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Dawkins/”The Enemies of Reason:I” up at Google Video August 17, 2007

Posted by Peter Hornby in rationality, Science.
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Many people have been wondering if Richard Dawkins’ new British TV series “The Enemies of Reason” will make it to the USA.  The first of the two parts, subtitled “Slaves to Superstition”, broadcast on Channel 4 on Monday, August 13,  is now up on Google Video.

Thanks to Orac for the tip  Orac’s initial assessment : “a blistering attack on the irrationality that is so common in our society”.  Sounds wonderful.  Episode 2 – “The Irrational Health Service” will be shown next Monday, August 20.


Federal Reserve FAQs August 16, 2007

Posted by Peter Hornby in currentaffairs.
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As an engineer, I’ve been interested in several less-travelled aspects of the current financial crisis, mostly concerning the mechanics of how the banks and other authorities actually perform their various interventions.  You know the kind of thing -“the Fed have injected $38b of liquidity into the system”.  All well and good, but what exactly is “liquidity”, and how exactly do they go about injecting $38b of it into the system?

Via the indispensable Brad DeLong comes this reference to a FAQ put together by Steve Cecchetti, who is Professor of Global Finance at Brandeis and, as a former Executive Vice-President and Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, might be expected to have the answers.  He does.  Check it out.

It may not be much, but I call it home… August 9, 2007

Posted by Peter Hornby in laguna beach.
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I see that concierge.com has nominated Laguna Beach at #12 in its list of World’s Sexiest Beaches for 2007. 

One does one’s best.

Hugh Masekela in concert August 8, 2007

Posted by Peter Hornby in music.

For quite a few years now, Lorraine and I have been taking advantage of the concert program at The San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, here in Orange County, California.  The program is varied and always interesting.  Over the years we’ve seen

  • Kitka – a wonderful Bay Area-based women’s vocal group specializing in the unearthly folk music of Eastern Europe
  • The Laurel Canyon Ramblers – lovely bluegrass from a band of folk and country veterans
  • Fairport Convention – the acoustic trio with Simon Nicol, Chris Leslie and Ric Sanders
  • Old Blind Dogs – beautiful Scottish folk music
  • John Hammond – acoustic blues
  • Adrian Legg – absolutely unbelievable English guitarist

and many others.

The concerts are normally held outdoors, in the library courtyard, which is a great place to listen to music in the cool of the evening.  The normal ticket price is $10, which is pretty much unheard of nowadays.

The program is managed by Bob Slater, a man for whom the term “enthusiast” might have been invented.  Bob just loves this stuff, and he brings it to us so we can love it too.  Even Bob was close to speechless last Saturday as he introduced Hugh Masekela to the stage.  This was the biggest concert in the program’s history, by a man who’s been a giant of African music for over forty years, a man who was on the bill at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and who’s toured and recorded with all the great names of African music.

The concert didn’t disappoint.  Masekela is now 68 years old, but you wouldn’t think so to watch him on stage.  He’s totally absorbing to watch – strutting, shaking, constantly moving with his musicians. His singing voice is rough and compelling, but his flugelhorn is still as sweet and lyrical as it ever was.  The six-piece band behind him – guitar, keyboards, sax, bass, percussion and drums – is tight and loose, if that’s not too much of a contradiction.  They have the loping African rhythm effortlessly down, and, the way they play it, it may be the most infectious dance music you’ll ever hear.

I caught the first of the two concerts they played on Saturday.  It ran for an hour or so, during which the band ran through a representative sample of the music on the recent live 2-CD set Live at the Market Theater, recorded in Johannesburg.  The concert finished with a rousing version of “Ashiko” – also a highlight of the CD – which had everyone on their feet as Masekela drew the song’s call/response from the audience.  It was an evening I won’t soon forget

Next up –

  • Irish folk by Grada (September 1)
  • Scottish folk from Old Blind Dogs (September 8)
  • Zydeco from Geno Delafoose and French Rocking Boogie (September 15). 

Highly recommended.