“Artists and scholars are quick to pay lip service to the environmental catastrophe underway, but what’s needed is a response to E.O. Wilson’s clarion call in their work — a greening if you will of arts and letters. This is the goal of the burgeoning eco-arts and eco-criticism movement, which has slowly been gaining respectability in the academy.”
“For many Jewish Americans, the night before Christmas conjures up visions, not of sugar plums, but plum sauce slathered over roast duck … The story begins during the halcyon days of the Lower East Side where … Jews and Chinese were the two largest non-Christian immigrant groups at the turn of the [20th] century.”
Yes, it’s true: Since the 1700s, creches in Catalonia have included, amidst the Virgin Mother, the Holy Child in the manger, and the shepherds, the caganer, a figure discreetly answering nature’s call. It’s a good luck charm, and over the years the traditional peasant farmer caganer has been joined by figurines of everyone from Napoleon to Beethoven to Vladimir Putin to Captain America.
Andrew O’Hehir: “Let me see if I have this right, because the whole thing stretches credulity: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has apparently managed to kill a major Hollywood movie. … We had a choice – ‘we’ being a term of art that does not actually include you and me – of whether to stand tall for the supposed principles of free expression and free enterprise or ‘let the terrorists win.’ We let them win, with barely a moment’s hesitation. … It’s a breathtaking and total victory by a despised, isolated and impoverished nation (or by those acting on its behalf), over one of the biggest media corporations in the world.”
Adrian Hong, co-founder of the refugee rescue organization Liberty in North Korea: “It takes no valor and costs precious little to joke about these things safely oceans away from North Korea’s reach. … To pretend that punchlines from afar, even in the face of hollow North Korean threats, are righteous acts is nonsense.”
Jonathan Chait: “We don’t entrust for-profit entities with the common defense. And recognizing that the threat to a Sony picture is actually a threat to the freedom of American culture ought to lead us to a public rather than a private solution. … Either Washington should guarantee Sony’s financial liability in the event of an attack, or it should directly reimburse the studio’s projected losses so it can release the movie online for free.”
“Kitsch, in other words, is not about the thing observed but about the observer. It does not invite you to feel moved by the doll you are dressing so tenderly, but by yourself dressing the doll. All sentimentality is like this – it redirects emotion from the object to the subject, so as to create a fantasy of emotion without the real cost of feeling it.”
“Arts Council England has appointed the managing director of Classic FM, the music radio station, to be its next chief executive. Darren Henley will take over at the country’s main arts funding body in 2015, replacing Alan Davey, who leaves after seven years in the role” to become controller of the BBC’s classical network, Radio 3.
The authors argue that “quantitative researchers should acknowledge that any one person’s racial identity is more like a collection of many different factors — from skin color, to neighborhood, to language, to socioeconomic status. With this insight, it becomes possible to study race not as a single, unchanging variable, but rather as a “a bundle of sticks” that can be pulled apart and carefully examined one by one.”
“There were Christmas shopping bargains galore on Amazon’s website over the weekend … for about an hour. Because of a technical glitch, the prices of thousands of items crashed to 1p – giving eagle-eyed customers a pre-Christmas treat while leaving scores of small family-owned businesses nursing heavy losses, with some warning they could enter the new year facing closure.”
The grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation includes $25 million for the endowment (pledged as matching funds) and $13 million for capital improvements, in particular at the Alliance Theatre. (The Woodruff also includes the Atlanta Symphony, which locked out its musicians for the first nine weeks of this season, and the High Museum of Art .)
“The evil eye appeared exactly where it was first planned to be installed – on top of a skyscraper in the Moscow City business area, a stone’s throw away from the country’s government office. The symbol, which has sparked controversy among Muscovites, is hidden from bare eyes; to see it, one needs a smartphone or tablet.”
“The court noted concern that a patent holder might require someone licensing a patent to also license expired patents in order to seal the deal — a bargaining power that would have undermined the intent of making patents eventually open up to the public. Effectively, it would give some added leverage where they already have a monopoly.”
“When teachers were hired for their inborn ability to “nurture” schoolchildren, many derided or disregarded their intellectual capacities. Now we’ve created a system that is so firmly tied to scholastic achievement—as narrowly defined by standardized tests—that no serious scholar would want to teach in it.”
“But in looking at Pittsburgh’s impressive revival, it’s important to take note of the key role played over the last 30 years by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, an organization that has managed one of the city’s most vivid transformations, turning a large part of downtown that had been overtaken by porn shops, strip joints, massage parlors, and sleazy bars into a lively, safe, and attractive district for cultural arts and entertainment.”
“Starting Jan. 1, recently enacted Spanish legislation will require the search giant to pay the publications it links to. For previewing their articles. In addition to the article title, Google News offers a small content snippet, beckoning users to click on the link visit the news site. For that, the Spanish government believes, they should pay the publisher. You can furrow your brow and scratch your head now.”