Angular Jig

We think of a fast Irish dance, with music in two triplet beats.  The tradition in Bach’s era was to compose a jig as the last movement of a suite or, in this case, a partita.   Bach may have composed it originally in 6, but decided there was more potential for rhythmic interest in duple meter.

If we expected a jig, we’re getting way more than we bargained for.  The piece is written as two fugues, the subject of the first half inverted to create the theme for the second half.  (The original, un-inverted form comes back just before the end of the second half, in stretto now against itself, or something reminiscent of itself.)

The theme feels angular and jagged.  Why?  It contains big leaps that simultaneously imply changes in harmony.  If the theme leaps an octave, that’s not disturbing to the ear, but the it’s hard for us to hear a single melody when it modulates and jumps at the same time, and does this more than once.  To our 20th century ears, it hangs together, but I wonder how Bach’s contemporaries might have heard it.

This is how he might have written it originally, reconstructed in 6:


Caitlin Has a Dream, Too

A door opened up in the sixties which was very quickly and violently slammed shut, and now there are independent flickerings all around the world of that strange, sacred light that still shines under the crack of that door. We still have the ability to open it up again. We’ve only got to want it enough.

If our society had simply been permitted to progress along its natural trajectory at a natural pace and to use the innovations that we’d discovered in a natural way, we would all be wide awake by now. The psychedelic revolution would have continued and matured and grown into adulthood instead of being murdered in its infancy, and our exponentially increasing ability to network and share information would have coupled with our mature consciousness to build a deeply awakened society that benefits every living creature on this planet. That would have happened, and it is only because of the unnatural interference of a very few deeply unwise people that we stayed locked in the matrix, now faced with the looming threat of near term human extinction.

Read more from Caitlin Johnstone

Etymology: Fucken Ducks

During World War II, Revolite developed an adhesive tape made from a rubber-based adhesive applied to a durable duck cloth backing. This tape resisted water and was used as sealing tape on some ammunition cases during that period. The name “duck tape” came both from the backing and from the waterproof qualities, associated with duck feathers.

Years later, duck tape became cheap and readily available, and it found hundreds of uses, among them sealing of ventilation ducts. Somewhere, someone assumed that “duck” was just a product of lazy diction, a bastardization of “duct tape” which must be its true name. Today, both terms are seen in print, but “duct” predominates about 7:1 over “duck”.

Image result for tape a duck

At least since the Victorian era, “fuck” was regarded as the most profane word in the English language, and was avoided in print and broadcast media, in public speech, and universally in well-bred society. Usage was confined to alienated outcast subcultures and the underclasses. The adjective “fucken” was inherited from the Olde English past participle, and its traditional connotation suggested degradation and subjugation. Many traditional insults in the English language degrade a man by implying that he is like a woman, and in that tradition, “fucken” meant “subjugated”, in the way that a man subjugates a woman.

But with the hippie movement beginning in the 1960s, standards of dress and behavior became more relaxed, taboos against sex and drugs were broken. The word “fucken” crept from the gutter into the respectable student classes. In the process, people mistook fucken for fuckin’, as in a slurred pronunciation of the present participle, dropping the last letter. People of the respectable classes unwittingly displayed their ignorance by enunciating the “g” for emphasis, flaunting the fact that “I’m not of the uneducated underclass, but I’m using this word to show how strongly I feel.” Today, “fucking” has displaced “fucken” almost completely among whites, less so among blacks.

In parallel, Western culture was changing. It’s no longer OK to be the oppressor, and to be the oppressed is not an insult. (This situation was described a hundred years earlier by Nietzsche [1887] before the transition was consummated, so to speak.) By today’s standards of political correctness, it is not cool to call someone a “faggot” or a “sissy”, but it is an insult to call someone a bully or an oppressor or a male chauvinist pig. Hence it is fortuitously appropriate that with the transition from fucken to fucking, the insulted person is no longer the fuckee, but the fucker.
(This essay was inspired by an incidence I read last night of a historical novel, accurate in many other respects, but in which the word “fucking” was quoted in dialog of a colored person of 1945. It was an anachronism. The word “fucking” came into the American lexicon only 25 years later.) This history has largely been forgotten, written over and misunderstood.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

In computer code, there is always a brute-force way to accomplish some logical task, thinking of the rules and the exceptions and the exceptions to the exceptions and writing them all out in gory detail. Then there’s the elegant way, when you have a stroke of insight that you don’t really need this tangle of if’s and else’s because there’s there’s an overarching, clean way to state all these cases with a single line of code. A programmer who inherits someone else’s legacy code—or revises his own—is always tempted to replace the former with the latter. We say to ourselves, “it will run faster”, but over the years the hardware has become so many millions of times faster that this can hardly matter. “It takes up less space” — yes, that it does, but computer memory has also become a million times cheaper than it wss in 1990. In the end, we do it because we can, because we’re proud of our work, and we want it to look elegant to Posterity, or to the next programmer assigned to spelunk through this maze of legacy code.

But the old, inelegant logic has the advantage that it has been used for 30 years, and it works, and we don’t really know all the ways that other code has adapted to its inelegance, and whether doing it the “right way” will cause new problems, when doing it the wrong way was causing none.  There is also the human psychological tendency to trust our present thinking, to trust that we are now seeing the situation more clearly than we did in the past.  In reality, it may be just as likely that my thinking is fuzzy today as that it was fuzzy ten years ago.

“Fuck-a-duck” came into the vocabulary only in recent decades, as an acknowledgment that “fuck” is no longer taboo, no longer even to be reserved for expression of extreme emotions, but could be playfully and casually deployed in common speech. The phrase means roughly the same as “I’ll be gosh darned,” and is traceable to the following variant on the nursery rhyme, “Row, row your boat”:

Fuck, fuck, fuck a duck.
Screw a kangaroo.
69 a porcupine.
Orgy at the zoo.

By the way: “Kangaroo” is the 13th sign of the Zodiac, as reported by the American Urban Dictionary.


Time stands still

Time stands still with gazing on her face,
stand still and gaze for minutes, houres and yeares, to her give place:
All other things shall change, but shee remaines the same,

till heavens changed have their course & time hath lost his name.
Cupid doth hover up and downe blinded with her faire eyes,
and fortune captive at her feete contem’d and conquerd lies.

When fortune, love, and time attend on
Her with my fortunes, love, and time, I honour will alone,
If bloudlesse envie say, dutie hath no desert.
Dutie replies that envie knowes her selfe his faithfull heart,
My setled vowes and spotlesse faith no fortune can remove,
Courage shall shew my inward faith, and faith shall trie my love.

Your calling

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to classical economic theory, he must justify his right to exist. living.

— Bucky Fuller was born this day in 1905

The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.

Scalable Cooperation

…To answer that question, we must start our journey at the MIT Media Lab, in an aptly named research group: Scalable Cooperation. This group studies how technologies—social media, the Internet, artificial intelligence—can empower cooperative human networks. The group’s heritage includes the scientists who solved DARPA’s Red Balloon Challenge in 2008, in which the United States government scattered 10 red weather balloons across the continental U.S., and instructed teams of researchers to locate them as fast as possible. The winning MIT team found all 10 balloons in just under nine hours using the virality of social media and an incentive structure that motivated people to recruit their friends. This result was a resounding success for crowdsourcing and the Internet at large, demonstrating that a collective of individuals, connected through technology, could together solve large-scale problems that no individual could solve alone.

Read more at Nautilus

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Ten Principles of Burning Man

Mom’s Work is Done

A ma mère

Je te souhaite un jour de velours,
d’iris, de lis et de pervenches,
un jour de feuilles et de branches,
un jour et puis un autre jour,

un jour de blés, un jour de vignes,
un jour de figues, de muscats,
un jour de raisins délicats,
un jour de colombes, de cygnes.

Je te souhaite un jour de diamant,
de saphir et de porcelaine,
un jour de lilas et de laine,
un jour de soie, ô ma maman,

et puis un autre jour encore,
léger, léger, un autre jour
jusqu’à la fin de mon amour,
une aurore et puis une aurore,

car mon amour pour toi, ma mère,
ne pourra se finir jamais
comme le frisson des ramées
comme le ciel, comme la mer…

Pierre GAMARRA est né ce jour il y a 100 ans

For Mom, for Anyone

I wish for you a velvet day,
soft irises, and periwinks,
a day of mischief and high jinks,
one day and then another day,

A day of wheat, a day of vines,
a day of figs and muscat grapes,
a day of soft, voluptuous shapes,
a day of cypresses and pines.

I wish for you a diamond day,
with gleaming gems and easy wealth,
full animate with blooming health,
a day of silk, for you, I pray.

As long as I have love to lend
light, effortless, another day
with time to wander, space to stray
erupting sunrise without end.

Like flowered meadows, summer’s calm,
spelunking never-ending caves
or years of rowing o’er the waves
this is my wish for you, my Mom.

— Pierre GAMARRA was born 100 years ago today
free translation by JJM

Agastache species