April 10, 2014 |
Beijing has no shortage of issues to confront. There's the South China Sea, uncontrollable corruption, a slowing economy and factional disputes within the party and military. But Chinese officials also face one of the most difficult challenges in modern statecraft: how to conquer a myth. Despite China's attempts to dislodge its mythic appeal, Tibet as Shangri-La seems firmly set in the world's imagination. The once-independent nation, set high on a broad plateau adjacent to the Himalayas, is a worldwide symbol of mystery, aspiration, spirituality and possibility.
April 3, 2014 |
There was - if not exactly dancing in the streets - a small frisson of excitement surging through half a dozen of America's great cities Wednesday as word emerged that six finalists had been chosen as the possible site of the 2016 Republican National Convention. They are, in impartially alphabetic order: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Las Vegas. Two cities were eliminated from consideration by the party's site selection committee: Columbus, Ohio, and Phoenix, the latter, doubtless, to the dismay of sun worshippers who savored nothing more than the prospect of baking in the Sonoran Desert's 120-degree summer heat.
March 10, 2014 |
Myths die hard. Especially creation myths. Messing with the symbolic origins of a world isn't something to be undertaken lightly. Jackson Pollock's mammoth 1943 painting "Mural" - nearly 8 feet high, 20 feet wide and covered edge-to-edge with rhythmic, Matisse-like linear arabesques, muscular abstract shapes and piercing voids, all of which he likened to a frenzied mustang stampede - was something entirely new for American art. The great painting represents...
February 26, 2014 |
Among the 25 or so awards to be handed out at Sunday's Oscars will be the prize for documentary short. One of the less recognized categories at the annual ceremony, the doc short field this year contains a certain newsworthiness because of the inclusion of one nominee, "The Lady in Number 6," about Alice-Herz Sommer, a pianist who was known for years as the oldest living Holocaust survivor. Herz-Sommer died several days ago at the age of 110, thrusting into the headlines a film and category few might have otherwise talked about.
February 17, 2014 |
It's been snowing in the Eastern United States like nobody's business. Crazy, wild cold and snowstorms. Predicting the weather might be hard, but predicting that extreme cold weather will produce a lot of hot air from climate deniers is easy. In fact, the number of myths floating around about climate change is pretty extensive, and I thought it might be helpful to address them, one by one, over the course of the year. For today, though, snow and cold are on people's minds. And that means plenty of people saying that this is strong evidence, if not downright proof, that the planet is not heating up. There's an elegant, if not complete, counterargument that comes via MIT's Knight Science Journalism Tracker, one of my favorite daily blog reads.
February 17, 2014 |
The little town of Dixon, Ill., has two claims to fame. First, it's the self-proclaimed Petunia Capital of Illinois. And second, it's the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States. Presidents (and petunias) are no doubt good for tourism, which is probably why the town has decided to erect another bronze statue - its third - to Reagan. This one is planned for Lowell Park, just north of the Dixon Correctional Center, the state's largest medium security facility.