28 February 2011

Editor/Blogger/Professor Crisp Recommends Another Blog

A recent post from David Crisp, professor, weekly newspaper editor and sometime blogger here in Billings  has recommended a blog by the political science faculty at Montana State University. They don't mention Bozeman or Billings but the number of professors listed as contributors would suggest that when they say they are from Montana State University they reckon the rest of us should know that they are referring to that excellent school just down the road in Bozeman and not that upstart in Billings. Have a look at what promises to be a useful contributor to our state-wide conversation.

They have been in business since 2008, with a sharp dip in contributions in 2009 and 2010. The contributions for 2011 are already eleven, and I am guessing they will increase as we blunder toward 2012. I always look at the sidebars to see who else the authors are paying attention to: not surprisingly the New York Times and the Washington Post are on the list of National Politics Links, but the Wall Street Journal is missing. The Gazette and the Chronicle make the cut on Montana State Politics Links but others are missing including what I am guessing are some folks from the University of Montana who might have some interesting things to say about politics and economics. Perhaps more will be added as time goes on.

27 February 2011

12 March: Billings Symphony Plays Shostakovich's Symphony #5

I was wrestling with my urge to visit my brothers in Florida in March, and maybe take in a few Spring training baseball games; versus my longing to hear our Billings Symphony play the famous 5th Symphony of Shostakovich on March 12th.

Having health problems myself meant that I hadn't been away from Billings for over a year and thus was developing a kind of cabin fever, and I knew my youngest brother Tom was having health problems too. Mine were getting better but his were getting worse. So naturally as soon as my surgeons gave me permission I was eager to go.

At the same time, I've been wondering out loud for some years now why we don't hear any of Mahler's or Shostakovich's music.  So then I am confronted with the choice of visiting Tom in Florida or waiting to hear Shostakovich in Billings in March.

I had heard the New York Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein's version of  Shostakovich's 5th on CD; and I knew a little about the monstrous Russian problems in the 30s so I guessed that there might be something amazing about the combination of these two. I looked around on the Net and found one of my favorites, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Orchestra, had started a new series called Keeping Score, the title alone is enough to attract my attention even before I discovered that one of the works that they had put together the history, the musicology, the moving picture techniques, and the magnificent live performance was Shostakovich's 5th Symphony in D minor.

I would still like to hear our Billings Symphony Orchestra play the Shostakovich and I recommend it thoroughly to those of you that can't go to Florida for Spring training. The sound is different on a CD or DVD versus in a  splendid concert hall as the Alberta Bair Theatre is. And seeing the players play adds to the experience.

But that is why I am also going to recommend getting or borrowing a copy of Keeping Score: Shostakovich Symphony No. 5. The wizards of history and musicology and sound and video just blow one away on this DVD and of course Michael Tilson Thomas is very good at explaining what is going on.

A photo is found on my other blog.

26 February 2011

Are These 'Useful Idiots'?

John Coleman tells this story as a guest blogger on Watt's Up With That


A group of over 200 environmentalists were in an auditorium listening to a symposium about climate change, i.e. global warming or climate disruption. One of the speakers asked, “If I could instantly produce a genie with a magic wand to stand here before you today. And if, that genie could wave his magic wand and wall-la….carbon dioxide would no longer be a greenhouse gas that produced uncontrollable global warming….How many in this room would be happy, satisfied and pleased?” Two people out of two hundred hesitatingly raised their hands. Of the others, some smirked, some laughed and some yelled out, “No, no. Hell no.”
This is a useful essay and even more useful blogsite regarding things environmental.

22 February 2011

Will On Wisconsin's Bloated Union Demands

I have a hunch that this column of George Will won't make the cut at the Gazette. So here is a lead to the website where it can be read.

17 February 2011

We Have Hope

Our English friends seem to have understood these problems before the rest of us. Curious, how much of the English-speaking world seems to get what is going on before we do in the good old USA.

14 February 2011

Community Organizer Math

This is a pie-chart showing the President's total probably paid for part of the budget in blue, the unpaid for budget deficit in red and the President's proposed cuts in green. We know the President is very smart, so then we are left with the idea that he is making a joke.

Someone else suggests that the President is voting present on the budget. He has had a little experience along those lines.

13 February 2011

Venture Theatre Scores Again: Man From Nebraska

Tracy Letts has decided to write a play for and about normal people. It runs through next weekend. We saw it Sunday matinee and enjoyed it very much. This Odyssey variation may or may not be ammunition for those who are convinced that most of us lead 'lives of quiet desperation.' More here.

10 February 2011

Veteran Statistics from BookWorm

Because I can't figure out how to comment on BookWorm's blog, I will have to respond to her questioning of a USA Today article that 'proved' with faulty statistics that 'Veterans more likely to be homeless.' It seems reasonable to be skeptical about all the numbers quoted, and they were taken from a one-night survey more than two years ago. And she points out that it seems likely that the study did not take into account that veterans are predominantly male group, and homeless people are more likely to be men as well, I'm not sure if BookWorm also criticizes the study because in these hard economic times, men are more likely to be unemployed and some of those surely are homeless too. And the numbers are much more likely to be more legitimate for young veterans than for veterans as a whole group. All of which adds up to the conclusion that we need to be skeptical about studies that are reported in the media.

'Dancing is a contact sport, football is a collision sport.'

If you had ever lived in Wisconsin you would know who the author of the above epigram was. If you know the rule that 'once a cheesehead, always a cheesehead,' then you know what I was doing late last Sunday afternoon. I came across this lovely bit of prose by a guy with the name of Wright Thompson working for ESPN.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE
Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here