Thursday, May 31, 2007

Random thoughts

There's been a buildup of items that I haven't had enough time to structure my thoughts around. I'll keep some of the more involved ones until such time, but meanwhile, I'll offload a few unrelated ideas.

Listening to: Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen: a truly lovely, albeit mournful work [for 23 strings]. It rewards a careful listen, and doesn't insult one's intelligence through repetition. Yet there is a beautiful moment where it briefly resolves into melody before drifting off again. I have versions by Karajan (playing) and Stamp - preferred, as it's crisper - but they're both top notch.

Reading: Katherine Neville: The Eight: definitely a few notches above Dan Brown (see yesterday's) - it has colour and depth. Repeats some of the same errors, including a theme (chess) for which her understanding is quite superficial, despite the obvious research. Still worth reading (so far). I'll bet Kate Mosse read this before writing Labyrinth.

Heard: National Public Radio (USA) - All Things Considered: A commentator was second-guessing George Bush's motivations in referring to the events in Darfur as genocide. The commentator was punting that Bush would adopt this issue to leave his mark on the end of his term. Obviously a Bush apologist: Bush has lagged behind just about all the rest of the world in turning his attention to this mean and nasty situation.
Another commentator discussed Richard Nixon as a borderline fascist (for his attacks on the opposition [Democrats]), as a drug-taker (slurring, incoherent in the few days before the invasion of Cambodia, due to his inappropriate use of an anti-convulsant for depression), and condemning his use of the "instruments of government" on his "personal or perceived enemies".

Saw an interesting article in Wikipedia on suicide bombers: although the simplistic understanding is that they are simply religiously motivated, and the less simplistic understanding is that the phenomenon is intrinsic to poverty, there are also various strands of thought that claim: that they are the specific province of a people attempting to expel an occupying force; that the phenomenon occurs in countries at "intermediate levels of political freedom".

Also read an interesting set of anecdotes on the downside of the Howard government's Industrial Relations policies (which they've stopped calling WorkChoices solely because that brand has become so sullied).

Finally: enjoy your children while you can. Their joy and laughter are a sublime antidote for the ills of the world.

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