The Intentionality of Evil
As seen here
As children we're fed a steady diet of comic books (and now, movies based off of them) in which brave heros save the planet from evil people. It's become practically conventional wisdom that such stories wrongly make the line between good and evil too clear -- the world is more nuanced than that, we're told -- but this isn't actually the problem with these stories. The problem is that the villains know they're evil.
And people really grow up thinking things work this way: evil people intentionally do evil things. But this just doesn't happen. Nobody thinks they're doing evil -- maybe because it's just impossible to be intentionally evil, maybe because it's easier and more effective to convince yourself you're good -- but every major villain had some justification to explain why what they were doing was good. Everybody thinks they're good.
And if that's the case, then intentionality doesn't really matter. It's no defense to say (to take a recently famous example) that New York bankers were just doing their jobs, convinced that they were helping the poor or something, because everybody thinks they're just doing their jobs; Eichmann thought he was just doing his job.
Eichmann, of course, is the right example because it was Hannah Arendt's book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil that is famously cited for this thesis. Eichmann, like almost all terrorists and killers, was by our standards a perfectly normal and healthy guy doing what he thought were perfectly reasonable things.
And if that normal guy could do it, so could we. And while we could argue who's worse -- them or us -- it's a pointless game since its our actions that we're responsible for. And looking around, there's no shortage of monstrous crimes that we've committed.
So the next time you mention one to someone and they reply "yes, but we did with a good intent" explain to them that's no defense; the only people who don't are characters in comic books.
A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics:
01. A -5 point starting credit.
02. 1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.
03. 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.
04. 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.
05. 5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful correction.
06. 5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a widely accepted real experiment.
07. 5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).
08. 5 points for each mention of "Einstien", "Hawkins" or "Feynmann".
09. 10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).
10. 10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were evidence of sanity.
The Crackpot Index
11. 10 points for beginning the description of your theory by saying how long you have been working on it.
12. 10 points for mailing your theory to someone you don't know personally and asking them not to tell anyone else about it, for fear that your ideas will be stolen.
13. 10 points for offering prize money to anyone who proves and/or finds any flaws in your theory.
14. 10 points for each new term you invent and use without properly defining it.
15. 10 points for each statement along the lines of "I'm not good at math, but my theory is conceptually right, so all I need is for someone to express it in terms of equations".
16. 10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.
17. 10 points for arguing that while a current well-established theory predicts phenomena correctly, it doesn't explain "why" they occur, or fails to provide a "mechanism".
18. 10 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Einstein, or claim that special or general relativity are fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).
19. 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift".
20. 20 points for emailing me and complaining about the crackpot index. (E.g., saying that it "suppresses original thinkers" or saying that I misspelled "Einstein" in item 8.)
21. 20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize.
22. 20 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Newton or claim that classical mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).
23. 20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if they were fact.
24. 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to your past theories.
25. 20 points for naming something after yourself. (E.g., talking about the "The Evans Field Equation" when your name happens to be Evans.)
26. 20 points for talking about how great your theory is, but never actually explaining it.
27. 20 points for each use of the phrase "hidebound reactionary".
28. 20 points for each use of the phrase "self-appointed defender of the orthodoxy".
29. 30 points for suggesting that a famous figure secretly disbelieved in a theory which he or she publicly supported. (E.g., that Feynman was a closet opponent of special relativity, as deduced by reading between the lines in his freshman physics textbooks.)
30. 30 points for suggesting that Einstein, in his later years, was groping his way towards the ideas you now advocate.
31. 30 points for claiming that your theories were developed by an extraterrestrial civilization (without good evidence).
32. 30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your theory.
33. 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, stormtroopers, or brownshirts.
34. 40 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike.
35. 40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.
36. 40 points for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)
37. 50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no concrete teutable predictions.
© 1998 John Baez
Religious Light Bulb jokes
Q: How many born-again Christians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They have already seen the light.
Q: How many agnostics does it take to change a light bulb?
A: We can't know.
Q: How many agnostics does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One. Maybe.
Q: How many deists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. If the light bulb no longer interferes with the world, why bother interfering with the light bulb?
Q: How many atheists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. The light bulb does what the light bulb does. Maybe you can understand a tiny portion of light bulb theory, but if you think you know why it’s there, you are deluding yourself. We are not that smart and probably never will be. The light from the light bulb is not there to serve you. You are not the grand drama around which the light bulb spins. Just be thankful for whatever light you have been lucky enough to experience.
Supermarket Headline of the Month:
"FRENCH DIET SECRETS REVEALED:
SWALLOW CONSONANTS, FEEL FULL ALL DAY."
As seen at http://homepage.mac.com/lpetrich/www/misc/SovietCensorship.txt
In Robert Kaiser's book, "Russia, The People and the Power", first published in 1976, we get a look at the official censorship system that they had there. He reprinted part of a list of things a Soviet newspaper ought not to print, acquired, he told us, from an unofficial but usually reliable source. Here it is:
The itineraries of trips and locations of stopovers or speeches of members and candidate members of the Politburo.
Information about the organs of Soviet censorship which discloses the character, organization, and method of their work.
Activities of the organs of state security and Soviet intelligence organs...
...The amount of crime, the number of people engaged in criminal behavior, the number arrested, the number convicted...
Information about the existence of correctional labor camps...
Facts about the physical condition, illnesses, and death rates of all prisoners in all localities.
The number of illiterate people.
Reports about the human victims of accidents, wrecks, and fires...
Information about the consequences of catastrophic earthquakes, tidal waves, floods, and other natural calamities...
Calculations of the relative purchasing power of the ruble and the hard currency of foreign states...
The size of the total wage fund [that is, wages pade to the population], or the amount of money which comprises the population's purchasing power, or the balance of income and expenditure of the population...
Information about hostile actions by the population or responsible officials of foreign states against representatives or citizens of the USSR.
The correlation between the cost of services for foreign tourists in the USSR and the selling price of tourist trips in the USSR.
Information about export to foreign countries of arms, ammunition, military technology, military equipment...
Information suggesting a low moral-political condition of the armed forces, unsatisfactory military discipline, abnormal relations among soldiers or between them and the population...
The number of drug addicts...
Information about occupational injuries.
Information about the audibility of the radio stations of foreign states in the USSR.
Information about the duration of all-union [that is, nationwide] training sessions for athletes; information about the rates of pay for athletes; information about the money prizes for good results in sports competitions; information about the financing, maintenance, and staff of athletic teams...
As Robert Kaiser noted, that was certainly not the end of subjects omitted by the Soviet press. These include domestic political differences, positions taken by Communists elsewhere in Europe that are contrary to Soviet positions, the higher standing of living of some of Eastern Europe, and the social services offered by some Western European countries, such as Sweden, which surpass their Soviet counterparts. When then-President Sadat of Egypt kicked out 10,000 Soviet advisers, _Pravda_ was silent at first, but after 24 hours, reported that they were coming home by mutual Soviet-Egyptian agreement, having completed their mission.
The list pretty much speaks for itself, though some parts of it may be worth further comment.
Information on the travels of Politburo leaders may be kept under wraps to make them more difficult to locate and assassinate. Crime may be kept covered up to avoid disturbing people and to allow snickering to the effect that only the morally degraded evil empires of the "imperialist camp" have lots of troublemakers on the loose. Information on prisoners may be hushed up to avoid creating any sympathy for them.
Why natural disasters are to be covered up I am not sure -- again, perhaps to avoid disturbing people. If people start comparing the purchasing power of various currencies, they will find that the official exchange rate for the ruble is greatly inflated. Hostile actions directed at Soviet citizens abroad may also be considered disturbing. As with crime, discussing arms sales would mean acknowledging something that they like to attribute to those evil empires. Likewise with drug addicts. The Soviet Government had tried to jam some foreign radio stations, and it was not going to undermine its efforts.
On the last one, Soviet sports officialdom has long presented an image of pure amateurism in Soviet sports, hinting that professionalism in sports is somehow degrading. Presenting the truth about Soviet sports would reveal Soviet athletes to be professionals, something they insist is only true of the athletes of those evil empires.
There is a certain school of criticism of journalism that states that the news media like to present nothing but bad news, that the media are fundamentally unpatriotic, etc. etc. I wonder what those who make such criticisms would think about the system of Soviet censorship. It is practically made to order for such people -- never present anything unflattering. And the main fare of newspapers such as _Pravda_ in decades past would warm these people's hearts -- lots of stories about speeches made by Party leaders and the achievements of this factory or that collective farm. So those who complain about bad news ought to consider the alternatives.
Marvels of logic. and witch hunts
CROWD: A witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! We've found a witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! We've got a witch! A witch! A witch! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! We've found a witch! We've found a witch! A witch! A witch! A witch!
VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch. May we burn her?
CROWD: Burn her! Burn! Burn her! Burn her!
BEDEVERE: How do you know she is a witch?
VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.
CROWD: Right! Yeah! Yeah!
BEDEVERE: Bring her forward.
WITCH:I'm not a witch. I'm not a witch.
BEDEVERE: Uh, but you are dressed as one.
WITCH: They dressed me up like this.
CROWD: Augh, we didn't! We didn't...
WITCH: And this isn't my nose. It's a false one.
VILLAGER #1:Well, we did do the nose.
BEDEVERE: The nose?
VILLAGER #1: And the hat, but she is a witch!
VILLAGER #2: Yeah!
CROWD: We burn her! Right! Yeaaah! Yeaah!
BEDEVERE: Did you dress her up like this?
VILLAGER #1: No!
VILLAGER #2 and 3: No. No.
VILLAGER #2: No.
VILLAGER #1: No.
VILLAGERS #2 and #3: No.
VILLAGER #1: Yes.
VILLAGER #2: Yes.
VILLAGER #1: Yes. Yeah, a bit.
VILLAGER #3: A bit.
VILLAGERS #1 and #2: A bit.
VILLAGER #3: A bit.
VILLAGER #1: She has got a wart.
BEDEVERE: What makes you think she is a witch?
VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt.
BEDEVERE: A newt?
VILLAGER #3: I got better.
VILLAGER #2: Burn her anyway!
VILLAGER #1: Burn!
CROWD: Burn her! Burn! Burn her!...
BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
VILLAGER #1: Are there?
VILLAGER #2: Ah?
VILLAGER #1: What are they?
CROWD: Tell us! Tell us!...
VILLAGER #2: Do they hurt?
BEDEVERE: Tell me. What do you do with witches?
VILLAGER #2: Burn!
VILLAGER #1: Burn!
CROWD: Burn! Burn them up! Burn!...
BEDEVERE: And what do you burn apart from witches?
VILLAGER #1: More witches!
VILLAGER #3: Shh!
VILLAGER #2: Wood!
BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn?
VILLAGER #3: Because they're made of... wood?
CROWD: Oh, yeah. Oh.
BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.
BEDEVERE: Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?
VILLAGER #1: Oh, yeah.
RANDOM: Oh, yeah. True. Uhh...
BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?
VILLAGER #1: No. No.
VILLAGER #2: No, it floats! It floats!
VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!
CROWD: The pond! Throw her into the pond!
BEDEVERE: What also floats in water?
VILLAGER #1: Bread!
VILLAGER #2: Apples!
VILLAGER #3: Very small rocks!
VILLAGER #1: Cider!
VILLAGER #2: Uh, gra-- gravy!
VILLAGER #1: Cherries!
VILLAGER #2: Mud!
VILLAGER #3: Uh, churches! Churches!
VILLAGER #2: Lead! Lead!
ARTHUR: A duck!
BEDEVERE: Exactly. So, logically...
VILLAGER #1: If... she... weighs... the same as a duck,... she's made of wood.
BEDEVERE: And therefore?
VILLAGER #2: A witch!
VILLAGER #1: A witch!
CROWD: A witch! A witch!...
“Why did Clinton wear regular shoes, but Bush wears cowboy boots?”
In Clinton's time, the USA was still only ankle-high in shit.”
There Will Come Soft Rains
There Will Come Soft Rains
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
-- Sara Teasdale
How to Make a Woman Happy
It's not difficult to make a woman happy. A man only needs to be:
1. a friend
2. a companion
3. a lover
4. a brother
5 a father
6. a master
7 a chef
8. an electrician
9. a carpenter
10. a plumber
11. a mechanic
12. a decorator
13. a stylist
14. a sexologist
15. a gynecologist
16. a psychologist
17. a pest exterminator
18 a psychiatrist
19. a healer
20 a good listener
21. an organizer
22. a good father
23. very clean
WITHOUT FORGETTING TO:
45. give her compliments regularly
46. love shopping
47. be honest
48. be very rich
49. not stress her out
50. not look at other girls
AND AT THE SAME TIME, YOU MUST ALSO:
51. give her lots of attention, but expect little yourself
52. give her lots of time, especially time for herself
53. give her lots of space, never worrying about where she goes
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT:
54. Never to forget: * birthdays * anniversaries * arrangements she makes
HOW TO MAKE A MAN HAPPY
1. Show up naked
2. Bring beer
Notice the screen saver
as a Pez Dispenser
The following has been attributed to State Representative Mitchell Aye from GA. not bad, considering.
"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters.
We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights."
ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.
ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.
ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.
ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.
ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.
ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.
ARTICLE X: This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from! (lastly....) NOW..
ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!!!!
If you agree, share this with a friend. No, you don't have to, and nothing tragic will befall you if you don't. I just think it's about time common sense is allowed to flourish. Sensible people of the United States speak out because if you do not, who will?
What's in a name? Here are just a FEW of the many odd anagrams derived from
GEORGE W BUSH:
HE GREW BOGUS
G W BOGUS HERE
BEG HUGE ROWS
BEGS HUGER OW
U S HEBREW GOG
WEE SHRUB GOG
WE BUGGERS OH
EGO HUGS BREW
BREW GOES UGH
WHERE BUGS GO
BEG WHO URGES
BEG WORSE HUG
BOG SEWER UGH
BEG WHORE GUS
OWE SHRUB EGG
SHRUB EGG WOE
BEG HUGER SOW
BERGS HUGE OW
BERG WOE GUSH
WE HUG BERG SO
BERGS WOE UGH
SUB EGG WHORE
Behind the German Prostitute story
As published on the Jerry Puornelel website
This story made quite a stir and generated a number of letters, some suspicious of the story. I received this yesterday but in a format that made impossible to post. I wanted to wait until I had it because it is definitive:
Subject: RE: Unemployment benefits and prostitution
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
Like everyone, I was appalled at the story involving the young German woman told to take a job as a prostitute or lose her benefits. I have lived in Germany for five and a half years now, and I know how upset people are about the recent attempts to change the unemployment system (generally considered to be a disaster by everyone and another major blunder by the ruling coalition that the opposition is too ham-fisted to take advantage of).
But after some reflection, something about it just didn't ring quite true. For one thing, in my experience German bureaucrats tend to be friendly, polite, and helpful and the service tends to run quite smoothly (especially in the eyes of native Southern Californian who knows all about California DMV). So I did some checking.
This appears to be a popular topic in chat rooms and fora all over the Internet, but every single discussion in English stems from the same article in the Telegraph that your original correspondent cited. Among other problems I found in the article, is the fact that "Merchtild" is not a real name; the attorney's name is actually "Mechthild".
More suspicious is the fact that I couldn't find any sources in the German news. This is the sort of thing that ought to have been reported, by the tabloid press, if nothing else. After checking a few places, I finally tracked the original source to an article in a paper called "die Tageszeitung" or TAZ.
It is important to know that the TAZ is a radical left-wing paper founded by people with ties to the old Red Army Faction. It is rather typical of its genre and its articles should be read with a large helping of salt. I suppose it is slightly to the left of the old "LA Free Press" (but I'm a little too young to have actually read that particular journal).
In any case, the article was pointing out an apparent gap in the new employment laws that could produce a situation like this and cited the attorney mentioned in the Telegraph article (spelling her name correctly). They also quoted a bureaucrat saying that since prostitution is legal, it cannot be considered offensive. Maybe, maybe not; one has to consider the source. But most noteworthy is the fact that no actual case is mentioned in the article at all, just a theoretical possibility.
I tried running some of the other names in the Telegraph article through Google and did get one important hit. The following is an article from Deutsche Welle, which is a respectable and trustworthy institution:
[now a dead link]
"A brothel owner in the historic German town of Gvrlitz on the Polish border is preparing to open his establishment next month but faces a one last serious problem -- he has no staff. Ulrich Kueperkoch's adverts seeking "hostesses for erotic services" for his Golden 3 Privatclub have been rejected by Germany's Federal Labor Office even though prostitution is legal in the country. The dispute with the labor office stems from its refusal to allow advertising for prostitutes in the network of job-placement agencies that it runs.
A spokesperson said that the labor office has "decided not to be active in that market sector" due to its belief that such work could infringe on an individual's rights if he or she is forced to take the job. Kueperkoch insists he would only employ those who were interested and not those who felt they had no other choice."
So, the German employment services aren't taking postings for erotic hostesses and no one is threatened with losing their unemployment benefits for refusing to become a prostitute. What we have is an activist lawyer and a radical newspaper pointing up an important but probably not serious loophole in new laws.
The story is picked up in a garbled fashion (let's give the Telegraph's reporter the benefit of the doubt) by one English language paper that doesn't check its facts properly, and everyone has the chance to be outraged about something new for a few days. As David Brin notes, indignation acts like a drug, releasing massive amounts of endorphins into the system. The boomers may not be smoking as much dope or snorting as much coke as they used to, but they're still getting high.
Tech Details: Cumbre Vieja Volcano -- Potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Islands
An in-depth discussion of the actual volcano, with tons of illustrations, is available here:
There is an excellent analysis here:
GRL- Cumbre Vieja Volcano -- Potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Islands (PDF)
complete with illustrations that demonstrate that the Bahamas protect Miami, if not much else.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my research lab gave to me…
Twelve active badges
Eleven sensor networks
Ten wireless beacons
Nine memory prosthetics
Eight tangible interfaces
Seven smart home testbeds
Six virtual street games
Five ambient displays
Four healthcare monitors
Three museum guides
Two smart fabrics
and an RFID tag in a Xmas tree!
Beethoven first became famous as a kick ass improvizer in Vienna.
There is a famous story where Beethoven went to a concert and, in his typical manner, started berating the composer from the audience as the last notes ended. The composer said something like, "Oh yeah! Think you can do better? Well prove it!" So Beethoven came down out of the audience, grabbed the cello part, turned it upside down and proceeded to improvise a 4 part fugue based on the inverted theme that was in front of him.
Classical music has an improvisational tradition going back to the middle ages, but it IS different than jazz.
see this link:
"Beyond Notation: The Performance and Pedagogy of Improvisation in Mozart’s Time"
See this story about a showdown competetition with Daniel Steibelt
As noted here:
It's something we practice every day, as a way to get through life's unexpected predicaments: improvisation. But how many of us are able to improvise musically, to conjure up melodies, harmonies and rhythms, seemingly from thin air? In this hour of Milestones of the Millennium, our host Melinda Whiting takes us on a tour of the mystery and magic of musical improvisation.
Nowadays we associate contemporary improvisation with jazz or bluegrass, not classical music; we don't often get the opportunity to hear a classical musician improvise. However, this wasn't always the case. In previous centuries, the occupations of composer and performer were inextricably linked. The one who composed music also executed it, sometimes spontaneously. Organists such as J.S. Bach improvised during church services. In the nineteenth century, after the establishment of public concerts, performers such as Beethoven used improvisation as a way to show off their abilities and attract attention to themselves.
Many great composers were masters at improvisation, and some of them incorporated improvisation into their written compositions. Mozart and Beethoven not only improvised variations on popular themes of the day, but preserved some of these improvisations of paper. Sometimes, a composer was required to improvise a passage of an otherwise notated composition, as was the case with the 1808 premiere of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, Op. 80. Beethoven was so overwhelmed with concert preparations that he had no time to compose an introduction for the Fantasy. When it came time for the premiere and Beethoven still had no introduction, he simply sat down at the piano and improvised one.
One place in classical music where it is not unusual to find improvisation is the cadenza. As master improviser and Harvard Professor Robert Levin points out, a cadenza is a musical freeze frame in the midst of a concerto. While the orchestra pauses, the soloist takes a single chord and through musical reflection and invention blows it up and prolongs it. The manner in which the cadenza is improvised varies among musicians. Some performers, such as Levin, prefer a more historically informed and stylistically consistent approach, one that remains faithful to the composer's own musical language. Levin finds great satisfaction in the challenge of restricting himself to a particular style, especially one that is readily familiar to the audience. Other performers, such as violinist Nigel Kennedy, take a more post-modern and eclectic approach, weaving into the cadenza a variety of historical styles and techniques.
What's the future of improvisation in classical music? Levin believes that improvisation is on the upswing. With contemporary composers writing in a more accessible language and many young performers willing to take risks, we will be sure to find improvisation taking a more visible role in performance. Improvisation is music at its most spontaneous, unexpected and exciting. Levin remarks, "I think the most important thing in performing a piece of music, and likewise, even more so in the listener's apprehension of what's going on, is a sense that anything that's happening could have been something else." A performer's ability to spontaneously summon an improvisation requires a combination of discipline and fantasy, as well as a willingness to share and communicate with the audience in a magical way.
An Interesting Letter to the Editor
As seen in the SP Times
The "Left Behind' controversy
Re: Apocalypse now - maybe, Nov. 26.
Nicholas D. Kristof seems unaware that among fundamentalist Christians, there is controversy concerning the Biblical interpretation exhibited by Tim La Haye and Jerry B. Jenkins in their series of novels.
I will not enter into a detailed argument in this letter, but the "pre-tribulation" postion taken by La Haye has plenty of difficulties with the Bible.
Another major problem is the question of whether only Christians can go to heaven. Many passages in the Bible reveal that Jesus is the only pathway to heaven. But this does not translate into a formal, or even necessarily conscious, acceptance of Jesus as one's personal savior.
On the contrary, such an official act of acceptance would be a deed, a work, which the majority who hold La Haye's pre-tribulation position agree is not the basis of salvation. We are not saved by our works, but rather, by the shed blood of Jesus. He, and He alone, is our Savior.
Instead of working to achieve salvation, I find that the Bible shows salvation to be a free gift of God, a gift to those of us who could never hope to earn such an infinitely valuable treasure.
Therefore, it is not salvation which must be struggled for, but rather, damnation. Going to Hell requires effort, a persistent, knowing and finally irrevocable rejection of the priceless love of God.
This is not at all to devalue a formal acceptance of Jesus as one's savior. Such an acknowledgement of His grace is a safeguard against rejecting Jesus, against taking the mark of the beast. Formal acceptance prevents the sin against the Holy Spirit, which is what it takes to go to Hell.
But for those who never in their lifetime hear of Jesus, or are never able to make a fully informed decision, I am convinced that God has made provision for their salvation also.
For, as the Bible tells us, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to eternal life through His saving grace.
-- Robert Arvay, Tampa
These are the same guys who took over a school in Russia, killing dozens of people.
They are reported coming in the the American southwest.
I just hope they do note go after the presidential debate.
jmaybe I am just being too paranoid.