Weekend Reading: Nov. 23, 2012

23 Nov

Damien Hurst Skull

For the Love of God by Damien Hurst: A real skull with 8,601 diamonds


Gold, Golden, Gilded Glittering: Representations of Value, or the Unexpected Double History of Banking and the Art World

This brilliant piece about high art and finance by Sarah Lawrence College Professor Rachel Cohen is lengthy, but the best thing I’ve read this week.

“Suddenly people began to see paintings as representations not only of age-old values but of future values. And once they began to look at them that way, it mattered less how much time they’d withstood the test of. What people became interested in was not what the pieces were worth a hundred years ago but what they might be worth tomorrow. All through the twentieth century, prices for contemporary artwork were rapidly catching up to prices for works by old masters. Now, the first time a Damien Hirst is sold, the price is at a level only the greatest works of the past have achieved after being sold and resold for a century or more.”

Diversify or Die: Why the Art World Needs to Keep Up With Our Changing Society by Ben Davis at Art Info

“Among those who frequented art museums, a stunning 92 percent identified as white, and only 16 percent identified as a minority… It would represent a huge failure of vision, however, if art were to remain confined to just the cultural group that originated it, and could never transcend this context… Culture at its best should be about the dialogue by which diverse strands of thought become relevant to diverse people, and that is a matter of actively connecting art to the realities of people’s diverse lives. Right now our cultural sector seems to be failing at that mission, to its own detriment.”

Bruno Munari on Design as a Bridge Between Art and Life by Maria Popova at Brain Pickings

“The designer of today re-establishes the long-lost contact between art and the public, between living people and art as a living thing. … There should be no such thing as art divorced from life, with beautiful things to look at and hideous things to use. If what we use every day is made with art, and not thrown together by chance or caprice, then we shall have nothing to hide.” Bonus: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Hollywood Bowl



9 Musicians Discuss Chronic Illness by Max Blau at Paste

Patrick Stickles, lead singer of one of my favorite bands Titus Andronicus, discusses his struggle with Selective Eating Disorder. There are 1,400 known cases of SED and the cause is unclear. He’s eaten the same 15-20 foods in his life and “I have never eaten a meal that was not a disgusting chore.” Is it a disease of the brain, a response to manic depression, or a result of his parents hiding Ritalin in his food when he was four years old?

“For example, Selective Eating Disorder is my disease, but the practicality of living with it has resulted in me having certain bulimic tendencies. How does that work? Well, you remember how I said my eating disorder makes eating, even eating my ‘favorite’ foods, a waking nightmare? Well, that leads me to put off doing it for as long as I can. The fact is, though, my body knows it needs food, so when I do finally open up the gullet, usually well after midnight, my body says, ‘At last!’ and next thing I know, I am at the tail-end of a full-blown binge, and physics being what they are, you can only binge for so long until you purge.”

Watch Titus Andronicus perform “Food Fight!” and “My Eating Disorder” in a Brooklyn Pizza shop

The Best Cocktails of 2012 by Tasting Table

Some great recipes in there, including the Fino Swizzle by Boston’s The Hawthorne.

Every Dollar Oyster in Boston by Eater Boston

This article sells itself. I see copious amounts of oysters in my future.
News and Policy

King David: Why Generals Shouldn’t Run the CIA by Stanford Professor Amy Zegart

“The American military prides itself on having a hierarchical, can-do culture. When the boss gives an order, subordinates are expected to follow it, no matter how great the odds of success or how dangerous the circumstance… The CIA has a different cherished value: speaking truth to power. Analysts and collectors are supposed to present information and assessments even if they know the boss won’t like it. No one salutes inside Langley…

It is also telling that Petraeus didn’t sleep with just any woman. He slept with his ‘biographer,’ someone he knew would be likely to write hagiography. Broadwell had no writing credentials but plenty of hero worship. That should have raised some red flags as well as eyebrows: A man who selects someone so unqualified to speak the truth of his own life might have difficulty speaking truth to power or rewarding others who do.”

Napster, Udacity, and the Academy by Clay Shirky

Napster disrupted the music industry, and the music industry never adapted. Will higher education adapt to cheap online education?

“Higher education is now being disrupted; our MP3 is the massive open online course (or MOOC), and our Napster is Udacity, the education startup.

We have several advantages over the recording industry, of course. We are decentralized and mostly non-profit. We employ lots of smart people. We have previous examples to learn from, and our core competence is learning from the past. And armed with these advantages, we’re probably going to screw this up as badly as the music people did.”

No Laughing Matter: A Look at the European Debt Crisis Through Cartoons a video by PBS
“Lee Buchheit, a lawyer who helped mastermind Greece’s debt restructuring earlier this year, and investor Hans Humes explain the wrangling behind-the-scenes of Europe’s debt crises to economics correspondent Paul Solman, all with a little help from some cartoonists.”

States as Laboratories for Marijuana Policy by UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman at SameFacts.com

“But those of us who try to study the issue scientifically find ourselves in a world of doubt. How much lower would legal prices be than current illegal prices? If there were heavy taxes, how much evasion would there be? Would buyers in a legal market favor possibly more dangerous high-potency varieties, or would lower-strength products dominate the marijuana market as beer dominates the alcohol market? Would legalization greatly increase problem marijuana use? Use among teenagers? (That might depend on the price.) Would there be an increase in auto accidents due to stoned driving? Would problem drinking decrease – or increase – as result?

All of those questions matter. None of them can be answered by abstract reasoning, or by studying small variations in marijuana policy such as decriminalization of possession for personal use. The only way to find out how legalization would work in practice is to actually try it.”

Can the 24/7 Sobriety Project Reduce Problem Drinking and Improve Public Health? by RAND’s Beau Kilmer

“Alcohol consumption can impose enormous health and safety costs on individuals and society. Problem drinkers account for a disproportionate share of these costs. Although millions of problem drinkers pass through the criminal justice system each year, reducing their alcohol consumption has proven difficult.

South Dakota’s innovative 24/7 Sobriety Project requires those arrested for or convicted of alcohol-involved offenses to take twice-a-day breathalyzer tests or wear a continuous alcohol monitoring bracelet. Those who fail or skip their tests are immediately subject to swift, certain but modest sanctions—typically a day or two in jail.”

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