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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Looking To Shakespeare For Leadership "Some 2,000 books are published each year on 'leadership', but perhaps we don't need to look much further than the lessons we can learn from our greatest writer and dramatist: William Shakespeare." New Statesman 07/03/06

Making Geekdom Safe For All The Little Hipsters "To those who dwell in the design universe, Apple Computer has accomplished the near-impossible: making nerdy computing products seem hip and friendly. Sleek, ergonomic, and accessible, first their computers and now their iPods have gained raves and a cult following, and they have brought terms like ``nano" out of geekdom and into everyday use... Now, with the opening of an architecturally audacious retail store in Manhattan, Apple has crossed another design threshold. The Apple Store Fifth Avenue has made the ultimate statement of design and product packaging by morphing the design of Apple products with the design of the building that houses them." Boston Globe 06/29/06

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

McDonald's - An International Refuge? "Despite its vaunted reputation as a juggernaut of American culture, McDonald's has come to function as an ecumenical refuge for travelers of all stripes. This is not because McDonald's creates an American sense of place and culture, but because it creates a smoothly standardized absence of place and culture — a neutral environment that allows travelers to take a psychic time-out from the din of their real surroundings. This phenomenon is roundly international." Yahoo! 06/05/06

Today Warren Buffett, Tomorrow... Bruce Willis, Perhaps? Will the recent philanthropic commitments by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett lead other wealthy types to follow suit and commit a significant portion of their assets to charitable use? Time will tell, but the Gates/Buffett announcement has already inspired the richest Chinese action star in the world to folllow suit. "Jackie Chan announced Wednesday he has bequeathed half of his fortune to charity." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/28/06

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Honesty - The Eyes Have It Researchers have discovered that merely posting photocopies of eyes in a room makes people behave more honestly. "Eyes are known to be a powerful perceptual signal for humans. People behave more cooperatively when they are being 'watched' by a cute image of a robot or even abstract 'eye spots' on a computer screen. But this is the first time anyone has observed the effect in a natural situation, with people using their own money. It could have far-reaching implications." New Scientist 06//27/06

Monday, June 26, 2006

Memory In A Jar (It's Coming) A few months ago, "researchers at West Virginia University stumbled across a gene in the mouse brain that appears to erase long-term memories. When scientists switched off the gene, the mice developed super-charged memory, able to recall the solution to a maze they'd seen six weeks before, an eternity in mouse time. The discovery is only the most recent in a flurry of breakthroughs that promise a new class of drugs that might help us retain newly learned information and stave off diseases like Alzheimer's." Boston Globe 06/25/06

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Theatre Exists Outside New York (Really) "Why aren't our finest regional [theatre] companies as well known as, say, the Art Institute of Chicago or the Cleveland Orchestra? Ask any publicist and the first thing you'll hear is that the media don't take regional theater seriously. Each year it grows more difficult to persuade the arts editors of major newspapers and magazines -- even those that pay fairly close attention to theater in New York -- to send their drama critics to other cities, save for an occasional trip to London. As for TV, forget about it. I can't remember the last time PBS aired an out-of-town production. Regional theater, it seems, just isn't glamorous enough to make the journalistic cut." The Wall Street Journal 06/24/06

Mass Distraction The Information Age was supposed to provide humanity with access to endless streams of information, carefully organized and readily available to anyone with a computer and a bit of know-how. But how are you supposed to take advantage of such bountiful excess when you're forced to deal with a constant stream of pop-up ads you can't get rid of, "informational" e-mails you didn't ask for, and other newfangled distractions? It's a serious matter, according to researchers who have been studying worker productivity, and the unceasing interruptions are having a profound impact on our ability to concentrate on the tasks at hand. The Guardian (UK) 06/24/06

The Morals Clause What do we do when the greatness of an artist's work clashes with a serious flaw in his/her character? For years, the debate has raged around the music of Richard Wagner, a notorious anti-Semite whose music became, for a time, synonymous with the Third Reich. But what about the British composer Benjamin Britten, who has been known for decades to have been something close to a pedophile? Should this fact affect the way we listen to his music? Should we listen to it at all? The answers aren't easy... CultureVulture (Guardian Blogs) 06/24/06

Friday, June 23, 2006

That's So Immature! (And That's Good) "New research shows a growing number of people are retaining the behaviors and attitudes associated with youth. As a consequence, many older people simply never achieve mental adulthood, according to a leading expert on evolutionary psychiatry." But don't fret: A "child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge" is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world. Discovery 06/23/06

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Characteristics Of A Winner "After 17 World Cups, there's now a mass of empirical data, and, using the most sophisticated methods available, we can now determine the political and economic conditions that yield soccer glory..." Canada.com 06/09/06

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dating Old Books By Biology "A Penn State biology professor with a passion for old prints and maps says he has found a new way to date centuries-old books by using a technique similar to what scientists use to study mutations." Wired (AP) 06/20/06

Putting Tech Change In Perspective Feeling overwhelmed by the pace of change and the flood of new things to deal with? "Impressive change took place between 1950 and 2000, with the arrival of the computer, the Internet, cell phones, moon landings. But this period was no more impressive than 1810 to 1860 in which telegraph, railroads, the reaper, new printing technology, among other things, hit." Chicago Sun-Times 06/20/06

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Computer That Calls The Hits "Platinum Blue Music Intelligence is a complex computer program that turns music into mathematics. It breaks songs down into 30 or so component parts including rhythm, melody, harmony, beat, cadence, timbre, pitch, and gives each a number. What they have found is just about all hit songs, no matter what genre, fit the same pattern." BBC 06/15/06

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Are We Too Clean For Our Own Good? "Studies give more weight to a 17-year-old theory that the sanitized Western world may be partly to blame for soaring rates of human allergy and asthma cases and some autoimmune diseases, such as Type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The theory, called the hygiene hypothesis, figures that people's immune systems aren't being challenged by disease and dirt early in life, so the body's natural defenses overreact to small irritants such as pollen." Wired (AP) 06/18/06

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Survival Of The Most Idle... "'Idle theory' is at one level quite simple. All living creatures have to work to stay alive. Some have to work harder than others. Those creatures that need to do little work to stay alive are more likely to survive periods of difficulty than those that must work harder and longer. Evolution is thus based... on the survival of the idlest." LAWeekly 06/15/06

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Creative Economy "The U.S. is at the forefront of this global creative economy. Over the next decade, it’s projected to add 10 million more creative sector jobs, according to the newest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the present rate of increase, creative jobs alone will soon eclipse the total number of jobs in all of manufacturing. Already, more than 40 million Americans work in the creative sector, which has grown by 20 million jobs since the 1980s. It accounts for more than $2 trillion USD—or nearly half—of all wages and salaries paid in the U.S." Cato Unbound 06/04/06

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Artist And The Critic Can one really be both critic and artist, and do the skills of one inform or undermine the other? Matthew Collings is both, and the one bumps into the other... The Times (UK) 06/13/06

Monday, June 12, 2006

Has America Lost Its Educational Edge? A new paper "argues that declines in U.S. participation rates in higher education, particularly among younger students, combined with misguided political priorities, have put U.S. higher education in position to fall behind global competitors — perhaps dramatically so." InsideHigherEd 06/12/06

Sunday, June 11, 2006

And The Artists Shall Lead Them... These days, there is no shortage of gay characters on television or stage, and the increasingly easy familiarity of theatre audiences with gay culture makes it easy to forget just how far we've come in a relatively short time. Are we really only 20 years removed from La Cage Aux Folles, with its stereotypical drag queens and (at the time) shocking revelations of gay life? Dominic Papatola says that, at a time when much of America seems to be swinging hard to the right on social issues, the evolution of the arts paint a much different picture of the future. St. Paul Pioneer Press 06/11/06

Arts Need Mission As Much As Money Louisville has a long and proud cultural tradition, but in recent years, many of the city's arts groups have struggled financially, and Andrew Adler says that the problem isn't merely monetary. "Simply saying we 'need' an orchestra isn't sufficient. Same with the opera, the ballet, etc. Of course it takes money to keep these organizations afloat, and more than that, to make them thrive. But the aesthetic imperative continues to be obscured when financial concerns constantly occupy the foreground." Louisville Courier-Journal 06/11/06

Friday, June 9, 2006

Framing Zarqawi - An Image For... "So will this image, given a strange dignity by its prominent frame, be a defining image of the war? Not likely. Its primary function is forensic. It proves, in an age of skepticism (heightened by a three-year history of official claims about the war turning out to be false), that Zarqawi is indeed dead. But beyond that, the image has little power. Indeed, as with so many images in this war, it is loaded with the potential to backfire." Washington Post 06/09/06

Thursday, June 8, 2006

A Computer Society That Learns "A team of computer scientists, sociologists and linguists are creating a population of millions of unique entities that have the ability to pass on life-prolonging tips to their community. In the process, they may evolve their own language." Discovery 06/08/06

Is A Rounder Soccer Ball A Better Soccer Ball? Adidas has spent millions trying to build a better, rounder soccer ball. "By reducing the number of places where panels touch each other, the ball reacts three times more accurately when kicked, according to Adidas, which tested the ball by having a robotic kicking machine whack it against a wall a few thousand times." The New York Times 06/05/06

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Information As Commodity "The stuff you dig out of the earth’s crust becomes, in an information economy, less important than the information that informs it, what you think about the stuff. Yet the more you ponder that information, the more you understand about that stuff, the more real the stuff becomes. To put it in terms of the art world Andy Warhol lived in, the more you see that style matters more than substance, the more you see the vital role, the vitality, of substance." University of Chicago Press 06/06

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

The Problem With Books "Efforts to update the book are hampered because, culturally, we give extreme reverence to the form for the form's sake. We hold books holy: children are taught there is no better use of time than reading a book. Academics perish if they do not publish. We tolerate censors regulating and snipping television but would never allow them to black out books. We even ignore the undeniable truth that too many books, and far too many bestsellers, are pap or crap. All this might seem to be the medium's greatest advantage: respect. But that is what is holding books back from the progress that could save and spread the gospel of the written word." The Guardian (UK) 06/05/06

Monday, June 5, 2006

Claim: Mozart Helps You See Better Listening to Mozart helps you do better on eyesight tests. "Brazilian researchers let 30 patients listen to 10 minutes of Mozart's sonata for two pianos, while another 30 prepared in silence. The research, in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, found the music improved performance in the tests." BBC 06/05/06

A Device That Can "Hear" Everything "Building a general radio that can receive and transmit, and attaching it to a software system that can fill in the gaps of what we normally think of as radio, is kind of like the Enterprise's deflector dish: Give engineering 20 minutes and it can do anything the captain needs to move the plot along. One of Matt Ettus' USRPs, with the right daughterboards and radio software, can capture FM, read GPS, decode HDTV, transmit over emergency bands and open garage doors." Wired 06/05/06

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Who Owns You When You're Famous? (And Why It Matters) Increasingly, celebrities are claiming ownership of any mention of their famous selves. "Some worry that publicity rights have already expanded too far, allowing celebrities unilaterally to dictate how the rest of us can portray them. Others respond that it's simply the law's reasonable recognition of the economic value of celebrity. The issues and arguments can be similar to those in trademark and copyright cases. In a unique way though, right-of-publicity disputes are also about fame-who owns it, and what it's worth." Boston Globe 06/04/06

Thursday, June 1, 2006

No One Cares What You Think, Anyway "There's no point debating anything online. You might as well hurl shoes in the air to knock clouds from the sky. The internet's perfect for all manner of things, but productive discussion ain't one of them. It provides scant room for debate and infinite opportunities for fruitless point-scoring: the heady combination of perceived anonymity, gestated responses, random heckling and a notional 'live audience' quickly conspire to create a 'perfect storm' of perpetual bickering. Stumble in, take umbrage with someone, trade a few blows, and within about two or three exchanges, the subject itself goes out the window. Suddenly you're simply arguing about arguing." The Guardian (UK) 06/02/06

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