine
I know you're a cannonball

 I'll be your whatever you want
The bong in this reggae song
Hey now in the shade
Hey now in the shade

 Want you, koo koo, cannonball
Want you, koo koo, cannonball
Spitting in a wishing well
Blown to hell, crash
 I'm the last splash

 I'll be your whatever you want
The bong in this reggae song
Want you, koo koo, cannonball
Want you, koo koo, cannonball

 Hey now in the shade, in the shade
Hey now in the shade, in the shade

Deal, Kim

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pepper -- Butthole Surfers (1996)

Mikey got with Sharon, Sharon got Sheriee
She was sharin' Sharon's outlook on the topic of disease
Mikey had a facial scar and Bobby was a racist
They were all in love with dyin' they were doin' it in Texas
Tommy played piano like a kid out in the rain
Then he lost his leg in Dallas he was dancin' with the train
They were all in love with dyin' they were drinkin' from a fountain
That was pouring like an avalanche coming down the mountain

 I don't mind the sun sometimes the images it shows
I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes
Cinnamon and sugar-y and softly spoken lies
You never know just how you look through other people's eyes
Some will die in hot pursuit and fiery auto crashes
Some will die in hot pursuit while sifting through my ashes
Some will fall in love with life and drink it from a fountain
That is pouring like an avalanche coming down the mountain

 I don't mind the sun sometimes the images it shows
I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes
Cinnamon and sugar-y and softly spoken lies
You never know just how you look through other people's eyes
Another Mikey took a knife while arguing in traffic
Flipper died a natural death he caught a nasty virus
Then there was the ever-present football player rapist
They were all in love with dyin' they were doin' it in Texas
Paulie caught a bullet but it only hit his leg
While it should have been a better shot he got him in the head
They were all in love with dyin' they were drinkin' from a fountain
That was pouring like an avalanche coming down the mountain

 I don't mind the sun sometimes the images it shows
I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes
Cinnamon and sugar-y and softly spoken lies
You never know just how you look through other people's eyes


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wot -- Captain Sensible (1982)

Dolly Mixture -- the background singers on this track

When I woke up this morning I was feelin' fine
But this cat starts banging man what a swine
So I called reception but to no avail
That's why I'm telling you this sorry tale

It went bang, I said, "Shut up"
It went bang, I said, "Rap up"

Well, I'm aware that the guy must do his work
But the pile driver man drove me berserk

He said, "Captain", I said, "Wot?"
He said, "Captain", I said, "Wot?"
He said, "Captain", I said, "Wot?"
He said, "Captain", I said, "Wot do you want?"

Once a lifetime, twice a day
If you don't work you get no pay
I been to the east, I been to the west
But the girls I like best are the ones undressed

Well, hello Adam, where you been?
I said, "A'stand aside 'cause I'm feelin' mean"
I've had a gutful of you and I'm feelin' bad
'Cause you're an ugly old pirate and ain't I glad

He said, "Captain", I said, "Wot?"
He said, "Captain", I said, "Wot?"