Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mauro Giuliani Rondo op. 68 no. 2

This piece, posted here the other night, really caught my fancy, I think I'll find a guitarist and play it.   Here it is on a modern piano and guitar.    Giuliani was a pretty good composer.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Celebrating Pseudo-Scientific Doodley-Doo As If It Is Science

Ok, Google.  So, really.  In 2013, we're really supposed to think that Hermann Rorschach and his claim to fame are anything other than overwhelming evidence that materialism is as prone to generating the rankest of florid, absurd, superstition and that, unlike religion in the modern west, it can attain legal power through its pseudo-scientific assertions?

In my research into the prophet of 19th and early 20th materialist monism, Ernst Haeckel, I came across Rorschach.  He was one who sought guidance from the expert of scientistic German atheism as to whether or not he should pursue his interest in art or in "natural science".  I use the scare quotes because I won't honor either man or his product with the designation of science because they're evidence of the decay of science instead of specimens of science.  Haeckel advised him to leave art behind.  I assume, given it was the young Rorschach who sought out Haeckel in this regard that he shared his disdain of religion.  Rorschach published on the topic of religion, choosing to focus on the most atypical of bizarre cults, symptomatic of the mental illness of the leaders and those they gulled.  Which, one might suspect, made what they said about religion as relevant to most peoples' understanding of it as what the most insane of pseudo-scientists said about science told us about sane scientists.  Rorschach being one of those, both as a cultist of pseudo-scientific Freudianism and as an originator and practitioner of some of its most pseudo-scientific and unfounded nonsense.

I am pressed for time today or I'd go into the folly that a faith that every single aspect of the experienced universe fits into a neat scheme of materialist cosmology and the emotional necessity of such materialists to jam everything they come across into one, but that would take more words than I can spare just now.  The field of psychology and the related pseudo and ersatz sciences never fail to reveal how insane the results of that can be, when you look at it in light of the expressed materialist faith of its expositors.  But that will take books instead of a blog post.

The position of that materialist faith in our legal apparatus is the product of the desperation of dealing with those dangerously and tragically unable to function as rational beings, past the point of toleration.   That any legal use has been made of the assertions of psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. on the basis of their interpretations of what they have gotten people to say about ink blots us a troubling sign as to how irrational a faith in something asserted to be science can be.  It is as valid as the opinion of an entrails reader or an astrologer but with the pretense that it was ever scientifically validated makes it far more potently dangerous.  And that is only one of the absurdities of psychology that can literally mean life or death, freedom or incarceration under our scientific regime.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mauro Giuliani Two Rondos op 68

Maximilian Mangold "hitorical guitar"
Kristian Nyquist Hammerflügel

I think the guitar is either made by the early maker Staufer of someone influenced by him, the head design is his distinctive style.  I seem to recall that Giuliani played a Staufer.   It matches the period piano far better than a modern guitar does a modern piano.

score:   Note:  The rondos in the score are give in opposite order from the recording and they are given as parts.   It's a gloomy, overly warm November rain here, the first one matches the night.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wikipedia Is Far Far Worse Than I'd Thought

Long time readers will know I've got a big problem with Wikipedia and the influence it has on what people think they're thinking.   The problem starts with there being no ultimate quality control of the content found at Wikipedia.  In lieu of a general editorship there is the superstitious belief that having an "open editing" regime in which people contending conflicting ideas will fight it out in editing struggles and war and, magically, the right idea will prevail.  Of course, if you happen to consult an article while it asserts patent nonsense or intentional slander, libel, lies or malicious pranking,  you may never come back and check to see where the battle for that topic comes out in the end.  That is if there is any such thing as a final product at Wikipedia, any final determination as to what is reliable information on that topic.

In a very serious issue raised in  my last post on the topic, I noted how, after I found out about organized efforts to twist Wikipedia entries to suit a specific ideology, the first thing I thought of was that neo-Nazis and their allies were bound to take advantage of that.  And it turns out that they do know about it but nothing is apparently being done about it.
Snježana Koren, a historian at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, has judged the disputed articles as “biased and malicious, partly even illiterate”. She further added that “These are the types of articles you can find on the pages of fringe organizations and movements, but there should be no place for that on Wikipedia”, expressing doubts on the ability of its authors to distinguish good from evil.
Although the situation was discussed at length on Jimmy Wales’ talk page, there seems to be little progress in remedying it.
Extreme right-wing views can apparently be found even among the Wikimedia Foundation’s own staff. Its Education Program Consultant for the Arab World, Faris El-Gwely, sports a little green userbox with a black and white picture of Adolf Hitler on his user page in the Arabic Wikipedia. The Arabic text next to that image reads, “This user respects Adolf Hitler”.
This user respects Adolf Hitler
(هذا المستخدم يحترم أدولف هتلر).
Alerted to this fact by discussions in the German Wikipedia, Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager LiAnna Davis commented there on September 17, 2013: “The comments posted in this discussion have brought this issue to our attention, and we are looking into the situation.” Three weeks later, the Hitler userbox on Faris El-Gwely’s Arabic user page is as proudly displayed as ever.
If anyone does not have an enormous problem with that situation which must be seen as definitively discrediting of any entity which tolerates it,  you are part of the problem.


I came across Wikipediocracy, on which that piece is found, it has some of the most developed criticism of Wikipedia, its content, its (non)methodology and its establishement, both formal and de facto.   And, due to the gross irresponsibility of its formal establishment - Jimmy Wales et al. sometimes the de facto establishment on any one topic is in the hands of 14-year-olds (of all ages) with absolutely no real credibility to make assertions about it and the ability to mob the topic driving out people with the educational and professional expertise to actually speak authoritatively on the topic.

What makes all of this possible, is the anonymity built into the method by which Wikipedia is generated and "edited". The great lesson that the mess of Wikipedia teaches is that it really matters whether or not someone is willing to put their name, their identity, their credibility and their professional standing on the line by owning up to what they put out there. Another thing is that it is dangerous to not distinguish between sources of information which are backed up by the chance a serious, informed scholar takes when they write publicly and the risk-free act of posting something anonymously. One is serious scholarship with a rational presumption of responsibility, the other is blogging, if not tweeting.

In article after article, with ample citation and documentation, Wikipediocracy shows how dangerous Wikipedia, which is very likely to come up at the top of the page in any web search, potentially is.  It documents how irresponsible it was to come up with its (non)process for the generation and development of Wikipedia is, and, with a decade of experience of what that process produces, how grotesquely irresponsible it is to tolerate its sometimes good, sometimes neutral and often malignant influence on thinking can be.

In every way, the failed Wikipedia experiment exposes the problems of a powerful entity for which no identified people exercise responsibility.   The idea that Wikipedia's processes would come out any other way is pure superstition that some some unseen force apart from actual human intention is produced when an allegedly neutral situation is set up.  Where that force is supposed to come from, fully equipped with infallible or at least reliable judgement, needs to be asked.   It is the same superstition that pretends that an "unseen hand" is produced from a market economy, which posses wisdom and insight and produces the "right result" and the superstition that the truth will arise whenever there is a theoretical possibility of "more speech" answering the evil intentions of massive ideological lies.   The fact is that there is no such benevolent force created as a byproduct of setting up human systems.  The experience of their creation has shown that it is far more likely that bad money will drive out the good, that lies will travel around the world while the truth is getting its shoes on and that a swarming bunch of 14-year-olds will drown out and drive out the most well informed and idealistic of PhDs.

For more on how bad things are,  read about Jimmy Wales' impotent gesture of setting up a "Bright Line" to drive out trolls hired to write Wikipedia entries on behalf of companies and corporations, a rule with no enforcement mechanism but the same kind of "honors system" that so notably has not worked for Wikipedia.   Such a system has allowed  people to "edit" and write their own entries and others, if you could imagine such a thing occurring to people.

That last sentence was sarcasm.  For people who were surprised to discover that possibility.   Jimmy et al, a clue.  Honor only works when the person is honorable. So many aren't.  And, reviewing your behavior, I don't have any confidence that includes you.  Wikipedia and those who could fix it but won't deserve to be thoroughly and universally discredited.  They are among the more irresponsible people in the wreckage of our intellectual life.

Update:  This article about Jimmy Wales' and Wiki's relationship to the Stalinist dictatorship in Kazakhstan is stunning.

Note that this openly states that the National Academy of an authoritarian regime provides a “content and quality review process” in the Kazakh Wikipedia, and that two government ministries are involved in organising the work.

According to an interview given to the Harvard Crimson in October 2012, WikiBilim currently has 25 full-time employees, who have been busy transferring the content of the Kazakh state-published national encyclopedia and other state-published reference works into the Kazakh Wikipedia.

But what about other contributors who may believe in Wales’ vision of anonymous crowdsourcing? Kazakhstan’s government clearly has the technological and financial means to scrutinise volunteers’ contributions to the Kazakh Wikipedia for political correctness, and to identify the authors. What if they cite Western sources describing Nazarbaev as a dictator? Wikipedians have voiced concerns that Wales and the Wikimedia Foundation may be blissfully unaware just how much risk Wikipedia contributors in Kazakhstan who do not toe the party line might be exposed to if they contribute material to Wikipedia that cites foreign sources.

Yet Wales bestowed the "Wikipedian of the Year" on Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, the founder of WikiBilim.  For anyone who wants an idea of how serious he is about his "method".

This alone would discredit most people and organizations and it is only one aspect of the problem with Wikipedia and its establishement.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mike Michaud Deserves Election Because He Has Been A Champion of the Working and Poor People

Mike Michaud isn't my congressman, I wish he were.  Don't get me wrong, I love my congress woman, Chellie Pingree, I only wish I could have them both. Mike was sent to the House by the northern, more rural, more conservative, Second District.  He entered politics after more than two decades working in paper mills, a strong union member who knows things about real life that you can only get that way.  His character, formed by a sense of duty to the people he lived with and worked with, in a district which has widespread poverty matched with intelligence and good sense have made him a hard politician to beat.  People know he is for them and they are happy to give him the job of representing them.     Michaud has been winning election to the Maine legislature, both the House and Senate, becoming the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and winning unanimous election as the President of the Senate.  A former legislator who is a friend told me that Mike Michaud was one of the most able legislators he served with.  And that was his record before he was elected to the United States Congress.   For more of his career in politics, a record of distinguished service to the working people of his district and those who are out of work or poor see here.

Mike Michaud is running for governor of Maine and yesterday he came out as a gay man, saying the most sensible thing that can be said about running for governor while being gay, "why should it matter?"  We will find out the extent to which it will matter to voters in Maine.  I, of course, hope that they will decide it shouldn't matter.  They certainly know what they get when they hire Mike Michaud to work for them in political office, they get a long and overwhelming record of dedicated service from a man who is happy to be one of us, who doesn't look down on us, who puts our welfare above the attractions available to a member of congress who chooses to leave The People of Maine behind for the soft-handed, perfumed, well compensated crooks in the lobbying class.   The contrast between him and the incumbent Paul LePage, notorious for his vulgar, divisive, politics of hate couldn't be more different from Mike Michaud's record.   He is also quite different from the millionaire independent lawyer and businessman Eliot Cutler.

I supported Mike Michaud before and was extremely happy when he announced he was running for governor and this will make me work even harder for him.  I have to admit that it does matter to me that he is gay, it makes me all the prouder to have him in office from my state.   I can't wait to vote for him for the first time.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

HA! PZ Myers Hates It When Christians Play The Victim

Francis Spufford, who I am not familiar with, has recently had an excerpt of his book, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense, published on Salon.   You will probably not be shocked to discover PZ Myers hated what he read there.  He especially objected to this long paragraph, listing what his daughter was going to hear about what it means to be a Christian:

It means that we’re dogmatic. That we’re self-righteous. That we fetishize pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die. That we’re bleeding hearts who don’t understand the wealth-creating powers of the market. That we’re too stupid to understand the irrationality of our creeds. That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures, full of meaningless distinctions, on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy. That we uphold the nuclear family, with all its micro-tyrannies and imprisoning stereotypes. That we’re the hairshirted enemies of the ordinary family pleasures of parenthood, shopping, sex and car ownership. That we’re savagely judgmental. That we’d free murderers to kill again. That we think everyone who disagrees with us is going to roast for all eternity. That we’re as bad as Muslims. That we’re worse than Muslims, because Muslims are primitives who can’t be expected to know any better. That we’re better than Muslims, but only because we’ve lost the courage of our convictions. That we’re infantile and can’t do without an illusory daddy in the sky. That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in your minds. That we oppose freedom, human rights, gay rights, individual moral autonomy, a woman’s right to choose, stem cell research, the use of condoms in fighting AIDS, the teaching of evolutionary biology. Modernity. Progress. That we think everyone should be cowering before authority. That we sanctify the idea of hierarchy. That we get all snooty and yuck-no-thanks about transsexuals, but think it’s perfectly normal for middle-aged men to wear purple dresses. That we cover up child abuse, because we care more about power than justice. That we’re the villains in history, on the wrong side of every struggle for human liberty. That if we sometimes seem to have been on the right side of one of said struggles, we weren’t really; or the struggle wasn’t about what it appeared to be about; or we didn’t really do the right thing for the reasons we said we did. That we’ve provided pious cover stories for racism, imperialism, wars of conquest, slavery, exploitation. That we’ve manufactured imaginary causes for real people to kill each other. That we’re stuck in the past. That we destroy tribal cultures. That we think the world’s going to end. That we want to help the world to end. That we teach people to hate their own natural selves. That we want people to be afraid. That we want people to be ashamed. That we have an imaginary friend; that we believe in a sky pixie; that we prostrate ourselves before a god who has the reality status of Santa Claus. That we prefer scripture to novels, preaching to storytelling, certainty to doubt, faith to reason, law to mercy, primary colors to shades, censorship to debate, silence to eloquence, death to life.

Where, oh where, oh where, could Spufford have gotten that list of specimen anti-Christian invective from, you are almost certainly not asking yourself unless you happened to dodge the past decades tsunami of anti-Christian invective, especially that issuing from blogs such as PZ's Pharyngula as a putative "Scienceblog" and now found under the even more ironic heading as a "Freethought blog".   For example, the second comment on PZ's post reads:

Wait, how are those misconceptions? Of course, all Christians don’t do or embody all the things on that list, but good luck finding even a single Christian who doesn’t live up to at least a few of them.

to be frankly seconded as soon as comment 5

A. Noyd has it. There are indeed some lovely, compassionate christians who don’t personally hate gay people or women at all … but how does that excuse or redeem the appalling record of the christian churches? And how does that make a mythological supernatural being real? No amount of kind-hearted and ethically minded individuals can make christianity itself any more factually true than it is – i.e. not at all.

And the vast majority do live up to far too many of the items on that list.

As anyone who is familiar with the PZnut gallery will know, those are two of the milder confirmations of exactly the list of anti-Christian invective that abounds on atheist blogs and in atheist books and as found on most non-atheist comment threads on even non-religious themed blogs these days.  And if you need more proof, here is what Myers said about it:

"Jesus fucking Christ, man, get down off that giant cross you’ve erected! You’re going to hurt yourself!"

Convincing and rational rebuttal to Spufford's point, no?  [Private message to Mr Myers:  Uh, PZ, for a self-anointed figure of rational discourse to confirm something in your rebuttal of it is sort of, as we say, stupid.]

And it has been thus on PZ's blogs as can be seen on his archives.   For example, from September 17 

I am quite able to agree that you Christians are mostly harmless. But when you look objectively at the goofball ideas that you consider to be essential core beliefs of your religious philosophy, it’s a fair cop to say that you also look like freakin’ idiots.

And that's mighty mild Myers, if you know what I mean. 

You would be far harder put to find examples of atheists online who don't parrot exactly those lines Spufford lists even as they whine about the surveys that show Christians and other religious believers quite often say they'd probably not vote for an atheist for president.  I'd love it if PZ would ask his cult if they'd vote for a candidate who says the same kinds of things about atheists that he regularly lets loose.  

Being a gay man, a rather small minority group which it has only very recently become unfashionable to target for hate speech, in a limited number of places,  one of the stupider things I ever heard from other gay folk is that we could, somehow, obtain our civil rights without the support of the majority, straight, population.  It was a stupid idea that was especially prevalent in the late 1970s when it became fashionable among some dolts to, as one guy I knew put it, just sit there and hate straight people."  Within a few years that stupid pose would be abandoned in the circles during the AIDS crisis.  It became obvious that everything about our civil rights depended on the support of allies who were not gay.  No minority group anywhere, at any time has not needed allies in the majority population.   Numbers matter in a democracy.  

Atheists have had a fuller range of civil rights protections far longer than GLBT folks have today.  I'm unaware of any time when atheists were, for example, denied the right to marry.  White, straight, atheist men like Myers have had rights under the constitution from the beginning that women, African-Americans, and a host of others have not had during the longest part of the life of our country and today they have the full range of rights protected by law.   Their atheism was no impediment to their practice of those rights.  

Let me clue you in on something, atheists, GLBT folks, any minority group, can exercise their rights only with the support of the majority.  Even women, a truly, suppressed and oppressed majority of the population, needed the support of men in order to exercise their rights.  It was only when the minority of white men in the Congress and state legislatures were convinced to amend the Constitution that women could exercise the more basic political rights of full citizens.   You don't change the constitution or make law to extend the protection of the exercise of rights unless you convince the majority of those with power to change them. 

Atheists were included in those classes protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an act passed and signed into law by people who were, overwhelmingly, Christians.  That act conferred the full range of protection to those classes covered in it and those of us not covered do not yet have protection of those rights for ourselves.  That protection for the covered groups is sustained in a country in which the overwhelming majority of voters are Christians.  The separation of church and state and the disestablishment clauses of the Constitution have stood on the basis of the non-opposition of the majority of Christians. 

If Christians wanted to, I expect they could amend the constitution to remove those protections of equality and freedom of thought. It certainly could have been done in an earlier period when the separation of church and state didn't enjoy the iconic status that it has had in the post-WWII period.   That hasn't been done in the more than two centuries that the Constitution has been in place and it was, obviously, not the tiny faction of atheists that sustained them all these years.   Most often, when atheists complain of their "rights" being violated, it isn't more than a matter of anger that the majority of people are free to express their religion in ways that atheists want to complain about.  The ridiculous assertion that people have an obligation to vote for an atheist if they would rather not, the annoyance that religious people talk about their religion in pubic and express their political choices in terms of religious morality, atheists don't have a right to the majority of people suppressing their thoughts in those areas anymore than gay men have to straight men expressing their gender preference.   It would be an extremely stupid gay man who insisted that he did have that right.   There would be nothing to gain from it anymore than calling straight folks "breeders" brought. 

To Myers and the PZites I say: