Saturday, October 19, 2013

Anyone Who Thinks The New Atheists Could Flip Texas Is Delusional

Joan Walsh has an excellent column in Salon in which she debunks the absurd stories about how in the aftermath of the tea party almost crashing the bus off the mountainside, the adults are reasserting control of the Republican Party.  She makes a pretty conclusive case that they haven't and they aren't going to, the "adults" in the Republican party were either in on the joy ride in the dark or they are not making the slightest move to reign in the 12-year-olds.   She goes into a bit of detail about how the freest press in history is lying in such a way so as to benefit the Republicans, naming a few of the hundreds of names that could be dropped on that count.  She also points out that the big money donors who are the imaginary unseen hands that will right the GOP are quite invested in the tea baggers and showing little sign of shifting their support.

Walsh's solution is a simple one,  attack the Republicans who voted for default and throw them out of office.  A more brilliant strategy has never been stated, it is made in view of the past six years of the complete failure to reason with them, to placate them, to appease them, to let them have their way.  That is, in effect the mainstream media solution to the problem,  just let them drive the bus one more time and they'll have learned their lesson.   And a stupider idea could not be had, they were the ones who almost wrecked it in 2008 leading to Democrats holding the government, briefly., That is until the media supported the billionaire financed, astro-turfing operation that the tea party was, giving them enough of the artificial legitimacy that media buzz can give something like that.   The same media folks and operations that are now lying about the Republicans having been made to finally, at long last, after going on forty years of being irresponsible brats, growing up fast.

No, the only way to deal with the Republicans is to attack them and defeat them. And that means those who have brought us to this stage.  Democrats have to turn being a Republican into even more of a political burden than it already is, especially those who have given us the long running Washington DC series of massive irresponsibility.   Walsh say it best:

They need to make clear: The 144 House members and 19 senators are the Default Caucus, and they can’t be trusted to do the right thing for the country. We already know this: “Responsible” Republicans can’t be trusted to do the right thing and stop their colleagues. We’ve already seen how well that worked in 2012.


One thing that fits in with the theme of my last post is her pointing out the possibility that Texas could flip within the next two years to be a Democratic state, once again.  Demographics almost certainly show that is likely to happen.

Even Ted Cruz ought to worry. He’s probably running for president, but if he doesn’t, or if he runs and loses (as he surely would), by 2018 his Texas Senate seat shouldn’t even be safe anymore. Democrats should play their hand well enough to turn Texas blue again.

Texas may turn "blue" again but it will be a different color blue than many on the left believe is the true blue but is merely their preferred shade.   It will be a blue based, not on affluent white people with educations from elite institutions, sharing the common received POV of the class they aspire to or reside in, it will be based on the emerging "minority majority."   That majority will consist of a lot of people who take religion seriously and who will be turned off by the kind of talk that is the default on so-called liberal blogs.   We could blow that opportunity by indulging in exactly the kind of hate talk that is so frequently my theme.  Since it is aimed at the majority of even the white population, it is a political loser.

Keep in mind, while looking at that pie chart, a lot of the people in the "religiously unaffiliated" slice include people like me who are religious but who aren't counted as such by the Pew analysis.

Aim hate talk and, even more damaging, arrogant condescension at the religions of the minorities that will have to constitute that all important new majority in a state like Texas and you could lose the greatest opportunity to turn out politics back from Republican-corporate rule in the past fifty years.

My fear is that the spoiled brats on the Democratic side who insist on a line that has all of the immaturity, stupidity, pointless offensiveness of the tea party but, which, lacking the money backing those brats had has never won an election.   They have every chance of blowing this by indulging in that kind of arrogant junk. The irony - and when discussing this "me party" we always have to count on irony - is that, while doing that, they believe they are the embodiment of intellect and reason and liberal values.   But the history of the past fifty years, real life, the real and only true means of discerning that kind of political truth, proves the opposite. They aren't the ones making demands and getting away with it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dionisio Aguado Andante and Rondo in a minor, op 2 #2

Michael LeFevre Guitar

Score  beginning on page 5

A None's Story: An Example of The Consistent Misrepresentation of Survey Results In The Media

During a cancelled lesson today, I turned on the radio and heard one of my pet peeves.  I've heard this one often enough that it can set my teeth on edge.  The misrepresentation of the Pew Forum results, equating being not formally belonging to a religious denomination with atheism, equating being included in their category "Nones" with atheism or agnosticism shows several things.  

One is that the persons citing the Pew studies including that concept clearly haven't read the study closely enough to represent it honestly.  If they read what they are pretending to cite, they would read that it says the opposite of how they characterize it.

However, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.

I have more than just a passing annoyance with what this proves about the superficiality of the news media and reporting, you see, I happen to be one of those inserted into this artificial construct, "Nones" since I don't officially belong to any denomination and I don't regularly attend religious services of any kind.   

John Hockenberry on The Takeaway and virtually every single other person in the media and every atheist I've ever read online who refers to this group misrepresents the finding.  Here is how they presented it:

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a full 1 in 4 millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000, do not affiliate with any faith. They haven't just lapsed in observance, but have chosen to leave organized religion altogether.

Why are atheism and agnosticism on the rise? And what does it take to go against your family's faith?

They conflate being unaffiliated with being atheist or agnostic, despite what the findings they base that on show.  That happening with the frequency it does  certainly has the feel of an agenda being served.   I suspect some of that is due to the widespread hostility towards Christianity among the would-be intelligentsia who staff the media.  Though one of my ground level prerequisites for inclusion in that artificial group would be that they actually read what they cite and that they cite it accurately.  

Another thing is that atheism is still somewhat fashionable, though I think that fad is passing.  If, after a decade of the snarky, mendacious, inaccurate and bigoted and massive hate-talk against religion, atheists still fail to top 3% in one of the most popular surveys cited by atheists, themselves, it's just not taking the way that atheists want so very desperately to believe it is. 

It's clear that among the "Nones" atheism is the smallest percentage of those included in it, agnostics the next smallest part.  Together they don't comprise even a third of the group.   

One of the problems with this is that the piece done on The Takeaway was so short that nothing but a superficial, inevitably distorting presentation of it would be possible.  And it would not have fit in with the theme of the segment.   It would have been entirely more honest and responsible to leave out the Pew study than to misrepresent it.  

This is only one instance of the widespread misrepresentation of published survey results in the media but it is one that I've looked into and one of the more frequently occurring ones.  I think some of that is a problem of how Pew reports their results.  There is no real category as "Nones" that have any important cohesive commonality.  It is an artificial category that may originate in convenience but which has obviously created a distortion of reality instead of an enhancement of it.   Both Pew and the media that report on their findings are supposed to be about giving us a clearer view of the world but, clearly, they aren't. 

The Margin of the Future

I hope someday soon Barack Obama will ask himself what the past five years could have been like if he'd not tried the incredibly stupid strategy of winning by caving, of negotiating by giving everything away as an opening, of courting the votes of Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Joesph Lieberman by surrendering the first years of his administration to them instead of playing hardball.   Being a Democratic president isn't a position for on-the-job learning.  That's the lesson for the rest of us.  

If Obama can salvage what will be seen in history as a mediocre presidency of tragically wasted opportunities TWICE handed to him by the voters in his final three years remains to be seen.  He might be able to get something worthy of the receding Democratic tradition of FDR and LBJ, though his continued talk about the obscene "grand bargain" selling out that tradition will only be a continuation of his betrayal of his supporters in his never ending quest to be liked by people who hate him and want to destroy him.   I can't think of any better way for him to discourage Democrats from coming out in the always difficult mid-term election, why he was "shellacked" in 2010, I can't think of anything that would more empower his enemies and the enemies of The People.   

A while back I said that we were in the post-Obama period already.   I still think we are.  It would be a very pleasant surprise to find out that was wrong.   Obama is the only one who can prove it wrong.  I have no confidence that's what he will do but I wish he would. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Had to Stack Wood Most of the Day Before The Rain

Sorry, no new post today.  Here's a repeat from my old blog

Restoring Virility With Goat Glands Selling Nazis Air Time
“Dr.” John Brinkley A Father of Conservative Talk Radio

John Richard (nee Romulus) Brinkley (1885-1941) was a Kansas based quack with an operation to sell. For $750 he restored a man’s virility by surgically implanting goat "glands" in his scrotum. Though you might have your legs tightly crossed as you read this, many men who found that they couldn't rise to the occasion eagerly opened themselves up to “Dr.” Brinkley’s helping hands. Selling the promise of sexual potency to our forefathers, he made a very large fortune. There seems to have been a lot of that wrong with Kansas.

Flush with the kind of respectability that much money buys, Dr. Brinkley took a trip to the west coast and received the praise of the LA Times . While there he got a look at the paper's radio operation and saw its potential for his sort of business, stupid he wasn't. Back home in Kansas he set himself up with a transmitter. Soon Dr. Brinkley had a path breaking medicine show promoting his practice complete with gospel tinged country music* and helpful advice to listeners who wrote in. His advice came in the form of drugs identified by number and bought from a chain of mail order drug stores linked to Dr. Brinkley.

Hearing a recording of his voice on a Public Radio International program recently, it was entirely familiar. The phrasing, pitch, accent and content reminds you of most of the right-wing pitch men you've ever heard. Paul Harvey could have been his son.

Now, even if the authorities might cast a mild eye on someone with the sort of trade he engaged in, there was one thing that went beyond endurance in that more innocent age, he advertised. “Dr.” Brinkley ran afoul of the AMA in the form of Dr. Morris Fishbein who got his license to practice in Kansas revoked. The Federal Radio Commission revoking his broadcast license was probably even more of a blow. Not being willing to take it lying down, he ran an lost two campaigns for governor in an attempt to change the licensing board but fled for the more fertile opportunities that Texas promised.

Eventually even Texas was forced to discourage Dr. Brinkley’s medicine show. But he was far from over. He saw that Mexico, furious with the transmission policies of the U.S. government, might allow him to set up an enormous broadcast facility pointed North. Have I mentioned that he wasn't stupid?  Unregulated, clear channel, border, radio was born in all its gaudy, dishonest and bizarre corruption. This is where he sold radio time to Nazis, forcing the U.S. government to finally negotiate better transmission agreements with the Mexican government to get them to shut down the Nazi loving radio Doctor.

Modern, unregulated cable TV, which will sell anything, not having been born yet, “Dr” Brinkley ended badly in lawsuits, other legal trouble, bankruptcy and death.

So, we have it. A huckster with dodgy credentials selling a bogus sex operation to ignorant people through pop music, attempting political manipulation to allow him to further swindle people and renting himself out for the promotion of Nazis. The model of conservative talk radio.

* A song played on the PRI program praising the sexual habits of buck goats apparently figured heavily in the repertoire of his house band. Being a farm boy myself and having once kept goats, including a breeding buck, I've got to tell you that while indeed sexually relentless, they are about the stupidest, smelliest and most obnoxious animals in the barnyard. If Dr. Brinkley’s customers were familiar with buck goats their willingness to have the operation says something far more than I care to think about in detail.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Since Someone Asked Here Are Some Baroque Guitar Sources

The recent look into the baroque guitar posted here has been quite a surprise to me.  So much of the tablature for the music is available online, in the original editions or in manuscript and so easy to read that the rather startling differences in style between the guitar and the contemporary lute and vihuela music I've been familiar with for decades is rather surprising.  And that difference, with the strummed chords of the guitar are explicitly described and notated in the music, as are the florid and involved ornaments.   The descriptions of those are, unfortunately, mostly in other languages, especially Italian, Spanish and French. You can find some of those described in English online and some of them have been translated and published in books.  I haven't gotten to a library big enough to have any of those yet and haven't checked them out.   This is a definite sideline from my regular work in music as a piano teacher so there might be a lot I haven't found.  One thing I haven't looked at yet is this book by James Tyler.

One thing you will need to read the tablatures is a guitar with at least five strings that you're willing to restring to play the "reentrant tuning".  In some cases the fourth and in all cases the fifth string are tuned an octave above the pitches of those on the modern guitar.  Instructions for that are given in this paper already linked to.

Here are some things available online:

- A large collection of manuscripts in pdf format, most of them quite readable, most with instructions in Spanish or French, and Italian (which contains some of the most interesting music).   Most of them contain the "Italian alphabet" a key to reading the letters indicating chords contained in the tablatures.   This one by Francesco Corbetta has it in both French and Italian tablatures.  

-  The English translation of texts from Joan Carles Amat's "Brief Treatis" found at the bottom of this page, in word format, is useful for people who don't read any of those languages.   It can be pretty confusing to try to figure out what the quite non-standardized language in the original texts and in translations of those mean.  I'd advise not trying to understand more than one of those at a time and to try to find out what a modern scholar specializing in it has said about that.  I imagine a lot of the people who read the treatises and method books had to try to figure that out, as well.

You can find a lot more through a simple search for the names of the composers listed in online articles, the names of their books and pieces along with "pdf" and "manuscript".   It's the way I've found almost all of what I've found.  You can look under "baroque guitar" along with "tablature"  "alfabeto italiano," under 'Images' for more easily read examples of those, such as this one.   New things are being put online all the time.  A lot of what is available now wasn't there when I first looked about six years ago.   You should also look at the 4-string renaissance guitar, music for which is preserved in manuscripts, some of those containing music for the vihuela by well known composers such as Mudarra.  I will post links to those on request.

The most interesting part of this, for me, has been in seeing a large body of music, carefully notated, that is a bridge between a cultivated tradition and what was obviously a more popular tradition.  A lot of the tradition that led to the dances of Bachs and Couperin's suites and ordres almost certainly is found in a more vernacular state in these tablatures.   The strumming, an intrinsic part of the music as described and notated, along with the intricate ornamentation feels kind of liberating and suggestive, though it's certain that Bach and Couperin have to be played on their own terms.  Couperin certainly heard and knew some of the guitar composers in those manuscripts, who worked in the same courts.   Perhaps this is also something of a link between J.S. and Hans Bach from the 16th century, suspected of being his great-great-great grandfather, a "white bread baker" who is reported in contemporary accounts as taking enormous delight in his cittern, which he played while his grain was being ground in the mill. Maybe that's where the enormous family of Bachs began.  You never know where you might find a clue as to how to play the music you teach.

Monday, October 14, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

Padre Davide da Bergamo - Sounatina

I dare you not to smile.

Pagans Have A Right To Their Beliefs And Harmless Practices But Not To Falsify History

I have a some affection for Pagans, the modern type who engage in nature worship of the most gentle kind.   I've repeatedly spoken up for the right of Wiccans and Pagans of that kind to practice and talk about their religions in public and on anti-religious websites unharassed by materialists.  And I  have, occasionally, expressed my admiration for how they seem to have fun in their religions.   But there has to be a distinction made between those groups and others who are often put into the general category of "Pagan" some of whom kill a heck of a lot of animals in their rituals, I'm dead against killing animals.  Or people for that matter, human sacrifice is as much a part of the history of Paganism as the Thirty Years War is of European Christianity.

I tend to go with what Isiah said on that count.

“The multitude of your sacrifices—
    what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
    of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
    in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
When you come to appear before me,
    who has asked this of you,
    this trampling of my courts?
Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening.
Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

In that you have, among things, the real basis of democracy, a moral obligation to aid the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the dispossessed.   Indeed, it places those above religious rites and sacrifices and prayers.   I would like to see examples of classical Pagan scriptures that match this one for an internal critique of religion and the priest class.

Clearly, in my affection for modern Pagans I don't include  the classical religions of places like Greece and Rome, brutal, murderous, patriarchal, oligarchic, slave holding state-religions which a lot of today's Pagans have falsified into some kind of ahistorical romantic fantasy.  Considering the near ubiquity of a rigid patriarchal system which far surpasses that of Christianity in its history, it's amazing how many women hold those brutally oppressive systems in high regard. I think that the only explanation of that is the replacement of the real history of those with non-reality based fantasy as found in paperback novels and Hollywood junk.

The idea that the modern concept of democracy had much of anything to do with the Athenian democracy is absurd.  The 18th century constitution which disenfranchised everyone except for adult white male landowners might have more in common with the Athenian system which existed for the benefit of the same description of men but the history of the United States and every other modern state has rejected that definition of the word.  Our democracy, incorporating the people whose rights to justice are insisted on by Isiah, clearly didn't get that from Pagan sources but from the Bible where those ideas are found.   Far more of the voters who, gradually, forced the change of the original constitution, of by and for propertied white men, to what we aspire to today read Isiah than classical philosophy.  And most of them believed that Isiah was divinely inspired while virtually none of them believed the Pagan myths.

Many of the religions that have been grouped into the category Pagan, practiced actual human sacrifice, slow as well as rapid, including explicit sexual enslavement into their profit making systems, enriching their aristocratic priesthoods, selling slave children to temple brothels was common in Pagan Rome.  Some of these religions were entirely sexist, seeing women - and children - as the property of husbands and fathers who, under these Pagan religions, were free to kill their children, the murder of infant girls being routine, or sell them into slavery or give them away to people who would rape them or work them to death.  And that's what they did to their native population, what they did to aliens among them, to those in other places which they conquered, makes the most bloodthirsty passages in the Old Testament typical of the times and places those acts happened.  Much of this is fully documented in the literature that was left by the Pagans, themselves, their religion giving most of them no reason to feel ashamed of it.

Today's Pagans, even when they adopt the names of classical and the, at times, even more brutal Odinic pagan goddesses, are nothing like the Pagans they romanticize into some kind of 20-21st century egalitarian, democratic fantasy that has to be based on today's fiction, not on a reading of the documentary or archeological record.  I would imagine that for those groups most disadvantaged and endangered by the respective Pagan political-religious systems, those who could find themselves as the candidates for sexual enslavement, plain enslavement or human sacrifice were able to breathe something of a sigh of relief when those fell to Christianity which at least taught those things were deeply sinful, even if that moral teaching was inconsistently achieved.  The status of children under both Judaism and Christianity was improved because they were held to be individuals with rights as human beings instead of the property of their fathers.  The sexual abuse of children by priests that has been exposed in the past two decades can be contrasted to the temple prostitution of them under many of the Pagan religions, with the full support of laws in those societies.  Under Christianity the rape of anyone is forbidden as a serious wrong and a sin which carries consequences, not a religious rite.


The immediate cause for this post is an exchange, yesterday, on the blog I used to frequent.  It began with someone who goes by the name "Tralfaz Wizard"  making an absurd statement:

Was thinking about this stuff this morning: Pagans invented both science and mathematics. And it was pagans with a concept of democracy (Greeks) who developed the metaphysics and epistemology necessary for science as opposed to the Chinese, who did not have much of a democratic concept (their philosophy was largely concerned with ethics of rulers) (although the Chinese did make contributions in mathematics). A huge oversimiplification to be sure, but the monotheism of Judao-Christianity-Islam would never have invented science probably because of philosophical limitations, and this monotheism is really anti-science in essence.

Considering that science, in the modern understanding of its history, began in the work of people such as Copernicus, Galileo, Nicholas Steno, Newton, and a series of people in Christian Europe- a number of them Catholic priests, and, in the case of Steno, a bishop, the statement displays nothing except a complete ignorance of the actual history of science and a fashionable anti-Christian bigotry that is ubiquitous on that blog and elsewhere.   And it extends that, with an incredible and bigoted ignorance of the role of Islamic scholars who INVENTED ALGEBRA, for Pete's sake.  They gave Europe the number notation that replaced the clunky system they'd inherited from the Pagan world and which was developed by a series of Christian scholars, one of the most important of those Descartes who gave us the idea of coordinates with all of its incredible usefulness for every single advance in science which came after him.  The history of mathematics and science invented by "monotheists" is so massive, so obvious, so documented that it's rather astounding how a college level teacher could not know it is there.  It should be as shocking as it would be if he didn't know George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Yet that massive ignorance, matched with a bigotry generated fiction was not refuted in the "Eschaton brain trust,"  it was echoed and built on.

Hecate: Thank you

Trafalz Wizard: You've probably already thought of this. Monotheism is held up as this huge accomplishment. But all it is really about is orthodoxy. Its entire purpose seems to be to defeat polytheism. It never actually strives to accomplish anything else.

Trafalz Wizard:  Paganism, like true science, is naturalistic. And the various pagan systems likely developed organically as attempts to explain the world. Science attempts to explain the world. They're both metaphysical.

Thurb: So many reasons for our religious overlords to want us to forget that whole Galileo thing.*

Moe_Szyslak: I wrote a paper in college about how the scientific revolution was, in part, a product of the trade in relics. I still hold that view....

Such is the quality of the product of that "brain trust."

I will finish with this

Trafalz Wizard:  Really interesting question, how science and technology got united in the west versus other places. As a formal pursuit, science is rooted in Greek philosophy (hence Ph.D.) but trying to get stuff done and solve problems was always right there.

Hence Ph.D?  apparently the college teaching "Wizard" doesn't know the history of universities which had entirely more to do with Catholic monastic scholarship than Greek philosophy.  He might have been clued in by the way that so many of them still issue their doctoral diplomas in Latin, not in Greek.  And most of those diplomas were written in CHURCH LATIN.

As one of my internet friends said, there is so much wrong with what was said by these educated people that it's hard to know where to begin or how far to go with it.  What it does show are an astonishing ignorance of the literature and history of science, including the biographies of virtually all of the early figures in science and some of the most important figures in the history of mathematics.  And I'm not even considering the quasi-monotheism of Pythagoras.   Not to mention a "Wizard" and a Witch and Pagans who claim to be upholding the scientific tradition which was originally created to overturn a magical view of the physical universe by "monotheists."   Considering the attacks on their harmless beliefs by their rival, atheist "defenders of science" in such groups as the CFI and pseudo-skepticism, the entire thing is an amazingly incoherent muddle of ignorance and bigotry.

Unfortunately, the exchange of that kind of so-called erudition isn't only found on Eschaton, it's widespread among the so-called educated class of today.  They absorbed a lot more of anti-Christian and anti-religious bigotry than they ever did of accurate information on these topics.

*  I'm sure one of the people who would have been shocked by this exchange would have been Galileo who was a Catholic who maintained a daughter in a convent, an obvious "monotheist" who, in what should be his well known letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany showed that he knew the history of his science better than today's college educated class:

In order to facilitate their designs, they seek so far as possible (at least among the common people) to make this opinion seem new and to belong to me alone. They pretend not to know that its author, or rather its restorer and confirmer, was Nicholas Copernicus; and that he was not only a Catholic, but a priest and a canon. He was in fact so esteemed by the church that when the Lateran Council under Leo X took up the correction of the church calendar, Copernicus was called to Rome from the most remote parts of Germany to undertake its reform. At that time the calendar was defective because the true measures of the year and the lunar month were not exactly known. The Bishop of Culm, then superintendent of this matter, assigned Copernicus to seek more light and greater certainty concerning the celestial motions by means of constant study and labor. With Herculean toil he set his admirable mind to this task, and he made such great progress in this science and brought our knowledge of the heavenly motions to such precision that he became celebrated as an astronomer. Since that time not only has the calendar been regulated by his teachings, but tables of all the motions of the planets have been calculated as well.

Having reduced his system into six books, he published these at the instance of the Cardinal of Capua and the Bishop of Culm. And since he had assumed his laborious enterprise by order of the supreme pontiff, he dedicated this book On the celestial revolutions to Pope Paul III. When printed, the book was accepted by the holy Church, and it has been read and studied by everyone without the faintest hint of any objection ever being conceived against its doctrines. Yet now that manifest experiences and necessary proofs have shown them to be well grounded, persons exist who would strip the author of his reward without so much as looking at his book, and add the shame of having him pronounced a heretic. All this they would do merely to satisfy their personal displeasure conceived without any cause against another man, who has no interest in Copernicus beyond approving his teachings.

Contrary to the phonied up history of Galileo's allegedly not being a Catholic, he, himself noted his indebtedness to priests, bishops and even Popes as scientists and patrons of science.  Galileo's trial happened in a very specific context in the political intrigues of the years in which it happened.  It was, from its start in an obviously satirical portrayal of his opponents in the person of "Simplico" into whose mouth Galileo unwisely inserted the words of the sitting Pope Urban VIII who was under the kind of political pressure and attack.  In the context of the times, Galileo was inviting trouble by doing that.  I don't know what the "Wizard" teaches but I hope it's not something where he can easily insert his ignorance of history, as is so commonly found among today's college educated class.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Corbetta Suite - Jeffrey McFadden

Interesting coincidence, I didn't know when I posted that piece yesterday that I'd come across this Youtube of Jeffrey McFadden playing a suite by the same composer.  Jeffrey McFadden is, I believe, the author of the Fret board Harmony thesis I recommended last week.  These pieces show how different the style of playing guitar was from the lute music of that period.  Though a lot of it obviously had an effect on the keyboard music of the period, especially Couperin.  The suite contains the same passacaille I posted last night.

More About the Baroque Guitar And It's Music

An e-mail asks me for more information about the baroque guitar and the beautiful, mysterious passacaille by Francesco Corbetta posted here last night.   Here is about the most useful article I've found on the subject, by Clive Titmuss.  

Thich Nhat Hanh's Engaged Buddhism

Thich Nhat Hanh is the kind of religious celebrity who doesn't seem to get wrapped up in celebrity and who, for me at least, hasn't gone stale.   While the celebrity thing is often an invitation for manipulation, as clearly happened with Mother Teresa, or a venue for personal aggrandizement, as with John Paul II, it doesn't seem to have made what the Vietnamese Buddhist monk represent seem tainted.

A few years back, finding that sitting still to meditate didn't work for me, I bought a recording of walking meditation which contained a dvd of him talking and of him giving a group instruction and a cd of "guided meditations" by one of his students. I have found those to work for me far better than sitting does.   When my young niece watched the dvd she was struck at how a fly landed on his face and he didn't stop talking or brush it aside, which she took as a proof of humble gentleness.  

Since then I've listened to a number of talks given by him, online.  One of the things that impresses me is his advocacy for engaged Buddhism, Buddhism that actively engages in social justice and against wrong doing for the wider world.  

Here is a recent On Being show, containing an interview Krista Tippet conducted with Thich Nhat Hanh  and some commentary.   You can find the complete interview she conducted with a lot more information at the show website.  One of the most interesting parts of it is what Cheri Maples, a police captain has to say about what she's learned from Hanh's teaching and how it interacts with her work which is frequently problematic, if not at odds with Buddhism.  From the show transcript:

And what happened to me is my heart started to soften and kind of break open for the first time. I had gotten very mechanical about how I was doing my job. I had no idea that I had shut down that way. And I came home and, especially that first week when it was so new and everything felt so fresh, I started to understand that, in a very, very deep level, that it's possible to bring this into your work as a cop because, as my energy started to change, the energy that I got back from other people started to change, even including the people that I had to arrest and take to jail.

But probably the first example of that was I was on a domestic violence call, and it was one of these calls where I would have just arrested the guy. I would have just, 'Hey, enough's enough,' you know? This was a scenario where breaking up is hard to do, and there was a little girl, and they were exchanging custody. And he was kind of holding the little girl hostage, not wanting to give her back to Mom. And there had been no violence that had taken place, but both Mom and the little girl were very scared and intimidated. And ordinarily I would have said, 'That's it,' slapped the handcuffs on him, taken him to jail. But something stopped me, and it was I had just come out of this retreat. And I got the little girl, got him to give me the little girl, took care of her, got her and her mom set, told them just to leave, went back. And I just talked to this guy from my heart, and, within five minutes, I mean, I've got this big gun belt on. I'm about 5'3". Right? And this guy's like 6'6". And he's bawling, you know. And I'm holding this guy with this big gun belt on and everything. And he was just in incredible pain, and that's what I started realizing we deal with is misplaced anger because people are in incredible pain.

So I ran into him three days later in a little store on Willy Street, where I lived at the time. And this guy comes, he sees me off-duty, he picks me up, gives me this big bear hug and said, 'You saved my life that night. Thank you.' And so when you have experiences like that, and you start to realize, 'Well, what am I doing different here?' I mean, really, it's about softening your heart. When you're a police officer and you do this work, you need to find a way to be able to maintain both the compassionate bodhisattva within you and the fierce bodhisattva and know when each is called for and how to combine the two. And once you start down this path, it's possible to learn that.

I am not a Buddhist, though I have a lot of respect for the religion and enough regard for it to find its distortion and cheapening into a fad and a fashion distasteful.  The engaged Buddhism movement, which Hanh is a part of, is a wonderful development which I hope increases.