How Wars Destroy Physical History

“In times of conflict, civilian homes are invariably singled out for attack. In recent decades, whole villages have been eradicated in various parts of the world, from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to Rwanda and Darfur. But homes are not the only type of building that has been targeted. Countless libraries, museums, churches and monuments have also been destroyed, representing an incalculable loss to the world’s cultural patrimony.”

78 Ideas That Mattered This Year

The New York Times Magazine surveys the intellectual landscape for its annual list: “Once we have thrown back all the innovations that don’t meet our exacting standards, we find ourselves with the following alphabetical catch: 78 notions, big and small, grand and petty, serious and silly, ingenious and. . . well, whatever you call it when you tattoo an advertisement on your forehead for money.”

Music Critic Porter Takes To The Stage

Andrew Porter “is about to direct his own first production of Mozart’s opera, doubtless to the surprise of many of his admirers. Porter has not built his international reputation as a director but as a music critic, arguably the most widely respected of his generation. To those from whom he has drawn blood, it might seem the Canadian Opera Company has invited the fox into the chicken coop.”

The Howard Stern Test – Satellite Radio On the Line

“The move from terrestrial to satellite raises numerous questions, among them: How many of Stern’s estimated 12 million daily listeners will pay $12.95 per month to continue their Howard habit, and will the FCC bow to growing political pressure to rein in cable and satellite content? But one thing is clear: Whether you see Stern as a trend-setting revolutionary or an aging schlockmeister who wants to sink even lower without FCC interference, his shows on Sirius will stamp the largely virginal medium with new benchmarks and standards for taste and decency.”

In An On-Demand World… More Choice On Cable?

“Consumers expect customized selections in everything from iPod playlists to on-demand news. So no one should be surprised that a battle is brewing over cable-TV offerings that is drawing in consumer activists, Christian groups, children’s advocates, Congress, cable companies and those concerned about whether government should exert any control over cable content.”

The Congressman And His Movie Script

California Republican Dana Rohrabacher has written a screen play. “I said [to my friend], ‘What do I write about?’ ” Rohrabacher recalled. “He said, ‘Dana, write about what you like to do. What do you like to do?’ I said, ‘Well, I like to go down to Mexico, drink tequila and chase women.’ So he goes, ‘Well, write a story that includes going down to Mexico, drinking tequila and chasing women.’ And I said, ‘Why don’t we make it a treasure story?’ “

The New Istanbul Modern – City Of Ferment?

“The Istanbul Modern’s chief curator, Rosa Martínez, calls the museum’s opening ‘a strong aesthetic, social and political statement’ about Turkey’s will ‘to live together with the other European countries.’ Indeed, the plan to build a contemporary museum in the city’s heart had stalled for years until Erdogan’s government cleared the way. Can art in Istanbul remain immune to political pressure or even criticize the status quo? Or will this art be co-opted by political and economic forces?”

Berlin’s Rattle Effect

“Simon Rattle — or ‘Sir Simon,’ as the Germans love to call him — is revolutionizing Berlin, both the Philharmonic and the city’s musical life. The brass may gleam as brightly as ever, the winds glisten and the strings shine. But after three Rattle seasons, the Berlin Philharmonic is a different band than it has ever been, with a less defined sound, a much broader repertory, a new relationship to its community and a new spring to its step. Not everyone is happy.”