In 1800, Daniel Steibelt, a celebrated European virtuoso, came to Vienna to duel Beethoven in an ‘improvisation contest’. With great pomp, in the first round, he won. Beethoven was not much interested in trying to impress aristocrats. For the second round, Steibelt was puffed up enough to use Beethoven’s own music in his challenge. This was a. . . mistake. Incensed, […]
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On December 13, 1963, Corliss Lamont hosted the 172nd anniversary of the Bill of Rights in Washington D. C., and presented the Thomas Pain Award to . . . Bob Dylan.
Mr. Lamont was the son of a wealthy banker, a graduate of Phillips Academy, Harvard, Oxford, and Columbia. He had a PhD in Philosophy. He celebrated atheism. In 1932, he visited the Soviet Union and found a very promising, enlightened society. The secret police were “courteous and efficient and good natured”. There were hungry people begging for food, but “most of these beggars are people who are too lazy to work, since every Russian can get a job if he wants to”.
“He was just a sickly kid who loved heroes” – Jackie Kennedy, with Theodore White, 1964. He had a “rigid and physically distant mother”, and a domineering and demanding father – “We want winners, we don’t want losers around here.” Jack Kennedy, Barabara Leaming, pg. 61, 2006. Joseph P. Kennedy, in 1962, was worth of $500,000,000. […]
“Across the land, turbulent air flowing from the chilly north encounters the breezes of the hot south. As the two fight it out over the plains, tornadoes are spawned. Ninety percent of the worlds tornadoes occur in North America.” The Eternal Frontier, Tim Flannery, 2001. Long before it became the first global human empire, […]
Fourteen thousand years ago, Siberian and Mongolian people crossed the Bering land bridge into North America. Following the ice-free coastline, they eventually found the Andes mountains, the longest linear stretch of mountains in the world. There, unaffected by Rome or Greece, or Moses, or Plato, or Aristotle, or by any of the rest of world […]
Across the way from his childhood row-house home, across Strawberry Fields, Paul McCartney met one John Lennon. Both of their mothers died while they were teenagers, both of their fathers were musicians. Lennon-McCartney wrote and performed songs, and the whole world went . . .crazy . . .over their music, and still does. Paul is charming, kind, a […]
In the movie Drive, the central character has a special talent. Driving, yes, but more compelling, he can stay calm and focused during intense moments, like driving fast and escaping the police, or like when someone is trying to kill him. It is a gift, his ability to stay cool, it helps him get by. […]
“Quantum theory predicts that the vacuum of space is a roiling bath of virtual particles that continuously appear and disappear. These vacuum fluctuations produce measurable phenomena, such as the Casimir effect, which arises from the pressure the virtual photons exert on stationary bodies. In 1970, Gerald Moore theorized that bodies in accelerated motion would produce […]
Gestapo Chief Rudolph Diels: “The infliction of physical punishment is not every man’s job, and naturally we were only too glad to recruit men who were prepared to show no squeamishness at their task. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the Freudian side of the business, and it was only after a number of instances of […]
Pain really does hurt, but what is it that hurts? In consciousness, the subjective and objective are mysteriously unified. I am unmistakably corporeal, and yet also, unmistakably, immaterial. I have diverse sensations and thoughts, yet I am unitary. I unconsciously act and feel, and yet have agency and free will. I daydream and sleep, and yet have […]