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Ian Robinson’s Weekly Digest 12th April 2021

Another weekly post with things that caught my eye in the last week that I think are worth sharing. I’ve moved back to Revue from HEY World for these weekly posts. The editor is just better for what I’m doing. Plus, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know how bullish I am on Twitter generally and Revue is now part of the Twitter family.
I still love HEY for email. But I’m a staunch believer in using the right tool for each job. And Revue is a newsletter tool first and foremost.

This week’s post has 8 items, and also 8 new music pointers. Read more at:
https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ianrobinson/issues/ian-robinson-s-weekly-digest-12th-april-2021-539785
 

Dickinson Season 2

I binge-watched Season 2 of Dickinson this week. The finale was released today. Both seasons are so good. It takes the 19th-century source material and imbibes it with 21st-century themes. I realise now that the themes from the 1850s are much the same as today. If you haven’t seen it, then I can highly recommend it. It’s worth the cost of an AppleTV+ subscription on its own. Looking forward to Season 3!

There is an excellent interview-based article with Alena Smith, the show-runner of Dickenson, in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

The show inspired me to read some of Emily Dickinson’s poems. I bought a copy of The Folio Society’s Selected Poems last year when watching Season 1 and started reading it this week. I’ve never really been into poetry. And that’s still the case! I’m about a third of the way through the selection in the book. So far only the only one that’s grabbed me is this one about the exultation of going to sea (and other things, no doubt). Still, even if the poems don’t speak to me, they obviously speak to Alena Smith, and they inspired her to create the TV show. And that’s great news for all of us who get to watch.

It also inspired me to buy a Stephen Fry book on how to write poetry. Something that passed me by in school. I can’t recall if that’s my fault or the fault of my school. I suspect the former as my school was excellent.

The music that peppers each episode is fantastic. This article in Rolling Stone discusses how the tracks are chosen. If you are on Apple Music, there is a playlist with the songs from Season 1 and another for Season 2.

The return of American fascism

Fascinating article by Sarah Churchwell in The New Statesman on the history of American dalliances with fascism in art and in reality. Some excepts below. But read the whole thing. Its a marvellous piece of writing. 

In June 2020, as millions of Americans protested against systemic racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd – a killing described by many as a modern lynching – the proposal that some military bases be renamed after someone other than white supremacists prompted a tirade from Trump. He tweeted that they were “Monumental and very Powerful Bases”, “Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations” that “have become part of a Great American Heritage”, a “history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom” – in brazen denial of the fact that they had started a war over slavery and lost. Thus for “Winning, Victory, and Freedom”, we must read “losing, defeat, and slavery”, while remembering the importance of the big lie to the Nazi propaganda machine.

Sarah Churchwell

In the 2020 presidential election the cult of the leader has also, for the first time in American history, been codified in the official ­platform of the Republican Party, which promises only to “continue to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda” regardless of what that agenda might be. The Republicans’ current stated allegiance is not to the United States of America, but only to their own “modern Caesar”: in Trump they trust.

Sarah Churchwell

Interesting Stuff – Week 31 2020

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Culture

The Observer had a good series of articles on Facebook and how it influences politics and culture. 

The Guardian reported on proposals to tax over-40’s more to pay for social care in later life. My initial thoughts on this are positive. It seems like a good idea to me. Works in Germany and Japan according to the article. Doesn’t add to burden on younger people, who already have a raw deal with rent and mortgage costs.

Universities have been in silent trouble for a while. COVID-19 may be the tipping point for many. This article in Nature is a good synopsis of the crisis.

Doesn’t look like remote work will end anytime soon in the big tech companies. Google said their staff will be working from home until at least June 2021, as reported by Ars Technica. The same article also outlines long term plans by Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft to extend remote working. Apple followed them this week. As AppleInsider detailed.

This is fabulous. During the lockdown, an amateur woodworker from Belgium built an electric guitar from scratch using a thick wooden shelf he had to hand. This 26-minute video summarises the build. Well worth 26 minutes of your time.

Technology

More information about the Twitter security breach came to light this week. Ars Technica reports on how the attackers used spear-phishing techniques to get access. 

But it turns out that the hackers were teenage amateurs, rather than some sophisticated or state-backed outfit. They have all been arrested and charged. Wired has the details.

On the topic of spear-phishing: it often uses social engineering techniques to get access to peoples data. Here is a short video that shows how easy it is for scammers to get your info over the phone.

Following the poor Intel results last week, and the announcement of more delays to their 7 nm fabrication process, the company announced some changes in senior roles. One notable one was the appointment of Irish engineer Ann Kelleher to lead the processor division.

Science

We will probably never know how life started on Earth. Deep time and plate tectonics recycling the Earth’s crust will have destroyed the evidence. But it was likely via pre-biotic self-organising chemical reactions. New research  summarised in Chemistry World last week shows evidence of some self-replicating molecules showing metabolism. Remarkable stuff. 

It’s been a busy few weeks for Mars exploration. NASA successfully launched its Perseverance rover this week. It follows in the trail of missions from both the UAE and China. Hopefully, they will all get into orbit and land successfully.

Apps

This is intriguing. Algoriddim djay Pro AI – Neural Mix music app for iPad. It can extract individual vocal, melody or drum tracks from songs. And allow you to mix in different ones from other sones. Using an AI-based algorithm. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with the DRM protected Apple Music I have. But for non-DRM protected tracks, it is is pretty impressive.