Leonard Cohen concert at Wang Theatre

I attended the Saturday concert in Boston. It was booked a few months ago. The concert was superb. As usual Leonard gave a great performance of his signature compositions. It ran for more than three hours, but I could have listened for days.

The musicians were impeccable, the accompanying singers sounded great. Cohen’s collaborator, Sharon Robinson, was one of the three female vocalists. She did a very nice solo.

I’m glad I went. However, there was an undercurrent pain in my soul. On Friday the tragedy in Connecticut struck. I came home that day and cried. And, during one of the songs in the concert it hit me again. I had to struggle to keep from weeping. Yea, I’m probably a wuss. If I feel it, can you imagine how intense it is for those effected directly, even the survivors? There are just no words to say or use that offers us any comprehension or way to absorb it in one’s mind. Traditional concepts just melt away: fate, God’s will, Karma, probabilities, … nothing. We simply have to cry then look up and move forward.

Now the real questions begin, but will people answer them? Will the entrenched interests just regroup and hold their ground? It is not just the gun lobbies that are at fault, but also the medical profession: all the talk and the pills, but people are still out there who are walking disasters waiting to happen.

Ooops, got off subject. Leonard Cohen. What a treasure. It is with poems and music that we hold at bay the gaping maws of reality, that we structure experience, that we gain strength in the face of unspeakable hurt. Lord have mercy.

Addendum
Come to think of it, I was not going off topic. Listening to “Hallelujah” and “If it be your will”, Cohen’s music is most especially appropriate for what is happening now. In the concert, unlike many others, he did not stoop to milking it. He simply said something like, some things we can’t even put into words.

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On measuring cups

Ever try to measure something to cook and you pick up the measuring cup and it doesn’t have the measurement you need? Errrrgh! It either has markings for thirds or fourths. It has cup measures but no quarts, and so forth.

I guess real cooks don’t need the exact measurements and go by feel or experience.

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I Am, Therefore I Think

Consciousness is one of those nebulous concepts, at least in the ‘normal’ non-academic world. Some say there is no such thing, a delusion. It’s just how the body refers to itself and organizes its sensory processing. There are so many theories. On the other side there are the religious, spiritual views that posit that there is something more then the meat body, more then just electro-chemical discharges. In between there are some investigators finding that the traditional views are lacking. Some even claim that consciousness derives from deep quantum mechanical processes; quantum effects are relevant at room temperature and macro scales.

Heck if I have an answer. I just Am.

I’ll make one observation though. Seems that people argue about consciousness from the mental processing angle. That is, if something is conscious it exhibits certain properties. Yet, stop the flow of thoughts and what remains is awareness. How can awareness be awareness of being aware? Or is it just the body all along that encases the waking state dream?

  1. Cytoskeletal Signaling: Is Memory Encoded in Microtubule Lattices by CaMKII Phosphorylation?
  2. Consciousness
  3. OnLine Papers on consciousness
  4. Consciousness; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Damn those pesky regulations!

Angry right: Those regulations are stifling economic growth!!!!!!

Mellow middle: So you want insects and rat turds in your food?

Angry right: What are you talking about? That is not relevant!!!!

Mellow middle: I’m just trying to make a point by analogy; since you are so adverse to regulations, then you don’t care about what might happen if some regulations are eliminated.

Angry right: That makes no sense.

Mellow middle: Well, how many rat turds do you want in a can of soup?

Angry right: Obviously, the manufacturers will apply standards. Besides, if some manufacturer’s product has too many impurities the consumer will just buy from someone else. You liberals are just using irrational arguments as usual.

Mellow middle: That is an optimistic viewpoint. Sure it happens. Do you want your family to be the manufacturers testers? Did you remember seat belts?

Angry right: Now your into seat belts?

Mellow middle: The auto makers fought it tooth and nails, just like they fight against increased mileage requirements. If I’m not mistaken all of our precious children are in school buses with no seat belts. Also, remember Thalidomide? How about arsenic in your juice, how much is too much? Don’t you think that the quest, a valid one, for return on investment, will drive many decisions, many shortcuts? Also, don’t you think that industries will inevitably collude to optimize profit?

Angry middle: You are confusing consumer issues with industrial nation issues like energy production. This administration has put too many regulations on oil production, for example.

Mellow middle: So you don’t think that the same profit incentives are operating there? That any company should be able to do whatever they want as long as you can guzzle with your SUV? That safeguards won’t be relaxed? You don’t think that environmental factors should not be taken into any decision? And, don’t you think it is suspicious that these same companies via Citizens United are channeling millions of dollars to influence the vote?

Angry right: No, I don’t think.

Note
I was trying to create a hypothetical dialog between an extreme right wing ‘Tea Party” type of viewpoint and a saner style. However, rereading it, even the ‘saner’ viewpoint sounds insane.

No wonder American political discourse is so rancorous and unproductive. Add in statistics that can be used to prove anything, mix in religious psuedo-think, spice with partisan group think, and cover with jingoist Exceptionalism. Hmmmm, yummy.

Links

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Great TV series "Sherlock"

I just discovered the British TV series “Sherlock”, a recreation of the Sir Arthor Conan Doyle’s detective character Sherlock Holmes.

As with many British series, excellent!!!! The two actors, Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson are splendid. Finally when I picture Holmes, I no longer picture Holmes as looking like Philip St. John Basil Rathbone. Kudos to the director and everyone involved in its making.

My only critique is that it seems to jump the shark a little; Holmes is just to over the top. But, I guess heroes being like that is in the telly. Also, the episodes are complex. Like, I still don’t get the significance of the pink dress the victim was wearing in one of the episodes.

The series is also available on NetFlix streaming.

Links

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Do Americans want bipartisan compromise?

On one of the Sunday talk shows the guests and host mentioned that the American people want the political fighting to end and some compromises to be made.

No, we don’t want compromise.  We want solutions.  In a compromise both sides lose.  And when these two sides lose, we lose.   A compromise is a solution to a flawed bilateral choice.

Lets look at one of these so-called problems.  Raise or lower the taxes?  That is not a choice, that is buffoonery.  What is the optimal tax rate at each moment in time?  How can the results of that tax rate be measured, and how can tax revenue not be squandered by the same parties who supposedly have this problem?   To argue about rates and 99% vs 1% is, though important, not the issue.  The tax system sucks.  Yet, we argue about the percentage of suck.

There are countless studies on tax changes and alternative systems.  Do we need more studies and even more hot air on the issue?  There are even simple measures to make taxes “meaningful”, like allowing a certain percentage of taxes to be targeted to concerns that taxes payers check off on the tax return.   How much do you want the 20% of total taxes allocated:  to congressional health club and perks, poverty, war making, education?

Next so-called problem?

Further reading

  1. Fuzzy Tax
  2. Compromise
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Political parties encourage extremism

Continuing with my “Are political parties the problem?” theme, we see many examples of extreme either-or thinking that partisan politics encourages, depends on, and exploits.

Consider the issue of the governments role in job creation and associated matters.  If you ask a normal non-political person about this, they will respond with common sense wisdom.  If you ask someone who is politically savvy and aligns with a political party you will get a distortion, a critical extreme thinking, an either-or, no subtlety, un-nuanced, non reflection of the complexities involved.  In other words, to put it bluntly, you get stupidity.

Clearly, government is not the problem, as the right would argue.  And, government is not the solution as the left would argue.   But, this left/right dichotomy is a cartoon world.  Government is PART of the problem.  And, as any entity in space-time, sometimes it exhibits more or less problems.

Grown up people realize this and will act accordingly.  It is time to get grown up people involved in the political process.  I don’t think that will happen when political parties demand stupid.

 

 

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Cannabis and driving

The day after I wrote a post asking about drivers and a trance state I was rear ended while driving to work.   When the other illustrated man tattooed driver opened his door a reek of pot wafted out and enveloped me.

Lets be proactive here.  Lets not wait for some heartbroken person starting a crusade after losing a loved one to an accident caused by someone behind the wheels and stoned and grooving on cheech and chong (or its modern equivalent).   Maybe MADD should be renamed Mothers Against Drugged Driving?  Or, since fathers grieve too, there should be a Fathers Against Drugged Driving.

But, this is uncool right.  The liberals and libertarians argue that this is a personal matter, war on drugs failed, blah blah.  And, medical pot could be a revenue enhancer to suffering municipalities.  And, of course, it is so trendy to be addicted to drugs isn’t it?   (Yes, cannibis is addictive, spare me).

The arguments for and against Cannabis are so funny.  One article’s theme is if you smoke pot you won’t drink so much, thus, less accidents.  Huh?  How about if you do heroin you not only will drink less or smoke pot, but you will drive less.

You know what is better then pot?   A clear mind and an open heart.

Further Reading

  1. Search ‘marijuana car accidents
  2. Search ‘does cannabis impair coordination
  3. Drugged Driving: A Growing Threat on Our Roadways
  4. Cannabis dependence
  5. MADD
  6. MADD statistics
  7. Cannabis Use Mimics Cognitive Weakness That Can Lead to Schizophrenia, fMRI Study Finds

  8. Long-Term Cannabis Users May Have Structural Brain Abnormalities
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Is there a driver's trance?

Ever look at other driver’s on the road or at a stop light? Their eyes don’t move. I don’t remember, do they even blink? It seems they are in a trance. Yet, these same people are traveling at more then 70 mph on two lane roads separated from the car in front of them by a few feet, tailgating.

I think this is really a horror movie. This is shown on some alien trans-galactic family network. Some teen blobs are shaking with fear as they watch the bipedal life forms and the machine things they build.

Oh oh. Another driver finally moved. He’s looking at me and wonders, why am I in a trance.

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How Wealthy People Laugh

Well, if you can’t make the convention in Florida, here is a funny skit with Jim Carey.

Relax, I’m just teasing.

Did you hear the one about the two Political Parties who walk into an election? Four years later, the debt is higher, grid lock is the norm, new wars, everything is made elsewhere, financial sector is making billions, crime still growing, no jobs, and … people are getting ready to elect them again. LOL!

On a more serious note

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