Friday Night Fun and Culture: Louis Prima and Keely Smith

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How ‘Real America’ Became Queer America

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/opinion/lgbt-trump-red-states.html

The Trump administration may be busy waging culture wars. But in the heartland, it’s never been a better time to be L.G.B.T.

By Samantha Allen
March 13, 2019

This may seem like a strange time to feel optimistic about the future of L.G.B.T. rights in America. But as a queer transgender woman who has spent most of her adult life in red states, hopeful is exactly how I feel.

In July 2017 — the same month that President Trump announced on Twitter that he would ban transgender troops — I left on a six-week-long road trip across the red states. I wanted to understand what motivated L.G.B.T. people to stay in the heartland at a time when some progressives were still pondering escaping to Canada.

What I learned on the way from Utah to Georgia only reaffirmed what I have come to believe over the past decade: Attitudes toward L.G.B.T. people are changing rapidly in conservative states, and no one inside the Beltway can stop it. This country’s bright queer future is already here, hiding where too few of us care to travel.

From a bird’s-eye perspective, it may not seem that life has changed for L.G.B.T. Americans in so-called flyover country. State laws prohibiting discrimination against them remain elusive in red states — although Utah notably passed one in 2015. But in their absence, midsize cities have become pockets of L.G.B.T. acceptance.

In the West, cities including Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City; Bozeman, Mont.; and Laramie, Wyo., have passed L.G.B.T.-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in the past decade. Below the Mason-Dixon line, the list of cities with such laws includes Atlanta and New Orleans; Birmingham, Ala.; and Jackson, Miss. L.G.B.T. Texans have had to fend off all manner of horrific state-level bills, but if they live in Austin, Dallas, Plano or Fort Worth, they have solid local laws on their side. And Midwestern hubs like St. Louis and Omaha likewise offer L.G.B.T. protections.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national L.G.B.T. advocacy organization, is downright cheerful about this trend at a time when queer optimism feels in short supply. In the its 2018 Municipal Equality Index, the group’s president, Chad Griffin, wrote that “while cynical politicians in Washington, D.C., attempt to roll back our hard-fought progress, many local leaders are championing equality in big cities and small towns from coast to coast.”

And this progress includes transgender people. According to the group’s data, over 180 cities and counties in states whose electoral votes went to Mr. Trump in 2016 now protect employees not just on the basis of sexual orientation but gender identity as well.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/opinion/lgbt-trump-red-states.html

 

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Could CDC Guidelines Be Driving Some Opioid Patients to Suicide?

As a senior citizen I am surrounded by people who live with chronic, often debilitating pain.  Is it right that people with pain have to suffer because drug addicts abuse drugs?  Further the Opioid Crisis really isn’t so much about opioids as it is about synthetic black market opioid substitutes such as Fentanyl.  But even there we are talking about drug administered to terminally ill cancer patients.

Years ago Niel Young sang, “The Needle and the Damage Done”.  The lesson I’ve learned over the years is that substance abusers abuse substances.  Eliminate the safer and less harmful and they will abuse ever more dangerous substances.  Prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s and the War on Drugs hasn’t worked since.

From Rolling Stone:  https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/cdc-opioid-letter-patient-suicide-805564/

In a letter to the CDC, a group of doctors and advocates said the agency’s opioid prescription guidelines are having alarming consequences. But in the midst of an epidemic, where should doctors draw the line?

By EJ Dickson
March 9, 2019

Overall, we have every reason to believe that the opioid crisis is getting better, not worse. Since the Centers for Disease Control issued its guidelines dictating appropriate opioid prescription rates and dosages in 2016, opioid prescriptions have declined significantly. Overdose deaths have also been on the decline, though some health experts believe that effect might be temporary.

Two groups that have not benefited from increasing public health efforts to stem the opioid crisis, however, is people living with chronic pain and their health care providers. In a letter to the CDC that was published on Wednesday, a coalition of health care providers, doctors and patient representatives, writing on behalf of an organization called Health Professionals for Patients in Pain (HP3), issued a call for the CDC to “address misapplication of its guideline on opioids for chronic pain through public clarification and impact evaluation” — in short, to clarify its guidelines on opioid prescription for doctors, particularly when it comes to weaning patients off the drugs.

“Patients with chronic pain, who are stable and, arguably, benefiting from long-term opioids, face draconian and often rapid involuntary dose reductions,” the letter states. Often, alternative pain care options are not offered, not covered by insurers, or not accessible. Others are pushed to undergo addiction treatment or invasive procedures (such as spinal injections), regardless of whether clinically appropriate. Consequently, patients have endured not only unnecessary suffering, but some have turned to suicide or illicit substance use.”

“There’s no question that doctors have [historically] been too liberal in prescribing opioids,” says Sally Satel, MD, a psychiatrist and a lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine, who coauthored the letter. “But in this pulling back, the pendulum has overshot in some instances, and it’s especially taken a toll on people who have been maintained on usually high-dose opioids for many years for excruciating chronic conditions.”

Currently, the CDC guidelines on opioid prescription recommend that doctors attempt to get patients to taper off the drugs. They also recommend that doctors avoid prescribing opioids for long-term pain management, and that any daily dosage should be below the equivalent of 90 milligrams of morphine.

Continue reading at:  https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/cdc-opioid-letter-patient-suicide-805564/

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: The Kingston Trio.

Before Dylan, Baez and even Peter, Paul and Mary the Kingston Trio was bringing Folk Music to the campuses and coffee houses of the late 1950s.

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Meet the neuroscientist shattering the myth of the gendered brain

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/24/meet-the-neuroscientist-shattering-the-myth-of-the-gendered-brain-gina-rippon

Why asking whether your brain is male or female is the wrong question


Sun 24 Feb 2019

You receive an invitation, emblazoned with a question: “A bouncing little ‘he’ or a pretty little ‘she’?” The question is your teaser for the “gender reveal party” to which you are being invited by an expectant mother who, at more than 20 weeks into her pregnancy, knows what you don’t: the sex of her child. After you arrive, explains cognitive neuroscientist Gina Rippon in her riveting new book, The Gendered Brain, the big reveal will be hidden within some novelty item, such as a white iced cake, and will be colour-coded. Cut the cake and you’ll see either blue or pink filling. If it is blue, it is a…

Yes, you’ve guessed it. Whatever its sex, this baby’s future is predetermined by the entrenched belief that males and females do all kinds of things differently, better or worse, because they have different brains.

“Hang on a minute!” chuckles Rippon, who has been interested in the human brain since childhood, “the science has moved on. We’re in the 21st century now!” Her measured delivery is at odds with the image created by her detractors, who decry her as a “neuronazi” and a “grumpy old harridan” with an “equality fetish”. For my part, I was braced for an encounter with an egghead, who would talk at me and over me. Rippon is patient, though there is an urgency in her voice as she explains how vital it is, how life-changing, that we finally unpack – and discard – the sexist stereotypes and binary coding that limit and harm us.

For Rippon, a twin, the effects of stereotyping kicked in early. Her “under-achieving” brother was sent to a boys’ academic Catholic boarding school, aged 11. “It’s difficult to say this. I was clearly academically bright. I was top in the country for the 11+.” This gave her a scholarship to a grammar school. Her parents sent her to a girls’ non-academic Catholic convent instead. The school did not teach science. Pupils were brought up to be nuns or a diplomatic wife or mother. “Psychology,” she points out, “was the nearest I could get to studying the brain. I didn’t have the A levels to do medicine. I had wanted to be a doctor.”

A PhD in physiological psychology and a focus on brain processes and schizophrenia followed. Today, the Essex-born scientist is a professor emeritus of cognitive neuroimaging at Aston University, Birmingham. Her brother is an artist. When she is not in the lab using state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to study developmental disorders such as autism, she is out in the world, debunking the “pernicious” sex differences myth: the idea that you can “sex” a brain or that there is such a thing as a male brain and a female brain. It is a scientific argument that has gathered momentum, unchallenged, since the 18th century “when people were happy to spout off about what men and women’s brains were like – before you could even look at them. They came up with these nice ideas and metaphors that fitted the status quo and society, and gave rise to different education for men and women.”

Rippon has analysed the data on sex differences in the brain. She admits that she, like many others, initially sought out these differences. But she couldn’t find any beyond the negligible, and other research was also starting to question the very existence of such differences. For example, once any differences in brain size were accounted for, “well-known” sex differences in key structures disappeared. Which is when the penny dropped: perhaps it was time to abandon the age-old search for the differences between brains from men and brains from women. Are there any significant differences based on sex alone? The answer, she says, is no. To suggest otherwise is “neurofoolishness”.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/24/meet-the-neuroscientist-shattering-the-myth-of-the-gendered-brain-gina-rippon

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Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is Doing

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/opinion/ilhan-omar-anti-semitism.html

The Minnesota Democrat is bringing Corbynism to the Democratic Party.

By Bret Stephens
March 7, 2019

There’s an old joke about upper-class British anti-Semitism: It means someone who hates Jews more than is strictly necessary. Ilhan Omar, the freshman representative from Minnesota, more than meets the progressive American version of that standard.

Like many self-described progressives, Omar does not like Israel. That’s a shame, not least because Israel is the only country in its region that embraces the sorts of values the Democratic Party claims to champion. When was the last time there was a gay-pride parade in Ramallah, a women’s rights march in Gaza, or an opposition press in Tehran? In what Middle Eastern country other than Israel can an attorney general indict a popular and powerful prime minister on corruption charges?

But America is a free country, and Omar is within her rights to think what she will about Israel or any other state. Contrary to a self-serving myth among Israel’s detractors, there’s rarely a social or reputational penalty for publicly criticizing Israeli policies today. It’s ubiquitous on college campuses and commonplace in editorial pages. And contrary to some recent comments from Senator Elizabeth Warren, no serious person claims criticism of Israel is ipso facto anti-Semitic. My last column called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Last I checked, the Anti-Defamation League has not denounced me.

Omar, however, isn’t just a critic of Israel. As the joke has it, her objections to the Jewish state go well beyond what’s strictly necessary.

“Israel has hypnotized the world,” she tweeted in 2012. “May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Last month, she wrote that U.S. support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby.” A few weeks after that, she told an audience in D.C. that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Confronted with criticism about the remark from her fellow Democrat Nita Lowey, she replied: “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”

Under intense pressure, Omar recanted those first two tweets. But she’s standing her ground on her more recent comments. It’s a case study in the ease with which strident criticism of Israel shades into anti-Semitism.

For those who don’t get it, claims that Israel “hypnotizes” the world, or that it uses money to bend others to its will, or that its American supporters “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” repackage falsehoods commonly used against Jews for centuries. People can debate the case for Israel on the merits, but those who support the state should not have to face allegations that their sympathies have been purchased, or their brains hijacked, or their loyalties divided.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/opinion/ilhan-omar-anti-semitism.html

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Manhattan Transfer

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The Industrial Revolution of Shame

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/09/opinion/sunday/internet-shaming.html

Outrage is strange bait: It can feel wrong not to take it.

By Salvatore Scibona
March 9, 2019

In the 1954 John Cheever story “The Country Husband,” a man goes to a dinner party in a New York suburb and recognizes his host’s new maid, but from where? Suddenly, the scene returns to him. Years earlier, at the end of the Second World War, in a small French village where he had been deployed, he had looked on while this same woman — the wartime consort of the village’s German commandant — had been carted into a crossroads. Her neighbors had jeered while a little man had cut off her hair and shaved her skull. They had made her remove her clothes. Someone had spat on her. Crying and naked but for her worn black shoes, she had walked away from the village, alone.

Imagine, if you can bear it, this episode updated to the present: the viral video, the scene captured, shared, archived, never forgotten, its popularity measured in screen views. Rather than the gathering of a few dozen people in a town with one church and one restaurant, imagine the thousands or millions broadcasting their blame in comment sections, tweets, blog posts, many of them available forever to anyone anywhere. The offender is denied even the mercy of exile.

We are undergoing an industrial revolution in shame. New technologies have radically expanded our ability to make and distribute a product. The product is our judgment of one another. As in past industrial revolutions, the mass manufacture and use of a product previously available to just a few or in small amounts has given us the power to do harm at a previously unthinkable scale.

The defendants carted into the virtual crossroads are public figures as well as previously inconspicuous people — a drunk in a parking lot, a girl who overshares on Instagram. One day an actor is accused of faking a hate crime, another day a politician admits he attended a dance contest wearing blackface, another day a high school student’s grin seems to embody the contemptuous privilege of his class, another day those describing his grin that way are shamed for shaming him on preliminary evidence. To bring up any one of these examples is to invite the objection, “That time it was deserved!” Maybe so. But is there no way of discussing these controversies that doesn’t come down to whether an offender deserved the punishment?

Media culture has found a sweet spot in the collective psyche — outrage. Headlines are baited with it, promising an injustice. This is strange bait: It can feel wrong not to take it. Because looking away from an injustice has so often amounted to perpetuating injustice, we may feel we have a duty to click through, read the article and get mad. Even the private person who doesn’t tweet or otherwise share his thoughts in public gets sucked in, his conscience demanding the solidarity of judging in his heart, if not aloud.

However right and necessary all this judgment feels, does it feel good? Doesn’t it quickly feel, sort of, well, awful?

Traditional wisdom cautions us against excesses of judgment (see the casting of first stones, et cetera). Maybe that’s out of concern not only for the Frenchwoman Cheever describes but also for the person who spat on her. Interesting that we describe scorn as “bitter,” as though we can taste it, like a poison. Dishing it out doesn’t feel much better than taking it, but what else can we do?

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/09/opinion/sunday/internet-shaming.html

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Robocalls: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Marcia Ball

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Anti-Semitic Labour Party

I pray the Democratic Party in the US doesn’t follow the British Labour Party down the same anti-Semitic rat hole the followers of Corbyn have gone down.

I have been disgusted with Left Wing anti-Semitism in this country since it first reared its ugly head in the early 1970s.  I can still romanticize my involvement with SDS and the anti-war movement of the 1960s while recognizing that with the movement I was suckered into giving credibility to some extremely nasty ideology.

From  The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/opinion/corbyn-berger-anti-semitism.html

Jew hatred has re-entered the European mainstream. It makes an irrefutable case for the need for a Jewish homeland.

By Roger Cohen
Feb. 28, 2019

LONDON — Europe’s gathering Jewish question came into sharp focus this month when a British M.P. declared that she had come to the “sickening conclusion” that one of the country’s two main political parties, Labour, is now “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Imagine, to gauge the import of this statement, Bernie Sanders suggesting the same thing of the Democrats.

Jew hatred has re-entered the European mainstream through a toxic amalgam of spillover from vilification of Israel, the return of the Jewish plutocrat as hated symbol of the 1 percent, and the resurgence of the Jewish “cosmopolitan” as the target of ascendant nationalists convinced a cabal of Jews runs the world.

The British politician was Luciana Berger, who is Jewish and has been M.P. for Liverpool and Wavertree since 2010. She has watched, with dismay, as Jeremy Corbyn has allowed a demonological view of Israel to foster Jew hatred in the Labour Party since taking over its leadership in 2015.

So, I asked in an interview, is Corbyn an anti-Semite? “Well,” she said, “he’s certainly been responsible for sharing platforms with anti-Semites and saying things that are highly offensive and anti-Semitic.”

Corbyn, Berger suggested, has contrived to make British Jews different in some way, a process she called “othering.” She’s had to endure “pictures of Stars of David superimposed on my forehead, and my face imposed on a rat, or many rats. There are pornographic images, violent images, oversize features like a witch. You name it, they’ve done it.” Nine months pregnant, the mother of a small child, she’s faced death threats and has to take security measures “a lot more now than I did before.”

Not all the anti-Semitic slurs have come from within the party, but the volume of attacks from the left has convinced Berger she had to quit Labour. “I didn’t make that decision lightly,” she told me, having always believed that Labour was Britain’s anti-racist party par excellence.

Corbyn, who has taken the party sharply leftward from the now reviled Blairite center, and whose anti-Zionism has long been apparent, has insisted, “I’m not an anti-Semite in any form.” He has promised (and promised and promised) to rid the Labour Party of any such poison.

There’s nothing anti-Semitic about sympathy for the Palestinian cause or support of Palestinian statehood or disdain for the rightist government of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and its kick-the-can policies to prolong or eternize the occupation of the West Bank. That should be obvious.

But where anti-Zionism crosses into anti-Semitism should also be obvious: dehumanizing or demonizing Jews and propagating the myth of their sinister omnipotence; accusing Jews of double loyalties as a means to suggest their national belonging is of lesser worth; denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination; blaming through conflation all Jews for the policies of the Israeli government; pursuing the systematic “Nazification” of Israel; turning Zionism into a synonym of racism.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/opinion/corbyn-berger-anti-semitism.html

See also;

The Algemeiner: UK Newspaper Investigation Uncovers Links Between Top Corbyn Aide and Anti-Israel Terror Groups

The New York Times: The Persistence of Anti-Semitism

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Rep. Omar Again Sparks Controversy Using Anti-Semitic Dual Loyalty Smear

From The Tower:  http://www.thetower.org/7279-rep-omar-again-sparks-controversy-using-anti-semitic-dual-loyalty-smear/

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D – Minn.) has again sparked controversy by employing the classic anti-Semitic trope of accusing Jews of dual loyalty, the New York Post reported Sunday.

The rebuke followed an exchange with Omar’s Jewish colleague, Rep. Nita Lowey (D – N.Y.), who had defended Omar over a poster that tied the freshman representative to the 9/11 terror attack.

“Gross islamophobic stereotypes – like those about @IlhanMN recently featured on posters in WVA – are offensive and have no place in political discourse. Anti-Semitic tropes that accuse Jews of dual loyalty are equally painful and must also be roundly condemned,” Lowey had tweeted on Saturday. Lowey, however, continued, “Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful.”

Instead of apologizing or even acknowledging Lowey’s support, Omar doubled down, responding, “Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman! I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!”

“No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country,” Lowey corrected Omar. “Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence, which is why these accusations are so hurtful.”

Last week at a forum in Washington D.C., Omar said, “So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

This prompted columnist Jonathan Chait of New York magazine to observe, “Accusing Jews of ‘allegiance to a foreign country’ is a historically classic way of delegitimizing their participation in the political system.”

Omar was also rebuked by Rep. Eliot Engel (D – N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the committee on which she sits, for her comments last week. Engel said, “I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it’s unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

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I’ve Faced the Charge of Dual Loyalty

From The Atlantic:  https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/ilhan-omars-dual-loyalty-charge-was-anti-semitic/584314/

It was anti-Semitic then, and it’s anti-Semitic now.


March 7, 2019

I’m all for new voices in the U.S. Congress. But lately, some of those new voices have been voicing some very old canards.

I’m talking about Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the newly elected Democrats who populate the 116th Congress. Omar has attracted much news coverage, and the condemnation of most of her fellow Democrats, for promoting some ugly tropes about Jews.

First, when questioning long-standing congressional support for Israel, she blamed the campaign money provided by pro-Israel supporters. “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she tweeted.

After apologizing for that comment and acknowledging her need to be “educated,” she followed with another tweet, questioning the “allegiance” of supporters of Israel, intimating that we place the concerns of Israel above those of the country that we call home.

No one is questioning the right of members of Congress and others to criticize Israeli policies. But Omar is crossing a line that should not be crossed in political discourse. Her remarks are not anti-Israel; they are anti-Semitic.

Whether consciously or not, Representative Omar is repeating some of the ugliest stereotypes about Jews—tropes that have been unleashed by anti-Semites throughout history. She is casting Jewish Americans as the other, suggesting a dual loyalty that calls our devotion to America into question.

Maybe I’m sensitive to this charge of dual allegiance because it’s been wielded against me in some of my political campaigns. I’ve been accused of actually being a citizen of Israel. (That’s not true, although my father was an Israeli immigrant to the United States.) In 2002, well before Donald Trump and other “birthers” questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, I had to produce my U.S. birth certificate in my first run for Congress to disprove false assertions about my background and loyalties.

But it’s not just me who’s been subject to questions of dual loyalty. For centuries, this trope has been aimed at Jews in countries around the world. In embracing it, Omar is associating herself with calamities from the Spanish Inquisition to the Russian pogroms to the Holocaust. That’s not historical company that any American should want to keep.

One doesn’t have to be Jewish to recognize the deep and abiding relationship between the United States and Israel. Yes, there might be serious problems with Israel’s democracy—just as we’re currently experiencing our own. But Israel shares fundamental values with the United States that most of its neighbors have never embraced.

In Israel, women can vote and serve in the armed forces. So can members of the LGBTQ community. Its Arab citizens can vote, form political parties, and serve in the Israeli Parliament. And Israeli women can drive—just as badly as the rest of the population.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/ilhan-omars-dual-loyalty-charge-was-anti-semitic/584314/

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Does voice have a gender? For trans singers, old categories are breaking down

From The San Francisco Chronicle:  https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/music/does-voice-have-a-gender-for-trans-singers-old-categories-are-breaking-down

Joshua Kosman

Growing up in England, Elspeth Franks felt sure that singing would be her career of choice. She had a large and versatile vocal range, and the stylistic flexibility to sing opera, concert works and choral music.

After moving to the Bay Area in 1990, Franks, now 55, established herself as a go-to mezzo-soprano. She performed with regional opera companies, sang with the chorus of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and worked as a church cantor.

The other thing Franks knew — even without the terminology to describe that confident inner knowledge — was that she was transgender.

Five years ago, Franks transitioned to male, taking the name Elliot. Suddenly, the voice that had seen him through all those years of performance had grown deeper and largely unfamiliar.

“I’d gone from a range of 3½ octaves to one, although a very pretty one,” he said. “All the things I knew how to do with my voice, all the tricks, the way I formed vowels for resonance — none of that works the same way it used to.”

It’s not all about the octaves, either. Franks is just one of an increasingly visible number of trans singers in the classical world who are challenging long-accepted notions about the intersection of gender and music. Operatic and choral singers, long segregated into rigid categories by vocal range, tonal qualities, body type and even simply gender, have begun to push back.

For San Francisco’s Breanna Sinclairé, 29, the gender transition came earlier, and has been a central part of her development as a professional opera singer. In the process of going from male to female, she felt her naturally expansive voice grow steadily stronger in the upper register. Sinclairé began singing as a tenor, but soon shifted up to countertenor, a male singer who specializes in falsetto singing. After her transition, she established herself during studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a mezzo-soprano, and is now developing her top notes on the way up to life as a soprano.

On New Year’s Eve, Sinclairé, became the first trans singer to appear with the San Francisco Symphony when she sang an aria by Saint-Saëns on the stage of Davies Symphony Hall.

“It was an honor to debut with such a celebrated orchestra,” said Sinclairé. “I’m proud to be one of the trans opera singers who are breaking these barriers. In the end, we put in the work and want to be treated as musicians just like everybody else.”

The audience responded warmly to her performance, said conductor Edwin Outwater, who led the concert. “It was a historic moment — and she hit a full, beautiful high B-flat, which she didn’t have to do!”

Continue reading at:  https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/music/does-voice-have-a-gender-for-trans-singers-old-categories-are-breaking-down

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Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/23/business/cell-phone-addiction.html

By Kevin Roose
Feb. 23, 2019

My name is Kevin, and I have a phone problem.

And if you’re anything like me — and the statistics suggest you probably are, at least where smartphones are concerned — you have one, too.

I don’t love referring to what we have as an “addiction.” That seems too sterile and clinical to describe what’s happening to our brains in the smartphone era. Unlike alcohol or opioids, phones aren’t an addictive substance so much as a species-level environmental shock. We might someday evolve the correct biological hardware to live in harmony with portable supercomputers that satisfy our every need and connect us to infinite amounts of stimulation. But for most of us, it hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve been a heavy phone user for my entire adult life. But sometime last year, I crossed the invisible line into problem territory. My symptoms were all the typical ones: I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies or having long uninterrupted conversations. Social media made me angry and anxious, and even the digital spaces I once found soothing (group texts, podcasts, YouTube k-holes) weren’t helping. I tried various tricks to curb my usage, like deleting Twitter every weekend, turning my screen grayscale and installing app-blockers. But I always relapsed.

Eventually, in late December, I decided that enough was enough. I called Catherine Price, a science journalist and the author of “How to Break Up With Your Phone,” a 30-day guide to eliminating bad phone habits. And I begged her for help.

Mercifully, she agreed to be my phone coach for the month of January, and walk me through her plan, step by step. Together, we would build a healthy relationship with my phone, and try to unbreak my brain.

I confess that entering phone rehab feels clichéd, like getting really into healing crystals or Peloton. Digital wellness is a budding industry these days, with loads of self-help gurus offering miracle cures for screen addiction. Some of those solutions involve new devices — such as the “Light Phone,” a device with an extremely limited feature set that is meant to wean users off time-sucking apps. Others focus on cutting out screens entirely for weeks on end. You can now buy $299 “digital detox” packages at luxury hotels or join the “digital sabbath” movement, whose adherents vow to spend one day a week using no technology at all.

Thankfully, Catherine’s plan is more practical. I’m a tech columnist, and while I don’t begrudge anyone for trying more extreme forms of disconnection, my job prevents me from going cold turkey.

Instead, her program focuses on addressing the root causes of phone addiction, including the emotional triggers that cause you to reach for your phone in the first place. The point isn’t to get you off the internet, or even off social media — you’re still allowed to use Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms on a desktop or laptop, and there’s no hard-and-fast time limit. It’s simply about unhooking your brain from the harmful routines it has adopted around this particular device, and hooking it to better things.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/23/business/cell-phone-addiction.html

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Saturday Night Fun And Culture: Koerner, Ray and Glover

Because I missed Friday Night

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