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December 2006
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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity

Not plane, nor bird, nor even a bandanna—

December 30th, 2006 by Morgan J. Locke

—Look! Up in the sky! It’s a flying banana!

In honor of our buddies in Texas, I am posting this newsflash. A group is planning to launch what they call an “art intervention,” a gigantic banana, into a geostationary position between the upper atmosphere and low orbit, intended to hover over Texas for about a month. Further details are here.

Geostationary flying banana

Posted in Daily Life, Morgan, Pop. Culture | 4 Comments »

Did I Say 7 Inches?

December 30th, 2006 by Steven Gould

Okay, if anybody is reading this has lots of snow experience, ya gotta understand that I was raised largely in Southeast Asia and Hawaii. Except for a stint in Germany and Indiana, I didn’t get much snow as a kid. Monsoons, yes. This is the most snow I’ve experienced at my own home since I’ve been an adult. Certainly the most we’ve gotten in Albuquerque since I’ve lived here. And yesterday, for the day of the year, it was a record. Period.

(My inlaws used to live at 8,000 feet in southern Colorado so I do know what “real” snow is like.)

By early this morning, the Sunport had 13 inches of snow, and was expecting another 3-4 inches today, said meteorologist Tim Shy.

The view from my Office
Read More »

Posted in Daily Life, Noble Girl, Steve, Twilight Ninja Girl | 4 Comments »

Oh, say can you see . . .

December 30th, 2006 by Caroline Spector

I have a confession to make. I am stupidly fond of my country. Oh, not the way we usually are: arrogant, self-congratulatory, willfully dumb, and xenophobic. I love us in those rare moments when actually rise to the promise of our country. I guess the best example of that was during WWII, but even then we managed to incarcerate Japanese/American citizens and we ignored that pesky Concentration Camp problem until after the war. So my fondness is a mixed bag.

But there is one thing that I just can’t tolerate any more. I just can’t take singers adding extra notes to the national anthem. Honestly, I don’t give a tinker’s damn if you can sing like Maria Callas, stop adding freaking notes.

The Star Spangled Banner is a notoriously difficult piece to sing well. It covers an octave-and-a-half range. It jumps over that range with the wild abandon of the drinking song the melody was taken from. The lyrics are arcane and singers so regularly muff them that pre-recording the anthem at major sporting events is commonplace.

It’s a real act of ego to treat the national anthem like your personal tryout for “Cats.” It’s now de rigueur for anyone who performs the national anthem to act like it’s an opportunity to display their vocal chops. No, dude/dudette, you’re the three minute annoyance before the baseball game begins.

There has been only one singer to do justice to our National Anthem since this whole national-anthem-as-orgiastic-divafication scenario began. That’s Huey Lewis’ rendition from Superbowl XXXIX. He sang the living crap out of it – and with no extra notes. (Okay, Jimi Hendrix did do a bitching version that included some non-standard variations, but, he WASN’T SINGING. And his intent wasn’t exactly to display the beauty of the song.)

So, here’s the deal. You manage to sing the anthem straight — no trills, no runs, no cutesy verbal gymnastics at all — and maybe . . . maybe, we’ll let you get creative at some later date.
Read More »

Posted in Caroline, Daily Life, Music, Politics, Pop. Culture, Religion, Science | 8 Comments »

A find!

December 30th, 2006 by Morgan J. Locke


Here’s a great website I just came across: Indexed, for “think[ing] a little more relationally without resorting to doing actual math.”I picked the global warming graphic, since I just did a big hairy post on it, but there are lots there. Fun! And some with clever barbs buried in them.  Recommended.

Posted in Daily Life, Morgan, Science, Technology | 7 Comments »

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