Roger Ebert, Gifts, Novels, Music, North Korea, Joe Scarborough


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Reflections After 25 Years As A Film Critic

Roger Ebert | 8th April 2016

“Anyone my age can remember walking into a movie palace where the ceiling was far overhead and the balconies reached away into the shadows. We remember the sound of 2,000 people laughing all at once. Today you walk into a shoebox, and peer around the head of the person in front of you, and in the quiet moments you can hear the sound effects from the movie next door. ‘I lost it at the movies’, Pauline Kael said, and we all knew just what she meant. Now we can’t even give it away” (2,800 words)

Just Deserts And Plato’s Republic

Brad De Long | Equitable Growth | 16th September 2016

“Humans are gift-exchange animals. We want to enter into reciprocal gift-exchange relationships. We create and reinforce social bonds by giving each other presents. We like to give. We like to receive. We like neither to feel like cheaters nor to feel cheated. We like, instead, to feel embedded in networks of mutual reciprocal obligation. To have received much more than we have given in return makes us feel very small. To give and give and give and never receive makes us feel like suckers” (1,300 words)

Save Publishing — And Ruin Novels

Susanne Althoff | Wired | 16th September 2016

Tech firms are building algorithms using e-reader data to predict and produce best-selling novels. The Best-Seller Code identifies 2,799 tropes, of which these are the current market leaders: “Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo); no sex, just ‘human closeness’; frequent use of the verb ‘need’; lots of contractions; not a lot of exclamation marks”. Dogs sell books, cats not so much (1,800 words)

Music Theory For Nerds

Eevee | Fuzzy Notepad | 15th September 2016

Melody and harmony from first principles. “The difficulty with music is that half of it is arbitrary and half of it is actually based on something, but you can’t tell the difference just by looking at it. Let’s start with that fact about the human ear: Doubling the pitch (= frequency) will sound ‘the same’ in some indescribable way. For any starting pitch f, you can thus generate an infinite number of other pitches that sound ‘the same’: ½f, 2f, ¼f, 4f, and so on. Let’s refer to a group of them as a note” (3,900 words)

Who Is Kim Jong-Un?

Andrew Nathan | New York Review of Books | 18th August 2016

An untested and seemingly unimpressive 27-year-old when he inherited the dictatorship of North Korea in 2011, Kim Jong Un has consolidated his power by executing dozens of possible rivals, allowing modest economic reforms, and accelerating his country’s nuclear weapons programme with China’s tacit approval. “Now, in China’s view, it is too late to denuclearize North Korea. What Kim Jong-un wants is international recognition as a nuclear power. Eventually the US will have to give it to him” (3,400 words)

Joe Scarborough Has Big Dreams

Jason Zengerle | GQ | 18th September 2016

Sizzling profile of the talk-show host who helped in Donald Trump’s rise and now wants to follow in Trump’s footsteps. “Scarborough’s ambitions have ratcheted up. He’s grown convinced that if Trump can make a serious run for the presidency, so, potentially, could he. According to Scarborough’s thinking, Trump demonstrates just how formidable a candidate with excellent media skills can be.” In the meantime, Scarborough is turning Trump’s story into a Broadway musical (5,100 words)

Video of the day: Disney Classics

What to expect:

Classical moments from 75 years of Disney films recreated using geometrical shapes (1’34”)

Thought for the day

We cannot have reason to reject a belief, except on the ground of some other belief
Bertrand Russell

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