29 October 2010

Evelyn Glennie plays Ney Rosauro Marimba Concerto I

In this video, one of my favorite percussionists, Evelyn Glennie, demonstrates her stunning virtuosity playing Ney Rosauro's Marimba Concerto I.

Unfortunately, about halfway into the third movement, the video ends abruptly. However, I found another video (below), with Samuel Peruzzolo on marimba, that has just the third and fourth movements. I'm glad I stumbled upon this one because it is kind of interesting to hear it with only piano accompaniment instead of an orchestra. (The pianist is Liziane Venes.)

And finally, you can see the composer himself playing his concerto with an all-percussion group at Vic Firth's web site. Very, very cool!

26 October 2010

Bill Whittle on Wealth Creation

I extend a hat tip to Harry Binswanger for calling attention to this excellent video on his private list.

In the video, Bill Whittle of PJTV makes stunningly insightful observations about wealth creation, including the relationship of prosperity to freedom and the fact that in a free exchange all parties benefit. (I say "stunningly" because I am unaccustomed to hearing such things spoken of outside of Objectivist circles.)

As good as Whittle's video is, he does expose the Achilles heel that is typical of conservatives--namely, religiosity (though in this case it seems somewhat latent). No fewer than four times Whittle uses the word miracle to apply to the general progress and prosperity that freedom and capitalism make possible. This is a terrible mistake--and an inexplicable one too, considering that in every other respect Whittle is completely rational. Why bring superstition into it? There is nothing magic about political liberty leading to prosperity; this follows from facts, reason, and logic. It is possible that Whittle is trying to indicate something other than the strictly supernatural meaning of miracle; perhaps he means "awe-inspiring" as opposed to "inexplicable act of God." But if so, why use the word in the first place? Why be fuzzy instead of precise right at the moments that it is most important to be clear?

Despite this flaw, the video is well worth watching.

I fixed a typographical error.

25 October 2010

Orthodox Environmentalists Try to Pin Faith on “Deniers”

Leftists can scarcely contain their dismay that losses at the polls in November will likely obstruct their ability to foist meaningful “cap and trade” legislation upon Americans. A case in point: On Wednesday, New York Times reporter John M. Broder penned an article called “Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith”[1] that is bursting with desperation, frustration, and bitterness.

As one might guess from the title, Broder’s thesis is that a primary driver behind the “denial of global warming” is religious faith. Did you catch that? It is not “global warming” itself but its denial that requires faith! This is an astonishingly brazen position to take considering that environmentalism demonstrates every essential attribute of a religion.

The report (if such an undisguised and biased opinion piece can be called a “report”) quoted exactly three people representing Tea Party groups. Here is what those three had to say.

“It’s a flat-out lie. I read my Bible. He made this earth for us to utilize.”--Norman Dennison, a 50-year old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party

“This so-called climate science is just ridiculous . . . Some people same I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.”--Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots

“They’re trying to use global warming against the people. It takes away our liberty. Being a strong Christian, I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it’s not there to destroy us.”--Lisa Deaton, small-business owner who started We the People Indiana, a Tea Party affiliate.[1, emphasis mine in all quotes.]

With cherry-picked examples like these, Broder easily characterizes the “deniers” as religious nuts: Two people explicitly cite God as the motivation behind opposition to “cap and trade” legislation and another brings up the John Birch Society, an organization with the mission “[t]o bring about less government, more responsibility, and -- with God’s help -- a better world . . .”[2] This distortion is completely consistent with the leftist efforts to discredit the Tea Party movement. The media and most politicians cannot fathom (or at least they pretend to not understand) that many ordinary, clear-thinking Americans are alarmed by the catastrophic policies of our government.

The closest that Broder comes to stating the actual rational view of “deniers” is in this passage:

For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites. And for others still, efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth. But all are wary of the Obama administration’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide, a ubiquitous gas, which is require the expansion of government authority into nearly every corner of the economy.[1]

With his suggestion of “conspiracy theories,” Broder does his best to make the non-religious positions seem nutty as well, but he has (perhaps inadvertently) neatly encapsulated the basic goal of “cap and trade.” There is no conspiracy about it; the goals to redistribute wealth and apply an increasingly consolidated and powerful regulatory government are explicit and entirely in the open to anyone who cares to listen and understand the meaning of policies.

Before closing, I must inject a word about the deceptive shorthand that is used by environmentalists. Notice how “global warming” is the term used to demonize the “deniers.” Lately, environmentalists have also been slipping in the term “climate change” instead of “global warming” because it covers all the bases--as in the title of the quoted Times article, for instance. “Climate change” is particularly convenient for those periods of cooling that will naturally occur; environmentalists won’t have to conceal or fudge the data anymore when facts do not cooperate with their policies. In any case, no rational person is denying that the climate is changing. The climate has been changing for four-and-a-half billion years. The earth gets hotter; the earth gets cooler. It always has and always will. What I deny is that even if any significant warming or cooling happens to be associated with human productivity--and that is a big “if” that would have be demonstrated with independent, privately-funded scientific data, not a self-proclaimed alleged “scientific consensus” published by government-funded agencies--it would still not call for a massive government power grab. The essential requirement for human life is freedom--and this is as true when the temperature is going up as it is when the temperature is going down.


1. John M. Broder, “Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith,” New York Times, 20 Oct 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/us/politics/21climate.html.

2. John Birch Society mission statement, http://www.jbs.org/about.

22 October 2010

Radiohead Covers

I love this arrangement and performance of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" by the piano duo Anderson and Roe. I had never heard of them until they appeared a few weeks ago on the Live at Fraser program on WGBH. Good stuff.

While we're on a roll with Radiohead, here is a good arrangement of "Karma Police" by Christopher O'Riley, the talented pianist and host of the wonderfully inspiring radio program From the Top.

19 October 2010

Fresh Agitprop From The DNC

About a month ago, I received an email from the Democratic National Committee with the subject line, “Can we send you a sticker?”[Note 1] The Democrats were showing off their new logo by giving away bumper stickers:

Friend --

So far, nearly 100,000 supporters from around the country have asked us to send them a Democrats sticker with our new look.

Soon, they’ll start turning up on the bumpers of cars and tractor trailers, on cubicle dividers and dorm room walls.

Image from email received from the Democratic National Committee.

The note presented numerous reminders that it is “our shared commitment to change that matters,” and that in electing Barack Obama, “Democrats made a choice to embrace the fight for change.” What such a message lacks in substance it makes up for in revealing the depth--which is to say, the shallowness--of the Democrats’ view of America.

What, according to Democrats, exactly is fundamental to our nation? Individual rights? The freedom to think and act according to one’s judgment? The liberty to live one’s life, keep the property one has earned, and pursue one’s happiness? No. “Change is the inescapable driver of history in the United States.”

In short, a change in the Democratic Party logo is intended to remind us of . . . well, change. To Democrats, it is “change that amplifies our focus on renewing the foundations that make this country great.”[Note 2, emphasis mine on all quotes.]

If Democrats had even the foggiest notion of the foundations that make this country great, there might be a hint of a positive sign in this last sentence, even with its vapid notion that change qua change is a magic tonic that will fix things by “amplifying focus.” (Evidently, about the half the voters of this country are placated by, and even enthusiastically applaud, such meaningless sentences.) But Democrats do not have any idea about what makes the United States great.[Note 3] It is with good reason that phrases like “the inescapable driver of history in the United States” roll naturally off their tongues. It reflects the Democrat's world view: the deterministic historical materialism of Marx and its collectivist notion that class conditions determine the content of human consciousness.

Democrats are driven by the so-called “progressive” ideals that emerged at the turn of the 20th century. (It is probably over-generous to say that modern Democrats are driven by ideas at all because thinking is not required by one who drifts obediently from one feeling to the next.) “Progressivism” is anathema to America. The single fundamental principle underpinning the United States is individual rights--the right to one’s life, liberty, and property. Recognizing that the biggest threat to Americans was not foreigners or criminals but the government itself, the Founders established a government charged with one responsibility: safeguarding individual rights. Democrats have turned this purpose of government on its head. They see the government as the caretaker of its citizens--the provider, the regulator, the leveler. Thus, the government has steadily been transformed from the institution that protects rights to the legal instrument of rights violations.

Image from GlobalResearch.ca.

The thing that is most surprising and disturbing to me about their new logo is the apparent confidence of Democrats that many Americans will swallow their message if it is undisguised. I would have guessed that if Democrats were interested in doing some “damage control” by presenting a new image, they would have tried to conceal their anti-American views by hiding behind a red-white-and-blue, American-as-apple-pie logo--something unambiguously patriotic. This is especially true in the face of a likely drubbing at the polls in November and the emergence of the Tea Party, which is itself the most promising mainstream indicator today that there still exist many Americans that are not yet willing to let the government run their lives.

Image from Wikipedia entry for “Portal: United Nations.

I am a little stunned to see the Democrats introduce a logo that boldly trumpets the light blue of capitulation and apology. It is the blue that adorns the helmet and beret of United Nations "peacekeepers." It is the blue of the 20-euro note, the blue of the $5 food stamp. It is the blue achieved by diluting the canton of the American flag with the white flag of surrender, a mixture favored by intellectuals. Even Barack Obama’s publicity team seemed to recognize the need to incorporate red, white, and blue into the President’s logo (though the blue is more United Nations blue than American-flag blue, and in my opinion, the design is more evocative of the agrarian, hammer-and-sickle idealism of a peasant or proletarian revolution than the American ideal of individual achievement).

Image from My.BarackObama.com.

Notwithstanding the insistence of intellectuals that try to pin the failures of Democrats on “public relations” problems[Note 4], it is the Democrats that are experts at manipulating public opinion. Indeed, because their ideas are utterly bankrupt, an appeal to envy and resentment is all they have. Leftists--progressives, modern liberals, socialists, and democrats--have a virtual monopoly in the universities and the media. I do not underestimate their ability to gauge public opinion, which is precisely why I am a little concerned not only that they would unveil a slick logo that looks like it would fit neatly on the armband of a new Civilian Service Corps uniform, but that they would think it is a good idea. I hope they are dreadfully wrong.


1. I have no idea how I originally got on the Democratic Party mailing list, but I keep it up for the maintenance of that wise saw, “Know thy enemy.” The same goes for the Republican National Committee.

2. All quotes are from an email chain from DNC Chariman Tim Kaine and Jen O’Malley Dillon. I believe Ms. O’Malley Dillon is the executive director of the DNC.

3. In order to not let Republicans off the hook, I will here repeat the point I have made many times. Republicans do not know what makes America great any more than Democrats do if they think the United States is “a Christian nation,” that American values are at root Judeo-Christian values, that God is the source of rights, or that the Ten Commandments inform truth, justice, and the American way.

4. Sara Robinson, “Building the Progressive Brand,” The New Republic, 10 Oct 2010, http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/78278/building-the-progressive-brand.

09 October 2010

Marc Faber - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I’ll have to listen to this excellent Marc Faber lecture at least once or twice more; there is a lot to digest.

The lecture is rather long, but I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. To motivate my readers (yes, both of you!) to do so, I’ll tease you with the fact that Faber makes some extremely sobering and significant points a little before the fifteen-minute mark and a few minutes after the one-hour point.