Archive for November, 2011

Peter Gabriel and His Big Orchestra Play Live at the Ed Sullivan Theater


“Last night our old friend/life champion Peter Gabriel turned up at the Ed Sullivan theater with a black-clad orchestra. Peter’s promoting his symphonic LP New Blood, a sequel/extension of last year’s Scratch My Back orchestral covers album and tour; on Scratch, he recorded takes on folks like Arcade Fire, but Blood is all his own, refitted for large, classical ensemble. Corban, Scott, and I went to this taping, sat shivering (it really is cold) in the Ed Sullivan balcony, admired Peter’s hokey theatricality on “Intruder” and his fervent commitment to human rights issues in many song intros (and, songs, like “Biko”), and his general good sense in having one of pop music’s most iconic voices. You can watch the entire 68-minute performance below. It opens with “Red Rain” and closes with “Solsbury Hill,” and “Biko,” cycling through “Intruder,” “Mercy Street” “Wallflower,” “San Jacinto,” and “Rhythm Of The Heat” (in no particular order) in between. The man has songs.”



It Started Digital Wheels Turning


“The machine on the drawing boards at the Science Museum in London is the Babbage Analytical Engine, a room-size mechanical behemoth that its inventor envisioned but never built.

The project follows the successful effort by a group at the museum to replicate a far less complicated Babbage invention: the Difference Engine No. 2, a calculating machine composed of roughly 8,000 mechanical components assembled with a watchmaker’s precision. That project was completed in 1991.”


Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard)


“Professor Chang says that rather than losing mainly students from disadvantaged backgrounds or with lackluster records, the attrition rate can be higher at the most selective schools, where he believes the competition overwhelms even well-qualified students.

“You’d like to think that since these institutions are getting the best students, the students who go there would have the best chances to succeed,” he says. “But if you take two students who have the same high school grade-point average and SAT scores, and you put one in a highly selective school like Berkeley and the other in a school with lower average scores like Cal State, that Berkeley student is at least 13 percent less likely than the one at Cal State to finish a STEM degree.””

in The New York Times

Interview with a 9-year-old skeptic


“When atheists and “freethinkers” gathered in Houston this month to hear noted atheist and author Christopher Hitchens speak, Mason Crumpacker of McKinney, who just turned 9, drew international attention by asking Hitchens a question about what books she should read. Points recently caught up with Mason and her parents to ask some questions of our own. Note: This is a longer version of the Q&A in the Oct. 30, 2011, Points section of The Dallas Morning News.”