tirsdag 30. desember 2008

Wall Street Journal on Obama and GKC


















What better Christmas Gift than Wall Street Journal praising Chesterton?
For a writer whose first two books were published 100 years ago, G.K. Chesterton is looking pretty contemporary. During his run for the Republican presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee quoted freely from Chesterton. On the Democratic side, numerous Obama supporters claim to see the influence of Chesterton's thought on the president-elect's worldview.

Wick Allison, former publisher of National Review (and current editor-in-chief of D Magazine) sees no contradiction in Chesterton's attraction for both the right and left. "I think both sides could benefit from reading Chesterton. I certainly see a conservative side to Obama that connects to what Chesterton said of tradition, that it represents 'the democracy of the dead.'"
Say no more.

Or, rather, keep on talking!

torsdag 25. desember 2008

Merry Christmas - though not as you know it

Great one going it's rounds this Christmas.
video

And hopefully the next few hundred as well.

onsdag 3. desember 2008

Obviously the Season

Though I don't quite get jolly by these.

Sara Brightman.

Anonymous (understandable)

Party version.

tirsdag 2. desember 2008

T'is The Season

What better to delight these days than a fresh and sparkling cover of I Believe In Father Christmas?

Even if the original is better and the sound not quite good, is it obvious that the tune has become a Britich Christmas Icon on level with Lennon's seasonal song. Though one notices a certain strategical change in the lyrics.

What then is RED(Wire)?

You can do less pretentious things than listen to this fellow.

torsdag 27. november 2008

Agoraphobia?

A new movie - Agora - about the concflict between paganism and Christianity is planned. It is
set in Roman Egypt in the fourth century A.D. Weisz plays astrologer-philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, who fights to save the collected wisdom of the ancient world. Her slave Davus (Minghella) is torn between his love for his mistress and the possibility of gaining his freedom by joining the rising tide of Christianity.
Hopefully they will avoid the blunders of making the murder of Hypatia symbolising the "fall" of the Ancient World, not to mention the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

It is however definitely a good sign that they seem to see Christianity as giving hope for the slaves.

Though a tad of agoraphobia may for once be in order.

tirsdag 18. november 2008

Genesis - The Early Chapters


















Being more often than not in a religious mood, it is time to take a second look at the early chapters of Genesis.

After having enjoyed them since 1973, and had the pleasure of attending two concerts in the 70's (one of the legendary Lamb performances in 1975 and one from the not quite as legendary And Then There Were Three tour in 1978), it was with poorly hidden excitement that I yesterday opened the new box set comprising the Peter Gabriel Years.

Besides getting the original five albums remastered in several sound formats, the bonus material was almost perfect. It is rare to get so good a mix of CD's and DVD's, of unreleased tracks, interviews and live performances.

Whether it is Gabriel performing like Jagger, great keyboard sounds, not to mention Steve Hackett - or just the visuals (and the Gabriel inbetweeners) - it is a blessing to see the real thing after the Genesis of the 80's and 90's.

The box set has received great reviews all over, even if there are some peculiar (or proverbial) things being said.
What is surprising is to hear Gabriel speak with fondness for The Nice, keyboardist Keith Emerson's first group before moving on to the hugely successful Emerson, Lake and Palmer. There's little denying the confluence of classical influences and Emerson's inimitable style on Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks, and he's always been a fine player; but early on, Genesis differentiated itself from many of its progressive rock cousins by being more about the song and less about the playing.
Well, listening to the albums one doesn't quite get the same impression (except from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway).

Most pieces are structured around a lot of playing and has a rather loose "song" format, if one by that means verse/chorus/verse/chorus with just a few notes inbetween. Which is not early 70's Genesis at all. There was a fresh and fortunate time when the group was too many notes all over the place.

Genesis was in short not Gary Glitter. While ELP certainly had a lot of pure songs.

The real truth behind such comment seems to stem from the glorious tradition of praising Genesis while slamming their prog peers. With some it looks suspiciously like protesting too much, trying to be credible and cool, and at the same time keeping the cake and enjoying (the horror) prog.

So perhaps it is time to remind critics that other people has shown a lot more understanding, since the very early 70's.
Janis Schacht, Circus, September 1972:
Several months ago, Charisma Records ran a full-page ad with a picture of Keith Emerson and the quote claiming that Genesis were without a doubt one of the finest groups around and that Tony Banks was one of the best organists. There's a definite reason that Keith came out for Genesis. Like all smart politicians he realises that when the barriers are stripped down and the truth is out it pays to be on the winning team.
And the Box Set is a great prize.

torsdag 13. november 2008

Radio in

Excactly what we have been waiting for - especially after having staid home for some days, due to a rather nasty little virus.

May even inspire some more blogging.

fredag 31. oktober 2008

Visions from the vault

Keeping to the latest theme and time signature, there is a great interview with Keith and Marc in Record Collector's December issue, for a page and a half.

Among other interesting stuff, Keith mentions something that are more interesting than others
"RC: Is there much in the ELP archives?

KE: I've got loads. I've come across some really interesting bootlegs like the concert with orchestra, and wow! Trilogy in Germany. We didn't play it for very long as it was too demanding for Greg!"
And there are more.
"RC: Do you have any unissued pre-ELP tapes?

KE: Yeah, in the vaults of Sanctuary, now Universal. They're transferring tapes of jams we did. I remember when we were in Compass Point Studios for two months - and you can imagine how much that cost us".

Hopefully the lead time between interviews with Keith in RC and the actual release of the material will decrease significantly.

Though I doubt it will ever take less than a year.

onsdag 29. oktober 2008

Still Hall of Shame

Just to remind you all that one of the most innovative bands ever, pioneering stage acts and antics, sounds and furies, not to mention music and melodies, has not been inducted to the Rock' Roll Hall of Fame.

While there's still time for campaigning.

tirsdag 28. oktober 2008

UK papers maturing

At least some are getting a lot more respectfull, as in this great interview from Monday about yesterday and today, not to mention the future.
There’s still, patently, an appetite to break new ground. But where did his original inspiration come from? “Where bands like Led Zeppelin and the Yardbirds were influenced by US blues, my roots go back to European music – classical and jazz. Music from people like Vaughn Williams, Shostakovich, Dave Brubeck.’

Aaron Copland was another influence and it’s interesting to note that not only did the American composer give Emerson one of the biggest hits of his career – 'Fanfare to the Common Man’ – but also the name of one of his sons. It makes a neat loop in the fabric of time that that son is also a musician!

“Yes, what we were doing was groundbreaking at the time – using mixed media, fusing different styles of music, using orchestras. We’d also do some mad things – like bringing in bag pipes.”

Revolutionary stuff. But has it become harder or easier to experiment does he think?” We’ve seen a decline in the power of record companies,” he says, “in that it was harder to get a demo made and then recorded. Now you can record it all yourself and even use the web to release it. I produced the latest album – and then went out and got a record deal.”

Perhaps it’s that ability to innovate without worrying about record company executives that makes his new album so refreshing. Certainly, Keith Emerson’s new collaboration with Marc Bonilla is a worthy addition to the discography of one of the leading keyboard players of the last 50 years.
Hopefully we may look forward to more.

lørdag 25. oktober 2008

Dawkins getting rational?

Whether it is age or argument, Richard Dawkins at least seems to have changed tactics recently. While earlier denying any intellectual merit at all in holding that a God may exist, he started his latest debate with John Lennox by saying that A serious case could be made for a deistic God.

The report is much of a hoot, some of which of course may be due to it not excactly being written by a disciple of Dawkins. After the previous debate with Lennox, it seems rather revealing that he this time chose to leave his standard arena of distorting Aquinas and arguments for God.

Maybe he has realised that he has been found out? His bluff has been called so many times that it seems appropriate with a new approach.

So then, how does Dawkins now proceed to debate a fellow scientist on the existence of God? By focusing on science? On theistic arguments?

No, by historical arguments against the divinity of Jesus.
Instead, Dawkins was able to move the debate onto a specific attack on Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus, which is a very different argument and obscured the central point of contention – the claim that science had buried God. The fact that Dawkins now appears to be so reluctant publicly to defend his own position on his own territory of scientific rationalism – and indeed, even to have shifted his ground – is a tribute above all to the man he was debating once again on Tuesday evening.
While this may have been a surprise for Lennox, who neither is a Historian, he was at least able to make Dawkins see some historical light.
In the debate, under pressure from Lennox Dawkins was actually forced to retract his previous claim that Jesus had probably ‘never existed’.
That, however, didn't stop Dawkins from committing other errors, revealing his distorted view of the history of science.
And in a revealing aside, when Lennox remarked that the Natural History Museum in which they were debating – in front of dinosaur skeletons -- had been founded for the glory of God, Dawkins scoffed that of course this was absolutely untrue.

But it was true. Construction of the museum was instigated between 1855 and 1860 by the Regius Professor of Medicine, Sir Henry Acland. According to Keith Thomson of the Sigma XI Scientific Research Society, the funds for the project came from the surplus in the University Press’s Bible account as this was deemed only appropriate for a building dedicated to science as a glorification of God’s works.
While Dawkins may not walk the way of Antony Flew yet, he seems at least to have become wise enough to drop or hesitate about several of his arguments from The God delusion.

fredag 24. oktober 2008

Since we'll go there

As there may be a stray loner who do find a pure music blog a better idea than mixing it with religion, politics and comics, here is one I recently discovered.

And a good one too.

onsdag 22. oktober 2008

Since we've been there

A not so raving review.

Well deserved, though. So take care not to hurt your shoulder.

One important issue is the relation between religion and war. Here Maher is even more off base than usual:
But what happens when we hold Maher to his own standard? For instance, what about his claims that religion is the only cause of man’s woes and if it were gone, all would be well. Given his constant request that one base his beliefs on evidence, and scientific study, Maher frequently drops the ball on his own end. For example, take his belief that religion is the cause of war. He fails to engage in any scientific investigation on how it is that religion is to blame for all the troubles in the world. He doesn’t, as Plato said, “carve nature at its joints” but he “hacks off parts like a clumsy butcher.” One rightly wonders, especially since Maher offered no sources, from where did he draw his scientific data from? Or, is he meaning to give us a rant based on loosely cobbled facts mashed together from some of his own personal experiences, and concluding with a fallacious hasty generalization that “religion poisons everything?”
The truth seems as so often more to be that anti-religion poisons everything.

Not the least by dropping any pretense of doing science.
One thing you do in an objective, scientific study of something is take into account all the relevant empirical information. Those who exclude empirical data that bears on their thesis are not engaged in honest scientific inquiry. They’re engaging in a witch hunt! Maher doesn’t mention sociological, economic, political, historical, ideological ethical, or geographical factors, all of which play a huge part in wars. He doesn’t reference the influential work of Robert Pape, for example, who concluded in the book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism: “There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions.” After studying 315 suicide attacks from 1981-2004, Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor, concludes that suicide bombers' actions stem from logical military strategies, not their religion. Pape claims that the fundamental motive is political. The desire to force the withdrawal of foreign forces occupying land believed to belong to an oppressed people who have seriously limited resources at their disposal (McGrath, Dawkins Delusion, 80), is demonstrated by Pape through serious scientific study.
Unfotunately for Maher, science demands a bigger brain than bite.
The simple fact of the matter is, and it is one that Maher is too lazy to take note of or account for, the causes of war are just too complex a thing; we must, as atheist David Livingstone Smith puts it, “resist the temptation to box the causes of war in tidy categories hedged about with arbitrary distinctions.” Smith, our Darwinian atheist philosopher, offers his views on the cause of war in his book. He claims that, “War can be approached from many angles. We can consider it from the standpoint of various disciplines. All of these are important, but there is one dimension that underpins them all: the bedrock of human nature.” (p. xiii)

Other atheists that are more level headed than Maher on this matter are those like Michael Shermer. Shermer claims that he “is not convinced by the New Atheists argument that without religion there would be, "no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as 'Christ-killers,' no Northern Ireland 'troubles'…. In my opinion, many of these events—and others often attributed solely to religion by atheists—were less religiously motivated than politically driven, or at the very least involved religion in the service of political hegemony.”
Pseudoscience is a big problem today, and something that should be countered by all parties. Not the least those claiming consistent support from science.

The New Atheists, however, seem to eager to remove the carpet beneath their feet to notice.
Worries about the hack scholarship of some like Maher and the New Atheist led University of Hawaii political scientist R.J. Rummell to introduce the term “democide” to cover all forms of politically motivated government-sponsored killing apart from warfare. Maher seems to think that all genocides are religiously motivated. But estimates of the death toll from 20th century democide ranges up toward the 170 million mark according to Rummell’s book Death By Government. How can Maher's theory explain all the relevant data. As a worshiper of "Science," Maher should know that hypothesis that cannot account for a lot of the data should be dropped. But Maher is one of the faithful. He refuses to let facts and evidence get in the way of his jihad.

mandag 20. oktober 2008

While we're at it














It is rare to discover so raving reviews as the following. So raving in fact, that I am not sure if even I would be able to write it.

Not the least if one takes the Billboard context in consideration (even if it really is from All Music Guide).

"Known for their on-stage energy and full-force musical prowess, Live at the Royal Albert Hall is the farthest from disappointment a live album can get.

Each member of ELP exhibits his individual talents on this astonishing audio spectacle that doesn't let up at any point. Spearheading the 11 songs on the album that runs almost 70 minutes is keyboardist Keith Emerson, whose earsplitting synthesizer rumbles and squeals with devastating vigor.

His playing is loose and freewheeling, characterizing his devil-may-care style, and bursting with emotion. Equally forceful is Carl Palmer behind the drums, especially on "Lucky Man" and "Karn Evil No. 9" where he showcases both his subtle mechanics and his frantic arm swirling.

On guitar, Greg Lake fills in with some stellar bass work, whose impact can be felt even above the grandiose of the other two. The songs that work best live from ELP are all included, amassing all the ardor and extravagance surrounding this threesome.

In front of their home audience in England, they really steal the show with a nine-minute outpouring of "Tarkus," as the combination of all their talents are fused together in instrumental wonderment. Even better is the grand finale, a 14-minute medley of "Fanfare for the Common Man," "America," and "Rondo."

A truly volcanic display of keyboard driving from Keith Emerson sends this intense montage into a frenzy, ending the album on a fierce high. Live at the Royal Albert Hall has the grandfathers of progressive rock sounding like sonically intoxicated teenagers."


Some of us get intoxicated just from reading the review.

søndag 19. oktober 2008

Japanese

Rather hectic these days, seems like it will continue for some time.

In the meantime a snip from Japanese TV may hopefully comfort a few.

fredag 10. oktober 2008

Review revealed

Again, as expected.

tirsdag 7. oktober 2008

Conspiracy revealed


















Say no more.

From this site.

fredag 3. oktober 2008

Camp and competition

How embarrasing can it get?

Well, here is an attempt.

And it is not the video I am talking about. That one is really great.

Gigantic podcast

If there is another band I love to mention, it is definitely Phil Shulman's.

So here is a highly recommened podcast interview with one of the founders of Gentle Giant.

Please don't counterpoint too much out of this blog.

Irreligulous

As expected, the ridiculous Religulous is rather smack full of dumb distortions, not to mention delusions. In short dysfunctionally dim.

Read more about it in these comments.

Even if not every single adjective starts with a D.

torsdag 2. oktober 2008

Time for a name

As technobabble go, babbling about synths are more interesting than most.

Like this interview from 1977.
How do you feel about the prototype Polymoog that you have?

Well, I don’t really like it that much. I don’t use it anymore. You know, I helped design that. I spent about a week with Dave Luce in the studio. While I was there I was saying, "It’s good, but it could be better if you did this and this, and added this to it." So he made some notes and then went back to Buffalo and had the second prototype made up. When I went to Buffalo, I tried it again. All the bumps were out and I said, “Well, it could be good if you had the knobs in this position." So he made some more notes, followed those ideas through, and the next thing I’m expecting is to see the end result. You’d think that after working on the instrument I’d get to see it. But the next thing I know, they’ve sent it to Switzerland. I won’t say to
whom. Well, I was a bit upset."
Hopefully Patrick has returned it by now.

A name in time

Arhaeologists have found a bowl that may have a dedication to Christ, from the last centuries BC or early first century.

In a time when there are people even not believing he existed, such findings are always amusing. Not only as they tend to stir up so much emotion, also just to see how the arguments for what it really is about goes.

And how it is being spinned by media.

So far the best comment may be from Jim West.
There’s so much wrong here. First, the bowl isn’t the earliest reference to Christ. And second, there’s no evidence that the bowl suggests what they are saying it does. And finally, this is yet another example of ‘much ado about nothing’.

Indeed-

“It could very well be a reference to Jesus Christ, in that he was once the primary exponent of white magic,” Goddio, co-founder of the Oxford Center of Maritime Archaeology, said.

Rubbish and pure, unadulterated speculation. Archaeology has been bastardized yet again in service of the absurd. The Discovery Channel has lost all credibility since they of late seem determined to promote the most nonsensical theories.
In short, talk about The Historical Jesus reveals more than most, modern medias strange mix of sensationalism and shallow insight.

"Ntwrong" also does some memorable musings in the comment section.
I’ve seen that bowl somewhere before. It looks very familiar. Ah yes - I’m sure it used to sit on Morton Smith’s desk. It’s where he kept his pencils.
Better injokes are difficult to dig up.

onsdag 1. oktober 2008

A vote from Time

What is better on a damp autumn day than a vintage report from Time?
As the houselights dimmed in Detroits Cobo Hall last week, the concertmaster signaled for the oboist's A, and the strings and woodwinds went about the squeaky business of tuning up. Then like something out of an old Esther Williams spectacular, Conductor Godfrey Salmon rose 14 feet in the air atop a hydraulic podium. Silence reigned for a good second or two before the cries came from the audience: "Rock 'n' roll!" "Get it on!" "It's boogie time!"

Not quite boogie time. The British rock group Emerson Lake & Palmer had not brought along a full 58-piece symphony orchestra for just another evening of chug-a-chug rock. As Maestro Salmon gave the downbeat, 9,500 fans, many reared on the violent excesses of Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, got the first sampling of what was in store for them. From 40 huge loudspeaker enclosures suspended from the ceiling came the mighty sounds of Abaddon's Bolero, a work Composer-Pianist Keith Emerson has based on the same Spanish rhythm as the Ravel classic.

After a few bars, a thick curtain of light, produced by in tense lights rimming the stage, dissolved to reveal Keith Emerson, 32, Greg Lake, 29 and Carl Palmer, 27, hard at work on the center. There was Keith darting from Hammond organ to Moog synthesizer, and Greg picking away at his bass-guitar. Between them sat Carl, confined along with his drums, snares, gongs and tubular bells in a percussion cockpit that resembled nothing so much as a mod four-poster converted into a padded cell for the phantom of the opera. The music built relentlessly, awesomely powered by 72,000 watts worth of amplification -enough to start a medium-sized radio station. The volume never reached the threshold of pain (130 decibels), but it was, in Salmon's words, "enough to peel an apple ten feet".
Read all two atmospheric pages of wonder here.

tirsdag 30. september 2008

A timely vote












Well deserved, an image of a Dalek in front of the Houses of Parliament has been voted the best British magazine front cover of all time, according to The Telegraph.

A desperate choice for desperate times.

Hopefully they will not also run in the US.

søndag 28. september 2008

The Midas Touch











A bit fed up with stale old beer? Then try an even older.
An ancient burial chamber at Gordian in central Turkey supposedly houses the tomb of King Midas. Midas was not only a myth, but an actual king of the ancient kingdom of Phrygia around 700 B.C.E. His intact tomb seems to have been the location of the final funeral party for its permanent resident, and someone neglected to clean the 157 different drinking vessels left behind.

Some of these vessels still had some residue on them. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology used some new methods of molecular archaeology and found that the residue was the remnant of an old drink with traces of barley, honey, and grapes; it was seemingly a mixture of beer, mead, and wine. Assuming this wasn't a mixed drink gone wrong, Dogfish Head Brewing did the only thing it knew how—made a beer from it.
Even Carl Barks didn't predict this.

And the real one

Prelude to a hope, a piece from the new album.

Not just his fingers he's still able to move.

Fanfare

While we're at it.

Not quite a bummer this one either.

Karn Evil 9 3rd, Trilogy and Tarkus

How good can it get? Well, this KE9 3rd is definitely one of the closest.

And a thumb and 13 other digits up for a not especialy lazy Trilogy.

Not to forget this roaring monster.

Keep it up, Isao!

torsdag 25. september 2008

European tour?

Seems from rather good sources (like Keith himself) that he may tour Europe early next year.

Hopefully he does not mean Bosnia and Slovakia, only.

onsdag 24. september 2008

Bloggers discover KEB - part 2

The jury is however still out on whether Mauro Aimetti ever will recover from meeting the Maestro.

Check out his blog for the full and fearsome story. Take care, though - and not only for the latinglish.

Weinberg recovers

Russell’s Syndrome (whereby intelligent atheists turn stupid when they talk about religion) may not be incurable after all.

At least if we are to believe Bede's as usual perceptive observations , this time on how Steven Weinberg seems on his way to recovery.

tirsdag 23. september 2008

Bloggers discover KEB

The reviews are beginning to come.

And, no surprise, they are good.

mandag 22. september 2008

Stark discovers irreligion

One of my favs, Rodney Stark (though I must admit some mixed feelings as he sometimes is a bit too hasty) is out with a new book - as is his habit every year.

This time it is about What Americans Really Believe.

One important finding is that the new atheism never really happened.

During the past 63 years, several polls show the percentage of atheists has not changed at all, holding steady at only 4 percent of Americans who say they do not believe in God. Not only is atheism not growing in the United States, the majority of Europeans are not atheists (Ch. 14, "Atheism: The Godless Revolution That Never Happened"). Russia now claims 96 percent of its population believes in God, while a recent poll of China showed that atheists are outnumbered by those who believe in God(s).

In both the 2005 and 2007 Baylor Religion Surveys, researchers found than 11 percent of the national sample reported they had "no religion." Although nearly a third of the "no religion" group are atheists who reject "anything beyond the physical world," the Baylor Religion Survey found that two-thirds of the "no religion" group expressed some belief in God and many of those are not "irreligious" but are merely "unchurched" (Ch. 17, "The Irreligious: Simply Unchurched-Not Atheists"). Delving into the actual religiousness of those who report having no religion, the Baylor Survey found that a majority of Americans who claim to be irreligious pray (and 32 percent pray often), around a third of them profess belief in Satan, hell and demons, and around half believe in angels and ghosts.
The importance of Dawkins and his disciples then may not be so much in converting people to atheism (whatever that is), as to train Christians for public debate. It speaks volumes that The God Delusion is now being used as a textbook at several Christian Schools and Universities.

It has in short proven to be a rare gift to theists, just like the equally badly researched The da Vinci Code.

Another of a myriad of Stark's sometimes surprising findings (which naturally will lead to a lot of checkings and denials), supports one of the most famous things Chesterton never said - When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. He believes in anything.

In short, to be a skeptic, it helps to be a Christian.
The Baylor Survey found that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases credulity, as measured by beliefs in such things as dreams, Bigfoot, UFOs, haunted houses, communicating with the dead and astrology (Ch. 15, "Credulity: Who Believes in Bigfoot"). Still, it remains widely believed that religious people are especially credulous, particularly those who identify themselves as Evangelicals, born again, Bible believers and fundamentalists. However, the ISR researchers found that conservative religious Americans are far less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal than are other Americans, with self-identified theological liberals and the irreligious far more likely than other Americans to believe. The researchers say this shows that it is not religion in general that suppresses such beliefs, but conservative religion.

"There's an old saying that a man who no longer believes in God is ready to believe in just about anything, and it turns out our data suggests it's true. That is to say, religious people don't believe this stuff, but there's no education effect," Stark said.

Among other interesting findings on paranormal or occult beliefs: People who have read The Purpose-Driven Life or any book in the Left Behind series are less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal, while those who have read any book on dianetics or The Da Vinci Code are more likely to believe.
Something we never doubted.

fredag 19. september 2008

Darwin hit by friendly fire

Read all about it at the new Quodlibeta, formerly Bede's Journal.
The Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph all feature pieces this morning on the Michael Reiss debacle. All are highly critical of the Royal Societies response and the way in which Reiss’s comments were misrepresented by the media. This has been a PR disaster for the scientific community. Intelligent design now has claim to a legitimate martyr, despite the fact that Reiss himself is opposed to it. The response by Roberts and Kroto has been lamentable, forcing even Richard Dawkins to admit that the proceedings ‘come a little too close to a witch-hunt for my squeamish taste’.
Keep it up, Dickie!

Album ahoy

Well, it can't be a week without mentioning the new album from the Keith Emerson Band. This time the artwork. Not the least as it is released also on vinyl.

Be delighted.

onsdag 17. september 2008

Other things ahoy

Unfortunately this is no parody.
ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
While I do not for one second believe this will be abused in the short term (it may even lead to some good consequences), the question is how in the long term to avoid moving in the direction of the following pitfalls as mentioned by a perhaps not too friendly commenter:
1. Abuse against women will grow since the Qur'an allows men to beat their wives and divorce them easily and unilaterally.
2. Polygamy will be allowed.
3. Muslim men will rarely be prosecuted for rape, since sharia law makes this nearly impossible.
4. Muslim violence against infidels will be excused.
5. This "parallel law" will become a beachhead for establishing sharia for the entire country. Islam always aspires to be a civilization, not just a religion (in the Western sense).
A lot of people will watch England closely in the years ahead. And not only the football matches.

Update 12:20: Read Damian Thompson's comment.

Pirates ahoy

Somewhat of parody. And rather a good one to boot.

søndag 14. september 2008

Emo promo

Worth a look - and a listen.

Keep it up, Tony!

torsdag 11. september 2008

No end today, it seems a common sight

While the silly buzz about the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider putting the world at risk is still eh... buzzing silly (of course we are safe as we all know K9 is faithfully stabilising the black hole as shown briefly in the Doctor Who spin off Invasion of the Bane), you could do worse than visit Times online for a take on 30 days when the world didn't end.

As there has been a lot of other days when the world didn't end either, the key here is the fortunate mismatch between someone declaring the imminent end and the universe not bowing to the decree.

It is interesting that the last 20 of these predictions is from after AD 1800.

The best one is undoubtedly #29:
Friday 13th April 2007: An un-named punter placed a £10 best at 10,000/1 with Ladbrokes, the bookmakers, that the world would end on that day. It is unclear how he expected to collect.
A note of caution, though. #2 - based on Matthew 16:28 - is easily misunderstood (and has been down the ages, hence many a doomsday sect) to necessarily mean the end of this universe. It seems at least equally probable to interprete it like New Testament scholar N.T. Wright in Chapter 13 (The Return of the King) of his lenghty but fast paced volume Jesus and The Victory of God.

Wright carefully argues (unlike e.g. The Jesus Seminar) that Jesus in fact was an apocalyptic prophet with an eschatological program. However, in view of the Old Testament, Wright concludes that Jesus "saw his journey to Jerusalem as the symbol and embodiment of YHWH's return to Zion".

In that case, the end of the world-images may well be taken as the end of the present phase of history. It is completed by Jesus' journey to Jerusalem and the fall of the city to the Romans in AD 70, which leads to a new Jewish exile.

Be that as it may. Before the world ends we still have time for another classic quote by Wright:

Heaven is important, but its not the end of the world.

tirsdag 9. september 2008

1434 and all that

Damian Thompson has another well deserved, timely and to the point go at "Gavin Menzies’ drivel" in The Telegraph.
Every bookshop in Britain is presenting a book called 1434 by Gavin Menzies as a major history title. Like the Olympic spectacular, Menzies' book celebrates Chinese history. Its subtitle is: "The year a magnificent Chinese fleet sailed to Italy and ignited the Renaissance." But, like the Beijing firework display, it is not quite what it seems.

In fact, 1434, published by Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins, is not a history book in any meaningful sense of the term. That is because, to put it bluntly, a magnificent Chinese fleet did not sail to Italy in 1434 – or, if it did, not a single eyewitness recorded this amazing event. Did the Venetians have their backs to the water when it slipped past?
Read more about this counterknowledge at... eh... Counterknowledge

mandag 8. september 2008

Plovdiv plotting













Playing Plovdid last night.

And even better here.

Have fun!

søndag 7. september 2008

Have you heard of Necronomicon?












The old Christian one, Jack Chick, is not the only one out there.

H.P. Lovecraft, the old atheist one, also does inspire a tract or two.

The question then, to upset one's stomach, is not so much who goes where as who will be eaten first. In veritas, worldviews vary.

Thanks to P.C. Jørgensen for pointing the way.

fredag 5. september 2008

A song for the unsinging hero

Rather a great interview. Despite no tanks or ladies.

torsdag 4. september 2008

A song for the unsung hero














Everyone who knows anything about comics, are well aware of Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond, Hal Foster and the rest of the 30's grand pioneers of newspaper series.

However, you have to know a lot more than anything to recognise Noel Sickles (1910-1982).

While he drew comics for three brief years only, his groundbreaking work on aviation adventurer Scorchy Smith from December 1933 through November 1936 inspired everyone from Caniff to Pratt.












While the latter leaned heavily on two stripes from October 1936 in the opening of La Conga des bananes, the former was both a close friend and so impressed by Sickles talent that he had him in periods help him out on both Terry and Steve Canyon.















How he managed over a six month planned effort to revamp his predecessor John Terry's amateurishly drawn daily strip into a professional work of art, is one of the most impressive achievements in comics history. Without his readers or his editors really noticing, until it was too late.








Aside from the occasional lending hand (and a far later planned collaboration with Caniff on a Bruce Lee strip which never came to pass), Sickles left the cartoon industry in 1936 to do what he did best, draw men and machines in movement.

He illustrated more American military instruction manuals than anyone else, besides commercials and work for magazines like Reader's Digest , National Geographic and Life. He even illustrated One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the 1960's.











So enjoy the drawings in this blog article, whether it is from the Western Plains or the Asian war front. Not the mention the rocket race, here from an article in Life, January 17th 1949, on the first manned expedition to the moon twenty five years in the future. Firmly based on "present knowledge and plausible guesses".

And check out this book which is really what I am reviewing here after having more than voluntarily bought my own copy, 400 pages of pure delight.

A heartfelt praise or three to IDW's Library of American Comics for making this wonderous volume available!


















Inside you'll find both Sickles' complete 900-strip work on Scorchy Smith , the Bruce Lee strips and his extensive work for the military and the magazines. Besides the comics, there are 140 pages of drawings, including those he made for stories by Hemingway, Michener, Solzhenitsyn and Faulkner.

Few illustrated works have a higher wow-factor. Or a surer hand in making both thoroughly realistic drawings and highly romantic.

No one could teach you better how to disarm a German tank. And few a lady.

From Russia with slides

Interesting take. No music though.

mandag 1. september 2008

Pain and brain

Check out these from Tony.

Wow and flutter! And theremin.

No brain no pain

Responses to quotes that boldly frequent the net often do tell more about those responding than about the quote.

One item under present study is Chesterton's If there were no God, there would be no atheists.

Reactions come in two categories.

Some applaud heartily and smile (or frown, depending on disposition) when considering the foolish atheists who don't see the light. Obviously, without God there would be no atheists, as there would be no intelligent creatures or even a universe.

Others protest sternly. Indignation run rampant. It is dishonest and antilogical as always when someone attempts to prove God. In short, Chesterton, the perhaps not so good man after all, disappoints as he is begging the question. It is like proving Russell's celestial teapot by saying that if there were no Celestial Teapot, there would be no deniers of a Celestial Teapot.

As most people are vigorous when on the net, noone does so cowardly and time consuming thing as reading the context.

We are not so brave. Here it is:
"We have had during the last few centuries a series of extremely simple religions; each indeed trying to be more simple than the last. And the manifest mark of all these simplifications was, not only that they were finally sterile, but that they were very rapidly stale. A man had said the last word about them when he had said the first. Atheism is, I suppose, the supreme example of a simple faith. The man says there is no God; if he really says it in his heart, he is a certain sort of man so designated in Scripture. But, anyhow, when he has said it, he has said it; and there seems to be no more to be said. The conversation seems likely to languish. The truth is that the atmosphere of excitement, by which the atheist lived, was an atmosphere of thrilled and shuddering theism, and not of atheism at all; it was an atmosphere of defiance and not of denial. Irreverence is a very servile parasite of reverence; and has starved with its starving lord. After this first fuss about the merely aesthetic effect of blasphemy, the whole thing vanishes into its own void. If there were no God, there would be no atheists. It is easy to say this of the nineteenth century negation, for that sort of atheism is already one of the dead heresies. But what is not always noticed is that all the more modern forms of theism have the same blank. Theism is as negative as atheism. To say with the optimists that God is good, and therefore everything is good; or with the universalists that God is Love, and therefore everything is love; or with the Christian Scientists that God is Spirit, and therefore everything is Spirit; or, for that matter, with the pessimists that God is cruel, and therefore everything is a beastly shame; to say any of these things is to make a remark to which it is difficult to make any reply, except “Oh;” or possibly, in a rather feeble fashion, “Well, well.” The statement is certainly, in one sense, very complete; possibly a little too complete; and we find ourselves wishing it were a little more complex. And that is exactly the point. It is not complex enough to be a living organism. It has no vitality because it has no variety of function."
- Where All Roads Lead (1922)
What GKC is observing is his day's atheists, as protesters, whether one felt they protested too much or not. He had met more than his share of New Atheists.

Chesterton is really saying that if none believed in God, there would be no need to protest against theists. If Nietszhe had succeeded in killing God, he would at the same time have killed all atheists.

Quote mining is dangerous business with pitfalls, fall ins and stumbling tunnel visions. Taking words out of context may be a merry sport, however sometimes the anti-dupe committee does have to step in.

When reading Chesterton, it is mandatory, not to mention more manly, to find the form. Chesterton does not proclaim. He argues. He looks at things from different angles and positions, whether right, left or upside down. He associates and teases. And then he sums up a paragraph or two in a sentence that hits like lightning. And magically, like a turnip turning into a wagon, it becomes A Quote.

On its own The Quote may sound like nonsense or fallacy. In context it is far more often than not both true and philosophical profound.

That is why he in the same paragraph also concludes that Theism is as negative as atheism, a verse rareley quoted in church.

There is in short only one true and profound way to conclude. Like Zeus we throw a lightning bolt with lethal precision.

If there were no context, there would be no quotes.

søndag 31. august 2008

Grand Kazan finale

They're all here, Eddie Jobson, Marc Bonilla and Keith Emerson (on harmonica) - performing for 200 000 people in part two of the Grand Finale (part one is no longer available - so do hurry).

Great to see that Marc has such a prominent role.

This has to be released on DVD.

Some more inside info here - sound troubles led to no Lucky Man solo, what a bummer.

The Clueless losing out?

Such a critic makes one almost believe in the human race (which you sometimes must).

fredag 29. august 2008

Meanwhile, back in the former USSR

Here is a report from Andre Cholmondeley, the tour manager of the Adrian Belew trio.

Listening to Tarkus while Keith sleeps on the plane a few feet away.

How cool can it get.

onsdag 27. august 2008

Apres Lewis

And now to something completely different.

The headline is of course just to keep up the linguistic variations. Still, we're of course talking about C.S. Lewis. And why it takes so long to find someone who can fill his shoes.

Lot's of interesting observations about it in Wall Street Journal recently.

David Skeel provides especially an important point here:
"Why can't evangelical authors produce a true successor to "Mere Christianity"? The main reason, I think, is that today's best scholars, like Mr. Plantinga and Yale philosophy professor Nicholas Wolterstorff, can't write for a general audience (or, in Wright's case, are distracted by the pressures of trying to help hold the Anglican church together), and the writers who can accomplish this are no longer real scholars. Lewis was both, at a time when the two were thought to be compatible. No need to borrow his bona fides because he himself was a leading medievalist and literary critic."
Unless you are a new G.K. Chesterton.

Willkommen zurück!

For those of you not Germanly challenged, here is an article on Keith Emerson band's latest.

If you are able to translate translations, you can always do a babelfish.

Hm, this blog is almost turning into a Emerson-fanzine. We'll amend that, shortly.

For those like me never getting enough Emo, Tony's place is often the best.

tirsdag 26. august 2008

Radio thrilled the Emo Fan

From the Keith Camp:
"You can listen to the interview Keith did yesterday with FINAM FM99.6 in Moscow.

Go to: http://www.moskva.fm/stations/FM_99.6

drag the time to 9:05 am (for today, 26 August), and then double click. (Be sure to unable pop up window. The player will appear on a pop-up window.)"
Thanks, Maire!

mandag 25. august 2008

Another anorak angle

One interesting trick is to search for certain words in other blogs. Here are the results in Matrixsynth.

The Keith Emerson Band in Riga (Photo report)

As expected a fantastic concert on Saturday.
It is very difficult to express with the words what was happening at the stage of the Congress House Hall that day. Explosive, magnificent, melodious, and partly chaotic compositions having no beginning and end have chained the public to their chairs, as for the shaken in a step of music heads and bursts of applauses in short intervals between numbers clearly let know: "gang" of Keith Emerson captivated Riga audience in whole.
Obviously rather difficult to express. Some may be lost in the transposition to English, though.

What they played? Here is the list:
Intro – Ignition
1st Presence
Welcome Back
Piano Concerto
Bitches Crystal
Malambo
Touch & Go
Lucky Man
Miles Away 1+2
Crusaders Cross
Fugue
Marche Train
Finale
The Barbarian
Prelude to a Hope
From the Beginning
Hoedown
Tarkus
Fanfare
Nutrocker
"The Barbarian"? Wow!

søndag 24. august 2008

Indiana Jones and the Last ELP Shia


Good to see that Shia is into also Musical Treasure Hunts.

lørdag 23. august 2008

KEB review

The reviews are ticking in on the telex.

Here is one from today's ELP Digest (back issues and subscriptions available here):

From: MCGLYNN777
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 3:45 PM

Hi,

I just received my copy of "Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla" from Japan, and I was floored - it actually exceeded my expectations, which were already high.

The first 15 tracks comprise a 37 minute conceptual suite "The House of Ocean Born Mary," based on a romantic New England ghost story.

Emerson is in his best form since the early 1970's, but this doesn't sound at all retro. There's plenty of Moog, hammond and pipe organs, but Marc Bonilla's incredible guitars and compositional skills perfectly complement and balance Emo's with an incredible result. Marc's vocals are in fine form, and the lyrics are well done and never trite or contrived.

The remaining four pieces are a mixed bag, but again, very well done.
- "The Art of Falling Down" is an interesting song, and not what I expected from the title.
- "Malambo," from Ginastera's Estancia Suite, is more reminiscent of "Creole Dance", than "Tocatta," although there's plenty of synth - it's not another piano solo.
- "Gametime" is a silly tongue-in-cheek piece like "Jeremy Bender," with plenty of great instrumental work.
- Finally, "The Parting" is a bittersweet ballad like piece, and Marc's vocals are once again, right on.

I should also like to credit the rest of the studio lineup - the incredible Gregg Bissonette on percussion and the outstanding Bob Birch - best known as Elton John's bass player.

The following is a full track listing:

1. IGNITION
2. 1ST PRESENCE
3. LAST HORIZON
4. MILES AWAY, PT 1
5. MILES AWAY, PT 2
6. CRUSADERS CROSS
7. FUGUE
8. 2ND PRESENCE
9. MARCHE TRAIN
10. BLUE INFERNO
11. 3RD PRESENCE
12. PRELUDE TO A HOPE
13. A PLACE TO HIDE
14. MILES AWAY, PT 3
15. FINALE
16. THE ART OF FALLING DOWN
17. MALAMBO(FROM 'ESTANCIA SUITE')
18. GAMETIME
19. THE PARTING

I'm really looking forward to seeing them when they tour the states (early 2009, maybe?).

Enjoy!

John McGlynn
Keep 'em coming!

fredag 22. august 2008

Psychodelic Soul '67

There are still gems out there in the TV-archives, even if it sometimes just as well should have been radio.

Just take a peep at Georgie Fame Psychodelic Soul show from late 1967, recently put on YouTube. Perhaps in memory of what was possible in Prague before the tanks rolled in 40 years ago.

Hopefully more material will surface, and not from the former Eastern Bloc only. And with a tad or two more modest visual effects.

Alan Price on organ, BTW.

torsdag 21. august 2008

Keith Emerson Band with Bonilla - samples

cdjapan.co.jp has made available 30 seconds samples from each track of KEB latest release.

With this kind of music one of course needs to listen to it in context to get an idea of the developments, tensions and resolutions.

Especially for a rather complex work which developes over time, short samples may easily mislead one to think it is a disjointed and incoherent work.

So far, however, it sounds promising with a rather modern sound - like a mix of his latest film efforts with Tarkus and ELPowell.

Miss Greg a bit, though.

søndag 17. august 2008

ELP reunion 2009 seems official

At least if we are to believe an interview with Carl in Modern drummer.
The release of The Carl Palmer Band’s Working Live, Vol. 3 will coincide with the group’s 2009 US tour, which could conceivably bump up against an Emerson, Lake & Palmer reunion tour. Add Asia’s Phoenix, the ongoing Shout Factory ELP CD reissue campaign, and Palmer’s clinics for deaf and blind children in the UK, and you have a drummer near the height of his powers, clearly in tune with the past and the present.
It would of course be great if the other guys subscribe to the magazine.

On a serious note, it seems from several sources like they really have been talking and that a conclusion has been made - at least for a tour.

The interesting thing is that it all is mentioned in passing in the interview as a matter of fact. Just like the Declaration of Independence had a subordinate clause on separating from the English.

Hopefully the reunion will be a similiar success.

The original Spinal Tap

Rick Wakeman is another who never has been known to hold back on his barrels.

And he is genuinly funny, as proven by this excerpt from his new book.

As Rick always has been a bit better at composing words than music, this is a threat. Finally it is also official who was the real Spinal Tap (at least stageways). Hopefully the truth will never get out.

So it may be a clever strategy that the editor of the mag so far has not changed the text on picture above from Wakefield to Wakeman.

With stories as below, I had no choice but to go to Amazon.
Of course, back in the Seventies, audiences assumed that whatever happened on the stage was intentional.

In my previous band, the Strawbs, I'd had a Ham-mond organ on wheels. When we were playing the last number of the night I would push this thing across the stage and race after it while playing it.

One evening I pushed a bit too hard and the Hammond went hurtling towards the edge of the stage. I dived on top of it to try to slow it down but organ and organist crashed over the edge. The Hammond was smashed to smithereens and I was cut to ribbons.

I was mopping the blood from my face when a journalist came over. 'Great show, Rick,' he said, 'but how can you afford to wreck a Hammond every night?'
Even if Rick for once didn't provide any retort, it is quite simple: Ask Keith Emerson.

fredag 15. august 2008

All barrels blazing

Julie Burchill has a go with all barrels blazing in Guardian:

First of all, let me tell you what this isn't. It's not some "I-was-lost-and-now-I'm-found" sob story. These days, many people reach out to faith "to find peace". I had too much peace in my life already. In faith, I was looking to be troubled – on behalf of other people. Every film and pop starlet, trawling after a reason to exist, says, "I'm not religious – but I am spiritual". I don't have a spiritual bone in my body; but what I am, is religious. I believe, literally, in the God of the Old Testament, whom I understand as the Lord of the Jews and the Protestants. I'm a Christian Zionist, as well as a Christian feminist and a Christian socialist. But over the past two decades, almost without me knowing it, the Christian part has become the most important.
Even if I probably don't quite see face to face with her theology (that would be a rare treat), I wholeheartedly enjoy her polemics.
My favourite vicar, the Reverend Gavin Ashenden of Sussex University, never says, "I am a Christian," but rather "I'm trying to be a Christian". Me too. Between the darkness that faces me from within and the darkness that faces me from without, it may just prove to be the hardest thing I've ever done. I love it.
Maybe no coincidence that her name to a stray foreigner rhymes so perfectly with Churchill.

tirsdag 12. august 2008

Britain is Repossessing America

An oldie but goldie. Even if no Chestertonian.

We presume.

How to get into debt

A good one. Even a Chestertonian one.

fredag 8. august 2008

A golden myth

The story pops up again and again, especially among economists who want you to invest in gold:

The purchasing power of gold has not diminished since Biblical times. According to the Old Testament, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, an ounce of gold bought 350 loaves of bread. Today, an ounce of gold still buys 350 loaves.
And of course it is a myth, one of those urban legends that has been debugged to death but still won't lay down.

However, as a Bible scholar, Claude Mariottini is not afraid of the truth:
To say, however, that one ounce of gold in the days of Nebuchadnezzar bought 350 loaves of bread, one must assume several things. First, one must assume that the ounce, a unit of weight in the avoirdupois system, once used in the United Kingdom and still used in the U.S. system of weights, was also used in Babylon. Since the Babylonians did not use imperial units, this statement is false.

Second, we must assume that the value of gold has remained stable in its relative value to the price of bread. If this assumption is correct, then we must also assume that the price of gold and the price of bread has remained relatively the same for the past 2,600 years. It is evident that no one can assume that this is true, therefore, the statement above also cannot be proved.
Read all about it here.

Tony talks

For my two readers who enjoy ELP, here is a great interview with Tony Ortiz. Who knows a thing or two.

onsdag 6. august 2008

Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn and Liberalism

What better way of returning from holliday than finding an illuminating article on two of my very fav authors? Even if there ideally could have been better occasions for media coverage than the recent passing away of one of them, death does have a knack for putting things in perspective.

Still, it is revealing that so many seem so clueless about Chesterton and Solzhenitsyn - including those who strive for an originality of their own (which in the post Mencken period seems more to be about a cynical than a thoughtfull style).

However, Dhoutat is very much on the right track:
But as with Chesterton, the two faces of Solzhenitsyn were really one face: His witness against Communism emerged from the same ground as his critique of Western liberalism. When Hitchens writes that the great dissident's "mixture of attitudes and prejudices puts one in mind more of Dostoyevsky than of Tolstoy," he's absolutely right. But it's not a coincidence that Russia's two most eloquent and prophetic critics of utopian radicalism - Dostoevsky who attacked it in its infancy, and Solzhenitsyn who helped usher it into extinction - were both standing outside Western liberalism, while so many people inside liberalism busied themselves making apologies for terror and mass murder. Which is why Solzhenitsyn, like Chesterton, isn't important despite his deviations from "the current consensus of liberal good will." He's important because of them - because his deviationism allowed him to see things that others were blind to, and because reading past giants who stand foursquare outside the current New York Times/New Yorker consensus provides an opportunity to interrogate one's own premises, and ponder the ways in which contemporary deviationists might be right, and the contemporary consensus wrong.
One does not need to be a prophet to know which face Dhoutat will be met with.

fredag 18. juli 2008

Vesalius vs. the rib


I have for some time looked at the story of the 16th century anatomist Vesalius who allegedly was persecuted for insisting that men did not have one rib fewer that women.

This is ofte connected to the myth that medical science was held back because the church did not allow the dissection of corpses.

In reality dissection was permitted in Medieval Europe - it was other cultures (the Greeks, Romans and Muslims) that forbade it. Galen's authoritative description of anatomy was in stead based on animals anatomy. As did this not quite match human anatomy, doctors long imagined there to be some errors in their own findings (which mostly was done by assistants anyhow), as Galen was too clever to be wrong.

Medical science seems more hold back by a well deserved respect for the genius of Galen, than from any other single factor.

Anyone interested in medieval medicine could do worse than check out Mondino de’ Luzzi (1270-1326) who wrote a textbook on the dissection of corpses. And the illustration above shows a public dissection in the 1300's.

What about Vesalius and the rib?

The story is told like this by the notorious mythmaker A.E. White in his book on the "Warfare" between science and theology:
"Still other enroachments upon the theological view were made by the new school of anatomists, and especially by Vesalius. During the Middle Ages there had been developed various theological doctrines regarding the human body; these were based upon arguments showing what the body, ought to be, and naturally, when anatomical science showed what it is, these doctrines fell. An example of such popular theological reasoning is seen in a widespread belief of the twelfth century, that, during the year in which the cross of Christ was captured by Saladin, children, instead of having thirty or thirty-two teeth as before, had twenty or twenty-two. So, too, in Vesalius's time another doctrine of this sort was dominant: it had long been held that Eve, having been made by the Almighty from a rib taken out of Adam's side, there must be one rib fewer on one side of every man than on the other. This creation of Eve was a favourite subject with sculptors and painters, from Giotto, who carved it upon his beautiful Campanile at Florence, to the illuminators of missals, and even to those who illustrated Bibles and religious books in the first years after the invention of printing; but Vesalius and the anatomists who followed him put an end among thoughtful men to this belief in the missing rib, and in doing this dealt a blow at much else in the sacred theory. Naturally, all these considerations brought the forces of ecclesiasticism against the innovators in anatomy."
The story is given more twists in a page about P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library's most valuable book:
"Prior to Pope Sixtus IV's decision at the end of the fifteenth century authorizing human dissection for scientific purposes, "to touch with a scalpel the dead 'image of God' was reckoned impious theology." Sixtus' decree opened the stage for experimentation. As professor of anatomy, Vesalius enjoyed an international reputation that drew huge crowds to the lecture halls. Instead of hiring assistants to handle the cadavers, as was customary in his time, Vesalius personally demonstrated all dissections. He was an irrepressible showman, whose classes were as riveting as theatrical productions."

"With characteristic vigor, Vesalius probed into traditionally held beliefs and, like Galileo, engaged in a lifelong struggle against the established authority. In the "Adam's Rib Controversy" Vesalius contested Church doctrine by proving that the male and the female of the species have an equal number of ribs. He also disputed the "indestructible bone" theory, which had stated that after death, human beings are left with one bone from which a new body is formed at the Resurrection. Under pressure from the Catholic Church, Vesalius finally left Italy to become medical advisor to the kings of Spain, Charles V and Philip II, but his spirit was broken."
Some also insist for some peculiar reason that it instead was the Hellenistic Galen who hold the view (and not the Church based on the Bible
):"Vesalius also disproved the Galen theory that men had a rib less than women and Aristotle's theory that the heart was the body's centre of mind and emotion believing instead that it was the brain and the nervous system."
At one place we are told that
"Another scientist of the renaissance was Vesalius, who was an expert in dissection. He found hundreds of mistakes in the accepted book on anatomy, written by Galen in the second centuryi Apparently Galen had used animals to develop his human anatomy book, while Vesalius used human cadavers. Vesalius, new book on anatomy was denounced by leading teachers, with one scientist proclaiming that he would rather stick with Galen and be wrong than change and be right!

Vesalius was proclaimed a heretic because he could not find certain bones required by the orthodox religion of his day. None of his cadavers had a missing rib, which Adam had supposedly passed on to all of his male descendants, and the "resurrection bone" could not be located, a legendary bone which was supposed to start the restoration of the body at the resurrection. He also failed to locate the soul in the bodies he examined. Discouraged, he destroyed his notes and wasted the rest of his life, but his early book on anatomy was as revolutionary as the work of Copernicus."
Now, it is in fact true that Vesalius writes about the rib:
"It is commonly believed that men lack a rib on one side, and that men have one rib fewer than women. This is plainly absurd, even if Moses did say in the second chapter of Genesis that Eve was created by God out of Adam's rib. Granted that perhaps Adam's bones, had someone articulated them into a skeleton, might have lacked a rib on one side, it does not necessarily follow on that account that all men are lacking a rib as well. Aristotle attributed only eight ribs to humans, and was ready to allow that certain members of the race of the Turduli were born with only seven ribs on each side, provided he established this on the actual testimony of some suitable authority. But as in the latter instance Aristotle was willing to support his opinion only with the testimony of others, it is also not unlikely that in the former instance he ascribed eight ribs to man on hearsay evidence, and in this manner wrongly handed down to us something he had not seen. For if we discover that he was suppositious so many times concerning the fabric of man, what judgement shall we make about the rest of his research into animals?" (The Humani Corporis Fabrica, Bk. I Chapter 19)
However, what he says is that it is "commonly believed", not that most doctors believed it, or that the church had made some kind of doctrine out of it.

And there is in fact little trace of him being persecuted by the Inquisition or anyone else. The story seems in short rather unsupported.

What then is the real story here?

No doubt it may have been a common belief (among at least uneducated people) that Adam had one rib less. Popular prejudices is hard to avoid. However, I can't find any documentation of the Church or Galen really holding or teaching this. Vesalius's book never even was on the Index of books one should not read.

My tentative conclusion then, is that this is another myth. However, if anyone does know more about this, feel free to dissect my rib case.

torsdag 17. juli 2008

Doonesbury reporting







Some news stories are rather more telling than others.

Gary B. Trudeau’s classic comics Doonesbury, has recently had a series about Iraqi Christian refugees. A rather clueless Fox News correspondent covers the story of an Assyrian family who were unable to live longer in Iraq, like so many tens of thousands - or more.

Read a comment about it here, with a few select comic strips.

Trudeau has again managed to find a rather different angle than traditional American news coverage, even if places like Christianity Today have been doing it for years.

Hopefully both Obama and McCain enjoys political comics more than they do the present presidential politics.

tirsdag 15. juli 2008

Carl against Germany and Turkey

As promised elsewhere, here are Stuart's and mine reports on the Carl Palmer Band playing both Oslo and (incredible enough) elsewhere in Europe a few weeks ago.

torsdag 10. juli 2008

Dentist drill demolition

Afraid of going to the dentist?

Listen to some great advice from Jeff Wilkin here.

How to avoid the grinding sound of the drill?
Man, that drill — there is no sound like it in science or nature. If the science-fiction boys ever decide to do a movie with mosquitoes the size of basketballs, I guess they’d sound something like that drill. And once the drill has found its mark, and jackhammers out bad tooth or old fillings ... well, those pleasant sounds used to bounce all over my head.

No longer. Whenever dental fireworks are planned now, I take consultants with me. Keith Emerson has made the trip. So has Chrissie Hynde. On Tuesday, it was John Kay.

They’re musicians — musicians associated with loud, rock’n’roll music. I’ve learned that earfuls of “Karn Evil 9,” the long and pretentious keyboard and percussion piece blared and blasted by Emerson, Lake & Palmer during the early 1970s, is the perfect antidote for any drill work. A CD goes into my portable player, earplugs go into the ear and I receive a loud audio welcome back to the show that never ends.

I know the drill is there, but the sounds of demolition can’t compete with Emerson’s Hammond organ. Seems like the louder the music is, the quicker the procedure goes. And if you are following the lyrics or the beat, you’re not thinking too much about the sound and fury below the ears.
Personally, I can vote for this also being usefull in other circumstances.

Like when wanting music to really listen to.

tirsdag 8. juli 2008

A rigid Anti-Semitarian?

The latest New Yorker takes up the old canard about G.K. Chesterton at heart really being a racist and anti-semite.

"Chesterton wasn’t a fascist, and he certainly wasn’t in favor of genocide, but that is about the best that can be said of him".

How nice.

Especially about a man who may have deserved a Nobel Peace Prize in the 1930's for trying so hard to make the world understand the dangers of eugenicm and ideological racism. Something he then had been doing for over 30 years.

Still, it is hardly unexpected that such allegations pop up. One reason is of course that there are some rather nasty clichés and comments about Jews in his writings. We are seing more than hooked noses. Some of his writings are also coloured by him not feeling particularly well about a group of Jewish financiers after a political scandal where his beloved brother did some revealing journalism - though lost a court case (the notorious Marconi Scandal) for vilification.

However that may be (and it is safe to say he lately has been acquitted on most counts), I think there are deeper or perhaps more unconscious motives. It may have something to do with keeping GKC's views and arguments at arms length. It may even more be tied to the mania of mediocrity. Great people of course must be belittled. And as they (and the rest of us) all have their small (not to mention big) secrets, it is not difficult to do. At least if one is into shallow readings of their works.

It is also in a somewhat free world legal to speculate if it has something to do with not a few modern media's lack of interest in portraying conservative (or more precisely classical) Christians as some kind of heroes.

Now, the Chestertonians answers back. Read about it here, and even more here (Dale Ahlquist as so often to the rescue).

What better way to comment upon racial inferiority , than GKC himself?

About all those arguments affecting human equality, I myself always have one feeling; which finds expression in a little test of my own. I shall begin to take seriously those classifications of superiority and inferiority, when I
find a man classifying himself as inferior. It will be noted that Mr. Ford does not say that he is only fitted to mind machines; he confesses frankly that he is too fine and free and fastidious a being for such tasks. I shall believe the doctrine when I hear somebody say: " I have only got the wits to turn a wheel." That would be real, that would be realistic, that would be scientific. That would be independent testimony that could not easily be disputed.

It is exactly the same, of course, with all the other superiorities and denials of human equality, that are so specially characteristic of a scientific age. It is so with the men who talk about superior and inferior races; I never heard a man say:" Anthropology shows that I belong to an inferior race." If he did, he might be talking like an anthropologist; as it is, he is talking like a man, and not infrequently like a fool. I have long hoped that I might some day hear a man explaining on scientific principles his own unfitness for any important post or privilege, say: " The world should belong to the free and fighting races, and not to persons of that servile disposition that you will notice in myself; the intelligent will know how to form opinions, but the weakness of intellect from which I so obviously suffer renders my opinion manifestly absurd on the face of them: there are indeed stately and god-like-races but look at me! Observe my shapeless and fourth-rate features! Gaze, if you can bear it, on my commonplace and repulsive face!

"If I heard a man making a scientific demonstration in that style, I might admit that he was really scientific. But as it invariably happens, by a curious coincidence, that the superior race is his own race, the superior type is his own type, and the superior preference for work the sort of work he happens to prefer.

(From The Outline of Sanity (1926), Collected Works page 168-69)

This book is also worth checking out, see quotes here.

As a Norwegian it saddens me that Gilbert did not get a Nobel Prize in 1933. Not the least as it went to another one of those political correct persons who later are proven deadly wrong.

Which in some decades are rather more difficult to forgive than in others.

onsdag 2. juli 2008

Moog in Montreal














Carlo, a friend of mine, went to a work related conference in Montreal last week, and used the opportunity to visit some of the sights.

As a hobby musician and professional music fan (which of course means he knows all about Keith and Bob) he was pleasently suprised to see this piece of art at the Gallerie Yves Laroche in Vieux Montreal.

Not the least as the artist (whoever it is) seems able to draw proper hands - and that perhaps even without having studied with a certain Norwegian guardian of tradition.

Stay tuned for more about this piece.

tirsdag 24. juni 2008

PLP DVD 2C


As I have finally been able to sit down and watch Pär Lindh Project's (PLP) latest offering, Live in Poland, the verdict is simply that few lovers of adventurous music (or progressive rock (or neo-baroque as Pär calls it)) will regret doing the same.

This is pure Pär, in a set of great instrumentals with William Kopecky on bass(es), and Svetlan Raket on drums. While he is not as daringly modern in his choice of classical influences as Keith Emerson (and definitely not as wild), he is a head and shoulder or two above most of today's keyboardplayers.

Subtle elegance and carefull electronicity, or in short Rick Wakeman meets Jordan Rudess. Pär mentions in an interview Bach, Beethoven, Mussorgsky & Wagner as the classical composers he finds closest to prog, and it shows in his performance.

It is fun and rather impressive to see how much he enjoys playing Hammond, synths and piano (and moving quickly between them, not to mention the classic Emerson stunt of playing one with each hand while looking straight ahead). Not to mention a good ragtime thrown in for fun. No knives or daggers, though.

While the opening number may be a bit hard to get into (especially if you're not familiar with Mussorgsky), the rest of the show flows along with the neo-baroque flame kept very strongly alive.

The track list:

1. Night on Bare Mountain (incl. The Black Stone)
2. Baroque Impression
3. Mundus / Veni Vidi Vici Medley
4. Suite in Progress
5. Montagues & Capulet
6. Bill's Solo
7. Gradus ad Parnassum

There is also an interview with Pär. And a deluxe edition with a CD as well.

Some snips here.

Pär's homesite is well worth a look - make sure to check out the interviews (including the stuff about The Nice and Keith).

Go get!

mandag 23. juni 2008

Facebooks

The old "tell me what you read and I will tell you who you are" (or perhaps more often want to be), is getting ever more risky and relevant with the forces of Facebook.

Joe Queenan hits the nail somewhat on the head with his serious tongue-in-cheek analysis of the perils of public self revelation.
But of all the personal information disclosed on Facebook -- and that includes those exquisitely pretentious quotes about the meaning of life -- it seems to me that the section with the greatest potential to catch up with people down the road is "Favorite Books."
Precisely. And what do people read?
My daughter, who graduated from Harvard in 2006, is constantly drawing my attention to the preferred reading materials of her classmates, ostensibly the future leaders of America. She does this not only because surveying the stratospheric level of post-adolescent glibness is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, or watching the Lakers, but because she believes that American society as a whole has a right to know what lies ahead as the best and the brightest move into leadership roles. By the looks of things, it is not going to be pretty.

The most striking thing about the Favorite Books section is the lack of hesitance to identify less-than-immortal books -- "The Godfather," "The Notebook," "The Da Vinci Code," assorted trash by David Baldacci -- as rave faves. This, coupled with the alarming popularity of the voluble crypto-fascist Ayn Rand, strongly suggests that the Ivies may not be getting the job done, culture-wise, these days.
If not for Ayn Rand it would seem that students almost are like most people. Which is not exactly big news:
I'm not suggesting that young people today are dumber or less sophisticated than their forebears. I am merely saying that because previous generations lacked the technology to make their callowness available for all to see, they have been spared the pain of being ceaselessly reminded of the indiscretions of an intellectually derelict youth.
That is why some of us prefer ceaselessly to remind everyone of the indiscretions of an intellectually derelict middleager, by writing blogs.
Before my daughter went to Harvard, I thought that everyone at the school was a ruthless, Machiavellian schemer who played the game of life like six-dimensional chess, cunningly plotting each move decades in advance. The Favorite Books section of Facebook suggests otherwise. No one whose favorite book is "The Da Vinci Code" is thinking six moves ahead.
It is a rare treat to see the human condition summed up so well in one sentence. Seems like it is not only his daughter who is reading Chesterton.

lørdag 21. juni 2008

Dragons can be created

Sometimes one does not quite know what to say. Or one has so much to say, that is is hard to decide where to start.

Reading Michael Onfray, provides not a few such occasions. Here is a brief comment by the admittedly rather less than disinterested Dinesh D'Souza, at a less than disinterested site. However, as it fits my own impression from having read his Atheist Manfesto, a few passages are worth quoting.
British atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens are eager to assure us that while they reject the Judeo-Christian God, they do not reject the values of compassion, human dignity, and equality that were introduced by Christianity and are widely shared in Western society. Dawkins and Hitchens insist that we can be moral without God. But Onfray, like Nietzsche, insists that this is an illusion.

Onfray describes the Dawkins-Hitchens position as "atheist Christianity," which he describes as an attempt to preserve Christian values while eliminating the Christian God. Onfray wants to move beyond this to what he calls "atheistic atheism," which requires the wholesale invention of new values that have never existed before.

What these values will look like, Onfray does not specify. He merely says that utilitarianism and hedonism should be our guides. His startling conclusion is that "atheism is not an end in itself." Rather, atheism exists in order to get rid of Judeo-Christian values that constrict our lifestyle. This is an atheism more honest, more darkly appealing, and ultimately more destructive than that of Dawkins and Hitchens.
Then the question naturally arises, is Onfray more consistent or just more crazy than other New Atheists? I am in a bit of a doubt about what I prefer.

But I am in no doubt that Onfray is into such stuff as dragons are made of.