Archive for December, 2016

Scientific Breakthrough of the Year 2016

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on December 31, 2016 by telescoper

The year 2016 is almost over and there are just few hours left  until a 2017 begins. Looking back over the scientific discoveries of the last 12 months, I expect you think I would choose the discovery of gravitational waves by the LIGO consortium as my “Scientific Breakthrough of the Year”.

Wonderful achievement though that was, I have, after due reflection, decided to award the accolade to something else which has even more profound implications for the human race and its place in the Universe.

So without further ado, I hereby announce that the In The Dark award for Scientific Breakthrough Of The Year 2016 goes to Donald Trump,  for providing us at last with a definitive resolution of the Fermi Paradox.


I hope this clarifies the Apocalypse.

My 2016 Review of the Year

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2016 by telescoper

Butetown’s Baltic Missions

Posted in Uncategorized on December 29, 2016 by telescoper

More on Cardiff history, this time the Baltic connections..

History On The Dole

German Seamen's Pastors, 1906. Julius Jungclaussen is in the front row, fourth from the right (with the full white beard). German Seamen’s Pastors, 1906. Julius Jungclaussen is in the front row, fourth from the right (with the full white beard).

With today’s blog, the next in the current series looking at the overseas Seamen’s Missions in Cardiff in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I want to turn my attention to some of the more hidden and unknown aspects of this rich organisational-religious culture in the port. The Norwegian Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, both of which still stand, and in the case of the latter still serves the community as a religious building, are well-known. Their history, if often misreported in certain details, is at least known about by those familiar with Cardiff’s multicultural past. Less well-known, and in some cases perhaps almost completely unknown, are the missions that served the Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, German, and Latvian, communities that settled in the port and were bolstered by regular…

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A Nordic Beacon

Posted in Uncategorized on December 29, 2016 by telescoper

Cardiff’s Norwegian connection. The Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay is still an important landmark.

History On The Dole

The Norwegian Church, Cardiff. Courtesy of Cardiff Local Studies Library. The Norwegian Church, Cardiff. Courtesy of Cardiff Local Studies Library.

Since the end of the Second World War, the people of Norway have made an annual gift of Christmas trees to London and other maritime port towns across the United Kingdom in honour of the close ties of friendship that exists between the two countries. The gift of a tree to Cardiff is particularly poignant because, in 1905, Norway gained its independence from Sweden and Cardiff was granted city status – the first (and really only) modern city in Wales. Along with Hull and Liverpool, Cardiff has always had a Scandinavian minority in its population, with most involved directly or indirectly in maritime trade. Two facets of this heritage are now especially visible: the Norwegian Church, a beautiful, brilliantly white wooden building that since 1992 has stood overlooking the Cardiff quayside, having been removed from its original position at Bute…

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The Eastern Cross

Posted in Uncategorized on December 29, 2016 by telescoper

Fascinating insight into Cardiff’s international heritage..

History On The Dole

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Greek Church Street, Cardiff. Courtesy of Cardiff Local Studies Library. St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Greek Church Street, Cardiff. Courtesy of Cardiff Local Studies Library.

Not far from the Islamic Centre on Alice Street, Butetown, in a long-since demolished terrace, there once stood Cardiff’s original Greek Orthodox church. Opened at 31 Patrick Street on 18 December 1873, the then Feast Day of St Nicholas in the Orthodox tradition, this was another of the town’s new buildings for its growing religious minorities, although because of the formal rules of the Church it was in practice a set of rooms set aside for worship rather than a formal religious building. As explored in this post, the Norwegian Church had opened just a few years earlier catering for the Lutheran population, and Cardiff already had its synagogue – opened at East Terrace, off Bute Street, in 1858 – and Roman Catholic churches. This was all symptomatic of a town that was cosmopolitan…

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Cyfarchion yr Ŵyl

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2016 by telescoper

Well, Cardiff University is about to close down for the Christmas break, and I’ll also be going offline for a while from this afternoon.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the trouble to read, comment on, correct, and otherwise engage with this blog over the past year.

I can’t say it’s been a great year, but let’s cling to the hope that 2017 will be better than 2016 however unlikely that may seem at the moment.

Anyway, I hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable festive season!

Cyfarchion yr Ŵyl i chi gyd!

(That’s Welsh..)


The Young Charlie Parker plays Cherokee

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on December 22, 2016 by telescoper

I came across this rare treasure on Youtube and couldn’t resist sharing it here. It features a very young Charlie Parker, with the relatively unknown Efferge Ware on guitar and Little Phil Phillips on drums, playing the jazz standard Cherokee. This track was recorded in 1941 (when he was only 21 years old) in Bird’s home town of Kansas City. There is a gap in Charlie Parker’s discography between 1942 and 1944, which was when the American Musicians Union called a strike which led to a ban on all commercial recordings. When the ban game to an end Charlie Parker’s recordings with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Bud Powell and others unleashed the new harmonic language of bebop on the general public from New York City where it had been incubating during the strike. Parker’s style had evolved greatly in the intervening two years which no doubt made his playing sound all the more revolutionary when the ban was lifted. Although this version of Cherokee is to some extent a pre-bebop recording, you can hear the originality and beauty of Bird’s improvisation (complete with cheeky quotation from the “Popeye” theme) and it’s clear where he was heading.

The sophisticated and complex chord sequence of Cherokee (with its trademark ii-7–V7–I progressions) made it a firm favourite with bop musicians who tended to play it even faster than this earlier version.
In 1945, during what was arguably the first ever bebop recording session, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie decided to play a variation of Cherokee using the same chords but a different head. During the first take the musicians absent-mindedly played the theme from Cherokee at which point there was a cry of anguish from the control room uttered by a producer, who obviously had hoped that if they stayed off the actual tune he wouldn’t have to pay composer’s royalties. They started again, made another take, called it Ko-Ko, and it became one of the classics.

The 1941 version is valuable from a historical perspective but you don’t have to be interested in that to enjoy the wonderful fluidity and invention of Bird’s playing. Happy Christmas!