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How "Adventure Time" Came To Be

Adventure Time is a smash hit cartoon aimed primarily at kids age six to eleven. It’s also a deeply serious work of moral philosophy, a rip-roaring comic masterpiece, and a meditation on gender politics and love in the modern world. It is rich with moments of tenderness and confusion, and real terror and grief even; moments sometimes more resonant and elementally powerful than you experience in a good novel, though much of Adventure Time’s emotional force is visually evoked—conveyed through a language of seeing and feeling rather than words. READ MORE

Writing In Public

Hamilton Nolan's stern post on Gawker, "Twitter is Public," spoke the thoughts of many a journalist yesterday. Those who write for a living (and are therefore themselves occasionally trussed, spit and taken for a spin on the rotisserie of public opinion) can't help but goggle in disbelief that the concept of "public" can be misunderstood. Journalists think about this all the time because the right to report and publicize has often been under attack, such as when the police try to stop someone recording or filming in the street, or when a celebrity or politician objects to the publication of public information, or when the government or police just feel like it. That is very shocking. And when people seem to believe that their published utterances on Twitter are protected by mysterious privacy rights, maybe something like those protecting the communications between psychoanalysts and their clients, that is shocking in much the same way. They're not protected at all! (Ask Justine Sacco, or any of these people.) And it's desperately important that they're not, because that's exactly how all of us ordinary people in a free society have a chance—have the right—to learn and know about and discuss what is really going on in the world, in our politics and businesses, in our churches and schools. READ MORE

The Great Crypto Stagecoach Robbery

Anyone holding Bitcoins—or pretty much any cryptocurrency, really—has taken a substantial hit in the last few months, with the exchange rate of dollars to Bitcoins dropping from a high of around $1200 last November to around $550 today. But it's possible that those whose Bitcoins were parked at the long-troubled Mt. Gox exchange have suffered a near-wipeout, or even a total one, in what may have been the catastrophic theft of some 744,000 Bitcoin from that exchange. READ MORE

Shh, Nobody Move: The Republicans Are Sane Again!

The one surprise left to us in American politics is the rare appearance of good news—that really is a shock, the jewel at the bottom of Pandora's box (ἐλπίς, the spirit of Hope, ha ha). And a certain amount of good news has been wandering over the transom in recent weeks, courtesy of the Sanity Wing of the Republican party, of all places, which until late last year I had assumed to be an entirely theoretical phenomenon, like phlogiston. READ MORE

"Her": This Movie Makes No Sense

"When we were in pre-production we started thinking about how we were going to create future L.A., and was I was excited by the idea of collaging two cities together and so we ended up going to Shanghai and using very specific, curated areas of Shanghai with very specific curated areas of Los Angeles and I think... it was this idea that we were trying to make this very warm, tactile world, with the materials and fabrics and the woods, and create this world that felt like this utopic world that everything's nice and everything's comfortable and even in this world where you're getting everything you need and having this nice life, there's still loneliness and longing and disconnection." —Spike Jonze in a recent interview discussing Her.

There is a lot to love about the new Spike Jonze movie, Her, which goes into wide release today, but there is still more to become hair-tearingly exasperated about. If it weren't for the gushing torrents of praise this movie is getting I guess I wouldn't care so much about the exasperating parts, because I freely admit that it is a very seductive movie, visually; it looks like soft old bleached-out polaroids in the colors of fruit and candy and clear water and the most perfect reddest red everywhere, plus Scarlett Johansson is talking all the time, and Joaquin Phoenix acting all human, so human and lovable, and I guarantee you every sensitive male in Western Civ. is going to be wearing those high-waisted clumsy thick woolen trousers for years and years to come and I love those trousers already. As a visual tastemaker Spike Jonze, for all his reedy, goofy voice and his geeky demeanor, is a freak of nature, a genius, a god. READ MORE

Can't We All Just Get Along? Oh, Right. No.

Before anybody throws himself off a bridge over things written on the Internet, let's clear a few things up regarding Tom Scocca's essay, "On Smarm," which was the occasion of a grand hullaballoo last week. I love this essay: it crystallizes so many things, so elegantly and so hilariously. Its central premise is a little blurry, however, in a way that has sown confusion and grief in certain quarters. Freddie DeBoer, contributor to The New Inquiry, lost his muffin in its entirety; unable to confine himself to writing one zillion comments on the article itself, he wrote a blog post about it too. DeBoer claims that smarm vs. snark is "yet another cultural competition, elites like Scocca leveraging their cultural status to try to enforce their own take." Cool kids, blah blah. READ MORE

I'm Gonna Take A Pass On Russell Brand's Bloody Revolution

I am glad that there is such a thing as Russell Brand, and I was as impressed with his recent conversation with Jeremy Paxman as everybody else was, for I share his egalitarian and environmentalist views. It is beyond refreshing to see someone in the public eye willing to speak out in this way. I've read Brand's books and seen some of his comedy and movies, too, and heard a little of his old radio program, and am generally a fan. READ MORE

Are The Startup Fellas Hellbent On Destroying Education Even Literate?

Lost in the maelstrom of sadness, confusion and malaise that marks our annual observance of September 11th was a Medium post by Udacity's new Director of Mobile Engineering, one Oliver Cameron. READ MORE

The Next Google: It's Like Google, But For Search

It is no longer appropriate for search to be under the thumb of private industry. It's a critical part of the national infrastructure. So if I were a real pinko, I'd be advocating for the nationalization of Google, à la Chavez—but I'm not a real pinko. Besides, the American people have already bought and paid for an ideal alternative to Google. That's right: we have the means in hand to create a public, ad-free, totally fair and reasonably transparent search engine with a legal mandate to operate in the public interest, and most of the work is already done. We have also a huge staff of engineers to conclude what little remains on the development and deployment side. READ MORE

The Ka-Ching Zone

The quasi-hypnotic effects of certain Internet activities were discussed by Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic recently: "The Machine Zone: This Is Where You Go When You Just Can't Stop Looking At Pictures On Facebook." In particular, Madrigal drew serious attention, at last, to the elephant in the room: people may spend hours a day demonstrating compulsive "engagement" on Facebook or Tumblr, but they very commonly loathe themselves for doing so: READ MORE