Friday, December 27, 2013

Camille Paglia says: It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be

It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be |

If men are obsolete, then women will soon be extinct — unless we rush down that ominous Brave New World path where women clone themselves by parthenogenesis, as famously do Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks and pit vipers.

A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism.................

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Investing and the Opera Legacy

Music brings a family together, an interesting feature to read at this time of year, as friends and family gather....

Investing and the Opera Legacy -

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Zen Now

A Zen seeker asked:  "how can I live in the now?"

The Zen master asked of the audience, "will anyone who is NOT living in the now, please rise!"


There is no such thing as an enlightened person.  There is only enlightened activity.


Not always so.  -- Shunryu Suzuki, summing up the teaching of the Buddha.


Calls to mind:  when you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.


Friday, October 11, 2013

The longer we wait the steeper the bill

Debt ceiling delusions -- is "ignore it for a month" really a solution?


Friday, October 04, 2013

We need breast cancer prevention, not just awareness

Getting bombarded here with commercial messages about all things pink and breast cancer awareness, since October is the month for that.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman said it best:  "We need breast cancer prevention, not just awareness."

Sentiment being mirrored by others, now, and in times past.  Worth studying a bit, and thinking about it.

Read this, too.

Critical thinking, as always, is the thing in shortest supply....

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Ravinia Music Director James Conlon weathers the storm

From a near death experience, some interesting observations, well worth reading.

Executive summary:  best not to ignore the body's warning signals..... .....

[I, too, had a similar experience one year ago, so as Bob Marley said, "who feels it knows it, mon."]

BACK TO WORK | Musical America Blogs

We wish Maestro Conlon all the best.... 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Syrian outcome: An Emboldened Iran?

Netanyahu: Iran Is Watching How World Handles Syria

In a region where strength is almost all that matters, Obama might have just reduced American deterrence to an all-time low. And that greatly concerns Israelis, who, like Netanyahu, know that Iran will take America's new perceived weakness as a signal that it can move full steam ahead on its nuclear program.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Powerlifter also lifts others' spirits

Faith Salie: Burned out on the "fry" - CBS News

Faith Salie: Burned out on the "fry" - CBS News (CBS News) Contributor Faith Salie speaks out:

America's young women are running out of oxygen.

Believe it or not, there's a scientific term for the way a Kardashian speaks, and it's "vocal fry."

It's a low, creaky vibration produced by a fluttering of the vocal cords.

Speech pathologists call it a "disorder" that verges on "vocal abuse." Call it a quirk, a trend, or an epidemic -- vocal fry is everywhere. A recent study of women in college found that two thirds of them use this glottalization (the full or partial closure of the glottis while articulating a sound).

Which explains why the fry is a sizzling topic in The New York Times, on morning TV, even NPR. When I was a tween in the early '80s, the "Valley Girl" was born.

She brought us "like" . . . and uptalk? There has been, like, a general cultural agreement that, like, that kind of speech leaves the user sounding air-heady? And unprofessional?

But vocal fry is unique, because researchers have found that women who talk this way are seen by their peers as "educated, urban-oriented, and upwardly mobile."

Some linguists even suggest that creaky young ladies are evolving our culture as linguistic innovators. While, metaphorically, I encourage every woman to find her voice, I'm dismayed at how low it can go.

I'm burned out on the fry. It sounds underwhelmed and disengaged. It's annoying to listen to a young woman who sounds world-weary, and exactly like her 14 best frieeeeeeeeeeends.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Intern death leads to calls for shake-up of culture -

Intern death leads to calls for shake-up of culture -

BBC News - Sight dominates sound in music competition judging

BBC News - Sight dominates sound in music competition judging

Winning a classical music competition is not just down to the performer's musical prowess, a new study suggests.
An artist's stage presence could be even more important when it comes to evaluating a recital.

The research, published in the PNAS journal, found that people shown silent videos of piano competitions could pick out the winners more often than those who could also hear the music.

It underlines the dominance of our sense of vision, say scientists.

Their study concludes that the best predictor of a winner's musical performance was the visible passion they displayed, followed closely by their uniqueness and creativity.

India's Walmart of Heart Surgery Cuts the Cost by 98% - Businessweek

India's Walmart of Heart Surgery Cuts the Cost by 98% - Businessweek

Devi Shetty keeps photographs of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi on his desk, and he’s obsessed with making cardiac surgery affordable for millions of Indians. But these two facts are not connected. Shetty’s a heart surgeon-turned-businessman who founded a chain of 21 medical centers around India. 

Every bit the capitalist, he has trimmed costs by buying cheaper scrubs and spurning air-conditioning and other efficiencies. That’s helped cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,555)—half of what it was 20 years ago. 

He wants to get it down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“It shows that costs can be substantially contained,” says Srinath Reddy, president of the Geneva-based World Heart Federation. “It’s possible to deliver very high-quality cardiac care at a relatively low cost.”

Thursday, August 01, 2013


“Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”—Plato

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Turns Out Metcalfe's Law Works in Reverse, Too

INTO THE ABYSS Documentary By Werner Herzog  

We had this one on our Netflix list for a long time, and we put it off, for obvious reasons. We finally got to it. Here's what we thought:

Metcalfe’s Law says the addition of each node to a network squares the value of the network. E.g. two telephones can make only one connection, five can make 10 connections, and twelve can make 66 connections. In the early Internet days, this law was bandied about in support of the notion the bigger the network, the better.

But what about the qualitative contraverse?

In terms of human relations, Metcalfe’s Law is definitely not true. Adding a few bad apples to an otherwise sound network of family and friend can just as easily destroy the core network – and its peripheral members. That’s what happened here.

In order to steal a cherry red Camaro, two juvenile delinquents, Michael Perry and Jason Burkett, kill a housewife, then her son (an acquaintance or friend), and his friend. The prime mover gets capital punishment, his accomplice, 40 years. This documentary recounts the story, and interviews the murderers. It is a story that is, at various times, heartbreaking, naive, and ultimately bizarre. Just like the human animal itself, I guess one could say. There, I said it.


  • In an interview, the murderer recants his earlier confession, and thus disputes all the evidence, DNA and otherwise, while cheerfully averring his “Christian faith.” 
  • While working on his legal case, a woman falls in love with accomplice Burkett, marries him, and carries his child, all the while denigrating “those kinds of women” who fall in love with dangerous inmates to seek attention. She is certain he is innocent – again, all evidence to the contrary, and all the while, primming, touching her hair constantly, and smiling demurely for the camera. 
  • In his last act, the murderer “forgives” the family of his victims for the “atrocity being committed on him.” Wonderfully generous. 
Herzog’s camera stares unblinkingly the whole time, constructing (painfully) long takes, letting it all sink in.

Letting it sink in.

Still waiting for you to let it sink in.

The camera dares you to turn away, and you simply cannot. You are going to follow this thing to the very end, and you know it. This all perhaps sounds very dark, and yes it is, but not in a crushing way, but in an instructive way that depicts the human capacity for self-delusion. We see it, but we don’t believe it.  The perpetrators did it, and they don't even believe it, or so it seems.

And yet, there it is, reality, the elephant in the room.  No one will acknowledge, except the documentarian.

Some of the low-life characters interviewed here call to mind the fiction “Knockemstiff” by Ohio writer Daniel Ray Pollock. You want dark? Unburdened by any ameliorating elements that reality might hold, that one is pitch black.

Saturday, June 01, 2013


“Underlying all the voices I hope you will hear a unifying consciousness, telling the old story of going out and coming home, as if by firelight in a cave, so that the children listening now with upturned faces will know, when their turn comes, that others have gone before and that they are not alone.”—James Tarrant

Monday, April 29, 2013

Janos Starker, A Master Of The Cello, Dies At 88 : NPR

Janos Starker, A Master Of The Cello, Dies At 88  : NPR

We heard Maestro Starker perform in 1983 (Kodaly Duo with daughter Gwen, at Centre East, Skokie, IL) and then again,  six years later. 

He performed the Haydn Cello Concerto, D, Op. 101, with the Highland Park Strings;  it was a favor to fellow Hungarian Francis Akos, his longtime Chicago Symphony associate, and conductor of the local group.  (The date:  Sun-Apr-09-1989).

We met Maestro Starker briefly backstage..  He was very gracious while retaining a certain imperious and European charm.

Janos Starker left behind a treasure chest of superb recordings, and a large number of devoted students.  He was one of the very greats, and will be missed.

Friday, April 26, 2013

They say nothing stresses a marriage like building a new home

Read this.........

How long have we humans been on planet earth?

We just saw Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams.  Truly stunning, Whether it's carrying a boat up a mountain (Fitzcarraldo), or unearthing rock art from long, long ago, Herzog never disappoints.  This documentary puts forth the notion that humans have been on planet earth least 20 or 30 thousands years old.  Since the mainstream Christian view is that we've been here for about 6,000 years, made us wonder.

We went to looking for answers.

Not saying we found one, necessarily, but we found this essay that says it's not quite that easy, there are variables to take into account:

Doesn’t Carbon-14 Dating Disprove the Bible?

Monday, April 01, 2013


“The great virtue of man lies in his ability to correct his mistakes and continually make a new man of himself.”—Wang Yang-Ming

Monday, March 04, 2013

This little volume on speech-making delivers a lot of punch

From Give your speech, change the world:  how to move your audience to action by Nick Morgan (Harvard Business School Press, 2003, 2005)

We stumbled across this slim, unprepossessing volume.  It surely packs a punch.  A proverbial lightweight who punches like a heavyweight.  Lightweight?  Paperback, just 228 pages, and packaged in a dull gray-blue cover with unappealing graphics, it belies the content.  The material inside is, in a word, terrific.  All kinds of unexpected nuggets in what is billed as a "how to make a speech" book.  For example, how to succeed in a job interview.  (What could more "change your world" than that?)

e.g. (bf emphasis below ours) from the text:

The secret of successful interviewing is to focus on accomplishing two tasks: conveying something relevant to the interviewer about yourself, and creating a bond  -  the beginning of trust  -  between you and the interviewer. How do you manage those two objectives in what is admittedly a high-stakes, high-stress, artificial situation? Here, audience-centered speaking will get you the job almost every time, as long as you remember that the audience is the interviewer in front of you, and not yourself. You're there to connect, not to show off.

Have an agenda.

All too many interviewees see an interview as a largely passive activity, answering the questions that are asked. A successful applicant needs to have a prepared agenda, of no more than a few items, that he will cover in the interview, no matter what questions are asked. The interview is a chance to bring your resume to life. What are your three key accomplishments that this prospective employer needs to know that will help her decide to hire?

What particular skills do you possess that will help you get this job done? What makes you stand out from the pack of applicants? Develop a few well-stated, articulate mini-speeches you can easily and tactfully slip in during the interview.  Practice "bridging" from the question to your "answer.” You can tailor these set, prepared answers to specific job openings by doing a little research on the company before the interview and asking yourself, "What is the problem this company faces for which I am a solution?" Then tell the interviewer!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Monday, February 04, 2013

De Niro: "I was lucky", preserves father's art

We've been fans of CBS Sunday Morning for 30 years, from the days of Charles Kuralt, who we had the good fortune to meet when he was "on the road." Yesterday's interview with Robert de Niro was a revelation for couple reasons: his citing of luck for the success of his career, and his devotion to his father's work:

(CBS News) Robert De Niro is one of our most respected actors. Now, with his latest role as a football fanatic in the movie "Silver Linings Playbook," some say he may burnish that reputation with his third Oscar win. He sat down with Lee Cowan for some Questions and Answers:

Robert De Niro doesn't grant many interviews. Let's face it: He doesn't have to.

But on the rare occasion that he does, arguably one of the finest screen actors of his generation famously finds himself at a loss for words.

"When people come up to you and describe you as a legend, how does that sit with you?" asked Cowan.

"I don't know what to say to that. I mean, I'm flattered but it's . . . I don't know," he replied.

And there it is -- a deflection born not of arrogance, but out of a belief that he, Robert De Niro, was nothing more than "lucky."

"I'm lucky that I have whatever I had that makes me have a successful career, if you will," he said.

"It's got to be a little more than luck," said Cowan, "because the amount of work that you would put into characters . . . "

"Well, then I'm lucky I have the drive to do the work. But you're always lucky."

His latest run-in with luck is his role in "Silver Linings Playbook," alongside Bradley Cooper.

De Niro plays Pat Solitano, Sr., an obsessive-compulsive, die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, who struggles to deal with his even more obsessive and mentally-unstable son.

Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper as father and son in "Silver Linings Playbook."
/ Weinstein Company
It's a performance that has earned him his seventh Oscar nomination -- De Niro's first in 21 years.

"Does this one mean anything more, because it's been so long since you've gotten a nomination?" asked Cowan.

"No, actually, I was surprised that it was so long. I can account for all the things and all the time, and everything, but there it is. It's like, so many years ago."

It was 1981 when De Niro last took home an Oscar, for his portrayal of the real-life world middle-weight champion, Jake LaMotta, in "Raging Bull."

His dedication to the role was both emotional and physical, gaining some 60 pounds.

"That must have not been particularly comfortable," said Cowan.

"It wasn't. The first 15-20 pounds, you know, you eat and overindulge, to say the least. And then after that, it's just pure drudgery, work."

The production set aside time in shooting of about three to four months, during which De Niro transformed himself into the older LaMotta. "Whatever I could get to in four months, would be what it is."

It wasn't the first time he had gone above and beyond for a role. In "Taxi Driver," for which he was also nominated for Best Actor, he actually applied for -- and got -- a New York cabbie license, to better understand his part.

"I was driving around the city, you know, all over," De Niro said, picking up fares.

He was so immersed in troubled Travis Bickle that when director Martin Scorsese told him to improvise one scene, the result became one of the most quoted movie lines of all time:

    "You talkin' to me? Are you talkin' to me?"

"You never know what you do that could be totally out of left field, which actually might work and give something fresh to the whole scene, to the character, whatever," said De Niro. "If you have that with a director who then knows how to shape it, either in the direction, in the moment, or in the editing, then that's good.

"Does that make sense?" he laughed.

For his Oscar-winning role as the young Vito Corleone in "The Godfather Part II," De Niro took Marlon Brando's character one step further: He learned a Sicilian dialect. In the entire film, De Niro barely speaks a word of English.

"It's very difficult. I only learned the pieces that I had to for the scenes," De Niro said, "because to learn those pieces and try and speak it with the proper accent, inflections and blah blah blah, you have to practice it a lot. It's just practice."

It all started in 1943, when he was born to parents Virginia Admiral and Robert De Niro Sr., in Greenwich Village, New York.

Both were accomplished painters -- his father, a figurative artist whose works have been celebrated in galleries all over the country.

"My father was an artist since he was, I think, five," said De Niro.

Dozens of his father's paintings adorn the walls of De Niro's restaurants in New York: "He was very particular that they were hung right and put up right, you know?"

He's even kept his father's art studio the same as the day he died. "Because I wanted the kids to know who their grandfather was," he explained. "I just felt it was important."

He wants the world to know more about his father, too. He's currently working on a documentary, set to air later this year, that will help De Niro Sr. "get his due," his son said: "He was the real thing. All of his work I can't not but make sure that it's held up and remembered."

Unlike his father, De Niro Jr. never picked up a paintbrush; instead, he focused on a canvas of a different sort, the silver screen.

When asked if he imitated other actors when he was young, De Niro said, "I'm not sure if I did that. I don't know, but my mother thought I was funny."

"The first thing you did was, what?"

"'The Wizard of Oz,' the Cowardly Lion, which was when I was 10."

Think about that for a moment: The man who brought us Al Capone in "The Untouchables" and wise guy James Conway in "GoodFellas" started out as . . . the Cowardly Lion.

Maybe shy lion, though, is more apt. "I had read that getting up in front of people and performing was a tough thing at first," De Niro said. "Well, it's hard for, I think, a lot of actors to do but it's not like, it's not that easy for me, but you, you do it."

"Where you shy?"

"Yeah, part of me is shy, I guess," he replied. "You know the old story that actors are shy, then they get behind the character they play, you know? There's truth to that."

"Is that true for you?"

"In some ways, yeah."

He didn't only hide behind the heavy roles. De Niro eventually took his mom's advice, and tried being funny.

He turned his mob boss persona on his head in "Analyze This," and set the bar for a crazy father-in-law alongside Ben Stiller and the Focker clan.

While they were a commercial success, some critics lamented they were trivial roles, beneath an actor of his stature.

"That's fine," De Niro said. "They can criticize whatever, and they could be right -- why this, why that. You can't please everybody all the time, or even part of the time."

He remains a busy man, investing in restaurants, a hotel -- not to mention running the Tribeca Film Festival.

But at the moment, there seems little that brings De Niro quite as much joy as his one-year-old daughter from wife, Grace Hightower.

"She's instant joy," De Niro said. "You look at her, and she smiles, and it's all, it's all there.

"There's nothing, nothing else matters."

Films still matter, though, and as he approaches his 70th birthday, there's plenty he still wants to do.

"You've said that, if you can, you'd like to do at least two more films with Martin Scorsese?" Cowan asked.

"At least two. Make it an even numbered 10," said De Niro. "That's my obsessive compulsiveness!"

Or maybe that's just what he calls luck.

"When you look back over your career, would you change anything?" Cowan asked.

"No, I'm really okay. I have no complaints, knock wood. That's my little thing!" he laughed.

Robert De Niro's lucky charms have left legions of fans feeling charmed to have watched.

Friday, February 01, 2013


“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”—Anne Frank

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Germany Reacts To The Retiring Treasury Secretary’s Parting Shot

January 16, 2013, at 1:05 pm

by Jim Sinclair

My Dear Friends,

I respectfully disagree with most of the explanations given today on the why of German actions in gold. My understanding is that the causal event of this notification actually came from the actions of the US Exchange Stabilization Fund and the long term plans to strengthen the euro.

I have published a chart from Patrick showing the extreme change in the ratio of gold to fiat currency presently being held in reserve by Euroland.

First you need to understand what the Exchange Stabilization Fund is and is not. It is an account at a major gold bank in the name of the Exchange Stabilization Fund. This fund can legally trade in gold and does. The President of the USA and the Secretary of the US Treasury run this fund. Those two managers by law are permitted to designate another manager if they wish. The fund can trade long or short, borrow or lend anything. Basically this is a an account that can legally do anything it wants whenever it wants in secret as the year end statement can easily be brought to only benign activates by warehousing all the trades.

Their broker is quite an expert in that strategy to wash year-end positions for clients.

What occurred as I am told is an act in Germany in reaction to a parting shot from the retiring Secretary of the US Treasury via the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

When gold traded at $1918 it was setting up for a challenge of a very important round number, $2000. The sell off was a product of long liquidation in an anticipation of $2000 in a fast market. Gold did fall on its own weight into the $1800 area, however the body block at $1800, $1775 and $1750 was a product of the Exchange Stabilization Fund operating as an account of a major Gold Bank. Seeing that, this gold bank went to the short side for the account of its hedge funds and not wholly owned trading arm. This gold bank issued a public statement that the gold market was dead as a doornail, finished and completed.

On the level of central banking there are no secrets. The long term plan for the currency war between the euro and the dollar is a derivation of the Free Gold Thesis. That means a significant change in the percentage of fiat currency versus gold at market value held by Euroland as reserves. This thesis has a target for cooperating Asian central banks for gold holdings at no less than 15% at market value. I question some of the thesis of Free Gold thinkers, but much of it has been in my writing for more than a decade on what the end game recovery will look like.

I am told that the parting shot to break gold’s back by the Exchange Stabilization Fund was considered a direct attack on the Euro strategy for what the end game recovery will look like. The Free Gold thesis requires significantly higher gold prices to work and to elevate the euro back in reserve by choice category.

The German reaction was not political but rather a direct warning that they could demand return of their gold just like DeGaulle of France did in the 60s by making a direct and immediate demand for conversion of the US dollar holdings into Gold.

A major central bank will not insult another major central bank unless it is an act of financial war. It has not come to that yet, but it is not that far away. It is 2015 to 2017 and not 2020.

The reason that gold is relatively firm after the media leak and release on the night of the 14th is that I am not the only person who knows the real story. The price of gold will go to and beyond $3500. Gold will be market to market by the majority, if not all, major central banks. This will balance the balance sheet of the many and major debtor nations and will provide the platform for recovery after unwinding.



Friday, January 04, 2013

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Looking at the Fiscal Cliff: Why $16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt

Hiding the government’s liabilities from the public makes it seem that we can tax our way out of mounting deficits. We can’t.

Must read

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Quotable for 2012's end, the new 2013

“Rejoice that you have come so far.”—Phil Cousineau