Malcolm Gladwell: Taxes Were High and Life Was Just Fine

Malcolm Gladwell, the bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, has lost some friends lately among geeks (term used lovingly, if not self-referentially) and conservatives. First came the suggestion that Twitter hasn’t made human change agents obsolete. We still need MLKs and Gandhis to change the world. And then, speaking at The New Yorker Festival earlier this month, Gladwell had to remind us of an inconvenient historical fact. During the Eisenhower presidency, taxes on the wealthiest Americans peaked at 91% (more than double what they are today). And, even more galling, life in America was just fine, even downright good…

Thanks Mary for sending this our way. Always appreciate the good tips.

Art in “Augmented Reality” at The Getty Museum

We’re getting closer to a world where you can ask: why go to a museum when it can come to you? This summer, the Getty Museum used Augmented Reality (AR) technology to showcase one of the most complex objects in its collection – The Augsburg Display Cabinet (or Kabinettschrank) built around 1630. As shown above, the AR technology lets remote users view art in 3D, using just their web cam and a piece of paper to control the experience. You can watch the demo above, or better yet, test drive the whole experience with the instructions found here.

via @drszucker

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Shakespeare in the Original Voice

This fall, Paul Meier, a theatre professor at the University of Kansas, is working with students to stage the first-ever American rendition of a Shakespeare play – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – in its original pronunciation. As The History Blog writes, there have only been “three other productions of original pronunciation (OP) Shakespeare before this one, 2 at The Globe theater in London, and 1 at Cambridge in the 1950s.” But this difficult project became possible when Meier and his students started working with David Crystal, a linguistics scholar who wrote Pronouncing Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press) in 2005. Prior to the KU production, Crystal consulted on a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe theatre on London’s South Bank (mentioned above), and you can listen to audio clips taken from that English performance right here.

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The Milky Way in 360 Degrees

Stéphane Guisard traveled to the Paranal observatory, situated in Chile’s remote Atacama desert, in search of the “darkest sky.” The result? Some amazing zoomable, fisheye images that reveal the darkest of dark skies (including a glimpse of the Gegenschein). And then also this “byproduct”: a 360 degree panoramic view of the Milky Way that lies on the dark sky horizon. You can view Los Cielos de Chile here.

Please note that the page can take a little time to load. But once you’re there, you can toggle around the images and control the views.

Free Movies: Watch the Classics & Gems Online

Almost a year ago, we started scouring the web for free movies – for films worth your precious time. We started with 75, and now we’re above 200. What will you find on the ever-growing list of Free Movies Online? Films by Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Brian DePalma, Jean-Luc Godard, Andrei Tarkovsky, Fritz Lang, Elia Kazan, Howard Hawks, Ida Lupino, Ken Loach, Akira Kurosawa, Billy Wilder, and Martin Scorsese. The list covers many different genres (comedies, film noir, indies, documentaries, short and animated films, even some noteworthy B movies) and spans the entire history of cinema, moving from early silent films to contemporary movies. It also features brilliant performances by major actresses and actors – too many to name right here. For copyright reasons, there’s generally a heavy emphasis on the classics. If you have time to spare, check out the full collection of Free Movies Online. And if we’re missing any good ones, please feel free to send us your tips or add them to the comments section below.

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The Office Meets the Twilight Zone

‘The Black Hole’ runs two minutes. Be sure to hang with it until the end. H/T @ellmcgirt

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Nikon Small World Photography: The Winners

The Nikon International Small World Competition first began in 1974 as a “means to recognize and applaud the efforts of those involved with photography through the light microscope.” A good 36 years later, Nikon named the winners of the 2010 competition, which means we can take another artistic look inside the world of small things, getting down to the very micro level of animals, plants and minerals. Above, you’re looking at an image of glial cells in the cerebellum magnified 400 times. This image and 28 others appear in the always excellent The Big Picture section of the Boston Globe. Also visit a gallery of images on the Nikon site. Thanks to @wesalwan for sending our way.

OK Go & Kutiman: Live from the Guggenheim

On Thursday night, the Guggenheim Museum and YouTube unveiled the winners of a highly publicized video contest, YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. The contest originally generated 23,000 submissions from 91 countries, and, from there, Guggenheim curators culled a shortlist of 125 videos. Then the big moment: 20 winners were selected during an awards ceremony held last night at the museum.

The ceremony itself featured performances by artists who have made YouTube integral to their art – above we have Kutiman, the Israeli artist known for his mother of all funk remix, giving the audience something rather different: a live mashup of Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance,” accompanied by the Noname ensemble from the Julliard School and YouTube Symphony Orcherstra players. And to wrap things up OK Go, the unofficial kings of YouTube, performed ‘White Knuckles’ and ‘This too Shall Pass.’ Keep a close eye on the YouTube channel dedicated to the Biennial of Creative Video. The winning videos will almost certainly be coming online soon.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.