Category Archives: Featured

Mutations and Ageing

That all living things age and then die has been of interest ever since the dawn of abstract thought. With the advent of molecular biology the prospect of studying the ageing process has become a scientific reality that casts aside random speculation. A multi institutional study from the UK just published in Nature, Somatic mutation…


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The Gordon Riots – 1780

Andrew Roberts in his biography of George III, (The Last King of America) which I’ll get to in a subsequent post, describes the Gordon Riots of 1780 as the worst catastrophe to befall London during the interval between the Great Fire in 1666 and the Blitz which began in 1940. Those who saw the disorder…


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Madness is a Feature, Not a Bug

“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” The sentence opens Rafael Sabatini’s novel Scaramouche. It’s also engraved on his tombstone. And it’s also true. Humans as the price for their exalted state of consciousness have been condemned by providence to eternal madness. The two are unalterably…


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Too Much

Winston Churchill remarked that a dominant characteristic of Germany and its people was a tendency to too much. I don’t think the great man was being fair to his Teutonic cousins as the trait seems universal, even more so with every change of the calendar. The descriptor seems to best apply to those parts of…


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Smaller Brains

The human brain is the most complex structure known. As human-like species evolved over several million years into homo sapiens, hominid brain size tripled. Today the average human brain weighs about three pounds. Our nearest primate relative, the chimpanzee, has a brain that weighs less than a pound. Our brains constitute about 2% of body…


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Met Opera Cancels Next 100 Seasons

Metropolitan Opera general Manager Peter Gelb announced that following this season the venerable company will take a century long sabbatical. The not unexpected action followed Anthony Tommasini’s likening of the current run of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Puccini’s final opera Turandot to “anti-asian” hostility. Mr Tommasini, music critic for the New York Times, has pointed…


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Pericles’ Funeral Oration

Pericles’ Funeral Oration was recorded, in an edited version, by Thucydides in book two of his History of the Peloponnesian War. The speech was delivered at the end of the first year of the war with Sparta – around 430 BC. It was an Athenian custom of the time to hold an annual commemorative event to…


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On Musical Performance

For a long time I thought that the role of the performer was simply to play (or sing) the notes exactly as they were written in the score. It gradually dawned on me that this literal approach to musical performance was rather simple minded. During my come scritto period I thought Toscanini the prince of…


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Henri Legay

Henri Legay (1920-92) was a French tenor whose career was mostly based in Paris. For a while he supported himself singing while accompanying himself with a guitar at Parisian cabarets. He composed some of the songs he sang. He also played for Edith Piaf and Ives Montand. in 1947 he received a first prize from…


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One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

There are books abut white fragility which get a lot of attention, both pro and con. Someone needs to write a tome entitled Fragility without any modifier. The pandemic now stalking the world is not the one caused by a newish virus, it’s the one due to a fervid worldwide outbreak of the woollies and…


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