After we had a wonderful preview show to a packed house last night, the official gala opening of Neville's Island is tonight at the Princess Theatre, St. Thomas, Ontario.
Neville's Island is set on Rampsholme Island in the Lakes District in the northwest of England, not far from the Yorkshire Dales. Here is a photo of Rampsholme Island.
The play continues with performances
- 8pm tonight and tomorrow night
- 2pm Sunday
- 8pm next Friday and Saturday (the Thursday performance is sold out)
- 2pm Mothers' Day
Every morning I receive an email message from the New York Times with a list and summary of their top stories. This one struck me, not for its content but for its questionable grammar:
By MICHAEL WINES and SARAH COHEN
The use of police force against minorities and whites alike is poorly tracked, but what data does exist suggests the number of law-enforcement homicides have risen only slowly, if at all.
There are two things that bug me a bit about this brief quotation.
I note with approval that the NYTimes does place the word "only" in the proper location. Too many writers these days would have mistakenly written, "... homicides has only risen slowly, if at all."
The Dulwich Picture Gallery made it known that they had replaced one of their Masters' paintings with a replica ordered from China for $120US. The result:
For nearly three months, visitors to London's Dulwich Picture Gallery have pored over 270 paintings in its permanent collection, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Gainsborough, knowing that there was one $120 (109-euro) fake in their midst.
Around 3,000 people voted for their pick of the replica, but only 300 correctly identified it as French artist Jean-Honore Fragonard's 18th century portrait "Young Woman". ...
The experiment was the brainchild of American artist Doug Fishbone, who wanted to "throw down the gauntlet" to museum-goers and make them look more closely at the great works.
This marketing technique is wonderful. It tells people up front what is going on. It doesn't involve having someone surreptitiously hang a fake and then proudly announce that nobody noticed it. That kind of power-play, I-know-something-you-don't-know would really irritate people. This strategy, however, says "We've done something; it will be difficult to spot and not even all the experts will correctly identify it. Can you?"
I also like the idea that we can get superb reproductions of masters' works so inexpensively.
I just saw an ad you ran in which you really put down people who like chamber music, saying Dodge is not for people who like chamber music.
You're right, jerks. I have no interest in buying car from someone who insults my taste in music.
I have blogged about happiness several times in the past.
One of my more recent mental wanderings led to me and several others to wonder whether one can consciously and conscientiously choose to do things that will make you happier. Shawn Achor argues that we can with these six exercises (I have no evidence other than my own experiences and those of others around me to know how valid these are). My own comments and reactions follow each item.
1. Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you're grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. They don't have to be profound. It could be a really good cup of coffee or the warmth of a sunny day.
I don't actually write these things down, but I probably do something like this most days in my mind. Gratitude has played a major role in my own sense of happiness. And those who knew the late Greg Mate will recall his daily posts of gratitude on Facebook that he began writing upon learning he had terminal cancer; they were terrifically inspiring.
2. The Doubler. Take one positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.
This suggestion intrigues me. I don't know that I've done it consciously, and I will now be trying, once again in my mind but not on paper, to do this more overtly. In many respects, many of my postings to Facebook and here on this blog fall into these first two categories.
3. The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.
Back in a dark period of my life, people kept suggesting things like this. I'm not convinced they worked, but I do try to have some kind of fun physical action nearly every day. And sometimes it's less fun, e.g. doing the stairs instead of taking the elevator to check the mail.
4. Meditation. Every day take two minutes to stop whatever you're doing and concentrate on breathing. Even a short mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.
I really struggle with this one. I try to stop, but my mind quickly wanders. I guess it takes more work/effort than I'm willing to put out.
5. Conscious act of kindness. At the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good.
Please don't include me if you do this. It sounds fake, and if it comes off as an exercise you're doing for yourself, it won't seem all that sincere to the others.
However, a couple of decades ago, I realized that the people who seemed happier were the ones who said nice things to and about others. I realized the causation could go in either direction, but I started doing things like this and stopped being as grouchy and as critical as I had been. It seems to help. Yes, there are still plenty of times when I grouse and criticize, but I keep more of them to myself more often and work through them more effectively.
6. Deepen Social Connections. Spend time with family and friends. Our social connections are one of the best predictors for success and health, and even life expectancy.
Does Facebook count? Does theatre count? Do musical groups count? Those connections are rarely very deep, but they do lead to other connections that are deeper.
Neville's Island by Tim Firth is a dark, biting comedy, full of sarcasm with tonnes of weirdness thrown in. It will make you laugh in some parts, cringe in others, and in still others make you scratch your head as you contemplate the near-total cock-up in the lives of these four men.
When four middle aged men on a team building exercise become shipwrecked (well... rowboat-wrecked?), their pathetic attempts to get themselves rescued are hampered by their inability to co-operate as much as by their ineptitude in the great outdoors.
I play Roy, Finance Manager for Pennine Spring Water Company.
Princess Avenue Theatre, St. Thomas.
April 30, 2015 @ 8pm, Sold out
May 1, 2015 @ 8pm GALA OPENING NIGHT!
May 2, 2015 @ 8pm
May 3, 2015 @ 2pm
May 7, 2015 @ 8pm, Sold out
May 8, 2015 @ 8pm
May 9, 2015 @ 8pm
May 10, 2015 @ 2pm
Turkey doesn't want it called a "genocide", and so Obama reneged on a campaign promise. From Yahoo news,
Yerevan says that the Armenian massacres are today recognised as genocide by 22 countries, including France and Russia, as well as the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
US President Barack Obama had pledged in his campaign that he "will recognise the Armenian genocide" if elected, but has thus far avoided using the politically charged term, stressing however that his "view of that history has not changed".
His "view of that history has not changed" and yet he now will not refer to it as a genocide despite saying he would. It sounds to me as if he is trying to appease the Armenians while not crossing the Turks.
The US has certainly been drifting toward a less supportive position, for sure. Carolyn Glick pulls no punches here.
After going through the tired motions of pledging support for Israel, "when it matters," [US ambassador to the UN] Power refused to rule out the possibility that the US would support anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council to limit Israeli sovereignty and control to the lands within the 1949 armistice lines — lines that are indefensible.
Such a move will be taken, she indicated, in order to midwife the establishment of a terrorist-supporting Palestinian state whose supposedly moderate leadership does not recognize Israel's right to exist, calls daily for its destruction, and uses the UN to delegitimize the Jewish state.
In other words, the Obama administration intends to pin Israel into indefensible borders while establishing a state committed to its destruction.
A key to understanding this position is that the pre-1967 borders are, if not indefensible, certainly very difficult to maintain. Another key is that some Zionists favour continued expansion into the West Bank. But to demand that Israel give up its buffer zone is tantamount to asking it to commit suicide or, at the very least, to suffer continued huge losses trying to defend itself within those pre-1967 borders.
Just a little while ago, I posted an item about a low-carb, high-fat diet that includes drinking hot buttered coffee. I thought I'd try it.
Granted, my coffee is Tassimo Nabob Gashouse Bold, and not some specialty low-mold stuff that costs $19/lb, but nevertheless I'm not keen.
The taste is ok, but the coating of grease in my mouth is weird. I could probably get used to it eventually, but I think I'll stick with using whipping cream instead.
How about buttered coffee? Sounds good to me, but even before reading this article, I had developed a taste for having my coffee with whipping cream (unwhipped) in it.
It's a lengthy article, and so here are a couple of snippets:
[Asprey] completely dismantled the food pyramid—the 1992 chart that advised people to eat a carbohydrate-rich diet and very few fats—and argues that the proper diet should consist of as much as 70 percent fat. It’s similar to the paleo diet, the regimen that forbids any food not available to prehistoric man, with some modifications, like allowing white rice. “Your hormones are made of saturated fat, your brain is made of fat, and the membrane of every cell in your body is made of fat,” Asprey says. “When you go on a low-fat diet, you limit the performance of so many key systems in your body that it’s no wonder you have cravings and feel tired.” ...
“I used to weigh 300 pounds,” Asprey tells Gotzler. “I worked out six days a week, and I cut my calories to around 1,800 calories per day for almost two years. And I was still fat. I’m eating salads and my friends are eating onion rings, and they’re still thin. I said, ‘This isn’t working.’” ...
Asprey found some low-mold beans from Guatemala and blended them with the coconut oil and grass-fed butter, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acid than regular butter or cream. It was delicious. Bulletproof coffee was born. Asprey envisioned the beverage as a 450-calorie breakfast alternative that would suppress hunger and provide mental clarity.
Sounds like a lot of the evidence we read that convinced us to move toward Atkins-type low-carb, high-fat diets. If only I could stop eating the cheap-carb, refined wheat, refined sugar things I find so tasty.
There's a math problem raging on Facebook that depends on the order of operations.
Too many smart people have memorized the mnemonic BEDMAS and misapply it.
These mnemonics may be misleading when written this way, especially if the user is not aware that multiplication and division are of equal precedence, as are addition and subtraction. Using any of the above rules in the order "addition first, subtraction afterward" would also give the wrong answer to the problem:
The correct answer is 9 (and not 5, which we get when we do the addition first and then the subtraction). The best way to understand a combination of addition and subtraction is to think of the subtraction as addition of a negative number. In this case, we see the problem as the sum of positive ten, negative three, and positive two:
A different perspective that might help clear things up: Within the multiplication and division groups, start at the left and work right. Similarly, within the addition and subtraction groups, start at the left and work to the right.
But I doubt if this will stop or slow the battles on Facebook.
If only people would Google things and look at Wikipaedia...
The inestimable Steve Horwitz writes on his FB page,
Ronald Bailey's prediction 15 years ago about what Earth Day will be like in 30 years continues to be on target. The world has never been cleaner and healthier, yet we are, according to the professional purveyors of doom, always on the edge of catastrophe. Or at least so says this screaming CNN Headline. http://www.cnn.com/…/…/sutter-climate-two-degrees/index.html
Instead, celebrate Earth Day by going to Cato's Human Progress website and get the real state of the planet.
Steve Horwitz posted this on Facebook. It is a wonderful suggestion:
[W]hen our environmentalist friends DO make predictions that can be falsified, they are often very wrong. I still maintain that Reason or some other libertarian organization should give an annual Paul Ehrlich Award to scholars whose predictions have turned out to be spectacularly wrong. (Ehrlich is ineligible as he'd win it every year.)
"Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey in 2000: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030? Bailey predicts a much cleaner, and much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty, and longer life expectancy, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he makes one final prediction about Earth Day 2030: “There will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future–and the present–never looked so bleak.” In other words, the hype, hysteria and spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the “environmental grievance hustlers.”"
We are halfway there and Ron's predictions, unlike those of the doomsayers, have largely come to pass.
Steve then linked to this article.
18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year
I have always taught my economics students that there is no such thing as a shortage; there is only a shortage at a certain price. If there is a shortage of something at a low price, the excess quantity demanded will drive prices up. These higher prices will induce an increase in the quantity supplied and a reduction in the quantity demanded until a price is reached at which the quantity supplied equals the quantity demanded == no shortage.
But for this basic analysis to apply, markets must be relatively free to work relatively smoothly. In too many jurisdictions, political pull and vested interests lead to prices that do not, indeed cannot, respond to market forces. Politicians and their crony supporters bugger things up. And that is what has happened with water in California.
Here is a pretty good summary from the Washington Post. Unfortunately it is missing this simple overview about the price system and gets into blaming certain uses too much. The list and the accompanying graphics are quite informative. Here is the list; see the full article for the explanations:
8 fascinating images explain California’s dangerous drought
1. California is one of the most-drought stricken regions of the U.S.
2. Things have gotten worse since then.
3. You don't need a PhD to see why California is in trouble.
4. California's water crisis isn't really due to its people.
5. Agriculture is the much bigger consumer of California's water.
6. Almond shaming is justified.
7. But almonds aren't the only offenders.
8. Power generation is another major hidden consumer of water.
Remember through all this that agriculture uses so much water because California's price for using water in agriculture is so low. There is a LOT of agriculture in California that is inefficient and doesn't belong there. It wouldn't be there if the users of that water had to pay prices for the water that reflect the full costs of using it. And if water were priced appropriately, there is a LOT of agricultural land that would be worth a LOT less than it is now.... look at agricultural landowners as the primary beneficiaries of water prices that are too low.
But in addition to agriculture (and other) cronyism, there is another type of political pressure that has contributed to the water shortage (at current prices): Environmentalism. See this.
This is a textbook example of how the media perpetuates a false narrative based on a phony statistic. Farmers do not use 80 percent of California’s water. In reality, 50 percent of the water that is captured by the state’s dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, and other infrastructure is diverted for environmental causes. Farmers, in fact, use 40 percent of the water supply. Environmentalists have manufactured the 80 percent statistic by deliberately excluding environmental diversions from their calculations. Furthermore, in many years there are additional millions of acre-feet of water that are simply flushed into the ocean due to a lack of storage capacity — a situation partly explained by environmental groups’ opposition to new water-storage projects.
It's a fun piece to listen to; and it's a tricky, challenging piece to play (for me, anyway). I've been enthralled by recordings and by live performances of it. It's a treat to be a part of this performance.
Carmina Burana and other numbers, Central Secondary School, London, Ontario. 2pm, Sunday, April 19th.
This is NOT from The Onion:
A [police] spokesman confirmed that officers had searched Banda’s home, though he denied it was a raid. He also said the initial anti-drug program was put on entirely by the school — the police had no involvement. At that event Banda’s son apparently contradicted some of the claims made about marijuana. The school then contacted the child protection agency, which then contacted the police. Officers from the department showed up at Banda’s at home and asked her permission to conduct a search. She refused. They then obtained a warrant and searched her home. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on exactly what was found, except to say that there was “evidence” of drug activity. Banda was then arrested and her son was seized from the home. Currently, there are no criminal charges against her. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on whether charges may be forthcoming. He added that possession of marijuana is illegal in Kansas, without exception.
The absurdity here of course is that a woman could lose her custody of her child for therapeutically using a drug that’s legal for recreational use an hour to the west. It seems safe to say that the amount of the drug she had in her home was an amount consistent with personal use. (If she had been distributing, she’d almost certainly have been charged by now.)
This boy was defending his mother’s use of a drug that helps her deal with an awful condition. Because he stuck up for his mother, the state arrested her and ripped him away from her. Even if he is eventually returned to his mother (as he ought to be), the school, the town, and the state of Kansas have already done a lot more damage to this kid than Banda’s use of pot to treat her Crohn’s disease ever could.
"Who could imagine that they would Freak-Out in Kansas?" [Frank Zappa]
As I mentioned earlier, I'm delighted that the Pope declared the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians to be a genocide. The evidence certainly suggests that it was.
Was it also a Jihad?
Jeff Jacoby suggests it had some pretty strong similarities to modern-day jihads.
Speaking at the Vatican during a Sunday Mass to mark the centenary of the slaughter, the pope said it is “widely considered the first genocide of the 20th century” — a quote from Pope John Paul II, who used nearly the same words in 2001. But Francis went further, equating the destruction of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet bloodbaths under Stalin. And he linked the genocidal Ottoman assault on Armenia, the world’s oldest Christian nation, with the epidemic of violence against Christians today, especially by such radical Islamist terror groups as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab. ...
Talaat Pasha, the powerful Ottoman interior minister during World War I, certainly didn’t disguise his objective. “The Government . . . has decided to destroy completely all the indicated [Armenians] persons living in Turkey,” he brusquely reminded officials in Aleppo in a September 1915 dispatch. “An end must be put to their existence . . . and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to conscientious scruples.” ...
That key fact is one the pope, to his credit, refuses to downplay: Armenians were victims not only of genocide, but also of jihad. In imploring his listeners on Sunday to hear the “muffled and forgotten cry” of endangered Christians who today are “ruthlessly put to death — decapitated, crucified, burned alive — or forced to leave their homeland,” Francis was reminding the world that the price of irresolution in the face of determined Islamist violence is as steep as ever.
The jihadists of 1915 murdered “bishops and priests, religious women and men, the elderly, and even defenseless children and the infirm.” The world knew what was happening; the grisly details were extensively reported at the time. Just as they are now, and with as little effect.
However, see this from today's NYTimes, which agrees the conflict was between Muslims and Armenians, but which also highlights the political (more than the religious) nature of the genocide:
“They threw them in that hole, all the men,” said Vahit Sahin, 78, sitting at a cafe in the center of the village, reciting the stories that have passed through generations.
Mr. Sahin turned in his chair and pointed toward the monastery. “That side was Armenian.” He turned back. “This side was Muslim. At first, they were really friendly with each other.”
A hundred years ago, amid the upheaval of World War I, this village and countless others across eastern Anatolia became killing fields as the desperate leadership of the Ottoman Empire, having lost the Balkans and facing the prospect of losing its Arab territories as well, saw a threat closer to home.
Worried that the Christian Armenian population was planning to align with Russia, a primary enemy of the Ottoman Turks, officials embarked on what historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century: Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed, some in massacres like the one here, others in forced marches to the Syrian desert that left them starved to death.
The genocide was the greatest atrocity of the Great War.
Over a decade ago, my older son (aka David Ricardo Palmer) and I constructed this arch. It was displayed that spring at both the Bright's Grove and the Blyth art galleries.
Our artists' statement is a reflection of the existentialism inherent in the Myth of Sisyphus.
L' Arc des Perdants Anonymes
(The Arch of the Anonymous Losers):
A Celebration of the Existential Quest
Like many triumphal arches, this sculpture is a celebration. In this work, we celebrate the process of continued search and quest despite not reaching a specific goal or prize.
Constructed entirely of losing cups from the 2004 Tim Hortons "Roll Up the Rim to Win" contest, our work is rooted in the ontological search for meaning. People who search for meaning in life are often frustrated, feeling lost when they are unable to arrive at some clear and definitive sense of purpose. The existential answer lies in the joy and value of the search activity itself.
We see the experience of playing the Tim Horton lottery as a reflection of this search. People buy cups of coffee hoping to win a big prize. They lose. They go back for more. And the process makes people smile. This simple, day-to-day process is a symbolic representation of the joie de vivre that is evinced in the human experiential quest for meaning.
L' Arc des Perdants Anonymes is constructed with nearly 3000 used, losing cups from the Tim Hortons 2004 contest. The artists used approximately 10 pounds of glue sticks to construct the sections of the structure. These sections are held together in places with 3M hook and loop material. The artists gratefully acknowledge the assistance of their families and persons at their respective workplaces for their assistance.
For more photos and information, see this.
I just received the following email. I'm tickled by some of these attempts to part me from my money:
We are from China, we are very interested in your grape wine.
If you can provide, we sincerely hope establish a longterm friendly cooperation
partner relationship with each other via our first cooperation.
1. Red grape wine 40000 bottles.
2. White grape wine 20000 bottles.
3. Request 750ml /per bottle.
4. FOB price,we will have a face to face talk about the details and sign the contract,
after both of us confirm the price. We will pay 40% T/T,then delivery the goods
after 40 days.