Revolutionaries, in the new socialist world, must be ever-vigilant against the old decadent ways:
It has been reported that North Korea executed homosexuals, believing that they are influenced by capitalism.
“The North government publicly executed two lesbians for being tinged with capitalism....” Free North Korea Radio reported on Wednesday.
According to the broadcast, the Korean and Japanese women were caught after it was found they had sexual relationships in their house in Cheongjin, North Hamgyeong Province. “They were badly influenced by capitalism from Japan and brought corruption of public morals,” said the government.
[Update: that link appears to be blocked at the moment.]
Ruthie Foster live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, in 2009:
An incredible voice, though you might want to give it a rest by somewhere round the three minute mark, after which the self-indulgence of the guitarist gets a little wearying. The wonderful (shorter) recorded version is here.
I don't know much about Ruthie Foster. First heard this a couple of weeks ago. It was immediately obvious that this was a black woman singing. Yes, I know, it's Blues, and everything about it is from the Black Music tradition, but all kinds of folks have been singing this stuff for years, and you'd think by now it wouldn't make any difference - and yet....
Well, you know, it's a tricky area...
Let's stick with great American singers. Frank Sinatra, apparently, was a big New York Times crossword fan. Let that sink in for a moment.
As Alan Connor in the Guardian points out though, the NYT puzzle - indeed US crosswords in general - are more like our quick crosswords than the cryptics you get in the broadsheets:
For the NYT, the solver needs a mix of approaches involving more general knowledge and non-English vocab, and much less wordplay...
It would be invidious to privilege either the UK or the US style of crosswording; for better or worse, the ones Sinatra did would be more appropriate training for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire than they would for Bletchley Park.
Invidious inschmidious. He's being too polite. It needs to be said that the Great British Cryptic Crossword is a far superior puzzle.
Or it can be. Too often - with the Times crossword anyway, which is my regular - you know what the answer is, but it takes some effort to work out why that's the answer, and when you do it's not so much with a cry of delight as with an exasperated "Oh for f**** sake". But with a good clue, that moment of enlightenment is a moment of joy. Of which, I think we can all agree, we need as many as we can get.
As it happens yesterday's Times crossword (£) was one of the best for a while. I'll pick out three clues in particular which had, for me, that special magic:
4 down: Divide by radius to get x or y, so to speak (5)
Answer: river. Divide (rive) by (next to) radius (r)...to get x (the River Exe) or y (the River Wye) so to speak (ie as they're pronounced). Brilliant. The mathematical tenor of the clue is entirely misleading.
12 down. Most important, as he is in Manchester, not Rotherham or Sheffield (7)
Answer: central. Means most important, and the letters he are in the centre of the word Manchester but not in the centre of the words Sheffield or Rotherham.
10 across. Not the kind of surgeon you would want, confusing artery and vein (10)
An easy one for cryptic crossword regulars, this: obviously an anagram of artery and vein. Answer: veterinary. It's just somehow satisfying how it all fits together. You wouldn't want a surgeon who confuses an artery and a vein; no more would you want a veterinary surgeon.
You got the clue in the post title (adapted, I'll admit, from Alan Connor's piece)? Yes I know: too easy.
"Opium", for instance...
...bears an uncanny resemblance to a famous 1915 photograph by Léon Busy, "Woman Smoking Opium":
And "Trade" draws more than a little inspiration from a 1948 Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph.
It's all particularly resonant because of the claims of plagiarism that have dogged Dylan's career. I've posted before on his direct borrowings from bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Leroy Carr. His Chronicles Vol. One has passages that seem to be lifted straight from Jack London. And that's by no means all:
Time and time again folk rock legend Bob Dylan has blatantly borrowed for his lyrics. Christie's auction house acknowledged in 2009 that a handwritten Dylan poem that was up for sale really consisted of words from a song by country crooner Hank Snow. Director Martin Scorsese showed in his 2005 documentary, "No Direction Home," how Dylan stole the line "Go away from my window..." — the immortal opener of his 1964 song "It Ain't Me, Babe" — from singer John Jacob Niles. Dylan also purloined text from Japanese writer Junichi Saga's novel "Confessions of a Yakuza" for his 2001 album "Love and Theft."
The thing is, he doesn't care. It's how he works. One of the main interests of his Theme Time Radio Hour shows was the way he happily played so many of the songs that he had, in effect, plagiarised during the course of his career. As for this art show, he must have realised that his sources would be unearthed. How could he not?
The quotation waiting in the wings here, begging to be brought out and dusted down, is that old Oscar Wilde chestnut "Talent borrows, genius steals". For Dylan's music I think that's right. He brazenly pilfered from all manner of sources: blues, folk, country. But what he did with it was genius. Finding the original sources may be an interesting game (and it's not hard), but it does nothing to detract from the man's extraordinary achievements.
His art, though...well, it would be very generous to make any claims of genius. I saw some of his work earlier in the year here in London. It's perfectly competent, pleasant stuff, but nothing at all special. At this level, yes, the kind of plagiarism that's been uncovered here does matter, I think. It's not a huge deal, and if he'd added "after a photograph by Léon Busy" to the title of his "Opium" picture, no one would have been that bothered. But there is an expectation of originality in an art show at a major gallery.
Not that Dylan will care. But it does underline the obvious point that without the Bob Dylan signature this exhibition would never have happened. And it makes the Gagosian Gallery look just a little silly.
Just days after Iran released two Americans accused of spying, an Iranian court has upheld the apostasy conviction and execution sentence of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.
The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity....
When asked to “repent” by the judges, Youcef stated, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied , “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”
It is reported that Youcef was able to see his children for the first time since March and was in good spirits speaking of how he longed to serve the church upon his release.
Pastor Youcef will be brought to the court for two additional “hearings” on September 27th and 28th for the sole purpose of being called upon to recant his Christian faith. The ACLJ’s sources report that although Pastor Youcef’s attorneys will attempt to appeal the case, there is no guarantee that the provincial court will not act on its own interpretation of Sharia law and execute pastor Youcef as early as Wednesday.
Technically, there is no right of appeal, and under Iran’s interpretation of Hadith and Sharia law, Pastor Youcef is to be given three chances to recant. He has already been asked to recant twice, and will be asked to do so again Tuesday. If he does not recant his Christian faith, he could be executed at any time.
Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner:
Religious freedom is a universal human right. The reports that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani will be sentenced to death by the Iranian government unless he disavows his Christian faith are distressing for people of every country and creed. While Iran’s government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran’s leaders to abandon this dark path, spare Yousef Nadarkhani’s life, and grant him a full and unconditional release.
See also David Allen Green at the New Statesman.
A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July....
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.
...which leaves them just about where they were.