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Ciara: I Bet

Remarks:

This is currently #15 on the US R&B charts.

Lyrics:

I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you
I bet you start needing me
Soon as you see me with someone else
Somebody other than you
And I know that it hurts
You know that it hurts your pride
But you thought the grass was greener on the other side
I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you

So I’m supposed to believe that it’s Fellini’s calling’ your phone?
I’m supposed to believe that they’re asking’ you if you’re home
I wasn’t born yesterday, not me, can’t get that over me, not me
I love you but I won’t be a fool for you
That is just something’ that I wouldn’t do, babe
I mean I would stay if you could tell the truth
But you can’t, no matter how much time I ask

Is that your bitch over there giving me the ugly stare
The one with the silicone ass, and the Brazilian hair?
You ain’t gon’ respect me no no no till I’m not there
See, I got you comfortable, now you ain’t really scared

I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you
I bet you start needing me
Soon as you see me with someone else
Somebody other than you
And I know that it hurts
You know that it hurts your pride
But you thought the grass was greener on the other side
I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you

So you bought me a car, he can buy that too
I can take care of myself and I can find someone to do it too, baby
You actin’ like you upgrading me, I upgraded you
You and me Fashion Week at Paris, I put you on to that new
But you took advantage of, you took advantage of, you took advantage
I cannot understand it, I cannot understand it, I cannot understand it
I thought you’d always be there for me, yeah yeah
But if you ask me if I knew better now, hell yeah

So you can keep that bitch over there giving’ me the ugly stare
The one with the silicone ass, and the Brazilian hair?
You ain’t gon’ respect me no no no till I’m not there
See, I got you comfortable, now you ain’t really scared

I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you
I bet you start needing me soon as you see me with someone else
Somebody other than you
And I know that it hurts, you know that it hurts your pride
But you thought the grass was greener on the other side
I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you

Baby, tell me what’s it, gonna take to keep it
All the way one hundred
You won’t get it ’til I’m gon’ away (away)

I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you
I bet you start needing me
Soon as you see me with someone else
Somebody other than you
And I know that it hurts
You know that it hurts your pride
But you thought the grass was greener on the other side
I bet you start loving me
Soon as I start loving someone else
Somebody better than you

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
I hate, I hate that I’m singing this song, singing this song
‘Cause I love you
Yeah I love you

Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
I’m all cried out
I’m all tried out
I’m all fired out
Yeah

Right now it’s killing me
‘Cause now I have to find someone else
When all I wanted was you.

St Isidore of Seville

isidore-of-seville

St Isidore of Seville (c. 560-636), a Spanish bishop and the patron saint of the Internet, was one of the most learned men of the West in his day – and for a thousand years one of the most quoted.

Fans: Leonardo da Vinci, Petrarch, Alcuin, Bede.

He is best known for “Etymologies” (633), an early encyclopedia, a “work of very mediocre intelligence” according to C.S. Lewis. It summed up Isidore’s 16 other books, making it an outline of his knowledge of the world. It featured a good understanding of Latin, half-understood Greek science and Christianized Roman learning.

“Etymologies” became one of the standard reference books of the Western Middle Ages. It listed everything an educated person of the time would or should know. Like that the Earth is not flat.

The book starts out with what became known as the trivium and quadrivium:

  • trivium: grammar, rhetoric, dialectic.
  • quadrivium: mathematics, geometry, music, astronomy.

He and Cassiodorus pushed to make this the course of study at schools.

He knew that the Sun was larger than the Earth, and that the Earth was larger than the Moon.

On the other hand, he believed in unicorns.

On the whole, though, he is better than, say, Pliny the Elder, who wrote an even earlier encyclopedia some 500 years before.

Time, for Isidore, goes from Creation (-5199) to the 17th year of Heraclius (626), the Byzantine emperor. But he does not date years before and after Christ, but “of the Caesars”, the year Augustus took over Spain, 38 years before Christ.

The world goes from the Gorgades (Cape Verde islands) to Seres (China), but there is another part of the world:

“across the Ocean, unknown to us. It is in the south in the sun’s burning heat.”

As if he were talking about Brazil.

Isidore’s book often came with a T-and-O map of the world: the world as a circle with Asia as the top half, Europe and Africa as the bottom half, making what looks like a T inside an O. East was “up” and Jerusalem stood near the centre.

Etimologías_-_Mapa_del_Mundo_Conocido

Isidore’s private library was large. Above the main door it said:

“Here are masses of books, both sacred and secular.”

Some of what seems to have been in it, arranged chronologically:

  • -300s Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates
  • -200s Plautus, Naevius
  • -100s Old Testament, Ennius, Terence, Lucilius
  • -000s Virgil, Cicero, Varro, Lucretius, Sallust, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Cato, Afranius
  • +000s Persius, Lucan, Martial, Pliny, Columella, Josephus, Strabo
  • +100s Juvenal, Galen, Suetonius, Soranus of Ephesus, Tertullian, Aulus Gellius
  • +200s Origen, Lactantius, Solinus
  • +300s New Testament, Eusebius, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, Servius, Donatus
  • +400s Augustine, Paulus Orosius, Nonius Marcellus, Macrobius, Capella
  • +500s Cassiodorus, Boethius, Breviary of Alaric, Gregory the Great
  • +600s

The ones in red were also in Augustine’s library.

Isidore succeeded his brother as bishop of Seville and carried on his work of converting the ruling Visigoths from Arianism to Catholicism. Arians believed Jesus was neither God nor man but something in between. Much of what we know about Goths comes from Isidore.

St Isidore’s Day: April 4th.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

522

Alexandria

The Lighthouse of Alexandria in ancient times.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria in ancient times.

Alexandria (since -331) is the second largest city in Egypt, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea at the western edge of the Nile Delta. Founded by Alexander the Great, it was the city of Cleopatra, the first city to have a million people. It was once a centre of world trade, Greek learning and Christian thought.

Americana_1920_Cleopatra's_Needle_NYC

New York’s Cleopatra’s Needle that once stood in Alexandria.

Alexandria is best known for:

  • The Library of Alexandria (-295 to +646), which sought to gather together all the books of the world – and its greatest minds. It was destroyed by Christians and Muslims. A new Library opened in 2002, storing not just books but much of the Internet.
  • The Pharos or Lighthouse of Alexandria (-280? to 1300s), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. A fire burned at the top. Ships at sea could see its fire by night and its smoke by day, 50 km away. Destroyed by earthquakes.
  • Cleopatra’s Needles (-1400s to present) were obelisks brought to Alexandria 15 years after Cleopatra’s death. Moved to London and New York in the 1800s.

Alexandria gave us:

  • putting things in alphabetical order,
  • metal springs,
  • latitude and longitude,
  • copies of Homer, Aristophanes, Thucydides, Herodotus, Pindar and Aeschylus.
  • what we think of as the New Testament (the canon of 27 books),
  • trigonometry,
  • punctuation,
  • human anatomy,
  • Euclidean geometry,
  • a good approximation of the size of the Earth,
  • Arianism,
  • the Coptic Church.

Alexandria was the city where Asia, Africa and Europe met. Much of the trade between India and Europe flowed through it till the 1400s. They used to say you could buy anything there except snow. It was also where Egypt met the world of the Greeks and Romans and, later, the French and British.

In ancient times most people were Greek, Egyptian or Jewish, but there were also Romans, Nubians, Carthaginians, Babylonians, Arabs and Iberians. It was a place where all kinds of people and ideas mixed – and sometimes fought. Alexandria was not “Egyptianized” till 1956, in the wake of the Suez Crisis when Nasser kicked out nearly all the foreigners. But it is still a place of McDonald’s, Coke and Nike.

Most Westerners end the story of Alexandria in 415 when Greek science, in the person of Hypatia, was pulled from her carriage by a Christian mob and killed. Yet when the Arabs arrived in 641 it was still a place of:

“4,000 palaces, 4,000 baths, 400 theatres, 1200 greengrocers and 40,000 Jews.”

The story goes that the Arabs, having the Koran, saw no use for the books of the Library – other than to burn them to heat the baths for six months.

The Greeks and Romans ruled Egypt from Alexandria. The Arabs, threatened by Byzantine sea power, moved the capital inland to what is now Cairo.

In the 1400s Europeans found a way to get to India and the Spice Islands that cut Alexandria out. By 1798 Alexandria was little more than a fishing village.

The Alexandria of our time (2015) sprang up in the 1800s on the back of cotton, helped along by the American Civil War (which hurt US cotton exports) and the Suez Canal.

– Abagond, 2015.

236717-inside-the-library-alexandria-egypt

The new Library of Alexandria.

maxresdefault

Alexandria, 2015

See also:

567

the-economist-style-guideDisclaimer: This is part serious, part tongue-in-cheek.

The Economist has a style guide online, but do not be fooled! They do not always follow it – and, besides, it leaves out tons of important stuff.

So here are the main things to keep in mind to write like The Economist:

1. Attend Oxford University. Cambridge, if you must.

2. Be White – like 97% of its correspondents. Or at least be near White, like the other 3%.

3. Be anonymous. You are allowed to call yourself “this correspondent” or “this reporter”.

4. Be Eurocentric. Westerners are 4.7 times more important than everyone else. The table of contents proves it! Everyone should be like the West. The US, Britain and Israel are the moral centre of the world, even when they break international law. Even when they slaughter civilians. Because they mean well.

5. Be racist – do not have “trembling racial sensibilities”. Be wilfully blind to racism! Say that slave owners were nice to their slaves – capitalism rocks! Use the Broken Africa stereotype, Black pathologies and Mock Spanish. Use the word “whitey”. Assume that everyone wants to be like White people. If someone does not want to wear blue jeans or date White women, there must be something wrong with them.

6. Use the four-and-a-half race model for the US: blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and, only when talking about the other races, whites.

7. Watch Hollywood films.

8. Article length: 450 to 1500 words.

9. Reading level: university.

10. Do not use an inverse pyramid style. Do not tell readers the most important facts first. Keep them guessing!

11. Headline: Use film titles, like “From Russia With Love”, “Face-Off”, or “As Good As It Gets”. They are so witty!

12. Think in terms of abstract nouns and weak verbs, not concrete actors and actions.

13. Use unnecessarily long sentences. This is a must.

14. Avoid single-line paragraphs. This is forbidden.

15. Overuse: chat up, bit, keen, loth, fret, row, sort, flog, sacked, ten years on, flog (again), put paid, one-off, knock-on effect, bizarrely, invariably and problem.

16. Do not use issue as a synonym for problem. Be precise. Use problem.

17. Use Briticisms: lorry, whinge, petrol, maths, quango, council estate, queue, come top, white goods, pushchair, fizzy drink, boffin, jam tomorrow. But do not overdo it – an article should have no more than two. Just to even it out, use the American spelling for aluminium.

18. Avoid slang, jargon, needless words and cricket metaphors. They are so good at this that I try to avoid baseball and basketball metaphors, like strike out and slam dunk.

19. Important terms:

  • this newspaperThe Economist.
  • terrorist – a non-state actor or regime that fights against Western interests.
  • regime – a government that The Economist disapproves of, like those that go against against Western interests.
  • Western interests – big banks and big companies owned by White people, like the ones most of The Economist’s readers work for.
  • illegal immigrant – be reductive and imprecise!
  • sub-Saharan Africa – because all Black people are alike.
  • black-on-black crime – use when talking about police crime.
  • white fathers – do not use.
  • black fathers – use.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

586

Rewriting The Economist

the-economist-cover-2011-01-08I love to read The Economist just for its writing. I wish I could write like that – though I do think they write at a university level even when that is not necessary.

To start to understand how they write, I will take a paragraph of theirs and write it the way I would and then compare.

This one is from “A troubling rise in xenophobic vitriol” (September 27th 2014). I chose it because it is self-contained, not too long and is interesting in its own right:

“Japan has about 500,000 non-naturalised Koreans, some of whom have come in the past couple of decades but many of whose families were part of a diaspora that arrived during Japan’s imperial era in the first half of the 20th century. They have long been targets of hostility. After the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, Tokyo residents launched a pogrom against ethnic Koreans, claiming that they had poisoned the water supply.”

How I would write that:

“Japan has about 500,000 Koreans who are not citizens. Some have come since 1950, but many Korean families came in the early 1900s, back when Japan ruled Korea. People in Japan have long hated them, killing hundreds if not thousands of them in Tokyo in 1923 after the Great Kanto Earthquake. They said the Koreans had poisoned the water.”

Note that “ruled Korea” and “killing hundreds if not thousands” does not necessarily follow from what The Economist stated, but in this case it is what lies behind the words “imperial” and “pogrom”.

Fat content: When I tried this exercise with Time magazine, I could cut up to 75%. With Chomsky, it was 32%. Here I was able to cut 18%. By that measure, The Economist has much less fat. Their writing does in fact seem leaner (though probably not as lean as James Baldwin’s).

Most of their fat comes from a habit of mind, common in written English, where you think in terms of impersonal abstract nouns.

In their paragraph, “diaspora”, “hostility” and “pogrom”, not any actors or actions, take centre stage. The Japanese and Koreans are seen in relation to them. That is why:

  • Korean families did not “come” to Japan, but “were part of a diaspora” that did.
  • The Japanese did not “hate” Koreans, but Koreans found themselves the targets of “hostility” that did.
  • The Japanese did not “kill” Koreans, but “launched a pogrom” that did.

Also, Japan did not “rule” Korea, instead there was just this part of history called “Japan’s imperial era” – another abstraction.

But the main thing that makes their writing university level is not these abstractions but sentence length.

Take a look: most of their paragraph is taken up by just one sentence, the first one, which is 43 words long. It is hardly their longest or most twisted.

This leaves me knowing what is bad about their writing, but not what is good, aside from its leanness.

The next time my mother gushes over one of their obituaries, I should try to rewrite it.

To be continued.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

556

Empire

empire

“Empire” (2015- ) is a US television show that stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson (pictured above). It is like a Black “Dallas” (1978-1991) or “Dynasty” (1981-1989). It tells the tale of Empire, a record company, a family business that tears apart its family.

It is the most successful all-Black drama on US network television since “Roots” (1976), as far as I can remember. Maybe I am forgetting something – or maybe the networks forget to put on all-Black dramas.

Creators: Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, they who gave us “The Butler” (2013). Strong, who is White, got the idea for the show from a rap song.

Guest stars: Jennifer Hudson, Courtney Love, Cuba Gooding, Jr, Snoop Dog, Patti LaBelle and Estelle.

Recurring characters played by Gabourey Sidibe, Naomi Campbell, Malik Yoba and Tasha Smith.

Shooting locations:

  • Chicago – plays New York.
  • West Side of Chicago – plays West Philly.

Based on: “The Lion in Winter” (1968):

  • Angevin Empire = Empire.
  • France = Creedmoor, a rival record company.
  • King Henry II = Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), head of Empire.
  • Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine = Cookie Lyons (Taraji P. Henson), his ex-wife.
  • their three grown but young sons:
    • John = Hakeem, spoiled, the father’s favourite.
    • Geoffrey = Andre, the “brains”. No one likes him.
    • Richard the Lionheart = Jamal, talented, the mother’s favourite.
Lucious with his three sons

Lucious and his three sons

Lucious Lyon is sick. Doctors give him three years at best. He has to choose which of his three sons will take over Empire. Just then Cookie gets out of prison after serving 17 years on a drug charge, 12 of which she served to protect Lucious from being charged with murder. Empire was founded using her drug money. Lucious divorced her while she was in prison and now has a light-skinned girlfriend, Anika, a fan of Machiavelli (pictured below).

Empire

Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealy), the other woman.

The first episode was powerful. In a flashback, Jamal is five wearing his mother’s high-heel shoes and scarf while Lucious is playing cards with his friends. He throws Jamal in the trash can. That is taken straight from Lee Daniels’s own life.

Gratuitous picture of Taraji P. Henson.

Gratuitous picture of Taraji P. Henson.

Cookie and her sons deep down want Lucious’s love. Money and control of the company are merely the scorecard. But Lucious is incapable of love. He does not accept Jamal because he is gay. He does not accept Andre because he lacks musical talent and is married to a White woman. He favours Hakeem, but he is not as talented as Jamal or himself.

Stereotypes: Blacks as drug dealers, killers, rappers, hoodrats, etc. Daniels comes from the same West Philly that Lucious and Cookie do, yet he is none of those things.

  • Lucious Lyons plays the main stereotype White Americans have about Black men: the Black Brute or thug stereotype. Even as a successful businessman, he is still murderously violent, “reverting to type”.
  • Cookie Lyons plays the main steretotype White Americans have about Black women: the Sapphire stereotype – angry, in your face, loud, making everything into a fight, hard to get along with, etc. In a show full of snakes, that can be refreshing, but it still confirms the stereotype.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

The Lion in Winter

henry_eleanor

“The Lion in Winter” (1968) is a British film about King Henry II, starring Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn (pictured above). A young Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton appear on film for the first time. The US television show, “Empire” (2015- ), set in present-day Black America, is based on this film.

It won three Oscars:

  1. Best Actress: Katherine Hepburn;
  2. Best Adapted Screenplay: James Goldman, who also wrote the Broadway play it was based on;
  3. Best Music Score: John Barry (who also did the music for 11 James Bond films).

It is beautifully filmed and beautifully written. When I watched it in my 20s it was kind of boring. Now that I am King Henry’s age, it makes more sense.

henry-ii

Our Story: It is 1183. Henry II (Peter O’Toole) rules the Angevin Empire, made up of England, Scotland, Ireland and the western half of France. The richest and strongest part of his empire, the cornerstone, is the Aquitaine in the south-west of France. He got that through marriage to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katherine Hepburn). He threw her in prison for trying to overthrow him.

Henry has three living sons. He wants to pass his empire to one son instead of dividing it into three, weaker pieces.

The three sons, from youngest to oldest:

john

1. John (Nigel Terry) – Henry’s favourite but spoiled. He lacks brains, courage and even loyalty. He is unfit to be king. (He is the future King John.)

geoffrey

2. Geoffrey (John Castle) – the middle son that no one likes. He has the most brains but he is a complete snake. Only a fool, like John, would trust him. Knowing he will never likely be king in his own name, he backs John as someone he can trick into doing his bidding.

richard

3. Richard the Lionheart (Anthony Hopkins) – Eleanor’s favourite and the best suited to be king. His troops control the Aquitaine. King Philip II of France is his friend – and former lover, something Henry disapproves of. (Richard is the future King Richard I.)

philip

King Philip II of France (Timothy Dalton) wants Henry’s empire to break apart so that it is less of a threat.

alais-and-eleanor

Alais Capet (Jane Merrow) is Henry’s mistress. Henry has enough pull with the pope that he could undo his marriage to Eleanor and marry her.

Henry invites them all to his castle for Christmas. He even lets Eleanor out of prison. He is now 50. He says he will come to a decision about which son will be king.

Henry reaches middle age disappointed in his sons – one is a fool, one is a snake, one sleeps with men. He does not know which one to make king. Despite all his power, he cannot make things right. He wants the love of his wife and his sons, and they want his, but his desire for power, and theirs, poisons that love.

He could marry Alais and start over with new sons, yet he has no way to protect them once he is dead.

There is no good way out.

See also:

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