Newspaper Taxis

Lucy, Pablo & Tara: Behind
Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper Songs

Some say that John Lennon was the reporter-on-duty for the Beatles. For the most part, his songs do have that matter-of-fact quality, often commenting on the news of the day. Or of his life, for that matter, and always taking a lot of artistic liberties, of course.
Three songs from the 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album have exquisite stories behind them: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, and A Day in the Life. One family-generated, other on vaudeville history, and another about a crash that may have shaken London society and pretty much no one else, but that did send John ‘into a dream.’
We’re not getting into the slippery slope of ancient rock music critique, for most of these stories have been percolating around for over 40 years. They’re part of the lore and mystique about the Beatles and, we promise, that’s the last word ending in ‘QUE’ we’ll be using on this post. But before we forget, of course, these are outstanding songs, and the passage of time has had no effect on them.
As such, they always had room to inspire apocryphal tales about them, which are sometimes so colorful and detailed that only Apple would care enough to periodically deny them any currency. Reality trumps delusion in the case of these three, however, and their true (more)
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Read Also:
* John & Poe
* Dear John
* Dr. Winston O’Boogie
Continue reading

Journey to Forever

The Challenger Explosion
& Its Thunderbolt Lessons

It was the U.N. International Year of Peace, and ‘We Are the World’ was a big hit. On its second visit in a century, the Halley Comet was at its closest to Earth when a melting Chernobyl reactor caused the world’s scariest nuclear disaster. But right off the bat, 1986 marked the worst tragedy of the space age.
On January 28, the Challenger Shuttle exploded on live TV, killing all seven astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, who was to become the first space civilian, but turned out to be the last teacher to be nationally mourned and eulogized in the U.S. It’s been downhill for educators ever since.
It was the Reagan era, and footage of him will probably be all over the airwaves. In a year of yet another flawed immigration law, his administration would be caught selling illegal weapons to Iran and arming the Contras to top Nicaragua’s democratic elected government.
The 30 years that now separate us from the Challenger explosion also equal the entire length of the Space Shuttle Program, which folded in 2011. Before that, another group of astronauts perished in 2003, when the Columbia, the program’s first space-worthy vehicle, tragically disintegrated while reentering Earth’s atmosphere.
These tragedies, along with the program whose many achievements are now part of our daily lives, look now so far back into the past, that even the ideas that inspired it seem remote. NASA doesn’t even have a comprehensive space plan currently running.
A MAJOR MALFUNCTION
It’s also easy to forget how close we all came to believe that space travel would be a new century routine, and many are quick to point that it was exactly that kind of sense of false security that led to the fatal errors causing the Challenger’s demise.
Perhaps. What’s for sure is that, without daring mistakes, we wouldn’t even have gotten to the Moon, and how uninspiring our age really is if our dreams nowadays have to come attached to a mandatory bargain price tag. Unlike weapons and conspiracy theories.
McAuliffe was slated to conduct the first high school science classes from space, to a Internet-less world full of teenagers who still cared about the subject. Instead, children along millions endured her spectacular dead, and that of her co-travelers, broadcast live.

TEACHING CHILDREN WELL
Such brutal awakening may have also marked, at least symbolically, the beginning of the end of Americans’ appreciation for the role of teachers and educators. It’s a curious phenomenon, promoted by half-witted politicians and their austerity policies.
Even though science and innovation was one of the tenets of U.S.’s ascension to its world power position, an entire generation grew apathetic and spoiled by the inventions that surround us. Science school grades have never been so low in average.
That’s probably why, instead of tele-transportation and weekly trips through the Solar System, we’ve got only a better iPhone (more)
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Read Also:
* Farewell Mission
* Waiting For Discovery
Continue reading

Soup to Nuts

The Office Thief, The Chinese
Sitters & the Three-Boob Woman

Knowingly or not, we all play parts in the staging of someone else’s drama. Some are petty and ruin the proceedings, as others, humbly, master the hapless roles. Yet, there are those whose self-immolating act may make them come out stronger by the end of the third act.
Let’s start with that infamous office jester, the refrigerator thief who plagues the world of company stiffs and often gets away with it. We catch up with line sitters, camping on the streets to get persons unknown the latest iPhone. And on to Jasmine Tridevil’s sideshow.
Although on the surface, these vivid showcases of human frailty seem utterly different from one another, clear commonalities emerge from their underpinnings. They’re enough to bring it all down to a few, basic strains that reveal how we connect with others, or at least, the way we strive to annoy the hell out of them.
But what’s most fascinating about these three instances is how interchangeable is the role each character plays. Just like in the theater, the perceived villains may hold more humanity in their actions than we would care to give them credit for. And the heroes are hardly as virtuous as a cheap movie plot would have them.
Thus, through his mischief, the office jerk may reveal the brutal turf war that goes unmentioned all around the exposed company cubicles. Also, the arbitrary justice ready to be exacted by some anonymous bureaucrat from behind a fancy shield with a name attached – notwithstanding the indispensable victim role.
The professional ‘exploited’ may be turning a profit few would dream of from such a harsh occupation, even if, or given that, to many, standing in line to get the latest gadget is not just a waste of time, but completely below their sense of worth. Also, never mind that some organized crime may be behind the whole scheme.
And speaking of exploiting, how can anyone blame the sheer showmanship er displayed, or almost, by a self-inventing woman bent into becoming a reality TV star? Whether it’s an unhealthy step, or a mere hoax, she has all the right to crave for the attention, for it will be giveth to her, anytime, any day. Enjoy the ride.

TURKEY & SWISS ON RYE
It happened in New Zealand as it could have anywhere else. Office hands may know the script very well: your lunch gets eaten, anonymously; you write your grievance on a note; thief refuses to bulge; you surrender to moaning; thief may be revealed, if ever, by sheer luck, or well-honed snitching. Or some variation of the theme.
This time, the whole saga and its profusely descriptive notes, exchanged between the unconscionably jester and his victim, went viral on a New Zealand Continue reading

Awaiting On You All

George,
Who’d Be
70 Today

The Beatle who, up to his last years, didn’t know he was older than he’d thought, is being celebrated today in a quiet way as he would’ve liked it.

The last of his closest mates to reach his seventh decade, the fact that George Harrison‘s passed away years ago, in 2001, is irrelevant to his continued presence and influence, just like it is with John Lennon.
As their physical presence in this world recedes, their legacies stand up and complement each other, in ways that were not quite so evident during their lifetime.
We bet that something similar is already happening with the still very much alive Paul McCartney, just like the three of them are bound to be remembered outside the powerful myth of the Beatles as a group.
But what’s the most enduring about George Harrison now, as ever, is still his music, as he’s changed the cultural landscape of his time by sheer intuition and the dept of his artistic talent.
Even without resorting to the easy labels attached to his personality and accomplishments, something will always remain mysterious and baffling about George Harrison.
Perhaps, that has to do with his experimental approach to life, just like he happened upon his own birth certificate, and realized that he’d been born in Feb. 24, not on the 25th, as most bios of his still show.
So what? You wouldn’t have heard it as such a big deal if it’d come from the man himself, who’s spent great part of his life learning the healthy art of being ready when the journey ends, and it’s time to accept the inevitability.
That was the task he took at heart, and we’re glad he’d a chance to fully prepare himself for it, unlike the coward twist of fate that befell Lennon. And that’s why today feels as if he’s still around.
He’d probably spend it tending to his garden, and possibly enjoying his dear ones, just like many of us would’ve consider spending our own precious moments. Happy Birthday, old friend, we’d tell him; my, your Gardenias are looking particularly sharp this afternoon.

Space Out

Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Fan & Joint Tripper

‘The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serendipity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.’ These words are attributed to Carl Sagan, who’d be 78 years old today. Happy birthday, Mr. Cosmos.
The quote appeared on Lester Grinspoon’s 1977 book, Marihuana Reconsidered, and it’s here apropos last Tuesday’s vote legalizing weed in Washington and Colorado states, the first of its kind in the U.S., and a potential crack in the expensive, tragic, and ultimately ineffective ‘war on drugs.’ Well done, fellow Americans, others will soon join you.
The astrophysicist known for his 1970s TV series Cosmos was also a user himself, according to Keay Davison, who wrote his biography in 1996, three years after Sagan died of myelodysplasia-related pneumonia. Wikipedia reports that not long after, his widow Ann Druyan presided over the board of directors of NORML, a foundation dedicated to reforming laws concerning pot.
Even though much of the turbulent 1960s and 1970s were marked by both widespread experiments with mind-altering drugs, and with the wonders of the space race, Sagan’s importance for boosting popular interest in science and astrophysics can not be overstated. Besides his Continue reading

Newspaper Taxis

Lucy, Pablo & Tara: Behind
Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper Songs

Some say that John Lennon was the reporter-on-duty for the Beatles. For the most part, his songs do have that matter-of-fact quality, often commenting on the news of the day. Or of his life, for that matter, and always taking a lot of artistic liberties, of course.
Three songs from the 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album have exquisite stories behind them: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, and A Day in the Life. One family-generated, other on vaudeville history, and another about a crash that may have shaken London society and pretty much no one else, but that did send John ‘into a dream.’
We’re not getting into the slippery slope of ancient rock music critique, for most of these stories have been percolating around for over 40 years. They’re part of the lore and mystique about the Beatles and, we promise, that’s the last word ending in ‘QUE’ we’ll be using on this post. But before we forget, of course, these are outstanding songs, and the passage of time has had no effect on them.
As such, they always had room to inspire apocryphal tales about them, which are sometimes so colorful and detailed that only Apple would care enough to periodically deny them any currency. Reality tramps delusion in the case of these three, however, and their true origins, Continue reading

Small Classes

When PhDs Engorge Welfare Lines
& Dropouts Dream of Hitting It Big

The confirmation, last week, of the number of jobless workers with some college now exceeding those with a high school diploma or less, has reignited the age-old debate about what’s more important in the marketplace, a degree or professional expertise. Both, one would say, but things are rarely that simple.
While there are many billionaires who never finished college or who quit school early on, lack of formal education is still an excuse, at least for job recruiters, to cut down the ever increasing stack of resumes they receive. Besides, billionaires are less than one percent of the population, as the Occupy Wall Street movement helps us remember.
Still, at a time when many consider playing Lotto part of their retirement plan, while others dream about fame and fortune despite staggering odds stacked against them, it’s no wonder that the super rich example finds its way to any debate about unemployment and education, even though it has little to do with either.
Educators, political scientists and even populist politicians all routinely puzzled over the undeniable benefits but less clear practical advantages of having a degree. Specially in the U.S.’s current toxic environment for independent thinking, scientific knowledge and high-end academic achievement, all commonly associated to the number of years one spends at school.
Also, putting aside the increasing cost, rampant student debt and declining funding for research factors, however relevant to any discussion about education they may be, it’s instructive to note that if geniuses can’t be artificially raised, they hardly ever sprout without nurturing conditions.

Thus, it’s an understatement to celebrate the outstanding personal Continue reading