Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An Amazing Attic Has Harvard


- TAPPING OUR MUSICAL MUSCLE MEMORY - Two new television shows attempt to tap a mutant strain of American Idol fever as regular citizens compete to demonstrate knowledge of pop lyrics - singing in public required. Review generally positive on both Singing Bee and Don't Forget the Lyrics, although some ambivalence on whether the shows are camp or just plain fun. For years I have tortured my family by singing along to the radio on long car rides, often improvising malaprop lyrics. At my worst I have done this in the presence of non-family guests, leaving my children with permanent scars of embarrassment. At least one night of each show will be a must watch for As Good As News - may work as shock therapy to end car singing habit, at the very least should improve knowledge of lyrics. Based on the photo, Singing Bee seems to be recycling, possibly environmentally conscientious, possibly on very limited budget, also amazing that the dancer's outfits from Hullabaloo were still in storage. -----------------------------------------------------------------
-HARVARD'S COSMOS - For only $5 Million you can put your name on a digitized collection of astronomical observations, scanned from photographic plates created across 118 years and four continents. The scanner to convert photographic plates to computer memory required custom design for both hardware and software, but it is ready, all it takes is money and we can have the world's first time domain catalog - the night sky over more than a century with views from both Southern and Northern hemispheres - As Good As News sponsors The Stars Come Out At Night? Sorry, do not have spare $5 Million right now, try me next week after power ball drawing. The photo of the cupboards at the Harvard Observatory reminded me of the rows of specimen lockers I saw on a recent visit to the Harvard Herbaria offices. These plants were collected over centuries from every continent, and the specimens are already moving to digital as the actual plants are placed on the scanner. The "hard copy" libraries at the Herbaria are also extensive, I was lucky enough to get an up-close look at an illustrated plant compendium that was one of the first 50 books ever printed. Some thoughts for future study: 1. An amazing attic has Harvard; 2. What a revolution when this stuff goes digital - scientists all over the world get access to data that can now be organized and manipulated with ease; 3. The old originals, photo plates, illustrations in printed volumes, even pressed plants with diary entries - feel like art, soon to be a forgotten art. ------------------------------------------------------------------
- AS WAR ENTERS CLASSROOMS, FEAR GRIPS AFGHANS - Drive by shooting targets schoolgirls as the Taliban makes war on education in Afghanistan. These are the same Taliban who provided a home to Osama Bin Laden. They still believe the only way to practice Islam is to live in the stone age. They aren't happy to start a commune in the mountains, they insist that the rest of the world join them in the stone age and they will go to any lengths to achieve this. Those who were around in the early 60's will remember that Barry Goldwater had a very direct approach for getting North Vietnam back to the stone age, might work for Taliban. Cheney-Rove-W regime should have finished the job in Afghanistan before getting preoccupied with Saddam Hussein.


1 comment:

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