September 25th, 2017
posted by [syndicated profile] therestisnoise_feed at 02:34pm on 25/09/2017
September 24th, 2017
posted by [syndicated profile] therestisnoise_feed at 01:07pm on 24/09/2017

Posted by Alex Ross

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New and recent titles of interest.

Brent Hayes Edwards, Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination (Harvard UP)

Ann Powers, Good Booty: The Sexual Power of Music (HarperCollins)

Daniel K. L. Chua, Beethoven and Freedom (Oxford UP)

Jonathan D. Bellman and Halina Goldberg, eds., Chopin and His World (Princeton UP)

Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder, eds., Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America (MIT Press)

Zeynep Tufekci, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (Yale UP)

posted by [syndicated profile] adambuxton_feed at 09:43am on 24/09/2017

Posted by Adam

Podcast 49 features another conversation with documentary maker and journalist, Louis Theroux recorded on June 13th 2017 in London. We started by talking about a couple of programmes Louis had been working on which got us onto heroin (not literally!!! Ha ha ha ha ha) then Herzog, Broomfield, some ‘bitchiness’ (mine I’m sorry to say) about TV writers and some very low quality S-Town impressions.

WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE, WEAK LANGUAGE AND RUINS THE ENDING OF S-TOWN.

Thanks to Seamus Murphy-Mitchell for production support and Matt Lamont for additional editing.

Music & jingles by Adam Buxton

Oh, and here’s Louis talking to David Attenborough for the Radio Times and ‘17 People Who Got Louis Theroux Tattooed On Their Leg‘.

Cheery arm pat

Adam

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September 21st, 2017
posted by [syndicated profile] therestisnoise_feed at 02:41pm on 21/09/2017

Posted by Alex Ross

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— Gregory Spears, Fellow Travelers; Aaron Blake, Joseph Lattanzi, Mark Gibson conducting the Cincinnati Symphony (Fanfare Cincinnati)

— Bernstein, Complete Solo Piano Works; Leann Osterkamp (Steinway)

— Bach, Solo Cello Suites; Thomas Demenga (ECM; digital 9/29, physical 11/17)

— Bach, Solo Cello Suites; Richard Narroway (Sono Luminus)

Dynastie: Concertos by JS, JC, WF, and CPE Bach; Jean Rondeau, Sophie Gent, Louis Creac'h, Fanny Paccoud, Antoine Touche. Thomas de Pierrefeu, Evolène Kiener (Warner)

— George Lewis, Assemblage; Ensemble Dal Niente (New World)

Leonard Bernstein the Composer (Sony box set)

posted by [syndicated profile] monbiot_feed at 09:41am on 21/09/2017

Posted by monbiot

Who is the world’s leading environmental vandal? The answer may surprise you.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 20th September 2017

Which living person has done most to destroy the natural world and the future wellbeing of humanity? Donald Trump will soon be the correct answer, when the full force of his havoc has been felt. But for now I would place another name in the frame. Angela Merkel.

What? Have I lost my mind? Angela Merkel, the “climate chancellor”? The person who, as German environment minister, brokered the first UN climate agreement, through sheer force of will? The Chancellor who persuaded the G7 leaders to promise to phase out fossil fuels by the end of this century? The architect of Germany’s Energiewende – its famous energy transition? Yes, the very same.

Unlike Donald Trump, she has no malicious intent. She did not set out to destroy the agreements she helped to create. But the Earth’s systems do not respond to mission statements or speeches or targets. They respond to hard fact. What counts, and should be judged, as she seeks a fourth term as German Chancellor in the elections on Sunday, is what is done, not what is said. On this metric her performance has been a planetary disaster.

Merkel has a fatal weakness: a weakness for the lobbying power of German industry. Whenever a crucial issue needs to be resolved, she weighs her ethics against political advantage, and chooses the advantage. This is why, in large part, Europe now chokes in a fug of diesel fumes.

The EU decision to replace petrol engines with diesel, though driven by German car manufacturers, pre-dates her premiership. It was a classic European fudge, a means of averting systemic change while creating an impression of action, based on the claim (which now turns out to be false) that diesel engines produce less carbon dioxide than petrol. But once she became Chancellor, Merkel used every conceivable tactic, fair and foul, to preserve this deadly cop-out.

The worst instance was in 2013, when, after five years of negotiations, other European governments had finally agreed a new fuel economy standard for cars: they would produce an average of no more than 95 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2020. Merkel moved in to close the whole thing down.

She is alleged to have threatened the then president of the European Council, the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, with the cancellation of Ireland’s bailout funds. She told the Netherlands and Hungary that the German car plants in their countries would be closed. She struck a filthy deal with David Cameron, offering to frustrate European banking regulations if he helped her to block the fuel regulations. Through these brutal strategies, she managed to derail the agreement. The €700,000 donation her party then received from the major shareholders in BMW was doubtless a complete surprise.

In 2014, the European Commission wrote to the German government, warning that the air pollution caused by diesel engines was far higher than its manufacturers were claiming. The government ignored the warning. Even now, two years after the Dieselgate scandal broke, Merkel has continued to defend diesel engines, announcing that “we will use all our power to prevent” German cities from banning them and stifling the transition to electric cars. The “mistake” made by the diesel manufacturers, she insists, “doesn’t give us the right to deprive the entire industry of its future.” Instead, her policy deprives thousands of people of their lives.

But this could be the least of the environmental disasters she has engineered. For this lethal concession to German car companies was pre-dated by an even worse one, in 2007. In that case, her blunt refusal – supported by the usual diplomatic bullying – to accept proposed improvements in engine standards forced the European commission to find another means of reducing greenhouse gases. It chose, disastrously, to replace fossil fuel with biofuels, a switch Merkel has vociferously defended.

Merkel and the European Commission ignored repeated warnings that the likely consequences would include malnutrition and massive environmental destruction, as land was converted from forests or food crops to fuel production. The European biofuel rule is now a major driver of one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters: the razing of the Indonesian rainforests and their replacement with oil palm.

Not only has this wiped out vast and magnificent ecosystems, and the orangutans, tigers, rhinos, gibbons and thousands of other species they supported; but it has also, by burning trees and oxidising peat, caused emissions far higher than those produced by fossil fuels. What makes this history especially bitter is that the target she derailed in 2007 was the one that had first been proposed, in 1994, by a German environment minister called – let me think –  ah yes, Angela Merkel.

Is this the worst? It is hard to rank such crimes against the biosphere, but perhaps the most embarrassing is Germany’s shocking failure, despite investing hundreds of billions of euros, to decarbonise its electricity system. While greenhouse gas emissions in other European nations have fallen sharply, in Germany they have plateaued.

The reason is, once more, Merkel’s surrender to industrial lobbyists. Her office has repeatedly blocked the environment ministry’s efforts to set a deadline for an end to coal power. Coal, especially lignite, which vies with Canadian tar sands for the title of the world’s dirtiest fuel, still supplies 40% of Germany’s electricity. Because Merkel refuses to restrict its use, the peculiar impact of Germany’s Energiewende programme has been to cut the price of electricity, stimulating a switch from natural gas to lignite, which is cheaper. (In Germany they call this the Energiewende paradox). But Merkel doesn’t seem to care. She has announced that “coal will remain a pillar of German energy supply for a prolonged time span”.

Shouldn’t the European emissions trading system have sorted this out, pricing coal power out of the market? Yes, it should have. But it was sabotaged in 2006 by a German politician, who insisted that so many permits be issued to industry that the price fell through the floor. I think you can probably guess who.

All these are real impacts, while the paper agreements she helped to broker have foundered and dissipated, as a result of special favours and dirty deals of the kind I have listed in this article. Yet still she attracts an aura of sanctity. This is quite an achievement, for the world’s leading environmental vandal.

www.monbiot.com

 

September 19th, 2017
posted by [syndicated profile] therestisnoise_feed at 12:23am on 19/09/2017

Posted by Alex Ross

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Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder's Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America (MIT Press) is a handsomely illustrated volume devoted not to the incontestable classics of the LP era but to the more utilitarian margins of the catalogue — background music, instructional records, travel albums, and the like. Some highlights are Music to Paint By, Music for a German Dinner at Home, and, of course, March Around the Breakfast Table. (Is it advisable to march with a live toaster?) Many of the record covers have that unreal mannequin quality typical of fifties and sixties advertising, allied with blatantly sexist or vaguely racist tableaux. But some reach into the higher echelons of graphic art: Saul Bass's design for Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color is so lovely to behold that listening to the record seems superfluous. In the same vein, I recommend two recent Taschen volumes: Jazz Covers and Alex Steinweiss, the latter celebrating the pioneer and undisputed master of album-cover art.

September 16th, 2017
posted by [syndicated profile] therestisnoise_feed at 12:42pm on 16/09/2017

Posted by Alex Ross

The British actor Dirk Bogarde made two famous film appearances portraying composers: as Liszt in Song Without End and as a musicalized version of Gustav von Aschenbach in Visconti's Death in Venice. One might add to the list, with an asterisk, Bogarde's performance as Wing Commander Tim Mason in the 1953 war picture Appointment in London, about the exploits of RAF bomber crews. True, Bogarde's character is not seen to have anything to do with music. But John Wooldridge, who came up with the film's story and co-wrote the screenplay, was a working composer, and the script is based on his experiences. Wooldridge also wrote the film's score — a rather unusual case of a composer evoking himself on film.

The best account of Wooldridge's life available is a Music Web International essay by his son, Hugh Wooldridge. During the war, he flew ninety-seven missions, an extraordinarily high number. He continued to compose while serving in the RAF. Hugh Wooldridge writes: "During the first three years of the war, and in between flying, he wrote his first and most notable musical work — a symphonic poem The Constellations (1944) working alternately on borrowed pianos and the local padre’s organ. Much of this was sketched during the long bombing missions over occupied mainland Europe." In 1944, Artur Rodzinski and the New York Philharmonic read The Constellations at a rehearsal, and Rodzinski promised that he would play a new work if Wooldridge downed five German planes. When Wooldridge achieved that number, Rodzinski led the composer's A Solemn Hymn to Victory, in late 1944. He received rather tepid reviews from the New York critics: Olin Downes, in the Times, said the piece was "noble in intention" but "technically not mature." Be that as it may, Wooldridge broke the Atlantic speed record while flying home.

After the war, Wooldridge produced a large quantity of film scores, as well as a number of concert pieces. The music for Appointment in London shows no lack of craftsmanship, although it can't be described as subtle. The film makes for uneasy viewing today, given what we know about the Allied campaign of area bombing. But it does capture the extraordinary psychic strain placed upon the likes of Wooldridge. "A crew member on a British bomber had a shorter life expectancy than an infantryman in the trenches of World War I," Ben McIntyre has written. Sadly, having survived all that, Wooldridge died in a car accident in 1958.

September 15th, 2017
posted by [syndicated profile] monbiot_feed at 09:32am on 15/09/2017

Posted by monbiot

The demand for perpetual economic growth, and the collective madness it provokes, leads inexorably to environmental collapse

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 13th September 2017

 

There was “a flaw” in the theory: this is the famous admission by Alan Greenspan, former chair of the Federal Reserve, to a congressional inquiry into the 2008 financial crisis. His belief that the self-interest of the lending institutions would lead automatically to the correction of financial markets had proved wrong.

Now, in the midst of the environmental crisis, we await a similar admission. We may be waiting some time.

For, as in Greenspan’s theory of the financial system, there cannot be a problem. The market is meant to be self-correcting: that’s what the theory says. As Milton Friedman, one of the architects of neoliberal ideology, put it, “Ecological values can find their natural space in the market, like any other consumer demand”. As long as environmental goods are correctly priced, neither planning nor regulation are required. Any attempt by governments or citizens to change the likely course of events is unwarranted and misguided.

But there’s a flaw. Hurricanes do not respond to market signals. The plastic fibres in our oceans, food and drinking water do not respond to market signals. Nor does the collapse of insect populations, or coral reefs, or the extirpation of orangutans from Borneo. The unregulated market is as powerless in the face of these forces as the people in Florida who resolved to fight Hurricane Irma by shooting it. It is the wrong tool, the wrong approach, the wrong system.

There are two inherent problems with the pricing of the living world and its destruction. The first is that it depends on attaching a financial value to items – such as human life, species and ecosystems – that cannot be redeemed for money. The second is that it seeks to quantify events and processes that cannot be reliably predicted.

Environmental collapse does not progress by neat increments. You can estimate the money you might make from building an airport: this is likely to be linear and fairly predictable. But you cannot reasonably estimate the environmental cost the airport might incur. Climate breakdown will behave like a tectonic plate in an earthquake zone: periods of comparative stasis followed by sudden jolts. Any attempt to compare economic benefit with economic cost in such cases is an exercise in false precision.

Even to discuss such flaws is a kind of blasphemy, because the theory allows no role for political thought and action. The system is supposed to operate not through deliberate human agency, but through the automatic writing of the invisible hand. Our choice is confined to deciding which goods and services to buy. But even this is illusory. A system that depends on growth can survive only if we progressively lose our ability to make reasoned decisions. After our needs, then strong desires, then faint desires have been met, we must keep buying goods and services we neither need nor want, induced by marketing to abandon our discriminating faculties and succumb instead to impulse.

You can now buy a selfie toaster, that burns an image of your own face onto your bread – the Turin Shroud of toast. You can buy beer for dogs and wine for cats; a toilet roll holder that sends a message to your phone when the paper is running out; a $30 branded brick; a hairbrush that informs you whether or not you are brushing your hair correctly. Panasonic intends to produce a mobile fridge that, in response to a voice command, will deliver beers to your chair.

Urge, splurge, purge: we are sucked into a cycle of compulsion followed by consumption, followed by the periodic detoxing of ourselves or our homes, like Romans making themselves sick after eating, so that we can cram more in. Continued economic growth depends on continued disposal: unless we rapidly junk the goods we buy, it fails. The growth economy and the throwaway society cannot be separated. Environmental destruction is not a by-product of this system. It is a necessary element.

The environmental crisis is an inevitable result not just of neoliberalism – the most extreme variety of capitalism – but of capitalism itself. Even the social democratic (Keynesian) kind depends on perpetual growth on a finite planet: a formula for eventual collapse. But the peculiar contribution of neoliberalism is to deny that action is necessary; to insist that the system, like Greenspan’s financial markets, is inherently self-regulating. The myth of the self-regulating market accelerates the destruction of the self-regulating Earth.

What cannot be admitted must be denied. Ten years ago this week, Matt Ridley, as chair of Northern Rock, helped to cause the first run on a British bank since 1878. This triggered the financial crisis in the UK. Now, in his new incarnation as a Times columnist, he continues to demonstrate his unerring ability to assess risk, by insisting that we needn’t worry about hurricanes: as long as there’s enough money to keep bailing us out, we’ll be fine.

Ridley, who helped to destroy the hopes of millions, is one of the faces of the “New Optimism”, which claims that life is becoming inexorably better. This vision relies on downplaying or dismissing the predictions of environmental scientists. We cannot buy our way out of a process that could, through a combination of heat stress, aridity, sea level rise and crop failure, render large parts of the habited world hostile to human life, and that, through sudden jolts, could translate environmental crisis into financial crisis.

In April, Bloomberg News, drawing on a report by the US federal mortgage corporation, Freddie Mac, investigated the possibility that climate breakdown could cause a collapse in real estate prices in Florida. It looked only at the impact of sea level rise – hurricanes were not considered. It warned that a bursting of the coastal property bubble “could spread through banks, insurers and other industries. And, unlike the recession, there’s no hope of a bounce back in property values.” The sigh of relief from insurers and financiers when Hurricane Irma, whose intensity is likely to have been enhanced by global heating, changed course at the last minute could be heard around the world.

This year, for the first time, three of the five global risks with the greatest potential impact listed by the World Economic Forum were environmental. A fourth (water crises) has a strong environmental component. If an economic crisis is caused by the environmental crisis, it will be the second crash in which Matt Ridley will have played a part.

They bailed out the banks. But as the storms keep rolling in, you’ll have to bail out your own flooded home. There is no environmental rescue plan: to admit the need for one would be to admit that the economic system is based on a series of delusions. The environmental crisis demands a new ethics, politics and economics. A few of us are groping towards it, but it cannot be left to the scattered efforts of independent thinkers: this should now be humanity’s central project. At least the first step is clear: to recognise that the current system is flawed.

www.monbiot.com

September 14th, 2017

Posted by Adam

Podcast 48 is the first Adam Buxton Podcast Holiday Special and features an account of a trip I made with my family and some friends including Dougie Payne (bassist in the band Travis) to go skiing in the French resort of Morzine.

The trip came about thanks to Al Judge of Alikats Mountain Holidays. Al is a podcat who got in touch to invite us out to stay in one the chalets he runs with his wife Kat out in Morzine. As you can hear in the podcast, we all had a wonderful time.

Thanks to Skiidy Gonzales for getting us from Geneva airport to Morzine and to Ski Mobile for helping with equipment hire.

The podcast is back on a weekly basis in it’s usual interview format from next week for a run of 10 or so episodes.

I’ll let you know when the new Adam Buxton App (which I talk about at the end of the EP.48) is up and running.

The jolly best to you.

A Buckles

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Dougie following Bowie’s posing advice, me studying a rude hand, Glasgow, June 2017.

Morzine, January 2017. Dougie awaits a ramble chat.

Morzine, January 2017. Nat and Dan on the run through the trees!

Morzine, January 2017. The retro futuristic ‘termite mounds’ of Avoriaz (before it snowed).

Morzine, January 2017. Our chalet -- Riverwood Lodge.

Morzine, January 2017. Cool guy on ski lift (glasses under goggles!)

3/4 of Travis with Bowie (2002?) Posing advice: ‘Maximum Teeth!’

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