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Friday, February 27, 2009
 Folk music collectors 
Reading a good article in New Yorker about old time folk music and the people who tour the country recording the few people who still know the old tunes, Our Far-Flung Correspondents, The Last Verse: Is there any folk music still out there? by Burkhard Bilger:
The rediscovery of folk music, in the early nineteen-fifties, was an almost mystical experience for musicians of Rosenbaum's age. The folk records of the twenties and thirties had long been out of print, their musicians forgotten, and the Lomaxes' recordings were mostly moldering in archives. The McCarthy hearings were on television, duck-and-cover drills in the classroom, and the frictionless pop of Perry Como on the radio. And then, in 1952, Harry Smith released his "Anthology of American Folk Music."

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Friday, February 13, 2009
 Tour of California starts tomorrow 
Many of the top professional cycling teams will be represented at this year's Tour of California, including the Team Astana managed by Johan Bruyneel and a strong roster that includes Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer. The race will be broadcast live on Versus.

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 Boycott South Carolina? 
As we noted in the FABB blog, South Carolina Senator DeMint wants to ban all funding for bike projects in the stimulus package. This is a very mean-spirited swipe at bicyclists. As Congressman Earl Blumenauer wrote, some Republicans don't get it. Bicycling should be a non-paritisan issue, supported by everyone as a non-polluting and healthy alternative to people using their cars for the 50% or so of trips less than 3 miles.

Blumenauer notes, there are many reasons why people should and do ride their bikes to work:
More than 50% of working Americans live less than 5 miles from work, an easy bicycle commute. Already more than 490,000 Americans bike to work; in Portland, 8% of downtown workers are bicycle commuters. Individually, they are saving $1,825 in auto-related costs, reducing their carbon emissions by 128 pounds per year, saving 145 gallons of gasoline, avoiding 50 hours of being stuck in traffic, burning 9,000 calories, reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke by 50%, and enjoying 14% fewer claims on their health insurance.
Maybe one way for bicyclists to send a message to DeMint is to boycott his state. However, he would likely welcome such a boycott. Maybe the opposite should occur, a protest ride by thousands of bicyclists to his offices in Charleston, Greenville, and Columbia. Maybe George Hincapie, who lives in Greenville, could lead that ride. I'm sure there are many cyclists at University of South Carolina who would participate.

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Friday, February 06, 2009
 Online Art History 
smARThistory appears to be a very good online art history resource:

smARThistory.org is a free multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional and static art history textbook. Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker began smARThistory in 2005 by creating a blog featuring free audio guides in the form of podcasts for use in The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Soon after, we embedded the audio files in our online survey courses. The response from our students was so positive that we decided to create a multi-media survey of art history web-book. We created audios and videos about works of art found in standard art history survey texts, organized the files stylistically and chronologically, and added text and still images.

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Monday, February 02, 2009
 Bicycling in Paris 
Back from a week-long trip to Paris to visit museums and try out the bike sharing system Velib. Had a wonderful time visiting the Musée Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, Musée National Picasso, Centre Pompidou, Musée national Eugène Delacroix, and the usual Paris sights.

Velib is wonderful. We purchased a 7-day subscription for €5, about $6.50. If your trip is less than 30 minutes, it's free. Since there are bike stations located throughout the city, spaced about every 300 meters, it's feasible to use the system on a regular basis and pay very little. I timed most of my trips to last for 30 minutes, and if I needed to go further, I would just walk to the next station and ride for another 30 minutes. If you leave a bike and want to take another from the same station, there's a 5 minute wait.

We rode to Fat Tire Bike Tours to use their Internet station, purchase phone cards, and speak English. Knowing no French was a definite disadvantage during the trip. One can get around and do most everything without knowing the language, but with me there was always a feeling of uneasiness when doing most simple, everyday tasks.

We also experienced a typical Paris scene; striking workers. Members of eight labor unions went on strike on Thursday, Jan. 29, the day before our return flight. They were protesting the government's handling of the economic crisis. While we're sympathetic, we were not pleased that the one museum we hoped to visit, the Musée de l'Orangerie, was closed for the day. Most of the collection of the d'Orsay was closed off, although admission was free. The Louvre was still charging €6 even though most of the galleries were closed.

So we rode Velib to Montmarte and followed a walking tour past Van Gogh's former residence and up to Sacre Couer for a great view of the city below. We'll post more photos later.

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