Readings: Natalie Portman, China’s Museum, Madoff Tapes

A few reads from the last couple of days:

1) “From Lab to Red Carpet” [New York Times] – Natalie Portman won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role (for her performance as Nina, a ballerina in Black Swan) last night. But did you know that in her younger days, she was a brilliant student?

Among the lesser-known but nonetheless depressingly impressive details in Ms. Portman’s altogether too precociously storied career is that as a student at Syosset High School on Long Island back in the late 1990s, Ms. Portman made it all the way to the semifinal rounds of the Intel competition.

The piece also discusses the academic endeavors of other actors as well.

2) “China Debuts World’s Largest Museum” [Art Info] — the largest museum in the world is now in China. Located on the east side of Tiananmen Square, the National Museum of China measures 2.07 million square feet and thus surpassing the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which previously reigned as the largest museum at 2.05 million square feet. The third largest museum in the world is now The Hermitage in St. Petersburg (which I visited in 2007). (via)

3) “The Madoff Tapes” [New York Magazine] – an incredible piece by Steve Fishman. A different profile of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, in which we hear from Madoff himself. Absolutely astounding that he called the people who trusted and invested with him as greedy.

“Everyone was greedy,” he [Madoff] continues. “I just went along. It’s not an excuse.” In his mind, the hedge funds and the banks were little more than marketers, skimming their 1 to 2 percent off the top, a fee for their supposed “due diligence,” though they exercised little oversight. “Look, there was complicity, in my view…”