Sing It to Me

Filed under:Music — posted by Anwyn on March 31, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

I like poetry, but I don’t take the initiative often enough to sit down and read some, cold, so to speak. It’s not good reading-during-dinner material. But many times I’ve come to love and internalize poetry through singing it–either something I sang in one of the choirs I’ve been a member of or, in this case, CDs I really like. Choral music introduced me to the work of Christina Rosetti, for example, and this Nickel Creek rendering of “Sweet Afton” by Robert Burns is everything you could want in a lullaby. If you’ve never heard it, do yourself a favor and give it a listen–the video’s embedding code was “disabled by request,” alas, so I have to link it. Listen to words like “yon” and “rills” and “stem” roll out as though they’re perfectly understandable modern English alongside venerable rocks of the language like “lofty.” I particularly like the phrase “far marked.” I’ve sung this to my son for a long time now, and I haven’t decided if Burns’s “Mary” is really “asleep by thy murmuring stream” or dead, her death made palatable by poetic license.

That’s not true; I have decided. She’s only asleep. And if you know of Burns commentary that says otherwise, don’t tell me.


Filed under:It's My Life,Sad — posted by Anwyn on March 20, 2008 @ 11:57 pm

My son’s paternal grandfather has passed away. We’ll all be away coping with that for a while. Be well.

Palate Cleanser: Fun with SiteMeter. And Trains. And Sixties Music.

Filed under:Cool,It's My Life,Music — posted by Anwyn on March 19, 2008 @ 10:40 am

This site is visited frequently by somebody from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. I can’t see a place name ending in -town without thinking of this song, “Morningtown Ride,” by The Seekers:

This is one my dad sang when I was a kid, but it didn’t survive into our later repertoire … until I heard my little cousin, three years old, piping it during a camping trip last year. It came back with a vengeance. Doesn’t get much better than a train lullaby … unless maybe it’s a cowboy lullaby.

And speaking of trains, if you didn’t already, check out these beautiful shots of Appalachian railroad scenes. The photographer, Kevin Scanlon, has an exhibition currently running in Grafton, West Virginia.

Via Rick Lee.

Memo to Obama: The Race Thing is Secondary

Filed under:Jerks,Politics,Sad — posted by Anwyn on March 18, 2008 @ 8:47 am

Obama’s speech about race described Wright’s “incendiary” comments as not only “wrong” but also “divisive,” which is, of course, the most negative word Obama has. If anything’s divisive, then it’s horrible, never mind whether it’s correct, true, applicable, outright fabrications and lies or completely batshit insane. Which brings me back to Wright. Memo to Obama: Wright isn’t a problem for you because he dislikes White America and says so vehemently; Wright is a problem for you because of his batshit insanity–that [White] America “started the AIDS virus;” that the [white] government “gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strikes law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America’ … God Damn America, that’s in the Bible …”

Tell me, Obama, if your pastor couldn’t even drop his race-fueled conspiracy theories on the Sunday immediately after 9/11, when exactly was he not blaming the [white] government for all the problems of black people? Not ever, is the answer, because only somebody deeply embedded in the notion that our government is a vast conspiracy to keep third-world nations in “grinding poverty” would, immediately after the cold-blooded killing of 3,000 innocent citizens, describe the act as “chickens coming home to roost.”

If Obama should somehow rally and be elected president, it’ll be interesting to see how fast he drops “divisive” as the bitterest epithet and moves on to “this is for your own good” when many of us start to feel alienated and “divided” by government-mishandled “health care,” government-bloated “education” and all the other goodies he has in store for us. Those policies are divisive because they aim to bring us all together into “one size fits all” government malfeasance–not by conspiracy but by design.

Update: Ace, pithy as ever:

My takeaway: White racism is pernicious and bad and we must correct it. We must learn.

Black racism, on the other hand, is perfectly understandable, justified even, and blacks get to keep on hatin’ for as long as they might like.

Obama, of course, will one day change all this.

But he didn’t change the heart of Wright when he had the chance. Nor even is there any evidence whatsoever he even attempted such an undertaking.

So Obama is sold to us as biracial, transracial, postracial. A new kind of black candidate.

And yet he seems to look precisely like the old sort of black candidate, the Jesse Jackson type, the Al Sharpton type.

All that (definitely read the whole thing) plus no mention at all by Obama about the insane conspiracy thinking Wright’s racism has led him to. I repeat, it’s not just the racism–which, after all, is the kind of garden-variety victimhood we get from Sharpton, Jackson, Nagin, et. al.–but Wright takes it five steps beyond, all the way to the government is deliberately, systematically, oppressing and murdering black people. Because there’s some upside to that, right? Because in Wright’s mind, keeping blacks down is all the upside we need. I guess I was wrong. I guess it’s about the racism after all–and where the years of hatemongering have led: to Wright.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Now Get Out There and Watch Some Dancing

Filed under:Cool,Television — posted by Anwyn on March 17, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

Dancing with the Stars returns tonight, sans Maks (sob!), but with Marlee Matlin, Priscilla Presley, Kristi Yamaguchi and–get ready for it–Steve Guttenberg. One fourth of Three Men and a Baby will dance for Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno, and of course a TV audience of millions. This I gotta see.

Scotland Yard Forensics No Longer Content to Bat Cleanup for Holmes, Wimsey

Filed under:Jerks,Language Barrier,Not Cool,Politics,Priorities,Religion — posted by Anwyn @ 4:14 pm

Instead they want to be Tom Cruise in Minority Report:

Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain’s most senior police forensics expert.

Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.

For once, I am on the side of people warning of the coming of the police state if this occurs in Britain. Also for once, I am on the side of their educational establishment, which is, thank God, horrified by the idea. Looks like there are some who want the idea of probable cause to be just as brief a flicker over there as freedom of religion is turning out to be. Here’s a free tip to those agitating for school vouchers in the U.S., or in places where they actually already have them: Stop calling them vouchers and don’t let anybody, ever, say they are state money. They aren’t. They’re your own taxes being returned to you so that you can support your child in the school of your choice rather than support other people’s children in schools of the government’s choice. The moment you concede the semantics that it’s state money being “given” to you for a voucher, you open the door to the kind of nonsense they’re saying in Britain over the Catholic school:

“A lot of taxpayers’ money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,” said Mr Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield.

The only taxpayers whose money it is (or should be; nobody should get more back for programs like this than what they paid into the educational system to begin with) is yours. It’s your money. Take it back and don’t let them call it state money, or pretty soon your private or religious school will come under state control as well.

Both links via AoSHQ, where Gabriel has some pithy comments.

Quote of the Day

Filed under:Language Barrier,Politics,Religion — posted by Anwyn @ 9:54 am

Xrlq on Obama/Wright:

The silliest angle of all, I think, is that Obama should get a pass on Wright because he engaged him as a spiritual adviser, not a political one. That’s like saying “Don’t judge me by Mr. God-Damn-America, voters, I only look to that guy to find out what I’m supposed to really believe, not what I’m supposed to say to you to get elected.”

To Forbid, Or Not To Forbid, There Is No Question: Never From

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on March 15, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

Seen frequently on the blogs of incredibly smart people who shall not be linked: “…forbidden from [doing something here … whatever kind of something you wish, be it innocent, salacious, carefree, what have you]”. You can’t forbid people from doing something; you can only forbid them to do it and hope they listen and punish them markedly when they don’t.

Don’t these people remember their childhoods? “Little Jimmy Blogger, I absolutely FORBID YOU TO ride your bike in the irrigation canal … Little Sarah Blogger, I positively FORBID YOU TO unravel all of that doll’s hair … Little Tommy Blogger, your father has FORBIDDEN YOU TO speak to him that way …”

I couldn’t guess how this one got started. But it needs to end before it spreads farther. I forbid you to do it. So there.

Quote of 2006

Filed under:Blogging,Cool — posted by Anwyn on March 14, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

“What if she filled it in ‘nay’ or ‘WTF’?”

Via Ace’s headlines.

Technology-Superstitious Administration

Filed under:Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on March 13, 2008 @ 8:53 am

It’s not a computer unless you can prove to the TSA that it’s a computer … and the older members who can’t tell a computer from a Lite-Brite won’t necessarily take the word of the younger members who can recognize a modern-generation Mac when they see it.

I’m standing, watching my laptop on the table, listening to security clucking just behind me. “There’s no drive,” one says. “And no ports on the back. It has a couple of lines where the drive should be,” she continues.

A younger agent, joins the crew. I must now be occupying ten, perhaps twenty, percent of the security force. At this checkpoint anyway. There are three score more at the other five checkpoints. The new arrival looks at the printouts from x-ray, looks at my laptop sitting small and alone. He tells the others that it is a real laptop, not a “device”. That it has a solid-state drive instead of a hard disc. They don’t know what he means. He tries again, “Instead of a spinning disc, it keeps everything in flash memory.” Still no good. “Like the memory card in a digital camera.” He points to the x-ray, “Here. That’s what it uses instead of a hard drive.”

The senior agent hasn’t been trained for technological change. New products on the market? They haven’t been TSA approved. Probably shouldn’t be permitted. He requires me to open the “device” and run a program. I do, and despite his inclination, the lead agent decides to release me and my troublesome laptop. My flight is long gone now, so I head for the service center to get rebooked.

At least this guy had the sense not to try to “touch the items in the inspection area” while they were debating whether it was a wooden duck or a witch. The day the TSA actually single-handedly makes me miss my flight might be the day I start driving on all my trips.

Via Ace’s headlines.

Cheer Up, It’s Baseball Season

Filed under:Cool,Sports — posted by Anwyn on March 12, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

Billy Crystal takes BP with the Yankees in preparation for an exhibition game against the Pirates.

[BP pitcher] Martinez, prodded by Jeter, playfully tossed a pitch behind Crystal’s helmet during BP. Crystal was equal to the moment, walking toward the mound and pointing his bat.

Crystal ended the 90-minute session with his best swing of the afternoon. The righty lined what would’ve been a double down the left-field line, then lingered a few extra minutes talking with Triple-A hitting coach Butch Wynegar about mechanics.

“I was surprised. You could tell he’s been working at it,” Martinez said.

The Pirates’ manager doesn’t have a problem, but I like their pitcher’s remarks the best:

“It’s a no-win situation for me,” [lefty Paul Maholm] said, smiling. “I’m supposed to get the guy out. If he gets a hit off me, though, I might to have hang ’em up after the game.”

I Know I’m Getting Old

Filed under:Sad — posted by Anwyn on March 11, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

…when they retire a fighter jet that came onto the line when I was a kid. Fare thee well, F-117.

The Air Force decided to accelerate the retirement of the F-117s to free up money to modernize the rest of the fleet. The F-117 is being replaced by the F-22 Raptor, which also has stealth technology.

[Brig. Gen. Gregory] Feest, who is Bandit 261, also led the first stealth fighter mission into Iraq during Desert Storm in 1991. He said the fire from surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns was so intense that he stopped looking at it to try to ease his fears.

“We knew stealth worked and it would take a lucky shot to hit us, but we knew a lucky shot could hit us at any time,” he said.

Incredibly, not one stealth was hit during those missions, he said.

H/t: J.

The White Tree

Filed under:Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on March 10, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

Gondor evoked in West Virginia.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace