Archive for August 16th, 2010

Today I finished “The Miracle Strain“, by Michael Cordy (1997).  The book is a Sci-Fi thriller with religious overtones in the same vein as “The Da Vinci Code“.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve not read the Da Vinci Code.  I’ve only seen the movie.  My understanding is that Disney has purchased the rights to “The Miracle Strain” and a movie is going to be made.
The basic idea is there are some folks working on gene therapy to cure cancer.  They speculate that Jesus Christ may have been able to cure illnesses because he had some means of passing on genetic cures (ie laying hands).  There is the obligatory secret society trying to stop the “good” scientists.  There are murders and sex scenes to maintain voyeuristic interest, and a minimum of science added to make the story plausible.
The book is a very fast read and actually quite thought provoking.  Would it matter to your faith if Christ’s ability to heal was science based and not a “true” miracle – implying others could do the same?  (The book neglects to mention and does not attempt to explain, Christ’s non-healing miracles – or those with no physical contact.)
I read this book several years ago in paperback.  I was at the library for my adult literacy tutoring and found (serendipity) the hardbound version in the $.50 bin, so I picked it up.  I remembered it being enjoyable, but not much else, so the re-read was almost like new.  If you liked the Da Vinci Code, you’ll probably like this too.
As an aside, I’m now reading an article titled:  “Under Pressure: The Search for a Stress Vaccine” about a scientist who believes he can reduce the harmful effects of stress by using gene therapy.  Basically, stress doesn’t kill you, but it makes it easier for the things which do kill you to kill you quicker.  He hopes to give you genes (using retro viruses) to fool the body into thinking you’re under less stress and thereby slow down the killer illnesses.

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Yesterday afternoon Sean, Junior (his son) and I went to the Concord “Sleeptrain” Pavilion to see the KBLX Mount Diablo Jazz Festival.   The performances were by:
Lucy Woodward
Brian Culbertson
Natalie Cole
George Benson
Tower Of Power
Lucy Woodward was completely new to me.  It was the opening act and while her voice was good, the song choices seemed more appropriate to a nightclub venue and definitely after-dark feel.  Lucy’s site is interesting in that it has relatively high production value for someone with so little recorded experience.
Brian Culbertson was also completely new to me.  I admit I’m not a big jazz follower anymore – and, not that I ever really was.  I kind of floated in and out of jazz and found it mostly when listing to pop sounds (like George Benson) and / or big bands.  Anyway, Brian was very high-energy!  The production level was appropriate for a large venue and the hour was a good introduction to Brian.  His web site is very high-production value and interesting.  His latest album is called “XII” – mostly because it is his twelfth album.  Not terribly original…
Natalie Cole was next up.  She was fantastic!!  The only things I could object to were I was too far away and she wasn’t on for a full show (only one hour).  I was completely taken by her voice, band and song choice.  A couple of them almost made me tear up.  Natalie’s web site needs some major work!!  Basically, it’s a single page with just her tour dates.
George Benson was the “head-liner” of the show.  In all honesty, he was a distant third-place.  The music was excellent, but he simply had a bad night or he doesn’t have the pipes anymore to perform live.  He wasn’t particularly entertaining as a scat singer or when using traditional vocals.  Good thing playing is his strong suit.  They did most of the really big hits, but it just didn’t get me.
Tower of Power closed out the night.  TOP has always been one of my favorite groups and last night the music was tight!  They were the most enjoyable when they were playing their hits, but not stringing a seven minute song out to twelve minutes.  One, “There’s Only So Much Oil In the Ground” was timely given the BP oil disaster, but it was unnecessarily “extended”.  As a long time fan of the group, it’s sad to see them age physically.  There was a point where the whole horn section drops to one knee and then gets up.  They managed to hit the pose, but more than one had physical problems getting back to his feet.  [Sigh.] The practical effects of being on stage when you’re over sixty years old.  It’s a shame music can make you feel young, but it doesn’t actually make you young.
Anyway, Tower of Power still rock and they brought back a flood of memories!

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