Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Leaning Tower of Salt Glaze

Some bricks don't like it hot and salty.
Salt glaze firing: Ein hod, May 29

I don't go to the funerals of people I like

With Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller and Norman Mailer gone, Gore Vidal, 82, is the last truly legendary figure from a golden age of American literature.
Like Oscar Wilde, he is celebrated for his epigrams, most famously: "Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies." Asked whether his first romantic encounter was homosexual or heterosexual, Vidal replied that he had been "too polite to ask". His conversation is precise and mannered to a point that you suspect this is a man who may still crook a finger when he drinks champagne. He speaks with an archaic, aesthetic tone that can be contagious: there's hardly an interview in his cuttings file where he doesn't elicit the word "exquisite".
There's an episode of The Simpsons in which Lisa holds up a book entitled Tome, with Vidal's name on the spine. "These are my only friends," she complains. "Grown-up nerds like Gore Vidal. And even he's kissed more boys than I ever will."
"Girls, Lisa, girls," her mother says, and it's probable that a majority of viewers were, like Marge, unaware both of the writer's name, and romantic reputation.
(read more...)

מאסטרו בעין הוד Maestro in Ein Hod

Maestro is a non-profit association that promotes music and culture education in Israel and supports young local talents. The conference took place 2 weeks ago at the picturesque artists' village of Ein Hod and featured panels and screenings of music films, along with the other attractions
שיעורי מוסיקה הם דבר יקר, במיוחד לילדי הפריפריה. מפעל "מאסטרו" שהקימה אביבה, הופך את המוסיקה לנגישה. "כשילדים מבלים בתוך מרכז מוסיקה ויוצרים – לא נמצא אותם ברחוב", היא אומרת אביטל אילת-לובוב אולפן שישי (more on Maestro in Ein Hod מאסטרו בכפר עין הוד)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

ein hod עין הוד

Uploaded by einhod

Danny's Ben-Arye presentation of Ein-Hod artists' Village, Israel, artists, Museums, guest artists, galleries, art work shops, Guided tour 972-4-9841126, Restaurants, B&B and much more.(read more about Ein Hod)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bruce "Utah" Duncan Phillips (May 15, 1935 – May 23, 2008)

Legendary labor singer and IWW activist Utah Phillips died peacefully in his sleep on May 23, 2008. Labor Beat celebrates his memory with clips from video archives over 20 years.

Let me forge ahead to that point. I think there are people who make a living writing songs, and I think that's fine. I don't. I'm one of those who don't. That's purely subjective. That's because I'm at war with the state, and that's because of my experiences during the Korean War. And it supplies the state. It's like capitalism itself. It's one reason I despise the industry and won't do anything for it. But that's subjective. I'm not gonna try and talk anybody out of being a journeyman song writer and writing to the market, the way some painters paint to the market, you see. Go ahead and do it. At some point, the tradition is going to dry up, like a well, when everything is owned, you see.

(read more...)
more of Utah Philips on the blog

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dan Cahn and Bud Powell Dreaming Cleopatra's Dream in Ein Hod

Live performance on February 2008 at Ein Hod, Israel. Dan Cahn on piano, Valerie Lipitz on contrabass and Danny Benedikt on drums.

I dream'd there was an Emperor Antony;
O, such another sleep, that I might see
Such another man!
His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp'd from his pocket

In November 1947, Powell was admitted to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, where he stayed for more than a year, receiving electroconvulsive therapy which caused severe memory loss. The young Jackie McLean and Sonny Rollins became friendly with Powell on his release from the hospital, and Powell recommended McLean to Miles Davis. Powell suffered from mental illness throughout his life, possibly triggered by a beating by the police in 1945 after disorderly behavior. (Although he had a prior reputation for strange behaviour, the beating certainly exacerbated his problems.) He was also an alcoholic, and even small quantities of alcohol had a profound effect on his character, making him aggressive. Powell's continued rivalry with Charlie Parker, while essential to the production of brilliant music, was also the subject of disruptive feuding and bitterness on the bandstand, as a result of Powell's troubled mental and physical condition.(read more...)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fight Cancer with Rosemary Steak

J. Scott Smith found out about rosemary’s strength against the compounds while researching ways to reduce them as part of a long-term Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University. Smith, a KSU food science professor, has been looking into the carcinogenic compounds known as HCAs (heterocyclic amines).
“Put a little bit on the surface,” Smith advised grillers. “Rosemary extracts shouldn’t have much of an aroma to them. Most people don’t want a rosemary-flavored burger. So if you get the extract you don’t really know it’s there.”
The presence of HCAs is a potential problem in cooked beef. The likelihood of their presence is influenced by cooking time and temperature. Previous studies showed that meat products cooked below 352 degrees Fahrenheit for less than four minutes had low or undetectable levels of HCAs. The HCAs would increase as temperature and cooking time increased.
“Some use real high temperatures quick on the surface, then they pull it out and put it in an oven to finish it,” he said.
The better way may be to use rosemary extracts so temperatures can be still be kept high. Rosemary’s antioxidant content makes this method possible thanks to the presence of phenolic compounds. Those compounds – rosmarinic acid, carnosol and carnosic acid – block the HCAs before they can form during heating.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Her Handy Man: Alberta Hunter's 86th Birthday

"A good example of a double-entendre song is 'Handy Man,' which Alberta Hunter recorded. Several people recorded it, Ethel Waters included, but Alberta Hunter's rendition is wonderful. It really is just one double-entendre after another, and some of them are very clever. And as she sang it, even in later years, she kept adding new lines to it. It's the kind of song that doesn't stay the same. Nobody really knows who started that song."
(Andy Razaf / Eubie Blake)
Ethel Waters - 1928
Victoria Spivey & The Clarence Williams Blue Five - 1928
Helen Humes - 1973
Carmen McRae - 1987
- 1989
Also recorded by: Elsie Carlisle.

Whoever said a good man is hard to find
Positively, absolutely sure was blind
I've found the best man there ever was
Here's just some of the things that my man does

Why he shakes my ashes, greases my griddle
Chimes my butter and he strokes my fiddle
My man is such a handy man (oh yes he is)

He threads my needle, creams my wheat
Heats my heater and he chops my meat
My man is such a handy man

Now I don't care if you believe it or not
He's so good to have around
And when my furnace gets too hot
He's right there and turns my damper down

Why for everything he's got a scheme
You oughta see that new stuff he uses on my machine
That man is such a handy man (he's God's gift girls)

Why he flaps my flapjacks, cleans off my table
Feeds my horses out in my stable
That man is such a handy man, mmm yeah

Sometimes he's up long before the dawn
Busy trimmin' the rough edges off my front lawn
Yeah that man is such a handy man

Why you know he never has a single word to say
No, not while he's working hard
And I wished that you could see the way
He handles my front yard

Yeah you know my ice don't get a chance to melt away
Cause he sees that I get that fresh piece every day
My man, my man is such a handy man
And I ain't kiddin'

(read more...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dunkin' Bagels o'Voutee Mac Vootee

Slim Gaillard with Bam Brown and Scatman Crothers at Billy Berg's in Hollywood 1946
Jack Kerouac, On The Road(excerpt)

'... one night we suddenly went mad together again; we went to see Slim Gaillard in a little Frisco nightclub. Slim Gaillard is a tall, thin Negro with big sad eyes who's always saying 'Right-orooni' and 'How 'bout a little bourbon-arooni.' In Frisco great eager crowds of young semi-intellectuals sat at his feet and listened to him on the piano, guitar and bongo drums. When he gets warmed up he takes off his undershirt and really goes. He does and says anything that comes into his head. He'll sing 'Cement Mixer, Put-ti Put-ti' and suddenly slow down the beat and brood over his bongos with fingertips barely tapping the skin as everybody leans forward breathlessly to hear; you think he'll do this for a minute or so, but he goes right on, for as long as an hour, making an imperceptible little noise with the tips of his fingernails, smaller and smaller all the time till you can't hear it any more and sounds of traffic come in the open door. Then he slowly gets up and takes the mike and says, very slowly, 'Great-orooni ... fine-ovauti ... hello-orooni ... bourbon-orooni ... all-orooni ... how are the boys in the front row making out with their girls-orooni ... orooni ... vauti ... oroonirooni ..." He keeps this up for fifteen minutes, his voice getting softer and softer till you can't hear. His great sad eyes scan the audience.

One of the most eccentric vocalists ever to hit the jazz scene, Slim Gaillard became a legendary cult figure thanks to his own privately invented jive dialect "vout," a variation on hipster slang composed of imaginary nonsense words ("oreenie" and "oroonie" being two other examples). Gaillard's comic performances, laid-back cool, and supremely silly songs made him a popular entertainer from the late '30s to the early '50s, especially on the West Coast, and several of his compositions became genuine hits, including "Flat Foot Floogie" and "Cement Mixer." Versatility was not Gaillard's stock-in-trade, but he was highly effective at what he did, and his musical ability as a singer, Charlie Christian-style guitarist, and boogie-woogie pianist was perhaps a bit overlooked in comparison to the novelty value of his music
(read more...) via PCL LinkDump

Reverend Wright ? Fuck You Texas

"What people don't realize is we never STOPPED selling records! Through it all there has always been a Weird Wilbur product on the market. From the 'samitch' bag album right up to 'Weird Wilbur Rides Again,' there has always been a flow of my stuff to the public. People say, 'Oh, does it bother you that you never made it?' and I look at 'em like they're crazy! I wanna say, 'Hey, Bubba, I made a record in a garage in Harker Heights that the #$%&@ Chinese heard! Show me where Travis Tritt ever did that!"(for more...)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Needham's Grand Question

"A very tough egg is Dr. Needham -- large, muscular, a chain smoker, with a scalding brilliant tongue and no time for fools," a London newspaper columnist wrote in 1946. After two years in China, as head of the Sino-British Scientific Cooperation Office, Joseph Needham, a professor of biochemistry at Cambridge University, could solve just about any riddle -- "about sugar beet and foxglove seeds, yeast cultures and wooden shoes for Chinese airmen."
Needham was already launched on his master work, "Science and Civilisation in China," which ran to 18 volumes when he died in 1995 -- and is considered the greatest treatise on China ever written by a Westerner.
In "The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom," Simon Winchester, a masterly storyteller, follows Needham on 11 expeditions across 30,000 miles of rugged, war-torn terrain in a "damp, damnable" Chevrolet truck, as he searches for the Chinese origin of almost everything, from the abacus to the zoetrope. (read more...)

Friday, May 16, 2008

The paper burns, but the words fly away

Shaun Bythell, who runs The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, staged a public book burning in May 2005.
Shaun has kindly explained the reasoning behind his book burning...

The reasons for doing the book burning were two-fold. Firstly, I wanted to help promote Wigtown as Scotland's National Book Town, and with no advertising budget I had to think of some way of getting media coverage without paying for it. It was probably testing the notion that all publicity is good publicity to its limit, but I think that everyone who took the time to actually think about what we were doing understood our reasons for doing it. The knee-jerk ‘book burning is a bad thing’ brigade will never open their minds to look beyond the historical associations, and think about what might have motivated our event - they'll always assume that anyone who burns a book is a Nazi regardless of how far from the truth this is. These people are probably more dangerous than the people who burn books.
I attempted to reason with some of the people who attacked me by saying ‘The Nazis burned books’. My response was that the trains arrived on time in Nazi Germany, does that mean that every time a train arrives on time in the UK today it is driven by a Nazi? I got a lot of confused looks. Although there are historical associations, there is no causal link between burning books and oppression, and to assume that everyone who burns books is an oppressor is a sign of an underdeveloped mind.
The second reason for doing it was to highlight the fate of books which have reached the end of their useful life and to see whether, by raising the issue, anyone could suggest a possible alternative to dumping them in a landfill site, which is what largely happens to old books with pages missing, damp damage, or no commercial value.


Tell all the cats ...

When not pressing the valves on his trumpet or the record button on his tape recorder, Armstrong’s fingers found other arts with which to occupy themselves. One of them was collage, which became a visual outlet for his improvisational genius. The story goes that he did a series of collages on paper and tacked them up on the wall of his den, but Lucille, who had supervised the purchase and interior decoration of their house in Corona, Queens, objected. Armstrong decided to use his extensive library of tapes as a canvas instead, and the result is a collection of some five hundred decorated reel-to-reel boxes, one thousand collages counting front and back.. The collages feature photographs of Armstrong with friends (like the snapshot captioned “Taken at Catherine and Count Basie’s swimming pool, at his birthday party, August 1969”) and with fans (Armstrong seems never to have refused a photo op or an autograph); congratulatory telegrams and clippings from reviews of his performances; a blessing from the Vatican (as reassembled by Louis, the first lines read: “Mr. and Mrs. Most Holy Father Louis Armstrong”); and cutouts from packages of Swiss Kriss herbal laxatives, which, judging from the label’s ubiquity in these pieces, were as much a staple of Armstrong’s daily life as playing the horn. Only occasionally do the collages indicate the musical content within; usually there is no correlation.(read more in Paris Review)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Maestro in Ein Hod

Concerts, workshops and guided tours of museums and galleries are just part of the first annual "Maestro in Ein Hod" conference, hosted by Maestro and beginning today. Maestro is a non-profit association that promotes music and culture education in Israel and supports young local talents. The conference will take place at the picturesque artists' village of Ein Hod and feature panels and screenings of music films, along with the aforementioned attractions. During the event, 500 youth from periphery towns and 600 families of new immigrants are expected to arrive in Ein Hod to participate in the various activities.
Famed Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham is serving as artistic director for the event, which opens at 7 p.m. at the Yanko Dada Museum and will include a concert tonight at the local amphitheater. The festivities will run through May 19. For more details or reservations call (03) 524-7373(from Jerusalem Post)

Einstein's God

One of the highlights of Bloomsbury Auctions’ 25th Anniversary sale on 15th May 2008 is an unrecorded letter from Albert Einstein, in which the theoretical physicist wrote of his religious beliefs (lot 303).
Handwritten in pen in 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, in this extraordinary letter Einstein writes, ‘The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.’ Einstein was Jewish but went to a Catholic primary school, receiving private tuition in Judaism at home. He declined the offer from the newly formed state of Israel to be its second president. In this letter, which was written in German the year before his death, Einstein wrote, ‘For me the Jewish religion like all others is the incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity, have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.’
Although Einstein emphatically rejected conventional religion, he was affronted when his views were appropriated by atheists, whose lack of humility he found offensive.
Einstein’s letter is expected to fetch between £6000-8000 at Bloomsbury Auctions, 24 Maddox Street, London W1S 1PP (Tel: 020 7495 9494 email on Thursday 15th May. The sale of the letter would be a fitting way to celebrate Bloomsbury Auctions’ 25th anniversary; today it sells more books than any other auction house in the world.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rauschenberg's Goat

Robert Rauschenberg, the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century, died on Monday night at his home on Captiva Island, Fla. He was 82.
Mr. Rauschenberg’s work gave new meaning to sculpture. “Canyon,” for instance, consisted of a stuffed bald eagle attached to a canvas. “Monogram” was a stuffed goat girdled by a tire atop a painted panel. “Bed” entailed a quilt, sheet and pillow, slathered with paint, as if soaked in blood, framed on the wall. All became icons of postwar modernism.
A painter, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer and, in later years, even a composer, Mr. Rauschenberg defied the traditional idea that an artist stick to one medium or style. He pushed, prodded and sometimes reconceived all the mediums in which he worked.
Building on the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he helped obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art — not to mention between art and life.(more from nytimes)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Goyisher Bar Mitzvah

A 13 year old from Texas who stole his Dad's credit card and ordered two hookers from an escort agency, has today been convicted of fraud and given a three year community order.
Ralph Hardy, a 13 year old from Newark, Texas confessed to ordering an extra credit card from his father's existing credit card company, and took his friends on a $30,000 spending spree, culminating in playing "Halo" on an Xbox with a couple of hookers in a Texas motel.
Asked why he ordered two escorts, Ralph said he thought it was the thing to do when you win a "World of Warcraft" tournament. They told the suspicious working girls they were people of restricted growth working with a traveling circus, and as State law does not allow those with disabilities to be discriminated against they had no right to refuse them.(read more..)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tum-mo and Her Zen Stick

Scientists studying Tibetan monks found that by using an advanced yoga and meditation technique called Tum-mo, the monks can actually raise their body temperature.
The barely clothed monks were able to generate enough heat to dry large sheets soaked in cold water in less than an hour, in a room where the temperature hovered around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists found that some of the monks were capable of raising the temperature in their fingers and toes by 17 degrees.
Every day we're assaulted by sights, sounds, smells and other sensations. You need a meditation tool that will immediately focus all your senses on one thing.
Even though most people won't be able to raise their body temperature without years of meditation training, simple meditation techniques can help them master their bodies. According to Laurie Desjardins, meditation expert and creator of the Zen Stick meditation tool (, this mind-body mastery could help people reduce stress and strengthen their immune systems.
"In drug trials, even people who are given placebos show a physical reaction, depending on what the researchers tell them it will do," Desjardins said. "Positive thinking has a powerful effect on us, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Meditation can really benefit people's overall health."
Desjardins believes that even the busiest people can find the time for a brief meditation each day, and that making it a habit can lead to a happier outlook and a healthier life. Her Zen Stick meditation tool is designed to help people enter a meditative state quickly.(more bs HERE)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tommy Jarrell: Old-Time Fiddler

Thomas "Tommy" Jefferson Jarrell was born March 1, 1901 in Surry County, N.C. to Benjamin "Ben" Franklin Jarrell and Susan "Susie"Letisha (Amburn) Jarrell. He was born in his parents' home at the foot of Fisher Peak and was raised in the Round Peak area of Surry County, N.C. He had one foster sister (a first cousin) that was older than Tommy and ten younger brothers and sisters. The family raised corn, buckwheat, rye, beans, cabbage,sugar cane, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, and apples to feed this large family. They also raised tobacco and owned cattle.(more...) via J-walk

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Black Yellow River Pottery Is not Green

Liu Hao helped revive the ancient craft of black pottery after China's tumultuous Cultural Revolution.
Now the 70-year-old faces an even tougher task: keeping his craft relevant in an age of cheap copies and heightened environmental awareness.In a modest workshop in Qihe County, not far from the Yellow River in eastern Shandong province, Liu and his workers transform mud from the banks of China's "Mother River" into brilliant, black vases with intricate etchings.Here, in the shadow of factories and a busy railway line, time seems to stand still.Working in much the same way as artisans dating back some 5,000 years, Liu and his colleagues take about a month per item to mould the clay, shape it, etch it -- and, finally, fire it to produce its trademark black, shiny finish.The meticulous process makes for a relatively expensive final product: average pieces sell for about 1,000 yuan ($140), with some going for up to 50 times that much.(read more...)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Leibowitz ,Eldad - Maalot 1982

Israel Eldad (b. 1910 as Israel Scheib in Podvolochisk, Galicia, d. 1996), was a Revisionist Zionist philosopher. He was an early member and later chief ideological strategist of the Lohamei Herut Yisrael (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) or Lehi. Called By the British the Stern Gang.
Born in Riga, Yeshayahu Leibowitz (brother of Nechama) was educated in Germany and Switzerland and immigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1935. He joined the faculty of Hebrew University and taught chemistry, physiology, and history and philosophy of science. He authored many books and articles, lectured publicly, and was an editor of several volumes of the Encyclopedia Hebraica. Outspoken in his views on Judaism and Israel, he aroused a great deal of debate and antagonism among religious and non-religious circles. The decision in 1992 to award him the Israel Prize sparked much controversy, and Leibowitz declined to receive it. He died in Jerusalem in 1994
(for much more click HERE)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

SiriOm Singh and Roy Spungin at Danny's Beer in Ein Hod

Bhakti House of Devotion is a spiritual center in Trenton run by SiriOm Singh and Ayala Shimelman, a married couple respectively raised Christian and Jewish who embark on an international interfaith tour to Israel each year as a peace effort. The event will help support their journey.
A native Israeli, Shimelman rejects religious labels and concentrates on an
individual path that strives to make a positive impact. Raised Episcopalian, Singh
gravitated to Sikhism by way of yoga.
"As a young adult, I drifted away from the church,'' Singh said. "Its doctrine
really didn't speak to me, and I didn't feel that wholeness and peace that I yearned
for. I like to say yoga found me, I didn't find it. Out of that experience, Sikhism
spoke to me wholeheartedly and lovingly with inclusion of all races and denominations throughout the world.''
Shimelman added, "It's like God has a big switchboard that He switches for different
faiths. It's a link to the same place, it's just a different way of getting connected.''( MORE...)
Roy Spungin, Ph.D. - blues harp
Dr. Spungin has been playing Blues harp since 1975 when he met guitarist Brian Garrow, a member of the Mohawk Indian Tribe in upstate New York. After jamming with Brian to the likes of "Stormy Monday" in the echoing hallways of the basement of their dormitory, 'Doc' Roy spent the next twenty-five years in the New York City music scene wandering from jam to jam in some of Greenwich Village's finest music venues. Since immigrating to Israel in 2003, Doc Spungin found his musical niche with the Kostiza Band and performs Blues, Rock 'n Roll, Motown, and Jazz on a weekly basis in the northern city of Haifa

Lazy, Busy, Impulsive, Inert, and Irrational

They call this governing philosophy "libertarian paternalism." That is not an oxymoron, they insist in their book. Rather it is a corrective to the longstanding assumption of policy makers that the average person is capable of thinking like Albert Einstein, storing as much memory as IBM's Big Blue, and exercising the willpower of Mahatma Gandhi. That is simply not how people are, they say. In reality human beings are lazy, busy, impulsive, inert, and irrational creatures highly susceptible to predictable biases and errors. That's why they can be nudged in socially desirable directions.

As everyone knows, many guys are slobs. And, yes, we plead guilty to being guys. It is not that we set out to be sloppy. We have a lot of important stuff on our minds. Whom can we find for a tennis game tomorrow? How is our team going to defend against their three excellent wide receivers? You can see the problem. With these burdens distracting us, how can we be expected to keep a neat desk?
As all women who have ever shared a toilet with a man can attest, men can be especially spacey when it comes to their, er, aim. In the privacy of a home, that may be a mere annoyance. But, in a busy airport restroom used by throngs of travelers each day, the unpleasant effects of bad aim can add up rather quickly. Enter an ingenious economist who worked for Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam. His idea was to etch an image of a black house fly onto the bowls of the airport's urinals, just to the left of the drain. The result: Spillage declined 80 percent. It turns out that, if you give men a target, they can't help but aim at it.
In the grand sweep of global affairs, dirty bathrooms may be a relatively minor problem. But, by placing fly images on its urinals, the Amsterdam airport was using a technique with broad applications in the world of business and even politics. We call that technique "choice architecture".A choice architect is anyone who influences the context in which people choose--say, by deciding what order to put menu items in, or what path to encourage shoppers to take through a supermarket, or what information to give investors about their retirement savings options, or what to tell patients deciding how to deal with a medical problem. Because seemingly tiny changes in the environment can influence behavior, choice architects wield immense power. Theirs is a gentle power,they merely nudge rather than coerce. But their nudges can have major effects.
(read more and more...)
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Yale University Press),Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Monday, May 5, 2008

Who the Fuck Is Alice?

A pair of physicists at Tel-Aviv University in Israel came up with the quantum cheat by imagining two people betting on the location of a particle hidden among a set of boxes. In the game, a quantum mechanical con artist named Alice turns away as her classical victim, Bob, is allowed to look inside one of two boxes sitting on a table to see if there is a particle inside. He then closes the box and Alice guesses whether or not Bob found anything in the box he chose. If she guesses correctly, she wins Bob's money, if not, she pays him.
Classically, there is a 50% chance of Alice getting it right. If instead she's adept at quantum mechanics, and has a third box hidden away, she can ensure that she always knows what Bob found in his box. All she has to do is prepare the particle in a state that essentially places it in all three boxes simultaneously, through a phenomenon known as quantum superposition. In effect, there is an equal chance of the particle turning up in any one of the boxes. After Bob looks in one of the two boxes on the table, Alice measures the state of the particle in her hidden box. If she finds it empty, she knows Bob saw the particle in the box he opened. If she finds that the particle is in a superposition between two boxes, she knows that Bob opened the third box but didn't see anything inside. In either case, she always knows what Bob found, even though she has no way of knowing in advance where the particle will turn up or which box Bob chose to look in.
The authors of the paper admit that the current state of technology isn't good enough for a con artist to make money with quantum mechanics. But they believe that this is the first time anyone has shown that it's theoretically possible for someone like Alice to use quantum mechanics to win every time in a game that classical physics would only give her a fifty-fifty chance of winning. With advances in quantum technology, it may someday turn out that gambling is only risky for those of us who don't understand quantum mechanics.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Warm Beer And Cold Women

Nighthawk n 1: a person who likes to be active late at night [syn: {night owl}, {nightbird}] 2: mainly nocturnal North American goatsucker [syn: {bullbat}, {mosquito hawk}] (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, WordNet (r) 1.6 (wn) interface)

Night-hawk (Heb. tahmas) occurs only in the list of unclean birds (Lev. 11:16; Deut. 14:15). This was supposed to be the night-jar (Caprimulgus), allied to the swifts. The Hebrew word is derived from a root meaning "to scratch or tear the face," and may be best rendered, in accordance with the ancient versions, "an owl" (Strix flammea). The Revised Version renders "night-hawk". (Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary)

now the moon's rising
ain't got no time to lose
time to get down to drinking
tell the band to play the blues
drink's are on me, I'll buy another round
at the last ditch attempt saloon

Waits's manager, Herb Cohen, suggested that he do a live album. One that would showcase the compelling Waits stage persona... Waits himself had some reservations about embarking on the live album project, but he eventually agreed to do it. Bones Howe was enthusiastic from the outset, and he knew just how the job should be done. I said I didn't want to go into a club. I'd seen Tom live and we could make a much better record if ... we made a recording studio into a club. There was a room at the back of the Record Plant. It's a big recording studio, almost a soundstage. We put a little stage over in the corner. There was a booth with glass, so we didn't need to be in the room." Howe scheduled the Record. Plant shows for the last two days of July 1975, and everyone got to work creating the appropriate ambiance. "We put tables in the room and we had a guest list," says Howe. "We had beer and wine and potato chips on the tables. And we sold out four shows ... two nights in a row. Tom got this stripper named Dwana to be the opening act." Dwana was an old-time burlesque queen whom Tom had met on one of his jaunts to the Hollywood underworld. She warmed up the crowd - which was largely made up of friends and acquaintances of Waits and crew - and everyone was primed for a drunken voyage into an Edmund Hopper painting or a Charles Bukowski poem

For more Waits click HERE

Judy Collins sings Russian on Rainbow Quest

Back in the mid-sixties Pete Seeger had an educational TV show called Rainbow Quest. In 1962 the Court of Appeals had ruled that the House Un-American Activities Committee was faulty in its charges against Seeger and dismissed the case against him. With his newfound freedom, Pete was anxious to appear on TV again and promote the cause of folk music. But in spite of the court ruling, networks and sponsors were still wary. The producers of the new show Hootenany claimed that they wanted Seeger, but that the sponsors weren't willing; and the sponsors claimed they wanted Seeger on the show, but that the public wouldn't stand for it.
Following the do-it-yourself ethic of folk music, Seeger finally decided to start his own show, Rainbow Quest. It began on UHF channel 47 in New York and had only been picked up by seven stations when Seeger began to run out of funds. During its brief run of 38 episodes, Pete talked and strummed with such guests as Elizabeth Cotten, Patrick Sky, Donovan, Judy Collins, and Buffy Sainte Marie. Richard and Mimi Fariсa also appeared on the show in February of 1966.(from Richardandmimi)

Jewish Atheist: Reinventing the Sacred

The ancient Jews and Greeks split the ancient Western world. The Jews, as Paul Johnson wrote in his History of the Jews, were the best historians of the ancient world, stubbornly commemorating the situated history of a people and their universal, single God, our Abrahamic God. With this part of our Western Hebraic-Hellenic tradition comes our Western sense of history and progress, alive in the creativity of human history. In contrast, Greek thought was universalist and sought natural laws. The Greeks were the first scientists in the West.
If both natural law and ceaseless creativity partially beyond natural law are necessary for understanding our world, and if we as whole human beings live in this real world of law and unknowable creativity, these two ancient strands of Western civilization can reunite in ways we cannot foresee.Out of this union can arise a healing of the long split between science and the humanities, and the schism between pure reason and practical life, both subjects of interest to Immanuel Kant. Science is not, as Galileo claimed, the only pathway to truth. History, the situated richness of the humanities, and the law are true as well. This potential union invites a fuller understanding of ourselves creating our histories and our sacred, as we create our lives. (more from Edge)
Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Democratic Race for Dummies

Kinky in London

Here are a few lessons from modern American music. First, he not busy being born is busy dying. Second, you can't hang a man for killing a woman who is trying to steal your horse. And, third, you come to see what you want to see; you come to see, but you never come to know.
These are good lessons. Bob Dylan provided the first, Willie Nelson the second. The third belongs to Kinky Friedman, who, in the nineteen-seventies, travelled around the country with his country-and-Western band—Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys—annoying audiences with a series of goading, satirical songs with titles like “They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Asshole from El Paso.” In the eighties, after the band broke up, Kinky reinvented himself as a mystery novelist. In the past twenty years, he has written seventeen mysteries starring a detective named Kinky Friedman a Jewish cowboy from Texas who has quit a singing career for a life of sleuthing and one-liners in New York City.

It wasn't a healthy attitude, but it wasn't really a healthy world.
If you are firmly enough rooted in your masculinity, it shouldn't bother you much to have a woman on top of you. It's a good deal more relaxing, it's often more satisfying for both parties, and you can see a lot more of what's going on.
If you're patient and you wait long enough, something will usually happen and it'll usually be something you don't like.
It was a nice neighborhood. If you liked neighborhoods.
But if you're paranoid long enough, sooner or later you're gonna be right.
Golf is the only opportunity that middle-aged Wasps have to dress up like a pimp.
Every time you see a beautiful woman, just remember, somebody got tired of her.
Cats are a fairly right-wing group politically. They are lovers of the status quo. They don't like anything that might represent change. They hate marriages, divorces, moving days, graduations, bar mitzvahs, bill collectors, rug shampooners, painters, plumbers, electricians, television repairmen, out-call masseuses, Jehovah's Witnesses, and just about everything else, most of which I agree with them about.
We're all worm bait waiting to happen. It's what you do while you wait that matters.
I could imagine a number of things that would look good on her. One of them was myself.
True New Yorkers would stand in line only at the Carnegie Delicatessen. Or the lottery. Or the soup kitchen on the Bowery.
Sleep came slower than a frigid woman.
Cats, as a rule, don't like lawyers. They have great insight into human character.
There are no good lawyers. There may be lady wrestlers and Catholic universities. There may be military intelligence. But a good lawyer is a contradiction in terms.
I'd often felt that a man without a woman was like a neck without a pain.
I knew I wasn't as stupid as I looked. No one was.
On the whole, I preferred cats to women because cats seldom if ever used the word "relationship".

Not Psychedelic! You are Drunk! Asshole!

Absinthe took on legendary status in late 19th-Century Paris among bohemian artists and writers. They believed it expanded consciousness with psychedelic effects and called it "the Green Fairy" and "the Green Muse." The drink's popularity spread through Europe and to the United States. However, illness and violent episodes among drinkers gave absinthe the reputation as a dangerous drug, and it was banned in Europe and elsewhere.
In the new study, Dirk W. Lachenmeier and colleagues point out that scientists know very little about the composition of the original absinthe produced in France before that country banned the drink in 1915. Only a single study had analyzed one sample of preban absinthe. The researchers analyzed 13 samples of preban absinthe from sealed bottles -- "the first time that such a wide ranging analysis of absinthe from the preban era has been attempted," they say.
Lachenmeier says that scientific data cannot explain preban absinthe's reputation as a psychedelic substance. Recent historical research on absinthism concluded that the condition probably was alcoholism, Lachenmeier indicates.(read more...)