Complexity Complex

Complexity theory is “the ultimate of interdisciplinary fields.” It “has blossomed into a broad movement of scientists searching for universal patterns that occur at all levels of nature and society when local interactions give rise to new collective behaviors. They want to know, for example, how millions of amoebas swarm into a self-directed slime mold, how a trillion-celled organism develops from a single egg, and how markets arise from the interactions of individual human beings. Complexity theorists want to reproduce these patterns with computer models, in order to gain a kind of insight that equations or statistics supposedly cannot match. What’s more, they want to see both the forest and the trees, by viewing big patterns through the local rules of interaction that produce them.”

Abu Ghraib – New Front In The Culture Wars?

Is what happened with the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib the fault of sleazy American pop culture? Frank Rich says some are making the argument. “If porn or MTV or Howard Stern can be said to have induced a “few bad apples” in one prison to misbehave, then everyone else in the chain of command, from the commander-in-chief down, is off the hook. If the culture war can be cross-wired with the actual war, then the buck will stop not at the Pentagon or the White House but at the Paris Hilton video, or “Mean Girls,” or maybe “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

Boston Dance Center Dream On The Line

Dan Yonah Ben-Dror Marshall had a dream to open a community dance center in the Boston area. “With a lot of help from friends and family, he opened the Brookline Community Center for the Arts in Coolidge Corner early last year. With six studios, provisions for live music and performances, and about 100 teachers on board, he thought this one-stop shopping for dance would sell itself in no time. One year later, the center is struggling to stay afloat, and the dream could very well die on July 15.”

The New Yorker Fiction Formula

A Princeton student has figured out a formula to determine what gets a story chosen to be published in the New Yorker magazine. She “read 442 stories printed in The New Yorker from Oct. 5, 1992, to Sept. 17, 2001, and built a substantial database. She then constructed a series of rococo mathematical tests to discern, among other things, whether certain fiction editors at the magazine had a specific impact on the type of fiction that was published, the sex of authors and the race of characters. The study was long on statistics and short on epiphanies: one main conclusion was that male editors generally publish male authors who write about male characters who are supported by female characters.”

Split Shift – Levine Prepares For Boston

James Levine’s job at the Metropolitan Opera will change as he head to Boston. “What is the prognosis now that he is about to take over the music directorship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra? His title at the Met is being notched down from artistic director to music director, an acknowledgment that he will be away in Boston too much (12 weeks of concerts in addition to tours) to maintain the involvement he has had at the Met for more than 30 years. At the least, he will be less present to press for his vision with the executive committee of the board.”

San Jose Orchestra Looks Forward To New Hall

Symphony Silicon Valley is two years old. This fall the orchestra moves into a newly renovated theatre in San Jose, armed with high hopes the building will add excitement. “The new orchestra is fighting to establish a persona and an audience, trying to stay within budget and to keep its musicians working. With so few performances its first two seasons, it’s stressful. ‘It feels like we’re starting from scratch each time’.”