Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Personal Bill of Rights

  1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
  2. I have the right to. say no to requests or demands I can't meet.
  3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
  4. I have the right to change my mind.
  5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
  6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
  7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or it violates my values.
  8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
  9. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems.
  10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
  11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
  12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
  13. I have the right to feel scared and say 'I'm afraid."
  14. I have the right to say 'I don't know.
  15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
  16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
  17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
  18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
  19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
  20. I have the right to be in a non abusive environment.
  21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
  22. I have the right to change and grow.
  23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
  24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  25. I have the right to be happy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Unraveling of Christianity #3 - Prayer Does Not Work.

"Prayer does not work. There is no objective evidence for believing that prayer makes any difference to any situation. If God appears to answer peoples prayers it is either coincidence; the likelihood of that outcome happening was quite high anyway; or that God answered the prayer by saying no or wait (which is another way of saying he did not answer the prayer)."

This video shows how sane rational people can believe that prayers are answered when their own experience is that they are not.

The secret is that God can answer with three possible answers yes, no or wait which means that he could answer by saying "its not the right time" which gives people the impression the prayer has been answered when the request has not been.

Its worth persevering with this video because it makes a very important point:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

London Pride by Noël Coward

A small video I made of this song. I also cleaned up the audio and added a stereo effect to broaden it out.

Coward wrote "London Pride" in the spring of 1941, during the Blitz. According to his own account, he was sitting on a seat on a platform of a damaged railway station in London, and was "overwhelmed by a wave of sentimental pride". The song started in his head there and then and was finished in a few days.

The song compares the pride of wartime Londoners to the flower "London Pride" which can grow anywhere and was often found growing on bomb sites.
Coward gave many morale boosting broadcasts to people in wartime London via the BBC.

The tune is partly based on "Won't You Buy My Sweet Smelling Lavender" and partly on the German wartime national anthem "Deutschland über alles".


London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that’s free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.

Oh Liza! See the coster barrows,
Vegetable marrows and the fruit piled high.
Oh Liza! Little London sparrows,
Covent Garden Market where the costers cry.

Cockney feet mark the beat of history.
Every street pins a memory down.
Nothing ever can quite replace
The grace of London Town.

There’s a little city flower every spring unfailing
Growing in the crevices by some London railing,
Though it has a Latin name, in town and country-side
We in England call it
London Pride.

London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that’s free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.

Hey, lady! When the day is dawning
See the policeman yawning on his lonely beat.
Gay lady! Mayfair in the morning,
Hear your footsteps echo in the empty street.
Early rain and the pavement’s glistening.
All Park Lane in a shimmering gown.
Nothing ever could break or harm
The charm of London Town.

In our city darkened now, street and square and crescent,
We can feel our living past in our shadowed present,
Ghosts beside our starlit Thames who lived and loved and died
Keep throughout the ages
London Pride.

London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that’s free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.

Grey city! Stubbornly implanted,
Taken so for granted for a thousand years.
Stay, city! Smokily enchanted,
Cradle of our memories and hopes and fears.

Every Blitz your resistance toughening,
From the Ritz to the Anchor and Crown,
Nothing ever could override
The pride of London Town.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The view from my Hotel room this morning in London

As pictured with my phone camera.

The Unraveling of Christianity #2

#2 If God does exist then he must be very complex and that means he must have resulted from an evolutionary process or indeed been created himself by some higher being. God could not have just come into being by accident

Believers often say that the chance of the world having been created by accident is the same as a watch appearing in a field or an aircraft being assembled by a wind blowing through a scrap yard. Here Richard Dawkins shows that this argument can't be used to prove that god exists. Quite the opposite. If a Boeing 747 being created by accident is improbable how less probable is the existence of God?

If God does exist then he must be very complex and that means he must have resulted from an evolutionary process or indeed been created himself by some higher being. God could not have just come into being by accident, so the creationist case is actually injured by the use of this argument from improbability.

Hate mail from Christians

I have received many responses since I decided to come out as an atheist.
Every week I receive one or two emails or blog comments.
Naysayers outnumber well wishers by about four to one and they tend to make very similar statements of dislike towards me: dislike to the point of wanting to see me harmed (usually by God) and a rather gleeful expectation that they will enjoy watching me being so punished.
They rarely engage in any of the issues with me and when they do they can't respond other than to say that I am wrong and I will find out the hard way.

Apart from the unecesary personal hurt that these communications cause me there are a number of areas in which my critics have either misread or misunderstood what I have been saying.

Firstly they assume that I have purposefully rejected God.
In fact I have not rejected God, just discovered that he does not exist, which is not the same thing at all.
If I knew that God existed and rejected him then that would be a very illogical thing gto do, but I don't believe there is a God or indeed any need for there to be a God in order to explain existence, with one proviso: It is possible that a superior being does exist somewhere in the cosmos, but if he does exist then he would have to be the culmination of some sort of evolutionary process himself. The chances of God existing by chance is very unlikely, and if he did exist he could not be the God of the bible.

Secondly they assume that I believe that everything came into creation by chance. This is not the case. I believe in natural selection which means that the environment in which creatures have to survive causes them to adapt and change over long periods of time. This is something that Darwin saw in microcosm when he visited the Galapagos islands and saw the adaptations of birds beaks for different survival purposes. This is natural selection or as I like to call it logical selection.

Thirdly, they believe that I think life is pointless, without meaning and without hope. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have found life to be far more meaningful without God. I have a greater understanding of my role in the world and a feeling of being part of something significant: the human race. I have become a kinder more understanding person and this might explain why I find some of these critical emails so surprising coming from people who tell me that God loves me (while they obviously don't).

So what can I make of this? I think that what these people are doing is defending their own belief system to themselves rather than trying to persuade me to believe. In fact they seem more interested in watching me suffering in hell than persuading me to avoid going there. Therein lies the heart of the issue. Christians seem to require a lot of bolstering of their own faith and can only cope by feeling slightly superior to those with whom they disagree. Rather than trying to win the argument by reason they rely on the fact that their dad is bigger than my dad and will get his revenge while they hide behind his legs sniggering at me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

List of Bessie Smith tracks played on by Louis Armstrong

As far as I know there are eleven Bessie Smith tracks that have been released which have Louis Armstrong as a backing musician.

Here is the list along with personnel and recording dates:

January 14, 1925, New York, NY

  • St. Louis Blues
  • Reckless Blues
  • Sobbin' Hearted Blues
  • Cold In Hand Blues
  • You've Been A Good Ole Wagon

Smith, Bessie (Vocal)
Armstrong, Louis (Cornet)
Longshaw, Fred (Piano, Harmonium)

mid January, 1925, New York, NY

  • I'll See You In My Dreams
  • Why Couldn't It Be Poor Little Me?

Henderson, Fletcher (Piano / Director)
Chambers, Elmer (Trumpet)
Scott, Howard (Trumpet)
Armstrong, Louis (Cornet)
Green, Charlie (Trombone)
Bailey, Buster (Reeds)
Redman, Don (Reeds)
Hawkins, Coleman (Reeds)
Dixon, Charlie (Banjo)
Escudero, Ralph (Tuba)
Marshall, Kaiser (Drums)

May 26, 1925, New York, NY

  • Nashville Woman's Blues
  • Careless Love Blues

Smith, Bessie (Vocal)
Armstrong, Louis (Cornet)
Green, Charlie (Trombone)
Longshaw, Fred (Piano)

May 27, 1925, New York, NY

  • J.C. Holmes Blues
  • I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle (if I Can't Play The Lead)

Smith, Bessie (Vocal)
Armstrong, Louis (Cornet)
Green, Charlie (Trombone)
Longshaw, Fred (Piano)

How to clean up (remaster) an audio track using Audacity

Although there are good remastered sets from all the main artists of the 1920's and 30's there can be times when you have a single track on a cheaper reissue CD that you would like a better copy of.
These CD's are usually made by recording directly from 78 records so there are a few processes involved.
All of these can be done using free programs available to download on the internet.

Rip track as a .wav file (if from a CD use Free Rip as its the simplest ripping program I have found). You could also record an original record to your PC using an analogue to digital converter or one of those USB turntables.

Now use Audacity to perform these tasks

  1. Use speed plugin (in the effects menu) to manually adjust speed to get pitch to A=440 because some 78 records were recorded at slightly different speeds.
  2. Use stereo plugin to create spatial Left/Right effect (I use the MDA_stereo VST plugin from http://mda.smartelectronix.com/ you need to install the VST enabler from Audacity but this is also free)
  3. Use the equalisation plugin to adjust for recordings made from 78 records (this is a preset) or experiment at removing the centre range slightly
  4. Use the noise filter plugin to remove any remaining noise (tricky, and you don't want to lose anything from the original recording)
  5. Use the amplify plugin to increase volume across track if required
  6. Output as .wav file to keep losses down and so you can burn the track to a CD

On this Bessie Smith track you can hear the original CD track up to 1:07, then it switches to the cleaned up version (although the pitch correction has been applied to both halfs).

My purpose in doing this:
  • Get pitch corrected
  • Make the vocal stand out more
  • Remove some of the noise
  • Make it play better on a larger hifi system.