Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sviatoslav Richter and Schubert's E-flat Impromptu
I've often thought it sad that just as the quality of sound engineering was rising, Richter's star was falling, . Still Richter is the one pianist whose historical recordings I don't mind listening to. The Schubert impromptus on this disc were recorded in Sofia, and not only do they suffer from 1950s Eastern-bloc sound engineering but also from the coughs of the victims of a flu outbreak. But there's still something so inevitable about the way the E-flat impromptu flows from its beginning through to the coda. It reminds me of this passage from Heinrich Neuhaus:
He possesses in great measure that which is usually called a feeling for form, a mastery of time and its rhythmic structure, a sense of balance and harmony stemming from the very depths of a classical disposition. In this lies his greatest power, the main quality that makes one dream of hearing him conduct an orchestra. His singular ability to grasp the whole and at the same time miss none of the smallest details of a composition suggests a comparison with an eagle who from his great height can see as far as the horizon and yet single out the tiniest detail of the landscape. We have before us an imposing mountain range, but against it we can see the lark, taking wing into the sky ... .

Sunday, August 28, 2005

About a year ago, this uber-site of Bach analyses was on blogdex. I think I have just discovered its equivalent in visual art.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The New York Times on Orchestras
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is shaking things up too - shaking, but not stirring - with Symphony With a Twist, a series of four concerts preceded by martini bars and jazz in the lobby. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's version is called Bravo.

Ignore the "shaking, not stirring" supercliche and note that Bravo isn't a series of four concerts. It's an association of young professionals who are patrons of the symphony. And the ASO has never had martini bars and jazz in the lobby. The closest thing to the Baltimore series in Atlanta is Symphony 360, but it could hardly be considered gimmicky, considering the focus of the event is the music. Don't they have a fact checker in the arts section?

Rah Rah Davidson
The good news: a Davidson alum has been blogdexed.

The bad news: it's Alenda Lux (the wingnut one, not the liberal one).

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Republican Goes to the Dentist

I can picture Brad the conservative visiting the dentist:

Dentist: I'm going to have to perform a root canal.
Brad: Oh, you just think you members of the elite know everything, don't you?
Dentist: Um, OK. If you want evidence, have a look at this tooth in the mirror.
Brad (refusing to look in mirror): You can use you rhetorical phrases like "evidence" to impress your professors at medical school, but you won't impress me.
Dentist: OK then. Let's look at a medical textbook, shall we?
Brad: You and your "indisputable" medical textbook. Don't you recognize any flaws in your basic premises? Oh look, there's F9/11.
Dentist: WTF?
Brad: And I can't believe you're disparaging my tooth, when you refuse to criticize F9/11 with equal fervor.
Dentist: What?!
Brad: Stop assuming that you have a monopoly on truth. And stop assuming that my one bad tooth is representative of all my teeth.
Dentist: Um, I never said that it was. I ..
Brad: I hope you grow out of this someday. (leaves dentist's office, slamming door behind him.)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

On Arguments
I was having a discussion in a thread in this blog and typed a comment that is worth posting an excerpt from here.

Arguments in the blogosphere, particularly the right-wing of it, seem to take these two forms:

First argument:
A. You are disagreeing with me.
B. You are claiming that your statements are correct.
C. Thus you are implying that my statements are wrong.
D. (fallacious) Thus you are implying I am generally wrong and stupid.
E. (more fallacious) Thus you are a condescending person who thinks you're smarter than everyone else.

Second argument:
A. It would seem that any outrageous acts committed by the right have an equivalent on the left.
B. (fallacious) Because it would seem so, it must be true.

The first argument treats all disagreements as personal feuds. And the second argument assumes the truth of some "common sense" statement, even though the empirical steps to verify it haven't been taken.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Fashion Ad
Check out their fall collection. Their other posters are worth checking out too.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Languages and Religions
The Yiddish linguist Max Weinreich once famously said, "A shprakh iz a
dialekt mit an armey un a flot" (or "a language is a dialect with an
army and a navy"). I have always thought that a good complement would be "A religion is a superstition with an army and a navy" which is why it was interesting to see Weinrich's quote appear in this NYTimes article on Ethnologue a compendium of the world's languages that oddly enough began life as a guide for missionaries.

Since nothing in the English language is simple, there is some dispute over the quote's origins. It may have been coined by Joshua Fishman or Hubert Lyautey.