Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why humans sing?

According to David Attenborough;

It's tempting to think that human beings very early in their history used music in a similar way. And there can be little question that a male with a good singing voice in our own society today is still a source of sexual attraction and excitement. What else is a serenade? Watch a pop concert! And just as among the great reed warblers, quality counts. Females have been selecting males with a versatile larynx since way back in our ancestry.

Today young men sing together to generate camaraderie, and religious people use song to generate the deepest and most profound emotions among themselves and their listeners. But the prime function of song is something else. Shakespeare wondered if music was the food of love. Well, vocally at least, it certainly was. And what is more, it still is.

Be sure to check our Carnival of Podcasts.

Cool and Creative Assorted

Top 45 Creative Anti-Smoking Advertisements

Google Calendar's Smart Rescheduler: Great for Sneaky Secretaries or Lazy People

The Design Inspiration

Google Fast Flip

Google Fusion Tables

Google Reader Play

Kinetic Shadows

The Apartment Therapy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Art podcast of the Day- Edvard Munch

From BBCs In Our Time;

First exhibited in 1893 in Berlin, The Scream was the culmination of Munch's magnum opus, a series of paintings called The Frieze of Life. This depicted the course of human existence through burgeoning love and sexual passion to suffering, despair and death, in Munch's highly original, proto-expressionist style.

His titles, from Death in the Sickroom, through Madonna to The Vampire, suggest just how directly and unironically he sought to depict the anxieties of late-19th century Europe.

But against all Munch's images, it is The Scream which stands out as the work which has seared itself into the Western imagination. It remains widely celebrated for capturing the torment of existence in what appeared to many in Munch's time to be a frightening, godless world.

Munch himself endured a childhood beset by illness, madness and bereavement. At 13, he was told by his father that his tuberculosis was fatal. But he survived and went on to become a major figure first in the Norwegian, then the European, avant-garde.

He became involved with two of the great playwrights of the period. He collaborated with his fellow countryman Henrik Ibsen and became a close friend of the tempestuous Swede August Strindberg. He admired the work of Post-Impressionist painters such as Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, all of whom influenced his art.

Munch's own influence resonated through the 20th century, from German Expressionism to Andy Warhol and beyond. His work, particularly The Scream, remains powerful today.

Download the podcast

Painting by Words- a Tyler Cowan review of The new edition of van Gogh's letters;
Time and again, the reader wonders just how much van Gogh and his brother trust each other. In the letter of August 14, 1879, for instance, he complains that Theo has advised him to give up his quest to be an artist. "And, joking apart, I honestly think it would be better if the relationship between us were more trusting on both sides," van Gogh suggests, before apologizing for the possibility that so much of the family sorrow and discord have been caused by him. These look and sound like letters to his brother, but in essence we are reading fund-raising proposals....

So what did van Gogh see as his own strengths and weaknesses? In an early letter to Theo (May 8, 1875), he quotes Renan: "Man is not placed on the earth merely to be happy; nor is he placed here merely to be honest, he is here to accomplish great things through society, to arrive at nobleness, and to outgrow the vulgarity in which the existence of almost all individuals drags on." This is a vision he lived. But at what cost? In one of his late letters to his brother (July 2, 1889), van Gogh says that he was "infinitely too harsh . . . in claiming that it was better to love painters than paintings." The reader now has to ask similar questions. Van Gogh becomes less likable and more lovable, more familiar and yet somehow ever stranger. In reading and studying these books, we can at once achieve both ends.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The purpose of architecture in cities?

Like many of his generation — Mr. Nouvel is 64 — he retains a stubborn, some might say naïve, belief that architecture should make us alert to the conflicts that shape the modern city rather than conceal them.

That attitude is apparent in the mixed signals the building sends. Seen from across the West Side Highway, the tower’s twinkling facade, with its hundreds of irregularly shaped windows tilted at odd angles to reflect fragments of sky or the surrounding city, offers a striking counterpoint to the soft, sail-like curves of Mr. Gehry’s creation. Rows of older brick buildings flank them to the north and south, and the contrast between glass and masonry, straight and curved lines, creates a nice rhythm along what was once a bleak strip of decrepit offices and warehouses.

-At the Corner of Grit and Glamour

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chutes and Ladders in Harlem

A highly recommended podcast from EconTalk with Katherine Newman,a sociologist at Princeton.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Random Artists

Source: NYT

Andresen, Charles;
I stumbled upon my method of “throw painting” in 1987 while still a student of figurative art. Plopping various amounts of black and white acrylic into a spoon and hurling the contents would yield unpredictable patterns on the canvas. It was like assembling a puzzle, of which the image could not have been foreseen beforehand.

And discovering imagery was my primary interest. Although this method of paint application had previously been identified with formalist abstraction, I utilized it for its image making potential. I was excited by the hallucinatory early James Ensor, early and late Jackson Pollock and the recent work of Malcolm Morley. In these artists scenes emerged from the materiality of the paint, in a fluctuating dance between surface and depth. If I were to simply state my goal, I’d echo Morley’s remark that he wanted to depict reality as if “ the world were made of paint”.

Boynton, Christopher
Downs, Kevin
Eskenazi, Jason
Franke, Kevin
Hoffmeister, Peter
Laughner, Jack
Lemakis, Emilie
Padwe, Phil
Steely, Barry
Varley, Mike
Weber, Owen

Yoda, Yoichiro

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Schelling Quote- The Very Basics of Game Theory

"If I go downstairs to investigate a noise at night, with a gun in my hand, and find myself face to face with a burglar who has a gun in his hand, there is a danger of an outcome that neither of us desires. Even if he prefers to just leave quietly, and I wish him to, there is danger that he may think I want to shoot, and shoot first."

via David Henderson

The Lesson: 'in thinking through various actions you might take to have an effect on B, ask yourself how you would respond to such actions if you were B. In other words, put yourself in the other person's shoes, not to get a touchy, feely, we're-all-in-this together Kumbaya moment, but to come up with your most-realistic analysis'

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Winston Wolfe. I solve problems.

Even Presidents' needs cleaners- public management lessons from Pulp Fiction.

In his memoir Speech-less, Matt Latimer, a speechwriter for both Rumsfeld and Bush, describes Gates as "our Winston Wolf," the Harvey Keitel character in Pulp Fiction who comes to dispose of the bodies and take care of the bloody mess after an accidental killing. "Wolf was a case study of robotic efficiency, overseeing an elaborate cleanup while calmly drinking a cup of coffee," writes Latimer. "That's what President Bush wanted — a cold-blooded competent cleaner."

-The Winston Wolf of Public Management

The Revenge of the Artist

Ion Barladeanu;

"I feel as if I have been born again," he said, as some of France's leading collectors and curators jostled for position to see his collages. "Now I feel like a prince. A pauper can become a prince. But he can go back to being a pauper too."...

Barledeanu describes himself as a "director" of his own films and considers each collage to be a movie in itself. While many are light-hearted, others are darker, infused with black humour and often focusing on the man he calls his "greatest fear". "I knew that if he knew about my work Ceausescu would not sleep in peace in his grave," he said. "If people had found out about my work they could have chopped my head off … But this is my revenge."...

Whatever the world thinks, Barladeanu says he will carry on working regardless. "It's like eating pie or sandwiches. It fulfils me," he said in his fast-paced Romanian slang. "If I were reincarnated in another life I would still be making collages, and if I could take them to the moon I would."

Random Science Blogs

Thoughtful Animal

The Loom

Maxwell Demon

Maths Students Read

Big Thinkers from Yahoo- The Economists

Richard Thaler

Kenneth Arrow, "Facing a Long and Uncertain Future"

Al Roth, "What Have We Learned from Market Design"

Paul Milgrom, "Economics of Combinatorial Auctions"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Daniel Kahneman on Happiness

Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently