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Francis Bacon auctioned painting sets new record May 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts.
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Triptych had been in private hands since it was bought at auction in 1977 > A Francis Bacon masterpiece has broken the artist’s record at auction after selling for $86.3m (£43m) in New York.

The sale of Triptych (1976) beat the previous record of £27m paid for Study For Innocent X. The piece was sold at Sotheby’s by a private collector from Europe who had owned the work since it was first exhibited in Paris in 1977. Bacon used Ancient Greek legends as inspiration for the painting, which depicts disfigured human faces.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s London deputy director for contemporary art, described the work as a “totemic triptych”. “It created an overnight sensation when it was first exhibited in Paris in 1976,” he said. “It showed Bacon working in a new way. It is a watershed painting which sees him moving beyond personal grief on to a more universal scale. Bacon was heavily influenced by Greek tragedies where personal stories relate to grander, universal issues. He saw the large format triptych as the greatest vehicle for artistic vision and this work sees Bacon achieve a new level of complexity.”

Irish-born Bacon, one of the most prominent contemporary artists of his era, died from a heart attack in Madrid in 1992.

Related Links > http://www.sothebys.com

Madonna’s gig upset May 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music.
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So Madonna hit the stage for Radio 1’s big weekend on Saturday.

And true to form, she wasn’t your average wallflower. In fact, she managed to stir up a bit of controversy. First off, Madge offended peeps by using the f-word twice during a broadcast of her singing stint, which went out live on BBC3.

The singer, wearing a titalicious top, introduced her song Hung Up by telling the crowd: “You guys are going to have to start f***king it up out there ‘cos I need to feel some love. I’m going to do an old song. But not too old. F*** the present. Let’s live in the past.”

This lil’ bit of excitement apparently prompted a bevy of viewer complaints, not forgetting the BBC have been warned before for allowing Madge to swear live at last year’s Live Earth gig. Meanwhile, backstage there was also a bit of a drama, as Madge and her entourage ruffled the feathers of rock band The Fratellis.

“Who does Madonna think she is?” Jon Fratelli ranted to the 3am Girls from the Daily Mirror, after she and her 70-strong crew reportedly held up rehearsals and hogged some of the food and drink backstage. “I’m not into all this,” he continued. “We’re all here to perform together. What happened to rock ‘n’ roll? Why is she (Madonna) even here?” he continued.

Oops. Sounds like Madge might have to mind her manners with her fellow musicians from now on. And her language as well, for that matter.

Egyptian Pharaoh may have been natural transsexual May 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology, Health.
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Akhenaten wasn’t the most manly pharaoh, even though he fathered at least a half-dozen children. In fact, his form was quite feminine. And he was a bit of an egghead.

So concludes a Yale University physician who analyzed images of Akhenaten for an annual conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the deaths of historic figures. The female form was due to a genetic mutation that caused the pharaoh’s body to convert more male hormones to female hormones than needed, Dr. Irwin Braverman believes. And Akhenaten’s head was misshapen because of a separate condition in which skull bones fuse at an early age.

The pharaoh had “an androgynous appearance. He had a female physique with wide hips and breasts, but he was male and he was fertile and he had six daughters,” Braverman said. “But nevertheless, he looked like he had a female physique.” Braverman, who sizes up the health of individuals based on portraits, teaches a class at Yale’s medical school that uses paintings from the university’s Center for British Art to teach observation skills to first-year students. For his study of Akhenaten, he used statues and carvings.

Akhenaten (ah-keh-NAH-ten), best known for introducing a revolutionary form of monotheism to ancient Egypt, reigned in the mid-1300s B.C. He was married to Nefertiti, and Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, may have been his son or half brother. Egyptologist and archaeologist Donald B. Redford said he supports Braverman’s belief that Akhenaten had Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder marked by lengthened features, including fingers and the face. Marfan syndrome would not have been responsible for his feminine appearance, however.

Visiting clinics that treat those with the condition has strengthened that conviction, “but this is very subjective, I must admit,” said Redford, a professor of classic and ancient Mediterranean studies at Penn State University. Others have theorized Akhenaten and his lineage had Froehlich’s Syndrome, which causes feminine fat distribution but also sterility. That doesn’t fit Akhenaten, who had at least six daughters, Braverman said. Klinefelter Syndrome, a genetic condition that can also cause gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, has also been suggested, but Braverman said he suspects familial gynecomastia, a hereditary condition separate from Marfan syndrome that leads to the overproduction of estrogen and the development of breasts.

The Yale doctor said determining whether he is right can easily be done if Egyptologists can confirm which mummy is Akhenaten’s and if Egyptian government officials agree to DNA analysis. Braverman hopes his theory will lead them to do just that. “I’m hoping that after we have this conference and I bring this up, maybe the Egyptologists who work on these things all the time, maybe they will be stimulated to look,” he said.

Previous conferences have examined the deaths of Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Nightingale and others.

US and Russia in sandwich battle May 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Army Life.
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The Russians made sandwiches shaped like sailing ships

From Cold War to cold meats… sailors from the US and Russian navies have tested their culinary skills in a sandwich-making competition.

The contest was held during a visit by the US destroyer Stethem to the eastern Russian port of Vladivostok to mark Victory Day. Officers also joined in.

A Russian cook took the prize for best-tasting sandwich while an American came top for most original presentation. Sandwiches topped with cucumber sails were among the Russian offerings. The ingredients included peppers, smoked ham, lettuce, cheese, mayonnaise, olives, cherry tomatoes and gherkins.

The US winner in the individual contest got a bottle of vodka, and presented his Russian rivals with USS Stethem caps and sweatshirts in return. Earlier, the Russians had laid on a traditional welcome for the Americans, with vodka and appetisers such as bliny (buckwheat pancakes) with smoked salmon and pickled green tomatoes. Yet a traditional Russian restaurant is hard to find in Vladivostok, where Chinese and Japanese restaurants are much more common.

The crew of the Stethem were taking part in a military parade in Vladivostok for Victory Day, which marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

Google to launch social web Friend Connect May 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Google, Internet.
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Following Facebook and Myspace, Google will join the social network data portability crowd to allow its users to port user data to partner sites, media reported Monday.

Google’s Friend Connect will be a set of “APIs for Open Social participants to pull profile information from social networks into third party websites,” speculated TechCrunch.

Google has been taking a more open and distributed approach with its OpenSocial API, which allows compliant applications to work across any social network. By extension, Friend Connect would provide glue to allow any site to add a social dimension and build connections to other social networks.

Facebook Connect announced on Friday it would make it easier for people to share their favorite pictures, information and applications with family and friends anywhere on the Internet. MySpace on Thursday announced Data Availability, with Yahoo, eBay, Photobucket, and Twitter as initial partners for its effort to let members port their data.

The key for all the data portability efforts is that users have granular controls to manage their data and to maintain privacy and security. Facebook and MySpace have not fully disclosed how their privacy controls will work yet.

David Glazer, Google director of engineering, said in March the big challenge isn’t the technology but applying existing and emerging standards, such as OATH (secure API authentication), OpenID (identity management) and OpenSocial APIs (application integration).