Saturday, February 28, 2009

Utah: Home of America's Most Voracious Internet Porn Consumers

New Scientist is reporting a study showing that states high in religious right conservatives consume the greatest amount of internet porn per capita.

The study, Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment? was published in the Winter 2009 Journal of Economic Perspectives.

The state earing the title of America's Internet Porn Champ is Utah.

Other findings show that subscriptions are heavier in states that have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality, states where “defense of marriage” amendments have been adopted (making same-sex marriage, and/or civil unions unconstitutional), in states where more people agree that “Even today miracles are performed by the power of God” and “I never doubt the existence of God,” and in states where more people agree that “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” and “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mike's Diary: Nicolai Ceauşescu Visits Conservatorul Ciprian Porumbescu

I posted this elsewhere for the Bucharest folks, but then I thought some readers of this blog might find it amusing too.

I dragged out my Bucharest diary today for the first time in decades. From time to time I'll post of bit of in here. That is ... if I can stop laughing long enough to type. This one had me laughing out loud with tears streaming as I remembered this series of events.

Wednesday, September 29, 1971

Yesterday was kind of a bad day. I was wishing to be back in the US all day and not concentrating much on practicing. When I got back to my room, I realized it had been “looked at.” I know there was no cleaning lady that day. I was told to expect this to happen, but this is the first time I know it has happened.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, at 10:30 some official-looking person barged into my room and started yelling at me in Romanian, then switched to German, but it was so fast I couldn’t understand him. He made me sign a paper for something … who knows what!

President Ceauşescu is going to make a visit to the Conservatory on Friday. Today they made all the students get there at 8:00 (not me) to clean the whole school. They also started rehearsing an orchestra. Of course, all the students think it is a big joke, especially since he’s supposed to catch the school by surprise.

Thursday, September 30, 1971

You won’t believe what the students at the Conservatory had to do today. First, all the boys had to have haircuts and shave off any beards or mustaches. Then, for 2 hours they had to stand around the school and practice clapping. The director of the school of the school walked around like Ceauşescu, and they had to clap whenever he came by.

I have a lesson at 9:00 tomorrow, the time that he’s to be at school. Several of the students think that he will come into my lesson … Yuck! Although they didn’t tell me to get a haircut, I went to the barber with a friend so he could tell the barber what to do. He told him I’m American and I got the whole works! That kind of treatment in the US would be about $11.00. [Remember … this was 1971] Here it was 20 lei, about $1.10. I think it is the best haircut I’ve ever gotten.

Friday, October 1, 1971

President Ceauşescu’s visit was most amusing. I got to school very early for my 9:00 lesson, but discovered that all the practice rooms and studios were locked, and the man who gives out the keys had conveniently disappeared. Mr. Halmoş couldn’t even get a key. At 8:55 we went into the auditorium to wait for Ceauşescu who was due at 9:00. Once we were in the hall we couldn’t leave, so we waited until he came at 10:30. The orchestra played for about 2 minutes, and then he left. We still couldn’t get the key after he left, so we just gave up and left. I spent all afternoon wandering around and went into a beautiful old church with gorgeous icons.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Most Wonderful Thing Has Happened

Dear blog friends, I know I've been neglecting you. But it is because something wonderful has happened.

It all started during the 1971-1972 school year when I was a Fulbright scholar in Bucharest doing a research project on the piano music of Bela Bartok. I know you probably associate Bartok with Hungary, but after the first World War, the borders were moved around. Bartok's part of Hungary (Transylvania) became part of Romania. And one of Bartok's students was teaching in the conservatory in Bucharest at that point ... so that's how I ended up in Bucharest.

It wasn't long before I met up with a small group of other students, mostly American and French. Since we were all foreign students in a situation behind the Iron Curtain completely foreign to our experiences, we soon developed very strong bonds and had all sorts of wild adventures during the year ... being rebellious college-age types in the 70s (koff).

After that year I was able to correspond for awhile, but it wasn't long before I completely lost track of everyone.

Until the day before yesterday ...

... when one of the gang, David, an American now living in Shanghai, found me on Facebook. He's retired from a foreign service career, but his wife is still working and is now the US Consul General in Shanghai. Through their years of living all over the world he was able to meet up with some of the gang from time to time and is still in contact with some of them.

This morning another of the gang found me thanks to David, she was a Parisian when I met her in Bucharest, but now she's living in the Dominican Republic. (And she's the one most responsible for developing my French-speaking skills back then.)

And we're waiting to hear back from 3 more who haven't yet found any of our e-mails.

As David wrote the other day after we started remembering various misadventures, ....

"Wow, Mike! In terms of memories, this is like opening a barnacle-encrusted chest on the beach that reveals itself to be brimming with a pirate's treasure! "

So, my good friends, please bear with me for awhile as I dig through the treasure.