October 01, 2017

The Relativity of Time

10 strings Chapman Stick
Chapman Stick is an instrument created by Emmett Chapman back in the 70s. A guitar-like that can have 8, 10 or 12 strings, half bass-like and half guitar-like strings. It is very popular among musicians who like to play bass and melody lines, or chords and textures - all together! You don't see much gigs using it, though.

Designed to act as a fully polyphonic chordal instrument, it looks like a wide version of an electric guitar's fretboard, but longer and wider. Unlike the guitar and the bass, it is played by tapping or fretting the strings, rather than plucking them.

My Chapman Stick is 10 strings. I bought it from the bass player of one of the bands I used to play, back in Brazil, but never had the opportunity nor the time to play it. Or should I say to tap it?

The tapping is not the only challenge

The "Free Hands Two-Handed Tapping" technique, a two-handed tapping with the fingers of both hands perpendicular to the strings, is harder than just tapping the guitar! Another challenge is the tuning. There are several different options, but the original 10-string Classic Stick tuning is still very popular, and it is my preferred.

An awkward tuning based on open fourths and fifths

The first 5 strings are called "Melody" strings, and are tuned as D, A, E, B and F#. Each string downs a 4th from the previous one. The next 5 strings, called "Bass" strings, starts with a deep C (a 2nd down the bass E) then G, D, A and E. They are upped a 5th from the previous one.

All together: D, A, E, B, F#, C, G, D, A, E. It is a pretty awkward tuning for those used to guitar/bass tuning.

Finding the time

All set! Now is just a matter of finding the time to learn it... but differently from that old Stones' song, time is not on my side, and if space and time are really relative and flexible as per Albert Einstein's theory - "the dividing line between past, present, and future is an illusion", said the man himself - I shouldn't need to choose between learning the Chapman Stick or studying to my so long postponed EA Certification exam...

September 24, 2017

The United States of Europe

Art by thumboy21
I just read in The Sunday Business Post, Michael McDowell's article about the speech Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament Coordinator on Brexit, gave in the Oireachtas last week.

Despite his humour - he said as a Belgian, surrealism comes naturally to him, but to reinstate a border would be more than surreal - his soothing words assuring "we (EU) will never allow Ireland to suffer as a result of the British to leave the EU. That's a commitment given by the European Parliament and the European Union as a whole" - are actually quite meaningless without a proper explanation on what he meant by "suffer" and by "EU as a whole".

Clearly Ireland has been a thorn in the EU's foot when it comes to corporation taxes, and the recent news about Apple's €13bn tax evasion in Ireland (and the mystery why Ireland doesn't want it back) only helps EU with more ammunition towards an more unified tax system across Europe. Verhofstadt's ideas are no secret to anyone. It's all there in his books - The United States of Europe (Federal Trust) and the latest Europe's Last Chance: Why the European States Must Form a More Perfect Union, among others.

Question is: will it be that bad to have a Federal Europe?

August 06, 2017

Recycling made easy

The 7 standard classifications for plastics: 1–PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate); 2–HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene); 3–PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride); 4–LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene); 5–PP (Polypropylene); 6–PS (Polystyrene); 7–Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN)
The title of this blog is totally misleading... Recycling is NOT easy at all! Apart from all the rules around recycling - most of them quite fair - there are the "plastic issue". Not every plastic is recyclable, and to know which is which, you need to understand what they are!

Ok, one might say "C'mon, it's not that difficult!" Yeah, but you missed the point: why, first of all, the government allow companies to use non-recyclable material, or raw material which recycling process is costly and complicated?

Take polystyrene for example. It's widely used - from disposable drinking cups, take away food containers and foam packaging protection to rigid foam insulation and underlay sheeting for laminate flooring used in home construction - even recycling is not widely available, and despite containing styrene, a possible human carcinogen, (especially when heated in a microwave). Chemicals present in polystyrene have been linked with human health and reproductive system dysfunction.

Because it's structurally weak and ultra-lightweight, it also breaks up easily and is dispersed readily throughout the natural environment. Beaches all over the world have bits of polystyrene lapping at the shores, and an untold number of marine species have ingested this plastic with immeasurable consequences to their health.

Even the recommendation is that polystyrene should be avoided where possible, there's no regulation! It's upo to the government to impose restrictions to such materials, and force companies to use greener alternatives

May 01, 2016

Populism? Moi?

It must be an assumption to think that people do not link the ends... Well, we do. When Mr. Colm McCarthy says "unpopular truths about the water issue", should he really mean unpopular truths about government mistakes? After all, we all remember - and feel still - the horrible mistakes this government has made. And not only this one, but the previous as well, and the previous, again!

Journalists like this Colm McCarthy don't give up telling half truths - or half lies? - covering their own corporated view. In the real world, we all know what this is all about: a levy to pay of the banking debt. The PRIVATE banking debts promptly paid by our (useless) government with OUR PUBLIC money! Money which should be directed, for instance, to efficiently provide the WATER SYSTEM!

Of course 9 weeks to form a government is too much. But this is what the population voted! The press trying to establish the mantra that there are "far more important issues" than Irish Water is a fallacy, a gross strategy to get some controversy in the spotlights, as we all understand that first, Fianna Fail committed itself to a plan - the so called manifesto - which people voted based on. Secondly, Irish water is not about the value - as he says, "... costs people €3 per week", or that it's "a flat €160 per annum" (considering the €100 'water conservation' grant). This is about the people being sick of politicians working in the interest of the capital instead of the interest of the people! Yeah, sounded quite leftist, didn't it? As much as paying bankers with public money should sound rightist, but the status quo somehow manage to dissimulate the meaning.

So, yes, we do understand Irish water is not the worst problem, but it's picked as the notorious issue regarding people's voicing.

Bear with that!

May 05, 2015

Numbers, numbers...

Minister for Finance, TD (Teachta Dála) Michael Noonan, said on TV that he'd support the YES campaign to change the minimum age of a candidate to President of Ireland from 35 to 21 years.

After mentioning he'd not expect to see much 21 years old people as candidates, he said he thinks is peculiar that a 35 years old person can be a candidate, but a 34 years old can't.

Well, minister, you, better then anyone should know such peculiarities are everywhere! For instance, a sixteen years old person can drive, but a 15 can't. A 18 years old person can drink alcohol, a 17 years old can't. A 65 years old person is elegible for full pension, a 64 years old is not. And so on. Then you, minister, might say: "oh, all this numbers are so confusing..."

We understand.