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Sunday: February 11, 2007


Filed under: — site admin @ 11:08 PM UTC

I’ve never been much of a food-blogger or reader of food-blogs, but Scott Burgess of The Daily Ablution deserves a Ph.D. in Gumbology for this post. He provides several photos of ingredient-shopping before getting down to his detailed and fully-illustrated account of actually cooking the stuff.

Good/Bad Puns

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:02 PM UTC

Two businesses I’ve driven by in Raleigh:

  • A Chinese restaurant named Hard Wok Buffet.
  • An auto repair shop named Otto’s Autos.


Filed under: — site admin @ 10:48 PM UTC

Within five years, Muslim groups will be demanding that Mexico rename four towns and the Cuernavaca airport, all of which have ‘Matamoros’ as part or all of their names. The word means ‘Moor killer’ or ‘slayer of Muslims’. I don’t know whether Matamoras, Pennsylvania is supposed to mean ‘killer of female Moors’ or just indicates that the founders of the town couldn’t spell, but either way it is likely to be challenged as well.

A Win-Win-Win Situation?

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:40 PM UTC

Viking Pundit quotes an Afghan mullah:

Music is not banned in Islam but to get enjoyment from music is banned.

The West has long suffered from an overabundance of certain unlovely genres of music: twelve-tone, bitonal, microtonal, minimalist, electronic, some other kinds whose very names escape me — ask a Professor of Music Theory at your local university. Perhaps we can ship all our Stockhausen and Cage and Boulez CDs to the Muslim world. Pop music is generally popular only if some segment of the population derives enjoyment from it, but there are still a few artists on the non-classical side who can be counted on to repel just about everyone: Yoko Ono, of course, perhaps Cecil Taylor. I’m sure others will have better suggestions. I dimly recall from my brief stint working in a record store in 1975-76 a jazz group called the Revolutionary Trio that featured a violinist who played lots of double-stopped tritones.

What about the third ‘Win’ in my title?

Random Jottings and other sites have reported that the Society of Ethnomusicology has issued a statement opposing the use of music to torture prisoners. Would playing beautiful music to a follower of the Afghan mullah quoted above constitute torture? Would a Muslim who enjoyed listening to music be endangering his immortal soul? Should we therefore threaten recalcitrant prisoners with Schubert impromptus and Strauss waltzes and Haydn quartets, or would that be too beastly even for the vile Bush regime? Would playing Palestrina and Gregorian Chant and Bach cantatas be even viler, since the music is explicitly Christian? What if the prisoner begins to hum along? Would that damn his soul to Muslim Hell?

If the Afghan mullah is correct, Stockhausen would not be torture, but Bach would be. Cultural sensitivity turns out to be a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.

Is Spanish Necessary?

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:08 PM UTC

In a tirade on the uselessness of Spanish for high school and middle school students, John Derbyshire writes:

No offense to anyone, but Spain was always a bit of an outlier of Western Civ. Name a Spanish mathematician; hum a tune from a Spanish opera; etc., etc.

I don’t know that I could, but many opera lovers could certainly hum one tune from a Spanish opera. In the Act II finale of Don Giovanni, Mozart has the band play a tune from the previous year’s big hit, and the Don himself says ‘Ah! Una Cosa Rara.’ The composer, Vicente Martín y Soler, died 201 years ago today. I would dearly love to see a live or DVD performance of one of his operas. Una Cosa Rara and La Capricciosa Corretta sound wonderful to my untutored ears, but I’ve never found it easy to follow a comic plot by ear. Of course Derbyshire could object that the Spaniard Martín y Soler only won fame by leaving Spain and setting Italian and Russian librettos. (He died in St. Petersburg.)

Later in his post, Derbyshire recommends Latin and misquotes Catullus as writing Da me basia mille, deinde centum. That should be Da mi, where mi is the shortened form of dative mihi. Whether we take me as accusative or ablative, Da me basia mille is gibberish.