I've always felt that pirates understood the good things in life. Fresh air. Rum. Interesting hats. It turns out we had more in common politically than I would have given them credit for. According to Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates, the "Golden Age" of Caribbean piracy wasn't too shabby. Seamen and captains received almost equal shares of booty (that is, a ratio of 2 - 1 instead of 14 - 1) and captains could be deposed at almost any time. NPR Books did a great interview with Woodard two weeks ago (site - iTunes - feed).
All of this means that you should go see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie when it opens today, no matter how terrible it is. If Jack Sparrow doesn't inspire civic virtue, at least he encourages eyeliner sales. Besides, how many amusement park rides can you think of that have demonstrated such dramatic depth?
The other reason to go see the movie is that Talk Like A Pirate Day is literally months away. How long can you hold that "AAAARRRRRHH"?
To this list of English-language classics, we've added three new classics by Jane Austen -- Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey -- all of which are byproducts of the new television series, The Jane Austen Season. You'll also find some new audio files from the great Librivox collection, including E. M. Forster's Howards End, Charlotte Bronte's Jayne Eyre, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. And finally we've added some selected poetry and prose by Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau.To review the longer list of classics, click here.
YouTube is a little more than two years old. It's a mere toddler. But, it's now owned by an overgrown, fully-bearded nine year old. Yes, that would be Google, and that means that YouTube is ready to storm its way into the media mainstream, pampers and all.
You can be sure that GooTube has already cooked up several strategies that will lead the video unit to media domination. But, even to the untrained media observer, it's fairly clear that Google's video unit has chosen the 2008 election as an arena in which it intends to compete with other major media outfits for eyeballs.
In April, YouTube launched its political channel CitizenTube (get more info here) and, along with it, its first major line of video programming called You Choose '08. The concept here is simple and promising: Citizens ask questions to the '08 candidates, and the candidates respond. The results, however, have been largely disappointing. When you strip everything away, what you get are politicians speaking the same platitudes that we've seen for decades on TV. (See a sample reply here.) The only difference is that the video quality is worse, and they're managing to get their platitudes in front of a young demographic, which is no small feat. For better or for worse, YouTube is to the '08 election what MTV (remember Bill playing the sax?) was to the '92 election.
While neither CitizenTube nor the political campaigns are using the video platform in revolutionary ways, the millions of average users who make YouTube what it is are doing a better job of it.
Of particular interest is the way in which videos are emerging on YouTube that counter images being carefully projected by candidates and their campaigns. Here are two quick examples.
"We're shocked by the evil of the Virginia Tech shooting..." "I opened my Bible shortly after I heard of the tragedy. Only a
few verses, it seems, after the Fall, we read that Adam and Eve's
oldest son killed his younger brother. From the beginning, there has
been evil in the world."
..."Pornography and violence
poison our music and movies and TV and video games. The Virginia Tech
shooter, like the Columbine shooters before him, had drunk from this
But then, however inconveniently, videos from Mitt Romney's past political campaigns show up on YouTube, ones which should make evangelicals think twice, and there is not much Romney can do about it. The past hurts, but it doesn't lie:
Then there is Hillary Clinton. She's got the money, the party machine is backing her, trying to wrap up the nomination with a bow. But then a damning attack ad crops up on YouTube. This pitch for Barack Obama remixes the "1984" TV ad that famously introduced Apple computers to America, and it casts Hillary as a political automaton, an image that rings true for many. (The Obama campaign denies having anything do with the video, and its creator remains unknown.)
It is with videos like these that YouTube gets politically interesting. Just as quickly as a political campaign projects an image for Romney or Clinton, your average web user can scrounge up footage that calls that image into question. A retort is always possible, which was never the case on TV. And the cost of delivering/countering a message runs next to nothing. Again a first. YouTube equalizes, and it isn't a terrain on which the rich can instantly claim victory. Just ask Romney and his over $200 million in personal wealth. What good has it done him in YouTube land?
We now serve you 25 art/visual art blogs, all of which have also been folded into a larger list of 100+ culture blogs. We're now calling it The Big List of Culture Blogs (pretty creative, eh), and we'll add to it over time.
Contemporary Pulitzer: An art blog put together jointly by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
Cronaca: A compilation of news concerning art, archeology, history, and whatever else catches the chronicler’s eye, with the odd bit of opinion and commentary thrown in.
Edward Winkleman: Art, politics, gossip and tough love from a NYC arts dealer. You'll find this site listed on many-a-blogroll.
Eye Level: A blog produced by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, it uses the museum’s collection as a touchstone and is dedicated to American art and the ways in which the nation’s art reflects its history and culture. Surprisingly, one of the few blogs to come out of the museum world.
Whether you think John F. Kennedy was a great president or just a guy
who enjoyed sultry birthday
serenades (see clip below), you have to admit
his hold on America’s cultural imagination is still powerful four
decades after his assassination. Two major new works of history tackle
the question and, predictably, come down on opposite sides of it. David
Talbot’s Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years offers new evidence furthering the great conspiracy theory, while Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy agrees with official history and the Warren Commission.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about these latest products of the
Kennedy industry is the fact that both books are taking advantage of
new media formats to combat the traditional problem with Big History
texts–weight. Bugliosi’s tome comes in at a back-wrenching 1,612
pages, so be thankful that his publishers included the many endnotes on
an accompanying CD. (You would be well-advised to save a few months and
read the New York Times review here.) Talbot’s Brothers is only a third as long, but that’s still almost 500 pages–so why not enjoy it as an eBook instead, or just check out the excerpt on Salon? Or take in itsNew York Times review here. If your eyes are tired already, rest assured that both authors also appeared on the Leonard Lopate show (Bugliosi mp3; Talbot mp3 ). And if you happen to live in the Bay area, you can go see Talbot will be in San Francisco promoting the book tomorrow, May 22.
Just a quick heads up: Starting today, you can sign up for online writing courses from Stanford. Offered by Stanford Continuing
Studies and the Stanford Creative Writing Program (which is one of the
most distinguished writing programs in the country), these online courses give
beginning and advanced writers, no matter where they live, the chance
to refine their craft with gifted writing instructors and smart peers. Registration starts today, and courses will go from June 25 to August 17. You can find the list of courses below. For more information, click here, or separately check out the FAQ.
(Full disclosure: I helped set up these courses and think they're a
great educational opportunity. But nonetheless take my opinion with a
grain of salt.)
The 60th Cannes Film Festival is in full swing. It's all film for ten plus days. But last night, music – or really U2 – took center stage. Before the midnight screening of their new rockumentary, U23D, the Irish band played a two song set (Vertigo and Where the Streets Have No Name) on the red carpet. It was short and sweet. You can watch it below. Cheers.
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Open Culture editor Dan Colman scours the web for the best educational media. He finds the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & movies you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between.