Monday, October 7, 2013

Ragtime A Brief Discussion

Please watch and listen to the videos as you get to them. They've been placed to support the text and help to further explain what is being discussed. If it's a song listen to as much as you like.

A Brief Description and History

Ragtime relies heavily on syncopation or a "ragged rhythm". It originated from African American music during the late 19th century. The terms jig and rag were used interchangeably during the 1890's. The rag was a modification of the march made popular by John Philip Sousa, with additional polyrhythms coming from African music.[1] It was usually written in 2/4 or 4/4 time with a predominant left-hand pattern of bass notes on strong beats (beats 1 and 3) and chords on weak beats (beat 2 and 4) accompanying a syncopated melody in the right hand. According to some sources the name "ragtime" may come from the "ragged or syncopated rhythm" of the right hand.[2] A rag written in 3/4 time is a "ragtime waltz." Ragtime does not equate to a measure of time such as a waltz (3/4). It is simply a description of how the music is played.
Country Club 1
By Scott Joplin (Library of Congress[1]) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Scott Joplin is considered the "King of Ragtime" and became famous with his composition titled Maple Leaf Rag. It eventually went on to sell over one million copies, which was unheard of for its time. Other great Ragtime composers during this time period include; Fats WallerEubie BlakeJelly Roll Morton and Euday L. Bowman to name a few. Ragtime music began around the 1890's and began to putter out around the time of W.W.I. However it's impact was very influential for both reasons of economics and race.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A counter to the NSA’s defense of spying on Americans

I can’t get to sleep so I’m sharing this thought with you.

A counter to the NSA’s defense of spying on Americans resulting in preventing terroristic activities.

     Whether or not their statistics are true is irrelevant to the specifics hereafter. Throughout history innovation and technology have made it increasingly easier for information to be exchanged. This holds true for both the “good” and “bad” guys. Try to imagine where we would be if current phobia’s were to run rampant when the written word was invented. I believe some were against this tech because their monopolistic control over information was being jeopardized. Moving on, the advent of the steam engine and later the automobile made it increasingly easy for the “bad” guys to once again wreak havoc on a wider level. How about the telephone? Now you didn't have to leave your locale nor worry about the telegraph being intercepted. What a novel way to conduct evil plots. Muahahaha

     The point is, none of these techs restricted and or removed our constitutional rights as we are currently seeing with the internet. While I can understand the concerns and scrutiny of internet content and communications; terrorism in no way is a new concern. You don’t think terrorist were able to aptly communicate before the internet and cell phones? Did bomb making and hostage taking start after 9-11? For those of us old enough we know this isn't true. Unfortunately you only need a good 10-15 years for the newest crop of kids to know nothing different. It won’t matter what the books say cause their born into a war, a never gonna end war. This is what they've always known so this is what we do. (gotta feed that war machine).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

At least you live in the U.S.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning with some of the following thoughts running through my head. I've decided to get it out and do some quick fact checking. Forgive me for any errors and please let me know of any. I'll also preface this post stating that my focus isn't on the gap between the have's and the have not's.

     To be born under the cloak of the United States of America is a true blessing (that includes Pureto Rico. Guam and other territories). Even if you're born into poverty you can find help. Sure there may be red tape and some b.s. along the way but it's there. Think about it; we currently live in a time where comfort is the norm. Even if you're poor most can enjoy food/drink, utilities and a roof over their head. Granted one's position is relative to another however by comparison you're better off than a major chunk of the global population.

     Let's get a little perspective....

     According to the average cost of prenatal doc visits throughout pregnancy is $2000 and uncomplicated vaginal births are between $6000 - $8000. That is quite a bit of money; once again  relative to other places in the world. Now taking into account all of the medical advancements it makes sense that things cost more. Better health care is another aspect that has increased our quality of life. I didn't say cheaper just that it's better.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Part 1 of 2 Hydraulic Fracking of Natural Gas: Extraction Overview

By US Environmental Protection Agency [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
     The use of hydraulic fracturing “fracking” in combination with horizontal drilling has become a topic full of debate. How natural gas is extracted and in what ways the waste materials i.e. fracking fluid are disposed of will be discussed. Also of concern are the economic impacts and future outlook on U.S. natural gas supplies and the demand through the year 2040. These questions deserve appropriate time, thought and consideration. The ramifications of how we proceed could leave us in the face of irreversible damage to individuals as well as to the environment. On the flipside no action is a potential recipe for economic downturns and lost opportunities. The following pages will reveal in no short order the many facets of fracking both the good and bad.

     What is natural gas, other than cooking and heating fuel? For starters natural gas is mostly composed of methane 70-90%, ethane, propane and butane 0-20% and carbon dioxide 0-8%. In its natural state it is colorless and odorless; the rotten egg smell is an additive odorant called mercaptan which aids in leak detection. Outside of the facts that natural gas is both combustible and abundant in the U.S., it gives off a great deal of energy with few emissions. A benefit of natural gas is that it emits lower levels of potentially harmful byproducts into the air than other fossil fuels. Before it can be sent through a vast network of pipelines; impurities such as water, sand and other gases from the extraction process need to be removed. After further refining (the removal of hydrocarbons), natural gas is ready to be delivered. (Background: Natural Gas, 2011)

     Before horizontal drilling became the method of choice there was cable tool or percussion drilling. As improvements came about cable tool drilling transitioned to rotarydrilling. The cable tool method requires repeatedly dropping a heavy metal bit into the ground. Throughout this process water is poured into the well to mix with the drill debris and is bailed or pumped out. The most important advancement created from cable/rotary drilling was that of steel casing pipe. A major problem with wells prior to steel casings was collapse and overall well structural support. A steel casing with cement adds support and increases a wells structural integrity greatly. According to, the typical cable tool well averaged between 400’ to 500’ with the deepest known well completed in 1953 at 11,145’.

     A scout team is sent out to prospective sites before any drilling begins. New technologies like three dimensional imaging have equipped scientists with a great tool for locating drilling locations with added precision. Once a site has been approved drilling begins. Even though horizontal drilling also known as directional drilling has been around since the 1930’s it did not become economically viable until much later. Providing greater access to previously inaccessible resources horizontal drilling allows teams to drill deeper and at various angles. Typically the well is drilled vertically to around one mile then the drill is turned 90 degrees. This change with the drilling direction provides access to natural gas lying within shale rock. Being quite a departure from traditional methods horizontal drilling is a game changer and a money maker.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why We're Losing the Costly Battle Against Superbugs

Why We're Losing the Costly Battle Against Superbugs

Staphylococcus aureus Bacteria
By NIAID/NIH (NIAID Flickr's photostream)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
     I recently read this article as part of my Biology class. It is a short article that will take about 5 minutes or so to read. Please share with others as this battle can be fought through better practices. The topic is relevant more than I wish were true. What I've written below is an edited version from my assignment.
     Despite many efforts the “war” on bacteria has produced “superbugs”. More precisely the “war” on bacteria has led to a quickened pace with the evolution (adaptation) of various bacteria. Thus we’re left with a constant race in which our resources are failing to keep up. One result has been the resignation of many major corporations away from this portion of the pharmaceutical industry. This lack of research and production is in major part due to the high cost/ low reward of staying in the fight. To make matters worse doctors and patients continue to practice ill advised methods of treatment which further diminishes the fighting 
power of current antibiotics. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book 39 of 52: 1776

     1776 proved to be a major year for the fledgling American colonies. Full of many setbacks that would derail any but the most determined. The underdog Americans faced a most formidable foe in the British army and fleet. The British weren't alone as they employed the notorious Hessians (Germans) to fill their ranks. The British and Hessians with seasoned troops and leadership had all of the advantage outside of occupied territory. In time however, the Americans would prove that despite the odds it is wise to not discount a people defending their homes, their lives, their freedoms.

     Removing the veneer that time and history have put on things will help the reader obtain a clearer perspective on these events. One point of clarity is that of the current view of the U.S. and its dominant position on the global stage. This of course is quite the opposite from where the colonist were positioned in the world back in 1776. With that said the colonies weren't a united people by any stretch, they were a divided people. By divided I mean many citizens remained loyal to the crown of England (loyalist). These loyalist proved to be a major disrupter for Washington and his army. Treachery and intelligence are two contributions that the loyalist both performed and provided on behalf of the British. Needless to say the loyalist were a big contributor to Washington's early pitfalls. The fact that the loyalist were colonist made it that much more difficult to identify who was who.

George Washington 1776
Charles Willson Peale [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
    With little money, trained men and leadership, the task set before Washington was more daunting than one might have imagined. Despite his need for these crucial resources the need for intelligence was equally if not more important. This is where those pesky loyalist proved to be highly effective for the British. Informing the British of Washington's whereabouts and the state of
his army was valuable information. Also, this diluted those available to provide Washington with accurate and much needed intelligence on the British. Intelligence is a key tactical component of warfare as it allows you to position your troops appropriately and attack the enemy where it's most beneficial to you. As things were the British had very good intelligence and Washington had very poor intelligence.

     Given this lack of intelligence many blunders plagued the American army including Washington's inability to make proper and timely decisions. This led to many embarrassing defeats that left his counterparts as well as some on his staff to question his capabilities as the head of the army. Throughout all of the setbacks two young members of Washington's staff never lost faith in their commander, Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox. Both Greene and Knox entered the revolution as civilians and left as important historical figures. For the sake of time and not wanting to give too much away we'll focus briefly on Henry Knox.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book 38 of 52: The Great Divorce

     C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, on November 29, 1898. He abandoned his Christian faith at the age of fifteen and became an atheist. In 1916 he was awarded a scholarship to Oxford University. Upon the outbreak of W.W.I. he enlisted in the army and became good friends with his roommate Paddy Moore. After being wounded and later discharged he kept his promise to his fallen friend and looked after his family. Later, Lewis with his brother Warren and Paddy's mother purchased and moved into "The Kilns"

     Lewis would later convert to Christianity in 1931 and become one of the most influential Christian writers. He and J.R.R. Tolkien were colleagues at Oxford and friends. They both were members of the literary group "The Inklings".C. S. Lewis died at his home "The Kilns" on November 22, 1963

C.S.Lewis in his study
     The Great Divorce is a theological fantasy in which the Christian views of Heaven and Hell are explored. The main character finds himself in a grey town and walks up to wait in line for a bus. He's not sure where or why he's there only that he'd like a better position in line. Their destination proves to be absolutely beautiful in comparison to where they've traveled from. It's only after they arrive here that the main character realizes the others he's traveled with are ghost. It's now easy to see that they are transparent, some more so than others.  One difficulty for the new arrivals is that they can not navigate the terrain without much struggle and pain. This world hurts them as it is more solid then they are.