The day before that was quite busy. Housework, cooking dinner for a party of nine, visiting with one of my daughter's friends (and his mom and brother) from out of town. The evening was capped by seeing my daughter's ``school edition'' production of Sweeney Todd.
I was surprised by Sweeney Todd. I've vaguely known the general plot arc since I was in grade school. But I've never seen the movie nor the musical. The plot seemed very classical in some ways, like a throw back to ancient days of Greek tragedy and not at all the modern or post-modern play that I had imagined that it would be. So I liked it.
When we got home and everyone that had come over for dinner and to see the play dispersed to the four corners of the earth, I did a bit of Googling. It turns out that while the musical was written in 1979, the drama that the musical was based on was written in the late 1800s and the urban legend that the original play was based on dates back to the early 1800s. By the time Dickens was writing, the urban legend was well spread enough to garner a reference in his Martin Chuzzlewit.
On the other hand, it would appear that many of the elements that I liked, the very ones that seem more classical than modern to my sensibilities, don't seem to have made it into the narrative until treatments in the seventies.
I'm also a bit surprised that I like Stephen Sondheim production. I think he had some clever lyrics in West Side Story and all but for the most part I've never been a big fan. The music for Sweeney Todd was jarring and hooked me from the claustrophobic opening scene.
Earlier in the week, I was taking my wife somewhere, either to rehabilitation counseling or a job interview, and I heard a really interesting bit on a call-in show on the radio. The topic was education reform and they had someone representing the teacher's union side of things that threw an idea out that I hadn't heard before. He suggested that when people go into teaching that they understand that they won't be making spectacular wages. But what they do get is job security in a way that most other industries do not have job security. Without this tradeoff, quite a few teachers would not have gone into teaching. Consequently, to say to these teachers that their salary, and even their position, is now going to be contingent on merit is to break an implied contract.
That line of thought makes the opposition to merit based pay for teachers a little more comprehensible to me. Union opposition to merit based pay has always baffled me. But now there is at least one context where I can understand a bit of where they're coming from.
I think I may have found the performance/reliability problem that's been giving me fits on the Leo Tard. I had a hard freeze of http traffic again. So I pulled up a console and ran
ps aux to find a zillion and a half httpproxyd services running. That didn't strike me as quite right. So I brought up the system preferences and discovered that parental services was turned on. So I turned it off.
So my complaints about the Leo Tard aren't with the http stack after all, It's with the http proxy they use for managed accounts. it's the pants and drops core all over itself, leads to metric bajillions of zombie processes and eventually stops responding at all to requests which means all the http traffic is utterly FUBAR.
But web browsing is now quite a bit faster. I'm suspecting that it will also be quite a bit more reliable.
The New Yorker has a really nice piece on the history of vampirism and Dracula in
In the Blood: Why do vampires still thrill?
The New Republic has a really nice, albeit overly condensed and biased, bit on the historical differences between socialism and liberalism. It's a good starting point for those unaware of most of the history. It's also a good piece to offer up to those who keep going on that Barrack Obama is the second coming of Karl Marx.
CNN has a nice, brief primer on the coup in Madagascar.
Nestle avoided the salmonella tainted peanut butter because they used their own inspectors to investigate suppliers. This was wise of Nestle. It's also a good illustration of why, in general, turning over safety investigation to non governmental bodies is a bad idea. Just like the agencies assigning ratings to Credit Default Swaps, the agencies investigating the peanut butter factories have a vested interest in supplying good reviews.
I've got topics approved for all three term papers now. Now I just need to get into high gear on the writing. My course on Aquinas and De Anima was giving me fits as far as writing. Turns out that there is an interesting conundrum on why Aquinas took the view of Ibn Sina's theory of intellection that he did. Aquinas is a huge Ibn Sina fan and uses his writings, usually reworked, all over the place. Probably the two most prominent are the adaptation of Ibn Sina's so called Flying Man analogy to prove the immateriality of the soul and his proof of the existence of God based on the distinction between essence (what a thing is) and existence (that a thing is). Yet when it comes to the process of intellection, Aquinas lumps Ibn Sina in with Plato and waves his hands because he's already solved the problem with Platonism.
I've also got an appointment with a professor to speak about a possible MA thesis topic.
So now I just need to get going and stay going.
Weight wise, I clocked in at 173 this morning. That's good. I'd like to drop just over half a stone more or so but I don't know if it's going to happen. It won't hurt to try.
Running wise, there is nothing new to report. Times continue to be between 8 and 8 and a half minutes for the morning mile. I did skip Friday. I felt like crap. Dry cough, malaise, etc.
Lifting wise, I'm pretty much where I was last week. Shoulder presses are still giving me troubles. So I decided to add a fourth set of shoulder presses so that I can still do all the reps that I would have done if I had done three full sets. This morning the fourth set was at 3/4 of a full set. Hopefully if I take this approach it will build up stamina and strength and I'll be able to do three full sets more quickly.
I forgot to mention one of the more amusing things about Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation. The edition I have has an appendix that consists of different seriously considered theological evaluations of the subject of whether or not someone who is said to be guilty of bestiality is deserving of being put to death.
The occasion of these opinions was an event that took place in 1642 where a young man from the Plymouth plantation was found to be guilty of buggering a horse, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves and a turkey. The sad young man was put to death upon his confession and after pointing out which animals it was that he had buggered so that they too could be put to death and their remains burned so as to prevent the further spread of such habits.
Maybe I'm confused but I don't think that bestiality is a communicable disease. It's also sad that two men convicted of raping 8 and 9 year old girls in 1941 were merely fined and whipped. Perhaps I should just be grateful that the young girls weren't put to death like the turkey.
Also, when questioned the young animal lover said that he had learned such dark practices ``in England.''
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