Alexei Zoubov,head with saxophone
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        Economics, Taxes and Wailing Speakers

        December 2nd, 2010 by Alexei Zoubov

        Let us start with the “wailing speakers”.

        You may have witnessed it at a concert or a club performance: when a singer comes too close to the speakers, the whole sound system goes crazy and produces an intolerable awful scream that, in the worst case, could damage the speakers.

        This is an example of so called “positive feedback loop“. Even the slightest noise is amplified, then fed back into the mike, then amplified again, until the whole system locks up or breaks down. The word “positive” in the name is not a value statement, it just means that a part of the output signal is added to the input and so increases the output.

        As a rule, to keep any system in balance and prevent it from going into uncontrollable oscillation, we need to introduce a”negative feedback loop“, feeding part of output back into the system with a negative sign, thus working against the changes in the output.

        Negative loops are all around, as well as inside you. Most air conditioners, shock absorbers, automatic speed controls, quality amplifiers, etc. have negative feedback implemented; your body maintains its healthy temperature the same way.

        Avalanches, explosions, wailing speakers and, I’d say, economic crashes are the results  of negative influences of positive feedback loops.

        Feedback loops are often mentioned as important factors in economics, unfortunately very often the “positive” and “negative” are applied the wrong way. Here is an example by financial risk consultant Sean Harkin:

        On unemployment, significant job losses lead to reduced spending, harming additional firms, causing more job losses and causing prices to fall in a way that makes those who still have an income hold back on spending because they expect things to be even cheaper in future.

        In the press this situation is usually presented as an example of negative feedback loop just because the results have negative value. But, this is a typical positive feedback loop!

        Now to the main topic of this post:

        What does the growing imbalance of the distribution of wealth in America says about feedback loops in the system?

        Firstly, here is a quote from the post by Robert Creamer:

        Two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains from 2002 to 2007 flowed to the top 1 percent of U.S. households, and that top 1 percent held a larger share of income in 2007 than at any other time since 1928, according to an analysis of newly released IRS data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez..

        During those years, the Piketty-Saez data also show, the inflation-adjusted income of the top 1 percent of households grew more than ten times faster than the income of the bottom 90 percent of households.

        In fact, in 2006 dollars, the income of the top 1% increased from $337,100 in 1979 to $1.2 million in 2006. That trend has continued since.

        In fact, according to the Center on Budget, “During the last economic recovery, from 2001 to 2007, poverty actually increased and the median income of working-age households declined, even as income at the top of the income scale continued to rise.

        Let’s put aside a “fairness” issue and try to be as logical and rational as we can.

        There is no question that the natural evolution of our economic system results in a built-in positive feedback, benefiting the wealth holders the most. It was and is natural for a simple reason that the money has the most influence on this evolution, bending the system in such a way that those who already have more money would get the most rewards.

        Harkin again:

        Advantage in wealth leads to advantage in the marketplace and this, in turn, leads to further advantage in wealth, with no converse process arising naturally from the market to cause the gap to narrow.

        There is no surprise that The Wealth always resisted any measures that would work against the upward flow of money. But, if left unregulated or not compensated by some negative feedback, the built in positive feedback will lead to uncontrollable oscillations or complete collapse. We’ve seen it happening.

        There are basically two forces that could provide the needed negative feedback: trade unions – on the level of the particular industry, and the government – on the state level. Both of these could have good and bad sides to them, but there’s just nothing else out there that could help the situation.

        The most important negative feedback the government can apply is taxation. Flat tax is not a workable solution because it doesn’t provide the needed negative feedback, only progressive tax can do the job. How progressive should be determined not by elusive “fairness”, but as being enough to insure that the gap of income and wealth between the upper layer and the rest doesn’t grow to insane levels, as it was growing lately.

        Talking about “fairness” is really counterproductive here. Both sides, the one that wants to tax the rich more, and the other that wants them taxed less, are shouting about what is fair and what is not. The system as it is now is obviously unfair, the taxes by definition are also always unfair to somebody. The goal should be practical – either have feedback loops sufficient to maintain some level of equilibrium, or have endless crashes of the system.

        The rate of growth of the progressive tax with income, sufficient for well balanced system, but not “over-dumping” it, is not easily calculated – economy is a so called “non-linear” system, described best by “chaos” theory (just like the weather).

        At least, based on the factual data on growing disparity in wealth distribution that accelerated exactly after the tax cuts, it’s clear that the present rate of “progressiveness” of the tax is not enough.

        And regarding “fairness”, I think Teddy Roosevelt said it really well:

        No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered – not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective, a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.

        Posted in Ideas & Ideologies, Thoughts | 3 Comments »

        Zen and The Art Of Saxophone Maintenance.

        November 20th, 2010 by Alexei Zoubov

        I”ve kinda borrowed the idea of the title from the book by Robert Pirsig “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. You’ve probably read it, and if not – I highly recommend it to anybody.

        I’ll give you some hints here and in my future posts without going into a lot of details. There is so much information about all aspects of it on the Internet, there is no need to add more.

        My and many other players’ experience shows that just a little attention to the needs of your instrument on a regular basis will save you money and trouble, often a lot of money and trouble.

        After working at The Horn Connection music shop in Los Angeles for close to five years, I’ve accumulated a lot of observations on the ways musicians habitually waste their money.

        Manny, the owner of The Horn Connection shop is an amazing repairman. I’ve seen him done things I didn’t believe could be done, like restoring a flute that was chewed by the dog. He is also deservingly expensive. And he is also a businessman, which means he has to care about the bottom line.

        Complete overhaul of a saxophone is time consuming and precision requiring job. Depending on the horn, it goes from $600 to $900 and more. Not exactly a lunch money for a struggling musician.

        I’ve seen people bringing their saxophone for complete overhaul every 2-3 years, and most of the time they could have easily avoided that expense, while keeping their horn in perfect working condition.

        I had my tenor for 16 or more years now. The number of overhauls during this time – zero! It doesn’t leak, period. True, I’ve learned some about small and “intermediate” sax repairs, but only in the last few years I figured out how, say, to change springs or fix small dents.

        There is no big secret, it is just that you have to inspect your horn regularly, may be not as often as practicing it.

        Top side keys pads get hard or break more often than any other – that’s where some portion of your lunch or dinner goes. Changing these pads without even taking off the keys is pretty easy, and installing the replacements is easy too, but you need some tools and supplies for that.

        Here is the link I’ve found to be the most useful for buying supplies and learning what to do:

        Here are the absolute necessities for making small repairs;

        This is all you need to change the pads on palm keys. The torch is for heating the key to melt the glue and then taking the pad off. Then you apply some melted glue (shellac) to the back of the new pad, put it in place and heat the key again to set the pad in place.

        It sounds and is simple. Nevertheless I’ve wasted some pads and overheated some keys before it became really easy to me.

        There is more if you want to change other pads or do other  maintenance work. Things like a set of small flat screwdrivers, small jeweler type pliers, etc. Music Medic has it all, but most of these supplies (except pads) could be found in local hardware stores.

        Well, if you are in Los Angeles area and don’t want to do small repairs yourself, call me, Alexei Zoubov, at 323-462-8121 and I’ll do it for you much cheaper than any dedicated repair man – and on the same quality level!

        Clean Pads Last Longer!

        Using Pad Saver to get out moisture after playing  helps a lot, just don’t leave your wet Pad Saver inside the saxophone – let it and pads dry out.

        Inspect you pads often, don’t let the dirt accumulate on them. I use Mineral spirits (available at any hardware store) to dissolve the accumulated dirt and slime, using a cloth or a piece of a card soaked in spirits to take the deposits off the pad.

        Thanks to this procedure, most of my pads (excluding the palm keys pads that go faster) lasted more than 10 years!

        I will be placing more hints, if you have any questions, post you comments or call me at 323-462-8121.

        And, once more, if you are around LA, I can help you for next to nothing.

        Posted in Music, Saxophone, Thoughts | 5 Comments »

        An Alcoholic’s Dream and The Power of Faith!

        July 2nd, 2009 by Alexei Zoubov

        As I’ve already mentioned somewhere in this blog, five days a week I take a walk from my home to a music shop (The Horn Connection) where I work, and back. I’ve been doing that for more than four years now.

        It takes me from 12 to 15 minutes, and about a year or more ago I started taking my camera with me. One of the first picture I’ve taken was of a “homeless patriot“,¬† I even posted it on my blog.

        That gave me an idea of a little picture gallery that I hope to present soon, with a name “Sunset is their Home”, comprised of the shots of homeless people that I’ve taken on this eight-block stretch of Sunset Boulevard between La Brea and Gardner Street.

        There are several billboards that I pass everyday. There was one particular one that was there all the time, and I’ve been glancing at it every time I passed by without realizing what exactly it was about.

        So, let us have a look at the picture:

        “Got Faith?” obviously is a derivative from a popular ad “Got Milk?”. The main message is on the right part of the board and… well, you can see it by yourself – the water coming from the faucet ends up in a glass as wine!


        I understand that it is a reference to the first miracle of Jesus Christ when He turned water into wine at the wedding at his friend’s house. I’ve read the Bible quite a few times (although I’m 99.99999…% atheist), so I remembered the story pretty well. This time I googled “Jesus, water into wine, miracle” and read several comments and essays on the matter – some of them pretty amazing.

        Here are the high points:

        Jesus came to the wedding with at least 6 of his disciples and his mother.

        The guests turned out to be really good drinkers and finished all the wine provided in no time. As one of the commentators noted, the lack of wine at the wedding was a big deal then. It could be perceived as a disrespect towards the guests.

        So, Jesus’ mother asked him to do something about it (run to a liquor store, may be). Jesus pretty rudely advises Mary to mind her own business. Most of the commentators explain this as His desire to show that He follows the higher authority than hers (Bush also claimed that).

        It looks like Jesus did receive the instructions from higher authority, because he tells the servants to fill 6 jars with water and then turned the water in them into wine, which turned out to be extremely good (“heavenly” comes to mind).

        So the guests that, by the Bible accounts, were already quite drunk, happily got wasted (as I imagine).

        Now, for some commentators here comes the difficulty. For those who preach abstinence from alcohol as God’s will, the thought that Jesus turned water into wine is really disturbing. So, some of them are trying to assert that this was non-alcoholic wine! I don’t buy it – the Bible says it was really good wine, and if you ever tried non-alcoholic wine, you know what kind of crap it is!

        Sorry, I digress. Back to the message of “Got Faith?” billboard.

        Here is what I see in it: if you got real faith, you can easily turn tap water into wine. The message doesn’t list any exceptions. The easiest and cheapest way to get drunk is through true faith, period.

        It is now more than 24 years that I don’t touch alcohol or any drugs. But before that all my life was colored by everpresent urge to get the next drink. If I’ve only seen this billboard back then! I’d definitely try to get as much faith as I could. And why isn’t every drunk obsessed with this great idea?

        Posted in Faith, Ideas & Ideologies, Jazz, Just Stories, Musicians, Thoughts | 4 Comments »

        Some Quotes from George Orwell

        April 20th, 2009 by Alexei Zoubov

        “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

        “Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.”

        “In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”

        “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ”

        “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. ”

        “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.”
        — George Orwell

        Posted in Ideas & Ideologies, Thoughts | 4 Comments »

        Soup Kitchens and Jam Sessions

        February 28th, 2009 by Alexei Zoubov

        From Wikipedia (quote and picture):

        A soup kitchen, a bread line, or a meal center is a place where food is offered to the poor and homeless for free or at a reasonably low price.

        Soup kitchens have been introduced during the Great Depression, in the 30-s.

        I guess that the first jazz jam session were introduced much. much earlier, and in ethnic folk music similar activities existed for thousands of years.

        No, I’m not against the concept of jam sessions… and not against the concept of soup kitchens, for that matter. I’m not trying to say that all or even majority of jam sessions make me think about soup kitchens.

        Nevertheless, the image of a soup kitchen (or bread line) pops out in my mind at jams more and more often lately.

        I guess that has partially to do with the present bad economic situation. There are less and less gigs, especially jazz gigs, less and less jazz clubs. And the expansion of jazz education produces more and more young players that just can’t find any spots to play jazz.¬†

        Except for jam sessions. These are the places where hungry for playing jazz musicians can get their “bowl of jazz soup” for free, or “at a reasonably low price” (see the definition of a soup kitchen above).

        They sign up on a list, sometimes pay $5 or so (nothing bad about that, the money goes to the house rhythm section) and thus form a line to play a few choruses in a couple of songs.

        In the course of my music “career” (so to speak) I’ve participated in hundreds, may be thousands of jam sessions, and there were many that didn’t remind soup kitchens at all. They were real celebrations of jazz, exchanges of ideas, learning experiences and even creation of great music right on the spot. And, of course, just great places to make contacts and even find gigs.

        I strongly believe that a really enjoyable and  satisfying jam session, the one that expands music ideas and creates new music should have some threshold, the minimum level of musicianship accepted.

        It is practically impossible when the musicians are required to pay to participate, then everyone that pays  has the right to play. There are always people that abuse this right and subject other players and the audience to extreme suffering, sometimes raising to the level of torture Рyou know what I mean.

        I guess Russians are rude compared to Americans. At the jams back in Russia you could often see a musician being taken of the stage by the sleeve and told to go home and practice. They did that to me when I just started and it sometimes made me cry, but in the end it did me a lot of good.

        Well they don’t have a word for “self-esteem” in Russian language. As I understand, to harm somebody’s self-esteem ¬†is a capital offense¬†in the States¬†- I never have witnessed any harsh critique of any of the awful musicians that frequently show up at any jam.

        And still – in spite of all I said – I love jam sessions!

        Posted in Jazz, Music, Thoughts | 3 Comments »

        The Power of Negative Thinking – 2. Is It Really Negative?

        December 31st, 2008 by Alexei Zoubov

        After reading my previous post on the same topic¬† (read here), I realized that I might look as a hopeless pessimist. I didn’t intend it to be that way. I actually consider myself an optimist.

        As I quoted somebody in the previous post, “A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action”.

        OK, just think about it a little.It follows that no matter what you do, things will turn out fine. Eat junk food, drink yourself to oblivion every day, never practice your saxophone, go out and hit the first person you meet in the face – you’ll have “a successful outcome of every situation and action”.

        The perfect example of positive thinking screwing up things on a global scale is George W. Bush’s ideology. Here is a quote from a recent article:

        One constant for Bush has been an optimistic, even rosy, economic outlook. Throughout much of past year, even as the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve began preparing for the worst behind closed doors, Bush and his aides trumpeted the fundamental strength of the U.S. economy.

        And that’s just in regards to economy. What about “we’ll be greeted as liberators” in Iraq? What about “Mission Acomplished”?

        You can say that I’m going too far into extremes – but this is a very extreme definition! It says “every action” should bring positive result, doesn’t it?

        The conclusion to make here is, that most categorical statements (mathematics and hard sciences excluded) are not categorical at all, they are pretty fuzzy, could be applied only within well understood and defined limits, and these limits are pretty fuzzy as well.

        Here is an attempt¬† at a “negative thinking” statement:

        “There are cases, when even a favorable situation and seemingly correct actions could lead to a negative outcome”.

        Forget it, it’s way too boring. Let’s just say that things can get screwed up no matter what you or anybody else does.

        And if you manage to remember it and accept it, you’ll feel good no matter what happens and adjust your actions.

        But… doesn’t it takes away the motivation to take actions and do the work to achieve a positive result? It could, if you are a strictly goal oriented and goal motivated person. If you feel , like I do, that the process is often as (or more) enjoyable that the result, that the road could be more beautiful than the destination, the motivation stays there no matter what.

        I’ve got way too serious in this post. It could be said that I didn’t get the outcome I anticipated out of my writing. But I definitely had fun doing it. Sorry if you didn’t have fun reading it. I’ll get it better next time!

        Posted in Ideas & Ideologies, Thoughts | 2 Comments »

        The End of Dark Ages. Eat it, Victor Topaller!

        November 9th, 2008 by Alexei Zoubov

        I intended to post something right after the election day, but got too busy, dealing, in part, with my emotions.

        Yes, I did get very emotional about the election and even shed some tears – and I’m not ashamed of it.

        The last eight years I felt like living in a strange unreal world, some kind of nightmare that I should wake up from and suddenly see the world that makes some sense again.

        In a way sometimes it created flashbacks back to some features of our life in Soviet Union. A profoundly illogical, ideologically driven half-wit (sorry, quarter-wit) leader – just like in the USSR. The gang in power, creating policies based on the desire to dominate the world and force their ideals on whoever they could – almost a clone of Soviet situation and policies. The application of an economic theory, based on the completely outdated and idealistic principles – again the same picture, just replace Karl Marx with Adam Smith.

        I’m not attempting to present any analysis, there are already many articles and books on the subject. I just want to explain, may be to myself, why I’m so happy it’s over. And why I happily voted for Obama, although I don’t completely agree with some of his positions.

        It in part has to do with the fact, that McCain’s (mostly of his team, I have to say) style of arguing about his opponent’s abilities and character were reminiscent, at least for me, of the ways the Soviet system was dealing with so called “enemies of Soviet State”. Anti-American in one case, anti-Soviet in other. Same crap, same stink.

        I was the kind of “optimist” that says “It couldn’t get worse” – and I was right. Hopefully I’d be able to live the rest of my life without the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfovitz and others like them in power. May be I’m too positive (time for some Negative Thinking?)

        One of the most upsetting revelations that I started getting  in the last years of Clinton presidency was the far-right, ultra-conservative, pro Bush/Cheney ideological orientation of the majority of my fellow Russian immigrants. Many well educated, intelligent people not excluded. See my post: Jazz Musicians, Russian Immigrants

        It is well known that some kinds of Ideology, just like religious beliefs, exist in partial or even complete isolation from real reasoning processes in the brain. Holding beliefs that contradict reason is one of the manifestations of cognitive dissonance, that always seeks some kind of resolution. Way too often instead of adjusting or changing beliefs in accordance with the facts and reasoning based on them, people actively search for the facts supporting their beliefs (often inventing these facts), and suppress the perception of facts that contradict them.

        After enduring years of Soviet ideology, perceived   as far-left, constantly pushed on them, most Russian immigrants automatically accepted far-right ideology as a panacea. Everything a little bit to the left of far right seemed like socialist influence. For me it looks similar to Soviet authorities perceiving jazz as capitalist and the enemy of Soviet society.

        When I just came to the States, I wasn’t interested in politics at all, busy with my music and just plain survival. I was very slow to get friends and contacts in Russian community and didn’t discuss politics with those I became close to.

        First big surprise for me came during 2000 election. My first impression of Bush (that later proved to be correct) was of a person of very limited intelligence with an overblown feeling of self-importance and God-given purpose of saving.. whatever. I saw “DANGER” posted over his head as a halo. I was absolutely shocked when decent, respected by me Russians one after another started expressing their admiration and intention to vote for him!

        He won and they still liked him, although he very soon became the laughing stock of many in the States and all over the world. Then came 9/11 and his glaring shortcomings were not of the major importance for a while… until he started planning the Iraq war. Once more there was a divide between a small group of my friends being against this war and the overwhelming majority of Russians for it.

        Things became really ugly – all those opposing the war were pronounced anti-American, unpatriotic and even enemies of the State (just like those in the USSR that opposed the invasion of Hungary in the 50s).

        All the Bush screw-ups didn’t change much in the minds of Russian community republicans. At least they almost stopped calling everybody that didn’t agree with them traitors.

        The last election woke up the snakes and the hyenas. I didn’t pay much attention to them until I started getting mass mailings from some Russians. The ratio of facts to name calling, vicious attacks, plain lies, vague hints of the desire of the opponent to destroy America was close to zero. Obama was, of course, the main target of this vile logorrhea.

        One of the first preachers of hate and fear was already discussed on this blog Leon Weinstein. His “essays” were sent to me so many times, that I just couldn’t take it any more. I tried to respond to some of those who sent me his stuff and got (what else) the advice to go back to the country of my origin! Which is Russia, by the way, and isn’t the same country I came from anymore.

        And then came Victor Topaller! Weinstein is just an apprentice, compared to this pillar of pseudo-Americanism and anti-almost-everything. In his sick mind Teddy Roosevelt was the first socialist, FDR caused the Great Depression, anybody that has an opinion even slightly deviating from his is either a terrorist, communist or an idiot. And the most amazing thing – he is extremely popular among Russians!

        Time to celebrate and be happy - and may be even shed some happy tears - reason and compassion finally overcame fear and hate.

        There is no way to deny that we’ve witnessed (and some helped) one of the most important elections in USA history, marking the end of Dark Ages!

        Finally, ¬†I can’t really avoid feeling enormous joy thinking about the feelings Obama’s victory aroused in Leon, Victor and other fake patriots.

        Eat it, Leon Weinstein! Eat it Victor Topaller! Be careful not to choke on your hate!

        Posted in Ideas & Ideologies, Leon Weinstein, Thoughts | 6 Comments »

        The Power of Negative Thinking. 1 – An Introduction of Sorts

        November 2nd, 2008 by Alexei Zoubov

        When I just moved to the States, I was amazed at the number of books, magazines and events dedicated to self-improvement of every possible kind. From esoteric mystical ways of New Age gurus and movements to very pragmatic teachings how to get rich through becoming a better human money-making machine, everything was pushing the idea of the necessity of personal growth. And buying books, tapes, and going to expensive seminars. Not a bad idea and definitely not a bad business.

        Being interested in inner human potential and some methods like meditation and self-hypnosis for years, even before coming to the States, I immediately got sucked right into this vortex. I still have a large shelf of books on many of these subjects.

        It took me some time to start understanding what had some value in all these teachings and what was just junk. “90% of everything is crap”, said Theodore Sturgeon. This is absolutely true about all these self-improvement ideas also, although in this particular case the ratio is probably closer to 96% (or more). I’d like to believe I was able to distill some very useful ideas and discard all trash.

        So called “positive thinking” always plays a very important role in every self-improvement method. Norman Vincent Peale wrote an extremely successful book, called “The Power of Positive Thinking”, but the idea itself was introduced many years (or even centuries) before him.

        Here is a quote that sums positive thinking (of this sort) quite nicely: “It is a mental attitude that expects good and favorable results. A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action. Whatever the mind expects, it finds.”

        Compare that with Ambrose Bierce’s definition of future: “That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.”

        Sounds like a parody on positive thinking to me!

        The notion of self esteem is closely related to positive thinking. Another quote: ¬†”Positive thinking definitely improves your self-esteem. When you look at the world with a positive outlook, you will definitely feel like you can accomplish anything.”

        OK, enough of quotes and definitions, or you might think that I’m presenting myself as another self-improvement guru. I am definitely not. I just want to argue that positive thinking as defined above, could have negative effect. As could blown up self-esteem.

        Well, I wanted this post to be more about music, but I guess I’ll have to devote a separate post to what I call “Negative creativity”, the method I was practically forced to use in music. I hope to have the next post ready in a few days.

        Back to positive thinking and self-esteem.

        It looks to me that we don’t need self-esteem that is either higher or lower than a correct one. Considering that both your abilities and self-esteem are dynamic, changing in time, to maintain the right balance, you not only need a constant self-evaluation, but also should pay attention to your evaluation by others (although the latter – as well as the former – could often be wrong).

        I never was extremely good at estimating my own traits and abilities. Being a by-polar (of a rather mild variety), I would go from feeling overly potent to misery and self-deprecation, and neither state produced good results. I’m much better now, and negative thinking (in my interpretation) has a lot to do with it.

        American Idol provides perfect examples of people with overblown self-esteem. Sometimes the denial of ones own lack of musicality and inability to sing becomes a tragedy and I know ¬†several instances of ruined, or almost ruined lives because of… yes, badly applied positive thinking!

        Well, I’ve promised an introduction (of sorts) to¬†The Power of Negative Thinking, but it looks like this post is getting way too long. So, I’ll wrap it up for today and ramble more about this subject in the next post.

        After getting pretty much pissed off at all this avalanche of Positive Thinking teachings, I started to tell my friends that I intend to write a book, titled “The Power of Negative Thinking”. I never got to it (figures) and, anyway, I wasn’t really serious to start with. But thinking about this helped me to formulate some principles that helped me to get through life, at least when I was able to apply them.

        And anticipating “successful outcome of every situation and action” or “good and favorable results” wasn’t helping much at all.

        To be continued…

        Posted in Ideas & Ideologies, Music, Thoughts | 1 Comment »

        Banking, Money system and Andrew Jackson.

        October 25th, 2008 by Alexei Zoubov

        Another “non-musical” post, Just found this quote somewhere and was stricken by its actuality in our present economic situation.

        President Andrew Jackson said nearly two centuries ago: “If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution before morning.”

        I guess, people still don’t understand anything about our money and banking system. Or I just didn’t notice the revolution?

        Posted in Ideas & Ideologies, Thoughts | No Comments »

        Leon Weinstein vs. Joseph McCarthy (Obama vs. Lenin)

        October 18th, 2008 by Alexei Zoubov

        Just started working on my next blog post about jazz in Russia in 50’s.

        Tough luck – came across another one of Leon Weinstein’s creations: “Lenin vs Obama/Conspiracy theory”. And, boy, is it a conspiracy theory!

        This time I don’t want to quote the article in its entirety – it is long and most of it is irrelevant to its main message. If you want, you can google it, it was posted on

        The best part in Leon’s post is the very beginning. He is honest enough to say that he has “an absolutely unproven theory”.

        Then he proceeds to tell the history of Russian revolution and Lenin’s role in it. As in all his writings, he gives quite a lot of correct historical facts (together with pretty questionable or just wrong interpretations of them).

        The next “historic” section is covering Leon’s understanding of the development of political situation in America, starting at the time of JFK. To make it short, here are the highlights:

        1. The Vietnam War was a just war and should have been fought until the “victory”, whatever it could have meant.
        2. Massive protests against the war were caused by students being scared to go to war. They were “masquerading as political protests and civil disagreements.”
        3. This is a quote: “For the first time in the history of the US, the liberal Left (known in Europe under names ‚ÄúSocialists‚Äù and ‚ÄúCommunists‚Äù) began to resonate with the mood of the mainstream Americans. This was the start of the new coalition that almost destroyed America, as we know it, and still threatens to change it forever.”

        And so it goes. There is no need to continue. For Leon anybody who is critical of anything he considers to be really American is automatically unpatriotic and hates America. In other words, dissent is bad.

        Even more, for Weinstein, behind any dissent or even any idea he doesn’t agree with, there is a plot to destroy America, and, automatically, it is socialist/communist plot. And Obama, of course, is an equivalent of Lenin and plans a socialist revolution in America.

        Here comes Senator Joseph McCarthy again. I’ve already written about Weinstein being possessed by the spirit of McCarthy here (go toward the end of the post).

        Every terrifying  monster, tyrant, or just a dangerously crazy douche-bag in history always had some smaller, sometimes pathetic versions of themselves. Some of these offsprings were very dangerous:  Stalin Р Tito РSadam Hussein, or Hitler РMussolini РFranco, etc.

        Joseph McCarthy himself was a weak derivative of the Great Inquisitors. He was, of course, just a very bad joke, but still did enormous amount of harm.

        Leon Weinstein is a spiritual and ideological heir of McCarthy, we are lucky that he is just pathetic, no more!

        The sad thing, he really has no clue how really unpatriotic he is!

        Ambrose Bierce had people like Leon in mind when he wrote more than 100 years ago:

        In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.

        Posted in Ideas & Ideologies, Leon Weinstein, Thoughts | 1 Comment »

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