Read any Good Books Lately (#17) – Anthony Grey

Anthony Grey OBE (born 5 July 1938) is a British journalist and author. As a journalist for Reuters he was imprisoned by the Chinese government for 27 months from 1967 to 1969.  He has written a series of historical novels and non-fiction books, including several relating to his detention.  Three of his most successful novels are Peking, Saigon, and Tokyo Bay.

Peking: An Epic Novel of Twentieth-Century China (1982)

“This epic novel of a wide-eyed missionary and a rebellious woman thrust into China’s Communist revolution is “an excellent read, panoramic in scope” (Financial Times).

In 1931, young English-born missionary Jakob Kellner brings all the crusading passion of his untried Christian faith to a China racked by famine and bloody civil war. He burns to save the world’s largest nation from Communism.

But when he is swept along on the cold, unforgiving Long March, Jakob becomes entangled with Mei-ling, a beautiful and fervent revolutionary. Soon, powerful new emotions challenge and reshape his faith—and entrap him forever in the vast country’s tortured destiny.

Once held hostage by Red Guards in Peking for more than two years, author Anthony Grey traces the path of China’s Communist party from its covert inception through purge and revolution. He crafts a portrait of China as a land of great beauty and harshness—of triumph and tragedy—in a sweeping narrative, rich in historical and cultural revelations” …… Amazon books

Saigon: An Epic Novel of Vietnam (1988)

“An epic saga of love, blood, and destiny in twentieth-century Vietnam: “This superb novel could well be the War and Peace of our age” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Joseph Sherman first visits Saigon—the capital of French colonial Cochin-China—as a young man on his father’s hunting trip in 1925. But the exotic land lures him back again and again as a traveler, soldier, and reporter. He returns because of his fascination for the enchanting city—and for Lan, a mandarin’s daughter he cannot forget.

Over five decades Joseph’s life becomes enmeshed with the political intrigues of two of Saigon’s most influential families, the French colonist Devrauxs, and the native Trans. In this sweeping saga of tragedy and triumph, Joseph witnesses Vietnam’s turbulent, war-torn fate. He is there when millions of coolies rise against the French, and during their bloody last stand at Dien Bien Phu. And he sees US military “advisors” fire their first shots in America’s hopeless war against the Communist revolution.

A story of adventure, love, war, and political power, Saigon presents an enthralling and enlightening depiction of twentieth-century Vietnam.”  …….. Amazon Books

Tokyo Bay: A Novel of Japan (1996)

“This is a thrilling novel of the West’s first journeys to Japan from “a master storyteller” and the acclaimed author of Saigon and Peking (The Kansas City Star).

A fleet of ships billowing black smoke steam past Japan’s tributary islands in July 1853, setting off panic among a people who have been sealed off from the rest of the world for over two hundred years. Commodore Matthew Perry has arrived, sent by the US president to open Japan to American ships and trade—by force, if necessary.

Navy lieutenant Robert Eden, an idealistic New Englander, immediately recognizes that the colonial intentions of his countrymen will ignite a violent conflict with the feudal, sword-wielding samurai. Inspired to pursue peace, he jumps ship and finds himself plunged into a world of frightful and noble warriors, artfully exotic geishas, and a distraught populace who view the Americans as monsters.

Eden tries to bridge the divide between two proud, unyielding cultures in the name of morality, but he may not survive to see the lasting harmony he hopes to create.” ….. Amazon Books.

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I have read both Peking and Saigon and I can recommend both without  hesitation or reservation. The third novel,  Tokyo Bay is on my must read list. I like historical novels. I suppose it is because of an urge for self improvement. So if it is a good read and I feel that I have learnt something relevant then I am more than happy to enjoy the experience and pass on a recommendation. Both of these novels fall into that category.  Of the two Saigon, for me, is the most rewarding. I have lived through a significant portion of the period portrayed in the  novel. The Vietnam War was a major political event of my youth. I remember the conscription of my buddies into the army. Many of my friends were lucky to survive the war unharmed.  Outside of Australia few people are aware of Australia’s role in the war and the political turmoil and demonstrations associated with the military conscription of Australian youth to fight a war that most Australians did not understand. The American and Vietnamese military causalities were high and as a nation Vietnam was devastated at every level.  America was humiliated and still bears the scars this foolish military and political venture. Every day this horror story was played out before ours eyes on TV and in the newspapers.  Anthony Grey’s novel of the era reflects the issues and emotions of the day. In retrospect it is hard to realize that while I was living a fairly uneventful life in Sydney Australia there was this horror show going on all around us.

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Some afterthoughts about the novels. America’s involvement in China and Vietnam demonstrate the uncanny ability the Americans have of “backing the wrong horse”. Despite their revolutionary history, espousal of democratic ideals and ample opportunities to do the “right thing”  the USA seem to be hell bent on making bad decisions. The history of American foreign policy is littered with toppled democratic regimes and gross interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. Here is a short list – Overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy; Annexation of the Philippines; Political interference in Central America; The 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government; Support for the Shah of Iran; The fall of the Allende government in Chile; The war on the Taliban; and the list just goes on and on. Of course there were success stories. World War II had some good outcomes even if the US was more or less forced to do the right thing. I think Winston Churchill said something like “the Americans will do the right thing, eventually”.

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Postscript:

Also well worth reading is Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam : A History – The First Complete Account of Vietnam at War

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YouTube Picks (#39) – Celtic Stories

Songs. There millions of songs out there. There are songs of love and songs of angst. There are political songs and protest songs. Nostalgic songs, songs of humor,  songs of homesickness, confessional songs and songs about every nuance of the human condition imaginable. For me the most successful songs are those that tell a story and, in my opinion, the most successful songs and song writers are the ones that tell memorable stories. I call them narrative songs and here are a couple of examples. These two performers are musicians of exceptional talent in the Celtic tradition. The accompanying instrument is the Irish Bouzouki. This instrument is a relative newcomer to traditional Irish Music scene. Irish musicians traveling in Easter Europe in the mid sixties became enamored with the Greek Bouzouki and  music from the Balkans. The instrument, and elements of Balkan music, started showing up on the traditional scene. To accommodate the local demand British and Irish Luthiers turned their hand to building instruments and in doing so they made changes to the Greek instrument by building them with a flat back and experimenting with the tuning systems. What emerged at the end of this process was the Irish Bouzouki. Andy Irvine is one of the legends of modern traditional Irish music and was  one of the first traditionally inspired musicians to adopt the Irish Bouzouki. Fortunately for us here in Cranbrook we got to hear Andy perform at the Studio Stage Door way back in the 1990s. The Close Shave is a reworking of one of those traditional songs that relates the misadventures of sailor home from the sea and out on the town.

Daoiri Farrell  is one of the younger musicians that has vitalized the modern Irish music scene. He spent ten years working as an electrician before deciding to pursue his interest in music full-time. He returned to education to gain a Ceoltóir Diploma in Irish Music Performance at Ballfermot College. During this time he released his first album The First Turn in 2009. Farrell continued in education with studies in Applied Music at Dundalk’s Institute of Technology followed followed by an MA in Music Performance at the World Academy of Music in the University of Limerick.

After completing his MA, he returned to touring and recording. He won the All Ireland Champion Singer award at the 2013 Feadh Cheoil. Since 2013, Farrell has also toured as part of the group Four Winds. In 2015, the group won the Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections and released their debut album.

In both of these songs the Bouzouki adds a flavor to the music that is unavailable with conventional guitar accompaniments. The rhythm is bouncy and driving and there is lots of neat cross picking and counter melodies.

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Back Country

If you live in the interior of British Columbia, Canada, then everything just beyond your back yard fence is “Back Country”. In the summer if you step off any back country road you are surrounded by nothing but magnificent forests and spectacular mountains and in the winter, piles and piles of deep snow. It is a playground for hikers, runners, climbers  and cyclists in the summer and in the winter, deep powder nirvana for skiers and snowboarders.  The end result is that for us British Columbians we have a preconceived notion of what “Back Country” and “Back Country recreation” looks like. In Scotland those notions are turned completely on their head. For starters all land in Scotland is owned by someone. It’s an historical thing that dates dates way back to the old Clan system and earlier. So, technically by indulging in back country pursuits in Scotland you would be trespassing but it’s not really like that. There is the notion of common usage and access that has been re-enforced in recent years by legislation. So provided you adhere to some simple basic rules  there is a “Freedom to Roam” where you will. But given that, these videos would lead us to believe that “Scottish Back Country recreation” requires stamina and dedication that is a bit beyond the Canadian experience.

So here are a couple of videos about Scottish Back Country…….. without a helicopter in sight and with the added bonus of some haunting music.

It is summer time in this following video it is an out right lie. There is never that much sunshine on the Isle of Skye. I’ve been there so take my word for it. But, with the right amount of Drambuie,  the spectacular scenery can be a very pleasurable experience.

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POSTSCRIPT:

These  two videos hit my nostalgia buttons big time. My wife took me to Scotland in the early 1970s to meet her family. This was followed up by a number of family trips in the  mid to late 1970s. During the trips we did some touring around the highlands and some hiking through some of pretty spectacular country. We did a trip to the Isle of Skye and my memories include learning that in the north the “wee free church” of Scotland locks down the entire countryside on Sunday. People go to church twice a day, spend time praying and it is impossible to even get a meal until things return to normal on Monday. I remember being cold. Coming from Canada I didn’t think it would be possible to actually feel the  cold like I felt on the Isle of Skye. We were staying in a youth hostel at Uig and every evening it required a walk down the road to a pub for a Drambuie to get a “wee heat” before going off to bed.

Hiking in Scotland tends to be a soggy affair. Gum boots are more useful than hiking boots.    

I did a number of solo trips including a a ridge walk on the Five Sisters of Kintail plus a hike through Glenn Afric.

Scotland is a very special place. Ahh ………. The lost days of our youth.

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Vaccines – The Verdict is in.

First of all, a definition: “A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity for a particular infectious disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future. Vaccines can be prophylactic (to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or “wild” pathogen), or therapeutic (to fight a disease that has already occurred, such as cancer)”….. Wikipedia

And a little history: “The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Edward Jenner (who both developed the concept of vaccines and created the first vaccine) to denote cowpox. He used the phrase in 1798 for the long title of his Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae Known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against Smallpox. In 1881, to honor Jenner, Louis Pasteur proposed that the terms should be extended to cover the new protective inoculations then being developed.”  …Wikipedia

How they work: There is overwhelming scientific consensus that vaccines are a very safe and effective way to fight and eradicate infectious diseases. The immune system recognizes vaccine agents as foreign, destroys them, and “remembers” them. When the virulent version of an agent is encountered, the body recognizes the protein coat on the virus, and thus is prepared to respond, by first neutralizing the target agent before it can enter cells, and secondly by recognizing and destroying infected cells before that agent can multiply to vast numbers.”……..  Wikipedia

A List of Vaccines:

  • Adenovirus
  • Anthrax
  • Cholera
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus Influenza
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Seasonal Influenza
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Rabies
  • Rotovirus
  • Rubella
  • Shingles
  • Smallpox
  • Tetanus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Varicella
  • Yellow Fever

Centers for Disase Control and Prevention, recommends routine vaccination of children against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Chickenpox, Rotovirus, Influenza, Meningococcal Disease and Pneumonia. When it comes to death and disease the military knows the score. On the battlefield the military suffer more casualties from disease than from bullets, bombs and enemy activities. Vaccines are an essential tool in maintaining healthy, fit fighting units.

Wars, Disease and Natural Disasters

That’s the way it was –…….. medical skills were in great demand as a succession of diseases – influenza, mumps, whooping cough, scarlet fever, measles, smallpox and cholera ravaged the Canadian North-West between 1830 and 1850. Influenza epidemics occurred six times in that twenty year period. The largest toil was on women, because they were the main care givers, and on the children and elderly because they were the most venerable. In 1842 to 1843, a whooping cough epidemic was immediately followed by Scarlet Fever…… The outbreak was  followed by another fever in 1844, and many more died from the unnamed scourge. Mortality rates from Measles epidemic of 1846-1847 was very high and complications from the disease added to the heavy loss of life. In 1846, in the Red River Valley, three epidemics hit in quick succession – influenza, measles and cholera.” ………. from Jean Teillet’s The North-West is Our Mother (A History of the Metis Natkion ).    As I said that’s the way it was. Of course improvements to basic hygiene and sanitation has had an impact but the advances in vaccines and vaccination also had a large positive effect on the health in the Canadian North-West and across the world. By the time my generation came to the fore in the mid to late twentieth century most of the “water-borne ” and childhood diseases in the modern world had been largely defeated. Within my life time the following major medical successes were achieved.

  • Smallpox – The world wide eradication of Smallpox, largely by vaccination in the late 20th century, is one of the major triumphs of modern medicine. The disease has a mortality rate of around 30% in adults and higher in babies. Often those who survived had extensive scaring of their skin, and some were left blind, The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977, and the WHO certified the global eradication of the disease in 1980. Smallpox outbreaks have occurred though out recorded history and is one of the diseases responsible for the decimation of native populations in the new world. The disease is responsible for 300  million deaths in the 20th century and as late as 1967 fifteen million cases were occurring each year. Smallpox is one of two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest in 2011. Rinderpest is a devastating viral infection that infects livestock.
  • Polio – Poliomyelitis, commonly shortened to polio, is an infectious disease caused by the polio virus. Epidemics of the disease have occurred though out modern history and a its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio would paralyze or kill over half a million people worldwide every year. The development of two polio vaccines has eliminated wild poliomyelitis in all but two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan). This is another stunning success for vaccines. In my youth parents lived in fear of the polio virus infecting their children.
  • Rubella also known as German measles or three-day measles, is an infection caused by the rubella virus. This disease, while very contagious,  is often mild with half of people not realizing that they are infected. It is a common infection in many parts of the world . Rubella. In the early days of medicine it was not considered a particularly toxic infection. However, in 1940, following a widespread epidemic of rubella in Australia the ophthalmologist Norman McAllister Gregg found 78 cases of congenital cataracts in infants and 68 of them were born to mothers who had caught rubella in early pregnancy. He described a variety of problems now known as Cogenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) and noticed that the earlier the mother was infected, the worse the damage was. CRS is the main reason a vaccine for rubella was developed. There was a pandemic of rubella between 1962 and 1965, starting in Europe and spreading to the United States. In the years 1964–65, the United States had an estimated 12.5 million rubella cases. This led to 11,000 miscarriages or therapeutic abortions and 20,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome. Of these, 2,100 died as neonates, 12,000 were deaf, 3,580 were blind, and 1,800 were intellectually disabled. In New York alone, CRS affected 1% of all births.The virus was isolated in tissue culture in 1962 by two separate groups led by physicians Paul Douglas Parkman and Thomas  Huckle Weller. In 1969, a live attenuated virus vaccine was licensed.In the early 1970s, a triple vaccine containing attenuated measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) viruses was introduced. By 2006, confirmed cases in the Americas had dropped below 3000 a year. Rates of disease have decreased in many areas as a result of vaccination.There are ongoing efforts to eliminate the disease globally. In April 2015 the WHO declared the Americas free of rubella transmission. However, a 2007 outbreak in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile pushed the cases to 13,000 that year. However, due to misinformation and aggressive anti-vaccination campaigns in recent years immunization rates have dropped and there have been some serious outbreaks in the USA. If the immunization rates can be increased there is still a possibility that the virus can be eradicated.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). Most of us can add two and two and come up with four. Very few of us can come up with reasons why in certain situations 2+2 = 4. In disease situations epidemiologists are the folks that come up with the exact reasons why 2+2=4. Back in the day epidemiologists noted that certain population groups had low incidences of cervical cancer. On closer investigation they determined that the low incidence was associated with low levels of sexual activity, specifically that turned out to be with women in religious orders.  From that premise it was logical to come to the conclusion that a sexually transmitted infectious agent could be responsible for  cervical cancer. Eventually numerous strains of human papillomavirus were identified as the causative agent of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States and eventually a vaccine was developed to combat the virus and the associated diseases. Some health effects caused by HPV can be prevented by the HPV vaccines. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer  are associated with HPV infection, with two types, HPV16 and HPV18, present in 70% of cases.  It is estimated that the vaccines may prevent 70% of cervical cancer, 80% of anal cancer, 60% of  vaginal cancer, 40% of vulvar cancer   and possibly some mouth cancer, they additionally prevent some genital warts, with the quadrivalent and nonavalent vaccines that protect against HPV types HPV-6 and HPV-11 providing greater protection. The vaccine was first developed by the University of Queensland in Australia. The first HPV vaccine became available in 2006. As of 2017, 71 countries include it in their routine vaccinations, at least for girls. It is on the WHO list of essential medicines.  A number of countries have implemented nation wide vaccination programs and the African country Rwanda has an ambitious target of eliminating cervical cancer nation wide with an aggressive immunization program.

The eradication of disease and the development of vaccines continues. The current big challenge is the development and distribution of a vaccine for the Covid -19 virus. The challenge “hit the pavement” in early January and because of the spectacular applications of molecular biology to the development of  Messenger RNA vaccines the possibility of a world wide roll out of a massive immunization program is about to be realized.

However, despite all the past successes and the current positive indicators the battle is far from over. The conspiracy theorists and sceptics are in full throttle with some of the most ridiculous assertions being bandied about. “Vaccines don’t work”, “Vaccines kill more people than they save”, “Covid pandemic is a fraud , it doesn’t exist”, “it’s a plot to undermine persoanl freedoms and control the population”, “It’s big pharmacy companies out to generate massive profits” and so on…………

When the denials come to the surface remember the conspiracy play book and act and think accordingly.

In brief, the six principal plays in the conspiracy arsenal playbook are:

  1. Doubt the Science eg the doubts about climate change.
  2. Question Scientists’ Motives and Integrity eg They are only in it for the money and the prestige
  3. Magnify Disagreements among Scientists and Cite Gadflies as Authorities. eg look how long it took to defeat the tobacco companies in their denial of the link between smoking and cancer.
  4. Exaggerate Potential Harm eg vaccines kill more people than they save or vaccines cause autism. Both claims are blatantly false.
  5. Appeal to Personal Freedom, The wearing of a cloth mask infringes on my personal freedom to infect my neighbor.
  6. Reject Whatever Would Repudiate A Key Philosophy eg If I believe in the literal interpretation of the bible then evolution is not possible. On that note I would like to add there is confusion between theory and facts. The Theory of Natural Selection is a theory and has not been proven and one can be free to acknowledge or reject the premise of the theory. On the other hand evolution is a fact based on massive amounts of hard scientific data and must be held to be true.

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SO IN SUMMARY – THE VERDICT IS IN. HISTORICALLY VACCINES HAVE PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE AND SAFE AND WE WOULD BE FOOLS TO REJECT THEM.

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Clive Carroll – Musician

Every father dreads the day his beautiful number one daughter mentions that she is dating a musician. Of course daddy translates that into a vision of an unemployable youth with attitude, tattoos and enough rings and piercings to set off a metal detector at the local airport. So when the “meet and greet the family” day finally comes around  and the young man turns out to look “normal” and has a  musical vocabulary greater than three chords then you can hear a sigh of relief that goes almost all the way around the world. If the guest of honor should prove to be Clive Carroll then all daddy’s prayers will have been answered.

Who is Clive Carroll? He is a normal looking guy who plays acoustic guitar at a level that  most of us can only hope to attain in our dreams. He is one of the very few guitarists equally adept at playing either steel string or nylon strung instruments and has a repertoire that crosses all genres.

About - CLIVE CARROLL

“Born in England in 1975, Clive began his musical journey in Chelmsford, Essex.  His parents had a taste for American country and old time music and it wasn’t long before Clive was playing in the family band on a homemade banjo.  By his early teens, guitar in hand, Clive was traversing the worlds of soul, pop, funk, and traditional Irish music, balancing his affinity for Slayer with the etudes of Tárrega.  This breadth of musical curiosity was to become one of his strengths; even as a child Clive was as comfortable accompanying a group of folk singers as he was jamming along to Nirvana or performing standards with the Essex Youth Orchestra.

Clive went on to earn a 1st Class Honors Degree in Composition and Guitar from the famed Trinity College of Music in London, all the while balancing his classical work with forays into the world of the steel string guitar.  By the time he graduated from Trinity, Clive had not only penned orchestral works, he had written an album’s worth of solo acoustic guitar music.  A chance meeting with English guitar legend John Renbourn proved the catalyst for Clive’s debut album, “Sixth Sense”, which Renbourn deemed “a milestone in the journey of the steel-string guitar”.  He subsequently took Clive on the road with him and the pair toured North America and Europe together, launching Clive’s solo performing career.
Since then, Clive has established himself as one of the world’s premier acoustic guitar players.  He has toured across Europe, Australia, the Middle East and North America, garnering praise for his sublime performances of everything from 16th and 17th century lute music to Jazz standards, Blues, Irish reels and his own groundbreaking compositions.  Lauded guitarist Tommy Emmanuel has also taken Clive on the road, and similar nods to Clive’s musicianship have been given by everyone from classical guitarist John Williams to Madonna, Guy Ritchie, Michelin award-winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, and the Sultanate of Oman.
To date, Clive has released four solo albums; “Sixth Sense”, “The Red Guitar” (which Tommy Emmanuel cites as one of his desert island discs!), “Life in Color” and “The Furthest Tree”.  Clive has also written music for television and film, most notably composing the music for the film “Driving Lessons”, which features Julie Walters and Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame.
Clive newest CD, “The Furthest Tree”, was released in May 2016 and is already being hailed as some of his finest work to date.”  ———- from Clive Carroll’s website.

I first became aware of his music when I came across a video performance included in one of Roger Bucknall’s FYLDE NEWSLETTER (check it out on the web). For those who don’t know, Roger is one of Britain’s top Luthiers. He builds magnificent acoustic instruments played by some of the world’s top acoustic musicians.

So to spread the word of Clive’s musical brilliance I am including a number of his performances, interviews and tutorials in this blog.

This is an interview where he recalls the guitar playing of the British folk guitarist John Renbourn.

Another interview talking about tunings ……….

Some Celtic grooves……..

Mississippi Blues ……..  Clive has a number of versions of this tune on YouTube and each one is different. He complains that on this version it gets a little muddy in  places (???). He’s got to be kidding, right?

Pop music  workshop …….. And I love Her So…… a Pat Metheny arrangement.This is so pretty ……..

The Abbott’s Hymn and In the Deep (John Renbourn)

An original piece Eliza’s Eyes using the C9 tuning CGCGCD (parts 1 and 2)

 

Country piece …….. a la Jerry Reed

Brazilian (nylon string) – Luis Bonfa’s classic Uma Prece. This is Clive’s transcription from the original recording and he more than nails it. I am very familiar with the original recording and Clive outshines the original.

And now for some classical music on steel strings .……..

And now from the classical guitar repertoire …. 5 Preludes by the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. I doubt there is another “steel string folk guitarist” who could pull this off as well as Clive.

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Ever since I heard the English guitarist  Martin Simpson play at the Stage Door in Cranbrook so many, many years ago Martin has been my number one inspiration for playing the guitar and the exploration of folk music. I know a lot of musicians do not care for his singing but I believe he comes closest to achieving an authentic folk feel. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity he explores it always comes out being very real. As for guitar playing his technique is unbelievably clean and he has a sound to die for. Well, in the acoustic guitar department Martin will just have to move over a little and make room for Clive Carroll. I have included probably too many examples of what he has to offer and I know it’s a lot to digest but he is such a fabulous player with such an unbelievable sound it is well worth the effort to explore his world.

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The Epoch Times – Be Warned

A sample edition of The Epoch Times showed up in my mail box today. I have also noticed some other aggressive promotions recently . Some months back I did some preliminary research on the publication and I came to the conclusion this is another conspiracy publication right up there with  the Qanon and Bereitbart News.

If you still have reservations about my conclusions read the wikipedia  entry that I have posted below…….

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“The Epoch Times is a far-right[12] international multi-language newspaper and media company affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement, based in the United States.[17] The newspaper is part of the Epoch Media Group, which also operates New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television.[18] The Epoch Times has websites in 35 countries[19] but is blocked in mainland China.[19]

The Epoch Times opposes the Chinese Communist Party,[20] and promotes far-right politicians in Europe,[3][5] and backs President Donald Trump in the U.S.;[21] a 2019 report by NBC News showed it to be the second-largest funder of pro-Trump Facebook advertising after the Trump campaign.[18][22][23] The Epoch Media Group’s news sites and YouTube channels have spread conspiracy theories such as QAnon and anti-vaccination propaganda.[18][24][25] The organization frequently promotes other Falun Gong affiliated groups, such as the performing arts company, Shen Yun.[14][21]

History

The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by John Tang and other Chinese Americans affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement.[26] Tang was a graduate student in Georgia at the time; he began the newspaper in his basement.[21] The founders said they were responding to censorship inside China and a lack of international understanding about the Chinese government’s repression of Falun Gong.[27][28] In May 2000, the paper was first published in the Chinese language in New York, with the web launch in August 2000.[29]

By 2003, The Epoch Times website and group of newspapers had grown into one of the largest Chinese-language news sites and newspaper groups outside China, with local editions in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and major Western European countries.[30] The first English edition launched online in 2003, followed by the New York print edition in 2004.[29]

The newspaper sources its journalists from staff living in the West.[31][32][33]

Reports by Reporters Without Borders in 2019 and the Hoover Institution in 2018 called The Epoch Times one of the few Chinese-language media outlets in the United States independent from China’s control or influence.[34][35]

Finances

According to NBC News, “little is publicly known about the precise ownership, origins or influences of The Epoch Times,” and it is loosely organized into several regional tax free non-profits, under the umbrella of the Epoch Media Group, together with New Tang Dynasty Television.[18][21]

The newspaper’s revenue has increased rapidly in recent years, from $3.8 million in 2016 to $8.1 million in 2017 (with spending of $7.2 million) and $12.4 million in 2018.[36] Tax documents of the Epoch Media Group indicated that between 2012 and 2016, the group received $900,000 from a principal at Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund led by the conservative political donor Robert Mercer.[37] Chris Kitze, a former NBC executive and creator of the fake news website Before It’s News who also manages a cryptocurrency hedge fund, joined the paper’s board as vice president in 2017.[36]

A 2020 report in The New York Times called The Epoch Times‘ recent wealth “something of a mystery.” Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News who produced a documentary with NTD, said “I’d give them a number” on a project budget and “they’d come back and say, ‘We’re good for that number.'” Former employees say they were told The Epoch Times is financed by subscriptions, ads and donations from wealthy Falun Gong practitioners.[21]

Distribution

The Epoch Times says it hosts websites in 21 languages and 35 countries, and has print editions in eight languages: Chinese, English, Spanish, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian.[19]In April 2019, videos and ads from the Epoch Media Group including The Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty (NTD) totaled 3 billion views on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, according to the analytics company Tubular. That ranked it 11th among all video creators, and ahead of any other traditional news publisher, according to NBC News.[18]

Censorship

In some cases The Epoch Times operates in a hostile overseas environment, in which “overseas Chinese media companies choosing to remain independent or publish non-approved content become the targets of an aggressive campaign of elimination or control.”[38] In one instance Chinese diplomatic officials made threats against media for reporting Falun Gong-related content; in other cases, advertisers and distributors have been threatened not to support The Epoch Times. Communist Party authorities have been accused of resorting to “militant methods” against the newspaper and its staff, including attacking staff and destroying computer equipment.[38]

According to a Reporters Without Borders report, Epoch’s chief technical officer, Li Yuan, was attacked and beaten in his Atlanta, Georgia, home on February 8, 2006, by suspected Chinese government agents who took his two laptops.[34]

In 2006, the International Federation of Journalists criticized what it called a “dirty war” against The Epoch Times, citing incidents such as The Epoch Times‘s Hong Kong printing plant being broken into and damaged by unidentified men, and Epoch’s offices in Sydney and Toronto receiving suspicious mail envelopes suspected of containing toxic materials. The IFJ also noted incidences of Epoch Times staff and advertisers being intimidated, and newspapers being confiscated, in what it characterized as “a vicious witch-hunt aimed at crushing the voice of dissent.”[39]

The newspaper was briefly banned from Malaysia after coming under reported pressure by the Chinese Communist Party.[40]

In 2016, the newspaper was removed from the pharmacy of Australian National University, after the president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association confronted the pharmacist and threw out the papers. The incident drew national media coverage over questions of Chinese government sponsored overseas student organizations.[41][42]

In November 2019, Reporters Without Borders called on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to protect press freedoms after The Epoch Times said four masked arsonists with batons had damaged its printing press.[43]

Relationship to Falun Gong

In 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that “three new U.S.-based, Chinese-language media outlets that provide provocative reporting about the Communist Party, government oppression and social unrest in China (namely The Epoch Times, Sound of Hope, and NTDTV) have ties to the Falun Gong spiritual movement.” When interviewed, executives at each outlet claimed they did not represent the Falun Gong movement as a whole.[20]

Associated Press reporter Nahal Toosi wrote in 2006 that it is “technically inaccurate” to say that Falun Gong owns The Epoch Times, although many of the newspaper’s staffers are Falun Gong practitioners.[44] Toosi noted “many observers” have said Falun Gong uses the newspaper for its public relations campaigns, and the paper is connected with the group and carries sympathetic coverage of it.[44][45][46][40][47]

The English Epoch Times chair Stephen Gregory denied in 2006 that Epoch Times is directly connected to Falun Gong.[44] Independent reporters in the US repeatedly confirm the connection.[18][21]

In 2003 sociologist Yuezhi Zhao wrote that the paper “displays an indisputable ideological and organizational affinity with Falun Gong” and that it strongly emphasizes negative portrayals of the Chinese government and positive portrayals of Falun Gong. Per Zhao, Epoch portrays itself as neutral, independent, and public-interest oriented.[30]

Nick Couldry and James Curran wrote in 2003 that the paper represents a “major step in the evolution of Falun Gong-related alternative media”, and may be part of a de facto media alliance with democracy activists in exile.[48]

Canadian scholar Clement Tong wrote[45][49][50][51][52] The Epoch Times “operates as a mouthpiece for” Falun Gong without an official statement of affiliation with the movement.[50]

In 2008, David Ownby, director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Université de Montréal and the author of Falun Gong and the Future of China, said the newspaper is set up by Falun Gong practitioners with their own money.[53] He described The Epoch Times as wishing to be taken seriously as a global newspaper rather than being judged on the basis of its strong association with Falun Gong.[53][54] He wrote: “Epoch Times is a newspaper with a mission, that of reporting on issues bearing on human rights throughout the world, which allows for considerable focus on China and Falun Gong.”[55]

In 2009, Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, appeared at the newspaper’s headquarters in Manhattan and called for the expansion of The Epoch Times to “become regular media.”[18] Li has referred to The Epoch Times as “our media”, along with the NTD digital production company and the Shen Yun dance troupe.[18][56] Two former employees said that top editors traveled to meet with Li at Falun Gong’s compound, Dragon Springs, where Li weighed in on editorial and strategic decisions; The Epoch Times denied that a meeting took place.[21]

Former employees of The Epoch Times have noted the involvement of Falun Gong practitioners in the management and editorial process.[18] Three anonymous former employees said Epoch Times workers were encouraged to attend weekly “Fa study” sessions outside work hours to study the teachings of Li Hongzhi.[57] Former employees have said that speaking negatively about The Epoch Times amounts to disobeying Li.[21]

The Epoch Times runs frequent promotional stories about the Shen Yun dance troupe that is affiliated with Falun Gong. The New Yorker’s review of Shen Yun called The Epoch Times “the world’s foremost purveyor of Shen Yun content.”[58]

In 2019, an NBC News investigative report suggested The Epoch Times’s political coverage may be affected by Falun Gong believers’ anticipation of a judgment day in which communists are sent to hell, and Falun Gong’s allies are spared. Former Epoch Times employees told NBC News that President Donald Trump is viewed as a key anti-communist ally,[18] allegedly hastening that judgment day.[59]

Notable coverage

The paper carried an interview with outspoken Canadian Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders, wherein Anders alleged that the Chinese government used gifts and business deals in attempts to influence Canadian political decisions.[60][61]

Editorial stance

The Epoch Times is an ardent opponent of the Chinese Communist Party.[18] In recent years the newspaper has also received significant attention for its favorable coverage of the Trump administration,[18][22] the German far-right,[3][62] and the French far-right.[5]

The Epoch Times “generally stayed out of U.S. politics” before 2016, “unless they dovetailed with Chinese interests,” according to a report by NBC News. Ben Hurley, a former Epoch Times employee until 2013, stated that the newspaper was critical toward abortion and LGBT and that Falun Gong practitioners “saw communism everywhere” including in internationalist figures like Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan, “but there was more room for disagreements in the early days.” Since 2016, according to NBC News, The Epoch Times has promoted favorable coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency, and emphasized issues such as Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration to the United States. It has also emphasized “what the publication claims is a labyrinthian, global conspiracy led by [Hillary] Clinton and former President Barack Obama to tear down Trump.”[18]

A former Epoch Times reporter who covered the 2016 campaign, Steve Klett, said his editors had encouraged favorable coverage of Trump after he won the Republican nomination, and that “They seemed to have this almost messianic way of viewing Trump as the anti-Communist leader who would bring about the end of the Chinese Communist Party.”[21] After Trump was elected, The Epoch Times hired Brendan Steinhauser, a Tea Party strategist, to reach out to more conservatives and encourage the Trump administration to oppose the persecution of Falun Gong.[21]

The Epoch Times editor-in-chief Jasper Fakkert wrote in a letter to readers: “We see the Trump administration’s efforts to change socialist policies in America, as well as set policies to counter infiltration and subversion by China, as remarkable reversals from past policies, and sincere efforts that, if fully realized, will benefit America and the world as a whole.”[22]

The Epoch Times picks up mainstream newswire stories and in some places can resemble a community newspaper.[63] According to sociologist Yuezhi Zhao, “While mainstream newspapers typically treat Web versions as an extension of the already-existing print version, The Epoch Times website serves as the master for all its worldwide papers.”[30]

The Epoch Times is known for alleging conspiracies involving former Communist Party general secretary Jiang Zemin,[64] under whose administration Falun Gong was suppressed in China.

The newspaper is at odds with the Taiwanese-owned and U.S.-based Chinese language newspaper World Journal, accusing it of being a “megaphone for the evil Chinese Communist Party.”[64]

In September 2017, The German edition of the newspaper, The Epoch Times Deutschland, which became Web-only in 2012, was described by online magazine The China File as being aligned with the German far-right, and attractive to supporters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the anti-immigrant group Pegida.[3] Stefanie Albrecht, a reporter for the German broadcaster RTL who spent several days inside the Berlin office of The Epoch Times while investigating the far right, said that The Epoch Times staffers she met had no journalistic training and did not check facts, trusting instead in the alternative sources they consulted.[5]

In France, The Epoch Times gives “an unfettered platform to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the patriarch of the French far right, and his daughter, Marine, who leads the nationalist party her father founded,” according to The New Republic.[5]

Editorials

Nine commentaries on the Communist Party

In November 2004, the Chinese version of The Epoch Times published a series of editorials titled “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.” The editorials argued that China would not be free or prosperous until it was rid of the party, which it said was at odds with China’s cultural and spiritual values.[65]

Millions of copies of the articles circulated in China through e-mails, faxes, and underground printing houses, according to a guest opinion article in The Christian Science Monitor by Caylan Ford, a former staff writer for The Epoch Times. Ford wrote that the campaign differed from the 1989 and 2008 democracy movements in China by drawing on Buddhist and Daoist spirituality.[65]

In 2005, organizers of an associated campaign urging people to quit the Chinese Communist Party said that more than 2 million people had resigned.[66]

A report by the OpenNet Initiative said that 90% of websites mentioning the phrase “Nine Commentaries” were blocked in mainland China as of 2005.[67][68]

In 2012, a former People’s Liberation Army air force officer testified to the United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China that he had been sentenced to four years of prison for distributing a “Nine Commentaries” DVD in Beijing.[69][non-primary source needed]

The “Tuidang” movement to quit the Chinese Communist Party was selected as the one of the top global events in 2011 by Russian economist Andrey Illarionov, who cited claims by The Epoch Times that over 100 million people had quit.[70]

According to China scholar David Ownby, the Nine Commentaries are a “condemnation of communism and a direct indictment of the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule in China.” While acknowledging the “unnecessary violence” the Chinese Communist Party has inflicted, Ownby finds that the lack of balance and nuance in tone and style makes the editorials resemble “anti-Communist propaganda written in Taiwan in the 1950s.”[55]

Controversies

The Epoch Times has championed President Donald Trump’s Spygate conspiracy theory in its news coverage and advertising, and the Epoch Media Group’s Edge of Wonder videos on YouTube have spread the far-right, pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory.[18]

The Edge of Wonder hosts, according to The Daily Dot, “embrace QAnon completely” even though “almost nothing QAnon has foretold has actually taken place.”[71] An NBC News report found that two of Edge of Wonder’s hosts have been a creative director and chief photo editor at The Epoch Times respectively. The newspaper promoted Edge of Wonder videos in dozens of Facebook posts through 2019.[18]

During the February 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucuses, The Epoch Times shared viral disinformation from the conservative group Judicial Watch that falsely alleged inflated voter rolls.[72] The claim, which went viral on Facebook, was debunked by fact checkers and the Iowa secretary of state.[73][74] A Harvard media expert quoted by NBC News said The Epoch Times employed a “classic disinformation tactic” known as “trading up the chain,” in which false stories are repackaged and shared.[72]

In September 2018, The Epoch Times photographer Samira Bouaou broke White House protocol and handed Trump a folder during an official event.[75]

On August 13, 2020, The White House invited reporters from The Epoch Times and the right-wing news outlet Gateway Pundit to a press briefing. According to a report by The Washington Post, the “Gateway Pundit and Epoch Times both jumped the line with the White House’s blessing starting on Thursday”, prompting objections from the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.[76][77]

During a six-month period in 2019, The Epoch Times spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 Facebook ads that NBC News said were “pro-Trump advertisements.” NBC said the amount spent was more than any group except the Trump campaign itself.[18][23] Political ad spending on Facebook in April 2019 through an account called “Coverage of the Trump Presidency by The Epoch Times” exceeded any politician’s spending except Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.[78] Journalist Judd Legum wrote in May 2019 that The Epoch Times ads were “boosting Donald Trump and floating conspiracy theories about Joe Biden.”[78]

In August 2019, Facebook banned The Epoch Times from advertising on its platform, after finding that the newspaper broke Facebook’s political transparency rules by publishing pro-Trump subscription ads through sockpuppet pages such as “Honest Paper” and “Pure American Journalism.”[59][25] A Facebook representative told NBC: “Over the past year we removed accounts associated with The Epoch Times for violating our ad policies, including trying to get around our review systems.”[59]

The Epoch Times publisher, Stephen Gregory, wrote in response that the paper did not intend to violate Facebook’s rules. The video ads, he wrote, “are overtly Epoch Times advertisements for our subscriptions,” and “discuss The Epoch Times’ editorial and feature content and encourage people to subscribe to our print newspaper.”[59]

As Facebook banned The Epoch Times from advertising, the newspaper shifted its spending to YouTube. The Epoch Times has spent more than $1.8 million on YouTube ads, some promoting conspiracy theories, since May 2018.[57][21]

In October 2019, the fact-checking website Snopes reported that The Epoch Times is closely linked to a large network of Facebook pages and groups called The BL (The Beauty of Life) that shares pro-Trump views and conspiracy theories such as QAnon. The BL has spent at least $510,698 on Facebook advertising. Hundreds of the ads were removed for violations of Facebook’s advertising rules. The BL network of pages has 28 million followers on Facebook in total, according to Snopes. The editor-in-chief of The BL recently worked as editor-in-chief of The Epoch Times, and several other BL employees are listed as current or former employees of The Epoch Times. The BL is registered in Middletown, New York, to an address that also is registered to Falun Gong’s Sound of Hope Radio Network and is associated with the YouTube series Beyond Science, but Snopes found “the outlet as a whole is literally the English-language edition of Epoch Times Vietnam.”[79][80] Snopes found that The BL uses more than 300 fake Facebook profiles based in Vietnam and other countries, using names, stock photos and celebrity photos in their profiles to emulate Americans, to administer more than 150 pro-Trump Facebook groups amplifying its content.[80][81]

An unnamed representative of The BL wrote to Snopes that “The BL has NO connection with The Epoch Times,” and a “few of our staff has job experience … working in The Epoch Times, but now they are working full time in The BL.” The Epoch Times’ publisher, Stephen Gregory, said “The Epoch Times is not affiliated with the BL.”[79]

In December 2019, Facebook announced it removed a large network of accounts, pages, and groups linked to The BL and Epoch Media Group for coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign actor. The network had 55 million followers on Facebook and Instagram, and $9.5 million had been spent on Facebook ads through its accounts.[82]

The New York Times reported that The BL had used fake profile photos generated by artificial intelligence. The Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab director Graham Brookie said the coordinated network of fake accounts demonstrated “an eerie, tech-enabled future of disinformation.” Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said, “What’s new here is that this is purportedly a U.S.-based media company leveraging foreign actors posing as Americans to push political content. We’ve seen it a lot with state actors in the past.”[83][84]

COVID-19 MISINFORMATION

The Epoch Times is identified as spreading misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in print and via social media including Facebook and YouTube.[85][86] It has promoted anti-China rhetoric and conspiracy theories around the coronavirus outbreak, for example through an 8-page special edition called “How the Chinese Communist Party Endangered the World”, which was distributed unsolicited in April 2020 to mail customers in areas of the United States, Canada, and Australia.[87][88] In the newspaper, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known as the “CCP virus”, and a commentary in the newspaper posed the question, “is the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan an accident occasioned by weaponizing the virus at that [Wuhan P4 virology] lab?”[85][87] The paper’s editorial board also claimed that COVID-19 patients can potentially be cured by “condemning the CCP.”[36]

The misinformation tracker NewsGuard called the French page of The Epoch Times one of the “super-spreaders” of COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook, citing an Epoch Times article that suggested the virus was artificially created.[89][90]

A story in The Epoch Times on February 17, 2020, shared a map from the internet that falsely alleged massive sulfur dioxide releases from crematoriums during the COVID-19 pandemic in China, speculating that 14,000 bodies may have been burned.[91] A fact check by AFP reported that the map was a NASA forecast taken out of context.[91]

A widely viewed video released by The Epoch Times on April 7, 2020, was flagged by Facebook as “partly false” for “the unsupported hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 is a bioengineered virus released from a Wuhan research laboratory.” The video featured Judy Mikovits, an anti-vaccination activist.[92][93] The fact-checker Health Feedback said of the video that “several of its core scientific claims are false and its facts, even when accurate, are often presented in a misleading way.”[86]

A story by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on April 29, 2020, reported that some Canadians were upset to receive a special edition of The Epoch Times that called COVID-19 the “CCP virus”. Later the CBC retracted a headline on its story that had quoted a recipient saying the special edition was “racist and inflammatory”, and the CBC also retracted a claim that The Epoch Times edition had concluded that COVID-19 was a bioweapon.[87][94] Opinion columns published by The Toronto Sun accused the CBC of bias against The Epoch Times[95][96] and said the CBC’s report may have misled readers into thinking The Epoch Times was spreading anti-Asian sentiment.[96]

Removal of TruthMedia from Facebook

On August 6, 2020, Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts by a digital company called TruthMedia that promoted Epoch Times and NTD content and pro-Trump conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and protests in the United States.[97][98] The operation included 303 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 Facebook groups and 31 Instagram accounts,[99] which in total were followed by more than 2 million people.[98] Snopes and NBC News reported that TruthMedia had ties to the Epoch Media Group,[100][98] but Stephen Gregory, publisher of The Epoch Times, denied this.[98]

TruthMedia, now banned from Facebook, continues to operate YouTube channels in Chinese, English, Japanese, and Vietnamese, and has accounts on Pinterest and Twitter.[97] It appears to have begun a petition to the White House to “start calling the novel coronavirus the CCP virus.”[98][97]

Assessments

Ming Xia, a political science professor at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, wrote in 2007 that The Epoch Times represents part of Falun Gong‘s effort to expand to non-practitioners, and “is part of the Falun Gong strategy to embed itself into the large civil society for influence and legitimacy.”[101] In 2018 he described The Epoch Times staff as largely part-time and volunteer, and said they “do not follow the protocols professional journalists abide by.”[75]

The misinformation tracker NewsGuard said The Epoch Times “fails to meet several basic standards of credibility and transparency.”[19]

The Epoch Times has been criticized by some scholars for biases, particularly regarding the Chinese Communist Party and mainland China issues, as well as for being a “mouthpiece” of the Falun Gong movement.[45][49][51][46][40][47] James To, a New Zealand political scientist, described The Epoch Times as the “primary mouthpiece” of Falun Gong, writing that it “lacks credibility”, despite the newspaper posing a “viable threat to the CCP” by publishing articles about the party’s negative aspects.[102] In his book Blocked on Weibo: What Gets Suppressed on China’s Version of Twitter and Why, University of Toronto research fellow Jason Q. Ng referred to the paper’s coverage of mainland China issues as “heavily biased against the Communist Party” and thus its reportage “should be viewed skeptically.”[103]

A 2018 report by conservative think-tank the Hoover Institution called The Epoch Times one of the few independent Chinese-language media outlets in the United States not taken over by businessmen sympathetic to the Chinese government. The report also said that reports on China by The Epoch Times and other outlets affiliated with Falun Gong, which is banned from China, are “uneven.”[35]

Seth Hettna wrote in The New Republic that The Epoch Times “has built a global propaganda machine, similar to Russia’s Sputnik or RT, that pushes a mix of alternative facts and conspiracy theories that has won it far-right acolytes around the world.”[5]

Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University called The Epoch Times “a known disinformation operation.”[72]

Ben Collins of NBC News called The Epoch Times a “pro-Trump conspiracy website.”[84]

The paper has also been lauded by some political commentators and media experts. Ethan Gutmann of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neoconservative think tank, has characterized The Epoch Times as a leader in political analysis of the Chinese regime, writing: “With the “Chinese Regime in Crisis” series, Epoch Times has finally and indisputably arrived. Any China expert who wants to save face by pretending the paper doesn’t exist can continue to do so—for a little while anyway—but they had better be reading it in secret.”[104]

Hong Kong Economic Journal‘s former editor-in-chief and scholar Lian Yi-zheng [zh] argued that that while The Epoch Times’s connections to Falun Gong and its organ harvesting claims are controversial, the paper has often been correct in its analysis of power plays in Beijing,[105] and that it often receives high level leaks from informants inside mainland China[verification needed].[106]

James Bettinger, a professor of communications at Stanford University and the director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, said “Even if Epoch Times is not associated with Falun Gong, if they consistently write about Falun Gong in the same perspective, or if there are no articles examining Falun Gong, people would perceive it as being not credible.”[63] Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley, said in 2005 that “It’s hard to vouch for their quality because it’s difficult to corroborate, but it’s not something to be dismissed as pure propaganda.”[32]

In his 2008 book on Falun Gong, David Ownby wrote that The Epoch Times articles are “well written and interesting, if occasionally idiosyncratic in their coverage.”[55][107][108] According to Ownby, the newspaper has been praised and also criticized for a perceived bias against the CCP, and support of Falun Gong practitioners and other dissidents such as Tibetans, Taiwanese independence advocates, democracy activists, Uyghurs and others. The paper, therefore, is often assessed in light of its connection to Falun Gong, rather than a thorough analysis of its editorial content.[109]

Jiao Guobiao, a former Beijing University journalism professor who was dismissed after criticizing the Propaganda Department, proposed that even if The Epoch Times published only negative information highly critical of the CCP, the weight of their attacks could never begin to counterbalance the positive propaganda the party publishes about itself. In addressing media balance, Jiao noted that the Chinese public lacked negative, critical information regarding their country. As such, he noted for a need of media balance based on the principles of freedom, equality, and legality, and that media balance “is the result of the collective imbalances of all.”[49]

In 2010, The Epoch Times successfully defended its reporting in the Canadian court system,[110] when a publisher it had reported on, Crescent Chau of Les Presses Chinoises, sued for libel and lost at the Superior Court of Quebec.[111][112] In examining the case, John Gordon Miller, a Canadian journalist and media professor, noted that articles in question “appear to be thoroughly and professionally reported.”[113][112]

Hayes Brown of Buzzfeed News called The Epoch Times “one of the staunchest defenders of Donald Trump‘s presidency.”[22]

U.S. Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, called The Epoch Times “our favorite paper.”[57]

Haifeng Huang, a professor of political science, said, “I’m not exactly clear why they have become such a major pro-Trump voice” but “part of it is perhaps because they regard President Trump as tough on the Chinese government and therefore a natural ally for them.”[57]

The web-only, German edition of the paper, Epoch Times Deutschland, has been criticized by media analysts[114] for its favorable coverage of far right populist groups such as the Alternative for Germany and Pegida, both of which proclaim anti-immigrant views, and promote skepticism towards mainstream German media and politicians.[3] A German media report described the outlet as a “favorite” of Pegida supporters, along with Sputnik News and Kopp Report; and found that its articles which were critical of immigration have been shared almost daily.[62]

A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based think tank, said the German edition of The Epoch Times “primarily runs anti-West, anti-American and pro-Kremlin content—a high proportion of this content is based on unverified information.”[5][115]

In December 2019, the English Wikipedia deprecated the English and Chinese online versions of The Epoch Times as an “unreliable source” to use as a reference in Wikipedia. The publication has been described as “an advocacy group for the Falun Gong, and… a biased or opinionated source that frequently publishes conspiracy theories.”[116] “

THIS IS NOT A CREDIBLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION AND ANYTHING THAT IS PUBLISHED IN THIS NEWSPAPER SHOULD BE VIEWED WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF SUSPICION.

AN EXAMPLE OF HOW CORRUPTING SUCH PUBLICATIONS CAN BE……. THEY RELY ON A KERNEL OF TRUTH

“The most effective disinformation is that which has a kernel of truth to it, is that which kind of flies under the radar, doesn’t really break any guidelines,” said Claire Wardle of First Draft, which educates journalists and others about what misinformation is and how to spot it. “It’s much more hyper-partisan. It’s much more misleading than completely outright-false falsehoods.” The Epoch Times has shared misinformation and conspiracy theories in the past, and was banned from advertising on Facebook for trying to bypass political spending rules — though it is not alone in accusing China of coronavirus coverup.

Wardle says people who read the special edition of the Epoch Times may not be completely convinced about its findings, but will have been left with questions about what their governments are telling them. That is a technique of disinformation actors who want people to question as much as possible authoritative sources,” she said.  “Ultimately, you’re no longer going to your trusted news site or the WHO or your government even for information. You’re left thinking, ‘I can’t trust anybody.'”

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The Pandemic – Been There , Done That

Some one , some where at some time said  “those who forget their history are doomed to relive it”. A case in point is the great “Spanish Flu Pandemic” of  one hundred years ago.  Despite a monumental growth in the knowledge of viral diseases and the use of Public Health measures  to combat them, the roll out of the current Covid-19 pandemic is a virtual replay of 100 years ago. From a readily defined ground zero infection  both pandemics have spread across the world infecting and killing millions of people. Against very similar backgrounds of disorganization, lack of political will, disinformation and the unwillingness of the general population to play by some very basic public health rules both pandemics have played out in remarkably similar fashion. This video review of “The   Spanish Flu” of the early part of the 20th century is well worth watching to clear our heads and get a grip on how to deal with the current pandemic.

Here is my take on the video and and the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Ground Zero. In both instances the ground zero infections have been more or less identified. Despite its name the Spanish Flu did not originate in Spain. Its origins can be traced to a Military camp in Fort Riley in Kansas in the USA . Covid-19 first appeared in Wuhan China. In both instances international travel played a part in the spread of the disease. In the first instance troops moving between the US and Europe and their involvement in various theaters of war was a major spreader of the virus. In the second instance international air travel in the modern world was a major contributing factor in the rapid spread of Covid-19.
  • Racial slanders. A virus does not have a race. The Spanish Flu was not Spanish and only became so named because of wide spread reporting of the disease in Spain. This reporting was due to the war time press restrictions in the countries at war. Spain was neutral with no press restrictions on the reporting of the disease. In 2020 attempts to tag the Covid-19 as a Chinese virus are misplaced political attempts to shift blame away from failed local policies.  Accusations that China suppressed knowledge of the virus are not strictly true. At the beginning there were some minor missteps by the Chinese but once the  disease was recognized the Chinese were very quick to get the word out and disseminate the genetic knowledge of the virus. This action and the rapid response of a number of nations is responsible for the slowing the spread of the virus in a number of jurisdictions.
  • Denial. In both pandemics there were serious attempts to dismiss the viruses as nothing worse than the common cold or flu. Six months into the Covid-19 pandemics the notions that it is no worse than a cold or flu are still being circulated.
  • Waves of infection. In the Spanish Flue Pandemic there were at least three waves of infection. The second wave was complicated by a mutation of the virus into a more  virulent form. Although there are no indications (yet) of a deadly mutation of Covid-19 there is every indication that a second wave and possibly a third wave is on the way. There is also no knowledge of the long term effects of the infection and viruses do have a nasty way of coming up with surprises that are easily overlooked at the beginning. Look how long it took to recognize the relationship between the “harmless”  childhood disease German Measles and the birth defects in children born from infected pregnant women?
  • Social Distancing and treatment. In both pandemics there was (is) no natural immunity and treatment options were (are) limited and there were (are) no developed vaccines. In the absence of a vaccine the most effective means of restricting the spread of viruses relies on public health measures such as face masks, social distancing and contract tracing. Jurisdictions with the most success in slowing the spread of the virus in both pandemics were the ones that went into hard and fast lock downs of local populations. By restricting travel and social gatherings, the promotion of the wearing of masks and improved hygiene protocols, the “locked down” jurisdictions fared much better in controlling the diseases and resulted in better economic outcomes. In the current pandemic the urge to hastily end lock downs and get life back to “normal” should be resisted. The old story “short term gain that leads to long term pain” needs  to be remembered.
  • Immunity and Vaccines.  President Donald Trump has almost got it right. Without a vaccine the Covid-19 virus it will probably “disappear”, not exactly the right word to use,  in a couple of years but the question is at what cost?. The population of the USA in 1919 was roughly 106 million and over the two year plus time span of the pandemic the death toll in the USA from the virus was 675,000. The current population of the USA is around 328 million. That is three times the population of 1919 and three times more potential infections. Over the current ten months of the Covid-19 pandemic the death toll in the USA  is 230,000.   There was no vaccine available during the Spanish Flu pandemic and the virus “ran it’s course”. The situation with Covid-19 is similar. Although there are vaccines on the horizon it may take several years to roll them out to the general population and, given the current political climate, there are significant sections of the population who may be unwilling to use the vaccines. Even if accepted the potential effectiveness of any  vaccine is unknown. Without effective public health measures and the public’s compliance with “the rules” the total deaths in the USA over the next twelve months could go well beyond 400,000.  For the Covid-19 virus we do have a bit of a head start in vaccine development. The actual viral cause of the Spanish Flu was not really identified until the 1930s. At the beginning they did not even know it was a viral disease. The first potential causative agent was a bacteria eventually identified as Hemophilus influenzae. Although no longer considered the agent  causing Spanish Flu  Hemophilus influenzae remains a significant  cause of bacterial infections. The final identification of the causative agent of Spanish Flu occurred years after the pandemic had run its course. The Covid-19 virus was identified within weeks of the first infections and the genetic mapping of the virus was rapidly shared around the world. This mapping is an essential tool in developing appropriate vaccines.  So vaccine development will probably advance very quickly but there are still many unknowns that need to be investigated. The earliest roll out of a vaccine is at least another year, possibly two, into the future. Will it be effective? Will it be a one shot dose or will it require follow up shots every year? These are only a few of the unknowns out there.
  • Disorganization and political turmoil. One hundred years ago, given  the lack of knowledge of viral infections and the havoc of World War I an organized response to the pandemic was less than satisfactory. In 1919 that was understandable. In 2020 the same excuse cannot be made and yet the response in some highly developed and normally well organized counties is a virtual replay of what happened 100 years ago. Various jurisdictions implemented conflicting  policies and procedures, or failed to implement policies that could  slow the spread of the virus. Responses have become politicized and even the simple wearing of masks has become a political issue. This has impeded the implementation of a very simple tool for slowing the spread of the virus.  The shame of it all is that Public Health Authorities had been warning governments around the world for years that it wasn’t a case of  “If” but rather “when” the next pandemic would hit. They were ignored and in some instances pandemic planning was dismissed and even dismantled.

Every body wants to get back to “normal”. That is, the way it was before the pandemic struck. That is not going to happen. We have to recognize there are now two worlds. The world before Covid-19 and the world after Covid-19. They are two very different worlds and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that. As my buddy Douglas Francis Mitchell would say “Better get used to it folks”.

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Read any Good Books lately? (#16) – The Surfing Years

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

This book was included in President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List 
 
“Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. 
Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa. A bookish boy, and then an excessively adventurous young man, he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter. Barbarian Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses—off the coasts of New York and San Francisco. It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships forged in challenging waves.
 
Finnegan shares stories of life in a whites-only gang in a tough school in Honolulu. He shows us a world turned upside down for kids and adults alike by the social upheavals of the 1960s. He details the intricacies of famous waves and his own apprenticeships to them. Youthful folly—he drops LSD while riding huge Honolua Bay, on Maui—is served up with rueful humor. As Finnegan’s travels take him ever farther afield, he discovers the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village, dissects the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese, and navigates the Indonesian black market while nearly succumbing to malaria. Throughout, he surfs, carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing, unprecedented lucidity.
 
Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.” ……….. Amazon Books.

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In reading this book I recall my early years in Australia. This book is a reminder of the golden years of surfing that was such a significant part of my youth. Australia has the reputation of being the driest continent on the planet and at 59,736 km it also has the sixth longest coastline in the world. While the country’s cultural mythology is dominated by “the Outback” the ocean is the country’s playground.  Like most youth living within reach of the Australian coast I grew up in and around the ocean. In my early teen years I learnt to body surf while on summer vacations with my family at East’s Beach just south of Sydney. In my later teen years I started surf board riding at Freshwater Beach in Sydney. That beach is the spiritual home of surf board riding in Australia. When the Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku visited Australia in December 24, 1914 he gave an exhibition of surf board riding at Freshwater Beach. That was a hell of a Christmas present for Australia.The board that Duke Kahanamoku used for the demonstration was built from a piece of pine purchased from a local hardware store. In my early surfing days at Freshwater Beach the local lads from time to time would haul this massive eight foot / sixty pound surfboard out of storage and try to surf on it. At the time I don’t recall any of the local surfers being all that successful but it did put us in touch with a real slice of history.  Over the years the true value of this surfing artifact was recognized and is now under glass in the Freshwater surf club. There is also a statue of Duke Kahanamoku on the Northern headland over looking the beach.

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From that time on Australian surfing developed independently from the Hawaiian and Californian influences. That started to change in the 1950s and 1960s when the latest innovations in design and techniques once again reached Australia.

I was part of the generation that was susceptible to the new innovations. My surfboards at the time reflected the early days of this new era. At over nine feet long with a single fin my boards are large compared to the under 7 foot multiple finned “Thrusters” of today.

                    

 

My surfing life largely coincided with the beginning and end of the 1960s. When I emigrated to Canada my surfing years were behind me and mountain life styles came to dominate my recreational endeavors. From time to time the latest surfing magazines would show  up in the local book shops and images of sun light on water would still fill my mind and tickle my consciousness. Like the author of the book postulates, Surfing is an addiction that you never truly leave behind. The book, with it’s stroll down the author’s  surfing years, refreshed my memories of many great days, great waves and youthful camaraderie. Admittedly my adventures probably were not of the same magnitude of magnificence as the author’s but while reading the book it was still good to wander through the lands of “what if”, rediscover old stories, old locations and new countries with bigger, better and sometimes scarier surf spots.

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Enough about me and more about the book. When we talk about “sport” we are usually talking about team sports with all the hype and hoopla associated with the entertainment industry.  So in that sense surfing is not a sport. It is a recreational activity. It has more in common with Skiing, Mountaineering, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hangliding and Rock Climbing than any of the sports we are likely to see on TV. The book is a memoir of William Finnegan’s involvement with surfing and the addictive nature of the activity.  For any one who has had even a passing interest in surfing this is a must read book. For others it is a look at “coming of age” experiences and youthful, and not so youthful adventures around the world. There is a distinct lack of jargon and hype that makes it possible for the average reader to get a real feel for the activity known as surfing. For those of us who have lived through any of the surfing eras of the past forty plus years, either as a participant or voyeur, it is a very pleasant reminder of the things we may still miss from those bygone days.

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POSTSCRIPT – Reading List

  1. The Big Drop: Classic Big Wave Surfing Stories. by John Long – “32 classic big wave surfing stories from the sport’s pioneers John Long’s classic collection of big wave surfing stories heralded a new era in surfing literature. Focusing on those elite athletes who live to challenge the ocean’s fury, The Big Drop is more than just another surfing book. It is both an extraordinary collection of thirty-two true tales and a treasure-trove of insight into the evolution of big-wave surfing―with particular focus on the pioneers of the 1950s and 1960s and the skills necessary to challenge huge waves. Providing a comprehensive look at the sport’s eras, locations, and legends, with a host of stunning images and a glossary of surfing terms, it is a truly unforgettable look at the obsession of those who face down monstrous waves. Revealing the tantalizing and terrifying truth about riding big waves, The Big Drop is a must for any surfer inclined to tackle large surf in thought or in fact.” My favorite story in this collection is the one about the “accidental” surfing of a Tidal Wave off the coast of Peru in 1974.

 

  1. All for a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora by David Rensin. “For twenty years, Miki “Da Cat” Dora was the king of Malibu surfers—a dashing, enigmatic rebel who dominated the waves, ruled his peers’ imaginations, and who still inspires the fantasies of wannabes to this day. And yet, Dora railed against surfing’s sudden post-Gidget popularity and the overcrowding of his once empty waves, even after this avid sportsman, iconoclast, and scammer of wide repute ran afoul of the law and led the FBI on a remarkable seven-year chase around the globe in 1974. The New York Times named him “the most renegade spirit the sport has yet to produce” and Vanity Fair called him “a dark prince of the beach.” To fully capture Dora’s never-before-told story, David Rensin spent four years interviewing hundreds of Dora’s friends, enemies, family members, lovers, and fellow surfers to uncover the untold truth about surfing’s most outrageous practitioner, charismatic antihero, committed loner, and enduring mystery.”

 

  1. Storm – Stories of Survival from Land and Sea, edited by Clint Willis. “Storm” reveals first-hand accounts of battling with the elements: hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes and sand storms – in mountains, seas, plains, and jungles. Included are contributions from sailors, climbers, adventures, and other hardy souls; people like Patrick O’Brian, Stephen Venables, Chris Bonnington, Sebastian Junger, Joseph Conrad and Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Full of harrowing adventures that test human endurance, this volume contains stories of individuals who must fight to stay alive. Barry Lopez is trapped among arctic floes by a sudden squall; Art Davidson’s team freezes in a wind storm on Mount McKinley as the temperature hits 148 degrees below zero; an idyllic sail turns tragic when Gordon Chaplin loses his ship and his lover in a South Pacific typhoon. My favorite story in my 2000 edition is Jack London’s THE HOUSE OF MAPUHI, the story of survival during a typhoon on a Polynesian island. Note: my edition appears to be different from the one reviewed and for sale on Amazon.

POSTSCRIPT – Videos

  1. BUSTIN’ DOWN THE DOOR. There are a “million” surfing movies out there but this  is a  surfing documentary to end all surfing documentaries. It is largely focused on the “Free Ride” generation of the early ’70s, Bustin’ Down the Door reveals the true stories behind the uprising of some of the most influential surfers to have graced the water.Narrated by Edward Norton and featuring intimate interviews with Shaun Tomson, Rabbit Bartholomew, Mark Richards(MR), Ian Cairns, Peter Townend and Mark Warren, talking of the infamous waves along Oahu’s legendary North Shore which they rode with a style, aggression, and raw courage unseen prior to their arrival. Collectively, these surfers changed the face of surfing and were the first to really apply themselves as serious professional surfers.Packed with beautifully shot footage of these masters at work it tells the truly inspirational tale of how they moved over from Australia and South Africa to pioneer a sport that, at the time, was only seen as a past time for “beach bums”.
    However, this is no surfing fairy tale! Enduring incredibly hard times, from confrontations with Da Hui (a group of “locals” in Hawaii dedicated to promoting respect and equality in the lineup) to having contracts put out on their lives, this is a testament to how far these young men were willing to go to make surfing what it is today! Some of the information is not that flattering to some of the participants. The achievements of this group of Australian and South African surfers was a game changer. But there was a price. The arrogance and aggression of the group alienated many of the localHawaiians who felt that tradition and respect was being trampled and they reacted accordingly..
  2.  THE ENDLESS SUMMER by Bruce Brown. This is the iconic surf movie of the late 1960s.The Endless Summer was 1966  when filmmaker and narrator Bruce Brown follows two surfers, Mike Hynson and Robert August on a surfing trip around the world. Despite the balmy climate of their native California, cold ocean currents make local beaches inhospitable during the winter. They travel to the coasts of  Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Senegal, Ghana and South Africa in a quest for new surf spots and introduce locals to the sport. Other important surfers of the time, such as Miki Dora, Phil Edwards and Butch Van Artsdalen also appear in the film. Its title comes from the idea, expressed at both the beginning and end of the film, that if one had enough time and money it would be possible to follow the summer up and down the world (northern to southern hemisphere and back), making it endless. The concept of the film was born through the suggestion of a travel agent to Bruce Brown during the planning stages of the film. The travel agent suggested that the flight from Los Angeles to Cape Town, South Africa and back would cost $50 more than a trip circumnavigating the world. After which, Bruce came up with the idea of following the summer season by traveling up and down the world.The narrative presentation eases from the stiff and formal documentary of the 1950s and early 1960s to a more casual and fun-loving personal style filled with sly humor. The surf rock soundtrack to the film was provided by The Sandals. The “Theme to the Endless Summer” was written by Gaston Georis and John Blakeley of the Sandals. It has become one of the best known film themes in the surf movie genre.]When the movie was first shown, it encouraged many surfers to go abroad, giving birth to the “surf-and-travel” culture, with prizes for finding “uncrowded surf”, meeting new people and riding the perfect wave. It also introduced the sport, which had become popular outside of  Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands Islands in places like California and Australia, to a broader audience…….. Wikipedia.The iconography portrayed in the film is not strictly correct. The premise of an endless summer with perfect waves is contrary to the facts. The best waves to surf are generated by storms in the winter months. So to pursue the “perfect wave” one must essentially indulge in an “endless winter” . The biggest and best waves occur in the winter.

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Julian Bream, passed away on 14th August 2020.

For the greater part of the 20th Century the Spanish musician Andres Segovia was the undisputed maestro of the Classical Guitar. Many professional classical guitarists of today were students of Segovia, or students of his students. Segovia died in 1987 at the age of 94. “The final two decades of Andres Segovia long life coincided with many developments in the contemporary repertoire and a sense of change generally in the structure of guitar recitals. In particular the influence of the Early Music movement, at the peak of its progress in the 1970s and 80s, made it rather unfashionable to perform music of the vihuela or baroque guitar eras, let alone music for the renaissance lute, on the modern guitar. Many players began to perform recitals on vihuelas, actual or reproduction baroque guitars, and Panormos. Lute virtuosity, whether renaissance or baroque, hitherto rare, became an available commodity, including continuo and accompanying skills.”  Also there was a new repertoire developing with “compositions by Tippett, Henze, Carter, Brouwer, Reich, Takemitsu, Koshkin, Nobre, Rak, etc, brought about a new aural landscape and unprecedented perspectives for recitalists. In concerts performers jettisoned the chronological approach ranging from the Renaissance to the present day, and shaped their presentation differently, often, like pianists, preferring one or two large works in each half rather than a packed programme of shorter items racing across the spectrum of styles.”

Coincidental with the final decades of Segovia’s life Julian Bream, John Williams, and Alirio Diaz  rose to prominence. Segovia was a magnificent presence in the Classical Guitar world but each of the guitarists mentioned emerged from Segovia’s influence and  managed to carve out his own particular niche in that very select world of classical guitar. While Segovia enlarge the repertoire for the instrument it is undeniable that his tonal palette was decidedly Spanish.

Alirio Diaz was a Venezuelan musician and as such his repertoire contained a significant number of works by the South American composers Augustin Barrios and Antonio Laurio. His tonal palette was brighter and more aggressive than his teacher Segovia.

John Willams was a flawless technician with a vast standard classical repertoire but he also  experimented with more “modern” sounds. Perhaps he was a more cosmopolitan musician than his contemporaries.

Julian Bream, on the other hand was decidedly English and, maybe to prove a point, he was a champion of the Elizabethan Lute and the music of John Dowland. “Bream’s recitals were wide-ranging, including transcriptions from the 17th century, many pieces by Bach arranged for guitar, popular Spanish pieces, and contemporary music, for much of which he was the inspiration. He stated that he was influenced by the styles of Andres Segovia and Francisco Tarega. Bream had some “sessions” with Segovia but did not actually study with him. Segovia provided a personal endorsement and scholarship request to assist Bream in taking further formal music studies. Segovia predominantly associated his guitar skills to music compatible with the guitar’s Spanish and Latin roots. Julian Bream’s style expanded the use of guitar into more contemporary genres. Bream’s work showed that the guitar could be capably utilized in English, French, and German music. Bream’s playing can be characterized as virtuosic and highly expressive, with an eye for details, and with strong use of contrasting timbres. He did not consistently hold his right-hand fingers at right angles to the strings, but used a less rigid hand position for tonal variety.” … Wikipedia

Bream met Igor Stravinsky in Toronto, Canada, in 1965. He tried unsuccessfully to persuade the composer to write a composition for the lute and played a pavane by Dowland for him. The meeting between Bream and Stravinsky, including Bream’s impromptu playing, was filmed by the National Film Board of Canada in making a documentary about the composer…… Wikipedia

He lived for over forty years at Semly, Wiltshire, at first dividing his time between there and Chiswick, London, then moving permanently in 1966 to a Georgian farmhouse in Semley, living there until 2008.[37] In 2009 he moved to a smaller house at Donhead St Andrew, Wiltshire. Bream was keen on the game of cricket[ and was a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club.  ….. Wikipedia

Julian’s recording career included at least 30-50 LPs and CDs and four Grammy Awards.

Julian Bream (1933-2020)  died on 14 August 2020, at his home at Donhead St Andrew. He was 87years old.

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Some video clips of Julian Bream

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Julian Bream Documentary

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A Touch of Humor – A Lesson in Grammar

Sent to me by Douglas Francis Mitchell – Thanks Doug

LESSON IN GRAMMAR

IS IT “COMPLETE”, “FINISHED” OR “COMPLETELY FINISHED” ? No English dictionary has been able to adequately explain the difference between these two words – “Complete” or “Finished”.

In a recent linguistic competition held in London and attended by, supposedly, the best in the world, Samdar Balgobin, a Guyanese man, was the clear winner with a standing ovation which lasted over 5 minutes. The final question was: ‘How do you explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED in a way that is easy to understand? Some people say there is no difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED.’

Here is his astute answer:

“When you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE. When you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED. And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are:

COMPLETELY FINISHED!

He won a trip around the world and a case of 25 year old Scotch

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