Did The Chinese Really Discover America?

Gavin Menzies’ new book claiming that Chinese discovered America 70 years before Columbus landed is getting lots of press. But does the research hold up? “Sadly, many observers concur that accuracy matters little to publishing houses, especially when fudged facts are almost guaranteed to generate controversy, and therefore sales. ‘The publishing industry’s gullibility is boundless and its devotion to the bottom line endless, so if they can maintain their fealty to P.T. Barnum and put one over on the public, they’ll do so without losing a wink’s worth of sleep’.”

Dancing In Baghdad – A Ballet School Struggles On

Founded in 1969, the Baghdad School for Music and Fine Arts has had a struggle. Once its students were the country’s middle class. Now, only a few handfuls of young girls attend ballet classes. “Dancing these days has become a kind of escape from the grim realities of everyday life. In our situation ballet is a luxury … The girls dream of a better life and a better Iraq.”

Art Cover Provokes Reader Protests

“While a handful of callers were supportive, the vast majority complained about the cover, which was designed to accompany a feature about the increasing nastiness of TV entertainment. Although the cover was designed to provoke debate about the coarseness of TV and of modern language, several readers took issue with the notion the cover design constituted art.”

Nazi Heir Art Collection To Open In Berlin

The heir to a Nazi arms supplier has canceled plans to build a museum in Zurich to display his large art collection after protests there. Instead, it will be shown in Berlin next year. “The 2,500-piece collection was assembled by Friedrich-Christian Flick, a grandson of an industrial baron who helped arm Nazi Germany’s war machine. The collection includes works by contemporary artists such as Bruce Nauman, On Kawara and Nam June Paik. It is to go on display in 2004 for seven years in a downtown Berlin exhibition space.”

The Literary Loss Between Page And Screen

“Literature has always been a poisoned chalice for filmmakers. It’s irresistible because it offers great stories and characters, but it often makes geographic demands that translate into huge budgets. Worse, it covers psychological and intellectual territory that nobody has ever really figured out how to translate into movies.” This is especially tough in a country like Canada. Though Canadian writers have scored big internationally in recent years, getting movies made of their work is especially difficult.

Art Asking To Be Sued

A new exhibition in New York shows artists who have purposely sampled and copied other artists’ work. “All of the pieces either have run afoul of copyright owners in the past or could be expected to in the future.” It makes the point that current copyright laws are overly restrictive of artists who use other artists work in their own.