The voice of Joyce

I believe these are the only extant recordings of James Joyce reading his work. They’re on the Public Domain Review, and add up to about 12½ minutes. Even though they’re fragments, I listened to them because I wanted to hear his voice. To me he doesn’t sound Irish, but sort of a hybrid between Irish and English. (Those with a better ear might correct me.)

The two sections are from Ulysses and Finnegans Wake; the former from the Aeolus episode (the one with the newspaper headlines); the latter a bit about Anna Livia Plurabelle. I like the latter better, and it almost seems to make sense out of that big gallimaufry of a book. (Full disclosure: I’ve read Ulysses but was defeated early on by Finnegans Wake. In desperation, I read Edmund Wilson’s essay on the Big Book, but just got depressed that that great critic could grasp it so well, while I remained mystified). 

Aeolus (all notes from the website):

Joyce made this recording in Paris at the HMV studios at the insistence of Sylvia Beach (the woman behind Shakespeare and Company, the publisher’s of Ulysses), although HMV would only loan out their equipment at a cost and would have as little to do with the recording as possible. Beach recounts:

Joyce himself was anxious to have this record made, but the day I took him in a taxi to the factory in Billancourt, quite a distance from town, he was suffering with his eyes and very nervous. Luckily, he and Coppola were soon quite at home with each other, bursting into Italian to discuss music. But the recording was an ordeal for Joyce, and the first attempt was a failure. We went back and began again, and I think the Ulysses record is a wonderful performance. I never hear it without being deeply moved. Joyce had chosen the speech in the Aeolus episode, the only passage that could be lifted out of Ulysses, he said, and the only one that was “declamatory” and therefore suitable for recital. I have an idea that it was not for declamatory reasons alone that he chose this passage from Aeolus. I believe that it expressed something he wanted said and preserved in his own voice. As it rings out – ‘he lifted his voice above it boldly’ – it is more, one feels, than mere oratory.

Anna Livia Plurabelle:

This recording of Joyce reading was made in 1929 by C.K. Ogden (the linguist, philosopher, and inventor of Basic English) in the studio of the Orthological Society in Cambridge. Ogden boasted of the two biggest recording machines in the world and wanted to do a better recording of Joyce than the Ulysses recording of 5 years earlier which he regarded as being of very poor quality. Sylvia Beach again:

How beautiful the “Anna Livia” recording is, and how amusing Joyce’s rendering of an Irish washerwoman’s brogue! This is a treasure we owe to C. K. Ogden and Basic English. Joyce, with his famous memory, must have known “Anna Livia” by heart. Nevertheless, he faltered at one place and, as in the Ulysses recording, they had to begin again. Ogden gave me both the first and second versions. Joyce gave me the immense sheets on which Ogden had had “Anna Livia” printed in huge type so that the author-his sight was growing dimmer-could read it without effort. I wondered where Mr. Ogden had got hold of such big type, until my friend Maurice Saillet, examining it, told me that the corresponding pages in the book had been photographed and much enlarged.

I like these better than recordings of Dylan Thomas and T. S. Eliot reading their work (with the exception of the ensemble play Under Milk Wood, which you must listen to); those other dudes seemed to recite their poetry in a monotone.

Click on the screenshot to go to the recordings (you can also download the mp3s). The text is given should you want to read along. But I wish they’d recorded the last few pages of The Dead!

h/t: Stephen

Here’s the raven!

Did you find the raven in the photo below?

I had trouble, but here’s the answer:

Is that a raven in your pants or are you happy to see me?

Catholic teacher fired for same-sex marriage; colleagues warned to stay away from such weddings

It’s about time that the Pope has a revelation, and gives some pronouncement ex cathedra, that people can marry others of the same sex.  People happen to fall in love with others of their sex, and there’s no good reason, save an antiquated and fictitious book, to keep them from formalizing their relationship.  I don’t know how, given their history, that Catholics will eventually stop demonizing gays, but if they don’t they’ll lose adherents. Even if the Vatican isn’t moved by the moral suasion, they might be moved by Catholics voting with their feet. You don’t have to eat fish on Friday any more, so clearly the Church can change its tune.

The New York Times (click below) recounts the story of how a great teacher—one beloved by her first-grade students at a Catholic school in Miami—was fired because she married what she called “the love of my life.” That very phrase makes me tear up, and to think that she’d lose her job because of that is shameful. But go ahead, read the story:

Jocelyn Morffi (left above) was fired three days after marrying her girlfriend of two years, Natasha Hass.  The Archdiocese of Miami explained in an email that Morffi was fired “because she violated a contract stipulating that teachers must abide by Catholic teachings and traditions.” By all accounts, Morffi was a “faithful Catholic”. Her “sin” was falling in love with another woman.

The Church wouldn’t clarify what the violation was, but we all know, and so did Ms. Morffi on her Instagram account:

As if that’s not bad enough, the NYT reports that other teachers were put on notice (my emphasis):

Four teachers attended the wedding, one of them told The Times on Wednesday. She asked not to be named out of fear for her career.

After Ms. Morffi was fired, the teacher said, they were called into a meeting with school officials. She said they were warned that if they wanted to continue working for the school, they could not post pictures or attend events that would be considered supportive of same-sex marriage.

The human resources representative at the meeting “didn’t straight out say you’ll be fired if you do, but that’s what she led us to believe,” the teacher said, adding that she was disappointed about how the situation was handled.

“We pick and choose what is considered wrong and what we’re going to enforce, and I think it’s like a joke,” she said.

The teachers were also asked to read a memo written in 2015 by Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, after Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was lifted.

The memo cited a statement from the Catholic Bishops of Florida that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and said that if employees did not lead lives that were consistent with Catholic teachings it could lead to firing, even if the behavior in question occurs outside of work.

Although Dade County, where Morffi worked, has legal protections for gay people, they don’t apply to religious organizations. Morffi’s former students are confused and upset, and the school, out of a screwed-up adherence to outdated morality, has lost a fantastic teacher:

Ms. Morffi was an exemplary teacher, several parents said, and one friend described her as a faithful Catholic.

She encouraged students to distribute food throughout Miami’s poor neighborhoods through a nonprofit she created called Teach Hope. She volunteered as a basketball coach. And Ms. Mills recalled that every morning, as Ms. Morffi’s students filed into class, she played feel-good songs, like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Well, it’s their loss, and I hope somebody snaps up Morffi soon. Best of luck to her with that, and with her new partner.  And the Church can just bugger off.

(From NYT): Ms. Morffi, left, and Ms. Hass. Credit Katerina Reyes-Gutierrez

I get email threats

This is the first email I read when I got up this morning. The name and email address are surely fake, and the title of the email, oddly enough, was “Interesting paper about hybrid speciation”. I reproduce the email exactly as I got it:
Anonymous Anonymous <>

I’m sick of religious fanatics like you trying to shove gOD down my fucking throat. I don’t even need to read your blog to figure out you’re just another Kurt Wise preaching creationism while raping innocent nigger children hypocritically. I’m hacking into the mainframe to find your address right now and when I do don’t be surprised when you wake up with a dick in your mouth and your eyes gouged out. That’s what you get when you mess with Antifa and side yourself with DRUMPF supporters you goddamned motherniggering kike.

James Affleck

Now this person is clearly deranged, if for no other reason than they have no clue about my stand on creationism or my religiosity. Still, this is one of the few nasty emails that I consider a threat, though I’m not really scared.

I have the full email headers, and am inclined to report this to the authorities. But to whom? The local police? The FBI? And are there cybersleuths among the readers who might be able to track this person down from the full email header?

Find the raven!

Here’s some more persiflage: our first “spot the. . .” quiz that isn’t a photo. It’s a drawing on an old British postcard. There’s a raven hidden in it! Can you spot it? Answer at 1 pm Chicago time (h/t: Matthew).

If you’ve visited the Tower of London—and you must if you’re in town—you’ll not only see the Crown Jewels and the Beefeaters, but the famous population of captive ravens, kept in the tower (one wing is clipped so they can’t fly away) and tended by the Beefeaters. They’re famous, and here are two of them, Jubilee and Munin. What a great photo! The last time I visited the Tower, I found the Raven Master (one of the Beefeaters, or Yeomen Warders) and had a nice chat about the birds.

They’re well fed, too. In an article devoted solely to these birds, Wikipedia reports:

The diet of the ravens is carefully maintained; it includes fresh fruit, cheese and fresh meat, as well as vitamins and other supplements. In 2007, the Ravenmaster Derek Coyle commented: “I buy fresh meat from Smithfield – liver, lamb, beef, chicken. And occasionally when I’m at my own place in Suffolk someone will give me some rabbit that’s been killed. If I see roadkill on the road, and it’s not been too badly mangled, I normally put it in a black bag and bring it back here. I give them biscuits as well, soaked in blood from the meat that I buy. And in winter I get them capsules of cod liver oil. I know they’re getting as much vitamins and oil as they possibly can. That’s why they look so healthy.”

Check back in a few hours if you didn’t spot the raven in the drawing. Note: try not to give it away in the comments.

Trouble ahead: Delaware allows students to self-identify by race as well as gender

First, recall the case of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identified as black and managed to convince others that she really was an African American. Dolezal eventually worked her way up to becoming chairman of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in Spokane, Washington. When she told the local police that she’d been the victim of multiple anti-black hate crimes, her white parents finally outed her. The police found no evidence of those crimes, and she was ostracized for pretending (even if she really believed) that she was a member of a different race. Dolezal resigned from her position at the NAACP and then was dismissed from her job—instructor in Africana studies at Eastern Washington University—as well as being removed as head of the local ombudsman commission of the police department.

The anger from the black community (and many others) at a white woman passing for a person of a different race mystified me a bit. It seemed to me that Dolezal really did self-identify as black; she wasn’t playing some kind of trick or trying to deceive anyone. And if race is a “social construct”, as gender is said to be, then why couldn’t you say you’re black if you feel as if you’re black—just as you can say that you’re a woman if you feel as if you’re a woman, even if you were born with the biological sex of male? (You can’t argue that there’s a difference because the gender dysphoria rests on hormonal titer and neurology, while the racial feeling doesn’t, for Dolezal’s feeling that she was black clearly derived from her brain wiring. In both cases there’s a biological aspect to the feeling of being trapped in the wrong body.) But transgender identity is accepted by most people, while transracialism is not.

To my mind, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be permitted to choose the gender you identify with and not be allowed to choose the race you identify with if both are “social constructs”.  And I don’t really care if people determine their identity this way, though, as I show below, some authorities will have to care.

Indeed, the philosophical equivalence of transgenderism and transracialism was the subject of a now-infamous but decent article in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia. The article was written by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and was called “In defense of transracialism“ (it’s free online if you have the free and legal app Unpaywall). Tuvel, after examining the justifications for transracialism and transgenderism, concluded this:

I have taken it as my task in this article to argue that a just society should reconsider what we owe individuals who claim a strongly felt sense of identification with another race, and accordingly what we want race to be. I hope to have shown that, insofar as similar arguments that render transgenderism acceptable extend to transracialism, we have reason to allow racial self-identification, coupled with racial social treatment, to play a greater role in the determination of race than has previously been recognized. I conclude that society should accept such an individual’s decision to change race the same way it should accept an individual’s decision to change sex.

Tuvel, however, did not automatically accept that Dolezal truly self-identified as black. But that was irrelevant to her argument, which was comparing the philosophical justifications for accepting transgenderism and transracialism.

As you can imagine, Tuvel’s views couldn’t be allowed to stand! While Tuvel’s conclusions are reasonable, it’s not ideologically convenient for the Authoritarian Left to allow people to identify with another race. After all, that could give someone from a more “privileged” group, like whites, the justification to identify with a less privileged group, as Dolezal did. And that is unacceptable, for those in the latter group will argue that “You can’t claim you’re black since you haven’t had the black experience nor been oppressed when you once identified as white.” (That’s the same argument that “trans-exclusive radical feminists”, or TERFs, make against accepting transgender women as “real” women—they haven’t had have “the female experience” when they were brought up, and haven’t suffered the oppression that is said to go with such an upbringing.)

At any rate, that authoritarian ideology is behind the huge opprobrium that came down on Tuvel for writing what, after all, was simply a philosophical examination of political positions. (See my articles on this controversy here, here, and here.) Some of Hypatia‘s associate editors apologized publicly for “the harms that the publication of [Tuvel’s article] had caused”, hundreds of her colleagues called Tuvel a “transphobe” (she’s clearly not), letters were written to the journal calling for the retraction of her article (it’s still there), two of the journal’s editors (including the main editor) resigned, and the journal’s board of directors suspended the duties of all associate editors pending an investigation and restructuring. Wikipedia now has an article called “The Hypatia transracialism controversy.” which reproduces part of the statement from the associate editors:

We, the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors, extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists, and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused.

. . . To compare ethically the lived experience of trans people (from a distinctly external perspective) primarily to a single example of a white person claiming to have adopted a black identity creates an equivalency that fails to recognize the history of racial appropriation, while also associating trans people with racial appropriation. We recognize and mourn that these harms will disproportionately fall upon those members of our community who continue to experience marginalization and discrimination due to racism and cisnormativity.

Objectively, no harms were done, except perhaps to people’s feelings, and those I ignore. Her article dealt with an interesting issue in a reasonable way. And what Tuvel was doing was not comparing Dolezal with a whole group: she was comparing the arguments for Dolezal’s identity to those for transgender identity.

If ever there was an academic witch hunt, and risible behavior by scholars who should know better, this was it. You may not agree with Tuvel’s arguments (I find them pretty convincing), but no sane person can say she deserves the kind of personal attacks she experienced.

Now the whole business is going to start up again, for, as Delaware Online reports (here and here), Governor John Carney of Delaware has directed his Department of Education to come up with a policy that protects children of any race or gender (self identified or not) from discrimination and bullying.  That policy allows transgender students to use whatever restroom and locker room they identify with, and also stipulates that a student can, with his or her parents’ permission, stipulate what gender and race he or she must be recognized as belonging to. Further, the student can use a name different from his/her birth name. If the school deems the parents “not supportive” of the student’s choice, the school can use the student’s self-identified gender, race, and name without consulting the parents. Here’s the part of the bill that’s causing trouble:

Here’s the pdf file of the entire bill, with this being the contentious part:

The bill is designed to bring the schools in line with Delaware’s state prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.  Curiously, only 14 of the 50 states prohibit LGBTQ students from discrimination at school, and 18 against bullying. Actually, no student should be bullied, for any reason, and action should be taken if they are. But I think these restrictions are legal ones, so criminal or civil action can follow if discrimination or bullying takes place based on the criteria above. But shouldn’t the same kind of action be taken against bullying for any reason?

The parents and some Delaware school boards are objecting, of course—largely on the basis of the Dreaded Bathroom and Locker Room Issues. As I’ve said before, a transgender student should be accommodated in those respects as far as possible, but that accommodation must also consider the well being of the other students. So, for example, I see no problem with mixed-sex bathrooms, especially having stalls, but more of a problem if a transgender female who still has male genitals wishes to change in the girls’ locker room. There one might have to put up curtained changing booths.

What brings up more problems, however, is the self-identity principle, both for race and sex. Here are some of the questions it raises:

  1. If a self-identified woman student who is biologically male wants to apply to a women’s college, how far should her transition have gone before she can attend? Will a simple assertion of gender identity suffice, with no attempt to transition, suffice? That’s a decision for the college, and I have no opinion about it. (Are there still any colleges that are all male?)
  2. How will school athletics be handled with respect to self-identified genders that don’t match their biological sex? The concern is usually that a self-identified female who is biologically male, and thus has the male upper body strength, will join a girl’s team and clean up. The Olympics has ways of handling this based on hormone titer over time, but now schools will have to develop their own policies. Again, I leave this in the hands of the experts.
  3.  If a white person claims they’re of a minority race, will they then be allowed to apply for scholarships or other perks reserved for blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities? (This is not a problem for the reverse identification: minorities identifying as white, for there are, so far as I know, no special perks reserved in statutes for whites alone?)

So down the line the schools will have to handle the problem that Rebecca Tuvel discussed. They’re already dealing with transgender issues, and now they’ll have to deal with transracial ones. Will they treat them differently, being harder on the claims of transracial students? Only time will tell.

Whatever the schools do, expect a revival of the transgender vs. transracial fight among Leftists, who haven’t yet become aware of this regulation. As I said, I don’t care what a student wants to be called or considered (well, I may draw the line at animal “otherkins’), but I’m glad I’m not in the position to have to make decisions about athletics or set-asides for members of minority ethnic groups.

Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Joe Dickson sent me many batches of pictures, and here’s one with diverse wildlife.  His notes are indented.

First, the “teaser”:

We returned just today from a trip to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge complex, about 200 miles north of this pair.  I have about 1500 photos, so it will take a couple of weeks to select, sort (mostly delete) and edit the new set.  Meanwhile, attached is a teaser – geese flying into the refuge just at sunrise so they appear illuminated from below.

Here are shots from a December trip primarily to see wintering waterfowl in the Merced and San Louis National Wildlife Refuges over in the California Central Valley, with some nice non-waterfowl bonuses. The most striking concentrations were Ross’s goose (Chen rossii) and snow goose (Chen caerulescens), often in mixed flocks and difficult to distinguish at a distance.

Although more dispersed, ducks were also present in the thousands, mostly northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), cinnamon teal (Anas cyanoptera) and northern pintail (Anas acuta) pictured in that order below.

The most common wader was the black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus).


Large flocks of geese flew out from the wetlands early in the morning, only to be found foraging in nearby fields.  All those I got close to seem to be Ross’s.

It wasn’t all waterfowl and waders. Here is a nice red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).

A rather laid back coyote (Canis latrans).

And a Black-tailed deer (a subspecies of mule deerOdocoileus hemionus columbianus).

Finally, we did not see sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) on the ground this time but did catch them flying from farm fields back into the refuge in the evening.

Still more on the color illusion

Well, a reader showed in an email that that the hearts in the illusion below really were very slightly different colors due to the compression algorithms used in making the image. (However, those slight differences do not account for the striking perceptual effect).  The reader who demonstrated this anomaly won an autographed book from Matthew.

HOWEVER, reader Mel made his own illusion, so we know that here the colors of the squares really are identical. His notes:

To demonstrate the phenomenon a bit more cleanly I constructed the following image using a spreadsheet. I used very small cells (0.3 cm x 0.3 cm) and filled them with various colors and then took a screenshot. The image still shows the illusion and only three colors were used in constructing the image (magenta, orange, blue-green).

And another demonstration using magic markers. I think the efficacy of the lines in fooling viewers about the color has been shown. We’ll now leave this illusion behind and move on.

Sunday: Hili dialogue

Good morning on Sunday, February 18, 2018. It’s It’s National “Drink Wine” Day (why the scare quotes?), which I commemorated yesterday but was wrong. That day is today, so drink some wine.

I have little to say about this day because I prepared a dialogue yesterday and the events all turned out to be on NOVEMBER 18. For some reason I can’t fathom, I’m always confusing November and February (perhaps I have a mirror image of the year). So here are a few events as I recoup:

On this day in 1885, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) published  the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the U.S. Now schools are busy banning it. As Wikipedia notes, on February 18, 1911, “The first official flight with airmail takes place from Allahabad, United Provinces, British India (now India), when Henri Pequet, a 23-year-old pilot, delivers 6,500 letters to Naini, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away.” Why they would use a plane to fly 6500 letters only 10 km, unless it was an experiment, is a mystery to me. On this day in 1930, Pluto was discovered by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh while studying photos taken the previous month. It’s now classified not as a planet, but as a “dwarf planet.”  I reject that classification. There are nine planets in our solar system: the first is Mercury and the last is Pluto. (Do not attempt to argue with me.)  On this day in 1954, the first Church of Scientology opened in Los Angeles. To see what that “faith” does to people, watch the following video featuring Tom Cruise and David Miscavage. It includes Cruises’ famous Scientology meltdown and clips of him receiving an award from Miscavage at the Scientology convention in 2004.

On this day in 1970, the Chicago Seven were found not guilty of inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. (The more of them you can name, the older you are! I came up with five.)  On this day in 2010, WikiLeaks published the first of a gazillion classified documents disclosed by the soldier now called Chelsea Manning. Finally, on February 18, 2013, the Great Diamond Theft occurred at the Brussels Airport, with thieves taking $50 million worth of diamonds. 31 people were arrested for this in May of that year, and some (but not all) of the diamonds were recovered.

Notables born on this day include Wallace Stegner (1909), Helen Gurley Brown (1922), Yoko Ono (1933; she’s 85 today), Cybill Shepherd (1950), John Travolta (1954), Vanna White (1957), and Molly Ringwald (1968). Those who breathed their last on February 18 include Fra Angelico (1455), Michelangelo (1564), J. Robert Oppenheimer (1967), Harry Caray (1998, who now consorts with real Holy Cows), and Dale Earnhardt (2001).  As far as I can see, Michelangelo never drew a cat, but many have been created under his inspiration, like these:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili smells something odd:

Hili: Facinating!
A: What?
Hili: Exactly—what?
In Polish:
Hili: Fascynujące!
Ja: Co?
Hili: No właśnie, co?

Here’s a tweet found by Matthew, which pretty much holds for all pet cats:

And there was a big catfight on Downing Street yesterday between Larry, the Official Mouser to the Cabinet Office, and Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat. Larry (left) clearly lost; he’s always been a wuss, and can’t even mouse properly!

Sheep ball!

This is sweet and very sad:

Grania found an interesting-looking tuxedo cat fascinated with her tail:

Wake up! Baby goats are prancing!

Nobody should be sleeping now if there’s this to watch. (Be sure to turn the sound on.)