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Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

I have been learning to play guitar since January of this year.  Although I’ve always liked music and songs, I’ve never given much thought to what music is.  I mean, I’ve always considered it as “sound” (in a physics sense), but learning to “play” music (make sounds) as turned into a deep and enriching exercise in itself.  Last night, I read someone’s definition of “music” as a combination of three things: rhythm, melody and harmony.  I thought this was interesting, so, today I went on Google and Wikipedia to see what they had to say about it…
There seems to be a (little / minor) disagreement about what “makes” music.  Most of what I read agrees with the three parts above, but I also found other sources which added a fourth:  dynamics.
This is my simplistic understanding of each:
1)  Rhythm:  the beat and speed of the sound(s);
2)  Melody:  the grouping of the sounds (typically making it – the “music” – distinctively memorable) into start, order and ending;
3)  Harmony:  the mixing of sounds for effect (happy / sad, blending / discordant); and,
4)  Dynamics:  how loud or quietly / soft or hard something sounds.
I’m sure any readers who are “real” musicians will find my explanation / understanding of these elements of music simplistic, and I’m okay with that.  LoL!  I think it’s amusing (amazing) I’ve enjoyed music my whole life, but never thought about ANY of this.  And, to be honest, I have large blind spots about most things under “arts and culture”.  I know I don’t know about them, but I have no idea how much I don’t know about them.  It’s fun starting to learn!
C’est la vie…
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On This Day In:
2020 I Am Shocked! Shocked I Say!
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But Only Half
2019 …And Bullet-Proof Suits
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2018 What Do You Hear?
2017 I’ve Got A Pocket Protector
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2016 Better Value
2015 Any Port In A Storm
2014 Babies (II)
2013 Why The Young Stay In College Longer These Days
2012 Perceptions Of Worth
2011 Flavor
2010 Giants Win 1-0 !!

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Over the weekend, I had another music / guitar lesson from my brother-in-law.  He has a degree in music, plays saxophone professionally, and has been teaching music in public schools for over twenty years.  Part of the lesson was to think about “learning performance skills“.  Here is a modified version of his lesson (with supplemental info from Wikipedia)…
The four stages of learning skills are:
Unconscious incompetence  (You don’t know that you don’t know and you don’t know what you don’t know.)
The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit.  They may deny the usefulness of the skill.  The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage.  The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
Conscious incompetence  (You know that you don’t know something and recognize you don’t know it.)
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit.  The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
Conscious competence  (You know what you know, but you have to concentrate on it to do it well.)
The individual understands or knows how to do something.  However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration.  It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
Unconscious competence  (You don’t have to think about what you know how to do in order to do it.)
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily.  As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task.  The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.
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On This Day In:
2020 Come Laugh With Me
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2019 For Your Consideration…
2018 Brown’s Rules
Day 23: Fasting Visualized
2017 Still Trying To Make It
2016 One Lucky Man
2015 Food Change ==> Health Change
2014 10 Commandments Of Logical Arguments (Fallacies)
2013 Sociology Of The Future
2012 1010
There In The Sunshine
2011 Not Enough Time

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Soldier”  —  movie review
Today’s review is of the 1998 action movie, “Soldier“, starring Kurt Russell as “soldier” Sergeant Todd 3465.  We know this because he has “Todd 3465” tattooed on his face.  Whatever…
Okay.  Todd is the product of the selective training of soldiers from “orphaned” youth (i.e. babies).  The film progresses through their aging and training into dispassionate killer soldiers whose only sense of self is tied up in their profession of violence and following orders absolutely without question.  Selected trainees who cannot make the grade are summarily executed, so only the “best” survive.  Todd survives the training and multiple battles / wars to become a “seasoned” veteran.
Along comes the movie bad-guy in the form of West Point graduate Colonel Mekum (played by Jason Isaacs) who brings along a group of replacement soldiers which have been genetically altered to be superior to the previous batch who were “only” a selected, raised and trained batch (which is Todd’s group).
Mekum uses one of his new soldiers (Caine 607, played by Jason Scott Lee) to demonstrate the groups superiority and the new soldier defeats the old in three-on-one combat.  Two are killed and the third (Todd) is presumed dead and all three bodies are disposed of as a “training accident”.  Todd is dumped on a the garbage planet “Arcadia 234”.  Apparently, in the future, we have such a shortage of resources on Earth we have to explore other worlds to survive, but we have such an abundance of energy that we can transport naval aircraft carriers to other planets to dispose of them (along with a host of other laughable items).
Todd wakes up and finds himself injured on this junkyard planet with a bunch of settlers whose re-settlement ship crashed on this planet.  They’ve made due the best they can, but basically live like homeless folks somewhere in southern California – hot, dry with terrible sand storms.  And, of course, they nurse him back to health…
Blah, blah, blah…  Todd discovers his humanity and begins to make friends.
Now, the good Captain wants to give his men some combat experience, so he decides to land on a junk yard planet and kill anyone they may find there.  (Because that’s how all good officers train their new soldiers.)  Of course, the new guys stumble on Todd’s friends and Todd doesn’t take too kindly to his new family being slaughtered.  So, he goes all Rambo (v5, not v1) on the new guys, but he doesn’t have to show any mercy (v1), so he just kills them all (definitely v5).
Blah, blah, blah…  Lots of explosions, fights and killing goes on and Todd kills all of the new guys with the big final set piece / fight scene against – you guessed it – Caine 607 – the last remaining new soldier.  Todd wins, gathers up the settlers and they commandeer the dead soldiers’ space ship and continue to the original settlement location, with everyone lives happily every after.  Well, all except Mekum, who accidentally blows himself (and Arcadia 234) to smithereens.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work within any of its genres:  Sci-Fi, action-hero, “Escape from New York / LA / Stargate / Arcadia 234”, family protecting killer soldier (I mean hero) versus genetically engineered killer soldiers?  Did I enjoy it and / or find it entertaining?  Well, despite the fact this movie was an absolute bomb at the box office, I would say:  Yes.  Sometimes.  And, yes!  Of course I enjoyed it.  I mean seriously.  Read through that list of genres, again.  Talk about a pitch being in the batter’s wheelhouse!
Seriously.  This is not a very good movie unless you are seeking a simple minded, summer-type, action movie with fights, explosions, special effects, and (“Oh, the humanity of it!“) one emotionally fulfilled killer wiping out a couple of dozen emotionally unfulfilled killers.  Did I mention there are fights, explosions and special effects?  In other words, you paid for “Snake” Plissken, so eat your popcorn ’cause you’re getting “Snake” Plissken.  The movie doesn’t make ANY sense on so many levels, you just have to hit the switch and say:  “Okay, blah, blah blah…  How long until the next fight and explosion”.  On that level, this is actually a pretty good movie and I found myself rooting for Todd and emotionally fulfilled (me, not Todd) when Mekum blows himself up.  Evil fails spectacularly and good is triumphant!!
Final recommendation:  moderate.  This movie never tries to be anything it isn’t and is successful at being what it is:  a pretty good pop-corn and soda / matinee / action-hero film.  Put it this way, I’ve owned this DVD for over 10 years and this is only the third time I’ve viewed it.  Good enough to keep on the shelf and watch again sometime, but not good enough to schedule another viewing in the immediate future.  A final note:  If you are a total film nerd, there are literally dozens of references to other movies (StarTrek, StarWars, Predator, Blade Runner) and many of Russell’s roles from other movies.  Now that you’ve been told this, you HAVE to view the movie just to see if you can find them.  You KNOW you do…  Then go check out the Wikipedia and IMDb pages to see how close you got to their lists.  Caution:  it’ll cost you another viewing or two to confirm who is right.
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On This Day In:
2019 Will John Bolton Testify?
2018 Just Maybe
2017 Police In My Review Mirror
2016 Full And Rich
2015 Go Deeper
2014 Intentional Mapping
2013 The Sweet Path
2012 Living Free And Abolition
Morning Wood
2011 I Resemble That Remark

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[Note: almost all of the “facts” in this post are taken from the Wikipedia article:  COVID-19 pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt .  The conjectures are solely mine.]
The story so far… 
Sometime in November / December 2019, a virus makes a transition from an animal host to a human host.  We currently believe this happened in the Wuhan area of China.  This is a new virus to the human species and (presumably) the host begins transferring the virus to new human hosts while in the incubation / infectious period.  Multiple people get infected and pass on the virus to others.  As many hosts either show no symptoms or very mild symptoms, this transfer can go on undetected for some time.  Eventually, the virus hits one or more hosts who are not able to survive the infection.  People begin to go to the ER and to die.  The infectious period is presumed to be two to three weeks long, and because we live in an age of jet transportation, the virus gets spread all around the world efficiently.
At some time in late February / early March, the virus is carried aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt by someone (presumably a crew member) and begins to spread to other crew members.  [The ship was ported in Vietnam between 5-9 March and the first crew member was tested positive on 22 March –  13 days after departure from Vietnam.  This puts the detection near the end of what we’ve been told is the incubation / infectious period (14 days).]  By the end of March 2020, over a hundred of the crew have tested positive for the virus.  The crew is between 4,500 and 5,000 strong.  On 27 March, the ship is ported in Guam and the crew is restricted to the ship or to the immediate pier area.
On 13 April a crew member dies of COVID-19.  He is the only one (so far).
As of 20 April, 94% of the crew have been tested for the virus, with 678 positive and 3,904 negative results.  About 60% of the people who tested positive did not have symptoms.  [Presumably, by now (18 May), the Navy has tested 100% of the crew.  This means we have an almost completely isolated control group for analysis.  Presumably, this is being done by both the CDC and the Navy.]
Sailors kept testing positive for the virus even after 14 days of isolation; some who tested positive had previously tested negative.  [It is not clear if this means “new” crew are testing positive after being placed in isolation, i.e. crew who tested negative but were put in isolation for two weeks because of contact with infected crew, or if it means crew who tested positive but showed no symptoms for 14 days continued to test positive, or crew who tested positive AND showed symptoms who were isolated, continued to test positive.  ANY of these guesses / conditions implies the isolation period (14 days) is insufficient to result in a “safe” return-to-duty status.  Alternatively, there may be “something” about this population – age and general good health – which naturally resists the virus and therefore takes it longer to establish in an individual host or which somehow otherwise extends the incubation / infectious period.]
In early May sailors who had completed quarantine began returning to the ship.
As of 5 May, 1,156 crew members have tested positive.  That’s over 20% of the crew.
On 15 May, five sailors on the ship developed symptoms and were found to test positive for the virus for the second time.  They had previously completed a 14-day quarantine and had tested negative at least twice before being allowed to re-board.  The sailors were removed from the ship along with some of their contacts.  Officials said it was not clear if these cases reflect actual relapses or problems with the test.
This last part is what I particularly don’t understand.  Mainly because it implies things (to me) which I don’t feel are being reported on by either the government or by the news media:
1)  Did the five show additional symptoms or did they simply get false positives on their initial tests?  Have the samples (all three at least) been retained and can they be retested with an alternate test methodology to determine if they were accurate or if the first test was a false positive?
2)  Was the test used initially (which gave a positive result) the same test as given for the two negative times.  Have these samples been retained and can they be retested with an alternate test methodology to determine if they were truly negative or if either or both were faulty?
3)  If the five crew were infected, isolated and recovered, who did they contact who might have re-infected them?
4)  If they were re-infected / relapsed, were they showing the virus anti-bodies prior to the relapse?  If no, why not?  If yes, is their level of antibodies different from those who’ve recovered but not relapsed?
5)  If they are showing the same level of antibodies as others who’ve recovered but not relapsed, what does this mean for the rest of the general populace?  My first instinct is that if the antibody levels are the same (or higher) as those who’ve not relapsed, we have a much bigger problem as this means we don’t understand the acquired resistance to this virus.  Either there is none, or the virus is mutating and re-infecting hosts – which is virtually the same thing as having no resistance.  In which case, “Houston, we’ve got a problem…
So, I’m left wondering…  Do we have bad tests or does surviving exposure fail to create resistance?  Please…  Somebody talk me off this ledge!   “What am I missing?
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On This Day In:
2019 For Most #IncompetentDonald Followers
2018 I Dare You
2017 To Republicans Who Choose Party Over Country
2016 All About Control
2015 Liberty Is Extravagant
2014 Always Remember To Reach
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2013 Ripples From The Water’s Edge
Because I Was Alone
2012 POI vs Reality
Dear And Sacred
2011 Chilled Again

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[One year ago I posted the following:   ]
George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort (charged, not yet tried or convicted), Richard Gates (charged, not yet tried or convicted), General (Ret.) Michael Flynn, …
Does ANYONE doubt where this ends???
[So where are we now (one year later) in the “witch-hunt”…  (Source:  Wikipedia)
George Papadopoulos
October 3, 2017
1 count:  false statements
Pleaded guilty on October 5, 2017.
Sentenced to 14 days in prison, a $9,500 fine, 200 hours of community service and 12 months probation on September 7, 2018.
Paul Manafort
October 27, 2017
2 counts: conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice
Pleaded guilty on September 14, 2018.
February 22, 2018
18 counts:  filing false tax returns (×5), failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts (×4), bank fraud conspiracy (×5), and bank fraud (×4)
Found guilty on 8 counts, mistrial declared on 10 counts on August 21, 2018.
Rick Gates
October 27, 2017
2 counts:  conspiracy against the United States and false statements
Pleaded guilty on February 23, 2018.
February 22, 2018
23 counts: assisting in the preparation of false tax returns (×5), subscribing to false tax returns (×5), filing a false amended return, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts (×3), bank fraud conspiracy (×5), and bank fraud (×4)
Charges dismissed without prejudice on February 27, 2018.
Michael Flynn (General, Retired)
November 30, 2017
1 count:  false statements to Federal investigators (FBI)
Pleaded guilty on December 1, 2017.
Richard Pinedo
February 2, 2018
1 count:  identity fraud
Pleaded guilty on February 2, 2018.
Sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of home confinement on October 10, 2018.
Alex van der Zwaan
February 16, 2018
1 count:  false statements
Pleaded guilty on February 16, 2018.
Sentenced to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine on April 3, 2018.
Deported to the Netherlands on June 5, 2018.
And so, I ask again:  Does ANYONE doubt where this ends???    —   KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2017 Dominoes
2016 Itchin’
2015 In The Not So Distant Future
2014 Sources
2013 Three Essentials
2012 Just Looking
2011 Religious Lessons
2010 View From Under The Bus… (A mid-term report card on the Obama Administration. Long, but still worth reading for historical perspective.)

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The Grapes Of Wrath (1940) — movie review
Today’s review is for the John Ford directed movie: “The Grapes Of Wrath” starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, Jane Darwell as Ma Joad and John Carradine as Jim Casy.  The movie is based on the novel written by John Steinbeck which was published the year before the movie (1939).  The subject of the movie is the move by the Joad family from Oklahoma to California – what causes the move and what happens during the move.  This is the first time I’ve seen this movie and I never had to read the book while in high school and haven’t read it since.  Yes, I know it’s a “classic”.  Mea culpa, mea culpa.
It seems I’ve been watching a number of Henry Fonda movies lately, so I thought I’d do this review next (after “Once Upon A Time In The West“).  In OUATITW, Fonda plays a cold blooded killer named (only) Frank.  I was surprised to find he is also a killer in this movie.  At the start of the movie, Tom is released from prison (convicted of murder which he claims was in self-defense) and he makes his way to his family’s farm in Oklahoma.  He finds the farm abandoned, but is able to meet up with them at his uncle’s farm nearby.  Unfortunately, his uncle’s farm has also been repossessed, and the family is being forced off of it.
Repossessed is probably not an accurate description, because they don’t actually own the farm.  They are sharecroppers.  As long as the land was productive, they could scrape by enough to feed themselves and pay their rent.  But, when the world was hit by the Great Depression and most of the mid-west was hit by the “dust bowl” of the mid-1930’s, the land was unable to support the families let alone pay for the rents.  Many families were forced to move or starve.
Like many families, the Joad’s decide to move to California on the “promise” of well paying jobs.  The majority of the rest of the movie is about the difficulties of the trip and the eventual realization that “the promise” was merely a means for the owners of the land in Oklahoma to get the sharecroppers to voluntarily move off the land without the owners having to use force.  And, during the course of the movie, Fonda’s character kills again.  This time Tom kills a “deputy” who has just killed Fonda’s friend (Carradine / Casy) for no reason except that he (the deputy) can get away with it.
This movie is a powerful indictment of capitalism, fascism and authoritarianism in the United States during the 1930’s.  It has strong political (anti-communist) undertones which touch on both the “red scare” and anti-unionism as the wealthy, in California, try to take advantage of their fellow Americans who have been driven into poverty and into migrant worker status by weather and economic forces beyond their control.  The movie also uses two specific scenes to demonstrate that average Americans have charity in their hearts – in sharp contrast with those with economic power / wealth.
The movie is generally considered to be one of the greatest American movies of all time – and I agree it one of the most powerfully disturbing movies I’ve ever viewed.  According to Wikipedia: “this film was one of the first 25 films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” “
The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards (1941) and won two:  Darwell for Best Actress and Ford for Best Director.  Fonda was nominated for Best Actor, but did not win.  He lost to James Stewart in “The Philadelphia Story“.
Final recommendation: very highly recommended!  Disturbing, yes!  Powerful, yes!  If there is ANY downside to the movie, I’d say the weak attempt at an optimistic ending detracted from the overall power of the movie.  Fonda’s “Joad as everyman” in the prior scene was barely believable.  Ma’s “we’re gonna get by cause that’s what we’ve always done” – far less so.  In any case, this is a great / classic movie and well worth viewing in our day due to its message about our own economic / political time.
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On This Day In:
2017 Proof Sits In The Oval Office
2016 Tragic Determinism
2015 Maybe It Should Be Clearer
2014 Make It Your Strength
2013 Four Score
2012 The Ruler
2011 Forever
2010 Just Cuz
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?
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Sicario (2015) — movie review
Today’s review is for the drug cartel crime fighting thriller, Sicario,  released a few years ago and which has a sequel just wrapping up in theaters now.  The movie title translates to “hitman” according to the opening credits.  It stars: Emily Blunt as FBI Agent Kate Macer; Antonio Banderas — just kidding — Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick; Josh Brolin as CIA Agent Matt Graver and Daniel Kaluuya as Blunt’s FBI partner Reggie Wayne.  Gillick’s “character / role” is not entirely clear.  On the one hand, he is said to be an attorney who’s family is murdered by a drug cartel, and on the other had he is said to be a member of the Medellín cartel.  I think I would have to view the movie again to see which is true as multiple sources seem to disagree (Rotten Tomatos, IMDB, Wikipedia).  Really, he’s a combination of Paul Kersey (Death Wish) – vengeance / vigilante, John McClane (Die Hard) – one man against the gang / vigilante, and Frank Castle (Punisher) – super-efficient killer with multiple weapons / vigilante.
The basic plot is the CIA needs an FBI agent on a cross-departmental team to function on US soil.  Hence, they recruit Macer and Wayne to help “arrest” (i.e. track down and kill) some cartel leaders.  To do this, they pursue the cartel in both the US and Mexico.  Blah, blah, blah.  Shoot-em up.  Blah, blah, blah.  Feel sorry for Macer and Gillick.  Blah, blah, Gillick saves Macer.  Blah, blah, Gillick gets revenge.  Blah, blah, Macer let’s Gillick skate (to make a sequel).  Kind of a happy / unhappy ending…
So, is this a good movie?  Does it work as a thriller?  Is it realistic?  Yes.  Yes.  And, so-so.  I found the movie to be very interesting because it was the best depiction I’ve seen of night vision / thermal vision head gear.  The acting is solid and the characters are reasonably developed enough that you can start to feel for them.  The movie works quite well as a thriller.  The action starts strong with a pretty powerful (if gruesome) opening of the FBI breaking into a house full of dead bodies to arrest / kill gang members and free hostages and then it just goes from there.  Anyway, the Department of Justice wants to make a “bigger” difference in the drug war, so they join the CIA and DOD’s Delta Force to perform operations both in the US and in Mexico.  There are multiple action / set pieces and they work – in terms of both increasing theatrical tension and creating bonding of the law enforcement team (character development).
Is the movie realistic?  I do believe it’s realistic in terms of gang violence and military capability.  No.  I don’t believe it is realistic in the depiction of action.  The action happens the way we (as an audience) would like it to happen – person shot, person drops.  But, again, it’s only a movie, so I’m willing to cut Hollywood some slack.  They are trying to entertain us, not educate us.
The movie is rated: “R” and this is deserved due to the graphic depiction of gang violence.  Having said this, it shies away from the most graphic violence of Gillick avenging his own family by killing the drug lord (and his family first, in front of him).  Today’s post title is a quote of the final words Gillick says to the gang / drug lord.
So, final recommendation: strong.  The story is good.  The action and tension builds.  The characters / actors get developed during the film.  It has a satisfying (if not happy) ending.  With the proviso that it is not for the squeamish and is correctly rated as “R”, it is worth your time if you are into spy / crime / thriller / action movies.
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On This Day In:
2017 Wealth Within
2016 Soaring
2015 Gone To The Library…
2014 Choose To Lead
2013 Not Sent Yet
2012 Wall-Crawler Reboot
Learning To Count
On Worshiping God
2011 Emancipated Differences
2010 A Little More Technology, Please…

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What makes Wikipedia really extraordinary is that it improves over time, organically healing itself as if its huge and growing army of tenders were an immune system, ever vigilant and quick to respond to anything that threatens the organism.  And like a biological system, it evolves, selecting for traits that help it stay one step ahead of the predators and pathogens in its ecosystem.
     —    Chris Anderson
Quoted from his book:   “The Long Tail
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