David Thompson


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August 03, 2007


Random Numbers

Your Geek-Fu is particularly strong today, Master David. I loved all the links!


Happy to oblige. It’s for the betterment of mankind.


I think the following probably qualifies as Friday Ephemera Geek-Fu, so here it is. I've been slowly working through the TED conference videos available on-line over the last six months, and I'd like to recommend to you Hans Rosling's talk from TED 2006 on Visualizing Recent Global Improvements. Before anyone completely buys into Mark Steyn's "America Alone" thesis, and let me be the first to note that I have great regard for Mr. Steyn's work, I urge you to consider the evidence in Mr. Rosling's studies. Mr. Rosling's talk is available here:



"You're Cheatin' Heart" is about as close to a perfected song as there is. To be able to deliver such a condensed narrative that's timeless and huge and yet small as the room he wrote it in points to an engine of genius there behind the barn door.

Every verse and bridge in the song is four lines, and every line is four syllables long, and every single chord change -- the narrative propellants -- occurs on the fourth syllable. And then this structural elegance and rotational resolution steps completely out of the way, and you're left with a plain song whose sentiment could credibly be a translation of a bit of graffiti from an archaeological dig in Greece or from a piece of parchment from twelfth century England.

Pride, injury, mortality, weakness; here's a guy reaching out to an empty spot where a woman once stood, as if she is still there. Like Anselmo in Don Quixote, the cause of Hank's doom is right there in his own words. But through sound, Hank is a corporeal presence, a smaller, realer presence that's not laughable; Hank's heart, too, is an object of consideration, but unlike Anselmo's it cannot be completely separated from those who hear the tale.

In Your Cheatin' Heart the narrator's deepest prayer is a request that takes the peculiarly sad form of being both infinitely modest and completely impossible at the same time. He hopes for, and feels he needs for his salvation, a simple reciprocity that not only doesn't exist, but, we understand through the song, never actually did, which makes his current situation even more lamentable. The song reveals the sad understanding of the narrator that he source of his pain, but not the solution, lies entirely within himself; he understands the futility of his thinking, but the song -- his feeling -- doesn't want him to quit, it keeps his hope alive just barely enough to relieve him insufficiently from the pain of what's happening.

Those white-trash Yanks, I tell ya.



Thanks, I’ll look at Rosling’s lecture this afternoon.


And to think I was toying with the idea of posting Hank Marvin instead. In a post-ironic way, of course.


I would like to hear what you think about it David, if you are so inclined after viewing it.



See today’s post.


Much appreciated.

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