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Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to BarkellWH

By the way, I read books too, though I usually add an hour or so of screen time per day reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Nikon users web page and the Foro; redddit once in a while, and a quick scan of Facebook to see what some of my friends may have gotten up to.

After Massie's gigantic biography of Peter the Great, I picked up a book by a friend, a pro classical guitarist in New York. Andrew died from anaphylactic shock, probably in response to a blood transfusion occasioned by surgery. He was dead for about three minutes, enough time to worry about brain damage. He was resuscitated, but his blood pressure, heart rate and other parameters were so unstable they feared he would die again. So they put him in a coma, but he didn't stabilize for nearly a week. The doctors thought he would probably die.

Andrew's wife Wendy was almost constantly at his bedside in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After days of grueling vigil while Andrew's condition gradually worsened, she was desperate. Andrew had loaded an iPod with some of his favorite music. His wife got permission from the medical staff to play some of the music to her unconscious mate.

Andrew's blood pressure and heart rate immediately stabilized. The next day they brought him out of the coma, and told him he didn't have cancer, as they had thought when they operated. He remembered vivid dreams from the coma, and he remembered hearing the music that Wendy played to him. He was sure it had saved his life. A couple of days after that he went home.

The first thing he did after he got home was to pick up his guitar. He could still play, though with difficulty. Then he found he had lost more than eight hours of memorized music. This devastating discovery was offset a little by finding he could still sight read.

He set to work learning to play again. But he still couldn't memorize. The brain's organ of memory is often one of the first to suffer damage due to insufficient oxygen.

After six months Andrew went back to ask to play in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Music had such a beneficial effect for him that he wanted play for the patients, as a way of giving something back. The hospital has a music therapy department. After interviewing Andrew, the Head said they would be glad to have him play. He still could not memorize, but sight read fluently, and showed up to play with folders full of sheet music.

Most of the book, "Waking the Spirit" (by Andrew Schulman) is about the remarkable benefits music can have for some of the sickest patients. Over and over again, Andrew has been able to supply the stimulus for stabilizing vital signs, restoring normal function to a misfiring brain after surgery, for improving the patient's mood and outlook, even for bringing the patient out of the potentially fatal depression and disorientation of dysphoria. Much of the rest of the book is Andrew recounting his conversations with medical experts as he explored the mechanisms of the measurable effects of music on people in the severest need of help.

The book is well written, lively, you meet several very interesting people among the patients and medical staff, and the bonus is that by playing for a few years in the hospital, Andrew regained his musical memory. He says it's better than ever now, and his friends tell him his playing is better than it was before he died.

We were privileged to see Andrew at his regular gig the first time he could play the accompaniment to one of Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras from memory. I'll never forget the smile on his face, when he motioned us to come over and whispered what he had just done.

I think most people would find the book not only entertaining and informative, but also uplifting.

After Andrew's book I finally got around to Perez-Reverte's "What We Become" ["El tango de la Guardia Vieja" in Spanish.] Over the course of a number of his books I have read, I think Perez-Reverte has gone from being a very good novelist to being a great one.

The leading character is Max Costa, an Argentinian who lives by his wits employed as a ballroom dancer aboard ocean liners in the 1920s, with the occasional opportunity for a lucrative jewel theft. He meets Mercedes "Mecha" Inzunza, the stunningly beautiful 20-something old-monied wife of a wealthy and famous Spanish composer. They are crossing the Atlantic on the way to Buenos Aires. The composer has decided to compose a tango, to show he can make something better than his friend and rival Ravel's famous Bolero.

Max is just the man to show them the cheap and occasionally dangerous bars and whore houses of the immigrant neighborhoods of 1920s Buenos Aires where he grew up, and where they still dance the tango the old way, not in the ironed-out prettified fashion of the upper class ballrooms of Europe.

The novel follows the relationship between Max and Mecha through occasional rare encounters, slightly kinky sex, and Max's professional escapades of unwelcome increasing risk, and escalating unwanted violence. The story is brought up to near the present day. Max, now 64 and feeling just about washed up, by chance encounters Mecha in Sorrento, and attempts one last caper, just for her.

Max is always as peaceful as the occasion allows him to be, never steals from anyone who can't afford it, and is always polite and friendly to the waiters, concierges, and tradesmen who ply the same sea in which he swims to search for a likely project.

The theme of the good hearted grifter was handled famously by a former resident of my town, William Sydney Porter, whose nom de plume was O. Henry. My children attended O. Henry Middle School, and there is a Porter Elementary School in town. But Porter's path in Austin didn't run altogether smoothly. Though he was popular socially, and fell in love and married, he left town under a cloud, accused of embezzlement while he worked as a bank teller.

Porter's form was the short story. His fame in this genre is still widely celebrated. But in the late 19th and early 20th century, though the good hearted grifter was a popular theme, sex and occasional violence were not. Perez-Reverte develops his themes at novelistic length and to great effect, with characters of real interest, whom I ended up liking immensely. Fiction is no more than a fifth of my reading, but I never miss a chance at Perez-Reverte.

Now I am on to Yuval Noah Harari's "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind." Harari is a professional historian, who teaches in Israel. He starts at the beginning, with the evolutionary emergence of the genus Homo. He writes with brilliance and humor. For example he discusses the "cognitive revolution," when anthropologists believe the social life of modern humans took a great leap forward. Most anthropologists believe it was due to an advance in the capabilities of language.

Harari says that the great virtue of human language is not just its ability to impart information about the world. Monkeys can say, "Look out, an eagle," or "there's a lion nearby." Monkeys can even lie, saying, "Look out, there's an eagle," only to snatch a piece of food while the other monkey looks up to find the eagle.

No, Harari says, the virtue of human language is that it can discuss things which never existed at all. You would never convince a chimpanzee to bring you a banana by promising him an endless supply of bananas after he died. Nor could you explain to him the legal fiction of the limited liability corporation, nor various tribal myths that allow humans to cooperate intricately, and on a far greater scale than the largest chimpanzee band.

You get the idea. I'm less than fifty pages into the book. It promises to be good. Harari is both very smart, and very funny.

Books are one of our greatest inventions.

But like many other great inventions, their very power can make them dangerous, as well as supremely useful and entertaining.

In the USA we largely leave the task of detecting dangerous books up to the individual. In China they don't think this is necessarily a good idea. Larisa points out that in Russia, writing a book seen as dangerous by Putin can get you killed. I like the freedom to choose. Once in a great while I wonder about other people, though. Here's hoping....

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 6 2016 4:48:09
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3247
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Perez-Reverte's "What We Become" has many interesting facets, but I especially liked how a championship chess match could be portrayed as such an ominous undertaking, with violence and, especially, betrayal. For me it brought together both Perez-Reverte's remarkable skill as a writer and an experience I had in the Philippines.

In 1978 I was assigned to the American Embassy in Manila, and a world championship chess tournament was held in Baguio between challenger, and dissident, Viktor Korchnoi and the Soviet-Sponsored Anatoly Karpov. I went to Baguio to attend two of the matches. They were exciting matches, and, of course, political implications were attached to the tournament. Karpov won the tournament, but it was an experience that I treasured, then and since.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 6 2016 11:24:36
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3247
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

Bill--I hope the hurricane doesn't treat you too badly in Savannah. Larisa is in Jacksonville, Florida and I am keeping a close eye on it.


Richard, you no doubt have been keeping up with the progress of Hurricane Matthew. Jacksonvill is being hit pretty hard, and a major storm surge is expected. Hope Larisa is out of harms' way, or if she was in it, that she has been evacuated to safer ground.

We suspended the military command staff exercise at Fort Stewart, near Savannah, yesterday afternoon and will not resume it until safe to do so, probably Sunday at the earliest, but it may be Monday. Meanwhile, I am hunkered down in my hotel waiting for it to hit our area in the early morning hours of Saturday. So far today we have some fairly heavy rain but not much wind. It is expected to get pretty rough overnight and into tomorrow. Between a good book and Turner Classic Movies on TV, I should survive a couple of days of heavy rain and wind without getting bored.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 7 2016 20:08:02
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to BarkellWH

Hi Bill-

Thanks for your concern.

On the Weather Channel about an hour and a half ago I saw water surging ashore and flooding inland at Jacksonville Beach, but an hour later there was video from 1st Street, one block back from the ocean, showing it relatively un-flooded.

Larisa is almost at the western shore of the Ortega River, a tributary of the much larger St. John, in downtown Jacksonville. This is about 14 miles inland from Jacksonville Beach and the ocean, more than 50 miles west of the closest approach of the eye wall and the strongest winds. Where she is the ground is about 12 feet above the river, and she is on the third floor of a building.

About half an hour ago I had a text message from her, saying she and Oreo the dog were safe and sound: no power outage, no building damage, no significant flooding.

But it was a close call! I hope you face no danger in Savannah.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 7 2016 22:54:41
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Oreo has a few friends over for a hurricane party:

RNJ



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 8 2016 0:32:16
 
Leñador

Posts: 5237
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Best wishes to your lady Richard!
My Mom and sister are outside Atlanta and they said just a lot of rain.

Oreo does not look thrilled with his new friends hahaha damn adorable.

_____________________________

\m/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 8 2016 1:13:56
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to estebanana

I have been a bit busy to keep up with this thread...........glancing at it, I hope all are safe. S.

_____________________________

https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 8 2016 12:07:01
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to BarkellWH

Bill-

Any word from Savannah? Hope you made it through OK.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 8 2016 23:05:56
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:


Andrew's wife Wendy was almost constantly at his bedside in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After days of grueling vigil while Andrew's condition gradually worsened, she was desperate. Andrew had loaded an iPod with some of his favorite music. His wife got permission from the medical staff to play some of the music to her unconscious mate.


I followed this story on a podcast radio show a few months ago. He was being interviewed by Terry Gross or someone like her.

_____________________________

https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 9 2016 2:18:35
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3247
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Richard--I'm OK in Savannah. Lots of power outages and downed trees and power lines. Our hotel lost power but regained it last night. Bacon and eggs for breakfast this morning. Hooray!

Exercise resumes this evening at 2000 hours, but probably will take awhile to get everything up and running.

Second Trump-Clinton debate (town hall meeting) this evening. Ugh! What a despiscable guy. He takes pride in his ignorance. Clinton is no prize, but at least she has a reasonable sense of where the U.S. national interest lies and how the system works. This election is one for the books.

Cheers,

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 9 2016 12:12:56
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to BarkellWH

Glad to hear you came through OK Bill.

As for the debate, since I feel like I'm not holding up traffic behind me, I will admit I am succumbing to the "rubber-necking at a highway accident" syndrome.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 9 2016 20:37:41
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

I just vomited on my shoes.

_____________________________

https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 10 2016 3:38:31
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1799
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana
I just vomited on my shoes.

I once vomitted from a hotel window late one night in China. Next morning our guide couldn't go for his morning jog because he woke to find his trainers coverred in vomit. I found him downstairs scrubbing away at them and all the poor guy could say to me was "I'm sorry. I'm sorry"

_____________________________

Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 10 2016 4:35:34
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Dudnote

quote:

I once vomitted from a hotel window late one night in China. Next morning our guide couldn't go for his morning jog because he woke to find his trainers coverred in vomit. I found him downstairs scrubbing away at them and all the poor guy could say to me was "I'm sorry. I'm sorry"


Only once? I've vomited in several Chinese hotel rooms and off the balconies. I vomited under a table in Ningbo in a restaurant, and off the side of Huang Shan in Anhui province. And only once was it do to bad food.
By the time I left they called me Old Uncle Vomit.
Got his shoes? Good shot.

The third night I was in my dorm at the school we packed the bath tub with ice and installed 24 one liter bottles of fresh Tsing Tao in the ice and called the Chinese kids over who lived in the Chinese nationals dorms. The next day the foreign office bugged our room. That is when the fun began. Evading our handlers became our sport.

Once they figured out we were going to escape for the weekend and travel unaccompanied on a bus line to a 7th century monastery I wanted to see. They tried to catch us in a mini van and they posed as a bus line who could get us there faster. We were duped, but after about 6 blocks I figured it out and I opened the slider door and said I will jump out at full speed unless they let us go. They refused and my two companions joined me near the door as we screamed at them we would ruin them by killing ourselves in their care. We thought it hilarious, which it was, and the driver slowed down and we disembarked. We ran across a wide busy street picking our way through cars and the mini van captors were then stuck on a course they could not turn from. Running back to the depot we boarded our Chicken Bus just as it was leaving the station.

The bus ride was an awakening for all three of us- I should tell that tale sometime, we became trapped in a much different way, but a way we each had to work out for ourselves. We all reached the same conclusion at the same time and had a kind of kensho moment. And that was just the bus ride. We had our weekend at the monastery, I studied the architecture and we went back to school late Sunday night. Our American group leader came into our room and yelled at us, knowing our room was bugged. He said this is a school not your Dogammed summer vacation, you'll not do that again! Then motioned for us to come have a beer somewhere else. He said I sure wish I could have gone with you and then asked what we did. He was kind of proud of us. He as not mad at all.

It got ramped up after that, we would plot a getaway and plan it out in our room but then carry out a totally different plan, to set them off our course. That worked once, then they gave us an undercover detail to follow us around, that was harder to shake, but not impossible. The strategy turned to outrageous things you could do in plain sight. So we pooled a few bucks together and stirred up a convoy of Chinese undergrads living on tight school stipends and took the to an expensive disco down town, about 30 kids as a bicycle gang toured the streets. we bought the tickets in a kiosk in front of the disco and the attendant was pissed at us for bringing common kinds to the disco, we said Oh here have extra money and be quiet.

The foreign office hated us. But one official kind of smirked at us, like you think you're so slick......then they took our air conditioner out to be fixed, it was not broken. We had to atone for our sins and be good for one week. Being good meant getting drunk on our Tsing Tao bathtub beer, replenished everyday and not getting Chinese kids drunk. We had to receive a group d kids in our dorm for cultural inter change and sing Carpenters songs for a few hours. We ended up taking them to the disco again. And a black marketeer, hussy, woman who was young infiltrated the ranks of the students posing as one and crashed the dorm meeting. Scandal unfolded over the next month due to her presence and dating of a rather corpulent older member of the American students class.

I got the air conditioner back by going with our class head and eating some humble pie in the prez' office, they would never have dared do anything to us that we would report back as a negative to the next years class in the US. They needed or wanted our money, and we were to them fat chickens that needed to be plucked of cash. We actually studied too, very diligently.

_____________________________

https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 10 2016 12:53:35
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to estebanana

Wow.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 10 2016 18:19:57
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1799
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana
we packed the bath tub with ice and installed 24 one liter bottles of fresh Tsing Tao in the ice and called the Chinese kids over

Ole Stephan!!! Great stories.

_____________________________

Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 11 2016 3:03:20
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Oh, I've got more of that.

Its gets better and better especially the part about the black market girl. We exchanged money on the dark market too, we did not use the FEC money we used renmenbi- Our dorm room chef was a gangster who provided us with RMB and he had a back story, he sauntered into the dining hall after lunch and said who needs money? Then out came the US Dollars and we exchanged right there on the table was he walked around to each person. Highly illegal.

He was a kind man however, he rescued country girls who would got tricked into coming into the city and gave them jobs in the kitchen or placed them in other real jobs around town. His girlfriend was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She dressed in silk clothing everyday. I gawked, honestly, but he did not hold a grudge because he was like I know right?- it's impossible not to look at her. He found her at the train station and took her home. Or vice versa....

My China was filled with petty bureaucrats , soft hearted gangsters, my first encounter with a real working live steam engine and so many other things. The ubiquitous tea thermos-I was netted by culture, both trapped and willing to be hauled in. The vanilla treachery of the foreign office was a sideshow to keep us occupied with mischief. My cohorts in trickery are now a philosophy teacher at a good and proper New England college and the other in the film industry in Holland. They were lovers at the time and the three of us shared a dorm room, well she was always there, because....and I just rolled over and put a pillow over my head.

I asked our American student lead what the foreign office thought of us. He said they think you are a Christian sex cult.

_____________________________

https://www.stephenfaulkguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 11 2016 3:34:50
 
Leñador

Posts: 5237
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Atwood, Musk and Kurzweil walk i... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Ole, you gotta put a book together Stephen. Very entertaining and easy to read.

_____________________________

\m/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 11 2016 14:14:57
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