Stormfields

C.V.–Updated, April 2014

cv spring 2014

Rush’s Finest Album? (Hold Your Fire until you’ve read my analysis!)

Progarchy

The boys were most stylish in 1987. The boys were most stylish in 1987.

The first Rush album I bought was A Farewell To Kings – it was a cutout*, and I had heard they were a pretty good progressive rock trio. Geddy’s vocals turned me off initially, but Neil’s lyrics were very intriguing. The next album I acquired was Permanent Waves, because “Spirit of Radio” was all over the radio, and Geddy’s voice had mellowed a bit. That album remained in permanent rotation on my dorm room’s turntable for months, and I still listen to it often. Moving Pictures upped the ante even more, and Rush were becoming one of my all-time favorite bands. However, to my ears Signals was a letdown – the pervasive whoosh of synthesizers seemed to overwhelm Alex’s guitars, and the melodies weren’t as memorable as those in Moving Pictures. So I skipped Grace Under Pressure, convinced that Rush’s…

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New Arjen Lucassen Project: With Anneke van Giersbergen

Progarchy

Arjan Lucassen has just released the following on Facebook:

Time has come to finally disclose my new project… it will be a collaboration between my favorite female singer Anneke van Giersbergen and me! Expect an epic concept double album, a combination of ‘classical meets metal’ and ‘acoustic folk’. More details later!

arjen and anna

A progarchist take: God bless the Dutch.  Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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H301 Study Guide: History of the American Founding

H301, Founding of the American Republic; Birzer

Study Guide for the Final, 2014

 

Section 1: Essay.  Worth 40% of your final exam grade.

When asked about the sources influencing the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the venerable third president of the United States answered: “This was the object of the Declaration of Independence.  Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.  Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.  All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.”

  • The greats of the classical world, Protestantism, Lockean liberalism, and whiggism profoundly shaped the American mind during the founding of the American republic.  Trace and compare the influence and significance of two of the four on the creation of the American mind, 1764-1806.

 

 

Section 2: I.D.s./Definitions  There were will be four possible terms on the exam; you will need to answer 3 (and only 3) of them.  Each one will be worth 10% of your final examination grade.

  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Anti-Federalists
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Cato (18th-century editorialists)
  • Cato: A Tragedy
  • Committees of Correspondence
  • Commonwealth Men
  • Conventions (extra-legal) and Associations
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Edmund Burke
  • Enlightenment
  • Federalist-Miami War
  • Federalists
  • First Continental Congress
  • George Washington
  • Intolerable Acts
  • James Madison
  • James Otis
  • James Wilson
  • John Adams
  • John Dickinson
  • John Locke
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Loyalism
  • Newburgh Conspiracy
  • Northwest Ordinance
  • Pacificus-Helvidius Debates
  • Quebec Act
  • republicanism
  • Sam Adams
  • Second Continental Congress
  • Stamp Act
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Townshend Acts
  • Writs of Assistance

 

Section 3: Short answers: multiple choice; fill-in the blank; quote identification; etc.  Worth 30% of your final examination.

Why So Little Decentralization? Part Two: Secession Prevention

Pileus

Having finally turned the corner on a brutal, 11-day (and counting) cold, I feel up to getting back to my blogging routine. First up: a followup to last month’s post, “Why So Little Decentralization?”

To review, that post posed a puzzle (a problem for political scientists to ponder, you might say). The puzzle is this: developing countries are far more centralized than developed countries. That is so despite the fact that some developing countries are much larger and more diverse than developed countries, and many of them have now been democratic for quite some time. Furthermore, if decentralization were simply a relict of post-medieval state-building (some might venture that sort of claim about Switzerland, for instance), then the fact that developing countries have lower state capacity and a more recent independence than almost all developed countries deepens the puzzle.

I went through two explanations that do not actually explain the…

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Beyond Tenebrae: Citizenship in a Republic of Letters

De Regno Christi

[Hillsdale College, Convocation Address, April 16, 2009]
Bradley Birzer

President Arnn, colleagues, students, and guests, I thank you profoundly for asking me to speak.

Darkness
Today is Easter Thursday, 2009, and we have passed beyond, at least in this Christian liturgical season, the time of great darkness, the time known as Tenebrae, the hours after 3pm on Good Friday, the moment when the world shook with the absence of grace.  The extinguishing of light, candle by candle; the stripping of the altar; the beating of the books; the departure from the chapel in a deafening silence.

Still, if we look at the state of the world, the state of our republic, the state of western and American culture, we still seem to be lingering in Tenebrae, the darkness absent of grace.  Hovering, circling, peering into the abyss, too timid to jump in, not strong enough to walk away.  Easter Day…

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ODE TO ECHO: The Confidence of Glass Hammer

Progarchy

[A review of Glass Hammer, ODE TO ECHO (Sound Resources, 2014).  Please excuse any typos.  I composed this on my ipad while waiting for a very, very delayed flight at the Detroit airport.]

Image

For Glass Hammer, ODE TO ECHO means two things. First, and vitally, it’s a reference to a story of antiquity by Heroicus and dealing with the greatest of warriors, Achilles. Second, it’s a tribute to two decades of success as a band.

In every way, this album is packed with brilliance, beauty, and treats around every corner.

One of the most noticeable features of Glass Hammer’s latest, ODE TO ECHO, is its sheer diversity of styles and moods. Having four lead vocalists and three backup ones adds significantly to this, and it provides a wonderful listening experience. Over the course of eight songs, Babb and Schendel provide a journey into the fantastic and mythic. One could never…

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Norse Macabre: Gazpacho’s DEMON

Progarchy

gazpacho_demon_2014 [A review of Gazpacho, DEMON (Kscope, 2014—digibook edition).  Please forgive any typos.  I composed this on my iPad in an airport waiting area.]

Everyone’s favorite artists from Norway have released an eighth studio album, two years in the making. And, not shockingly, it’s brilliant, stunning, and ingenious. If NIGHT is the Poetic Edda of modern progressive rock, DEMON is the Prose Edda.

Our own progarchist editor, Craig Breaden, has already offered his always excellent thoughts on the album, but I can’t let a Gazpacho release go by without also discussing it. So, please consider this review a supplement to Craig’s, certainly not a replacement.

As with every Gazpacho release, on DEMON, Jan-Henrik Ohme’s vocals are immaculate, and Thomas Andersen’s lyrics reach toward the highest of the high, the most beautiful of the most beautiful.

As with all of seven of their previous albums, on DEMON, the notes linger in a…

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Cucumber Day in Calculus, 2014 Edition

FracTad's Fractopia

If I’ve used an activity for three years in a row, I guess it’s a tradition! My calculus students have done this one for several years now, and it’s always been a hit.

To introduce the concept of volumes of rotated solids, I have my students slice cucumbers into disks and measure the volume of each slice. Then they add them up to approximate the total volume. It’s a nice way to help them visualize objects in 3D. You can read about what we do in a couple of earlier posts, here and here.

Here are the basics of the lesson:

1. Review the formula for the volume of a cylinder:

Volume Formula

2. Pair up the students, and distribute the cucumbers.

I used small seedless cucumbers that came six to a pack, and were relatively similar in size:

Cukes

Have a discussion on whether we can use the cylinder volume formula to…

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It’s Time to Connect With John Wesley

Progarchy

Disconnect-cover InsideOut Music  recently signed John Wesley to its label, and his new album, Disconnect , will be available March 31 in Europe and April 1 in the U.S.  I’m not pulling an April Fools’ joke when I say that it is my favorite album of 2014 so far (despite stiff competition from  the likes of John “KingBathmat” Bassett , Gazpacho , and Transatlantic ).

Who is John Wesley? Hailing from Tampa, Florida, he’s an enormously talented guitarist and vocalist who has toured with Porcupine Tree, Fish, and Steven Wilson. Check out Porcupine Tree’s DVD, Anesthetize, to see how integral he was to their live show. As a matter of fact, after watching that DVD, I wondered why Steven Wilson didn’t go ahead and make Wesley an official member. His guitar playing and vocals added a new and exciting dimension to Wilson’s songs.

Approaching Wesley’s new solo work, I had low…

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Integrity’s Minstrel: John Bassett. Unearth (2014)

Progarchy

Unearth-Album-Cover A review of John Bassett, Unearth ( Stereohead Records ; release date: March 31, 2014).

I’m honestly not sure if my admiration for John Bassett knows many—if any—bounds.

When we first announced progarchy’s birth in the fall of 2012, Kingbathmat’s label reached out to us immediately.  As objective as I’m trained to be in my own actual day-to-day profession (though, I’ve become firmly convinced that so-called objectivity is highly overrated), it’s hard not to be grateful when someone, some band, or some label contacts us.  After all, it’s automatically a profound sign of trust, though always based on a leap of faith.

As reviewers and lovers of music, we’re, of course, not for sale.  Still, we are rather human.  Kindness and relationships make a difference in the ways we perceive artists.  In no genre of music is this more true than in prog, as the audience matters so deeply to…

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The Five Biggest Myths About Secession

Pileus

With the ongoing tension over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, now would be a good time to talk about the biggest myths people believe about the origins of secessionist movements around the world (even though Crimea is a case of irredentism not secessionism).

  1. Myth: Secession is contagious. Back in the 1990s, journalists worried a lot that the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Ethiopia heralded some broader worldwide trend toward the splintering of the state. Even some scholars indulged talk of our “neomedieval” future of microstates. Now, with secession referendums in Scotland and Catalonia on the docket, a secessionist party gaining support in Quebec, that online referendum in Veneto, and recent events in the post-Soviet space, I’m seeing similar questions about whether this is a new “trend.”

    Fact: Secession happens because of particular circumstances, not contagion. Scholars have looked at the evidence every which way, and in no…

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