Ed's talk

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The death of Stephen Hawking

I first heard of Hawking's death last night on the TV and I found it shocking, even though Hawking was a long time survivor of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.) which generally kills its vicims much earlier than it killed him.

Despite his many years in a wheelchair and his severe physical limitations, he was the most famous physicist and scientific thinker of our time as, for example, Albert Einstein was of his.

And, appropriately as scientists, they both expressed skepticism concerning the existence of god, a skepticism which I share and which my parents also shared with me.

My utter lack of interest in the evangelist Billy Graham after his recent death stood in contrast to these more recent deaths, even with the persistent and puzzling attention to it played by the media.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Still another school shooting in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

It seems that Wikipedia that earlier gave more information on the suspected shooter Nikolas de Jesus Cruz.
 "At approximately 2:40 p.m. EST on February 14, 2018, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in the Miami metropolitan area. At least 17 people were killed and 14 others were hospitalized. The alleged shooter is in custody of the Broward County Sheriff's Office. He was taken to a local hospital before being incarcerated.[5] The mass shooting is among the deadliest in modern U.S. history.[6]"

Update: March 7th, 2018: It seems that this shooting has finally gotten some of our young people to respond wi†h their own "never again" reaction and I hope †hey will stick to their own guns (no pun intended!) and continue to oppose the NRA and the do-nothing pols in Congress who hope the whole thing goes away.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

further on the current sex scandals

My posting on WQXR is shown above but with a Wikipedia photo, for copyright reasons.

I can attest to the fact that Gelb initially tried to kill the story but couldn't. I can also say that the story is really quite an old one and has only become current due to other stories which persist on the internet involving Hollywood, starting with Harvey Weinstein, as well as the world of music, politics and other fields.

As victims, females have come first (the "Me-too movement") and here, our President himself who cannot keep his mouth shut if his life depends on it, has boasted about his successes with women especially on the "Access Hollywood" footage.

But males of all ages have also been victims, not only of Levine and Kevin Spacey but of religion as well and one can only hope that Pope Francis can eventually allow priests to marry a mature spouse of their gender choice. Nothing else will do!

It won't completely solve the problem but it ought to help!

E.G. from New York City

This is definitely no "witch hunt". 
Going back to the early years of Levine's tenure, many of us have been aware that the Met board has been buying the silence of the young victim's families by paying them off to remain silent as well as buying the silence of the police. 
Even most recently, Mr. Gelb seems to have tried initially to silence criticism of the Met's handling of the long-running scandal, having only given up that attempt after the drip, drip, drip of accusations became a torrent.
 It is time for the Met to act responsibly towards its public as well as its artists!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Le Nozze di Figaro from post-Levine Met

I had many reservations about this production of “Le Nozze di Figaro” including the unnecessary added visuals which included the servant girls “cleaning and setting up the stage” during the overture but, considering the many other  ”sins”, this may only have been a minor rather than a “cardinal “sin”!, (I have never liked the Met’s modernization of time periods, sets, costumes and attitudes.)

But I was impressed with the Met’s physical setup as I hadn’t been there in many years, and was very much taken with the revolving sets.

I thought the Count (the baritone Mariusz Kwiecień ) was underpowered (especially compared to the greatest exponent of the part, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau who unfortunately can no longer sing the part having died in 2012 ) but liked the Susannah of Sierra and especially the Countess of Ailyn Pérez. The Figaro (Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov) was just ok in the part. At one point (we were sitting close to the stage) he repeatedly shined his flashlight (!) directly into my eyes but I think he eventually spotted me and stopped shining it. (an example of my own audience participation?)

Maybe Marcellina (Katarina Leoson) could have been made up to look like the old crone she is supposed to be, as is necessary to the later plot developments. (Yes, I am now deliberately avoiding a major “spoiler”!)

Isabel Leonard was very satisfactory in the famous “trouser role” of the perpetually  lovesick Cherubino and handled the musical, acting and athletic demands of the role adeptly.

Where we sat, I felt that conductor Harry Bicket did overpower the smaller voices at times, but mostly kept the ensemble under control.

But, by and large, I don’t think we are living in the golden age of great voices!!!

Addendum, March 7th, 2018: After asking several more experienced opera-goers, I found that they mostly seem to think the best place to sit at the Met is towards the first row of the balcony even if these seats are not inexpensive. But I suppose that, in addition to avoiding Figaro's notorious flashlight,  one hears a bettter sound mixture and experiences fewer visual obstructions that seem inevitable while sitting in the orchestra seats.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Trump crime family

Trump was a somewhat unknown factor in this new administration but, having been president for several months, his abilities as well as their utter lack are now known by the whole world.

He has not been able to do anything right and, in some ways, this is fortunate. In other ways, his inability to keep his mouth shut has led to the inability of anyone to get full justice (Bowe Bergdahl for example). and has even led to many deaths ·note his utter mishandling of the Puerto Rican hurricane recovery in which his most memorable action was his throwing out of paper towels to the victims.

And note, as well, his cabinet which is partly made up of his family members and his administration's criminal connection to Russia and especially to Vlad the Impaler. (Putin) There is almost no exception to this  among his cabinet including Don Jr., Jared Kushner his son-in-law, as well as his Attorney general Jeff Sessions, Paul Manifort his campaign manager, now under indictment, and several others who have now turned state's evidence. (Popadopolous or whatever his name is!)

And I must add that with all the recent news about sexual abuse by actors and politicians, let us not forget the sexual abuse by Donald Trump our "esteemed" leader of the "free" world who has proudly boasted repeatedly about his own offences towards women over the years!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Trumps now; anyone guess!

The President’s sudden and unexpected decision to send Tomahawk missiles to a Syrian airfield as a response to Assad’s gassing of their population has been advertised as a humanitarian but measured response to send a message to Assad. (The damage to only one of the airstrips was apparently minimal.) This sudden action has had the result of making Trump finally look “Presidential” for the first time.

Donald’s “explanation” of this action which he read from a teleprompter, goes along with this view mentioning “God” more than once. The fact that the real Donald never gave any indication that he ever listened to any “god” other than himself or perhaps other members of his alt-right staff is totally contradicted here and the rather mild “responses” from Russia and others makes it seem to me that this was planned and deliberate rather than in any way “quixotic”!

Considering that Trump is under suspicion of having stolen the 2016 election with the help of at least one foreign power (see Putin), I have to think that this is further “help” from the same sources and I don’t think we should be “suckered” into this “explanation”!

I think this is an attempt to short-circuit and distract from any pending investigation much as Trump’s fact-free charge that he was wire-tapped by the Obama administration.

I’m not claiming that the preceding is now untrue but the “truth” is always changing with the Donalds and now the worsening relations between the Trumps and the Russians may be a fact or not. I think nobody now knows. Not even the Donalds!