Music, Meteorology, France, Nostalgia, Yanis Varoufakis, Humour


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Mozart In The Machine

Yuval Noah Harari | Bloomberg View | 3rd May 2017

“Of all forms of art, music is probably the most susceptible to Big Data, because inputs and outputs lend themselves to mathematical depiction. The inputs are mathematical patterns of soundwaves, the outputs are electrochemical patterns of neural storms … Using your personal biometric data, algorithms could produce personalized melodies, which you alone in the entire world would appreciate. By using massive biometric databases, the algorithm could produce a global hit” (1,600 words)

The Little Florentine Thermometer

Dario Camuffo | Europe Now | 2nd May 2017

Meteorological observations by the Medici Network and the Academy Of Experiments in 17C Florence were some of the earliest modern science. Funding and protection from Prince Leopold de’ Medici and the Grand Duke of Tuscany enabled the two institutions to attack Aristotelianism and folklore, and to promote knowledge of the world derived from experiments, in the manner of Galileo. Their invention of the first reliable outdoor thermometer led to the first European weather service (2,860 words)

The Modern Prince Of France

Razmig Keucheyan | Verso | 3rd May 2017

Useful discussion of the French presidential election. Emmanuel Macron owes his place as front-runner to a coincidence of contingencies: François Hollande’s decision not to run, François Fillon’s scandals, Benoît Hamon’s victory over Manuel Valls, the elimination of Alain Juppé. “All these events opened up a political space in the centre. Without them Macron would very probably not have reached the second round. So we have to resist the temptation to talk of a revolution in French politics” (1,900 words)

Look Back With Danger

Simon Goldhill | Times Literary Supplement | 3rd May 2017

Until the last century nostalgia was classed as an illness. Now it denotes a pleasure, up to a point. “Today’s constant talk of nostalgia – for old passport covers, old manners, old food, and above all that fantasy of a Britain before multiculturalism – is in part a response to rapid social change and feelings of insecurity. These nostalgic images are a shoddy replacement for any sophisticated understanding of history, and that is why we should be worried when politicians play the nostalgia card” (1,700 words)

Adults In The Room

Paul Mason | Guardian | 3rd May 2017

Yanis Varoufakis has written “one of the greatest political memoirs of all time”. As a “manual for exploring the perils of statecraft”, Adults In The Room is the equal of Caro on Johnson. “Varoufakis explains how the power network is built. Aris gets a loan from Zorba’s bank; Zorba writes off the loan but Zorba’s construction company gets a contract from Aris’s ministry. Aris’s son gets a job at Zorba’s TV station, which for some reason is always bankrupt and so can never pay tax” (1,600 words)

The Birth Of Humour In Modern China

Chris Rea & Geremie Barmé | China Heritage | 1st May 2017

Book extract. “Humour exploded onto China’s literary scene on 16 September 1932 with the arrival of Analects Fortnightly. Within weeks of the magazine’s first issue, Chinese critics were using new phrases and concepts such as a ‘sense of humour’, ‘humour literature’, and the ‘humorous sketch’. Humour and laughter became the focus of unprecedented theorising and polemical debate. What was humour? Did China need it? How could and should Chinese people laugh?” (2,800 words)

Video of the day: The Life Of Death

What to expect:

Hand-drawn animation by Marsha Onderstijn about the day Death fell in love with Life (5′)

Thought for the day

There is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves
Richard M. Rorty

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