November 30, 2013 |
Richard Dawkins was enjoying a coffee at the Mondrian Hotel when a star-struck waiter interrupted him to thank him for his work. It was the kind of thing that happens a lot at the swanky West Hollywood hot spot - but usually to showbiz celebrities, not biologists. Dawkins is used to the adulation. The British intellectual has become a celebrity thanks to his books on evolution - including "The Selfish Gene," written in 1976 - and his vocal atheism, expressed in works like "The God Delusion," published in 2006.
November 29, 2013 |
This post has been updated. See note below for details. This year's crop of holiday music releases demonstrates anew that the only rule of success in this specialized genre is that there are no rules. Who'd have predicted that the standouts in a year of big name entries would include R&B superstar Mary J. Blige, the erstwhile king of British pub rock (Nick Lowe) and an Indian classical music virtuoso (James Whetzel)? Here is Calendar's annual assessment of the highs and lows of seasonal music collections for 2013.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 23, 2013 |
Fifty miles north of London lies Bletchley Park, a railway town during World War II that had few, if any, sights to recommend it. It was here, to a rundown estate on the other side of the tracks, that 19-year-old Mavis Batey was dispatched in the spring of 1940. As Hitler's forces advanced across Europe, encoded messages from Panzer divisions, U-boats and even the German high command were being intercepted and relayed to the men and women at Bletchley Park, whose job was to break the German code and help Britain and its allies outwit the Axis powers.
November 22, 2013 |
LONDON -- A British video journalist jailed in Russia alongside Greenpeace protesters he was filming was released on bail Friday amid indications that many of the detained activists would be freed after two months behind bars. Kieron Bryan was among 30 people arrested by Russian authorities during a Greenpeace protest against an Arctic offshore oil rig in September. Their long detention, some of it in squalid conditions, has sparked outrage and spurred an international campaign for their release.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 20, 2013 |
DNA and proteins are arguably the most important components of the cells of living creatures. Both are produced by stringing together long chains of individual molecules - amino acids in the case of proteins and nucleotides in DNA. Understanding the identity of the individual molecules in these chains and the sequence in which they are strung together proved to be one of the major biological challenges of the last century. Only by unlocking these sequences would scientists be able not only to understand the fundamental workings of biochemistry, but also to duplicate it. In the early 1950s, British biochemist Frederick Sanger of Cambridge University developed the first viable technique for determining the amino acid sequence of proteins and used it to describe the structure of insulin, which is composed of 51 amino acids.
November 19, 2013 |
A year ago this English singer-songwriter was largely unknown in the U.S. despite the fact that his self-titled debut had entered the British chart at No. 1. Today Jake Bugg is still largely unknown here, but the folks who do know him are people of influence. Thus "Shangri La," Bugg's second album, titled after the Malibu studio where he recorded with A-list producer Rick Rubin and an all-star band that included Elvis Costello's drummer and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The result isn't the clean-up job it might've been; Bugg, 19, still sings with a nasal edge that wouldn't last more than a round on "American Idol.
November 13, 2013 |
I don't own anything close to a complete John Tavener discography. But I do have a foot-high stack of his CDs that I happened to stumble over in a closet not long ago. It got me wondering, not for the first time, what to make of the British composer who, by strange coincidence, died at 69 on Tuesday. A lot of people over the years have wondered the same thing about Tavener's numinous music, with its flamboyant, exotic spirituality. Always wanting to weed out CDs, I first looked for some that could go. A few were still in shrink wrap; would I ever listen to them?
November 13, 2013 |
Scotland Yard on Wednesday reversed a coroner's finding of foul play in the 2010 death of British spy Gareth Williams, concluding that an accident was likely responsible for the death of the code-breaker whose naked, decomposing body was found stuffed inside a zipped and padlocked gym bag. London Metropolitan Police investigators had undertaken a review of evidence in the case 16 months ago, after initial restrictions on homicide detectives' access...
November 13, 2013 |
The formula for a successful British band is simple: Grow up together in an industrial town (in this case, Manchester), wow 'em in London, win over Europe and Asia and then shred the music charts in America for the really big money. After getting tantalizingly close, the Stone Roses never made it in America, burning brightly across the pond in the late 1980s and early 1990s before famously flaming out. As the new documentary "The Stone Roses: Made of Stone" makes clear, the Roses were the Manchester band conquering Britain, Europe and Japan, more so than contemporaries Happy Mondays and the Charlatans and years before Oasis came along.
November 12, 2013 |
John Kenneth Tavener, the renowned British composer whose spiritual, religious-inspired music drew a diverse fan base that included the Beatles and Prince Charles, has died at age 69. Tavener died Tuesday at his home in Dorset, England, said his publisher, Chester Music. No cause of death was given, but Tavener had been living with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that contributed to his unusual height -- he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall -- and also weakened his heart. PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2013 Tavener's ambitious pieces featured orchestral and choir compositions that were both haunting and emotional in nature.