Friday, December 16, 2011

Notes: 12/15/11

Photos this week are from a Christmas trip to Oaxaca Mexico...

Oaxaca Central Plaza ( Zocolo) at night

1. My first awareness of music was limited by what was available on Radio WIBW in Topeka Kansas. The popular music of the time was choppy fast swing rhythms, mostly on the themes of love and loss. My Mother didn't particularly like this music and when a music station opened at Kansas University at Lawrence Kansas – this became her daily companion as she worked at home. By indirect exposure I learned to appreciate a range of European music – Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky… I learned to recognize different music forms and time periods of music. Some classical music I still enjoy, although over the years my taste has become both wider and my choices more definite.

Providing music to help the making of Atole - My ex student Bruce Doctor

My favorite classical music is mostly in the form of such composers as Dvorak, Smetana, Mahler, Stravinsky, and Copland. In my college years I encountered other forms of music that I have come to love. Music of the people – southern roots blues, old time country singers, Cajun music, Pacific Island Slack Key, Appalachian blue grass music… This music is alive, it is the music of people having a good time together, people sharing their traditions, enjoying each others company.

A modern Aztec playing Christmas music

Travelling has opened me to world music – the slightly atonal music of the Balkan countries, Greek Rubetica, Turkish, Syrian, North African music from Arabic music traditions, Asian music lacking the themes and melodies of western music is based on the natural sounds of nature, the rich and varied styles of African music, Music of Central Asia designed for playing in small enclosed yurts, Mexican Ranchera music, Horocho, Banda, and Tuna… One way to undertand a people is to listen to their music.... making music seems to be something all of us humans do... early musical instruments have been found even with Cro Magnan human remains. There are some forms of music I just dont relate to...I don’t particularily enjoy Opera (with a few exceptions), nor do I like most electric guitar music, nor most of the ever changing forms of trendy popular music, also I just dont relate to jazz.

At a Manos de Vida gift giving for poor children in one of the barrios of Oaxaca

These days, as I am commuting on Bay Area freeways, I have my favorite music sources... One day it may be a 14th century brass and organ composition, and the next I may listen to Muddy Waters followed by Russian Orthodox polyphonic singing or I may find simple gospel tunes,. It may be The Rite of Spring or Johnnie Cash… We have a variety of listener supported stations in our area that supprise me each day with their varied offerings.

The season of light in the darkness

2. In case you are wondering why the Occupy movement continues to grow…read there 3 clips from news sources this week

The New York Times reported last week that among the middle class, median household incomes fell last year to levels last seen in 1996. Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it.

And in new signs of distress among the middle class, median household incomes fell last year to levels last seen in 1996.

Economists pointed to a telling statistic: It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period."

We had dinner one evening at her home with our Manos friends

And what has happened to our friends in the top 1%? ( from the Christian Science Monitor ) "Average after-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households almost quadrupled, up 275 percent, from 1979 to 2007, the Congressional Budget Office found. For people in the middle of the economic scale, after-tax income grew by just 40 percent in the same time period. Those at the bottom experienced an 18 percent increase.

Lawmakers and presidential candidates are mulling overhauling the tax code — some propose a flat tax that critics say could magnify the income gap."
Read there full article here:

A colony of displaced mountain village people squatting on the outskirts of Oaxaca

Both sides are talking about taxes as one of the solutions: ( Williamette Weekly) "Despite skyrocketing incomes, the federal tax burden on the richest 400 has been slashed, thanks to a variety of loopholes, allowable deductions and other tools. The actual share of their income paid in taxes, according to the IRS, is 16.6 percent. Adding payroll taxes barely nudges that number.

"Compare that to the vast majority of Americans, whose share of their income going to federal taxes increased from 13.1 percent in 1961 to 22.5 percent in 2007.

Lots of other people live tax-free, too. Donald Trump’s tax records for four years early in his career show that he paid no taxes for two of those years. Big real-estate investors enjoy tax-free living under a 1993 law President Clinton signed. It lets “professional” real-estate investors use paper losses like depreciation on their buildings against any cash income, even if they end up with negative incomes like Trump. "

And to top it off we have a vast system of lobbyists spending huge amounts of money to buy influence with those who should be addressing the problem... The top 1% will be happy as long as nothing happens to upset their good deal!

Disturbing! - it came out this week that some of the big players in financial circles are funding a program to discredit the Occupy movement - watch for signs of a PR program in the months ahead...

You have heard about supply side economics - but do you understand how well it works ; Please read this to learn:

3. La Nina ("the little girl”) is playing a joke on us this year… "La Nina" is a weather pattern brought about because the surface ocean temperature along the central south American coast is made lower than normal by 3–5 °C, due to fluctuating wind patterns that cause cold water to rise to the surface. This brings about changes in world wide weather patterns… Most La Nina years bring Southern California dry winters, the Pacific NW usually gets more rain, and the central northern California region can go either way.

Dry skies!

Last year was also La Nina and we had record rainfall. For us it depends on the chance occurrence of a “pineapple express” pattern… in January and February we sometimes get a whole series of intense warm rainstorms from Tropical waters from our southwest ocean. That can give us the bulk of our rainfall for the year in a few days time. But for now, after one moderate rainfall in October, we have had virtually none since. I still have to water my garden.

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