Monday, January 29, 2007

Stupidity, Gullibility...Whatever

That's so true (link added):

Does stupidity lead to gullibility? [F]or the most part, the movie depicts low-IQ people as very hard to trick because they scoff at whatever they do not understand.
Bullies may be stupid, but it's nigh-impossible for a nerd to trick a bully into leaving him alone. The bully has a simple but powerful word that keeps the nerd from getting the upper hand: "Whatever."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What I Read Today, Plus Art Buchwald Stuff

Just to leave a trace and have something to remember 40 years from now:

Today, I skimmed over the Wikipedia article "Taboo food and drink", because it is the article of the day in the German wikipedia. Quite interesting.

Unfortunately, I then turned to the "Deaths in 2007" page, which is always a time killer. Speaking of time killers, I also read some articles about the UK Big Brother racism scandal, for example:

I'm not racist, says TV's Goody

Jade Goody, at the centre of an alleged race row on Celebrity Big Brother, has been evicted from the Channel 4 show.

Goody, 25, was up against Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, who had been the target of the alleged abuse from Goody and others in the reality TV show.

And since I use the name Shilpa Shetty instead of "the Indian", I am apparantly no racist. I'm lucky.

To make my update concerning the BB ballyhoo perfect, I watched about three CNN vids. And being at CNN vids, I again watched the two vids about the passing of Art Buchwald, "Goodbye, Artie" by Kyra Phillips and "Buchwald: I made them laugh" (I presume, that those CNN links are not permanent; hence, a hopefully permanent youtube-link to another "dying is fun, actually" vid of Art Buchwald.)

Art Buchwald made it to German newspapers in late 2006 with his book "Too soon to say Goodbye": Der Mann, der einfach nicht sterben will, Die Welt, December 13, 2006 ("The man who simply doesn't want to die", in German.) You can find his final column, which he asked to distribute following his death here: Goodbye, My Friends, Washington Post, January 19, 2007.

Finally, I found a quote of Buchwald's over at IMDB which made me laugh:
I'm not a Republican, and I'm not a Democrat. I'm against whoever's in power. People talk about Nixon and I say, 'I worship the very quicksand he walks on.'

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Humphrey Bogart died 50 years ago

How Humphrey got to be Bogie

Bogart became a legend near his death 50 years ago, when his acting was more closely aligned with his real-life personality.

By Richard Schickel

January 14, 2007

Humphrey Bogart died on Jan. 14, 1957, exactly 50 years ago. By all accounts, notably those of his friends, John Huston and Alistair Cooke, he died with great gallantry, hiding to the best of his ability the pain of the cancer that wracked and decimated him.

It worked this way: He would rest in his bedroom most of the day; then, in the late afternoon, he would be dressed in a blue blazer and ascot and transported, by wheelchair and elevator, to his living room. There, with cigarette in hand, martini at his side, he would await the arrival of friends. They brought industry gossip, in which he remained avidly interested; they went away inspired by his courage. His illness was never discussed. (read on this Los Angeles Times Op-Ed...)

When I was younger, I loved to watch film noirs with Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Peter Lorre etc. But nowadays... I don't know... maybe it's simply too late in the evening when I happen to watch those old movies again. Anyway, here's a short sequence of the famous To Have and Have Not, giving evidence of the equally famous "onsreen chemistry" between Bogart and Lauren Bacall:

Friday, January 12, 2007

Radio Play About Bix Beiderbecke

Lots of cats tried to play like Bix; ain't none of them play like him yet.

Yesterday, there was an radio play aired on German radio station Deutschlandfunk, called
Leben und Tod des Kornettisten Bix Beiderbecke aus Nordamerika (Life and Death of the cornett player Bix Beiderbecke from North America; link is in German), by Ror Wolf (link in German) from 1986, which was awarded with the Hörspielpreis der Kriegsblinden (radio play prize of the "Federation of the German War-Blinded"; link in German) the following year; which is the most important and prestigious prize for radio plays in Germany.

This radio play about Bix Beiderbecke brought one thing back into my mind as clear as possible, namely the importance of the internet for my little life. Because it was the third time that I listened to the play - first time was in 1986, second was in 2003 (I guess, because that was the 1ooth anniversary of Bix' birth) - and both times, I was left to my own devices concerning further information about Bix. Even in 2003, I didn't have the possibilities I have now, and in 1986, there was literally nothing I could do but wait until I happen to enter a record shop for the next time. But today, I just type in the name at wikipedia and youtube - and here we go:

Here you can find some Audio tapes of interviews conducted with people who knew Bix Beiderbecke. You can find "Bix Beiderbecke & His Rhythm Jugglers - Davenport Blues (January 26, 1925)" as mp3, too.

And finally, three videos from youtube. It's so fantastic to have all these sources, right? (Plus, I have a copy of the radio play in ogg format now!)

A tribute:

Wake Up Bix:

The Jean Goldkette Orchestra in 1926:

Syphilis: Comeback in China

Syphilis rates 'soaring in China'
By Jill McGivering
BBC News


The Lancet reports that China - which virtually eliminated syphilis in the 1960s and 70s - is now seeing the disease return with alarming intensity.

It reveals that reported rates have risen from 0.2 cases per 100,000 in 1993 to 5.7 cases per 100,000 in 2005.

Dramatic intervention is now needed, one of the report's authors says.

The study involved doctors from China's National Centre for STD Control in Nanjing and from the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine.

Dr Myron Cohen, a co-author of the report, described the spread of the disease as "fantastically rapid".
(Links added)

Further Sources:

Syphilis resurgent in China (Comment by David N Fisman, The Lancet)

China’s Health Calamity: Causes and Consequences
A Panel Discussion with Bates Gill, Myron Cohen and David M. Lampton
The Nixon Center, Washington, DC June 4, 2003

The Lancet Podcast - 13 January 2007 (mp3, 7.88Mb)
This week's podcast features an interview with Dr Miren Cohen from the University of North Carolina, one of the authors of a research article documenting a resurgence of syphilis in China over the past decade. A range of unique biological and social forces are responsible for the latest epidemic.
Syphilis rates skyrocket in China (New Scientist)

or, to put it bluntly: Sex Practice Changes in China Lead to Jump in Syphilis Cases.

The U.S. and Europe - Globalization meets cheese standards

Thomas P.M. Barnett, reviewing Roger Cohen's review of Überpower, has this to say:

Europe keeps expecting America to 'come home' and it just ain't gonna happen. We're living in the vast rule-set reset that is globalization's advance around the planet. Europe and Japan, the classic West other than America, wants largely to sit this process out, instead arguing over cheese standards and ag subsidies and UN Security Council resolutions.

(a 2006 draft leftover)

Is China going to dominate the 21st century?

From "Learning to Keep Learning" By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times, December 13, 2006:


Sorry, but I am not ready to cede the 21st century to China yet.

No question, China has been able to command an impressive effort to end illiteracy, greatly increasing its number of high school grads and new universities. But I still believe it is very hard to produce a culture of innovation in a country that censors Google — which for me is a proxy for curtailing people’s ability to imagine and try anything they want. You can command K-12 education. But you can’t command innovation. Rigor and competence, without freedom, will take China only so far. China will have to find a way to loosen up, without losing control, if it wants to be a truly innovative nation.


Why should any employer anywhere in the world pay Americans to do highly skilled work — if other people, just as well educated, are available in less developed countries for half our wages?

If we can’t answer this question, in an age when more and more routine work can be digitized, automated or offshored, including white-collar work, “it is hard to see how, over time, we are going to be able to maintain our standard of living,” says Marc Tucker, who heads the National Center on Education and the Economy.


Tomorrow, Mr. Tucker’s organization is coming out with a report titled “Tough Choices or Tough Times,” which proposes a radical overhaul of the U.S. education system, with one goal in mind: producing more workers — from the U.P.S. driver to the software engineer — who can think creatively.