The last Louvin brother dies

The Louvin Brothers brought their close, tight harmonies from the world of Gospel music into country and then into early rock ‘n’ roll and today’s pop music.  Their sound can be heard in the Everly Brothers, the Beatles, and on and on.

Charlie Louvin, 83, the country singer and Grand Old Opry performer who, as half of the duo The Louvin Brothers, influenced such later performers as the Everly Brothers died at his home in Warface, Tenn. from complications of pancreatic cancer.

The Louvin Brothers songs were later covered by such diverse performers as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and the Byrds,

The brothers were renown for both gospel songs and so-called heart songs and tearjerkers such as “If I Could Only Win Your Love,” later recorded by Emmylou Harris.

They also updated many traditional — and very morbid — folk songs such as “In The Pines” and “Knoxville Girl” which were both included on their 1956 early concept album for Capitol, “The Tragic Songs of Life.”

The Louvin Brothers’ style evolved from the popular close harmony brother duos of the 1930s such as the Delmore Brothers, the Monroe Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys (Jim and Earl Bolick).

While the duo preserved the singing style of the earlier groups, they made it popular for 1950s audiences by adding electric guitar solos, many by a young Chet Atkins, and a driving beat from an upright bass. Ira Louvin’s mandolin work also gave the duo a connection to the then evolving bluegrass genre.

After the duo disbanded in 1963, Mr. Louvin continued to record as a soloist and was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry into the next decade including a number one hit in 1966, “See The Big Man Cry. ” Mr. Louvin’s brother Ira had a much shorter solo career. He died in a car accident while touring in 1965.

As interest in the early Louvin Brothers material increased, Mr. Louvin had a recent resurgence in activity with performances at rock clubs and bluegrass festivals.

via Post Mortem – Charlie Louvin dies; country singer inspired Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello.

The thing is, I met Charlie Louvin.  He took me and a friend of mine, Tom Wilmeth–who wrote a book about the Louvin Brothers and who turned me on to this kind of music–back stage of the Grand Ol’ Opry.  Here I also met  Bill Monroe and hung out in his dressing room.   I watched the curtains rise from the performer’s point of view for the second show.  This was a highlight of my musical experience, one of those odd and  interesting things I’ve managed to do in the course of my life.

Here is a video of a performance.  Their songs, including their Gospel music, were generally dark.  This one is a little different.  Charlie is the short one.  (If you don’t see the video on your browser, hit “comments” and you should.)

UPDATE:  Their vocal influence was to harmonize with two tenor voices, just a few notes apart, rather than the usual high voice with lower voices.   Their kind of harmony can be heard in the Everly Brothers, the Beatles, the Byrds, etc., etc., etc.

{httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWp7MGY3II4}

Arab revolutions

Just like what happened in the Communist states, popular uprisings have overthrown the autocratic government in Tunisia. Now the similarly autocratic government in Egypt is facing mass demonstrations. It’s also happening in Yemen. The government in Lebanon has also fallen.

We’re glad about that, right? We believe in freedom and democracy and oppose oppressive regimes.

And yet the United States has supported some of the Arab authoritarian regimes because they keep the radical jihadists under their thumb. Some are worried that democracy in the Arab world would mean putting the jihadists in power.

The Tunisian revolutionaries seem to be on the secular, even Westernized side. In Lebanon, though, Hezbollah, the radical Shi’ite terrorists, are taking power. Egypt’s Mubarak has been our guy, despite his dictatorial ways, and radical Islam is waiting in the wings should he be overthrown.

What are we to think about these developments? We went into Iraq to overthrow a ruthless dictator and bring freedom and democracy to an oppressed people. Right? So are we OK when that happens in countries that we didn’t invade and have no control over, and when free might champion terrorism? Help me out here.

HT: tODD

More weird science

According to this article in The New Yorker, when scientists replicate an experiment, the results–proven initially–sometimes change with time.  Drugs that at first are shown to be effective often are shown to be ineffective when tested later.   The article cites one experiment whose results varied when it was performed in different locations.  In many different scientific fields, effects  decline with time.

While Karl Popper imagined falsification occurring with a single, definitive experiment—Galileo refuted Aristotelian mechanics in an afternoon—the process turns out to be much messier than that. Many scientific theories continue to be considered true even after failing numerous experimental tests. Verbal overshadowing might exhibit the decline effect, but it remains extensively relied upon within the field. The same holds for any number of phenomena, from the disappearing benefits of second-generation antipsychotics to the weak coupling ratio exhibited by decaying neutrons, which appears to have fallen by more than ten standard deviations between 1969 and 2001. Even the law of gravity hasn’t always been perfect at predicting real-world phenomena. (In one test, physicists measuring gravity by means of deep boreholes in the Nevada desert found a two-and-a-half-per-cent discrepancy between the theoretical predictions and the actual data.) Despite these findings, second-generation antipsychotics are still widely prescribed, and our model of the neutron hasn’t changed. The law of gravity remains the same.

Such anomalies demonstrate the slipperiness of empiricism. Although many scientific ideas generate conflicting results and suffer from falling effect sizes, they continue to get cited in the textbooks and drive standard medical practice. Why? Because these ideas seem true. Because they make sense. Because we can’t bear to let them go. And this is why the decline effect is so troubling. Not because it reveals the human fallibility of science, in which data are tweaked and beliefs shape perceptions. (Such shortcomings aren’t surprising, at least for scientists.) And not because it reveals that many of our most exciting theories are fleeting fads and will soon be rejected. (That idea has been around since Thomas Kuhn.) The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything. We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that’s often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe.

The decline effect and the scientific method : The New Yorker.

HT:James Kushiner

They thought she was Jewish

Earlier I had blogged about how my former colleague Kristine Luken, a Christian missionary in Israel, was murdered.  Her killers have been arrested:

Four Palestinian men have been indicted in the stabbing death of American woman Kristine Luken who the suspects say was killed because they thought she was Jewish.

Luken, 44, was a Christian missionary working in Israel.

Four more Palestinians, all from the West Bank, have been arrested for providing logistical support to the alleged killers, but have yet to be indicted.

Luken was stabbed to death while hiking in a forest outside Jerusalem with a friend, Kaye Susan Wilson, Dec. 17, 2010.

Israeli police tell ABC News they arrested two men who confessed to the murder within 48 hours of the attack, but kept the arrests secret because they realized that more suspects were involved, and that the group was responsible for a wave of violent crimes.

“The cell’s activity had an initial criminal orientation,” Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said. But after the killing of Hamas leader El Mabhouh in Dubai, for which Hamas holds Israel responsible, “the cell decides to kill in revenge for [that],” Rosenfeld said.

El Mabhouh was a senior Hamas military commander. He was assassinated Jan. 10, 2010, shortly after checking into a five-star hotel in Dubai under a fake name. No one has been arrested in the killing.

The indictment states that two suspects, Kifah Ghneimat and Iyad Fatafa, “decided to enter Israel illegally in order to kill Jews.”

In a forest inside Israel but adjacent to the West Bank they encountered Luken and Wilson. Wilson “tried to convince them they were not Jewish, in order to convince them not to hurt them,” according to the indictment, but one of the suspects grasped at a Star of David necklace around her neck, saying, “What’s this?”

The suspects then stabbed both women repeatedly, killing Luken, according to the indictment. Wilson, badly wounded, played dead, eventually reaching another group of hikers before she collapsed and was taken to a hospital with multiple stab wounds in her chest.

via Palestinians Charged With Murder of American Kristine Luken – ABC News.

Actually, Kristine at least WAS Jewish.   She was a Jewish convert to Christianity.

Cop drones

The small unmanned aircraft that are proving to be such a powerful weapon in our nation’s military operations are coming to a community near you.  The police are going to get their hands on them.  They have already been used in some limited cases against truly bad guys, but so far the FAA has to approve each use of them and only for “emergency” purposes.  But in 2013 the FAA expects to loosen the requirements, allowing the police to use them routinely.  Speeders, beware.

Some civil liberty folks are concerned.  Do they have a basis for their objection?   Short of a totalitarian take-over that would monitor citizens’ every move, do you see a problem with this?

Domestic use of aerial drones by law enforcement likely to prompt privacy debate.

“Something close to a creationist” and “potentially evangelical”

A professor passed over for a job because he questioned evolution sued for religious discrimination.  The university has settled:

The University of Kentucky will pay $125,000 to an astronomy professor who sued the school for religious discrimination.

A motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Lexington said that both UK and C. Martin Gaskell, a research fellow at the University of Texas-Austin, now want the lawsuit thrown out. It had been scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 8.

The lawsuit had provided fodder for Internet news and blog sites discussing religious faith versus academic reasoning.

Gaskell claimed that he was passed over for a job as director of UK’s MacAdam Student Observatory three years ago because of his religion and statements that were perceived to be critical of evolution. He was being represented in the case by attorneys from the American Center for Law and Justice.

Gaskell was a top candidate for the job, according to court filings, but some UK professors called him “something close to a creationist” and “potentially evangelical” in department e-mail messages.

via UK settles religious-discrimination suit for $125,000 | Education | Kentucky.com.

I suspect Prof. Gaskell maintains his beliefs are scientific rather than religious, but surely the University was discriminating against him on the grounds of religion.  The very possibility that he was “potentially evangelical”  was enough for the school to blackball him.

HT:  Kirk


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