Thursday, October 23, 2014

On Pupils And Students

I had thought that the words pupil and student were more or less interchangeable.  My feeling, maybe it was just a feeling? was that a pupil was someone who went to school, while a student was someone who studied.  But, meaning more or less the same thing.

I recall joking while I was in high school that I was more of a pupil than a student, because I did, indeed, go to school, but I never actually studied.

It is possible that I was correct in the American sense of the terms.  The English, however, seem to see more of a distinction, based on etymology.  My Oxford Concise defines a pupil as "one who is taught by another," and a student as "one who studies at secondary or higher education."  So there are elementary school pupils and high school and university students.  This because pupil is based in words that describe children.

There would be a certain rhythm to that.

The question was posed to me directly by a Thai friend.  They are full of questions like this.  "What is the difference between a pupil and a student?"

The two equivalent words in Thai are used in a more clear cut manner.  A "nak-rien" attends elementary school or high school, while a "nak-suksa" attends university.  "Rien" is the verb meaning to study; "suksa" has the broader meaning of learning, which implies more understanding.

I really learn a lot when I consider these sincere, relevant questions.  Thanks, guys! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Archie Sheep - Rufus (Swung His Face At Last To The Wind, Then His Neck ...

Usually my jazz favorites lists are filled with more melodic stuff, but I can get with the free sometimes.  About twenty years ago, almost twenty years, I bought a double record set of jazz sax cuts (used), a real mixed bag of tricks.  This was on there, and somehow it really connected for me.  I still love it.

When people ask me, "what kind of music do you like?" I really don't know what to tell them.  I'm all over the place.  So to provide an answer that is comforting and understandable I usually say something like, "if they had fun playing it, I have fun listening to it." 

I think that they had fun playing this.  Don't you agree? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Birthday U. S. Navy!

I just discovered on the Facebook that it's the birthday of the United States Navy.  Well congratulations!  That's a great outfit. 

I joined the Navy myself, during an actual war I might add, although I cannot claim to have made any success of my involvement.  I did get an Honorable Discharge at the end of my service, of which I am justifiably proud.

The Navy, people don't really understand what the Navy does.  Isn't it all so romantic and relatively easy?  Not always.

Did you know that twice as many sailors died at Guadalcanal than did Marines and Army soldiers combined?  There were four or five naval battles in the surrounding waters while the battle was going on, and push came to fucking shove too.  Many ships were blown up and sunk, many of our ships, and many ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy too.  That was a good outfit.  It was kind of a scandal that the Japanese did so well, but the reason was that they were very good.  The U.S. Navy did better as time wore on, and came out ahead at the end, but in the meantime something like 4,500 bluejackets got killed and a lot of good ships went down.  

Here's a great story:  on D-Day in Normandy, a sailor off a destroyed landing craft, carrying an M-1, approaches an army general and asks him how to work the thing.  The general shows him how.  The sailor walks off to join an impromptu fighting group.  "You know," he says, "I joined the Navy so I wouldn't have to do this sort of thing." 

I joined the Navy for just that reason myself.  But . . . et in Arcadia, ego. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

North Korean Spelling Etiquette

I've been getting the spelling of North Korean names all wrong.  It's got a unique rhythm to it.

It's actually "Kim Jong-un."  And then there's his full sister, "Kim Yo-jong."  He has a full brother too, "Kim Jong-chul." 

So wherever I have referred to Kim Jong Un, please read, "Kim Jong-un."

How typical is that?  I learn to adequately print the man's name only after he's probably dead. 

Best wishes to the next Kim!  Best of luck looking at things!  I hope it's the sister myself.  I hear that she's as svelte as the "current" Kim is chunky.   Looking at pictures of her looking at things would be funny and it might be, well, otherwise entertaining. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Walk On By by Laura Nyro

Things change over time, our minds change, our capabilities change.  Recall that 2,500 years ago some talented people routinely memorized the Iliad.  Try that today, I dare you. 

What has changed over the last thirty or forty years?  I don't know.  But everybody having a complete library in their pockets at all times, and access to the entire history of music at finger-tip level, I don't know, don't you think that it changes the game plan?  How different are these Millenniums anyway?  And in what ways?  

One woman and a piano forte, singing a very commercial pop song that she didn't even write.  I don't know, is it just me?  I'm impressed. 

Laura Nyro Sings "Save The Country"

Really, I make a considerable effort to avoid the kind of "my generation's music blows the fucking doors off your generation's music" bragging that I see too much of already.  I don't need to add to it. 

BUT . . . something like this cut, and Laura wrote and performed so many at this level or higher, from serendipity to pop hits to deep melodrama, doesn't it make you wonder where all of the WONDER has gone?  I feel the same about 'Trane, of course, where did the magic go?  There is a ton of great music around today, but where's the transcendence? 

And really, let's face it, my generation's music totally kicks your generation's music's ass. 

("Talkin' 'bout my generation!") 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Jesus Cult

For the record, I am not without love and respect for Mr. Jesus.  He was, to me, one of the great teachers.  His ideas had a large and progressive social justice component, and they were a great contribution to the development of peoples’ interior lives and their sense of themselves.   I love and respect him whether he was an individual or whether all that was done in his name was accomplished by committee.  It’s conceivable, you know, that he was the “Kodak” of prophets, a brand of sorts, a group effort.   Anyway, no disrespect to religious believers in general. 

I’m talking about a certain dark corner of Christianity.  We wonder a lot these days about a certain element in our electorate, the extreme element in the right-of-center of our politics.  It’s the Tea Partiers, the small government crowd, the anti-everythings.  It is said, and it sometimes seems, that there is a religious component to their attitudes. 

They do talk about God a lot, but the religion in them bears little resemblance to religion as it was known until recently. 

Theirs is the religion of the old tent revivals, the washed-in-the-blood-of-the-Lamb evangelical Christianity that was, and remains, largely non-sectarian and that has little or no actual theology and no real social justice component.  We all laughed at them up until 1970 or so, even members of more traditional Christian churches laughed at them.  They came across as a bunch of snake handling Hillbillies that failed to understand that there was more to religion than praising Jesus and speaking in tongues. 

Since 1970 they have somehow become respectable.  Government officials speak generously of them and repeat their catch phrases.  The media is afraid to offend their very delicate sensibilities.  Their professed “religion,” however, remains as ridiculous as it ever was.  Their version of Christianity consists entirely of having a “personal relationship with Jesus,” and tithing.  They are still led by the same kind of Elmer Gantry style Hell and Brimstone preachers that we can hear in the oldest radio and newsreel recordings.  Now though, the preachers are controlled by political puppet masters.  Now they are important because they vote, and because they are easily led. 

This is the Jesus Cult.  To call it a religion at all is a slander on all of the world’s genuine religions.  One must only “accept Jesus as (one’s) personal savior,” and tithe.  Even good deeds are eschewed, they are discounted to zero.  One must only praise Jesus and pay.  The attraction of this scam is that it greatly simplifies life.  It offers relief from the fear of death in particular, and from the confusion of reality in general.  Just pray, and pay, and you can spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. 

This cult is antithetical to science, intellectualism, progress, the truth, and even to religion itself.  It is a cult of hate and mischief.  The objects of hatred include academia, Islam, big cities, immigrants, evolution, various theories of the universe that they don't like, homosexuals, President Obama, women who get abortions or use contraceptives, minorities,  the New Deal, welfare, free thinking women, any free thinking person at all in fact, anyone who represents “the other,” and especially the government in Washington.  They are resolutely anti modern and totally reactionary; they are America’s Khmer Rouge. 

The mischief has spread like wildfire through Christian education, media coverage, and the encouragement of hypocritical politicians looking for votes. 

Look at polls that ask about evolution, the age of the earth, the existence of angels and the afterlife and the like, and you will see that many people answer the questions as though they were simple believers in biblical Christianity.  I say, “as though . . .” because I don’t think they really believe it, they just want to sound like “real Americans.”  I don’t blame them, sailing with the wind is easier than sailing against it.  But actually none of them, not even the zealots, believe the bible to the degree that they would actually conduct themselves on earth according to those principles and rules found in the Old Testament.  It’s a cliché to notice it at all, but very few of them have beards and they all eat shrimp.  There are vast lists of rules in the bible, in the Book of Leviticus and elsewhere.  The so-called Ten Commandments are actually only the beginning of a much longer list, and there are many such lists in the bible.  Never having read the bible themselves, they are told, and believe, that there is a code of Christian values in the bible, and they are told that they are following it.  It’s all about Jesus and the bible, we’re heaven bound!  And when you fall off the wagon, when you fornicate, when you break any of the many rules, there’s always Christian forgiveness.  Jesus loves you! 

That seems only to apply to cult members in good standing though.  The rest of us are going straight to Hell. Just ask anybody.  

This anachronistic pseudo-religion is a danger to social justice and to America itself.  Many Americans know that this is true; some even talk about it.  My voice is small, but I offer it here.