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Links: August 2017

Why Hollywood Is Trying to Turn Everything Into Movies — Even Mindless Games Like ‘Fruit Ninja’

Vinson then realized that he was faced with a formidable predicament. There are no protagonists or antagonists in Fruit Ninja.

Goldner says the key to making movies from board games and toys is to “focus on understanding the universal truth about the brand.”

The film’s director and co-­writer, Tony Leondis, told me that “The Emoji Movie” actually began with a quest for some other form of I.P. About two years ago, he was thinking about what his next project should be, and he asked himself: “What are the newest and hottest toys out there in the marketplace?”

A lot of studios, he told me, think ‘‘The Emoji Movie’’ has the potential to be the beginning of a multifilm franchise.

Lavin and Damiani spent hours discussing the essence of Fruit Ninja. “For me, it is the messiness, the immediate release of destroying fruit,” Damiani told me. For Lavin, the soul of the game is the feeling of “frenzy.”

Eventually, a working narrative emerged: Every couple of hundred years, a comet flies by Earth, leaving in its wake a parasite that descends on a farm and infects the fruit. The infected fruit then search for a human host. The only thing keeping humanity from certain doom is a secret society of ninjas who kill the fruit and rescue the hosts by administering the “anti-­fruit.” The produce-­slaying saviors are recruited from the population based on their skill with the Fruit Ninja game.

Who Owns The World?

With the copyright on Mickey Mouse set to expire in 2023, expect Disney to work toward changing the law again soon.

Death Wish Official Trailer

The NRA didn’t have to spend a dime and Hollywood didn’t have to come up with a new idea. Win/win!

‘This deal will make me look terrible’: Full transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia

Name your punk band The Local Milk People.

First Golfer: Donald Trump’s relationship with golf has never been more complicated

His purchases of distressed properties, whether at Doral or Ireland’s Doonbeg or a 36-hole complex in Washington, D.C., have followed a pattern: Trump is hailed as a conquering hero who will add value to the community; he invests a substantial amount of money to improve the properties, and for a while everyone is happy; legal skirmishes ensue, with Trump using his seemingly limitless resources (and the press) to try to overwhelm the other side.

In 2015, Trump told FORTUNE, “I feel golf should be an aspirational game. People should come to golf, golf shouldn’t come to them. [That attitude] may be elitist, and perhaps that’s what golf needs. Let golf be elitist. When I say ‘aspire,’ that’s a positive word. Let people work hard and aspire to someday be able to play golf. To afford to play it.” His persistent litigation with the communities surrounding his luxurious properties has only widened the gulf between those who are in the club and those who are not. Ossining’s receiver of taxes, Gloria Fried, spoke to this in summing up her town’s ongoing dispute with the President: “He’s going to pass the tax burden on to everybody else. And we still won’t get to play on his golf course.”

How else, will golf influence the 45th President of the United States? Trump Lido in Indonesia is scheduled to open next year, giving him a stake in a politically unstable country of 258 million. A Wall Street banker and member of a Trump club with knowledge of the financing of the $63 million Turnberry purchase expects the deal to be a subject of interest to special prosecutor Robert Mueller, given the foreign lenders he says were involved. In July 2016, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported that top executives in the Trump Organization made many visits to Cuba in the preceding four years, despite the U.S. embargo on Americans’ conducting business there. (Last month, Trump tightened restrictions on commerce and travel between the two nations.) Cuba has only one 18-hole golf course but thousands of miles of undeveloped coast. Russo says he has made a dozen trips to Cuba since ’11 but says they were of a personal nature, including bird-watching with Larry Glick, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president for strategic development.

Of Course Abortion Should Be a Litmus Test for Democrats

It’s true that the left will have to choose (and soon) between absolute ideological purity and the huge numbers required to seize the rudder of the nation and avert global catastrophe. But abortion is not valid fodder for such compromise, nor is racism, nor is L.G.B.T.Q. equality, nor is any issue that puts people’s fundamental humanity up for debate. Abortion is not a fringe issue. Abortion is liberty.

Abortion is not controversial on the left. So what does it say that so many lefty men are willing to scrap it in an attempt to pander to some vague fantasy of a vast, disgruntled, anti-choice center? What kind of cringing, bewildered invertebrates roll over and capitulate to the losing side of a debate at a time when they’ve never had more leverage? What contortionist of logic came up with the proposal that alienating 75 percent of one’s constituents, and declaring half to not deserve control over their bodies, can strengthen a party’s numbers? This is not broadening our coalition; it’s flagrantly shrinking it.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

The headline may be eye-rollingly alarmist, but this isn’t just some kids-these-days screed. The research presents real cause for concern.

A Googler’s Anti-Diversity Screed Reveals Tech’s Rotten Core

Maybe there is an answer, then, after all: Just to shut up for a minute. To stop, and to listen, and even to step out of the way. Not entirely, and not forever. But long enough, at least, to imagine how some of the lost futures of pasts left unpursued might have made for different, actual presents—and that might yet fashion new futures. Only a coward would conclude that none of them are better than the one that’s become naturalized as inevitable.

‘Apply by fax’: Before it can hire foreign workers, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club advertises at home — briefly

“This is not an easy industry to work in,” Wang said. “The jobs are typically long hours, with relatively low pay. It’s seasonal and temporary, so there’s instability in that workforce. If you want to enjoy a balance between work and life, this is not that kind of industry.”

How is this bullshit? Let me count the ways. Or better yet, let this guy:

“Let wages go up. Offer better benefits. More vacation time. Better working conditions,” said Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower immigration levels. “We don’t have a shortage of this kind of workers. You just got to look harder. And I would encourage the president — or whoever makes the hiring decisions down there [at Mar-a-Lago] — to do that.”

Tech’s sexism doesn’t stay in Silicon Valley. It’s in the products you use.

The sooner we stop letting tech get away with being insular, inequitable and hostile to diversity, the sooner we’ll start building technology that works for all of us.

Did 1997 contain the worst two weeks in music history?

I will spread my wings right here and say that “Fly” is one of the worst songs to ever suffocate the radio, a pandering, Sublime-aping, reggaeton ragbag that spent the summer of ’97 sprawling across the national consciousness like a frat bro dripping his ultimate-frisbee ball sweat into your futon.

The Summer Of The Goateed Cerberus

I’ve always balked when people grouse, usually after a few drinks, about how music or film or games aren’t as good as they once were. What bullshit! There are always wonderful movements being born and dying, things we’re not paying attention to, treasure troves we’ve yet to unearth, genres we haven’t grasped. Culture is rich and full of wonders. But the pop music stock-market seemed to crash after the boom of the early ’90s, and this two-week span serves as a historical microcosm of what American music looks like at its rock bottom.

If SoundCloud Disappears, What Happens to Its Music Culture?

In “Who Owns Culture?,” Susan Scafidi writes: “Community-generated art forms have tremendous economic and social value — yet most source communities have little control over them.”

As digital culture becomes more tied to the success of the platforms where it flourishes, there is always a risk of it disappearing forever.

Intolerable

“A-ha!” cry the oh-so-logical and thoroughly impartial men, “If a topic cannot even be debated, you must be threatened by the truth!”

That is one possible conclusion, yes. Or—and this is what Occam’s razor would suggest—it might just be that I’m fucking sick of this. Sick to my stomach. I am done. I am done with even trying to reason with people who think that they’re the victimised guardians of truth and reason when they’re actually just threatened by the thought of a world that doesn’t give them special treatment.

Author Alissa Nutting Prefers Two Hot Dogs on One Bun

This is probably the most entertaining thing I’ve read this year.

I’m a fan of violent symmetry, and few things are more satisfying to me than the fluffy discus shape of the McMuffin egg.

A week later, I basically flew him to Ohio to sleep with me. I was so impatient that I had him meet me at the airport hotel because I could not wait 20 minutes longer to drive home. Afterward, we were both starving — neither of us had eaten all day due to first-time jitters and self-consciously wanting our stomachs to look flatter than usual when naked. So we went to Barrio and ate a postcoital victory meal of what felt like 100 tacos.

I really like Vanilla Bean Iconic Protein Drink because you can buy it at T.J. Maxx. I go there a lot for clean underwear and socks when I’m on the road. The drink tastes like gymnastic chalk and boxed-cake mix, but I’m in the fortunate position of liking the taste of both of those things.

I get Domino’s even when fancier pizza is available, because I’ve been in lots of small towns where Domino’s came through when no one else would, and I’m not the type to forget that.

The Evolution of Blogging

Trott had the feeling that platforms like Blogger did not go nearly far enough. Blog’s were becoming an artifact of their owners very identity, a part of who they were. And yet, all the blog’s on Blogger or LiveJournal looked exactly the same.

Blogging, as a community and a practice, continues to be refined to this day thanks to the dedication of web users everywhere. But its sharpest point was made the day Mena Trott decided that a blog could be more than just some text on a page. It could be one of a kind.

The Loveliest Living Fossil

[T]he Nº is a reminder that typography exists to serve readers, and that readers do not live by semantic punctuation alone. There’s a place for variety and richness in typography, for colorful and engaging creatures that live at abyssal depths.

Biodiversity Reclamation Suits: Extinct Bird Costumes for Urban Pigeons Crocheted by Laurel Roth Hope

[A]nimals we most abhor are often the ones most capable of thriving within a human-made environment.

The Keepers

Starting the day with a good cry after finishing The Keepers.

The e-mail Larry Page should have written to James Damore

Your memo was a triumph of motivated reasoning: heads men win; tails women lose. Here are a few psychological differences between the sexes that you didn’t mention. Men score higher on measures of anger, and lower on co-operation and self-discipline. If it had been the other way round, I’m betting you would have cited these differences as indicating lack of suitability for the job of coder. You lean on measures of interest and personality, rather than ability and achievement, presumably because the latter don’t support your hypothesis. In many countries girls now do better in pretty much every subject at school than boys—again, if it had been the other way around I’m sure you wouldn’t have neglected to mention that fact. The sole published comparison of competency in coding I am aware of found that women were more likely than men to have their GitHub contributions accepted—but if they were project outsiders, this was true only if their gender was concealed.

The Week When President Trump Resigned

As his comprehensive wretchedness has been in plain view for decades, these Trump takedowns have gotten pretty repetitive, but this one is concisely poetic.

Applause. Greater brand exposure. A new layer of perks atop an existence already lavish with them. Utter saturation of Americans’ consciousness. These were his foremost goals. Governing wasn’t, and that was obvious in his haziness and dishonesty before Election Day and in his laziness and defiance after.

I kept coming across variations on the verdict that he had “failed to lead,” and that phraseology is off. “Fail” and “failure” imply that there was an effort, albeit unsuccessful.

Trump made none. He consciously decided that he didn’t care about comforting or inspiring those Americans — a majority of them — who weren’t quick and generous enough with their applause. He was more interested in justifying himself.

How the U.S. Lost Its Mind

The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control.

We invented the fantasy-industrial complex; almost nowhere outside poor or otherwise miserable countries are flamboyant supernatural beliefs so central to the identities of so many people. This is American exceptionalism in the 21st century. The country has always been a one-of-a-kind place. But our singularity is different now. We’re still rich and free, still more influential and powerful than any other nation, practically a synonym for developed country. But our drift toward credulity, toward doing our own thing, toward denying facts and having an altogether uncertain grip on reality, has overwhelmed our other exceptional national traits and turned us into a less developed country.

Before the web, it really wasn’t easy to stumble across false or crazy information convincingly passing itself off as true. Today, however, as the Syracuse University professor Michael Barkun saw back in 2003 in A Culture of Conspiracy, “such subject-specific areas as crank science, conspiracist politics, and occultism are not isolated from one another,” but rather

they are interconnected. Someone seeking information on UFOs, for example, can quickly find material on antigravity, free energy, Atlantis studies, alternative cancer cures, and conspiracy.

The consequence of such mingling is that an individual who enters the communications system pursuing one interest soon becomes aware of stigmatized material on a broad range of subjects. As a result, those who come across one form of stigmatized knowledge will learn of others, in connections that imply that stigmatized knowledge is a unified domain, an alternative worldview, rather than a collection of unrelated ideas.

I doubt the GOP elite deliberately engineered the synergies between the economic and religious sides of their contemporary coalition. But as the incomes of middle- and working-class people flatlined, Republicans pooh-poohed rising economic inequality and insecurity. Economic insecurity correlates with greater religiosity, and among white Americans, greater religiosity correlates with voting Republican. For Republican politicians and their rich-getting-richer donors, that’s a virtuous circle, not a vicious one.

Do you believe that “a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government”? Yes, say 34 percent of Republican voters, according to Public Policy Polling.

Libertarianism, remember, is an ideology whose most widely read and influential texts are explicitly fiction.

These leaders were rational people who understood that a large fraction of citizens don’t bother with rationality when they vote, that a lot of voters resent the judicious study of discernible reality. Keeping those people angry and frightened won them elections.

But over the past few decades, a lot of the rabble they roused came to believe all the untruths.

The Christian takeover happened gradually, but then quickly in the end, like a phase change from liquid to gas. In 2008, three-quarters of the major GOP presidential candidates said they believed in evolution, but in 2012 it was down to a third, and then in 2016, just one did. That one, Jeb Bush, was careful to say that evolutionary biology was only his truth, that “it does not need to be in the curriculum” of public schools, and that if it is, it could be accompanied by creationist teaching. A two-to-one majority of Republicans say they “support establishing Christianity as the national religion,” according to Public Policy Polling.

A Most American Terrorist: The Making Of Dylann Roof

Roof was safeguarded by his knowledge that white American terrorism is never waterboarded for answers, it is never twisted out for meaning, we never identify its “handlers,” and we could not force him to do a thing. He remained inscrutable. He remained in control, just the way he wanted to be.

Dylann Roof, then, was a child both of the white-supremacist Zeitgeist of the Internet and of his larger environment. He grew up in a state that derives a huge part of its economy from plantations that have been re-purposed as wedding venues. When I attempted to go to Boone Hall Plantation to see the exhibits and the stuffed enslaved-people dummies that Roof posed with in some of his pictures, I was told I was not welcome there unless I submitted a media request, since I might have a negative view of the plantation.

I am a black woman, the descendant of enslaved people, so I went anyway and walked along the same path that Roof did, where the quarters are set on something cheerfully marked as “Slave Street.” I stood next to the dummies that are supposed to represent black people in their deepest ignominy, and noticed that there were no dummies that were supposed to represent the masters or the mistresses of the plantation. I listened to a group of young white women sigh at the Alley of the Oaks, a corridor of trees near Slave Street. One of them lamented, “It was so beautiful that pictures couldn’t really do it justice.”

Is Anybody Home at HUD?

Finally, there were the clock-punching lifers, the “Weebies” (“We be here before you got here, and we be here after you’re gone”), who recognized a chance to start mailing it in. “It’s ‘I can now meet people for a drink at five,’” said Tregoning. Or, as a supervisor in one branch office put it: “As a bureaucrat, HUD’s an easier place to work if Republicans are in charge. They don’t think it’s an important department, they don’t have ideas, they don’t put in changes.” Left unsaid: that such complacency was an unwitting affirmation of the conservative critique of time-serving bureaucrats.

Carson downplayed the importance of programs for the poor in a radio interview with Armstrong Williams, saying that poverty was largely a “state of mind.” This, more than anything, seemed to be a crystallization of the Carson philosophy of HUD: that privation would be solved by the power of positive thinking, that his own extraordinary rise was scalable and could be replicated millions of times over.

It was as if the White House were ensuring that whatever mere starvation failed to accomplish at HUD, indifference and mismanagement would finish.

The myth of the eight-hour sleep

By the 1920s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.

He attributes the initial shift to improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses - which were sometimes open all night. As the night became a place for legitimate activity and as that activity increased, the length of time people could dedicate to rest dwindled.

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