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Thursday, May 31, 2012

leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal

Jonathan Swain volvo ocean race
Jonathan Swain adjusting sail trim after a tack. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (c) Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A man and his dog were walking along a road.....

A man and his dog were walking along a road.
The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years.
He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.

It looked like fine marble...

At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He and the dog walked toward the gate and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close  enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven,  sir,' the man answered.

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?'  the man asked.

'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'

The man gestured, and the gate began to  open. 'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?'the traveller asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept  pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.

There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book...

'Excuse me!' he called  to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump,'  said the man.

They went through the gate and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it..

The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you call this place?' the traveller asked..

'This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates?  Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'

“The Chemist’s War” Against Bacchus

The Intellectual Devotional II by David S. Kidder and Noah Oppenheim. Copyright 2006-2012 TID Volumes, LLC. The Intellectual Devotional is a trademark of TID Volumes, LLC
All Rights Reserved. Sharing is permitted--forward to a friend!

The Intellectual Devotional
American History
“The Chemist’s War” Against Bacchus
Is this supposed to be a threat?
Prohibition in the United States, also known as “The Noble Experiment,” was the period of almost fourteen years when the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol was made illegal as mandated by the ratification of the Eighteen Amendment of the Constitution. The Temperance movement blamed alcohol for many societal ills - such as crime, murder and prostitution - and its membership was overwhelmingly (and unsurprisingly) women who were sick of their husbands coming home drunk when they weren’t permitted to join in on any of the fun.
Hell hath no fury like a group of sober women scorned, and the Senate finally caved into the substantial pressure from Temperance organizations in 1919, and Prohibition officially went into effect on January 1, 1919, the only day of the year in which the nation officially wakes up with a collective hangover.
Despite the lofty aims of “The Noble Experiment,” Prohibition had the opposite intended effect on the drinking habits of Americans; alcoholism rates soared in the 1920s, as did crime, thanks to the meteoric rise of bootlegging and organized crime. Frustrated by the public’s unexpected defiant reaction to the new laws, federal officials decided to resort to more extreme measures to curb illicit drinking.
Dubbed the “chemist’s war on Prohibition,” the feds ordered the “denaturing” of all industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, which were regularly stolen by bootleggers and sold to unwitting and thirsty consumers. Denatured alcohol is ethanol that contains additives that render it poisonous and/or palatable, and thus undrinkable. When the bootleggers responded to this obstacle by hiring chemists to “renature” industrial alcohol, the feds responded by ordering manufacturers to make their products deadlier.
By the mid-1920s, these new toxic formulas included notorious poisons, including kerosene, brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added - up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly. Alas, while the feds managed to successfully kill an estimated 10,000 people, they were unable to quell America’s passion for booze.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Every ethnic group across the swath of West Africa has a highly stylized cultural expressions.

herdsmen of the nescafe

May 23rd, 2012

I meet Badji incidentally because of a cellphone. He’s selling coffee, or rather cups of Nescafe, those dreaded brown crystals dropped into hot water that taste something between chemical and organic, ammonia and dirt. It’s 3am outside the bus station in Niamey and I’m leaving for Northern Niger, exhausted in my attempts to find musicians here. He’s playing music from his cellphone tucked into his khaki vest: long droning Takamba followed by a rhythmic Tuareg guitar. I listen for awhile before breaking the silence and ask him for the song, which he sends me via Bluetooth. I send him one of Ahmed’s recently recorded track. And he tells me in broken French: “Me, I’m a musician…”

Badji – Gerewol
Three weeks later returning to the capital, I meet the group Kel Air Tawangal in the courtyard of an old defunct NGO. It’s vaguely Spanish building, walls of flaking pink stucco and flower bearing ivy dangling from a trellis. They’re all coffee vendors, and their work kits, portable wooden trays filled with coffee packets, cigarettes and candy, are stacked against the wall, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Badji and his friends are Wodaabe from the region of Ingall; their guitarist and “chef d’orchestre”, Abdourhamane, is a Tuareg from Agadez. Their music is an attempt to integrate Wodaabe songs and Tuareg pop (though not the first: see Etran Finatawa), fusing the polyphonic call and response vocals with the quintessential electric Tuareg guitar.

The crew paint their faces with opaque yellow, the ornate clothing and accentuating ceremonial makeup signature of the Wodaabe. It’s visually striking, the style popularized in the West in Herzog’s film (I speak to a few Wodaabe who have seen tit and have some interesting comments) and the photos of Carol Beckwith.
Every ethnic group across the swath of West Africa has a highly stylized cultural expressions. It’s the cultural or social phenotype, the stuff of stereotypes, assumptions, and that lend themselves to exotic portrayals of people as a colorful portraits in the glossy pages of a National Geographic (or Vice Magazine). If the Wodaabe have been defined by a portrayal, both here in Niger and abroad, it is this, the participants dressed and painted to accentuate the whites of the eyes, the teeth, and a thin body form.

But Niamey is far from Ingall. Listening to a band from Wodaabe sing the high lonesome songs of the Air in the concrete slums of Niamey is jarring, the context is slightly wrong. Badji and his group are out of place, like most of the Northerners displaced by economics and drawn to the city. If there is a more fitting story of the Wodaabe in Niamey though, it’s the turban and khaki vest, an army of young men who haunt the bus stations and the market streets, peddling candy and cigarettes and making coffee under the streetlights.
Abdourhamane switches on his amplifier and Mohamed plays half of a calabash suspended in a bucket of water for this driving low thump. The coffee vendors clap and jump, their voices droning in and out of a single harmonic. Their last song is a song about Agadez, and at the end, one by one they turn and hop away until I can no longer hear their voices.

Kel Air Tawangal – Agadez

Publisher after publisher rejected the manuscript as too complex for children.

To Do: Gertrude Stein’s Posthumous Alphabet Book

“Don’t bother about the commas which aren’t there, read the words. Don’t worry about the sense that is there, read the words faster.”
In 1939, Gertrude Stein penned her first children’s book, The World Is Round, whosedramatic story was featured in this two-partomnibus of obscure children’s books by famous authors of “adult” literature. The following year, Stein wrote an intended follow-up, titled To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays — a fine addition to my well-documented obsession with unusual alphabet books.
But publisher after publisher rejected the manuscript as too complex for children. (One must wonder what Maurice Sendak might have said to that.) The book was never published in Stein’s lifetime. In 1957, more than a decade after Stein’s death, Yale University Press published a text-only version and in 2011, more than half a century later, the first illustrated version true to Stein’s original vision was released, with exquisite artwork by New Yorker illustrator Giselle Potter.
In the press release for The World Is Round, Stein offered the following characteristically philosophical statement regarding her children’s writing, exuding the same dedication to the intertwining of form and meaning we’ve come to expect from her adult writing:
Don’t bother about the commas which aren’t there, read the words. Don’t worry about the sense that is there, read the words faster. If you have any trouble, read faster and faster until you don’t.
Z is a nice letter, and I am glad it is not Y, I do not care for Y, why, well there is the reason why, I do not care for Y, but Z is a nice letter.
I like Z because it is not real it just is not real and so it is a nice letter to you and nice to me, you will see.
Zebra and Zed.
A Zebra is a nice animal, it thinks it is a wild animal but it is not it goes at a gentle trot. It has black and white stripes and it is always fat. There never was a thin Zebra never, and it is always well as sound as a bell and its name is Zebra.
It is not like a goat, when a goat is thin there is nothing to do for him, nothing nothing, but a Zebra is never thin it is always young and fat, just like that.
Images courtesy of Yale University Press
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So... like... "What do you do with a degree in dance?

What the Heck 
Is Modern Dance?Nora Younkin


Whether it's to relatives at a family party or a random guy at the bar, when people ask what I do and I respond that I'm a dancer (or a month ago, a "dance major"), such a simple answer invariably begs more questions. No, I am not an "exotic dancer." No, Ipersonally do not aspire to be on television.
So... like... "What do you do with a degree in dance?" This line of questioning often leaves me sputtering incoherent blather about dance which I am guessing sounds less than interesting and not all that impressive. Reader, I have a little secret: Sometimes I'm not even sure where I'm going with all of this so more often than not, I find myself changing the subject. But I'm tired of brushing it off. Dance cannot be dismissed as a free-spirited life path with no career trajectory or something that's inevitably going to leave me waiting tables for the rest of my life. Sometimes it feels like I'm constantly trying to validate what I do. I'm fully capable of offering a lengthy soliloquy on modern dance, both historically and contemporarily, and its place in society and culture. That doesn't fly with grandma or Dude-at-a-Bar. It's awfully difficult to neatly wrap it all up into a couple of sentences, put a bow on it, and have people "get it."
So, here we are. There will certainly be important points forgotten, and these are only my opinions, but I'll try my best.
Now, where do I start? What is it that I/we do? And what do you really need to know? Dance out in the world and dance in college is a rich and rigorous experience. It's pretty exhilarating to have so many hats to wear. We train, we create, we teach, we write. If we're lucky, we find our niche and run with it.
Dancers train like athletes. More and more people are coming to understand and duly respect this about ballerinas, and I'm glad to see an increase in television and movies that feature the training of ballerinas, because it is an exposé of the of hard work historically and intentionally masked by the illusion of effortless grace. But not all dancers are ballerinas. Exposure to and understanding of modern or contemporary dance is much less common throughout the media and within the cultural consciousness. Modern dance is not all about "I'm a tree! I'm the wind!" *insert wave-like arm gestures*. Though we're totally cool with that too, there is so much more to it. Technique class serves to train our bodies to become stronger, more agile and more versatile and to relate to other bodies -- just like ballerinas. Teachers have different philosophies and approaches but generally, we sweat (a lot). We get sore. We get injured. Sometimes we have to take ice baths (like football players, without the million dollar salaries).
Dancers create like artists. Like painting a portrait or writing a play, choreography and dancemaking is a craft. Space, time, energy -- the bodies are the materials and the stage is the canvas. Bodies are capricious and awkward and lovely. A great choreographer knows how to use bodies in space to say something or occasionally, nothing at all (a statement in and of itself). Sometimes it would seem audiences are afraid of modern dance because it's not evident what it's about, or what you're supposed to get walking away from it. Let me tell you another secret: that's okay. Sometimes it's boring or sometimes you might downright hate a dance. Even if you love it, the challenge is to figure out why. Maybe on the whole, as a culture, we're so used to being spoon fed meaning that we've lost interest in being challenged by our entertainment. Modern dance is a big invitation for interpretation, and sometimes it requires the audience to take an open-minded leap into the new, unknown, bizarre or abrasive.
Dance teachers are also educators. Teaching dance is becoming more than just a way to pay the bills. In my teaching classes, we study teaching theory and movement development. Our mandatory anatomy classes leave us with as much knowledge of the bones and muscles and squishy insides of the body as a certified personal trainer or masseuse, and a great dance teacher knows how to pass this information on. We analyze our own methods and assess our students and strive to help them grow and develop skills. Fundamentally, it's not all that different than teaching any other subject.
Finally, we learn to write and think like scholars. Dance history goes beyond names and dates and old, obscure black and white videos. All dance is a reflection on centuries of culture, whether in our backyards or around the world. Dance reflects the mood of a generation and value judgments on bodies. Learning about the past informs our choices as artists in the now. Dance studies is a growing and valuable field that strives to understand and analyze the choices and possibilities of a dancer, choreographer or teacher.
So, that's what I have to offer you. Above all, support dance. Chicago has an amazing modern dance scene filled with emerging artists, classic productions and evolving aesthetics. Dear audience: take chances. See something weird. Talk about it.
Follow Nora Younkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@noraannemarie

Researchers reported that the benefits of antidepressants are hardly more than what patients get when they take a placebo pill.

The Intellectual Devotional II by David S. Kidder and Noah Oppenheim. Copyright 2006-2012 TID Volumes, LLC. The Intellectual Devotional is a trademark of TID Volumes, LLC
All Rights Reserved. Sharing is permitted--forward to a friend!

The Intellectual Devotional
A Tough Pill To Swallow
The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health or behavior not attributable to a medication or invasive treatment that has been administered. The idea of the placebo effect originated with H.K. Beecher in the 1950s, when he discovered that 35% of his patients were satisfactorily relieved of their symptoms by a placebo alone.
Subsequent studies have even claimed that the placebo effect is even more effective than Beecher thought, with an estimated 50-60% of test subjects satisfactorily treated with placebos for certain conditions. However, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month sent shock waves through the medical community, when researchers reported that the benefits of antidepressants are hardly more than what patients get when they take a placebo pill. In sum, their findings suggest that antidepressants are little better than expensive Tic Tacs.
However, many doctors are reluctant to blow the whistle on antidepressants, fearing that it will affect their patient outcomes. The placebo effect relies on a complex interplay between belief, expectation and attitude, and doctors (perhaps correctly) fear that telling their patients the truth will upset this equilibrium and that their depression will return. However, antidepressants are NOT just placebo pills with futuristic names; they are extremely costly drugs with notable side effects, such as weight gain, liver damage and sexual dysfunction. Moreover, people who stop taking antidepressant medications abruptly often experience a host of withdrawal symptoms, including twitches, tremors, blurred vision, and nausea - as well as depression and anxiety.
This study raises some very uncomfortable ethical questions about these popular medications, especially in light of the estimated 27 million Americans who are currently prescribed antidepressant medication. Doctors might find themselves caught between being dishonest and preserving the positive outcomes of their patients or telling them the truth and taking the risk that they might revert back to their depression. Now that’s a hard pill to swallow...
Like this series? You can buy The Intellectual Devotional here on Amazon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sara Gasbarra is the woman Chicago chefs call when they want to grow their own produce.


Enjoy this story from our archive, originally sent to TT members on .

Garden Guru

How to grow your own produce regardless of space

Sara Gasbarra is the woman Chicago chefs call when they want to grow their own produce.
With her new company, Verdura, the edible-garden expert develops rooftop gardens, window boxes and lush, harvestable patios for restaurants across the city.
We tapped her for advice on creating an edible garden anywhere, no matter the space--or lack thereof (click here to see the slide show).
For the apartment dweller, she designed a window box packed with a variety of sturdy herbs and plants such as rosemary, anise hyssop and nasturtiums.
Three square feet of space is enough for an Earth Box, which can hold a sauce-friendly duo of tomatoes and basil. The combination is more than mere culinary strategy: The herb’s scent is a natural insect deterrent.
Have access to at least a four-by-eight-foot patch of green? Follow Gasbarra’s layout for a raised-bed garden and you’ll be able to grow more than 20 vegetables and herbs in the space.
Her two final tips: Water in the morning or early evening (rather than midday) and, whenever possible, buy plants from farmers’ markets--so if something goes awry, you can talk to the farmer about what you’re doing wrong.  

  • Click an image to see more
See Verdura's Facebook Page

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sammy's spring voice recital was last night. Enjoy!!

D. H. Lawrence was a rebellious writer who openly explored the then-taboo issues of sexuality and class divisions.

D.H. Lawrence: Literary Rebel with A Cause
David Herbert Lawrence, better known as D.H. Lawrence, infamous novelist, short-story writer, poet and essayist, was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire on September 11, 1885. Eastwood was a coal mining town, and Lawrence’s interest in literature earned him a reputation as an eccentric from his fellow townsfolk. After finishing grammar school, Lawrence was given a scholarship to Nottingham High School, but he found school uninteresting and dropped out soon thereafter.
Encouraged by his friend and tutor Jessie Chambers, Lawrence began writing and teaching in 1905. However, in 1911, he quit teaching and scandalously eloped with Frieda Weekley, the German wife of one of his professors at Nottingham. The couple fled to Europe, where they were officially married in 1914 after Frieda’s divorce was finalized.
Lawrence was a rebellious writer who openly explored the then-taboo issues of sexuality and class divisions. After he published his most famous novel in 1928, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, his works became a continual source of controversy, due to his involvement in a number of widely-covered censorship cases. Sadly, Lawrence received little praise during his short lifetime, and he died of tuberculosis at the tender age of Forty-four.
Long after his death, the first uncensored publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the United States and Britain was considered an important moment in the “sexual revolution.” Famous British poet Philip Larkin’s poem “Annus Mirabilis” even begins with a reference to the trial:
Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
And The Beatles’ first LP.
Like this series? You can buy The Intellectual Devotional here on Amazon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Olympics, 388 B.C.: Mud, Sex, Hymns…Sports Too

Olympics, 388 B.C.: Mud, Sex, Hymns…Sports Too

Political rivalries flared and money flowed—but it was more like a rock festival than what we'll see in London

[olympics]Getty Images
The ancient games featured blood, pain -- and insects aplenty.
What was it like going to the Olympics 2,400 years ago? Instead of London 2012, how about Olympia 388 B.C.?
If you came from abroad, you would have hired space on the deck of a cramped cargo vessel. Coming by land, you almost certainly would have walked, sleeping out in the warm August nights along the way.
It was safe enough. The games were a religious festival, spectators traveling to and fro were pilgrims, and that meant protection from harm under the Panhellenic "sacred truce"—not a ban on warfare but usually an effective guarantee of safe passage through war zones for passing sports fans.

New arrivals at the remote, rural spot in the northwestern Peloponnese where the games were held every four years—always at the same place—would probably have been exhausted by the journey and keen to rest up. Fat chance! Directed to the "Olympic village," they would find a vast, partly tented, partly open-to-the-skies encampment, with inadequate water supplies, heaps of stinking refuse and huge improvised latrines. The air was alive with millions of flies, mosquitoes and wasps. The dumps were overrun with rats. By the end of the five-day festival, no one had washed properly for a week, and you could smell the games a mile away.
In the Olympic stadium, you sat on a grassy bank under the searing heat of the midsummer sun. It was the same in the nearby Hippodrome, where the equestrian events were held. Naked athletes participated in foot races, the pentathlon, horse and chariot races and in three combat sports—wrestling, boxing and the almost-no-holds-barred pankration. That was the crowd's favorite, because there were virtually no rules and it was all blood and pain.
By the end of the festival, no one had really washed for a week. You could smell the games a mile away.

Half the Olympic program, on the other hand, was given over to religious ritual: processions, hymn-singing, incense-burning, gory animal sacrifice and strange incantations by exotically attired priests. The Olympic site wasn't just a sports stadium; it was part-sanctuary, part-art gallery, part-heritage trail. Behind a dazzling colonnaded facade sat a gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus, divine master of ceremonies—a stone god so huge that, had he stood up, his head would have gone through the temple roof. Outside was a mountainous heap of ash—an altar formed of a thousand sacrifices. All around stood more shrines, altars and statues.
The athletic events honored Zeus. The Greeks told stories about the mythic heroes Heracles and Pelops to explain why there was a great festival at the site—both heroes were claimed as founding fathers who gave thanks for divine assistance. But the sanctuary also honored an earth-mothers' union of fertility deities—Granny Gaia, Mommy Rhea and Daughters Hera and Demeter. The only woman allowed into the stadium to watch the contests was, in fact, the high priestess of Demeter of the Earth-bed—a relic of an age when the goddesses dominated Olympia.
Otherwise, the menfolk left their respectable women at home and headed off for the festival with fathers, brothers, sons, friends, neighbors and (male) lovers. Fringe events might include philosophy lectures, poetry readings and sundry charlatans and cranks offering to predict the future, but the real added attraction of the games wasn't the cultural Olympiad but the sexual one. At the Olympics, parties went on through the wee hours, and hundreds of prostitutes, both women and boys, touted their services until dawn.
A few things might seem familiar to us. Greek sport, for example, was as professionalized and politicized as our own. Dewy-eyed fables about backcountry ploughboys making it to Olympic stardom were exactly that. The truth was that most athletes were aristocrats who invested heavily in their training and expected to earn big prize money at the hundreds of local athletics festivals around Greece. As for politics, the Olympics was nothing if not a pageant of parochial hatreds and city-state rivalries, often laced with class antagonism, where oligarchic states like Sparta clashed on the running track with democracies like Athens.
Many things, though, would have seemed radically different. The classical Olympics were always run by a board of nine from the local town (Elis), so there were no international spats, no corruption scandals, no hijacking of the games to whitewash dictators.
There were no tickets, no VIP seats, no privileges for the great and the good. It was first-come, first-served, and if you got up late, bleary-eyed from the previous night's carousing, that was just tough.
In their heyday, the ancient Olympics—before Macedonian warlords and Roman politicians sullied them—had more in common with one of today's free open-air music festivals than with the corporate carnival planned for London this year. Besides the sport, sacrifice and sex, a profound spirit of democracy and egalitarianism suffused the games. Provided, of course, you were a freeborn Greek man—not a woman, a foreigner or a slave.
—Dr. Faulkner is the author of "A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics," published by Yale University Press.
A version of this article appeared May 19, 2012, on page C2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Olympics, 388 B.C.: Mud, Sex, Hymns…Sports Too.

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