I must have space on my mind this week, as well as Remembrance Day.
The Planets (Op. 32) is a 7 movement suite for a large orchestra. How large? Two Piccolos, 4 Flutes, an Alto Flute, 3 Oboes, a Bass Oboe, an English Horn, 3 Clarinets, a Bass Clarinet, 3 Bassoons, and a Contrabassoon. Six French Horns, 4 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, a Bass Trombone, a Euphonium, and a Tuba. Six Timpani, a Bass Drum, a Snare Drum, Cymbals, a Triangle, a Tam-Tam, a Tamborine, a Xylophone, a Glockenspiel, and Tubular Bells. A Celesta and an Organ. Two Harps. Your usual compliment of 1st and 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Double Basses.
Oh and two (count ’em) two Three Part Women’s Choruses (two Sopranos and an Alto), located in an adjoining room thank goodness because there’s hardly any place to put them on stage.
The 7 movements are supposed to be evocative of, what else, the planets. Can you spot the ones that are missing?
- 00:00 Mars, the Bringer of War
- 07:21 Venus, the Bringer of Peace
- 15:58 Mercury, the Winged Messenger
- 20:14 Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
- 27:50 Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
- 37:12 Uranus, the Magician
- 43:15 Neptune, the Mystic
Why Earth silly, and also Pluto which wasn’t discovered until March 13, 1930.
Now Holst despite his German sounding name (Gustav) was actually 2nd generation British, his Grandfather Gustavus having emigrated from Latvia in 1802. As an early 20th century composer he’s perhaps best described as post-Romantic of the Folk Music vein. He actually admired Wagner (idiot) and would have done much better sticking to his earlier Idol, Arthur Sullivan. As is typical of the 20th century school he could and did write in many of the established musical forms (Symphonies for instance), but didn’t feel bound by them. He was a big fan of Henry Purcell and was frequently inspired by poetry rather than nature, a post-Romantic trend, and by Folk Music (a late Romantic trend), a sublimation of the jingoistic nationalism of much Romantic Music. He was also impressed with Hindu mysticism and did several of his own translations from Sanskrit and wrote a few pieces based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, a more 20th century sort of thing. Perhaps his best musical friend was Vaughan Williams who was arguably the most influential British composer of the 20th century. Holst was “traditional” in that he was not nearly as interested as some of his contemporaries in flouting convention just for the sake of it.
The Planets, his most successful work, was written between 1914 and 1916, and received it’s first performance in 1918, just before he left for Salonica to work with British veterans waiting to be demobilized. He had frequently volunteered for military service but was rejected because of his chronic asthma. Several of his relatives, friends, and musical acquaintances did serve and a few of them died.
When I listen to this piece, especially the movements related to the Inner Planets (Mars, Venus, and Mercury), I often think of the Great War and speculate about whether the music was effected by contemporary events. Traditional music history though suggests that the motivation was astrological and the movements reflective of the influence of the planets on the psyche.
As for astrology?
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
–Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
Obligatories, News and Blogs below.
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This Day in History
Train derailment, and a bit of luck, strikes again in Casselton, N.D.
By Curtis Tate, McClatchy
November 14, 2014
Unlike the Dec. 30 derailment, Thursday’s mishap didn’t ignite a huge fireball or lead to the evacuation of half the town. This time, the oil train was empty.
“Fortunately, this one here turned out better than last year’s,” said Casselton Fire Chief Tim McLean, who’s testified before Congress this year, at a news conference Thursday.
Still, the derailment of two trains about a mile from December’s accident site angered local officials and drew the attention of federal regulators who have spent more than a year working with the rail industry to improve the safety of crude oil shipments.
BNSF Railway said Friday in a statement that a broken rail appears to have caused the latest derailment. The track is inspected regularly according to federal standards, the railroad said, and a visual inspection of the track on Wednesday revealed no defects.
As controversial EPA water rule looms, GOP prepares an assault
By Chris Adams, McClatchy
November 14, 2014
The issue is the proposed ” Waters of the United States” rule, which was announced earlier this year in an attempt to simplify and clarify which waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act and which ones aren’t.
But the Obama administration’s attempt at clarity has instead brought anger and confusion from many of the nation’s farm interests, as well as Republicans in Congress – who until last week were powerless to do anything about it.
Now, however, both Kentucky senators are on record with their Republican colleagues in opposing the proposal. The Republican-led House already voted to derail the measure, which comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The switch in political power dismays advocates for the rule.
“Now they’re in a position to throw their weight around more,” said Judy Lyons, chairwoman of the Kentucky chapter of the Sierra Club, an environmental group. “I am concerned about the change in politics because I think everything from the EPA is now going to be under assault.”
Lyons, from Louisville, Ky., submitted one of the hundreds of thousands of comments on the rule received by the EPA. She urged the agency and Army Corps to finalize the rule so that the protections offered by the Clean Water Act are “strong and clearly enforceable.”
The water rule proposal seeks to clarify what is covered by the Clean Water Act – whether certain streams that dry up part of the year, for example, should be covered along with traditional rivers, streams and lakes.
It’s a reaction, in part, to two U.S. Supreme Court cases that addressed EPA’s water oversight.
The Obama administration and environmental groups have strongly pushed the rule, arguing that it would help keep rivers, lakes and other waterways healthy. But agriculture and other industry groups just as strongly oppose the plan, saying it represents a massive overreach by the federal government that would curtail farm activity.
Judge unleashes USDA’s rules for pet breeders who sell online
By Michael Doyle, McClatchy
November 10, 2014
In a pun-filled decision, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper rejected the challenge filed by an assortment of pet-breeding organizations. The ruling issued Friday keeps intact the rules imposed by the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service.
“The new rule brought howls from small breeders anxious over the potential costs of regulatory oversight,” Cooper noted, adding that the breeders “seek to bring APHIS to heel, arguing that the agency exceeded its statutory authority in issuing the new rule. But the clubs are barking up the wrong tree.”
“The clubs dispute APHIS’s assumptions of the costs that breeders will incur to construct new facilities,” Cooper wrote. “But the breeders’ bark seems bigger than the regulator’s bite. The impact of facilities costs on the overall industry of hobby breeders appears to be modest.”
Rosetta mission: Philae goes to sleep on comet as batteries run out
Stuart Clark, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014 20.09 EST
Mission controllers for the Rosetta mission had said on Friday that they were preparing to “hop” the robotic probe in a hope it would settle in a sunnier spot on the comet’s surface.
Philae had apparently been successful in shifting position to gives its shaded solar panels a better chance of catching sunlight. But the moment of success was followed by an announcement that it would have to use up its last battery power in sending a final burst of data back to Earth.
The lander’s legs have a built-in spring action. Commands were uploaded on Friday night to fire them, scientists said, warning there was no guarantee of success.
US to offer refugee status to some undocumented child migrants
Rory Carroll, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014 17.15 EST
The United States will soon offer refugee status to some undocumented youths from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as part of a wider immigration reform effort.
Vice-president Joe Biden announced on Friday that minors under the age of 21 who live in the Central American countries, and who have parents who are legal residents in the US, could start applying for refugee status from next month.
“It provides those seeking asylum a right way to come to our country, as opposed to crossing the border illegally,” he told a Central American conference at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.
G20 summit: Enter Putin. Accompanied by four warships. To the sound of mockery
Mark Leftly, The Independent
Friday 14 November 2014
Vladimir Putin has stationed four warships close to Australian waters before the G20 leaders’ meeting of the most powerful world economies in Brisbane starts today. The President’s show of naval muscle comes at a time when Russia has drawn global criticism for its intervention in Ukraine, where it is still reportedly sending tanks, artillery and troops.
But it has left David Cameron less than impressed. “I didn’t feel it necessary to bring a warship myself to keep myself safe at this G20, and I’m sure that Putin won’t be in any danger,” he said last night.
At today’s meeting, Mr Cameron will be looking to back up his many tough words in the past week, not least a thinly veiled attack on Putin’s Russia in an address to the Australian Parliament in Canberra.
His warning to internet companies that they had a “social responsibility” to take down extremist images of beheadings and terrorist recruitment videos grabbed headlines, as did his vow to stop unreformed British jihadists from returning home for two years.
But just as startling was his claim of an “incipient creeping threat to our values”. Certain countries, he argued, believe in an “authoritarian capitalism that is unencumbered by the values and restrictions” that countries playing by the rule of law impose upon themselves. It wasn’t difficult to work out who he was aiming at.
For his part, Mr Putin argues that EU and US sanctions are illegal, even claiming that they were not only harming Russia, but the world economy that the G20 is supposed to defend.
“It’s undermining the entire system of international economic relations,” he claimed in an interview yesterday.
Isis: the Kurds strike back – Army retakes control of oil refinery town as Kurds stand firm against overstretched Isis
Patrick Cockburn, The Independent
Friday 14 November 2014
Isis fighters, after their spectacular victories in Iraq and Syria over the summer, are overstretched as they seek to extend or defend the vast territories they have seized. A Kurdish general, Najat Ali, commanding Peshmerga soldiers in the town of Makhmour, 50 miles north of Baiji, said yesterday that “Isis has big administrative problems in supplying food and ammunition to its forces in the front line”.
The return of Kurdish self-confidence may be premature. Isis may be feeling the strain, but is by no means on the run. In the past six weeks it has captured most of Anbar province, covering a great swathe of western Iraq, defeating the Iraqi army in a series of engagements.
It has inflicted savage punishment on the Sunni Arab Albu Nimr tribe which fought against it in central Anbar. The tribe says that 497 of its members, including 20 women and 16 children, were executed by Isis in massacres aimed at deterring other tribes from resisting Isis. The Albu Nimrs’ desperate appeals to Baghdad for help in the shape of weapons, ammunition and air strikes met with no response.
In the wake of these defeats, the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has this week purged the top command of the Iraqi army, sacking 26 senior officers, retiring another 10 and making 18 new appointments.
If Isis is overstretched, so too are its opponents, particularly the Kurds who have to defend a 650-mile-long frontier with the new “caliphate” declared by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on 29 June. A leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main Kurdish parties, Saadi Pira, says that “on 10 June we woke up and found we had a new neighbour in the shape of Isis, whose territory stretches from Iran to Syria”.
US judge upholds ‘gross negligence’ ruling against BP in Gulf of Mexico disaster
Tom Bawden, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014
US District Court Judge Carl Barbier said there was no basis for the oil giant’s claim that the testimony was unfair or prejudicial and rejected its call to amend his judgement on September 4 or hold a retrial.
The ruling of “gross negligence” could add as much as $15 billion (£9.56 billion) to BP’s costs for the disaster, which killed 11 people and spilled several million barrels of oil into the sea, by increasing the fine it must pay under the Clean Water Act.
Mexican mayor charged with murder linked to students’ disappearance
Jo Tuckman, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014 12.47 EST
The former mayor of the southern Mexican city of Iguala has been charged with the murder of six people who died in a chain of confusing events that began when municipal police attacked a convoy of student teachers on 26 September.
The attacks on the students took place during a night of terror that included the arrest, subsequent disappearance and probable massacre of 43 students after police handed them over to a local drug gang.
José Luis Abarca allegedly ordered the police to attack the students because he feared they were going to disrupt an event designed to promote a bid by his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, to replace him as mayor in 2015.
Surviving students, from the radical teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, about two hours’ drive away, said they were in Iguala to commandeer buses to use in future protests. They say the attacks began when police blocked their convoy as they were leaving town at about 9pm. The students claim some of the passengers descended from the bus to confront the officers, who began firing indiscriminately in their direction for about 30 minutes before making dozens of arrests.
One student was shot in the face in the first attack; several more were seriously injured. Two were shot dead at about midnight in a second attack by gunmen; a third student, found dead a few blocks away, had the skin peeled from his face and his eyes gouged out.
A teenage footballer and the driver of the bus he was travelling in with his team were killed in a separate attack, apparently because they had been mistaken for the students. The sixth victim, a woman in a taxi, was reportedly killed in the crossfire.
Isis to mint own Islamic dinar coins in gold, silver and copper
Martin Chulov, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014 10.23 EST
The move is reportedly the brain child of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has personally overseen the design of gold, silver and copper coins of the Islamic dinar to be used in his self-declared caliphate – as soon as the terror group can locate a mint and enough precious metals.
Isis has released designs of the coins and a breakdown of denominations. It claims the currency will free Muslims from a financial order that has “enslaved and impoverished” them. But it isn’t totally eschewing the mainstream economy, acknowledging that each coin’s worth will reflect the metal’s value on commodities markets.
Gold will have two denominations, silver three and copper two. With the Isis caliphate not recognised anywhere in the world, the currency will have no value outside the swath of eastern Syria, and western and central Iraq under its control. And those who dare to trade with the group would run the risk of money-laundering and terrorism charges.
Until now, oil purchases from the fields controlled by Isis have been carried out using euros, dollars and Iraqi dinars, and such dealings are unlikely to stop. The paper currency of Isis’s mortal foes has helped transform the group from the scattered remnants of the Iraq civil war to the most cashed-up and capable terrorist organisation in the world.
Putin says Russia prepared for oil price collapse as more sanctions threatened
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014 12.28 EST
Vladimir Putin has admitted for the first time that he is prepared for his country to face a “catastrophic” slump in oil prices, as David Cameron said Europe would have no choice but to step up sanctions if the Russian president did not abide by previous agreements to respect Ukraine’s independence.
Putin was speaking before a bilateral meeting with Cameron on the margins of the G20 summit in Brisbane. The meeting is likely to be a bruising affair, especially after the British prime minister likened Russia to Nazi Germany, saying Europe had learned lessons from history about how a big country could bully others.
Putin said Russia’s economy had the reserves to withstand a collapse in oil revenues, but added: “We are considering all the scenarios including the so-called catastrophic fall of prices for energy resources, which is entirely possible and we admit it.”
He said he regarded sanctions as pointless, illegal and likely to harm not just Russian but world trade. “This contradicts international law because sanctions can only be imposed within the framework of the United Nations and its security council.”
Sweden confirms submarine violation
Friday 14 November 2014 07.35 EST
In unusually stark language for the non-aligned country, the prime minister, Stefan Löfven, warned that such incursions presented “enormous risks” for those involved and that Sweden would defend its borders “with all available means”.
On 17 October the Scandinavian country launched its biggest submarine hunt since the cold war after witnesses reported seeing an underwater craft in the archipelago that extends from Stockholm into the Baltic Sea. It called off the search after a week, saying the vessel had probably escaped into the Baltic.
Löfven said the length of the Swedish coastline made it difficult to monitor but promised to strengthen the country’s ability to identify intruders. “Let me say this loud and clear, to those who are responsible: it is completely unacceptable,” he added.
US government planes mimic cellphone towers to collect user data – report
Spencer Ackerman, Dominic Rushe and Paul Lewis, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014 08.52 EST
The allegations, reported in the Wall Street Journal late on Thursday, suggest that the US Marshals Service has for seven years flown Cessna aircraft outfitted with “dirtbox” devices that mimic cellular towers, permitting the collection of thousands of unique IDs and location data from users.
According to the Journal the planes operate from at least five metropolitan airports, permitting a “flying range covering most of the US population”.
The reportedly indiscriminate collection would permit the marshals and potentially other justice department agencies to avoid having to seek records from the phone companies themselves, especially in criminal investigations where a court order may be required.
The legal basis for the previously undisclosed program is unclear. It is not reportedly a national security or counterterrorism program, but instead used to target crime. The justice department is said to have modified the equipment so as not to interfere with 911 emergency calls.
Paris ‘tiger’ on the prowl not a tiger at all, say French police
Agencies in Montévrain, The Guardian
Friday 14 November 2014 12.29 EST
The Seine-et-Marne administration said the “presence of an animal of the tiger species is now excluded”, based on analysis by government wildlife experts. The statement marks a turnaround from Thursday, when it said the authorities were searching for a tiger.
The alarm was raised on Thursday when a woman spotted an animal near the local supermarket. A dozen fire trucks, a helicopter with heat-seeking equipment, 200 firefighters, gendarmes and police officers armed with stun guns, and a sniffer dog specially trained to track bears and large game spent most of the day searching for the animal, while schoolchildren got a police escort home and local residents were warned to stay indoors.
“It’s between a domestic cat and a bigger feline,” said Eric Hansen, from the national hunting office.
- UNCAT Process Exposes Flaw in US Torture Coverup: DOJ Not Final Authority, by Jim White, emptywheel
- Get Ready for Legislative Jenga, by Jon Walker, FDL Action
- Shakeup or Shakedown in Iraqi Army?, by Peter van Buren, Firedog Lake
- Rahm Emanuel Facing Questions Over Campaign Donations From Pension Fund Managers, by DSWright, Firedog Lake
- Over Easy: Your ISP May Be Up to No Good!, by msmolly, Firedog Lake
- Mark Udall’s Open To Releasing CIA Torture Report Himself If Agreement Isn’t Reached Over Redactions, by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt
- Cop Who Obtained Warrant To Take Photo Of Teen’s Erect Penis For Sexting Case Sues Teen’s Lawyer For Defamation, by Tim Cushing, Tech Dirt
- Justice Department Admits It Lied To Appeals Court Concerning Companies’ Ability To Talk About National Security Letters, by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt
- Why Democrats Lost: It’s Not All About Millennials, by Joe Firestone, New Economic Perspectives
- Why Do the Feds Have Motherf****ng ‘Stingrays’ on Motherf****ng Planes?, By Kim Zetter, Wired
- 5 Billion Smartphones To Change The Internet, by Michael Learmonth, Crooks & Liars