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Thursday, September 29



Judging Professors By Their Online Q-Rating When the web site, RateMyProfessors.com, was launched six years ago, most academic insitutions viewed it as an occasionally hurtful but harmless outlet for student opinion. But the site, on which students at colleges and universities around the world can evaluate their teachers' performance with impunity, has grown to the point that it is now affecting class enrollment at some schools. Professors and administrators hate the site, and lawsuits are regularly threatened against its owner. But the site is far from a vitriolic free-for-all, with positive comments outnumbering negative ones, and a group of volunteer "student administrators" assigned to keep an eye on verifiable claims. Wired 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:22 am

Brain Scan: The Ultimate Lie Detector Researchers have discovered that MRI scans can detect when people are lying. "The MRI images show that more blood flows to parts of the brain associated with anxiety and impulse control when people lie. More blood also flows to the part of the brain handling multitasking because it is hard for people to keep track of lies they have told." Wired 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 6:12 pm

Leonardo Inspires New Heart Surgery A heart surgeon has devised a new heart procedure after studying drawings of the heart made by Leonardo da Vinci. "The drawings allowed him to work out how to restore normal opening and closing function of the mitral valve, one of the four valves in the heart. Until now, surgeons have repaired a floppy valve by narrowing its diameter. However, this can restrict the blood flow further when the individual is exercising and working their heart to the maximum. It's a complete rethink of the way we do the mitral valve operation." BBC 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 5:26 pm

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Visual Arts

Vindication Of An Architect - 169 Years Too Late "When the National Portrait Gallery reopens next July after a six-year, $216-million renovation, the new space will represent a triumph for preservationists, for artists, for historians -- and for Robert Mills. Mills, the original architect, was taken off the project after a rival designer convinced Congress that Mills' plan in 1836 for a fireproof building -- a major preoccupation for a city in which the British had burned the White House 22 years earlier -- would not work... Now restorers have peeled away 169 years of history and found that Mills was right." Chicago Tribune (LAT) 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:46 am

Unknown Lowry Painting To Hit The Block "A previously unseen LS Lowry painting is expected to fetch around 500,000 when it is sold in November. The Footbridge will be seen in public for the first time before it goes up for auction at Christie's in London. The painting shows an industrial scene with Lowry's trademark matchstick figures rushing through the snow. It was sold to a private collector 60 years ago and has not changed hands since. Lowry, who died in 1976, was known for depicting northern England." BBC 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:14 am

NY Governor Gives Freedom Center The Boot New York governor George Pataki has canceled plans for a "freedom center" as part of the World Trade Center site redevelopment. "Pataki initially said the state would help the International Freedom Center find another home, but center officials said they weren't interested and considered the project dead. The decision followed months of acrimony, with some Sept. 11 families and politicians saying that such a museum would overshadow and take space from a separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 World Trade Center dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events." The New York Times 09/29/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 7:19 pm

Has Saatchi Lost His Game? Charles Saatchi has dominated the British art scene for more than a decade, his taste influencing the art of a country. Now that he's moving his gallery out of its prestigious address, does this mean his influence is waning? The Guardian (UK) 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 7:05 pm

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PSO Looks To Its Musicians For Fiscal Relief The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony got an astonishingly mammoth raise this season, the result of a backloaded contract negotiated by a management team that his since left the building. And now, with a financial crunch on the horizon, the PSO's current managers are hoping the musicians will be willing to take their raise back a notch. A proposed new three-year deal, which would replace the current contract, would shave $6,000 off the minimum salary, but restore the higher wage beginning in fall 2006, and preserve it through the 2007-08 season. The musicians will vote on the revised deal tomorrow. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 7:02 am

Finally, Black Ink In Philly In what will be seen as a major turnaround for a troubled organization, the Philadelphia Orchestra has announced a balanced budget for fiscal 2004, following several years of deficits and a contentious contract negotiation with its musicians which very nearly ended in a strike. The orchestra also announced that it played to 89% of its hall's capacity, and that its ongoing endowment campaign has passed the $100 million mark. Philadelphia Inquirer 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:58 am

Is Music Good For The Heart? "Musical training might be good for the heart, suggests a small study, which shows that it is musical tempo, rather than style, that is the greatest stress buster... Half of those taking part were trained musicians, who had been playing instruments for at least seven years. The remainder had had no musical training... Faster music, and more complex rhythms, speeded up breathing and circulation, irrespective of style, with fast classical and techno music having the same impact. But the faster the music, the greater was the degree of physiological arousal... This effect occurred, irrespective of the musical style or preferences of the listener, but was stronger among the musicians, who are trained to synchronise their breathing with musical phrases." News-Medical.net 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:04 am

Should LA Phil Go Casual? When architect Frank Gehry designed the L.A. Philharmonic's dazzling new concert hall, he promised to make it "a living room for the city," and if the comfort level of the patrons is any indication, he succeeded. Whereas a concertgoer in anything less than a shirt and tie might have been well out of place in the Phil's ultraformal old concert hall, the modern slopes and inviting facade of Disney Hall seem to have convinced many to shed the three-piece suits in favor of more comfortable attire. So why is the Philharmonic persisting in wearing those hopelessly over-formal tuxedos? Los Angeles Philharmonic 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 5:48 am

Less Money, Less Music In Milwaukee The musicians of the Milwaukee Symphony have ratified a new contract which will reduce their annual salaries by 9%, eliminate two full-time positions in the orchestra, and cut the ensemble's season by four weeks. "A player making the minimum will see his or her salary fall from $59,125 to $53,625. Paid vacation drops from six weeks to five, and the players' contribution to health insurance is likely to rise under a formula linking it to insurance costs." Despite the concessions, the musicians ratified the deal willingly if not happily, which may have something to do with an unusual provision requiring members of the orchestra's upper management team to take the same 9% wage cut as the players. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 5:27 am

Adams: A Link To Our Atomic History John Adamsa says his new opera Dr. Atomic is an attempt to reconnect us with history. "Every time you pick up a paper, turn on the TV or go on the internet, you're presented with some huge human tragedy. It might be an Iraqi policeman blown apart, or somebody shot by a terrorist, but the way it's presented in the media, it all just becomes so much data. The story of the development of the atomic bomb has become like a comic-book narrative: all these ingenious young American scientists building this bomb, and then setting it off in the desert, and then we drop it on the Japanese. We've heard this story so often that it doesn't have any meaning any more. It's just an event in our cosmic consciousness. It's my job to make people feel the significance of the story again." The Guardian (UK) 09/29/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 7:12 pm

Classical Music In Decline Is classical music in America a shadow of its Golden Age past? Joseph Horowitz makes his case... The Nation 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 5:56 pm

Winnipeg Symphony Gets Debt-Free The Winnipeg Symphony has erased a formerly crippling accumulated deficit. "Two years ago, the orchestra was $2.9-million in the hole after several seasons of major losses. The official deficit at the end of the 2003-2004 fiscal year stood at $1.6-million. Of that, $1.3-million has been covered by the province and the rest by private fundraising and a small amount, about $44,000, by a sustaining fee on some ticket sales." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 5:20 pm

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Arts Issues

LA Schools: Building Arts Education A Percent At A Time The ten-year program is designed to "help the 80 Los Angeles County school districts develop plans for putting arts into the curricula for all students and to encourage school boards to work toward committing 5% of their operating budgets to arts education. It is a modest program, at least in terms of making up for years of diminished funding for the arts. Many of the county's 1,800 public schools provide a spotty arts program at best. And, the emphasis on standardized testing coupled with district budget shortages in recent years have left arts educators wondering whether their subjects will ever be a school priority." Los Angeles Times 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 6:43 pm

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From Folsom Prison To The Great White Way Johnny Cash, who died in 2003, will become the latest musical legend to have his material tried out on theatre's biggest stage when a show featuring his music moves to Broadway next year. "More than 35 of the country star's songs will performed in Ring of Fire, although no actor will actually portray Johnny Cash. The show, directed by Tony winner Richard Maltby, has received favourable reviews during its short preview run in Buffalo, New York... Cash had given his approval for the musical before his death, having previously rejected several projects." BBC 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:09 am

Radio City Musicians Threaten A Strike Musicians at New York's famed Radio City Music Hall are threatening to strike over the issue of overtime pay for the venue's popular Christmas Spectacular. (Yeah, that's the one with the Rockettes.) A strike could jeopardize the show, which draws huge numbers of tourists and is a New York institution, but Cablevision, which owns Radio City, has issued a statement saying that it "fully expects" to reach an agreement with the musicians before the show opens for the year. Newsday (AP) 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 5:38 am

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Giller Shortlist Released Canada's Giller Prize, which awards $40,000 for the best homegrown novel, got new life this month when a major bank stepped up to sponsor the competition. Now, the five-author shortlist has been released, and there are a few surprises. Well-reviewed author Joseph Boyden was left off, and some of the finalists are not terribly well-known. But now the prognosticating can begin, and nearly 100 libraries across Canada will be participating in a "Guess the Giller" contest over the next several weeks. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:51 am

Internet Sales Dominate Used-Books Trade "In barely a decade, online booksellers have grown to account for two-thirds of the market for general-interest used books, a trend that calls into question the future of brick-and-mortar stores devoted to used books, according to a study financed by the publishing industry and released yesterday." The New York Times 09/29/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 7:23 pm

America's Banned Book Week, 2005 Edition "Three of the most challenged books of 2004 - King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, and Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - have been criticised for their homosexual themes. Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, meanwhile, has attracted complaints for its alleged depictions of racism and sexism and its use of violent language." BBC 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 5:24 pm

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Vancouver Fest Unveils New Cinema The Vancouver International Film Festival launches tonight, and the centerpiece won't be a movie, but the "luxurious, state-of-the-art, 175-seat theatre" that is making its debut at the festival this week. "In addition to providing practical opportunities for year-round programming as well as working space for filmmakers, a film archive and artistic partnerships, the centre is important symbolically in that it gives cultural and physical prominence to the serious type of cinema the society offers." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:48 am

Brooks Lashes Out After Sony Snub Filmmaker Albert Brooks is accusing Sony Pictures of cowardice in refusing to release his latest work, saying that studio execs are terrified of public reaction to the title, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. Brooks insists that, despite the title, the film satirizes "American ignorance of the Muslim world and [does] not touch on religion." Sony argues that it passed on the film "on its merits," and says that Brooks is "manufacturing controversy." Sony raised some liberal hackles a couple of years back when it declined to release Michael Moore's controversial documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. BBC 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 6:16 am

New Offer In CBC Talks Swiftly Rejected The management of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has presented a new contract offer to its locked-out workers, attempting a compromise on the issue of so-called "contract workers," who work on a part-time basis and do not receive benefits. But the union representing the locked-out employees is sticking with its position that any increase in contract workers is too big, and they add that their solidarity on the picket line is not wavering a bit, even after seven weeks out of work. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/29/05
Posted: 09/29/2005 5:13 am

How Much Of NPR's Reporting Should Come From Local Stations? "In 1997, only 5 percent of the reports on NPR came from reporters who were based at the member stations. Over the next few years, that rose to 25 percent due to a deliberate collaborative effort of NPR and member station reporters. But In the period from Aug. 30, 2004 to Aug. 30, 2005, NPR aired a total of 18,486 reports on the newsmagazine programs. Only 960 -- or 5.19 percent - of all reports came from member-station reporters over the past year." NPR 09/28/05
Posted: 09/28/2005 5:34 pm

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