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I don’t know who’s in charge of programming at the local classickal station, but they sure seem to have a liking for Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto.

It’s not a bad piece of musick, look you, but it certainly seems to get a lot more play time than strikes me as merited.

Teh Steyn on the current state of American war-making.  A couple of money graffs:

An army has to wage war on behalf of something real. For better or worse, “king and country” is real, and so, mostly for worse, are the tribal loyalties of Africa’s blood-drenched civil wars. But it’s hardly surprising that it’s difficult to win wars waged on behalf of something so chimerical as “the international community.” If you’re making war on behalf of an illusory concept, is it even possible to have war aims? What’s ours? “[We] are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people,” General Petraeus said in April. Somewhere generations of old-school imperialists are roaring their heads off, not least at the concept of “the Afghan people.” But when you’re the expeditionary force of the parliament of man, what else is there?

War is hell, but global “mentoring” is purgatory. In that respect, the belated dispatch of Osama bin Laden may be less strategically relevant than the near-simultaneous exposé by 60 Minutes of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea. This is the bestselling book the Pentagon gives to Afghan-bound officers, and whose celebrity author has met with our most senior commanders on multiple occasions. And it’s a crock. Nevertheless, it’s effected a profound cultural transformation — if only on us. “It’s remarkable,” an Indian diplomat chuckled to me a while back. “In Afghanistan, the Americans now drink more tea than the British. And they don’t even like it.” In 2009, remember, the Pentagon accounted for 43 percent of the planet’s military expenditures. At this rate, by 2012 they’ll account for 43 percent of the planet’s tea consumption.

Read the whole thing.  It’s not really a GOP vs Donks issue, but a problem in strategic thinking that stretches all the way back to the end of WWII.  Steyn demands a complete rethinking on just what the hell we think we’re doing in teh world, and I am inclined to agree.

I see where scientists believe that the sun is about to take a long nappies.  Money quote from the article:

“If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades,” Hill said. “That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate.”

I don’t know who first came up with the theory that sunspot activity affected Earth’s climate, although I do know that Edmund “Comet” Halley suspected a link.

Now, going from the heavens to the depths, as it were, allow me to share with you what geologist Eldridge Moores said to author John McPhee shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake:

“People look upon the natural world as if all motions of the past had set the stage for us and were now frozen.  They look out on a scene like this and think, It was all made for us – even if the San Andreas Fault is at their feet.  To imagine that turmoil is in the past and somehow we are now in a more stable time seems to be a psychological need.  Leonardo Seeber [another geologist], of Lamont-Doherty, referred to it as the principle of least astonishment.  As we have seen this fall, the time we’re in is just as active as the past.  The time between events is long only with respect to a human lifetime.”

– From Annals of the Former World, Book 4: Assembling California.

I believe that this same “principal of least astonishment” applies to our natural psychological response to  meteorological phenomena every bit as much as it does to geological ones.  It has always rained so many inches here.  There has never been such a severe outbreak of tornadoes there.  The average temperature has always been such and such at the other place.  And that glacier has always stopped at the spot marked “X”.  Any variation, any deviation from such perceived stability, must mean that Something Is Wrong.  And if Nature is static, this something must be…….Us.

And it’s exactly this psychological need on which the Greens have seized, and through which they have argued for more central control, more top-down management.  (There are certainly those who are genuinely interested in environmental matters and good stewardship, and God bless them.  But for the major playahs, this whole biznay is really about political power. Depend on it.)  Indeed, the very labeling of the bogey-man as “Climate Change” says it all.  It presumes that climate isn’t supposed to change, or that it wouldn’t without our interference.

Well, guess what – it does, with or without us.

Just keep that in mind when you’re calculating how many of your liberties you’re willing to give up for the Cause.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.  A touron visiting Noo Yawk City for the first time stops a man with a violin under his arm and asks him how to get to Carnegie Hall.  The violinist sighs wistfully and says, “Practice, practice, practice.”

I offer this chestnut because last evening the Port-Swiller family turned out to see the middle gel (now eleven, for those of you scoring at home) perform in her first piano recital.  The gel was to offer up sonatinas by Beethoven and Clementi. (Coincidentally, the Clementi was the one I did at my first recital when I was a couple years older than her, the little Opus 36 C-major that goes Dah-dee-dah-dat-dat. Dah-dee-dah-dat. Dee-diddle-diddle-dahdee-dahdee-daddle-daddle-dat.)  To say that she had practiced the way she ought to have would be, to put it politely, a bare-faced lie, and going in, I had a sinking feeling that she was going to make a thorough hash of it.

There were eighteen boys and girls on the program, aged anywhere between seven and thirteen.  They all played exactly the sort of stuff you would expect from beginner to intermediate level kiddies of that age range, everything from “Up the stairs/Down the stairs” to some Bach minuets and a transposed lute bourrée.  Now, you may take whatever parental discount you want out of this assessment, but I must say that although some of the other performers were more technically proficient, none of them made musick the way the gel did.  It was perfectly plain that she just got it.  And furthermore, she was the only one of the lot to get up and play from memory, the stinker- everyone else had their scores with them.

I happen to have some musickal gift.  Some would say a pretty fair bit.  (The Mothe and Sistah will back me up on this.)  I say this not to brag, but to put things in perspective when I say that I’m more and more of the opinion that this gel actually has more musickal ability than I do.  She’s a beautiful bel canto soprano.  She can actually make a recorder worth listening to.  And most importantly, as last evening’s performance demonstrates,  she just naturally and instinctively understands what she’s doing.  If she can be made to add self-discipline to the mix, I foresee a truly rewarding future.

Oh, and she went through the whole thing looking as cool as some cucumbers, as Aunt Dahlia’s French chef Anatole would say.  It was almost pleasant to me to notice, as she sat back down next to me afterwards, that her hands were trembling.   She knew perfectly well going in that she wasn’t really ready, and it was nice to see that even though she scooted through on pure talent, it gave her a bit of a scare.

Speaking of scary futures, the gel and I are also having a bit of a battle of wills over a Pie Jesu of which she is extremely fond and in which she has been nagging me to accompany her on the keyboard.  The trouble? The setting is by Andrew Lloyd Gawd Help Us Webber.   Do I indulge her in this, assuming that she will eventually outgrow such childishness?  Or do I lay down the law?  She knows perfectly well how I feel, and of late has taken the tack of batting her eyes at me and saying, “I know you don’t like Lloyd Webber, Daddy, but please….do it just for me?”

As I say, the stinker.


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June 2011