Wednesday, January 27, 2010
This doesn't even necessarily say anything specifically about global warming. But it does say we can change the chemistry of the world, which at the very least is something to consider.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I don't know about this Olympics thing, but let me tell you, I'm trying to figure out how to get up to Vancouver soon to try one of those.
My wife gave me this book when I started asking lots of questions about how music works. And for me, who's sung a lot of music but has never had formal training or education in it, it was wonderful on two levels.
On the teaching/pedagogical level, the author Gerald Eskelin is a big proponent of letting students hear sounds first, learn notation second. This is a lot like what my physics colleagues do in the classroom (and what I try to do when possible): let the students experiment and observe, and then and only then teach the theory behind what happened. Students learn better by experiencing it, by singing and relating notes to each other.
On the abstract/theory level, Eskelin shows how there is a "natural", innate music that is based on the fractions that relate notes to each other. This music is best expressed by the major/minor scales because it fits those fractions best. How this works in music is that sounds made from flexible strings can tune better than sounds made my fixed machines (pianos, fretted guitars, etc.). So the piano is only an approximation of "true" tuning and true harmonies .There is a native music to the world (and pianos only approximate it!). And when this music is in tune everything just "pops" together.
I think this is important on pretty much every level. On the choir-singer level, it reminds me of just this Christmastime when we were learning "Rejoice, Rejoice" by Philip Stopford (a.k.a. "the best young choral composer out there right now"). Stopford has the basses sing a melody all alone that suddenly jumps up at the end to a C-sharp. It's strange to hear and practice by itself, but when we were singing "without a net" for the first time (that is, without our lovely and talented pianist (whom I'm married to) playing along), we jumped right up to that C-sharp and I suddenly felt uncertain ... because it DIDN'T feel weird! The reason is that note fits into the music and when you hit it you land right where you relate to the rest of the music and despite the strangeness of the interval, it just feels right. Good music fits together right, and there is a "best" way to do it.
In any case, this is a wonderful book and worth reading if you're interested in how music works, no matter your background, teachers and students. (I'm kind of glad I didn't know the "lies" -- it made it easier to learn the true way music fits together.)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Order of Program
Introduction: Tuning to the Universe
The New Natural Theology
Song One: From Nothing to Stars
Song Two: From Stars to Heavy Atoms
Song Three: From Heavy Atoms to Earth
Song Four: From Rock to Sea and Sky
Song Five: From Sea and Sky to Sulfur
Song Six: From Sulfur to Oxygen
Song Seven: From Oxygen to Humans
starring “The Brain”
What the Chemical Songs Mean
Tuning Two Stories
Conclusion: Reading the Music
Friday, January 15, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
John Adams criticizing orthodox Christian beliefs of British scientists: “They all believe that great Principle which has produced this boundless universe, Newton’s universe and Herschel’s universe, came down to this little ball, to be spit upon by the Jews. And until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.” P. 167.
Percy Shelley writing in a note in Queen Mab:" The indefinite immensity of the universe, is the most aweful subject of contemplation … It is impossible to believe that the Spirit that pervades this infinite machine begat a son upon the body of a Jewish woman … The works of His fingers have borne witness against him … Sirius is supposed to be 54 trillion miles from the Earth … Millions and millions of suns are ranged around us, all attended by innumerable worlds, yet calm, regular, and harmonius, all keeping the paths of immutable Necessity."P.391.
Anyone who blames Darwin for the pervasive assumption of atheism in the public sphere should look farther back. What I find fascinating about these two quotes is that atheism (Shelley) and "strong" Deism (Adams) are really not all that different. Both are offended by the idea of the Incarnation. And both quotes specifically mention Jews, as if that's supposed to make the reader recoil more? My response to both of these quotes is, yeah, that's pretty much the offense of the gospel right there. But really, why is it somehow unthinkable that a creator of a vast universe should know the number of hairs on our heads, or the thoughts in our brains? Why is a God of the big somehow exclusive to a God of the small? Why does it make sense to observe the immense power that must have set creation in motion and then to deny a continuance of that power to the present day? I can see where these quotes are coming from, but I just don't agree. Instead of saying "it ain't so" like Adams and Shelley, I see this possibility as an occasion for wonder, that the God who made this would take on flesh and die after 33 short years. Maybe this is the divide of faith.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Books read: 45 (My goal is one a week! Thank you graphic novels for making that conceivable!)
Posts written: 140
Posts commented on more than a few times: 2
Baby boys born: 1
Number of times I mentioned the Weter Lecture: 5,454