Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought, Part 4

Mark S. Tucker demonstrates impressive wordsmith skills and a deep knowledge of music. Here are some excerpts from part 4 of his essays on Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought from OpEdNew.com.

Source: Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought – Part 4

1967: the Summer of Love Continues

In retrospect, it’s rather amazing that an urge to the expression of psychedelic consciousness was so prevalent all at once, but it indeed was. 1967 was the Summer of Love, in no small part due to drugs, and music has e’er been a constant companion in any aesthete’s hedonisms – hence, like a virus, the new mode spread like wildfire. Previous years evidenced a certain amount of preparatory work but little truly explained the explosion of evolutionary sensibilities now burgeoning. The Beatles, Stones, and Animals weren’t the only biggies setting trends. Dionysus Alive, Jim Morrison, had been primed and ready to go since birth. Lodged in the Doors, he needed no prompting to conduct an eroto-agitprop campaign against the Establishment and its constrictions.

The group debuted in an eponymous LP which remained vital and influential for decades – in fact, still continues so in many ways. Backed by a hugely talented trio (Ray Manzarek on keyboards, Robbie Krieger on guitar, John Densmore on drums), Morrison delivered some of the modern era’s best poetry in a gruff voice reeking of musk, marijuana, and whiskey. Lacking an iota of self-consciousness, he also presented a one-man theatrework of dramaturgy, imbuing those bleak glass-edged words with kinetic visual emphasis. Two songs that would dominate charts and year-end Top 500 countdowns for what seemed like forever, “The End” and “Light My Fire”, had extended improv sections taking a backseat to no one – not the Jefferson Airplane, not the upcoming Led Zeppelin, not even Hendrix. Both tunes grabbed musical norms and twisted brilliant variations from them. Anarchy was a large part, drugs were prominent, sex was a byword (“Light My Fire” didn’t translate to “Let’s look deeply into each other’s eyes”), music was the vehicle, and L.A. was the place.

But not exclusively nor all that influentially. San Francisco dominated the youth music scene, the mecca whence Jefferson Airplane and the Fillmore groups held hash-wafted court, encouraging a highly socialized, participatory, artistic communalism. Got a guitar? Like to get looped? Hate the Establishment? Come on in!! This, of course, was the truly dangerous part, this “damnable” socialistic trend amongst “degenerate artists” encouraging an entire generation to dethrone the status quo. How dare they? Well, they did and the war was on. The irony, of course, lay in the yet-to-be discovered fact that the CIA had created, refined, and infiltrated into the landscape the very substance that would blow up in its collective face. They’d wanted to test LSD’s uses as a social control device and it would turn out to be perhaps the largest mistake in their entire misbegotten history. Business and government thereafter worked frenziedly to exterminate the outfall, and still do.

This would provoke the question: where was jazz, what was its part? The style had always had its effect, especially in the fact that many jazzers participated in rock studio work, supplying chops the rockers lacked, but Chicago Transit Authority, one LP away from abbreviating its unwieldy sobriquet, boldly influxed a set of horns as permanent and prominent staples, issuing the stunning Chicago Transit Authority, a sprawling 2-LP work loaded with improv, mixed media, and the 7-minute guitar freakout, “Free Form Guitar”, wherein Terry Kath had a chance to flex his muscles, causing Jimi Hendrix, with whom they toured, to blurt out that Kath was his superior. Untrue, of course, but even the exaggeration gave a good insight into the gentleman’s prowess – allowed only here, only this once, later harshly subordinated to a hitmaking imperative.

Exxon back in court over 1989 Valdez spill fine

Today, ExxonMobil reported that its annual profit reached a record $33.9 billion and the highest quarterly profit for a U.S. company — ever. Let’s remember that they still haven’t paid the fine for the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989.

Link: Exxon back in court over 1989 Valdez spill fine – Environment – MSNBC.com

SAN FRANCISCO – It’s been nearly 17 years since the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil along the Alaska coast in one of the country’s worst environmental disasters, and a jury’s $5 billion judgment against the company is still tied up in the courts.

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s appeal of that punishment was scheduled to be heard for the third time Friday afternoon in a federal appeals court in San Francisco.

The case stems from a 1994 decision by an Anchorage jury to award punitive damages to 34,000 fishermen and other Alaskans.

The residents claimed they were harmed when the Valdez struck a charted reef and spilled crude oil along about 1,500 miles of coastline. They alleged that the captain was drunk and that Exxon knew he had a drinking problem. The jury found Exxon and Valdez captain Joseph Hazelwood reckless in the accident.

Company willing to pay $25 million
Exxon argues it should have to pay no more than $25 million in punitive damages.

The corporation, which reported third-quarter earnings of $10 billion, says it has spent more than $3 billion to settle federal and state lawsuits and to clean the Prince William Sound area.

In two previous appeals, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland of Anchorage to reduce the judgment against Exxon, saying it was unconstitutionally excessive.

Holland begrudgingly complied in 2002, reducing it to $4 billion. Exxon appealed, and Holland was ordered to revisit the decision again. He called Exxon’s actions “reprehensible,” and set the figure at $4.5 billion plus interest.

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

Link: Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him – New York Times.

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dr. Hansen, 63, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute in Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including budget watchers in the first Bush administration and Vice President Al Gore.

In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.

He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.

But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA’s mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

He said he was particularly incensed that the directives had come through telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.

Dr. Hansen’s supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn’t mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."

The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

The administration’s policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

Where scientists’ points of view on climate policy align with those of the administration, however, there are few signs of restrictions on extracurricular lectures or writing.

Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought, Part 3

Mark S. Tucker demonstrates impressive wordsmith skills and a deep knowledge of music. Here are some excerpts from part 3 of his essays on Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought from OpEdNew.com.

Source: Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought – Part 3

Foundation

1967 was the seminal year, the Moody Blues were the great Fathers of progrock (now the Godfathers), and it was already time to move on. The Moodies would do so on their very next LP, In Search of the Lost Chord, but it’s worthwhile to remain in the year a moment more and see what surrounded the founders.

As noted last installment, Pink Floyd issued their debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which started archly the moment it opened, in a song exceedingly durable, “Astronomy Domine”, featuring the peripatetic Syd Barrett, a small genius who staggered to the top of the pile for a moment or two before going under, an acid-damage case destined to be mythologized out of all proportion to the body of work left behind (especially when considering his wretched later solo LPs). With this release, the Floyd established space rock, soon to be a sub-division of Prog Inc., and contributed seminally to paisley pop, a mainstream offshoot heavily infused with psychedelic overtones, something The Soft Machine would add to next year.

Jimi Hendrix and the Experience cut their imperishable Are You Experienced, one of rock’s dozen most influential discs. Hendrix instantly became a superstar, setting the sky on fire with his unbelievably unorthodox guitar playing, backed by Noel Redding’s bass and Mitch Mitchell’s superb drumming. Jimi took the bluesrock formula and turned it inside out, drug impregnated and glowing like an unquenchable conflagration. “Third Stone from the Sun” would prove to be as essential to space rock as Pink Floyd’s most galactic, while the rest of the LP established several other milestones. The tormented ubermaestro would not live long but his very short catalogue of records set a marker by which the entire genre paid attention. Once safely dead, the effect would prove itself, as his corpus of work would be vampirized to a staggering degree: Hendrix saw three LPs published while alive; at last count, the post mortem flood (label releases, bootlegs, anthologies, etc. – up to but not including Janey Hendrix’s overwhelmingly providential wresting of the estate from greedheads) was over 350, or so some have averred. Like as not, they’re right.

The Rolling Stones put out Their Satanic Majesties’ Request, more than just psychedelic and without doubt the most experimental mode that hoary combo would muster. In a group infamous for it, drugs were fueling new visions and they, as all who took them, became swept up in the forward psychological motion to one degree or another. Chartburning dyed-in-the-wool bluesrockers to the side, Jagger & Richards’ expanded elastically on this disc. “2000 Light Years from Home” started out atonally, a cop from Blomdahl, hooked in a mellotron (the archetypal progrock instrument, thanks to the Moodies’ Mike Pinder, the best player, bar none, ever to man that singular machine), then plugged away at a tale about a spaceship headed off into the deep unknown, sparse, spooky, and wistful. Like the Beatles, though, the Stones never intended to stay long and would follow this with their magnum opus, Beggar’s Banquet, decidedly non-prog.

The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour was a miasma of psychedelic and prog music-making, by far the furthest out on the limb they’d ever venture, passing up Sargeant Pepper’s by a country mile. The entire thing became a narcotic daydream with strong prog inflections, semi-orchestral touches, moody dreariness, glow-in-the-dark spangles, and no end of the paraphenalia studio engineering allowed. Overall, it wasn’t all that dissimilar to what Pepper’s was achieving but much more in a quicksand mode: once the listener peeled an ear, he was dragged in fully, drowning happily in waves of Impressionist and hash-laden visions, voices and instruments blissing out in Dionysian abandon. The good Sargeant would re-introduce discipline (Mystery Tour had been, after all, created for a very bad self-indugent home movie: though its excesses were moderate in comparison, it’s excellences were Olympian but decidedly non-commercial) and score a huge success, offering up immortal tunes.

Ethanol is Better than Gasoline, But Not Much

The bottom line for ethanol — it’s a stop-gap measure for transitioning from gasoline to ? (the next auto fuel).

Link: Green Car Congress: UC Berkeley Study: Corn Ethanol is Better than Gasoline, But Not by A Lot.

A new analysis by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley concludes that the production of ethanol from corn uses less petroleum energy than the production of gasoline. However, they also conclude that the reduction in greenhouse gases derived by using corn ethanol as a fuel is smaller than some thought—between 10% to 15%.

The researchers note that new technologies now in development such as those for the production of cellulosic ethanol promise to make ethanol a truly green fuel with significantly less environmental impact than gasoline.

The UC Berkeley study, published in this issue of Science, deconstructed six separate high-profile—and contradictory—studies of ethanol. They assessed the studies’ assumptions and then reanalyzed each after correcting errors, inconsistencies and outdated information regarding the amount of energy used to grow corn and make ethanol, and the energy output in the form of fuel and corn byproducts.

It is better to use various inputs to grow corn and make ethanol and use that in your cars than it is to use the gasoline and fossil fuels directly. The people who are saying ethanol is bad are just plain wrong.

But it isn’t a huge victory—you wouldn’t go out and rebuild our economy around corn-based ethanol.

—Dan Kammen, co-director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment and UC Berkeley’s Class of 1935 Distinguished Chair of Energy

The goal of the UC Berkeley analysis was to understand how six studies of fuel ethanol could come to such different conclusions about the overall energy balance in its production and use. Kammen and Alex Farrell of the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, with their students Rich Plevin, Brian Turner and Andy Jones along with Michael O’Hare, a professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy dissected each study and recreated its analysis in a spreadsheet where they could be compared side-by-side.

EPA List of Renewable Energy Users

GreenBiz.com reports on the top buyers of renewable energy.

Link: GreenBiz News | U.S. Air Force, Whole Foods Top EPA List of Renewable Energy Users

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2005 – The Green Power Top 25 list is the U.S. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s an annual ranking of American companies, organizations, and government institutions that have voluntarily bought the most renewable energy and are part of the EPA Green Power Partnership. EPA also announced its Green Power Partners are now purchasing more than 4 million megawatt hours of renewable energy, an increase of nearly 100% since the end of 2004.

The 2006 Top 25 green power purchasers are buying enough energy to power more than 300,000 homes a year, which is also comparable to removing the emissions of nearly 400,000 cars from the road annually. More than half of the Top 25 EPA green power purchasers are comprised of U.S. corporations, a number that continues to increase every year.

The complete list of Top 25 EPA Green Power Partners is as follows, listed in order of purchase size:

  1. U.S. Air Force
  2. Whole Foods Market
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  4. Johnson & Johnson
  5. U.S Department of Energy
  6. Starbucks
  7. The World Bank
  8. Safeway, Inc.
  9. U.S. General Services Administration (Region 2)
  10. HSBC North America
  11. City of Sand Diego, Calif.
  12. New Jersey Consolidated Energy Savings Program
  13. Advanced Micro Devices/Austin, Texas Facilities
  14. WhiteWave Foods
  15. Staples
  16. Austin (Texas) Independent School District
  17. Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc 17. Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc.
  18. The Tower Companies
  19. FedEx Kinko’s
  20. U.S. Army/Fort Carson
  21. University of Pennsylvania
  22. Montgomery County, Md.
  23. Hyatt Regency/Reunion & DFW Airport Hotels
  24. Western Washington University
  25. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought, Part 2

Mark S. Tucker demonstrates impressive wordsmith skills and a deep knowledge of music. Here are some excerpts from part 2 of his essays on Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought from OpEdNew.com.

Source: Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought – Part 2

Progrock’s Birth Pains

The recording studio, with its multitrack equipment, gave composers and players an, what was at the time, almost unlimited palette to paint with, in what Frank Zappa cogently recognized from the very beginning to be an artificial situation: few groups could ever hope to pull off live the wilder permutations and sonic massageabilities studios offered, though some would create mindbending performances attempting it.

Much debate is expended needlessly in an argument amongst progrock devotees as to whether Pink Floyd or even the Beatles beat the Moody Blues to the punch, but it‘s an ill-considered contention. Part of the problem is that the albums in question all released the same year, 1967. However, Days of Future Passed had a tidal wave influence on the slowly gathering form, fathering it, affecting many other styles, certainly far more than Pink Floyd. The Beatles’ realm was never progrock and their work, though incredibly influential on mainstream rock, was not nearly so affective within prog in toto.

One very important detail: the first ‘art rockers’ were English almost unanimously, issuing from a British school system – elementary, secondary, and university – which had effectively pounded a far more serious classicalist music orientation into children than any other country.

Eat Your Veggies

Below is a table from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Disease Proof blog.

Source: Disease Proof

Why are plant foods so protective and essential for human health?

Let’s compare the nutrient density of meat to the nutrient density of green vegetables to illustrate this important point.

Nutrients present in 100-calorie portions
Broccoli Sirloin Steak Romaine Lettuce Kale
Protein 11.2 gm 5.4 gm 7.5 gm 11 gm
Calcium 322 mg 2.4 mg 374 mg 470 mg
Iron 3.5 mg .7 mg 7.7 mg 5.8 mg
Magnesium 74.5 mg 5 mg 60.5 mg 97 mg
Fiber 4.7 g 0 4 g 3.4 g
Phytochemicals Very High 0 Very High Very High
Antioxidants Very High 0 Very High Very High
Folate 257 mcg 3 mcg 969 mcg 60 mcg
B2 .71 mg .04 mg .45 mg .32 mg
Niacin 2.8 mg 1.1 mg 2.2 mg 2.1 mg
Zinc 1.04 mg 1.2 mg 1.2 mg gm .55 mg
Vitamin C 350 mg 0 100 mg 329 mg
Vitamin A 7750 IU 24 IU 10,450 IU 23,407 IU
Vitamin E 26 IU 0 32 IU 34 IU
Cholesterol 0 5.5 mg 0 0
Weight 307 gm 24 gm 550 gm 266 gm
(10.6 oz) (.84 oz) (19 oz) (9.2 oz)

This table is from the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman’s book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought, Part 1

Mark S. Tucker demonstrates impressive wordsmith skills and a deep knowledge of music. Here are some excerpts from part 1 of his essays on Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought from OpEdNew.com.

Source: Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought

What The Hell is Progrock?

progressive musics are not dead, have been fermenting for quite some time, and have spawned a rich bedrock of hidden vastness and complexity, a milieu that could very easily provide the much-needed exit from a mainstream morass currently stifling sonic art and intellectual thought. Moreover, a section of the progressive canon is actually an unrecognized realm of the classicalist purview: neoclassical music.

With the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed, the progressive rock genre was born as ‘art rock’, a lofty title meant to infer that other musics weren’t really art when compared to practitioners in such rarefied pastures as theirs. That arrogance was a typical promo department ploy, one which critics fell tellingly uncritically into and stuck with from the moment the regrettable notice was set down in print. From there, ‘symphonic rock’ and ‘progressive rock’ followed. Of the three, ‘symphonic rock’ was the only non-judgmental byline but was also insufficient to cover what would follow, hence ‘progressive rock’, aka ‘progrock’, aka ‘prog’, became the label of choice. It remains so to this day.

‘Progressive rock’ was coined to refer to a movement that first stuck somewhat to a fairly recognizable playing field, a canvas carrying vaguely defined perimeters, then did nothing but grow, immediately escaping any hope of easy statutory delineation.

The most interesting mutation was the psychedelic movement. It’s origins lay in the desire to portray in music what was experienced in a drug state: distorted, strange, elastic, emotionally exaggerated phenomena full of weird events, sounds, and feelings. Les Paul, once he’d electrified the guitar, had no least clue what he was really unleashing.