Monday, July 28, 2014

Western Morality & Western Democracy

 Western Civilization

Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.
Thomas Sowell, "Political Trade-Offs," Knowledge and Decisions (1980)
 
Here is a recent article from Reuters ("China warns officials against aping Western morality; July 20, 2014):
China's ruling Communist Party will step up ideological education of officials to prevent them from aping Western moral standards and strengthen their faith in communism to help in the fight against pervasive corruption, state media said.
"Profound social-economic changes at home and abroad have brought multiple distractions to officials who face loss of faith and moral decline," the official Xinhua news agency cited a statement from the party's powerful Organisation Department, which oversees personnel decisions.

"The conviction and morals of officials determine the rise and fall of the Communist Party and the country," Xinhua added, in a report late on Sunday."Officials should keep firm belief in Marxism to avoid being lost in the clamor for western democracy, universal values and civil society," it said.

The party has warned repeatedly that its members should not be lead astray by Western concepts of human rights and democracy, saying that China has the right to promote its own interpretation of such ideas to better suit its national condition and level of economic development.
China's communist party leaders understand the wide appeal of Western morals, and thus have every reason to fear them if they want to retain power; thus, attacking them as foreign and not Chinese is one strategy to maintain the power of the party. But do we here in the West understand the connection between Western morality, ethics and philosophy and our democratic institutions and human rights, of democracy in general as well as these Chinese leaders do?

This question's importance is not always apparent or appreciated to us living in Western democracies, which have all undergone the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution and which have all well-functioning and -operating civil societies. But Western democracy (and the history it contains) not only informs our thinking, it also underpins our fundamental understanding of human rights and of human ethics & morality. In short, it gives our Western civilization a working framework of right and wrong that took hundreds of years of thought and trials and wars to develop and implement.
 
Today, it could be said with a high degree of certainty that people have a strong desire to feel good about themselves and of their views and actions; that it is often the case that emotionalism and sentimentalism informs their thoughts. It can also be said with the same degree of certainty that the West faces the opposite situation that China does—Western morals and its fundamental ideas are under attack from Leftist ideologies, notably Marxism. There is a verse in the bible that I have always found important and have taken to heart; it is found in the book of Hosea, one of the minor prophets, who makes a major statement: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge" (4:6).

What the Chinese party officials fear, we ought not take for granted.

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All of the thoughts and ideas of this essay emanate from a western moral and philosophical point of view; I have written a number of essays on this topic, notably here, here and here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Electro-Therapeutics For The Body

Advances in Medicine



A pictorial essay in The Public Domain review looks at some of the late 19th-century and early 20th-century uses of electrical-induced therapies or electro-therapeutics (i.e., high-frequency electrical currents) to cure a host of body ailments, including acne, lesions, insomnia, abnormal blood pressure, depression and hysteria. The treatment for the latter "disease" for women was often achieved through the use of an early form of a vibrator, where the patient was brought to "hysterical paroxysms." Or, in other words, to organisms. Pretty shocking stuff, when compared to today.

Samuel Howard Monell, an American physician from New York City, is the man credited with advancing this medical technique. One important work is Elements of correct technique: Clinics from the New York School of Special Electro-therapeutics (1900). In the Preface (September 20, 1900) he writes:
After four years of teaching physicians how to acquire skill in Electro-Therapeutic technique my general missionary work in this field ends. Henceforward the teaching that I do will be confined to my personal methods of employing static electricity which take this great agent from out the rut of routine abuse and make it an instrument of scientific precision and of extraordinary utility.
As a substitute for my clinical instruction this book is designed to furnish physicians a series of practical Home-Clinics and personal tests of current action which will transform the novice into an expert with reasonable study. Much original information is also added.

This Manual is supplementary to my other books and covers other ground. It teaches the physician to explore electric currents at home. Much of the matter in these chapters is not in print elsewhere, and is not included in either clinical or correspondence instruction at present. Accurate selection, precise dose regulation, approved methods, the art of artistic technique, progressive efficiency and superior therapeutic results, are placed at the command of the careful student of this book.
 Here is a photo of a nursing mother using high-frequency current to stimulate lactation, or to increase the supply and flow of milk.



And here is a photo of a young healthy and robust-looking boy holding the electrical apparatus; perhaps he was the child of the young woman above:



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 For more, go to [PubDomRev].
A selection of images from High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry (1910) by champion of electro-therapeutics Samuel Howard Monell, a physician who the American X-Ray Journal cite, rather wonderfully, as having “done more for static electricity than any other living man”. Although the use of electricity to treat physical ailments could be seen to stretch back to the when the ancient Greeks first used live electric fish to numb the body in pain, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries – through the work of Luigi Galvani and Guillaume Duchenne – that the idea really took hold. Monell claims that his high frequency currents of electricity could treat a variety of ailments, including acne, lesions, insomnia, abnormal blood pressure, depression, and hysteria. Although not explicitly delved into in this volume, the treatment of this latter condition in women was frequently achieved at this time through the use of an early form of the vibrator (to save the physician from the manual effort), through bringing the patient to “hysterical paroxysm” (in other words, an orgasm). These days electrotherapy has been widely accepted in the field of physical rehabilitation, and also made the news recently in its use to keep soldiers awake (the treatment of fatigue also being one of Monell’s applications). - See more at: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/high-frequency-electric-currents-in-medicine-and-dentistry-1910/#sthash.k092KgEB.dpuf


A selection of images from High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry (1910) by champion of electro-therapeutics Samuel Howard Monell, a physician who the American X-Ray Journal cite, rather wonderfully, as having “done more for static electricity than any other living man”. Although the use of electricity to treat physical ailments could be seen to stretch back to the when the ancient Greeks first used live electric fish to numb the body in pain, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries – through the work of Luigi Galvani and Guillaume Duchenne – that the idea really took hold. Monell claims that his high frequency currents of electricity could treat a variety of ailments, including acne, lesions, insomnia, abnormal blood pressure, depression, and hysteria. Although not explicitly delved into in this volume, the treatment of this latter condition in women was frequently achieved at this time through the use of an early form of the vibrator (to save the physician from the manual effort), through bringing the patient to “hysterical paroxysm” (in other words, an orgasm). These days electrotherapy has been widely accepted in the field of physical rehabilitation, and also made the news recently in its use to keep soldiers awake (the treatment of fatigue also being one of Monell’s applications). - See more at: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/high-frequency-electric-currents-in-medicine-and-dentistry-1910/#sthash.k092KgEB.dpuf

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream: The Balanchine Ballet




Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: A Midsummer Night's Dream
 
This is a from a February 2007 production from Milan's La Scala, with Ballet and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Nir Kabaretti, conductor. This ballet is in two acts and follows the same-titled play of William Shakespeare. Here are the particulars of this performance:

Titania: Alessandra Ferri
Oberon: Roberto Bolle
Titania's partner: Massimo Murru
Puck: Riccardo Massimi
Hermia: Deborah Gismondi
Helena: Gilda Gelati
Demetrius: Vittorio D'Amato
Lysander: Gianni Ghisleni
Hippolyta: Sabrina Brazzo
Theseus:  Matteo Buongiorno
Bottom: Camillo Di Pompo
Moth: Sophie Sarrote

Act Two
: Pas de deux: Marta Romagna, Mick Zeni
Irina Kapanadze: soprano
Kete van Kemoklidze: mezzo-soprano
Restaging: Patricia Neary, Sara Leland, and Nanette Glushak
Choreography: George Balanchine

Wiikipedia writes a little about the George Balanchine production's history:
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a two-act ballet choreographed by George Balanchine to Felix Mendelssohn's music for Shakespeare's play of the same name. In addition to the incidental music, Balanchine incorporated other Mendelssohn works into the ballet including Overtures to Athalie, Son and Stranger, and The Fair Melusine, Symphony No. 9 for Strings and The First Walpurgis Night.[1] A Midsummer Night's Dream is Balanchine's first completely original full-length ballet, and premiered at New York City Ballet on January 17, 1962 [1][2] with Edward Villella in the role of Oberon, Melissa Hayden in the role of Titania, and Arthur Mitchell in the role of Puck. The ballet employs a large children's corps de ballet.[3] Act I tells Shakespeare's familiar story of lovers and fairies while Act II presents a strictly classical dance wedding celebration. The ballet dispenses with Shakespeare's play-within-a-play finale. A Midsummer Night's Dream opened The New York City Ballet's first season at the New York State Theater in April, 1964.[1]
In a 1989 review ("Magic Afoot Again in Oberon's Land"; February 11, 1989) of the ballet, Anne Kisselgoff writes for The New York Times:
George Balanchine's ballet version of ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' loses no time in plunging into its music and dancing. The plot is not given short shrift but is compressed with cinematic swiftness into a minimum of dramatic posturing.

Thus when Gen Horiuchi, as Oberon, twisted into the air like a corkscrew at a tilt, this amazing turn brought the house down at the New York State Theater on Thursday night. The astounding aspect was not the seemingly impossible number of turns (two and a half) but the fact that Mr. Horiuchi fit them all into the music.

Mendelssohn's music inspired Balanchine as much as Shakespeare's play in 1960. This first performance of the New York City Ballet season, conducted vibrantly by Robert Irving, was led with grandeur and spark by Darci Kistler, Mr. Horiuchi and Jean-Pierre Frohlich.
It is currently midsummer.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pressburger Klezmer Band: Tants Mit Mir



In this November 30th, 2012, performance at the City Theatre Bratislava, the Pressburger Klezmer Band— Merlin Shepherd on clarinet, Miroslav Vukovic on accordion, Dalibor Martinov on percussion, Michal Palko on dulcimer, and Anita Ribar on lead vocals—perform some klezmer songs. Bratislava, with more than 400,000 residents is the capital of Slovakia, and is considered its political, economic and cultural centre; Before 1919, it was called, in English, by its German name, Pressburg, chiefly because the majority of its residents before then spoke German.

Tants Mit Mir (2012)

01 Double Moyshe 04:21

02 Wedding in Crown Heights 03:19
 
03 Di mame hot mir geshikt 02:31
 
04 Šetnja Balkanom 04:50
 
05 Kad ja podoh na Bembašu 05:58
 
06 Ciganka sam mala 03:33
 
07 Kosovski božuri 03:37
 
08 Grichesher Tantz 04:54
 
09 Di mizinke oysgegebn 03:00
 
10 Karcsibácsiho pieseň 03:41
 
11 Kolomeyke 04:34
 
12 MaYufes 06:25
 
13 Shloymele liber 03:41
 
14 Medley 07:17
 
15 Lawless, winged and unconfined