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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Blog Break (Updated)


Comment moderation intermittently enabled.

Real life, this time, pleasurable real life, supersedes virtual life!

Warren is coming for a visit — his third visit to Washington, D.C.!

There's too much going on here to work on publishing blog posts.

Then, once Warren arrives, we'll be busy doing some sightseeing. First up: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.  After that, sightseeing plans have not yet been definitively made.

During this blog's hiatus, enjoy Classical Music for Reading - Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, Tchaikovsky...:


Index to the music on the above audio can be found by clicking "show more" HERE.

UPDATE

We have now toured both Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (on a brutally hot day) and James Madison's Montpelier (in cool weather).

Next up: National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Open Thread


In looking back through my posts, I see that it has been over a year since this blog has opened a full-on open thread.

Here are two links to get the conversation started:

1. 3-Way Lead as Dem 2020 Picture Shifts: Sanders and Warren rise; Biden drops

2. Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It's The 'Lungs Of The World,' Is Wrong

So, what's on your mind?

Here is your chance to opine within the parameters listed below:

We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective


Note: comments consisting of blog gossip will be deleted as soon as an administrator of this blog becomes aware of such comments.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

Für Alina by Arvo Pärt (1935-present), the most performed living composer in the world:


About Für Alina:
Für Alina is a work for piano composed by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. It can be considered as an essential work of his tintinnabuli style.

[...]

Für Alina was dedicated to a family friend's eighteen-year-old daughter. The family had broken up and the daughter went to England with her father. The work, dedicated to the daughter, was actually meant as a work of consolation for the girl's mother, missing her child. Its introspection calls to mind a vivid image of youth, off to explore the world....
Read the rest HERE.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

"Gender Wars" And The Choir

Insanity is everywhere!

Even in the highbrow music world.

From 9-year-old girl sues German boys choir over gender bias (dated August 10, 2019, emphases mine):
BERLIN (AP) — A 9-year-old girl is suing a centuries-old Berlin boys choir, arguing that her bid to join was only rejected because of her gender, in a case that has sparked debate over equal rights versus artistic freedom.

The State and Cathedral Choir is one of the most renowned boys choirs in Germany, founded in 1465 by Fredrick II of Brandenburg. Over its 554 years, it has never admitted any girls.

The choir contends the girl’s rejection was “not predominantly about her gender” and she would have been asked to join if she had displayed extraordinary talent and motivation and “if her voice had matched the desired sound characteristics of a boys choir,” the court said.

The choir also expressed doubt it would have been able to work with the girl’s parents....


[...]

...The case has elicited strong feelings, with many weighing in on the side of the choir, arguing that it’s less about talent than about tone, and that mixing the choir would bring an end to a traditional sound.

Writing for the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, society columnist Hannah Bethke said “nobody has said girls can’t sing as well.”

“But the timbre is different, and judging that should be left to the musicians and the musicologists,” she wrote this week. “Anyone who wants to enforce a misunderstood gender equality here sacrifices a cultural asset.”...

Read the rest HERE.

That this case even had to go to court is insanity. 

Victory!  The court ruled in the choir's favor.   For now, anyway.

Sample of the pristine sound of the Berlin State and Cathedral Choir:


The Berlin State and Cathedral Choir's YouTube channel is HERE.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Swatting Of A Whistle Blower

[image credit]

If true, big tech thuggery.

From True Pundit (hat tip to Infidel Bloggers Alliance):
San Francisco Police, its bomb squad and the FBI surrounded the residence of Google whistleblower Zach Vorhies, just hours before he was scheduled to provide evidence to the Justice Department detailing how the tech giant has been manipulating its algorithms to promote an anti-Trump agenda and censor Conservatives on Google and YouTube.

Vorhies is a former senior Google software engineer, who on August 5th was in the process of delivering a Google laptop and internal documents to the Justice Department’s Antitrust division. But his whistle blowing efforts were stymied by police who stormed his neighborhood and locked down several blocks in an attempt to lure him from his San Francisco residence, at the request of Google executives.

What was Vorhies’ crime? Google executives told police that Vorhies was suicidal and a potential danger, Vorhies told True Pundit. The tech guru was red flagged by his former employer....

Vorhies, who said he has proof Google created complex algorithms to hide its political bias within artificial intelligence platforms, discussed the details of his allegations and the bogus raid with True Pundit’s Thomas Paine in the video at the top of this story. The video of police detaining Vorhies is included in that video as well....
Much more HERE, including a video interview of Zach Vorhies.

The Daily Beast questions Vorhies's mental stability by proclaiming that he is a conspiracy nut.  On the other hand, swatting really does happen.

Additional reading: Google internal bias leaker Zach Vorhies goes public after “intimidation” from Google.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Irretrievably Broken?


Silverfiddle Rant!
Is our nation's politics irretrievably broken?

Our public discourse has become vulgar, angry and overheated, with everyone going nuclear on their favorite targets of hate.

Let's remove Democrats, Republicans and President Donald Trump from the equation and focus on Frank Miele's contention featured in the last blog post.  This isn't a debate on who started it, who is stoking it, or who is to blame. The question is, is Miele right, or wrong?
If politicians are willing to use the most extreme labels against their opponents, such as calling [someone] a racist or a white supremacist, then we have reached the point where majority rule is in danger of becoming serial civil war. You cannot negotiate with a racist, you can only crush him.

Nor can those who are falsely so labeled simply put the insult behind them and work happily toward compromise. Instead, power will be obtained for the sole purpose of settling scores, and if you are out of power, you will say or do anything to get it back — literally anything.
I think we are there already, and I see no way to reverse or even calm the situation. We are becoming a balkanized, polyglot, tribal, third-world, sh**hole territory that just happens to be ruled over by a single national government.

What say you? 

Please confine your comments to whether you believe Miele is right or wrong, and if the situation is reversible.  Please do feel free to provide other examples of what you think is "Nuclear Name-Calling," i.e. hanging a name on someone so bad that it renders the target unworthy of negotiation, or even a polite hearing.  An accusation so heinous, the target is worthy only of destruction.

Unsafe, Unhinged, Un-American


Silverfiddle Rant!
The election of President Donald J. Trump put the Deranged Democrats on a runaway train to Batshiteville.  Having arrived, they are now in a perpetual purple-faced rage and stoking frenzied racial panic in a desperate attempt to foment 1960's style race riots and bigoted backlashes.

The situation here in the US has gotten so unhinged, Speaker of the Hash John Boehner is urging everyone to chill out, fire up a blunt, kick back and watch the Fredo Show on CNN.

I hate the public confrontations that are exploding all over the place, and wish everyone would just back off, go about their business, and let others do the same.

Frank Miele's observation sums up the frightening situation our politics has devolved to.

Here's the money quote:

If politicians are willing to use the most extreme labels against their opponents, such as calling President Trump a racist or a white supremacist, then we have reached the point where majority rule is in danger of becoming serial civil war. You cannot negotiate with a racist, you can only crush him.

Nor can those who are falsely so labeled simply put the insult behind them and work happily toward compromise. Instead, power will be obtained for the sole purpose of settling scores, and if you are out of power, you will say or do anything to get it back — literally anything.

What say you?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Self-Policed Thought


Silverfiddle Rant!
George Packer has written a good article in the Atlantic:

In it, he excoriates President Trump and dilates upon the danger he presents to our republic. But then he aims his criticism at Double Speak the woke left indulges in, and laments how identity politics has become the standard for judging the merits of artistic works.

"Progressive doublethink—which has grown worse in reaction to the right-wing kind—creates a more insidious unreality because it operates in the name of all that is good."

Doublethink produces cognitive dissonance, confusion, and ultimately, emotional distress. A healthy, free and rational human being will reject the contradictions and throw it all on the trash heap. But tyranny makes you pay a high price for doing so, be it a boot to the face from a 1984-style dictatorial regime, or from today's social media pile-ons and banishment from the Woke Hive.

So, we develop coping mechanisms, and Packer's cogent description is brilliant:
Some people who register […] doublethink might be privately troubled, but they don’t say so publicly. Then self-censorship turns into self-deception, until the recognition itself disappears—a lie you accept becomes a lie you forget. In this way, intelligent people do the work of eliminating their own unorthodoxy without the Thought Police.
He sums up the dangers of this in his penultimate two paragraphs. Please comprehend them and tell us what you think in the comments.
Orthodoxy is also enforced by social pressure, nowhere more intensely than on Twitter, where the specter of being shamed or “canceled” produces conformity as much as the prospect of adding to your tribe of followers does. This pressure can be more powerful than a party or state, because it speaks in the name of the people and in the language of moral outrage, against which there is, in a way, no defense. Certain commissars with large followings patrol the precincts of social media and punish thought criminals, but most progressives assent without difficulty to the stifling consensus of the moment and the intolerance it breeds—not out of fear, but because they want to be counted on the side of justice.

This willing constriction of intellectual freedom will do lasting damage. It corrupts the ability to think clearly, and it undermines both culture and progress. Good art doesn’t come from wokeness, and social problems starved of debate can’t find real solutions. “Nothing is gained by teaching a parrot a new word,” Orwell wrote in 1946. “What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.” Not much has changed since the 1940s. The will to power still passes through hatred on the right and virtue on the left.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

Enjoy The Hebrides Overture by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1947) who is perhaps best known for composing the melody for the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing":


Read about the above piece HERE. Excerpt:

Monday, August 5, 2019

What's Going On?


Silverfiddle Rant!
Our nation suffered back-to-back mass shootings this past weekend, and on cue, Democrats and their propaganda outlet known as the Infotainment Media Complex pinned it all on President Trump.

Is that fair?  If you think so explain why.

Is it the NRA's fault? If you think so, explain how.

What the Hell is Going On?

More importantly, why is this happening?  Why are people going off like sticks of dynamite?

Psychotropic meds? SRIs? Anti-depressants? ADHD medication?

Violent Hollywood "entertainment?"

Realistic first-person shooter games?

Societal decay? Declining moral standards?  Family estrangement?  Alienation?

Conspiratorial minds could posit darker forces...

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

The unusual piece Rapsodie pour orchestre et saxophone by Claude Debussy (1892-1918):


The story behind this piece is quite unusual. For example:
...Two years after receiving the commission, an irrationally frustrated Debussy wrote to his wife Lilly, likening her looming expectations to the Commendatore who appears to Don Giovanni in Mozart’s opera. He writes that Hall has “bored him” and calls her an “old bat who dresses like an umbrella.”...
Please see more from The Incredible Story of Elise Hall's Saxophone and Debussy's Trainwreck Commission. Excerpt:

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Name Calling Madness

To this we have come:


One of the latest absurdities:


Related reading: Soap Star Nancy Lee Grahn Smears Ivanka Trump as a Nazi for Getting a Dog.

Stop the world, I want to get off!

In the meantime, I will exercise this option: