‘When Works of Art Come Apart’ – The Wall Street Journal

When Works of Art Come Apart

‘Spy Booth,‘ a mural by graffiti artist Banksy, in April 2014 . PHOTO: NEIL MUNNS/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Amid repairs last week to a home in the English town of Cheltenham, one of the most famous murals by the graffiti artist known as Banksy ended up accidentally reduced to rubble. The artist had painted “Spy Booth,” depicting spies holding up listening devices, on an exterior wall of the house, around an actual public telephone booth. This fiasco followed the discovery in July that Australian construction workers had inadvertently destroyed three Banksy stencils in Melbourne, bringing to five the number of the artist’s works that had vanished on one stretch of road.

Banksy’s street art, by its nature, is especially vulnerable to such losses, but his work isn’t alone in suffering such a fate. Many of the world’s most famous artworks require constant vigilance and upkeep. Michelangelo’s magnificent David in Florence, for example, is checked every two months or so for fractures. Continue reading…

‘A Brief History of Leaking’ – The Wall Street Journal

Spies easily deciphered letters by Mary, Queen of Scots ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

Spies easily deciphered letters by Mary, Queen of Scots ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

Is a private email merely a leak that hasn’t happened yet? It is starting to seem that way after the number of hacking scandals in recent years. We still don’t know the culprit behind the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computers, although President Barack Obama has tied Russia to the operation. The theft seems too sophisticated to blame on a pimply teenager in a bedroom.

But the fact that the reason remains a mystery (was it to help Donald Trump, embarrass the U.S. or settle some private score?) highlights a longstanding difficulty in plugging leaks: People divulge secrets for all sorts of reasons—from the vindictive to the virtuous, and everything in between. Continue reading…

‘A Risky Skin Game: Tans, Fashion and Cancer’ – The Wall Street Journal

ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

The suntan was born as a fashion accessory in France in 1923—or so legend has it. The French like to claim Coco Chanel started the trend after she turned an accidental sunburn into a fashion statement while sailing with her lover, the duke of Westminster.

But the Americans have an equal shot at the title with Gerald and Sara Murphy, wealthy expatriates who fell in love with the French Riviera and established themselves in Cap D’Antibes the same year. A glittering roster visited them there, from Picasso to the American writer John Dos Passos, helping to turn the sleepy backwater into a glamorous destination. Continue reading…

‘The Great American Road Trip’ – The Wall Street Journal

In 1903, physician Horatio Nelson Jackson (at wheel) and his driving partner Sewall K. Crocker became the first men to drive an automobile across the U.S. PHOTO: ISC IMAGES & ARCHIVES/GETTY

In 1903, physician Horatio Nelson Jackson (at wheel) and his driving partner Sewall K. Crocker became the first men to drive an automobile across the U.S. PHOTO: ISC IMAGES & ARCHIVES/GETTY

The Great American Road Trip was born in 1856 with the publication of Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of the Open Road.” Or at least that’s where the idea of such a journey came into being, since 160 years ago there were no states between Texas and California, let alone cars, highways or motels.

A lone traveler’s creature comforts back then consisted of liberty and opportunity: “Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, / Healthy, free, the world before me, / The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose,” the poet wrote.
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‘Five Millennia of Swimming Pools’ – The Wall Street Journal

The swimming pool and centuries of tradition ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

The swimming pool and centuries of tradition ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

For many people, the perfect July Fourth weekend includes three All-American ingredients: fireworks, a barbecue and a pool party. We share the first two emblems of national identity with the Chinese and the Australians. Only the third, the backyard swimming pool—in John Cheever’s words, “that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county”—is indelibly American, a ubiquitous symbol of suburbia. Continue reading…

“Wrong kind of feminist, right kind of candidate” – The Sunday Times

Hillary Clinton was greeted with cheers in California last week but after 20 years as a political insider she has been struggling to connect with younger voters REUTERS

Hillary Clinton was greeted with cheers in California last week but after 20 years as a political insider she has been struggling to connect with younger voters
REUTERS

Some revolutions happen in an explosion of blood and violence; these are the ones that people remember. Others take place with a stroke of a pen, the pull of a lever, a collective shout of “Aye”; these are the ones that work.

By becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee for president last week, Hillary Clinton once again proved it is the quiet revolutions that matter most. She has gone further than any other American woman before her, and she did it by using rather than abusing the democratic process.

Clinton is writing a new chapter of US history. Whatever happens in the election — and I am absolutely confident she will win against Donald Trump — America has entered a new era of gender equality. The “highest and hardest” glass ceiling — the one with 18m cracks in 2008 — has at last been shattered.

So why are millions of women not taking to the streets to celebrate her victory? The answer is as simple as it is ironic: Clinton is a victim of her own success. Continue reading…

‘The Tragic Side of Weddings’ – The Wall Street Journal

Weddings are happy affairs. What could possibly go wrong? From left, Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart, Dominic West, Anna Friel in 1999’s ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream.’ PHOTO: FOX SEARCHLIGHT/EVERETT COLLECTION

Weddings are happy affairs. What could possibly go wrong? From left, Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart, Dominic West, Anna Friel in 1999’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ PHOTO: FOX SEARCHLIGHT/EVERETT COLLECTION

If April is the cruelest month, then June is the happiest—at least for those hoping to say “I do.” Surveys show that in America, about 16% of all weddings occur in June, making it the most popular wedding month. In many parts of the country, flowers are at their peak and the weather is perfect. What could go wrong?

A great deal, it turns out. With so much riding on the day, weddings occupy a curious place in the human psyche, wedged somewhere between the heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair. The notorious “Red Wedding” episode a few years back in HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” in which the host Lord Frey massacres his helpless guests, may have pushed the envelope in terms of good taste, but its bloody denouement came as no surprise to lovers of tragic opera—or the classics.

The ancient Greeks regarded weddings as potentially very dangerous. Too much happiness was thought to incur the wrath of the gods. Only a prodigious number of sacrifices could stave off disaster, and even then the slightest mistake could upset all the careful preparations. A wedding day transformed into a funeral was a stock theme in Greek mythology and poetry. In one version of the Trojan War narrative, Iphigenia, the daughter of King Agamemnon, walks to the altar dressed as a bride, unaware that she is about to be killed to appease the goddess Artemis, who had held up the warriors’ voyage to Troy. Continue reading…

“Netflix Review: ‘The Ascent of Woman’ — Making Women Part of the Narrative” – Women’s Voices for Change

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In the smash Broadway musical Hamilton, Alexander’s wife Eliza begs him, “Let me be a part of the narrative.” This heartbreaking scene has to do with their marriage and his obsessive work on behalf of the new country he’s helping to build. But, it can also be interpreted as a broader plea. In the American Revolution, as in France’s and later Russia’s, women worked alongside their husbands to attain independence, only to find that when the dust settled, they were back where they started. One patriarchy had simply been replaced by another.

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‘How Earthquakes Have Changed History’ – The Wall Street Journal

A 6.0-magnitute earthquake in Napa, Calif., on August 24, 2014, damaged buildings and caused injuries. PHOTO: RICK LOOMIS/LOS ANGELES TIMES/GETTY IMAGES

A 6.0-magnitute earthquake in Napa, Calif., on August 24, 2014, damaged buildings and caused injuries. PHOTO: RICK LOOMIS/LOS ANGELES TIMES/GETTY IMAGES

The Big One is looking a little more likely these days. Since the California earthquake of 1857, tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault are thought to have shifted by as much as 26 feet. Only last year, scientists raised the chances of a quake in California of magnitude 8.0 or greater in the next 30 years to 7% from 4.7%. Unfortunately, for all the sophisticated science behind this prediction, nobody knows whether this means devastation tomorrow or many decades from now. Continue reading…

‘HER STORY THE SUBJECT OF THE ASCENT OF WOMAN – NETFLIX NOTES’ – Blasting News

dr-amanda-foreman-leads-us-on-the-journey-of-women-through-the-ages_712041“Powerful, inspiring, and important” states Telegraph, of four-part series by Dr. Amanda ForemanDr. Amanda Foreman leads us on the journey of women through the ages. Dr. Amanda Foreman leads us on the journey of women through the ages.

It strikes me as odd that The Times described this innovative and fascinating chronicle of women’s history as “ballsy”. Actually, it’s more than that. I imagine a few “old boys” sitting around the newsroom tossing out descriptors for Dr. Amanda Foreman’s study and guffawing when they came up with this one. The irony is not lost. Continue reading…