Info here.

The work was commissioned by Jordi Savall for a peace concert in Barcelona on 1 July 2004. Pärt began the composition two days after the 2004 Madrid train bombings, in memory of the victims. It was first recorded on 29 March 2005 by the Hilliard Ensemble in St. Gerold, Austria. In Spain, it has been performed annually to commemorate the victims.

The text is a 6th or 7th-century hymn based on biblical verses 2 Kings 20:19, 2 Chronicles 20:12,15 and Psalms 72:6-7. Da pacem Domine is in one movement and takes about five minutes to perform. It was originally set for four voices. Pärt later wrote several versions, also for voices and string orchestra, and for instruments alone, string quartet or string orchestra. They were published by Universal Edition. The first performance for the version for voices and string orchestra was in Tallinn on 18 May 2007 at the Niguliste Church, with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.

The music critic and writer David Vernier commented on the composer’s subtle techniques of composition, forming the structure of the music from “elemental materials” such as “sonority, voicing, and rudimentary harmonies”. Vernier noted “an almost complete subordination of rhythmic influence and the relegation of melody to a more or less implied presence”.

Performers : Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Paul Hillier (2006) Some details are different from the score.

   Paul Edwards has a entertaining style of apocalyptic prose.  He writes this screedy piece in Counterpunch, but you can feel his frustration directed toward a political system engineered to maintain the plutocratic status-quo.

 

“Well, partly, yes. Hillary, for what she’s worth, swore nobody liked him or wanted to work with him. Bernie, in spite of his age, is not a Santa figure, not a holly, jolly old Burl Ives hologram. He wouldn’t appear beaming from a Norman Rockwell print. He’s got crust; sober sincerity; little humor and a load of gravitas, none of which infantile America–addled with toon bunnies, ninja turtles, and cuddly bears selling shit–can love. He wants you to think, and act on your self-interest, and you don’t want to do that, most of you.

After generations of skewed, bent political indoctrination, and relentless propagandizing by the poisonous, amoral Capitalist schlockmeisters who own this country and the world, most Democrats have accepted the fact that others–smarter, richer, higher up–should make their key decisions.

The hold of that induced ignorance and cognitive paralysis is greatest on those subjected to it longest: the over-60s, retired, and aged, who matured before cracks yawned in The Empire’s catechism during Watergate to show the sleazy thugs blighting American lives behind the official bullshit curtain. These are the political Walking Dead, The Impenetrables, Old Believers who carry in their DNA the incurable virus of pre-Vietnam Exceptionalism, and who will go to their graves rigid with mummified Democrat orthodoxy.

Then there’s the mass of middle-aged Democrat faithful, that slow-witted, moderate, mushy center, native home of Mr. Jones who, as Grace Slick sang, knew something was happening but didn’t know what it was. These are the passive ones–American “Good Germans”–who have punched in, consumed, and looked away as the US War Machine blew up and bled the backward, baffled Muslim world in its lust for oil, gas and brute hegemony. They are uneasy with suppressed guilt, fearful of any real aspirations, and they yearn for the safety of braindead serfdom under lullabying masters.

Then, bafflingly, comes the bulk of black Democrats, a category truly hard to fathom. Of course, it’s clear that black misleadership in Congress is just a whoring toy of the DNC. They hold their Uncle Tom forts by piously bullshitting their own abused people while betraying them, complicit with the likes of Biden, whose Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act fueled the lethal racism of our black stalag system. The notion that blacks have a true friend in the Senator from MBNA, the very cartoon of a phony, smarmy, jive honky liberal, is sadly mistaken but, pathetically, the hustled line up time and again to be crassly sold this evil, cynical screw job. As with organized Labor, Dems feel no obligation to black Americans. They count them a captive race who demand no reward for slavish loyalty.

For these sets of stagnant souls, the wonder is that the roaring wildfire of damning fact lit by the courage of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, that incinerated the camouflage of this utterly corrupt, incorrigibly vicious Empire has sparked no fury in their calcified hearts.

And so the grotesque Marche Slave winds on its lugubrious, pathetic way toward the funeral pyre of its own making, while the Dem engineers of this self-immolation bask in idiot bliss. They truly believe they’ve won; that in eliminating Sanders and his sane, humane goals, and annointing the vacuous, amoral, cognitively impaired charlatan, Biden, they’ll flush the detested Sick Beast from his lair and control the National Security State alone again. It’s a deep collective delusion founded on balked egos, impotent fury, and wilful blindness to all that the time requires.

But, then, when were Democrats ever proactive for what American people needed? Even in the halcyon days of FDR, that humane conservative–for such he truly was–had to urge Berle, Ickes and Tugwell to “make me do it” before pushing his great socio-economic measures through Congress for the sustaining benefit of working Americans that made him a political giant.

In this perilous hour for the country, for Democrats to pawn off on their bedrock faithful–indoctrinated, automatistic, and hoodwinked as they are–a mediocre, ditzy, blithering, old Cold Warrior as the gladiator who will face and take out The Beast is bald lunacy and surefire political seppuku.”

Counterpunch columnist Rob Urie tackles some of the political consequences of the neoliberal choices we have made as a society.

 

“The question of bailouts is fundamentally different from that of taking care of people. An adequate response to the pandemic will require years of dedicated effort, not tossing a trillion dollars at ‘the economy’ and hoping for the best. Social distancing and quarantines might require income and material support for tens of millions of people for as long as eighteen months. Nancy Pelosi is reportedly already balking at spending government money to do what is necessary. It would be a benefit to workers if she forced her corporate sponsors to provide paid time off for their employees, but she won’t do this.

The economic fragility behind the rapid descent into economic crisis isn’t a product of nature. It was purposely created by the bi-partisan political establishment at the behest of oligarchs and academic economists. NAFTA was meant to make workers economically insecure. Welfare ‘reform’ was passed to make life outside of capitalist employment intolerably tenuous. The minimum wage hasn’t been a living wage for forty years. And plans to cut Social Security and Medicare are meant to increase economic fragility. Likewise, austerity is the enforcement mechanism to keep the rich in control of American political economy.

This combination of manufactured social fragility and neoliberal governance will sooner or later produce a political rupture. The election of Donald Trump was the first act of one. An extended economic crisis can produce social solidarity or a deeply ugly political response. The Democrats’ choice to stick with their neoliberal program means that they are indifferent between electing Joe Biden and a second term for Donald Trump. Add the widespread unemployment that is already baked into their reflexive austerity and a more perfect formula for fascist ascendance is difficult to imagine.”

Christopher Given-Wilson writing in Aeon Magazine describes the how the Inkas rise and fell with their system of communication.

 

“Instead of writing, the Inkas’ principal bureaucratic tool was the khipu. A khipu consists of a number of strings or cords, either cotton or wool, systematically punctuated with knots, hanging from a master cord or length of wood; pendant cords might also have subsidiary cords. The basis of khipu accounting practice was the decimal system, achieved by tying knots with between one and nine loops to represent single numerals, then adding elaborations to designate 10s, 100s or 1,000s. By varying the length, width, colour and number of the pendant cords, and tying knots of differing size and type to differentiate data, the Inkas turned the khipu into a remarkably versatile device for recording, checking and preserving information.

The main uses to which khipus were put were, firstly, to record births, deaths and movements of people, thereby providing an annual census upon which local labour, military and redistributive assessments could be made. They were also used to count commodities, especially the tribute payable by conquered provinces such as maize, llamas and cloth (there was no coinage). Maize, for example, might be represented by a yellow cord, llamas by a white cord, and so on. Early Spanish chroniclers and administrators were astonished at the accuracy of khipu calculations: according to Pedro de Cieza de León, writing in the late 1540s, they were ‘so exact that not even a pair of sandals was missing’.

Training in what anthropologists call ‘khipu literacy’ was compulsory for a specified number of incipient bureaucrats (khipukamayuqs) from each province. For this, they were sent to Cusco, where they also learned the Inka dialect, Quechua, and were schooled in Inka religion. Like most imperial rulers, the Inkas conquered in the name of an ideology, the worship of their chief deity, the Sun, and his child on Earth, the Sapa Inka. Sun-worship was mandatory throughout the empire, and vast resources were allocated to the performance of an annual cycle of festivals and rituals, and to the maintenance of the priests who staffed Tahuantinsuyu’s ubiquitous shrines. However, the Inkas also tolerated local deities, which, if perceived to be efficacious, might be incorporated into the Inka pantheon.

It is hard to see how alphabetic writing would have helped the Inkas to administer Tahuantinsuyu more efficiently: this was not an intensively governed empire but a federation of tribute-paying and politically allegiant provinces. In other spheres of government, such as law, writing would doubtless have made more of a difference, leading perhaps to the development of written law-codes, arguably even a ‘constitution’. But since writing was never developed, imperial rule remained weakly institutionalised, leading to a concentration of power and office, which meant that when the Sapa Inka was removed, there was little to fall back on.

So when Francisco Pizarro and his 200 or so conquistadores captured the Sapa Inka Atahualpa at Cajamarca on 16 November 1532, Tahuantinsuyu was left headless and disorientated. The confusion that followed was the crucible in which Spain’s New World empire was forged.”

So if you are homeschooling you have an answer to the question “why do I need to learn to read”?  Answer: So the Spanish do not come from overseas and kick your ass.

Eight minutes of the facts and what you can do.

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