From the Editors. Many readers responded to Susan Orlean’s January article on panda evolution, which portrayed the animals as oddities of the natural world, with their lost appetite for meat and lack of enthusiasm for mating. “Pandas are weird as hell!” tweeted @smalera succinctly. Tim Flach’s remarkable photographs of our fabulously furry cover girl, Bao Bao, the National Zoo’s new giant panda cub, drew even more passionate attention. The January issue, wrote Nancy Fauser, “has the first-ever cover that is utterly...kissable!”
On The Trail
It’s great to see that the Ancestor’s Trail [“Time Travelers”] is finally getting the recognition it deserves. I did not suggest that art was more important for human evolution than hunting, but rather that art and science share a common ancestor in the human imagination—and without imagination there can be no hypothesis. The reptile mentioned on page 47 (also called Labyrinthodontia) represents only a small part of the body-painting shown, the rest being various camouflages and adornments. The glitter hands and arms represent stardust, from which we all originate. The back portion is a part of the savanna, where we evolved. The finished piece is actually a reptile-esque warrior, holding an 18th-century Polynesian hunting spear purchased for the event.
I have spent a lot of time in central Pennsylvania and men, women and children all “uptalk” [“The Rise of Women?”].
I do not think it has anything to do with “valley girl” speak. Send author Jessica Gross to Juniata College for a week and make sure she talks to the locals.
I can remember several teachers in my high-school classes who frequently asked, “Are you telling me or asking me?” That was in the early 1960s in Colorado, suggesting that uptalk had already arrived in the U.S.—or, at least, in the state of Colorado—considerably before your estimate of the 1980s.
West Melbourne, Florida
Real Art Heroes
“The Venus Fixers” was a lovely article showing how a few men could impact an entire culture by ensuring that its artistic history wasn’t lost. So often the beauty of life is destroyed during the ugliness of war. Fortunately these men helped Italy recover its heritage from the ashes.
An astounding accomplishment! Without the bravery of these men, many of the world’s greatest treasures would be lost.
At a time when art history and museum curatorships are under siege for not being essential, you have demonstrated clearly just how these fields have played active roles in the lives of people everywhere. This article should be required reading for students throughout high schools and universities to combat the eternal belief that art and art history are not relevant or important fields of study.
Gabriel P. Weisberg
Professor of Art History
University of Minnesota
The Germans gave Wisconsin beer and bratwurst; the rest of the world sent cheesemakers [“Hot for Tamales”]. But it took American ingenuity to come up with the guiltiest pleasure of the summer fair: the fried cheese curd plate.
In our December issue, the profile of Caroline Hoxby (“Climb Higher”) noted that “the ratio of [college] counselors to students nationally is 333 to one.” The correct ratio is of course the reverse: one counselor to 333 students.
In our January story “Museum of Conflict,” we omitted the location of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It’s in Winnipeg, Manitoba.