Friday, October 31st, 2014
7

The John Oliver Video Sweepstakes

Each week, the ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ industry observes a sacred ritual: Together, but not quite in sync, dozens of websites embed and then post the longest segment from John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight. This video is made available by HBO shortly after the show airs—this week's, about the sugar industry, is timestamped October 26th.

That John Oliver's weekly video(s) will go viral is, at this time, a given. Whether or not the posts that embed those videos will go viral is another matter altogether. Each time around there are winners, losers, and mere participants. Here's what happened this week.

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7

The Super-Urban Promise

"Imagine the ability to create a standing order of Starbucks delivered hot to your desk daily," commands CEO Howard Schultz. "That's our version of e-commerce on steroids." IMAGINE. At face value, this sounds like a reductio ad absurdum scenario for the new logistics-obsessed economy, in which a product is created and then shipped to people who could either make it on their own or purchase it in person at one of the many physical retail locations situated between their beds and their desks. But no, if you actually do imagine this, it's absurd but appealing: If you could summon coffee to your desk every day for a nominal [...]

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0

Entropy Negative

"Slipknot are no longer in step with the times either, but here they are selling six figures anyway hawking the same downtuned riffs and frustrated aggression as ever. At the peak of the band’s popularity, with the likes of Spears and Eminem routinely moving a million copies in a week, 132,000 in sales wouldn’t have come close to topping the chart. But on the flattened playing field that is 2014, it all but guarantees a #1 debut. At a time when many legacy acts can barely muster 50,000 on their first week, Slipknot’s numbers are undoubtedly impressive. Still, The Gray Chapter’s strong showing doesn’t herald a big comeback for nu-metal [...]

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0

Fantasy Delineated

"Let’s ponder, for a moment, the kind of culture an ambulatory fungus might construct. Individual fruiting bodies would probably seem, to us, utterly unconcerned with their own survival when confronted with large-scale dispersive destruction. Struck with a fireball, or blown up by your own bomb? No problem! The force of the blast spreads your spores over the battlefield. Chopped up by a surgeon to patch up some other creature (not necessarily a goblin)? Great! The new creature will carry you around for the rest of its life, dispersing your spores on the way. Killed in battle? Your spore-laden blood sticks to your adversary’s boots—and when she washes off in the [...]

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0

MikeWiLLMakonnen, "Wishin You Well"

Here is a perfect beat from Mike WiLL Made It laid over with an EXTREMELY DIVISIVE vocal track from iLoveMakonnen. (Among the more generous Soundcloud comments: "This isn't 'good', but I don't hate it at all…") Makonnen's "Tuesday" caught a lot of people off-guard, too, but then Drake showed up and sort of brute-forced the matter before anyone had time to figure out if they really enjoyed Makonnen's strange, almost over-familiar style. Give this one two or three chances, anyway, it grew on me.

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1

Story Slow

Serial tackles one story over the course of many installments–roughly as many as encompass a season of an HBO drama such as True Detective, the show to which Serial is often compared because the first serial Koenig has tackled is the story of Adnan Syed, a high school student convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. Did he do it? Or has he been wrongly jailed for a crime he didn't commit? Each episode is an installment in an ongoing attempt to figure that out.

The producers themselves don't know how their story ends: They approach the subject as intensely curious storytellers, not crusaders for the accused or the deceased.

The new [...]

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3

Matter Familiar

"McDonald’s Corp. is hoping a new marketing campaign can add some much-needed flavor to its business. Facing sagging profits, the fast food giant plans to launch a new advertising campaign starting early next year with the slogan “Lovin’ Beats Hatin’” — which aims to spread happiness in the face of Internet hate, said people familiar with the matter."

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1

Atelje, "Transition"

A gentle instrumental opening theme for your morning; a six-minute postponement before whatever is going to happen today just loses its patience and happens already. Also worth a listen: "Ode to Studio." (Studio was Dan Lissvik's previous project.)

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30

Two Minutes of Walking on the Internet as a Woman

Here is a video that will surprise only men. In it, a woman walks through the streets of New York City, briskly and silently, eyes ahead. Over the course of ten hours she is approached, catcalled and harassed dozens upon dozens of times, all in broad daylight.

The effect is powerful and useful—"10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman" is a succinct answer to anyone who asks, incredulously, if street harassment is really that bad. People who couldn't see for themselves—the ones who needed to, at least—now can.

But the video works in two ways: It's also a neat portrayal of what it is like to [...]

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0

Experience Mediated

Windows 93.

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0

E.R., "Feluha"

Endeguena Mulu, aka E.R., is one of a handful of musicians who make up the Ethiopiyawi Electronic movement, which lives mostly on a circuit between Addis Ababa and Washington DC. The song is a surreal and dizzying genre mash, with scurrying masenqo strings sliding under rich electronica shot through with cane flutes. (See previously: Mikael Seifu.)

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0

Franchise Unbeatable

"At the end of the day, Brand Ebola may be too strong to counter. 'It’s got high awareness, it’s easy to understand, it’s got a fairy simple story,' said Calkins. 'It’s the ice bucket challenge, but bad.'"

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1

Mister Lies, "High (ft. Harrison Lipton)"

Does this sound a little bit like Massive Attack? It would be well within the regulations of tribute and nostalgia: "Teardrop" came out in 1998. The rest of the album, which is slow and lush and worth a listen, brings to mind The Notwist's Neon Golden, which came out just four years later. Music, the loop, is now barely ten years in circumference.

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3

Do As Facebook Says, Not As It Does

This week, David Carr writes about Facebook's increasingly psychodramatic relationship with publishers, who, whether or not they've actively catered to the site, have come to depend on it profoundly. The column also carries a bit of news, which has been circulating as a likely theoretical for the last year or so, but which now seems to be real: The company has been on something of a listening tour with publishers, discussing better ways to collaborate. The social network has been eager to help publishers do a better job of servicing readers in the News Feed, including improving their approach to mobile in a variety of ways. One possibility it [...]

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0

Meet the New Ebola Experts

President Obama to meet with ebola nurse. will shake hands with ebola nurse. will hug ebola nurse. will pat on head. good ebola nurse good

— Rich Lowtax Kyanka (@lowtax) October 27, 2014

WELCOME TO NEW JERSEY AND NOW GET IN THE TENT, DOCTOR: On Friday, in a surprising move, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey imposed a mandatory quarantine on individuals arriving at two area airports who have had direct contact with those infected with Ebola, including health workers.

Among medical professionals who have been fighting Ebola in West Africa, the restrictions only intensified the debate. While a few [...]

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2

Checking in with the Ebola Day Traders

A few days ago, there was a sense among the addled death-shorting Twitter community that "Ebola stocks"—by then shorthand for a specific set of companies that mostly make protective equipment—weren't a great investment. Sure, demand for their products must be up, and their prospects for making money must have improved, but their ability to rain down hot cash on fast-clicking maniacs was diminished. Of course the existence of a horrible virus that has killed thousands of people and will kill thousands more is categorically bad news, but that's beside the point. What isn't beside the point, is a better question to ask of our financial markets.

There was [...]

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2

Screaming Females, "Wishing Well"

A walk-around-with-headphones track that rummages through a drawer of twenty-year-old chord progressions and flourishes and somehow comes up with exactly what it needs.

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18

Everything Except Rap and Country

There is something that reviewers are not quite saying about Taylor Swift's new album, 1989. It's on the tips of their tongues. Jon Caramanica comes closest: Modern pop stars — white pop stars, that is — mainly get there by emulating black music. Think of Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber. In the current ecosystem, Katy Perry is probably the pop star least reliant on hip-hop and R&B to make her sound, but her biggest recent hit featured the rapper Juicy J; she’s not immune.

Ms. Swift, though, is having none of that; what she doesn’t do on this album is as important as what she does. There is [...]

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1

Unrelenting Trauma: It's a Living

"So companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on an army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us. And there are legions of them—a vast, invisible pool of human labor. Hemanshu Nigam, the former chief security officer of MySpace who now runs online safety consultancy SSP Blue, estimates that the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook."

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1

Mood Disrupted

Each quarter a gaggle of Bay Area venture capitalists are asked, you know, how does everything feel? Aside from totally great, of course. What's your sense of things, other than that you are changing the world utterly for the better? This quarter’s index measurement fell [to 3.89] from the previous quarter’s index reading of 4.02. The Q3 reading is the first recorded decline in confidence in two years.

In the new report Professor Cannice indicates that “The lower Q3 index reading raises some concern for the near to medium term outlook for the high-growth venture environment.”

The concept of Valley investor "confidence" is unusual. In a survey [...]

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