Poem of the week: Childhood by Anne Bradstreet — Clarkson on the midlife crisis — Testimony of Professor Jeffrey F. Addicott St. Mary’s University School of Law — Don’t miss the parade — Great Manifestation anti-avortement à Madrid — Navarre Catholic anti-abortion enclave in Spain — Neighbors thought dead man’s body was part of Halloween display — Scientists try to calm ‘2012’ hysteria — Wiki: The Moody Blues


This Sunday Blog Post includes interesting cultural articles and photographs that I found during the week from England, France, Spain, and the USA. For this Sunday, I have chosen music from the Moody Blues including “Nights in White Stain”, “I Know You Are Out There Somewhere”, “The Story In Your Eyes”, “The Other Side Of Life”, “No More Lies”, “Tuesday Afternoon”, and “Go Now”.

20091012PHOWWW00338Striking image of a red rose pierced by a projectile fired by an air rifle precision.(Alan Sailer/Visual Press Agency)

Nights in white satin,
Never reaching the end,
Letters Ive written,
Never meaning to send.

Beauty Id always missed
With these eyes before,
Just what the truth is
I cant say anymore.
..


Poem of the week: Childhood by Anne Bradstreet

Guardian – Posted by Carol Rumens

America’s first published poet turns a still-startling eye on life’s first stage

When their family home burned down in 1666, Anne Bradstreet and her husband Simon, later governor of Massachusetts, lost a library containing 800 volumes. Bradstreet had faced many setbacks and difficulties since leaving her luxurious estate in Northamptonshire for New England – not least her chronic ill-health and frequent pregnancies – but true to their traditions of Puritan fortitude, the couple rebuilt their lives yet again. And Bradstreet continued to write: she even wrote about the fire, countering despair with faith in the “hope and treasure” of the life to come.

This highly educated Englishwoman is usually considered to be the first published American poet. Her collection, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America (1659) was in fact printed in London, at the instigation of her brother-in-law, initially without her knowledge. She revised the book extensively for a later, posthumous edition.

I first came across her name in John Berryman’s 1971 masterpiece, “Homage to Mistress Bradstreet“. This monologue cast a shadow over Bradstreet’s work when I started to sample it. The various small anthologised selections always included at least one apology for her writing, love poems to her husband, and pious thoughts about her children – tame stuff after Berryman’s vigorous “homage”. To enter her world via the longer poems was a more rewarding experience. At last her own plain, brave voice became audible.

This week’s poem, “Childhood”, is the second section from her five-part sequence, “Of The Four Ages of Man“. “Lo now, four other acts upon the stage, / Childhood and Youth, the Manly and Old Age,”‘ the prologue begins. Whether Bradstreet was familiar with Shakespeare’s First Folio or had seen As You Like It performed, there’s little doubt that she is issuing a conscious challenge to Jacques’s famous speech, “All the world’s a stage”. Instead of “seven ages”, Bradstreet posits a cleanly-defined four. Her brisk couplets have a confident air, and her independent manipulation of the “stage” metaphor suggests that, while she knows she is no Shakespeare, she amply trusts the human knowledge she has, and the Puritan ethics by which she navigates.

Inventively, Bradstreet bases her “Four Stages” on the four Humours: phlegm, blood, choler and black bile. The case for seeing the child as phlegmatic is unsentimentally put: “Unstable, subtle, moist and cold’s his Nature.” Crowned with spring flowers and dressed in white, the child is imagined astride a hobby-horse and holding “an hour-glass new begun”.

Despite the props, the child is no more a real child chattering in his natural idiom than a shepherd in an Elizabethan pastoral speaks in rural dialect. Yet there is a realist note in much of his self-description, and the behind-the-scenes observation of a woman who knows small children all too well enlivens the moralising: “With weary arms she danc’d, and By, By, sung, /When wretched I (ungrate) had done her wrong.”

Carefree innocence is touchingly evoked by contrast with the machinations of political careerism. But, of course, thanks to Original Sin, the child himself is hardly guiltless: “A serpent’s sting in pleasing face lay hid.” From listing infantile sins, Bradstreet moves swiftly to the sufferings, the “vomits, worms, and flux … breaches, knocks and falls.” By the end, we can sense a palpable maternal anxiety: “At home, abroad, my danger’s manifold/ That wonder ’tis, my glass till now doth hold.”

That a 17th-century woman writer should have dared give such personal and realist “turns” to the literary and spiritual conventions is impressive. Bradstreet had survived the difficulties of her colonial exile, and learned that poetry was nourished not only by books, but from painful lived experience.

Childhood

Ah me! conceiv’d in sin, and born in sorrow,
A nothing, here to day, but gone to morrow,
Whose mean beginning, blushing can’t reveal,
But night and darkness must with shame conceal.
My mother’s breeding sickness, I will spare,
Her nine months’ weary burden not declare.
To shew her bearing pangs, I should do wrong,
To tell that pain, which can’t be told by tongue.
With tears into this world I did arrive;
My mother still did waste, as I did thrive,
Who yet with love and all alacrity,
Spending was willing to be spent for me.
With wayward cries, I did disturb her rest,
Who sought still to appease me with her breast;
With weary arms, she danc’d, and By, By, sung,
When wretched I (ungrate) had done the wrong.
When Infancy was past, my Childishness
Did act all folly that it could express.
My silliness did only take delight
In that which riper age did scorn and slight,
In Rattles, Bables, and such toyish stuff.
My then ambitious thoughts were low enough.
My high-born soul so straitly was confin’d
That its own worth it did not know nor mind.
This little house of flesh did spacious count,
Through ignorance, all troubles did surmount,
Yet this advantage had mine ignorance,
Freedom from Envy and from Arrogance.
How to be rich, or great, I did not cark,
A Baron or a Duke ne’r made my mark,
Nor studious was, Kings favours how to buy,
With costly presents, or base flattery;
No office coveted, wherein I might
Make strong my self and turn aside weak right.
No malice bare to this or that great Peer,
Nor unto buzzing whisperers gave ear.
I gave no hand, nor vote, for death, or life.
I’d nought to do, ‘twixt Prince, and peoples’ strife.
No Statist I: nor Marti’list i’ th’ field.
Where e’re I went, mine innocence was shield.
My quarrels, not for Diadems, did rise,
But for an Apple, Plumb, or some such prize.
My strokes did cause no death, nor wounds, nor scars.
My little wrath did cease soon as my wars.
My duel was no challenge, nor did seek.
My foe should weltering, with his bowels reek.
I had no Suits at law, neighbours to vex,
Nor evidence for land did me perplex.
I fear’d no storms, nor all the winds that blows.
I had no ships at Sea, no fraughts to loose.
I fear’d no drought, nor wet; I had no crop,
Nor yet on future things did place my hope.
This was mine innocence, but oh the seeds
Lay raked up of all the cursed weeds,
Which sprouted forth in my insuing age,
As he can tell, that next comes on the stage.
But let me yet relate, before I go,
The sins and dangers I am subject to:
From birth stained, with Adam’s sinful fact,
From thence I ‘gan to sin, as soon as act;
A perverse will, a love to what’s forbid;
A serpent’s sting in pleasing face lay hid;
A lying tongue as soon as it could speak
And fifth Commandment do daily break;
Oft stubborn, peevish, sullen, pout, and cry;
Then nought can please, and yet I know not why.
As many was my sins, so dangers too,
For sin brings sorrow, sickness, death, and woe,
And though I miss the tossings of the mind,
Yet griefs in my frail flesh I still do find.
What gripes of wind, mine infancy did pain?
What tortures I, in breeding teeth sustain?
What crudities my cold stomach hath bred?
Whence vomits, worms, and flux have issued?
What breaches, knocks, and falls I daily have?
And some perhaps, I carry to my grave.
Sometimes in fire, sometimes in water fall:
Strangely preserv’d, yet mind it not at all.
At home, abroad, my danger’s manifold
That wonder ’tis, my glass till now doth hold.
I’ve done: unto my elders I give way,
For ’tis but little that a child can say.


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Around 1800, sailboats, 41st edition of the Barcolana regatta in the Gulf of Trieste, northern Italy. It is one of the largest sailing races in the world. (Franco/AP/SIPA)


Clarkson on the midlife crisis

From The Sunday Times…

Jeremy’s wit and wisdom:

As I career towards old age, there are many things which frighten me. All the hair on my head will start to grow out of my nose. My ear lobes will swell up. My bladder will cease to function. I will become even more baffled by new technology.

You’re middle-aged. You have children. Your life is so boring you actually look forward to the arrival of the milkman.

The greatest fear I face is that people, once they reach the age of 50, seem to lose their sense of humour. John Cleese is a prime example.

Perhaps the biggest difference between midlife cycling and sex is that the old girl underneath doesn’t mind being called a bike.

People who don’t have a PlayStation or an account with MyBook. People who don’t go out on a Saturday night. We’re called adults.

What worries me most of all is that [Richard] Hammond’s gonna go: “Oh it’s really brilliant, I can ride standing up and everything” – and I can’t, ’cause I’m too tall and I’m too old and I’m too fat and I hate it.

What I crave in my middle age is an empty diary. Page after page of nothing.

Everyone makes love at some point without knowing that they’ll never do it again. I think if they did, they’d put a bit more effort into the final performance.

[On why men can’t pretend to be younger than they are] We hear Barry Manilow had plastic surgery and what do we think? Poof. Mickey Rourke is said to have had Botox put in his face. Poof. Jay Kay wins a prize for most stylish man. Poof. AA Gill. Poof. Paul Smith. Poof.

I sometimes wonder what I’ve done already for the last time. Skied? Flown a fighter jet? Seen the dawn at a party? It always fills me with great sadness and a resolve that I must never, ever, allow myself to be bored. This is why I shall not be going to church any more.

When we reach 50… there are many, many things you would rather do at night than have sex. Sleeping. Reading. Being dangled from a tall building by what’s left of your hair even.


20091012PHOWWW00224Blackhawk helicopter flies the ruins of the Mesopotamian Ziggurat of Ur, 300 miles south of Baghdad. This sacred temple, remarkably preserved, was built by Ur-Nammu in 2 100 BC and completed by his son Shulgi on the site of an older temple. At the top stood the sanctuary. (Ernest Sivia/AP/SIPA)


** Highly Recommended ** Excellent Audio of Dr Addicott’s speech at the San Antonio Country Club **

tprlogo

Program Archive: Jeffrey F. Addicott, Director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law

October 16, 2009 ·The World Affairs Council of San Antonio invited Jeffrey F. Addicott, distinguished Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law, to speak to their members and guests. He spoke on October 8, 2009 at the San Antonio Country Club. Addicott says that out of the 200 law schools across the country, the School of Law at St. Mary’s University is the only one with a terrorism law center. Professor Addicott is an internationally recognized authority on national security law, terrorism law and human rights law. Nancy Shivers, World Affairs Council of San Antonio Vice-President of Programs introduces Jeffrey Addicott.

Testimony of
Professor Jeffrey F. Addicott
St. Mary’s University School of Law

Before the  Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.

“What Went Wrong: Torture and the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Administration”


20091012PHOWWW00223

More than 700 Adam and Eve in a Burgundian vineyard, but without a single fig leaf! This is the work of ephemeral art made the weekend at the request of Greenpeace by the American photographer Spencer Tunick, to alert the public against the dangers that global warming poses to the vine: hail , earlier harvest, less aromatic grapes, alcohol too high. Known since 1992 for his “installations” of naked people in public places, Spencer Tunick had already managed to bring in 7 000 in Barcelona in June 2003, 1 500 Lyon in September 2005 and 18 000 in Mexico City in May 2007. (Pierre Gleizes/Rea)


Don’t miss the parade

ENGLISH EDITION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE

MIGUEL ÁNGEL AGUILAR

In Spain we have a Constitution, a flag, an anthem and a National Holiday —reason enough to consider ourselves “almost a country.” The flag is the result of a contest held in 1785 by Carlos III for a single flag to better distinguish Spanish men-of-war at sea. This was a bit late in the game: all the famous Spanish campaigns from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance — Byzantium, Italy, Flanders, America — had been conducted under various feudal banners of the king or of his various dominions.

The anthem is the old march of the Royal Guard, which has never had any convincing lyrics set to it, though in the days of Franco a musician called José de las Casas wrote an arrangement for it and then contrived to register the whole tune as his personal property, until it was nationalized in 1997. The date of the National Holiday, October 12, was also decided on fairly recently.  For a National Holiday surely nothing could be more fitting than a military parade. But the parade carries plenty of baggage, because it began as a Civil War commemoration of the winners’ victory over the losers. For 40 years, under the Franco regime, the parade was called the Victory Parade, first held on May 10, 1939, 40 days after the defeat of the Republican forces was announced over the radio from Franco’s Nationalist headquarters in Burgos, in a message that began: “The Red Army now captive and disarmed…” The term Victory Parade was not dropped until after the signing of the democratic Constitution in 1978.

I still remember the efforts made by General Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, then minister of defense in the first democratic government, to bring the high command’s loyalties over from Franco (i.e. his fascist heritage) to the king, and to substitute the term Victory Parade with Armed Forces Parade.  These were difficult times in the creation of a new loyalty which all Spaniards might share. There had to be an end to victory marches, which rubbed the faces of other Spaniards in the humiliating memory of their defeat. To this end there was plenty of rummaging about in earlier Spanish history with the aim of finding martial scenarios that were not imbued with fratricide and civil war; instances in which all Spaniards had been united fighting on the same side, or at least not openly at each others’ throats with knife in hand.  This wasn’t easy, because the winners of 1939, or those who set themselves up as their heirs, were still liable to stage courts-martial in which would-be reconcilers were charged with treason.

But reason prevailed. The armed forces ceased to form part of the threat hanging over civil liberties in Spain, and came to be the guardian of those same liberties. Spain ceased to be a country occupied by its own army, as had been the case in the time of the generalissimo (an old military superlative which, in recent times, was first used to underline Chiang-Kai-shek’s preeminence among the plethora of warlords in China, then quickly taken up by Franco’s propagandists). Franco made the army the guarantor of the continuance of fascism. In a speech to a gathering of Civil War ex-combatants in 1961, he promised that political matters in Spain would be “tied down tightly under the faithful guard of our army.” After his death this promise evaporated because the army, in the event, knew better than to attempt to keep it, and accepted the orders of the constitutional government.

Monday’s military parade coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Spanish armed forces’ first participation in international peace missions. During that time, our soldiers have served in Central America, the Balkans, Africa, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, undergoing the risks of their profession, and never stepping out of line. It is an honor to enlist in their ranks. They deserved the applause they received as they marched down the avenue.

El Pais (English Edition)(PDF)


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Interpreters of the French theater company “Transe Express” hanging over Melbourne, Australia, Monday, October 12. The international art festival runs from October 9 to 24, in collaboration with 26 countries. (William Occidental/AFP)


Great Manifestation anti-avortement à Madrid

Lefigaro.fr (avec AFP) (English Translation)

Over one million people participated in this mobilization organizers said. They were protesting against the proposed liberalization of abortion which would abort freely within 14 weeks.

Seniors, families with children and strollers, groups of adolescents, religious and priests: A human tide has flooded the center of the Spanish capital. They were more than one million Catholics supported by the Church and the right to protest Saturday in Madrid against the proposed liberalization of abortion from the socialist government. The organizers have amounted to 1.5 million people participating in this event, while the Madrid region, ruled by conservatives, has put the figure of 1, 2 million participants.

The event was organized by the Family Forum, a platform of conservative Catholic organizations, which had already brought down hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets in 2005 to protest against the law allowing gay marriage. Here, it is going even further than the only criticism of the bill. “The basic message is that the debate will not end while there is only one abortion in Spain,” said its chairman, Benigno Blanco, the Catholic daily ABC.

Abortion minors, very controversial

Former conservative prime minister Jose Maria Aznar (1996-2004) and several elected from the right, including the president of the Madrid region, Esperanza Aguirre and the secretary general of the Popular Party (PP) Maria Dolores Cospedal attended in the walk.

The bill approved September 26 in Council of Ministers and will be discussed in November in Parliament, reform legislation of 1985 which had legalized abortion under certain conditions. It was inspired by legislation in force in most countries of the European Union. If adopted as is, women living in Spain may freely abortion within 14 weeks, and exceptionally up to 22 weeks of pregnancy in cases of “risk to life and health” the mother or “severe fetal abnormalities. It can finally be played without time limit in cases of “extremely serious disease and incurable fetal.

Currently, abortion is allowed only in cases of rape (up to 12 weeks of pregnancy), fetal malformations (22 weeks) or “danger to the physical or mental health of the mother (without limitation time). But in practice, the risk to the psychological health of the mother is the reason given by over 90% of women, which gave rise to very late abortions and controversial.

The bill contains a controversial provision, including voters on the left: the minor 16 and 17 can freely abortion without consent or prior knowledge of their parents. The majority of Spaniards are opposed to this provision when they are divided into camps almost equal between supporters and opponents of reform as a whole, according to polls.


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Five blessed with the Jeanne Jugan French and Belgian Jozef Damian de Veuster, were canonized Sunday, October 11 at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI who asked to ‘open their eyes to the leprosy which disfigures humanity “. (Abaca)


Navarre Catholic anti-abortion enclave in Spain

Lefigaro.fr (Diane Cambon, Special Envoy in Pamplona) (English Translation)

About 1 million demonstrators marched Saturday in Madrid against a law relaxing the conditions for abortion.

Ten years later, Sara still dares not speak freely of the subject. No one in his entourage, or even her Spanish family knows she had to travel more than 200 kilometers to undergo an abortion at least twelve weeks of pregnancy. Pearl necklace and neat tailoring, Sara is no exception in Navarre. As some 700 other women have been forced to abort last year away from home. The Navarrese have borne the costs of transportation, operation and accommodation. “You feel like a criminal, especially one facing a very lonely time in a very sensitive cat,” says the woman, aged 43 years Saturday.

Here, in Navarre, the voluntary interruption of pregnancy (abortion) is banned. This is the only autonomous region of Spain where a doctor practicing in a public or private institution agrees to perform an abortion. All hide behind conscientious objection. Some allege this reason in moral conviction, others do not incur the wrath of the Church and especially of Opus Dei. This religious order, founded in 1928 by Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, established its fiefdom in Navarre and has been great pressure on institutions.

“We protect life”

Opus Dei runs the prestigious private hospital in Pamplona and the only medical school in the region, where abortion is one of the disciplines, with euthanasia, demonized. In the central building of the university campus, where the throne in the stern deck, a statue of the founder, Professor of Philosophy of Law Angela Aparisi returns on this local specificity: “Here we are Catholics and we protect life from fertilization. Our doctors are there to treat and relieve the patient, not to commit crimes, “said she.

Angela Aparisi as about 5 000 other inhabitants of the province will participate this Saturday in Madrid to protest anti-abortion. The Great Walk, which are expected 1 million people, several prelates and members of the Conservative Party, including former Chief Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

This new offensive of the Spanish Church and ultra-conservative circles is the new law legalizing abortion. The current legislation, dating from 1985, not decriminalized abortion in three circumstances: in cases of rape, before the 12th week in cases of malformation of the fetus before the 22nd week in cases of “risk to health or physical psychic mother “… without time limit. Now, over 98% of candidates cite this third ground.

With the new law, women could freely interrupt their pregnancy until the 14th week, as is already the case in a dozen countries of the European Union.

In Navarre, the face of future legislation, the resistance of anti-abortion is raised a notch: leafleting, lectures in schools and public places. Dr. Pablo Sanchez, a gynecologist at Planned Parenthood of Pamplona, is one of the victims of lynching “defenders of life”. Since 1990, when, with two other doctors, he was prosecuted for having achieved a score of abortions legally, it has ceased operations. “We pressured our names were published in the press, and those patients too,” protested the doctor. For him, the future law is a national progress, but he believes it will have no impact in Navarre.


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Pilgrims pray before the remains of St. Therese of Lisieux in Westminster Cathedral, containing the remains of his thigh bone and a foot. St. Therese of Lisieux, French Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis in 1897, was described by Pope Pius X as “the greatest saint of modern times.” (Oli Scarf/AFP)


Neighbors thought dead man’s body was part of Halloween display

Los Angles Times: By Seema Mehta and Martha Groves

The body of 75-year-old man sat decomposing on his Marina del Rey balcony for days because neighbors thought the lifeless figure was part of a Halloween display and didn’t call police.

Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed had apparently been dead since Monday with a single gunshot wound to one eye. He was slumped over a chair on the third-floor balcony of his apartment on Bora Bora Way, said cameraman Austin Raishbrook, who owns RMG News and was on the scene Thursday when authorities were alerted to the body.

Neighbors told Raishbrook that they noticed the body Monday “but didn’t bother calling authorities because it looked like a Halloween dummy,” he said.

“The body was in plain view of the entire apartment complex [and] they all didn’t do anything,” Raishbrook said. “It’s very strange. It did look unreal, to be honest.”

An investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the case is an “apparent suicide,” and declined to comment further.

Coroner’s officials were called to the complex at 6:42 p.m. Thursday, according to Capt. John Kades of the county coroner’s office. The official cause of death has not be announced. On Friday, Bora Bora Way was quiet with neighbors and workers going about their routines. From the street, which runs along a boat-filled marina, no evidence of the previous night’s discovery remained.

“I just knew him to say ‘Hello,’ and he was sweet and gentle,” Patricia Kingery, out for a walk, said of Zayed. “He was always well-dressed and obviously active.”

She pointed to what she said was Zayed’s corner apartment, with two balconies, one facing the marina and the other looking over a grassy area with a man-made brook and fountain.

The railing of the latter balcony was draped with what appeared to be bedding.

Earl Kepler, a UPS executive visiting from the Washington, D.C., area, said the complex seemed “a little lonely,” with few people out and about. He wasn’t surprised to hear that the dead man went undiscovered for a few days.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of community involvement,” he said.


20091012PHOWWW00308Amused, curious or simply attracted by the very appetizing aromas from the kitchen to the edge, a polar bear strafed by tourists from a cruise ship in the waters of the archipelago of Svalbard has decided to invite themselves to dinner and d ‘inspect that the cook had just aired.(Andy Rouse/REX/ SIPA)


Scientists try to calm ‘2012’ hysteria

As an upcoming action movie fuels Internet rumors, several scientists make public statements: The world will not end in 2012, and Earth is not going to crash into a rogue planet.

Los Angles Times:  By John Johnson Jr.

Is 2012 the end of the world?

If you scan the Internet or believe the marketing campaign behind the movie “2012,” scheduled for release in November, you might be forgiven for thinking so. Dozens of books and fake science websites are prophesying the arrival of doomsday that year, by means of a rogue planet colliding with the Earth or some other cataclysmic event.

Normally, scientists regard Internet hysteria with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head. But a few scientists have become so concerned at the level of fear they are seeing that they decided not to remain on the sidelines this time.

“Two years ago, I got a question a week about it,” said NASA scientist David Morrison, who hosts a website called Ask an Astrobiologist. “Now I’m getting a dozen a day. Two teenagers said they didn’t want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives.”

Morrison said he tries to reassure people that their fears are groundless, but has received so many inquiries that he has posted a list of 10 questions and answers on the website of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific ( www.astrosociety.org).

Titled “Doomsday 2012, the Planet Nibiru and Cosmophobia,” the article breaks down the sources of the hysteria and assures people that the ancients didn’t actually know more about the cosmos than we do.

“The world will not come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012,” E.C. Krupp, director of Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory, declared in a statement released Thursday by the observatory and Sky & Telescope magazine. Krupp debunks the 2012 doomsday idea in the cover story of the magazine’s November issue.

Morrison said he attributes the excitement to the conflation of several items into one mega-myth. One is the persistent Internet rumor that a planet called Nibiru or Planet X is going to crash into the Earth. Then there’s the fact that the Maya calendar ends in 2012, suggesting that the Maya knew something we don’t. Finally, end-of-the-worlders have seized upon the hubbub about the 2012 date to proclaim their belief that end times are drawing near.

Morrison, who heads the Lunar Science Institute at the Ames Research Center in Northern California, has coined a term for the phenomenon: “cosmophobia,” a fear of the cosmos. According to Morrison, for the most vulnerable among us, all of the things we’ve learned about the universe in the last century have only increased the number of potential threats to our existence.

Besides fearing a rampaging planet, the worriers think the sun might lash out at the Earth with some calamitous electromagnetic force. They also fear that some sort of alignment between the Earth and the center of our galaxy could unleash catastrophe.

Krupp said that the scare-mongers would have us believe that the “ancient Maya of Mexico and Guatemala kept a calendar that is about to roll up the red carpet of time, swing the solar system into transcendental alignment with the heart of the Milky Way, and turn Earth into a bowling pin for a rogue planet heading down our alley for a strike.”

According to Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, the Maya never predicted anything. The 2012 date is approximately when the ancient calendar would roll over, like the odometer on a car; it did not mean the end — merely the start of a new cycle.

Some authors have tried to merge that idea, Joyce said, with Maya mythology that said the Earth had gone through multiple ages of creation, each ending in a disaster. “But there’s no prediction,” she said. “They did not predict the end of the world.”

Morrison says it’s hard to know whether the people who have written to him with their fears represent a fringe or a larger cross-section of Americans who, distrustful of traditional sources of information and the authorities behind them, are falling victim to the Internet’s snake-oil salesmen…]


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More gourmand than aggressive, the bear, all nostrils out, was saturated with odor before renouncing force the passage. Spectacular, this kind of incident is not rare in Svalbard where wildlife tourism continues to grow. Excellent and very agile swimmer, the plantigrade can easily reach the ship and attempt to board. (Andy Rouse/Rex/Sipa)


The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues are an English band originally from Erdington in the city of Birmingham. Founding members Michael Pinder and Ray Thomas performed an initially rhythm and blues-based sound in Birmingham in 1964 along with Graeme Edge and others, and were later joined by John Lodge and Justin Hayward as they inspired and evolved the progressive rock style. Among their innovations was a fusion with classical music, most notably in their seminal 1967 album Days of Future Passed.

The band has had numerous hit albums in the UK, U.S., and worldwide. They remain active as of 2009. The Moody Blues have sold in excess of 50 million albums worldwide and have been awarded 14 platinum and gold discs.

The Moody Blues formed on 4 May 1964, in Erdington, Birmingham, England. Ray Thomas, John Lodge, and Michael Pinder had been members of El Riot & the Rebels, a regionally-popular band. They disbanded when Lodge, the youngest member, went to technical college and Pinder joined the army. Pinder then rejoined Thomas to form the Krew Cats and enjoyed moderate success. The pair recruited guitarist/vocalist Denny Laine, band manager-turned drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick. The five appeared as the Moody Blues for the first time in Birmingham in 1964. The name developed from a planned sponsorship from the M&B Brewery and was also a subtle reference to the Duke Ellington song, “Mood Indigo”.

Soon, the band obtained a London-based management company, ‘Ridgepride’, formed by ex-Decca A&R man Alex Murray (Alex Wharton), who helped them land a recording contract with Decca Records in the spring of 1964. They released a single, “Steal Your Heart Away” that year which made it onto the charts. But it was their second single, “Go Now” (released later that year), which really launched their career, being promoted on TV with one of the first purpose-made promotional films in the pop era, produced and directed by Wharton. The single became a hit in the United Kingdom (where it remains their only Number 1 single to date) and in the United States where it reached #10.

Their debut album The Magnificent Moodies, produced by Denny Cordell with a strong Merseybeat/R&B flavour, was released on Decca in 1965. It contained the hit single together with one side of classic R&B covers, and a second including four Laine/Pinder originals.

Wharton left the management firm and the group released a series of unsuccessful singles. In the summer of 1966, Warwick left the group. He was briefly replaced by Rod Clark but by October, Laine and Clark had also departed the group. They were immediately replaced by John Lodge, their bassist from El Riot, and Justin Hayward, formerly of The Wilde Three. Pinder phoned Hayward after reading his application to The Animals, and was impressed when Hayward played him his 45 rpm single “London Is Behind Me” during their car ride to meet the other members in Esher. After financial misfortune and a confrontation from an audience member, the band soon realised that their style of American blues covers and novelty tunes was not working for them, and they decided that they would only perform their own material. Their new style, featuring the symphonic sounds of Pinder’s mellotron and Ray Thomas’ flute, and incorporating distinct psychedelic influences, was to be developed in a concept album revolving around an archetypal day in the life of everyman.

Deram Records contract and founding of signature style

The Moody Blues’ contract with Decca Records was set to expire and they owed the label several thousand pounds in advances. They had the support, however, of Decca A&R manager Hugh Mendl, who had been instrumental in the recent establishment of London/Decca’s new subsidiary imprint Deram Records. With Mendl’s backing, The Moody Blues were offered a deal to make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák‘s New World Symphony that would promote the company’s new Deramic Stereo Sound (DSS) formatman [2] in return for which the group would be forgiven its debt.

The Moody Blues agreed, but they insisted that they be given artistic control of the project, and Mendl (as executive producer) was able to provide this in the face of Decca’s notoriously tight-fisted attitude to its artists. The group were unable to complete the assigned project, which was abandoned. They managed to convince Peter Knight, who had been assigned to arrange and conduct the orchestral interludes, to collaborate on a recording that used the band’s original material instead.

Deram executives were initially skeptical about the hybrid style of the resulting concept album. Days of Future Passed (released in November 1967) became one of the most successful pop/rock releases of the period, earning a gold record award and reaching #27 on the British album chart (five years later it was to reach #3 in the U.S./Billboard charts). The album was a song cycle that (like James Joyce‘s Ulysses) took place over the course of a single day. In production and arrangement, the album drew inspiration from the pioneering use of the classical instrumentation by The Beatles, and took the form to new heights, using the London Festival Orchestra to provide full orchestral backing throughout the album, combined with rock instrumentation centred on Pinder’s Mellotron.

Decca staff producer Tony Clarke was chosen to produce the album, and the band carried on a durable working relationship with Clarke (sometimes known to fans as “the sixth Moody”) who went on to produce all of their albums and singles for the next eleven years. Engineer Derek Varnals would also contribute heavily to the creation of the early Moodies’ studio sound.

The album plus two singles, “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon” (as a medley with “Forever Afternoon,” listed as “Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)” on the album), became massively popular, as was the 1968 follow-up LP, In Search of the Lost Chord. Also included on this album is the song “Legend of a Mind“, a song written by Ray Thomas in tribute to LSD guru Timothy Leary which encompassed a masterful flute solo performed by Thomas. Justin Hayward began playing sitar and incorporating it into Moody Blues music, having been inspired by George Harrison. Graeme Edge found a significant secondary role in the band as a writer of poetry, and nearly all of their early albums from the late Sixties begin with Mike Pinder reciting poems by Edge that were conceptually related to the lyrics of the songs that would follow. The band’s music continued to become more complex and symphonic, with heavy amounts of reverberation on the vocal tracks, resulting in 1969’s To Our Children’s Children’s Children — a concept album based around the band’s celebration of the first moon landing. The album closes with “Watching and Waiting“, composed by Ray Thomas and Justin Hayward.

Although the Moodies had by now defined a somewhat psychedelic style and helped to define the progressive rock (then also known as ‘art rock’) sound, the group decided to record an album that could be played in concert, losing some of their full-blown sound for A Question of Balance (1970). This album, reaching #3 in the American charts and #1 in the British charts, was indicative of the band’s growing success in America. Justin Hayward began an artful exploration of guitar tone through the use of numerous effects pedals and fuzz-boxes, and developed for himself a very melodic buzzing guitar-solo sound. For their next two albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) and Seventh Sojourn (1972) (which reached #1 in the U.S.), the band returned to their signature orchestral sound which, while difficult to reproduce in concert, had become their trademark. Edge, the long standing drummer-poet, started writing lyrics intended to be sung, rather than verses to be spoken.

In late 1972, a re-issue of the five-year-old “Nights in White Satin” became the Moody Blues’ biggest U.S. hit, soaring to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming a certified million-seller; the song had “bubbled under” the Hot 100 charts on its original release. The song also returned to the UK charts, reaching #9, ten places higher than its original release in 1967.

The Moodies were also among the pioneers of the idea that a successful rock band could promote itself through its own label, following the Beatles‘ creation of Apple Records. After their On the Threshold of a Dream album (1969), they created Threshold Records, prompted in part by disputes with London/Deram over album design costs (their gatefold record jackets and expensive cover art were not popular with company executives). Threshold would produce new albums and deliver them to London/Decca who acted as distributor. The group attempted to build Threshold into a major label by developing new talent — most notably the UK hard rock band Trapeze and the Portland, Oregon, classical-acoustic sextet Providence — but these efforts proved unsuccessful and the Moodies eventually returned to more traditional recording contracts. They did lay the groundwork, however, for other major acts to set up similar personal labels and distribution deals including The Rolling Stones‘ own label and Led Zeppelin‘s Swan Song, and all of the Moodies’ studio releases from 1969 to 1999 would bear the Threshold logo on at least one of their format versions.

Reunion, 1977–1990

In 1977, as the group made a decision to record together again, London Records decided to release a somewhat poorly mixed then-eight year old recording of the band performing at the Royal Albert Hall, against their artistic wishes. London/Decca did this in an attempt to re-energise a somewhat waning public interest in the Moody Blues prior to their anticipated new album, but the crude sound of the concert from 1969 titled Caught Live + 5 would clash sharply with the lush and refined sound the modern Moodies were capable of producing in the studio. By this time Pinder had married and started a family in California, so for their reunion recording, the band decamped stateside with producer Clarke. The sessions were marked with tension and division (with Pinder dropping out before completion), but by the spring of 1978 Octave was ready for release. Pinder, citing his young family, excused himself from the touring commitments that were to follow.

During this period, the prog-rock band Yes had asked their keyboard player, Patrick Moraz, to leave. Moraz’s management had some contacts with the Moodies, and after a successful audition with the band in England in 1978, he was hired as keyboard player for the Octave World Tour that began in Germany in October. In spite of these difficulties, the album itself sold well and produced the hits “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone“, written by Lodge and “Driftwood“, written by Hayward. The music video produced for “Driftwood” features Moraz, although Mike Pinder was the one who played on the actual recording; the video for “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone” simply shows the other four members without Pinder.

The Moodies toured the U.S. and Europe during much of 1979. By 1980 they were ready to record again, this time bringing in producer Pip Williams. Moraz was retained as the band’s permanent keyboardist, though Pinder had originally understood that he would continue to record even if not tour with the band. Pinder attempted legal measures to prevent the new Moody Blues album from reaching the public without his contribution, but he was not successful, and ultimately, he never returned to the fold. Released in 1981, Long Distance Voyager was a colossal success, reaching #1 on Billboard and top 5 in the UK. The album yielded two hits, “The Voice“, written by Hayward, and “Gemini Dream“, written by Hayward and Lodge. By now, the mellotron had been set aside as their primary keyboard instrument and the band embraced a more modern, less symphonic approach. The marketing formula for the band demanded from this time forward that a Justin Hayward song would be used to lead off their studio albums, as his material was the most popular…]

Source:  Wiki


20091012PHOWWW00227Pilot Sean Tucker and Major Nathan Miller ( F/A18 Hornet U.S. Navy) flying over the whole bay of San Francisco, October 8. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)


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