11 September 2010

Gelesen, 2010.09.11

Gelesen am Samstag

For some reason, everything I felt like reading this morning was in German....

Andrea Köhler at NZZ Online profiles Glenn Beck, in the aptly titled "Amerikas Angst-Unternehmer."

The Frankfurter Rundschau reviews a staging in Hannover by Benedikt von Peter of Luigi Nono's Intolleranza 1960.

And all the German papers report today (I suppose the American ones do to, but I haven't looked) that Sofia Coppola has won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for her film Somewhere. See for example the report at FAZ.NET.


die Mär
sich gerieren
der Einpeitscher
der Popanz (Glenn Beck)
überschwänglich (Sofia Coppola)
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Readings, 2010.09.10

Friday's Readings (and Listenings):


Mark Taylor, author of the new Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities, was Tom Ashbrook's guest for the first hour of On Point on Thursday. You can listen to the show here. Taylor is initially rather stiff, but things heat up in the second half when Ashbrook brings in via phone link Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors.  I'm still not convinced that these insiders fully comprehend the extent of the rot in higher educatin.  And I am continually astonished that no one in the current American debate over tenure refers to the conditions of employment in higher education in other countries. By the logic of someone like Nelson, who completely buys into the myth that tenure protects academic freedom, there must be no academic freedom in Britain.

David A. Bell at The New Republic has a scathing review of Taylor's book: "Does This Man Deserve Tenure?"

Publishing and Reading

Sony has announced two new eBook readers, the Reader Touch Edition and the Reader Pocket Edition. These devices will (at least in the U.K.) be able to "check out" electronic books from libraries in a way that works much like the current system of checking out physical books. See the story by Jonathan Bray at PC Pro.

(Via John Hawks) Gautham Nagesh at The Hill reports on a pilot project in four California schools to give 400 8th graders algebra textbooks on an iPad, in place of physical books.


During the second hour of On Point on Thursday, Tom Ashbrook talked with physicist Leonard Mlodinow of Cal Tech, co-author with Stephen Hawking of the new book The Grand Design.

Meanwhile, The Economist has a highly uncomplimentary review of the book.

James Fetzer's article on Carl Hempel (the "covering law" theory of explanation) has just been posted at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosphy.


The great evolutionary biologist George Williams, author of Adaptation and Natural Selection (1966) died on Wednesday at the age of 84. See Carl Zimmer's touching appreciation at The Loom.  John Wilkins has links to several other obituaries.

Literary Darwinism

Norman Holland at Psychology Today writes on "How the Literary Darwinists Got it Wrong," calling the claims of literary Darwinism "fact-free and faith-based."

Joseph Carroll, the "father" of literary Darwinism, responds, and a lengthy (sometimes heated) exchange follows (continued here).


William Lu at The Quantum Lobe Chronicles summarizes a new review paper: A. Dietrich and R. Kanso (2010), "A review of EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies of creativity and insight," Psychological bulletin.  Behind a paywall at APA PsycNET, where it costs $11.95.

Jason Goldman at The Thoughtful Animal has a good post, "Origins of Mind 101," ranging from Descartes to Berkeley to the innateness of facial recognition in humans.

Art and Attribution

At FAZ.NET, Rose-Maria Gropp points out that scandals like the "Sammlung Jägers" (about which see my Roundup from last weekend) could be avoided if "experts" would simply do their homework when investigating provenance:  "Der Heilige Kuh heißt Provenienz."


Wikileaks is said to be preparing the release of a "massive" collection of U.S. military documents related to the Iraq War; the collection is said to be larger than the one released earlier this summer on the war in Afghanistan. Stories at Newsweek and Wired.


You-Learn-Something-New-Every-Day Department
The German title of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is "Wer die Nachtigall stört." 
Not quite the same thing....

And, from a post by Victor Mair at Language Log:

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10 September 2010

Readings, 2010.09.09

Thursday's Readings (Rosh Hashanah Edition)

The Economy

Andrew Gamble at The Independent warmly reviews Marxist historian David Harvery's The Enigma of Capital, and the Crises of Capitalism. This is definitely going on my reading list, if for no other reason than that I'm tired of reading triumphalist histories of capitalism that fail to take into account that capitalism is a historically located phenomenon.  A very brief one in the history of the human species, in fact, and one that isn't looking especially good for the long term.

Calculated Risk reports on an appalling foreclosure case, in "From Loan Modification Purgatory to Foreclosure Hell."  And if any of you have an account with Wells Fargo, you will want to close it today and recommend a boycott to all your friends.


Jonah Lehrer, master of the science blogiverse, really really loves books, and wonders what we lose when all our reading migrates to the screen ("The Future of Reading").

Der Spiegel reports that Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times, predicted at a recent conference in London that the newspaper would eventually cease publishing a print edition.  He declined to speculate on precisely when this would happen, but sooner rather than later seems like a good bet.  Next year, the NYT will experiment with charging for online access.  It won't work.


Think Android is "open"?  You won't after you read "Android is as Open as the Clenched Fist I'd Like to Punch the Carriers With," by M. G. Siegler at TechCrunch (H/T Dr. Mike).

Human Evolution

I overlooked the publication last month of a new study suggesting that certain genes associated with "social sensitivity" (5-HTTPR, associated with the seretonin system, as well as genes associated with the µ opiod receptor and monoamine oxidase A) are correlated with the degree of individualism vs. collectivism in various cultures.  See the outstanding summary last month by James Winters at a replicated typo, and the rather cool follow-up on Thursday by Sean Roberts at the same site.

The article is Baldwin M. Way and Matthew D. Lieberman, "Is there a genetic contribution to cultural differences? Collectivism, individualism and genetic markers of social senstivity," Social Cogntive and Affective Neuroscience.  Unfortunately behind a paywall at Oxford Journals, where it costs $32.00.

Razib Khan ponders the evolution of human nakedness and the invention of clothing.  A recent study suggests that clothing lice diverged from head lice between 83,000 and 170,000 years ago, which may give insight into the timing of the invention of clothing.

Razib included an illustration with his post that stirred up a minor Internet kerfuffle, because the last photo of the sequence (the man in the tophat) happens to be Kemal Atatürk.  No political statement or offense was intended, as Razib explains in a thoughtful follow-up.

Bill Benzon at New Savanna continues his critique of Susan Blackmore's intellectually incoherent ramblings on "memes."

In his post, Benzon refers to a debate going on at the Psychology Today site over Norman Holland's post "How the Literary Darwinists Got it Wrong," to which Joseph Carroll gave a blistering response.  I'll read all of this on Friday.


I've now read the full transcript at ABC Radio National of Nathasha Mitchell's interview with Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche.  Highly recommended, as is the book.


David Buch pointed me to this wonderful recording from 1925 by the great Yiddish singer Aaron Lebedeff: "What can you mach? S'is America"

We also looked at YouTube for his famous "Rumania, Rumania," which was formerly there, but may have been taken down.  You should definitely seek it out, however (and don't accept substitutes: Lebedeff's original recordings are the best).  This is also, as David astutely points out, "where Danny Kaye came from."


The Frankfurter Rundschau reports on an exhibition of Bob Dylan's paintings at the Statens Museum in Copenhagen (until 30 January 2011).  The 40 acrylic paintings in the "Brazil Series" were created especially for the show.  Dylan stipulated that none of his music be played in the background.

Art + History reproduces a lovely villanelle by W. H. Auden, which begins:
Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.
Most intriguing headline of the day:
Are Swedish Police Violating Copyright Law In Creating Shoe Database? (at Techdirt)
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09 September 2010

Readings, 2010.09.08

Wednesday's Readings

The Economy

At the New York Review of Books, Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (his wife) examine the causes of the real-estate bubble and the reasons for the weak recovery.  A must-read (even if you want to argue with it): lucid and direct, and informed by a global view of the economy.  The first of a two-part series.

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution considers the conundrum "Should we let housing prices fall?" (which is apparently the economist's version of "What is the sound of one hand clapping?').

Privacy (not)

EFF has posted their "E-Book Buyer's Guide to Privacy."  Bottom line: with Google Books, Amazon Kindle, or Barnes & Noble Nook, you ain't got much.

Copy Protection

Carl Pyrdum at Got Medieval has an entertaining post on copy protection during the Medieval era (via Techdirt, via Slashdot).  "Book curses" were the most popular method. A sample:
Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this
book from this place may his soul suffer, in retribution for what he
has done, and may his name be erased from the book of the living and
not recorded among the Blessed.
--attributed to a 16th-century French missal belonging to a man named Robert


Larry Moran at Sandwalk reports on the World University Rankings 2010, just out.  The top 10, in order: Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, University College London, MIT, Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Chicago (some of my friends may question this one), Cal Tech, Princeton.  As Moran points out, it's striking that four of the top 10 are British.

At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Frank Donoghue asks "Can the Humanities Survive the 21st Century?"  There is a very active comment thread.  Donoghue has a (fairly) recent book: The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities (2008).

And a comment on Donoghue by Bill Benzon at New Savanna.


Matthew Nisbet at Big Think wonders whether science journalism needs to be more "upstream" (that is, whether it needs to focus more on the messiness of science as it happens).  The discussion seems to be about science journalism in the legacy media, which seems increasingly irrelevant ... Much science blogging is already "upstream."

John Hawks reports briefly on a new paper in Nature that looks at plagiarism in scientific papers submitted to a Chinese journal (it was found in 31% of them).  Hawks points out that plagiarism is actually very widespread.

At Whewell's Ghost, the new blog on the history and philosophy of science, John Wilkins has reposted his "Scientists as historians."  Bottom line: for scientists, history is mainly a kind of PR and spin control.


Razib Khan has a nice overview of sexual selection, as a lead-in to a summary of a new paper on the topic, S. Venner et al. (2010), "Make love not war: when should less competitive males choose low-quality but dependable females?," The American Naturalist. PMID: 20415532


A post at The Stone (NYT) on experimental philosophy by Joshua Knobe, one of its practitioners.

Tim Crane, Professor of Philosophy and avowed atheist, has a perplexing piece on religion and science, likewise at The Stone.  The point seems to be that traditionally religious people don't think about the world like scientists do, and critics of religion should take this into account.  Crane's depiction of the scientific way of thinking is a caricature.


The program for the second Neurobiology of Language Conference (11-12 November, San Diego) is available here.


C from R-Chart has posted at github a visual analysis of Bach's 2-part Invention No. 8 in F Major (BWV 779) using ggplot2 in R.  He also includes the code and several other graphs, as well as links to some R packages for musical analysis that I hadn't known about.  I'm going to check them out. (R, ggplot2, and the music analysis packages are all free.)

Here's one of the graphs.

Two reviews of the new production (till 14 September) of the opera Der Stein der Weisen by the Zürich Opera at the Theater Winterthur:
Thomas Schacher, "Aus Schwarz und Weiss wird Grau," NZZ Online.

"Bezauberndes Flöten," tagesanzeiger.ch.
Isn't it about time someone added an article on Stein to English Wikipedia??


Most unusual headline of the day:

"Detecting Explosives with Nematodes"

No, seriously.

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08 September 2010

Readings, 2010.09.07

Readings for Tuesday

As an experiment, today I am trying a simplified form of "digest" in which I give short (mostly one-line) links to what I've read during the day.


Kent Anderson at The scholarly kitchen says the Internet has fundamentally changed everything, and it's time for the scholarly world to give up its legacy models of publishing and research, and to begin to adapt. There will be additional posts on the topic later this week by Joe Esposito, Michael Clarke, and Phil Davis.

Cameron Neylon at Science in the Open rants (rightly) about Journal Impact Factors, which he calls "bad science" and "bad management."  Yup.


Razib Khan at Gene Expression (Discover Magazine) summarizes V. Moskvina, et al. (2010), "Genetic Differences between Five European Populations," Human Heredity.


A good article by Benedict Carey at The New York Times on what cognitive science can teach us about effective learning: "Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits."

Vaughan at Mind Hacks writes on the Jungian psychology at the core of Inception.  Which I still haven't seen (guess I'll have to wait for the DVD).

Romeo Vitelli at Providentia describes the case of a Nevada woman who was reported missing by her husband; her body was eventually found four-months later buried in the clutter of their home.  They were obsessive hoarders.


Melody Dye at Child's Play has two intertwined posts about Zipfian distributions in language and the process of discrimination in learning meaning ("Mollies, PokeBalls, and Naked Ladies: A Topsy-Turvy Lesson in Learning Words from Context" and "Why are Zipfian distributions found in language?").  Excellent links.

Michael Pleyer at a replicated typo writes on languages that employ an absolute rather than relative frame of reference in talking about orientation in space.  Examples include the Australian aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr and the Mayan language Tzeltal. Pleyer refers especially to Stephen Levinson's book, Space in Language and Cognition: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity (Cambridge UP, 2003).


Daniel Little at UnderstandingSociety has a nice introductory summary of the work of sociologist Erving Goffman, whose Stigma is on my "to read" list.


Die Zeit profiles saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who turned 80 today. (Auf Deutsch)

Stuart Isacoff in The Wall Street Journal profiles Indian-American jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, whose work I plan to get to know better (I picked up two of his CDs at the library today). Iyer also has a Ph.D., with a dissertation on "the role of the body in music perception and cognition."

codex flores links to the site for the conference Mozart & Science 2010: Music in Medicine and Therapy, the 3rd International Congress for Interdisciplinary Research on the Effects of Music, taking place at the Landesakademi of Lower Austria, in Krems, 4–6 November 2010.

taz.de interviews Dave Haynes, of SoundCloud, a website designed to make it easier for musicians to move and store large sound files. (Auf Deutsch)

Greg Sandow is back from vacation. His first post-vacation post at his Arts Journal blog praises Lang Lang's Beethoven (op. 2/3 and the Appassionata) on the first CD of a 2 CD set, Lang Lang Live in Vienna, to be released next month.  I'm very skeptical.  Sandow includes a couple of sound clips that he says make him think Lang Lang has channeled Beethoven improvising.

Wortschatz für Dienstag

auf den Leim gehen
Kaderschmiede (zB, Harvard)

Hat Schikaneder Mozart schikaniert?
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07 September 2010

Listening in Roslindale

When I posted the first "Listening in Roslindale" on 22 July, I had the intention of continuing with similar posts every week or so.  That didn't happen (but I'm still hoping).

Here, then, is a non-exhaustive list of some of what I've been listening to since then:

•Charlie Haden and Hank Jones, Steal Away. A lovely album.

•Sam Cooke’s SAR Records Story (completed)

•Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne, 23 July 2010 (streamed live via medici.tv; I intended to review this here, and had quite a lot to say about it...would it still be worth it?)

•Frank Zappa, Hot Rats. A nostalgia trip for me. One of my favorite albums in high school.

•Arvo Pärt, De Profundis, Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier. I wish I found this more interesting.

•The Rough Guide to Fado.  An excellent sampler.

•Mieczysław Horszowski, Live at Wigmore Hall, 4 June 1991, just a few months before the final performance of his career, in Philadelphia, October 1991.  Very touching.

•Charlie Christian, At Minton’s Playhouse (1941). The earliest recordings of Thelonious Monk, who was house pianist at Minton’s at the time.

•Monk Alone: The Complete Columbia Solo Studio Recordings: 1962–1968. If you’re still under the ridiculous misapprehension that Monk “couldn’t play the piano,” this would be an excellent corrective.  If you still think so after listening to it, then you should have your ears checked.

•Mel Tormé, The Best of the Concord Years, with lots of George Shearing, who was a superb vocal accompanist.

•The Heart and Soul of Joe Williams and George Shearing,  Perhaps not Williams’s best singing, and a rather silly idea for an album (all the titles include either “heart” or “soul”). But Shearing is wonderful.

•Piano Blues: The Essential (2 CDs, Classic Blues, CBL 200004).  Lots and lots of old piano blues, with no documentation of dates or places.

•Blind Boy Fuller, Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, vol. 1, 23 Sep 1935 to 29 Apr 1936.  Keep on truckin'...

•The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, vol. 6

•Negro Work Songs and Calls (The Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture). Anyone who thinks that music evolved principally through sexual selection needs to listen to this.

In the queue:  lots of Schubert lieder (I'm accompanying a short program of Schubert Lieder on 18 September)
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Weekend Roundup, 3 to 6 September 2010

Labor Day Weekend: the end of tenure?; let's eliminate the middleman in scholarly publishing; scholarly conferences and scholarly cred; Dobbs in Slate on the Hauser affair; Hauser "erased" from Edge website; university patenting hinders research and loses money; a profile of Francis Collins, head of NIH; two new papers on Y-STRs; the deep evolution of the brain; David Sloan Wilson on evolutionary accounting; the Price Equation made simple; Evolving Culture on NPR; 64,000-year-old arrow heads; "Animal cognition" at SAE; Scruton on Neurotrash; an interview with Ethan Watters; critiquing a study of multitasking; lumpers and splitters in language; Bolles on the evolution of language; Wilkins on similarity; celebrating John Cage's 98th with a 4'33'' playlist; congenital amusia among speakers of tone languages; a profile of composer Nico Muhly; ICMPC days 4 and 5 (and a 5-year-old Polish drumming prodigy); a fraud ring in the art world; an English-language summary of the Sarrazin hubbub; a seriously ranting toddler; Houellebecq accused of plagiarizing...from Wikipedia.
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