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News 28.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 28.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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For years, whenever Paula Cole’s phone started lighting up, it usually meant one thing: “Dawson’s Creek” had arrived on another streaming platform.

The hit teen drama, which aired on the WB from 1998 to 2003, is synonymous with the singer’s beloved theme song, “I Don’t Want to Wait.” On home video and on streaming platforms like Netflix, however, the series has had almost all of its original music replaced, including, most conspicuously, its theme song. Instead of Cole’s tune, episodes of “Dawson’s Creek” now open with “Run Like Mad,” by Jann Arden.

Audiences have not taken this change lightly. “People really care and are really upset about it,” Cole said in a phone interview from her home in Massachusetts. “They tag me in every post — so much tagging on the socials, fans tagging Netflix and Sony. It’s prolific.” (Cole’s song does play before the two-part series finale on Netflix, thanks to a deal Sony Pictures Entertainment, the production studio and distributor, made for a special 2003 DVD release.)

“Dawson’s Creek” is one of many classic shows that sound different today than you probably remember. Stream it on Netflix, and most of the pop music it included when it originally aired is absent. It’s a bewildering transformation — and one that is surprisingly widespread across streaming services in North America.

Why does it happen? As it turns out, it’s mainly a problem of foresight.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 28.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 28.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Towards the end of a conversation dwelling on some of the deepest metaphysical puzzles regarding the nature of human existence, the philosopher Galen Strawson paused, then asked me: “Have you spoken to anyone else yet who’s received weird email?” He navigated to a file on his computer and began reading from the alarming messages he and several other scholars had received over the past few years. Some were plaintive, others abusive, but all were fiercely accusatory. “Last year you all played a part in destroying my life,” one person wrote. “I lost everything because of you – my son, my partner, my job, my home, my mental health. All because of you, you told me I had no control, how I was not responsible for anything I do, how my beautiful six-year-old son was not responsible for what he did … Goodbye, and good luck with the rest of your cancerous, evil, pathetic existence.” “Rot in your own shit Galen,” read another note, sent in early 2015. “Your wife, your kids your friends, you have smeared all there [sic] achievements you utter fucking prick,” wrote the same person, who subsequently warned: “I’m going to fuck you up.” And then, days later, under the subject line “Hello”: “I’m coming for you.” “This was one where we had to involve the police,” Strawson said. Thereafter, the violent threats ceased.

It isn’t unheard of for philosophers to receive death threats. The Australian ethicist Peter Singer, for example, has received many, in response to his argument that, in highly exceptional circumstances, it might be morally justifiable to kill newborn babies with severe disabilities. But Strawson, like others on the receiving end of this particular wave of abuse, had merely expressed a longstanding position in an ancient debate that strikes many as the ultimate in “armchair philosophy”, wholly detached from the emotive entanglements of real life. They all deny that human beings possess free will. They argue that our choices are determined by forces beyond our ultimate control – perhaps even predetermined all the way back to the big bang – and that therefore nobody is ever wholly responsible for their actions. Reading back over the emails, Strawson, who gives the impression of someone far more forgiving of other people’s flaws than of his own, found himself empathising with his harassers’ distress. “I think for these people it’s just an existential catastrophe,” he said. “And I think I can see why.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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They suspected that he was British[X], that he was Yakuza[X], that he laundered money[X]. They wondered if he was a woman[X], laid claim just in case[X] and joked about fucking him[X]. They kept contingencies for if he proved crazy[X], eyed for shifts in his sleep[X], debated why he spoke and didn’t speak and sent him eager patches signed with pretty please[X].

To be sure, by the waning days of 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto was still acknowledged for inventing Bitcoin, and was respected for growing the world’s first decentralized digital currency into a $1 million market. But as frustrations with his authority and availability built, it became all too common for users to decry Satoshi the admin[X], Satoshi the bottleneck[X], Satoshi the dictator[X].

If it can be said a quiet clamour against Bitcoin’s creator had been simmering since summer, it soon became something of an outcry. As demands escalated, Satoshi sightings even assumed the role of sport, with users speculating when and why he might appear on the forums[X].

That’s not to say Satoshi was able to bring order to the discussion if and when he surfaced.

Indeed, as winter approached, a noticeable change in the conversation would begin with a wave of posts casting doubt over the project, and more specifically, Satoshi’s role in its operations.[X] In response, users drew a dividing line – it was not Satoshi, then still directing development, but the users who ran the software who were the project’s ultimate authority.

Read the rest of this article at: Bitcoin Magazine

News 28.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 28.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Between 1920 and 2020, the average human life span doubled. How did we do it? Science mattered — but so did activism.

In September 1918, a flu virus began spreading through Camp Devens, an overcrowded military base just outside Boston. By the end of the second week of the outbreak, one in five soldiers at the base had come down with the illness. But the speed with which it spread through the camp was not nearly as shocking as the lethality. “It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes,” a camp physician wrote. “It is horrible. One can stand it to see one, two or 20 men die, but to see these poor devils dropping like flies sort of gets on your nerves. We have been averaging about 100 deaths per day.”

The devastation at Camp Devens would soon be followed by even more catastrophic outbreaks, as the so-called Spanish flu — a strain of influenza virus that science now identifies as H1N1 — spread around the world. In the United States, it would cause nearly half of all deaths over the next year. In what was already a time of murderous war, the disease killed millions more on the front lines and in military hospitals in Europe; in some populations in India, the mortality rate for those infected approached 20 percent. The best estimates suggest that as many as 100 million people died from the Great Influenza outbreak that eventually circled the globe. To put that in comparison, roughly three million people have died from Covid-19 over the past year, on a planet with four times as many people.

There was another key difference between these two pandemics. The H1N1 outbreak of 1918-19 was unusually lethal among young adults, normally the most resilient cohort during ordinary flu seasons. Younger people experienced a precipitous drop in expected life during the H1N1 outbreak, while the life expectancies of much older people were unaffected. In the United States, practically overnight, average life expectancy plunged to 47 from 54; in England and Wales, it fell more than a decade, from a historic height of 54 to an Elizabethan-era 41. India experienced average life expectancies below 30 years.

Imagine you were there at Camp Devens in late 1918, surveying the bodies stacked in a makeshift morgue. Or you were roaming the streets of Bombay, where more than 5 percent of the population died of influenza in a matter of months. Imagine touring the military hospitals of Europe, seeing the bodies of so many young men simultaneously mutilated by the new technologies of warfare — machine guns and tanks and aerial bombers — and the respiratory violence of H1N1. Imagine knowing the toll this carnage would take on global life expectancy, with the entire planet lurching backward to numbers more suited to the 17th century, not the 20th. What forecast would you have made for the next hundred years? Was the progress of the past half-century merely a fluke, easily overturned by military violence and the increased risk of pandemics in an age of global connection? Or was the Spanish flu a preview of an even darker future, in which some rogue virus could cause a collapse of civilization itself?

Both grim scenarios seemed within the bounds of possibility. And yet, amazingly, neither came to pass. Instead, what followed was a century of unexpected life.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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News 28.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Through the bars of his prison window Rédoine Faïd can see far off into the cloudless sky. It’s early on a sunny Sunday in July 2018, and for now, the morning is quiet and ordinary at the Réau penitentiary, 25 miles southeast of Paris. But Faïd can envision what’s coming—he can see it all unfold like the movie he’s been scripting for months in his mind.

Outside his cell, two guards approach. These are the solitary confinement quarters: a controlled unit within the maximum-security prison where notable or potentially dangerous criminals are held. Few prisoners in France are as notable as the 46-year-old Faïd, who officially ranks among the country’s highest-risk inmates. A notorious thief—the architect of a flurry of dazzling heists and blockbuster robberies in the 1990s that targeted banks, jewelry stores, and armored cars—Faïd became more infamous still in 2013, when he blasted out of the Sequedin prison, near Lille, where he’d been serving time after a botched robbery, using smuggled explosives. That dramatic escape embarrassed the top echelons of the French justice system, and since Faïd’s recapture six weeks later, he’s been under stringent restrictions.

The officers have come to escort Faïd to a visit with his brother. After unlocking his door, they pat down the prisoner. He’s a slim, bald man with a charming smile; he’s wearing an orange Hugo Boss T-shirt and has a dark suit jacket draped over his arm. As they search his pockets, they find something hard. A makeshift weapon? No, just a pack of candy. He’s a known sugar freak, with a love of mint Hollywood chewing gum.

Unperturbed by the candy, the guards ultimately detect nothing else of note. They’re used to keeping careful watch over him. “When he goes to use the telephone, the whole ward gets blocked off,” one of the guards tells France TV. “He’s the only detainee in France I’ve seen for whom even the staff get blocked off. He passes by with two supervisors and a guard from the solitary confinement wing. Like a star. He’s made into a star. Everybody watches him.”

Faïd had always wanted to become a real-life fictional character. The son of Algerian immigrants, he came of age with a crew of petty thieves and graduated from the projects of Creil—a hardscrabble Paris suburb—into a gangster who bedeviled police and enchanted his fellow criminals. It wasn’t just his flair that set him apart. An obsessive cinephile, Faïd envisioned himself from a young age as the protagonist of his own movie—and in his holdups he emulated exploits he had seen in the films of Quentin Tarantino and Kathryn Bigelow and his idol Michael Mann. To him, life itself became celluloid.

Even now, from Réau’s isolation ward, Faïd sees no reason why he can’t escape the truth of his past by authoring a different kind of movie for his future. Yes, he might be in solitary confinement, but he’s also certain that his greatest scene still lies ahead of him.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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