I have surfed, but I am not a surfer. I have surfer friends, including some who have travelled the world searching out the waves described in the story below, and family friends of ours have an adult child ranked in the top ten in the world. I do not care about surfing as much as any of them, but because of them I care deeply about surfing. Evidence of that is the fact that surfing is the #1 metaphor I use within my own family to describe the pivots we make from time to time, explaining a move to France, Croatia or India or back to Costa Rica is due to a new wave of opportunity that we might catch. Below is a story I appreciate for other reasons as well, because it is about a man-made replica of the ultimate pleasures of a real-life experience. This is kind of what we do for a living. But it is really about surfing. And even non-surfers can enjoy this. William Finnegan’s story is complemented by two interactive features, the first with the author himself and the second a remarkably clear explanation of the technology.
Yesterday’s post about pre-history sleuthing coincided with my reading about this new exhibition. In our home we have a cabinet of curiosities. I also tend to like Wes Anderson films. So I had to learn more.
What is a spitzmaus, how might one have gotten mummified, and who put it in a coffin? More to the point, when and where might I see such a thing? Will it be worth the journey?
The review of this exhibition has more of a fashion review feel to it, especially with the headline photo (below, at the start of the review) and mention of celebrities in the early paragraphs. It almost made me bypass the story. But credit to Cody Delistraty for letting Mustafah Abdulaziz’s excellent photos from the exhibition speak prominently throughout the rest of his review. There are a couple of one minute videos that make clear the answers to the latter two questions:
The one above has a fleeting sense of Wes Anderson to it, whereas the one below is straightforward curator-speak:
But still, what is a spitzmaus?
Mr. Anderson and his partner, Juman Malouf, were given free rein in Austria’s largest museum. But you can’t make an exhibition as you would a movie, our critic writes.
VIENNA — Wes Anderson looked tired. The filmmaker was wearing a red blazer and a striped tie, standing beneath the elaborate 19th-century cupola of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. His partner, the author and designer Juman Malouf, was by his side.
Dozens of friends — the actors Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman; the filmmaker Jake Paltrow; and a pair of lesser-known Coppolas among them — stood around him. Photographers jostled for angles.
It wasn’t a movie premiere, but the exhibition opening for “Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures,” which Mr. Anderson and Ms. Malouf curated, certainly had the air of one.
Mr. Anderson and Ms. Malouf were asked to put the show together from objects in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Austria’s largest. When Mr. Anderson stepped up to the microphone on Monday to address the guests, it was with the weariness of someone who had gone to battle and come back changed. Continue reading
Science, as a section of the daily newspaper of old, was geek-out territory. In the modernizing news organization, it has every bit of that old intensity, magnified by the wonders of technology. This little item demonstrates the point:
We’re taking you on a journey to help you understand how bees, while hunting for pollen, use all of their senses — taste, touch, smell and more — to decide what to pick up and bring home.
Set your meetings, phone calls and emails aside, at least for the next several minutes. That’s because today you’re a bee.
With wooden buildings painted in teal and magenta, this homemade island built by a woodcarver and a dancer is quite a sight, and a fun example of sustainable living off the grid. Continue reading
On Elena Ferrante, by Dayna Tortorici,Issue 22: Conviction, Spring 2015
WHENEVER I HEAR someone speculate about the true identity of Elena Ferrante, the pseudonymous Italian novelist of international fame, a private joke unspools in my head. Who is she? the headlines ask. Don’t you know? I whisper. In my joke I’m sitting opposite someone important. The person promises not to tell, so I say:
She’s Lidia Neri.
She’s Pia Ciccione.
She’s Francesca Pelligrina. Domenica Augello.
Different names, every time, but the reaction is the same: a momentary light in the listener’s eyes that fades to bored disappointment. An Italian woman from Naples, whose name you wouldn’t know. Who did you expect?
Thank you to the BBC’s Earth section for sharing Dutch medical physicist and artist Arie van ’t Riet’s work, which he accomplishes with his home x-ray machine and dead flora and fauna.
Arie van ’t Riet has a unique view of life on earth.
As a medical physicist based in the Netherlands, van ’t Riet teaches radiographers about radiation physics and safety. As part of his teaching program, van ’t Riet searched for an example to demonstrate and visualise the influence of x-ray energy on the contrast of an x-ray image. The higher the x-ray energy, the lower the contrast.
“I arrived at flowers. After some years I started to edit and partly colour these x-ray images. And I added animals,” he says.
We have been meaning for nearly a year to recommend this article on the relationship between one man and several artists who were otherwise completely unrecognized by the art establishment over many decades. With this man as a champion, after a long effort the artists have finally come into the recognition previously denied to them.
This new show in London reminds us not only to share that article, but to share this review. What explains our interest in this sort of exhibit is the outsider status of the artists. Not “bad boy” outsiders clamoring for attention, but innovators. Thanks to London Review of Books for this review of a current show at the Tate:
‘Proud’ is an epithet that extends from the parade to the workbench. The swagger of troops marching down the street is transferred by the carpenter to the nail that juts out, no less cocky, no less full of itself. There’s much in Tate Britain’s new exhibition, British Folk Art (until 31 August), that straddles both forms of pride. It opens with a fanfare of stout, galumphing tradesmen’s signs: the outsize models of boots, keys, teapots, top hats and so on that dangled over high streets two centuries ago. Continue reading
Many universities in the western and northern regions of the world are concluding their academic years about now as summer break begins, which means it is time for Raxa Collective to begin welcoming interns. Some who join have already completed their undergraduate degrees, and prior to beginning their “real” careers they come to spend time in one of our communities, collaborating with our staff, local communities, etc..
One such case is a contributor who has just completed an undergraduate degree; before heading to New England to pursue Ph.D. studies he will carry out projects at Xandari that will allow him to perfect his Spanish language skills. Since he is going to be in the same community as these people below, starting in August, we post this “suggestions on summer reading” article from Harvard Gazette as a prompt for James to make his own summer reading recommendations in a new post. If he takes us up on this prompt we will see who follows his lead and shares their own reading recommendations…
Bret Anthony Johnston
Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser Director of Creative Writing
This summer I’m going to read W.B. Yeats and Elizabeth Bishop, and “Wynne’s War,” a new novel by Aaron Gwyn about special forces on horseback in Afghanistan.
Toward Cultural Citizenship
…takes a warning sign from the depths of the car world and reuses it to create a messages that instructs us to step away from our vehicles and go by foot instead.
“The visual language of obedience demands our attention and compliance,” says Harry. “Maybe the car industry should follow its own rules.”
It is not difficult to believe, but it is funny. Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for this story about the importance of animal happiness, an idea we can all, from carnivore to vegan all everyone in between, agree is good (the video below is at least as compelling as the scientific references):
When it’s time to buckle down and focus, plenty of office workers will put on headphones to help them drown out distractions and be more productive. But can music also help dairy cows get down to business?
Some dairy farmers have long suspected that’s the case. It’s not unheard of for farmers to play relaxing jams for their herds to boost milk production, as the folks at Modern Farmer recently reported.
A tantalizing 2001 study out of the University of Leicester in the U.K. appeared to lend credence to those claims. It found that milk production went up by as much as 3 percent when cows listened to slow tunes like R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water,” rather than faster songs. Continue reading
One of our contributors is a leap year baby, so we take note at the passing of each February into March, without always remembering why on certain years there is an extra day. Today our office team celebrated that birthday, rather than doing so tomorrow, thinking it is better to be early than late. Here is a secondary explanation from the Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal:
The mechanics of the leap year are well known: We add a day to February every four years to maintain the synchronization of our earthly calendar with the celestial reality of the Earth’s orbit.
Weeelllll, it turns out that a similar phenomenon plays out on a much smaller time scale. Along with the leap year, there is the leap second. Continue reading
Before the lights go out on the last New Yorker issue of 2013, one more of several articles we found worth the read, and relevant to our common themes of interest–community-building, innovation, environmentalism, farming, etc.–on this blog, even if we tend to incremental change rather than the radicalism on display here:
Marcin Jakubowski, the owner of a small farm in northwestern Missouri, is an agrarian romantic for high-tech times. A forty-one-year-old Polish-American, he has spent the past five years building industrial machines from scratch, in a demonstration of radical self-sufficiency that he intends as a model for human society everywhere. He believes that freedom and prosperity lie within the reach of anyone willing to return to the land and make the tools necessary to erect civilization on top of it. His project, the Global Village Construction Set, has attracted a following, but among the obstacles he has faced is a dearth of skilled acolytes: the people who show up at his farm typically display more enthusiasm for his ideas than expertise with a lathe or a band saw. Continue reading
We are unabashedly in favor of reading, thinking and decision-making in advance of travel, during travel, and after travel. We are also in favor, when the fancy strikes, of just hitting the road without knowing why, where to, or for how long. On our pages you will find posts for either end of the spectrum from meticulously planned to wanderlust journeys. It is about discovery. So this book caught our attention. Nothing to do with hobbits, as reviewed by the Monitor (click the book image to the left to go to the source) it sounds like the perfect prelude, accompaniment or postscript for travel in a part of the world we have not been covering in our pages as much as we maybe should:
…In “The Discovery of Middle Earth,” Robb sets out to establish the momentous contributions made to the arts of cartography and communication by the once-great Celtic peoples, who at various points in history spread all the way from modern-day Turkey to Ireland. In the process, he consults old documents, interviews experts, examines artifacts, and bicycles more than 26,000 kilometers across France, taking his readers along with him… Continue reading
We’ve noted before how local cuisine helps to define local culture. From the regional to the national people are proud of their food ways.
We love these literal examples !
Those of us living in India, who are not from India, are on a quest to understand our new home. We share these stories from time to time, taken from mainstream publications in India and elsewhere, about what we are learning. With a photo like this, we could not resist such an explanatory story, in the form of an editorial from this week’s Sunday Review section of the New York Times: Continue reading
Thanks to this HBR Ideacast we had the opportunity to listen to the author of this book discuss its core message(s). Anyone who has looked at a few Dilbert cartoons can pretty well figure out that its author is not what you may think a typical MBA is. About 10 minutes into the podcast, the most remarkable statement, worthy of your attention, begins:
DAN MCGINN: So you’re saying management really doesn’t matter?
SCOTT ADAMS: I think it’s certainly something you can do wrong. So avoiding doing it wrong is the big thing. And I think if you’re a bit of a psychopath or sociopath, I don’t know the exact definitions of those, you know, if you push people to think that you being happier, and you as the manager making more money, and you as the company making more money is more important than the employees’ own personal life and their health, then you’re a great manager. And you absolutely can do great things. And you’ll probably be able to reproduce that wherever you go. Continue reading
If we had to stop scanning hundreds of news sources to support the habit we have of linking to stories that match our interests (we do not plan to stop) and read from only one source on the internet (preposterous to make a point), this site would be a good candidate. We rarely have the opportunity to link to it, because there is not much overlap with our themes of community, conservation or collaboration; but as a source of important ideas, and the occasional book review it is unbeatable:
“The confidence people have in their beliefs is not a measure of the quality of evidence but of the coherence of the story that the mind has managed to construct.” Continue reading
Collaboration is dear to our hearts, whether it be interpersonal, international or intercollegiate, not to mention intercorporate to coin a phrase. I couldn’t help but recall our posts on Elif Bilgin and Sush Krishnamoorthy when I came upon this video and read the bio of Shixie (Xiangjun Shi), the creative force behind it. Kudos to Brown University and RISD for having such an impactful program!
When I left home for college in the US, I was fortunate to be selected for the very first class of a new Dual Degree program, presented by Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. WIthout predecessors, and in trusting embrace of Brown’s open curriculum, I was pretty much able to design my own education. Continue reading
Libraries still have enough friends that we do not yet count them out, but the challenges they face are undeniable. Thanks to the Guardian‘s coverage of one prominent writer’s address on this important topic:
Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming
A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens
It’s important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members’ interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I’m going to tell you that libraries are important. I’m going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I’m going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things. Continue reading