Thursday Morning Open Thread: Dolly Parton, America’s Queen of Hearts

… Although I always think of her as our Queen of Cups: loving, generous, and wise. Just for giving all those books to all those kids who need them, she’d deserve a place in the pantheon:

… “My dad didn’t get the chance to go to school. And Daddy couldn’t read and write, and that was kind of crippling to him,” Parton said. “He was such a smart man, though. He just had such good common sense. They call it horse sense in the country.”

“But Daddy thought it was just something he couldn’t learn after he was grown, so he never tried to learn to read and write. And that was just kind of embarrassing to him,” she continued. “But I didn’t want Daddy to feel embarrassed.”

Parton was determined to give the children of Sevier County something her father never had: early access to books. She started the Imagination Library in 1995, and involved her father, too. He was able to see the program take off before he died in 2000.

“He got to hear the kids call me ‘The Book Lady.’ He got a big kick out of that,” she said. “But he took great pride and felt like he’d helped do something special.”…

And if she didn’t have that golden voice, she could’ve been a successful comedian. From NYMag:

All of my life, I have been known for two things,” deadpanned Dolly Parton, as she took the stage to collect the MusiCares Person of the Year, pausing for effect, “Well, not them.”

“I’ve also been known as a singer and songwriter, too,” the country icon clarified. “Although, I’m not complaining — Ol’ Pancho and Lefty’ve been pretty good to me!” She then confided to the packed-to-the-back-wall crowd assembled at the Los Angeles Convention Center: “Everybody always expects me to do a boob joke, and I like to do that right up front.”

To illustrate Parton’s reputation as a stellar songwriter over the course of her five decade career, an A-list assembly of talent from across a wide swath of musical genres took the stage to perform her biggest hits and most personal compositions as the Recording Academy and its philanthropic arm MusiCares paid tribute to Parton’s singular accomplishments and longtime commitment to giving back at its annual Grammy Week gala…

Being honored for her contributions to music, Parton told Vulture on the red carpet, “means more than anything, because if I had to stop everything else and just choose one thing, I’d choose to be a songwriter.”…

For Nettles, who portrayed Parton’s mother in two television movies based on the icon’s childhood, Parton holds a particularly special place in her life. “For me, she is a mentor, she is an icon, she is a hero, someone I look up to as a singer/songwriter, as a woman, as a businesswoman, as a philanthropist, as an actress,” Nettles said. “She’s done it all, and she’s still so vibrant, still so relevant. I look at her, and we should all be so lucky, I think, to be able to have that kind of career and that kind of impact.”

“Those waters run really deep for her,” added Nettles. “You hear all of that depth and all of that gravitas in the stories that she tells, but then she has all this buoyancy on top that really draws us in.”

“I truly, I truly can feel the love in this house tonight — either that or my telephone’s on vibrate,” Parton cracked, telling the crowd she endured the career retrospective with a mix of dismay — “I really thought my hair looked good, back then. Can you believe that hair? Now that’s country music at its finest” — and wry reflection. “Watching them is sort of like watching porn. You’re not personally involved, but you still get off on it. So really got off on this show, tonight. Hey now, don’t blame me. At my age, you’ll take anything you can get. And I’m still hoping that I live long enough to get the Betty White longevity award. I’m working on it.”



Monday Morning Open Thread: Bread & Roses

I’m still of two minds about Senator Warren’s campaign. On the one hand, she’d make a fine president; on the other, we here in Massachusetts — and the country in general — would lose a dedicated legislator and a fierce proponent for consumer protection. But, yeah, I’ve donated already and will no doubt continue to chip in as necessary.

Elizabeth Warren formally launched her presidential campaign Saturday with a call for “fundamental change,” even if the “cowards and armchair critics” call it “extreme or radical.”

“Because the man in the White House is not the cause of what’s broken, he’s just the latest — and most extreme — symptom of what’s gone wrong in America,” Warren said of President Donald Trump at an outdoor rally on a chilly, but sunny winter day.

“It won’t be enough to just undo the terrible acts of this administration,” Warren continued. “We can’t afford to just tinker around the edges — a tax credit here, a regulation there. Our fight is for big, structural change.”…

Her staff said 3,500 supporters filled the courtyard of the mill complex, some of whom had ridden campaign busses from as far away as Cape Cod.

Then she told the story of why she wanted them here.

After realizing their pay was cut in the winter of 1912, the women who worked here stopped the looms and started a political conflagration that became known as the Bread and Roses strike, which saw tens of thousands of workers clash with police and armed militiamen called out by political leaders aligned with the mill owners.

“Nevertheless, they persisted!” Warren said, invoking her now-famous slogan as she looked out at the phrase plastered on hundreds of signs waved by supporters in the crowd…

“People will say it’s ‘extreme’ or ‘radical’ to demand an America where every family has some economic security and every kid has a real opportunity to succeed. I say to them, ‘Get ready, because change is coming faster than you think,'” Warren said…


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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Happy Year of the Pig!


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Obvious jokes aside, Pig years are supposed to be prosperous — good for getting one’s house in order, taking care of those nagging health issues, and wrapping up old business before making a fresh start. Pretty safe goals! It’s predicted to be a good year for Sheep/Goats like me (and Rabbits/Cats like the Spousal Unit) so I’m going to greet the Spring Festival with a positive attitude… while it lasts.



Late Night Memorial Open Thread: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Cannot yet RIP


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Sunday Morning Open Thread: Take Us Away, ‘Oumuamua

It’s not the space rock, it’s the stories we tell each other about the space rock. As someone who’s been both an avid sf reader and a Cynic for pushing 60 years now, I found Professor Loeb’s whole argument charming:

I don’t care what people say,” asserts Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard University’s astronomy department and author of one of the most controversial articles in the realm of science last year (and also one of the most popular in the general media). “It doesn’t matter to me,” he continues. “I say what I think, and if the broad public takes an interest in what I say, that’s a welcome result as far as I’m concerned, but an indirect result. Science isn’t like politics: It is not based on popularity polls.”

Prof. Abraham Loeb, 56, was born in Beit Hanan, a moshav in central Israel, and studied physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as part of the Israel Defense Forces’ Talpiot program for recruits who demonstrate outstanding academic ability. Freeman Dyson, the theoretical physicist, and the late astrophysicist John Bahcall admitted Loeb to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, whose past faculty members included Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer. In 2012, Time magazine named Loeb one of the 25 most influential people in the field of space. He has won prizes, written books and published 700 articles in the world’s leading scientific journals. Last October, Loeb and his postdoctoral student Shmuel Bialy, also an Israeli, published an article in the scientific outlet “The Astrophysical Journal Letters,” which seriously raised the possibility that an intelligent species of aliens had sent a spaceship to Earth.

The “spaceship” in question is called Oumuamua. For those who don’t keep up with space news, Oumuamua is the first object in history to pass through the solar system and be identified as definitely originating outside of it. The first interstellar guest came to us from the direction of Vega, the brightest star in the Lyra constellation, which is 26 light-years from us. In the 1997 film “Contact,” it’s the star from which the radio signal is sent to Jodie Foster.

Oumuamua was actually discovered by a Canadian astronomer, Robert Weryk, using the Pan-STARRS telescope at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii. “Oumuamua” is Hawaiian for “first distant messenger” – in a word, “scout.” It was discovered on October 19, 2017, suspiciously close to Earth (relatively speaking, of course: Oumuamua was 33 million kilometers away from us when it was sighted – 85 times farther than the moon is from Earth)…
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