mm123: Classical music II — one more time, with wood

August 31, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Danger! Western Cultural

Treasures Content!

Run Away!

So, I was cruising the blogs at BlogExplosion.com and I found this one, courtesy of YouTube, via Subbie.

When I’m all by myself, I seldom LOL. This video, I did laugh out loud.


YouTube – Rachmaninov had big Hands

So, last post, somehow I left Rachmaninov off (no, I’m not stuttering) of my desert island list. Inexplicable. What a genius.

The music, by the way, his Prelude, Op.3 No.2 In C Sharp Minor. Here’s a great recording performed by the incomparable Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Anyway, this video made my day. Pretty good for a couple minutes, huh?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Non-commercial Note!: the link to Amazon.com used above is for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. Deal with it.

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mm122: Simone Dinnerstein plays the Goldberg Variations. – By Evan Eisenberg – Slate Magazine

August 30, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Danger! Western Cultural

Treasures Content!

Run Away!

Did you ever read a novel, a newspaper or magazine article, a blog posting and say: “Wow, I wish I could write like that!”?

I had one of those WIWICWLT! moments the other day, when I encountered this outstanding music review in Slate. And, I don’t usually read music reviews, in Slate, or anywhere else.

Evan Eisenberg absolutely made me want to get out there and buy the music CD described. And believe MUDGE when he tells you that purchasing a classical music CD is probably the least likely act he might have been tempted to commit in these budget constrained times before reading this story.

Move over Glenn Gould, here’s Simone Dinnerstein.

By Evan Eisenberg
Posted Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, at 3:54 PM ET

Goldberg Variations

slate

The year was 1955. Three things happened: Albert Einstein died, and Glenn Gould recorded the Goldberg Variations.

It is difficult to describe the impact of the second event, in part because I was a fetus at the time. (The third event, of course, was my birth.) But I will try. For those of us—beatniks, philistines, fetuses—who thought of classical music as something powdered and periwigged, that slab of vinyl struck with the force of a meteor. The stegosaurs who played Bach as if he were Lawrence Welk sniffed the heady, pomade-purged air and keeled, metaphorically, over. The Cretaceous Age of Music had ended. The Age of Gould had begun.

We hear a lot about meteoric careers, but Gould’s—his concert career—really was. In 1964, at the height and breadth of his fame, he renounced the stage to devote himself to making records. Two years later he set forth the method to his madness in an essay in High Fidelity titled “The Prospects of Recording.” In prose of a puckish fustiness as distinctive as his playing, he made three predictions: One: that recording would supplant live performance. Two: that much of the real action, musically speaking, would take place in the studio. Three: that, as technologies of sound manipulation got better and cheaper, the line between artist and audience would be smudged and maybe even—in a distant, Gouldtopian future—erased.

During the course of the lengthy read (well worth it) there are several illuminating recorded samples (I just love the the linking capabilities of the web! But you know that about me — you haven’t forgotten about the sequitur already, have you?).

Please read and enjoy.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Simone Dinnerstein plays the Goldberg Variations. – By Evan Eisenberg – Slate Magazine

My current Pandora.com addiction notwithstanding (and, I do mean an addiction — it was on all day at work, and on now as I write this; find out more here and here and even here), I am, have been, and always will be a classical music person (listener — not performer!).

Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler: my desert island fare. And, Glenn Gould was a god.

Everything else is commentary.

Sounds like the topic for a future blog post or 60.

Anyway, open up your mind and listen. Soon as post this I’m heading over to Amazon to buy the reviewed Simone Dinnerstein recording of the Goldberg Variations.

And isn’t Evan Eisenberg one hell of a writer?

Another thing: One feels that Dinnerstein was, from the start, playing for someone—unlike Gould, who played for himself and maybe, if he was in a sociable mood, Bach. Gould was one of the first classical musicians to master the mode of phonography I’ve called “cool”: Rather than reach out to the listener, he lets the listener come to him. Dinnerstein’s performance is anything but cool; it glows with a warmth that I will, with difficulty, restrain myself from calling maternal. Yet it has its own profound inwardness. Dinnerstein sheds some light on this: “When you’re pregnant, you’re aware of having somebody else there, but it’s also very much you. In a way, the most playing for yourself you could possibly do is playing with a baby inside.”

WIWICWLT!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Note!: the link to Amazon.com used above is for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. Deal with it.

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mm121: We’re fighting at least three wars in Iraq. Do you want to end them all? – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

August 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Christopher Hitchens is that guy you love to hate. His best seller, God is Not Great is currently No. 5 on the New York Times list (since one needs an account to access the list, I thought I’d just show you the pix):

hitchensbestseller

This is not some retiring violet — the man does like to pick a fight.

But yet. He does have a way of making sense.

Here he is in Slate yesterday, making sense:

slate

We’re fighting at least three of them.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, at 4:56 PM ET

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Click image to expand.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

When people say that they want to end the war in Iraq, I always want to ask them which war they mean. There are currently at least three wars, along with several subconflicts, being fought on Iraqi soil. The first, tragically, is the battle for mastery between Sunni and Shiite. The second is the campaign to isolate and defeat al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. The third is the struggle of Iraq’s Kurdish minority to defend and consolidate its regional government in the north.

The balance of the article is quite concise for Mr. Hitchens. Take a look.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

We’re fighting at least three wars in Iraq. Do you want to end them all? – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

So, no wonder the Bush administration is so confounded by Iraq. I’m sure that they have no idea that they’re fighting three different wars there!

And our prospective leaders may have the same trouble:

The ability to distinguish among these different definitions of the “war” is what ought to define the difference between a serious politician and a political opportunist, both in Iraq and in America….

Meanwhile, it is all very well for Sens. Clinton and Levin to denounce the Maliki government and to say that he and his Dawa Party colleagues are not worth fighting for. But what do they say about the other two wars?

Attention, candidates! Please learn already that the USA’s position in the world cannot be summarized in a 20-second sound byte.

What are your substantive thoughts (i.e., body text, not headlines) about the panoply of messes (some we’ve inherited, some we’ve created, some we’re just bemusedly observing) in the world?

Show us your brains, candidates! (And that goes for you putative non-candidates — Michael Bloomberg I mean you!)

Start by telling us what you think of this Christopher Hitchens analysis (I know, you wouldn’t touch his atheistic whatever with a 10-foot whatever so leave his name out of it if you must), but acknowledge that our world is more complex than ABC123.

Wouldn’t it be a wondrous achievement if we elect a president for her/his brains, not his superficialities as showcased through the expenditure of $billions in manipulative advertising and nefarious “swift boaters”?

Will I live that long?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


WcW006: Quiet before the storm

August 29, 2007

wcw1_thumb1

Web Conferencing Week

Late summer doldrums here at the Heart of Corporate America (HCA, not my employer’s real name).

One might hope that the lull in formal activities would provide some time for reflection, and so in fact it has.

As I’ve explained before (here and here and here, for example), as do most people in corporate surroundings, I wear a multitude of hats:

  • member of the IT technical team supporting collaborative tools (email, instant messaging, web conferencing);
  • teacher of our instant messaging and web conferencing tools to our internal business clients (more than 3,500 served in five years, thank you very much!);
  • “manager of the end-user experience” as defined by our vendor’s on-site support manager — while not in the direct flow of help desk activities (at least not yet), the canniest of my 3,500 students, and their underlings and bosses, know me well enough to contact me if they have issues, and since no one on the team, or in the support arena in general has anywhere the amount of experience with our tools as have I (over six hundred classes, all conducted using web conferences, plus countless mission-critical meetings facilitated throughout the enterprise), the answer to my correspondents’ questions is probably at the ready.

As teacher, I’m always running 8-10 classes per month, although during the summer average attendance is way down.

As end-user experience manager (an honorific provided by a suck-up vendor: remember, grunt that MUDGE is, he’s manager of no one) the phone just isn’t ringing very often, as people wrap up their summers before Labor Day provides the symbolic halt to all things sunscreen.

As member of the technical team, decisions are pending and work is progressing.

HCA uses for its instant messaging and web conferencing requirements IBM Lotus Sametime.

HCA has long been a Lotus shop: Its Lotus Notes product has long been handling enterprise email and its rapid application environment supports thousands of database applications and has done so here for more than 15 years. So the choice of Sametime was not a surprise in that light.

And, indeed, Sametime is a common choice for collaboration among large corporations, seeking the rock-solid enterprise grade solution similar and related to the rock-solid technology that so well supports the earlier applications: email and databases.

The best web conferencing and instant messaging choice today?

An excellent question that is not yet on the table.

Like many issues in corporate technology, the problems faced are multi-dimensional: hardware, software, the quantity of personnel applied to the task (fortunately, personnel quality is not an issue, among the talented administrators and architects that I am fortunate to work among).

Instant messaging and web conferencing at HCA exists not as the result of an organized deployment campaign, but rather more like viral marketing. It grew out of a pilot (when I joined the company, about 5½ years ago in a related but not directly connected IT position, there were nominally 800 accounts).

And the pilot became an “extended pilot” which gradually became a production system, without ever really becoming a true, bullet proof enterprise-grade product, at least as implemented here at HCA.

Insufficient servers (both in capability and in numbers), and insufficient personnel (as above, just the numbers are insufficient — the people are champions [and they won’t read this, so trust me, I’m not sucking up!]) to keep order in an operation that has grown to more than 26,000 accounts.

This number represents less than half of the available client base, because no one knows how to handle the establishment of the necessary 30,000 new accounts efficiently, much less want to confront the reality of insufficient hardware and personnel to handle the existing organically grown client base.

And, finally, the software. HCA upgraded (quite tardily) to Sametime version 6.5 about 21 months ago, and our team has been working on upgrading to the current standard version 7.5 for nearly that long (remember the tardy part).

HCA never never never never wants to be the early adopter of anyone’s hardware or software. The 100th adopter, maybe, so we delay, by time-honored policy, both IT and fiscal, until (hopefully most of) the bugs are out.

But we really need to move on this upgrade (the 2005 upgrade from long-used version 3.1 to version 6.5 was a marketing nomenclature upgrade — to the end users it looks and acts as if it’s version 3.2!), and the delay has not been HCA’s sole doing. And version 7.5 has many new and attractive and desirable features; it would be a true upgrade.

But we’re not there yet.

And therein lies an interesting story.

But this long story will need to be continued next time, because…

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm120: Study: US preparing ‘massive’ military attack against Iran | The Raw Story

August 28, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Today was collection day here at L-HC. Accumulated enough story ideas for a week at least; of course, if they’re news based, the fish get stale quickly.

Found this courtesy of reddit.com, out-digging Digg once again, and it caused me to toss the fish back, perhaps to catch another day.

This one is too important not to share.

rawstoryinvestigates

iranattack

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.

The paper, “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East” – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

Well, okay, we know that military strategists are always war-gaming, right?

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

Sounds a bit more further advanced than a theoretical game, huh?

It’s lengthy, but now take a look at the original story.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Raw Story | Study: US preparing ‘massive’ military attack against Iran

Anyone the least bit concerned about this?

Even-handedly, near the end, the report includes some push-back:

“The report seems to accept without question that US air force and navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all major military, political, economic and transport capabilities,” said Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.

“But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran, if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are.”

Back to the paper:

We should not underestimate the Bush administration’s ability to convince itself that an “Iran of the regions” will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. So, do not be in the least surprised if the United States attacks Iran. Timing is an open question, but it is hard to find convincing arguments that war will be avoided, or at least ones that are convincing in Washington.

Constant reader may already know this about MUDGE: I am not a knee-jerk pacifist peace-nik make love not war child of the sixties.

Like so many of my generation, I artfully dodged the Vietnam draft, in the interests of self-preservation rather than some lofty anti-war principles, I freely, if somewhat shamefacedly admit.

But, carefully reflected upon, carefully conducted war has its place.

My father and father-in-law, both members of the Greatest Generation and now deceased, did their duty, honorably in an honorable cause.

My son, and new daughter-in-law both served multiple tours aboard Naval vessels in the Arabian Gulf enforcing the U.N. sanctions of Iraq in the ’90’s and targeting cruise missiles against the enemy in Afghanistan.

So, it’s not knee-jerk pacifist peace-nik make love not war that is making me feel nauseous as I write this.

Forest fires, after all, are Mother Nature’s way of taking old-growth forests and starting over. Sometimes this same principle may be operative where wrong-headed nations are concerned. Turns out that Smokey the Bear and his fellow peace-loving comrades were both utterly wrong.

Unfortunately, the Muslim states have made no secret of their aim to obliterate Israel, and it’s in reaction to that virulent hatred, and that alone, that causes this observer to think: “Hmm, remove Iran’s capabilities to destroy Tel Aviv and generally make destructive mischief throughout the region? Maybe sooner than later.”

So, I’m concerned. Not because punishing Iran is a bad idea per se. To protect our interests, which include Israel’s right to exist, some punishment may be necessary.

But the gang that can’t shoot straight scares me.

If there’s a way to conduct a preemptive strike against Iran, no matter how good the reasons, we cannot trust George III and his ne’er-do-well minions to correctly consider the geopolitical ramifications, nor direct the military campaign effectively.

So I’m thinking, “Stand down, Pentagon.”

And, all you macho presidential candidates out there (and Hillary, I meant you most of all!), Iran is not the issue with which to flex your warlike muscles. The stakes are way too high for posturing, either by the Bush mis-administration, or by any of you.

This is one initiative that, unless dire reality intrudes, should get put on the shelf until, say, 21-January-2009, the earliest.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm119: Creating the sequitur

August 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Had this thought yesterday.

Any of you regular reader of this nanocorner of the blogosphere are aware that MUDGE often is slightly link-crazy.

I believe I learned this style best from one of my most regular reads, Slate.com, and good teachers they’ve been.

What linking does for yours truly, and here comes that flash of insight –drum-roll please — linking sequiturizes.

We all think we know what a non sequitur is. My new toy WordWeb says that it’s “A reply that has no relevance to what preceded it.”

So, when MUDGE pops out a comment, like this one from a recent posting…

An ambitious plan, to be executed of course by the lowest bidder.

… you don’t have to be in the dark about what I might mean by that.

Because I’ve provided a handy hyperlink to let you know exactly what I had in mind.

Wikipedia’s article goes a bit into the history of the hyperlink:

The term “hyperlink” was coined in 1965 (or possibly 1964) by Ted Nelson at the start of Project Xanadu. Nelson had been inspired by “As We May Think,” a popular essay by Vannevar Bush. In the essay, Bush described a microfilm-based machine (the Memex) in which one could link any two pages of information into a “trail” of related information, and then scroll back and forth among pages in a trail as if they were on a single microfilm reel. The closest contemporary analogy would be to build a list of bookmarks to topically related Web pages and then allow the user to scroll forward and backward through the list.

Ted Nelson was a genius — I remember reading him in the fondly remembered Byte Magazine (I was a near-charter subscriber, of course), and thinking “this man is a way out futurist.”

So, the non sequiturs will keep on coming, gang, sequiturized (must be the process of negating a non sequitur, right), by Ted Nelson’s (and of course Tim Berners-Lee‘s) marvelous hyperlinks.

New motto for this nanocorner:

proudhome

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm118: Overhaul of Air Traffic System Nears Key Step – washingtonpost.com

August 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Those of us victimized by the airlines, airport management, the TSA, too many too small aircraft in the skies (per Patrick Smith, most recently quoted here and here) can find a glimmer of hope in this report:

washingtonpost

Satellite Network Projected to Cut Flight Delays but May Take Years to Complete

By Del Quentin Wilber

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007; Page A01

The federal government is expected this week to award a contract worth more than $1 billion to build the key components of its next-generation air traffic control system — a high-tech network that officials say will alleviate chronic flight delays.

The system comes at a critical time, officials say, with flight delays at record levels and commercial aviation expected to continue growing steadily. The network will rely on satellites, rather than radar, to guide aircraft, and it is expected to allow planes to fly closer together and take more direct routes, saving fuel and time while reducing pollution. Government officials say it will also improve safety by giving controllers and pilots more precise information about planes.

An ambitious plan, to be executed of course by the lowest bidder.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Overhaul of Air Traffic System Nears Key Step – washingtonpost.com

And, of course the ADS-B system is controversial in the U.S. (happily adopted in lots of the rest of the world, but what do those gals and guys know about technology, anyway?) — everybody who wants this system in the U.S. wants someone else to pay for it.

And I can’t help but feel, the way the story is written, that the air traffic controllers union feels that should the national system be improved it will come at the expense of employment of controllers. Hey, guys, traffic’s expanding! Jobs for everyone! (Of course, if it’s just a matter of talking on a two-way satellite radio, and looking at a screen, the everyones might be working out of their homes in Bengaluru, or Shanghai, but that’s details.)

Of course, this writer will probably be more concerned about a different variety of wings by the year 2020 (if alive, I’ll only be 18 years away from retirement!), but we can all dream, can’t we?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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