Thursday, May 17, 2007

Non-Canonical Pachelbel

Some people may be sick of Pachelbel's Canon in D, but I love this rendition:
Here's one by the arranger, JerryC:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Par-5 Hole in One

Par-5 Hole in One - Aces on Par-5 Holes:
But there's also one hole-in-one known to have occurred on a straightaway par-5. This monster drive was achieved at altitude on the No. 9 hole at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver in 2002. The shot was 517 yards in length, and the golfer who got the ace was Mike Crean. This ace is believed to be the longest ever recorded. (See a diagram of the hole here.)

What is a hole-in-one on a par-5 called? 'Condor' is sometimes recognized as the 'proper' term, but triple-eagle and double-albatross are also correct.

Idol Top 4 Report Card

It was Bee Gees night, with three females and one male, but, since a lot of the songs were originally sung in a falsetto, it didn't turn out too bad for the women.

I have a new favorite, now: Jordin Sparks. She can out-sparkle Melinda Doolittle, but Melinda is more consistent. If Jordin can consistently put in a top performance, she can win. Otherwise, it will be Melinda.

Here are my grades:
  1. Melinda Doolittle, A
  2. LaKisha Jones, B
  3. Blake Lewis, B
  4. Jordin Sparks, A
LaKisha and Blake are the most vulnerable. There are two other soul singers but only one guy, so LaKisha will see her votes split, not Blake. My prediction is LaKisha to go even though she's technically better than Blake. (Blake will go the next week unless Jordin has an off night.)

UPDATE: LaKisha and Blake were in the bottom 2, and LaKisha went. I'm having an easier time predicting now that Sanjaya had been voted off...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

YouTube - Tony Blair félicite Nicolas Sarkozy (en français)

Tony Blair congratulates the president-elect of France in French:
Yes, he's got an accent, but mine's worse.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy 53% -- Royal 47%

According to the French Interior Ministry's results for all of France, France entière (résultats complets), the result was M. Nicolas Sarkozy 53.06% and Mme Ségolène Royal 46.94%.

Boy, that IPSOS poll of a couple of days back was really accurate, within half a percentage point. Much better than American polls.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Intersective and Appositive Modifications

Arnold Zwicky, Droning On (Language Log; Feb. 8, 2007) explains the different between intersective and appositive (e.g. restrictive and non-restrictive adjectives):
Intersective modification: the denotation of an Adj N combination is the intersection of the denotations of the Adj and the N. That is, Adj N has the same denotation as N plus a restrictive relative clause containing Adj: N that/who is/are Adj.


Appositive modification: the denotation of an Adj N combination is the same as that of N plus a non-restrictive (a.k.a. appositive) relative clause containing Adj: N, which/who is/are Adj.

Plenty of Adj N combinations are, out of context, ambiguous between intersective and appositive modification; but context, background information, and reasoning about other people's intentions are usually enough for us to decide which reading is the appropriate one.
Note to self: Investigate whether attribute and predicate position in Greek is intersective and appositive (respectively).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ipsos Poll on French Election

Présidentielle : 53,5%-46,5% pour Nicolas Sarkozy (Ipsos-Dell au 03/05)

The French Presidential Dedate

Apparently the big highlight of the French presidential debate between Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal people are talking about was where, contrary to expectations, he didn't lose his cool but she did. However, my own impression of the scene from this video excerpt via Le Figaro is that she came across as forceful, even indignant, and the talk of her supposedly losing it is overblown:

Move along, there's nothing to see here.

For another American's impression of the debate, see Boz's Thoughts on the Debate.

BONUS: Here's a clip of their previous encounter back in 1993:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

An Epidemic of Art?

Here's a passage from an intriguing article from Gene Expression, Toxoplasma gondii's South American origins and its influence on culture:
To return to the theme of genius germs, artists show a stronger bias toward being born during the Winter and Spring than scientists, which is consistent with the hypothesis that an early infection (more likely during the 'flu season') starts the individual's personality off on a more Neurotic groove. So perhaps the flourishing of T. gondii among a virgin European population contributed to the explosion of artistic creativity that we see starting about the 17th Century. Greg Clark's new book, A Farewell to Alms, argues that the Industrial Revolution could not have happened far earlier than it did, in part because the English were simply not genetically prepared for it -- they were predisposed to abandon rather than conscientiousness. Maybe the same is true for artistic revolutions -- a population may have to wait for an outbreak of nuttiness in order to produce a Beethoven or a Goya. As the population adapts defenses against pathogens that affect personality, and as sanitary conditions improve, the frequency of bona fide weirdos diminishes, and what remains are faux iconoclasts like we see in Modern Art. Andy Warhol is a good example: his eccentricity was probably little more than an affectation.

The case of Western Classical music is particularly instructive, and anyone's theory of what produces artistic genius has to contend with this medium and time-frame. Unlike all other art forms, there is almost nothing of impressive value from "Ancient music" or even most Medieval music. There is a hint of sophisticated music during the Renaissance, and then suddenly there is an explosion during the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras -- after which there is a figure here or there who you might compare to a "mediocre" Baroque composer, but none you would comfortably rank alongside Bach. The early great works of the Baroque begin about the 1720s, and by the mid-1800s most of the rest of the Greats were dead; Wagner died toward the end of the 19th C., and most of the leading candidates for "Great 20th Century compositions" debuted before 1920. How can the near entirety of an artistic domain have been created within scarcely 200 years, burning out as abruptly as it caught fire?
Since I love Bach, I can excuse whatever excesses of conjecture this blogger is making...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Idol Top 6 Report Card

This was Bon Jovi week, and the soul singers were at a big disadvantage. Luckily, they get to have last week's vote added to their total (from inspirational music week) and I think they'll all survive. Of the three, Jordin had a bad song pick, and Melinda showed how much of a pro she was. Simon liked LaKisha's singing, but I just didn't feel it.

Of the guys, Blake saved up his "fan service" for this week and, as a result, saved his skin for another week. Both Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson however did an inauthentic "karaoke" rendition that sounded too much like the original and not enough like themselves. By the way, I am now officially impressed about how good singer Bon Jovi was.

Here are my grades:
  1. Phil Stacey, B
  2. Jordin Sparks, C
  3. LaKisha Jones, B
  4. Blake Lewis, A
  5. Chris Richardson, B
  6. Melinda Doolittle, A
Jordin will stay on account of last week's performance. Phil and Chris will go, but perhaps LaKisha instead of Phil.

UPDATE: Called it right this time. It's gotten a lot saner now that the Sanjaya factor is not throwing a wrench into my calculations.