Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gertrude Bell, unrecognized genius:

Here's a history lesson, courtesy Wikipedia,

Bell's influence led to the creation of a country inhabited by a Shi'ite majority in the south, and Sunni and Kurdish minorities in the center and north respectively. By denying the Sunni Kurds a separate, autonomous area or state, the British tried to balance the heavy predominance of Shi'ites in Iraq and keep control of the potential oilfields in their territory.

The British thought that Sunnis should lead the Iraqi nation, because the Shi'ite majority was regarded as volatile to govern due to its largely tribal and nomadic base in Iraq, and hard to assimilate because of an unyielding religious bias for the "Ali" faction of the Muslim schism. "I don't for a moment doubt that the final authority must be in the hands of the Sunnis, in spite of their numerical inferiority," Bell once said; "otherwise you will have a ... theocratic state, which is the very devil."

She had a great idea there; putting three distinct religious and ethnic groups together in a precarious balance of power. I could see no possible way this could backfire--except for maybe civil war. Perhaps that little part slipped her mind?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Thought Medley

Apparently Barack Obama (D-IL) is refusing monetary contributions from lobbyists. Hurrah for political integrity!

Also my channel 37, previously CNN, is now BBC World. This makes me more excited than it should. Hurrah for journalistic integrity!

On a somewhat unrelated note, some German military officials gotten themselves in trouble for a racist video. I would take it more seriously if the premise wasn't so hilariously ridiculous:
"You're in the Bronx, a black van pulls up in front of you and three African-Americans get out and start really insulting your mother... act!". The soldier then fires his gun several times and shouts obscenities in English, as the instructor encourages him to curse even louder.

Oh yeah, and Nancy Grace is completely loco. On a scale of one to Coulter I'd give her half an O'Reilly.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


First, an article:Pearls Before Breakfast

tldr; World class violinist Joshua Bell participates in an experiment where he plays near the metro which in proximity to several government offices during rush hour. He plays classical violin solos (with a Strad) and despite large volumes of people, very few acknowledge his existence and fewer notice his talent. There's embedded video in the link for those interested in how he sounds.

What I really want to talk about is art and context. What is art without the context? What is the value? That's all a matter of subjectivity so bear in mind that I am simply giving my viewpoint, I'm sure many philosophers have debated this over the course of centuries.

Nothing can be fully appreciated without understanding first. To how many people does bebop sound like a random jumble of notes unaware of the intricate construction of chords and arpeggios underneath? How many people dismiss black metal as just so much noise? Actually scratch that, black metal still sounds like noise no matter how much I listen to it, only as slightly more bearable noise.

This is also why I suck with literature; I am terrible at analyzing literature.

Then what about context? Placing a picture in a museum does nothing to inflate its value, but it does mean that the audience seeing it likely has a greater appreciation of its forms in the first place. That is the problem with Bell playing 14 minute movements in a subway opening. If there isn't a catchy lick in the minute where people hear him, no one will appreciate it save for the occasional musician or classical aficionado. For those that believe the issue at hand was the necessity of getting to work on time, bear in mind that the experiment had been replicated at a Belgium boardwalk to even poorer results.

I suppose then with respect to context that black metal is pretty good from the perspective of an anti-Christ.

Would I have stopped? Maybe. It's evident in the video that he is playing a highly complex piece very well and he has great tone. On those merits I would probably stick for a bit, but in all honesty I'm not very into classical and having a solo means the characteristic counterpoint of baroque music is lost. Personally, I think that violins are too piercing alone, strings should come in trios or more. I will also be the first to admit I had no idea who the hell Joshua Bell is until I wiki'd.