1. I imagine the average music listener has as much trouble teasing apart the different musical lines, instruments and voices in a symphony (say) as I do. Why isn't there a product category on the market where the different voices in a piece are all recorded individually? With a suitable software interface, you'd be able to hear just the first violin, or only the brass or only what the pianist is playing with his right hand, and so on. Or various toggle-able combinations of the elements. Plus of course, you could turn everything on and hear a serviceable, though hardly great, recording of the piece. The time I can imagine spending with such a CD is almost limitless; it'd be like having this for every piece I cared about. Surely the market can't be that small, and the production certainly isn't difficult. Why's no-one doing this?
2. I've often harbored a certain dim, masochistic sense that bans related to passive smoking have been less about health than about the general ickiness of the habit, the smell of the noxious weed and a certain puritanical desire to control and command. Indeed, I'd assumed the actual health risk from second hand smoke was minimal. I still assume those other factors are salient, but apparently this last isn't so. Orac at Scienceblogs has a very nice post up about secondhand smoking, that gets into the various studies performed, the mechanisms of consensus-generation and the politics in forming, disputing and proceeding from that consensus. Two takeaway numbers, in case you don't read the whole thing:
- "A person who smokes two packs a day smoker for 40-50 years will have approximately a 20% chance of dying of lung cancer."
- "In adults, numerous studies support the existence of approximately a 25% elevated risk of lung cancer from those exposed to secondhand smoke chronically."
3. This New York Times story is almost perfect for transporting a certain sort of mind into mystical ecstasies. It has all of:
- natural creatures who've suffered greatly under Man, yet absolve him of his sins
- cuddly, natural Disney creatures to boot, none of this scary, bloody competitive evolution stuff around.
- wise Natives who, with other ways of knowing, have penetrated to the core of Deep Truths White Man is only dimly coming to appreciate.
- concomitant dismissals of hard scientists, who've not truly achieved Wisdom for all their appropriation of cold, technical facts.
Actually, it's a pretty good piece for all the scorn I've heaped upon it. The stolid insistence that one not anthropomorphize the animal world is only going to be so useful, and unless one is a creationist other animals will necessarily be seen to exhibit many qualities we do in some form, including emotional ones.