An old weed becomes a modern problem

The so-called “Sargasso Sea” in the North Atlantic Ocean is a time-honored name, dating back to well before Christopher Columbus’ day.  It may have been known as early as the sixth century BC, according to one ancient navigator‘s oral history.  The map below is courtesy of Wikipedia. Its name was derived from the sargassum seaweed that proliferates there.  In more recent times, the Sargasso Sea has become the heart of the so-called North Atlantic Garbage Patch. Now it looks as if sargassum is spreading south, into equatorial regions, and posing a new and highly unwelcome threat to the tourist industry in South America, the Caribbean,

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Sunday morning music

Time to ring the changes again.  I decided, on a whim, to look for songs with the word “black” in their titles.  I had no idea there were so many!  There’s certainly dozens, probably scores, and possibly hundreds of them out there.  That’s unmanageable:  so I decided to pick eight at random that I knew, and that I’d enjoyed when they came out.  (Yes, it makes me feel old to realize how many years I’ve accumulated since then!)  I’ve listed them in chronological order.  If you have another favorite, let us know about it in Comments, and post a link

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Sunday morning music

Let’s have a change of pace this morning. Back in 1994, Bill Whelan crafted “Riverdance” as an interval act during that year’s Eurovision Song Contest.  It received a standing ovation, which prompted its further development into a complete Celtic folk musical of the same name.  It became a smash hit all over the world.  The soundtrack album sold millions of copies. Here’s the night that started the whole phenomenon:  the original performance from the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.  The solo dancers are the world-renowned Jean Butler and Michael Flatley, with choral backing by Anúna.  Subtitles give more information about the performance. When it was expanded into

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Sunday morning music

Those who don’t listen to it much often think of classical music as slow and stodgy, not very interesting.  That’s very far from the truth. Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) is best known for his sacred music, but he also produced “Terpsichore“, a compendium of 300-odd medieval and early Renaissance dances.  Here’s a 50-minute collection of several of them (not, as the video claims, a complete collection).  Some of them are quite rousing, and certainly foot-tapping even to those used to what’s laughably referred to as “dancing” in modern popular music. I think you’ll find some are very familiar to you, because they’ve

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Sunday morning music

For a complete change of pace, how about some music hall?  This was a mainstay of British entertainment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and some of its songs and acts crossed the Atlantic to America as well.  Its songs were popular up to World War I, after which it morphed into variety shows and music.  Both were contemporaneous with musicals, and influenced (and were influenced by) them. There are so many songs from the music hall era that it’s impossible to list them all here.  (See this list of major British performers, just for a start!)  I’ve therefore selected just a few songs. 

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Are environmental concerns making the Nebraska floods worse?

I’m no hydrologist, but this article‘s claims about the current Nebraska floods sound plausible. The Master Water Control Manual is the bible of the Missouri River basin dam system.  It defines the duties and protocols to be followed in order to best meet the various needs represented in the list of priorities. From the completion of the dam construction (in 1967) until 2004, the Master Water Control Manual listed the priority functions in order of importance, with flood control being number one. 1) flood control 2) irrigation and upstream beneficial uses 3) downstream water supply 4) navigation and power 5) recreation and wildlife

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An example of American Socialism?

Larry Lambert startled me with this comparison. If you want to see how socialism works under the American Government, the best place to begin is an Indian reservation. Start with one that doesn’t have a massive casino or oil wells. The medical care is on par with what you could expect in almost any clinic in Africa and the lifestyle as people wait for their ‘free’ government allotment is legendary. There’s more at the link. Larry also linked to this article for supporting evidence. Of the top 100 poorest counties in the US, four of the Top 5 and ten of the Top 20

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Not a bad attitude towards money, IMHO

From Pearls Before Swine yesterday (click the image to be taken to a larger view at the comic’s Web site): I approve.  I’ve met a number of fairly wealthy people in my time, some during my business career, others as a pastor or chaplain.  The one trait most of them had in common was that they didn’t own their money . . . their money owned them.  They spent so much time worrying about how to keep it, and how to make more, that they forgot to sit back, relax, and enjoy what they had. I don’t ever want to be like that.

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Sunday morning music

Edward Elgar is one of the best-known British composers.  Here’s his Serenade for Strings, performed by the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra in Holland in 2016. It’s interesting that this rendition is paced slightly faster than most recordings of the Serenade for Strings.  Its timing is very close indeed to a recording of the piece conducted by its composer in 1933, shortly before his death, which you can also hear on YouTube.  To my ear, the faster rendition seems to flow more naturally than some of the slower ones I’ve heard. Peter

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Milking fans for all they’re worth – and then some

I’m still shaking my head in disbelief after reading Disney’s new prices for a visit to its Disneyland resort. Starting Sunday, a one-day, one-park ticket for Disneyland or California Adventure park rises to $104 from $97 for low-demand days, such as weekdays in May. That is a 7.2% increase. Meanwhile, the consumer price index for the 12-month period ended in November rose 2.2%. A ticket for regular-demand days will rise to $129 from $117, a 10.3% increase. The price of a ticket on peak-demand days will rise to $149 from $135, a 10.4% increase. For annual passes, the least-expensive Southern California Select

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