Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Special Music of the Week: Thelonious Monk - Live in '66

Today deserves a song or two.

Thelonious Monk's television performances taped in Oslo and Copenhagen in 1966.
with Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone
Larry Gales on bass
Ben Riley on drums

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

BRBIII v. I.C. Wiley, c. 1977

Black: I.C. (Issac Cyrus) Wiley
Opening: ELO A01 - Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack

1.P-QN3 N-KB3 2.B-N2 P-Q4 3.P-K3 B-B4 4.N-KB3 N/1-Q2 5.B-N5 P-K3 6.0-0 B-Q3 7.R-K1 0-0 8.P-KR3 P-QR3 9.B-K2 N-K5 10.P-Q3 N-N4

11.NxN QxN 12.B-N4 BxB 13.QxB QxQ 14.PxQ N-K4 15.P-N5 P-QB4 16.N-Q2 P-N4 17.R/R-Q1 N-B3 18.P-R3 R/R-N1 19.P-N3 R/B-Q1 20.K-N2 P-QR4

21.R-QN1 B-B2 22.R-KR1 R-N2 23.P-K4 N-Q5 24.BxN PxB 25.R/R-K1 PxP 26.RxP R-Q4 27.N-B3 B-N3 28.P-R4 R-B2 29.R-N2 P-N5 30.R-K5 R/2-Q2

31.R-N1 B-B2 32.RxR RxR 33.K-R3 K-R1 34.R-K1 K-N1 35.R-K4 B-N3 36.R-K5 RxR 37.NxR P-B3 38.PxP PxP 39.N-B4 B-B2 40.K-R4 K-B2

41.K-N4 K-N3 42.P-B4 P-R4+ 43.K-R4 K-R3 44.N-Q2 B-Q1 45.N-B3 B-N3 46.K-R3 K-R2 47.K-R4 K-R3 48.K-R3 K-R2

Draw Agreed ½-½

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Music of the Week: Carla Bley Reactionary Tango #1

Jazz Jamboree Warsaw/Poland, 24th October [1981]

Carla Bley - Piano
Steve Swallow - Bass
Arturo O'Farrell - Piano, Organ
Dee Sharp - Drums
Earl Mackintyre - Tuba
Gary Valente - Trombone
Vicent Chancey - French Horn
Steve Slagle - Alto Sax
Tony Dagradi - Tenor Sax
Michael Mantler - Trumpet

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Louis Agassiz and the Timetree of Life

There is a resemblance between the representation of Natural History by Louis Agassiz and the Timetree of Life. Of course, there is a vast gulf that separates them. Agassiz comes at the end of the era of dominance of Natural History and of polygenism, the scientific theory that the "races" constitute separate species. Agassiz was a proponent of polygenism and one of the most powerful critics of Darwin. It is difficult to see, but at the apex of his representation is a crown that rests atop the entry for Man. in the center are the four elements and an indistinguishable mass (God). In the Timetree, the Earth is at the center of the table and humans are just one small line in a vast natural world. One can actually see the decentering of humans accomplished by Darwin's work.

The Timetree of Life.
Stephen Jay Gould had a nice little "unpopular" essay on this topic "Cones and Ladders: Constraining Evolution by Canonical Icons." Gould mentions too the enduring influence of Ernst Haeckel's Tree of Life ---which is topped by "Menschen"--- on the common understanding of nature. Gould also held the Louis Agassiz chair at Harvard. While writing his "Mismeasure of Man," Gould found in the Agassiz archive the full text of a letter from Agassiz to his mother in which he described is first encounter with Negros. In 1846 Agassiz had arrived in the United States a noted Naturalist and needing to avoid some debts back in Europe. He immediately traveled to Philadelphia to meet Dr. Samuel G. Morton. Morton was the leading scientific proponent of polygenism and had amassed one of the largest crania collections in the world. Gould spent a great deal of time replicating Morton's experiments measuring their cranial capacity.
This is the text of Agassiz's letter to his mother as first published by Gould:

It was in Philadelphia that I first found myself in prolonged contact with Negroes; all the domestics in my hotel were men of color. I can scarcely express to you the painful impression that I received, especially since the feeling that they inspired in me is contrary to all our ideas about the confraternity of the human type [genre] and the unique origin of our species. But truth before all. Nevertheless, I experienced pity at the sight of this degraded and degenerate race, and their lot inspired compassion in me in thinking that they are really men. Nonetheless, it is impossible for me to reprocess the feeling that they are not of the same blood as us. In seeing their black faces with their thick lips and grimacing teeth, the wool on their head, their bent knees, their elongated hands, their large curved nails, and especially the livid color of the palm of their hands, I could not take my eyes off their face in order to tell them to stay far away. And when they advanced that hideous hand towards my plate in order to serve me, I wished I were able to depart in order to eat a piece of bread elsewhere, rather than dine with such service. What unhappiness for the white race---to have tied their existence so closely with that of Negroes in certain countries! God preserve us from such contact!

It was during this time that Agassiz met Samuel Morton, whom Agassiz recognized immediately as a scholar who was “after Georges Cuvier... the only zoologist who had any influence on his mind and scientific opinions.”

Haeckel's Tree of Life

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Electron microscope view of Ant (with zoom)

From the New Scientist "Short Sharp Science" blog
If you like ants, this will give hours of fun viewing. It might even be good for doing a bit of invertebrate zoology as well. I have sadly have not had an ant "farm" in many years. I once had one that was made from a tall window, about 5 feet tall, three inches wide, and 1 1/2 feet across. It was great but the thought that several thousands ants were living in my room really annoyed my house-mates at the time. Of course, it was great and I might build a new one sometime in the future.

Music of the Week: The Orchestra Baobab

The music of the week this time is the Orchestra Baobab, which was the house band of the Cafe Baobab in Dakar. Their cosmopolitan blend of music and vocals was way ahead and their influence can be heard in the late Talking Heads. It also went directly against the trend towards identity and separatist music that was to become the dominant style. So in part because of the political situation they broke up for a long period but reunited at the turn of the century.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Timetree of Life

The Timetree of Life is available online now. It allows one to trace the known evolution of species as well as calculate the time of divergence of two species. There is a companion book as well. See also the Encyclopedia of Life.
This is the description from the Timetree web site:

TimeTree is a public knowledge-base for information on the evolutionary timescale of life. A search utility allows exploration of the thousands of divergence times among organisms in the published literature. A tree-based (hierarchical) system is used to identify all published molecular time estimates bearing on the divergence of two chosen taxa, such as species, compute summary statistics, and present the results. Names of two taxa to be compared are entered in the search window and the results are presented on a separate page. Alternatively the last name of an author is entered to find divergence times published by that person. For those interested in published summaries of relationships and divergence times of major groups of organisms (family level and above), see the authoritative synthesis The Timetree of Life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Music of the Week: Glenn Gould --- Webern Variations for Piano, opus 27

Glenn Gould plays Anton Webern's Variations for Piano, opus 27.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Music of the Week: The John Coltrane Quartet with Eric Dolphy

The musical selection of the week The John Coltrane Quartet with Eric Dolphy preforming "Impressions"

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