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Or, the Coffee Cantata. Need to find someone to arrange this for tenor. :)

Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering), BWV 211,[a] also known as the Coffee Cantata, is a secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it probably between 1732 and 1735. Although classified as a cantata, it is essentially a miniature comic opera. In a satirical commentary, the cantata amusingly tells of an addiction to coffee.

The work is scored lightly, for three solo voices (soprano, tenor, and bass), strings, flute, and continuo. Only in the final number, which bears the designation “coro” (usually indicating chorus), do all voices and instrumentalists participate. The use of the term “coro” was a common device in operatic works of the time; could Bach have been thinking of this as a miniature opera?

More than his other works, Bach’s Coffee Cantata presents a little drama. It begins with a recitative, rather than a concerted, melodic work, for solo tenor and continuo. The tenor, our narrator, appears only in this first and final numbers. He begins with the text:
Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht
und höret, was jetzund geschieht! Be quiet, stop chattering
And listen to what will happen now!

This serves the role of an overture, fanfare, or theatre bell; the narrator appears to be speaking to the invisible patrons in the coffee house, but his announcement helps quiet the audience and focus their attention on the drama about to unfold. The narrator then announces the arrival of Herr Schlendrian (solo bass) and his daughter, Lieschen (solo soprano). But the continuo serves as another character here, with its dotted rhythms (marked “con pompa” – with pomp) mocking Herr Schlendrian as he approaches the coffee house.

The drama unfolds between Schlendrian and his daughter. She will not obey him, he reveals in no. 2; in the following recitative (no. 3), we discover that the culprit, the vice causing her disobedience, is coffee, which fuses together two other genres with the solo aria: the trio sonata and the minuet. It is a trio sonata in that Bach includes two independent and equal melodic lines with continuo. The obbligato flute is completely independent of the soprano, sometimes standing entirely on its own (as at the beginning, the ending, and in transitions between verses); it never takes the deferential role of resorting to playing in parallel thirds or sixths with the voice. At the same time, this piece is a minuet (as identified by Little and Jenne, in Dean and the Music of J.S. Bach); that is, it is a medium tempo, triple meter movement which symbolizes elegance and nobility (the minuet may have started in the lower classes,but it eventually became strongly associated with the aristocracy). What is unusual, however, is that the phrases here are grouped in threes, where we are conditioned (by the Viennese Classicists, primarily) to expect four-measure phrases.



Aria Lieschen
Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
mellower than muscatel wine.
Coffee, coffee I must have,
and if someone wishes to give me a treat,
ah, then pour me out some coffee!


This is what happens when we start denuding language of its meaning. Let’s not follow the UK example of merrily trying to erase women from the public sphere.

Need a pithy pull quote? Try this:

“overall trans activism seems tie into a massive program of social engineering for a post-truth male supremacist society in the face of increased female empowerment (real empowerment) and feminist consciousness. so erasing the public knowledge and acknowledgment of biological sex is a serious goal.”

Oh the arguments I’ve had.  Even with people who know and recognize that science and the world of material fact is a thing -once you mention that biological sex is a fact- seem to embrace as much po-mo bullshittery as necessary to unsuccessfully defend the notion that men, if they *feel* hard enough, can be women. *facepalm*

So no, I will not subscribe to the social historical revisionism that transactivism is based on.  The inherent misogyny and homophobia involved with the current platform should make it untenable to any who spend the time to look at what TAism is actually about.



So no history, political analysis, or radical feminism today.  Today is for highlighting my semi-annual consternation with the limitations of ‘acceptable’ men’s bottom wear.

Spring is tentatively arriving in Canada’s northern-most provincial capital.  We are slowly emerging from the long dark of winter (no thanks to daylight savings time, as it is dark as of today, *again* when I wake up) and temperature are, ever so slowly, beginning to creep toward not hurting your face levels.  For instance, today the high will be a balmy +2 degrees centigrade.

The hell that is winter-weather enforced trouser wearing is almost over.  But at the same time, I would like to avoid situations like this:

   Well not really, but that cartoon is too good not to share. :) Blinding people with the pale luminescence of my legs is secondary however to the comfort concerns involved. Daily spring temperatures in edmonton The Great White North have an exceedingly wide temperature range depending on whether the sun happens to be out or not.  Exhibit A:

Yeah, so a high of plus 4, but then -12 as a low, then +2 as high then -8 as low.  Climactic variability is quite problematic, as +4 degrees centigrade is clearly shorts weather, but -12 degrees centigrade clearly, is not (stop laughing/cringing right now equatorial friends this is warm weather).

So what is one to do while locked into the strict trouser/shorts binary?  I’m more than ready to give the heave ho to long pants, but I’m also a big fan of not freezing my tuckus off in the cold mornings that typify the Edmonton spring cycle.

The 3/4 pant are not part yet a part of the mainstream male lexicon, and the tights + shorts option seems to be in a very specific context of people who enjoy torturing themselves by running at obscenely early in the morning, but not something one would want to teach in outside a of non physical education setting.

My usual solution, is to dress for the expected high temperature and let things fall as they may.  But I can’t help but think that there must be a more elegant solution to my conundrum.


I’m reassured with the knowledge that a small legion of smart people are actively planning the demise of civilization and the majority of human life here on Earth.  I’m thinking that these people need to be called the Fermi Corps because they are actively trying to prove Fermi’s Paradox and associated theory theory to be correct.  Rajan Menon writes on Tom’s Dispatch on how our governments are attempting to normalize and rationalize nuclear solutions that spell the end of our world.

What is scary (on top of the base amount of scary) is how insular this report (NPR) seems to be.

“Instead, [the Nuclear Posture Review] it makes an elaborate case for a massive expansion and “modernization” of what’s already the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal (6,800 warheads versus 7,000 for Russia) so that an American commander-in-chief has a “diverse set of nuclear capabilities that provide… flexibility to tailor the approach to deterring one or more potential adversaries in different circumstances.”

The NPR insists that future presidents must have advanced “low-yield” or “useable” nuclear weapons to wield for limited, selective strikes.  The stated goal: to convince adversaries of the foolishness of threatening or, for that matter, launching their own limited strikes against the American nuclear arsenal in hopes of extracting “concessions” from us.  This is where Strangelovian logic and nuclear absurdity take over.  What state in its right mind would launch such an attack, leaving the bulk of the U.S. strategic nuclear force, some 1,550 deployed warheads, intact?  On that, the NPR offers no enlightenment.

You don’t have to be an acolyte of the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz or have heard about his concept of “friction” to know that even the best-laid plans in wartime are regularly shredded.  Concepts like limited nuclear war and nuclear blackmail may be fun to kick around in war-college seminars.  Trying them out in the real world, though, could produce disaster.  This ought to be self-evident, but to the authors of the NPR it’s not.  They portray Russia and China as wild-eyed gamblers with an unbounded affinity for risk-taking.

The document gets even loopier.  It seeks to provide the commander-in-chief with nuclear options for repelling non-nuclear attacks against the United States, or even its allies.  Presidents, insists the document, require “a range of flexible nuclear capabilities,” so that adversaries will never doubt that “we will defeat non-nuclear attacks.”   Here’s the problem, though: were Washington to cross that nuclear Rubicon and launch a “limited” strike during a conventional war, it would enter a true terra incognita.  The United States did, of course, drop two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities in August 1945, but that country lacked the means to respond in kind.  

However, Russia and China, the principal adversaries the NPR has in mind (though North Korea gets mentioned as well), do have just those means at hand to strike back.  So when it comes to using nuclear weapons selectively, its authors quickly find themselves splashing about in a sea of bizarre speculation.  They blithely assume that other countries will behave precisely as American military strategists (or an American president) might ideally expect them to and so will interpret the nuclear “message” of a limited strike (and its thousands of casualties) exactly as intended.  Even with the aid of game theory, war games, and scenario building — tools beloved by war planners — there’s no way to know where the road marked “nuclear flexibility” actually leads.  We’ve never been on it before.  There isn’t a map.  All that exists are untested assumptions that already look shaky.”

Our demise as a species is being laid out, piecemeal, by people who should know better.  Realistically the only ‘nuclear button’ needed by the the ‘great powers’ is one that is labelled “The End of All Civilization” because there are no winners in a nuclear exchange.

It might even be better just to have a button that incinerates one’s own country and civilian population, as a quick (relatively quick-ish) nuclear conflagration seems to be a more humanitarian endpoint than the slow starvation and decent into chaos that is promised with nuclear winter.

Sounds a bit macabre, I realize, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t prefer the nuclear winter option, as my mad blogging skillz and boff0 teaching portfolio have no utility in any sort of post apocalyptic  scenario.

Your handy-dandy guide to religious reasoning…

We’ve had a few pieces on the disconnect between the public and the political process.  This essay by Richard D. Wolff looks to answering the question why, despite there being two different political parties in the US, that the overall arc of the US body politic maintains the same general direction.


“In short, “democracy” has been applied to societies whose political/residential sphere was at least formally democratic but whose economic sphere was decidedly not.

The ideological rigidity of most brands of anti-statism across US history served nicely to keep the focus forever on state/public versus individual/private in thinking and acting about social change. Democracy was redefined in practical terms as the liberty of the individual/private from the intrusion of the state/public. The democratic quality of the individual/private enterprise – the central structure of the economy – was exempted from analysis or even from view in terms of its structural incompatibility with democracy. Legalistic equations of capitalist corporations with individual personhood also helped to distract attention away from the undemocratic structure of the corporation. Likewise, the US government’s commitment to a “democratic foreign policy” fostered the reproduction elsewhere of the same undemocratic economic structure that characterized the US.

The right wing of US politics has long understood and responded to social movements for equality and democracy as threats to capitalism. Its leaders built their coalitions by working to mobilize public opinion against those movements as threats to the “American way of life.” It built its ideology on the notion that democracy meant a state kept from intruding on the lives and activities of persons and enterprises rendered as equivalently “individuals.” Equality to them meant equality of opportunity, not outcomes: and then only if opportunity was strictly disconnected from the wealth, income and social position each individual was born into.

The left wing of US politics has always tried hard to sustain the notion that capitalism was not only compatible with egalitarianism and democracy. It would also be strengthened, not threatened, by moving capitalist society closer to equality and democracy. In practical terms it contested against the right wing by insisting that the mass of people – the workers in capitalist enterprises – would become disaffected from and disloyal to capitalism if it indulged its anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies. Capitalism, it argued and argues, will be strengthened not threatened by less inequality and more democracy.

Both left and right – and their expressions in the leaderships of the Republican and Democratic Parties – live in fear, conscious or otherwise, that the mass of people, the working class, will become disaffected from capitalism. “Populist” is the currently popular epithet that expresses this fear.  Both parties contest for the support of the leaders of capitalism – major shareholders and the corporate boards of directors they select – by offering their alternative strategies for avoiding, controlling, or safely channeling mass disaffection with capitalism.”

Want to know moar, citizen? Check out Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky.

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