Illustration profile of Kady MacDonald Denton
18 April 2024 | 12:11 am

I was delighted today when the Autumn 2023 issue of Illustration magazine arrived in the mail. It has a long profile of my mother Kady MacDonald Denton, rich with examples of her work from various books. It was written by Warren Clements (publisher at Nestlings Press), who does regular features in the magazine. It’s a wonderful profile, covering her life and career with thoughtful and informed insight into her art.

Cover of the issue
Cover of the issue

If you’re at all interested in illustration in books and magazines from the Victoria era onwards, I highly recommend investigating Illustration if you don’t know it. It’s very good. Also look at the books Nestlings Press has done bringing back into print the work of Mervyn Peake, Peter Newell and others.

BBC Radio 6 Music
15 April 2024 | 11:36 pm

Another weekend, another batch of great listening on BBC Radio 6 Music (see also its schedule). These shows are two hours unless otherwise.

  • Freak Zone Playlist (Thursday 0000, one hour): “Hand-crafted playlists from creators of underground and experimental music.” Huge variation and always interesting.
  • The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show (Saturday 1800, three hours): Live show, with a fantastic selection of funk, soul, R&B and disco; classics and new releases merge together perfectly. The half-hour guest-DJed Trunk of Funk is usually an incredible mix. It’s followed immediately by …
  • Don Letts’ Culture Clash Radio (Saturday 2100): It’s a treat to hear this voice I know from Big Audio Dynamite records. Letts plays a bass-heavy mix with a lot of dub and reggae, but mixes it up and you could hear King Tubby followed by Nancy Sinatra.
  • Iggy Confidential (Sunday 1600): Iggy Pop hosts this with a voice like a bucket in a coal mine, giving anecdotes and opinion (“I hate arena rock”) amidst a wildly varied selection: in one show you might hear some sixties garage rock followed by rhythmic noise, then Devo, then Zamrock from Chrissy “Zebby” Tengo, and Coleman Hawkins to cool things down.
  • Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone (Sunday 2000): Underground, left-field, experimental music, with a lot of prog and psych folk, plus modern classical, Black Sabbath, the Residents, Peruvian funk, Valentina Magaletti, The Caretaker, Vietnamese disco, film scores, Sheffield industrial, and much more. I first heard “Go Dig My Grave” by Lankum here (video); it’s a traditional folk song that turns into a surging, yawing drone. (A couple of years ago I was delighted to hear Maconie reading a letter I sent.)

I also follow Radio 1’s Essential Mix, which every weekend does a new two-hour DJ mix, usually house music, and plays a classic from its thirty-year archive. Great DJs from all over the world doing some unbelievable sets of unstoppable dance music.

The secret of all the shows is that they have great DJs who pick music they want to play. Every host is drawing on enormous musical knowledge to put together sets that blend perfectly from start to finish, taking you through moods and themes and genres, slowing you down or getting you moving. They are the opposite of “Afternoon Focus” or “Late Night Chill” that are made so corporations can profit by renting forgettable music to people not paying attention.

A shelf full of bound volumes of Soviet Literature
A shelf full of bound volumes of Soviet Literature

The BBC shows are available for streaming for a few weeks after broadcast. It’s also possible to use get_iplayer to download them, if you know your way around the command line. My setup has this in ~/.get_iplayer/options:

outputradio /usr/local/media/audio/

And this in ~/.get_iplayer/presets/music:

type radio
search (freak zone|essential mix|craig charles funk and soul|culture clash radio|iggy pop)

I run this to download the shows, which go (as .m4a files) to the directory I configured.

get_iplayer --preset=music --get

And if you’re handy at the command line you might also try my own Whip Radio, which lets you tune in to 6 Music and other BBC Radio streams.

The Science Teacher
11 April 2024 | 5:50 pm

While doing some collection development work I was looking at our holdings of The Science Teacher, a publication of the National Science Teaching Association. I flipped through some issues from the late eighties and was very impressed. This is top-notch science literacy.

Here’s a quote from “Atmospheric Science: It’s More Than Meteorology,” by David R. Smith and Gerald H. Krockover (who died in 2020), in The Science Teacher vol. 55 no. 1 (January 1988) (JSTOR 24142757):

The amount of carbon dioxide has increased approximately 10 percent in the past 25 years. Because plants help to moderate the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by using the gas in photosynthesis, extensive deforestation operations only exacerbate the problem. Projections indicate that the level of carbon dioxide is likely to double in the next 50 to 100 years.

What will be the effect of such an increase in carbon dioxide on our atmosphere? Computer models suggest that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide could raise the global average temperature by 1.5 to 4.5°C, which would result in the warmest climate seen on Earth in 5000 years. The side effects of such a global warming could include melting of the polar ice caps, shifting of key crop zones, and changing of animal migration patterns.

And a few months later, from “The Greenhouse Effect in a Vial,” by Richard Golden (who also died in 2020) and Cary Sneider in The Science Teacher vol. 56 no. 5 (May 1989) (JSTOR 24141686).

For years, scientists have been warning us that the excessive burning of fossil fuels could bring on a general global warming through an enhanced greenhouse effect. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the industrialized world’s consumption of energy has increased the CO₂ content of the atmosphere by more than 25 percent. The concentration of CO₂ has increased by 9 percent in just the last 30 years. And at our current rate of fuel consumption, we release as much carbon each year, in the form of CO₂, as it took the Earth 130,000 years to bury (Postel, 1986).

Today’s high school students will be faced, through all their adult years, with decisions related to energy use. For these students to make intelligent and responsible choices, they need to comprehend the underlying scientific principles of the greenhouse effect, and they need to know what social, economic, and political consequences could result from even a moderate climactic change.

That’s from thirty-five years ago.

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