Friday, December 24, 2021

A Charlie Brown Christmas: the unlikely triumph of a holiday classic / Get Back: Creativity Lessons from The Beatles

OUPBlog: “Charlie Brown Christmas was never supposed to be a success. It hit on all the wrong beats. The pacing was slow, the voice actors were amateurs, and the music was mostly laid back piano jazz (the opening theme, “Christmas Time is Here,” carried a strange, wintery melody built on unconventional modal chord progressions). It was almost like the program was constructed as a sort of anti-pop statement. In many ways, that’s exactly what it was. And that’s exactly why it so worried the media executives who had commissioned it. Incredibly, however, A Charlie Brown Christmas emerged from the holiday season of 1965 an unlikely and instantaneous classic, beloved by both the hip and the square in the United States. It did the incredible work of bridging the vast cleavage between the conservative and increasingly radical elements of the nation. The story of how this off-beat children’s program became a staple of modern American pop culture reveals much about the moment in which it was created and the people who fell in love with it…” “I haven’t had a chance to watch Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary yet, but I really enjoyed reading Tom Whitwell’s 10 lessons in productivity and brainstorming from The Beatles gleaned from the series.

1. The ‘yes… and’ rule – The first rule of improvisation (and brainstorming) is “yes… and”. When someone suggests an idea, plays a note, says a line, you accept it completely, then build on it. That’s how improvisational comedy or music flows. The moment someone says ‘no’, the flow is broken. It’s part of deferring judgement, where you strictly separate idea generation from idea selection. As they slog through Don’t Let Me Down, George breaks the spell. Instead of building and accepting he leaps to judgement, saying “I think it’s awful.” Immediately, John and Paul lay down the rules: “Well, have you got anything?” “you’ve gotta come up with something better”. Don’t judge, build…”

Facebook Bans 7 ‘Surveillance-For-Hire’ Companies That Spied On 50,000 Users NPR. Only 50,000?

The Log4J Vulnerability Will Haunt the Internet for Years Wired 

Anti-5G necklaces found to be radioactive BBC 

Worker Protection Bill Blocked Before Tornado Disaster Daily Poster

Kellogg Says It Has Tentative Deal With Union as It Faces Mounting Pressure Truthout

Kellogg Celebrates Weak Tentative Agreement – 1/4 of Americans Quit Their Jobs in 2021 – 5,000 Fred Meyers Workers Strike Mike Elk

Omnicron - The New York Times – “Even as scientists race to understand more about the Omicron variant and the threat it poses, one fact is abundantly clear: It spreads quickly everywhere it lands. In South Africa, Omicron spread twice as fast as the highly infectious Delta variant. In Britain, officials have estimated that 200,000 people are becoming infected with Omicron every day. In Denmark, Omicron cases are doubling roughly every two days. And early data from the United States suggest that Americans will not be spared.

 “No part of the country will be safe from Omicron,” said Shweta Bansal, a disease ecologist at Georgetown University. Delta remains the dominant variant nationally and was driving a surge in cases and hospitalizations even before Omicron emerged. Roughly 120,000 new Covid cases are being reported every day, a 40 percent increase from two weeks ago, although the figures remain below last winter’s peak. But Omicron could soon overtake Delta, scientists said. Nationally, the share of cases caused by Omicron has increased to 2.9 percent from 0.4 percent in just a week, according to projections by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is far higher in some regions of the country…”

  • See also the Washington Post: “As the omicron variant threatens to wipe out monoclonal antibodies, the U.S. is saving up one that will still work. Sotrovimab, a treatment from Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline, is expected to remain effective against omicron..” [Note: WaPo is posting pandemic related articles on this Coronavirus page.]
  • See also The Atlantic: America Is Not Ready for Omicron. “The new variant poses a far graver threat at the collective level than the individual one—the kind of test that the U.S. has repeatedly failed…”

1. Flying into the sun’s corona.

2. Richard Hanania on Richard Hanania.

3. New Son House recordings are coming out.

4. Why does it cost so much money to send money in Nigeria?

5. “I tend to answer that Shakespeare’s darkest insight is that each of us is his or her own worst enemy.”  Link here.

The New York Times – “The year 2021 opened with the promise of vaccines, and the belief that we would all return to “normal” after the tumultuous year of the pandemic. But the year instead took off with an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol, and saw a summer of carefree gatherings derailed by a fast-spreading virus. Governments fell, democracies were challenged, and climate-related destruction was unleashed, all while the casualties of the pandemic continued to amass. The vaccine saved some lives, but human passions, hopes and fears did their usual work to create a year that was anything but calm, and is ending with the prospect of a new variant upending plans once again. This is the story of 2021 told visually, through the eloquent universal language of photography…”