wednesday | 3 april 2013

WAR AND PEACE

AL QAEDA WANTS AFRICA

Aris Roussinos | Vice | via Longform.org

This February, after a victorious battle against Islamic insurgents in the Saharan city of Gao, the Malian army put on a tour for the assembled press. Journalists from various news outlets from around the world stood in a dusty courtyard in the heart of the city. Gao is a conservative town—the sort of place where six-month-old babies wear hijabs—and since last year, it has played host to some of the fiercest battles in an international conflict that could reach far beyond Mali’s 15 million people: the fight to prevent al Qaeda from flourishing in Africa.

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WORK

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HOW SHARED DIAPER DUTY COULD HELP THE ECONOMY

Catherine Rampell | The New York Times

In order to prescribe policies that really allow female workers to “lean in” at work, social scientists are trying to find ones that recast social norms and encourage male workers to “lean in” at home. One area where there seems to be a lot of potential is paternity leave, which still has a stigma in both the United States and Europe. To remedy this bad rap, countries like Sweden and Norway have recently introduced a quota of paid parental leave available only to fathers. If dads don’t take it, they’re leaving money on the table. In Germany and Portugal, moms get bonus weeks of maternity leave if their husbands take a minimum amount of paternity leave. All these countries have seen gigantic increases in the share of fathers who go on leave.

7 RULES FOR MANAGING CREATIVE PEOPLE

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic | Harvard Business Review
1. Spoil them and let them fail
2. Surround them by semi-boring people
3. Only involve them in meaningful work
4. Don’t pressure them
5. Pay them poorly
6. Surprise them
7. Make them feel important

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MEDIA

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TEN YEARS OF NEWS CORP INCOME DATA IN LESS THAN A MINUTE

Gretchen Gavett | Harvard Business Review

At my previous job with the PBS series Frontline, my colleague Sam Bailey and I wanted to answer a couple of questions about Rupert Murdoch’s media empire: How, exactly, does News Corp. make its money? And has this changed over time? The answers, we were hoping, might help our readers better understand how Murdoch’s beloved, hack-riddled broadsheets fit into the rest of his organization.

So Sam pulled together some pretty dry-looking data from a decade of News Corp. annual reports to create this animated treemap. It tells the story of the company’s financial priorities and evolution better than a few hundred words or pages of tables ever could.

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GUNS

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DEMOCRATS PROPOSE $10,000 FINE FOR GUN OWNERS THAT DON’T HAVE LIABILITY INSURANCE

Alex Pappas | The Daily Caller

A contingent of liberal Democrats in Congress is proposing a new federal gun control idea: mandatory liability insurance for gun owners. When New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced the legislation last month with eight other Democrats, she boasted that it is “the first bill to require liability insurance of gun buyers nationwide.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

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A LEAVE OF PRESENCE

Roger Ebert | The Chicago Sun Times

Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter. However you came to know me, I’m glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.

Typically, I write over 200 reviews a year for the Sun-Times that are carried by Universal Press Syndicate in some 200 newspapers. Last year, I wrote the most of my career, including 306 movie reviews, a blog post or two a week, and assorted other articles. I must slow down now, which is why I’m taking what I like to call “a leave of presence.”

THE NATIONAL DIGITAL PUBLIC LIBRARY IS LAUNCHED!

Robert Darnton | The New York Review of Books

The Digital Public Library of America, to be launched on April 18, is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge. How is that possible? In order to answer that question, I would like to describe the first steps and immediate future of the DPLA. But before going into detail, I think it important to stand back and take a broad view of how such an ambitious undertaking fits into the development of what we commonly call an information society.

Speaking broadly, the DPLA represents the confluence of two currents that have shaped American civilization: utopianism and pragmatism. The utopian tendency marked the Republic at its birth, for the United States was produced by a revolution, and revolutions release utopian energy—that is, the conviction that the way things are is not the way they have to be. When things fall apart, violently and by collective action, they create the possibility of putting them back together in a new manner, according to higher principles.

. . . How to think of it? Not as a great edifice topped with a dome and standing on a gigantic database. The DPLA will be a distributed system of electronic content that will make the holdings of public and research libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies available, effortlessly and free of charge, to readers located at every connecting point of the Web. To make it work, we must think big and begin small. At first, the DPLA’s offering will be limited to a rich variety of collections—books, manuscripts, and works of art—that have already been digitized in cultural institutions throughout the country. Around this core it will grow, gradually accumulating material of all kinds until it will function as a national digital library.

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MUSIC

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BEETHOVEN DADA

Alex Ross | Culture Desk | The New Yorker

Sometime around 1920, the German composer Stefan Wolpe, then eighteen years old, organized a Dada provocation in Berlin, in which he set up eight Victrolas on a stage, placed on each of them a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and had a team of confederates play the records at different speeds. In a 1962 “Lecture on Dada,” at Long Island University, Wolpe described his youthful escapade as follows:

I had eight gramophones, record players, at my disposal. And these were lovely record players because one could regulate their speed. Here you have only certain speeds—seventy-four and so on [he means seventy-eight]—but there you could play a Beethoven symphony very, very slow, and very quick at the same time… I put these things together in what one would call today a multifocal way.

The event was typical of the iconoclastic spirit of Dada in the years after the First World War. Yet it also turned out to be prophetic of subsequent experiments in musical simultaneity—notably, “Imaginary Landscape No. 4,” John Cage’s 1951 piece for twelve radios. . .

DIEGO STOCCO: A DUET FOR LEAVES & TURNTABLE

Diego Stocco | Vimeo | www.diegostocco.com | via Colossal

THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE

Alex Pappademas | Playboy | 6064 words | via via Longreads.com

So last summer, when British hip-hop DJ Tim Westwood had Snoop Dogg on his BBC Radio show, he asked the question everybody asks people close to Dre, namely, “What’s up with Detox? Is it ever coming out?” This time, though, instead of saying what Dre’s associates usually say—that Dre’s a genius who’ll serve no wine before its time, but, man, is this record going to knock your fucking socks off when Dre’s ready to let people hear it, which will be soon—Snoop said point-blank that Detox wouldn’t get done until Dre called in two people to work on it: himself and the D.O.C.

“D.O.C. and Snoop Dogg is the backbone,” he told Westwood. “When you take them out of the equation, it’s not gonna work.”

Uninformed hip-hop fans would have reason to ask, Who the hell is the D.O.C.? It’s been nearly 25 years since the rapper released his astoundingly great debut album, No One Can Do It Better. It was produced by Dr. Dre when Dre was churning out hot product at an ironic-in-retrospect pace: In a single year Dre made the D.O.C.’s album, as well as N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton and N.W.A co-founder Eazy-E’s solo debut, Eazy-Duz-It. The D.O.C. was a cocky, charismatic young rapper with a knotty, complex flow—his delivery had more bob-and-weave than your average West Coast rapper’s, and he reminded people of East Coast guys like Rakim. The kid with the golden voice, he called himself. Within three months he’d sold half a million records—until injuries to his vocal cords sustained in a car accident rendered him barely able to speak and totally unable to rap.

After that, the D.O.C. was a living ghost. He made two would-be comeback albums, but his real career existed behind the scenes. It became an open secret that he’d ghostwritten rhymes for Dre on The Chronic and 1999’s 2001 and polished lines for Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. The D.O.C. was a fixer, a problem solver, a hip-hop Winston Wolf. Once a breakout star, he now existed in hip-hop as a legend in the background of other people’s rhymes. Dre shouted him out (“Like my nigga D.O.C., no one can do it better”) at the end of “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” the first single from The Chronic. More than 10 years later, so did Brooklyn-born Jay-Z on “Public Service Announcement”—“HOV, not D.O.C./But similar to the letters, no one can do it better.”

Tips of the hat to a rapper’s rapper. But the Westwood thing was different. The Westwood thing was Snoop calling out Dr. Dre, telling him and the world that only the D.O.C. could save Detox. That yes, in fact, no one can do it better.

Late one Thursday night, in the control room of a recording studio in an office park somewhere in South Dallas, the D.O.C.—whose real name is Tracy Curry, though his Dallas friends all call him Doc—pushes the talk-back button on the mixing console and addresses the kid on the other side of the glass.

Doc is 44 now, tall with a little weight on him, hair in twists. The kid on the other side of the glass is 24-year-old Dallas rapper Chad Bailey, whose rap name, I swear, is Plaboi. He’s just finished a run-through of a new song—a midtempo Rick Ross–style come-kick-it-with-a-boss jam called “So Amazing”—and now Doc is giving Plaboi some notes.

“You sounded like a 17-year-old guy who’s happy to get some pussy,” Doc says. “I want you to sound like a 30-year-old guy who likes to fuck.

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