The Breakfast Club (CT == Completely True)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgTo begin with, programming wonks know that ‘=’, which is rendered in English simply as ‘equals’, in computer languages can refer to two distinct acts.  The first is that it can assign a value to a variable as in this snippet of C

#include <stdio.h>



  int a;

  for(a=100, a>=0, -7)


     printf(%i", ", a);




Which provides the output-

100, 93, 86, 79, 72, 65, 58, 51, 44, 37, 30, 23, 16, 9, 2

The second is as a test.  Does one thing equate to another?  The answer is either yes or no.  In ‘C’ the way to express this meaning is ‘==’.  Some more code-

#include <stdio.h>



  int a;

  for(a=100, a==0, -7)


     printf(%i", ", a);




Looks mostly the same doesn’t it?  Only changed the one symbol, but because ‘a’ will never have the exact value of 0 the loop will never end until you overflow the limit of your negative integer values (which varies and is not specifically relevant) at which time you will have “unpredictable” results (unpredictable in this case meaning not only probably wrong, but bad in ways that are likely to cause your computer to stop working.

Is any of this relevant?  We shall see.

As I mentioned last week in my discussion of Rimsky-Korsakoff it was a popular theory among many Romantic composers that Mozart was poisoned by Salieri because Salieri, a merely ‘good’ composer, was jealous of Mozart’s ‘Musical Genius’ and offended by his crass personal behavior (a modern re-telling of this can be found in the musical and movie Amadeus).

Oh, those Compton boys.  And now the Barzinis P. Diddy stands and the Teflon Don Gambinos Suge Knight looks destined to spend a long time in stir (told you they were rock stars).

Well, how true is this story?  The modern historical consensus is- not at all.

In the 1780s while Mozart lived and worked in Vienna, he and his father Leopold wrote in their letters that several “cabals” of Italians led by Salieri were actively putting obstacles in the way of Mozart’s obtaining certain posts or staging his operas. For example, Mozart wrote in December 1781 to his father that “the only one who counts in [the Emperor’s] eyes is Salieri”. Their letters suggest that both Mozart and his father, being Germans who resented the special place that Italian composers had in the courts of the Austrian princes, blamed the Italians in general and Salieri in particular for all of Mozart’s difficulties in establishing himself in Vienna. Mozart wrote to his father in May 1783 about Salieri and Lorenzo Da Ponte, the court poet: “You know those Italian gentlemen; they are very nice to your face! Enough, we all know about them. And if [Da Ponte] is in league with Salieri, I’ll never get a text from him, and I would love to show here what I can really do with an Italian opera.” In July 1783 Mozart wrote to his father of “a trick of Salieri’s”, one of several letters in which he accused Salieri of trickery. Decades after Mozart’s death, a rumour began to circulate that Mozart had been poisoned by Salieri. This rumour has been attributed by some to a rivalry between the German and the Italian schools of music.

However, even with Mozart and Salieri being rivals for certain jobs, there is very little evidence that the relationship between the two composers was at all acrimonious beyond this, especially after 1785 or so when Mozart had become established in Vienna. Rather, they appeared to usually see each other as friends and colleagues and supported each other’s work. For example, when Salieri was appointed Kapellmeister in 1788 he revived Figaro instead of bringing out a new opera of his own; and when he went to the coronation festivities for Leopold II in 1790 he had no fewer than three Mozart masses in his luggage. Salieri and Mozart even composed a cantata for voice and piano together, called Per la ricuperata salute di Ophelia… Mozart’s Davide penitente (1785), his Piano Concerto KV 482 (1785), the Clarinet Quintet (1789) and the 40th Symphony (1788) had been premiered on the suggestion of Salieri, who supposedly conducted a performance of it in 1791. In his last surviving letter from 14 October 1791, Mozart tells his wife that he collected Salieri and Caterina Cavalieri in his carriage and drove them both to the opera; about Salieri’s attendance at his opera The Magic Flute, speaking enthusiastically: “He heard and saw with all his attention, and from the overture to the last choir there was not a piece that didn’t elicit a ‘Bravo!’ or ‘Bello!’ out of him.

Salieri, along with Mozart’s protégé J. N. Hummel, educated Mozart’s younger son Franz Xaver Mozart, who was born in the year his father died.

Now you can see why this was an attractive myth to Romantics who were rebelling against what they saw as the strict formalism of Classical Music in favor of a more emotive and evocative expression which was presaged by the music of Mozart.  They saw in him a champion, despised and thwarted by ‘the establishment’ and ultimately martyred to the cause at the hands of its representative.

So what of the ‘evil’ Salieri?

Reasonably popular and relatively wealthy and respected during his lifetime, after the Romantics turned against him his music languished in obscurity, rarely performed until Amadeus revived the long forgotten 19th century canard.  Today it has a certain cachet among Art Music hipsters (and believe me it’s an incredibly Nerdy and Geeky subculture).

Wait- what about the Genius thing?

As Perrine and Arp (.pdf) put it in Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry

The attempt to evaluate a poem should never be made before it is understood; and, unless you have developed the capacity to feel some poetry deeply, any judgments you make will be worthless. A person who likes no wines can hardly be a judge of them. The ability to make judgments, to discriminate between good and bad, great and good, good and half-good, is surely a primary object of all liberal education, and one’s appreciation of poetry is incomplete unless it includes discrimination. Of the mass of verse that appears each year in print, as of all literature, most is “flat, stale, and unprofitable”; a very, very little is of any enduring value.

Great poetry engages the whole man in his response- senses, imagination, emotion, intellect; it does not touch him on just one or two sides of his nature. Great poetry seeks not merely to entertain the reader but to bring him, along with pure pleasure, fresh insights, or renewed insights, and important insights, into the nature of human experience. Great poetry, we might say, gives its reader a broader and deeper understanding of life, of his fellow men and of himself, always with the qualification, of course, that the kind of insight which literature gives is not necessarily the kind that can be summed up in a simple “lesson” or “moral.” It is knowledge–felt knowledge, new knowledge–of the complexities of human nature and of the tragedies and sufferings, the excitements and joys, that characterize human experience.

You tell me, which is better-

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp’d town to another due,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,

But am betroth’d unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.


Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Or this-

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away”

As I mentioned, performances of Salieri’s work are hard to find, but to give him the best possible chance and most direct comparison I found a performance of his 2nd Symphony (he didn’t do that many and was more a sacred, choral, opera composer) that is not too bad.  He composed it in his mid to late 20s.

Mozart’s numbers are all screwed up with many Symphonies attributed to him actually pieces of his father’s or mere musical sketches with fragmentary orchestration composed while he was but a boy (though child prodigy was his stock in trade).  This is Symphony No. 29 composed solely by him when he was 18 years old in 1774.

So, relevant or not?  What is truth?  Beauty?  Or just a changing law?  Must we have truths?  Are mine the same as yours?

I wash my hands (unlike Thom Tillis).

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.


Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

This Day in History


Greece’s Syriza government vows to fight pressure to stick to bailout terms

Katie Allen and Graeme Wearden, The Guardian

Friday 6 February 2015 12.44 EST

Germany wants Greece to arrive with a plan on the repayment of €240bn (£180bn) in bailout loans it received from the international community. The special debt meeting will be followed on Thursday by a summit of European leaders, the first with Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister.

But a Greek government official ruled out accepting a plan based on the old bailout and said Varoufakis would ask for a bridge agreement to tide Athens over until it can present a new debt and reform programme. “We will not accept any deal which is not related to a new programme,” an official told Reuters.

The bailout from the troika – which came with stringent conditions, including big spending cuts – is due to expire at the end of this month. But for now many analysts appear hopeful a deal will be done that avoids a Greek exit, or “Grexit”.

“We still think that the Greek government and its creditors, including, importantly, the ECB, will eventually come to an agreement on a follow-up bailout that avoids Grexit and a default by the Greek government,” economists at Citigroup said on Friday.

They outlined two agreements that will be needed soon: “An interim agreement (probably by end-February) to keep the Greek government and Greek banks funded for up to four months, with the ECB playing a key role during this period, and … a more substantial and durable agreement on a follow-up bailout to be struck during that period.”

“We continue to expect an agreement on both fronts, but it would require both sides to substantially narrow their differences and we see material risks that either one of these negotiations will fail,” the note said.

Greek Minister: Poison of Troika Austerity Fueling Rise of Nazi Party

by Jon Queally, Common Dreams

Friday, February 06, 2015

Revealing the distance that still remains between the Greek and German governments when it comes to renegotiating terms of the bailout program, a meeting between the nation’s financial ministers in Berlin on Thursday was punctuated by the acknowledgement that the two could not, in fact, even “agree to disagree” and a warning from the new Syriza government that without a loosening of austerity, fascist forces will almost surely rise.

“We didn’t come to an agreement,” said Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, recently appointed to the post after Syriza  swept into power during national elections last month. “We couldn’t even agree to disagree. We agreed to continue consultations as partners. Our solution will have Europe’s interest as a priority.”

He continued: “We did not reach agreement because it was never on the cards that we would… We didn’t discuss the debt, but we set the framework for discussions.”

In his remarks, Varoufakis said that if the does not Troika bend and accept new terms, there is serious risk that the spiraling impacts of the economic Depression in his country will continue to fuel the rise of fascist, rightwing forces within his country.

“No one understands better than the people of this land how a severely depressed economy, combined with a ritual national humiliation and unending hopelessness, can hatch the serpent’s egg within its society. When I return home tonight, I will find a country where the third-largest party is not a neo-nazi party, but a nazi party,” he said, referring to the Golden Dawn party which currently, despite many of its members serving prison time for violence and corruption, holds the third-most seats in Greek Parliament. “We need the people of Germany on our side.”

Despite those risks and proving that members of the Troika are ready to play hardball with Syriza, the ECB on Wednesday applied market pressure on the new government by announcing it would no longer accept Greek-issued bonds. As explained by Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the move by the powerful institution “was a clear and deliberate attempt to undermine” the new leadership in Athens amid ongoing negotiations.

According to Weisbrot, “They are trying to force the government to abandon its promises to the Greek electorate, and to follow the IMF program that its predecessors signed on to.”

He concluded, “The ECB should be ashamed of its latest assault on Greek democracy. And they should not be able to get away with disguising it as anything less than that.”

In Latest Vindication of Snowden, Court Rules UK Mass Surveillance Illegal

by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal found that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) accessed information obtained by the National Security Agency (NSA) without sufficient oversight, violating Articles 8 and 10 of the European convention on human rights. According to Reuters, “The tribunal’s concern, addressed in the new ruling, was that until details of how GCHQ and the NSA shared data were made public in the course of the court proceedings, the legal safeguards provided by British law were being side-stepped.”

The Guardian adds, “The ruling appears to suggest that aspects of the operations were illegal for at least seven years-between 2007, when the Prism intercept [program] was introduced, and 2014.”

“For far too long, intelligence agencies like GCHQ and NSA have acted like they are above the law,” said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, one of the human rights groups that brought the case to the IPT. “Today’s decision confirms to the public what many have said all along-over the past decade, GCHQ and the NSA have been engaged in an illegal mass surveillance sharing program that has affected millions of people around the world.”

“We must not allow agencies to continue justifying mass surveillance programmes using secret interpretations of secret laws,” King continued. “The world owes Edward Snowden a great debt for blowing the whistle, and today’s decision is a vindication of his actions.”

Joe Biden will not attend Israeli PM Netanyahu’s address to Congress

The Guardian

Friday 6 February 2015 11.15 ES

As president of the Senate, the vice-president normally sits behind visiting heads of state when they make a joint address to both chambers of Congress.

But on Friday, an official at Biden’s office said: “The Vice President’s office expects that the Vice President will be traveling abroad during the joint session of Congress.”

It was unclear where Biden plans to travel, though his office said the unspecified trip had been in the works before the prime minister’s trip was announced.

US facing open-ended conflict in Middle East, Obama’s security plan says

by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Friday 6 February 2015 12.23 EST

The 2015 National Security Strategy, released by the White House on Friday, resigns the US to an open-ended conflict against al-Qaida and now the Islamic State (Isis), as well as their undefined “affiliates”. It does not significantly discuss Yemen or Pakistan, the two most active theaters of drone strikes against al-Qaida.

While the document declares al-Qaida’s core leadership “decimated”, the strategy forecasts a continued global conflict against a “more diffuse” series of al-Qaida and Isis networks abroad, raising questions about what a counterterrorism approach that privileges decapitation strikes will durably achieve.

That diffusion, “may for now reduce the risk of a spectacular attack like 9/11,” said Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, but raises the risk of smaller-scale attacks like in “Boston, Ottawa, Sydney and Paris”.

During a rollout speech for the strategy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Rice argued for “perspective”, as the threats the US faces “are not of the existential nature they were in World War II or the Cold War.”

As the White House unveiled the strategy document, the US military announced 10 new airstrikes in Syria and eight in Iraq against Isis.

Top UN Official Says ‘Global War on Terror’ Is Laying Waste to Human Rights

by Thalif Deen, IPS News

Friday, February 06, 2015

Speaking Thursday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., Zeid said the world needs “profound and inspiring leadership” driven by a concern for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people.

“We need leaders who will observe fully those laws and treaties drafted to end all discrimination, the privation of millions, and atrocity and excess in war, with no excuses entertained. Only then, can we help ourselves out of the present serious, seemingly inexhaustible, supply of crises that threatens to engulf us,” he declared.

Last year, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was accused of subjecting terrorist suspects to “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including water-boarding, sleep deprivation and physical duress.

The Western nations, who have been involved in air attacks inside Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, have both justified and dismissed thousands of civilian killings as “collateral damage” – even as they continue to preach the doctrine of human rights and the sanctity of civilian life inside the General Assembly hall and the Security Council chamber.

And, meanwhile, there are several countries, including Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which continue to justify the death penalty in the execution of terrorists and the public flogging of bloggers and political dissenters – as part of the war against terrorism.

Only six Guantánamo detainees released under Obama ‘re-engaged’

Spencer Ackerman and Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian

Thursday 5 February 2015 16.04 EST

Six out of the 88 detainees released from Guantánamo since the Obama administration began a multi-agency threat review in 2009 have been determined by US intelligence agencies to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities”, Nicholas Rasmussen testified to the Senate armed services committee, for a rate of 6.8%.

Rasmussen and the Pentagon’s Brian McKeon tacitly contrasted the recidivism rate under Obama with that of George W Bush, indicating the political freight associated with figures cited to build confidence in one of Obama’s highest priority legacy items: the closure of the Guantánamo Bay wartime prison.

Of the 532 detainees who left Guantánamo before Obama took office, when the vast majority of releases occurred, 101 are confirmed to have “re-engaged” in terrorism or insurgency, for a rate of 19%. Another 76 are suspected, for a 14.3% suspicion rate. Taken together, the rate of confirmed or suspected re-engagement of detainees released by the Bush administration is 33.3%, McKeon testified.

Those figures contrast with assertions made by Senator John McCain, of Arizona, the panel chairman and a supporter of a bill the administration opposes that would sharply restrict transfers out of Guantánamo.

Native American artist’s work worth $33,000 found in New Mexico meth lab

Associated Press

Friday 6 February 2015 19.09 EST

A police officer searching a former meth lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico stumbled upon artwork by the late Native American artist Alfred Morris Momaday that was worth more than $30,000 and was probably stolen.

The officer found the valuable prints last week during a protective sweep of the condemned apartment before city officials were due to board it up. Authorities say the building was deemed uninhabitable for two years following the discovery of a methamphetamine lab there.

According to police, the officer spotted a portfolio containing Momaday prints on the floor. The officer did an internet search for Momaday’s name and discovered he was a Kiowa painter born in Mountain View, Oklahoma who died in 1981.

Judge rules man’s upskirt photos of girl, 13, at Target not a crime but appalling

Associated Press

Friday 6 February 2015 16.28 EST

An Oregon judge has ruled that a 61-year-old man did nothing illegal when he crouched in the aisle of a Target store and snapped photos up a 13-year-old’s skirt.

Patrick Buono of Portland didn’t dispute using his cellphone to take upskirt photos on 3 January at the store in suburban Beaverton, the Oregonian reported.

The prosecutor conceded that the lack of nudity was a “live issue in this case”, but he argued the charge applied.

“Sure, she’s in a public place. But she had an expectation of privacy that a deviant isn’t going to stick a camera up her skirt and capture private images of her body,” deputy district attorney Paul Maloney said.

Florida law would ban transgender people from choosing their restroom

by Jessica Glenza, The Guardian

Friday 6 February 2015 17.54 EST

A Florida bill would require people to use bathrooms according to the gender they were assigned at birth – or face criminal charges and lawsuits.

The bill defines gender as a “person’s biological sex, either male or female, at birth”. If enacted, the bill would charge people with a misdemeanor if he or she used a bathroom, fitting room, locker room or shower intended for the gender opposite the one he or she was identified with at birth. It would also allow others in the bathroom to sue in civil court.

“Single-sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals using these facilities, including, but not limited to, assault, battery, molestation, rape, voyeurism and exhibitionism,” the legislation reads.

It is unclear how the bill is supposed to stop people from committing these crimes, which can occur between members of any sex.

‘Ideology Gone Wild’: Pro-Charter School Group Offers Philly $35M for Privatization

by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams

Friday, February 06, 2015

The national debate over so-called ‘education reform’ has come into sharp relief in Philadelphia, where a pro-charter, non-profit organization has offered the cash-strapped city school district up to $35 million to enroll an additional 15,000 students in new charter schools.

The one-time gift from the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), to be given over three years, would consist of up to $25 million for the district’s charter costs and a separate $10 million “to pay for in-house turnaround efforts,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It would be a terrible mistake to take the money,” Susan Gobreski, executive director of the Education Voters Institute in Pennsylvania, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for public education, told the newspaper. “We cannot let benefactors make decisions like that. I’m very concerned about how much pressure is being put on the district to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the district or most of the kids in Philadelphia, and certainly not in the interest of Philadelphia as a community. This is ideology gone wild.”

“[O]pening the flood gates to new charters will harm students attending district-run schools,” said PCCY executive director Donna Cooper said at the time. “District-run schools have too few teachers, shuttered libraries, and limited access to arts or a robust academic curriculum. Any action that increases charter cost to the district will cripple these schools.”

And while Gleason and the PSP claim their multi-million-dollar offer would “take the cost issue off the table,” the Philadelphia School District says it would cost as much as $500 million to enroll 15,000 more students in new charter schools-about 20 times more than the amount offered by the non-profit.

“PSP estimates that the district loses about $2,000 every time a student enrolls at a charter school,” Patrick Kerkstra explained at Philadelphia magazine. “The district, meanwhile, has been estimating its per-student charter costs as $7,000. That’s quite a delta. The district’s estimate may be wrong, but if not, a $2,000 coupon off a $7,000 expense falls well short of taking the cost issue ‘off the table’.”


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