In April Ranae and I had the great pleasure of seeing the U of M Museum of Art 's exhibition of the work of artist Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy creates his art solely with materials he finds in nature, painstakingly arranging rocks, leaves, grass, ice, snow, and other tools into beautiful natural constructions. He is probably my favorite working modern artist; it's too bad this was his first exhibit on American soil.
The Haines Gallery has a small catalog of his work here: Andy Goldsworthy Work
May 31, 5:59 PM
Back in the Saddle
After much delay (about three and a half months according to my Movable Type logs! :-/), I'm planning on actively posting again. Major and minor events of the last few months:
- Visited grandparents in Orlando
- Vacation/Karina's wedding in Miami
- Got engaged!
- Vacation/Shawn and Stacey's wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Being less compulsively online has afforded me more time for one of my main offline joys, reading. Some of the books I've finished recently:
- The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs
A fantastic book, even over 40 years after it's original publication. The best book I've read on city life.
- The Man Who Ate Everything, by Jeffrey Steingarten
A great book about food by the most interesting food critic writing today. I heard of this book via Meg and I'm better of because of it.
- Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino
A cool little novel of dream-like descriptions of many fantastical cities. Strong Borgesian overtones.
- Hooking Up, by Tom Wolfe
- Sustainable Cuisine White Papers
Very nicely packaged, and some interesting ideas presented here, but the white paper format quickly exposed its weaknesses. A few pages isn't really enough to generate a substantial argument, and some of the papers contradicted others outright in their prescriptions for sustainable cuisine. Too light for my tastes.
- Small Pieces Loosely Joined, by David Weinberger
- The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe
This has been on my "to read" list for some time, and a week on the beach in Mexico is what it took for me to finally read it. A fascinating account of the birth of the psychedelic revolution. Made me realize that some extraordinarily interesting people were involved in Ken Kesey's loose circle in the 60's, like Stewart Brand and Paul Hawken, both great writers in their own rights.
- Natural Capitalism, by Paul Hawken (see above), and Amory and Hunter Lovins
Oustanding, the best book on how to begin reversing the damage we've done to the environment, and one of the most inspirational books I've ever read.
- Human Natures, by Paul Ehrlich
A great book about a great many things, mostly surrounding gene/culture coevolution in humans. Similar to Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel, but with more focus on culture and stronger social proscriptions. Highly recommended.
May 31, 5:12 PM
I have pushed this little link on many friends already, but it warrants posting here, because it is so funny
! Dean Allen's review of recent wines
. An excerpt:
Chateau Lerys 1996
Po-faced and a bit snide at first, it picks up slow speed before gallumphing to a springy sunlight-on-hot-chrome apex, then splitting into rusty metal ringlets that roll and roll and gradually wobble off like the discounted hula hoops in The Hudsucker Proxy. Dominant notes of aspirin and cake.
The rest of Dean's site, Textism
is similarly wonderful.
May 31, 4:59 PM
The Economics of Online Music
Very nice analysis here from Gareth about one of the most-overlooked aspects of the music-sharing debate: the (non-monetary) cost to users of the time they spend searching for music. Check out his article How To Make Money From Online Music (and make everybody better off in the process)
From his conclusions:
This analysis has shown that it is possible attract paying users to an online music service. What's more, we've seen exactly how to achieve this: one must give the user an experience that is better than free file-sharing by reducing search costs. Major record labels must give up on the attempt to win customers with an inferior product and instead they must innovate to find the best way of reducing search costs for consumers. Apple is leading the way with iMS, and I believe other companies will have no choice but to follow.
My contention has always been that for the segment of the music-seeking market which I belong to (admittedly the minority), the appeal of file-sharing services is NOT that the music can be downloaded for free
. Rather, software tools like Kazaa and Soulseek drastically reduce our "search costs" for music, which is of great benefit even if downloads must be paid for. If one's tastes in music fall anywhere outside the mainstream artists which are aggressively marketed and saturate the airwaves, finding the artists and songs you'd most like can be a difficult and time-consuming process. File-sharing services can make it substantially easier to find this type of music. For this reason, initiatives like Apple's new iMusic service can be successful despite charging users for downloads (currently at the rate of $0.99 a track).
May 31, 11:42 AM