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News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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From 1972, Alan Rickman kept a pocket diary in which he noted appointments, anniversaries, opening nights and addresses. In 1992, he started to produce a much fuller account of his life and work and bought diaries from a local stationer’s that gave him a page a day to play with. These number 26 volumes, several of which are colourfully and beautifully illustrated.

Why he kept a diary is unclear. Diarists come in all shapes, and their reasons for recording their lives are similarly diverse. Some people want to bear witness to earth-shattering events while others are content to detail what appears to be trivia but which, with the passage of time, acquires enduring significance. What follows is an edited account of the nearly 11 years defined by Rickman’s role as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Occasionally, something happens that is so blatantly and obviously misguided that trying to explain it rationally makes you sound ridiculous. Such is the case with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’s recent ruling in NetChoice v. Paxton. Earlier this month, the court upheld a preposterous Texas law stating that online platforms with more than 50 million monthly active users in the United States no longer have First Amendment rights regarding their editorial decisions. Put another way, the law tells big social-media companies that they can’t moderate the content on their platforms. YouTube purging terrorist-recruitment videos? Illegal. Twitter removing a violent cell of neo-Nazis harassing people with death threats? Sorry, that’s censorship, according to Andy Oldham, a judge of the United States Court of Appeals and the former general counsel to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

A state compelling social-media companies to host all user content without restrictions isn’t merely, as the First Amendment litigation lawyer Ken White put it on Twitter, “the most angrily incoherent First Amendment decision I think I’ve ever read.” It’s also the type of ruling that threatens to blow up the architecture of the internet. To understand why requires some expertise in First Amendment law and content-moderation policy, and a grounding in what makes the internet a truly transformational technology. So I called up some legal and tech-policy experts and asked them to explain the Fifth Circuit ruling—and its consequences—to me as if I were a precocious 5-year-old with a strange interest in jurisprudence.

Techdirt founder Mike Masnick, who has been writing for decades about the intersection of tech policy and civil liberties, told me that the ruling is “fractally wrong”—made up of so many layers of wrongness that, in order to fully comprehend its significance, “you must understand the historical wrongness before the legal wrongness, before you can get to the technical wrongness.” In theory, the ruling means that any state in the Fifth Circuit (such as Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) could “mandate that news organizations must cover certain politicians or certain other content” and even implies that “the state can now compel any speech it wants on private property.” The law would allow both the Texas attorney general and private citizens who do business in Texas to bring suit against the platforms if they feel their content was removed because of a specific viewpoint. Daphne Keller, the director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, told me that such a law could amount to “a litigation DDoS [Denial of Service] attack, unleashing a wave of potentially frivolous and serious suits against the platforms.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

Meg Lethem was working at her bakery job one morning in Boston when she had an epiphany. Tasked with choosing the day’s soundtrack, she opened Spotify, then flicked and flicked, endlessly searching for something to play. Nothing was perfect for the moment. She looked some more, through playlist after playlist. An uncomfortably familiar loop, it made her realise: she hated how music was being used in her life. “That was the problem,” she says. “Using music, rather than having it be its own experience … What kind of music am I going to use to set a mood for the day? What am I going to use to enjoy my walk? I started not really liking what that meant.”

It wasn’t just passive listening, but a utilitarian approach to music that felt like a creation of the streaming environment. “I decided that having music be this tool to [create] an experience instead of an experience itself was not something I was into,” she reflects. So she cut off her Spotify service, and later, Apple Music too, to focus on making her listening more “home-based” and less of a background experience.

Such reckonings have become increasingly commonplace in recent years, as dedicated music listeners continue to grapple with the unethical economics of streaming companies, and feel the effects of engagement-obsessed, habit-forming business models on their own listening and discovery habits. In the process, they are seeking alternatives.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 1972, after a concert in Brussels, the American composer Steve Reich and his ensemble heard a flamenco duo in a local nightclub. “They were terrible,” he later recalled. “Then, all of a sudden, they started clapping at each other. My ensemble was mostly percussionists. We looked at each other and went, ‘Whey! What’s this?’ We listened to them creating these interlocking patterns, which they were improvising and is a part of flamenco. And then, as we went out, after several more drinks, we found ourselves improvising clapping patterns on the street.”

Since 1965 Reich had been experimenting with a compositional technique called phasing, where two or more instruments start in unison, cautiously slip apart from each other in tempo – creating an echo first, then a more complex mesh of sound – before coming back together. He’d discovered the technique by way of a musical accident, while looping tapes, and then applied it to different instruments (two pianos, two violins, four organs, a larger ensemble of drummers). Now he wondered whether phase shifting flamenco-style clapping might produce an interesting result. If successful, the ultimate DIY piece would be born: no instruments beyond two pairs of hands required, a quick rehearsal in a corridor before show-time – and it doesn’t matter if there’s a power cut mid-performance.

Using a traditional African bell rhythm in 12/8 time, Reich found he could only make the piece work if one clapper kept a steady line and the other shifted by one eighth note every 12 bars, rather than both performers phasing in and out with each other. Some 144 bars later – five minutes or so – the clappers are back in unison, a sonic circle complete. He named the work Clapping Music and later said, “It’s perfect! Not every piece I write is perfect, but this one, it’s perfect.” It allowed Reich to move on from what he called in a 1968 essay “music as a gradual process” and develop new ideas. But 50 years after its creation, it’s clear that Clapping Music is more than a significant work in a single composer’s career. It’s minimalist music at its most organic; a pinnacle of the aesthetic in its initial form.

Minimalism is notoriously hard to define. It often employs short repeating patterns that change gradually, creating a hypnotic effect – but that’s not true of all minimalist works. Reich credits the British composer Michael Nyman with adapting the term from the visual arts to music in 1968. But Reich winces at its use, as do minimalism’s other founding fathers, La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. They are all American and were all born within two years of each other. Their music can be wildly diverse, but combined it has a powerful effect. Classical composition was due a reset in the 1960s and 1970s, and it was minimalism that provided the deep clean needed for its survival.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Statesman

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News 28.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

‘It was Bob’s film,” says Irwin Winkler, the producer of Raging Bull. By which he means that it was Robert De Niro’s driving passion, long before it became Martin Scorsese’s common-consent greatest work. At the time—the late 70s—no one could understand what the actor saw in the life story of Jake La Motta, the brutal, yet curiously masochistic, middleweight boxing champion from 1949 to 1951, who may have been bull-like in the ring but was often more raving than raging when he was just trying to live his life.

I’m not certain that De Niro himself could, at the time, have fully explained his obsession with what was nominally a biopic and nominally a boxing picture, but was not quite either one. It had something to do, he now thinks, with “the primal emotions” the film trafficked in. He felt that if an essentially middle-class movie audience could be induced to empathize with these marginal, emotionally ignorant, and screechingly inarticulate people—La Motta, his wife, and his brother—it would be a good, discomfiting, perhaps even instructive experience.

He also believed, more certainly, that the only man who could possibly make the movie was his closest friend, Marty Scorsese. This, in turn, means that, when we’re talking about how Raging Bull came into being, the drama is not centered on its sets or in its editing rooms—that part was relatively easy. The real story took place in offices, restaurants—even in a hospital room and on a balmy Caribbean island. Essentially, it was all about Mobilizing Marty. To Thelma Schoonmaker, the film’s editor, the project was “a great gift of friendship” on De Niro’s part. But for the longest time it seemed anything but that to the director, who was then passing through what was surely the greatest crisis of his professional life, wondering whether he would make another film of any sort, let alone one as challenging, as enigmatic, to him as Raging Bull.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

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