Poptimism = Uncritical Raves (Get Famous Enough And You Won’t Get Bad Reviews)

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“Now, when a pop star reaches a certain strata of fame — and we’re talking Beyoncé, Drake, Taylor Swift, Arcade Fire levels here — something magical happens. They no longer seem to get bad reviews. Stars become superstars, critics become cheerleaders and the discussion froths into a consensus of uncritical excitement.”

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Why Did Somebody Steal Einstein’s Brain?

Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben Gourio

“While Einstein’s bones (and most of the rest of his body) were cremated and his ashes scattered at a secret spot on the Delaware River, in accordance with his wishes, his gray matter took a different course. Thomas Harvey, the pathologist who performed Einstein’s autopsy at Princeton Hospital in New Jersey in 1955, took a bone saw to Einstein’s famous cranium, then a chisel, and snipped out the century’s most famous brain. Then he kept it.”

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The Words Used On Food Packaging Are Orwellian At Worst, Misleading At Best

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“Food-packet rhetoric, like most advertising, is mainly in the business of selling nice feelings. Especially on-trend these days is an ersatz, kitschy friendliness. On a bar of chocolate, for example, the manufacturers boast that “we use only the finest quality organic beans from our friends in the Dominican Republic”. (Isn’t it nice that they are friends?)”

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Two New Books Claim Le Corbusier Was An Active Fascist

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Both books—Xavier de Jarcy’s Le Corbusier, un fascisme francais (Albin Michel, 2015), and Francois Chaslin Un Corbusier (Seuil, 2015)—claim the architect was active in several fascist groups in France beginning in the 1920s, but did a good job of keeping his involvement under wraps.

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Could Artificial Intelligence Help Make Us More Intentional In Our Decisions?

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“Can technology—especially AI—help humans reverse eons of irrational behavior and bad habits that seem hard-coded in our DNA? Ariely believes it can, and believes that it will start with AI-oriented software and tools that can create what he calls an “intention genome” for every individual—tools to help align our unlimited aspirations and goals with our very limited time on earth.”

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Morgan Library Gets A New Director

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The Library “looked West to bring back a longtime New Yorker as its new director, choosing Colin B. Bailey, who has served since 2013 as director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco but was for many years before that the chief curator at the Frick Collection.”

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The Ballerina Who Might One Day Run The Bolshoi?

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“As purely Russian as Diana Vishneva appears, she is one of the most cosmopolitan ballerinas of her generation. For over a decade she’s been a principal with both the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg and American Ballet Theatre in New York, as well as jetting between numerous other companies worldwide.”

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HBO Has Risked A Lot On Its New Streaming Service

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“The move seems risky. What if people dump their regular HBO subscriptions? What if the cable providers, who generate virtually all of HBO’s $5.4 billion in revenue, remain displeased by this run around them? What if Now, which may feature content never before seen on HBO, is less consistently excellent than the existing HBO service? And what if this pushes Netflix to become even more aggressive?”

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Movie Editing Must Have Been a Shock To The Eyes When It Was First Developed

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“Movies are, for the most part, made up of short runs of continuous action, called shots, spliced together with cuts. With a cut, a filmmaker can instantaneously replace most of what is available in your visual field with completely different stuff. This is something that never happened in the 3.5 billion years or so that it took our visual systems to develop. You might think, then, that cutting might cause something of a disturbance when it first appeared. And yet nothing in contemporary reports suggests that it did.”

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Fired Bay Area Music Director Has Warm (And Strained) Farewell

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“Nothing in the organization’s history has roiled the Vallejo Symphony like the board’s decision last summer to fire music director David Ramadanoff, 71, at the end of the current season. He had served in the post for 31 years and was credited by many observers” – and most of the musicians – “with bringing a new level of professionalism to what had begun as a spirited but ragtag ensemble.”

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Choreographer Akram Khan Defends His Criticism Of British Dance Training

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“It wasn’t about dropping a bombshell – if I didn’t give a shit about young dancers, then I’d just keep quiet. I don’t need to work with British-trained dancers as we have a bunch of dancers from Asia and get half of those in our company from PARTS [in Brussels]. The only reason why I am saying this is because I care for these young people.”

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Can The Earth Be Conscious? Have We Built Teilhard de Chardin’s ‘Noosphere’?

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Evolution, he claimed, was taking us toward what he called the Noosphere (“nous” is greek for mind) – a global unity of consciousness, a ” ‘thinking’ sphere circling the Earth above the biosphere, which [would comprise all] human reflection, conscious souls, and love.” But “a funny thing happened on the way to the New Age. Humanity ended up building an actual Noosphere (or at least its first draft). It was called the Internet.”

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Mexico Repeatedly Slashes Arts Funding As Economy Falters

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“As the US economy has picked up steam in the last few years, falling oil prices and a stronger dollar have left the peso floundering. Last month, the Mexican currency hit its lowest value since 1993 … The tumble has the federal government here drawing blood from public funds, especially the arts and culture sector.”

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Cirque Du Soleil Is About To Be Sold

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“Co-founder [and owner] Guy Laliberté sent an email to staff on Thursday saying that he had not yet wrapped up the company sale, after CBC/Radio-Canada and other media outlets reported American private equity firm TPG Capital and China’s Fosun will buy majority shares in Cirque du Soleil.”

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Occupy The Whitney Museum! (And The New Place Hasn’t Even Opened Yet)

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“At 11 p.m. [Tuesday], activists from groups including Occupy Museums and Occupy the Pipeline gathered on the street in front of the museum for a performance art-style demonstration about a natural gas pipeline that is adjacent to the $422 million building and its vast art collection. A corner of the Whitney’s building became a canvas for their slogans, projected in light over the glassed-in lobby.”

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They Gave The Nelson-Atkins Museum Their Collection Of Impressionist Art, Now They’re Giving The Money To Display It

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“The Bloch Family Foundation will finance a nearly two-year, $11.7 million renovation … The new space will bring into public view 29 works from the personal collection of Henry and Marion Bloch, a gift of paintings promised by the family in 2010 in connection with the museum’s 75th anniversary.”

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Dictionary Of American Regional English, Short Of Funding, Faces Shutdown

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“DARE, as the dictionary is known, has announced that it will shutter most of its operations this summer unless it can find new sources of funding to cover its roughly $525,000 annual budget. The print dictionary had been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, among other sources. More recently, the budget was covered in large part by stopgap grants from the university, which are set to run out.”

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Misty Copeland Makes Cover Of Time Magazine

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“For the first time in a generation a dancer has made the cover of Time magazine: Misty Copeland, the American Ballet Theater soloist, was chosen as one of the magazine’s ‘100 most influential people,’ and is featured on one of the five different covers for its upcoming issue.”

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A Syrian Civil War ‘Romeo And Juliet’, Performed Via Skype

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“Under the eaves of a hospice for Syrian refugees in Amman, Jordan, a wounded young Romeo reaches out to the blurred image of a girl on a screen. From the besieged and bombed-out city of Homs, Syria, Juliet gazes back. Her head is covered because of her religion; her face is masked to protect her identity from the watchful regime of Bashar al-Assad. This is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, performed by young people separated by war and reunited, in real time, via Skype.”

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The Chauvet Cave Art Replica Is Bogus And Ridiculous, Says Jonathan Jones

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“Picture this. Visitors to the Vatican arrive in St Peter’s Square … After looking at a display on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes, they are filtered into a full-scale replica, with a ceiling that is a giant photograph of the famous artwork. Perhaps one day this may come about, as the Vatican worries about preserving its artistic treasures. But I suspect no one would be very happy to visit a substitute Sistine Chapel. What would be the point? … Why then is it considered perfectly reasonable to offer fake ice age art as a cultural attraction?”

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E-Short Stories For 99 Cents, Just Like Singles From iTunes

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“Vintage/Anchor Books is now experimenting with selling short stories à la carte, through its Vintage Shorts digital imprint. Throughout May, to mark Short Story Month, Vintage will release a digital short story each day for 99 cents, the price of many iTunes singles.” The range is wide, form Poe, Chekhov, and Cather to Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Diaz.

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Alan Gilbert’s Manifesto On The Future Of Orchestras

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“The problem has been that as orchestras are involved in more and more areas, it is often not clear why they are doing what they are doing, When it does not connect to the core of the organization, you start to wonder what the point is. This has led to an industry-wide existential soul-searching in which at least some forces have pushed back, not wanting to see their beloved old-world musical traditions altered.”

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