Archive for December, 2008

Unexpected Bounties

Though the wealth of the world may be evaporating from the places we are accustomed to finding it — such as the the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which mismanaged its finances so badly it now faces an audit and possible takeover — we may simply need to look to other places to find riches; like Lebanon, whose banks are flush with cash during the global recession to the bafflement of economists worldwide; or Syria, where recording artist Porest goes to stock up on the (pop) cultural affluence that Iraq’s northwestern neighbor offers; or, you can do as Somalian pirates do, and find it on an oil tanker that’s longer than the Chrysler Building set on its side. Happy hunting.

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American Education

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education released a damning report yesterday on the affordability, or lack thereof, of higher education in the United States. The cost of tuition has risen 439 pecent since 1982, while the median family income has risen only 147 percent, after inflation (see the NY Times and Washington Post); meanwhile, parents, pastors and politicians in Chicago fight to reform Illinois state education policy, under which the state with the nation’s fourth-highest GDP ranks 49th in public school funding; and the senior vice president and publisher of adult trade books at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one of the nation’s largest publisher of school books, has abruptly resigned after the company announced last week they would stop acquiring manuscripts in the adult trade division.

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The Oscars, Inside and Out

Among subjects receiving attention during this year’s Oscar season are the effects some prominent films might have (or might have had) on the world outside the red carpet: Slate wonders if an earlier release of Gus Van Sant’s Milk would have effectively encouraged California voters to turn down Proposition 8; the Chicago Tribune hopes that Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road will resurrect interest in Richard Yates’ outstanding novel from which the movie was adapted. Meanwhile, New York Times notes that while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is becoming more artistic and elite, the hubbub surrounding its awards is as silly as ever.

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