Music Criticism Podcasts: “The Music And Morality Of Beethoven’s Mighty Ninth” (Marin Alsop, NPR)

Marin Alsop ConductorEver since Beethoven‘s iconic Ninth Symphony premiered May 7, 1824 at the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna, it has remained arguably the most popular composition in the classical music canon, thanks largely to its final movement, the “Ode to Joy,” with a text by poet Friedrich Schiller.

But Beethoven’s music has become something much more than popular. With its expansive length, mold-busting design, and the inclusion of solo singers and chorus, he was proposing nothing less than a philosophy for humanity.

Beethoven, the composer-philosopher, was a man who suffered more than we can imagine and yet he retained optimism and a sense of hope that we can admire and even envy. He believed wholeheartedly in the goodness of humanity, the power of love, joy, unity, tolerance and peace to overcome and endure.


Celebrity Interviews: Fashion Designer Calvin Klein (Oxford Video)

An iconic American designer, Klein has defined the last half century of fashion with his visionary minimalist design philosophy, characterised by a dedication to simplicity, comfort, and elegance. In this time, he has transformed his clothing line into a multi-million dollar global lifestyle empire, spanning ready-to-wear, fragrances, furniture, and more. He is now retired, and recently published a survey of his legendary career.


New Innovative Products: Portable “LaserPecker Pro” Engraves Almost Anything Automatically

LaserPecker Pro is upgraded with an auto-adjusting support stand that sets up and focuses in seconds. All you have to do is put the engraving target on the spot. The built-in 98ab50716ef1fc675eb017acccf35336_originalsensors of the stand will measure the distance between the laser generator and the target and automatically adjust the height to make sure the focal point is the correct distance from the surface of the object.

Before engraving, LaserPecker Pro will first show the planned trajectory of the pattern by projecting a guide laser on the target surface. Users can easily adjust the size, position, and the rotation angle of the pattern based on the preview trajectory. Once satisfied with the pattern, just press the button to burn it in!

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Top Restaurants: Sydney’s “Firedoor” Leads Fiery “Australian BBQ” Trend

From a New York Times online review:

Lennox Hastie Chef of Firedoor Photo by Con Poulos New York Times“Australian barbecue” is not, however, what Lennox Hastie, the chef at Firedoor, would use to describe his own cooking. Nor is it a term that’s been used much by anyone to describe any type of cooking. Here, the word “barbecue” is generally synonymous with the American term “cookout,” and, much like the cookout, it remains an integral part of Australia’s national identity.

Firedoor, which opened in 2015, is a prime example. Wagyu with Onion at Firedoor Photo by Con Poulos New York TimesThe kitchen is powered entirely by wood — there are no electric or gas ovens, burners or microwaves. Mr. Hastie came to this style after working five years at Asador Etxebarri in the Basque Country, where the chef Victor Arguinzoniz cooks local ingredients over fire using multiple types of wood. Mr. Hastie takes a similar approach, but with pointedly Australian ingredients.

One of the restaurant’s most thrilling dishes is a whole marron — a large freshwater crayfish native to Western Australia. The marron is grilled, split open and smothered in sea blite, a coastal plant related to samphire, and sunrise lime, a hybrid citrus created by crossing the native Australian finger lime with a calamondin (itself a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat). There are plenty of smoky, charred meats on the menu as well: pork chops, duck hearts and Wagyu all get their turn on one of the many grills.

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Motor Scooter Nostalgia: “1968 Lambretta 125 E” (Classic Driver)

Description from a Wikipedia listing:

1968 Lambretta 125 EAlong with the Vespa, Lambretta was an iconic vehicle of the 1950s and 1960s when they became the adopted vehicle of choice for the UK youth-culture known as Mods. The character Jimmy from the influential scooter movie Quadrophenia rode a Lambretta Li 150 Series 3. Of the 1960s models, the TV (Turismo Veloce), the Special (125 and 150), the SX (Special X) and the GP (Grand Prix) are generally considered the most desirable due to their increased performance and refined look; the “matte black” fittings on the GP model are said to have influenced European car designs throughout the 1970s. These three models came with a front disc brake made by Campagnolo. The TV was the world’s first production two-wheeled vehicle with a front disc brake.

Pictures from Classic Driver:

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Health Study: Death From Heart Disease Four Times Higher In Women With “Poor Exercise Capacity”

From a European Society of Cardiology online release:

European Society of Cardiology ESCThe annual rate of death from cardiovascular disease was nearly four times higher in women with poor, compared to good, exercise capacity (2.2% versus 0.6%). Annual cancer deaths were doubled in patients with poor, compared to good, exercise capacity (0.9% versus 0.4%). The annual rate of death from other causes was more than four times higher in those with poor, compared to good, exercise capacity (1.4% vs. 0.3%).

Women who can exercise vigorously are at significantly lower risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and other causes. The research is presented today at EuroEcho 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1

During a median follow-up of 4.6 years there were 345 cardiovascular deaths, 164 cancer deaths, and 203 deaths from other causes. After adjusting for factors that could influence the relationship, METs were significantly associated with lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes.

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Surveys: 54% Of Baby Boomers Now Own Pets; Dogs & Cats Nearly Equal

From a Yahoo online article:

PetsThe percentage of boomers who own a pet grew from 50% to 54% between 2008 and 2018. Among the oldest boomers — those between 70 and 74 — the percentage of pet owners rose from 41% to 45%. In contrast, the percentage of pet owners between the ages of 18 to 39 dropped from 63% to 61% during that time frame. Among consumers 40-54, the percentage of pet owners held steady at 64%.

So what type of pet reigns supreme among boomers and seniors? Those over 55 appear to see the value in all types of pets, as the percentage of dog owners grew from 27% to 32% and the percentage of cat owners grew from 27% to 33% between 2008 and 2018. The percentage of owners of pets other than dogs and cats also increased going from 16% to 24% in the 10-year period.

Among boomers specifically, the percentage of dog owners has risen from 34% to 38% in the last decade, and the research showed that boomers are more likely to own dogs than other pets. Boomers are also getting new pets as opposed to simply aging with the pets they already owned. In fact, the data show that 1.4 million boomers own dogs that are less than one year old and another 5.2 million have dogs between the ages of 1 and 3.

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Photography Insider: A Collector’s Guide To Ansel Adams (Christie’s)

From a Christie’s online article:

Christie's LogoAdams’ ‘visualisation’ strategy marked a shift away from Pictorialism, a much more manipulated photographic style, which had influenced his early work. His desire for sharper focus and deeper tone and contrast (he called it ‘an austere and blazing poetry of the real’) led to him becoming a leading figure in pure — or straight — photography. 


Arguably no other photographer of his era knew more about photography than Adams. He wrote ten technical manuals on the discipline, and even advised major figures like Strand and Edward Weston, his friend and fellow West Coast photographer.

He also consulted for Polaroid and Hasselblad. Without such technical mastery he would not have been able to react with such immediacy to the quickly changing conditions of landscape.

One of his most famous works, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico1941, needed snap judgements of immense sophistication to capture the momentary effect of sunset light on the foreground, and establish a balanced tone and focus with the distant peaks, evanescent clouds and darkening sky.

Top New Sci-Fi Shows: “The Expanse – Season 4” Is “Real World Space Physics” (Science Magazine)

From a Science Magazine online article:

Science MagazineOn 13 December, Amazon Prime will air the fourth season of The Expanse, a hardboiled space drama renowned for its working-class characters and real-world space physics. Showrunner Naren Shankar is part of the reason the science checks out. The veteran writer and producer for programs such as Star Trek: The Next GenerationFarscape, and the police procedural CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, has a doctorate in applied physics and electrical engineering.

 When I got the script for the The Expanse, the pilot, I was, like, “Wow, this is a very different kind of a show.” Because they embraced all of the things that most science fiction shows run away from: the fact that you don’t have weight unless your ship is accelerating, the fact that communication in space is not instantaneous.

Shankar chatted with Science about why he feels it’s important to have a realistic sci-fi show, and how television work is like the scientific peer-review process.

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Art History Videos: A Look At “How Van Gogh Became Van Gogh” (PBS)

An exhibit at South Carolina’s Columbia Museum of Art shows Vincent van Gogh in a new light. “Van Gogh and His Inspirations” presents the younger, wayward artist who learned from looking hard at the world — and the work of artists around him. A private collection of his inspirations is made public for the first time and presented alongside a dozen original van Gogh works. Jeffrey Brown reports.