Musings on Bad Faith in Politics

“Hypocrisy” and “cynicism” are two adjectives used to describe actions of Republicans, particularly when they supported Trump. I tend to think those two words are inadequate. I like bad faith better, but the meaning seems a little vague to me. In this thread, I want to flesh out the meaning and think about term, versus alternatives, when discussing the modern day GOP and their leader.

Looking for a Hard Disc Player to Store and Play my CDs.

I have a few thousand cds that I have downloaded onto my laptop, and I’ve done this several times, as I’ve had to replace laptops. To avoid this, I’ve been looking for a music player that has capacity to rip(?) all my cds. I’ve only found two or three such players (e.g., the Brennan B2). The problem is that some of them are pricey ($1,000 or more). The Brennan B2 is about $700, but it’s the only one in that price range. Are there other options? Or maybe there’s another approach I could take? For example, maybe I could download my cds onto a hard drive and connect that drive to something that will play the music. ? If you guys have any ideas, let me know.

2005 AFC Divisional Playoff: Steelers vs. Colts

I watched this game last night. Here are some thoughts and observations:

  • The Steelers defense dominated the Colts, especially in the first half. In much of the first half, the Colts didn’t run much, and when they did, they were ineffective. The Steelers got good pressure on Manning, and had a few sacks on him by the end of the game. But the combination of good coverage and some poor throws by Manning also played a role. It wasn’t until the end of the half that the Colts had a long drive. The run game (especially running to the left) helped the offense get going, but they still ended up with only 3 points for the entire half. (Marvin Harrison had only one catch for about 30 yards.)
  • The announcers said the Steelers ran the ball 59% of the time in the regular season, which surprised me. I knew they were more run-oriented, but that number seems really high. In any event, they came out passing the ball and Roethlisberger had some nice throws. In my view, the Colts were caught off guard. Having said that, Roethlisberger threw a pick while being tackled, and almost threw another pick later in the game.
  • In the second half, the Steelers went to the run game–a lot. Roethlisberger might have sustained an injury on a big hit, which may have been a reason for this. At the end of the 3rd, after the Steelers pinned the Colts on the Colts’ one yard line (nearly getting a safety), the Steelers ran the ball about for six plays and scored a TD. The Colts defense looked like a 4th quarter defense that was worn down and broken.
  • A huge play occurred in the 4th when the officials overturned a Manning INT to Polamalu. This occurred with about 5 minutes in the game with the score 21-10, Steelers. The Steelers would have had the ball in good field position. My sense was that the Steelers thought they won the game–as it really did look like an INT. When the game resumed, the Steelers defense looked shell-shocked, as the Colts fairly easily went down the field. (The Steelers D played a more conservative style, too–rushing only 3 or 4.)
  • The Steelers converted twice on 4th down in the 4th quarter to eat up the clock. These were big plays. The Steelers also got lucky because a false-start wasn’t called on one of these plays.
  • On the Colts final possession, the Steelers defense went back to being aggressive, and they sacked Manning to basically end the game.

One final note. In 2005, NFL offenses, utilizing spread offenses, hadn’t yet learned how to neutralizing blitzing, particularly from 3-4 defenses. In the last 10 years, I would say the 3-4 aggressive blitzing style has largely become obsolete, with some exceptions (e.g., Todd Bowles and I’ve seen Belichick and Flores use it effectively against some teams). To me, the Steelers defense has never adapted well to these changes. Their defenses from the 2010s have generally been mediocre or worse, although some of this has to do with their shift to a more aggressive passing offense. (During the last decade, even if the Steelers had a great regular season, my sense is that they had very little chance to win the Super Bowl–because they likely would have to face the Patriots. And the Patriots seemed to carve up their defense. In my view, Tomlin should have found a DC that could switch to the 4-3 or a 3-4 defense that could a more bend but don’t break style–defending the pass with coverage rather than relying on blitzing.)

Voter Fraud Vs. Voter Suppression

Voting and the integrity of our election are truly a critical part of our democracy, and the Democrats and Republicans have two competing narratives with regard to this topic. Democrats believe that Republicans want to suppress votes, particularly for people of color, as a primary way to gain or hold political power. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that voter fraud is a serious problem that poses a real threat to the integrity of our elections. Who’s right? That’s what I want to answer in this thread. Primarily, I want to collect evidence for both narratives. Now, I have already been reading about this topic, and let me say upfront that the evidence for voter fraud being a serious problem seems scant, while the evidence for voter suppression, in my view, seems far more compelling. Before I begin, I should acknowledge if one or both narratives proves true, they are legitimately serious problems–problems that would demand some corrective action.

Duplicating the Langley Music Project for Today

I read about the Langley Music School Project (LMSP) a few years ago from Signal to Noise, an obscure music magazine that I used to subscribe to. The LMSP was basically a 1979 recording of elementary aged students singing pop songs of the 70s. While the singing may not have been so great, I was surprised by how effective it could be, in spite of limited musical chops.

I ran across some of the recordings on youtube recently, and I thought this is the type of project I wouldn’t mind replicating now–except doing it with songs from the 80s or later. I’m going to use this thread to post some potential songs and the way I envision the kids performing it. But first, here’s a clip of one of the performances from the LMSP:

Here a few that may be more effective:

Great Recorded Solos in Jazz and Other Styles of Music

I was talking to a friend about music the other day, and a thought occurred to me: If he asked me for specific examples of a great jazz solos, I think I might have a hard time answering that. As a jazz fan, I’m a bit disappointed in this. I really have made a mental or physical catalog of great solos. But I thought I’d start doing that here. I will also expand this endeavor to include great solos, including non-improvised and from other styles of music.

Before I begin here are a few thoughts, off the top of my head, on what makes a great solo. I’m inclined to start by comparing jazz solos from solos often hear in pop and rock music. The former are akin to stories. If listeners don’t follow a story, from beginning, middle, to the end, then they won’t be able to appreciate it. The same is true for most jazz solos. Guitar or keyboard solos in pop/rock are rarely like that. Indeed, if listeners try to follow a story, they likely will end up disappointed, as there really isn’t much of a story there. My sense is that the solos mostly add rockin’ feeling to the music. Sometimes catchy riffs will be a part of the solo, which makes them enjoyable to listen to. I tend to think pop/rock solos that are stories or developed melodies is pretty rare. In summary, a great solo tells a good story or is well-developed melody–one that sounds good, but takes you somewhere. For the listener, such a solo is like starting at one point then going on an interesting journey and then arriving at another point or back at the start.

Swing (or a good groove) and the interplay between the musicians are two other important parts of a great solo in my opinion. Generally, musicians have to be in a good groove. (Maybe that’s not as true for ballads, though.) When this happens can feel a different type of energy elevating the music. Without this energy, the notes may be appropriate and even good, but the music will feel flat. My sense is that swinging depends on strong interplay between the musicians, where what each individual plays fits well with everyone else. I don’t think a music will swing or groove without this.

OK, I think that’s enough for now. The next time I come across a good solo or if I remember one, I’ll put down in this thread.

Is Everything Happening all the Time?

In the 90s I read an interview with Frank Zappa where he expressed the belief that “everything was happening all the time.” That is, time is almost illusory–there is no real past, present, or future. Or to be more precise, such states are primarily based on perspective of a sentient individual. Here are Zappa’s comments:

Oh, the other thing that you have to realize is time doesn’t start here and end over there. Everything happens all the time….The reason I can say that is time depends on the point from which you’re looking at it. It only appears that things are transpiring because we are here. If we were someplace else, they would not have transpired yet. If you could move your point of reference to the event taking place, you could change the way in which you perceive the event. So, if you could constantly change your location, you could live the idea that everything is happening all the time.

When I first read this, I could not grasp this idea. Now, I think I have a better understanding of it, especially the part about the way the past, present, and future seemed (wholly?) based on perspective. On the other hand, how can everything be happening all the time? How can an individual be born, become a teenager, adult, elderly and then die–at the same time?! Those events don’t seem dependent on perspective (or are they?). This is something I have yet to grasp. If anybody can help me understand this better, I’d love to hear from you.

Some Key Attributes of Childcare Workers Can’t be Taught

When I run a children’s program, I spend a lot of time looking for good staff. Specifically, I’m looking for traits and attributes that I believe really can’t be taught. One example is the desire to work with children, including the desire to see them do well and be happy–basically, a concern and love for children. I don’t think a person can work successfully with children without this. Another important trait is the ability to be alert and assertive when supervising children. To succeed at working with children in a class room setting, one has know be vigilant about what’s happening and then appropriately respond to inappropriate behavior. To be clear, this also includes knowing when to ignore certain behavior, effectively encouraging positive behavior, and acting in proactive ways to avoid inappropriate behavior (e.g., being well-organized and planned, among many other things). Some of this can be taught, but my sense is that the alertness and assertiveness that I have in mind is very difficult to teach. It seems linked to a person’s personality and desire and enjoyment of working with children (or people in general).

I’m curious to hear if you guys agree with me. Are these attributes critical for working successfully with children? Do you believe that these attributes largely can’t be taught or developed? If you believe they can be taught, what are some ways of teaching and training someone to develop these attributes?