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Ursula K. LeGuin On Choosing, And Straddling, Genres

November 20, 2014 - 2:52am

“Ah, genre. A word only a Frenchman could love. Well, you ask how I decide which genre to write in, and I have to answer, mostly I don’t. My mind doesn’t work that way. … I didn’t follow the sf rules and conventions unless I felt like it; essentially I went on writing what I wanted to write, and they could call it what they liked.”

Are University Art Museums Doing What Mainstream U.S. Museums No Longer Do?

November 20, 2014 - 2:45am

“Counter-intuitively, university art museums are proving capable of realizing the ideals that other art museums espouse in facile mission statements polished to a gleam by publicists – primarily a ‘commitment’ to serve as cultural resources for the public and to make art education accessible.”

Wait, So Now Physical And Emotional Pain Aren’t The Same Thing Neurologically?

November 20, 2014 - 2:37am

“In recent years, researchers and the public have, to a certain extent, latched onto the idea that there are important similarities between physical and emotional pain … At the very least,” according to new research, “pain and rejection appear to show up as distinct ‘representations’ in fMRI (brain scan) readings of study participants.”

James Patterson Is On A Crusade To Save Reading (And He Says Amazon Should Help)

November 20, 2014 - 2:29am

The world’s best-selling author, who gave out $1 million in grants to independent bookstores this year, strongly believes that the practice of reading for enjoyment is in danger in the U.S., especially among the young. In a Q&A, he talks about how he’s trying to help turn that tide, and what Jeff Bezos could do for the cause.

23 Cool Maps And Charts About Language

November 20, 2014 - 2:21am

Linguistic family trees; languages maps of China, India, and Ukraine; how well various EU nationals can converse in English; the most common second language in each U.S. state; a graphic timeline of the history of the English language; a graph charting the rise and fall of the semicolon … a treasure trove for language and graphics geeks.

Here’s The Gender Balance Of America’s Top Orchestras

November 19, 2014 - 12:01pm

No big surprises. Only one major orchestra has more women musicians than men. And there is a cluster of orchestras at the bottom of the gender diversity list…

Are Readers Really Open To Changing Their Taste?

November 19, 2014 - 11:42am

“A new kind of book might offer pleasures we haven’t yet learned to enjoy and deny us pleasures we were expecting. Rather than fitting in with something we are long familiar with, it is asking us to change. And how many people are genuinely open to changing their taste?”

Here’s Why Chopin’s Heart Has Just Been Exhumed

November 19, 2014 - 10:40am

“Chopin’s heart inspires a deep fascination in Poland normally reserved for the relics of saints. For Poles, Chopin’s nostalgic compositions capture the national spirit — and the heart’s fate is seen as intertwined with Poland’s greatest agonies and triumphs over nearly two centuries of foreign occupation, warfare and liberation.”

To Maintain Your Brain, Exercise It, Right? (But Here’s What The Studies Say…)

November 19, 2014 - 10:37am

“In healthy older adults, computer-based brain exercises have limited benefits, and then only when supervised by a trainer once to three times a week. And despite what Lumosity and BrainHQ will tell you, doing the training at home had no effect at all, at least in the short term.”

Here’s What’s Wrong With How We Teach Students Today (It’s A Values Issue)

November 19, 2014 - 10:32am

“The primary responsibility of teachers is no longer to encourage good behavior in future citizens, as Horace Mann insisted. Instead, it’s to ensure that they get the right answers on a high-stakes test.”

What Science Can Tell Us About Great Works Of Art

November 19, 2014 - 10:31am

“In Baltimore last week, scientist-conservators told how analyzing great works with devices only physicists and chemists could love — synchrotron radiation sources, ultraviolet-induced fluorescence, high resolution, and XRF multispectrography — lifts the mysteries off some paintings and can produce stories worthy of novels.”

How Light Restored The Color In Rothko Paintings

November 19, 2014 - 10:28am

“A team from Harvard and the MIT Media Lab realised that light could be used to restore the appearance of the lost colours without touching the canvas. The idea was to illuminate each mural with a pattern of light that would project the missing aspects of the lost colours onto the original canvases, returning them to their original hues without disturbing the paintings’ textures.”

US Congress Asked To Create A Protector Of Cultural Property

November 19, 2014 - 10:25am

The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act asks Congress to appoint a cultural property protection czar and establish emergency import restrictions to protect endangered cultural patrimony. The bill aims to “deny terrorists and criminals the ability to profit from instability by looting the world of its greatest treasures.”

Color Alert: Scientists Able To Teach Synaesthesia

November 19, 2014 - 10:00am

“By the end of the nine-week course, most of the volunteers had the bizarre experience of seeing text in the real world, on road signs, for instance, take on certain hues.”

The Arts Are Booming In Turkey (But Beneath The Boom, All’s Not So Well)

November 19, 2014 - 9:43am

“Galleries abound. The Istanbul Design Biennial is in full swing. Three new private art museums are in the works, including one designed by the London-based star architect Zaha Hadid. The rock and jazz scenes are thriving. A Turkish film, “Winter Sleep,” took the top prize at the Cannes International Film Festival this year.”

Airline Refuses To Transport Double Bass (Even In Luggage)

November 19, 2014 - 9:23am

“Ranaan was returning home after an appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” when the airline refused to accept his bass—packed to go with luggage, as basses normally do—at all. Appeals to the US Airways shift manager were useless. Ranaan ended up booking with Delta Airlines, which accepted him and his bass with no hesitation.”

Poland’s National Opera House Reaches For The Big Leagues

November 19, 2014 - 4:24am

The Teatr Wielki “has embarked on a new wave of collaborations with major European houses, while maintaining a commitment to Polish repertory. The theater is being physically overhauled … The annual budget of approximately $50 million – 80 percent of which comes from the Ministry of Culture – has doubled since 1998 … The attendance rate has hovered above 90 percent since 2010.”

Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian House Arrives At Its New Home, Crystal Bridges Museum

November 19, 2014 - 4:09am

“How many truckloads does it take to transport a 2,800 sq. ft house, designed by one of America’s most revered Modern architects, more than 1,200 miles from New Jersey to Arkansas? Surprisingly, the answer is considerably fewer than one might think.”

The “Serial” Backlash Has Arrived

November 19, 2014 - 4:01am

Almost any media phenomenon that becomes as popular as fast as this podcast has gets some sort of backlash on the Web. Anna Silman offers us – without judgment (we can provide that) – a guide to the main complaints.