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Digital Death And The Digital Afterlife. How To Have One And How To Avoid It

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In 2012, the UK’s Sunday Times reported that actor Bruce Willis was going to sue Apple because he was not legally allowed to bequeath his iTunes collection of music to his children. The story turned out to be false (and shockingly bad journalism) but it did start a conversation about what we can, and can’t, do with our digital possessions.

It turns out that “possessions” is actually a misnomer. We actually don’t own the music, books and movies we “buy” from Apple and Amazon. As Amazon puts it in its license terms, “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider”. In other words, we are allowed to read the content but we are not allowed to pass it on.

More at The Conversation

Streaming Music Has Left Me Adrift

Streaming Music

It’s hard to imagine now, but there once was a time when you could not play any song ever recorded, instantly, from your phone. I call this period adolescence. It lasted approximately 30 years, and it was galvanized by conflict.

At that time, music had to be melted onto plastic discs and shipped across the country in trucks. In order to keep this system running smoothly, a handful of major labels coordinated with broadcasters and retailers to encourage everyone to like the same thing, e.g. Third Eye Blind. This approach divided music into two broad categories: “popular” and what I liked.

More at The New York Times

Jeff Koons: Beyond Taste And Shame

Jeff Koons

Something about Jeff Koons gets people very bothered. When the artist appropriated in 1992 a kitsch image of a vacantly grinning couple with a litter of puppies to blissfully creepy effect, blown up to life size in polychromed wood, the greeting-card photographer who owned the image sued. Judge Richard J. Cardamone of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled against Koons, taking care to note that many found the artist “truly offensive” and that his works sold for over $100,000.

Koons’ work also prompted Basque terrorists to pose as florists and arrange bomb-laden flowerpots around Koons’ giant topiary “Puppy” outside the Guggenheim Bilbao in 1997. (They were busted by two Spanish policemen, one of whom was shot dead.)

More at Aljazeera America

Inside The Motörhead Motörböat Cruise

Motorhead Cruise

I had heard rumors that the Motörhead “Motörböat” cruise ran out of booze before the trip was over. Of course that’s not shocking news when you’re talking about a boat full of hard-drinking headbangers, Lemmy Kilmister (who despite his recent health issues has switched out his beloved Jack Daniels for vodka because it’s “better for you”) as well as various other metal bands that love their party liquids.

More at Dangerous Minds

Nightmare At The Picasso Museum

Picasso And Bardot

The greatest museum of Picasso’s works has been engulfed by scandal and crisis. Closed for the past five years, it is finally ready to reopen its doors to the public. But has the bitter struggle for Picasso’s legacy been resolved?

More at The Guardian

Mindsuckers

Mindsucker

It is as astonishing as it is sad to watch a ladybug turn into a zombie. Normally ladybugs are sophisticated and voracious predators. A single individual may devour several thousand aphids in a lifetime. To find a victim, it first waves its antennae to detect chemicals that plants release when they’re under attack by herbivorous insects. Once it has homed in on these signals, the ladybug switches its sensory scan to search for molecules released only by aphids. Then it creeps up and strikes, ripping the aphid apart with barbed mandibles.

Ladybugs are also well protected against most of their enemies. Their red-and-black dome, so adorable to the human eye, is actually a warning to would-be predators: You will regret this. When a bird or some other animal tries to attack, the ladybug bleeds poison from its leg joints. The attacker tastes the bitter blood and spits the ladybug out. Predators learn to read the red-and-black wing covers as a message to stay away.

More at National Geographic

How Tarantino Defined Independent Cinema

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On the evening of September 23rd, 1994, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction had its hotly anticipated North American premiere at the opening night gala of the New York Film Festival, at the Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side. It was the film’s first screening since its world premiere that May at Cannes, where it took home the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top prize, and expectations could hardly have been higher. In short the crowd was prepared not so much for a film as for an event—and they got one, though perhaps not the one they’d imagined.

More at Details

Hitler Was A Regular User Of Crystal Meth

Hitler On Meth

Last year, newly published letters written by Nobel prize winner Heinrich Böll appeared to confirm that Nazi troops took crystal methamphetamines in order to stay awake and motivated, despite the desperate conditions they faced on the front line. Now, new research has revealed that Adolf Hitler was himself a regular user of the drug, now a Class A, prized among addicts for its feeling of euphoria but feared for its mental destructiveness.

More at The Independent

You’d Be Amazed To Learn How Much Music Is Disappearing

Spillers Records in Cardiff, UK, 2003

In 1903, Huddie William Ledbetter was one of the strongest voices in American folk and blues. Known as Lead Belly, Ledbetter was known as the King of the Twelve String Guitar, but he also played the piano, the mandolin, the harmonica, and the violin. He wrote songs about racism and politics. His songs have been covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Nirvana. They tell hard stories about what it was like to be black and a musician in the early 1930s. They are treasures.

But many of Lead Belly’s original recordings no longer exist. The tapes that held his last sessions were beyond saving after the oxide on the top of the record fell off rendering it unplayable. Because conservators couldn’t get to them earlier, those songs are lost forever. Let’s repeat that — some of these songs, among the most significant in music history, are less than 100 years old but still lost to us for all time.

More at Vox

Vampire Grave In Bulgaria Holds A Skeleton With A Stake Through Its Heart

Vampire Grave

Archeologists in Bulgaria haved uncovered a 13th century staked “vampire” at Perperikon, an ancient Thracian site in the south of the country, Archaeology reports. The remains once belonged to a man who was likely in his 40s. An iron rod had been hammered through his chest “to keep the corpse from rising from the dead and disturbing the living,” Archaeology continues, and his left leg had also been removed and placed beside the corpse.

More at Smithsonian