This will blow the mind of even the best engineer.

This for you scientists, engineers, math types...or folks with good minds.  I watched it several times, and must be missing something.

This antique machine plays three violins at once ... Beautifully!

This machine is called the Hupfeld Phonoliszt Violina and uses a complex automated mechanism to play three violins and a piano at the same time. We cannot stop watching it.

This violin player was included in the 1910 World’s Exhibition in Brussels and it’s been lovingly restored to its original glory by Dutch restorer Fred Bernouw.

A circular rotating bow made of 1,300 threads of horse hair produces the sound from the three violins, while keys – powered by small bellows – press down on the finger boards to change the notes produced.

It was made in Germany by Ludwig Hupfeld and the Hupfeld company also made automatic pianos, piano rolls and these machines, known as orchestrions.

According to Antique HQ, the company “sold this type of instrument for 20 years without any competitors”. Given the complexity of this machine, it’s easy to see why.

It can even do vibrato – clearly heard on this Chopin recording:

Un-Civil War between Our Two Americas by Kenneth Atchity

Walls we don’t see are often stronger than walls we see. Election after election, the blue-red map clearly shows these United States of America are united by fable only, and in nearly every other way really are two Americas.

Rejiggering the Electoral College won’t alleviate the situation because (a) the Electors actually serve an important purpose, as long as the country is configured the way it currently is; and (b) neither Party can achieve the reconfiguration: the Party in power will not allow it, and the opposing Party won’t have the votes to make it happen. Anyway it won’t solve the deep schizophrenia manifest in the concept of a single America, one perhaps so endemic that the founding fathers were also struggling with it.

Conservative America

Today the walls are pretty well-defined. “Conservative America” is by far the bulk of the American land mass. It extends from Florida north to North Carolina and west to the border of California (with the quirky up jutting of New Mexico and Colorado). It includes the entire South and Midwest, and Alaska.

Conservative America is the land of apple pie, of lawn and porch flags, picnics in the park, Christian churches disseminating not only platitudes but also attitudes that hold society together focused firmly on the past and therefore worshiping old-fashioned conservative values, homogeneity —and fierce nostalgia for the way things were and are supposed to remain. Hospitality yes, tolerance not so much. Feminism is viewed with alarm, and the “right to life” outweighs a woman’s right to choose and control her body and her future. Though diversity has made fiscal inroads in nearly every state of Conservative America, it has not found a permanent place in the minds and hearts of the folks, mostly white, in control. Conservative America is the birthplace and habitat of the Tea Party and of the right to bear arms at all times.

I was born in one Conservative American state, Louisiana, and raised through high school in another, Missouri. The population of the thirty states that comprise Conservative America is around 100,000,000, or 1/3 of the whole. Conservative America, because it occupies more States, has more Electors.

Progressive America

Since I drove away to college at Georgetown in D.C. at the age of seventeen I’ve lived in Progressive America ever since: Connecticut, California, and New York. Progressive America occupies the entire Pacific coast from California, with Hawaii by extension—to Washington, and the blue islands of Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico surrounded by the red sea; on the northern border, Illinois and Minnesota; and, on the Atlantic, north from Virginia to Maine and west through Pennsylvania. You might argue that Progressive American is synonymous with urban America, and Conservative America with rural America. But it’s not quite that simple.

If Conservative America is the land of hard-headed practicality, Progressive America welcomes dreamers, many of them immigrants from Conservative America, and many of whose dreams seem to come true—and shape the world’s future. It’s La La Land vs. Hell or High Water.

Progressive America salutes the American flag and truly loves the idea of America; but it can also applaud turning that flag into panties, bras, and protest banners. The Progressive idea of America embraces the future, which it honors with hope and belief in the genius of the individual; diversity. It’s the land of civil rights most widely defined; of gun control; of visionary education, its leading universities including UCLA, Berkeley, and Stanford, Northwestern not to mention Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton; and of people who worry about global warming and try to do something about it.

Progressive America isn’t afraid of the word socialism because it’s understood to mean people showing their gratitude for abundance and their respect for others by making sure all citizens have an acceptable and meaningful life. While Conservative America fears immigration as a threat to its conservatism, Progressive America embraces immigrants as the defining reality of its concept of America, “land of immigrants.” The statue of liberty guards its coast and its citizens still adhere to Emma Lazarus’ verse:

…From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Roughly two-thirds of the United States’ population, around 200 million people, live within Progressive America—2/3 of the whole.

The Dangers of Division

In each America live citizens whose hearts yearn, secretly or not, for the other America. Their exile is allowed, if they can bear it. If they can’t, they’re still free to cross from one America to the other.

Loquacious citizens of both Americas have hearts and minds that feel and think their views are superior to those of the other America. But most would agree there’s room on the continent for both Americas. Each is free to visit the other, as though we were the American Common Market.

Should we formalize the reality we all recognize and restructure things a bit so that Californians and New Yorkers, the leading states of Progressive America, can elect their own President to push their liberal, even socialist, agendas? Elections held in Conservative America would allow their President to maintain the conservative standard. Between the two Americas, trade would be arranged to advance the fraternal needs of both citizenries. Respect and civility would grow from the integrity of each America, to replace the hatred now streaming between them because of the deeply-held and media-reinforced belief on both parts that the “other America” is either evil or insane—or both. We could talk to each other instead of imitating the shouting mode of

I, for one, love both Americas, and would hate to lose either, or see violence between them extend from words to bullets.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, raz, Iran [via Nina Reznick]

The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, located in Shiraz, Iran, is truly an artistic master piece. Even more amazing than the intricate designs is what happens every morning when the rays of the rising sun hit the mosque. Every morning as sunlight passes through the windows of the mosque, the interior is transformed into an ocean of colors. This is something you have to see to believe. Work on the mosque began in 1876 and took 12 years to complete. The designers were Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi.


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Grace Slick’s “White Rabbit” Vocal Track Surfaces, And It’s The Greatest Thing You’ll Hear All Day

“One Pill Makes You Larger, And One Pill Makes You Small…” One of the first female rockstars to come out of the San Francisco counterculture that was the 1960s, Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick is also known for that powerhouse voice – responsible for classics like ‘Somebody To Love,’ and ‘White Rabbit’. At a time when studio production was limited and live concerts were almost always dominated by an incredibly loud band in direct competition with an even louder audience, it made it difficult to fully appreciate voices like Slick’s; but it’s in this isolated vocal track from ‘White Rabbit’ that we’re able to finally concentrate on the star of the song – Grace!

[via Nina Reznick]

Kasha-Katuwe, NM  12/27/16

before we rush into this new year
perhaps we can see what solutions are 'unmasked’

                        You do not need to leave your room.
                        Remain sitting at your table and listen.
                        Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary.
                        The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked,
                        it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
                                                                                    Franz Kafka

How Donald Trump Changed Yale

According to some observers, the university announced it would update the name of Calhoun College to appease its liberal community members and distance itself from the president.

Over the weekend, Yale President Peter Salovey announced that the university will give Calhoun College, dedicated to the white supremacist and fervent slavery supporter John Calhoun, a new name: Hopper College, after the renowned computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper.

In the fall of 2015, Yale and other universities came under significant pressure to do what Yale has done this week: erase (or at least minimize) the legacies on campus of overtly racist figures. Back then, Yale, Princeton, and others refused to concede to most student and faculty demands. In a statement he made last April, Salovey said it was Yale’s “obligation” to retain Calhoun College’s original name, as it allowed students to confront the legacy of slavery.

So what changed?

Over the course of his campaign, Donald Trump disparaged political correctness. He mocked students’ demands for safe spaces and trigger warnings. In this way, when they decided against changing the names of certain campus buildings and landmarks, administrators at places like Yale and Princeton arguably sided with him.

Then Trump won the election. Since November, colleges and universities have been jockeying to issue resounding statements against Trump and safeguard their reputations as progressive institutions. Even though Yale officials say the renaming decision had nothing to do with the election, it’s undeniable that universities are navigating an entirely new set of circumstances now that President Obama is no longer in office—and now that Trump has brought race to the fore not only for minority students, but for white students as well. Under those new circumstances, Yale seems to have decided that the task of expunging Calhoun’s name from campus is more urgent than it was just 10 months ago.

“I think it’s impossible to divorce this decision from the political climate nationally,” said Kyle Yoder, who graduated from Yale in 2015. “In an age where we are increasingly aware that we are not living in a post-racial society, the legacy of John Calhoun becomes really hard to reconcile with Yale.”

“In taking that middle position they are increasingly being compared to the alt-right and to Trump.”

In an interview, the University of Florida professor Ibram X. Kendi, winner of the 2016 National Book Award for his book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, explained to me that, over the course of the past year, it has become increasingly difficult for Yale to take what he calls the “middle of the road” position: claiming to reject racist ideology while insisting on using Calhoun’s name as a tool for, in Salovey’s words, “teaching and learning about the most troubling aspects of [Yale’s] past.” 

“Yale officials have tried to take this middle position between the anti-racist force that wants these memorials to be eliminated and the more racist force that champions Calhoun and confederate flags. But in taking that middle position they are increasingly being compared to the alt-right and to Trump,” Kendi said.

Because racist forces were galvanized by Trump’s election, Kendi suggested, anti-racist forces have responded in kind, moving further in the opposite direction than they would have if Hillary Clinton had been elected president. As this has happened, he said, the middle position—the one that straddles the line between racist and anti-racist forces—has ceased to exist.

During his tenure as head of Calhoun College from 2005 to 2014, Jonathan Holloway, now Yale’s dean, opposed changing the college’s name. As a scholar of African American history, he, like Salovey, felt the name would prompt important conversations about race relations in the United States. But, he has changed his mind.

“I’d been holding on to the belief that we as a society could have a sustained and thoughtful conversation about race, especially at a university. But nationally, people were not willing to have that conversation. My reasons for hanging on to the name ‘Calhoun’ were increasingly sounding too precious,” Holloway said.

In today’s political climate, with the widening gap between what Kendi calls racist and anti-racist forces, there is less and less room for nuance. Institutions like Yale have to move toward one side or the other.

Politically, the vast majority of Yale’s student body leans left. Overwhelmingly, students and recent alumni are happy that, on this issue, the administration has finally moved to join them. Conservative alumni I spoke with, however, were disappointed in the administration’s failure to stand by its original decision. 

“We feared that the administration would lose its spine and cower to the demands of certain undergraduates to suppress the free expression of ideas on campus. Our fears have been proven correct. It seems this administration is unable to stand by its principles,” said Michael Knowles, who graduated from Yale in 2012.

It’s also important to consider the practical consequences for Yale retaining the name, “Calhoun College.” History shows that universities make decisions they think will bolster their reputations, grow their endowments, and increase their yield rates. As Yale prepares to issue acceptance letters to prospective members of the class of 2021, the vast majority of whom will likely oppose Trump, the university wants to make sure that it looks like a progressive institution.

“It’s a matter of time before the issue of renaming arises at other colleges.”

Some of the most consequential policy changes at universities have emerged out of concern over prestige and yield rates. Take, for example, Yale’s and Princeton’s decisions to admit women in the late 1960s. In her book, Keep the Damned Women Out, Nancy Malkiel, a former dean of Princeton University, discusses Yale and Princeton’s motives for opening their classrooms to women.

“The ‘best boys’ in private and public high schools were beginning to show that they didn’t want to attend places that only had men,” Malkiel said in an interview with Princeton Alumni Weekly. “So they needed to figure out a way to regain their hold on these ‘best boys.’”

In 1963, six years before both Yale and Princeton decided to go co-ed, Harvard began issuing joint degrees to graduates of Radcliffe, a women’s college just a few blocks from Harvard yard. Immediately after Harvard made that change, yield rates at Yale and Princeton fell, and those administrations began searching for a solution. When attempts to convince two women’s colleges—Vassar and Sarah Lawrence—to relocate to their respective locations proved unsuccessful, both Yale and Princeton quickly decided to admit women.

With many of Yale’s current and future students, alumni, and faculty opposing Trump, Yale is under significant pressure to prove that it does not stand with his administration. Many other universities may soon find themselves in similar situations, looking for ways to visibly distance themselves from the president.

“I’m guessing that it’s a matter of time before the issue of renaming arises at other colleges—Harvard will be next in line, then perhaps Stanford,” said Jerome Karabel, a sociology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

As Trump follows through on more promises he made on the campaign trail, universities will likely realize they can no longer have it both ways. Going forward, if they don’t do everything in their power to be anti-racist, they will look racist.  

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The short Mardi Gras film with a big heart

A light-hearted short film directed by Armand de Saint-Salv for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras captures how trivial the acceptance of equal love should be in Australian households, especially in light of more pressing matters such as tomato sauce versus barbecue sauce