Archive for June, 2012

The compass of medicine

A friend posted “To Isaiah” on Facebook. The article comes from the commencement speech that Dr. Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and new fellow at the Center for American Progress, gave at Harvard Medical School. It combines anecdote and advocacy.

There is a way to get our bearings. When you’re in a fog, get a compass. I have one—and you do too. We got our compass the day we decided to be healers. Our compass is a question, and it will point us true north: How will it help the patient?

In my application to medical school, I wrote about my polestar. Too often, we couch the matter in ridiculous business terms. We ask “How will it change management?” instead of asking “How will it help the patient?” This financial question often rings out when someone suggests a test whose utility is unclear. It substitutes a business question for a moral question. I commit myself to asking moral questions when financial ones might suffice.

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Michael M. on June 29th 2012 in General

Friends helping friends move to New Orleans

I blogged twice about Brad Rhines, a friend from high school, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. Both posts mentioned his writing for the NOLA Defender. Catch him as an extra in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, currently in movie theaters. You can see him in this trailer on YouTube at about 0:43 as the bearded man in a top hat standing in the audience at the edge of the stage. Also see the embedded version below. He is not my only high school friend who writes for a New Orleans periodical. Jarvis DeBerry writes for the Times-Picayune, even after the recent staff cuts. Jarvis’ piece “When friends weigh a move to New Orleans” discusses their correspondence several years ago prior to Brad’s move with his wife Julie, a friend of mine from the Mississippi Governor’s School, and what advice each as to offer for folks contemplating that move now. While I will not move to New Orleans soon, I have a fascination with it, and I appreciate both of their perspectives.

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Michael M. on June 25th 2012 in General, Movies

Chord analysis site

I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found. is a post on the blog for Hooktheory. I found it via Waxy Links. The authors analyzed chord progressions to find which keys and chords are common. While I was slightly surprised that some keys were not represented more often, the basic results are what any musician would predict. It is interesting, though, that the conclusions came from data analysis rather than music pedagogy.

The site includes analyses of many popular songs. For instance, look at the one for “Wonderwall” by Oasis. It includes a piano roll charting of the song that can be synchronized with a video or played and transposed as an instrumental. The tool is amazing, and the potential is great.

I expect the recording industry to kill the site and the business. The Copyright page has guidelines regarding fair use. While I think the arguments there are sound, I expect the site to face great difficulties. Even if they are correct, the cost of presenting them might be prohibitive.

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Michael M. on June 17th 2012 in General, Music

Circus Flora 2012 and nearby fun

The Wizard, this year’s production at Circus Flora, is excellent. H and I finally headed to Grand Center to see it last night. I think about going every year, but my only other post was in 2005. Last year I was working nights. I have no excuse for the other years. Merlin and King Arthur are the themes behind the show. As with the last time I went, the Flying Wallendas were a favorite. The wire act was exciting. The Riders of the Ring with trick horse riding were great, too. Other subtle parts make it a special experience. Everything was live, including the music.

Before the show, we visited a few nearby spots. Grand Center is becoming the center of community media. KETC television has been there for years, and KWMU radio just moved there. Renovation of the building for KDHX appeared well underway. The Pulitzer‘s In the Still Epiphany is a diverse drawing on the foundation’s collection. Dooley’s Beef-n-Brew House was a good stop, but not great.  Nearby Locust Street has been reborn as Midtown Alley. It is great to see the life coming back into the old automobile row. The fliers at Plush advertised several upcoming concerts and one event I would like to see. They include Lucero, New Years Rulin’s – A Tribute to Woody Guthrie in Photos and Music and Josh Ritter with Bhi Bhiman as the opener. I will try to visit next week’s St. Lou Fringe if work allows.

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Michael M. on June 17th 2012 in General, Live, Music

The last fife

Blues Travelers” in The New York Times was fun reading. The article covers a visit to the picnic started by three times blogged Othar Turner, the last Mississippi hill country picnic one surviving. This thread on the Mudcat Cafe has some fine remembrances. I never went to the picnic. I did see him at the Double Decker Festival before he died. I did not know what I was seeing at the time. I hope the picnic lives a little longer.

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Michael M. on June 2nd 2012 in General, Music

44th most musical city

This post on Music Machinery poses the question of the most musical city in the country. Saint Louis comes in at number 44 on the whole list. I found it via Waxy Links. It seems about right.

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Michael M. on June 2nd 2012 in General, Music

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