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A little jazz piano: exploring the building blocks of music

Soon after the COVID-19 lockdown started, I began doing combined piano and theory lessons with my daughter, who is eleven, and her friend, who is a year or two older, using Skype. I tried to show them a little about some different functions that help to build a piece of music, and in the end I decided to write a set of three short jazz-style pieces for the piano, to highlight a few things I had learned, and help make it fun for them.When I was their age, I was a boy chorister in King’s College C...
Tags: Books, Music, Featured, Cambridge, Skype, Prokofiev, Oscar Peterson, Bob Chilcott, Yuja Wang, King 's College Choir, A Little Jazz Piano, Superbeam

Social needs are a human right

In April 2020, an ER physician in Toronto, Ari Greenwald, started an online petition to bring tablets and phones to his patients in hospital, because hospitals had imposed strict No Visitor rules to limit the spread of COVID-19. Greenwald said that, “As challenging as this COVID-era of healthcare is for us all, the hardest part of patient care these days is watching patients suffer alone without family and friends at their bedside.”No visitor rules do more than deny patients access to family mem...
Tags: Books, Featured, Isolation, Toronto, Sociology, Philosophy, Social Sciences, Abraham Maslow, MASLOW, Greenwald, Richard Proenneke, Arts & Humanities, Twin Lakes Alaska, Tim Mossholder, COVID, Social Distancing

Five tips for clear writing

Blaise Pascal, the  s eventeenth  c entury mathematician and philosopher, once apologised for the length of a letter, saying that he had not had time to write a shorter one.  A ll  of us face situations where we need to compress much information into little space. Perhaps we  have to  fill in an online form with a character  limit or  write a cover letter for a job application which sells our key skills and life experience in just a page or two. Or perhaps we are writing a mass email...
Tags: Books, Featured, Writing, Language, Literature, Rhetoric, VSI, Arts & Humanities, Blaise Pascal, A Very Short Introduction, Joanna Kosinska, Richard Toye

How education could reduce corruption

We live in an era of widely publicized bad behavior. It’s not clear if there’s more unethical behavior occurring now than in the past, but communications technology allows every corrupt example to be broadcast globally. Why are we not making better progress against unethical conduct and corruption in general?Morals are the principles of good conduct, widely accepted by all. The study of morality is ethics, and unethical conduct, which underlies all corruption. Corruption undermines the rule of l...
Tags: Books, Featured, Law, Global, Blog, Ethics, Sociology, Un, World Bank, Criminal Justice, UN Convention, Pixabay, The Organization for Economic Co, Tumisu, Fronting Corruption, Jay Albanesecon

The scientific mysteries that led to Einstein’s E=mc^2 equation

Scientists deal with mysteries. As Richard Feynman once commented:  “Science must remain a continual dialog between skeptical inquiry and a sense of inexplicable mystery”.Three examples: it is profoundly mysterious as to why mathematics can so accurately describe our physical world, and even predict events, such as the motion of the planets or the propagation of radio waves from earth to spacecraft.  The theorems of mathematics are not normally thought to derive from properties of the real world...
Tags: Books, London, Featured, Physics, Paris, Maxwell, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Einstein, Kelvin, Kepler, Newton, Speed Of Light, Richard Feynman, Galileo, Copernicus

Etymology gleanings for June 2020

Response to some commentsThe verb cut. The Middle Dutch, Dutch, and Low German examples (see the post for July 1, 2020) are illuminating. Perhaps we are dealing with a coincidence, because such monosyllabic verbs are easy to coin, especially if they are in at least some way expressive. But another possibility is that in a rather large area, cut and its look-alikes had near-universal currency among cutters, diggers, and perhaps some other artisans and laborers. While researching the etymology of ...
Tags: Books, England, Featured, America, Language, Linguistics, Venice, Dutch, Genoa, Cut, Bradshaw, Schwarz, Sommer, Lye, SA, Wikimedia Commons

Why Brexit could make it harder to fight money laundering

The prime minister says the United Kingdom will not extend the Brexit transition period. The UK is leaving transition on 31 December 2020, with or without a deal. London lawyers have questioned whether intelligence sharing has become a political bargaining chip in ongoing negotiations. The City of London is asking whether Brexit risks making the UK’s money laundering fight harder. If we don’t share information with our neighbours, it will be more difficult to detect and prosecute financial crime...
Tags: Books, UK, London, Featured, Law, Russia, US, Eu, European Union, Iran, United Kingdom, Brexit, Arts & Humanities, UK law, EU trade law, Christine Roy

Is motion an illusion of the senses?

According to Aristotle, Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 – ca. 430 BCE) said, “Nothing moves because what is traveling must first reach the half-way point before it reaches the end.”One interpretation of the paradox is this. To begin a trip of a certain distance (say 1 meter), a traveler must travel the first half of it (the first 1/2 m), but before he does that he must travel half of the first half (1/4 m), and in fact half of that (1/8 m), ad infinitum. Since there will always exist a smaller first half ...
Tags: Books, Featured, US, Philosophy, Zeno, BCE, Heisenberg, J Robert Oppenheimer, Science & Medicine, Paradox, Physics & Chemistry, Zeno of Elea, Demetris Nicolaides, Paradox Of Motion, Pyhysics, Aristotle Zeno

Five great comedies from Hong Kong

At a time when Hong Kong’s status as a semi-autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China is under threat, we should not forget what the area’s former independence from the mainland once meant for its citizens and their cultural identity. During the 99 years that Hong Kong was under British governance, the tiny territory grew into an economic powerhouse. Without much government support, but with unusual financial and creative freedom, it built one of the world’s largest movie industries. T...
Tags: Hong Kong, Books, Hollywood, Featured, Film, China, Film Industry, List, West, Stephen Chow, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, GUI, Hung, Mao, Buddha

Why we can’t tell if a witness is telling the truth

Imagine that you are a juror in a trial in which the chief witness for the prosecution gives evidence about the alleged crime which is completely at odds with the evidence given by the accused. One of them is either very badly mistaken or lying. On what basis will you decide which one of them is telling the truth? And how sure can you be in your conclusion?Perhaps demeanour, way of speaking and body language are high on your list of relevant factors to look at to decide if someone is being hones...
Tags: Books, Featured, Law, Court, Evidence, Arts & Humanities, Reasonable Doubt, HE law, Remote Hearings

The dividing line between German culture and Nazi culture

In November 1942, Anne Frank drafted a fictional advertising brochure for the rear part of the building in central Amsterdam that sheltered her and other Jews. Turning Nazi oppression on its head, she ruled that “all civilized languages” were permitted, “therefore no German.” Still, she was prepared to qualify the ban on the language of her native country, stating that “no German books may be read, with the exception of scientific and classical works.” The teenage girl did not object when her fa...
Tags: Europe, Books, Hollywood, Featured, Germany, History, Britain, United States, Paris, Netherlands, Amsterdam, World War Ii, Beethoven, Nazi, Hitler, Warsaw

Accept death to promote health

We all die and, despite some fanciful ideas to the contrary, we will, as a species, continue to do so. Our daily routines tend to distract us from this fact. However, because death is inevitable, we need to think about how we can live healthy lives, without ignoring how they end.Once we accept that we are going to die, how we spend our money and our time on health begins to shift. At core, we should aspire to die healthy. That means focusing our energy on creating a world that maximizes health r...
Tags: Health, Books, Politics, Featured, Public Health, Health & Medicine, Science & Medicine, Medical Mondays, Pixabay, Science And Medicine, Pained

Don’t vote for the honeyfuggler

In 1912, William Howard Taft—not a man known for eloquence—sent journalists to the dictionary when he used the word honeyfuggle.  Honey-what, you may be thinking.It turns out that honeyfuggler is an old American term for someone who deceives others folks by flattering them.  It can be spelled with one g or two and sometimes with an o replacing the u.  To honeyfuggle is to sweet talk, but also to bamboozle, bumfuzzle, or hornswoggle.The word has some twists and turns in its history. According to ...
Tags: Books, Featured, Mississippi, Kentucky, Blog, Tennessee, Language, Linguistics, Literature, Sam, Taft, Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, Bartlett

Why are there different welfare states in the Middle East and North Africa

Most political regimes in the Middle East and North Africa are non-democratic, but the lived reality of authoritarian rule differs widely across countries. This difference is particularly apparent when it comes to social policies. While resource-abundant, labour-scarce regimes in the Arab Gulf have all established generous welfare regimes, the picture among labour-abundant regimes in the region – that is, in countries with a large population relative to their natural resource endowment – is one ...
Tags: Books, Featured, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Middle East, Welfare, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Gulf, Social Sciences, North Africa, Peggy, East Bank

There’s no vaccine for the sea level rising

We will get by the current pandemic. There will be a vaccine eventually. There will be other pandemics. Hopefully, we will be better organized next time.Waiting in the wings are the emerging impacts of climate change, the next big challenge. There will be no vaccine to stem sea level rise. We will first lose Miami (highest elevation of 24 feet), London (36 feet), Barcelona (39 feet) and New Orleans (43 feet).  Paris and New York City will disappear a bit later.There are estimates that the cost o...
Tags: Books, UK, London, Featured, Climate Change, New York City, US, Barcelona, Paris, Earth Science, Newcastle, Antarctica, New Orleans, Manhattan, Miami, Birmingham

Why victims can sometimes inherit from their abusers- even if they kill them

It is a basic rule of English law that a person who kills someone should not inherit from their victim. The justification behind the rule, known as the forfeiture rule, is that a person should not benefit from their crimes and therefore forfeits entitlement. Many other jurisdictions have the same basic rule for fundamental reasons of public policy, including the need to avoid incentivising homicide. Importantly, however, Parliament passed the Forfeiture Act 1982 to give courts in England and Wal...
Tags: Books, England, Featured, Law, Wales, Court of appeal, Manslaughter, Parliament, Richard, Sloan, Brian Sloan, Murder Case, Coercive Control, Law Of Succession, Sally Challen, Challen

Public health and Georges Canguilhem’s philosophy of medicine

Born in Castelnaudary in France 4 June 1904, Georges Canguilhem was a highly influential 20th century French philosopher of medicine. He took particular interest in the evolution of medical philosophy, the philosophy of science, epistemology, and biological philosophy.After serving in the military for a short period he taught in secondary schools, before becoming editor for Libres Propos, a radical journal. He was a pacifist and in 1927 deliberately dropped a rifle onto his examiner during offic...
Tags: Books, Featured, France, Germany, Public Health, Italy, Philosophy, Toulouse, Potm, University of Strasbourg, Gestapo, Arts & Humanities, Medical Mondays, Philosopher of the Month, Philosophy Of Medicine, Georges Canguilhem

Cut and dried

A less common synonym of the idiom cut and dried is cut and dry, and it would have served my purpose better, because this essay is about the verb cut, and two weeks later the adjective dry will be the subject of a post. But let us stay with the better-known variant.Most dictionaries state that the origin of cut is unknown. As usual, this statement should be taken with a grain of salt. Unknown usually means that no convincing etymology exists, rather than that nothing at all has been said about a...
Tags: Books, Featured, Knife, Language, Celtic, Linguistics, Oxford English Dictionary, Cut, ENGL, Oxford Etymologist, Anatoly Liberman, Word Origins, OED, Indo-european, James A H Murray, Word Origins And How We Know Them

Five questions about PTSD

Post-traumatic  stress disorder   is an often  discussed,  and often misunderstood ,  mental health condition , that affects up to 7% of adults during their lifetime .  Here we answer five questions related to misconceptions that often  prevent people from seeking care.   1.  Is  PTSD a veteran disease ?   While a significant minority of veterans suffer  from  PTSD, this disorder can impact anyone who has experienced life-threatening trauma.  Approximately 70% of people will ...
Tags: Books, Featured, Ptsd, Listicle, Science & Medicine, Psychology & Neuroscience, Ptsd Wentk, veteran PTSD, Isai Ramos

Why transforming higher education can promote racial equality

I was very active politically in the 1960s, 70s, and the early 80s. Life became more difficult in the late 1980s with the arrival of a third child, and as I focused to publish enough to get tenure in a large Midwestern university. Today, as I look back on that time, I struggle with two perspectives about current anti-racist activism and about a continued anti-racist struggle in the academy. One of them is to believe that the current political reckoning over racism in the United States is differe...
Tags: Books, Featured, California, College, US, Blog, Atlanta, History, United States, Ferguson, Black, Social Sciences, Board of Education, Shaw, Cheyney, Wisconsin Minnesota

Why college reform will promote racial equality

I was very active politically in the 1960s, 70s, and the early 80s. Life became more difficult in the late 1980s with the arrival of a third child, and as I focused to publish enough to get tenure in a large Midwestern university. Today, as I look back on that time, I struggle with two perspectives about current anti-racist activism and about a continued anti-racist struggle in the academy. One of them is to believe that the current political reckoning over racism in the United States is differe...
Tags: Books, Featured, California, College, US, Blog, Atlanta, History, United States, Ferguson, Black, Social Sciences, Board of Education, Shaw, Cheyney, Wisconsin Minnesota

How understanding science can be made easy

When I was a teenager, I was awed by popular science writings. I was most affected by Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind, with its detailed and fascinating account of quantum mechanics and relativity. However, it was not an easy read and it gave only one perspective of these amazing theories.Some 30 years later one of my mentors has given me advice on what to tell my students when things get tough: “Science is hard.” He meant that doing good science is hard. You must be meticulous in your fo...
Tags: Books, Science, Featured, Fox, Spiderman, Roger Penrose, Science & Medicine, Learning Science, Goren Gordon

How we can understand ourselves through games

Games are a distinctive art form — one very different from the traditional arts. Game designers don’t just create an environment, or characters, or a story. They tell you who to be in the game. They set your basic abilities: whether you will run and jump, or move around your pieces geometrically, or bid and raise. And, most importantly, they tell you what your goals will be. By specifying the points and victory conditions, the designer sets the players’ core motivations in the game.This helps us...
Tags: Books, Featured, Philosophy, Super Mario Brothers, Arts & Humanities, Aesthetics, Thi Nguyen, Game Aesthetics, Human Agency, In Super Mario Brothers

India Cooper and the art of copyediting

The editor behind many of Oxford University Press USA’s highest profile titles was not a staff member. But is impossible to measure the significance of the impact she had on Oxford’s history, biography, and music lists. First hired as a freelance copy editor by OUP’s legendary managing editor, Leona Capeless, she became one of the most admired American copy editors, working for Oxford, Chicago University Press, and Macmillan, as well as other publishing houses, over the past thirty years.India C...
Tags: Books, Featured, India, New York City, Indiana, Chicago, United States, Hawaii, Oxford, Literature, Obituary, Macmillan, Denver, Cooper, Jackson Mississippi, Oxford University Press USA

Accepting uncertainty creates freedom

We all want to be in control.Our quest for control in the current atmosphere of fear has resulted in the hoarding of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks. In the illusion of control, we close our minds and our hearts to the possibility of the meaning we may discover during a time of crisis. Ironically, the very security we struggle to find becomes a wall that we build around ourselves, quarantined in terror. The most dangerous isolation is not the necessary reality of the precautions bei...
Tags: Books, Featured, Health & Medicine, Oncology, Uncertainty, End Of Life, Science & Medicine, Gerd Altmann, Psycho-oncology

The blunt edge of “knife”

The word knife came up in one of the recent comments. I have spent so much time discussing sharp objects (adz, ax, and sword) that one more will fit in quite naturally. The word that interests us today turned up in late Old English (cnīf) and is usually believed to be a borrowing of Old Norse knífr (both ī and í designate a long vowel, as in Modern Engl. knee). The word occurred in Old Frisian and Old Low (that is, northern) German in nearly identical or slightly different forms (for example, gn...
Tags: Books, Featured, Wikipedia, Language, Linguistics, English, Vikings, Samson, Fay, Occam, Wikimedia Commons, Philistines, Vennemann, ENGL, Oxford Etymologist, Anatoly Liberman

The 1968 riots and what Trump could learn from LBJ

The demonstrations that have spread across the country since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May unavoidably invite comparisons with the massive riots that occurred in more than one hundred cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on 4 April 1968. The most serious disturbances broke out in Washington, DC. They began a short time after King’s death, resumed with ferocious strength the next day, and continued with gradually diminishing intensity for nearly two weeks....
Tags: Books, Featured, Minneapolis, Washington, America, History, Army, Johnson, District Of Columbia, King, Martin Luther King Jr, Riot, Trump, 1968, American History, Marion

Art and theater after Stonewall [podcast]

As we’ve seen over recent weeks, direct action is sometimes necessary in order to exact social change. On June 28, 1969 in Greenwich Village, a bastion for New York City’s gay community, a riot broke out after police raided the popular Stonewall Inn. The demonstration became the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ movement in the United States; it immediately led to organizing and the formation of gay rights groups in New York City, and the first New York Pride march occurred on the anniversary of the...
Tags: Books, New York, Featured, Obama, New York City, America, Chicago, United States, Gay Rights, Lgbtq, Pride, Broadway Theater, Multimedia, Gay Pride, Stonewall, Social Sciences

Black lives matter in prisons too

Recent events have spotlighted the pervasive and historic problem of racial disparities in criminal justice treatment in the United States. Videos of people seeking to use the police for racial control as well as videos of black people being killed by police have sparked outrage across the nation, and the world. Much of the attention, understandably, has been on police reform. However, if America’s knee, literally and figuratively, is on the neck of black people, its prisons and jails have playe...
Tags: Books, Featured, Law, America, Blog, United States, Black Lives Matter, Sentencing Project, Black Lives Matter In Prisons Too, Criminology And Criminal Justice, PixabayThe post Black

How Buddhist monasteries were brought back from destruction

In Beijing in 1900, as the chaos of the Boxer Uprising raged on, a Buddhist monk arrived at Dafo Monastery, seeking master Datong to make him an offer. The visitor was abbot of Cihui Monastery and wanted to offer Cihui Monastery to Datong. Datong agreed, and he arrived at his new monastery to find it dilapidated and overgrown with weeds. Undeterred, Datong worked day and night to clean up the space, engaged in fundraising both in the city and back in his native region in the northeast of China, ...
Tags: Books, Featured, China, Religion, Beijing, Buddhism, Buddha, Buddhist, Datong, Arts & Humanities, Cultural Revolution, Gregory Scott, 9780190930721, Cihui Monastery, Dafo Monastery, Gregory Adam Scott

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