Thursday, September 23, 2021

Covid certificates at the University of Basel

On 1 November, the University of Basel will introduce a Covid-certificate requirement for in-person courses. This is a delayed response to the Swiss Federal Council's ruling that, starting on 13 September, people must have a certificate showing vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative test in order to attend indoor events (such as concerts, restaurants, movies, and lectures). However, registered students who don't have the certificate can ask to be offered alternatives to in-person classroom instruction. I'm all for giving such options to those who cannot be vaccinated (because of autoimmune disorders, say), but instructors should not have to make extra arrangements for those who refuse to get vaccinated or even tested. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 September 2021)

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Behind "Parkinson's Law" is a formula

Over the course of the summer, as I planned my classes for this semester, I thought that I would finish earlier than usual, but here I am still preparing the syllabus for a class that first meets on Friday. "The work expands to fill the time allotted" – that's the phrase that keeps coming back to me. I wondered where the idea comes from: it's "Parkinson's Law", formulated in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, who went on to publish a 1957 book about it. Parkinson was referring to the growth of bureaucracy over time – and he even formulated it as an equation involving how much staff growth can be expected every year. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 22 September 2021)


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

George Mraz (1944-2021)

One summer in the 1980s at the Stanford Coffee House, I served beer late every afternoon to the bassist George Mraz (1944-2021), who was teaching at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. I knew and loved his playing, most of all on the John Abercrombie Quartet albums he did with Richie Beirach and Peter Donald. He was worried about his career that summer because he had tendinitis in his wrist and was supposed to not be playing at all. Around twenty years later, I heard him with Joe Lovano in Basel (with Hank Jones and Victor Lewis) and was glad to see that he no longer had to play with a wrist brace. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 September 2021)


John Abercrombie (top); Richie Beirach, George Mraz, Peter Donald

Monday, September 20, 2021

Back to teaching in person at the University of Basel

Although I was looking forward to it, I wasn't sure how I'd respond to teaching classes in person again when I arrived at the University today for the first day of the semester. I made sure to go in early enough to print handouts and go to my first classroom well in advance (one I'd never previously taught in). But then the computer in my office wouldn't start (it was installing an update), the classroom was locked, and my key didn't work. I called someone, who came to open it, but when class started, I didn't even think about how we were all in a room together rather than on Zoom. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 20 September 2021)

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Hearing melody and meter in what my children say

My children have always been struck by how I take things they say and start to sing them or repeat them. Often they use phrases that have been used in songs, such as "a long time ago", which my mind immediately turns into "a long, long time ago" from "American Pie". Or they'll use phrases with a noticeable rhythm, as just happened while Luisa was driving a few minutes ago: "I thought I knew the person on the bike." I heard the iambic pentameter, repeated the sentence, and added a next line: "And so I didn't see the light turn green." Luckily, no one was behind us to honk at her. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 September 2021)


How to turn a traffic light green | Morning Bulletin

Saturday, September 18, 2021

"The club is temporarily closed due to a legal order": The Bird's Eye Jazz Club in Basel

Since I bought my one-year pass to Basel's Bird's Eye Jazz Club in July, I've attended twelve concerts there: three each by the Hans Feigenwinter Trio and a Chico Freeman band, plus single shows led by Slawek Plizga, Joe Haider, Fabio Gouvêa, Arismar do Espirito Santo, and Guillermo Klein (with the Swiss Jazz Orchestra), as well as the band Katom. I'd made a reservation for saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane last night, but the club called me to say they wouldn't be open; as their website says: "The club is temporarily closed due to a legal order." After they didn't implement the covid certificate, their alternative approach was rejected by the local government. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 18 September 2021)


Friday, September 17, 2021

"Die Sonne geht in meinem Staat nicht unter": The extent of the sixteenth-century Spanish Empire and Friedrich Schiller's "Don Karlos"

In Friedrich Schiller's "Don Karlos", King Philip II of Spain (the title character's father) describes his kingdom with a phrase now primarily associated with Britain: "Die Sonne geht in meinem Staat nicht unter" ("The sun does not set in my state"). Schiller's play was first performed in 1787; its action takes place in 1568 (at the beginning of the Eighty Years' War of Dutch independence from Spain). Before it was used with reference to the British Empire, then, the phrase about "the sun never setting" was applied to the sixteenth-century Spanish Empire, beginning with the reign of Philip II's father Charles I (of Spain, Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire).  (Andrew Shields, #111words, 17 September 2021)

Dom Carlos 1787.jpg