It’s able to detect the words f***, s***, p***, t***, w***, c*** and dozens more, but with a special exemption for “Scunthorpe”; that town has suffered enough.
Modern fonts can combine letters into a single ligature, usually for things like fi or fl but you can pick anything so we’ve done it for swears.
Scaachi Koul: Guy Fieri Is The Last Unproblematic Food Person (Buzzfeed)
But in a world where everyone’s struggling through the quicksand of reality, Fieri is a king among slugs. During the height of #MeToo, he escaped unscathed. There are remarkably few stories about him being a dick in public; in fact, the majority of public opinion is just that he’s the nicest guy. And now, the latest news coming in piping hot from Flavortown, just like one of his recipes, such as I’ve Got the Need, the Need for Fried Cheese! (Jesus Christ, buddy, I’m trying to help you here), is that Fieri is doing a lot more for out-of-work restaurant employees than most people. Since the coronavirus outbreak, he’s raised more than $20 million for a relief fund for restaurant workers. You know who didn’t do that?? Any of your extremely chill, fashionable faves, probably wearing $350 chunky mustard mules, including every single one of the people on Instagram currently trying to convince me to make bread.
Martin Hart-Landsberg: Back to normal is not good enough; we need a new economy (Street Roots)
Rarely mentioned is the fact that our economy was heading into a recession before the coronavirus hit. Or that living and working conditions for the majority of Americans were declining even during the past years of expansion. Or that the share of workers in low-wage jobs was growing over the past 15 years. Or that Americans are facing a retirement crisis. Or that life expectancy fell from 2014 to 2017 because of the rise in mortality among young and middle-aged adults of all racial groups due to drug overdoses, suicides and alcoholism. If existing patterns of ownership and production remain largely unchanged, we face a future of ever greater instability, inequality and poverty.
George Monbiot: Airlines and oil giants are on the brink. No government should offer them a lifeline (The Guardian)
This crisis is a chance to rebuild our economy for the good of humanity. Let’s bail out the living world, not its destroyers, says Guardian columnist George Monbiot.
Governments should provide financial support to company workers while refashioning the economy to provide new jobs in different sectors. They should prop up only those sectors that will help secure the survival of humanity and the rest of the living world.
They should either buy up the dirty industries and turn them towards clean technologies, or do what they often call for but never really want: let the market decide. In other words, allow these companies to fail.
The only meaningful reform is fewer flights. Anything that impedes the contraction of the aviation industry impedes the reduction of its impacts.
In other words, let’s have what many people were calling for long before this disaster hit: a green new deal. But please let’s stop describing it as a stimulus package. We have stimulated consumption too much over the past century, which is why we face environmental disaster. Let us call it a survival package, whose purpose is to provide incomes, distribute wealth and avoid catastrophe, without stoking perpetual economic growth. Bail out the people, not the corporations. Bail out the living world, not its destroyers. Let’s not waste our second chance.
Background art for video conference calls on Zoom, Google Meet, etc.
An ever growing collection of virtual backdrops for use in video call apps. Expressions of optimism and art by the world's best designers, illustrators, animators, photographers, filmmakers and artists.
When The Met was founded in 1870, it owned not a single work of art. Through the combined efforts of generations of curators, researchers, and collectors, our collection has grown to represent more than 5,000 years of art from across the globe—from the first cities of the ancient world to the works of our time.
Welcome to Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.
Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, and the Catacombs. Users can download a file that contains a high definition (300 DPI) image, a document with details about the selected work, and a guide of best practices for using and citing the sources of the image.
“Making this data available guarantees that our digital files can be freely accessed and reused by anyone or everyone, without any technical, legal or financial restraints, whether for commercial use or not,” reads a press release shared by Paris Musées.
Chris DeVille: The Benevolent Celebrity Livestream Parade Is So Bleak (Stereogum)
Stream on, Waxahatchee and Kevin Morby. Do your thing, James Blake. You all make livestreams suck a little less.
What has been really, truly dispiriting is the ceaseless sequence of sanitized at-home performances thrust upon us by the world’s celebrities and major media outlets. These have largely been charitable efforts featuring strikingly similar performance lineups, the likes of Billie Eilish and Elton John working their way across the networks.
The ordeal suggested that the celebrity class had learned very little from the Gal Gadot “Imagine” debacle. Here again was a parade of celebrities — John Legend and Sam Smith, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, multiple iterations of Keith Urban — attempting to supply inspiration from their luxurious outposts, as if the mere sight of famous people was supposed to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In place of entertainment value, they had substituted somber, faux-profound schlock. It turns out livestreams suck even worse with high production values and the cheery artificiality of TV talk shows.
We no longer have to wonder what a coronavirus-era “We Are The World” would be like because here it is, an insufferably smarmy Zoom meeting reeking of expensive vanilla. I like some of these people’s music quite a bit, but none of them came out of this looking anything but thirsty.
Entertainers can present a united front and raise money for worthwhile causes without resorting to treacle like this.
Just look at “House Party,” a quarantine posse cut that brought together the unlikely team of New Kids On The Block, Boyz II Men, Big Freedia, Jordin Sparks, and Naughty By Nature. This was pure goofy fun — an insubstantial lark, maybe, but one far too cute to clown. No one was trying to dredge up some humanitarian statement beyond their depth. It was just a bunch of creative people goofing off, having a blast. Such contagious giddiness feels especially like a blessing right now. On the benevolence front, consider Angel Olsen, who embarked on a smaller-scale, more personal fundraising effort by performing a ticketed online concert to support her road crew. There was nothing ostentatious about it, with none of the icky implications of wealthy people soliciting common people’s money from within their comfortable bubble. Fans paid to watch a performance, and the performer passed on the proceeds to people she cares about: simple, beautiful, unpretentious.
A story about a pandemic written in 2015 that is eerily resonant with our current pandemic.
Some days it’s hard to imagine that this will ever be over, that we’ll ever be able to get things back to normal at all. When everyone is sniping at each other it feels like you’ve always been trapped in the middle of a half-dozen bickering children and always will be. When you’re in the midst of grief, it’s hard to imagine spring ever coming.
J. Kenji López-Alt: The Food Expiration Dates You Should Actually Follow (NYT)
Food product dating, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls it, is completely voluntary for all products (with the exception of baby food, more on that later). Not only that, but it has nothing to do with safety. It acts solely as the manufacturer’s best guess as to when its product will no longer be at peak quality, whatever that means.
Zeynep Tufekci, Jeremy Howard, Trisha Greenhalgh: The Real Reason to Wear a Mask (The Atlantic)
Much of the confusion around masks stems from the conflation of two very different uses.
Models show that if 80 percent of people wear masks that are 60 percent effective, easily achievable with cloth, we can get to an effective R0 of less than one. That’s enough to halt the spread of the disease. Many countries already have more than 80 percent of their population wearing masks in public, including Hong Kong, where most stores deny entry to unmasked customers, and the more than 30 countries that legally require masks in public spaces, such as Israel, Singapore, and the Czech Republic. Mask use in combination with physical distancing is even more powerful.
The community use of masks for source control is a “public good”: something we all contribute to that eventually benefits everyone—but only if almost everyone contributes, which can be a challenge to persuade people to do. It’s like emission filters in our car exhausts and chimneys: They need to be installed in all cars, factories, and houses to guarantee clean air for everyone. Usually, laws, regulations, mandates, or strong cultural norms ensure maximal participation. And once that happens, the result can be amazing.
We know a vaccine may take years, and in the meantime, we will need to find ways to make our societies function as safely as possible. Our governments can and should do much—make tests widely available, fund research, ensure medical workers have everything they need. But ordinary people are not helpless; in fact, we have more power than we realize. Along with keeping our distance whenever possible and maintaining good hygiene, all of us wearing just a cloth mask could help stop this pandemic in its tracks.
Uri Friedman: New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet (The Atlantic)
Jacinda Ardern’s leadership style, focused on empathy, isn’t just resonating with her people; it’s putting the country on track for success against the coronavirus.
Ardern’s style would be interesting—a world leader in comfy clothes just casually chatting with millions of people!—and nothing more, if it wasn’t for the fact that her approach has been paired with policies that have produced real, world-leading results.
Since March, New Zealand has been unique in staking out a national goal of not just flattening the curve of coronavirus cases, as most other countries have aimed to do, but eliminating the virus altogether. And it is on track to do it. COVID-19 testing is widespread. The health system has not been overloaded. New cases peaked in early April. Twelve people have died as of this writing, out of a population of nearly 5 million.
Ardern’s government also took decisive action right away. New Zealand imposed a national lockdown much earlier in its outbreak than other countries did in theirs, and banned travelers from China in early February, before New Zealand had registered a single case of the virus. It closed its borders to all nonresidents in mid-March, when it had only a handful of cases.
The success, of course, isn’t all Ardern’s doing; it’s also the product of an impressive collective effort by public-health institutions, opposition politicians, and New Zealanders as a whole, who have largely abided by social-distancing restrictions.
On October 10, 1980, Margaret Thatcher delivered a speech to the Conservative Party, something of a Top Ten hit for her followers. She spoke about repaying the “debt which had been run up by our predecessors,” the way predecessors do, what with their curiously unverifiable but limitlessly stupid antecedent behavior. After beating up the previous administrations a bit more, Thatcher celebrated investment “opportunities overseas,” which she said would “help to secure our living standards long after North Sea oil has run out.” It’s amusing to think Thatcher had any intention of bowing to the limits of nature or, worse, accepting a version of “the natural” that wasn’t based on the unnatural condition of state-supported monopoly. Because, hey, we’re all just selves, aren’t we? Look what you can do with a self!
For a kid trying to understand music in 1981, the future was obvious. All bands were interracial and every album had two parts, the singing version and the dub version. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were the enemies of the people and Jah was a post office box in Bethnal Green.
Kenneth Partridge: The Long History Behind the Song "Cotton Eye Joe" (Mental Floss)
Where DID you come from, Cotton Eye Joe?
The first known published version appeared in Alabama writer Louise Clarke Pyrnelle’s 1882 novel Diddie, Dumps, and Tot, or Plantation Child-Life, a nostalgic look at the antebellum South. Drawing heavily on her own childhood experiences on her father’s plantation, the novel gives credence to what most experts now hold as fact: "Cotton-Eyed Joe" originated with black slaves well before the Civil War. Pyrnelle’s version describes the titular character as an ugly man ("His eyes wuz crossed, an' his nose wuz flat / An' his teef wuz out, but wat uv dat?") who swoops into town and steals the narrator’s sweetheart.
"Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe," the jilted narrator sings, "I'd er ben married long ergo." That basic plot line—boy loses girl to mysterious charmer—drives most iterations of "Cotton-Eyed Joe," including the one Texas-born "song catcher" Dorothy Scarborough included in her 1925 book On the Trail of Negro Folk Songs. As Scarborough writes, she learned parts of the tune from "an old man in Louisiana," who picked it up from slaves on a plantation.
Three years earlier, in 1922, the noted black cultural historian and longtime Fisk University chemistry professor Thomas W. Talley shared a slightly different rendition in his book Negro Folk Rhymes. The son of former Mississippi slaves, Talley came across a version wherein "Cotton-Eyed Joe" isn’t just a person, but also a dance: "I'd a been dead some seben years ago / If I hadn't a danced dat Cotton Eyed Joe." The song ends by saying Joe has "been sol' down to Guinea Gall," which again implies he was a slave.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas: Spotify's 'tip jar' is a slap in the face for musicians. It should pay them better (The Guardian)
Fans can now donate to their favourite artists via Spotify, but this feature is a tacit admission that the firm undervalues the musicians that make it viable.
Spotify’s method of generating the premium subscriptions that will turn it a profit was canny: draw people in with an excellent user experience and relatively light advertising in the free version during its early years, then ramp up the advertising to near-intolerable levels and wait for users to cave in to spending a tenner a month. Many casual music fans are now spending money more regularly on music than they did in the download or CD era. But the nature of the exchange has utterly changed: people are not paying for music but for a lack of advertising. The music is available either way.
This is why the inclusion of the “tip jar” button is such a slap in the face for artists: it’s being initiated by the very service that helped to break the link between art and money. By paying royalties via both ad-funded and paid-for streams, Spotify has taken the onus off the consumer to pay the artist, and then, via low royalty payments, quietly eroded the monetary value in music that consumers and labels once propped up. The tip jar, while helping to replace lost touring earnings, is a tacit admission that artists are not being paid enough by the very service offering it – a similar admission was made by Amazon on Thursday in revealing that it paid £250,000 to a coronavirus hardship fund for authors.
For consumers, Spotify’s staggeringly vast and high-quality library remains one of the greatest things to have ever happened in music, but it is nothing without the artists who add to that library every day. Maybe subscriptions should cost more – the competitiveness between the streaming companies has forced down the value of music, and this now perhaps needs correcting. That would require a recalibration of how we value music, and it would need Spotify and its competitors to lead it. For now, donate to your favourite musicians, buy their T-shirts, cherish their artistry, and never let the company that built an empire from their labour off the hook.
Marc Hogan: ANOHNI Reflects on Her Climate Crisis Anthem “4 Degrees” and the Fight for the Planet (Pitchfork)
The singer-composer offers a call to action and discusses why her defining environmental song is more urgent than ever.
You ask, “What can we do?” You can talk to everyone you know about this on a constant basis and try to create consensus about it. You can create groups of people and think tanks to try to counter the billionaire-subsidized think tanks that are forming our current trajectory as a species. If there’s anything you can do, it’s to get profoundly involved. Like, quit your fucking job and do something useful. Hold yourself accountable. It’s painful, I can say that from experience. You’re going to have to sit with your own hypocrisy. And then you have to get real comfortable with people telling you that you’re a killjoy.
Due to COVID-19: Documenting the signs of the pandemic
During the coronavirus pandemic, daily life has come to a sudden standstill and businesses have had to respond. Signs on storefronts announce operational changes but these messages are also brimming over with solidarity, shared responsibility, and cautious optimism. This project attempts to document the temporary signs that have gone up across our communities.
Mat Dryhurst: Interdependent Music vs Independent Music
• Listeners rent music for pennies on streaming platforms
• Artists rent listeners for ad dollars on ad platforms
• Isolated artists make tunes in their bedrooms for isolated listeners in their bedrooms
• “Hustle” myth makes a virtue of being selfish and finessing others
• Trickle up attribution (lone genius myth) and compensation models (star makes all the $)
• Irreverent of institutions and the archive in favor of individual freedom and ahistoricity
• 20th century kitsch individualism
• Fracking / short termist
• Listeners pay artists directly on Bandcamp/Patreon/Mixcloud/Currents.fm
• Artists own and nurture their contacts and supporters
• Artists and audience contribute to global scene ecosystem where the sum is greater than the total of its parts
• Humble ethos makes a virtue of being considerate and supporting others
• Artists attribute and pay their collaborators
• DJs pay the producers whose music they use
• Respect the archive and understand strong institutions actually make it possible for individuals to thrive
• 21st century democratic socialism
• Permaculture / long termist
Shawn Reynaldo: DJ Sets Are Going Online—But Is Anyone Getting Paid? (Pitchfork)
A look at the perilous economics of electronic music during the coronavirus pandemic.
The monetization aspect is particularly important, as Twitch already has an established tipping culture. Although it’s primarily a gaming platform, musicians have increasingly started testing it out, hoping that viewers will pay to subscribe to their channel or tip them directly. Artist and tech researcher Mat Dryhurst has referred to this practice as “e-busking,” as it represents a new paradigm in which performers will have to earn a living by virtually singing for their supper, over and over again.
When DJs play their records on various livestream platforms, the people who made those records aren’t necessarily being compensated properly, if at all. As music technology journalist Cherie Hu recently reported, the question of rights and licensing in regard to livestreams is a legal minefield. In theory, any DJ who’s doing a livestream should be licensing each and every track they play ahead of time, a process that could take weeks, even for music industry professionals. Given most DJs’ lack of expertise (and interest) in the finer points of copyright law, it’s no surprise that their compliance is practically nonexistent.
Barring a major revamp of licensing requirements, along with significant improvements in both music recognition software and song reporting to relevant rights organizations, it’s hard to imagine widespread improvement in terms of livestream-related royalty payments. DJs themselves have little incentive to entangle themselves in legal minutiae, and the artists whose records are being played aren’t likely to kick up a fuss over payments that might not add up to much anyway. Still, when some DJ livestream events are bringing in tens of thousands of dollars, even for a good cause, it does raise questions about the ethics of capitalizing on artists’ work without their permission.
During the first ReConnect event, which drew 8.5 million viewers, 79 percent of all of the tracks played were identified. In theory, this should have generated thousands of dollars in royalties, but due to the lack of proper licensing infrastructure around livestreaming, the collective payments from the broadcast may only add up to mere pennies.
New platforms and an increased focus on accurate reporting are steps in the right direction, but the immediate economic outlook for livestreaming DJs and the artists whose music they play isn’t promising. People are tuning in—and donating money—but that hasn’t yet translated into anything resembling a reliable source of income for artists. “But for now,” says Plastician, “it’s the closest thing to a new revenue stream I’m going to have.”