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‘Not necessity, not desire, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything, they remain unhappy.’ –Nietzsche

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{ while ordinary people are struggling, those at the top are doing just fine. Income and wealth inequality have shot up. The top 1% of Americans command nearly twice the amount of income as the bottom 50%. The situation is more equitable in Europe, though the top 1% have had a good few decades. | The Economist | full story }

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{ Netflix performance burns hedge fund short sellers }

jangled through a jumble of life in doubts afterworse

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Size has been one of the most popular themes in monster movies, especially those from the 1950s. The premise is invariably to take something out of its usual context–make people small or something else (gorillas, grasshoppers, amoebae, etc.) large–and then play with the consequences. However, Hollywood’s approach to the concept has been, from a biologist’s perspective, hopelessly naïve. Absolute size cannot be treated in isolation; size per se affects almost every aspect of an organism’s biology. Indeed, the effects of size on biology are sufficiently pervasive and the study of these effects sufficiently rich in biological insight that the field has earned a name of its own: “scaling.” […]

Take any object–a sphere, a cube, a humanoid shape. […] If you change the size of this object but keep its shape (i.e., relative linear proportions) constant, something curious happens. Let’s say that you increase the length by a factor of two. Areas are proportional to length squared, but the new length is twice the old, so the new area is proportional to the square of twice the old length: i.e., the new area is not twice the old area, but four times the old area (2L x 2L).

Similarly, volumes are proportional to length cubed, so the new volume is not twice the old, but two cubed or eight times the old volume (2L x 2L x 2L). As “size” changes, volumes change faster than areas, and areas change faster than linear dimensions.

[…]

In The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), the hero is exposed to radioactive toxic waste and finds himself growing smaller and smaller. When he stops shrinking, he is about an inch tall, down by a factor of about 70 in linear dimensions. Thus, the surface area of his body, through which he loses heat, has decreased by a factor of 70 x 70 or about 5,000 times, but the mass of his body, which generates the heat, has decreased by 70 x 70 x 70 or 350,000 times. He’s clearly going to have a hard time maintaining his body temperature (even though his clothes are now conveniently shrinking with him) unless his metabolic rate increases drastically.

Luckily, his lung area has only decreased by 5,000-fold, so he can get the relatively larger supply of oxygen he needs, but he’s going to have to supply his body with much more fuel; like a shrew, he’ll probably have to eat his own weight daily just to stay alive. He’ll also have to give up sleeping and eat 24 hours a day or risk starving before he wakes up in the morning (unless he can learn the trick used by hummingbirds of lowering their body temperatures while they sleep).

Because of these relatively larger surface areas, he’ll be losing water at a proportionally larger rate, so he’ll have to drink a lot, too.

{ Fathom Archive | Continue reading }

art { Agnes Martin, Untitled, 1960 }

more { Delusional misidentification syndromes have fascinated filmmakers and psychiatrists alike }

Where would an investigator look for control hairs in a missing person’s case?

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Piper Jaffray analyst Stan Meyers said animated films generally cost about $100 million to make, as well as an additional $150 million to promote.

An executive producer who wants to drastically cut costs traditionally has two choices: water and hair. Those are the most expensive things to replicate accurately via animation. It’s no mistake that the characters in Minions, the most profitable movie ever made by Universal, are virtually bald and don’t seem to spend much time in the ocean.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

Bene ascolta chi la nota

Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, asks his editor (Hunter S. Thompson) if he could submit a novella instead of a “thinkpiece” to Rolling Stone. Hunter S. Thompson replies:

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Morality is herd instinct in the individual

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{ In 1934, the MPAA voluntarily passed the Motion Picture Production Code, more generally known as the Hays Code. The code prohibited certain plot lines and imagery from films and in publicity materials produced by the MPAA. Among other rules, there was to be no cleavage, no lace underthings, no drugs or drinking, no corpses, and no one shown getting away with a crime. A.L. Shafer, the head of photography at Columbia, took a photo that intentionally incorporated all of the 10 banned items into one image. | The Society Pages | Continue reading | More: Wikipedia }

‘La discrétion est le plus habile des calculs.’ —Balzac

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For the student of negotiation, Breaking Bad is an absolute treasure trove, producing an incredibly complex and varied array of bargaining parties and negotiated transactions, episode after episode. What’s so fascinating about these transactions is that they draw on familiar, foundational negotiation concepts in the service of less familiar, usually illicit ends. Put another way, when we watch Walter White negotiate, we watch a mega-criminal anti-hero implement the same “value-neutral” strategies that we teach lawyers and businesspeople. […]

This article examines five negotiations, one from each season, each featuring Walter White. The close readings provided show how the five negotiations demonstrate and/or disrupt foundational negotiation concepts or skills.

{ New Mexico Law Review | PDF | More: New Mexico Law Review, Special Edition dedicated to Breaking Bad }

Epstein had already demonstrated that the continuous and the discontinuous were never opposed to each other in cinema. What are opposed, or at least distinguished, are rather two ways of reconciling them.

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Movies are, for the most part, made up of short runs of continuous action, called shots, spliced together with cuts. With a cut, a filmmaker can instantaneously replace most of what is available in your visual field with completely different stuff. This is something that never happened in the 3.5 billion years or so that it took our visual systems to develop. You might think, then, that cutting might cause something of a disturbance when it first appeared. And yet nothing in contemporary reports suggests that it did. […]

What if we could go back in time and collect the reactions of naïve viewers on their very first experience with film editing?

It turns out that we can, sort of. There are a decent number of people on the planet who still don’t have TVs, and the psychologists Sermin Ildirar and Stephan Schwan have capitalised on their existence to ask how first-time viewers experience cuts. […] There was no evidence that the viewers found cuts in the films to be shocking or incomprehensible. […]

I think the explanation is that, although we don’t think of our visual experience as being chopped up like a Paul Greengrass fight sequence, actually it is.

Simply put, visual perception is much jerkier than we realise. First, we blink. Blinks happen every couple of seconds, and when they do we are blind for a couple of tenths of a second. Second, we move our eyes. Want to have a little fun? Take a close-up selfie video of your eyeball while you watch a minute’s worth of a movie on your computer or TV. You’ll see your eyeball jerking around two or three times every second.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

Against those who defined Italian neo-realism by its social content, Bazin put forward the fundamental requirement of formal aesthetic criteria. According to him, it was a matter of a new form of reality, said to be dispersive, elliptical, errant or wavering, working in blocs, with deliberately weak connections and floating events. The real was no longer represented or reproduced but “aimed at.” Instead of representing an already deciphered real, neo-realism aimed at an always ambiguous, to be deciphered, real; this is why the sequence shot tended to replace the montage of representations. […]

[I]n Umberto D, De Sica constructs the famous sequence quoted as an example by Bazin: the young maid going into the kitchen in the morning, making a series of mechanical, weary gestures, cleaning a bit, driving the ants away from a water fountain, picking up the coffee grinder, stretching out her foot to close the door with her toe. And her eyes meet her pregnant woman’s belly, and it is as though all the misery in the world were going to be born. This is how, in an ordinary or everyday situation, in the course of a series of gestures, which are insignificant but all the more obedient to simple sensory-motor schemata, what has suddenly been brought about is a pure optical situation to which the little maid has no response or reaction. The eyes, the belly, that is what an encounter is … […] The Lonely Woman [Viaggio in ltalia] follows a female tourist struck to the core by the simple unfolding of images or visual cliches in which she discovers something unbearable, beyond the limit of what she can person- ally bear. This is a cinema of the seer and no longer of the agent.

What defines neo-realism is this build-up of purely optical situations (and sound ones, although there was no synchronized sound at the start of neo-realism), which are fundamentally distinct from the sensory-motor situations of the action-image in the old realism. […]

It is clear from the outset that cinema had a special relationship with belief. […] The modern fact is that we no longer believe in this world. We do not even believe in the events which happen to us, love, death, as if they only halfconcerned us. It is not we who make cinema; it is the world which looks to us like a bad film. […] The link between man and the world is broken. Henceforth, this link must become an object of belief: it is the impossible which can only be restored within a faith. Belief is no longer addressed to a different or transformed world. Man is in the world as if in a pure optical and sound situation.

{ Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, The Time-Image, 1985 | PDF, 17.2 MB }

‘Free from what?’ —Nietzsche

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{ Adam Savage’s Overlook Hotel Maze Model | watch video }

I’d tell you to eat a shit sandwich, but you probably don’t like the taste of bread

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So how did such a turkey ever escape the studio lot? A significant part of the answer lies in the dumbing-down of the audience that began decades ago, when studios discovered that kids would turn out to see almost any piece of junk on any weekend provided the marketing departments did their jobs. Movies weren’t the only coarseners of pop culture, but they led the way, with the eager assent of the paying public.

{ Joe Morgenstern/WSJ | Continue reading }

‘That something is irrational is no argument against its existence, but rather a condition for it.’ –Nietzsche

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With the First Amendment, you’re never protecting Jefferson; it’s usually protecting some guy who’s burning a flag or doing something stupid. […]

Here’s the brilliant thing they did. You embarrass them first, so that no one gets on your side. After the Obama joke, no one was going to get on the side of Amy, and so suddenly, everyone ran for the hills.

{ George Clooney/Deadline | Continue reading }

photo { Christopher Morris }

‘I like a woman with a head on her shoulders. I hate necks.’ —Steve Martin

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It’s called “beauty work.” It’s a digital procedure of sorts, in which a handful of skilled artists use highly specialized software in the final stages of post-production to slim, de-age and enhance actors’ faces and bodies. […]

Under strict non-disclosure agreements, Hollywood A-listers have been quietly slipping in and out of a few bland office buildings around town, many to sit in on days-long retouching sessions, directing the artists to make every frame suitable. […]

Hips are narrowed, calves slimmed, turkey-necks tucked. Pores are tightened. Eye-bags reduced (often, entire hangovers are erased). Hair is thickened, teeth whitened. Underarm-skin is de-jiggled. Belly fat obliterated, abs raised.

{ Mashable | Continue reading }

‘Pendant les premiers temps de son mariage, il se croit heureux. En fait il est hébété, il a reçu un coup sur la tête.’ –Léon Tolstoi

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Love stories are dynamic processes that begin, develop, and often stay for a relatively long time in a stationary or fluctuating regime, before possibly fading. Although they are, undoubtedly, the most important dynamic process in our life, they have only recently been cast in the formal frame of dynamical systems theory.

In particular, why it is so difficult to predict the evolution of sentimental relationships continues to be largely unexplained. A common reason for this is that love stories reflect the turbulence of the surrounding social environment. But we can also imagine that the interplay of the characters involved contributes to make the story unpredictable—that is, chaotic.

In other words, we conjecture that sentimental chaos can have a relevant endogenous origin. To support this intriguing conjecture, we mimic a real and well-documented love story with a mathematical model in which the environment is kept constant, and show that the model is chaotic. The case we analyze is the triangle described in Jules et Jim, an autobiographic novel by Henri-Pierre Roché that became famous worldwide after the success of the homonymous film directed by François Truffaut.

The results fully support our conjecture and also highlight the genius of François Truffaut.

{ Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science | PDF }

photo { Man Ray, Rayograph, 1925 }