Although no lutes are preserved from the Old Babylonian period in Mesopotamia, this tablet records a notation system for the four-stringed lute. The notation records two ascending heptatonic scales (i.e., a scale with 7 pitches per octave, like the major scale) to be played on the lute, and tablet has headings labelled “intonation” and “incantation”. Aside from being the oldest known record of musical notation, the tablet attests to the use of frets whose tones were purposefully calculated and to the presence of a musical curriculum in education. (Source)
This series of pictures is from a San Francisco Chroniclearticle about flash mobs, or “an international fad, partly anarchistic, partly absurdist, in which a mob of participants suddenly materializes at a public place, engages in odd behavior [like pillow or shaving cream fights] and then disperses.”
This last picture is of Martin Condol, one of the city workers brought it to clean up after the revelers. He is the only worker to be included in the photographs — appearing in two images of the 20 — despite the fact that the article was specifically about the problem and expense involved in cleaning up.
Though many of us see such workers in our everyday lives, they are very rarely made visible in news accounts of the world. Even when they’re relevant, news producers seem to prefer to show the faces of happy white people to those of the men and women whose hard work keeps cities, businesses, and families flourishing.
QUESTION:You've written about the way that professional ideologists and the mandarins obfuscate reality. And you have spoken -- in some places you call it a "Cartesian common sense" -- of the commonsense capacities of people. Indeed, you place a significant emphasis on this common sense when you reveal the ideological aspects of arguments, especially in contemporary social science. What do you mean by common sense? What does it mean in a society like ours? For example, you've written that within a highly competitive, fragmented society, it's very difficult for people to become aware of what their interests are. If you are not able to participate in the political system in meaningful ways, if you are reduced to the role of a passive spectator, then what kind of knowledge do you have? How can common sense emerge in this context?
CHOMSKY:Well, let me give an example. When I'm driving, I sometimes turn on the radio and I find very often that what I'm listening to is a discussion of sports. These are telephone conversations. People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it's plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it's at a level of superficiality that's beyond belief.
In part, this reaction may be due to my own areas of interest, but I think it's quite accurate, basically. And I think that this concentration on such topics as sports makes a certain degree of sense. The way the system is set up, there is virtually nothing people can do anyway, without a degree of organization that's far beyond anything that exists now, to influence the real world. They might as well live in a fantasy world, and that's in fact what they do. I'm sure they are using their common sense and intellectual skills, but in an area which has no meaning and probably thrives because it has no meaning, as a displacement from the serious problems which one cannot influence and affect because the power happens to lie elsewhere.
Now it seems to me that the same intellectual skill and capacity for understanding and for accumulating evidence and gaining information and thinking through problems could be used -- would be used -- under different systems of governance which involve popular participation in important decision-making, in areas that really matter to human life.
There are questions that are hard. There are areas where you need specialized knowledge. I'm not suggesting a kind of anti-intellectualism. But the point is that many things can be understood quite well without a very far-reaching, specialized knowledge. And in fact even a specialized knowledge in these areas is not beyond the reach of people who happen to be interested.
"Neighbors Interview: We brought a frat guy to talk to Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, & the rest of the cast!"
I am actually very interested in the specific art-form of the movie press junket interview, mostly because it’s a sort of underutilized opportunity for weird sketch comedy.
A little background. These celebrities are essentially confined in a tiny room, and a parade of mostly-exactly-the-same interviewers come in and ask them what it was like to work with whoever the biggest star of the movie was. Or whatever else question they’ve already heard probably a few dozen times that day. And they have to answer as if it’s the first time, because that little clip, which might be the 30th clip they filmed that day, might be the one that goes on a really popular YouTube channel, and if they’re less than sincere, they’ll regret it, no matter how stupid the questions might be. (Look at this example of Bruce Willis breaking under the pressure to be personable in one of these parade-style interview sessions.)
So when interviewers treat this process as a chance to make art with some very talented people, you get something like the clip above. This is a very specific art-form, but it’s one I really appreciate a lot.