Learn to Build iPhone & iPad Apps with Stanford’s Free Course, Coding Together

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 1.01.26 PMJust a quick fyi. In the past week, Stanford has launched the latest version of Coding Together, the popular course that teaches Stanford students -- and now students worldwide -- how to build apps for the iPhone and iPad. Taught by Paul Hegarty, the latest version of the free course focuses on how to build apps in iOS 6, and the lectures will be gradually rolled onto iTunes from January 22 through March 28. Find the first lectures here.

This course, along with other top-flight coding courses, appears in the Computer Science section of our big collection of 650 Free Online Courses, where you'll also find courses on Philosophy, History, Physics and other topics.

Looking for tutorials on building apps in Android? Find them here.

John Coltrane’s Naval Reserve Enlistment Mugshot (1945)


Do you ever have déjà vu? Last week we posted Jack Kerouac's U.S. Naval Reserve enlistment mugshot from 1943 and the response was enthusiastic. Many of you were fascinated to see the great Beat writer at such a tender age and in such an atypical, unliberated context. Today we offer an eerily similar photo of another freewheeling icon of 20th century art: John Coltrane, when he was 18 years old.

Coltrane entered the Navy on the same day the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and was assigned reserve status, as were many African-Americans at that time. According to Lewis Porter in John Coltrane: His Life and Music, only limited numbers of black men served as seaman after 1942. Prior to that, they were only allowed to work as kitchen help. The Navy was segregated, and Coltrane was sent to boot camp at the black section of Sampson Naval Training Center in upstate New York. By the time he finished training, World War II was over.

In late November of 1945, after a transitional month at Camp Shoemaker near San Francisco, seaman second class Coltrane was assigned to active duty in Hawaii. Stationed on the island of Oahu, Coltrane played clarinet and alto saxophone in a black Navy band called the Melody Masters. He made his first recordings with some of the musicians from the band in the summer of 1946. But all the while Coltrane was serving, the Navy was in the process of downsizing. With the war over, bands were no longer needed to boost morale. So on August 11, 1946--just over a year after his enlistment--Coltrane was discharged from the Navy and sent home.

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Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis Draws from the Life of Greenwich Village Icon Dave Van Ronk

If you care about the folk revival of the sixties, or about most anything that went on in Greenwich Village back then, Dave Van Ronk lived just the life you'll want to learn about. Known as "the Mayor of MacDougal Street," he not only became a neighborhood fixture but backed up his formidably large, eccentrically rumpled presence with such a set of acoustic guitar and vocal skills that no less a future superstar than Bob Dylan looked to him as a guru. (Even Joni Mitchell deemed Van Ronk's interpretation of her "Both Sides Now" the finest ever recorded.) Only toward the end did this musically eclectic, technically proficient lover of jazz and blues get around to telling the stories of his life in folk; a memoir, put down on paper by guitarist-historian Elijah Wald, appeared three years after his death. Now, eight years after that, Van Ronk's words, deeds, and songs have inspired Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, whose trailer you can watch above.

Given that the production officially optioned Van Ronk's memoir, you might expect a thinly veiled biopic, but the Coen brothers had other ideas — as, to their fans' delight, they usually do. The New York Times' Michael Cieply describes memoirist Wald's cautioning that "the world of Inside Llewyn Davis, having been devised by the Coens, is 'less innocent' than one inhabited by Van Ronk, Mr. Dylan, Paul Clayton, the Rev. Reverend Gary Davis, Joni Mitchell, Tom Paxton and the myriad other singers who are invoked in the film." In making the movie as musical as possible without actually making it a musical, the Coens enlisted producer T Bone Burnett to recreate the convergence of "influences from Appalachia, the Deep South, the Far West [and] New England" that stoked the folk revival that attracted so many young New Yorkers. "It was that cultural disconnect" between those worlds, Cieply quotes Coen as saying, "that lured him and his brother — long fans of folk music — to look for the movie in all of it."

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

Meet “Father Philanthropy”: America’s Most Prolific and Unlikely Master Art Forger

Close your eyes and picture a philanthropist.

Likely you envisioned a fat cat with a designer checkbook. It's the accepted image, but not every benefactor fits the mold.

Take Mark Landis, a gentle soul who's spent three decades surprising the staffs of small American museums with artwork presented out of the blue. Not just any artwork, and certainly not the nineteenth-century originals they were represented as---in every case, donor Landis was eventually revealed to be the artist.

In Terri Timely's documentary glimpse, "Father Philanthropy" (above, with a deleted scene below), Landis obligingly guides viewers through the multi-step process by which his forgeries are created, but he reveals little about his motivation, beyond a desire to honor the memory of his parents (Mother looms large here.)

His fakes don't add up to a grand conceptual piece, a la artist  J. S. G. Boggs' incredibly detailed, far-more-valuable-than-the-items-they-were-used-to-purchase banknotes. He seems indifferent to the possibility of high profile, if ill gotten, prestige. He is, quite simply a giver. His gifts cost the recipients professional pride and unexpected fees associated with ferreting out the truth, but they seem malice-free. "About all I've got is an ability to draw and paint," he states, "So naturally it led me to give away drawing and paintings."

via The Atlantic

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Hear Tennessee Williams Read Hart Crane’s “The Broken Tower” and “The Hurricane” (1960)

Note: Audio takes about 8 seconds to play...

Many Moons Ago, a poetry teacher of mine introduced me to the term “terminal aesthetic," meaning a style that could go no further, having burned up all of its resources. It’s a great way to characterize the poet Hart Crane’s ambivalent appraisal of his literary forefather, T.S. Eliot. Crane spent his poetry career trying to remedy what he saw as Eliot’s failure to salvage anything from the modern world but cramped despair in The Waste Land. As Crane put it, Eliot’s masterwork was “so damned dead” and manifested “a refusal to see certain spiritual events and possibilities.” It’s probably safe to say that nearly everyone subjected to Eliot’s portentous verse has felt this way at one time or another. But Crane felt it and persevered; he tried to out-write The Waste Land with his own modernist epic, The Bridge.

The poet’s optimism was totally at odds with his brief, painful life. As David Dudley summed it up recently:

Crane’s short life was a train wreck—a teenage suicide attempt, followed by bitter estrangements from his mother, a Christian Scientist, and his father, a well-to-do Cleveland candy maker who disapproved of his son’s habits. Living as a semi-closeted gay man on the fringes of the cultural limelight in New York and Europe, Crane had affairs with sailors, drank too much, got in fights, and couldn’t hold a job.

Crane’s depression and feelings of failure drove him to suicide in 1932, at age 32: he leapt into the Gulf of Mexico from the steam ship Orizaba (most think; he left no note). His tombstone is inscribed with the words “lost at sea.”

That phrase also captures how so many readers feel when faced with Crane’s rococo verse. With its archaic (some would say pretentious) diction, and obscure allusions nested inside oblique references, the word “difficult” may be an understatement. But Crane’s work has had many champions, among them, Tennessee Williams. As an epigraph to A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams chose these lines from Crane’s “The Broken Tower”:

And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

The exquisite rhythms of Crane’s lines—Shakespearean by way of Eliot—lend themselves so well to reading aloud. Above, then, we have the privilege of hearing Crane’s defender Williams read “The Broken Tower” in his reedy, Southern voice. Follow the text of the poem in the video as Williams reads. Both the audio above and that below—of Williams reading Crane’s hypnotic “The Hurricane”—come from a nearly-impossible-to-find 1960 LP from Caedmon Records. Thanks again, Internet, and thanks to Don Yorty, who posted these videos.

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Josh Jones is a writer, editor, and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him @jdmagness

Father Guido Sarducci Pitches “The Five Minute University”

If you experienced the heyday of Saturday Night Live, you'll almost certainly remember Father Guido Sarducci, the chain-smoking, sunglass-wearing priest who worked (rather implausibly) as a rock critic for the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. The Sarducci character was the brainchild of Don Novello, a comedian who first began playing with the character in the early 1970s, when he bought a monsignor's outfit for $7.50 at a thrift shop. Novello took "Sarducci" from the San Francisco nightclubs, to The Smothers Brothers Show, to Saturday Night Live in 1977. The irreverent priest often appeared on the "Weekend Update" segment and even once opened the show. And then, later, Novello brought Sarducci onto the American comedy circuit where he pitched audiences on the "Five Minute University," a concept you'll want to consider in case that MOOC thing doesn't quite work out. Apparently it now has VC funding too.

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Join Cartoonist Lynda Barry for a University-Level Course on Doodling and Neuroscience


Cartoonist Lynda Barry, who has helped legions of adults grope their way back to the unselfconscious creativity of childhood, is teaching at the university level. Barry's Unthinkable Mind course is designed to appeal to students of the humanities.  Also hardcore science majors, the sort of lab-coated specimens the first group might refer to as "brains." The instructor describes her University of Wisconsin spring semester offering thus:

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

The twenty-one grads and undergrads accepted into Professor Barry's course have been warned, via the illustrated letter above,  handwritten on legal paper, that the workload will be heavy.


You should be warned as well, if you elect to audit this course from home. Enrollment is not necessary. Professor Barry will be posting her weekly assignments and curriculum materials on her tumblr, a forum where her abiding interest in science is as apparent as her devotion to undirected doodling. Your first assignment, posted above, requires a box of crayons, the coloring pages of your choice, downloaded to four types of paper, and a significant chunk of time set aside for brain-related articles and vintage videos starring Cognitive Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga and astronomer Carl Sagan. You should also be committed to keeping a four-minute diary and serving as your own guinea pig.

Who's in?

A big H/T @kirstinbutler

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- Ayun Halliday 's most recent book is Peanut.

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