Hollywood In France, Ku Klux Klan, Jaron Lanier, Depression, Chickens & Dinosaurs, Ransom Payments,


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The Invisible Stars Who Make Hollywood French

Mac McClelland | Matter | 12th November 2014

How American films get dubbed into French. "The director gives notes. The French-language script rolling along the bottom comes courtesy of custom-built software that displays, as well as the words, symbols that denote the perfect timing of voice-related actions in the movie. There’s a symbol to audibly inhale. A symbol to exhale. A symbol for kissing noises, which the actors must make with their mouths on their hands" (5,590 words)

No Twang Of Conscience

Patsy Sims | Oxford American | 6th November 2014

Recollections of interviewing Ku Klux Klan leaders in the American South in the mid-1970s — among them, Edgar Ray Killen, believed to have organised the murder of three young civil rights workers in Mississipi in 1964. The racists' political power was ebbing but they were still physically threatening. "When you’ve got law enforcement tied in with the Klan roaming the roads, you can get a lock on the community” (11,400 words)

The Myth Of Artificial Intelligence

Jaron Lanier | Edge | 14th November 2014

Wide-ranging monologue debunking the more extravagant claims made for artificial intelligence. AI is "a set of techniques, a field of study in mathematics or engineering", using algorithms and data-sets to generate predictions. The notion that AI may evolve into a force that takes over and destroys human civilisation is a "re-creation of some of the traditional ideas about religion, but applied to the technical world" (6,000 words)

The Endlessly Examined Life

George Scialabba | The Baffler | 13th November 2014

In which the writer publishes extracts from his own medical records covering 45 years of treatments for depression. "Currently, patient endorses low energy, depressed mood, difficult focusing, poor sleep, agitation, as well as a tightness in his chest and a “flaming sensation within me”. Does not have suicidal thoughts currently, but has wished in the recent past that he would be able to go to sleep and not wake up" (7,100 words)

Turning A Chicken Into A Dinosaur

Jackson Landers | Washington Post | 10th November 2014 | Metered paywall

Paleontologist Jack Horner believes that he can grow small dinosaurs using chicken genomes. He argues that, since chickens evolved from dinosaurs, the dinosaur genes are still dormant in the chicken genome and can be reactivated. A colleague is sceptical: "Technically, you are going to have a messed-up chicken. It’s not a dinosaur. It’s never going to be a dinosaur. It’s just going to be a really awful monstrosity" (1,560 words)

The Case For Paying Ransoms

Simon Critchley | New York Review Of Books | 12th November 2014

Should a government refuse to negotiate ransom payments with an evil organisation, keep its word, and watch its citizens get beheaded? Or should it refuse publicly to pay ransom, while negotiating to do so in secret? The second course is better. "The effectiveness of the strategy depends on the fact that it is not openly acknowledged, and indeed that it is repeatedly repudiated by the governments in question" (1,770 words)

Grimm Fairytales Have Horror Restored

Alison Flood | Guardian | 12th November 2014

A new English translation of the "unsanitised" first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales reveals that Rapunzel was impregnated by her prince; the evil queen was Snow White's biological mother; and Cinderella's step-sisters chopped lumps off their feet. Wilhelm Grimm censored later editions, deleting some stories entirely — including, thankfully, the tale of a family massacre entitled How Some Children Played At Slaughtering (1,140 words)

Video of the day: It's Just A Theory

What to expect: Explainer. What scientists mean when they call something a "theory" (3'40")

Thought for the day

In politics obedience and support are the same
Hannah Arendt (https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/12806.Hannah_Arendt?page=2)

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