Microsoft Joins The Book-Scanning Race

Microsoft is joining the online digital book-scanning race. But “instead of forging its own path in the book-digitizing business — a wilderness of tricky copyright laws and technical challenges — MSN is joining a group already at work in the area. The division will align with the Open Content Alliance, which is backed by Yahoo! and aims to initially focus on scanning and digitizing classic books not bound by copyright restrictions.”

Miami PAC Selling Off Name

The over-budget behind-schedule Miami Performing Arts Center is negotiating to sell naming rights to the Center for $20 million. “Representatives are in negotiations with a corporation and two individuals interested in buying naming rights for the downtown facility that’s due to be completed Aug. 4 and open two months later.”

Remembering Ballet’s Color Barrier

Raven Wilkinson, who joined Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955, was “not the first black ballet dancer to be given a regular post; that honor belongs to Janet Collins, hired by the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in 1951. Nor is she the most famous of such pioneers. Arthur Mitchell originated important roles in several seminal Balanchine ballets in the 1950s and ’60s, then founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem. But Wilkinson was the first black ballet dancer to tour the nation – not only to towns in the east, west and north but also to St. Louis, Macon and Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C., and Hattiesburg, Miss.”

Cultural Treaty – America Against The World

Last week 148 countries voted to approve a UNESCO Treaty on Cultural Diversity. The U.S. and Israel were the only no votes. “One major problem for the United States in the 21st century will surely be our lack of ability to grapple with the proliferation of international instruments and regimes, like the Treaty of Cultural Diversity. These treaties are key tools for those who want to constrain American influence in the world. In UNESCO, the United States was at a huge disadvantage, as was our hard-working Ambassador Louise Oliver, who fought heroically to change the result.”

Acropolis Museum Underway

“The long-awaited and much-delayed Acropolis Museum will be ready by the end of next year, the government said yesterday, while insisting that it would keep up its efforts toward the return of the Elgin Marbles so they can be housed in the new building. Construction of the museum, a few hundred meters from the Acropolis, was meant to have been finished in time for last year’s Athens Olympics.”

The Lolita Before The “Lolita”?

Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” is 50 years old this year. But a researcher has dug up “a 1916 short story by the aristocratic German writer Heinz von Eschwege (1890-1951), a German newspaper journalist (and descendant of the Grimm Brothers) who wrote under the pen name Heinz von Lichberg and later became a Nazi Party propagandist. The story involved a cultivated middle-aged man bewitched by a preteen beauty named Lolita. It appeared as one of a collection of 15 tales published by Falken Verlag in Darmstadt under the title, ‘The Accursed Giocanda’.”

Shocking, Sure, But Will It Still Be Funny?

When Aaron McGruder’s blunt and unapologetic comic strip, The Boondocks, hit newspapers in the late 1990s, it sparked enough outrage to make even Garry Trudeau flinch. Now, the strip is migrating to TV (albeit late-night cable,) and McGruder has obviously refused to tone down his inflammatory style for wide distribution. The hope, of course, is that Boondocks will be an underground hit with the disenfranchised left. “But can underage conspiracy theories, racial paranoia and offensive stereotypes come across as funny on television? Can you really say the n-word so many times and still get laughs, shock or outrage?”