Worthwhile Reading, Viewing, and Listening

Smiling Victorians…a photo essay

A tour of the Atlanta Hartsfield air traffic control tower

Speaking of ATC…a controller at Boston Center and a Delta pilot on her frequency discover that her grandfather was the man who hired him, back in 1981.

The transistor:  a documentary from 1954.

Tonight being Burns Night, here’s a song I like from Robert Burns...musical setting by Ludwig Beethoven, oddly enough.  Some 19th-century musical entrepreneurship was involved in the Burns-Beethoven connection. Lyrics, including modern-English translation, here.

Think I’ll pass on the kilt and the haggis, though.

14 thoughts on “Worthwhile Reading, Viewing, and Listening”

  1. “Businesses loyal to Beijing are taking over our nuclear power and electricity systems”

    C’mon man! I mean, Free Trade! Everybody knows that Free Trade makes everybody richer. Everybody! Just look at Scranton — bubbas moving out of their hovels and driving up to their new mansions in their imported Lexus. Free Trade, it is the future, man, or my name is not Creepy Joe Biden, Beijing’s Best Friend.

  2. I might still have a transistor handbook of my dad’s from around 1960. About the size of a paperback with data on all the transistors available. Maybe a page or two each. I have no idea how big such a book would have to be today with probably dozens of devices added a month just for discrete transistors.

  3. Beethoven’s problem was that composing symphonies didn’t pay any better then, then it does now. John Williams (the composer) has a pretty nice house, he doesn’t write symphonies. He always had trouble getting his larger works published and often had to make a package with simpler sonatas and songs to get a publisher to engrave and print the larger and more technical scores.

    This made perfect sense. There were very few people capable of playing his concertos and his style of symphony orchestra was much bigger than what was the norm for the Classical period. Then as now, good musicians want to be paid. The money in publishing was the much larger number of, As Thompson, the publisher in the article put it, musical young ladies that wanted something they could play on their pianos. All very Jane Austen.

    The other problem was that there wasn’t any copyright. Beethoven spent a considerable effort trying to make sure his sanctioned scores beat the pirates to market. Even then the pirates diluted the market and publishing deals were straight sales, no royalties.

    Beethoven spent a lot of time on his Fidelio/Leonora opera, rewriting it several times because that was, like movie scores now, where the money was. Unfortunately, he chose a really stupid book and never had much success with the opera in his life. It does much better now when nobody seems to care about anything besides the music, then the plot mattered too.

  4. We now have the first SV bigwig (Chamath Palihapitiya) to come out against the Dem machine there, at least the machine the way it has operated for the past decade or so. He’s for the recall of Newsom, and is running for governor. My guess is he’s going to find out that he’s not nearly as popular as the adoring tech press might lead him to believe, and that the dominant racial groups in Southern California are super racist who aren’t going to care that he is “brown” by PMC standards, hahaha.
    We’re heading into interesting times, that much is for sure…

  5. Smiling Victorians…a photo essay

    Our image of the Victorians is shaped by the photographs we see in history books – stern, austere and relentlessly severe. Yet there was a playful side to our 19th-century ancestors, and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones has the proof.

    All I can say is that the 19th century photos of my ancestors do not show smiling faces. Some look rather grim-which may have been a consequence of needing to keep a pose for a certain length of time.

    A photo of my grandmother at age 6 doesn’t show her smiling, but the photo is true to character, as she looks as if, no matter what, she is going to get her way. As she did for decades and decades.

  6. So for those who will not look at a link I post. The UK sequences most of the genomes of all their samples taken from C19 victims. The reason things are out of hand in Europe and Britain is that 2 new mutations are becoming very prevalent. One that is far more infective and is a large part of all new infections all over the world, although as the US does not sequence nearly as much, not proven to be the main cause in the US. And one that is far more deadly and is now becoming more and more widespread.

  7. A couple of interesting and related books were mentioned in emails I got just yesterday…
    “Catherine Liu’s polemical new book, Virtue Hoarders: The Case Against the Professional Managerial Class, argues that the professional-managerial class-working class alliance was doomed from the start for the simple reason that the two classes’ interests are fundamentally opposed. As Liu states in the first sentence of the book: “For as long as most of us can remember, the professional-managerial class has been fighting a class war, not against capitalists or capitalism, but against the working classes.” Whereas Winant claimed that the declining economic prospects of the highly educated have created the conditions for solidarity with the toiling masses, Liu views this as a mirage. Although the professional-managerial class has been losing ground to the 1% in financial terms, it has also been hoarding another commodity, virtue, and using it to wage all-out war against its social inferiors.”

    “In pursuit of development, authoritarian states often employ large swaths of the middle class in state administration, the government budget sector, and state enterprises. Drawing on attitudinal surveys, unique data on protest behavior, and extensive fieldwork in the post-Soviet region, Rosenfeld documents how the failure of the middle class to gain economic autonomy from the state stymies support for political change, and how state economic engagement reduces middle-class demands for democracy and weakens prodemocratic coalitions.”

    I read this guy’s book about the Great Famine in China a few years ago, it was incredible, using primary sources to tell an amazing and horrific story. Now his book about the Cultural Revolution is out, after a long delay, apparently in no small part due to fears for his safety as Chinese permissiveness towards anything remotely critical of the state has become greatly reduced. I am skeptical about why there are no reviews yet, my crazy/not-crazy suspicion is it’s being suppressed.
    Yang Jisheng’s The World Turned Upside Down is the definitive history of the Cultural Revolution, in withering and heartbreaking detail.

  8. Brian: “Yang Jisheng’s The World Turned Upside Down is the definitive history of the Cultural Revolution, in withering and heartbreaking detail.”

    Thanks for that link. You might be interested in the first volume of a Science Fiction trilogy by Chinese author Cixin Liu: “The Three-Body Problem“, which starts during the Cultural Revolution. The driver for the whole story is a young woman who gets traumatized by seeing her professor father beaten to death by four teenage female Red Guards for the crime of teaching non-class-conscious physics.

    The book was apparently very popular in China when published in 2006. Now we peons wonder in 2021 how long before we see something similar in Beijing Biden’s Canada South?

  9. I believe the author of that series is a big CCP booster, though…and we conservatives have always had to just suck it up when artists have vile personal opinions, but at the moment I don’t really feel the need to do so.

    About 20 years ago I knew someone who told me about The War Against the Sparrows in China when she was a little girl (which I know predates the Cultural Revolution), and I honestly thought she was making it up, because how could anything so insane have happened in our lifetimes…

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