I saw this mesmerizingly-superb movie, “The Music of Strangers”, when my household cable carrier gave me a gratuitous peek at HBO.
I borrowed a two-CD set of Asian music at the library years and years ago and have been hooked ever since.
The YouTube channel is linked below so you can sample the music in-depth at your leisure.
There is a lot of focus in the movie on Yo-Yo Ma (why not, since he’s a well-known name and entity) but the stars of the movie are the other people, especially the story of the founder pictured here, and — of course — the very nature of music itself.
“… I have a friend, Charlie Lehman, who teaches 6‐year‐olds design technology and he says he has these 6‐year‐olds come into class every morning and they sit down and they center together and he says to them, to these kids, he says, “Children, if you learn what to pay attention to and what to focus on, you can be anything you want in life.” And so that’s what we’re practicing here. We’re practicing choosing what we pay attention to.”
“Not all that long ago I touted a warning that I felt was about to plague social media in a way the social media complex itself never bargained for. That warning? When advertisers suddenly become “spooked” about where and how their content for advertising gets distributed across the web.
What that warning entailed was not so much how the providers would react e.g., the social media platform providers such as Facebook™, Twitter™, Google™, et al. But rather, how the advertisers would react. e.g., The ones that actually pay for that placement…..”
AT&T and Johnson & Johnson, among the biggest advertisers in the United States, were among several companies to say Wednesday that they would stop their ads from running on YouTube and other Google properties amid concern that Google is not doing enough to prevent brands from appearing next to offensive material, like hate speech.
The companies made the moves, which did not extend to Google’s search ads, amid boycotts of YouTube by several European advertisers that began in the last week.
On Tuesday, Google had outlined steps it would take to stop ads from running next to “hateful, offensive and derogatory content” on YouTube and websites in its display network. While Google pledged to improve, brands wanted to hear there would be zero risk that their ads would appear near content promoting things like terrorism, said Brian Wieser, a media industry analyst at Pivotal Research.
“They’re saying they’re trying harder — that’s insufficient,” Mr. Wieser said of Google. “They don’t seem to understand the scale of the perceived problem.”
Years ago, I encountered a series of ads in a major national newspaper for which I once applied to be a proofreader. (I think they’re still laughing out there in Chicopee.) The newspaper has changed in a number of ways since then, particularly in ownership, but the emphasis on numerical accuracy is still required. The ads were clearly written by people who were advanced professionals in the art of communicating and were about — among other things— literate writing and clear thinking. I was so struck by the overall quality of the series that I wrote and, although I had to wait for a while for the answer, apparently was eloquent enough in my request that it was granted. One day in the mail a large packet arrived with quality 8×11 photocopies of every one of the ads ever done. They were published by a major corporation that used the ads not to advertise its products, or even itself, but to spread ideas that were in keeping with its philosophies about society. Today that might be called “terraforming” or social engineering.
I preserved that packet in a bulky file folder for years until finally I couldn’t truck it around with me anymore. The WSJ Blogger, coincidentally, is doing and has done the same thing. Follow that link or use your search engine links above and you may discover that it is slowly being brought to the digital world through Pinterest and LinkedIn.
One of the ads that made a lot of people sit up and take notice was the one that admonished corporate executives to stop using the phrase “I’ll have my girl call your girl.” It went on to explain that “the girl” in question has a name, is a real person with real skills and is a bona fide part of the success equation for the exec and the company.
Another one, one of the most memorable for me, is the one in this pdf: Keep It Simple
[Ed.: I don’t know yet what to make of Dan Siegel (a child and adolescent psychiatrist) and his venture into “interpersonal neurobiology”. I thought I’d explore the possibility of buying a couple of his books. Feel free to share your impressions via the “contact” page.]
For further reading on interpersonal neurobiology, please see Norton’s professional series which was founded by Dr. Siegel and includes over twenty texts. See also Dr. Siegel’s books, including The Developing Mind, The Mindful Brain, The Mindful Therapist, Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, The Developing Mind, 2nd Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are and The Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind!
At the Garrison Institute’s 2011 Climate, Cities and Behavior Symposium, Dr. Dan Siegel of the Mindsight Institute discusses the neurological basis of behavior, the mind, the brain and human relationships in the contect of cities. He explains one definition of the mind as “an embodied and relational emergent process that regulates the flow of energy and information,” and describes the role of awareness and attention in monitoring and modifying the mind. He recommends using the notion of health as a means of linking individual, community and planetary wellbeing. To learn more about the Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind & Behavior Initiative:
I have the annoying and life-long aggravation of not being able to remember people’s names. It’s not related to an ability to recognize a face; I just can’t remember what’s-his-name more often than not. Kicking around on the world wide web for some understanding, I discovered brainblogger.com whose home page immediately coughed up /the-science-of-raising-a-friendly-psychopath/.
[Ed.: As a former EMS administrator with an intense interest in both mass casualty incident management and emergency management, I can attest to the nature and accuracy of this article. I used to think the way forward was to enhance our ability to save lives but clearly the more lucrative career path was the one that specialized in how to destroy them.]
We have mastered the act of killing. Now let’s master the joy of living.
Overactive brain circuits can often lead to bad habits, compulsive actions, and anxieties. In this illuminating read, two neuroscience experts deliver a simple four-step method to overcome these destructive impulses and live a more fulfilling, well-balanced life.
“… if you take the 14th verse out of each of John’s 21 chapters and string them together, you end up with a very interesting overview of the entire gospel–an overview that sort of rushes by you like a swift-running brook…..”
A recent writing prompt exercise built on the word “boat”
My legs are not sea legs. Looking back over seven decades from within the experience of hip arthritis, muscular issues that are related to a motor stroke and a weak heart that cause me to walk slowly and awkwardly, I think that sometimes it’s all because of an internal balance mechanism that was damaged by an inner ear infection as a child, or perhaps that time when I was six that I fell face first onto the edge of a concrete step, but my first realization that I was not going to be a boatsman was at camp when I flipped the canoe. Flipped the canoe and the counselor too.
Luckily it was shallow, summertime, and he had long legs and some experience; I moved on to archery and capture-the-flag.
My second encounter with a boat was in Florida at the age of nine or so after my step-mother, brother and sister and I drove down to see some rich old distant relative about some family business and we got the treat of a sport fishing trip out of Boynton Beach, Florida. We were going to catch a boat load of swordfish and whatnot.
The rig we were on was bigger and heavier than a canoe and much more stable, and under the command of a bonafied cap’n with one name and some other fellow who handled the rods and the bait. As the youngest, I waited and did what I was told, sat in the seat, buckled the belt, and watched the fellow put something on the hook. He stuck the rod into a metal pipe that I straddled in my seat and out of the harbor we chugged on a cool sunny morning through the briny breezes out into the Gulf Stream. Big brother and sister were ready too, and Mom, and before you knew it, we were way out beyond the ability to see land, looking for fish.
As a nine-year-old, I had no clue about how to look for fish. I could barely see over the side of the boat, the stern’s gunwale, and anyway the fish were in the water.
But someone could see the fish and knew where and how to find them and find them we did. Lots of them. Pointy sleek little buggers, not much to them… Not at all like those big spear-tipped things whose pictures you could see back at the dock with the lucky person who caught it, big smiles on both the man and the fish, though I couldn’t understand what the fish had to smile about.
At least they were. I had one bite but not much more.
The one-named cap’n and his mate were cheering us on, telling the rest of my family that catching bonito was okay, that they could be sold for money at the dock, and that where there were bonito, there was gonna be a swordfish, or mackerel, or maybe barracuda.
They were capn’s and such, and they knew about these things, so I kept reeling and bobbing and getting a fierce sunburn. We had four or five white buckets filled with bonito and some were flopping around on the decks wet with seawater and bait.
Then we found ourselves in some waves. I don’t know what or where, but the cap’n was in charge and we drove on, up and down. Soon enough as the boat went up and down, so did my stomach, and breakfast came up when the boat went down, and whatever I had for legs turned into jell-o, and soon enough I was curled into a ball of seasickness and tucked back into a dark corner under an old blanket, to ride with the future catfood back into the harbor. I was a complete wreck and had to be helped back to the car; they lay me down on the back seat and I woke up somewhere in North Carolina.
The next encounter with a boat was way up north. We’d driven forever on some highways until, finally, we crested the hill and you could see — way down at the bottom of the hill — a river and a town. Soon enough, we were on the docks and getting on a polished mahogany “heavy cruiser”. I was the guest of a classmate and his older sister, given the opportunity to spend a few days on an island in the middle of about a thousand other islands, some big, some small, some with glorious houses, this one a sizeable estate of a very wealthy family.
We played stickball on the clay tennis courts in our bare feet and I ripped the toenail off my big toe trying to get to second base. In the afternoon, we paired off in St. Lawrence skiffs. Everyone in the islands had one, or two, or three of these little boats, and afternoons up there in the summer were devoted to sailing and playing a game of shipboard tag.
The skipper of the boat sat in the back and handled the rudder and the sail; the cap’n’s mate had three and a half tasks. Being the landlubber with no experience, my responsibility was to pull the centerboard up or down according to the cap’n’s commands, to get out of the way of the boom by ducking under it, and to keep my weight (the ballast) tucked down into the well somewhere close to or ahead of the mast. Moving around to either side on the the cap’n’s commands was a secondary method by which he steered. He steered with several purposes. The first was not to get run over by the big freighters.
Generally this was not a problem. They stayed in their lanes, and we stayed out of them. But they couldn’t turn easily or stop suddenly, and they were a lot bigger. In our little wooden boats, we theoretically could turn easily and, if the wind was right and the cap’n knew what he or she was doing, we could scoot to safety.
The second reason to steer was to avoid getting hit by the tennis balls. All those old tennis balls from tennis and stickball went to use.
Each boat was given two of them, and a pole with a net. At the beginning of the inter-islands pre-teen pick-up regatta, called to order perhaps with a couple of blasts on an air horn by some grown-up in a motor boat at precisely (or approximately) 2 PM, one of the boats was designated “it”.
In this game, unlike tag on land, you want to be “it”, because when you were “it”, either the skipper or the mate inn other boats could stand up and throw one of their tennis balls at your sail. If they succeeded in hitting the sail, they were “it” and everyone would now aim for them.
But throwing a tennis ball with any kind of accuracy while you are standing and trying to maintain balance in a narrow boat is not an easy task. You missed a lot. And you ran out of balls quickly.
No problem. All those misses were bobbing in the water in their bright yellowness against the background of blue with white foam, just waiting for you (or perhaps the better, faster boat) to sail over there and scoop it out of the water with the net.
Sometimes if you were very lucky, you could stand up, avoid falling in, and use your net like a lacrosse goalie to fend off approaching yellow bomblets.
Remember, though, I had a balance problem, so I stayed pretty much safely tucked in under the boom, clutching the mast. The waters were not choppy so there were no problems with nausea and vomiting; I just didn’t want to fall in.
Oh, I could swim, and we all had life-jackets anyway. But the skipper’s job of skipping is much more difficult when the ballast is floating overboard and he has to maneuver around so it can be recovered, losing precious time not spent throwing or retriving bobbing wet yellow rubbery furballs.
Now the object of the game, which was over when the air horn blasted again at precisely (or approximately) 4 PM, was to have collected the most tennis balls. The bottom of the winner’s boat was awash with bright yellowness. And everyone got a good suntan, and a lot of experience handling a sailing boat. After dinner, everyone crowded into a motor boat and went over to another island to roast marshmallows and watch the Northern Lights.
The last encounter with a boat started back down in Florida. We’d won one of those quick out-and-back cruises because we said we’d sit still long enough to hear the sales pitch for a time-share. Weakly we finally succumbed and bought a week in October on the inner eastern edge of the Everglades; it took us close to two decades to finally dump the sucker, never once having been visited, traded, shared or even given away. It was like detaching a blood-sucking leech, but I digress.
We parked the car and grabbed the bags and smiled at the photographer on the gangplank. We found the room with a small porthole, dropped the gear, and did the mandatory “abandon ship” drills. Then we explored the boat.
As you probably know, cruises are mostly about eating, and so we ate and drank our way out to the Bahamas, never getting off or even seeing them in the dark, and then turning back in to the south.
In the morning, we awoke to a half-day onshore in Key West. I spent a lot of time on deck. Very stable, and slow… Pulling into port and docking was a trip. We saw a bunch of islands owned by big-named celebrity types, did the tourist-y thing downtown, and passed the first test of not misssing the boat when it departed, again in a slow and stately fashion. Then the cap’n picked up the pace and we waved at the Dry Tortugas on the right, Cuba way off to the left, and settled in as we drove deep into the Gulf (pre-Halliburton blowout and Corexit spray). We had a day on Cozumel which we spent taking the bus down to Tulum and getting the full tour.
We experienced hot, several iguana, and a good dose of Mayan pride. The bus ride to and from was at least 90 minutes. The trip back to the dock in Cozumel to the mainland was aboard a fast catamaran that, despite its double-hulled stability, was a litle choppy. We got an evening to stroll around the tourist shops in Cozumel. The trip back on the cruise ship was a day of sunny delight. After dinner, we turned in knowing that we’d be docking again in Fort Lauderdale in the morning. The big ship had massive hull stabilizers but we hit that same spot offshore where the bonito swam, and there was a spot of queasiness made worse if I peered out the little porthole.
But we landed without incident, debarked, got our luggage loaded, and headed north in a nice stable wide-stance Pontiac TransAm. I got my backside into a bucket seat with a steering wheel in my hands and all was well. There was no motion sickness at 75 in the passing lane back then.
And the fifty-odd books on the craft, plus all the handbooks, thesauri, dictionaries, and other tools. And the 45 e-mails from writing craft groups tucked away for safe-keeping. And the list of writing “assignments” from within the book The Butterfly Hours, whose author Patty Dann taught a class at a local writer’s collaborative.
I added sixteeen of the topics listed on pages 128-129 to my own personal file of topics to write about; so far I’ve finished five of them.
My functionality with the typewriter started in high school, the easy (?) elective of touch typing class in which I labored but never really learned. I could not break myself of the habit of having to look at the keys, nor could I master using more than one finger and one thumb per hand. I did not have a typewriter at home; all high school papers were done in cursive.
I made a significant leap forward when I worked the graveyard shift in college for a telephone answering service. While there was some limited ability for sleep, I used the time — the phones went silent except for important calls from the hospital to the physicians, or calls for urgent service by towtrucks, or when the ambulance company was out on a call and I had to answer the line — to type up my college papers. I got through much of high school and almost all of college on the ability to write an expository paper. They had to be typed. And my employer had an IBM Selectric.
My father, who tracked job markets for the state department of commerce, wrote to the company on behalf of my niece, then in high school, to ask the company what the new tool was all about. He got an answer, which I preserved in my archives somewhere, from some recent high school grad who worked for the p.r. department at the company in Lowell, MA whose office towers still command a major gateway to the city.
The letter is a classic. It will probably bring serious dollars on an Antique Roadshow in the year 2035.
The company has long since fallen to the vagaries of competition and change, but the basic functionality of the word processing system is that the typist could make changes to the document before it got printed, thus eliminating typographic errors, bad grammar, and even bad writing. The letter is a classic because it was produced on a Wang 1200 but had so many examples of typographical errors, bad grammar and bad writing that it seemed like a parody of itself.
I first used a Wang word processor right after I took the job marketing a medical symposium; with a Wang WP, I could print out individually-typed-and-addrerssed letters to hundreds and hundreds of addresses. My bosses thought I was a wizard. I needed only to sit by and maintain the feed, pull off the product, fold it up, and stuff it into the envelopes. Some fellow named Nierenberg ( Andrea’s father ) had already taught me the value and art of personalized direct marketing. Soon thereafter, I was running a one-day seminar to introduce computers to physicians; I was utterly dumbfounded when some of the brightest people I’d ever known would only very tentatively approach the subject or even touch the input device. They were mini-masters at trauma surgery but how to make a brain-in-a-box sing and dance was new to them.
Sometime thereafter I went to worked for a start-up producing cable TV shows for pediatricians and the company handed me the latest in IBM computers; I never could figure out to use the damn thing. But that never held me back; we got 15 shows in the can and I was already at work on a new franchise for orthopaedic surgeons when they informed me that I was fired because I’d failed to sell enough air time to advertisers, a task that was nowhere mentioned in my job description.
A few years later, I took over running an association of business executives who worked for companies like Prime and Digital Equipment. On the first two days of the job, the office staff told me the annual invoices for membership (the organization’s first and major source of income) were due to go out and the DEC system with its 10-inch floppies couldn’t be made to merge the membership database with the invoice form. Calls to the nearby company proved useless; the technical support staffer sent over by our very own internal contact through our vice president and their international director proved useless.
A quick phone call and some research turned up the idea that we could buy an Apple Mcintosh with custom-made software for association management tasks for $5,000 proved irresistible, thus earning me enmity with the Board that I could never outrun.
The Mac ran faultlessly for the 14 months I was there. The invoices were sent out with a three-day delay, thus saving the corporation’s sizeable capital equity, enough so they could purchase an office condo after I left, but I got run out on a rail.
But I had found Apple, bought two for my kids to use in high school and later college, and when my son moved out of the house in his senior year, I had a tool I could learn to use on my desk. I wish I’d had the cash to buy stock. Sorry, Joe.
When I again found myself unemployed because I’d mastered a DOS computyer so well that I made more money at ten cents a line than my department director, I started drafting an e-book on performance psychology.
I once met a girl (or should I say she once met me?), and we talked until two and then she said it’s time for bed and crawled off to sleep (if she could) surrounded by her daughter and her dog.
But while she was awake, she convinved me to take a Briggs-Myers psychometric test that, when it was completed, told me I was an iNTp who lovesplay, languages, and complex systems, amd specially games that coax analogies, patterns and theories from the unseen. So it’s no surprise that I’ve had a fascination forwargaming. One of those nights we talked about her desire to run off 900 miles on a whim to help take care of people in a major disaster, but I talked her out of it. It took me two hours, after which she challenged me (nop, she held my feet to the fire until it was finished and found a home) to writethis.
Some people think this nation is headed into a crisis larger than any its faced in 80 years (a major disaster), and the world has changed a lot since the Depression era. See the three articles below or scroll quickly through the last handful of entries at Occurrences Foreign & Domestic.
In this lecture during the 2013 Yale Presidential Inauguration Symposia, University Provost Polak offers a sample of his popular undergraduate economics course. As the William C. Brainard Professor of Economics, he is an expert on decision theory, game theory, and economic history. His work explores how individuals choose when faced with uncertainty and how societies choose when faced with inequality.
I love query languages for many reasons, but mostly because of their semantics. Wait, come back! In contrast to most systems programming languages (whose semantics can be quite esoteric), the semantics of a query (given some inputs) are precisely its outcome — rows in tables. Hence when we write a query, we directly engage with its semantics: we simply say what we mean. This makes it easy and natural to reason about whether our queries are correct: that is, whether they mean what we intended them to mean.
Query languages have traditionally been applied to a relatively narrow domains: historically, data at rest in data stores; more recently, data in motion through continuous, “streaming” query frameworks. Why stop here? Could query languages do for a notoriously complex domain such as distributed systems programming what they have done so successfully for data management? How would they need to evolve to become expressive enough to capture the programs that we need to write, while retaining a simple enough semantics to allow mere mortals to reason about their correctness?
I will attempt to answer these questions (and raise many others) by describing a query language for distributed programming called Dedalus. Like traditional query languages, Dedalus abstracts away many of the details we typically associate with programming, making data and time first-class citizens and relegating computation to a subordinate role, characterizing how data is allowed to change as it moves through space and time. As we will see, this shift allows programmers to directly reason about distributed correctness properties such as consistency and fault-tolerance, and lays the foundations for powerful program analysis and repair tools (such as Blazes and LDFI), as well as successive generations of data-centric programming languages (including Bloom, Edelweiss and Eve).
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA CRUZ
Peter Alvaro is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California Santa Cruz. His research focuses on using data-centric languages and analysis techniques to build and reason about data-intensive distributed systems, in order to make them scalable, predictable and robust to the failures and nondeterminism endemic to large-scale distribution. Peter is the creator of the Dedalus language and co-creator of the Bloom language.
While pursuing his PhD at while UC Berkeley, Peter co-developed and taught Programming the Cloud, an undergraduate course that explored distributed systems concepts through the lens of software development. Prior to attending Berkeley, Peter worked as a Senior Software Engineer in the data analytics team at Ask.com. Peter’s principal research interests are databases, distributed systems and programming languages.