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Monday, September 26


Cursing Before We Walk "Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech. Some researchers are so impressed by the depth and power of strong language that they are using it as a peephole into the architecture of the brain, as a means of probing the tangled, cryptic bonds between the newer, "higher" regions of the brain in charge of intellect, reason and planning, and the older, more 'bestial' neural neighborhoods that give birth to our emotions." The New York Times 09/20/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 8:31 am

Using Biology To Crack Ancient Languages Traditionally, linguists have tried to decipher ancient languages by matching vocabulary. But "findings published in the journal Science indicate that a linguistic technique that borrows some features from evolutionary biology tools can unlock secrets of languages more than 10,000 years old." Scientific American 09/23/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 7:02 pm

When Technology Outstrips Human Intelligence (It's Coming) Ray Kurzweil believs that "today's human beings, mere quintessences of dust, will be as outmoded as Homo Erectus. All this, Kurzweil believes, will come about through something called The Singularity." What is the Singularity? "It refers to the future point at which technological change, propelled by the explosive growth of artificial intelligence, will accelerate past the point of current human comprehension. In Vinge's prevision, once artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence there will be no turning back, as ever more intelligent computers create ever more superintelligent offspring." Boston Globe 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 5:26 pm

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Visual Arts

Why Are Architects Bad At Theatres? Architects have a terrible track record when it comes to building theatre spaces. "All the interesting practitioners say the same thing about buildings: 'Why is it that we can't build permissive, exciting, beautiful, available theatre space? Why is it that so many of our new buildings feel corporate, overmanaged, overfinished, icily perfect and therefore alienating to a process which by its nature is exploratory and provisional?'" Time for some new thinking? The Guardian (UK) 09/26/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 9:03 am

NY Design Schools Go For New Building Design "Amid growing student interest in their programs, New York architecture and design schools are moving to add new buildings conceived by hot architects of the moment." The New York Times 09/26/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 8:42 am

Act Of "Vandalism" To Be Reversed 35 Years Later "Celebrated German abstract artist Blinky Palermo caused confusion and consternation at Edinburgh College of Art when he painted his lines in the entrance hall. The Scottish arts establishment regarded the 'work' as anti-art and concealed it behind a thick coat of emulsion. Now the lost work is regarded as a masterpiece with a theoretical value of £300,000. Sadly, removing the paint without destroying the original is cost-prohibitive, so the lines will be recreated on top of the originals." Scoltland on Sunday 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 3:34 pm

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Opera Doesn't Work In The Present Opera set in modern times just plain doesn't work. Writes Andrew O'Hagan: "Opera can't cope with modern boredom or the banality of everyday speech without making it seem hilariously camp, overblown, unreal, and unfelt. Anything prosaic quickly seems fake. Everything practical suddenly seems doomed. Maybe opera is just too bold-gestured and not the kind of drama I can believe in when set in a modern context. Even where the music is lovely, and the look is right." The Telegraph (UK) 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 7:23 pm

What Happened To "Just The Music"? More and more orchestras are dangling "extras" to entice people to come to concerts. "Spicing up concerts with bells and whistles may very well engage the short-attention-span set, but those folks may then expect the extras every time they enter a concert hall. And this could keep them essentially stuck in one kind of experience, patronizing only one kind of orchestral product. That wouldn't matter as long as all the other products are doing well. But orchestras have been suffering mostly from lagging sales for the traditional, just-the-notes-ma'am subscription series, which play to an orchestra's base and usually do the most to shore up the finances." Baltimore Sun 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 7:08 pm

Declining To Cross Over Soprano Aprile Millo cancels a Carnegie Hall concert after the promoter wants her to sing "crossover" music. "I said, 'My crossover is to Handel,' It's one profession trying to get another profession to modern up. And it's not going to work, not with this girl." The New York Times 09/24/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 3:46 pm

BSO: Excellence Costs James Levine costs the Boston Symphony. And he makes the musicians work hard. "The BSO players knew what they were getting into. That's why they negotiated what's called the 'Levine Premium' before the maestro's first season. They get an extra $220 for each of the music director's 12 weeks. With about 100 players in the BSO and including other expenses, the total adds up to roughly $278,000 for the season. And there are other costs..."
Boston Globe 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 3:39 pm

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Arts Issues

Tension - What Gets In? There's certainly something to be said for diversity of ideas and abilities; it produces a richer culture. But there's also something to be said for declaring hierarchies of quality. "A whole society that adopted a policy of letting everything into the show, so to speak, would lose its ability to spot specialness and mediocrity and bankrupt the classical notion of art as a pursuit to be studied and developed by an artist over time." The News-Tribune (Tacoma) 09/02/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 8:34 am

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Balt Sun Architecture Critic To Sell Properties Edward Gunts wons properties in areas of Baltimore that he writers about architecture. The Sun has determined that Edward Gunts had "no nefarious intent to use his position for personal gain and did not consciously report or write any articles to enhance the value of the properties he owns. Still, it also is clear that Gunts should not be investing in Baltimore real estate while writing about architecture here. Gunts has agreed to comply with The Sun's requests that he sell all of his properties by a specific date and not write about those two neighborhoods until then. Gunts will remain the newspaper's architecture critic." Baltimore Sun 09/26/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 9:36 am

  • Previously: Baltimore Sun Architecture Critic Accused Of Conflicts Of Interest The Baltimore City Paper reports that Baltimore Sun architecture critic Edward Gunts owns considerable property in areas of the city he writes about. "According to the most recently available city and state property-tax records, Gunts currently owns seven residential properties in Mount Vernon and one in Bolton Hill. In the past 18 months he has sold eight additional residential properties in Bolton Hill for more than $2 million—$1.1 million above their purchase price. Since joining The Sun in 1984, Gunts has written extensively about both neighborhoods, often praising their architecture." Baltimore City Paper 09/14/05

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Oprah Gets In On Color Purple, The Musical "The move is likely to immediately expand the box-office potential of a show that has been extensively revised since receiving mixed reviews in its initial performances in Atlanta last year. Now titled "Oprah Winfrey Presents: 'The Color Purple,' " the musical will begin previews at the Broadway Theater on Nov. 1 and open on Dec. 1. In what is her first Broadway venture, Ms. Winfrey will contribute more than $1 million of the musical's $10 million production cost." The New York Times 09/26/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 8:44 am

San Diego's Old Globe Theatre Gets A $10 Million Boost "The Old Globe Theatre has received a $10 million gift – the largest in the company's 70-year history – from Conrad Prebys, a former pizzeria owner who came to San Diego almost penniless 40 years ago." San Diego Union-Tribune 09/21/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 8:39 am

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A Challenge To France's Mental Health A new book says French psychologists have it all wrong. "The Livre Noir de la Psychanalyse (The Black Book of Psychoanalysis) claims French mind-healers have become 'fossilised' in the 'marginal, discredited' teachings of Sigmund Freud. The practitioners have been saved from total disgrace, claims the book, only by the complicity of the French Foreign Minister. But France's 6,000 psychoanalysts question the book's motivation, claiming that its authors advocate cut-price American-style therapies, of the kind that involve locking up arachnophobes with spiders." The Observer (UK) 09/25/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 9:09 am

Banned In America - Books That Get Noticed "Since 1991, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom has compiled an annual list of books that librarians, teachers or others report have been challenged; there were 547 challenges in 2004, up 25 percent from 2003. This wave started with the religious right around 1980. And it's contagious. It has spread, so that anybody, including the liberal left, can say, 'I don't want my kid to read that book, therefore I don't want that book around for any kid to read.' " The New York Times 09/26/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 8:47 am

Petitioning For Library Privacy More than 200,000 petitions have been gathered to repeal the section of the Patriot Act that pertains to libraries. "The Campaign for Reader Privacy has been collecting petitions at libraries and bookstores since March 2004. It gathered 100,000 last year. Supporters are the Association of American Publishers, the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and PEN American Center. There's more urgency this year because of the law's expiration date." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 8:22 pm

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TV In The After-Life "It used to be when short-lived TV series were canceled, they went away forever -- no syndication reruns, no cable, nothing except an episode or two in the archives of the Museum of Television & Radio. Not anymore. With the proliferation of cable channels hungry to fill time and the new revenue stream provided by TV shows on DVD, lost TV series are a thing of the past." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 8:19 pm

How Podcasting Can Help Radio Podcasting is catching on in a big way with radio producers. "It is a phenomenon that could have been a big threat to conventional radio's business because suddenly they were not the only ones making and distributing programmes. Instead, it is being seen as a big opportunity, for both "professionals" and "amateurs", according to both the BBC and Virgin Radio." BBC 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 3:31 pm

Vancouver Goes Bollywood British Columbia has been luring Hollywood films to shoot in the province for years. Now the Canadians are going after Bollywood movies. The attraction? Same as for Hollywood. Great tax breaks and beautiful scenery. One of the first films is directed at Indian audiences, and probably not suited to the tastes of mainstream Western moviegoers. "This is not really a satire of Indians living abroad. I wanted there to be a certain reality to the film, which will set it apart from many Bollywood films. But I didn't want it to be an ethnic comedy in the same way that 'Bend It Like Beckham' or 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' are." The New York Times 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 7:04 am

Thinking Right In Hollywood "The notion that the American film industry is a hotbed of left-wing propaganda is a venerable one, and some determined demagogues will cling to it no matter what the studios do. But the studios themselves, especially after the stunning success of Mel Gibson's independently financed "The Passion of the Christ," have tried to strengthen their connection with religious and social conservatives, who represent not only a political constituency but a large and powerful segment of the market." The New York Times 09/25/05
Posted: 09/25/2005 6:38 am

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A Dance Too Shocking For Kids! London's "Royal Ballet is about to open its new season with a work about a psychopathic dance teacher who abuses, rapes and kills his pupils which has been deemed too shocking and gruesome to be performed at matinees." The Guardian (UK) 09/26/05
Posted: 09/26/2005 9:05 am

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