A&S in the News: Feb. 4–10

Bumble bees are changing, and this UA professor asks why

Al.com – Feb. 8

When reporting on Dr. Jeffrey Lozier, the University of Alabama’s bumble bee expert, it’s best to get the No. 1 myth out of the way up front. No, it’s not a miracle that bumble bees can fly, Lozier said last week. Yes, some people think it is because they look like black and yellow tanks with tiny wings. “They’re not fixed-wing aircraft,” Lozier observed. “They’re quite good at it,” he said of bumble bee flight. They can even do acrobatics. Yes, they “do have challenges” flying, but they have “lots of ways to deal with them.”

Alabama Wind Ensemble concert inspires future students

Crimson White – Feb. 8

On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Alabama Wind Ensemble held a concert for the 32nd Annual Honor Band Festival, an event that honors the achievements of exceptional high school music students.  Conductor Randall Coleman, the associate director of bands and an associate professor of music, led the concert. The concert featured flute soloist Diane Schultz, a professor of flute. Shultz is recognized internationally for her talent. She performed “Movement I of Concerto for Flute and Wind Orchestra.” The performance also featured guest conductor Eugene Migliaro Corporon from the University of North Texas, who conducted the piece, “La Procession du Rocio.” Corporon’s prestige followed him to Tuscaloosa. First-year graduate student and trumpet player Joey Glaeser referred to him as the “Tom Brady of Wind Conducting.” “Watching him work with the high school students who attended our honor band event was inspirational and helped to reaffirm my dedication to what I’m doing,” Glaeser said.

The (semi) secret history of Trump’s Andrew Jackson portrait

Christian Science Monitor – Feb. 10

President Trump has hung a painting of Andrew Jackson in a prominent spot in the Oval Office, just behind his desk and off to the side. It’s meant as a visual comparison: Trump has embraced the idea that he’s a modern-day Old Hickory, a populist outsider and scourge of Washington elites. It’s also a comparison that may be apt in an unintended way. The portrait itself – depicting a leonine Jackson, dignified in a dramatic cloak – was originally a bit of 19th century political PR. It was painted by Ralph E. W. Earl, a close friend of Jackson who churned out a stream of images aimed at convincing voters that the seventh president was a worthy member of America’s founding pantheon. Thus presidents down the centuries invoke the past to try and claim their spot in the American experience. Jackson wanted the United States to look at his bearing and see someone as dignified and statesmanlike as George Washington. Trump and his aides hope a glimpse of the same image today will cause voters to associate a mercurial new president with Jackson’s fierce defense of ordinary citizens. “It is definitely interesting the way they are using it,” says Rachel Stephens, an assistant professor of art history at the University of Alabama and author of the forthcoming book, “Selling Andrew Jackson: Ralph E. W. Earl and the Politics of Portraiture.”

Blackbird murmurations explained: Why you see thousands swirling together at dusk

AL.com – Feb. 10

We can’t take our eyes off of the swirling blackbirds you might see at dusk, thousands of them flying through the air together in what looks like controlled chaos. You can’t even believe your eyes when you see it, resembling computer-generated effects from a sci-fi movie. Truly a sight to behold, we wanted to understand why the birds might do it. AL.com photographer Bob Gathany captured gorgeous footage of murmurations in Huntsville in January. . . . The site is both beautiful and bewildering, so we had to ask Michael Steinberg, a professor at the University of Alabama’s New College and resident bird expert on campus, just what the heck is happening. He said groups of birds like this often fly in mixed flocks, consisting of true blackbirds (red-winged, most of the time), common grackles, brown-headed cowbirds and starlings. “They don’t participate in this behavior during the breeding season because their energy is geared towards producing and raising young birds,” Steinberg said. “It probably happens in the winter because there is power in numbers in terms of avoiding predators.

Also making headlines

Contemporary Art Scholar to Speak at UA — Feb. 8

Gemini Explores Fading Active Galactic Nuclei ID’d by Galaxy Zoo — Feb. 8 – Bill Keel

Does Senate appointment hurt Luther Strange’s 2018 prospects? — Feb. 10 – Richard Fording

Lawmakers: cloud over Strange’s appointment — Feb. 10 – Bill Stewart

Immigrants Do Not Increase Crime, Research Shows — Feb. 7 – Lesley Reid

TransAtlantic Horn Quartet joins the Albany Symphony for Romantic Evening — Feb. 4 – Charles “Skip” Snead

UA School of Music holds Spectrum Concert — Feb. 4

THE PORT RAIL: Immigration policy must entail some restrictions — Feb. 5 – Larry Clayton

PREVIEW: Public astronomy observation and lecture — Feb. 10 – Lucas Johnson