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Wednesday, September 21



Slimming Down The America Culture... (Writer Goes On A AmCult Diet) Mark Ravenhill likes American culture. "The problem, then, isn't that American culture is a bad thing, just that it's a very dominant thing. And sometimes it's the only thing. So, a couple of months ago, I devised The Diet. If Dr Atkins could cut out the carbs, then I figured I could cut out the American culture. I'd set myself a date, do it for a month and see how it felt." The Guardian (UK) 09/21/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 6:51 pm

SHHH! Type Quietly (Here's Why) Researchers have found they can tell what someone is typing on a computer by the sound of the keystrokes. "Because the sound generated by each keystroke is slightly different, the researchers were able to generate a computer program to decode what was written. Using statistical learning theory, the computer can categorize the sound of each key as it's struck and develop a good first guess with an accuracy of 60 percent for characters, and 20 percent for words. We then use spelling and grammar check to refine the result, which increased the accuracy to 70 percent and the word accuracy to 50 percent." Scientific American 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:47 pm

Does Technology Make Us Smarter? (Or Dumber?) "Today, terabytes of easily accessed data, always-on Internet connectivity, and lightning-fast search engines are profoundly changing the way people gather information. But the age-old question remains: Is technology making us smarter? Or are we lazily reliant on computers, and, well, dumber than we used to be?" CNet 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:35 pm 

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Visual Arts

Dennison To Run Guggnheim New York's Guggenheim Museum has found its next director within its own ranks: Lisa Dennison, a 27-year veteran of the Guggenheim organization, will take over running the New York museum on October 1, succeeding Thomas Krens. Dennison will also continue in her current capacity as chief curator for all the various Guggenheim museums spread across the world. The New York Times 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 5:08 am

The "Art" Of Kidnapping (Really?) "Brock Enright is notorious in the US as the man who performs 'bespoke executive kidnappings' for $1,500 a time. He's persona non grata with the NYPD, fantasy salesman to the stars, and now he's opened his first London exhibition with a performance-art extravaganza starring his own mother and the Easter bunny. 'In what I do there is a lot of smoke and mirrors.' He works at the edge of truth and fiction." The Guardian (UK) 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 6:55 pm

Researcher Find Ancient Building By Using Google An Italian researcher has discovered an ancient villa by looking at satellite maps doenloaded from Google. "Luca Mori was looking at Google Earth images of the region around his town of Sorbolo, near Parma, when he noticed a shaded oval area more than 500 metres (1,640ft) long, which marked the path of an ancient river." The Guardian (UK) 09/21/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:52 pm

Russia's Stolen Art Problem Russian police are searching for more than 48,000 stolen works of art. "The missing pieces of artwork include pictures, icons, sculptures, metalwork, gems, military decorations, vintage armor, and rare books. Some of them were stolen from museums and churches, but most from private houses. The biggest challenge is to track down pieces that have been smuggled out of the country, investigators said." Navosti 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:50 pm

Milwaukee Art Dealer Accuse Of Fraud "Once-eminent Milwaukee art dealer Michael H. Lord has been charged with stealing about $180,000 from an old friend by buying artwork on the friend's behalf and then selling it to Major League Baseball commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig and his wife, and keeping the proceeds." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:38 pm

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Monk Competition Wraps Up In D.C. Washington, D.C.'s annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition might be the genre's most prestigious contest, and this week, the 2005 edition was won by a Norwegian-born strummer now living in New York. Unlike many classical competitions, the students hoping for first prize weren't the only ones to take the stage - all the judges, whose names read like a roster of America's finest living jazz musicians - performed in addition to their jury duty. Washington Post 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 6:51 am

Jobs: Resist Those Greedy Recording Companies Apple chief Steve Jobs says recording companies are getting greedy and want to raise the price of online music. "We're trying to compete with piracy, we're trying to pull people away from piracy and say 'you can buy these songs legally for a fair price'. But if the price goes up a lot, they'll go back to piracy. Then everybody loses." BBC 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:29 pm

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Arts Issues

Prioritizing History You can hardly turn around in America these days without bumping into a "house museum" or some such similar bit of preserved history, and some have begun to speculate that we are cheapening history by drawing attention to so much of it. This week, a gathering of public historians takes place in Pittsburgh, with participants set to tackle some of the more difficult questions of access, overexposure, and creative control. "How and why should history museums interpret the recent past? How can corporate historians balance thorough analysis with the pressures of maintaining a positive corporate image? And who should determine what history is: curators or the community?" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 6:34 am

Will New Orleans Still Look Like New Orleans? There will be many painful decisions ahead for those who must find a way to rebuild New Orleans, and none may be more taxing than deciding what aspects of the city's famed architecture can be preserved, and which must get the wrecking ball. "New Orleans is a city where the grand and the debauched are often separated by feet rather than miles, and much of its treasured visual narrative remains intact. But the wind has torn away chunks of facades and the insides of many homes have been corrupted beyond description... a discussion about the virtues of the city's vernacular architecture - shotgun shacks, Creole cottages - would seem to be a luxury now. Still, local preservationists believe that unless the bulldozers roaming New Orleans are used with care, the city that officials are trying to save will be lost." The New York Times 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 5:26 am

Royal Opera House Removes Vilar's Name London's Royal Opera House has removed Alberto Vilar's name from the house. "Vilar pledged 10 million to the ROH development appeal in 1999, but paid only a fraction of that. As a result, the iron and glass atrium centrepiece - which was named the Vilar Floral Hall - will be renamed the Floral Hall with immediate effect. Mr Vilar is currently facing charges of fraud and money laundering in the US." BBC 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 6:39 pm

Asking The Hard Questions About Arts Funding "The channelling of public money into the arts is now so widely accepted as a worthwhile thing to do, it would seem churlish to question it. Who could ever wish to return to the dark ages - pre-Australia Council, pre-state and regional arts councils - when creative artists struggled for recognition and support? But there are a couple of questions that should be raised from time to time, if only to assure ourselves that our money is being spent wisely. Who is supposed to benefit from arts funding? And what is the nature of the benefit?" Sydney Morning Herald 09/21/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:55 pm

A Spanish City's Cultural Buildings Splurge "In a city full of venerable architectural gems, Valencia's City of the Sciences and Arts is the 21st-century ultimate. It is an enormous complex, more like a world's fair than a museum plaza. Its science museum is the biggest in Spain, its aquarium the largest in Europe. Its reflecting pools could submerge several football fields. Opening in October, the final piece the Performing Arts Center will put the crowning touch on this remarkable complex." Seattle Times (KR) 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:40 pm

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Jennings Memorial Draws Music's Brightest Stars It isn't every network news anchor who could inspire a collection of America's finest musicians to take to the stage of Carnegie Hall in celebration of his memory, but as has been abudantly clear since his death from lung cancer, Peter Jennings wasn't just any anchor. A memorial to the Canadian-born journalist held at the famous venue yesterday drew 2,000 spectators. "Reflecting Jennings' eclectic and wide-ranging taste, performers included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, violinist Natalie MacMaster, and the Gates of Praise choir." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 6:27 am

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Connecticut Town Tries To Revive A Classic Theatre The town of Stratford, Connecticut is trying to revive the venerable American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Conn. in "a long-range, $50 million redevelopment plan intended to turn it into a 'prominent player in American drama and the entertainment industry.' The theatre fell on tough financial times during the late '60s and early '70s due to a slowdown in the economy and the loss of some key financial supporters. [It] struggled along into the 1980s, but when hoped-for success failed to follow 'Othello' in 1981, the theatre closed." Backstage 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 6:44 pm

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Eliot Letters Net Thousands "A collection of letters written by poet T.S. Eliot to a beloved godson sold at auction Tuesday for $82,300, auctioneer Bonhams said. The series of 50 letters to Thomas Faber, a member of the Faber and Faber publishing family, includes poems and illustrations that formed the basis of Eliot's 1939 children's book, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, which was dedicated to Faber." The amount of the sale was nearly double the estimated value of the collection. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 6:38 am

Venice Gets The Berendt Treatment John Berendt, the popular and controversial author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has a new book out focusing on the fire that destroyed Venice's Fenice Opera House in 1996, and like his earlier blockbuster, it purports to be a work of nonfiction that reads like a novel. Berendt admitted in an author's note that some of the events of Midnight were made up or reordered for "storytelling effect," an admission which may have cost him the Pulitzer Prize. And, while he insists that he hasn't done the same with the new book, there's little question that Berendt's work, while undeniably engaging to read, treads that uncomfortable line between reportorial fact and factually inspired fiction. The New York Times 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 5:19 am

Mailer, Ferlinghetti Honored By National Book Foundation Norman Mailer has been chosen to receive the 2005 medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet, publisher and bookseller at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco gets the foundation's first Literarian Award. The New York Times 09/21/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:00 pm

Authors Sue Google Over Book Copying The 8000-member Authors Guild has sued Google to block it from copying books in big libraries. "The lawsuit asked the court to block Google from copying the books so the authors would not suffer irreparable harm by being deprived of the right to control reproduction of their works. It sought class-action status on behalf of anyone or any entity with a copyright to a literary work at the University of Michigan library." BusinessWeek 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:32 pm

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CBC's Collateral Damage The effect of the six-week old CBC lockout on Canadian culture as a whole is broadening, and with some broadcast facilities shut down as a result of the work stoppage, a long-planned festival of art and culture created by disabled Canadians is on the verge of being canceled. In addition, Canada's prestigious Giller Prize for literature is coming up, and if CBC isn't back up and running, the ceremony could go un-broadcast for the first time in memory. Toronto Star 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 6:44 am

New Montreal FilmFest Sputtering "The New Montreal FilmFest was touted as a glitzy new film showcase designed to make everyone forget the past few years of controversy that have dogged the rival World Film Festival. But half-way through the inaugural edition of the city's newest film fest, there are far more glitches than glitz. The event, backed by $2 million in government funding, just lost its highest-profile film, many movies are screening to near-empty theatres, and the fest's star program director is telling anyone who'll listen how much he dislikes L'Equipe Spectra, the Montreal company running the festival. In short, it's hard to imagine how things could be going any worse at the festival." Montreal Gazette 09/21/05
Posted: 09/21/2005 6:20 am

Can We Finally Call An End To The Reality TV Craze? There are few reality series on American TV's fall schedule. "Scripted shows are hot right now, with drama on a real roll and sitcoms poised to make a comeback. Given a choice, the networks would always prefer to develop a scripted hit, which could have a long life in syndicated repeats and pay off for years or even decades to come. But the networks also reined themselves in because so many of last season's reality shows failed." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:42 pm

Film Jobs Down 20 Percent In UK Film employment in the UK was down by 20 percent last year. "In 2004, 24,816 people were employed in the movie and video production sector, compared with 31,264 in 2003. The decline reflects the fact fewer films were being made in an industry hit by uncertainty over UK tax changes." BBC 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 5:27 pm

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Ballet Austin In Line For New Home Thanks to a couple of generous patrons, Ballet Austin is getting a new home. "Designed by the Bommarito Group, the Butler Dance Education Center will feature seven dance studios, including the Austin Ventures Studio/Theatre, a flexible performance space with 270 seats. Plans call for it to open in January 2007. Ballet Austin officials said the new building will allow them to increase the number and types of programs and performances that they present, as well as contribute to downtown development." Austin American-Statesman 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 6:33 pm

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