366 days of gratitude

November 11, 2016

Donald Trump was rightly derided for saying he wouldn’t accept the presidential election result if he lost.

Some of the people who derided him are now protesting because he won.

They are doing so more or less peacefully, at least without anyone being injured or killed as could happen in countries where people don’t have the right to protest.

The protest might be hypocritical and reinforce the views of at least some of those who voted for change, but that’s not a crime.

Tonight I’m grateful for the right to protest, peacefully, whether or not those protesting are right.


Word of the day

November 11, 2016

Hallelujah – God be praised; praise ye Jehovah;  an utterance of the word ‘hallelujah’ as an expression of worship or rejoicing.


Leonard Cohen 21.9.34 10.11.16

November 11, 2016

Canadian singer song-writer Leonard Cohen has died.

Cohen was the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies. Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equaled him as a song poet. Cohen’s haunting bass voice, nylon-stringed guitar patterns, Greek-chorus backing vocals shaped evocative songs that dealt with love and hate, sex and spirituality, war and peace, ecstasy and depression. He was also the rare artist of his generation to enjoy artistic success into his Eighties, releasing his final album, You Want It Darker, earlier this year.

“I never had the sense that there was an end,” he said in 1992. “That there was a retirement or that there was a jackpot.”

Leonard Norman Cohen was born on September 21st, 1934, in Westmount, Quebec. He learned guitar as a teenager and formed a folk group called the Buckskin Boys. Early exposure to Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca turned him toward poetry – while a flamenco guitar teacher convinced him to trade steel strings for nylon. After graduating from McGill University, Cohen moved to the Greek island of Hydra, where he purchased a house for $1,500 with the help of a modest trust fund established by his father, who died when Leonard was nine. While living on Hydra, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964) and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers(1966).

Frustrated by poor book sales, and tired of working in Montreal’s garment industry, Cohen visited New York in 1966 to investigate the city’s robust folk-rock scene. He met folk singer Judy Collins, who later that year included two of his songs, including the early hit “Suzanne,” on her album In My Life. His New York milieu included Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, and, most importantly, the haunting German singer Nico, whose despondent delivery he may have emulated on his exquisite 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen. . . 

Rolling Stone  has Alan Light’s explanation of the lyrics:

. . . The word hallelujahhas slightly different implications in the Old and New Testaments. In the Hebrew Bible, it is a compound word, from hallelu, meaning “to praise joyously,” and yah, a shortened form of the unspoken name of God. So this “hallelujah” is an active imperative, an instruction to the listener or congregation to sing tribute to the Lord.

In the Christian tradition, “hallelujah” is a word of praise rather than a direction to offer praise – which became the more common colloquial use of the word as an expression of joy or relief, a synonym for “Praise the Lord,” rather than a prompting to action.. . .

Cohen’s song begins with an image of the Bible’s musically identified King David, recounting the heroic harpist’s “secret chord,” with its special spiritual power (“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” – 1 Samuel 16:23). It was his musicianship that first earned David a spot in the royal court, the first step toward his rise to power and uniting the Jewish people. . . 

But this first verse almost instantly undercuts its own solemnity; after offering such an inspiring image in the opening lines, Cohen remembers whom he’s speaking to, and reminds his listener that “you don’t really care for music, do you?” . . .

Cohen then describes, quite literally, the harmonic progression of the verse: “It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth / the minor fall, the major lift.” This is an explanation of the song’s structure (the basic chord progression of most pop and blues songs goes from the “one” chord, the root, up three steps to the “four,” then up another to the “five,” and then resolves back to the “one”), followed by a reference to the conventional contrast between a major (happy) key and a minor (sad) key. He ends the first verse with “the baffled king composing Hallelujah!” – a comment on the unknowable nature of artistic creation, or of romantic love, or both. In the song’s earliest moments, he has placed us in a time of ancient legend, and peeled back the spiritual power of music and art to reveal the concrete components, reducing even literal musical royalty to the role of simple craftsman.

The second verse of “Hallelujah” shifts to the second person – “Your faith was strong but you needed proof.” Apparently the narrator is now addressing the character who was described in the first verse, since the next lines invoke another incident in the David story, when the king discovers and is tempted by Bathsheba. (“And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon” – 2 Samuel 11:2.). . . 

Following the David and Bathsheba reference, the sexuality of the lyrics is drawn further forward and then reinforced in an image of torture and lust taken from the story of Samson and Delilah – “She tied you to a kitchen chair / she broke your throne, she cut your hair” – before resolving with a vision of sexual release: “and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah!” Both biblical heroes are brought down to earth, and risk surrendering their authority, because of the allure of forbidden love. Even for larger-than-life figures and leaders of nations, the greatest physical pleasure can lead to disaster. . . 

In the third verse of “Hallelujah,” Cohen’s deadpan wit returns, offering a rebuttal to the religious challenge presented in the previous lines. “You say I took the Name in vain,” he sings. “I don’t even know the name.” He then builds to the song’s central premise – the value, even the necessity of the song of praise in the face of confusion, doubt, or dread. “There’s a blaze of light in every word; / it doesn’t matter which you heard, / the holy, or the broken Hallelujah!”

“A blaze of light in every word.” That’s an amazing line. Every word, holy or broken – this is the fulcrum of the song as Cohen first wrote it. Like our forefathers, and the Bible heroes who formed the foundation of Western ethics and principles, we will be hurt, tested, and challenged. Love will break our hearts, music will offer solace that we may or may not hear, we will be faced with joy and with pain. But Cohen is telling us, without resorting to sentimentality, not to surrender to despair or nihilism. Critics may have fixated on the gloom and doom of his lyrics, but this is his offering of hope and perseverance in the face of a cruel world. Holy or broken, there is still hallelujah.

Finally, the remarkable fourth verse drives this point home, starting with an all-too-human shrug: “I did my best; it wasn’t much.” Cohen reinforces his fallibility, his limits, but also his good intentions, singing, “I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you.”

And as he brings the song to a conclusion, Cohen shows that for a composition that has often come to be considered a signifier of sorrowful resistance, “Hallelujah” was in fact inspired by a more positive feeling. “It’s a rather joyous song,” Cohen said when Various Positions was released.  “I like very much the last verse – ‘And even though it all went wrong, / I’ll stand before the Lord of Song / with nothing on my lips but Hallelujah!’  . . 

“I wanted to push the Hallelujah deep into the secular world, into the ordinary world,” he once said. “The Hallelujah, the David’s Hallelujah, was still a religious song. So I wanted to indicate that Hallelujah can come out of things that have nothing to do with religion.” . . .

“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled,” Cohen has said, “but there are moments when we can transcend the dualistic system and reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.’ That regardless of what the impossibility of the situation is, there is a moment when you open your mouth and you throw open your arms and you embrace the thing and you just say, ‘Hallelujah! Blessed is the name.’…

“The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say, ‘Look, I don’t understand a fucking thing at all – Hallelujah!’ That’s the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.” . . 

This is an excerpt from: The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of ‘Hallelujahby Alan Light published by Atria/Simon & Schuster,


Friday’s answers

November 11, 2016

Andrei and Teletext posed Thursday’s questions for which they get my thanks.

Stumping us all wins them a virtual batch of blue cheese and asparagus rolls which can be claimed by leaving the answers below.


Would beef tax help NZ?

November 11, 2016

40% beef tax suggested to pay for climate damage :

Global taxes have been suggested for beef and dairy products to pay for climate damage caused during their production.

The University of Oxford study argues emissions pricing on food could avert more pollution than generated by the aviation industry, save half a million lives and one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year if implemented in 2020.

The analysis, conducted by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, suggests beef would have to be 40 percent more expensive to pay for the climate damage caused by its production.

Milk and other meats would need to increase by up to 20 percent and vegetable oils would also face substantial rises.

The study estimates the suggested price increase would result in a 10 percent reduction in the purchase of these foods and drive lower emissions. . . 

This wouldn’t be all bad for New Zealand farmers.

Almost all our beef and dairy cattle, and sheep are free range livestock.

A Lincoln University study showed that our meat and horticultural produce had lower emissions than the same local produce in British supermarkets, even taking into account the transport from here to there.

If our produce incurred a lower tax than that from other countries whose production methods are far less efficient we’d have a competitive advantage.

Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Anders Crofoot said putting tax at the purchasing end, so the decision was in hands of consumers, had some merit.

“Conceptually there are some attractions, but as with most things with climate change it gets pretty complex quite quickly and I wouldn’t see a tax on food was going to be a particularly effective way of doing it.”

He said farmers could benefit from their product being more of a premium.

“I don’t think that reducing meat consumption is actually necessarily something we should recoil from if it can turn it into a premium product that people are willing to pay more [for].”

If there was going to be a tax on livestock and crops, what about other foods?

Nothing would be gained if people swapped from one type of food to another with no environmental gain.

The production of all food must have an environmental impact and that would have to be taxed too.

Some of the better-off might be happy to pay more for their food, others would resent it but could still afford it.

But what about the less well-off, too many of whom already struggle to buy nutritious food?

Rabobank’s Farm2Fork summit in Sydney last week and it’s F20 (F for food) in 2014 looked at the challenge of feeding the world population of nine billion by 2050.

No-one suggested taxing food.

Researchers would be better putting their time and our money into science that would improve the production of food that is healthy for both people and the environment .

 


Quote of the day

November 11, 2016

I won’t be giving my daughter the same advice I received. I will advise her to study hard and get into university, yes. But I’ll tell her that once graduated, she should work on establishing the foundations for her personal as well as professional life. I will advise her that without a single-minded focus on her job in her twenties, she risks forgoing a brilliant career. But I will explain, too, that if she pursues her professional life at the expense of her personal one, she risks being childless. Better compromise on the six-figure salary, which she can still hope to attain if she returns to work after the birth. A baby – despite all the progress in assisted reproduction techniques – only comes easily until 30. – Cristina Odone who celebrates her 56th birthday today.

She also said:

The rise in divorce, the fall in the number of marriages, the number of households without fathers and the need to find work far from one’s family: the ingredients for loneliness are everywhere. . . 

To promote one kind of “family unit” over another, in the age of three-parent babies, sounds antediluvian. To say that boys without fathers tend to do worse in life, and so do children of divorce, is to raise hackles that no MP (and very few vicars) dare challenge.

Yet it is precisely the family that offers a shield against loneliness and isolation. And it is in countries with good social capital that prosperity flourishes. . . 

Politicians need to come out and say it: the family is crucial for all. Let’s see some policies that promote it.


November 11 in history

November 11, 2016

1215 – The Fourth Lateran Council met, defining the doctrine of transubstantiation, the process by which bread and wine are, by that doctrine, said to transform into the body and blood of Christ.

1500 – Treaty of Granada – Louis XII of France and Ferdinand II of Aragonagree to divide the Kingdom of Naples between them.

1620 – The Mayflower Compact was signed in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod.

1634 – Following pressure from Anglican bishop John Atherton, the Irish House of Commons passed An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery.

1673 – Second Battle of Khotyn in Ukraine: Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forces under the command of Jan Sobieski defeated the Ottoman army. In this battle, rockets made by Kazimierz Siemienowicz were successfully used.

1675 – Gottfried Leibniz demonstrated integral calculus for the first time to find the area under the graph of y = ƒ(x).

1724 – Joseph Blake, alias Blueskin, a highwayman was hanged.

1748 – Charles IV of Spain was born (d. 1819)

1778 – Cherry Valley Massacre: Loyalists and Seneca Indian forces attacked a fort and village in eastern New York killing more than forty civilians and soldiers.

1792 –  – Mary Anne Disraeli, Welsh wife of Benjamin Disraeli, Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was  born (d. 1872).

1805 – Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Dürenstein – 8000 French troops attempted to slow the retreat of a vastly superior Russian and Austrian force.

1813 – War of 1812: Battle of Crysler’s Farm – British and Canadian forces defeated a larger American force, causing the Americans to abandon their Saint Lawrence campaign.

1839 – The Virginia Military Institute was founded in Lexington.

1854 – The Ballarat Reform League Charter adopted “At a Meeting held on Bakery Hill in the presence of about ten thousand men”.

1857 – Janet Erskine Stuart, English nun and educator, was born (d. 1914).

1864 – American Civil War: Sherman’s March to the Sea – Union GeneralWilliam Tecumseh Sherman began burning Atlanta, Georgia to the ground in preparation for his march south.

1865 – Treaty of Sinchula was signed: Bhutan ceded areas east of the Teesta River to the British East India Company.

1869 – The Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act was enacted, giving the government control of indigenous people’s wages, their terms of employment, where they could live, and of their children, effectively leading to the Stolen Generations.

1880 – Australian bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged at Melbourne Gaol.

1885 – George S. Patton, American general, was born (d. 1945)

1887 – Anarchist Haymarket Martyrs August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were executed.

1887 – Construction of the Manchester Ship Canal began at Eastham.

1889 – Washington was admitted as the 42nd U.S. state.

1911 – Many cities in the Midwestern United States broke their record highs and lows on the same day as a strong cold front rolled through.

1918 – The signing of the Armistice between the Allies and Germany was celebrated in many cities and towns around New Zealand. Enthusiasm was dampened, though, by the ongoing impact of the influenza pandemic then ravaging the country. Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiègne in France. The war officially ended at 11:00 (The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month).

Armistice Day

1918 – Józef Piłsudski came to Warsaw and assumed supreme military power in Poland. Poland regained its independence.

1918 – Emperor Charles I of Austria relinquished power.

1919 – The Centralia Massacre resulted in the deaths of four members of the American Legion and the lynching of a local leader of the Industrial Workers of the World.

1919 – Lāčplēša day – Latvian forces defeated the Freikorps at Riga in theLatvian War of Independence.

1921 – The Tomb of the Unknowns was dedicated by US President Warren G. Harding at Arlington National Cemetery.

1922 Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist, was born (d. 2007).

1924 – Prime Minister Alexandros Papanastasiou proclaimed the first recognized Greek Republic.

1926 – Maria Teresa de Filippis, Italian race car driver, was born (d. 2016).

1926 – U.S. Route 66 was established.

1928 Carlos Fuentes, Mexican writer, was born (d. 2012).

1930 – Patent number US1781541 was awarded to Albert Einstein andLeó Szilárd for their invention, the Einstein refrigerator.

1934 – The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne was opened.

1940 – Battle of Taranto – The Royal Navy launched the first aircraft carrier strike in history, on the Italian fleet at Taranto.

1940 – The German cruiser Atlantis captured top secret British mail, and sent it to Japan.

1940 – Armistice Day Blizzard: An unexpected blizzard killed 144 in the U.S. Midwest.

1942 Trans tasman liner Awatea was attacked by swarms of German and Italian bombers. Although its gunners shot down several planes, theAwatea was set on fire and holed by torpedoes. Remarkably, everyone on board got off safely (except for the ship’s cat, which was apparently killed by a bomb blast).
Troop ship <em>Awatea</em> goes down fighting

1944 – Dr. jur. Erich Göstl, a member of the Waffen SS, was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, to recognise extreme battlefield bravery, after losing his face and eyes during the Battle of Normandy.

1945 Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua, was born.

1945 –  Chris Dreja, British musician (The Yardbirds), was born.

1958 Kathy Lette, Australian-English author, was born.

1960 – A military coup against President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam was crushed.

1960 – Cristina Odone, Kenyan-Italian journalist and author, was born.

1962 – Kuwait’s National Assembly ratified the Constitution of Kuwait.

1962 – Demi Moore, American actress, was born.

1965 – In Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the white-minority government ofIan Smith unilaterally declared independence.

1966 – NASA launched Gemini 12.

1968 – Vietnam War: Operation Commando Hunt initiated.

1968 – A second republic was declared in the Maldives.

1974 Leonardo DiCaprio, American actor, was born.

1975 – Australian constitutional crisis of 1975: Australian Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissed the government of Gough Whitlam, appointed Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister and announced a general election to be held in early December.

1992 – The General Synod of the Church of England voted to allow women to become priests.

1999 – The House of Lords Act was given Royal Assent, restricting membership of the British House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage.

2000 – In Kaprun, Austria, 155 skiers and snowboarders died when a cable car caught fire in an alpine tunnel.

2001 – Journalists Pierre Billaud, Johanne Sutton and Volker Handloikwere killed in Afghanistan during an attack on the convoy they are traveling in.

2004 – New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was dedicated at the National War Memorial, Wellington.

2004 – The Palestine Liberation Organization confirmed the death ofYasser Arafat from unidentified causes. Mahmoud Abbas was elected chairman of the PLO minutes later.

2006 – Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the New Zealand War Memorial in London, commemorating the loss of soldiers from the New Zealand and British Armies.

2008 – The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) set sail on her final voyage to Dubai

2012  – A strong earthquake with the magnitude 6.8 hits northern Burma, killing at least 26 people.

2014 – 58 people were killed in a bus crash in the Sukkur District in southern Pakistan’s Sindh province.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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