Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pianist Van Cliburn, I'll Just Say Thank You Now

Tears of sadness are being shed by women and men
all across the globe at the death this week of Mr. Van Cliburn,
who hailed from Texas. One of the twentieth century's
premier pianists, 1958 winner of the International Tchaikowskii
Competition,  he made LPs, CDs, touring the world capitals
of classical music. He went on to create his own International
Van Cliburn Piano Competition, which he hosted in Fort Worth,
Texas, near Dallas.

From concertizing pianists to music media mavens, to Juilliard
students and Interlochen camp attendees, his reputation as a
kind and encouraging master musician was as lengendary
as his pianistry.

Thank you Mr. Cliburn, you made a 13 year old Texan's
passion for serious music that day in 1958 when we heard
you won.

You've won a permanent place in our hearts.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Just Say Thank You, Now

"Sequestration", Last  Week of February 2013: 
Mr. Obama is asking very generally, although somewhat
forcefully, for the Republicans to compromise some
and raise taxes.

Wherever I went--TV, web, radio, politics/punditry,
I saw the same verbiage (unintentional rewind, anyone?)
that  significant changes in  the Bush II Era,
(overly generous to the rich) decade-long tax cut
package are now in place, most significantly, the
removal of the Bush tax cut on annual incomes over

If the Dems and other "progressives" (whatever that really means)
are sincere about compromise, this win against the right-wing
portion of the U.S. House should be appreciated, by that I mean
included in published private and public commentary,
EACH TIME,  period.

Kindness and gratitude go a long way with most people, even the
super conservative. Try it; I know this works; I've tried it with a
variety of people. Conversations/debates go a lot better,
i.e., more productively, with less wrangling and hard feelings.

Let's not attempt to rewrite all too-recent history to save face--
Something is really wrong with this February's political statements.

Just say thank you, now.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Altered Mental States, Videos, and Various Untoward Effects

Are a real-enough phenomenon, at least for some of us, so the
cavilling controversies of  the "experts" can now cease and desist.
I unwittingly experimented on myself last night, foregoing a
night's sleep while watching twelve hours of  a Korean Drama
serial online. The plot was fascinating, tragic, twists and turns
galore, completely reeling me in....

Intensity is just the least of it; I feel like something actually
happened to me between the videos and the sleep deprivation.
But why post this? Because I think I have a tiny window into
the experiences of many thousands of youngsters (some oldsters,
too) who watch videos for hours on end, maybe while sleep-
deprived. I'm guessing this kind of experience can lead to
"programming" of a subtle but important nature, probably
deleterious to normal behavior, being in control of feelings
and reactions.

No, I haven't exhaustively exhumed all the psychosocial
books and white papers on the subject. But I am now
firmly convinced that troubled people, young or old, who
repeatedly indulge in behavior leading to altered mental
states, stimulated by violent videos, are potential death-dealing
disasters waiting in the wings.  Add in the availability of
drugs, guns, and "substances", heat and stir, voila',  headlines
which shock and appall.

But why be shocked?  We should all take better care of
ourselves; any brain is a terrible thing to waste. Not to
mention those various untoward effects. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Being Tone Deaf in Politcs

I spotted former Chicago alderwoman Sandi Jackson entering
federal court in DC wearing a full length fur coat, ostensibly mink.
She's there to plead guilty to tax evasion, while Jesse Jr. will
admit to more serious crimes ($750 thousands' worth), also
today. How tone deaf can anyone be? Such a thoughtless
display will not help the judge to look more favorably on Mrs.
Jackson, whose wardrobe has undoubtedly been paid for, at
least in part, by misusing campaign funds.

Our government in DC is also tone deaf, in far more serious ways:
bungling and inattention there now means we will be without our
five NOAA-operated  weather satellites after 2014, as they will
"die".  New replacements aren't scheduled until 2017 or later--
with evermore severe weather having become the "new normal",
what will be giving the U.S. necessary advanced warnings? In
this last year alone NOAA satellites' weather predictions saved
lives, enabling evacuations before Sandy. The usual
meteorological technology, absent these satellites, does not
provide particularly precise forecasts.

But such inattention DOES have consequences; what will the
reaction be, I wonder, if many lives are lost in a bad storm that
we weren't warned about in enough time? Lost seats in Congress,
even changes in  the White House, anyone?

Memo to our leaders: get the wax out of your ears and the dust
out of your eyes. Heed the music of reality--being tone deaf
doesn't  help anyone, especially in emergencies.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A New Cabinet May Sweep Policy Errors Clean

Mr. Obama has named new cabinet heads, with more to follow.
Buh-bye, Tim Geithner, we knew ya way too well, good riddance!
Dr. Steven Chu, too much a tool of industry to be a real, fact-based
scientist, sayonara.  Leon Panetta, quite the disappointment, as
his previous roles in government seemed satisfactory, adios.

Let's wish the newcomers well and hope for better policies;
President Obama wasn't particularly served by many in the
last crop. Hillary Clinton did do a masterful job at a tricky,
roiling moment, and Sen. Kerry has enough experience to
perform adequately or better.

Here's to the new guys-- get out your brooms and  sweep
those policy errors clean!   

Stop Sexualizing Our Children, Straight, Gay or Otherwise

The Boy Scouts of America is temporizing on its vow to be more
open and accepting, including "gays". I can understand that sexual
orientation might be important to those in their late teens, and
adults. Most Boy Scouts, however,  are young children and have
no business being concerned about sexual matters, gay OR
straight. Aren't they supposed to be learning skills for
maneuvering around in the Great Outdoors?  There is entirely
too much talk about sex and the scouts.

An impassioned aside:
Why is it anyone's business what someone's sexual preference is?
Allowing gays their full rights, including marriage, affects no one
but the couple and their immediate families. The financial angle,
absent here, is therefore a non-issue.  There are no gay gangs
out in mobs gone wild recruiting more to their ranks. So, hey,
to those who don't like the idea/practice of same sex partners
--don't do  it. Just mind your own darned business.

There are other disgusting ways our children are being sexualized,
to their detriment. I've seen clothing catalogs with 7-8 year old
girls in obviously sexy  poses, butt and face forward, looking
enticingly at the viewer over their shoulders. I'm a latina, and
have often been dismayed at the attire all too many very young
Hispanic girls wear.

This all comes down to adults. Stop sexualizing our  children,
straight, gay or otherwise. Don't you have anything better to do?