Archive for June 12th, 2011

June 12, 2011

Al Hirschfeld

sinatra by al hirschfeld

al hirschfeld

Al Hirschfeld (1903 – 2003) was an American caricaturist best known for his simple black and white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars. Hirschfeld’s art style is unique, and he is considered to be one of the most important figures in contemporary caricature, having influenced countless cartoonists. His caricatures are almost always drawings of pure line with simple black ink on white paper with little to no shading or crosshatching. His drawings always manage to capture a likeness using the minimum number of lines. Though his caricatures often exaggerate and distort the faces of his subjects, he is often described as being a fundamentally ‘nicer’ caricaturist than many of his contemporaries, and being drawn by Hirschfeld was considered an honor more than an insult. Nonetheless he did face some complaints from his editors over the years.

Hirschfeld is known for hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, in most of the drawings he produced since her birth in 1945. The name would appear in a sleeve, in a hairdo, or somewhere in the background. Sometimes ‘Nina’ would show up more than once and Hirschfeld would helpfully add a number next to his signature. From time to time Hirschfeld lamented that the gimmick had overshadowed his art and tried to discontinue the practice, but such attempts always generated harsh criticism. Nina herself was reportedly somewhat ambivalent about all the attention. The US Army used his cartoons to train bomber pilots. The soldiers were told to spot the Ninas, much as they would spot their targets. Hirschfeld found the idea repulsive, saying that he felt his cartoons were being used to help kill people.

June 12, 2011

Wedding Industry

wedding fix by Kelsey Dake

Every year in the United States, there are approximately 2.5 million weddings, and the wedding industry has grown into a $40 billion a year market. The wedding industry is a modern phenomenon. In the past, women were viewed as possessions and sold as wives; today, couples spend thousands of dollars to have their ideal of the perfect day of union.

Until the Middle Ages, the Wedding ceremony or betrothal involved of the exchange of a ring or a piece of fruit, a kiss, and then the bride moved into the groom’s home. Today however, the ceremonial aspect of marriage has become more extravagant and more detailed. The average couple will spend up to $4,411 for the engagement ring, and $2,067 for his and hers wedding bands, and the average American couple today spends more than $20,000 on their wedding. For a middle class family, this can be about 51 percent of their income.

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June 12, 2011

The Black Swan

black swan

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable’ is a book by Lebanese American, philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The book focuses on the extreme impact of certain kinds of rare and unpredictable events (outliers) and humans’ tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events retrospectively, after the fact. This theory has since become known as the black swan theory. The book also covers subjects relating to knowledge, aesthetics, and ways of life, and uses elements of fiction in making its points.

Taleb, bestselling author of ‘Fooled by Randomness,’ treats uncertainty and randomness as a single idea. The main idea in Taleb’s book is not to attempt to predict Black Swan Events, but to build robustness into negative ones that occur and being able to exploit positive ones. Taleb contends that banks and trading firms are very vulnerable to hazardous Black Swan Events and are exposed to losses beyond those that are predicted by their defective models.

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