Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Cinch Review

Justin Bieber – “Confident”

Justin Bieber Confident reviewThe new Justin Bieber single is titled “Confident.” It’s just over four minutes long. But it’s not; not really. It’s about a minute long and the rest sounds like it’s been copied and pasted. And even in that single minute of original music, there is something less than nothing going on. Bieber isn’t singing so much as just whining and grunting. (For what it’s worth the video—embedded below—is largely an exercise in copy and pasting too.) It’s remarkable that for a pop star at his level that this is the best thing that could be concocted for him at a crucial juncture of his career, or indeed at any juncture at all.

Review Confident Justin BieberNo, I’m not a hater of Justin Bieber. The kind of records he’s been making have never been my bag, but I like pop-music, and if he was putting out good stuff he would deserve applause for it. Right now I feel bad for him. He’s nineteen years old, and has been on the celebrity treadmill for six years; i.e., since he was thirteen years old. At this point he likely doesn’t know up from down. He’s getting into trouble with the law, there’s drugs around, there’s crazy driving, and some people have him on a death watch. He’s at the point in a child star’s career when the child has abruptly become an “adult” and everything’s up for grabs, and there might be nothing left of him in a couple of years, even if he’s still alive. He’s clearly not nearly as smart as his contemporary Miley Cyrus (and even she is not quite as smart as she thinks she is) and he appears to be just careening into chaos right now, with poor guidance from whoever he takes guidance from. Continue reading Justin Bieber – “Confident”

The Cinch Review

Cantor Bob at 75

Bob Cohen and Delores Dixon
Bob Cohen and Delores Dixon at Temple Emanuel

Yours truly has been blessed to get to know a little bit the inestimable Bob Cohen over the last several years through shared interests in music and related shenanigans. In his current life, he is Cantor Bob Cohen of Temple Emanuel in Kingston, New York, and yesterday held a shindig there in celebration of his 75th birthday; essentially it was a chance to play music with and and for his friends, and intersperse it with stories of how he became the Bob Cohen he is today. Continue reading Cantor Bob at 75

The Cinch Review

The Origin of Dogs Gets More Mysterious

dogs not descended from wolves?It’s been conventional scientific wisdom for a long time now that dogs are descended from some wolves that somehow became domesticated many thousands of years ago, but this theory has been at the very least complicated by new genetic research which finds that dogs are in fact not descended from any wolves like those alive today. So in effect the evidence now shows that dogs are descended from another, unknown animal, a proto-dog, if you like, although scientists are currently theorizing that it was another kind of “wolf” that is now extinct, and that wolves and dogs of today share a common ancestor. Continue reading The Origin of Dogs Gets More Mysterious

The Cinch Review

“No” to Kennels, “No” to Crates: Dogs Rise Up (video)

Dogs say no to kennels and cratesIn the “viral” video embedded at bottom, a dog—a Husky named Blaze—is being asked to go into his kennel, and repeatedly and audibly he says “No.” The clip is getting millions of hits, with people all over the world chuckling at the dog’s close approximation of human speech, just as the two men in the video are laughing out loud at the dog’s protestations. Everyone’s laughing at what they hear, it seems, but nobody is actually listening to the dog. In fact it’s just what Simon and Garfunkel sang about all those years ago: “People hearing without listening.”

Despite what some people will say (“my dog loves his crate; he feels so secure in it”) dogs naturally hate being penned up in kennels and crates for long periods. Who wants to be put inside a box from which you can’t escape, and inside of which you can barely move?

Of-course, before a puppy is house-trained, the necessity and utility of confining him or her in a very limited space is understandable. But after being grown up a dog doesn’t need to continue to be treated like … like some kind of animal. Continue reading “No” to Kennels, “No” to Crates: Dogs Rise Up (video)

The Cinch Review

Twyla Tharp / Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan’s album The Times They Are A-Changin’ (and wilful perversity always being our first instinct), here’s a review of the short-lived Broadway musical of the same name, originally published on November 11th, 2006.

Review Bob Dylan Twyla Tharp The Times They Are a Changin'The Show Must Go On!

But it won’t go on. After being put down by all the major Continue reading Twyla Tharp / Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

The Cinch Review

Ariel Sharon: One Last Victory

one last victoryAriel Sharon’s story would provide a lesson to anyone tempted to believe that history just rolls on regardless of the efforts of the individual. A cursory glance at the events of his life (as in the newspaper today) would show the degree to which—beginning at a young age—Sharon made the very history he lived through.

And no one can live a life like that without causing controversy, all of which is being exhaustively argued out elsewhere.

However, I’d just like to take this opportunity to note his most recent achievement, one which was already referred to in this space about a year ago.

Following his stroke in 2006, Ariel Sharon was diagnosed as being in a “persistent vegetative state.” A few years later a hospital manager was quoted as saying that “the part of the brain that keeps his body functioning, his vital organs, is intact, but beyond that there is nothing, just fluid.” The definition of a vegetative state is indeed the absence of any cognitive function at all, with the brain only retaining the ability to sustain involuntary bodily functions like breathing. (This is as distinct from “brain death,” where even the ability to sustain those involuntary functions is gone, which is why brain death—when properly diagnosed—is regarded as an irreversible terminal event for a human being.) Continue reading Ariel Sharon: One Last Victory

The Cinch Review

Dogs and a North/South Kind of Business

Dogs North South AlignmentIn case anyone missed the really big news of the year so far, a study was published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology that seems to demonstrate a sensitivity in dogs to the Earth’s magnetic field. Specifically, the study monitored 70 dogs (of various breeds) for two years and the researchers found: “Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis under calm [Magnetic Field] conditions.”

So, based on this study, when dogs, er, conduct their business, they prefer to face either north or south (or at least have their backs aligned along that axis). But are we talking about number 1 or number 2? Both, it seems, and for both male and female dogs, who were observed in these behaviors while they were off the leash and with various other safeguards to try and ensure that no undue influence was placed upon them by the observers.

We found no differences in alignment of females and males during defecation and of females during urination, which might be related to a similar posture the animals are adopting during defecation (in all dogs) and urination (in females). Urinating males have a slightly different preference to orient their body axis than urinating females (cf. Figure 3); this could be caused by leg lifting during urination in males. Indications of different directional tendencies depending on which leg (left or right) is lifted are currently under study. All recordings were made outside on open fields, and routes of walks were routinely changed to exclude or limit pseudoreplications which would arise when dogs are defecating or urinating at just a few places within their kennel or house yard.

So, as you can see, they put quite a lot of effort into this. The study was in part inspired by evidence of similar magnetic sensitivity in other mammals. The researchers’ fundamental conclusions are that … Continue reading Dogs and a North/South Kind of Business