Archive for September, 2007

Interview: Carolina Pizzo (in Spanish)

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Photo: Carolina PizzoLa segunda edición del Festival Internacional de Tango Ciudad de La Plata se llevará a cabo en la ciudad de La Plata -capital de la provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina- del 14 al 16 de septiembre de 2007.

Carolina Pizzo es bailarina profesional de tango y está a cargo de la dirección general del festival. Carolina habló con KadmusArts sobre sus comienzos en el baile de tango, y nos contó cómo surgió la idea de organizar un festival en La Plata, a sólo 52 kilómetros de la ciudad de Buenos Aires. También habló sobre la milonga o tango tradicional y el tango electrónico o nuevo, y nos explicó por qué el abrazo de tango es algo tan fascinante para los extranjeros en todo el mundo.

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A Good Computer Virus

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

What if a computer game could save the world? Really — save the real world.

A recent article in Lancet Infectious Diseases examined the implications of a virus released into the World of Warcraft game. The virus became a pandemic.

The virulent and contagious element, Corrupted Blood, was introduced in 2005 by Blizzard Entertainment as an extra challenge to players. However, soon after it was introduced they had to take it off the site as the deadly virus spread too far and too deep.

One player, Eric Lofgren, got in touch with his professor Nina Fefferman, a medical epidemiologist, affiliated with Princeton, Rutgers, and Tufts universities. They tracked the implications of the outbreak and spread of the virus across the game, which has almost nine million players, to understand the ramifications of players’ behaviors, travels, and even interactions with pets.

Their research has now been added to a growing body of work to better the modeling of human behavior in a pandemic’s deadly development.

There was a group of players that put themselves at risk to protect others; then, there was the group that seemed to enjoy infecting others. There was also the “stupid behavior” described by Fetterman as “I’ll just get close and get a quick look and it won’t affect me.” While the result might be fairly characterized as “stupid”, the impulse behavior is surprisingly normal and might have the most impact in a pandemic — curiosity.

Fefferman is now working with Blizzard to model disease outbreaks in other popular games, following on research by Ran Balicer to use this kind of role-playing to understand outbreaks such as SARS.

Jeremy Bailenson and Nick Yee of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab study social interactions in virtual reality worlds. Apparently, it is amazing how much this parallels our behavior in the real world.

Think about how important this work — and playing — is in trying to predict what the next pandemic will be, and how it will affect us.

Then, think about how our medical and scientific models will be based on someone who plays a lot of computer games.

Yet again, the children of today will save the world of tomorrow.

- Bill Reichblum

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Interview: Carolina Simón (English Translation)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Photo: Carolina SimonCarolina Simón is the General Director of the Tango Dance World Championship, which has been held in Buenos Aires since 2003. In its fifth edition, which took place on August 16-26, 2007, the championship attracted more than 100.000 visitors, and more than 450 couples came to compete from 154 different cities from around the world.

Carolina talked with KadmusArts about the structure of the championship, the jury, and the shows and activities that took place druring the event. She also discussed the importance of making the promotion of tango a state policy, with the goal of preserving Argentina’s national heritage. Finally, she talked about upcoming tango events in Argentina, such as Tango Day in December 2007 and the Buenos Aires Tango Festival in February 2008.

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Interview: Carolina Simón (in Spanish)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Photo: Carolina SimonCarolina Simón es la Directora General del Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango, que se ha realizado en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires desde el año 2003. Para la quinta edición — que se llevó a cabo del 16 al 26 de agosto de 2007 — el campeonato reunió a más de 100.000 personas, y a más de 450 parejas que vinieron a competir desde 154 diferentes ciudades del mundo.

Carolina habló con KadmusArts sobre la estructura del campeonato, el jurado, y los shows y actividades que se ofrecieron durante el evento. También habló de la importancia de lograr que la promoción del tango sea una política de estado, para asípoder preservar el patrimonio nacional. Finalmente, Carolina nos contó cuáles serán los próximos eventos de tango en la Argentina: el Día del Tango en diciembre de 2007 y el Festival Buenos Aires Tango en febrero de 2008.

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Moralists Come Out of the Closet

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Photo by Tom Davis — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

The conservative press in America is having a field day with two stories, this week, about cultural icons of the left: Arthur Miller and Pete Seeger.

Miller, whose plays center on the common man to question the fairness of a society focused on business and success, is certainly one of the great playwrights of the twentieth century.

Seeger’s songs and performances helped rally generations for causes of social justice and civil rights.

The September issue of Vanity Fair magazine features a story on Arthur Miller’s treatment of his son, Daniel, who was born with Down syndrome. Born in 1966, Daniel was the second child Miller had with his third wife, Inge Morath. The couple institutionalized Daniel a few weeks after his birth. Miller apparently had very little connection to his son throughout his life, and made no mention of him in his autobiography, or even with close friends. Daniel’s story became public when Arthur Miller’s will included the same share to Daniel as to his other children. Receiving a large inheritance triggered the state of Connecticut to seek reimbursement for Daniel’s public care when he was a minor.

The New York Sun carried Ron Radosh’s story about his recent correspondence with Seeger. Radosh has known Seeger for a long time, even studied banjo with him when he was young. Radosh had written to Seeger when he wasn’t included in a documentary on Seeger: he wanted a platform for his views attacking Seeger’s earlier blind support for communism. Seeger wrote Radosh, now a historian and fellow at the very conservative Hoover Institute, to agree that he was wrong to be silent on the acts of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.

And so the conservative press sweeps in to question why we should continue to see Miller’s plays or listen to Seeger’s songs now that we know that they were less than perfect men. As their argument goes, unless the artist leads a perfect life, we should not hear or see the value in their work — especially when it questions our own values.

Given the heat and the vitriol, you would think that the conservative press thinks that artists must be as important as political leaders. If so, that’s definitely good news for the arts.

There is, though, a crucial difference between a politician and an artist: An artist questions society; a politician makes laws that rule society.

What is not in question, much to the disappointment of these critics, is that the work of Arthur Miller and Pete Seeger will continue to astonish and inspire audiences around the world for a long time.

These two figures have been joined together for a long time in American history. Miller and Seeger were both indicted for contempt of Congress for refusing to name names in the McCarthy era of personal destruction for leftist affiliations. What’s clear, again, is that many in the conservative political circles have never forgiven Miller’s and Seeger’s principled stands for freedom of expression and association.

Even if you want to take the low road of questioning each man, it seems as though they both tried to overcome their own sense of failings. Seeger has even written a song, which he included in his letter to Radosh. The song, “Big Joe Blues” includes the lyrics:

He ruled with an iron hand.
He put an end to the dreams
Of so many in every land.
He had a chance to make
A brand new start for the
     human race.
Instead he set it back
Right in the same nasty place.

As in all good stories, this one too has the dramaturgical advantage of characters’ actions disguising a larger truth. At the same time these stories broke, there was also the Republican Senator, who had been a leading voice in his party to penalize gays and lesbians and criminalize homosexuality, caught soliciting sex in a men’s bathroom.

Is there a moral?

Maybe, we should trust artists’ questions more than politicians’ answers.

- Bill Reichblum

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