Judd Done Before He Starts in Kuala Lumpur

Conductor James Judd’s contract as the new music director of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra has been terminated a year before he was to officially take up the position. Neither side is saying what caused the split. Judd, who is currently music director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, also led the now-defunct Florida Philharmonic before resigning during that orchestra’s much-publicized battle between musicians and management.

Hollywood’s Comix Mania

Comic book heroes are hot in Hollywood these days. “Hollywood is finally recognizing comics as literary material in their own right. That’s why we’ve got deals happening for things that may not be franchises like ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Batman’ but are books that may sell only a few thousand copies a month. Still, these books tell a great story that will resonate with a wider audience.”

Science Expressed As Art (It’s Easier That Way)

“Most of us have seen the cyclonic swirl of water running down a drain, but what about the turbulent rush of the jet stream or the dance of an electromagnetic field? John Belcher and colleagues at the MIT Center for Educational Computer Initiatives developed a computer program that turns the mathematical descriptions of these phenomena, technically known as vector fields, into visual patterns showing the fields frozen in time. Then he took the program a step further, allowing students in his introductory-level class on electricity and magnetism to design their own field patterns.”

Cracking Down On Dentist Music (oooooh!)

Dentists in Canada are required to pay license fees if they play music from their iPods through their offices (and Big Music is enforcing it). When dentists heard about it, they wondered, “Is this for real? Some were bemused, some were, I guess you could say, upset. We were just caught off guard.’ Those offices that pipe music through speakers are now paying about $100 to $200 per year, depending on the square footage of the office. Dentists do not need to pay a fee if they play AM or FM radio in separate rooms for individual use.”

Three Antiquities Thieves Convicted In Guatemala

Guatemala has convicted three men for “stealing an eighth-century Mayan altar from an archaeological site and then threatening to kill anyone who told the authorities. The trial was Guatemala’s first criminal prosecution of antiquities thieves and the first of its kind in Latin America. Archaeologists and prosecutors hope the verdict and the prison sentences for the three men will have a powerful deterrent effect on the looting of the country’s many Mayan sites.”

Keeping Track Of Books (Readers Too?)

Libraries have begun tagging books with high-tech tags to better keep track of their collections. “With their encased microchips, RFID tags can transmit information to devices designed to pick up the signals and interpret them. Some privacy advocates worry that a day will come when a library book’s tag could broadcast information about a patron to anyone nearby with a tag-reading device — stalkers, snoops, corporate marketers, or G-men.”

Europe’s Museums Spruce Up For 21st Century

“Ambitious new plans for the future are transforming the dusty halls of some of Europe’s most revered galleries. In Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain, museums are scrambling to create bigger, more-dazzling exhibition spaces, smart new restaurants and shops, study centers and inviting public areas. The push reflects a shift in how the public regards its artistic institutions. ‘People want more than the old-style museum. We are driven to become more an arm of the entertainment and education industries rather than the academic institutions we used to be’.”

Radio Giant Cuts Ad Time On Stations

Radio giant Clear Channel is cutting back on ads on some of its stations. “This is not because CC has become community-minded. It’s because, like a lot of mainstream media (including newspapers), they’re losing customers, especially younger ones, to ‘new media’ – cable and satellite television, the Internet, MP3, satellite radio, iPod.”

The Art That Changed Minds…

“Many artworks have sparked ideas, shaped sensibilities. The list of mind-changers in our history is a long, familiar one, from Machiavelli’s The Prince and Monet’s Impression: Sunrise to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. But to have a direct, political effect – provoke a war, shape a law, inspire a cause – is much rarer.” Here are six works of art that had immediate impact on their times…