Monthly Archives: August 2009

Crowdsourcing Opera

And now for something completely different! According to BBC NEWS:

The Royal Opera House is to stage an opera created through social networking site Twitter. Members of the public have been invited to submit their “tweets” online – messages of up to 140 characters – which will form the new libretto.

The first scene of the as-yet-untitled work has already been completed and features a man who has been kidnapped by a group of birds.

Now for some, this is a great way of engaging more people in Opera (assuming the libretto comes out well). For others, they may say: well, the libretto doesn’t count for much anyway! Either way you look at it, it promises to be a novel and innovative way of connecting opera with…well, everyone.

Go to the BBC article for more info.

Seeing a doctor in Canada vs. the U.S.

James Fallows has alot of good things to say about many things, including the recent debate about health care in the U.S. In this post,
On why I can’t get in to see my doctor, he quotes a writer from Nova Scotia, Parker Donham, who wrote:

I live in a tiny Nova Scotia community, about 45 minutes from the nearest small city. When I want to see my “good-but-normal” doctor (the same one I’ve had for 35 years), I don’t make an appointment. I call and ask what hours he will be in the office that day, then show up at a time convenient for me. I bring The Atlantic to read for the 10-20 minutes it takes to see him.

As we watch Americans debate the future of their health care system, it’s galling for Canadians to hear opponents of reform demonize our single-payer system with discredited tales of health care denied. I am in good health, and enjoy excellent medical care. A close relative whose serious congenital heart condition leads to frequent, sometimes grave emergencies and occasional surgical interventions likewise receives superb care.

I emphasized the line in bold because I feel exactly the same way. After a recent accident, I phoned up to see my doctor (who is in Toronto) for a checkup. It wasn’t an emergency, so it took me a few days to see her. (Somedays I have gotten in on the same day, but she is busy, so it usually takes me a day or two. And by the way, I have a harder time getting a haircut appointment or a plumber.) I had to get an X-ray and an ultrasound. I literally walked out the door to the office building 1 minute away and put my name down for both. They said the wait would be an hour. I went and had lunch and then got it done. I was called by the nurse with the results in two days. Total cost for all this care: $0.

Can our health care system be better? Certainly. I don’t think there is a country in the world that would not say that. But the nonsense and propaganda I read about our health care system by some American writers amounts to lying. I don’t see how that helps the debate in the U.S. or the health of Americans.

Boneheaded comment of the day

On many blogs, people are having great fun mocking this criticism of How House Bill Runs Over Grandma:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

What is ridiculous about this comment is that Hawking lives in the U.K. Perhaps the N.H.S. just has caught up with him yet? 🙂

There are lots of valid ways to criticize the upcoming House Bill in terms of costs, conflicts of interest, quality of service, etc. But if you include stuff like this, the rest of your arguments quickly lose their credibility. And of course, the whole “death panel” concept is equally ridiculous.

And at the End, All the Comforts of the Carlyle

Good fiction is open to interpretation. Great fiction inspires interpretation.

I did not think obituaries could also inspire such things, until I read this one in the It starts:

Marie-Dennett McDill loved the Carlyle Hotel.

She stayed there whenever she was in New York, and adored the regular entertainers like Bobby Short and Eartha Kitt at the Café Carlyle, and the pianist Loston Harris in the lively Bemelmans Bar. She loved the uniformed elevator men and bellmen and the family of longtime staff. She loved that Central Park was only a short block away.

So when Mrs. McDill, who grew up in society in Washington and was enjoying an outdoors life in South Woodstock, Vt., learned she had terminal cancer this summer, her family immediately booked her a suite on the eighth floor for an open-ended stay, but one they sadly knew would not be open-ended enough.

The entire obituary reads like a synopsis of an great fictional story, but it is true. I’ve read it a number of times, and everytime that I have, I have reflected upon it in different ways.

Try reading it, then reading again some time later.

Why aren’t people looking for “Peace” anymore?

I put “peace” in quotes because for the last few weeks, people have entering “peace” into search engines and landing on my site. Each day 50-100 or more people would land on my site that way. Suddenly this week, that all went away!

The search engine giveth, and the search engine taketh away. 🙂 I can’t believe suddenly people stopped being interested in peace.

The great Roger Ridley, Playing for Change

Roger Ridley, a great performer, performs Bring It On Home, a great song,  as well as anyone. Take a listen….

There are many mediocre performers in the world who get far too much attention. And there are great performers like Roger Ridley, performers who, when you hear them, you think: man, more people ought to hear this person! That’s what I thought when I heard him. I hope you feel the same way.

Thanks to Playing for Change for bringing Roger to our attention. You should check them out, too.

Iran: The Rooftop Project

Iran: The Rooftop Project from is

meant to be the most complete possible collection of recordings of nighttime protest in Iran since the beginning of the uprising. Its goal is to locate and profile at least one video for each night primarily focusing on the nightly chanting of Allah-o-Akbar from the rooftops whenever that footage is available.

It is haunting to hear the nightly cries of Iranians protesting what has become of their country. We should listen.