31 March 2024

This is NOT normal.

Whatever one may think of Joe Biden and his policies, there's no denying that Trump's posting of a photo of Biden bound and gagged in the back of a pick up truck comes perilously close to a direct threat on the life of the president of the United States. Of course you can always equivocate, but in the context of all the other Fascist memes and threats coming from MAGA, there's no denying that this is far, far from American norms and probably comes pretty close to the kind of threat the Secret Service and FBI will need to investigate. 

26 March 2024

George VI exceeds his constitutional authority on behalf of his German relatives in WW2.

This is interesting. And it is reflective of why I despise royalty, full stop. Were I British (or a citizen of any other country clinging to this hideous anachronism), I would be a Republican, in its British/Australian meaning. Nothing that has happened since 1945 convinces me that there is any value in maintaining this shameful tradition. 

I suppose with our own country at risk of descending into Fascism, one should be more circumspect, but two wrongs don't make right. 

25 March 2024

Schutz at 25

I asked ChatGPT to create an image, based on the famous Christoph Spetner portrait of Heinrich Schütz at age 80, of what he might've looked like as a young man in Venice, studying with Gabrieli, at about age 25. This is what it came up with. Spooky, almost. There is only one decent likeness of him; others from his lifetime are rather crude. This is plausible, from the image we do have. It's not 100% scientific "de-aging," but it is approximate. 

For reference, the Spetner portrait, with the Electoral Medal. 


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

Tolkien Reading Day

Today is "Tolkien Reading Day," we're told, mainly by businesses trying to sell books. I was a big fan in my youth, and did re-read the entire series (not the many patch-up prequel material, apart from the Silmarillion, which is very nearly unreadable). Three times, over the years. But, nah, not gonna read it again. ChatGPT gives the following, but the fact (actual fact) that March 25 is the traditional old-style New Year in Anglo Saxon culture has more to do with it, I suspect. 

«Tolkien Reading Day is celebrated annually on March 25th to honor the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. This date was chosen because it marks the fall of Sauron and Barad-dûr in Tolkien's Middle-earth lore, specifically in "The Return of the King", which is a significant event in his mythology. The day encourages fans of Tolkien's work to read, discuss, and celebrate his contributions to literature, fantasy, and the creation of rich, detailed worlds and languages. It's also an opportunity to explore themes central to his work, such as friendship, courage, and the struggle against darkness, which resonate with many readers around the world. The Tolkien Society initiated Tolkien Reading Day in 2003 to promote the reading of Tolkien's works and to spread awareness of his stories and characters.»

There's something rather anodyne about ChatGPT. I suspect they build in banality to avoid offending people, but, well, it's annoying.

22 March 2024

Giaches de Wert

I absolutely love, even after all these years of exploring music before 1750, to "discover" new composers from the past who have been neglected, by the music "establishment," and by me. My latest discovery is Giaches de Wert, a Flemish composer whose life spanned most of the 16th century (died 1596), and who spent most of his adult life in Italy. He was a tremendous influence on the great Monteverdi, but his music is just wonderful entirely on its own. Less famous than Gesualdo or even Vecchio, and certainly than the "greats" of the century, Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, etc., I would take his music to a desert island over all of them.... except Monteverdi of course. But I count Monteverdi as primarily a 17th century composer (d. 1643), and the greatest of that century; rivaled only by the greatest German composer before Bach,  Heinrich Schütz (d. 1672, at the age of 87). De Wert was definitely one of if not the bes of the nearly forgotten geniuses of the "high renaissance of music" in the Italian courts of Ferrara and Mantua in the 16th century. Gesualdo was more daring, no doubt, but de Wert has this lovely graciousness and even humor, as well as a profoundly emotional musical language without resorting to what could, even then, be considered gimmicks of chromaticism. 

21 March 2024

Hope for relief from 2023's hottest recorded year? Don't count on it.

I read where 2023 was the hottest year, planetwide, in recorded history, so I decided to ask Gemini (ChatGPT doesn't have access to records up to the current month, one of Gemini's clear advantages)-- about it. Sure enough, 2024 already looks potentially worse. In fact, if you forget the calendar year and look at running 12-month periods, the period from Feb. 2024 thru Jan. 2023 was the hottest 12 month period ever, beating out calendar 2023 by a statistically significant margin. 

Folks, this is bad. If people express skepticism about climate change, don't let it pass. Tell them, excuse me, I don't mean to offend, but you are wrong, and acting from ignorance on this overriding issue is reckless and dangerous. The reality is that climate change is accelerating, and is already progressing at a significantly worse level of change than was anticipated even just a few years ago. 


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

Trump appeals to his low information followers to pay his massive debts

How it is that Trump's appeal to small donors to help him pay off the judgment against him, for massive financial fraud, is able to raise one thin dime, is beyond me. 

20 March 2024

Slight variant on the most basic everyday dish

Question for foodies out there. I am not a foodie, but I like to cook a little. I've been experimenting with cooking the pasta for linguini or spaghetti to about 3/4 done, then draining and transferring it to the pan with the sauce in it to finish cooking in the sauce. Wonder how common this practice is and what you think of it? (For aglutenists, you can use chickpea or brown rice pasta). 

For 2
1/3 lb. ground beef
1 piece broken up cooked bacon
1 tbs. basil dried or use fresh 
1 tsp. thyme likewise 
6 cloves of garlic, minced
oil, pref. EVOO
2 tbs. powdered mushrooms
Pint of marinara sauce (1/2 jar)
1/3 pckg. spaghetti or other pasta
1 bell pepper, chopped, pref. red, yellow or orange; green has a "taste"
parmesan to taste

Start the garlic in a few tbs. of oil till fragrant, add meat, bacon, and cook awhile, add herbs, mushrooms, etc. then simmer covered for 30 min. or so. Add water as may be needed. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a big pot till about 3/4 done, drain, then add to the meat, turn heat to med. and cook the pasta in the sauce till done. Serve with parmesan if desired. 

Simple as pie. 


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

Creating a font from your own hand lettering

See attachment
Obviously not for everyone, but I find it intriguing. 


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

Nerd Alert: ChatGPT explains the Siletzia terrane to you

I asked ChatGPT4 to comment on the debate over whether the Siletzia terrane (where I live, coastal OR and WA), which collided with North America about 50-40 million years ago, may show indications of having passed over the Yellowstone Hotspot, then located offshore to the W of N America, before being accreted into North America. I mentioned Nick Zentner, of Cen. WA. S.U., who talked about this in one of his many videos on the formation of the Western margin of NAmer.

This is its answer:


The relationship between the Yellowstone hotspot and the Siletzia terrane, as well as their respective roles in the geological evolution of the Pacific Northwest, is a subject of ongoing research and some debate among geologists. The idea that the Yellowstone hotspot could have played a role in the volcanic activity associated with Siletzia during its formation is a hypothesis that has gained attention and is being actively explored.

Nick Zentner, a well-known geology educator from Central Washington University, has contributed significantly to public understanding of complex geological concepts through his lectures and colloquiums. His discussions often highlight the latest research and theories in the field, including those that are still being debated or refined.

The Yellowstone Hotspot and Siletzia Connection

  • Timing and Location: The timing of Siletzia's formation and accretion (approximately 50 to 40 million years ago) does coincide with the speculated position of the Yellowstone hotspot in the Pacific Ocean, according to some geological models. These models suggest that the hotspot could have been involved in the formation of volcanic features that are now part of the Siletzia terrane.
  • Volcanic Evidence: Some of the volcanic rocks in Siletzia show characteristics that could be consistent with hotspot volcanism, including high volumes of basaltic flows that could have been produced by a mantle plume (the source of hotspot volcanism).
  • Geodynamic Models: Recent geodynamic models and geological evidence have led to hypotheses that the Yellowstone hotspot may have had an influence on volcanic activity in the Pacific Northwest, including the formation of features that were later accreted to the continent as part of terranes like Siletzia.

Ongoing Debate and Research

  • Complex Subduction Dynamics: The Pacific Northwest's geological history is complicated by the simultaneous occurrence of subduction-related processes, terrane accretion, and potentially hotspot-related volcanism. Disentangling the effects of these processes and identifying the precise contributions of the Yellowstone hotspot to the region's geology are active areas of research.
  • Advancements in Technology: Improvements in geochronological dating techniques, geochemical analysis, and geophysical imaging are providing new insights into the timing, processes, and impacts of hotspot volcanism in relation to terrane formation and accretion.
  • Interpretation and Models: As with many aspects of Earth science, interpreting the geological record requires piecing together evidence that can sometimes be sparse or ambiguous. Different models and hypotheses are developed to explain the available evidence, and these can be the subject of scientific debate and revision as new information becomes available.

In summary, the hypothesis that the Yellowstone hotspot might have been involved in the formation of the Siletzia terrane is an intriguing and actively researched topic. While there is evidence that supports this hypothesis, it remains a subject of scientific investigation and debate. The geological history of regions like the Pacific Northwest is complex, and our understanding continues to evolve with ongoing research and technological advances.


16 March 2024

Foods we take for granted are "unnatural" hybrids.

I find it interesting that we tend to assume that the foods we eat come from naturally occurring plants. And of course, that's true in the broadest sense, but if you read Michael Pollan's books you know that naturally occurring apples are almost entirely inedible. Oranges and grapefruits are both hybrids of Citrus reticulata (mandarins) with other Citrus species that would never have occurred naturally. And now I learn that our sacred plant, which we worship daily, coffee (Coffea arabica, eschewing the more productive but inferior C. robusta), is itself a highly unlikely hybrid of two of the 125 or so Coffea species that occur naturally in the highlands of Eastern Africa: C. canephora and C. eugenioides. I'm reading where active research is ongoing to develop other, fruitier "coffees" from the hybridization of other species in this genus. Presumably they're also thinking in terms of the effects of climate change, which are likely to make it more difficult to meet the enormous worldwide demand for coffee through growing existing strains. Will wonders never cease?

Extremes of this phenomenon include navel oranges, Cara Cara oranges, and bananas, all of which are single-individual sterile clones reproduced commercially through grafting and vegetative reproduction. None of these artificial strains would survive a single generation without constant human attention, as they are sterile "sports." And yet major economic activities depend on these "unnatural" varieties.

13 March 2024

Critical issues separating Right from Left, and not what most people think about

Yesterday I heard some very insightful discussions, the first coming mostly from Senator and Constitutional Scholar Sheldon Whitehouse, and the second from Journalist and financial/legal expert David Cay Johnston. Both illustrated how it's not just or even primarily policy that separates the now cultlike Right Wing party from the "real American" party. Democrats are far from a "left center" party... we are the only party that seeks to preserve the essence of American small-r republican government.

Whitehouse talked about how even in the worst times of Supreme Court jurisprudence, the Anglo Saxon common law principle that appellate review, and particularly constitutional review (dating back to Marbury v. Madison) is to be based on adjudicated facts originating in the lower courts. Constitutional and legal principles are to be applied to the facts, but if a court of review finds a deficiency in the factual record, they return the case to the lower court to redetermine the facts. What the ultimate court of review is not to do, and did not do, even in Plessy v. Ferguson and other horrible decisions of the past, such as Santa Clara Co. v. So. Pac. R. R.

Whitehouse has been vocal about his critique of recent Supreme Court decisions, notably Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and Shelby County v. Holder, for what he perceives as the Court's reliance on false facts rather than established factual records from lower courts or legislative findings. In these cases, he argues that the Court engaged in inappropriate appellate fact-finding, deviating from its role of relying on trial courts for factual records and on legislatures for the factual bases of laws. This, according to Whitehouse, undermines the legitimacy of the decisions. For instance, the majority opinion in Shelby County, which invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, was criticized for relying on an outdated set of facts about voting discrimination, facts which Congress had not used when it almost unanimously extended the Voting Rights Act in 2006 The court chose to improperly substitute falsehoods of its own divining, which is just not the way it's supposed to work. Continuation of this process has become the norm, and has resulted in the Roberts Court being the worst court in history from the point of view of separation of powers and proper constraint of the arbitrary power of the Supreme Court.

Whitehouse's concerns extend beyond these cases to a broader critique of the Supreme Court's engagement with "phony front groups" and the impact of dark money in the legal process, which he discusses in his podcast "Making the Case." He and his guests examine how these factors have contributed to what they view as a "captured Court" that favors corporate interests and undermines democratic protections.

Whitehouse also connects these issues to a broader historical context, tracing the influence of corporate interests on the Court back to decisions and actions taken as far back as the Nixon administration. He emphasizes a continuous effort to establish corporate personhood and the equivalence of money to speech, culminating in decisions like Citizens United. This history showcases an ongoing struggle over the role of money in politics and the influence of corporate and dark money on the judiciary.

These developments, in my opinion, are one of the principal threats to the continuity of small-d democracy in our country.

Another is the fast and loose trashing of financial restrictions on Federal officials practiced by Trump and his administration, as discussed in detail by the brilliant David Cay Johnston. He points out that the founders of the Second American Republic (ours), after the failure of the Articles of Confederation, were particularly concerned about the effect of bribery and monetary influence. The emoluments clause, and provisions in the Constitution prohibiting the administration or Congress from taking money from states, foreign interests, or private companies or individuals due to the inherently corrosive effect of money on democratic processes. Trump immediately discarded any remnant of such principles, refusing to insulate his governance from the influence of money, or even disclose the improper financial arrangements. One could go on and on about this, but the point is the precedent is set, and without reversing Citizens United and significantly toughening the rules for financial incentives, the Founders' attempts to provide the nation with a government free of undue influence will have well and truly, and finally, failed.

It is our job as citizens to make sure this situation is fixed, and it's just as important as economic or foreign policy; probably moreso as it will determine whether the country founded in 1789 really still persists, or does so only in name.


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

10 March 2024

Ashamed for Chubb

As a retiree of over 20 years' employment with over 150-year old insurer Chubb & Son, now taken over by a Swiss company and with right wing ogre Evan Greenberg as CEO, I am deeply ashamed that they saw fit to hand Trump a gift in the form of an undercollateralized bond on the E. Jean Carroll verdict. Chubb was originally a very good and reputable company, that promoted from within, understood that its most important asset was its people, and maintained a sterling reputation for service. These crooks have ruined the company, and this fiasco is just a further black mark on an already besmirched reputation.

08 March 2024

Lincoln Project "Last Election" ad

Reminds me of the shown-only-once on TV nuclear armageddon/little girl with daisy ad from 1964. 

These guys do know how to do effective video communication. 


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

Great Line from Biden's speech

Joe Biden is an old guy with a speech impediment. But regardless, I believe his State of the Union was pretty darn great, and will help to dispel a lot of the nonsense about him. I especially liked this line, which clearly differentiates him and our party from Republicans, namely that he actually believes in the essential idea of America, and by and large they do not, especially not their cult leader.

« Our North Star. The very idea of America, that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. We've never fully lived up to that ideal, but we've never walked away from it either. »
Because, friends, the Republicans, a party controlled by that cult leader, has already walked away, and will never, ever come back. Their way leads to perdition and the end of the American ideal forever. If you don't get that, you are either delusional or just not paying enough attention to what is happening in our country.

07 March 2024

Katie Porter in contrast to Andy Kim .... keeping a Democratic Senate is vital

I have admired, and continue to admire, Katie Porter, progressive Congresswoman from Orange County, California, who was a candidate in California's senate primary. But, she should immediately accept the fact that she lost the primary. With California's jungle primary, the put-up job Republican candidate Steve Garvey came in second, and thus it will be Schiff, Democrat, vs. Garvey, Republican, in November. I might've preferred Porter to Schiff, but Schiff won, and it is absolutely vital that we Democrats keep this seat. So, Katie, accept that this is not your time, endorse Schiff, and get on with helping to unify the party.

Now, the upcoming primary in New Jersey in June is another story. The "first lady" of New Jersey, Tammy Murphy, is being pushed on the people when a better, more experienced Democrat, Andy Kim, is leading in polls. There, the party should get behind the more qualified and popular candidate-- not the more connected. Unity and victory, indeed, but that doesn't mean forcing machine politics down our throats.

Stay tuned. And by the way, if better qualified Kim is shoved aside by less-qualified but better machine-connected Murphy, I would still support Murphy, although I think that would make it much more likely that we will lose the Senate. So the unity candidate is Kim at this point.


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

06 March 2024

Corrupt Menendez must resign

Robert Menendez must resign soonest. Schumer, and if necessary, Biden himself, must call for this. We cannot afford this stink of actual corruption in our party, when so much is at stake this year. 

Community Music Workshop • Thursday March 7, 1o:30 AM • PROGRAM ATTACHED

Again, reminding everyone of the Community Music Workshop, this Thursday at 10:30 AM at the Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St., Portland. All are welcome; admission is free. Donations accepted to defray costs, most funds are donated to the Community Music Center.

We have a terrific program this month. Program attached, subject to minor corrections (hopefully not more than that!)

If you are interested in playing or have already reserved for April, please send details and/or contact me. David Studhalter at ds@gyromantic.com or 971 328-1750, text preferred.

Thanks everyone for making this work. 

05 March 2024

Phil Mandel concert link

Phil Mandel has asked me to let everyone know about the live link to his 70th birthday concert at the Reser Auditorium last September.

False Equivalency

I despise the false equivalencies of political culture in our country. Democrats confront Republican obstructionism and the media, perhaps best represented by NPR, reports that "neither side could come to agreement." Biden shows what respected clinical psychiatrists describe as normal signs of ageing, whereas Trump displays cascading and accelerating phonemic aphasia, in a syndrome which can only be caused by neurological cognitive dementia that will certainly... and pretty rapidly... get worse over time, and the media reports that the public has a choice between two old guys who sometimes slur their words. Democrats mostly, and to a fault, play by the institutional rules, whereas the MAGA movement, which has now completely taken over the Republican party, is, as a matter of objective fact, embarked on a program to completly undermine the checks and balances of representative government outlined in our Constitution, in a brazen attempt to destroy that system and replace it with the kind of authoritarianism that marked most of human history. Turning the clock back. We used to say to "before  the New Deal" but it's now to "before the 18th century Enlightenment." And what does the media report? The horserace, as if the two parties were facets of an essentially unified whole, as they perhaps were for a time during the 20th century. 

I'm not having it. Wake up, folks. We are in an existential fight for the survival of democratic governance. It has never lived up to its ideals, of course. But if we lose, and it is gone, gone, gone, we will rue the day. Believe me. I am not exaggerating, even a little. 


The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
—Henry George

04 March 2024

BRIDGETOWN BAROQUE free concert Saturday March 23 • 1:30 PM

Want to hear Telemann, Loeillet, Vivaldi, and CPE Bach played by a Baroque chamber ensemble? Free by invitation. If you would like to come, please RSVP so we can get an idea how many will be showing up. See flier for details. 

Community Music Workshop this Thursday 10:30 AM at the Community Music Center

The first Thursday of the month is upon us, so this coming Thursday March 7 at 10:30 is the Community Music Workshop, at the Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St., Portland ("the old Firehouse"). We have an excellent program for March, including a major piano work by Max Reger played by notable local pianist and teacher Nick Fontana, and various pieces by Biber, Schumann, and several 20th century American composers (among others) played by Jules Elias and Dave Knaub, Chris Schindler, and Chris Swanson. It promises to be an exciting and varied program. Watch your e mail for the program, and please come and invite your friends and family to attend.

01 March 2024

Will the Turtle endorse the mad hyena?

It seemed pretty widely expected that McConnell would endorse Trump, but I'm wondering if his announcement that he's stepping down in November may signal just the opposite. He may do what Romney did and not endorse anyone but say he won't vote for Trump, but more likely he will just not endorse at all. This is giving him too much credit, unfortunately: I'd say the most likely thing is he will eventually endorse Trump. Because... and this is really my point: the fact that Republicans believe only in their power  and not democratic governance  is nothing new. And old Turtleface is a career-long exemplar.