Friday, August 31, 2018

Sons of a preacher man

Almanac: Jozef Conrad on loneliness
“Who knows what true loneliness is—not the conventional word, but the naked terror? To the lonely themselves it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion.” Jozef Conrad,Under Western ... read more

Only those who are capable of silliness can be called truly intelligent.
— Christopher Isherwood, born on this date in 1904

Peter Corris, author of Cliff Hardy novels, dies

A writer for almost 40 years, Corris was an academic, journalist and former literary editor, in addition to being known as the "godfather" of Australian crime fiction.

Vale Ken 'Tubby' Turner, a true force of nature

Turner was generous of frame and loud of mouth but his deeds matched his proclamations.

'Rooted in the black church': Daughter of a preacher - Aretha Franklin's funeral returns to her gospel roots

A Detroit church swells with gospel music for the funeral of Aretha Franklin, driving mourners to their feet to clap and sing ahead of tributes to the queen of soul by former US president Bill Clinton and singer Stevie Wonder.

Washington remembers McCain as one of America's 'bravest souls', while Trump is absent

Washington's bitterly divided leaders come together to praise the late senator John McCain as an embodiment of America's fighting spirit, idealism and sense of humour, but there was one notable absentee: President Donald Trump.

Turnbull, Bishop among possible targets for alleged IS affiliate: police source

Sri Lankan student charged with terror offences in Sydney

Friends of star Sri Lankan student Mohamed Kamer Nilan Nizamdeen are shocked after he was charged with terrorist offences.

ATO boss pushes back on need for a new commissioner

Chris Jordan is not convinced of the need for a new tax commissioner and says disputes are "just a little subset".

NPR does this thing called i where they bring musicians and bands into the office to play behind a desk. Recent guests have included T.I., Erykah Badu, Dave Matthews, and the legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Ma played selections from Bach’s suites for cello, which he’s been playing for almost 60 years, and talked about the value of incremental learning.
Why did Laurence Olivier return so often to Shakespeare’s Othello? Why did Ansel Adams keep photographing the Grand Canyon? Obsessed or awestruck, artists revisit great inspirations because they believe there is yet another story to tell — about life, about themselves. 
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought his great inspiration, and in turn part of his own life story, to an enthusiastic audience packed around the Tiny Desk on a hot summer day. Ma is returning, yet again, to the Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach, a Mount Everest for any cellist. He has just released his third studio recording of the complete set and is taking the music on a two-year, six-continent tour. Ma’s first recording of the Suites, released in 1983, earned him his first Grammy.

Your amusing diagram for the week: what bank robbers, DJs, and preachers all have in common.

Can An Algorithm Really Figure Out How Sad A Song Is? (And If So, What’s The Saddest Number-One Hit?)

The folks at Spotify think so. Their valence scale (higher = happier, lower = sadder) has “been used to develop a ‘gloom index’ of Radiohead songs, to reveal the most depressing Christmas song, [and] to find out which European countries prefer sad songs (Portuguese fado really is a downer).” So data journalist Miriam Quick took the 1,080 songs that have held the top slot on the Billboard Hot 100 and looked at their Spotify valence scores – and she found that what the algorithm identifies as sad doesn’t quite track with what most humans think of as sadness.
Low water levels in the Czech Republic reveal historical “hunger stones” inscribed during droughts.
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The TMN headlines newsletter: a daily batch of the best things we find to sharpen your mind and warm your soul 
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"Bad health care has killed more American artists than I could list here without my fingers falling off."↩︎ TMN

World Record Flight

In 1991, Israel’s secret service, Mossad, pulled off a daring mission that brought thousands of Jewish Ethiopians to Israel. At the same time El Al, Israel’s national airline, set the record for the most passengers transported at once on a commercial jet – 1088! “Operation Solomon” even saw two babies being born on that flight.


New York Times op-ed:  Why Prosperity Has Increased but Happiness Has Not, by Jonathan Rauch (Author,  The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 (2018)):

In 1990, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain was challenged by a Labour member of Parliament on the subject of growing inequality. “All levels of income are better off than they were in 1979,” she retorted. “The honorable member is saying that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided the rich were less rich. … What a policy!” 

That slap-down was an iconic formulation of a premise of the Thatcher-Reagan conservative revolution: Poverty is a social problem, but inequality, as such, is not. Governments should aim to increase the incomes and opportunities of all, especially the poor, but to worry about the gap between the rich and the rest is “the politics of envy.”

Morally speaking, Mrs. Thatcher and Ronald Reagan should have been right. As long as I am better off, why should I begrudge your doing better still? Yet something was amiss with this consensus — something that goes far to explain why Reagan-Thatcher conservatism has caved in under pressure from the populisms of President Trump on the right and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the left. 

The first is a whip-crack of an essay by the New York Times’s Wesley Morris that, better than most, taps into Franklin’s own musical energies.

Ms. Franklin’s respect lasts for two minutes and 28 seconds. That’s all — basically a round of boxing. Nothing that’s over so soon should give you that much strength. But that was Aretha Franklin: a quick trip to the emotional gym. Obviously, she was far more than that. We’re never going to have an artist with a career as long, absurdly bountiful, nourishing and constantly surprising as hers. We’re unlikely to see another superstar as abundantly steeped in real self-confidence — at so many different stages of life, in as many musical genres….
The song owned the summer of 1967. It arrived amid what must have seemed like never-ending turmoil — race riots, political assassinations, the Vietnam draft. Muhammad Ali had been stripped of his championship title for refusing to serve in the war. So amid all this upheaval comes a singer from Detroit who’d been around most of the decade doing solid gospel R&B work. But there was something about this black woman’s asserting herself that seemed like a call to national arms. It wasn’t a polite song. It was hard. It was deliberate. It was sure.

The second essay, for NPR by dream hampton, “Black People Will Be Free’: How Aretha Lived The Promise Of Detroit,” is more slowly wound, and less about the music than the time and place that produced Franklin and in which she flourished. It bleeds like a wound, a wound the size of a city, where the Industrial Revolution met the Great Migration and became the Civil Rights Movement.

It’s impossible to talk about Aretha without talking about her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin of Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church. Born to Mississippi sharecroppers, Franklin began preaching and soul singing as a teenager. Just after World War II, he, like so many black Southerners who were fleeing racial terror and looking for work, found himself in Detroit. Mayor Coleman Young, Detroit’s first black mayor, called him a “preacher’s preacher.” And when Franklin died from gunshot wounds after being robbed in his home in 1979, Mayor Young said his “leadership of the historic freedom march down Woodward Avenue in Detroit with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by his side in June of 1963 — and involving some 125,000 people — provided the prototype for Dr. King’s successful march in Washington later that summer.”
It is important to understand the tradition of black liberation theology, a term coined by James H. Cone, that sought to use scripture to center black self-determination. In Detroit, pastors like C.L. Franklin and Albert Cleage of the Shrine of the Black Madonna used black liberation theology to help a growing black city to imagine itself powerful. They used their churches to launch the campaign of Detroit’s black political class, bincluding Coleman Young. At the same time, Rev. Franklin’s church remained a touch point for even more radical organizing. He opened New Bethel to black auto workers who were waging a class struggle within a racist United Automobile Workers union. He gave shelter to Black Panthers who were targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s crusade against them. Later leaders of the fractured Black Power movement like the late Jackson, Miss. mayor (and Detroit native) Chokwe Lumumba gathered at New Bethel to form the Republic of New Afrika.

 A new sound rooted in older sounds; a new politics rooted in older politics; a new, triumphant individualism rooted in the liberation of entire communities. In all these things, Aretha stood at the crossroads of history. Maybe no one else could have done it.

How Labor wants to win over Coalition business voters 

COSBOA Summit Program2018