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Tuesday, August 26


Why Written Languages Die Out "In the first study of its kind, three experts in the study of written language have described the common characteristics that caused three famous scripts - ancient Egyptian, Middle Eastern cuneiform and pre-Columbian Mayan - to disappear. 'Thousands of languages have come and gone, and we've studied that process for years. But throughout history, maybe 100 writing systems have ever existed. We should know more about why they disappear'." Washington Post 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 10:43 pm

The Art Of Self-Driving Cars Toyota plans this fall to unveil a car that parks itself. Journalists who have test-driven the car report it works. "Self-driving systems have been in research laboratories for years. Automotive experts expect the car to make splashy headlines when Toyota officially unveils it to the public next month. It will initially be offered as a high-end feature for the $20,000 Prius, a model that uses an electric motor to assist a gasoline engine to conserve fuel." Wired 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 5:50 pm

The "Distributed" Library An experiment in the San Francisco area tries to create a virtual "distributed" library. "List the books and videos that you own. You will then have access to the multitude of books and videos available in other people's collections. You can search for specific authors or titles, browse individual collections, find nearby users, or find people who like books in common with yours. You will have access to user-written reviews and have the opportunity to write your own. If the owner of a book or video you're interested in has time for you to pick it up, you can check out items for a 2, 7, 14, or 30 day period (at the owner's discretion). Returning books late will get you negative feedback, while returning books promptly will get you positive feedback." Community Books 08/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 4:36 pm

Visual Arts

The Risky, Obvious Choice That Is Calatrava Choosing Santiago Calatrava to design the tranport hub under the World Trade Center site is both "obvious and more than a little risky," writes Christopher Hawthorne. "Why obvious? Because no architect in the world can match Calatrava's talent for investing complex transportation projects, which are often pretty bland architecturally, with the kind of eye-catching, high-design appeal the public is expecting at Ground Zero. His buildings are rigorously conceived and meticulously executed but also playful, airy, and imaginative—a perfect combination of right and left brain. Why risky? Because Calatrava's work has a personality—a pristine, sometimes aloof perfectionism—that seems an odd fit for the constricted and politically charged Ground Zero site." Slate 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 6:00 pm


The Old Blind Violin Side-By-Side Comparison Test Audience members at a concert will be asked to judge between a Strad and a modern instrument. "At the concert on 15 September, a Nagyvary violin, built in six weeks earlier this year, and the $4 million Rochester Stradivarius, built in 1720 by Antonio Stradivari, will each be played behind a screen by violinist Dalibor Karvay. Audience members will attempt to distinguish between the two, and at intermission their guesses will be tallied up." Andante 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 10:53 pm

The Greatest Rock Guitarists Of All Time? Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman have been named to the top a Rolling Stone list of the top 100 guitarists of all time. "B.B. King, who turns 78 next month, came in at No. 3. 'His string-bending and vibrato made his famous guitar, Lucille, weep like a woman,' the magazine said." Yahoo! (Reuters) 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 5:55 pm

Demise Of The Record Store Clerk "Like their counterparts at book and video stores, record clerks shape our experience of culture as decidedly as any critic, curator or culture-industry executive. They're street-level tastemakers, part of a breed that's entered pop mythology. But despite these glamorous associations, serious clerks have become an endangered species. The Internet, with outfits like book and CD merchant Amazon and DVD service Netflix, is put- ting stores, which offer the joy of browsing, serendipity and human contact, out of business." Los Angeles Times 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 4:18 pm

Arts Issues

Record Edinburgh Fringe The Edinburgh Fringe Festival attracted record audiences this year. "On the final day of the three-week arts festival, organisers said 1,184,738 tickets had been sold, which represented a 21% increase on 2002 when 975,110 were sold. Income rose to £9,386,003, compared to £7,688,113 last year. The festival offered 21,000 performances of 1,541 shows in 207 venues." BBC 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 4:52 pm

MIA - Public School Arts Programs "As they head back to the classrooms in coming weeks, kids may find their favorite part of school cut or reduced. The culprit, some educators and arts advocates say, is a combination of historic fiscal crises in the states and new federal standards stressing academic basics. Some critics say that if school officials cut unnecessary overhead costs they wouldn't have to touch academic programs and activities." ABCNews 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 4:28 pm

Keep Art Alive A California state legislator writes of his fight to keep arts funding alive in California: "We are truly at a turning point in the relationship between government and the arts. I had one of the hardest fights of my life this year to prevent the legislature from eliminating the California Arts Council entirely. Not just defunding it, but eliminating it from the state. I have no idea how or why this proposal came about, but it was made and it very nearly happened — California almost became the first state in the nation to abolish all public funding of the arts. As it is, we will continue to fund the arts, but at a level that is the lowest in the nation. Lower than Mississippi. Lower than Alabama. Lower than North Dakota. The state's General Fund, which last year gave the California Arts Council about $18 million, will now fund it at $1 million. We will thus be spending less than 3 cents per capita on the arts. For comparison, the national average is $1.00 per capita. The math on that is fairly easy — California spends about 3% of the national average on the arts." Los Angeles Times 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 4:24 pm


Claudio Abbado Returns Conductor Claudio Abbado has resurrected the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. "For musicians and audiences alike, Mr. Abbado's return was also the stuff of emotion. Last year he stepped down after 13 years as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. But more pertinently, after a diagnosis of stomach cancer in 2000 he is again in good health and, at 70, has proven strong enough to lead a new orchestra. It is something he is practiced at doing."
The New York Times 08/26/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 10:35 pm


Theatres - Revenue Up, But Also Deficits The good news for American theatres is that attendance is up 17 percent in the past five years. Contributed income is also up - an astonishing 52 percent above inflation ove the same period. The bad news is that for the first time in the Theatre Communications Guild survey's 28 years, "more than half - 54 percent - of surveyed companies ran a deficit, a 24 percent increase in the past two years." San Francisco Chronicle 08/26/03
Posted: 08/26/2003 8:33 am

The Cult Of Adapting Movies For The Stage Want to produce a hit play? Then find a cult movie that has a following and adapt it. "Don't worry too much about slickness or professionalism - your audience will be largely composed of young people who seldom go to the theatre, and never to a musical, and have no standard against which to measure performance. What they seek is authenticity, fidelity to the spirit of the cult. Deliver that, and you're well on your way to establishing a hit." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/26/03
Posted: 08/26/2003 8:26 am

Scottish Theatre On The Rocks Scottish theatre is in disastrous shape, "haemorrhaging some of its greatest talents to better-funded companies in England. Its great companies are lurching from one catastrophe to the next, and a long dreamed of national theatre, which was meant to symbolise the reawakening of a new, dynamic Scottish identity, has slid into limbo.
Theatres are only producing half the work they did in 1990. That this impoverishment has come at a time when Scotland has produced the most exciting generation of playwrights in a century" is a tragedy.
The Guardian (UK) 08/25/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 6:09 pm


Piling On To Martin Amis Martin Amis' new novel hasn't even been officially released yet and it's been nominated for this year's Booker Prize and stirred up the ire of a number of critics. "Though it might seem odd to declaim in August about a novel that is not scheduled for publication until Sept. 4, nothing is odd, really, when it comes to Mr. Amis and the strangely potent brew of envy, unease, schadenfreude and fury he inevitably provokes in fellow writers here." The New York Times 08/26/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 10:30 pm


Bambi In The Age Of Computers Hollywood is getting out of the hand-drawn animation business, in favor of creating animated features on computers. "The new Hollywood truism is that Bambi is dead. That kids, hooked on the wizardry of 3D computer games, no longer want to watch quaint old-fashioned characters against painted backdrops." Except... outside Hollywood, traditional animation seems to be thriving? The Telegraph (UK) 08/26/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 6:16 pm

All Things BBC Free For Download The BBC plans to make all of its radio and TV library available free for downloading over the internet. "The BBC probably has the best television library in the world. Up until now this huge resource has remained locked up, inaccessible to the public because there hasn't been an effective mechanism for distribution. But the digital revolution and broadband are changing all that." BBC 08/24/03
Posted: 08/25/2003 7:25 am

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