From the category archives:

History

On the 60th anniversary of the founding of the (so-called) People’s Republic of China, this image resonated with me:

Camouflage 2 by Liu Bolin

Camouflage 2 by Liu Bolin

From photographer Liu Bolin:

“I choose to merge myself into the environment. Saying that I am disappeared in the environment, it would be better to say that the environment has licked me up and I can not choose active and passive relationship.

In the environment of emphasizing cultural heritage, concealment is actually no place to hide.”

via Shoot! The Blog and designboom

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But what’s wrong with being didactic every now and then? (Or always, if that’s your thing…)

“…Elephants

are mostly

made of four

Elements…

via Boing Boing

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That’s how long it took the Hubble Space Telescope — pointed towards “absolutely nothing” — to capture the 10,000 galaxies visible in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image:

via gizmodo

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Charles Blow’s column yesterday featured this extraordinarily effective visualization of the diminution of the music business, as it has shifted from medium to medium:

Getting smaller over time...

Dwindling...

And in the text of the article, this:

A study last year conducted by members of PRS for Music, a nonprofit royalty collection agency, found that of the 13 million songs for sale online last year, 10 million never got a single buyer and 80 percent of all revenue came from about 52,000 songs. That’s less than one percent of the songs.

When Chris Anderson introduced the idea of the Long Tail, his enthusiasm was focused on all the new ways once obscure idea-makers might find audiences, however small. Looking at the above statistics, what’s remarkable is how much of what we consider mainstream culture is actually in the tail — and the tail isn’t making much money.

Of course, such a study doesn’t measure all music sales, and it certainly doesn’t capture the experience of discovering music, sharing our discoveries, live performances, making music, or any of the other ways that music impacts our lives.

And it reminds me of a Claude Debussy quote I recently read, via Ray Kurzweil:

“At a time like ours, in which mechanical skill has attained unsuspected perfection, the most famous works may be heard as easily as one may drink a glass of beer, and it only costs ten centimes, like the automatical weighing machines. Should we not fear this domestication of sound, this magic that anyone can bring from a disk at will? Will it not bring to waste the mysterious force of an art which one might have thought indestructible?”

Given the resiliency of thought and self-expression — musical and otherwise — I’ll venture a “No” vote to that question.

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Thomas Jefferson designed his own house, and constantly fiddled with it — and yet his bed was in the wall between his office and bedroom:

Jefferson's Bed (by Maira Kalman)

Jefferson's Bed (by Maira Kalman)

From “Time Wastes Too Fast“, a narrative and series of images by Maira Kalman based on a visit to Monticello.

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Jeff Clark built this shaped word cloud out of 84,000 tweets labeled with #iranelection:

A Visualization of #iranelection Tweets (by Jeff Clark)

A Visualization of #iranelection Tweets (by Jeff Clark)

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Irrepressible

Irrepressible

By fascists — with batons — this mark was made.
Her smile says: “Our resistance will not fade.”

Wishing the people of Iran all the best in your struggle for your human rights to freely express yourselves and be treated with dignity.

The world admires your courage.

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An unhelmeted stormtrooper finds sanctuary:

June 13: On the streets of Tehran

June 13: On the streets of Tehran

via Andrew Sullivan

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What a find!

Harper’s highlighted two versions of Monteverdi’s setting of “Voglio di vita uscir” available on YouTube.

I go for the countertenor every time:

You can hear the other version, and read the words, here.

(via @pausetowonder on Twitter)

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Wait for it: the galaxy doesn’t show up until about twenty-three seconds into the clip.

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

(For best viewing, watch the HD version on Vimeo, or download even higher-quality versions directly from William’s video page.)

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An amazing 41-minute concert available at NPR Music via WGBH:

Classical music has never lived in a bubble, and there’s always been a free flow of ideas intersecting so-called art music and folk music. In this concert from Boston, they all come together: The acclaimed Takacs String Quartet joins the Hungarian folk ensemble Muzsikas (with singer Marta Sebestyen) to celebrate one of Hungary’s finest, composer Bela Bartok, who was brilliant at mixing the highbrow and lowbrow in his own music.

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Stephen Fry writes to his sixteen-year-old self:

So my message from the future is twofold. Fear not, young Stephen, your life will unfold in richer, more accepted and happier ways than you ever dared hope. But be wary, for the most basic tenets of rationalism, openness and freedom that nourish you now and seem so unassailable are about to be harried and besieged by malevolent, mad and medieval minds.

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A street-performer in Mexico City

A street-performer in Mexico City

The Telegraph has a gallery of decorated face masks in Mexico City.

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In yesterday’s post, following the advice of Brian, I was looking at the bright side of life.

We are also a species that doesn’t know how to solve problems like this:

Chimneys in DPRK

Chimneys in DPRK

The Boston Globe’s website has a collection of poignant yet beautiful photos of the effects of poverty and tyranny in North Korea.

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At least every month or two, it’s worth taking a step back to think about something like this:

International Space Station, March, 2009

International Space Station, March, 2009

Humans made this.

People have lived there continuously for more than eight years.

You are a member of a species that figured out how to build a shelter that hovers 350 kilometers (190 nautical miles) above its planet of origin.

Now, what was it that you said you couldn’t do?

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