Saturday, March 2, 2019

Stupid Mail - I'm More Interested In Not Talking With Idiots Than I Am In Talking To The Dead

As far as I can trace it, the idea of using electrical if not electronic equipment to record the voices of the dead is at least 99 years old, Thomas Edison having said in articles in The American Magazine and Scientific American in 1920 that he was trying to make a machine to do that.  I'm sure the idea probably occurred to someone before then, I just can't trace it.  I also can't trace the idea in theatrical productions, movies, etc. but I'm sure that the idea must have appealed to early writers of radio drama, probably before the talkies or soon after.  It's hardly an idea that had to wait till they invented sci-fi movies to have exploited it.  I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't feature in early experiments with cylinder recording machines.  The idea that it's dangerous to try to communicate with the dead goes back a lot longer than that, the essential dramatic idea in the play.  Um,  The Witch of Endor?   Ring a bell? 

What a stupid claim, but, then, stupid is so prevalent online.  If only Edison had worked on a machine to shut up the stupid. Or at least to block them.  I wouldn't have to do it manually stupid claim after stupid claim.  You'd never speak, again. 

Update:  Apparently people had the idea of the dead speaking to them by telephone a lot earlier than 1920.  I haven't been able to see if anyone used wax cylinders to try that but it wouldn't surprise me. 

Update 2:  Oh, and the first radio drama was A Comedy of Danger from 1924 written specifically for the medium of radio by Richard Hughes on commission from the BBC.   I tried to listen to the reconstructed performance of it but as it takes place in a collapsed mine (the author wanted to produce a story in sound only as the silent movies did in sight only) but as claustrophobia is probably my greatest phobia, I can't even read the script.  So there were years for someone to take up such a natural theme for sound before the friggin' talkies started. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Paul Evans - The Ditch

Chilling tale:  Tom Saunders, a wildlife sound recordist, goes missing, leaving only a collection of recordings and a notebook. These fall into the hands of his radio producer, who tries to piece together what has happened. His quest leads him back to the disturbing aural landscape of Slaughton Ditch, where an obsession with hidden sounds has terrifying and fatal consequences.

Narrator - Paul Evans
Tom Saunders - Jimmy Yuill
Christine Hall
Richard Angwin

Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson
Directed by Sarah Blunt
Computer trouble, it seems to be fixed, I'll try to post later. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

David Pakman's Naive View Of Belief In God Is Ubiquitous

David Pakman is someone who I agree with about a lot but with whom I have some profound disagreements.  Among the most serious of those is that the guy is an extreme Bernie Sanders cultist, he and his producer, who I believe is Noah Ferguson.   As we get close to 2020 and it looks like Bernie and his cult risk the play-left throwing yet another election to Republican-fascists, that will turn into a definitive parting of the ways.  I've gone from respecting Bernie Sanders to thinking he's just another play-lefty like Ralph Nader and Jill Stein and all of the others who have played spoilers out of vanity or self-promotion or self-enrichment or, as in the case of Jill Stein and the Greens, something that stinks of stuff much worse involving billionaire money, foreign and domestic.  The Green Party is a cynical, stinking ploy that suckers idiots.  Bernie Sanders is certainly willing to risk becoming a part of that long, disgusting history.

I don't generally listen to Pakman's videos when they show up in the sidebar of "recommended videos" I assume his do because I do listen to Majority Report quite a bit.  This one came up with the title, "Caller: Does David Call Himself an Atheist?" and I decided to spend three minutes that I'll never get back listening to it. 

I have to say that the total banality of the caller and David Pakman's thinking on the issues of "theism" and atheism made me think of something,  the fact is, I've never, once, encountered an atheist who had a more sophisticated understanding of the belief in God than is demonstrated here. 

The caller raising issues of "theism" as if that was synonymous with the belief in the God of Christianity or Judaism or Islam or, really, any other kind of monotheism is nonsense.   I believe in God I am not a "theist" the more I read about these things the more I understand that "theism" is not an adequate description of what I or, in fact, most thinking believers believe.   You can contrast that with this question and answer of the theologian Jürgen Moltmann  "Atheism and theism are outside of the Trinity."  

It is clear from David Pakman's answer that his entire conception of belief in God has to be based in some primitive notion of "God in the gaps," a phrase which was invented by a Scottish evangelical preacher as a warning that that was a totally inadequate way for believers to think about the issues and about God.   I will point out it is also an entirely inadequate way to think about science because science is far more gaping chasms than it is solid knowledge.  Even some scientists will admit that.  When it is held up to be the entire legitimate means of knowing, it is entirely inadequate, as inadequate a means of explaining huge parts of human experience and even parts of the physical universe as the pagan, polytheists' explanation of thunder and lightning or the sun rising and setting.   

I have never, once, encountered an atheist who had an adequate or at all sophisticated view of even the questions involved.  I have found more, though very few, atheists who have a grasp of the actual meaning of science and what it can and can't do.  For that matter, I know very few religious people who have a realistic grasp of that.  Most of them have an absurdly unrealistic view of its capabilities and achievements.  

Packman's answer in this reminded me of nothing so much as Sam Seder's failure to find the word "Mammon" on a recent clip from his show, he thought "Mammon" was some kind of pagan god, though he couldn't even remember the word.  That was something he seemed proud of not knowing.  And I do generally listen to Seder's show which is far better than Pakman's.  

Dusan Bogdanovic, Songs and Dances from the New Village with EmmaLee Duo, 2013

Dusan Bogdanovic, Songs and Dances from the New Village with Emilija Stein, guitar and Lidija Ljubicic, flute. Live recording by Croatian Radio from concert at Salon Očić, Croatia, 2013

I will warn you that if you're wearing head phones you might want to turn the volume down, the flute gets very loud in a few places.  You might want to do that even if you're listening on speakers. 

Paul LePage Gives Away The Motive In The Republican Routine To Thwart The Popular Vote

If anyone who reads my at least weekly condemnation of the putrid, anti-democratic, slave-holder promoted Electoral College and had any doubt as to how vilely evil it is should now understand that I haven't been exaggerating all of that because the enthusiastic volunteer of all that is putrid, anti-democratic and racist in the United States confirmed that from the satanic regions he comes from and flourishes in.  I'll give you Ron Blitzer's full account of the racist, dictatorial, sleazy LePage's appearance on a right-wing radio station

There has been a trend of sorts lately for states to try and circumvent the electoral college by passing bills that would require a state’s electors to vote for the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. Maine is currently considering a move like this, and the state’s former Republican Governor Paul LePage is not happy about it.

The bill currently being looked at by Maine’s lawmakers would have the state enter into an agreement with other states, whereby they would all agree to have their electors vote for the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide, setting aside the current system of voting according to how their individual states vote.

LePage discussed this on WVOM radio station’s “George Hale Ric Tyler Show” on Tuesday. It started off normally enough, with LePage defending the electoral college for allowing states like his to remain relevant in presidential politics.

“All the small states, like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, Montana, Rhode Island, will all be–you’ll never see a presidential candidate again, you’ll never see anybody at the national stage come to our state. We’re gonna be forgotten people,” he said.

In addition to fearing that candidates not caring to campaign in small states, LePage feared that in a national popular vote, these states would be rendered irrelevant.

“Why would we give the authority to Ohio, New York, Florida, Texas, and California, and Illinois? Those five states will elect the president of the United States and we will never see another president or another candidate to Maine.”

This has been the common criticism of efforts to eliminate the electoral college, as it would give disproportionate influence to a small number of states, at the expense of many others.

Then things started to take a turn for the extreme.

“Why don’t we just adopt the constitution of Venezuela and be done with it?” LePage said. “Let’s have a dictator because that’s really what you’re gonna boil down to.”

“What would happen if they do what they say they’re gonna do, white people will not have anything to say. It’s only going to be the minorities who would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida,” he added.

One of the hosts cut him off there, noting that minorities currently believe that electoral college limits their impact. White, non-Hispanic people make up more than 93 percent of Maine’s population, according to a 2018 census estimate, compared to 60.7 percent for the United States as a whole.

LePage has garnered a reputation for making racially charged comments, notably this rant about drug traffickers from 2016:

These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These type of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.

He later apologized for that one, saying he meant to say “Maine women.”

The catalog of Paul LePage's racism is a lot longer than that.  And, lest anyone think that he's an aberration in Maine Politics,  the renowned pseudo-moderate Republican Olympia Snowe was one of his champions, her first husband having been a sort of patron to the young Paul LePage.  Susan Collins has also supported him as did, in fact, Maine Republicans with few exceptions.  You can include virtually all of the Maine media in that, including "public radio". 

Paul LePage's election was a result of the idiocy of past Maine liberals in the legislature making ballot access in this state ridiculousness easy to achieve.  He was never elected with a majority of the vote.  If, as I hope, we change the Constitution to make all of the elections in Maine be conducted under the ranked-choice system, which is designed to make sure that the last choice of a majority of voters can never win an election, he will be the last such 38% Governor of our state.

Nationally, the Electoral College was explicitly designed to boost the power of the slave-owning minority at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, the debates over it make that obvious, the modern day version of that is that it empowers racists and those who will use racism to win elections,  Republicans, in short.  James Madison, the false-god of so many a liberal was also explicit that the Electoral College and other means of thwarting government of The People, by The People and for The People was a means of rich guys like him keeping and concentrating wealth over and against the common good.  In short, it is a means by which a minority can lord it over a majority.

National Popular Vote isn't my preferred means of getting rid of the goddamned Electoral College but it's probably the best we can do to get rid of it, state legislatures in the tiny population one-party Republican-fascist states will certainly be able to block the Constitutional repeal of the filthy thing and, even more so, the anti-democratically apportioned Senate.

If there is one thing that the past fifty years has proved, it is the capacity of those who want to corrupt the Constitutional system in the United States were given ample means of doing that by the slave-holders among the Founders and their Northern aristocratic colleagues.  The use of computers and statistical-geographic targeting was bad enough, now, as the likes of billionaires foreign and domestic, the Kochs, the Mercers, the Putin oligarchs prove, the collection of that information that fools give out about themselves online and which is collected for shopping by the likes of Facebook means that all of those old Constitutional beliefs and the former fixes to turn the thing into something like a democracy will not hold.  Radical changes are required.  I doubt that we are really up to those, it will take a total disaster to overcome the idiocy that lets even smart people affectionately talk about the benevolent wisdom of "Jimmy Madison" the civic genius of "Tommy Jefferson" (I almost puked when I read someone write that) and don't get me started on the hagiographic musical bull shit on Broadway.  Those guys were not all THAT much less shifty than Donald Trump, they made their wealth off of slavery, how good do you figure someone who did that can be?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

In Memory of Andre Previn - Four Songs - Words by Toni Morrison

I. Mercy (Slowly)
II. Stones (Bright and Sassy)
III. Shelter (Gently)
IV. The Lacemaker (Slowly)

Sylvia McNair, soprano
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
André Previn, piano

Andre Previn was about the only composer whose work was obviously influenced by Aaron Copland without sounding like Aaron Copland. These songs are some of his finest works.  He was a good example of someone who worked a lot in Hollywood but who transcended being a movie-composer.  He was also a first rate performing musician in different styles.  He's the kind of musician whose career you wouldn't have minded having. 

On The Obstinate Belief In Pseudo-Science Among Our Most Sciency

Two years ago, one of my nieces sons was approached by an older woman who he didn't know and who he was pretty sure didn't know him.   She said to him his grandmother (my mother who died three years earlier) wanted him to know that it wasn't too late to turn his life around (he had become addicted to heroin) she said she told her to mention a Sacagawea dollar to him.   Which was the thing, when they were issued my mother had gotten new Sacagawea dollars and given one to all of her grandchildren and great grandchildren - she didn't give them to her own children. He told me he'd forgotten all about it, it having been when he was three years old.  But he still had the coin somewhere.  Alas, it took more than that to get him off of heroin, he had to go through one overdose that almost killed him, to be arrested and put in jail before he got clean, which he is for now, as he, himself puts it.

The older woman didn't ask him for money or even identify herself, he doesn't know who she was, today.  He's still kind of freaked out by the experience.

I was a little annoyed with John Oliver's somewhat valuable and somewhat entertaining program on "psychics" because what he really meant were "mediums" and not even mediums but a specific kind of commercial, show-biz "mediums" and he didn't know enough to make the distinction.   I don't have anything against the discouragement of the kind of thing that gets on daytime TV and morning shows which are open to all of the tricks and abuses and ambiguities that are charged by materialist fundamentalists.  I don't think banning it is any way to mitigate it.   I'd like to see some kind of financial regulations placed on the trade in mediumship and fortunetelling since, like alcohol, it's not ever going to go away.  I think if it were harder to make a lot of money out of it, it would be far less attractive to conscious cheats and even some of those who are unconscious as to what they're doing. 

I didn't listen to all of Olivers' piece because it was pretty typical of the kind of debunkery which someone who hasn't really looked into the scientific research of extraordinary experiences and abilities, even when that's done entertainingly, it's not really very helpful. 

None of that has anything to do with the controlled research into such things which, if it is controlled sufficiently, is some of the most rigorous scientific research that falls broadly under the umbrella of "psychology" but which, since it seems to violate materialist fundamentalism, is suppressed and misrepresented.  I have enough knowledge of statistics and have read enough of the research to know that, as the eminent statistician Jessica Utts and others have said, it has passed the requirements to be considered scientifically valid.

But this isn't about "psychics" or mediums or fortunetelling or even the scientific status of research into telepathy and such very well demonstrated phenomena as presentiment, it is about something used by John Oliver just about every time he does a piece and which comprises one of the most widely held superstitions of educated people, especially those who love to consider themselves as being devoted to scientific thinking, the massive fraud of opinion polling and surveys.

Pew, one of the most respected names in the business of divining and defining the thinking of entire populations, has admitted something that totally blows apart the possible scientific validity of the business they are in, though they won't admit it blows their act apart.

In 2017 and 2018, typical telephone survey response rates fell to 7% and 6%, respectively, according to the Center’s latest data. Response rates had previously held steady around 9% for several years.

While the Center’s telephone survey protocol is somewhat different from those used by other organizations, conversations with contractors and other pollsters confirm that the pattern reported here is being experienced more generally in the industry.

Well, one thing we can know about the 6 or 7% of those who answer polls, THEY ARE ATYPICAL OF FROM 94 OR 93% OF THE POPULATION.  But, Pew says, don't worry because Pew has conducted research that says that it's nothing to worry about.

But low response rates don’t necessarily mean that telephone polling is completely broken. Studies examining the impact of low response on data quality have generally found that response rates are an unreliable metric of accuracy. Pew Research Center studies conducted in 1997, 2003, 2012 and 2016 found little relationship between response rates and accuracy, and other researchers have found similar results. In the 2018 midterm election, polls – including those conducted by phone with live interviewers – performed well by historical standards. Nonpartisan polls in 2018 were more accurate, on average, than midterm polls since 1998.

What do you suppose John Oliver or anyone would say if a bunch of TV mediums got together and came up with a bunch of studies to say that everything was jake with how they made their livings because they had a success rate of 6 or 7%?  Would anyone fail to see a problem with that?   Yet the educated population of the United States overlook that and the other, many definitively debunking problems with opinion polling and surveying as it is conducted, they have no problem with it because it is assigned the designation of "science" even though it, in no ways passes even the most modest requirements of doing science. 

One of my greatest pet peeves with opinion polling and the such is the inevitable habit of thought that it encourages, to define geographic regions or groups of people based on what even a small majority of those matching that identity are reported as saying in a poll.  Opinion polling contributes, dangerously, in creating negative and self-fulfilling stereotypes.   One such example of this is the common belief that "White Women voted for Trump" because some polls said that 52% of "White Women" voted for Trump - ignoring that if that were the case that 48% of "White Women" didn't vote for him.  However, and it is certainly NOT part of the common received wisdom of this type, that "known fact" is not, in fact, undisputed.

A majority of white women voted for Donald Trump: It’s the statistic that launched a thousand narratives. “You know, I got 52% with women,” President Donald Trump said at a press conference in late September, falsely conflating the figure for white women with the figure for women overall, whom he did not win. “Everybody said this couldn’t happen—52%.”

Trump is hardly the only one invoking the stat. The idea that a majority of white woman voted for Trump has become a meme ever since the 2016 election, featured in countless arguments that make sweeping claims about its meaning. In the President’s telling, the 52% stat refutes the notion that he’s unfriendly to women. To conservatives, it proves that Trump-hating liberal feminists are out of touch with what a lot of real American women believe. To liberals, it shows that white women are complicit in the sins of the patriarchy, perhaps because they benefit from access to its spoils.

There’s just one problem with this statistic: It’s probably not true.

The idea that 52% of white women voted for Trump—compared to 43% who supported Hillary Clinton—comes from the 2016 exit polls, an in-person survey in which Election Day questioners ask people at polling places across the country how they voted, then adjust the results to match the actual tally reported by election authorities. But exit polls, which are conducted by Edison Research for a consortium of news organizations, suffer from systemic biases and are notoriously flawed.

Which, of course, won't get into the common received wisdom as repeated by people, in the media, in the general public, who either don't know or ignore the differences of reliability among the many and baroque polling methodologies which are, as well of unknown reliability.

But, especially considering Pew's ass covering assurances over why a 6% response rate shouldn't make you figure "cold reading" is probably more reliable than opinion polling and surveys, here's the interesting reason why Edison Research's exit-polling is unreliable.

Exit polls tend to overrepresent the kinds of people who are likely to stop and agree to talk to a pollster, and underrepresent the ones who don’t. They’re also conducted on the fly, attempting to snapshot the electorate in real time, so they’re naturally not going to be as accurate as an analysis that combs through voter files and other data that show who actually turned out. (Ironically, the thing the exits are worst for—determining the demographic breakdown of the electorate—is the thing they’re most often cited to illustrate.) Later, more careful analyses have corrected many of the exits’ snap judgments, busting many myths about the election along the way.

None of this will stop the Brit-atheist comedian John Oliver from citing polls, which are ever so much more sciency than science and ever more so unlike science than the research of, say Dean Radin or Rupert Sheldrake, because it doesn't matter if it's real science, it only depends on if it is called science and successfully sold as science.

There are no bigger suckers for pseudo-science than those who buy into the methodologies of psychology and sociology which, for a start, NEVER CAN USE RANDOM SAMPLES OF A GENERAL POPULATION AND SO CAN NEVER HAVE ANY RESULTS OF KNOWABLE RELIABILITY WHEN TALKING ABOUT THAT GENERAL POPULATION.   And that is when they are being as close to legitimate scientific methods as they can get, which is never very close.   Anyone who reads the rigorous study of "extrasensory perception" or, "Psi", and I mean the really rigorous stuff that gets published in real peer-reviewed journals and compares it to the general run of stuff that gets accepted as conventional psychology or sociology would be scandalized to see which is conducted scientifically and which is not.  I doubt that would matter to John Oliver who, in the end, is not willing to admit to such things anymore than Pew is ready to admit that it's in the business of creating fake facts. 

Update:  As I remember his account to me, the woman called her "Grammy,"  she was the only one in his family he called that and the only one of that description who was dead at that time.  I'm telling you what he told me.

I don't care if you believe me or not.  I know I'm telling you the truth, that's where my responsibility in the matter extends.

From Watergate To Watershed

The hearings left me exhausted and after the first few Republicans I muted their nonsense.  As several observed, they didn't discuss the evidence that Michael Cohen brought with him but kept going over the fact that he has admitted to, that he was a liar who engaged in corrupt activities.  They went over that over and over again.  As was also pointed out, most of the lying and corruption that matters to the public, was done on behalf of Donald Trump and his family.

I don't like Michael Cohen, I don't admire him but I hope that he was sincere about this being the start to him turning himself around,  I didn't admire John Dean either and I'm sure we'd disagree about many things even now but I do, now, have respect for him. 

The Republicans were a disgrace and a shame on the districts that elected them.  Jim Jordan - whose professional association with a pretty disgusting sex abuse scandal would have destroyed any Democrat with a tenth of his involvement - was positively vile as were the rest of them.  Why Jim Jordan isn't being pilloried in the media is just one more in the endless examples of the double standard that is in effect at all levels of the American media, and, so, the legal system and government. 

It is as clear as Trump's zig-zag signature on the smoking-gun check that Michael Cohen brought to be placed in evidence that he committed a known felony while in office, one that he lied about while in office.  And, from what I hear, not being a lawyer, there were other crimes that were exposed yesterday, crimes by Trump during the campaign and while he was in office.  Not to mention the exposure of his family business as little more than an organized crime operation, Trump signing off on all aspects of it. 

I think, now, the next thing will probably be Congress getting his tax returns and, with that, as some are saying, the various prosecutors will likely take the Trump crime family down, "taking buildings away" as Donny Deutsch put it.   If it will extend to people like Trump's criminal sister in the judiciary, we'll see. I doubt we will have the satisfaction of seeing any of them hard up, the richest criminals never seem to have to pay the same kind of consequences that even those who are innocent pay at the lowest income levels.  There are so many people involved in the various crimes and acts of wrong doing that produced the Trump criminal regime who deserve to be punished and fined so they won't do it again, especially those in the media.  But I doubt that we'll see that kind of satisfaction, either. 

But, according to the Constitution, even if that doesn't happen, Trump should be removed by impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, which we all know is not going to happen.  And the only real way that the United States gets rid of its worst presidents and vice presidents is by cutting a deal with them.  It's not supposed to work that way but that's the way it does under the corrupt Constitution in real life.  Which is disgusting.  There's a reason that countries that copy the American system so much more often devolve into dictatorships, though they are not perfect, parliamentary systems have proven they can do, sometimes, what we cannot, get rid of a bad chief executive.  Our system doesn't do that except by corrupt bargain.

Though with Trump those features of the Constitution that put him there (the goddamned Electoral College, the courts protecting voter suppression and gerrymandering, etc) and keep him there ( the anti-democratically apportioned Senate) should be overturned or those parts of the country that aspire to good government should get shut of those parts of the country that are obviously addicted to fascism.   I am torn between noting that the regional and state identities of Trump's thuggish protection racket on the committee was as could be expected, though it wasn't uniform and recognizing that even the most benighted states have significant minorities of voters who aspire to democracy and the rule of law instead of partisan thuggery.   But I'm tired of living in a country dominated by Republican-fascist thugs, in elected office and on the courts.  I think a coalition of the states that have carried some of those benighted states for decades should say either we correct the corrupt Constitution or we're out of it.  I think the abolitionists who petitioned to abolish the Constitution were on to something worth thinking about.  I'm tired of having states like Ohio and Kentucky and Tennessee and Georgia and Wisconsin giving us the line of Republican crooks and criminals we've gotten since 1968.  I hope to die in an egalitarian democracy which is governed for the common good and know my nieces and nephews have a chance of growing up in one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I'm watching the hearings, I'll try to post something tonight. 

All The Hate Mail That I Don't Have To Print

Considering what an obvious and massively demonstrated danger they are to equality and democracy, as can be seen here in Trump and in other places such as Russia, Rwanda, North Korea, . . .  with literally every foul dictatorial gangster style of government,  anyone who is willing to risk the media being able to lie with impunity is either a total idiot or someone who favors that kind of gangster governance or at least values egalitarian democracy less than what THEY can get for themselves through the Warren Court through Roberts Court enablement of liars.  Unfortunately, either through training or calculation that includes even otherwise admirable members of the media.  

I don't trust even liberals who are in favor of letting the media lie with impunity, they're either idiots or they're unreliable liberals who fall into that latter category.  I certainly don't trust right-wingers who favor lies they are all in favor of some level of gangster-oligarchic governance. 

Now, whine as to how my choice to not publish your comment violates your "freedom of speech" go do it loudly and lyingly somewhere else. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Stupid Mail - You're Behind The Time

I never actually said that I was certain that Francis Bacon wrote the plays and poems attributed to the Stratford man,  I said it made more sense that someone who was considered the about the greatest of English scholars and one of the most illustrious experts on the law of his time would have written them than a man whose entire credible writing product are six signatures in which he didn't even spell his own name the same way twice, even in the same document and it was clear he seldom if ever picked up a pen to put it to paper.

I have come to be more skeptical of Bacon, most of all because I've finally gotten round to reading Richard Roe's brilliant study, The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, which proves, conclusively that whoever wrote the plays and poems knew Italy at first hand, something which Bacon doesn't appear to have experienced and which there is absolutely no evidence the Stratford man ever had.  I think Roe's book is right up there with Diana Price's brilliant study,  Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography which is one of the most significant books on the question of who wrote, or rather who didn't write the works in their history.  I always check to see if Diana Price has a new paper or book out because her scholarship is always first rate, always briskly and refreshingly honest and always fascinating.  I have more respect for her than the entire cannon of Stratfordians, all of whom I know are addicted to either inventing or peddling fictions and lies as fact.

I am also becoming more skeptical that Bacon's philosophical stands and his writing style matches the corpus in question though writers can have more than one style.  I wouldn't be surprised if he or those near him had some hand in revisions made to the originals, such questions I've discussed in comments here about the circulatory system which he probably understood and had access to as the other candidates almost certainly didn't.  But I do know one thing, there is entirely more evidence that he could have written the works than the Stratford man for whom there is absolutely no contemporaneous evidence that he ever wrote anything but his name.

I have been listening to Alexander Waugh's extremely entertaining Oxfordian arguments on Youtube, I'm not ready to become an Oxfordian and the quality of his arguments is somewhat varied from powerfully convincing to less so but it is always fun.  I also love to listen to Ros Barber, who doesn't seem to be a totally sold Marlovian and who has the virtue of integrity that the Stratfordians lack, her book putting forth a Marlovian theory is something she completely admits is fiction, a novel.  She is also always interesting and entertaining.

Now, I know that you've never read a single thing about this and I'm sure you won't read any of the things I mentioned above, though you might listen to a video.  I doubt you've read any of the works since you were forced to in your last English class in high school when you probably borrowed the Cliff Notes from your best friend, was he nicknamed something vulgar and puerile?   I will not post on this topic again this year.

Update:  Well, that shows how little you've studied this because exactly at the time that Ben Jonson was involved in publishing the First Folio, including writing most if not all of the front material, including the things allegedly by other authors and others, he was working for Francis Bacon one of those doing exactly the same thing with Bacon's own literary production.  As well, Jonson was one of the most sarcastic and tricky writers who ever wrote in English, he was quite up to and quite willing to be part of a hoax that he indicated in all of the Elizabethan obscurity that was a feature of late Renaissance literature.   Since part of the literary practice with plays was for anyone to add lines and insert even speeches in them - I seem to recall something like that mentioned in the Corpus of the plays - Jonson would have not hesitated to do so nor, I would guess, would Bacon who was certainly up to at least that much of an effort.  He was the only one of the candidates who would have had direct access to the most recent knowledge of the discoveries of the circulatory system as mentioned in Coriolanus but which wasn't discovered until after the deaths of all of the other candidates, including the Stratford man. 

Bacon, however, to my knowledge, was never in Italy and if there's one thing that Richard Roe proved, whoever wrote the plays and poems had to have traveled extensively in Italy and been familiar with some rather obscure geographical and cultural information - that's obvious as Roe proved.   As with the total absence of evidence of an education and a total lack of any contemporaneous record of him having been acknowledged as the actual writer of the works - something Diana Price proved even the most obscure rival playwrights of the time had in at least three categories of such contemporaneous evidence, the Stratford man had not one in ten different categories of evidentiary material - the Stratford man is not known to have ever left the South of England in his lifetime, he certainly had no access to that information in English, there was no Elizabethan or Jacobian Rick Steeves to provide it to anyone who had not been there. 

I won't comment on the Marlovian claims because I haven't read much of them and they'd have to find convincing evidence his death had been faked as some have speculated - something that isn't that far fetched considering the facts as we have them but which hasn't been demonstrated sufficiently and the fact that Christopher Marlowe was a professional spy.   Ros Barber makes some good points about the stylistic and thematic similarities between the last known Marlowe and the earliest plays in the corpus in question, her other research is very interesting and much of what she says is extremely level-headed and practical, apparently she was the first one who got the idea of putting all of the documentary evidence of the Stratford man in one place so people could see how unliterary it was and how some of it obliterates much of the Stratfordian lore that even those who teach at universities still push.  I've made use of her compilation to argue that here on a claim by Gary Wills which the documentary facts obliterate. 

Bullshitters Fables for those Credentialed By Colleges

Apparently there's a bit of atheist lore going around that "the Pope" is to blame for the way that birth control pills have been prescribed for the last 60 years  considering that there have been 6 Popes in those 60 years, none of whom I'm aware having any control over how birth control pills have been prescribed, bull shit.

Apparently the lore comes from a Brit - big surprise, huh? -

Professor John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning and reproductive health, rejected the “sub-optimal” way the combined hormone contraceptive pill has traditionally been taken for 60 years.

“The gynaecologist John Rock devised [the break] because he hoped that the Pope would accept the pill and make it acceptable for Catholics to use,” Professor Guillebaud told The Telegraph.

“Rock thought if it did imitate the natural cycle then the Pope would accept it. When his campaign to get the pill accepted by the Pope failed, he just simply stopped being a Catholic, having been a committed one for his entire life.”

He added: “How could it be that for 60 years we have been taking the pill in a sub-optimal way because of this desire to please the Pope?”

To which I say again, bull shit.  If "the Pope" had any say in the matter OR ANY ABILITY TO MAKE ANY DECISION OF THAT KIND they wouldn't have ever been approved for sale.  I doubt Dr. Rock would have been stupid enough to believe that such a break would have gotten Catholic policy on artificial birth control changed or that any such stupidly adopted hope would have survived Pope Paul VI's issuance of his encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, fifty years back in that 60 years.

Apparently I'm not the only one skeptical of this bit of Brit-based anti-Catholic lore.  Corissa Hollenbeck researched the issue for VICE:

I wanted to know why it took over 50 years for this guidance to be scrapped and, of course, if the rule had anything to do with the Pope. To find out, I spoke to Jane Dickson, Vice President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare.

VICE: What led to this revelation about the "Pope Rule"?
Jane Dickson: Can we start off by not calling it a "Pope Rule"? Essentially, the background to the seven-day break with the pill is actually multi-factorial. There were many reasons, historically, why the pill had a seven-day break, not just because one of the inventors himself was a Catholic and wanted to appease the Catholic church – so I think that’s really important. It wasn’t just about appeasing the Catholic Church. I think there has been a lot taken out of context and sensationalised in the press; I need to clarify that first.

So: there were many reasons why there was a break when the pill was introduced. One of the most important reasons is that the pill that was used 60 years ago, some of the hormones that were in that pill were 100 times greater in dose than the pills we have now. Quite often, women actually felt quite dreadful when they took it. Part of the reason for the seven-day break was just a break from the massive amount of hormones. Also, it led to a period, even though we know now that that’s not a proper period, that’s just a withdrawal bleed. Because contraception was new at the time, there was a lot of anxiety about how it affected your body. One of the other reasons for the break was to reassure women that they weren’t pregnant.

You can read more about it at the link, above.

RMJ posted an excellent piece yesterday that touched on the use of anti-Catholic invective in allegedly educated peoples' folk lore which goes nicely with this story.  And there aren't any bigger suckers for that kind of tripe than those who want to be taken as sophisticated and in the know and not someone with cooties.  The conceit of the educated class that they've got some enormous qualitative advantage over those they love to think they're better than is hilarious when you fact check their firmly held beliefs.

None of this will stop the anti-Catholics, especially the online atheists, repeating this story as fervently as Trumpzis will repeat their preferred lines of crap.  It will become common received wisdom before the month is out and will be endlessly repeated as something everyone knows.  Fact checking so much of what people with university and college credentials firmly believe and even include in their alleged intellectual work it's shocking how much of that doesn't stand up at all.  I guess I should have never been so naive as I was.

Update:  I should have added this part of the VICE interview:

Thanks for clearing up the Pope stuff. Why is it that everyone is misinterpreting this information to think that the Pope’s the main cause?

Basically, one of the inventors of the pill was a Catholic. He was concerned about how the Catholic church would respond to contraception. There is a theory that one of the reasons for the pill-free interval was to make it more acceptable to the Catholic church, because it mimicked the natural cycle. But as I told you, there were lots of other reasons for that break, other than just the Catholic church.

Why do you think it’s such a popular theory?

I think it’s a sensationalised story, because contraception isn’t very sexy. So, some sensationalising every now and then doesn’t go amiss. But, really, we view this as a positive change. It puts women at the centre of their care, to give them more power over their bodies.

What’s the main message here?

There’s all sorts of ways that we can empower women to take control over their hormones. That’s the far more important message than anything about the Catholic church. It’s about women having more reproductive control, [and] that there’s potential for it to be more reliable, less pill failures and health benefits, in terms of better control of conditions like endometriosis and PMT. I suppose we’re just trying to challenge the held belief that you have to have a period. It is just a withdrawal bleed.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Ain't We Got Fun - Stupid Mail

Alcoholic Ascites* and Cirrhosis 

Image result for alcoholism ascites

Alcoholic Psoriasis 

Image result for alcoholism psoriasis

Alcoholic Uticaria 

Image result for alcoholism red spots on skin

Alcoholic Clubbing

Fetor hepaticus, also called 'breath of the dead', is a condition in which the breath of the patient is sweetish, musty, and occasionally fecal in nature. It is associated with portal hypertension with portosystemic shunts.

There are more, these are just a few of the things I've witnessed in family members. I could mention the alcoholic dementia that one member of my family suffered from, he could get really scary at times.  I had an uncle who committed suicide because of hallucinations due to that.  Then, of course, there are car accidents, other accidents, attacks on other people, violence against wives, girlfriends, children, strangers, etc. Luckily, my alcoholic and drinking family members haven't caused any  of those, so far.  Notice, "drinking".  You don't have to be an alcoholic to have that happen. 

*  I would be remiss to not mention that one of my brothers died of this when a blood vessel in his throat burst from the pressure.  It wasn't a pretty way to die. 

Stupid Mail

Don't you remember, I gave up brawling with the voluntarily retarded for New Years.  That's still in effect. 

You Don't Have To Be An Alcoholic For Drinking To Be Deadly For You And Your Loved Ones

I wasn't aware of Harold Johnson until hearing him on the CBC's Sunday Edition yesterday.   He made a strong impression on me because of the experience of my family with alcoholism and his honesty in pointing out the failure of the various models of understanding and dealing with alcoholism, the medical (what I usually call the "scientific") model, the illness model, the punitive model and others.  He is also honest about the fact that alcohol is a drug for which there is really no reliably safe dose,  you don't have to be an alcoholic or even legally drunk to have it produce disaster for you or those you encounter in your life.

The idea that drinking is in some way positive or fun or sophisticated or smart, or daring or grownup and that advocating sobriety is that greatest of all vices of moderny life, unstylish, something pushed by show-biz and other effective propaganda since at least the 1920s is a big part of the problem 

Harold Johnson's idea that it is necessary to promote the positive value of the experience of sobriety in place of those stories is essential.  While shaming is bad because it is ineffective, the presentation of drunkenness or buzzed as positive is far worse.  I'd rather risk people feeling bad about doing something that might injure or kill them or cause them to injure or kill other people by presenting drinking, honestly, for what it is, the consumption of poison for, among other things, the sensation of a relaxation of responsibility to not do those things.  Anyone who thinks making people feel bad about that is wrong has no real sense of morality or even a hierarchy of responsible behaviors. 

I haven't read his book,  Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours), yet, but I will.   As I am facing alcoholism in the generation after mine, people I took care of when they were young children, people for whom I have feelings that are as strong as those of a parent,  I'll try anything to try to convince people not to drink,  I've seen the consequences of drinking in the most horrible and graphic of ways, including the most horrible deaths from alcoholism in all of their horrible manifestations that are seldom gone into because they are horrific,  including many deaths in accidents by people who are not alcoholics, including the deaths of those who didn't drink at all who were killed by people who had been.  

I would call your attention to what Harold Johnson has to say about bans on alcohol in First Nations communities and the way that the Canadian Supreme Court violated Treaty 6 which the Cree people in Saskatchewan insisted include a ban on the alcohol that they already knew was deadly, the Supreme Court violated that treaty on the basis of individual rights.   Prohibition in the American model was not much of a success, unfortunately, but that doesn't invalidate the idea in all forms.  At any rate, making it harder to get and trying to restrict its use is certainly a good idea.  I remember when we all thought that removing the criminal penalties for public drunkenness was a nice, liberalish thing to do,  you have to wonder how many people were deprived of not only all of their rights but their lives on the basis of that alleged freedom.  As I've had occasion to point out to some of my alcoholic relatives and many an online atheist, anyone who is drinking is, temporarily or permanently, giving themselves up to the power of an idol, the ethyl alcohol molecule.  They give up their freedom to act as a competent agent to it.   Along with some good things, liberals in the 60s and 70s made some really stupid legal decisions based on "freedom" babble. 

Temporarily Wrapping Up Commenting On The Clergy Sex Abuse Meeting That Ended Yesterday

I was thinking of taking a week or two off before talking about the extraordinary meeting of bishops and others that Pope Francis called to deal, decisively, with the scandal of child sex abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church because, as with all of these kinds of meetings, the follow-up will either make or break it.  I'm not a huge Vatican watcher so I don't know how seriously to take the various takes on the meeting, those who criticize it as inadequate, those who have worse to say about it, those who have declared it a step forward,  that will all come out in results.

One thing to watch is a specific case, that of Bishop Richard Malone, now of Buffalo, New York who has been very credibly accused of being negligent in cases of priests under his supervision when they molested children.   I'm familiar with Richard Malone because he was the worst bishop of the Diocese of  Portland, Maine in its history.   Considering his competition for that title includes the putrid and dishonest Cardinal William Henry O'Connell, that shows you how bad he was. If he remains in office, don't hold your breath for the rest of the promised changes.  I'm not alone in saying something like that:

If it seems clear the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences got the message, it is less clear to me that the heads of the Roman dicasteries did. It is imperative that the four congregations charged by Francis' apostolic letter "Like a Loving Mother" with holding bishops accountable for negligence about protecting minors publish the protocols and procedures by which that accountability will be exercised.

It is almost two years since "Like a Loving Mother" was published and still no one knows: Have any bishops been brought to justice under the terms of that document? By what policies and protocols? Have new canons been recommended so that the procedures and protocols are clearly known? Has a case been opened against, for example, Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, about whom there have been credible allegations of negligence? If not, why not? What role do nuncios play in this process? This will be the first test of this meeting's success going forward: Will the curial congregations publish their policies or protocols and disclose the cases they are currently handling? Francis: If you are reading this, every Saturday when you meet with Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, ask for those protocols and don't stop until you get them.

I think that unless Catholic lay people and Women religious are given real power equal to that which the bishops now have, including within the relevant Vatican departments, you can also fairly doubt that anything will really change. I disagree with Michael Sean Winters on trusting the bishops to end the crimes and scandal by themselves.   And I don't mean lay people under the patronage of things like those disgusting knightly orders, crypto-fascist fraternal organizations and their ladies auxiliaries, and reactionaries and wealthy donors to the church.  I mean the very kind of outsiders who have honestly devoted themselves to changing the church to end the corruption and expose the crimes from the disastrous times of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.   The majority of bishops and many of those still in the Vatican were part of the establishment during that time, they haven't seemed to have gotten it most of that time or been brave enough to tell those two disastrously bad pastors the truth.   It wouldn't have made a difference to John Paul II, who had a lot in common with the dictatorial, power hungry O'Connell mentioned above.  They may have lost worldly office but they'd have gained their souls.

Oscars? Don't Much Know, Don't Much Care

About the only thing I heard about who won was that Spike Lee has gotten no love from the largely white Hollywood "academy" and a white savior movie got the best movie.   If I were Spike, if they put my next film up for a nomination I'd tell them to take it down because it was only there for show, anyway.

From what I understand about "The Academy" I've got something in common with some of those who vote on who to give those statues to.  I haven't seen any of the movies, I probably never will.  I don't care about them and in a few months they'll all be relegated to ever dimming memory.  About the only thing I remember anyone saying in regard to the whole thing is what George C. Scott said when he rejected being put in competition with other actors,

"The whole thing is a goddamn meat parade. I don't want any part of it."

Like Bela Bartok said about music competitions, competitions are for race horses, not artists.  In music it's far more likely that the losers will go on to have interesting and distinctive careers, the rule for how to win music competitions is to do the expected.   The artists among those involved with the movies would do a lot better to concentrate on making art, not chasing dollars, which is what the whole thing is really about.  I would bet that more people get more from the losers than they do the winners.  Except for money.  That's what Hollywood is really all about.   I can't even rouse myself to look at the absurd gowns,  witty, catty Mr. Blackwell made that kind of fun for about five minutes every year.  It's no fun anymore.

Update:  No, I didn't know that Roger Stone tried to steal Mr. Blackwell's act after he died, he should go to prison for that, alone.  The best punishment would be for Stone to rot in obscurity and without influence. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

William Bolcom - Gospel Preludes Book 3

William Bryant,  DMA recital at the University of Washington. 
June 1st, 2015 at University Presbyterian Church - Seattle.

This dissertation by the organist, William Bryant, The Influence of American Organ Building and American Hymnody on William Bolcom’s Gospel Preludes For Organ contains a lot of fascinating information.  The section that covers Book 3 starts on page 71. 

Book 3 of the Gospel Preludes begins with a notation by Bolcom that these three pieces,“Jesus Calls Us; O’er the Tumult,” “Blessed Assurance,” and “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” may be performed separately or as a continuous set. This performance note is absent from the other books of preludes. Book 3 is the only book that gives specific registration suggestions and were done by Marilyn Keiser. While these registrations serve has guidelines for the pieces, I think registrations that follow the gospel tradition are still needed to best perform these pieces.

It's kind of too bad that the great Free Fantasia that is the last piece in the last book kind of overshadows the rest of the preludes which are pretty great too.  This Protestant hymnody isn't something I knew from first hand growing up, though from what I understand the use of Protestant hymns in Catholic masses is increasing. 

Ending Exclusive Power By Unmarried Men Is The Only Way The Scandals of The Church Will End

It's too early to know just what will come out of the meeting of bishops, others and Pope Francis to come up with ways of dealing with the scandal of child sex abuse in the Catholic clergy and other employees but there are several things that are obvious:

- This problem, left up to the bishops to police themselves will just get worse.  The Bishops and Cardinals and, yes, Popes had their chance to police themselves and they have proven to be as bad at that as any other defined group has been.

- Unless experienced, knowledgeable and capable lay people and Women religious are given authority - real authority - over ordained men, in order to investigate and force their exposure and punishment and removal,  the meeting was a sham and worse than a waste of time.

The problem grows out of the consequences of a small group of ordained men having ultimate control over the Catholic Church, whatever other aspects of that result from mandatory celibacy for the clergy have contributed to this particular phenomenon, you can depend on a exclusively male power structure to result in similar problems.  That was true of civil governments all through the past, it is true of all-male institutions, it is true of any male only power structure.   That those men with ultimate power over the official church are unmarried men who allegedly don't have families or family relationships makes all of those tendencies worse.  What Paul VI presented to the world as some great gift and jewel is has been proved by this scandal to be more of a blight.   That blight is on fullest display in the Vatican and in bishop's palaces and residences and other places where that male power is most concentrated. 

Unless the governing power of the Catholic Church, including decisions to discipline and expel the clergy, is expanded beyond the unmarried all-male clergy, to include married Women and Men and unmarried lay People and Religious, this is just a scandal which will be prolonged and repeated.  The absolute control of ordained, unmarried men should be ended, immediately.  The proposal of the American bishops that they self-police is disgustingly inadequate.

The longer that is delayed the more credibility and moral authority the Church loses.  The bishops and Cardinals and maybe even this Pope may not like that but it is the key to ending this disgraceful scandal and crime.   Complete openness in matters of finances is also long overdue.  I would include all of the nominal Catholic institutions, including the disgusting medieval hold over of orders of "knights" and all other venues of corruption that have come into the Church.  I can't think of anything that would do more to restore the Catholic church to credibility  or, actually, for it to move closer to that credibility than it has known since the Apostolic period than finally getting rid of all of that medieval and modern junk.  They should abolish all of the honors of that kind and turn their wealth over to credible charities and to funds to help the victims of past crimes of the clergy.

Pope Francis clearly has wanted to end the radical concentration of power in the Vatican that the last two Popes have enforced, that was the reason he wanted this meeting of all of the bishops instead of imposing himself on the problem.  The time for that approach, though, has passed. His conception of collegiality, perhaps an improvement over the dictatorship of JPII, is inadequate, especially as the mediocrity of so many of those yes-men bishops appointed by JPII and Benedict XVI still dominates those levels of the hierarchy.  There were a few good things said by some bishops and others at this conference, especially by the journalist Valentina Alazraki and Sr. Veronica Openibo, leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.  I haven't read everything that was said at the meeting but I doubt the bishops, for the most part are really getting it.

Even More And Even Number Hate Mail

Apparently a whole posse of play-lefties got pissy when I noted that the personality trait of narcissistic immaturity, as demonstrated by Jussie Smollett was not rare in those who go into show-biz.   Considering the title of the post where I said that was "More And Number Hate Mail,"  well, Exhibit B, I guess.

I would expect that anyone who went to a college or university- I believe the pissy play-lefties were all college grad -  which had a theater department and a student pub or other place where the theater people would retire to of an evening would certainly have noticed their antics.  They wanted you to look, they wanted you to notice, all the world's a stage.   I was a music major who, once, against the advice of my adviser, was involved with the music for one theatrical production and found out they carried on like that during rehearsals, as well.  I encountered some pretty immature and at times histrionic music majors but never anything like that.  The closest I recall was one particularly annoying alto who quit music because no one would work with her.  Whatever you want to say about musicians, they tend to be more disciplined than theater people, perhaps excluding those who go into musical theater.   Though even there I would point out that the discipline of the music keeps some of that under control until they reach the super-star status that lets them get away with letting their narcissistic immaturity loose.

It's hilarious that anyone could object to the observation that those who act on TV or, maybe worse, in the movies have more than a few self-centered, immature people among them.  Their fellow actors tell story after story about the antics of their fellow actors, not to mention directors, producers, writers, stage and set hands, etc.  They tell on each other, it's a large percentage of the lore of the acting profession, they make plays and movies and TV shows on that theme.  And it's supposed to be objectionable because I pointed out that Jussie Smollett was being accused of a particularly egregious public stunt in line with that, as so many publicity stunts in the past have been.

Even more and even number is what was on display in that comment.   Come to think of it, some blogs that develop a tight, inbred commenting community have a lot in common with most theater departments I've seen.  Children trying to get attention, a blight on the left, nothing to take seriously.