Longreads: Prosthetic Pinkies, The Persian Factory, Purdie plays Drums and Winona Forever

Ich befülle schon seit ein paar Wochen einen Channel in Niu.ws, einem Mobile-Service für kuratierte Longreads und Zeugs. Meinen NC-Channel findet man hier, die Links poste ich ab sofort auch hier, immer wenn ein paar zusammengekommen sind (demnächst dann irgendwie automatisch per RSS, daran bastel ich aber grade noch).

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The Persian Factory: „In a story rarely told before, this is an invitation to discover a different and surprising Iran, and to experience its dynamic art scene. Most art forms in Iran are closely monitored and artists have to perform discretely, staging shows in caves, private art galleries or isolated fields where officials won’t see them.“

The Digital Dirt – How TMZ gets the videos and photos that celebrities want to hide.: „TMZ resembles an intelligence agency as much as a news organization, and it has turned its domain, Los Angeles, into a city of stool pigeons. In an e-mail from last year, a photographer reported having four airport sources for the day, including 'Harold at Delta, Leon at Baggage service, Fred at hudson news, Lyle at Fruit and nut stand.' A former TMZ cameraman showed me expense reports that he had submitted in 2010, reflecting payments of forty or fifty dollars to various sources: to the counter girl at a Beverly Hills salon, for information on Goldie Hawn; to a valet, for Pete Sampras; to a shopkeeper, for Dwight Howard; and to a waiter, for Hayden Christensen. 'Everybody rats everybody else out,' Simon Cardoza, a former cameraman for the site, told me. 'That’s the beauty of TMZ.'“


A 'Brief' History of Neural Nets and Deep Learning, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4: „This may sound hyperbolic - to say the established methods of an entire field of research are quickly being superseded by a new discovery, as if hit by a research ‘tsunami’. But, this catastrophic language is appropriate for describing the meteoric rise of Deep Learning over the last several years - a rise characterized by drastic improvements over reigning approaches towards the hardest problems in AI, massive investments from industry giants such as Google, and exponential growth in research publications (and Machine Learning graduate students).“

ghana14How Ghana's Gory, Gaudy Movie Posters Became High Art: „When Frank Armah began painting posters for Ghanaian movie theaters in the mid-1980s, he was given a clear mandate: Sell as many tickets as possible. If the movie was gory, the poster should be gorier (skulls, blood, skulls dripping blood). If it was sexy, make the poster sexier (breasts, lots of them, ideally at least watermelon-sized). And when in doubt, throw in a fish.“ (Vorher auf NC: Tons of handpainted Movieposters from Ghana)

How Videogames are changing the Action Movie: „Spectre‘s opening shot should also be familiar to anyone who’s played a third-person videogame. The perspective is commonplace, the camera closely tracking the main character, often but not always from behind. And, in Spectre, as in almost any game, the camera itself is a gliding, mobile presence that remains unblinking in its focus. It’s evidence in the case that videogames have started showing a strong influence on cinematography beyond goofier incarnations such as CGI, tie-ins, or critically derided adaptations. Instead, the movies leading this charge across mediums are rooted in physicality and often adored by cineastes.“

The Woman Who Makes Prosthetic Pinkies for Ex-Yakuza Members: „'Yubitsume'—finger shortening—is a ritualistic form of self-amputation undertaken by members of the Japanese mafia or yakuza to atone for mistakes. The practice dates back to the 1700s, when gamblers known as bakuto would accept a person’s severed finger in order to settle a gambling debt. The little finger on the left hand was chosen as its removal hampers a person’s grip on their sword (katana), weakening them as an opponent.“

The Game Industry of South Africa: „Ruan Gates, a third-year game design student at Witwatersrand University, is lost in the dirt roads of Johannesburg. He’s trying to make it back to campus, where Wits is hosting a presentation on mobile game design. His GPS picks up the location, but each route it maps leads to a metal gate. He's in Northgate, an upper middle-class suburb. Every house is walled off and topped with barbed wire and advertisements for private security companies with names like 'NYPD Security.'“

Everything About Everything: David Foster Wallace’s ‘Infinite Jest’ at 20: „How is it […] that 'Infinite Jest' still feels so transcendentally, electrically alive? […] As a novel about an 'entertainment' weaponized to enslave and destroy all who look upon it, 'Infinite Jest' is the first great Internet novel. Yes, William Gibson and Neal Stephenson may have gotten there first with 'Neuromancer' and 'Snow Crash,' whose Matrix and Metaverse, respectively, more accurately surmised what the Internet would look and feel like. (Wallace, among other things, failed to anticipate the break from cartridge- and disc-based entertainment.) But 'Infinite Jest' warned against the insidious virality of popular entertainment long before anyone but the most Delphic philosophers of technology. Sharing videos, binge-watching Netflix, the resultant neuro-pudding at the end of an epic gaming marathon, the perverse seduction of recording and devouring our most ordinary human thoughts on Facebook and Instagram — Wallace somehow knew all this was coming, and (as the man himself might have put it) it gave him the howling fantods.“


The epic uncool of Philip Seymour Hoffman: „He wasn’t a tabloid fixture or subject of gossip. He was an artist who lent the often ridiculous and ephemeral act of pretending to be other people an innate dignity. He wasn’t averse to big paychecks—he appeared in Mission: Impossible III and the Hunger Games films, and was Ben Stiller’s wacky sidekick in the radiantly mediocre Along Came Polly—but he seemed to approach every role with an utmost seriousness that seldom veered into pretension.“

spot_03_0Winona, Forever: „'The goddam movies. They can ruin you. I’m not kidding.' At 17, Winona Ryder underlined those words by Holden Caulfield in one of two copies of The Catcher in the Rye she was carrying with her. 'Me and Holden are, like, this team,' she said. Ryder has since referred, more than once, to J.D. Salinger’s magnum angstus as her bible, and has since mentioned, more than once, that she has read it about 50 times.“

We're the Only Animals With Chins, and No One Knows Why: „'It's really strange that only humans have chins,' says James Pampush from Duke University. 'When we're looking at things that are uniquely human, we can't look to big brains or bipedalism because our extinct relatives had those. But they didn't have chins. That makes this immediately relevant to everyone.'“

Policing the Future: „In the aftermath of Michael Brown's death, St. Louis cops embrace crime-predicting software.“

You may not know his name, but you’ve heard Bernard 'Pretty' Purdie play drums: „You have heard Bernard Purdie play drums. He has made you dance. This isn’t about musical taste — it’s just math. 'What a Wonderful World.' 'Rock Steady.' 'It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.' 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.' '(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.' And those are just a few of his better-known, uncontested credits. In his heyday, the early ’60s through the ’70s, he was punctual, nailed songs on the first take, worked for hours on end, and played with inspiring energy and perfect, metronomic time. Producers loved him. They called him 'Pretty.' Bernard 'Pretty' Purdie. You have heard him play drums.“