Replied to

Ben, I love the use of grouping columns, but found it problematic when sharing a Google Sheet as it is not unique to the user.
Replied to https://johnjohnston.info/blog/dave-winer-rss-is-federation/ (johnjohnston.info)
John, I somewhat agree with your preference for RSS over the social feed. Personally, I use Granary to actually bring Mastodon into my feed. For me, this allows me to become less of a slave to the ever current stream. I sometimes wonder though if this is bad faith as I assume I am not nessecarily following the rules on the packet, this can mean engaging in conversations out of time.
Replied to bavachromatosis by ReverendReverend (bavatuesdays.com)

We’ll see how much I can reflect on 2022 in the next few days, I still feel like I have to blog about what’s happening now so thinking about 12 months of time might have to happen after the new … Continue reading

Jim, you might be interested in Tony Martin’s reflection ‘Any Old Iron’ included in his book Lolly Scramble. He discusses his own experience of hemochromatosis with wit and humour.
Liked How the Lessons of Game of Thrones Were Lost (theatlantic.com)

Our present era of franchise-driven TV requires the industrialization of spectacle, but all the money in the galaxy can’t ensure crackling dialogue and convincing acting. The funny thing is that without a bit of goofiness, these supposedly mature fantasies undermine the credibility they’re chasing. A world where everyone’s frowning just feels fake.

Listened album by The Go-Betweens by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Tallulah is the fifth album by The Go-Betweens. It was released in May 1987 in the UK on Beggars Banquet Records. Prior to the recording of the album, the group had expanded to a five-piece with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Amanda Brown. The original release consisted of ten songs. In 2004, LO-MAX Records released an expanded CD which included a second disc of ten bonus tracks and music videos for the songs, “Right Here” and “Bye Bye Pride”.

Robert Forster stated that with Amanda Brown, that the band sounded like no other. Although I agree with this, I am not always sure that it always works with Tallulah. Unlike the experimentation of their earlier albums (Send Me a Lullaby and Before Hollywood), it feels like the experimentation on Tallulah was in sound and texture. For example strings are placed front and center in The House That Jack Kerouac Built and Right Here, the funk groove of Cut It Out is like no other, Hope Then Strife introduces the spanish guitar, Spirit of a Vampyre introduces the distorted guitar, while Bye Bye Pride brings in the Oboe.

In part I can see how this can be seen as a search for the right formula, but for me it all feels like a ‘what if’ album, what if there was a new multi instrumentalist in Amanda Brown? Andrew Stafford explains the school of thought that ‘every second album was better than its predecessor’:

Among fans of the Go-Betweens, there’s a school of thought that every second album they made was better than its predecessor: the first exploring a style, the second perfecting it, before they would immediately move on to a new form. In this way, the Go-Betweens’ parameters kept expanding, like Chinese boxes.

Read novella by the English author Charles Dickens, first published in 1843 by Contributors to Wikimedia projects

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol during a period when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions, including carols, and newer customs such as cards and Christmas trees. He was influenced by the experiences of his own youth and by the Christmas stories of other authors, including Washington Irving and Douglas Jerrold. Dickens had written three Christmas stories prior to the novella, and was inspired following a visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, one of several establishments for London’s street children. The treatment of the poor and the ability of a selfish man to redeem himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the key themes of the story. There is discussion among academics as to whether this is a fully secular story, or if it is a Christian allegory.

A Christmas Carol is one of those stories that I felt I had always known, but never read. It was made all that more enjoyable with Tim Curry’s reading.
Bookmarked General Questions to Use in Book Clubs or Lit Circles by Pernille Ripp (pernillesripp.com)

Book clubs or literacy circles are some of my most favorite explorations to do with kids. Making space for deep discussions, led by the students, and framed by an inquiry question is something that I love to be a part of. That’s why we have done book clubs twice a year for the past many years. I would not do more than that, kids also want to have experiences where they are not forced to read a certain book with peers, even if they have a lot of embedded choice. And as always, when in doubt, ask your students how often they would like to do them, make space for their ideas and allow for personalization and ownership.

Pernille Ripp provides an extensive list of questions to support book clubs / literature circles.
Bookmarked GitHub – AboutRSS/ALL-about-RSS: A list of RSS related stuff: tools, services, communities and tutorials, etc. (GitHub)

A list of RSS related stuff: tools, services, communities and tutorials, etc. – GitHub – AboutRSS/ALL-about-RSS: A list of RSS related stuff: tools, services, communities and tutorials, etc.

AboutRSS is an extensive list of resources associated with RSS.

“John Johnston” in bookmarked: AboutRSS/ALL-about-RSS: ()

I had no intent of buying anothersynthesiser, but I changed my mind when listening Mark Ronson, in an interview with Jamie Lidell. He explained how he likes to start off sessions with a few toys, including an MPC, a Moog and a Juno. My latest addition is the Roland JX-08, a Boutique combination of the JX-8P and the PG-800. I really like my MC-101 and know that there is still a lot that I am yet to master. However, I really wanted something I could manipulate.

I once borrowed a PG-200 that was attached to a GR-700. I would play a note on the guitar, click hold on the foot pedal and spend time just looking for sounds. Although the JX-08 does not have the same solid feel as the PG-200, it has so much more functionality, including an arpeggiator, two channels and a sequencer. In addition to this, the sequencer has a random generator and random playback function. Together with built-in speaker, I like just sitting with it and poking it every now and then.

In Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Taylor Swift talks about how Aaron Dessner gave her Silvertone guitar with a rubber bridge and how playing some instruments write their own songs. I had a similar experience with the JX-8P. I am yet to properly dig into the various pattern, but for me it provides a piece of randomness that was missing with the groovebox.

Listened Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express (The Go-Betweens) by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, the fourth album by The Go-Betweens, was released in March 1986 in the UK on Beggars Banquet Records, the record label that would release the remainder of the original group’s LPs through their break-up in 1989. The album was recorded at Berry Street Studios in London, England.

Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express is often heralded as a favourite album. Gone is the technological experimentation tinkered with in Spring Hill Fair, what remains is a consistent bright sound and feel produced using a more organic approach. As Robert Forster explains in Grant and I:

The production credit for Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express (what a wonderfully pretentious title) was going to read, ‘The Go-Betweens and Richard Preston’. There’d be no drum machines, no piecemeal recording, no acquiescence to a higher authority – we were experienced enough in the studio, and flying on the strength of our demoed songs and Richard’s easy, collaborative ways. Our intention was to expand upon the crisp, woody sound of Before Hollywood, to include a grander, more exotic range of instrumentation – vibraphone, oboe, piano accordion, and, at Grant’s suggestion and to my apprehension, a string section. But he was right; we were making music and living lives that demanded strings. And we had a crack rhythm section, with Robert’s swinging melodic bass and Lindy’s signature rolls and fills, inventive and sturdy under every song.

I found it one of that albums where after a few listens each tune sticks in your head. It marks a real progression in Forster and McLennan’s writing, although it may simply be a reflection of their movement away from experimental song writing to more standard 4/4 song structures.

Grant McLennan: There was quite a fundamental musical change in the band, towards simplification. Something we’ve been accused of in the past, of being almost a pop band, almost an art band, you know, now we’re simplifying. Thinking more of 4/4.

I really like how Clinton Walker captured in back in 1986:

That the Go-Betweens’ language is unlike anyone else’s in rock is undeniable; now, it is totally at ease with itself, stepping out boldly. Deceptively simple pop songs contain a whole world. Even if this isn’t the album that will provide the Go-Betweens with a real breakthrough, it will certainly pave the way. It is in itself an assertion of a right to life.

What is interesting is that even though this album moves away from the precision provided by programmed beats and synthesisers, the sounds is still very tight. With the development of their sound, it feels like the bass and drums have found their place providing a base for the jangly guitars. I was left wondering how the album might have sounded differently if say John Brand had produced it?

Read Grant & I by Robert Forster

The Go-Betweens, one of Australia’s most talented and influential bands, very nearly wasn’t. Grant McLennan didn’t want to be in a group, and couldn’t even play an instrument. That didn’t stop the singer-songwriter duo of Forster/McLennan becoming one of the most acclaimed partnerships in Australian music history.

Just as The Go-Betweens always defied categorisation, Grant & I is like no other rock memoir. At its heart is a privileged insight into a prolific artistic collaboration that lasted three decades, and an extraordinary friendship that rode out the band’s break-up to remain strong until Grant’s premature death in 2006.

Unconventional in lineup and look, noted for near misses and near hits, always a beat to one side of the mainstream – the band’s unusual beginnings were followed by twists that often confounded its members as well as fans and record companies. The story of The Go-Betweens is also the story of the times, and Grant & I is a wonderfully perceptive look at the music industry and a brilliantly fresh take on the sounds of the era.

As distinctive a writer of prose as he is of songs, Robert Forster is wise and witty, intimate and frank, astute and knowledgeable. There could be no better tribute than Grant & I to this partnership and band who remain loved and revered.

Grant and I is a memoir that traces the history of The Go-Betweens through Robert Forster’s relationship with Grant McLennan. The narrative traces the journey though beginnings of the band, the various ideas and inspirations that influenced them, trying to make it in Australia and abroad, and the experiences of producing each of the albums. Even with all the supposed accolades, Forster pulls back the curtain to capture a life of living in squats and endless touring, pointing out that although they may have tramped all over Europe, they never really got a chance relax and take things in, and how they were left paying back the advance given to tour with REM for the next 26 years.

In a review for Australian Book Review, Doug Wallen summarises it as follows:

As with the band’s songs, Forster’s account is melancholic, cheery, and self-deprecating all at once. It is often unruly and mischievous as well. Rather than presenting a stock-standard Australian success story, Grant & I offers up the tangled lives of two kindred spirits who decided to make music together. Younger readers who only know The Go-Betweens as canonised legends with a major bridge in Brisbane named after them can discover how long the band toiled in obscurity before securing that lasting recognition.

There has been criticism that Forster left a lot out, such as the place of heroin in their lives. However, I was left wondering if that was asking something from the book that it never promised to provide and if maybe that was not Robert’s story to tell? In some ways, there was an air of David Malouf’s Johnno or F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to it all, both books mentioned in the book, with McLennan both known and unknown.

Read Tell Me Why

Not many have lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.

Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.

In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Archie’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Archie voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.

Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story.

Tell Me Why is the story of Archie Roach’s life. It talks about his life growing up in foster care after being removed from his family and his subsequent search for them. It traces Roach’s battles with addiction, firstly alcohol and then gunja.

I always felt like I understood the stolen generation and the trauma that it brought indigenous people. However, after reading Roach’s story it highlighted that my understanding was academic and somewhat superficial. It also gave a new appreciation for Roach’s music.

One of the things to note about the book is that even through adversity, there is humour throughout, whether it be Paul Kelly being referred to as a security guard or deep freeze diving at Woolworths.

Listening to Roach read the book made it even more powerful too.

Read Good Pop, Bad Pop by Jarvis Cocker

What if the things we keep hidden say more about us than those we put on display?

We all have a random collection of the things that made us – photos, tickets, clothes, souvenirs, stuffed in a box, packed in a suitcase, crammed into a drawer. When Jarvis Cocker starts clearing out his loft, he finds a jumble of objects that catalogue his story and ask him some awkward questions:

Who do you think you are?

Are clothes important?

Why are there so many pairs of broken glasses up here?

From a Gold Star polycotton shirt to a pack of Wrigley’s Extra, from his teenage attempts to write songs to the Sexy Laughs Fantastic Dirty Joke Book, this is the hard evidence of Jarvis’s unique life, Pulp, 20th century pop culture, the good times and the mistakes he’d rather forget. And this accumulated debris of a lifetime reveals his creative process – writing and musicianship, performance and ambition, style and stagecraft.

This is not a life story. It’s a loft story.

I listened to Jarvis Cocker’s reading of his book Good Pop, Bad Pop. The book involves the Pulp frontman going through a loft full of objects he had stored there seemingly for a situation like this.

Good Pop, Bad Pop ambles through the 25 years before Saint Martins, tracking Cocker’s worldview as it takes shape in his home city of Sheffield. It opens in the present day, as he’s clearing out the loft of his London house. There is a lot of stuff in there, and each item has a story. His task is to decide whether to keep each thing or “cob” it (throw it out). Mulling over these ancient treasures puts him in philosophical mood, and the book soon expands into both an autobiography and a treatise on pop.

Through tales of buying second hand clothes, the embarrassment of the first gigs and the boredom associated with recovering in hospital, Cocker teases out his creative pathway. This is not to provide a model for how to be the next Pulp or the next Jarvis Cocker, but instead to help others find their own spark, maybe to just keep going.

In some ways, this reminded me of Damian Cowell’s podcast associated with the album Only the Shit You Love. Just as Cocker uses the collection of keep sacks as a jumping off point, Cowell uses the various tracks as a means of conversation. Both have a penchant for the small incidental stories, always wary about getting too Glenn A Baker.

“Conversations” in Jarvis Cocker and the Pulp master plan – ABC ()

Bookmarked https://justinehsmith.substack.com/p/a-locus-of-care (justinehsmith.substack.com)

Some Memories of the Life and Work of Bruno Latour (1947-2022)

Justin Smith reflects upon the legacy on Bruno Latour and his focus on the ‘matter of concern’ associated with a thing:

So, wherever you have a thing, you have a locus of care (or, if you will, a matter of concern). This is something conceptually distinct from an artefact, or from an object. In fact, Latour thinks, in order to get away from all the confusion into which the notion of “objectivity” has led us (a notion that really only takes hold as a dogma in the late nineteenth century, according to Daston and Galison in their celebrated genealogy of the concept, to which Latour provided the preface in its French translation), it might be better to retrain our focus on “things”. And it is in light of this retraining effort, I think, that his twenty-first-century shift to ecology and the climate crisis takes on a particular appeal. It was, recall, only in the mid-twentieth century that we got the first photographic images of our planet as the iconic “pale blue dot” that we all know, and love, today. Arguably, it is at this moment that the Earth itself became a thing, that is, came to be cognized and valued as a suitable locus of our care and solicitude, rather than simply, so to speak, the transcendent ground of our existence. This is the moment, also, when Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, which so influenced Latour’s thinking, became conceivable — it is not that no one in antiquity or later had ever suggested the world is an organic whole, but what was meant by “world”, for, e.g., the Stoics, was the cosmos, and not any particular life-supporting sphere within it. In a sense Latour’s late-career emphasis on matters of concern, or, if you will, on “truth as care”, is a continuation of the early-career work for which he was admonished as a partisan of the “post-truth” tendency. But his later work is at least somewhat less playful, more urgent, and in tone it is a universe away from the perceived cynicism of the golden age of constructionist science studies. He is speaking now not in the vein of irony, but of love.

Bookmarked Stop Wasting Your Time on School Improvement Plans That Don’t Work. Try This Instead (Opinion) by Peter DeWitt (Education Week)

Some of this seems complicated, right? Problems of practice, theories of action, assumptions, success criteria, and program logic models all seem like a lot of work. However, what is more work is when leaders create a document in isolation that they never intend to use and never engage in conversations with teacher leaders about areas of focus they could work on together.

Peter DeWitt discusses the importance of a theory of action to guide the development of an improvement plan. In addition to a ‘theory of learning’, DeWitt suggests that it is important that plans are also practical.

When working on a school improvement plan, or what some schools may refer to as an academic plan, it’s important for its creators to make sure that it is useful. How do we do that? We do that by:

  • Making sure that we do not have too many priorities;
  • Taking time to reflect on how many actions and activities we should engage in;
  • Including teachers and staff in the discussion and not just creating the document in isolation;
  • Not storing them away only to look at next year when we have to create our next school improvement plan; and
  • Making the document workable and based on our needs.

I wonder about the user of the How Might We question to frame this theory?

After this we returned to our original groups and worked through the ‘How Might We’ task. This involves completing a prompt: how might we ACTION WHAT for WHOM in order to CHANGE SOMETHING. The purpose of this was to come up with a clearer guide for our moonshot.

It also has me thinking about the IOI Process in providing a structure to not only understand the intricacies of context, but help map out a path to change and innovation.

Listened Spring Hill Fair (The Go-Betweens) by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Spring Hill Fair is The Go-Betweens’ third album, released on 27 September 1984 in the UK on Sire Records. The LP was recorded during a “very wet May”[1] at Studio Miraval in Le Val, France. Prior to the recording of the album, bass player Robert Vickers had joined the group, enabling Grant McLennan to move to lead guitar. The original release consisted of ten songs. In 2002, Circus released an expanded CD which included a second disc of ten bonus tracks and a music video for the song, “Bachelor Kisses”.

Spring Hill Fair continues to develop The Go-Betweens towards the jingle-jangle sound that I associate them with. Gone is the contrast between fast and slow of their early albums. This is replaced with the attempt at a slicker pop sound, with the introduction of synthesizers and drum machines. However, they could not completely shake this earlier sound.

In the end, Spring Hill Fair feels like a searching album. I have read criticisms of John Brand, the producer of Before Hollywood, and the way in which he wanted to make a ‘proper album’. Some tracks feel honed, such as the singles Bachelor Kisses and Man O’Sand to Girl O’Sea, while other tracks still feel raw, such as Five Words and River of Money.

Wikipedia has a good collection of responses to the album:

Clinton Walker, writing in The Age newspaper, felt “the album as a whole was disappointing, disjointed and uneven.”[27] Helen FitzGerald was more enthusiastic in her review for Melody Maker, writing, “There’s an endearing imperfection to this record, but it’s a calculation of style rather than incompetence of design. In places, the vocals quaver dangerously as out-of-focus love songs paint a picture of the kind of melancholia that’s impossible to forge.” The songs were compared to sepia-toned photographs.[28] Biba Kopf of NME said, “It would be silly to pretend the Go-Betweens are a sparkling fun experience – they are sometimes excessively sombre, verging on sobriety. They don’t make for the easiest of entries, but the pleasures and rewards are longer lasting.”[29] NME ranked Spring Hill Fair at number 11 among the “Albums of the Year” for 1984.[30] In 1996, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album an “A” rating.[26]

With this album, maybe like the classic Beatles debate between Lennon and McCartney, I felt myself becoming more engaged with McLennan’s tracks, rather than Foster’s.

Bookmarked The Highway and the Gap (daily.jstor.org)

North Americans tend to assume the Pan-American Highway was completed, that you can drive from North America down through the narrowing isthmus of Central America into South America. Try it, though, and you’ll dead-end in Panama.

A map of the Darien Gap via Wikimedia Commons
The border between Panama and Columbia is where the dream faltered. A route through El Tapón Darién, the Darién Gap, was never cleared and paved. To this day, writes Miller, “Panama and Colombia are the only neighboring nations on the globe without a single road link of even the most primitive kind.”

Matthew Wills discusses the history of the Pan-American Highway and inability to mark a path through the Darién Gap. For more on the Darién Gap, Jason Motlagh documents his experience of passing through the region.
Bookmarked Five thoughtful ways to approach artificial intelligence in schools (aare.edu.au)

The use of artificial intelligence in schools is the best example we have right now of what we call a sociotechnical controversy. As a result f of political interest in using policy and assessment to steer the work that is being done in schools, partly due to technological advances and partly due to…

Greg Thompson, Kalervo Gulson and Teresa Swist provide five recommendations when considering the use of artificial intelligence in schools:

Ultimately, we suggested five key recommendations.

  1. Time and resources have to be devoted to helping professionals understand, and scrutinise, the AI tools being used in their context. 
  2. There needs to be equity in infrastructure and institutional resourcing to enable all institutions the opportunity to engage with the AI tools they see as necessary. We cannot expect individual schools and teachers to overcome inequitable infrastructure such as funding, availability of internet and access to computational hardware. 
  3. Systems that are thinking of using AI tools in schools must prioritise Professional Learning opportunities well in advance of the rollout of any AI tools. This should be not be on top of an already time-poor 
  4. Opportunities need to be created to enable all stakeholders to participate in decision-making regarding AI in schools. It should never be something that is done to schools, but rather supports the work they are doing.
  5. Policy frameworks and communities need to be created that guide how to procure AI tools, when to use AI, how to use AI why schools might choose not to use AI in particular circumstances.