Saturday, November 20

“Rain” (1966)

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads.
They might as well be dead.
If the rain comes, if the rain comes.
When the sun shines they slip into the shade
(When the sun shines down.)
And sip their lemonade.
(When the sun shines down.)
When the sun shines, when the sun shines.
Rain, I don't mind.
Shine, the world looks fine.
I can show you that when it starts to rain,
(When the rain comes down.)
Everything's the same.
(When the rain comes down.)
I can show you, I can show you.
Rain, I don't mind.
Shine, the world looks fine.
Can you hear me, that when it rains and shines,
(When it rains and shines.)
It's just a state of mind?
(When it rains and shines.)
Can you hear me, can you hear me?
If the rain comes they run and hide their heads.
sdaeh rieht edih dna nur yeht semoc niar eht fI.

Wednesday, November 17

Cool, it's about time!

The Beatles were the last major holdout, mostly over a dumb fight to do with the similarity of the Apple Corps / Apple, Inc names. And probably Yoko being a stubborn, contrarily counterculture you-know-what. I can't see Paul or Ringo having a problem with making their entire catalogue of music, especially the new remastered box sets and the rest, available to new fans on the largest seller of music in the world. Doesn't take a genius to realize this will make both parties a lot more money being together than slogging it out separately. The band wouldn't sell their music through the biggest and best music retailer in the world. And iTunes Music Store had a glaring hole where the best band ever was quite conspicuously absent from their offerings. Now? All patched up and solved, apparently, and The Beatles will make Apple, Inc even hipper, and the other way round. Win-win situation and it shouldn't have taken nearly this long. Stubborn artists.

It's OK though because I already have every remastered Beatles album and nearly all their 'videos', films, and radio shows (Christmas specials, for example) as well as lots of audio-only interviews with members of the band, plus the Beatles Anthology DVD boxed set and the remix project "Love" put together by George Martin and his son a few years ago. So I was all set anyway. But maybe today's youth will discover the Fab Four all over again.

Sunday, November 14

Brendan Perry, "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" (2010)

Let me know what you think of this song, from Brendan's 2010 album Ark. Thanks to Byte, he already did!

Saturday, November 13

Simple question, just for fun. And no I don't have $5000!

You're given $5000 (£3103, €3652, 1 million Ft) as soon as you finish reading this post by a kindly stranger, whose only instructions are that you MUST spend it within 3 days. The stranger is not up to any wrongdoing, and you will not get in any trouble. You cannot save or invest the money in any way so as to make it "grow" - if you put it in a bank or buy stock with it, it or the stock or other common equity will disappear in three days.

You may spend it on anything you want otherwise. On yourself, on others, give it to a charity, whatever. You can spend partial amounts on many different things. But you must spend it within 3 days (placing an online or mail order counts as spending it even if what you purchase doesn't arrive within 3 days). Whatever is leftover after 3 days will vanish, and you can't sell any purchases you made for a profit down the line, so again forget collector's items or any other investments.

You are, however allowed to gamble the money at a casino, on horse races or other sports, or anything else which is played by the rules and there is no insider knowledge or foul play.

So, what do you do with this little boon?

I'll give my answer in the comments, just as soon as I think of it!

Enigma - 'The Return to Innocence'

Often voted as one of the best music videos of all time. Song was a #1 hit for Enigma as well, and the LP The Cross of Changes, the follow-up to the band's extremely successful 1990 debut Mcmxc A.D., did just as well, selling an estimated 12 million copies worldwide and attaining multi-platinum status in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and other countries. As a result, many tracks from these first two albums have featured in motion picture scores, television shows, and advertisements.

The trademark Gregorian chanting of the first album has here been replaced by Ami (Native Taiwanese) vocalizations. The creative force behind Enigma is Romanian-born, German-raised, and classically trained pianist and composer Michael Cretu. He and his wife Sandra provide most of the English and French language vocals for Enigma's LP catalogue, while Gregorian (Latin) and Ami chanting, as well as folk singing in Basque, Sanskrit/Vedic, and other fairly obscure languages generally complement the songs, along with Japanese Shakuhachi flutes, though not always; Cretu's style has evolved relentlessly throughout the years, and he is still active in making his own music as well as collaborating, recording, and producing for others out of his home studio in Ibiza.

However, his most commercially successful albums by far were Enigma's first two (of the current seven that have been released). Among the most successful singles from those albums were "Sadeness," "The Principles of Lust," "Mea Culpa," "Age of Loneliness," "The Cross of Changes," and this track, "The Return to Innocence"...

Turn the volume up and enjoy.

Love, devotion
Feelings, emotion
Don't be afraid to be weak
Don't be too proud to be strong
Just look into your heart my friend
That will be be the return to yourself
The return to yourself.

'Cause if you want, then start to laugh
If you must, then start to cry
Be yourself, don't hide
Just believe in destiny
Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and lose the chance
To return to innocence.

Music & Lyrics by Michael Cretu. English-language vocals by Sandra and Michael Cretu. Chanting by Ami tribesmen and farmers Difang Duana (1921–2002) and Igay Duana (1922–2002). Instrumentation, mixing, recording, production, and art by Michael Cretu (1993). Video directed by Julien Temple and filmed in Andalucia, Spain.

I'll contrast this song with a couple from the first album (and possibly subsequent albums) at a later date.

Friday, November 12

The inimitable Love & Rockets... the 80s at their finest!

Cheers to Peter, Daniel, David, and Kevin - all the original members of Bauhaus who went on to form so many bands, solo projects, and influence so many other musicians from the late 70s to the present! And of course to their alter egos, The Bubblemen! :D

Wednesday, November 10

If this doesn't cause you to stop and think for a moment, nothing will.

What it tells me is that life as we experience it right now (and more generally, in the last couple hundred years) is nothing like that which people have experienced throughout 99% of human history, not to mention human existence (our evolution as a distinct species). This graph only goes back as far as the agricultural revolution after the last ice age, when farming and animal husbandry were both developed, and people began the process of settling down  giving up hundreds of thousands of year or more of nomadic existence.

By the way, we're already closing in on 7 Billion and could reach it late next year, according to UN estimates.

Where're one of those asteroids when you need them...

World's most populous countries.

Without looking, just take a guess and name the top 10 most populous countries in the world, in the comments section. When you've done that you can click HERE and check your answers. But please write them out before you click, it will be much more fun that way.

A lot of the "old" ideas we have about the "great nations" of the world are being overturned, at least in terms of population size. Of course, wealth and power of nations is not particularly coordinated with population, so when we think of those 19th century colonial powers we may be still somewhat accurate in the amount of influence they wield in today's world.

Still, it's a bit eye-opening to see which countries have gone from mere afterthoughts prior to the 20th century to significant chunks of the pie of humanity. So many mouths to feed...

Sunday, November 7

Here's a pretty easy one. Well, maybe.

For some reason, Zeus always looks pissed off

The Earth, Sun, and Moon are all names which derive from Anglo-Saxon, as are most common words in modern English. But the language of science (and learning in general) is Latin, and the languages of the classical era Latin and Greek (primarily Greek), with a little landbridge so to speak of Arabic and Hindi to keep the classic knowledge alive while Europe devolved into illiterate churchgoers for a handful of centuries, killed cats and worsened the sweeps of plague (which lived inside fleas which lived on mice which cats conveniently eat), who lived in unthinkable squalor and absolutely loved it (ok, I made that last part up), and who generally lost their savoir vivre and drive to make inquiries about the natural world since of course, all knowledge is contained within a children's book called The Bible.

When the Enlightenment came round and people started to ponder the Universe they lived in again, this time developing rigorous and systematic methods for doing so objectively, rejecting supernaturalism, and doing such unbecoming things as staying up all night and pointing crude spyglasses into the black vault overhead, they made discoveries that were communicated, as stated, in the lingua franca of learned men and women - Latin.

And thus apart from the three heavenly bodies I mentioned above, for which all ancients surely had useful, unfancy homegrown names since the advent of language, the new objects in the sky were given Latin appellations. And what's more, thanks to a happy foresight of sorts, it was settled very early on that heavenly bodies would not be named haphazardly or after monarchs or rich patrons, but would be kept pleasingly consistent by using the overarching theme of classical mythology. This practice has since been followed in all but a very few cases (Titania and Oberon, anyone?). However, though the bodies themselves were styled after Greek deities, they were actually named using the Latin (Roman) equivalent, to be "scientific" about it.

Therefore most of the planets and moons and other interesting features of the solar system bear Latin names. So with this unprecedentedly long-winded introduction nearly over, I have a task for you, Gentle Reader. For each of the below common names (which whether you know it or not are Latin - mostly), I'd like you to give me a) The Greek equivalent, or b) The vocation or origin of the name ('X was the name for the god of Y, and was the son of Q', that sort of thing - I don't need a full biography and CV but just an idea of who they were in the popular imagination of antiquity), or if you're feeling extra cheeky and would really like to butter me up but cannot afford to send cash, try to do c) Both!

Here we go!
1. Mercury
2. Venus
3. Mars
4. Ceres (the biggest asteroid in the asteroid belt and briefly considered a new planet)
5a. Jupiter
5b through 5e: Jupiter's four large moons: b. Ganymede, c. Europa, d. Callisto, e. Io
7a. Saturn
7b. Saturn's single large moon, Titan (hint: this is a bit of a trick question)
8a. Uranus (no jokes, please)
8b. Uranus's single large moon, Hemorrhoid. Wait! I meant Triton
9. Neptune
10a. In the spirit of magnanimity, I'll include the demoted "dwarf planet" Pluto here
10b. Pluto's "moon" - more accurately the smaller member of its double-body system, Charon

11. Andromeda, our friendly neighboring galaxy, which is due to gobble us up in a few billion years

Without wikicheataping, how well can you do? Don't worry, it bears no reflection on you as a person, just your nerdy knowledge of astronomy and classical mythology. Oh, and your morals. I will be quite lenient in my grading and this should not be thought of as a competition so much as an opportunity for intellectual edification.

I will provide an answer key once I'm convinced no one wants to play. Have fun!

Thursday, November 4

Finish the sentence however you want (use as many words as you need). Be creative!

1. I try to stay organized and keep track of all my things, but for some reason my favorite jeans keep ____________ .
2. I thought it was the murmuring of people, but when I turned around I discovered ____________ .
3. The way in which a politician could best serve the country would be to ____________ .
4. Feeling a cat paw upon my face, I opened my eyes only to witness ____________ .
5. I blame this headache on one thing  the utter ____________ .

Have fun!

Congratulations to the World Champion 2010 San Francisco Giants!


Thanks to (pictured):
Timmy Lincecum, our ace!
Cody Ross, surprise hero!
Freddy Sanchez, huge at the plates and with the leather!
And of course... our secret weapon and fearless leader...
The Skipper, Bruce Bochy!

Just as important (but not pictured):
Edgar Renteria, World Series MVP
Matt Cain, no earned runs allowed in the postseason!
Madison Bumgarner, lights out at age 21
Juan Uribe, hit like Ruth in the clutch
Buster Posey, star in the making and now officially NL Rookie of the Year
Andres Torres, all over the basepaths, scoring on close plays
Aubrey Huff, the veteran who kept it all relaxed and fun
The bullpen, virtually unhittable, to a man
and of course super-closer Brian Wilson - Fear the Beard!!!

As well as all the bench players, coaches, trainers,
management, and ownership who made it all possible.



I've always worn my Giants cap with pride, but now it means just that little bit extra. No one can call my team losers or bridesmaids any more, we clobbered three of the best teams in all of baseball convincingly  3-1, 4-2, 4-1 — with five of those 15 games being shutouts, and with no shutouts thrown against us. Arguably one of the most dominant pitching performances in the history of postseason baseball.

All the East Coast snobs and big media (ESPN) doubters who wrote off the Giants at every turn, picking them to finish last in their division before the season started, then predicting them to lose in each of their three playoff series, making them underdogs (echoed by the bookies 'official' odds in Las Vegas) even against Texas, which had a worse regular season record...

All of them can now eat my shorts.

We're the champs and nothing can take this season away or this title away. That's all I wanted, just ONE! One entry in the roll call of champions in this great game.

Of course I wouldn't mind more... =D

Hooray Giants and add a baseball championship to the football and basketball titles of the
Best City in the World

Just need the Sharks to win a Stanley Cup and everything in the universe will align and be in eternal harmony, like at the end of The Dark Crystal.

China Basin, McCovey Cove, AT&T Park, The Bay Bridge, and The City and the Bay in full evening splendor.
The shining jewel of California, the best state in the country!

and now,

Proud custodians of the MLB championship trophy for 2010-2011.

Gratuitous web site names.

Minor pet peeve - you go to bookmark a site. Instead of "Yahoo" or "Rattlebox" appearing as the name on your extremely space-limited bookmarks bar or menu, it comes out something like " Your one-stop shop for cards that don't suck, where you can personalize a whole range of hilarious non-sucky cards that don't suck in any way, however you like, because this is Rattlebox, and it doesn't suck, nor do its cards, which by the way you can personalize!!1!"

I then have to take the extra step of hitting [F2] or right-clicking and selecting "Edit" in order to trim the fat off the name (yes, even the '.com' part). Why can't they snap out of marketing anus-head mode for a minute and see that we normal users just get peeved about that kind of thing? Give me a simple, one-word site name for my bookmarks by default! It would save so much time over the long run for those of us who actually try to keep a useful and attractive set of bookmarks.

Why do place-names keep changing?

Over my life I've seen Peking turn into Beijing, Bombay turn into Mumbai, and literally countless others, which if nothing else has made my globes and atlases obsolete.

I'm not naive - I understand that Colonialism imposed names on places that may not have been very accurate (in some cases, the post-colonial name is entirely different). Also, transliteration systems evolve (or at least change...) and thus spellings in English change. I'm all in favor of people calling their home cities and countries what they like.

But doesn't some of this seems needlessly reactionary? I mean... Kolkatta? Does every single name need to be changed (not in Hindi, Mandarin, etc, mind you, but just in English and other Western languages) for the sake of being different as a means of asserting independence? If it's a transliteration anyway, what's the point?

I get confused having to continually learn new spellings for what are after all the same cities and countries, and I'm sure children trying to learn a standardized geography get confused as well. What was so terrible with the old transliterations? We'll only ever approximate the native sound of the name anyway. Why is the Koran now the Qur'an when actually the true name of it is in Arabic anyway and hasn't changed at all?

Can some expert in linguistics, or even a smart layperson please help me out here? I'm not hostile to these changes per se, they just seem needless and confusing, as I've said before. Ceylon --> Sri Lanka? Sure, it's a whole new name. Zaire to DRC? Ok. But why fuss with the SPELLING of place-names whose root name and pronunciation has NOT changed in any essential way?

It seems politically correct, anti-Western, and reactionary to me. But maybe there are good reasons I'm just not thinking of. To a Western person who strives to understand the WHOLE world, and has no hidden colonialist agenda, it sure can be annoying trying to keep track of these constant revisions. Half the place names on the globe I knew so well as a child are now obsolete!

Hmm, the Belief-O-Matic leaves something to be desired...

From: Beliefnet's Belief-O-Matic.

My results:

01.  Secular Humanism (100%)
02.  Unitarian Universalism (100%)
03.  Nontheist (85%)
04.  Theravada Buddhism (78%)
05.  Liberal Quakers (72%)
06.  Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (56%)
07.  Neo-Pagan (54%)
08.  Taoism (49%)
09.  New Age (40%)
10.  Reform Judaism (37%)
11.  Mahayana Buddhism (31%)
12.  New Thought (28%)
13.  Orthodox Quaker (28%)
14.  Scientology (28%)
15.  Sikhism (28%)
16.  Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (23%)
17.  Baha'i Faith (18%)
18.  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (18%)
19.  Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (15%)
20.  Eastern Orthodox (9%)
21.  Hinduism (9%)
22.  Islam (9%)
23.  Jainism (9%)
24.  Orthodox Judaism (9%)
25.  Roman Catholic (9%)
26.  Seventh Day Adventist (9%)
27.  Jehovah's Witness (0%)

First of all, #1 and #3 should be 100%. I'm not quite sure what "partial beliefs" are, but following their logic here, #2 and #8 should be high, but not 100%. And there is no entry for "Secular Buddhism," which should also be high. Note than none of these require any faith, they all amount to philosophies or denials of faith in favor of Rationalism (yet another one which was left out - I suppose because it is most pointedly NOT a faith, and this site is about "belief"). Lastly, ALL of the others on the list which I haven't mentioned should be "0%" - period. I have no partial beliefs or sneaking suspicions in the validity of any of them, whatsoever.

Feel free to take the quiz yourself but I think as a means of assessing one's beliefs (or lack thereof), this is an inane way of approaching it. It places everyone somewhere along a spectrum for each belief system out there, regardless of how goofy or ridiculous. This is the wrong approach entirely, IMO. This is saying that fundamentalist Christians or Muslims also have affinities with the other, just not as strong, and many similar conclusions. I'm sure many "true believers" would find this just as objectionable as a non-believer such as myself does to being told my beliefs are 28% Scientological. That one is perhaps the biggest insult of all.

I would hang myself before being forced to live as a zombie of the church of Scientology, Islam, or Roman Catholicism. I'd make the same statement about Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, et al, but they're really too much of a joke to even get worked up about.

Archived Posts

Search The Meta-Plane