Those of you who read music might enjoy John Stump’s score titled “Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz (from “A tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich”). I ran across this and enjoyed its repeated moments of musical absurdity.
I searched for some background for the piece and found this:
The composition Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz (from “A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich”) by John Stump is an unpublished satirical work written and copyrighted in 1980 that is best known for, simultaneously, its humor and unplayability. The piece is most often seen hanging on the walls in music rooms and orchestral settings for the musicians’ amusement, due to musical directions such as “Rigatoni”, “light explosives now… and… now”, “insert peanuts”, “Moon-walk”, “release the penguins”, and “Like a Dirigible”.
It is “played” by the Perseus Cluster, and it is a Bb 57 octaves below middle c.
In 2003, astronomers detected the deepest note ever detected by mankind in the cosmos, a B♭, after 53 hours of Chandra observations. No human will actually hear the note, because its time period between oscillations is 9.6 million years, which is 57 octaves below the keys in the middle of a piano. The radio waves appear to be generated by the inflation of bubbles of relativistic plasma by the central active galactic nucleus in NGC 1275.
It wasn’t that long ago that I learned that I have a terminal condition and that I will only be around for a limited time. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to savor every moment, and to work hard to keep my chin up and avoid being maudlin. In that context, today was a good day.
Given my quickly dwindling time here on planet Earth, I have been keeping a look-out for time saving devices. I finally took the plunge and bought an iPad2 (I wasn’t convinced that the brand new version offered anything I needed). The iPad 2 has an excellent screen and lots of potential uses for me at work and at home (I’m already using an app called Note Taker, which allows me to use a stylus to scribble on pdfs on the fly. I uploaded the Kindle app, and I’m delight to say that I have a new tool for reading and reviewing books. The Kindle offers a function for capturing passages of books as “notes,” and then accessing those notes as a batch. I loaded up quite a few other apps that will help me at work, including Drop Box and Jump. Twenty years ago, I wanted to be on the cusp of technology. These days, I’m thrilled to be one step behind, because time seems to be one of my most precious commodities. I’ll let others screw with the newest and greatest, while I sneak in behind the commotion and enjoy things that have been out long enough that most of the bugs are worked out.
I’m still exploring the iPad and the Kindle, but I think this will be a great way to absorb and review books. Last night I foolishly bought a stylus at Target for $20, when I could have bought a 3-pack on line for $10. You’ve got to watch out for those accessories. Then again, I can’t take it with me . . .
[Notes . . . ]
This may not be the perfect forum for a review, but the film “3 Idiots” is about education versus training, science versus engineering, fear versus hubris (and the happy medium), life and death, love and despair, laughter and tears. And it has colorful Bollywood dance numbers, too!
I rented it on a whim, as it was billed as a movie about too-smart engineering students versus the educational system. I was puzzled when it began with English subtitles during the (Indian accented) English dialog. I remembered a 1990′s PBS/BBC series on the English language, when some of the impenetrable-to-me accents of the U.K. had no subtitles, but the perfectly intelligible-to-me Cajun and Ebonic dialects did. But as the blend of Hindi and English became apparent, I saw the need.
I loved this movie. Once one gets into the esthetic swing of Bollywood productions, it makes perfect sense when serious issues become silly dance numbers, and all characters are played as borderline caricatures. One can observe the essential cultural differences between our familiar American dilute-Christian one-life-to-live and anyone-can-become-president attitude and the Indian institutionalized attitude that reincarnation is the only way to improve your lot except through extraordinary means.
Why I think this is appropriate to this forum is the take on education. The protagonist has a scientific mindset that is often at odds with engineering philosophy and even more with institutionalized education. The system of teaching to the test is questioned, as is the principle of square pegs hammered into round holes. Vocation versus avocation is central to this, and expounded toward the end.
The 3 Idiots – Official Trailer has embedding disabled, but preview is fun even without subtitles. You get the idea of how English and Hindi have merged in their culture.
I defy you to watch it and not have the songs “All izz well” and/or “Zoobi Doobi” stuck in your heads.
Paul Krugman notes that “America the Beautiful” contains a third verse:
The lyrics were written in 1894 by the Massachusetts poet Katharine Lee Bates, an ardent feminist and lesbian who was deeply disillusioned by the greed and excess of the Gilded Age.
Her original third verse was an expression of that anger:
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!