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Jesse Canterbury
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Miles Davis says in his autobiography that he had talked to Hendrix about some sort of collaboration. That would've been something. It's too bad it never happened. I think Hendrix must be for guitarists like Coltrane is for saxophonists. Even if you sound nothing like him & you play very different music, he's still an influence if only in that you are basically required to know about him if you play his instrument. The influence reaches far beyond as well, though, as we've said. About your personal experience: that kind of thing happens to composers all the time. My friend -- a big sports fan -- brought a new tune to our group a few years back. Turned out a big part of it was the ESPN Sportscenter riff, almost exactly. He ended up having to change it.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2014 on 52 Guitars: Week 2 at Light On Dark Water
Hendrix was indeed among the best ever, and you hit it on the head by pointing out his influence and his blues playing. I have a book called "Forces In Motion," part-biography, part tour-diary of Anthony Braxton (avant-garde jazz guy). At one point the conversation turns to Hendrix, and everyone in Braxton's group agrees about how big of an impact he had on them. And these are very much jazz and classical players, but players with a great sort of elemental sense of what makes good music. And yes, the blues -- even on songs of his that aren't real blues tunes, he plays tons of blues guitar. So even those songs that aren't that great as songs still sometimes have some incredible guitar playing. Anyway, great post, great series.
Toggle Commented Jan 12, 2014 on 52 Guitars: Week 2 at Light On Dark Water
That quote is hilarious! Of course in that very darkly hilarious way... Von Braun et al. were way beyond US scientists at that time in their knowledge of rocket science, guidance, and so forth, so I'm sure it was deemed highly important to use their knowledge if at all possible. Also, it's sometimes difficult to tell with people like that whether they chose to stay in Germany during that period, whether they were forced to work on certain things, or what.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2011 on Oops at Light On Dark Water
I didn't say I thought causation should be inferred from what you said (nor did I infer it myself), only that what you said leads one in that direction. I think my bike example illustrates what I meant. Another way to say it is that it's misleading to string statements together in that way, as readers can infer causation where it's not intended. [I'm not saying you did it on purpose of course, I'm just trying to explain what I think happened.] Your clarification in the comments resolved that issue, but you can see why at least Alex responded the way he did. As to whether you're right about the liberal hopes own view would be that it's still too early to tell, but insofar as "liberal hopes" were for the ~30 years following desegregation, and insofar as the policies were actually followed, I would agree with you. But I've always thought it a little too-optimistic to think that things like that could change in just two generations (right? or 3? how does one count generations?). It always seemed like such a deep change would take far longer.
Toggle Commented Jun 24, 2011 on The INTS Party at Light On Dark Water
I thought New World was great too. I haven't yet seen Badlands, but The Thin Red Line just blew me away. He has a new one out, I think it's called Tree of Life. Haven't seen it yet.
Toggle Commented Jun 24, 2011 on A Couple of Recent Movies at Light On Dark Water
No, but you did say: Possibly the greatest and most tragic failure of liberal hopes in my lifetime has been the end of legal segregation; the disaster that has befallen the black family since then, and the huge percentage of young black men who are in jail... The sequence of the sentence implies or at least leads one in a causal direction to what you say about the family. Like if I said, "I left my bike outside unlocked last night. My bike was stolen." Of course I haven't said anything about when or from where my bike was stolen, but I think most readers would conclude, at least initially, that it was stolen last night from the place at which I'd left it unchained.
Toggle Commented Jun 24, 2011 on The INTS Party at Light On Dark Water
It doesn't have a lot of crap in it about postmodernism and this sort of thing. That in itself is a great recommendation. :)
Toggle Commented Jun 24, 2011 on A Couple of Recent Movies at Light On Dark Water
Yeah, I don't know that guy, the magazine, or the author, so I didn't know the background. Anyway, I guess that's the trouble with the term "avant garde" -- it means & has meant different things to different people at different points in time.
My only quibble here is this: shocking the middle class has been a cherished goal of the avant garde since the birth of the movement in the nineteenth century Seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I don't think it was the cherished goal of the likes of Debussy, Satie, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Picasso, Dali, etc., to shock the middle class. That lineage can, IMO, be extended up through present day.
I had to read the title of this post a couple of times. Initially I assumed you were asking, "why is the prediction of weather so often wrong?" For which I'd immediately mentally prepared a long list of explanations about the nonlinearity of fluid dynamics, etc. Then upon rereading I realized you're asking "why is the weather so often wrong?" Which is rather a different question.
There's so much to like about this post!!! That rendition of the Debussy is awesome and sometimes comical in the way of some of those very early forays into electronic music. And the clip of Star Hustler actually takes me back a little bit too. I love his enthusiasm, and I love the fact that he walks down the rings. Gotta love the outfit, too. I searched "Debussy images" -- apparently it is a young & rather Spock-like Debussy: Hopefully you all can see that.
"We should seek the greatest value of our action." Didn't read the piece, but as a physicist Hawking should be aware that all processes minimize the value of the action. In seeking our action's greatest values, we would be causing ourselves lots of stress through inefficiencies, difficulties in sustaining unstable configurations, etc. (That's a physics joke, I hope I got it right. :)) [BTW, it's Stephen.]
Very glad you're finding the book useful & inspiring. :) The juxtaposition with the Bergman interviews is great, too. I've definitely heard the thing about routine many times before, about many different artists, and it is absolutely a practical (i.e. useful) solution...helps to hone the craft of creating, which ends up being 95% of the work. As my composer friend says, "everybody has ideas."
Toggle Commented May 17, 2011 on Art and Fear at Light On Dark Water
Janet -- hilarious! Mac: I'm not disputing that it happens, I just don't think it's as pervasive as you seem to think. You make it sound like college campuses (or more broadly college experiences) are like islands of debauchery where anything goes, where if one were to take a tour of a college campus on a typical Friday night, one would see people running completely wild, engaging openly in unspeakable acts, abusing all kinds of drugs, and so forth. I don't think I'm being naive in saying that I don't think that's an accurate picture -- I've had experience now at 4 different giant state schools, spread across the country, and have yet to see anything like what you describe. Again, just to be clear -- I'm not saying that level of debauchery is not there, I'm just saying that in my experience it's confined to particular segments of the student population. Also, this kind of thing may be a LOT more pervasive than it was 50 years ago -- I don't know much about what colleges looked like in 1960. From your perspective, by way of comparison to 1960, perhaps colleges do look like what I said above. I'm also quite skeptical of the idea that a school's exclusivity has anything to do with the amount of substance abuse etc. on campus. I've heard pretty crazy stories coming out of MIT, Rice, Reed, and the like. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if "partying" were in fact much more pervasive per capita on those campuses than on big state school campuses. [Plus, you should see the graduate students in my [top-ranked] department here -- sheesh, can they drink!!!] I agree that "party" is kind of a dumb word. I certainly feel silly writing it...but for this discussion, maybe it's useful as shorthand. Dave: Good point about experience. I've spent a lot of time in academia, and only recently became aware that for companies experience is typically (I think) valued far more than a degree. But it does help in that early part of a career. seemed to be making a point about relative standards between public and private schools. I think that's probably true comparing colleges that attract similar types of students (i.e., excluding smaller private schools that attract a more regional student population, and which may not actually be very exclusive). In my experience, and comparing my experience with friends who went to smaller, more exclusive private schools, it was all about the quality of the students. At my state school, I was typically 1 of 4 or 5 students doing good work in a class of, say, 20 (for my junior/senior level classes). My friends at those other schools were 1 of 20 -- in a class of 20 -- doing good work. I still got my butt kicked by school, but I still got good grades because the average standard was a bit lower.
Toggle Commented May 6, 2011 on A Higher Education Bubble? at Light On Dark Water
Well, "a large number" and "a minority" aren't necessarily different quantities. Meh. Of course I meant that I think the number of students for whom college consists almost solely of partying is small. And no, I don't mean small like 10^-800. Anyway, I didn't mean that's *all* it is even for those--the ones who do nothing else flunk out pretty quickly, obviously. I don't think it's an unfair generalization about weekends on a typical college campus, though. Well, you said "college" -- no time boundaries given, like the weekends you mention here. [And anyway, doesn't that describe weekends for a lot more people than college students? Ever hang out with lawyers?] And you said "accurately." How else could I take it? Unless you were joking, in which case I apologize for completely missing it. :) Louise, no argument from me with what you said, except I do think that engineering is not by definition less noble of a pursuit than philosophy. But that's another topic. Mac, about the masters thing. I was basically trying to say that in terms of monetary value to be extracted post-degree, the MA is the new BA. I think the humanities comparisons are beside the point, as long as the argument is about money. In the past, if someone got a BS in say, mechanical engineering, it carried some weight. Nowadays, as you guys have been saying, and I agree, it's more like a trade degree. For a mechanical engineer to distinguish himself, he must now have a masters. This I think holds for many fields, not just sci/tech fields. Witness the MBA, for example. Even in the arts -- artists with an MFA are far more likely to be able to get a job doing art or art-related stuff than someone with a BA. Same for music. This question of "value" -- I'm taking that to mean a pretty purely monetary thing, as that seemed to be what a large part of the post was about. In terms of wisdom, maturity, and so forth -- yeah, that's very much related but a little different & not what I meant to address.
Toggle Commented May 5, 2011 on A Higher Education Bubble? at Light On Dark Water
Oh by the way, another comment. I think most people seeing the declining value of a 4-year degree are opting to continue on to get advanced degrees of various stripes, most frequently masters. This has been going on for a long time, and I'm sure it will continue.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2011 on A Higher Education Bubble? at Light On Dark Water
College here has been described, accurately for a large number of students, as "summer camp with alcohol, sex, drugs, and no grownups." I have to take issue with that. I understand what you mean, but I would rephrase as "accurately for a minority of students." I attended a big party school, and sure, there was a ton of that, but those that graduated got educations -- they didn't just drift through without learning anything. Some do, yes -- but not a large number. In fact, I would say most graduating students end up serious about their lives, at least to some degree. Those that really only party tend not to graduate. That's of course separate from the question of the worth/relevance/etc. of what they studied, which was what most of your main post was about, and with which I mostly agreed.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2011 on A Higher Education Bubble? at Light On Dark Water
FYI, I thought the Letterman thing was hilarious because when I thought of "who let the dogs out," I thought of a generally chaotic mess of beings, running around barking at each other, and not necessarily convincing anyone (including each other) of any one individual's merits. This interpretation was, I felt, supported by the random weirdness of Kalter's dancing around, etc. Never thought of the skit as referring to the candidates as actual dogs, which seems...nonsensical. But even if it had -- it's a comedy show.
Toggle Commented Apr 26, 2011 on Trump for President? at Light On Dark Water
Throughout the 2000 election campaign, Dave Letterman was doing a skit in which he would simply say, "and now for our presidential election round-up," and then the band would play "Who Let the Dogs Out?" while the show's announcer, Alan Kalter, ran around the stage, through the audience, sometimes outside the building, etc., doing various weird things, like taking off his clothes, putting on costumes, and so forth. Never lasted for more than a minute or so. I thought it was a great kind of interpretive dance about the campaign, and I've felt it was just as appropriate in many of the following elections. This one is shaping up to be no exception.
Toggle Commented Apr 25, 2011 on Trump for President? at Light On Dark Water
In the Seattle area blackberries are definitely regarded as a mixed blessing. Everybody loves picking the berries & every year blackberry pies/jams/etc get passed around. But yes, they eat everything in sight and sprout huge "branches" with those giant thorns Mac mentioned. Last summer I pulled probably a total of...gees, must've been at least 100 feet...of blackberry, and that was from a neighbor's plant that had shot several long tendrils into our yard.
Toggle Commented Mar 28, 2011 on A Few Spring Images at Light On Dark Water
In my mind, using the lower number to say, in effect, "hey look, it's not that bad" would be a bit irresponsible when much higher levels have already been measured. It's like saying during a thunderstorm, "sure g'head and run across that open field -- chances are you won't get struck by lightning." Fortunately, the decision-makers are not making their decisions based on a chart put together by a comic-strip writer, however well-educated in science he might be. (We hope that's the case, anyway.) Presumably those people giving orders for things like evacuations, food quarantines, and the delineation of the various zones, have much more comprehensive data from which to draw conclusions.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2011 on More Sense About Radiation at Light On Dark Water
So going back to (1)...IMO it's better to work with the larger number because it represents a greater threat to human safety, which is what this hubbub is all about. An hourly dose that's that much greater than normal is good reason to evacuate the area. Even if other areas aren't seeing that same level, there's no guarantee that they won't, given the proximity to the plant and shifting winds/weather/etc. (The factor of 1000 is due mainly to the units of microsieverts [uSv, hard to type a mu] in the blue part and millisieverts [mSv] in the green, which differ by a factor of 1000.) It's true about the chart -- it contains enough flaws so as to necessitate fairly careful examination. On to (2): as described in the chart, an ill-defined location at Chernobyl still emits a few mSv/hour, a pretty dangerous level -- 25 years after the event. Fukushima is not near as bad as Chernobyl was, but they're going to be dealing with this for a long time, depending on the extent of damage. Speaking of Chernobyl -- there is still a lot of uncertainty about what exactly the long term effects are. There are studies saying that cancers linked directly to the Chernobyl event were limited to those directly exposed, while others claim many many more cases due to food & water contamination that is still being found over there. So those "safe" limits on the chart, talking about maximum permissible yearly dose and so forth -- I don't really know what that's based on. This uncertainty may be present in the fact that only at high levels (100 mSv/year) is radiation exposure definitely linked to cancer, at least as described by that chart. In the face of a lot of uncertainty about something that is dangerous, a high level of caution -- but yes, not panic -- is warranted. I agree about nuclear power, mostly. It stacks up well against other common energy sources in terms of cleanliness, effect on the environment, etc. But the fuel & waste are still pretty nasty things that I don't think we've learned how to do with effectively yet.
Toggle Commented Mar 22, 2011 on More Sense About Radiation at Light On Dark Water
Some comments about this: (1) I think some things in your first paragraph are off. The chart says the typical yearly background dose due to natural sources and medical scans is ~3.65 milliSieverts (mSv). The dose in one day at a site 50 kilometers -- 30 miles -- from Fukushima on March 17 was ~3.6 mSv according to the chart. That's a roughly a factor of 365 times the typical background dose, at a distance of 30 miles from the accident. Of course this will vary from day to day, probably mostly due to winds, but still -- it's not a place one would want to be. Levels at the reactor are no doubt much more harmful, hence the headlines you see about workers being evacuated, then let back in, etc. Also, you seem to be saying that the March 17 dose 30 miles from Fukushima -- 3.6 mSv according to the chart -- is many millionths less than that required for severe illness or death -- 2-8 Sv according to the chart. But milli (prefix m) means 1/1000, not 1/1000000. (2) As a consequence of (1): One must be careful to include the time of exposure in reporting the radiation levels, and this is why many sources report radiation levels in units of Sieverts/hour. I just read that exposure levels "at the site" (whatever that means -- at the gate? at the reactor?) are currently 2 mSv per hour. Thus in 50 hours' time -- just over two full days or just over a week of 8-hour days -- standing at the same site at Fukushima will get you a cumulative dose of 100 mSv -- which is the dose definitively linked to increased cancer risk, according to the chart. Even though levels seem to be decreasing, the workers at the plant are and have been in pretty serious danger, there is no doubt about that -- dosages at their worksites are undoubtedly higher than that 2 mSv figure. (3) About harm to the US. I agree that there's been a lot of hysteria. There's a difference, I believe, between "radiation" and "radioactive material." Yes, we are a long way from Japan, but the relevant thing to consider for possible danger to the US is not radiation that originates at the site, but rather radiation emitted from radioactive material that has spread from the site. If a giant ball of radioactive smoke from Fukushima managed to make it over here intact, it would be just as dangerous as it had been over there. The thing keeping us safe from such a scenario isn't the inverse-square law you described, but rather the large amount of turbulent mixing and diffusion that occurs in weather patterns between here and Japan. I think people over there are right to be very concerned, but I agree with you that the risk here is minimal, and the hysteria in the US has gotten sort of, well, hysterical. I think it has to do mainly with (a) what-ifs -- people asking what if a similar thing happened here; and (b) the fact that anything with the words "nuclear" and "radiation" in it will always carry a shadow. (b) is undoubtedly the driving force behind much of the concern.
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2011 on More Sense About Radiation at Light On Dark Water
I think this sentence that you quoted is the one that started me thinking about Sokal: “Within the world, beauty does not merely adorn an alien space, or cross the distance as a wayfarer, but is the true form of that distance, constituting it, as the grammar of difference.” Of course, it's taken out of context, but it reminded me of the excerpts in Sokal's book, in that it seems to be using everyday concepts but in a metaphorical/literary/whatever world that is so far removed from experience as to be almost a novel in itself. In fact, I remember a conversation from a long time ago with a friend (who by now must be a professor of literary theory somewhere), in which he tried in vain to teach me how nonfiction is in fact no different from a novel, something he'd learned in his postmodern theory classes. I can see now how there might be some truth to that, but only in a very vague and impractical (perhaps "in principle") sense, and I don't have much sympathy or use for it. Of course, I'm totally willing to accept the proposition that I'm just ignorant and/or naive. I've spent very little time even attempting to study this sort of thing, so I probably shouldn't even be commenting. :-\
Was this perhaps his dissertation? Even if not, it seems that this book might've been meant for a much more specialized audience. This will probably sound too needlessly dismissive, but I say cut your losses, refresh yourself with Alan Sokal's book (as applicable here as to Sokal's particular targets, it seems), and move on to something from which you'll get more information.