Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Like twilight on a harsh landscape


Routine comes down like twilight on a harsh landscape, softening it until it is tolerable. The complexity is too subtle, too varied; the values are changing utterly with each lesion of vitality; it has begun to appear that we can learn nothing from the past with which to face the future — so we cease to be impulsive, convincible men, interested in what is ethically true by fine margins, we substitute rules of conduct for ideas of integrity, we value safety above romance, we become, quite unconsciously, pragmatic.
F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Beautiful and Damned (1922)

Behind the endless debates and controversies of the public arena there is a cold and passionless reality. We experience the complexity of it all as intelligence, reason, debate, honesty, dishonesty, integrity, lies, errors, laughter, tears, jokes, tragedies and so on and so on. This is the joy of living, of discovery, of understanding that harsh landscape which is the only one we'll ever know. Apart from those invented to deceive us of course.

As Baruch Spinoza knew, a defence against deception is our ability to observe the workings of natural law. We observe and are influenced by what we see and feel. Those influences feel like intelligence, curiosity, decision making, choice, debate, compromise and options but they are all of these things and yet none of them. They are the effects of natural law.

Only when we understand natural law do we get closer to that harsh landscape because by understanding it we adapt to it and come to know and even love it. Our understanding is an integral factor in its passionless workings, even down to the long forgotten trajectory of a flint tipped spear. That is all the freedom we have but it is enough. In spite of all our limitations it has dragged us from that spear to where we are now.

Elites know all this at an instinctive, grasping, predatory level. They know that if they limit our curiosity and our consequent understanding of natural law then they also limit our freedom and our ability to participate in the way things are and the way they have to be. They limit our ability to distinguish true from false.

To my mind this is why the public arena has become so peculiar, so riddled with emotional blackmail and obvious drivel. Reason has finally become inconvenient, a hindrance to government by elites. They need to preserve their social distance but for some time natural human curiosity has been eating away at the mystique on which their puny Olympus sits.

So they substitute rules of conduct for ideas of integrity.
And they encourage us to value safety above romance.
And we cease to be impulsive, convincible men.

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Referendum conundrum, simplified

If you don't believe in democracy, don't vote. If you do, vote "Leave".

If you think it doesn't make any difference, you will soon be taught a devastating lesson: the EU is already privately tossing around ideas for Britain's punishment:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/house-of-lords-warned-eu-will-punish-uk-if-it-votes-for-brexit/


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday Serenade: Hoffnung's Horrortorio

Listening to Radio 3 (for a change) yesterday I heard an interview with the composer Joseph Horowitz (it was his 90th birthday and they'd made him a cake). He spoke of being commissioned by Gerard Hoffnung to write a Gothic comedy piece with a clever barrister who "knows nothing about music." Dracula's daughter marries Frankenstein's son:



Hoffnung's legendary wit and raconteurial ability are shown in his 1958 address to the Oxford Union:




READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night: tinkling the ivories

JD writes: More musical delightfulness; this time on the piano. Hard to know what to include and what to leave out but these are some of my favourite pianists.

The piano: King of instruments- "No other instrument has been as important to the history of Western music as the piano. Since its invention in Florence three hundred years ago, the piano has become many things to many people—a bridge between the worlds of classical and popular music and the ultimate composer’s companion." http://www.films.com/id/749

And here are some of the finest players of that 'king of instruments' in the world of popular music-

Duke Ellington, Willie 'the lion' Smith, Billy Taylor:



There is added poignancy to this video by Allen Toussaint in that he died a few hours after the show:



 And here are two of the best from the world of classical music:

- Glenn Gould who, as usual, is so engrossed in the music he sings/hums along with it. He IS the music:



- and Nikolai Demidenko:

-

Enjoy :)


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Step by step

Foxconn have been working on this for some time. From the Independent we hear

60,000 workers at Apple supplier Foxconn have been replaced with robots, according to reports.

The figure comes from a local government official, who said employee numbers at one of Foxconn's factories in Kunshan, near Shanghai, have been drastically slashed in recent months.


Perhaps the Chinese government has an expanding role for all those dumped workers.

The Chinese government plants 488 million fake comments every year

Harvard Study based on leaked email archives reveals massive astroturfing operation

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

REFERENDUM CONUNDRUM

Someone who supports Remain in the issue of membership of the institutionally undemocratic EU, is happy with the idea that the people's vote shouldn't matter.
So why would they vote in the referendum?


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Monday, May 23, 2016

AI drama

From alphr comes a story about the literary exploits of Google's foray into artificial intelligence.

One of the reasons why the Turing Test continues to be such a steep bar for AI to clear is because artificial intelligences just don’t talk like normal people. Artificial chatter is often grammatically sound, but feels stuffy, formal and just not quite right. Getting artificial intelligences to sound human has been a tough old nut to crack.

Google has an interesting solution to this, and has posted a paper outlining how it taught its artificial intelligence a flair for the dramatic by what I can only describe as cruel and unusual punishment. Inspired, no doubt, by the seemingly endless streams of Mills and Boon style romance novels cluttering up charity shops around the country, Google fed a neural network model 12,000 ebooks, some 2,865 if which were of that much maligned genre.


Here's an example of its output.

“this was the only way. it was the only way. it was her turn to blink. it was hard to tell. it was time to move on. he had to do it again. they all looked at each other. they all turned to look back. they both turned to face him. they both turned and walked away.”

Not impressive, but what if the researchers eventually succeed and we can't tell the difference between human and machine output? I'm not sure, but take another look at the example above. With a few adjustments and a few key words it could easily be turned into an EU referendum argument because the standard is not high is it? 

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Serenade - British light classical music

We start in the country, as it used to be....

"Pastoral Montage", by Gideon Fagan (1950):



Ronald Binge - "Autumn Leaves"



Then it's into the outskirts of town...

Knightsbridge March by Eric Coates (1933):



... heading for the West End...

Robert Farnon - Westminster Waltz (1958):



... and a glamorous night out:

Trevor Duncan - High Heels (1950):



BONUSES

Long programmes...

"A Little Light Music - Friday Night Is Music Night" (BBC):



"A Little Light Music - Music for Everybody" (BBC):



... a 77-track,  4-CD compilation "British Light Music Classics" by the New London Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Corp, can be sampled and bought here: http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDS44261/4 ...

... and finally, there's a specialist blog dedicated to British Classical Music:  http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.co.uk/


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Who's leaned on Paul Dacre?

Today's Mail On Sunday front page - moronline edition:


BUT in the influential hmm-must read-this-again-have you-seen-this print version:


And there's more - much more - of that sort of thing inside.


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Empty Brain

This essay from aeon is worth reading.

Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or 

store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night - Poetry into music

JD presents an unusual selection relating to W B Yeats:



One of the comments beneath the video says "it sounds musical" Not surprising because Yeats himself said the rhythm of the verse was so important and "it took me a devil of a lot of trouble to get this poem into verse and that is why I will not read it as if it were prose!"

His poems are indeed musical and that is why so many singers have set them to music, among them Van Morrison and Loreena McKennitt. The best results, in my view, have come from Mike Scott and here is a selection to fortify your soul:






Lastly, "The Stolen Child"::




READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

The future of austerity

Here is a clip of Jeremy Hunt giving evidence to a Parliamentary select committee, with commentary.



In it, there is a section from a Michael Moore documentary where a guilt-ridden medical finance director explains how she was heavily incentivised to say no - and how her conscience was salved at the time by being told she was not denying care, only payment.

"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? 
That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun 

- sang Tom Lehrer:



I think it's a pattern for public services generally. The rich, and those who promote their interests, are cutting their connection to the plebs.


Watch what happens to school-age education, too. And especially, special needs.


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Not welcome in Russia

According to The Moscow Times

Russia is rated the least welcoming country to refugees, according to a survey commissioned by Amnesty International and conducted by consulting firm GlobeScan.

The survey, published Thursday, created a Refugees Welcome Index that ranks countries on a scale from zero to 100, where zero means that all survey respondents would refuse refugees entry to their country and 100 means that all respondents would accept refugees into their neighborhood.

Russia was given an index score of 18, the lowest. China was the most welcoming country for refugees — scoring 85. The median index score was 52.


I wonder if it really matters - do refugees flock to Russia?

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Serenade - Quirky Classics

Rossini: Cats’ Duet -


Arnold: Padstow Lifeboat March (brass band version) -


Michael Haydn (formerly thought to be Leopold Mozart): Toy Symphony -
 

Now one that can't be embedded here, but it's great fun -

Rollinson: Morning In Noah’s Ark Link (1907 recording) on a free jukebox site set up by the US Library of Congress:
Playable link: http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/1279/ 
A modern (2000) version is on this compilation by the New Columbian Brass Band – the individual track can be downloaded, and the whole album is a pleasure:
Link for scrutiny/purchase (Amazon): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teddy-Bears-Picnic-Columbian-Brass/dp/B00004STPU?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 

To play you out, a piece that may leave you feeling aerated and giddy:

Lefébure-Wély: Sortie in E flat -



READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night - Young Jazzers

JD offers a selection of rising talent in the jazz world...

The much maligned younger generation are not all trying to be famous for being famous by caterwauling and prancing about on telly 'talent' shows. Some of them (quite a lot them actually) have real musical ability and are keeping the flame alive in the world of jazz:

Stephanie Trick:



Rachael Price:



Chloe Feoranzo:



Chloe Feoranzo with Stephanie Trick:



Tuba Skinny:

  

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Sanity?

source


source


source

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Brexit to where?

This piece in the Guardian reminds us of something we already know, that there is more to national independence than leaving the EU.

Hinkley Point: UN says UK failed to consult over risks

UN Economic and Social Council says Britain has not met its obligations to discuss the impact of nuclear accident with neighbouring countries.


The Guardian piece links to this UN document.

Economic Commission for Europe 
Meeting of the Parties to the Convention
on Environmental Impact Assessment
in a Transboundary Context

Shaking off the EU is only part of the story. There are UN tentacles too. Ultimately it may be necessary to accept that the world is changing and national self-determination is and probably always was a romantic dream. 

READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Friday Night Is Music Night - European musical traditions in America

JD returns with folk music coming to America:

Migrants from Europe to the new world took their traditional music with them. The slaves transported from Africa also took their musical traditions with them. In the course of time these various strands fused and blended and developed into some wonderful new music in both North and South America and here is a small selection from what appears to be a never ending stream of creativity.

Ry Cooder and the Buena Vista Social Club:



John Hartford:



Tish Hinojosa:



John Hartford (see above) said that the banjo was the only truly American instrument, appearing around about 1840. That may or may not be true, there are theories that it is African and other theories that it comes from Portugal or Spain. Whatever, it has evolved to become a 'signature' instrument of Bluegrass music.

One of the best banjo players is undoubtedly Bela Flek who takes it out of Bluegrass and produces something quite extraordinary -



Guadalupe Pineda:




READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.