Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Muse in Music...

A fan came up to me a few weeks ago and told me that she was opening a music store, catering to trained musicians. I had told her how all my sheet music was still in Las Vegas, especially my urtexts of the Beethoven Sonatas.

Well, imagine my surprise when she came in a couple of nights ago and handed me a brand-new urtext Peters edition of the complete Beethoven Sonatas, Band I.

So the last two nights have seen me plowing through Beethoven. I've been sight-reading some of it, only to discover that my sight-reading has gotten worse through eight years of neglect! Well, to be more precise, I still immediately read the music, but my fingers are very, very unused to playing the classical figures they used to be intimate with. I've also been woodshedding the Sonata No. 14, Op. 27 No. 2 in c# minor - more commonly known as the "Moonlight" Sonata.

The first movement I learned as a teen - what pianist hasn't? In college, I never cared for the second movement, but during my sophomore year I worked my ass off trying to learn the third movement. At the time, my technique was simply not up to the task.

Well, my technique is now sufficiently advanced - I don't need to worry so much about if I can play the notes - I can. Now I get to focus on how I play the notes! Which brings me to the second movement - the notes are easy, but playing them the way they're written? Wow - it requires phenomenal control.

I am falling in love with the music of Beethoven all over again, and finding it means even more to me now. It's like meeting up with your teenage puppy-love and discovering that you've both grown and are more compatible.

Strangely, this doesn't make me want to play Beethoven for a living, or classical music. This is music to touch my own heart. This is something that I will happily share, but I don't want to get frustrated when it doesn't mean to others what it means to me. I don't want to try to move others with it; I'm happy with the way it moves me. This is intimate, personal. When it comes to performance, it's all about giving the audience what they want, what they need. Here, I am my own audience.

Oh, the fire is burning again, though, and it feels good. It makes me concentrate on the first syllable of music - that siren song of the muse.

I'm going to turn the metronome on again and polish a little bit more of this now. Hope everybody is enjoying their Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Speaking of banned things...

Okay, I do understand why this one was banned. But, DAMN, it's funny! Wrong, ever-so-wrong... But funny!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Land of the Free...

As some of you know, Ron Paul outraised many of the other Republican candidates last year. He still has most of the money left, because most of the MSM wouldn't allow him to buy advertising time.

That's right - he couldn't BUY it.

That's okay with me - I simply boycott the major networks in response (not hard, since they have nothing worth watching). Let the free market decide. My dollars count more than my vote, anyway!

Well, T. Boone Pickens has a plan for reducing our consumption of foreign oil. It's not complete, or meant to solve all our ills. It's just an idea, and seems like a good one, from everything I've read on it.

Now he's having a tough time buying advertising. This ad was banned from NBC:

Why was this banned? You got me. No clue. But if you're reading this, that's just one more person flipping the bird at the MSM, in my opinion. I've got no use for them anyway.


P.S. Yes, I'm done with the website, for a little bit, at least. Should give me time to actually post here now and then!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yeah, I know.

It's been awhile. Over a week.

I've been working on something even nerdier than a blog, though. I've been building a website.

Right now I've got a front page up, and that's it. Check it out, though:

For every paragraph currently on the page, I'm working on a separate page. I used to be somewhat conversant in HTML, so I thought this would be a doable project.

Heh. That's way behind the times. I'm doing nearly the whole thing in CSS, which I knew nothing about before I started this project.

Think of it as writing your first novel - in another language. One you don't speak. And there's a helpful guy who will tell you if you say something wrong - but can't tell you exactly what it was, or how to fix it. That's pretty much what I'm doing.

Anyway, I think the bulk of the programming is behind me, though. We'll see!


Saturday, August 02, 2008

An interesting phone call.

I received a phone call from the Bob Barr campaign today. And I was ready for the hard sell. Whenever any organization calls you, they want money, and they're trained to go for it. Until the second you hang up on them, they are going to keep hounding you. Probably politely, but still hounding.

I remember right after Hurricane Katrina. I had lost my job, was homeless, and believed that I had lost every possession that I'd ever owned. I got a phone call from a local fire department raising money for widows (a noble cause, no doubt). I explained that I'd lost everything, and had no job. So they assured me I could still afford at least a 25$ donation.

I was raised to not be rude, but there is no helping it with phone solicitors. In fact, that's why I don't have a landline. I was ready to get rid of it years ago, until they came up with the "no-call" list. "A-ha!" I said to myself. (I said it quietly) "This should solve that problem!"

And it did for awhile. But they exempted charities, for some unknown reason. And apparently polling firms, too. So when it got to the point where I was receiving 5 to 7 phone calls a day from charities and ridiculously biased polls, I had my phone line taken out. Problem solved.

Then I joined the NRA. I donated a couple of times, small amounts. I'm not rich. I gave them my cell number, cause the online form wouldn't proceed without it. I got one phone call from them asking for money. Before the poor girl could get very far into her sales pitch, I explained that I did not like phone calls, I contribute as much as I can whenever I feel like it, and that the next phone call I got from them would result in my dropping my membership and never contributing another penny. I never got another call from them. I'm still a member.

Anyway, so I got this phone call today from the Bob Barr campaign. Yes, they wanted to know if I could donate. I explained that I already had donated what I could. If my financial situation changed, I'd donate more. That was the end of the money spiel. She asked whether I'd visited the website (obviously, I have). We talked about the campaign, the progress it had made, and different libertarian beliefs. Then she bid me goodbye, and I wished her the best of luck in raising more money. Perhaps a three to five minute call, with no pressure at any time.

What a pleasant conversation. It really made me want to donate more. Here are people who understand that I'm not a sheep in need of herding. I'm not a child in need of discipline.

In the short run, this may be one reason why they're not competing financially with the Obama/McCain fundraising juggernauts. But in the long run? I'm seeing more and more viability.

The Libertarian Party is getting its shit together, after 30-odd years of fringe politics and a reputation for lunacy. Damn, but doesn't that make this a good day?


Friday, August 01, 2008

Puma Man - the Legend Continues!

I swear, I've lost sleep just so I can watch these clips. This has to be the best MST3K ever!

Part 3 of 10:

Part 4 of 10

Well, well, well...

Looks like I'm not the only one to find certain types of arguments unfruitful. The delightful Rachel Lucas believes it takes a village to talk to a liberal. I didn't mention it in my last post, but liberals (in my experience) are definitely more likely to believe something because they want to, rather than because of the influence of any facts or logic.

Of course, as snarky as she is, she's still nicer than I was about it!


Why I don't argue online too much anymore.

Several years ago, I used to post onto other people's blogs all the time in the comments section. I can't tell you how many arguments I had online. As someone that loves a debate, you would think that I really enjoyed it. In the end, not so much.

Arguing and debating mean different things. They really shouldn't, but in practice they do. A debate looks at facts, causes, correlations. Arguments are about slander, denigration, and attitude.

What was so frustrating about it is that you can completely prove a person wrong. You can link to fact after fact, study after study. You can decimate their entire logic from start to finish. And then they'll call you an idiot and crow about how they totally pwned you.

The fact is, most people who believe stupid things aren't capable of realizing how stupid their beliefs are.

My beliefs have been going nearly constant revision for my entire life. I discover new things every day that change what I hold to be true. There are few things I enjoy more than finding something new, or even that I was wrong about something so that I have to shift my paradigms again. That's what I consider to be the basis of intellectual growth, and I hope the process never ceases.

Most people (and yes, I do blame our school system for this, along with the MSM, our government, and bad parenting) are taught that learning is where "facts" are forcefully shoved into your brain, to be retrieved only for tests designed for some sort of advancement. As a result, they never really learn how to think - so what they think is irrelevant, stagnant, and incapable of change and growth.

It has been very, very rare that I've found somebody that can defend what they believe with logic, or historical or scientific evidence. The most amusing thing is that I very rarely issue a challenge to anybody's beliefs. Usually, I am challenged for mine. When I am told I am wrong, I clearly articulate my beliefs and the reasons for them, and wait for the challenging party to tell me where I am in error.

Yeah, it doesn't work out too well.

Interestingly enough, from the practice of defending my beliefs I have gained a reputation as being "argumentative," "quarrelsome," "belligerent," and "testy." While it's possible I am all of the above, it's amusing to have gained that reputation simply by defending my beliefs.

One person that actually debated with me online on intellectual terms was a columnist who goes by Vox Day. It was quite possibly the best argument I have ever had, and though we pretty much came to a standstill (from my perspective), in the two years or so that I have passed since then, I have come to be closer to his standpoint than my original one.

I instantly became a huge fan of his column and blog. Not because I agree with it, necessarily, but because he has logical reasons for his beliefs. He generally has history, science, and logic on his side.

And yet, though he continually trounces politically correct mantra after mantra, if you read the people he debates, every one of them thinks they won! The amazing thing is that not once have I read anyone say "You know what? You were right. I was wrong. Good job." Not once have I read anybody say "Excellent point, Vox. I may have to re-think some things."

I hate to claim any solidarity with him, because my online output is probably less than .1% of his, and he actively engages in online debates on a daily basis, where I have lost interest. But reading his posts and the reactions to them definitely makes me more sure that it wasn't an inability to articulate truth on my part.

Truth is, most people aren't looking for the truth. They're not looking for what is right. They're not looking to change what they think and believe for the sake of self-improvement.

No, most people are looking for somebody who will agree with them. And if they do, they all pat each other on the back with how smart they are. And if they don't, well, the other people are just idiots.

Sometimes I'm an idiot myself. I'm always looking to find out where, so I can stop being one. If I am, I really hope you tell me. But if you tell me I'm wrong, you'd better have logic and/or facts on your side.

Otherwise, you're just not worth my time.