Hello, Duke University

I love it that this weekend’s Google brought me a researcher from Duke University inquiring “how much money does a person working at the White House make”?

* * * * *

Oops, I spy in my peripheral vision a little something hanging from the right hinge of my eyeglasses. Reach up and pluck it off. A piece of aluminum foil? Oh, a bit of Hershey’s Kiss wrapping. How did that get there!

By the way, a tip. Don’t buy goody bag Hershey’s Kisses for goody bags several days before birthday goody bags will be given out at child’s birthday party. Very few remained for the goody bags. A remnant couple took refuge in my desk drawer. But I caught ’em.

The Joffrey Ballet performs "The Rite of Spring"

Spent a long while Sunday evening watching and then watching again (and again) the Joffrey Ballet’s recreation of Nijinsky and Stravinsky’s 1913 “The Rite of Spring”.

The Rite of Spring, video 1

The Rite of Spring, video 2

The Rite of Spring, video 3

You owe it to yourself to watch this ballet. Really, you do. All the way through. You’ll not be disappointed. It’s wonderful.

This portion of a recent interpretation of it does absolutely nothing for me but it has 71,474 views and has 13 pages of comments whereas the Joffrey Ballet’s recreation has 6887 views for the first part (half that for the other parts) and not near as many comments. Perhaps people still have a problem with the foot stomping, chaotic angularity of the style of dance of the original (the recreation was based on preserved notes). My guess is it has more to do with that than the women removing their underwear at the beginning of the recent interpretation. If the women had removed their underwear then proceeded to pigeon-toed stomp I don’t think the video would have over 71,000 views. No, they remove their underwear then everyone dances like they’re in Westside Story, which seems to be a winning combination.

H.o.p. was briefly perplexed because he associates “The Rite of Spring” with “Fantasia”.

Poor kid.

I can barely tolerate “Fantasia”. He loves it. There’s nothing quite like dinosaurs battling it out to Stravinsky.

So, he loves Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” and he heard it playing and came up to watch what was going on. I explained to him that, no, Disney’s “Fantasia” was not what Stravinsky had composed the music for. This took him aback a second. Then, after watching a few minutes of the Joffrey, he volunteered he liked the ballet, he thought the dancing was great. And I think he did enjoy it.

I was inspired to look up at Amazon Nijinsky’s diary, which he kept for six weeks, at the very premature end of his career, before his admittance to an asylum for schizophrenia at age thirty. It looks interesting and I’ll probably purchase it…

But first, a new monitor. Mine–this horrid Dell–which is only two years old now but has long had problems, is finally dying. I can no longer cut it off as it’s developed a habit of flashing when I cut it back on. You can knock it, hit it, bang it, jostle cords, and still it continues to flash to black at least a couple times a second, and though it does eventually stop and permits me to get to work, no doubt tomorrow or the next day it will no longer come on it all. Which is why I’m no longer cutting it off. So I spent this week doing some research and narrowed my choice of replacement down to two true 8-bit lower midrange monitors for about $450 through NewEgg and finally decided to go with the NEC. I promised myself I’d have one purchased by Friday night, but it’s Monday and I’ve yet to plunk down the money. Today. I’ll do it today.

H.o.p.’s monitor is dying as well these past three months. You have to hit the screen HARD every thirty minutes or so to knock it out of these hallucinogenic, acid rock background film fits that it falls into. But at least it responds to a thwack.

OK. I just plunked down the money for the new monitor. Because I do art and photo processing, I do NOT like the fact it’s silver. I hate purchasing something where I already don’t like something about it, but the black was only available in Open Box so that wasn’t an option, and besides, the black had a silver bezel so what’s the point. I also could kick myself for not getting the rush processing for $2.99. I looked at it and thought, with two days delivery do I need rush processing? No. I looked at it again and thought why not get rush processing for $2.99, but decided no after sitting there for another couple of minutes staring at the screen, because I’d already spent $50 extra for a replacement plan. “So, you’ve spent $50 extra for a replacement plan. Why not spend a paltry $2.99 extra for rush processing?” I said to myself, and STILL I didn’t purchase the rush processing. Then after I complete the order I see that it will take up to 48 hours for them to process. So, with the holiday weekend I’ll not likely see my monitor until the beginning of next week. I hope this one holds out that long.

One day I’ll have a LaCie.

Bronze Idols

I’m not a fan of ballet. I’ve seen performances I’ve enjoyed (usually not classical ballet) but I’m not going to go out of my way to view it. So it’s exceptional that I’m offering some ballet clips below.

How’d I get there?

A NY Times article nearly convinced me that there may be visions of “The Nutcracker” ballet which may be fun rather than agonizing and boring as hell.

Over to Youtube I went…and was reminded that, no, I just don’t much care for ballet.

Then I happened upon a performance of “The Bronze Idol” that was riveting. As there were a number of videos of other soloists performing the same dance, I went through them for comparison’s sake. Though each is outstanding in his own way, there were none, to me, that approached the power of this particular dancer. And I don’t mean just physical power.

Angel Corella at Covent Garden.

Sergey Antonov with the Bolshoi.

Andrey Bolotin with the Bolshoi.

Morikhiro Ivata with the Bolshoi.

Wilfried Romoli with the Paris Opera Ballet. Wonderful staging in this one.

Now watch Ivan Vasiliev take possession of the Bolshoi stage as the Bronze Idol. Knowing nothing of ballet, I can’t deconstruct it. All I can say of it is that his precision is bolder, and his timing, the way that he works with the music, is exceptional.

After watching Ivan Vasiliev’s version about 30 times, I looked up some information on him.

He’s new. Eighteen years of age.

I had reason to be impressed.

I WOULD FAVORITE A PIC OF THIS ON FLICKR

Wow. SOMEBODY (cough cough) may be using little robotic dragonflies to maybe spy on folks at political events like anti-war rallies.

Ain’t that too cool??!! Little spy dragonfiles!

Deserves a paragraph of exclamation marks!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If they’re for real.

So what was seen by Crane, Alarcon and a handful of others at the D.C. march – and as far back as 2004, during the Republican National Convention in New York, when one observant but perhaps paranoid peace-march participant described on the Web “a jet-black dragonfly hovering about 10 feet off the ground, precisely in the middle of 7th avenue … watching us”?

They probably saw dragonflies, said Jerry Louton, an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Washington is home to some large, spectacularly adorned dragonflies that “can knock your socks off,” he said.

At the same time, he added, some details do not make sense. Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies – an accoutrement that Louton could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison.

“Dragonflies never fly in a pack,” he said.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said her group is investigating witness reports and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several federal agencies. If such devices are being used to spy on political activists, she said, “it would be a significant violation of people’s civil rights.”

Wired first wrote about it on the 21st of Sept.

The Flickr dragonfly photo lords and lordesses need to work on getting some pics.

BIG UGLY FENCE

An Atlanta musician decides to send out to everyone on his email list a link to Immigration Gumballs asking everyone to watch it and learn about the dramatic effects of immigration on this country. The long and short of it is Roy Beck addressing an audience of about 99.9% white faces on how America has “below replacement fertility” which would stabilize our population except for all these immigrants. Which means fewer white folks and lots more American (as in the continent, as it came to be named) Indians from the South. Right?

Oh, lord! What happens if H.o.p. (who descends mostly from displaced Irish, Scots-Irish and French who immigrated here, and some of the Cherokee and Ioway who were displaced by the great Anglo-European influx) marries a person whose ancestors were living on this side of the ocean 600 years ago?! And their children marry people whose ancestors were living on this side of the ocean 600 years ago?!

Can you imagine, looking out over America and seeing just a few white faces peeking out of the corners here and there? Yikes! It’s the apocalypse! A nightmare horror show! After all, where would the Home of the Free be without the white people who killed off untold numbers of American Indians and forced those remaining into death marches to their new homes on largely inhospitable “reserves”? Shouldn’t their legacy go to pale skins, else it be trashed with the barbarous sensibilities of South of the Border non-whites?

At least frame the argument honestly, OK?

There are all kinds of comments on the Youtube thread by people with monikers like “Secure the Border” and “Texas Ranger”. In fact over 1500 comments. The video has been favorited 777 times and has nearly 3/4 of a million views.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has this on Roy Beck,

Before he even said a word, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) got a standing ovation from the 27 anti-immigration activists who gathered at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on the morning of Feb. 13 to kick off a two-day lobbying effort on Capitol Hill.

Tancredo, chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, proceeded to regale his audience with ominous warnings of a global plot to destroy the United States…

Patrick McHugh of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which purports to be a squeaky clean think tank that rejects racism, was there pressing the flesh along with Barbara Coe, head of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, who repeatedly referred to Mexicans — as she has for years — as “savages.”

The Citizens Informer, a white supremacist tabloid put out by the Council of Conservative Citizens hate group, was available.

NumbersUSA executive director Roy Beck, a long-time friend of Coe’s, adopted a more moderate tone when he addressed his guests and told them what they should be doing to end the current immigration regime.

It would be better, Beck counseled, if their attempts to lobby legislators that week did not appear to be orchestrated by NumbersUSA. For their campaign to be effective, he said, it “needs to look like a grassroots effort.”

What’s NumbersUSA?

Founded in 1982 as an anti-immigrant umbrella group by Michigan ophthalmologist John H. Tanton, U.S. Inc. operates most publicly through three projects — NumbersUSA, ProEnglish and The Social Contract Press*, which publishes the journal The Social Contract. Tanton and his wife, Mary Lou Tanton, have been chair and vice chair from the start…

In a private 1986 memo leaked to the press, Tanton suggested racial Balkanization was under way, and warned, among other things, that Hispanics were out-breeding whites: “On the demographic point: perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down!” The memo contained such incendiary language that U.S. English executive director Linda Chavez quit, as did advisory board member Walter Cronkite.

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center

Mr. Atlanta musician began his email with, “I try not to send out many of these but I felt this might be of interest to some of you.”

Only in that I now know you’re a frightened white man.

He continues on to say this is an email about something that isn’t “political in nature” but is an issue that is heavily politicized.

Not political in nature?

Not political in nature?!

Well, then, what is it? A condiment or something?

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DELL MONITOR HELL

Monitor Hell

For a while I’ve been writing about the hell I’ve been going through with my Dell monitor. Well, here it is. Thought I’d picture it for you. Click on the image to see it bigger at Flickr.

This is my canvas. It’s canvas hell.

I forget what I spent on this monitor, which I’ve had for a year-and-a-half, but it was somewhere in the order of $500 to $600. This may not be much for some people but it was a lot for me. It was supposed to have a great range of grays for a flat screen monitor. I was really pleased with it out of the box.

This is called “image persistence” rather than “burn in” (on my Viewsonic CRT I never experienced burn in) and it seems some Dell monitors really have a problem with it. I have tried all these tips for getting rid of it and have always used a changing screen saver, but the problems with mine seem to be irreversible. What I don’t understand about the idea of image persistence is how, on the left, it is this huge blotch encroaching on my screen and doesn’t correspond with any “image”. It’s just like the ocean eating up beach real estate.

I go between fits of trying to ignore this and weeping copious inner tears.

When I am able, I may go back to a behemoth CRT.

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AND I THOUGHT I KNEW HOW TO STAND

Trying to start writing this post and I fall offline several times first. One of these days we’ll get switched over to ATT…I guess…our reluctance being that we probably expect things to be just as bad or, gasp, what if they get worse.

But, the topic.

I had one Qigong DVD which seemed quite fine but I got another because it went into things in more detail. The first Qigong DVD was loads of fun. I got to roll Chi balls around. I liked that. No one asked me to learn how to stand again, they seemed to think I knew how to do that already.

I thought I knew how to stand. Then after 9 days of this I got in a 2nd Qigong DVD I’d ordered that was concerned with really getting to know the basics. It gave me all kinds of directions on how to stand that the other one didn’t. Was I squatting so my knees covered my toes? Yeah. Uh, wait, not all the time. Were my feet parallel or was one or the other sticking out? Oh, look at that, one of my feet is sticking out, I’d not noticed that. Move it in.

Now, assume your Standing Meditation and just observe and feel what’s going on in your body and around you. Don’t eschew anything. Let it flow.

I’d no idea how moving a foot just a couple of centimeters and lowering your stance just an inch or two can make…such a…torturous…difference…

Or how difficult it is to just stand there and not do anything else but stand there holding a Standing Meditation for fifteen minutes.

That’s all! Fifteen minutes! You laugh at my feebleness!

At first, by the time I was done, every single muscle in my body that wasn’t outright shaking was a quivering jello wanting to erupt. And I hurt all over. The second day I itched everywhere. The third day I felt nauseated but only itched a little. The whole routine takes around 35 minutes and on the third day I was still folding over on the floor afterwards. Since it was such torture I decided to abandon anything else I was doing for the moment (i.e. what was pleasant) and just go for now with building up my ability to do Standing Meditation, with which I figure it will take me ten years to be comfortable.

Things have gotten a little less torturous each day. Which must mean progress. But I have to admit I’ve cheated a bit. The fourth day into it, l positioned myself in front of the fish tank and instead of just standing there, after a while, every time the flipper of a fish moved, I flipped my fingers. I told myself I may not have been standing absolutely still, moving my fingers like that, but I was learning something about my fish (yes, I told myself that) and it could possibly be part of my life’s plan. The exercise wasn’t near so brutal with me flipping those fingers gently each time a flipper moved.

I am two days ahead of Marty in this and it’s somewhat reassuring that he too has found it just as strenuous.

It’s been a week now and today I stood where I could watch the glint of sun off the cars reflected on a framed painting, and I waited for those little flashes of light to shimmer across the glass. I liked that. It’s a whole lot better than the Crying Elvis velvet painting. It’s still a strain just to stand, mentally, for those fifteen minutes. Physically, it is not near as strenuous as it was. It is still taxing, but I can now feel that part of the taxing is the sense of a tedious chore, it being also a tedious chore because I’m not very comfortable with it and at this point am doing it in order to be done and over with it.

But I need to do this. Working on the Tai Chi I realized that for me to be perfectly stable, moving slowly from one position to another, meant having the strength to be still.

An interesting thing that typically happens is a sense of relaxed buoyancy that begins around two hours after I am done.

P.S.: I miss flipping my fingers in concert with the fish flipping their flippers. That was fun.

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Down Time

My sites are on Dreamhost. Which used to be great (I’ve been with them for years) but is now sometimes a true pain in the ass. There was a major outage yesterday (took down my sites for hours) and one couldn’t even reach their status blog. It’s now back online though and I see there is another scheduled outage of 20 minutes tonight though if something “goes wrong” it could take “much longer”. Plus it’ll take down their status blog again, apparently.

Why the hell don’t they put their status blog on something like blogger or WordPress blogs?

I’m surprised there’s not been more outrage on the Dreamhost forum. Or on the status blog. But then I’ve not posted my grumblings either. Because everything in My Computer Land is messed up, so why not Dreamhost?

Can’t figure out what’s wrong with my computer but it has gotten way funky, been funky for a while and keeps getting funkier.

Dell screwed me over with this monitor that went bad and keeps getting worse and worse. The top and sides of the screen look like they were soaked in gutter water and left to dry.

I HATE MY ISP, but do we really want to switch from Scientology founded Earthlink (yes! well, after a fashion) to AT&T? I think we do because Earthlink sucks so bad but we just keep talking about it and have the AT&T web page perpetually open on the desk top but haven’t done it yet.

Sky Dayton founded Earthlink. On his home page is the following quote:

Communication is the solvent for all things.

L. Ron Hubbard

After I found that out, I learned that H.o.p.’s beloved Neopets site is run by Scientologists.

Doug Dohring, Neopets CEO says,

Having used his [Hubbard’s] technology in every business activity for nearly two decades now, Mr. Hubbard’s organizational concepts are always with me to the point where virtually every aspect of running my companies involves the use of his administrative technology…

And what are those organizational principles founded upon?

Hubbard’s Administrative Technology is based on the Org Board, short for organizing board. This system creates seven divisions within a company: executive, personnel, sales, finance, training, marketing and qualifications, with three subdivisions within each division…Hubbard described the Org Board in a 1965 lecture as a system that had been in use by a galactic civilization for 80 trillion years in the past — his system is an improvement upon this existing system…

Yes, well, I guess those org principles are doing OK for Neopets, but damn, Earthlink is all messed up.

Eew, L. Ron Hubbard.

I’m sorry I learned that about Neopets.

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