Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Anis - Bye MMXIX: 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be happy and prosperous for you and yours.

The most dangerous silence is the silence people keep until it's ‘safe’ to break it.” ‘Nuf sed ..

Who hasn’t cried when others cried, laughed when others laughed, jumped for joy when others jumped.  We feel what others feel by making their postures, movements, and expressions our own.  Empathy jumps from body to body.”

Happy Antipodean: A Year in Review 2019 with references to fires and dates - smoke levels  

Happy new year.
Happy new decade.
May we survive it.

I know that everyone else is talking about Australia, out of control fires and the insanity of Sydney’s fireworks, but I am going to do
Read the full article…
A great deal must change

"...The grammar is deliberate and my style (although I tend to refine it somewhat when writing for publication)
The spelling is checked – but it’s very hard to see your own mistakes when you’re writing a lot, especially early in the morning
The fact is that this is a blog – a stream of consciousness
I could polish it, but then it would not be a blog"

Privatisation is killing Sydney's famous New Year's Eve spirit

Many public parks (especially on the north shore) with superb harbour vantage points are now ticketed and sold out.

The joke in Soviet days when you spoke with people who were trying to study history was ‘You never know what will happen…yesterday’.”

Such manipulation of history is ongoing today.

“Around the world, not just the present but the past has become a battleground.  Those right-wingers were in Charlottesville to protest a plan to remove a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  In Hungary, a German ally in the Second World War, monuments have been installed and museum exhibits altered to portray Hungarians, not Jews, as victims of the Nazis.  In the 1990s, many Russians told me of their hope that a few of the old Soviet labor camps could be preserved or restored as memorials to those who had died and reminders that such events must never happen again. Instead, at the only place where a restoration has been completed, near Perm, in the Ural Mountains, the camp has become a site of pilgrimage for enthusiastic followers of Vladimir Putin who want to celebrate the glorious days of Stalin’s rule.”

Humans have been developing their bodies and minds for millions of years.  Natural selection has carried along characteristics that date back to our earliest origins as well as some that have developed along the way.  Unfortunately, there is little record of this long history.  We only attained the ability to leave lasting descriptions of our activities a few thousand years ago.  Historians often make the mistake of assuming our behavior in that short, hectic, and chaotic period defines who we fundamentally are.  Since the recorded history available to us was filled with war, violence, and male domination, it is assumed that those represent the core of our character.  Given that background it is not to surprising that experts generally conclude that the origin of the humble handshake was as a mechanism of defense against a potential assailant.  This source provides this explanation.

The Swedish psychologist Ulf Dimberg identified the empathic connection within our own species in the 1990s, when he pasted electrodes onto human faces that allowed him to register even the tiniest muscle contractions.  He found that people automatically mimic the expressions shown them on a monitor.  Most remarkably, they don’t even need to know what they’re seeing.  The pictures of faces can be flashed subliminally (for only a fraction of a second) between pictures of landscapes, and people will still mimic them. They think they are just looking at beautiful scenery, unaware of the faces on the screen, but they feel good or bad afterward depending on whether they were exposed to smiles or frowns.  Seeing smiles makes us happy, while seeing frowns makes us angry or sad.  Unconsciously, our facial muscles copy these faces, which then feeds back into how we feel.”

“The history of the handshake dates back to the 5th century B.C. in Greece. It was a symbol of peace, showing that neither person was carrying a weapon. ... Some say that the shaking gesture of the handshake started in Medieval Europe. Knights would shake the hand of others in an attempt to shake loose any hidden weapons.”

On the Origin of the Handshake—and Other Gestures

Globally, grain [mostly wheat and rice] accounts for about 40 percent of the human diet; when you add soybeans and corn [animal feed], you get up to two-thirds of all human calories.  Overall, the United Nations estimates that the planet will need nearly twice as much food in 2050 as it does today—and although this is a speculative figure, it’s not a bad one.”

Women and children were particularly prized as slaves. Women were often taken into local households as wives, concubines, or servants, and children were likely to be quickly assimilated, though at an inferior status.  Within a generation or two they and their progeny were likely to be quickly assimilated, though at an inferior status.  Within a generation or two they and their progeny were likely to have been incorporated into the local society—perhaps with a new layer of recently captured slaves beneath them in the social order.”

“Women captives were at least as important for their reproductive services as for their labor…women slaves of reproductive age were prized in large part as breeders because of their contribution to the early state’s manpower machine.”

“’Domiciled’ sheep, for example, are generally smaller than their wild ancestors; they bear telltale signs of domesticate life: bone pathologies typical of crowding and a narrow diet with distinctive deficiencies.  The bones of ‘domiciled’ Homo Sapiens compared with those of hunter-gatherers are also distinctive: they are smaller; the bones and teeth often bear the signature of nutritional distress, in particular, an iron-deficiency anemia marked above all in women of reproductive age whose diets consist increasingly of grains.”

“Evidence for the relative restriction and impoverishment of early farmers’ diets comes largely from comparisons of skeletal remains of farmers with those of hunter-gatherers living nearby at the same time.  The hunter-gatherers were several inches taller on average.  This presumably reflected their more varied and abundant diet.”

Silvester of Shortest Night: Tides of Fireworks

The most misspent day in any life is the one when you've failed to laugh." 
- Chamfort 

"The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong but we take leap after leap in the dark." 

— Agnes de Mille

'Nothing can prepare you': The DJ behind Sydney's New Year's Eve soundtrack

Sydney disc jockey Dan Murphy began selecting songs for the big night all the way back in May.

No your friend isn't planning to ring in the New Year with someone named Sylvester instead of you. Silvester
 is the German name for New Year's Eve – owing to the fourth century Pope Sylvester I. Eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, his feast day is observed on December 31.

Elon Musk proves there is no such thing as bad publicity

The Tesla billionaire has a knack for getting attention that is not always positive, but his business achievements are not in doubt.

Emerging Writers Network

How Are Two Small Canadian Films Making A Splash In Hollywood?

Partly it’s by letting Canada be Canada. “While movies and TV series are shot across the country, the Canadian locations rarely stand in for themselves. Toronto might be New York. Or Vancouver is meant to be L.A. It’s less common to have uniquely Canadian stories — and cities — stand on their own.” – CBC

Or is it self-immolating? In any case, when the RWA suspended writer Courtney Milan, who had spent years on its ethics committee and pushing for more inclusion and equity, for calling a book “a racist mess,” a boulder of anger, past racist treatment, secret committees, and a board exodus started rolling down the RWA’s hill of money and influence. Will the organization – 40 years old and at the forefront of a billion dollar industry – survive? (For more, here’s a complete timeline of what’s been happening.) –Houston Chronicle
 Silvestr 2019 v Praze   
St. Sylvester’s day became associated with New Year's Eve with the reform of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, when the last day of the year was fixed at December 31. But despite the holiday's Christian name, many German New Year's traditions can be traced back to the pagan Rauhnächte practices of heathen Germanic tribes, which took place at the end of December and beginning of January.

Instead of recognizing a single day as the winter solstice, the Germanic tribes observed twelve Rauhnächte – hairy nights, so called due to the furry forms of the deep winter demons – or Rauchnächte – smoky nights, due to the practice of smoking the spirits out of one’s house on January 5. Bringing very little sun to the northern regions, the twelve Rauhnächte were considered days outside of time, when the solar and lunar years were allowed to re-synchronise. Silvester took place right in the middle of the twelveRauhnächte and was the night of the god Wotan’s wild hunt, a time of particular commotion and celebration.
As in many other countries, the Germans celebrate Silvester with fireworks, champagne, and boisterous social gatherings. Making noise is key: the ruckus of fireworks, firecrackers, drums, whip-cracking and banging kitchen utensils has been driving away evil winter spirits since the days of the Germanic Teutons. One of the most famous German firework displays takes place at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Private celebrations with Böllern (firecrackers) are also common. 

Bonus Content--like DVDs! 

Dear Miss Snark, 

As a hugely successful and incredibly wealthy New York literary agent, I gotta tell you that you’re really causing me heartburn.

In the good old days, crappy writers did a crappy job of submitting their crappy queries, and I was able to cull through the crap at the rate of five per nanosecond, no problemo. And then you came along, dishing up advice and giving away our industry secrets.
I now have thousands of submissions in my slush pile that are perfectly executed, beautifully formatted, and follow my agency’s amazingly complex and intentionally contradictory instructions precisely.

So, even though 99.9% of the actual writing is still atrocious, it’s taking me ten times longer to slog through the slush.
Are you trying to make my life a living hell, or what?
Clearly my work here is done! 

If you know the recipes date back to Portugal and Spain during the Inquisition, does that tell you what the secret is? “One of the most unusual recipes … uncovered [was] a sugary dessert called ‘chuletas,’ the Spanish word for pork chops. ‘It’s designed to look like a pork chop,’ Milgrom explains, ‘but it’s really made from bread and milk.’ Basically, it’s French toast that’s fried in the shape of a pork chop and dressed up with tomato jam and pimentos.” – NPR
Read the story in NPR 
 A Trove Of Family Recipes Reveals A Centuries-Long Secret 
A decade ago the rise of the ebook was all but assured — and yet it hasn’t come to pass. What changed?... E Bbook 

Marcel Camus’s film ‘Black Orpheus,’ released in the U.S. 60 years ago this month, spawned a still-popular soundtrack full of bossa nova that helped spark the 1960s craze for the music.

What’s Funny Changes. And So Does Comedy

Humor is about connection—shared references, shared emotions, shared perspectives. The best comedians both surprise and unite the audience. They create a moment. But moments keep coming. Over time, attitudes change, and humor has to change with them. When older comedians complain that they can’t perform at colleges anymore because the audiences are too “politically correct,” they are missing the point. –The New Yorker

If you live on a planet that circles a sun, your time is governed by the patters of light and darkness, summer and winter, warmth and cold. And, of course, life and death. Once our forebears learned to farm, they planted and harvested at the equinoxes, but it was the solstices that caught their attention. The extremes. They watched their days shrink from the bright abundance of high summer to the bleak, dark cold of winter, and they invented rituals to make sure the light would come back again: to bring the new day, the new year, the rebirth of life.
The rebirth rituals have become traditions we still celebrate, whether or not we remember where they came from. Some of them are so old that only their monuments remain. On the morning of the winter solstice at the great earthwork Newgrange, in County Meath, Ireland, the day’s first beam of sunlight shines in through a passage that Neolithic people built there five thousand years ago to catch it, and for seventeen minutes, a dark room deep within is filled with the sunshine of the shortest day. 

'It Could All Be a Very Enjoyable Book'

Eudora Welty in Mississippi acknowledging a gift from William Maxwell and his family in New York City on Christmas Eve 1957:

“Your tray all spread came safely—and how to imagine a tray from your house not spread—so ready, like the table that appears on a wish in a fairy tale.”

Welty turns a thank-you note into a gift, an expression of gratitude embodied in her distinctive, careful, celebratory prose, suffused with her spirit.
LISNews – Ten Stories That Shaped 2019: “As we limp headfirst into a new decade, it’s beginning to feel like many of these stories have become perennial entries. 2019 saw yet more drag queen story hour protestsvendor buyouts, the persistence of fake newsscandals, and lawsuitsaplenty, along with the usual spate of book burning and banning. Below are some of the other notable headlines from the past year’s library-related news…”

   PC World – “Start off right with solid security tools, productivity software, and other programs that every PC needs…”

No lie, look here—so
Little, so narrow, it’s got
No middle, a matchstick inlet,
A little shuttle to get
Across it, so long, hello. 
Make that so little, so
Narrow, bet your shadow
Beats us to it, better not
Fidget or you’ll miss it, no
Kidding, kiddo.
Narrows, not shallows: no
Little bridge over it, no
Long way around it, so
Here’s the two-bit ferryboat
About to spirit us straight
Into the narrow channel no
Bigger than a moat or wallow
With its piddling cargo of fellow
Small-fry carfuls, the far shore so
Nearby you could spit on it.
To write—so little, so
Narrow, no wonder it’s cut
Out for us, the closest we’ll get
To a perfect fit.

  In The Korea Times Anna J. Park reports that Powerful storyteller Kim Un-su touches global readers, in a lengthy profile of The Plotters-author.  
       Kim describes his writing routine:
"In the past, I used to pack myself and go deep into the forest or a mountain and stay there for several months to write, as I could gain necessary focus and calm to write," he said. "But now I write at home. I live in the quiet countryside in a southern region of Korea. I usually wake up at around 3 a.m. every day and write until around 11 a.m. or noon.

PC World – “Set up antivirus, clear out bloatware, and perform other tasks to keep your PC humming well into the future…a new PC isn’t like a new car; you can’t just turn a key and put the pedal to the metal. Okay, maybe you can—but you shouldn’t. Performing just a few simple activities when you first fire it up can help it be safer, faster, and better poised for the future. Here’s how to set up a new laptop or desktop computer the right way, step by step…”   please stop saying ‘UFO’…The Washington Post – [watch this Christmas Eve in full screen mode – stay focused and read the text that that explains the event] “In December 2017, two videos emerged that showed Navy pilots encountering mysterious spherical objects that appeared, at first glance, to move through the air in ways that baffled experts. A third, released in March 2018, depicted a similar encounter. Everyone who watched — including the pilots who filmed them — had the same question: What, exactly, are these things? Last week [September 2019], a Navy official publicly called these mysterious objects “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP),” giving name to the inscrutable little dots and reigniting scrutiny around the unidentified flying objects (a term the Navy does not want to use even though the objects that are flying cannot be identified.)…” [Note – UFOs are now UAPs]