Practice: Layakari And Melodic Variation Within A Bandish

When students remark that they “don’t know how to practice,” I usually interpret it as meaning that they haven’t yet internalized the processes of time allocation and work analysis to make the best use of their limited practice time — and they wind up doing vaguely “sloppy” practice and feeling guilty about not being more rigorous.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place for relaxed, sloppy practice. If all your practice is rigid and meticulous, you’re missing out on the serendipitous possibilities of musical free inquiry.

But instructions as to the methodology of messing around are a different order of being, and that’s not what this posting is about. Just as a singer should spend a certain amount of time in free play, he or she needs to put in some regular time on building the skills that will ensure easy, consistent and correct performance capability.

Probably the easiest of these skills to teach through a blog post is layakari, the manipulation of rhythm in interesting patterns — which is why previous practice postings have focused on this area. Today’s is no exception.

I will present another reductionist approach to developing layakari skills within the confines of a teentaal bandish.

more »

Month 12, Day 31: If You Keep Being Right, We’ll Probably Just Have To Kill You

The Toronto Globe and Mail has an article on the escalation of storms on the East Coast, noting that a coastal weather expert believes that Climate Change might have something to do with it. The comments section is stupid beyond belief.

The increased frequency and severity of storms and unusual weather events is exactly what climatologists have been predicting for years as a long-term consequence of the greenhouse effect. Now that their forecasts are coming true, something quite remarkable is happening. Rather than receiving long-overdue and well-deserved recognition, these researchers are mocked, derided, threatened with de-funding, and stigmatized as threats to society. Why? Because they were right? The denialist conspiracy theory that an international cabal of scientists is plotting to achieve world dominance is far less likely than the alternative theory: that a group of petroleum billionaires and the multinational corporations they run are spending huge quantities of money to delay the day when their product is recognized as being profoundly toxic to the long-term health of both our planet and our civilization. The fossil fuel industry is a global version of Big Tobacco. Smoke and lies, smoke and lies.

Warren Senders

Month 12, Day 30: It’s Only A Movie?

The Gisbourne Herald (NZ) runs an article asserting that there is “Clear scientific consensus that we are cooking the planet . . .”

Many of the other letters and articles in this paper (of which I’ve never heard) are full of denialist stupidity. So I thought I’d address that a bit. The movie analogy is new; I look forward to refining it in days to come.

Cui bono? Who benefits? When reading the assertions of climate-change deniers, we should investigate each position’s sources of money. On one side, scientific establishments: chronically underfunded, staffed by people deeply interested in their fields of expertise, with a system of fact-checking and theoretical rigor (peer review) that remains the world’s standard of intellectual quality. On the other side, big energy companies — making billions of dollars in profits, with a proven track record of disregard for the common good, and a system of misinformation and propaganda that includes heavily funded “think tanks” and access to the world’s most influential media. So-called “skeptics” are imagining the wrong movie. This isn’t a thriller where a cabal of mad scientists attempt to take over the world; this is the one where dedicated researchers attempt to alert humanity to a clear and present danger, but are mocked by short-sighted, profit-hungry corporate sociopaths.

Warren Senders

Third (and final) Time This Year!

I’m in the New York Times, with the letter I wrote last week about their excellent Keeling bio.

Month 12, Day 29: I Came For The Waters. I Was Misinformed.

The Orange County Register fumes about the EPA’s intention to step up its regulatory regime. It’z FASHIZM, I TELZ YA, FASHIZM!

They bring in a Pollution lobbyist, a former Bush apparatchik, to spew forth his particular brand of noxious nonsense:

“If the regulations actually force companies to make meaningful emission reductions, they will drive up energy costs and be very expensive,” observed Jeffrey R. Holmstead, who headed the EPA’s air and radiation office under President George W. Bush and now represents utilities and other greenhouse emitters that would be affected.

So I thought I’d unpack that quote a bit.

Jeffrey Holmstead’s statement that forced emissions reductions will increase the cost of energy is misleading, and his clients (greenhouse gas emitters) pay him well for his obfuscation. Let’s examine his words closely. First, it is only in a short-term sense that fossil fuels are cheap; if we factor in the costs of cleanup, health effects, and the costly wars we wage to protect our sources, it’s clear that oil and coal were never inexpensive to begin with. Second, energy companies have never been particularly reluctant to pass along higher prices to the consumer; they’re worried about their profits, not our savings. Third, the costs of failure on climate change will dwarf the costs of action. The EPA’s regulatory initiatives are essential elements of a robust and meaningful climate policy, which could save us trillions over the next century. When floodwaters are rising, only fools complain about the price of sandbags.

Warren Senders

Month 12, Day 28: Beginners’ Luck

The Contra Costa Times runs an article highlighting the work of a climate delegate from the Cook Islands. At the time I wrote this letter, there was but one comment on the article, a pitch-perfect version of the teabag denialist mentality.

It is true: Americans have been protected from the increasingly severe ravages of climate change by the luck of the geographical draw. It’s also true that Americans are insulated (but not protected) from the facts of global warming by a complacent and lazy media that prefers the ease of he-said/she-said stenography to actual reporting and factual analysis. At least the first part of this equation is going to change in the decades to come, as the consequences of the greenhouse effect are felt ever more on the North American continent. As to whether our news and communications systems are up to the task of informing Americans about the nature of the emergency we face, we have good reason to be skeptical. Looking at the contorted rationalizations of climate deniers in the public, in the media and in our politics, it is harder and harder to believe that our country’s citizens can recognize the crisis before it is too late. The citizens of the Cook Islands do not have the luxury of ignorance; for them, the rising waves have already arrived.

Warren Senders

Month 12, Day 27: Julian Hunt Tells It Like It Is

The South Bend Tribune runs an excellent piece by Julian Hunt, outlining what we’ve got to do, and some of the problems we’re going to face.

Julian Hunt’s advice is prescient. The fact is that the climate crisis has been enabled and accompanied by a breakdown in many of the systems we human beings have taken for granted. The collapse of our political system, ruled by the outrageous requirements of campaign financing and hobbled by the short-term scheduling of electoral cycles. The breakdown of our economic system, incapable of self-preservation because of its fixation on immediate profitability. Our disaster of a communications system: spreading stupidity, driven by cupidity, offering gaudy distraction after gaudy distraction while “balancing” scientific facts with egregious misrepresentations. We need to recognize the reality of climate change and begin planning for how to deal with it in our lives and the lives of our descendants. We need to recognize the reality of climate change and begin planning for how to deal with it in our lives and the lives of our descendants. — and we will receive little or no help from politicians, corporations or the media, all complicit in an unintentional synergy of ignorance, incompetence and greed.

Warren Senders

Month 12, Day 26: Boxing Day Special Edition

The Guardian (UK) sounds a call to action:

On an observatory 11,000 feet high on Mauna Loa, a volcano in Hawaii, a pair of ageing, automated detectors have been churning out details about the make-up of our atmosphere for several decades. This month, they produced their most alarming result to date. They showed that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have touched 390 parts per million – a 40% increase on pre-industrial levels.

The timing was striking. Just as negotiators were reaching their compromise deal on global warming in Cancún two weeks ago, the Mauna Loa machines showed the problem of greenhouse gas emissions – left largely unresolved in Mexico – have reached an unprecedented level. Humans have procrastinated while the composition of the air around us has changed remorselessly.

It is a point stressed by Pieter Tans, who heads the US government’s carbon monitoring programme. “I find it shocking,” he said after Republican politicians claimed carbon dioxide posed no threat to Earth. “We really are in a predicament here and it’s getting worse every year.”

The comments at the bottom of this article prompted this letter.

Unable to refute the facts, global-warming deniers resort to conspiracy theories of ever-greater intricacy in their efforts to explain away a worldwide consensus of experts. Some paranoid constructions insist that climatologists seek to profit on so-called “green technologies”; others claim that attempts to mitigate global warming’s effects herald an attempt to impose a One-World Socialist Regime. Religious framings often assert the inevitability of the Biblical Armageddon simultaneously with the notion that “God won’t let climate change happen.” Finally there is the claim that humanity will be fine when atmospheric CO2 levels reach 600 or so, since they were much higher at earlier points in Earth’s history. Only this last theory, which suggests scientific misunderstanding rather than willful obduracy, is worthy of response. While CO2 was indeed much higher in the Mesozoic Era than it is today, this accumulation took millions and millions of years, allowing life an opportunity to adapt. Anthropogenic global warming will accomplish the same transformation in a century or so. Abrupt changes can be catastrophic. Just ask anyone whose car has hit a wall.

Warren Senders

The Very Definition of Conservative Veriphobia

My letter to the Jakarta Times got picked up by a Colorado Conservablogger.

This is a good one, friends. It’s headlined:

“The Very Definition of America-Hating Liberal Guilt”

Then he cites my letter published in the Jakarta Times a few days ago.

To refresh your memory, I wrote:

As a US citizen, I must accept responsibility for my own nation’s abject failure to take responsibility for its actions.

As the world’s largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases and as the enabler of a consumerist lifestyle which, if left unchecked, is absolutely certain to submerge the planet in giga tons of toxic trash, the United States has been the driving force behind the climate crisis.

Unfortunately, my country’s responsibilities are unlikely to be met any time soon, for we are in the grip of a political crisis brought about by a national exaltation of demagoguery and ignorance.

Thus our governing bodies are riddled with arrogant men and women who dismiss scientific expertise as irrelevant, preferring the comforts of ancient superstition.

Global warming’s realities are terrifying. But as citizens of ocean states can attest, ignoring those facts will surely lead to outcomes beside which our nightmares will pale into insignificance.

Warren Senders
Medford, Massachusetts

And here’s Colorado Right’s response, with my interpolations:

So we start off with a line that could be lifted from just about any Barack Oprompter speech outside the US apologizing for their country.

Whereas Conservatives know that taking responsibility, either for your own actions or those of your country, is totally wimpy and self-hating! America doesn’t have to take responsibility for what it does, because WE’Z NUMBAR WUN!

Indeed. We’re Number One in the production of trash, for one thing, which is another way of saying America is tops in the world at subtracting value from things (that’s what trash is, right? Stuff from which value has been removed.).

Anyway, USA ROOLZ, just because we can.

Next:

Breast beating about how we use lots of energy since we manufacture and consume so much that our economy is still 20% of global world output. In other words – we generate more economic activity and energy in 2 days than the entire country of Indonesia does in a year. Yeah, that’s something to be really sorry about.

And how much of that manufacturing and consumption is for stuff that, y’know, actually adds value to the world? Just because you pay money for the gas you burn while your Hummer idles outside the coffeeshop doesn’t make it an actual contribution of anything except greenhouse gases.

And the point I was making is of course that if we’re the ones generating all the pollution, we should be the ones taking responsibility for cleaning it up. And, furthermore, if a country like Indonesia, with a carbon footprint that’s less than a rounding error, finds its actual existence imperiled because of rising sea levels (triggered by climate change brought about by greenhouse emissions), then we have a moral responsibility to address the problem, rather than just shouting “USA ROOLZ!!”

Which loops me back to the issue of responsibility, addressed above.


Islamic foreigners think the US is Satan anyway – so knocking your own country as “a national exaltation of demagoguery and ignorance” and “riddled with arrogant men and women who dismiss scientific expertise as irrelevant” will make them feel so good about you. Of course you little knock about ancient superstition – does that include say Islamic beliefs about having 4 wives and marrying off your 9 year old girls?

When faced with irrefutable facts, what do you do?

YIKES SKAREEE MOOOOOOSLIMS!!!!! ZOMG!!!! OH NOEZ!!!!

Mind you, I hold all the Abrahamic sects in more or less equal regard.

Here’s a conditional for you: If America’s founders had been Islamic schismatics in search of a new place to carry on their particular version of their particular version of the tribal creed, and their descendants had written a secular Constitution with a First Amendment just like our own back in the late 1700’s…and modern America was filled with fundamentalist Islamic historical revisionists who were trying to argue that “America has always been a fundamentally Judeo-Mohammedan nation”…and they were denying climate science in the bargain — why, I’d have written exactly the same letter.

And here’s the one sure thing Warren – when Islam takes over America you will be one of the first ones up against the wall. Regardless of how much you grovel from your centrally heated and air conditioned, 24 hour per day electrically provisioned, suburban house that any Indonesian would chew off their arm to live in.

When Islam takes over America? What on Earth are you smoking?

I swear, Conservative Islamophobes are the biggest bunch of bedwetters I’ve ever seen.

On the other hand, when Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh are submerged or rendered uninhabitable by rising ocean levels, there will be millions of climate refugees, all extremely pissed off at the industrialized West for very good reason. Where will they go? YIKES OMG!!!

Therefore, the best way to avoid an Islamic takeover of America is to fight global warming. Q.E.D.

The ball’s in your court, Spiro.

This article has been crossposted under my Username at Daily Kos.

Month 12, Day 25: Merry Christmas!

The Independent (UK) runs a discussion on the likelihood that Europe’s winters are going to get more and more severe…while Greenland and the Arctic ice cap continue to melt. It’s a good article!

The idea that an increase in planetary temperatures could increase the severity of European winters is just one of the many counterintuitive notions accompanying the gradually metastasizing climate crisis. While people not distracted by short-term phenomena are alarmed by the daily passing of ever more significant climatic tipping points, those who cannot differentiate between weather and climate cite each and every local cold snap as evidence that scientists’ prognostications are full of hot air. The burgeoning intellectual growth industry of global warming denial is largely funded by multinational oil corporations — which thus stand revealed as incomprehensibly myopic. One would expect the world’s most powerful economic entities to be capable of planning for the long run, to recognize the impact on profit margins of a world whose infrastructure, agriculture and politics have been rendered unrecognizable by climate chaos. Their abject incompetence is weirder by far than an extra-cold European winter.

Warren Senders