Archive for March 29th, 2011

March 29, 2011

Jean-Michel Basquiat


Jean-Michel Basquiat [bah-skee-ott] (1960 – 1988) was a Neo-expressionist painter who got his start as a graffiti artist in NYC in the late 1970s. He died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. In 1976, Basquiat and friend Al Diaz began spray-painting political-poetical graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. In 1979, he formed the noise rock band Gray with Vincent Gallo. In 1983-84 he was a frequent collaborator with Andy Warhol. The record price for a Basquiat painting is $14.6 million, paid in 2007 for an untitled 1981 piece. In keeping with his street art roots, Basquiat often incorporated words into his paintings.

He would often draw on random objects and surfaces. A major reference source throughout his career was ‘Gray’s Anatomy,’ which his mother gave to him while in the hospital at age seven. It remained influential in his depictions of internal human anatomy, and in its mixture of image and text. Other reference sources were Henry Dreyfuss’ ‘Symbol Sourcebook,’ Da Vinci’s notebooks, and Brentjes’ ‘African Rock Art.’ Basquiat doodled often, and some of his later pieces, done mostly with colored pencils on paper, exhibit this, often with a loose, spontaneous, and dirty style much like his paintings.

March 29, 2011

Knife Money

knife money

Knife money refers to large, cast, bronze, knife-shaped coins produced by Ancient Chinese governments and kingdoms approximately 2500 years ago. They had holes on the end to be easily strapped onto belts or rings. Known as ‘jin cuo dao’ in Chinese, knife money circulated in China between 600 to 200 BCE during the Zhou dynasty. There are several stories that attempt to explain how knife money was introduced but it is not certain if any or all are true.

In one story a prince who was running low on money to pay his troops allowed them to use their knives as a form of currency to barter with villagers and the medium became so popular that it became generally accepted. In another story, the same prince began accepting knives as payment for small fines in the place of the current legal ring currency. Knife money may also have been brought in by sea traders from the Indian Ocean. Over time, the currency slowly shrank until only the ring of the handle was produced as a symbol of the knife that it represented.

March 29, 2011



The ketogenic [kee-toh-jen-ikdiet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy in children. The diet mimics aspects of starvation by forcing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.

Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fuelling brain function. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures.

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