Archive for July, 2010

Once they even won by default the over…

July 27, 2010

Once they even won by default the over 40s section of a marathon race which happened to take place as they were passing. Not giving dates lets the story have a more relaxed and timeless feel about it.
Rather than having to push onwards all the time there is ample opportunity to absorb the history and geography and spend nights with the River Rats, Scotts Tennessee Artillery Company B of the Confederate Army and the jousting tents of ordinary American campers, be brushed by the cultures of Mark Twain, Elvis Presley, jazz, country and Cajun music and the Mormons and many more and to feed alligators from a boat, meet Delta pirogues and be blasted by phenomenal thunderstorms.
The book very quickly gets down to the paddling with a token section at the source of the river.
They then move a little further down before taking up the major part of their trip, largely unbroken to the Gulf of Mexico except for stopovers to explore the towns and recover from incidents, including loss of their canoe on one occasion.
The one significant exception was a ride for several days from St Louis to Memphis on a barge train to see these monsters of the river from the top side.
Sylvie’s book repeatedly shows a surprising degree of fear, fear of barge trains, of thoughtless pleasure boaters, of the storms and of the river itself.
It is a shame that there are no photographs but each chapter begins with a Tom Price sketch and the text marks Sylvie out as a skilled travel writer rather than just a traveller who writes, a thoroughly good read. Magazine formats
The WCA magazine Ceufad has changed to a tabloid format.
While operating within tight financial constraints, editor Terry Davies has managed to give a striking and punchy presentation with plenty of information.
The Canoe-Camper is now on glossy paper and a selection of photographs are included for the first time. Wychavon Canoe Club have launched the first edition of their club newsletter. Touring guides
The BCU Touring & Recreation Committee are preparing 100 Paddles in England and 50 Touring Rivers in Europe and to be published later in the year. The ambitious touring database proposals have been shelved.
Paddlers International yearbook
The 1992 members’ yearbook for Paddlers International is even better than before in that members are now indexed in alphabetical order of name as well as by the waters on which they are knowledgeable and by club membership number.
The worldwide list of national governing body addresses is the most up to date anywhere. In fact, it really is a who’s who of international canoe touring. Numeracy problems
One of the outdoor magazines recently published a canoeing supplement with advertisements bearing prominent numbers.
Readers of Canoeist will have been the only people to have know that the numbers on the advertisements as we originally published them cross referenced to the map on page 52 of our February issue. Oops!
St Albans’ double double

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André Previn’s 1970s recordings of the complete Tchaikovsky…

July 11, 2010

André Previn’s 1970s recordings of the complete Tchaikovsky ballets were some of the happiest collaborations with the LSO, and “Rouge et Noir” puts together nearly 150 minutes of well-chosen extracts from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker .
Incredibly and the fine 1972 Nutcracker has yet to appear complete on CD (Previn’s RPO remake is a bitter disappointment by comparison) so the generous selection here (including the “Snowflakes Waltz” and the Finale as well as the pieces from the Suite and some other movements) is all we have from a fine set. It is every bit as good as I remember and so are the other two ballets.
Previn conducts the big numbers with a real swagger and the shorter dances are well characterised and beautifully played. The recording is never less than good.
An attractive proposition for anyone seeking substantial highlights at a very reasonable price.()
Finally, an anthology of French orchestral music played by the Orchestre de Paris recorded in 19689.
Barbirolli’s famously self-indulgent late Debussy recordings,La Mer and the Nocturnes and really don’t show the great man at his best and though there is no denying the conviction and enormous affection which sir John brings to these pieces. The rest of the programme is conducted by Serge Baudo.
It includes Ravel’s Ma mére l’oye , a very fine performance of the Second Suite from Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane , Messiaen’s Les Offrandes oubliées and Fauré’s Dolly orchestrated by Rabaud),Masques et Bergamasques and Pelléas et Mélisande .
All are well done and though for once EMI’s generosity causes momentary irritation having to change discs half way through Dolly feels rather like a throwback to 78s!
This is an enjoyable collection, even if it does seem to lack the careful planning so evident in the rest of this outstanding series.() [Nigel Simeone]
Olympia has perhaps done more than any other company to stimulate interest in the highways and byways of russian music, as is typified by six of their most recent releases.
With such relatively unfamiliar names such as Smolsky, Glebov, and Kapustin adorning the liner booklets and this is clearly a feast for the inquisitive. (All the discs here are £10.99, as re all Olympia CDs).
Olympia’s new “Belorussian Series” gets off to a cracking start with a pair of discs, one featuring the music of Dmitry Smolsky () and the other, Yevgeni Glebov ().
Smolsky has composed in most of the major genres, although the Olympia selection concentrates solely on his orchestral output.
Opening with a breezy Kabalevskian Overture , Smolsky’s self-avowed folk origins come to the fore in the highly distinctive First Dulcimer Concerto , composed in a broadly neo-classical style (typically spiced with an occasional dash of bi-tonality), but imbued with an expressive force which transcends the often impersonal stance that such an approach can result in.
The solo dulcimer player, Eugene Gladkov, is clearly a virtuoso of the first order.
The ghost of Shostakovich hangs heavily over the Cello Concerto , although the Sixth Symphony , with its barrenpointed landscapes clearly points more in the direction of Kancheli.
The ten minute Violin Concerto , and expertly structured work in one single, continuous movement and relies heavily on the frequent repetition of concise thematic fragments.
Performances are authoritative and committed and the recordings largely satisfactory (bar the strangely muffled sound in the Sixth Symphony ), and the left and right channels appear to have been reversed (as in the Glebov below).
Nonetheless and the music demands attention, and those in search of something rewarding but well off the beaten track and need not hesitate unduly.
Multi-faceted influences have also clearly been poured into the Glebov melting pot, although he appears to have assimilated these with rather greater surety than Smolsky, who is very much the stylistic chameleon in comparison.
Glebov’s Fifth Symphony opens with an introduction featuring a solo tuba, low in its register, winding a motto theme over the distant rumbling of a bass drum.
The wild and rhythmic drive of the first subject owes much to Shostakovich, yet the second subject would not sound out of place in a Star Trek film score, and its pseudo-oriental counter-theme is pure Hollywood.
yet somehow the whole thing proceeds as though all this were the most natural thing in the world.
It is only upon reflection that the latent expressive paradoxes became obvious and such is the potency of Glebov’s compositional sleight of hand.

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He then applied a series of…

July 2, 2010

He then applied a series of increasingly restrictive statistical “decision rules” to see how well the test handled the twin demons of false negatives (that is and the failure to detect a carcinogen) and false positives (registering an innocuous substance as carcinogenic).
His conclusion: “We have an assay test that may be wrong 50 per cent of the time”.
Regulatory policy on carcinogens under President Carter favoured erring on the side of safety.
The percentage of false negatives generated by a cancer test was therefore of great concern.
Yet Salsburg found that, of 19 known human carcinogens, only seven have been shown to cause cancer when fed to rodents. Given those odds, claims Salsburg, one might as well flip a coin. NCI judged 50 per cent of the 170 compounds to be carcinogenic. But Salsburg wondered how many of these might be false positives.
The direct way to assess this is to feed the rodents with large doses of substances that are known to be innocuous.
Salsburg says this was never done for the NCI test, which throws doubt on the high percentage of compounds found to cause cancer.
And Salsburg found that, when he applied statistical tests to the NCI data, between 3 and 70 per cent of the compounds either caused or protected against cancer, depending on the stringency of the decision rule used.
The National Toxicology Programme which is jointly run by the main federal agencies responsible for public health, is charged with developing and promoting toxicology tests in the US.
The programme’s deputy director, John Moore and says Salsburg’s critique contains “distortions and errors”.
The high number of positives is a result of NCI’s “conscious bias” toward selecting test substances that were suspected of posing a risk, Moore argues.
As for the huge variability in the number of contradictory results, Moore says that NCI applies only the most stringent criteria to their decisions: a significant turnout response to a given dose in two species or two sexes.
Moore dismisses Salsburg’s coin-flip analogy as “not meaningful”, but admits to inadequacies in the two-year feeding studies. Salsburg is not the first to criticise the rodent assay.
Several years ago and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration held hearings on the problem of identifying and classifying potential carcinogens. The scientists split into two camps over the validity of animal studies.
Advocates said they were reliable and indispensable; critics, however, disagreed on a number of points. California to ban research on stray cats
RESEARCH laboratories in California may soon be forced to abandon their use of stray pets for biomedical research.
University officials claim that a new bill before the Californian legislature will quadruple research costs and halt work altogether.

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The Department of Education and Science provides the software…

July 1, 2010

The Department of Education and Science provides the software and training for teachers.
So far the department has sent 7000 teachers on computer courses and reckons to train 50 000 teachers by the end of this year.
The DES has nevertheless been criticised for not giving enough training to teachers and for not providing adequate computer programs for the classroom.
At present the department has a library of some 400 pieces of educational software.
But the Department of Industry recently threw £ million into the ring in an effort to get firms to adapt their software for use in schools. The schools meanwhile have been critical of the hardware on offer.
Both the BBC microcomputer and the Spectrum have been plagued by delays and faults.
The Inner London Education Authority, in a circular to schools and says that the computers on offer to primary schools are “in many respects inadequate”. The Sinclair Spectrum came in for particular criticism.
Its keyboard design was “not easy to use” and the ease of damaging the machine coupled with the cost of repairs meant that a “relatively short life should be expected”. The ILEA recommended the Research Machines 380Z or 480Z.
John Lamb
Keeping the weather eyes open
WESTERN EUROPE is to decide this month on a series of satellites that will provide data for weather forecasts until well into the 1990s.
But the nations are worried by a threat from the US to reduce its own weather satellites This could hit plans, particularly in Britain and to expand meteorological services.
The world relies for much of its weather data on a network of satellites, which are either stationed in a fixed position above the equator or which travel over the poles to scan the globe.
The craft are owned by the US, Japan, USSR and the 11-nation European Space Agency (ESA). The countries swap data freely.
This permits them to build up a picture of how the weather is changing virtually anywhere on Earth.
But a dark cloud hangs over the future of the data-swapping arrangement , which is coordinated by the World Meteorological Office of the United Nations.
First, Meteosat, ESA’s contribution to the satellite network, is near retiring age and will stop sending information next year.
After that and there could be a gap of at least three years during which the European nations will play no part in satellite meteorology.
To decide on craft that will fill the gap from 1987 onwards, leading west European nations are meeting in Paris on 2123 March.
They are considering setting up an organisation called Eumetsat to plan three new satellites that will cost £250 million over eight years.
The new craft like the existing Meteosat, would be positioned in geostationary orbit above Africa.

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