Girls Who Said ‘Vagina’ During Monologues Suspended. 16 year olds, performing to a high school audience. Have any of them taken sex education, and if so, what creative sanitized term is used for female body parts? Let’s see. “Here, in the sacred cavern, below your beach balls, tadpoles eagerly swim to your eggie. What’s that? You think tadpoles are icky? Good.”
NY Times Fashion & Style:
Amazes me, how common sense child care is being marketed for a price. Or, perhaps, I should say ‘authoritative reassurance’ is being marketed. “Sleep training?” Allowing a child to cry themselves to sleep? Learning to ride a bike, this one kills me. One afternoon is all it takes, if you have half a brain. Find a long grassy slope, make sure the child has a bike with handbrakes. Let them coast down the hill without training wheels, with their feet off the pedals to catch themselves if they fall. Grass is particularly friendly, of course, if they do lose it. They build confidence over staying upright first, then the pedals get added, then turning ... and then you won’t see your kid again for a couple of weeks.
Largest library closure in U.S. looms, Federal funding dries up, leaving 15 branches in Oregon county on brink.
NY Times Play Magazine:
How to grow a super athlete. “A quick analysis of this talent map reveals some splashy numbers: for instance, the average woman in South Korea is more than six times as likely to be a professional golfer as an American woman. But the interesting question is, what underlying dynamic makes these people so spectacularly unaverage in the first place? What force is causing those from certain far-off places to become, competitively speaking, superior?”
Miss Navajo builds bridges with those in juvenile detention. “Your tongue is God - you speak about what you bring about! ... [snip] ... I’m raising my voice right now because way down inside you I see that power. Why can’t you see your talent? Why can’t you use your potential?”
Teens Can Multitask, But What Are Costs? Ability to Analyze May Be Affected, Experts Worry. The danger, to me, was clear in the ‘90’s. My young college interns thought any problem should be able to be resolved via computer, whereas in reality ‘going analog’ would often save both time and money and be a far better solution.
Later, related: Orion Magazine, Leave No Child Inside.
NY Times Opinion:
A necessary vaccine. I disagree with the Times. There should at least be a warning to those young women whose families run to autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune is not uncommon, and affects more women than men by a large percentage. Young women are very likely to have not manifested any autoimmune symptoms yet, and it looks like Merck has done no follow-up studies to verify the effect.
The trends are pretty clear from available cervical cancer studies ... a more targeted application of the vaccine would be more effective than a blanket vaccine regimen. I suppose the blanket solution is the only way to cover those most at risk, though. Singling out minorities and contraceptive users for highest risk is likely to raise a stink, both because of focus and price.
I’m no doctor, so take this with a grain of salt. I just remember the swine flu vaccine, when I was a junior in high school, where more people died from the vaccine than died from swine flu. Flu vaccines are developed under a tight timeline, which brings more risk. My levels of skepticism are heightened, you might say. As with system software, I simply prefer others be the unpaid long-suffering beta-testers.
Researchers map the sexual network of an entire high school. There’s a powerful message here, one that includes 37 other people in bed with your kid(s).
NY Times Editorial:
Profiteering colleges. The University of Phoenix is mentioned here, and is rather popular around these parts. I’ll have to do some background on this situation. I wish the article had pointed us to other reports and, more importantly, names. I suppose news organizations fear hyperlink libel suits? Has that ever been tested in court?
NY Times Education:
SF New Mexican:
“Catholic churchgoers received a crude disruption during one of their holiest and most somber days of the year. Someone planted three compact-disc players in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and set them to play a loud recording of sexually explicit language during the noon Ash Wednesday Mass ...” Probably a stunt by kids tired of sitting through Mass.
But isn’t this a little ridiculous: “The Police Department sent its explosives unit—the bomb squad—to investigate the CD players. After blowing up two of the CD players in a grassy area near the church, officers determined they were not dangerous and kept the third CD player for analysis.”
SF New Mexican:
Senate passes bill to inform schools of criminal convictions. You’d think, post-Columbine, this would have been done a long time ago. Towns were smaller, once upon a time, and this function was often performed by gossip.
International study finds new autism genetic links. Good news, and bad. Good that they’re doing larger studies. The bad news, “‘I think the most important thing that the study shows is that the genetic causes of autism are likely to be varied,’ said Andy Shih, chief science officer for Autism Speaks. ‘The genetic mechanism involved is probably not uniform.’”
NY Times Magazine:
Her autistic brothers. Read this one.
Globe and Mail.CA:
U.S. report calls for limitations on TV violence. “In general, what the commission’s report says is that there is strong evidence that shows violent media can have an impact on children’s behaviour and there are some things that can be done about it.” You think? It is the depiction of violence without consequences, such as people walking away from bullet wounds, that hurts children most. In the absence of other evidence, they will end up believing what they see, in some fashion.
NY Times Art & Design:
Let’s have some fun this morning. I want you to go here, and look at the paintings. Then read this, about the philosophy behind abstract art. There’s an implication here that one must appreciate the purposeful choice of transcending reality, foregoing realistic detail for pure color, line, shape ... feeling and emotion. Another says context must be known and appreciated, to appreciate abstract, and towards the end defends the medium by showing us abstract artists are usually also artists of great realistic skills. The artist must be knowingly making a statement.
So what of this?
She has no training to speak of, and no context. Doing a Pollock piece without his angst, should be worthless by the above measures. Unless it’s a depiction of female toddler angst, which, given the Pollock priapic style [scroll down to Pollock’s entry], is missing something rather essential.
What is she? An artist, a child, a good copyist? Is her work valuable, or not? Is the work’s value exclusive of her value, or the obverse?
I used to have a quandary I’d pose to my assistants and their friends, all from prominent art schools in Manhattan: What of those brilliant abstracts you’d find when your film came back from the lab? The first image from your average roll of film, usually snapped while winding the film into the camera. Abstract, colorful (orange from processing, usually), the height of spontaneity. Some would end up quite impressive in their uncontemplated expression. If that image is ‘great’, does abstract need education? Technical skill? Intent? If this random image is making a statement that was not precontemplated, is it still great abstract art? Should we appreciate it, or should it be shuffled off to the category of ‘unintentional art’, as if to say, “it’s okay to like it, but one must be effusive only over critically approved intentional work”?
I never got a consistent answer on this from my assistants. Most said it was art, but less than intentional art. Even if the result was more compelling. Some would split hairs over who was doing the creating. If it was an artist who was trained through art schools, it was art. If from uneducated talents, it ‘didn’t count.’ Then I’d ask about the cave paintings at Lascaux, which everyone thought was art. Bringing that sensibility back, then those who disagreed about uneducated talent would pull back on their opinion. They’d all settle on the idea that education didn’t matter for that rare great natural talent, that education might ruin the gift.
We’d dive into these questions:
Is it better to feign a childlike perspective, or is it better to actually be a child, and paint what you feel? If it’s better to be childlike, then why ‘ruin’ them with training at all? A pretty even split of opinion, in discussion.
Are we supposed to appreciate abstract because the realist who painted it so fully traded their learned talents for childlike instinct? Why not just celebrate children’s art? Ah, here we got a differentiation. A clear benefit. An adult will pursue complex themes that are unfamiliar to a child.
What is more important, the artist, or the work? Even split, again. The ego of my assistants, young college students, must be factored into this.
And if you didn’t know how a particular image was created ... would it matter? Even split, again.
I made a mistake, however. Do you see it? The essential relationship of artist to audience. In talking to artists, I totally ignored the viewers of the art. The audience must perceive any given piece as being ‘art.’ And what is ‘art’, anyway?
My wife, a RISD grad, has a story she likes to tell about a class in her first year. The instructor told the class to go out to a lumberyard, purchase a 12"x12” piece of wood, and ‘make art’. Some sawed, some painted ... all failed. The instructor told them that art begins in the choice ... they all chose a particular grain pattern, a color shade that appealed to them. In judging the aesthetic of the blank piece of wood, they had already created a personal statement of ‘art.’ They should have just handed him the wood, unadulterated.
So, in viewing the original link above, let me know if you saw ‘art.’ For the record, I did. I just thought I’d throw a snake in the grass on a calm, peaceful day of weblogging and spur a different sort of Friday thinking, when most ‘thinkers’ are probably pretty well wiped out.
Here are some links to spur more contemplation:
Histories of Internet Art: Fictions and Factions, Net Practice, “not art.”
Derek Powazek, “Unintentional Art.”
Ironic Sans, The Art of 1010 Wins.
As the Warsaw Crow flies, Where is the Art?
Columbia Alumni Magazine, Found Art, New York, Empire City 1920–1945.
Whiimsky, Inc., The subconscious art of graffiti removal.
Princeton University, The Art of Science.
What’s Left: Proving art is in the eye of the beholder.
NY Times Letter to the Editor:
“On Wednesday February 14th Unicef published a report comparing the well-being of young people in 21 rich countries, and concluded that British and American youths endure the worst quality of life of any. In contrast, North European children, especially the Nordics, apparently have a lovely time. Cue hand-wringing from a lot of worried Anglo-American parents.”
A look at child soldiers. Haunting photograph; that silver speck on the end of the gun, above the barrel, makes me wonder if it’s a realistic toy. That question, real or not, is why so many kids get shot by cops in America.
NY Times Tech:
If Leonardo had made toys. Can I get a miniature helicopter to control from my computer, that’ll retrieve refills of coffee?
School’s books are racist, says sacked teacher. And in Britain, too. Nice.
NY Times Dining & Wine:
In a bottle, the scent of a mouse. Stuart Little, gone tippling.