culture

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Italy to Give All 18-Year-Olds Money to Spend on Art, Books

'Beauty is more tenacious than barbarism'

(Newser) - Italy thinks "cultural consumption" is important, and it's putting its money where its mouth is, to the tune of $330 million. The country is moving forward with its pledge to give every kid turning 18 this year in Italy €500 (roughly $560) to spend on "cultural... More »

Word of the Year: Culture

Merriam-Webster unveils its choice for 2014

(Newser) - A nation, a workplace, an ethnicity, a passion, an outsized personality. The people who comprise these things, who fawn or rail against them, are behind Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year: culture. The word joins Oxford Dictionaries' "vape," a darling of the e-cigarette movement, and "exposure,... More »

Top 10 US Cities for Culture

Seattle is No. 1, at least on a per-capita basis

(Newser) - How would Columbus, Ohio, outrank New York City in a list of the top cities for culture and recreation in the US? When the words "per capita" are involved. New York may have 2,693 places dedicated to those pursuits, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Central Park,... More »

Quit Calling Things 'Guilty Pleasures'

Jennifer Szalai: Drop the artifice; you're not impressing anyone

(Newser) - If you want to feel guilty, fine. If you want to feel pleasure, more power to you. But if you want to toss around the phrase "guilty pleasure," then Jennifer Szalai requests that you resist the urge. In a New Yorker essay about how much she hates the... More »

Word Choices Show We're Me-Centric, Less Moral

And those long-term trends should worry left and right: David Brooks

(Newser) - Lexicologists poring over a Google database of books and word usage suggest three general traits of the past half-century, writes David Brooks in the New York Times . Society has become more individualistic (with words and phrases such as "self" and "I come first" on the rise), less moral... More »

Introducing the 'World's Dullest Culture'

The Baining of Papua New Guinea ban kids from playing

(Newser) - A Papua New Guinea group known to anthropologists as "the dullest people on Earth" do everything they can to discourage children from playing, writes Peter Gray at Psychology Today . The Baining—who have caused at least one frustrated anthropologist to give up studying them—are small-scale farmers almost entirely... More »

Author: Romney Utterly Misread My Book

Jared Diamond says candidate misquoted Guns, Germs, and Steel

(Newser) - In making his recent controversial comments about Israel's cultural superiority , Mitt Romney cited Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, which he said argued that "physical characteristics of the land" like iron ore deposits determined nations' economic success. "That is so different from what my book actually... More »

Binging on TV Is Highbrow, Not Pandemic

Meaghan Daum on why it's OK, and why we care

(Newser) - When Slate intern Jim Pagels wrote last week that "TV binge-watching is a pandemic" that ruins "the integrity of the art form," condemnation rained down from some of the mightiest media outlets in the land. How dare he! We are, after all "in an oft-noted '... More »

'Long' Countries Protect Languages Better: Study

Jared Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel' inspires quirky study

(Newser) - Speaking an indigenous language in Chile or Italy? You're in luck. In Turkey or Russia? Not so much. So say researchers at Stanford University, who studied 147 countries and concluded that those with a wide west-east axis (as opposed to a long north-south one) tend to eliminate smaller languages... More »

We Don't Hate the Rich, We Hate the 'New Upper Class'

Charles Murray says this powerful group calls the shots in the US

(Newser) - Americans see tensions over income inequality growing, but Charles Murray thinks they've got it all wrong. "Income inequality isn't really the problem," the libertarian author writes in Time . "A new upper class is the problem," a group denoted not by its wealth, but by... More »

Christmas Bombings Spark Unrest in Nigeria

Some fear escalating violence ahead of elections

(Newser) - State police are swarming into central Nigeria following a series of Christmas church bombings that killed 38, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Following Saturday's explosions, angry youths barricaded roads and attacked people passing by yesterday, and houses and a truck also were set ablaze. UN chief Ban Ki-moon blasted the... More »

When Did Halloween Turn Sexy?

It all started in Greenwich Village in the '70s

(Newser) - Ever wondered when Halloween shifted from spooky to sexy? Somewhere in the 1970s, explains Juliet Lapidos for Slate. New York’s Greenwich Village launched its annual Halloween parade in 1973, an event that quickly became popular among the local gay community, who largely attended in drag and other sexy outfits.... More »

'Cupcakists' Find Happiness in a Simple Pastry

Cultural movement extols the virtues of butter and frosting

(Newser) - Johnny Cupcakes operates stores that sell cupcake-themed merchandise—shirts and stickers bearing a skull-and-crossbones logo with a cupcake instead of a skull—but not cupcakes. Johnny Cupcakes sells the idea of cupcakes, a symbol of an uncomplicated, untouchable childhood pleasure, safe from the stresses of adult life, writes Jennie Yabroff.... More »

We Need More Armstrongs, Fewer Jackos

Apollo astronauts exemplify what US celebs should be

(Newser) - It’s unfortunate that American celebrity typically comes in the form of “uninteresting, detestable, loud, or unaccomplished people” like Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton, writes Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal. What society needs is more heroes like the Apollo astronauts—celebrities with “the right stuff,”... More »

Kindles, iPods Spell Tragic End to Snobbery

How can we show off taste when it's onscreen?

(Newser) - On the subway or in a cafe, taking a peek at what others are reading has long provided a convenient way to judge them on the spot: a mindless crime-novel fan? A Joyce-toting member of the intellectual elite? But with the Kindle, we’re left guessing, observes James Wolcott in ... More »

Who Killed Dignity? Ask Sanford, Jacko, Palin ...

Today's celebs would make George Washington blush

(Newser) - Carrying himself with honor and restraint was of utmost importance to George Washington and Americans for generations afterward—but for today’s public figures, the premium on dignity has faded, says David Brooks in the New York Times. Washington’s conduct “during times of temptation” made him “a... More »

'He-Cession' Is Death Knell for Male Dominance

Recession has sped end of 'era of male dominance'

(Newser) - Macho men caused this recession, and they’re going to pay the price: for the first time in history, they’ll cease to be the dominant force in society, writes Reihan Salam in Foreign Policy. Signs of the turning tide can already be seen in the US, as male-dominated industries... More »

Even as a Kid, Michael Changed the Game

Black community adopted him as pioneer

(Newser) - Michael Jackson took Hollywood with Ben in 1972, at a time when few black Americans had shaped the industry. “Little Michael landed upon the mindset of film-hungry black America when its citizenry was starved for identity on the big screen,” writes Wil Haygood in the Washington Post. The... More »

Italy's $4M 'Michelangelo' Triggers Furor

(Newser) - Did Michelangelo actually create a small (16-inch) wooden carving of a crucified Jesus or did the Italian government get taken for a $4 million ride? Some experts believe passionately that the piece, now on exhibit in Naples, is the work of the master. But as the BBC reports, others blast... More »

Backward 'Brain Drain' Calls Indians Home From US

Economy exerts pull on well-educated thirtysomethings

(Newser) - While much of the world suffers economic meltdown, India’s economy is comparatively healthy—and that may be reversing a longstanding “brain drain” of Indians to American shores, Sandip Roy reports for NPR. “It’s the hottest topic at potluck dinners all over Silicon Valley—which friend or... More »

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