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Discover Britain’s best (and weirdest) artist – the Turner Prize 2012

Every year the Tate Gallery in London awards the Turner Prize to Britain’s weirdest artist. The award is £25,000 and there are four finalists exhibiting their work:

  • Paul Noble – drawings of his invented city “Nobson Newtown” and scatological sculptures (poo statutes).
  • Spartacus Chetwynd – medieval morality plays with characters dressed like trees.
  • Luke Fowler – a film covering the life and work of maverick Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing (1927-89), and photographs of people in everyday poses.
  • Elizabeth Price – a film in three parts, The Woolworths Choir of 1979, about a fire in 1979 that killed 10 people set to the music of girl pop bands.

The winner is selected on December 3, 2012.

Photos of their work and a video of the exhibitions with Adrian Searle.

 

Intricate drawing of Nobson Newtown by Paul Noble. (source: Jonathan Hordle/Rex Features)

 

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Help curb excessive exclamations – resist the urge to use an exclamation point

There is only one exclamation point in Ernest Hemingway’s - The Old Man and the Sea - published in 1951.

There were eight exclamation points in Anthony Burgess’ – A Clockwork Orange - published in 1962.

But four novels published in the 21st century each have 250 or more exclamation points, with one using 439. And this highlights the growing trend to use, or overuse, the punctuation mark in writing.

Jeff Umbro, from Quartz, searched “more than 1 million books published between 1970 and 2008, and found that the frequency of exclamation marks has soared.”

He asks that we clamp down on this, and I agree. Resist the urge to exclaim and instead write with style.

Take the advice of William Zinsser from his classic, On Writing Well:

Don’t use it unless you must to achieve a certain effect. It has a gushy aura – the breathless excitement of a debutante commenting on an event that was exciting only to her…construct your sentences so that the order of the words will put the emphasis where you want it. Also resist using it to notify the reader that you are making a joke or being ironic. Readers are annoyed by your reminder that this was a comical moment. They are also robbed of the pleasure of making the discovery themselves. Humor is best achieved by understatement, and there’s nothing subtle about an exclamation point.

 

Follow the classics. (source: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

California bans employers from demanding your password for Email, Twitter, Facebook

From California Governor Jerry Brown:

“Today I am signing Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349, which prohibit universities and employers from demanding your email and social media passwords,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “California pioneered the social media revolution. These laws protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts.”

I didn’t know this was a problem, companies demanding passwords from employees for their email, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. I can’t imagine how this would come up and how I would react. Though, I have heard stories and there are, from c|net, “more than 100 cases currently before the National Labor Relations Board that involve employer workplace policies around social media.”

Good to see this practice banned before it becomes more widespread.

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For the first time, Korean Buddhism available to Western world

Never before has the buddhism of Korea been available to the West, until now. Scholars across America have united to translate a 13-volume anthology covering 1,700 years – and the entire guide is available online, free with a creative commons license.

View all thirteen volumes here (scroll to bottom).

More about this work, from the Preface:

Buddhism has a 1,700 year history in Korea and the tradition continues to thrive still today on the peninsula. The thirteen volumes of this anthology collect the panoply of Korean Buddhist writing from the Three Kingdoms period (ca. 57 C.E.-668) through the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). These writings include commentaries on scriptures as well as philosophical and disciplinary texts by the most influential scholiasts of the tradition.

 

Read the press release - UCLA scholars bring Korean Buddhist works to English-speaking world

 

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Beethoven drank buckets of black coffee – Creativity advice from 90 artists

It’s nice to have creative friends, especially when you hit a creative block. You can call them up and ask them for advice. That’s exactly what Alex Cornell did and he turned it into BreakThrough! 90 Ways to Spark Your Imagination.

Each one is a personal thought from an artist, writer, or musician – like the one below from Alexi Murdoch. Browse the book on Amazon or visit Brain Pickings for more quotes.

From Alexi Murdoch:

Beethoven drank buckets of strong, black coffee. Beethoven was creatively prodigious. (He also went deaf and, perhaps, mad.) Sound syllogism here? I’d like to think so.

The idea that creativity is some abundantly available resource waiting simply for the right application of ingenuity to extract, refine, and pipe it into the grid seems so axiomatic at this cultural juncture that the very distinction between creativity and productivity has been effectively erased.

And so it is that, when faced with a decreased flow in productivity, we ask not what it might be that’s interfering with our creative process, but rather what device might be quickly employed to raise production levels. This is standard, myopic, symptomatology-over-pathology response, typical of a pressurized environment of dislocated self-entitlement.

At the risk of going off brief here, can I just ask: What’s wrong with creative block? Might it not just be that periods — even extended ones — of productive hiatus are essential mechanisms of gestation designed to help us attain higher standards in our pursuit of creative excellence?

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The wirelessly charged electric bus line

From Charged:

The city of Milton Keynes will replace the diesel buses on one route with eight electric buses that will use wireless charging. The route currently transports more than 775,000 passengers a year over a total of 450,000 miles. Electrification is expected to remove about 500 tons of tailpipe CO2 emissions per year, and cut running costs by between £12,000 and £15,000 per year.

The busses will charge when parked over a primary coil in the ground. In 10-minutes the coil can send enough energy to the secondary coil in the bus that it can complete its route. The plan is to place the primary coils at the beginning and ending locations for the bus route and coordinate charging with bus driver breaks.

If all goes well this technology could be “real contender in the future of public transport.”

 

Learn more –  UK city to add wirelessly charged electric buses to fleet

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Celebrate the freedom to read – Banned Books Week – Sep 30 – Oct 6

source: Banned Books Week

 

Everyday in America someone tries to ban a book. The American Library Association reports 326 challenges in 2011. A challenge is more than a person being annoyed with a book, it is a person telling the library they don’t want anyone else to read the book. That is censorship in its most basic form.

And these books are not always the most controversial ones – sometimes they are classics that have been on the shelf for years. Here are the most challenged books of 2011:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
  2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (series)
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Celebrating Banned Books Week is about the freedom to read and that takes us beyond the printed paper. For the internet it means supporting free and open access to information – a fundamental right and need in countries all around the world.

So take a chance this week, read a banned book and support someone else’s right to do so.

A final word from David Brin on freedom of speech:

Freedom of speech is not a gift from on high. It was not declared by God. It is not holy, or even natural. No other human society ever practiced it. Even we, who are loony enough to consider it sacred, don’t practice it very well. Yet, although it runs against every tyrannical impulse of human nature… impulses to suppress whatever that loudmouth fool over there is saying… the fact is that we try to live by it. Not because free speech is holy, or natural, but because it works. Because it is pragmatic. Because it allows the rapid generation of a multitude of ideas, most of which are chaff, and then allows those notions to be criticized by other egotistical people, so that a fair percentage of the best ideas rise, and most garbage eventually sinks.

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Close a 10-mile section of highway – air quality immediately improves by 83%

This weekend scientists were able to measure freeway pollution when a 10-mile section was shut down for construction. The results were surprising. Within minutes of the traffic shut-down, air quality for the region improved by 83%. It also improved by 75% in the surrounding cities and 25% for the 30 miles in every direction.

The findings even shocked the scientists, from UCLA News:

“The air was amazingly clean that weekend,” Suzanne Paulson said. “Our measurements in Santa Monica were almost below what our instruments could detect, and the regional effect was significant. It was a really eye-opening glimpse of what the future could be like if we can move away from combustion engines.”

But just as quickly as the clean air came it was gone. Within a week of cars returning the pollution levels were back to normal. Still, it gives a peek into a future with electric vehicles and much cleaner air.

Read the full article - ‘Carmaheaven’: Closure of 405 in 2011 improved air quality up to 83 percent

 

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A look at raptors – the biology of birds of prey

Raptors are hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, and vultures. They are hunters who prefer to capture their prey alive – swooping out of the sky with fierce claws “made to rip flesh off the bones.” And can come in all sizes, fitting into the palm of your hand or displaying a 9-foot wingspan.

These are a few of the facts pulled from NPR’s – The Biology of Birds of Prey. An interview with raptor specialists and researchers studying the birds in Idaho and saving many from extinction (audio 25-minutes, transcript available). The recovery has been a huge success going from just 22 condors in 1982, to over 400 now.

These condors are not the prettiest animal – looking like remnants of the Dinosaur age – with bald pink faces, black eyes, and a surrounding black mane of hair, like a lion (photo below).

See them in this video:

 

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Recipe for Curry Butternut Squash Soup

After a long summer of iced coffees and frozen fruit drinks, we can finally enjoy hot and savory soups. Fall brings back cozy nights with a comfy blanket, a good book, and a steaming bowl of soup.

The first soup of the season is Butternut Squash Soup – so easy to make and so overwhelmingly…orange.

source: Simply Recipes

 

The rich orange-ness will bring you into Halloween, the proper way. Here is the recipe for Curry Butternut Squash Soup, from Simply Recipes

Ingredients: butternut squash, curry powder, onion, olive oil, & ginger

Cut the squash into small cubes and sauté until brown. In another pot add chopped onions, cook until soft – add curry, ginger, and olive oil, and warm for a minute. Then add the cubed squash bits and simmer for 40 minutes (add water or chicken broth for a liquid base). Once the squash is mushy and tender – purée in a blender.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, chopped cilantro.

 

For more details and portion sizes visit Simply Recipes – Curried Squash Soup.

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