Saturday, May 15, 2021

Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days

For all Bob Dylan’s achievements and acclaim — including the Nobel Prize for literature — Dylan still has the capacity, and the urge, to catch his public unaware. There is no resting on laurels from him, no loafing about on crowded sidewalks. He wants to be at once canonical and elusive. As he told a newspaper interviewer in 1984: “I don’t think I’m gonna be really understood until maybe 100 years from now.”

~ quote of note You Lose - Jozef - Yourself, You Reappear

Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days

“In Catholicism, there existed the poetry, danger and darkness that reflected my imagination and my inner self,” Springsteen wrote in his 2016 memoir, Born to Run. More than anything else, the tension of Springsteen’s Catholic upbringing – and its complex resonance through his life – has sustained his art. Letter to You, released in October 2020, is Springsteen’s most spiritual album yet, and reveals that he is one of the essential contemporary Catholic artists.

I'm not sure I’d go that far. But I’ll leave it up to God.

The Science Behind Your Ums… and Ahs…

Indeed, these verbal hesitations have been viewed as undesirable since the days of ancient Greece and, more recently, the American linguist Noam Chomsky characterised them as ‘errors’ irrelevant to language. But could there be more to these utterances than initially meets the ear? – Aeon

The Culture Of Citations That Props Up Writing

“Like many systems that appear meticulous, the writing of citations is a subjective art. Never more so than in fiction, where citation is an entirely other kind of animal, not required or even expected, except in the “acknowledgments” page, which is often a who’s who of the publishing world. (Also a good way to find out who is married to whom.) But in the last two decades, bibliographies and sources cited pages have increasingly cropped up in the backs of novels.” – The Drift

A trio of books try to capture the conflict between trickster and soothsayer embodied in the ‘voice of a generation’

Bob Dylan arrived in New York in 1961, a novice folk singer from the flyover state of Minnesota. Across the Atlantic, an elderly artist showed him the way forward.  “In the world news,” Dylan recalled in his memoir Chronicles, “Picasso at 79 years old had just married his 35-year-old model. Wow. Picasso wasn’t just loafing about on crowded sidewalks. Life hadn’t flowed past him yet. Picasso had fractured the art world and cracked it wide open. He was revolutionary. I wanted to be like that.” Dylan is now the same age Pablo Picasso was 60 years ago. 

This month he turns 80. His romantic life is unknown; if there are ever to be any more Dylan nuptials, the world’s press will not be invited. But he shares Picasso’s desire to advertise his vigour at a stage of life when others have faded away. In that respect, last year’s surprise-released album Rough and Rowdy Ways was an intentional display of unextinguished artistic virility. It met with the same exclamation as Dylan’s response to news of Picasso’s marriage in 1961. Wow. 

Dylan at 80 — three takes on his changing times A trio of books try to capture the conflict between trickster and soothsayer embodied in the ‘voice of a generation’

A price for everything. All the future proceeds from Bob Dylan’s songbook, perhaps the most influential of the 20th century: $300m, or thereabouts. So we found out this week when the old man, with an  unsentimental swipe of the pen, sold the lot to Universal Music. What are his fans to make of this? Let’s get one idiotic idea out of the way at the outset. The sale was not an ironic coda to the Sixties, the crowing sellout of a generation who, as they aged, let their principles go cheap. That idea was stale 50 years ago. For longer than that, Dylan has been begging us to see him as nothing more or less than a musician. Asked as a young man whether he considered himself more a poet or a songwriter, he quipped that he was a “song-and-dance man”. The audience laughed, and he did too. But he was making a serious point, as he went on to demonstrate.

Bob Dylan: the trickster strikes again

WWI’s Alpine Front Emerge


New York Plans To Give Artists Work This Summer

Like the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, NY’s City Artist Corps is a relief program that “will pay hundreds of local artists to beautify and activate public spaces across the city with murals, public artworks, performances, and more.” – Hyperallergic

As Glaciers Melt, Relics From WWI’s Alpine Front Emerge

On the 10K Mount Scorluzzo in Italy, “the Austro-Hungarian soldiers who occupied those barracks were fighting Italian troops in what became known as the White War. There in the Alps — removed from the more famous Western Front, a site of bloody trench warfare between Germany and France — troops climbed to precarious heights in the stinging cold to carve fortifications into the rock and snow.” Now everything they abandoned in 1918 is coming to a museum. – The New York Times

Lyn Macdonald, Who Preserved The Voices Of WWI Soldiers, 91

Macdonald was a producer for the BBC in 1973 when she “was given what she thought would be a one-off journalistic assignment: to accompany a group of World War I veterans from a British rifle brigade on a final pilgrimage to the battlefields of France.” She interviewed more than 600 veterans and wrote seven books about their experiences, popularizing and changing military history. – The New York Times

1,000 feral cats released onto Chicago streets to tackle rat explosion The Hill. So that’s why Rahm wants to leave for Japan!

Articles of Note

The Hume paradox: How did one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived get so much wrong?   ... more »

Gabbie aka Bella

Wishing you a very happy birthday filled with love and laughter. Go enjoy a big slice of vegan cake.

Life - The Vogelkop Bowerbird: Nature's Great Seducer - BBC One

“One of the most moving texts I have ever read” – the last letter to Osip Mandelsta

Philosophy with children Aeon 

Bizarre …

“Tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit,” says Supreme Court.

Essays & Opinions

The tyranny of the footnote. In the age of Google, chasing one literary citation leads to another, and down a digital rabbit hole 

  • Wishing you a very happy birthday filled with love and laughter.

A Bitter New Orleans Graffiti War Over… Dan Marino?

To outsiders, street painters of all sorts might seem to be natural allies. But that’s not always the case. Rivalries and territorialism are always part of the picture. For some, street painting is meant as a gift to society; for others it’s pure rebellion; for most it’s somewhere in between. After two weeks of turf war, the wall at the corner of St. Claude Avenue and Marigny Street was the equivalent of a smoking battleground that bore the scars of Krylon combat. – New Orleans Times-Picayune

What Goodreads Has Done To My Reading, And Why I’m Giving It Up

“Quantifying, dissecting and broadcasting our most-loved hobbies sucks the joy out of them. I find myself glancing towards the corner of the page to see how much I’ve read. … Even when absorbed in the climax of a story, one eye is always on my proximity to the end, when I’ll be able to post it all to Goodreads. … [It’s] far more performative than I have previously admitted to myself: I love reading, but I also love the feeling of people thinking I’m well read.” – The Guardian

Friday, May 14, 2021

Timely Fashion: Writing, It Turns Out, Can Be Rather Difficult

 Almanac: Cesare Pavese on sin

“If it were possible to have a life absolutely free from every feeling of sin, what a terrifying vacuum it would be!” Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living Continue reading Almanac: Cesare Pavese...Read more

How many crimes have been committed before “The Dry” begins? One barbarous act we know about for sure: a man named Luke Hadler (Martin Dingle Wall) has been found dead, with a shotgun beside him, outside the town of Kiewarra. (It’s a fictional place, but the movie, adapted from the novel of the same name by Jane Harper, and directed by Robert Connolly, was filmed in the Australian state of Victoria.) Back at Luke’s house are the bodies of his wife and son, and it is presumed—for want of a better theory—that he killed them before taking his own life, though he left no note. The only blessing is that his baby daughter was spared. If she were old enough to give evidence, what would she say?

Good conversation requires a slow, relaxed pace and a pressure-free atmosphere free of distractions. Slow Italian pizza places tend be great for this purpose. Fast food places so much.

Chinese Realities – Past and Present

The year was 1962. As Canberra’s first trainee in Chinese I had been placed on the Department of External Affairs China desk and told to monitor rising tension along the Sino-Indian Himalayan frontier. Beijing was complaining about repeated Indian frontier violations and warning there would be consequences if India went too far.... 

Articles of Note

Larry McMurtry wrote 50 books. Not all were good. Some were masterpieces. For a great writer, the successes depend on the failures   ... more »

Writing, It Turns Out, Can Be Rather Difficult

Masterful essay writer Elissa Mashuta: “This is the dilemma at the heart of the process: writing would be easier if I had an assured end point to aim for, but the essay only works if I begin without knowing what I’ll find as I advance through the paragraphs. I want to control everything, but the essay won’t let me.” – LitHub

The Birth Of Newsletters, 600 Years Before Substack

“Newsletters began in mid-fifteenth-century Venice. Subscribers would receive handwritten letters twice a week rounding up interesting events. Sixteenth-century merchants used similar news sources to keep track of exchange rates, taxes, and other business news. The form’s popularity expanded in England after the country’s first postal service took off around 1660. This opened the door to news writers, who could use the mail to gather information from distant correspondents and then send the information to readers on a predictable schedule.” – JSTOR Daily

Emma Donoghue ‘Toned Down The Horror’ In Room at Norman Park

Those who read the book or saw the movie may not quite believe it, but the real-life case from which the author drew her inspiration was far worse. Then there were her own kids. “I had three and a half years’ worth of things to say. About what a huge gap separates an adult and a small child, with only curiosity, humour and love to bridge it. About how a mother is her baby’s captor and prisoner, sometimes both at the same time. About how you long to give your growing kid freedom while somehow, impossibly, keeping them perfectly safe.” – The Guardian (UK)

       EBRD Literature Prize shortlist 

       They've announced the three-title shortlist for this year's EBRD Literature Prize -- a €20,000 prize divided between the winning author and translator, for the: "best work of literary fiction translated into English, originally written in any language of the EBRD's nearly 40 countries of operations and published by a UK publisher":

  • The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch, tr. Sean Gasper Bye
  • Mr K Released by Matéi Visniec, tr. Jozefina Komporaly
  • The Pear Field by Nina Ektimishvili, tr. Elizabeth Heighway

       I haven't seen any of these, but am particularly curious about the Visniec; see also the Seagull Books publicity page

       (Updated - 5 May): See now also the official press release; the winner will be announced on 1 June. 

Who is “Public” Data Really For?


“Those who say they give the public what it wants begin by underestimating public taste, and end by debauching it.”
– T.S. Eliot, The Pilkington Report on Broadcasting 1962 

Anyway, let me leave you with a thought: as we reflect on Rupert Murdoch’s achievements, we have to ask, what good has he done apart from making himself and his family rich?

Who is “Public” Data Really For?

LitHub: “…Both words—“public” and “open”—invite a question: For whom? Despite the efforts of Mae and Gareth, and Tom Grundner and many others, the internet as it exists is hardly a public space. Many people still find themselves excluded from full participation. Access to anything posted on a city web page or on a .gov domain is restricted by barriers of cost and technical ability. Getting this data can be particularly hard for communities that are already marginalized, and both barriers—financial and technical—can be nearly impassable in places with limited resources and literacies., the United States’ “open data portal,” lists nearly 250,000 data sets, an apparent bounty of free information. Spend some time on and other portals, though, and you’ll find out that public data as it exists is messy and often confusing. Many hosted “data sets” are links to URLs that are no longer active. Trying to access data about Native American communities from the American Community Survey on brought me first to a census site with an unlabeled list of file folders. Downloading a zip file and unpacking it resulted in 64,086 cryptically named text files each containing zero kilobytes of data. As someone who has spent much of the last decade working with these kinds of data, I can tell you that this is not an uncommon experience. All too often, working with public data feels like assembling particularly complicated Ikea furniture with no tools, no instructions, and an unknown number of missing pieces…” 

Chris Hedges on the Ruling Class’ Revenge Against Julian Assange Scheerpost

Doc Searls: First IPhone Mention?

First iPhone mention?

I wrote this fake story on January 24, 2005, in an email to Peter Hirshberg after we jokingly came up with it during a phone call. Far as I know, it was the first mention of the word “iPhone.”

Apple introduces one-button iPhone Shuffle

To nobody’s surprise, Apple’s long-awaited entry into the telephony market is no less radical and minimalistic than the one-button mouse and the gum-stick-sized music player. In fact, the company’s new cell phone — developed in deeply secret partnership with Motorola — extends the concept behind the company’s latest iPod, as well as its brand identity.

Like the iPod Shuffle, the new iPhone Shuffle has no display. It’s an all-white rectangle with a little green light to show that a call is in progress. While the iPhone Shuffle resembles the iPod Shuffle, its user interface is even more spare. In place of the round directional “wheel” of the iPods, the iPhone Shuffle sports a single square button. When pressed, the iPod Shuffle dials a random number from its phone book.

“Our research showed that people don’t care who they call as much as they care about being on the phone,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “We also found that most cell phone users hate routine, and prefer to be surprised. That’s just as true for people answering calls as it is for people making them. It’s much more liberating, and far more social, to call people at random than it is to call them deliberately.”

Said (pick an analyst), “We expect the iPhone Shuffle will do as much to change the culture of telephony as the iPod has done to change the culture of music listening.”

Safety was also a concern behind the one-button design. “We all know that thousands of people die on highways every year when they take their eyes off the road to dial or answer a cell phone,” Jobs said. “With the iPhone Shuffle, all they have to do is press one button, simple as that.”

For people who would rather dial contacts in order than at random, the iPhone Shuffle (like the iPod Shuffle) has a switch that allows users to call their phone book in the same order as listings are loaded loaded from the Address Book application.
To accommodate the new product, Apple also released Version 4.0.1 of  Address Book, which now features “phonelists” modeled after the familiar “playlists” in iTunes. These allow the iPhone Shuffle’s phone book to be populated by the same ‘iFill’ system that loads playlists from iTunes into iPod Shuffles.

A number of online sites reported that Apple negotiating with one of the major cell carriers to allow free calls between members who maintain .Mac accounts and keep their data in Apple’s Address Book. A few of those sites also suggested that future products in the Shuffle line will combine random phone calling and music playing, allowing users to play random music for random phone contacts.

The iPhone Shuffle will be sold at Apple retail stores.

Inside Pictet, the Secretive Swiss Bank for the World’s Richest People


Inside Pictet, the Secretive Swiss Bank for the World’s Richest People Bloomberg

Forbes, Treasury Secretary’s IRS Praise Sparks Backlash From Those Who Must Deal With The Tax Agency:

IRS Logo 2Is the IRS broken? It depends on whom you ask. Yesterday Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen tweeted “It’s a stunning achievement. In the midst of a crisis, the IRS has put on a masterclass in implementation and how the machinery of government should work.” The pushback from tax industry professionals was immediate and vehement.

Brian Streig, CPA and Tax Director at Calhoun, Thomson & Matza, LLP in Austin, Texas, responded “Yes, the IRS did a great job at implementing CARES Act and other Covid tax law changes. But, the IRS has completely failed American taxpayers in their primary function of processing tax returns, issuing refunds, and handling notices.” ...

[D]espite Secretary Yellen’s and Commissioner Rettig’s recent assertions to the contrary, the IRS has simply been treading water since well before the pandemic started and the 2021 filing season is not going smoothly.

Is the IRS really broken? Probably not. At least not irreparably so. But the cracks in the dam will continue to widen unless Congress recognizes and addresses their continuing role in the problem by not consistently providing adequate funding to the IRS for long-term infrastructure projects, by continuing to use the IRS as a benefits administrator rather than as the country’s accounts receivable department, and by repeatedly failing to reckon with how their decisions actually affect the IRS, taxpayers, and the tax professionals caught trying to hold back the deluge.

“So, that funding brings with it additional resources for the ATO, to be able to conduct the kind of engagement that is resource-intensive, which will ultimately, in the ATO’s eyes, lead to increased transparency for these private groups.”

The Top 500 represent just 0.2 of a percentage point of private groups in Australia, but are responsible for paying 10 per cent of tax. Mr Ortner in March suggested that the ATO’s interest in these groups comes as a result of recent tax gap reports, which highlighted a 7.7 per cent tax gap in the sector worth $772 million

From a soft hug to a tight squeeze: ATO tightens its grip on private and wealthy groups

As part of the federal budget, the government has tasked the Board of Taxation with examining the dual-agency administration model for the R&D tax incentive (R&DTI), with a view to “reduce duplication between the two administrators, simplify administrative processes, or otherwise reduce the compliance costs for applicants”.

The R&DTI is jointly administered by the ATO and AusIndustry on behalf of Industry, Innovation and Science Australia.

Board of Tax probes ATO, AusIndustry administration of R&D tax incentive

From 1 July 2023, non-charitable not-for-profits (NFPs) with an active Australian Business Number will be required to provide information to the ATO on how they have self-assessed their eligibility for income tax exemptions.

WA man charged over $2.57m tax evasion, ATO impersonation