Saturday, April 21, 2018


The U N, in it's annual "Happiness Report," said Finns are the happiest people in the world.  Norway is second, followed by Denmark. One-hundred and fifty-six countries are ranked, based on income, life expectancy, freedom, social support, trust, and generosity.

The U.S., 16th last year, is now 18th. Why is it sinking? Anthropologists  and social psychologists tell us humans are social creatures -- much of our happiness flows from our connections to other people, our sense of community, and joint purpose. Right now, our trust government, the media, and various institutions  has plunged. These researchers say that our night and day hunt for money, security, and consumer goods dominates our lives, along with addictions to painkillers, unhealthy food and technology.

Finland, Norway, and Denmark have problems too, but according to researchers, what sets happier nations apart is the premium their culture places on time spent in nature and in harmonious intimate contact with friends.

It sounds plausible, but...well, sort of  Facebookish. I re-read recent articles in Time  and The Week Magazine on how to be happier  -- both boiled down to taking on more challenges, and making more money.

...Words, words ... like birds perch in my mind, till the wind blows, or a loud noise scares 'em away. Sure, you'll lose weight if you eat less -- no doubt about it, you can be happier if you do things that you haven't been doing, for good reasons...

What about you, and where you  live?

If you don't see your country here, click -- Wikipedia has the WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT.

Secretly privately, since what's happened in my country since the election, lays on on my world like large black cloud foretelling bad weather, I grab onto any bit of news that's fun or positive and borrowing the word  that one of the  happier countries uses  for cozy, high quality social social interactions.


Maybe when summer finally arrives my husband and I will head for  Denmark and enjoy what's in the air there -- just pronouncing this word perks me up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Yay technology! Elton John, partnering with AI, Artificial Intelligence, has been creating a robot Elton John that can go on tour after Elton himself is gone, performing his songs, as well as new hit songs which the Elton "bot" can write based on today news.

It's amazing, a bit scary. I wonder if Billy Joel, or Paul Simon, or Neil Diamond have thought about doing the same thing.

Digging into this, I learned that Spotify hired Artificial Intelligence scientist, Francoise Pachet, to run its new Creator Technology Research Lab, and with a group of other specialists, Pachet got software to write a song with instrumentation that mimics the Beatles. Using humans to create lyrics, they refined the AI arrangement and published, "Daddy's Car"

That no fees or royalties have to be paid has inspired Spotify and other major companies, as well as startups, to work on making hit songs with artificial intelligence. Even though software can't guarantee a hit, by partnering with AI many, many songs can be made. Hey, the Beatles recorded 237 original songs; Michael Jackson 137; in the amount of time it takes for Paul McCartney to press a few keys, AI can come up with a million songs and one of them can catch on, thrill us, knock us out.

IBM'S artificial intelligence "Genius" business machine, Watson, is now creating music. Using various other AI technologies, it's been collaborating with Alex da Kid, a well-known successful composer, performer, producer. They sucked up lyrics of more than 26,000 "Billboard Hot 100 Songs," analyzed the music to find patterns, keys, chord progressions, and come up with what IBM calls "emotional fingerprints," based on hot newspaper headlines, blockbuster film plots, blogs, tweets, even viral videos. Watson and Da Kid have created and published a hit, 'NOT EASY."

Having seen and heard this video, learning that already more than three million music lovers love it and say it brings tears to their eyes -- golly, I can't help thinking what the AI trend will mean to musicians playing Beethoven, Bach, Bartok, Vivaldi -- music I've worked with as dancer that's made me who and what I am today.

What do you think -- do you applaud the trend? Or do you, like me, feel a touch of sadness about what moves pop music audiences today -- things that somehow are mostly isolating you from today's kids as they're waving their arms, mouthing the words.