Sophistafunk Spins Conscious Rhymes With Heady Vibes On New Album “Real Vibration” [Review]

first_imgOn Valentine’s Day, Syracuse-based hip-hop band Sophistafunk released Real Vibration, their newest collection of material, featuring seven high-quality cuts as well as their seven corresponding instrumentals. The trio, made up of keyboardist/bassist Adam Gold, drummer Emanuel Washington, and MC Jack Brown, have made a name for themselves in a live music scene that appreciates–though often doesn’t heavily feature–hip-hop by taking an eclectic approach to their music. Explains Brown, “Our style blends funk, soul, and jam music with East Coast hip-hop flows, which are known for wordplay, rhyme schemes, and lyricism.  The music is about similar themes as Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Talib Kweli, and Rage Against the Machine, among others, and hopefully it inpires more people to get down with the message of peace and unity.”The group has kept busy over the past few years touring with funk and jam bands like The Motet, Orgone, EOTO and Dumpstaphunk, among others, helping cement themselves as a sort of “hip-hop band for the jam fan.” As Brown explains, “You know, back in the day on the northeast scene, you always had hip hop artists collaborating with the jam bands and funky musicians of the era. I think it’s because the positive, conscious message of underground hip hop has always resonated with the psychedelic music community. For example, there were groups like Granola Funk Express that spawned on the festival circuit and carried the torch for both movements. [Adam Gold] was a teenager going to the Wetlands in NYC around this time. Through the years over there you’d have The Roots playing downstairs, or Soulive, and so many others laying the foundation for what we now consider ‘jam,’ ‘live EDM,’ and ‘neo-soul’. Remember, the so-called ‘genres’ that people buy on the internet are not born independently. This was all happening at the same time, often in the same rooms, on the live music scene, which was – and still is – a living, breathing organism.”Real Vibration perfectly embodies Brown’s assessment of Sophistafunk’s unique sound, featuring seven tracks worth of blunt-ride beats and Internet-age paranoia and resistance. Funky protest track “Translucent” offers itself as a “musical solution to mass pollution,” with Brown delivering biting bars that evoke the style of heady underground MCs like Atmosphere‘s Slug. “This Life” sees Brown shine some light on the outfit’s musical DNA–part funk and jam, part beats and bars–as he proclaims “I love live music” over a 90s-style back beat.The socially conscious “No More War” dips into the chaotic paranoia of our social media society, as sparse funk interspersed with digital fills mirrors the chaos of today’s world, before well-placed horns bolster the song’s “we gotta love each other” refrain.“Make Em Clap” continues on the album’s conscious themes, as Brown proclaims, “I’m not a rapper, I’m an activist”–though lines like “esoteric eloquence/Still I stay relevant” show that there’s room for him to be a bit of both.“Duke of Errl” tells the saga of “dabs,” sampling sound bytes of TV news PSA’s warning parents about the perils of marijuana concentrates. Toking-up is far from an unusual topic in hip-hop, but few artists have hit the relatively new wax trend head-on like Sophistafunk does on this track. They approach the topic with equal parts enjoyment for its pros and restrained caution for its cons, with extra pep added by layered horn fills courtesy of Andy Frasco & The U.N.‘s Ernie Chang. Brown even earns extra “heady points” shouting out The Lot (“You can find me on Shakedown Street”).The album rounds out with title track “Real Vibration,” a slow jam laden with enthrallingly spacey synths. It serves as an appropriate coda for the LP: laid-back vibes, mindful rhymes, and THC-infused good times. Take a dab and press play. This is one session you definitely want to get down on.last_img read more

Jenkins chosen for commission

first_imgUniversity president Fr. John Jenkins was recently appointed to a national commission that will examine the future of teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, created by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), is co-chaired by Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University, and John Rowe, chair and chief executive officer of Exelon Corp. The commission includes prominent Americans from the humanities, social sciences, physical and life sciences, business, law, philanthropy, the arts and the media. The commission was spurred by a bipartisan request from U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) and David Price (D-N.C.). They presented the commission with the following charge: “What are the top 10 actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors and others should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?” “The humanities and social sciences are often seen as having little application to the real world in which we live,” Jenkins said. “I couldn’t disagree more. The liberal arts give us important insight into our past, present and future — in politics, religion, the economy, education and other areas of our collective culture — and are integral to being an informed and contributing citizen of the world.” The commission expects to publish a report in 18 to 24 months, the press release said. Its members will focus on education, research and the institutions critical to advancing the humanities and social sciences in the nation. The commission will draw on past research efforts, the experience and expertise of its multidisciplinary members and data from its Humanities Indicators to analyze the nation’s excellence in the humanities and social sciences. Jenkins was elected to the AAAS in 2010. Other members of the commission are Amy Gutmann, John Hennessy, John Sexton, Donna Shalala and David Skorton, the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, New York, Miami and Cornell Universities, respectively; Robert Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities; documentarian Ken Burns; musician Emmy Lou Harris; retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter; actor John Lithgow; director George Lucas; and Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering and former president of MIT.last_img read more

South Bend resident relates pro-life activism

first_imgShawn Sullivan, a lawyer, real-estate agent and pro-life activist from the South Bend community, spoke at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday night about with his involvement with the pro-life movement as director of the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life.Sullivan presented a half-hour long talk for students and faculty in Stapleton Lounge titled, “The Pro-Life Movement in Saint Mary’s Backyard: the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How.” The event is the first in a series during Saint Mary’s Right To Life week, Saint Mary’s Respect Life Club member junior Jana Zuniga said.To contextualize the closest abortion clinic’s location, Sullivan began his discussion by drawing a map of where the clinic is located in relation to the Apostolate of Divine Mercy Chapel.“The epicenter of what’s going on in the pro-life movement is here,” Sullivan said. “This is where the spiritual warfare occurs. This is where Jesus does battle. We have a real presence right here.”Sullivan is currently the vigil director of 40 Days for Life campaign held during both the spring and fall seasons, he said. Since the campaign began in 2008, it has evolved with the Life Center, he said.“We eventually got a deal worked out [where] we would just come out and be there, and by the grace of the person who owned it allowing us to be there,” Sullivan said. “We did a spring campaign in 2009, and it allowed us to be more of a focal point when Obama came to Notre Dame in 2009. We got to meet a lot of people and evangelize the movement even more.”Sullivan said after his 12th campaign he spoke with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades about putting a chapel next to the abortion clinic.“We [were] having meetings with the bishop, and we put a name to it, the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life,” Sullivan said. “Everything else just [keeps] brewing, just keeps coming together.”Students were encouraged to visit the Chapel and consider participating in sidewalk counseling, Sullivan said.“It’s really fun to come out and see what we’ve got going on,” Sullivan said. “I really invite you to just show up. You can stop by on your own. [It’s] a principal way to spend your time. Our training is really simple. It’s really streamline, trusting God to be your shield.”Whether counselors talk with mothers for five seconds or 10 minutes, those words matter, Sullivan said.“So, say you’re talking to somebody for five seconds,” he said. “You could sit down with them and have a conversation. We call that ministry life support. If we get somebody to sit down, then a whole other ministry kicks in. We’ve got to go disintegrate their problems. It hits across the board. They can’t go home to parents. They can’t go home to boyfriends. They’re going to get fired.”In Sullivan’s time with the Life Center, he has witnessed more than 50 saves, meaning his team’s influence changed many women’s minds about aborting their babies, he said. The Life Center keeps in touch with all of the moms they come in contact with, often sending them necessary items for their child, he said.“I know we had a great save on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade,” Sullivan said. “The husband didn’t want her to get it, and she didn’t want to get an abortion, but the last two ladies who got pregnant at her job were fired. So, we had to promise her legal help, save the marriage, save everything.”Tags: 40 Days of Life, Life Center, Pro-life, saint mary’slast_img read more

Tax Extenders bill makes qualified charitable distributions permanent

first_imgCongress has passed legislation that retroactively extends qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from Traditional and Roth IRAs to January 1, 2015, and makes the provision permanent going forward.The provision—which allows IRA owners and beneficiaries age 70½ and older to donate up to $100,000 per year tax-free to eligible charitable organizations—was included in a package of tax extenders that will cost $622 billion over the next 10 years. The previous one-year extension of the provision had sunset on December 31, 2014, and QCDs were no longer permitted under the tax laws.QCDsA QCD is a taxable distribution of Traditional or Roth IRA assets paid directly to a qualified charity. An IRA distribution qualifies if it is made after the IRA owner reaches age 70½ and the IRA owner could have deducted the contribution if it were made directly to the charity.A QCD can be used to satisfy the IRA owner’s required minimum distribution for the year, and an IRA beneficiary who has attained age 70½ can also make a QCD of the inherited IRA assets.QCD Provision Sunset on December 31, 2014QCDs were created by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and were effective for tax years 2006 and 2007. This temporary provision was extended through 2009 by the Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008. The provision then expired at the end of 2009 when the Senate failed to act on a House bill to extend the provision. There were several attempts in 2010 to extend QCDs, but it was not until nearly a year later that President Obama signed into law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, which provided for a two-year extension of QCDs, from December 31, 2009, through December 31, 2011. The popular tax break then expired at the end of 2011 when Congress failed to act on bills in both the House and Senate to extend the provision.The provision was not extended until January 2013, when President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which made permanent the Bush-era tax rates and extended QCDs for two-years, from December 31, 2011, through December 31, 2013. The provision then again expired at the end of 2013, when the House and Senate adjourned after passing a two-year budget deal to avoid another government shutdown, but failed to act on legislation to extend QCDs.Then, in the waning hours of the 2014 lame-duck session, the House and Senate passed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPRA). This legislation retroactively extend a host of temporary tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013—including QCDs from Traditional and Roth IRAs—after efforts to make the provision permanent failed. The one year extension, from December 31, 2013, through December 31, 2014, meant that the provision sunset shortly after passage, and QCDs were no longer permitted after December 31, 2014.H.R. 2029 Makes QCD Provision PermanentQCDs have been very popular since first being introduced and enjoyed bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress, but that did not make it any easier to make the provision permanent. QCDs were lumped together with other popular tax credits—including the research and development tax credit—and were extended on numerous occasions, often retroactively after the provisions had expired. This created uncertainty for taxpayers and a desire on the part of Congress to either eliminate or make permanent many of the perennially expiring tax credits.The Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee spent much of this year laying the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform through working groups and hearings that examined the effectiveness of many of the existing tax credits. While comprehensive tax reform was not achieved, the White House and Congress did reach agreement on a tax and spending compromise that temporarily extends or makes permanent 52 separate tax provisions that have expired—including QCDs—and funds the government through September 30, 2016.On December 17, 2015, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act that extends or makes permanent many of the expired tax credits. The following morning they passed legislation funding the government for the full 2016 fiscal year. The Senate then passed H.R. 2029, which combines the PATH Act extending the expired tax credits and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 that funds the government. President Obama signed H.R. 2029 into law shortly thereafter.Passage of this legislation provides certainty for IRA owners planning charitable distributions from their IRAs who previously were uncertain whether the provision would be in effect and the distribution would be tax-free. And, for IRA trustees and custodians, it eliminates the confusion and misinformation surrounding the popular tax credit.That said, it is important to remember that comprehensive tax reform is still on the congressional radar screen, and all tax credits—including QCDs—are likely to be scrutinized as part of the reform process. Stay tuned. 33SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Dennis Zuehlke Dennis is Compliance Manager for Ascensus. Mr. Zuehlke provides clients with technical support on tax-advantaged accounts (including individual retirement accounts, health savings accounts, simplified employee pension plans, and Coverdell education … Web: www.ascensus.com Detailslast_img read more

What makes a team most productive?

first_imgFor decades’ researchers have looked for the factors that cause certain individuals to be more effective than others in the workplace.  They have analyzed everything from personality traits to team composition to email patterns to emotional intelligence in an attempt figure out how to make workers more productive and efficient. Most of this research has been undertaken by university professors and published in academic journals, leaving industry and consultants to translate and apply the research to the real world.  However, Google, as well as other large organizations, conducts workplace studies themselves through their People Operations (HR) department.  These studies are designed to explore ways to improve their organizational capacity and drive efficiency and increase profits. Google’s first workplace study, Project Oxygen released in 2014, explored management traits that differentiated their top performers. What they found was not shocking by any means, however it was instantly applied to the workplace resulting in increased efficiency, employee satisfaction, and profits.  The discovery that the more effective managers empowered their employees, stayed away from micromanaging, and were good coaches, is now part of many MBA curricula and has been adopted by organizations around the world.  Googles next research endeavor set out to explore how to build the perfect team.Research on teams and teaming has been formally conducted for well over 50 years.  However, with the abundance of data available today, and the realization by organizations across industries that teams in the workplace far outperform the old cubicle dwellers, the pace and volume of this research has exploded over the past decade or two. The majority of research on teams comes out of the university labs of the business and psychology schools across the country.  A recent study by faculty members from the University of Illinois and Notre Dame University, found by studying 67 teams across six different companies that employees in teams perform best when they know their work will have a positive impact on their colleagues, customers and communities.  Although this research is compelling, it is difficult to see how it can be directly applied to enhance teamwork within an organization.  Driven by the fact that virtually all of Googles over 60,000 employees work on at least one project team, and the realization that the majority of work today across industries is done in teams, some studies showing numbers greater than 75%, Google set out to find a practical solution to what makes one team better than another, and looked for teamwork factors that a manager could create or at least effect.The Google research team interviewed over 250 employees on more than 180 teams over a two-year period. Although they were looking for, and expected to find, patterns revealing the perfect combination of individual traits and and skills necessary for efficient teamwork, they could find no such patterns. What they found surprised them; they discovered that how the team structures their work, how the team members interact, and how they view their contributions to the organization, were much more important than the skill set or qualifications of the team members.  Their most important discovery was that the number one driving factor of what makes a team more productive, is a feeling of psychological safety among the team members.  The willingness to take risks, throw out new ideas, and listen to diverse opinions, without any risk, was paramount to being a high performing team.  Other important factors included dependability of the team, team structure and role clarity, and the meaning and impact of the work being conducted.  The finding that teams care about the impact and meaningfulness of their work is in line with the university-based research cited above.We can all agree that teamwork matters in the ultra-competitive contemporary global marketplace.  Just putting a group of people in a room and telling them they are a team is a recipe for disaster. Teams must be carefully built, monitored, and coached (not micro-managed). Teams and team members must be provided with the education and environment to excel and be successful.  Managers and leaders must understand this as well as the key factors to creating and maintain a successful team effort in order to take full advantage of the advantages of working in teams. 70SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Stuart R. Levine Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture.SL&A … Web: www.Stuartlevine.com Detailslast_img read more

The genius way to offer more member services

first_imgThere are many challenges in the credit union industry, and balancing your technology commitments to successfully meet member demands is just one. Of course, credit unions want to offer best-of-breed technology to their members, but at what cost. Many credit unions settle with sub-par member services because they don’t believe they have the resources to fund development. However, if your core system believes in open architecture and has an API, you can likely find a cost-effective way to offer your members the experience you want them to have.A crucial aspect of meeting member’s financial technology needs is to ensure your core processing system has an open architecture, allowing for the integration of new services and tools through a credit union API, especially when that option offers the most current technology and makes the most sense. The seamless integration of 3rd-party tools and technologies, such as TrueChecks or DocuSign, can streamline your member service and alleviate the need to develop such technologies in-house or fund outsourced development.APIs are not a new technology. In fact, Application Programming Interfaces have been around since the 1960’s. Of course, for many decades they were a term only known among the computer programming crowd. However, APIs are now commonly used at credit unions around the world. Many financial institutions leverage the open architecture of their credit union data processing system to integrate unique lending platforms such as CU Direct’s CUDL 360 or Meridian Link and their loan origination solutions. continue reading » 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Easy going

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

‘Major fire’ hits cathedral in French city of Nantes

first_imgDozens of firefighters were Saturday battling a  major fire inside a cathedral in the western French city of Nantes, emergency services said.Fire crews were alerted just before 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) to the blaze at the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, construction on which started in the 15th century, the emergency operations center said.It said the “major fire” was still advancing and 60 firefighters had been dispatched to the scence. The gothic structure was last hit by fire in 1972. Its roof took more than 13 years to repair.Another religious building in Nantes — the Basilica of St Donatian and St Rogatian — was struck by a fire in 2015 that destroyed three-quarters of its roof.In April last year, a fire engulfed Paris’s 13th century Notre-Dame Cathedral, causing its steeple to collapse and sending billowing fumes containing toxic molten lead into the air. The structure will take years to repair.Topics :last_img read more

Dutch shipping sector scheme to lose mandatory status

first_imgHijlke Hijlkema, the chairman of the pension fund, attributed the lack of support to the structure of the sector, with its 1,100 affiliated companies employing an average of just four staff.“They comprise many unattached entrepreneurs, skippers who are averse to too many rules and obligations,” he argued. Credit: Erich WestendarpIngrid Blom, responsible for social affairs at the employer organisations CBRB and BLN-Schuttevaer, said that the social partners wanted to develop new, non-mandatory pension arrangements, in order to generate sufficient scale and lower barriers for employers to join.However, both Blom and Klein said this would require extending the compulsory status of the pension fund by at least one year to allow for the transition.Hijlkema said he feared that suspending the scheme’s mandatory status would lead to a domino effect.“As large firms already pay wages from abroad and avoid mandatory participation, suspension may also tempt other employers to do the same,” he said. “This would lead to a vicious circle, with ever-increasing costs for the remaining companies.”Last year, the pension fund spent €327 per participant on pensions administration.At the end of last June, its funding ratio stood at 118.3%. Its financial position enabled the scheme to grant its participants and pensioners inflation compensation of 1.27%.The shipping scheme reported a 2% loss on investments. It has 4,985 workers, 11,335 deferred members and 2,910 pensioners. The €970m Dutch sector scheme for the Rhine and inland shipping is likely to lose its mandatory status, as not enough employers support the current compulsory participation.In its annual report for 2018, the Pensioenfonds Rijn- en Binnenvaart said that 40.7% of active participants were employed by companies affiliated with an industry organisation that had requested mandatory participation.This figure must be at least 50% for the pension fund to keep its legal mandatory status, and both the pension fund and its social partners have warned that the necessary improvement is unlikely be achieved before the deadline in May next year.According to Bert Klein, trustee at trade union Nautilus International, possible alternatives – such as setting up a employer organisation dedicated to pensions, or a merger with another sector scheme – had already been ruled out “as they would create new problems”.last_img read more

Chevron earnings hit by lower oil prices

first_imgOil major Chevron saw its first quarter 2019 earnings slip when compared to the prior-year period due to lower oil prices and weaker downstream margins. Michael Wirth, Chevron CEO. Source: ChevronChevron on Friday reported earnings of $2.6 billion for the first quarter 2019, compared with $3.6 billion in the first quarter of 2018.Foreign currency effects decreased earnings in the 2019 first quarter by $137 million.Sales and other operating revenues in first quarter 2019 were $34 billion, compared to $36 billion in the year-ago period.Michael Wirth, Chevron’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer, said: “Upstream production volumes were up 7 percent from a year ago, primarily in the Permian Basin and at Wheatstone in Australia. The company’s net oil-equivalent production exceeded 3 million barrels per day for the second quarter in a row. First quarter earnings declined from a year ago, largely due to lower crude oil prices and weaker downstream and chemicals margins.”Chevron’s worldwide net oil-equivalent production was 3.04 million barrels per day in first quarter 2019, an increase of 7 percent from 2.85 million barrels per day from a year ago.U.S. upstream operations earned $748 million in first quarter 2019, compared with $648 million a year earlier. The increase was primarily due to higher crude oil production partially offset by lower crude oil and natural gas realizations.The company’s average sales price per barrel of crude oil and natural gas liquids was $48 in first quarter 2019, down from $56 a year earlier. The average sales price of natural gas was $1.64 per thousand cubic feet in first quarter 2019, down from $2.02 in last year’s first quarter.Net oil-equivalent production of 884,000 barrels per day in first quarter 2019 was up 151,000 barrels per day from a year earlier. Production increases from shale and tight properties in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, and major capital projects and base business in the Gulf of Mexico, were partially offset by normal field declines and the impact of asset sales.Capital and exploratory expenditures in the first three months of 2019 were $4.7 billion, compared with $4.4 billion in the corresponding 2018 period.It is worth mentioning that Chevron recently entered into a definitive agreement with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Anadarko in a stock and cash transaction valued at $33 billion, or $65 per share.However, the U.S. oil firm Occidental Petroleum has entered into a race with Chevron by also offering to buy Anadarko.Anadarko said it would carefully review Oxy’s Wednesday bid and advised shareholders not to take action regarding the bid.Offshore Energy Today StaffSpotted a typo? Have something more to add to the story? Maybe a nice photo? Contact our editorial team via email. Offshore Energy Today, established in 2010, is read by over 10,000 industry professionals daily. We had nearly 9 million page views in 2018, with 2.4 million new users. This makes us one of the world’s most attractive online platforms in the space of offshore oil and gas and allows our partners to get maximum exposure for their online campaigns. If you’re interested in showcasing your company, product or technology on Offshore Energy Today contact our marketing manager Mirza Duran for advertising options.last_img read more