Archive for May, 2007

Astronomy Pic Of the Century

May 15, 2007

(From Edge, via Positive Liberty).


Phantom Bach Music

May 10, 2007

Robbo has an interesting bit up today about the Bach Toccata and Fugue in d minor (not the far-superior Dorian one, mind you).
First, I have to disagree with Rob’s reflexive dismissal of the Bach:Led Zeppelin analogy that Camille Paglia makes in the article he’s initially discussing. I know it’s a matter of taste, but I at least have experienced emotions inspired by the “heaviness” (“darkness”?) of the organ literature that are very similar to emotions prompted by hard rock and electric blues in the Zeppelin tradition. And I know plenty of rock musicians and metal fans who also like heavy baroque music.
Second, I share Rob’s dislike for the Stokowski version of the T&F in d.
Finally, unlike Rob, for the reasons laid out in another article he cites (and which I cited about a year ago), I still believe that the T&F in d was not authored by Bach, at least not as an organ work. I had the privilege of attending a master class with Peter Williams back in 1999, and he delivered quite a persuasive argument that it was not a Bach organ work. Even when compared with other “youthful” Bach organ works, it just sticks out like a sore thumb. Williams then presented his compelling case that the T&F in d was most likely a transcription from a piece for solo violin.
For further reading, this article expands on Williams’ core idea, but explains how the T&F can be “suspiciously” easy to re-transcribe for play on a 5-string cello.

Cold War Space

May 9, 2007

Speaking of Dyna-Soar, via Gravity Lens I recently discovered Deepcold, an interesting site featuring the Soviet and American cold-war-era space projects. Check out the Dyna-Soar renderings here.

Nun wollen wir singen das Mailied

May 3, 2007

Mailied (Literally, Maysong)
Wie herrlich leuchtet
Mir die Natur!
Wie glänzt die Sonne!
Wie lacht die Flur!
Es dringen Blüten
Aus jedem Zweig
Und tausend Stimmen
Aus dem Gesträuch
Und Freud’ und Wonne
Aus jeder Brust.
O Erd’, o Sonne!
O Glück, o Lust!

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John’s Reading Report – April 2007

May 1, 2007

I’ve been doing a lot more reading than blogging recently. But that just means I’ve got lots of fresh material to write about.
Here’s what I’ve read since my last report:
Old Man’s War, John Scalzi (Excellent old-school SF! I wouldn’t say he’s derivative of Heinlein, but definitely writes in the same fine tradition. If you’re reading me, you probably know that John Scalzi keeps a great blog, too).
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester (I’m surprised this one hasn’t been made into a movie yet. [Wait – I wonder?])
The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson
The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography, Sidney Poitier
In progress:
The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter
The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God, David J. Linden
On deck:
1776, David McCullough (Yeah, I know it’s been waiting on the “to read” list for 3 months now. Best intentions and all that…)
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel C. Dennett
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, Carl Sagan (edited by Ann Druyan)

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Heinlein Quote of the Month (May 2007)

May 1, 2007

“Am not going to argue whether a machine can ‘really’ be alive, ‘really’ be self-aware. Is a virus self-aware? Nyet. How about oyster? I doubt it. A cat? Almost certainly. A human? Don’t know about you, tovarishch, but I am.”

– Manny Garcia O’Kelly in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.