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Post #1093 • December 1, 2007, 9:32 AM • 6 Comments

"The fight is long over here for authority over the security services, the oil business, mass media and pretty much all the levers of government. Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, notwithstanding some recent anti-government protests, has won those wars, hands down, and promises to consolidate its position in parliamentary elections. But now there is concern that the Kremlin is setting its sights on Russian culture."

"Four members of an underground 'cultural guerrilla' movement known as the Untergunther, whose purpose is to restore France's cultural heritage, were cleared on Friday of breaking into the 18th-century monument in a plot worthy of Dan Brown or Umberto Eco." (Reddit)

"When people were shown pictures of sculptures in a new study, brain scans suggest they judged beauty by at least partly hard-wired standards."

The thrill of pencils.

"Italian archaeologists on Tuesday unveiled the underground grotto believed to have been worshipped by ancient Romans as the place where a wolf nursed the city's legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus."

Absinthe is back, sort of. Bottom line regarding potency, inarguably less than what was available in 19th Century Paris: "If you drink three bottles, you are going to do something stupid." On the other hand, I know people guaranteed to do something stupid if they drink three bottles of water.

"One of the most notorious art forgeries of the 20th century happened in England in the 1990s when two men were arrested for spectacularly exploiting the vulnerabilities of the art market. Art dealer John Drewe handled the paperwork, and John Myatt handled the paintbrush - and they almost got away with it."

Department of Skills: If you're happy and you know it...




December 1, 2007, 11:38 AM

I wish the people conducting the "beauty" test had set up their experiment more carefully. Choosing anything according to a constant will always affect an outcome, and if the basic art was already familiar by association any distortion is going to provoke a negative "distortion" alarm in the brain.

The premise is interesting, but I don't think anything can be concluded from this venture..


Marc Country

December 1, 2007, 1:46 PM

I'm a fan of neuroaesthetic research, but that sculpture study is ridiculous. The altered versions of the sculptures don't simply "not correspond with the golden section"... they are deformations of proper anatomy... of course they are judged to be "less beautiful"... in one distortion, the dude has a pelvis crammed into his ribcage, and in the other, he has double the amount of abdomen of a human, appearing as if he might be a kind of snake... these are highly realistic depictions of carnival freaks... should their unattractiveness be judged as surprising, somehow?



December 1, 2007, 6:15 PM

I used to drink homemade absinthe a lot--a housemate of the time was into it--and while I can't say what the thujone level was, it didn't cause hallucinations. Aside from getting one incredibly drunk, it mostly caused a sort of tingling sensation. I can't imagine why anyone would pay the prices the article describes for the product offered--if the thujone isn't there, why not just by one of the many pastis or absinthe substitutes out there? Buying a name, I guess. I suppose I wouldn't mind having some again, but I have to say the taste was mostly like washing down handfuls of Good & Plenty candies with grain alcohol.



December 2, 2007, 8:58 AM

Love the "cultural guerillas." In a similar vien, google "Guerilla Gardeners" and read on.



December 2, 2007, 12:00 PM

The pencils link was worth following, short of thrilling maybe, but fascinating. Bizarre how each pencil was given a name: "Climax", "Goliath", "Pneumatic", "Splendor", "Extender", "Microtomic". And you gotta know any pencil company worth its salt would stamp them with only the best typefaces.



December 2, 2007, 12:23 PM

Sounds like those penis enlargement ads that show up in spam all the time.



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