Chelsea Hotel, L. Ron Hubbard, Neil Gorsuch, Hollywood, FBI Informants, Texas Hold'em


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Make America Bohemian Again

Joe Bagel | Medium | 29th January 2017

The Chelsea Hotel was an incubator for start-up artists. Jasper Johns, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, William de Kooning and Pollock painted there; Dylan, Cohen, Joplin, Mitchell, Madonna, Nico, Cher, Graham Nash, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, John Cale, Édith Piaf, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Sid Vicious made music there. Art worth more than $2.1 billion was created at the Chelsea Hotel. Can’t somebody build another affordable artists’ co-op, and see what happens? (1,930 words)

Xenu’s Paradox

Alec Nevala-Lee | Longreads | 1st February 2017

How L. Ron Hubbard evolved from a writer of short stories to the founder of a religion. “Hubbard churned out science fiction to meet the demands of his editors, and he built a religion around it because it appealed to his initial circle of followers, many of whom were fans who had first encountered his work in magazines like Astounding. He didn’t choose his disciples; they chose him. And he told them what they wanted to hear until he was transformed in the process” (7,700 words)

The Clarity Of Neil Gorsuch

Josh Bernoff | Without Bulls**t | 1st February 2017

An introduction to the new Supreme Court nominee, mostly in his own well-turned words: “Judges should strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be — not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best” (1,280 words)

Hollywood As We Know It Is Over

Nick Bilton | Vanity Fair | 1st February 2017

Hollywood is “dying”. The studios are full of “waste and bloat”. American movie attendance is at a 19-year low. International markets want high-risk blockbusters that can be made anywhere. The future is in content delivered online and on-demand. Before long we will be watching movies on VR headsets, with all the immersion of the biggest-screen theatre. That is almost a certainty. But how much longer before algorithms start writing the scripts, and making the films too? (3,500 words)

How The FBI Pays Informants

Trevor Aaronson | Intercept | 31st January 2017

FBI officers have the resources to pay their informants well — up to $100,000 a year without further clearance, and up to $500,000 with authorisation. But when the case comes to trial, the prosecution will not want the defence to be arguing that the informant was effectively bribed to testify; so often the FBI pays a lump-sum after the trial. “You never tell your source how much he’s going to get at the end of a trial. You just wink and nod, and say: Hey, we’re going to take care of you at the end” (1,695 words)

The 20-Year Quest For A Poker-Playing Computer

Joshua Brustein | Bloomberg | 31st January 2017

Carnegie Mellon has tuned its poker software to world-champion pitch by matching it against top human players for thousands of hands of Texas Hold’em in three-week sessions. Last time round, the computer took its opponents for a notional $1.8 million. After 20 years, machine intelligence has mastered a game that was supposed to be all about human psychology and imperfect information. Expect an algorithmic arms race between online poker-platforms and high-stakes gamblers (2,600 words)

Video of the day: Overweight

What to expect:

Cartoon about what we leave behind when we travel, by Yonatan Tal (1’50”)

Thought for the day

Admissions are mostly made by those who do not know their importance
Mr Justice Darling

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