Tag Archives: music

A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman


A Natural History of the Senses

Diane Ackerman

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: September 10, 1991

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth. “Delightful . . . gives the reader the richest possible feeling of the worlds the senses take in.” — The New York Times

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A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman

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Films to Quench Your 60’s Music Nostalgia

Mother Jones

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The Beatles
Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years

T.A.M.I. Show/The Big T.N.T. Show
Shout! Factory

Courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd./UMe

Nostalgic fans of a certain age who like to pontificate about how great music was in the ’60s can cite a couple of new home video releases to back up their argument. Directed by Ron Howard, documentary Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years offers a concise, 100-minute survey of the Fab Four’s career up to the point they stopped touring in 1966. Inevitably, it only skims the surface, but the music is (of course) terrific and the footage of the lads sending audiences into a hysterical frenzy captures the bizarre, sometimes frightening energy of the day. Extras on the two-disc edition include charming reminiscences by American fans and uncut performances of five songs that prove what a cooking live act they were. While The Beatles probably had to stop touring just to preserve their sanity, it’s hard not to conclude from this engaging film that a special spark left their music when they retired from the road, even as their artistic ambitions expanded exponentially.

T.A.M.I. Show/The Big T.N.T. Show pairs two mid-’60s concert films presenting rock and soul acts live on stage, each delivering a brief set in the style of multiple-artist package tours of the day. The previously available T.A.M.I. Show offers strong performances from the likes of Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys, Lesley Gore and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, among others, as well as a few duds, but the centerpiece remains James Brown’s surreal, over-the-top display of genius. Writhing and shouting, yet always fully in control, the Godfather of Soul embodies performance art at its mind bending best, and makes the Rolling Stones, who follow him in the movie, seem like capable but callow little boys by comparison. (T.A.M.I. is “Teenage Awards Music International,” fyi, but there were no such awards.)

Long unavailable, The Big T.N.T. Show isn’t quite in the same league, but more than bears watching. Highlights include the sloppy and charming Lovin’ Spoonful, witty country songsmith Roger Miller and early rock’n’roll great Bo Diddley, laying down deep grooves (not to mention The Byrds, Ray Charles and The Ronettes). The weirdest moment occurs when folk queen Joan Baez fronts an orchestra for a faithful cover of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” with Phil Spector, who produced the original, conducting the musicians. It’s as astounding in its own puzzling way as James Brown’s titanic “Please Please Please.” Those were the (strange) days.

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Films to Quench Your 60’s Music Nostalgia

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Who Will Write Us a Syllabus for Sneerology 101?

Mother Jones

Paul Krugman notes today that all of us coastal elites actually do more for the recently famous white working class than Republicans do, but the working class folks still don’t like us because they think we look down on them. He’s a little puzzled about this:

Do the liberals sneer at the Joe Sixpacks? Actually, I’ve never heard it — the people I hang out with do understand that living the way they do takes a lot more money and time than hard-pressed Americans have, and aren’t especially judgmental about lifestyles. But it’s easy to see how the sense that liberals look down on regular folks might arise, and be fanned by right-wing media.

I’m not here to get into a fight with Krugman, but come on. Of course the right-wing media fans the flames of this stuff, but is there really any question that liberal city folks tend to sneer at rural working-class folks? I’m not even talking about stuff like abortion and guns and gay marriage, where we disagree over major points of policy. I’m talking about lifestyle. Krugman talks about fast food, and that’s a decent example. Working class folks like fast food,1 which explains why Donald Trump liked to show pictures of himself eating McDonald’s or KFC. It’s a sign that he’s one of them. Ditto for Trump’s famous trucker hat. (Did you even know that it’s a trucker hat, not a baseball cap? He did.)

If I felt like this was something that actually needs evidence, I could produce a million examples in a very short time. But everyone gets this, don’t they? We sneer at their starchy food. We sneer at their holy-roller megachurches. (But not at black churches; never that.) We sneer at their favorite TV shows. We sneer at their reading habits. We sneer at their guns. We sneer at their double-wides. We sneer at the tchotchkes that litter their houses. We sneer at their supermarket tabloids. We sneer at their music. We sneer at their leisure activities. We sneer at their blunt patriotism. We sneer at—

Again: come on. Maybe you personally don’t do it—though judging from the comments here, a lot of you do—but you hardly need to be an anthropologist to recognize that this kind of sneering shows up on TV, in newspapers, on Twitter, in books, on Facebook, and in private conversations all the time. It’s hard to believe that anyone is really blind to this.

Now, it’s true that they also sneer at us. Fair enough. But as all good liberals know, there’s a big difference between a powerful group sneering at a vulnerable group, and vice versa. The former is a far bigger problem. And we educated city folks are, on average, far richer and more powerful than ruralish working-class folks. Our sneering has a power component that theirs doesn’t. I confess that it’s fun, and I enjoy my share of sneering in private, but I also accept that this attitude has political costs.

Anyway, I’m curious: do you accept this? Is it as obvious to you as it is to me? Or do you think I’m overstating things? Do I really need to make my case in more detail?

1So do I. Except for McDonald’s.

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Who Will Write Us a Syllabus for Sneerology 101?

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Here’s What Madonna Just Played at Her Surprise Hillary Mini-Rally In New York

Mother Jones

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The one and only Madonna just held a surprise “pop up” mini-rally for Hillary Clinton in New York’s Washington Square Park tonight—singing a 30-minute set to stunned New Yorkers who were either just walking by, or who had seen the mega-star’s tweet and ran from all directions to catch her. Reporter James West dashed to the scene and was able to speak to one bystander, Paul, who attended the event. Here’s what she played tonight:

And if you needed more proof:

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Here’s What Madonna Just Played at Her Surprise Hillary Mini-Rally In New York

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We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

I recently saw an article going around about how much land we would need to power our country with solar energy, and I was blown away — to say it’s a small amount is selling it short. According to Elon Musk, we only need a couple of counties in Texas with a couple of thousand rooftops — or just 0.6 percent of our land — and we’d have renewable energy for the whole country.

I couldn’t get over how simple that sounds, so I did a bit more research into solar energy facts to find out why we aren’t doing this, like, yesterday.

First things first, Elon Musk isn’t wrong and isn’t oversimplifying a grossly difficult task, but he does gloss over the meaty problems of our current energy situation in this country. So what’s standing in our way of solar power for all?

The Problem with Permits

My natural first question after reading the article is why aren’t we installing solar panels on everyone’s roof? The answer in a nutshell: permits. At this point in solar technology, you can’t just hop on down to Lowe’s and grab a couple to install yourself. The biggest problem that I came across in my research was lack of solar companies and lack of neighborhoods that were cleared to be able to have solar panels. In order for the solar panels to work, they need to be connected to a main battery and circuit system, and a lot of these are not set up for your average American.

If you do live in an area that is capable of solar energy, you need to get a consultation from a solar company. They give you your options based on square footage, and then you start the installation. Since solar panels are not cheap, you won’t start reaping the benefits until down the line. Your energy bill will be lower, and you will get a tax credit and write-off, but you’re also going to be paying off those panels. I think the aspect of not seeing the financial benefits of solar panels more quickly scares a lot of people away.

Finding the Land

My next question was if roofs were our only option for solar panels — why not all the unused acres in this country? There are more and more solar fields being built every year, but it’s a slow process. One of the main aspects that I didn’t think about until I started googling all of this was the facilities. If you build a giant field, you’re going to need to hook it up to giant batteries, and the rest of the power system for that town, and subsequently the rest of the country. You’ll need to build facilities for the workers and roads to get all the equipment to and from the build site. You have to pay all the workers and hire multiple people to oversee the project.

Another very big concern is animal habitats and American Indian land. The government would have to purchase a plot of land to fit all these solar panels and facilities without ruining anything in the process. Based on the current situation in North Dakota, these types of things are not easy or quick. That’s so much time and effort that I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t vote for it because they see it as wasted money.

Inspiring Others to Care

That brings me to my last question: Why does no one care!? I think the biggest problem is the talk of climate change in general. Too many people think it’s something they get to choose to believe in or not. Science has already proven it’s real, it’s here, and it’s getting really, really bad. Once more people acknowledge we need to take action now, we’ll start to come together a lot faster to help this process move along.

I truly believe your average American isn’t going to deeply care about a topic unless he or she gains something in return. If you’re reading this and are wondering about just that, let’s break it down.

There are three types of solar energy: photovoltaic, solar heating and cooling, and concentrating solar technology. Photovoltaic are the typical solar panels you see on roofs to produce electricity for homes and businesses. Solar heating and cooling are panels that do just that, heat and cool. They are used for things like hot water, space heating and cooling, and pool heating. Concentrating solar technology are the panels you usually see in giant fields off the freeway. These curved mirrored panels collect the sun’s energy and convert it for turbines or engines to create energy to store for a rainy day. Along with the federal investment tax credit, a lot of states and counties offer rebates or incentives as well.

Elon Musk has also created a battery wall to help Americans transition inside their homes. I’m hoping that this, combined with more awareness, will help us move faster toward the teeny tiny part of America that should be covered in solar panels.

If you want to help get solar energy more prevalent in your town or community, contact your local government and ask what they are doing to make this happen.

Now that you’ve learned a few solar energy facts, are you ready to make the switch to solar power? Here are 9 crucial steps to prepare your home. 

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Latest Posts

Audrey Holmes

Based in Music City USA — Nashville — Audrey Holmes is on a personal journey toward zero waste. She admits to watching otter videos on YouTube way too much and having an unhealthy obsession with matcha. Speaking of green, read all about her zero-waste journey on her blog,

Green Blue Marble.

Latest posts by Audrey Holmes (see all)

We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We? – November 4, 2016
3 Ways To Eliminate Food Waste Before It Reaches The Compost – October 6, 2016
4 Creative Eco-friendly Transportation Options – August 19, 2016

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We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

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Ask a Science Teacher – Larry Scheckel


Ask a Science Teacher
250 Answers to Questions You’ve Always Had About How Everyday Stuff Really Works
Larry Scheckel

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: December 17, 2013

Publisher: The Experiment

Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

Fun and fascinating science is everywhere, and it’s a cinch to learn—just ask a science teacher! We’ve all grown so used to living in a world filled with wonders that we sometimes forget to wonder about them: What creates the wind? Do fish sleep? Why do we blink? These are common phenomena, but it’s a rare person who really knows the answers—do you? All too often, the explanations remain shrouded in mystery—or behind a haze of technical language. For those of us who should have raised our hands in science class but didn’t, Larry Scheckel comes to the rescue. An award-winning science teacher and longtime columnist for his local newspaper, Scheckel is a master explainer with a trove of knowledge. Just ask the students and devoted readers who have spent years trying to stump him! In Ask a Science Teacher , Scheckel collects 250 of his favorite Q&amp;As. Like the best teachers, he writes so that kids can understand, but he doesn’t water things down— he’ll satisfy even the most inquisitive minds. Topics include: •The Human Body •Earth Science •Astronomy •Chemistry Physics •Technology •Zoology •Music&#xa0;and conundrums that don’t fit into any category With refreshingly uncomplicated explanations, Ask a Science Teacher is sure to resolve the everyday mysteries you’ve always wondered about. You’ll learn how planes really fly, why the Earth is round, how microwaves heat food, and much more—before you know it, all your friends will be asking you!

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Ask a Science Teacher – Larry Scheckel

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The McGarrigle Sisters Go Beyond Cozy Love Songs

Mother Jones

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Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Pronto Monto

Courtesy of Omnivore Recordings

The third longplayer from Canadian folkies Kate and Anna McGarrigle, 1978’s Pronto Monto found the sisters poised to enter the mainstream after two critically acclaimed, underexposed albums. With Anna’s composition “Heart Like a Wheel” about to become a success for Linda Ronstadt, the McGarrigles enlisted producer David Nichtern, who’d previously penned “Midnight at the Oasis,” a left-field hit for Maria Muldaur, in hopes of broadening their appeal. While Nichtern and a host of ace studio players muted the siblings’ eccentricities slightly to create a somewhat more mainstream product, a commercial breakthrough didn’t follow, alas. Regardless, Pronto Monto is an engaging and stirring work that gives full play to their thoughtful songs and tender, playful voices. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the McGarrigles are just sensitive softies. After savoring the cozy love song “Stella by Artois,” check out the caustic “Dead Weight,” which observes, “Your charm’s wearing thin and your voice rings like tin,” among other insults. Wicked!

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The McGarrigle Sisters Go Beyond Cozy Love Songs

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We didn’t know Third Eye Blind felt so strongly about coal

We didn’t know Third Eye Blind felt so strongly about coal

By on Jul 20, 2016Share

Third Eye Blind played a benefit concert Tuesday night in Cleveland, which is home to the Republican National Convention this week. The band asked those in attendance questions like, “Who here believes in science?” and talked about inclusivity. All that was met with jeers from the conservative crowd, who apparently liked the band’s music enough to stick around anyway.

On Wednesday, Third Eye Blind had the last word:

There you have it. A ’90s alt-rock band with better ideas than the Republican platform.

Election Guide ★ 2016Making America Green AgainOur experts weigh in on the real issues at stake in this electionGet Grist in your inbox

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We didn’t know Third Eye Blind felt so strongly about coal

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Neko Case Plays Well With Others

Mother Jones

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Courtesy of ANTI-

While Neko Case has compiled a remarkable catalogue of solo work, she also plays well with others. Back in the late ’90s she recorded as half of the Corn Sisters along with Carolyn Mark, and she’s continued to appear on albums by her old friends the New Pornographers. Even though Case’s massive charisma tends to overshadow anyone else within range, case/lang/veirs feels like a true collaboration, co-starring k.d. lang, a venerated elder who built on alt-country roots to become a versatile and dependably great vocalist (including a duet album with Tony Bennett), and Laura Veirs, a solid if more conventional folk-inclined artist (whose spouse, Tucker Martine, produced this charming set). Each woman has moments in the spotlight that will please their fans, but this quietly amazing collective has its own identity, making luminous, warm-hearted pop seemingly plucked from the ether and belonging to no particular time or place. Almost any track could be cited as a highlight, and one of the best is “Song for Judee,” a heartrending ode to the ill-fated LA singer-songwriter Judee Sill.

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Neko Case Plays Well With Others

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Celebrate Country Music’s Greats With "The Highwaymen Live—American Outlaws"

Mother Jones

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The Highwaymen
The Highwaymen Live – American Outlaws

Sony Music Group

The recent passing of Merle Haggard and Guy Clark is a reminder of how many great artists country music produced in the second half of the 20th century, and how few of them remain today. Clark’s timeless composition “Desperados Waiting for a Train” happens to be one of the high points of The Highwaymen Live—American Outlaws, a thoroughly winning three-CD, one-DVD collection. Chronicling live performances of the ’80s and ’90s supergroup teaming four other giants, two now deceased (Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings) and two still making music (Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson), this feel-good set is comfort food of the highest caliber. Even if you know the work of each man well, it’s startling to realize how many absolute classics they wrote and/or recorded collectively, from “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” to “Me and Bobby McGhee” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” to “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and “Mamma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” and so many more. The cheerfully scruffy vocals reflect the easy rapport of old friends basking in their accomplishments, while a dazzling supporting crew, including ace guitarist Reggie Young, keep the proceedings moving efficiently. Don’t mourn, celebrate!

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Celebrate Country Music’s Greats With "The Highwaymen Live—American Outlaws"

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