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In the News 21.03.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 21.03.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 21.03.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 21.03.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

After the Fact

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Ted Cruz’s campaign autobiography is called “A Time for Truth.” “This guy’s a liar,” Donald Trump said at a recent G.O.P. debate, pointing at Cruz. Trump thinks a lot of people are liars, especially politicians (Jeb Bush: “Lying on campaign trail!”) and reporters (“Too bad dopey @megynkelly lies!”). Not for nothing has he been called the Human Lie Detector. And not for nothing has he been called a big, fat Pinocchio with his pants on fire by the fact-checking teams at the Times, the Washington Post, and Politifact, whose careful reports apparently have little influence on the electorate, because, as a writer for Politico admitted, “Nobody but political fanatics pays much mind to them.” “You lied,” Marco Rubio said to Trump during the truth-for-tat February debate. Cruz tried to break in, noting that Rubio had called him a liar, too. Honestly, there was so much loudmouthed soothsaying that it was hard to tell who was saying what. A line from the transcript released by CNN reads:

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

The Art of the Playlist

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A few weeks ago, I cued up Frankie Beverly & Maze’s 1993 slow-burn “The Morning After” on Spotify, listening for one specific moment that Ben Ratliff highlights in his book Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty. The song is about infidelity, but Ratliff hears a spirit of devotion in Maze’s long held note about three-quarters of the way through, an acknowledgement of something powerful and mysterious beyond the singer. Various illustrations of devotion, Ratliff reasons, can be heard across styles, periods, and geographies. It’s audible in that moment from “The Morning After,” but also in John Lennon’s aching paean to his dead mother “Julia,” and a 1983 live version of “Haq Ali Ali Moula Ali” by legendary Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Ratliff uses these songs and a handful of others to pose a query about how music works. “Can you point at an emotion in music, and claim it as a function or property of the music itself, rather than of what the listener brings to it?” It’s a deep and controversial question, one that has been mostly limited to classical music theorists and educators. Yet Ratliff’s idea withEvery Song Ever is to allow the listener/reader to judge for themselves. He assumes (rightly) that any reader can easily hear these recordings while reading along, thanks to massive digital streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. More importantly, he contends that listeners should attend to music in this way, using the newfound agency that comes with having nearly any song available with the click of a mouse to seek out musical characteristics that the services themselves can’t deliver.

Algorithms are listening to us,” Ratliff warns in the introduction. “At the very least we should try to listen better than we are being listened to.” In the current “age of musical plenty,” as the book’s subtitle describes it, Ratliff feels there are limitless musical configurations possible in this vast new landscape, but senses a creeping dread in the new forms of music programming that streaming services are implementing. In Every Song Ever, Ratliff offers readers and listeners 20 different “ways to listen” that amount to a dizzying tour through musicology, social science, personal reflections, and descriptive prose. Enjoying the book is less a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with Ratliff’s conclusions, as engaging with his ambitious approach toward music appreciation and coming to one’s own judgments. The difference between Ratliff’s guidance and learning about music through Apple Music’s playlists is akin to consulting drone footage to learn the ins and outs of unexplored terrain and setting out into the mud with a guide who brings decades of experiential knowledge to the trek.

Read the rest of this article at New Republic

In the Land of Missing Persons

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They found what was left of him in the spring of  2014. Firefighters battling a huge blaze on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula first spotted a boot in the dirt. Then they noticed some bones scattered across a wide grassy area. Fire crews in Alaska are used to seeing the bones of moose, caribou, bears, and other large creatures that live and die in these woods. So it wasn’t until crew members found a human skull that they stopped to consider that the pieces might go together. The skull was resting on its side, the face angled toward the ground. A few blackened molars clung to the upper jaw. The lower jaw was missing.

The Alaska State Troopers arrived by helicopter and salvaged what they could. “The bones were close to being ash,” Lieutenant Kat Shuey later recalled. “They weren’t quite to the point where if you touched them they would disintegrate, but close.”

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic

The Art of Failing Upward

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IN the start-up world, failure is in. No sooner has an entrepreneur failed at a venture in Silicon Valley than he takes to the web — frequently to blogging sites like Medium, which hosts a continuous stream of essays on the topic — or to the stage at industry conferences like FailConto narrate the failure and the growth he experienced as a result.

Telling the story of what went wrong is a way to wring insight from failure, but it’s also a way of proclaiming membership in a community of innovators who are unafraid of taking risks. Tech workers now use terms like “soft landing” (to fail gently without career harm) and “failing upward” (to fail with an immediate career upside).

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

Where did ISIS come from? The story starts here.

It took us five years to talk honestly about Vietnam. It’s time to do that with Iraq, and Paul Bremer’s tenure is the place to begin.

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AS SOON AS I ARRIVE AT HIS HOME, a well-kept but slightly dated fieldstone Colonial in Chevy Chase, Maryland, he ushers me down a staircase into the basement, past one bookcase packed with white binders and another stacked with board games. We end up in a dimly lit corner where a desk, a couch, and a treadmill all jockey for space. “This is basically my office,” L. Paul Bremer tells me, adding almost apologetically, “and our exercise area.”

For a man who once commanded the world’s attention, working out of a palace and wielding expansive powers over 25 million people while serving as America’s viceroy in postwar Iraq, these quarters seem modest. But the reminders of a more influential time are all around. Each of those white binders is labeled “CPA Archives,” as in the Coalition Provisional Authority that President George W. Bush appointed Bremer to run one month after US troops had cruised into Baghdad. (At one point during his reign, Bremer is said to have waved off a British general’s concerns about the legality of a certain security measure with the quip “I am the law.”) Along the white-paneled walls hang framed photos of Bremer with the biggest stars in the firmament of Republican administrations over the last half century: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bushes 41 and 43, as well as Kissinger, Haig, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.

Read the rest of this article at The Boston Globe

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.