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Arts Culture STEM Competition Tuesday 16th April 2024 Industry Opinion Local Nations

Salvador Dalí's Illusory Legacy in the Battle Against Counterfeit Art

In the realm of art, the battle against counterfeit masterpieces rages on. Recently, a client from Alabama sought the expertise of Bernard Ewell to appraise a work purportedly by the renowned surrealist Salvador Dalí. The artwork in question, titled "Lincoln in Dalívision," featured a mosaic print of Dalí's wife, Gala, cleverly resembling the face of Abraham Lincoln when viewed from a distance. Unfortunately, Ewell revealed the bitter truth: the print was nothing but a fake, created as part of a series produced by two brothers from Alabama. Even the signature was a fabrication.

This incident is just one example of the ongoing predicament faced by collectors and appraisers alike in the world of Dalí art. Despite Dalí's passing over three decades ago, the prevalence of fake reproductions continues to plague the market. During the 1980s art investment boom, countless counterfeit Dalí artworks flooded circulation, resulting in fraudulent sales amounting to millions, if not billions, of dollars.

The consequences of this fraud were severe. Unscrupulous dealers and gallery owners faced legal repercussions, the value of authentic Dalí works plummeted, and unsuspecting art collectors discovered the worthlessness of their prized possessions.

Dalí's popularity and prolific output made him an attractive target for counterfeiters. His recognizable persona and extensive body of work, including prints, lithographs, and etchings, provided ample opportunities for the fabrication and sale of fake reproductions. Dalí's inner circle, including his wife Gala, even capitalized on the growing demand by producing prints bearing Dalí's signature.

Authenticating Dalí artworks became a daunting task due to the limited nature of prints and Dalí's inconsistent approach to signing them. The lack of expertise among sellers, coupled with the trust placed in certificates of authenticity and Dalí's signature, allowed the fraudulent sales to persist. Even reputable institutions like Christie's refrained from selling Dalí limited-edition prints due to doubts surrounding their authenticity.

However, amidst the chaos, appraiser Bernard Ewell emerged as a beacon of hope. Through meticulous study of texture, ink, and watermarks on Dalí prints, he became adept at identifying fakes. Ewell's expertise played a crucial role in the prosecution of fraudulent sellers, including the conviction of William Mett, who sold millions of dollars' worth of fake Dalí artworks.

Nevertheless, the market remains ensnared in uncertainty, with genuine Dalí prints suffering a decline in value due to the prevalence of fakes. Collectors and experts must remain vigilant in their quest for authentic works from the surrealist master.

In this ongoing battle against counterfeits, the legacy of Salvador Dalí lives on, tangled in a web of deception, as art enthusiasts navigate the treacherous terrain in pursuit of true artistic treasures.

People Help Each Other Every Couple of Minutes, Study Finds

A groundbreaking study conducted by an international team of researchers from prestigious institutions including UCLA, Australia, Ecuador, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K. has shed light on the remarkable human capacity for cooperation. Led by UCLA sociologist Giovanni Rossi, the study, published in Scientific Reports, reveals that people across cultures rely on each other for assistance on a constant basis.

The researchers delved into behaviors observed in towns and rural areas in various countries, aiming to understand how people signal their need for help and how others respond. Astonishingly, the study found that individuals worldwide make small requests for assistance approximately every couple of minutes. Even more striking, people overwhelmingly comply with these requests rather than decline them.

The research team analyzed over 40 hours of video recordings capturing everyday life situations involving more than 350 individuals from diverse geographical, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. The study examined moments when one person indicated a need for help, whether through direct verbal requests or visible struggles with a task, and another person responded.

Out of more than 1,000 requests analyzed, occurring at an average frequency of once every two minutes, compliance prevailed over rejection or ignorance. People complied with small requests a remarkable seven times more often than they declined them, with rejection occurring only 10% of the time and ignorance 11%. These figures indicate that individuals are far more likely to provide assistance unconditionally than to refuse it.

Significantly, the preference for compliance transcended cultural differences and remained consistent whether the interaction involved family or non-family members. Furthermore, while individuals sometimes helped without providing an explanation, when declining assistance, they offered explicit reasons 74% of the time.

These findings challenge prior research that emphasized cultural variations in rules and norms governing cooperation. Previous anthropological and economic studies often highlighted disparities in sharing practices and motivations among different communities. However, this study suggests that, at the micro level of social interaction, the human inclination to help when needed becomes universally visible, surpassing cultural distinctions.

"Cultural differences have long been a puzzle in understanding cooperation and helping among humans. Are our decisions shaped by the culture we grow up with, or are humans inherently generous and giving?" questioned Rossi, the paper's lead author.

The study's results indicate that being helpful is an ingrained reflex within the human species. While cultural variations play a role in special occasions and high-cost exchanges, such as sharing the spoils of a whale hunt or contributing to large-scale projects, the tendency to give help when needed emerges as a universal trait.

N. J. Enfield, the paper's corresponding author and a linguist at the University of Sydney, remarked, "Our findings challenge existing research, suggesting that a cross-cultural preference for compliance with small requests is not explained by resource-sharing and cooperation studies. This indicates that local norms, values, and adaptations to the environment do not significantly impact the universal tendency to provide assistance."

This groundbreaking study offers new insights into the cooperative nature of humanity, highlighting the underlying similarities in people's behaviors across diverse cultures. It reaffirms the fundamental human inclination to help one another, a testament to our shared capacity for global cooperation.

Urgent Action Needed to Tackle the Imminent Water Crisis in the Colorado River

A recent string of startling discoveries in Lake Mead, the largest water reservoir in the United States, has raised alarm bells about the imminent crisis facing the Colorado River. This vital water source, which provides water and hydropower to 40 million Americans, is grappling with the devastating effects of a climate change-induced "megadrought" that has resulted in dwindling water supplies. In this article, we delve into the far-reaching implications of the water shortage, shedding light on the unsustainable water practices in agriculture and the pressing need for dietary adaptation in the face of a changing climate.

The impact of the megadrought is strikingly evident in the form of higher rates of water evaporation and a significant decrease in water supply, with Lake Mead currently operating at a mere 29 percent capacity. Moreover, the streamflow on the northern stretch of the Colorado River, which supplies states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Indigenous reservations, has seen a staggering 20 percent reduction over the last century. It is imperative that immediate action be taken to address this water crisis before water levels reach a critical state, rendering the dams ineffective.

While individual efforts to conserve water are commendable, it is crucial to recognize that residential water usage constitutes a mere 13 percent of the total water drawn from the Colorado River. The bulk of the water is consumed by farmers for crop irrigation. Astoundingly, 70 percent of the river's water is allocated to the growth of alfalfa, hay, corn silage, and other grasses primarily used as livestock feed. This excessive water consumption within animal agriculture raises concerns about its environmental impact and highlights the urgent need to reduce meat and dairy consumption.

The challenges and conflicts surrounding water management in the Western United States stem from a complex history. Tracing back to the 1862 Homestead Act and the 1902 Reclamation Act, which aimed to develop arid land for agriculture, it becomes evident that the region's water system was not designed with long-term sustainability in mind. Conflicts arise due to the prior appropriation doctrine, which grants senior water rights to those who first make use of the water, often favoring farmers over urban areas reliant on the river for their water supply.

In order to tackle the water crisis in the long run, it is imperative to reconsider current farming practices and dietary habits. Shifting towards plant-based agriculture and reducing the cultivation of water-intensive crops like tree nuts can help alleviate water scarcity. However, implementing such changes requires comprehensive policy reforms and a fundamental shift in public perception.

A comprehensive agricultural policy that prioritizes water security is the need of the hour in the American West. The federal government's support for animal agriculture, through subsidies and purchasing, must be reevaluated. While political obstacles persist, recent developments, such as increased investments in plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, signal potential changes on the horizon.

The water crisis confronting the American West demands immediate attention. By acknowledging the unsustainability of water use in agriculture and advocating for dietary adaptation, policymakers can play a pivotal role in forging a more resilient future. Learning from past mistakes, enacting necessary policy changes, and prioritizing water conservation are essential to safeguarding the livelihoods of millions in the region.

Judy Blume's Legacy and Bridging the Gap in Adolescent Understanding

In the early 1980s, Kavita Das, the daughter of Indian immigrant doctors, found herself navigating the perplexing terrain of puberty and adolescence in Queens, New York City. Raised in a household where discussions about topics like puberty, sex, and relationships were deemed taboo, Kavita faced a lack of guidance from her strict disciplinarian parents.

Her quest for understanding led her to Judy Blume's landmark book, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." Introduced to the book by a classmate in the fifth grade, Kavita borrowed it, clandestinely reading it in her bunk bed, away from the watchful eyes of her parents. Blume's narrative, which openly addressed issues like crushes, menstruation, and the changes in girls' bodies, served as a revelation for Kavita, offering a perspective and knowledge she lacked at home.

Blume's candid exploration of puberty contrasted sharply with Kavita's own experiences in school, where a rather clinical approach to sex education left her feeling unfulfilled. "Sex class" turned out to be a sterile lesson in reproduction, devoid of the emotional depth found in Blume's work. The contrast underscored the importance of honest conversations about puberty and sex, a realization that gained clarity when Kavita moved to Westchester, New York.

In Westchester, a new chapter unfolded in Mrs. Smith's Health class. Unlike the impersonal sex education in her previous school, Mrs. Smith embraced open dialogue. Addressing the natural bodily functions, she created an environment where discussing topics like urination was normalized. Mrs. Smith's approach, reminiscent of Judy Blume's candid storytelling, became a source of comfort for Kavita, marking a shift from the reticence she experienced at home.

A subsequent move to suburban New Jersey brought new challenges for Kavita. As one of the few nonwhite students in her school, she faced the complexities of adolescence amid a predominantly white student body. Judy Blume's impact continued as Kavita grappled with issues like wearing a bra. Faced with a dilemma, she resourcefully navigated the situation, highlighting the stark contrast between Margaret's open conversations with her mother and Kavita's unspoken struggles.

Reflecting on her journey into adolescence, Kavita recognizes the pivotal role Judy Blume's book played in filling the gaps left by societal and familial reticence. Today, as a mother herself, she is determined to break the cycle, fostering open and honest conversations with her daughter. Blume's masterful storytelling, tackling taboo subjects with honesty, serves as a timeless blueprint for addressing the challenges faced by teens navigating the transition from childhood to adolescence.

As the documentary "Judy Blume Forever" and the adaptation of "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" approach release dates, there is an opportunity to celebrate Judy Blume's monumental contributions to young adult literature. In a world where young people grapple with complex issues, Blume's narratives remain a beacon of authenticity and understanding, bridging the generational gap with enduring relevance. Kavita's personal journey, intertwined with Blume's impact, underscores the lasting significance of literature in shaping the narratives of adolescence.


Major League Baseball Aims for European Expansion with London Series

Major League Baseball (MLB) is embarking on its ambitious plans to establish a presence in Europe, with the upcoming two-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs in London serving as the catalyst for this endeavor. Building on the success of the 2019 series featuring the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, MLB aims to solidify its foothold in the European market and drive growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the original schedule, postponing the Cardinals-Cubs series until now. However, MLB remains optimistic, buoyed by the positive response to the World Baseball Classic and the burgeoning interest in baseball among British sports fans. The tournament saw Britain win its first game and discovered a rising star in Harry Ford, a prospect from the Seattle Mariners with British heritage.

MLB views the United Kingdom, and particularly London, as a crucial entry point into Europe. With significant broadcast revenue, merchandise sales, and digital product subscribers, the UK represents MLB's largest market in Europe. Interest in baseball among British sports fans has been steadily increasing, as indicated by research data from GWI. Since the 2019 series, MLB Europe's social media channels have experienced a three-fold increase in followers, now totaling 452,000.

The success of previous London series prompted broadcasting deals with the BBC and pay-TV service BT Sport, enabling wider coverage and accessibility to MLB games in the UK. MLB's Chief Operations and Strategy Officer, Chris Marinak, sees the UK as a model for growth in the European market, citing the country's significant engagement with baseball.

MLB's expansion efforts extend beyond the UK. The league has staged regular-season games in Mexico, Japan, Australia, and even considered playing in Paris in the future. MLB acknowledges the importance of engaging with various European markets, including France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany, which boasts a thriving American football market and a notable presence of German-born MLB players.

Finding suitable venues remains a challenge, as MLB seeks multiuse stadiums that can accommodate baseball games. The league is exploring opportunities in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the UK, with Olympic-style stadiums emerging as potential options.

MLB's expansion into Europe follows the footsteps of other major professional sports leagues, such as the NFL, NBA, and NHL. While playing catch-up, MLB aims to leverage individual teams' marketing rights abroad, allowing them to engage with local markets and forge international partnerships. The league recognizes the significance of having star players from abroad to generate interest and revenue in their home countries, citing examples like Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.

As MLB focuses on the upcoming London series, it views this event as a stepping stone towards establishing a long-lasting connection between Major League Baseball and the UK, as well as the rest of Europe. The league is optimistic that this endeavor will pave the way for future growth and solidify baseball's presence in the European sports landscape.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams

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The Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith

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Honesty in the Shadows: Daniel Ellsberg's Fight for Transparent War Coverage

In an interview before his passing, Daniel Ellsberg, renowned whistleblower of the Pentagon Papers, emphasized the importance of honesty in American war reporting. Reflecting on the impact of showcasing pictures of people killed by the U.S. military's bombing campaigns on the front pages of newspapers, Ellsberg expressed his desire for the public to be fully aware of the human consequences of such actions. While acknowledging the potential for social media to facilitate awareness, he also highlighted the media and government's collaboration in keeping vital information hidden.

Ellsberg, who dedicated his life to antiwar activism, passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 92. Beyond his famous disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the truth about the Vietnam War, Ellsberg continued to uncover hidden aspects of U.S. militarism and shed light on the psychological and cultural dynamics within the media and politics. His deep intellect and compassion allowed him to reveal the social pressures and fear operating within a country addicted to aggressive warfare.

During our conversation, Ellsberg drew comparisons between media coverage of September 11 and the U.S. military's "shock and awe" attack on Baghdad at the start of the Iraq invasion. He noted the Times' powerful display of photographs and personal anecdotes to humanize the victims of 9/11. However, he lamented the absence of similar coverage for the victims of the Iraq War, proposing that publishing photos of those killed in the "shock and awe" attack could have provided a poignant perspective. Unfortunately, U.S. media refrained from such coverage.

Despite Ellsberg's dedication to exposing truths, he expressed pessimism regarding the public's response to war deaths. He noted that Americans exhibit limited concern for the number of casualties, primarily focusing on American lives lost and the perception of success. The media rarely questions the human cost of wars, and even when information surfaces, it rarely leads to significant changes in public opinion.

Ellsberg believed that the American public remains unaware of their role as citizens of an empire, one that believes it has the right to determine the governance of other nations and is willing to engage in regime change to protect corporate interests. Presidents often present Americans as peace-loving people, slow to enter wars, while the reality is that the country has been involved in continuous conflicts. Ellsberg recognized the media's role in deceiving the public, exploiting their desires to believe in American exceptionalism and moral superiority.

Daniel Ellsberg's insights serve as a reminder of the crucial role truthful and transparent reporting plays in shaping public perception. His lifelong commitment to revealing the hidden realities of war encourages us to challenge the narratives presented to us and seek a deeper understanding of the human toll of militarism.

Blue Origin Awarded NASA Contract to Provide Lunar Lander for Artemis V Moon Mission

NASA announced that Blue Origin has been awarded a contract to supply a lunar lander for the Artemis V moon mission, scheduled for 2029. This comes two years after Blue Origin lost a bid to build similar vehicles for the Artemis III and IV missions.

Leading a consortium that includes Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Blue Origin will design and build the lander with a funding contribution of $3.4 billion from NASA. According to The New York Times, Blue Origin's VP for lunar transportation also confirmed that their company plans to invest even more than the provided funding for the project.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed enthusiasm, stating, "We are in a golden age of human spaceflight, which is made possible by NASA's commercial and international partnerships. Together, we are making an investment in the infrastructure that will pave the way to land the first astronauts on Mars."

Now, the real work begins. Blue Origin will commence the design, construction, and testing of a new lander that meets NASA's mission requirements. This includes the capability to dock with Gateway, a planned space station that will facilitate crew transfer into lunar orbit. The contract encompasses an uncrewed moon landing demonstration as well as the crewed Artemis V mission set for 2029.

In 2021, Blue Origin and another company lost a contract to supply vehicles for Artemis III and IV to SpaceX, which aims to return humans to the moon's surface after over half a century. SpaceX's proposal was estimated at $2.9 billion, while Blue Origin's reached $6 billion.

Following the unsuccessful bid, Blue Origin filed a lawsuit against NASA, alleging unfair evaluation of their proposal. However, a subsequent 76-page report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld NASA's decision to choose SpaceX's lower-cost contract. The report cited concerns about Blue Origin's proposal lacking proper safeguards for landing in the dark. The GAO stated that NASA was not obliged to include every minute detail, and Blue Origin should have considered the conditions of the moon and space, including darkness.

Despite the legal setback, Blue Origin has apparently revised its proposal process, addressing previous concerns such as landing in the dark. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin, acknowledged the court's judgment and wished "full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract."

Revisiting The Myth of Western Civilization's Origins

In the quest to understand the origins of Western Civilization, Professor Naoíse Sweeney challenges the conventional narrative that has woven itself into our cultural consciousness. In a candid exploration, Sweeney unveils the fallacy surrounding the idea that a continuous golden thread links the ancient Greeks to the modern West.

The prevailing notion of Western Civilization, passed down through generations, is depicted as a linear inheritance from classical antiquity to the present day. Sweeney, a Professor of Classical Archaeology, dismantles this myth, emphasizing the diversity of ancient Greeks and Romans and debunking the idea of a uniquely European cultural genealogy.

The article sheds light on the rich tapestry of Western history, where diverse peoples, cultures, and ideas have interwoven over centuries. Sweeney's research, spanning two decades, reveals that the monks of medieval Europe were not the sole heirs of classical antiquity; merchants in Sudan and Buddhist sculptors in northern India also played crucial roles.

Historical evidence points to Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, as a major center of medieval classical learning, where scholarship transcended geographical and cultural boundaries. The article contends that the traditional narrative of Western Civilization is factually incorrect and limited in its understanding of the complex historical realities.

The roots of the grand narrative, according to Sweeney, trace back to the Renaissance but solidified in the seventeenth century with European imperialism. The concept of the West emerged as a tool to justify colonization, drawing a distinction between those who could be colonized and those who could be colonizers.

The idea of Western Civilization, as it stands today, finds its origins in the eighteenth-century revolutionary North America. The founding fathers, inspired by the classical world, used this concept to reconcile the contradictions inherent in their revolutionary movement, providing a historical justification for practices like Black slavery.

Sweeney argues that Western Civilization is not just a fictional tale but a myth created to legitimize slavery, imperialism, and oppression. The myth served the ideological needs of its time, reflecting the values of the society that invented it.

In the modern West, where values have evolved, Sweeney advocates dismantling the myth of Western Civilization. Instead, she proposes embracing a more inclusive and factually supported narrative rooted in intercultural exchange, aligning with contemporary Western values such as liberal democracy, the rule of law, and equality of human rights.

As Sweeney reflects on her son's innocent belief in the traditional narrative, she contemplates the prospect of turning her insights into a book—an opportunity to challenge and reshape the way we perceive Western history.Source

Swimming Pools on Martha's Vineyard Gain Popularity Amid Summer Rental Demand

The allure of swimming pools on Martha's Vineyard has surged in recent years, driven by growing demand from the summer rental market for properties with enhanced amenities. Over the past two decades, Edgartown and Chilmark alone have issued more than 750 pool permits, indicating a significant increase in pool construction.

In Edgartown, the number of pool constructions reached its peak in 2021, with 75 pool permits awarded. The following year, in 2022, 46 pool permits were approved, still marking an almost eightfold rise from 2001 when only six pools received approval.

Similarly, Chilmark experienced a peak in 2021 with 24 pool permits, which decreased to 11 permits in 2022. Back in 2001, only three pools were permitted in Chilmark.

Local officials and activists are grappling with this growing trend and its impact on the Island economy. Pool installation on rental properties is viewed as a wise investment by realtors, as it often doubles the rental cost, making it appealing to investors looking for higher returns.

Private pools have become increasingly desirable for vacationers, transforming vacation homes into hotel-like accommodations with additional amenities.

However, this pool-building trend raises concerns among conservationists and some officials. Critics worry about the impact on the natural beauty of the Island and its resources. Some raise concerns about the use of fossil fuels to heat pools and the potential impact on the Island's aquifer due to the increased water usage.

Efforts to regulate pool constructions often face limitations due to statutory constraints, making it challenging for local officials to enact stricter rules. While some towns like Chilmark have imposed stringent safety requirements for pool construction, others, like Edgartown, have more relaxed regulations.

Despite some fluctuations in the number of pool permits awarded in 2022, the overall trend indicates a continued rise in pool constructions on Martha's Vineyard. This has led to discussions within the community about the direction the Island is taking and whether to implement changes to preserve its unique character and appeal. Empowering Independent Bookstores in the Digital Age

In a world dominated by online retail giants, one startup has emerged as a beacon of hope for independent bookstores., founded by Andy Hunter, has revolutionized the way small bookshops can thrive in the digital age. This is the story of how a former magazine editor turned entrepreneur created a platform that defied expectations and provided a lifeline for struggling businesses.

It all started with a moment of inspiration during a work trip in 2018. Hunter, the former publisher of Catapult, found himself pondering the idea of ecommerce as an opportunity rather than a threat to independent bookstores. Motivated by a conversation with a board member of the American Booksellers Association, Hunter envisioned a platform that would empower these stores to compete with retail giants like Amazon.

Hunter's vision became a reality with the launch of in January 2020. The timing couldn't have been more fortuitous, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many brick-and-mortar stores to close their doors. offered a lifeline, enabling these businesses to quickly set up digital storefronts and fulfill orders through a partnership with wholesaler Ingram.

The response was astounding. surpassed all expectations, reaching sales milestones that Hunter never anticipated. The platform became a symbol of hope for struggling bookstores and a way for customers to support local businesses during a time of crisis.'s profit-sharing model further cemented its appeal, as stores received a share of the sales generated through their virtual storefronts.

While has faced some criticism, with concerns raised about diverting sales away from independent stores, Hunter remains committed to his mission. He sees as a necessary intermediary, a way to counter the dominance of Amazon while still prioritizing direct purchases from local bookshops. With's success in the book industry, Hunter envisions expanding the platform to support other small businesses in the future.

As continues to grow, Hunter aims to introduce new features, such as audiobooks and ebooks. Despite the challenges posed by the dominant players in the market, Hunter's optimism is unwavering. He believes in the power of community and the importance of preserving independent businesses. With each new milestone and success story, proves that a small startup can make a big difference in the world of ecommerce. is not just a platform; it's a symbol of hope for independent bookstores everywhere. Through the dedication and vision of Andy Hunter, this startup has become a force for positive change in the industry, reminding us all of the value of supporting local businesses and fostering a sense of community in the digital age.

The Iliad & the Odyssey


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Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

David Grann

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