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And The Cycle Will Continue

I am heartbroken at the news that George Zimmerman was acquitted late last night in the murder of Trayvon Martin. I am not a lawyer. I did not follow the ins and outs of the case. But it seems to me as though something is seriously wrong when you find no consequences for shooting an unarmed young boy. The system is showing a deep, destructive rot.

America has shown that we put little thought into the lives of those at the margins. Wearing a certain kind of sweatshirt is now suspicious behavior. Worse, it can be a death sentence.

It didn’t have to be this way. That jury, like so many before, chose to send a message that the fault here lie with the victim. If only he had looked more presentable. If only he had been in his part of town. Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten himself shot. I weep for his family, and for the family of all future Trayvons, who will find out the hard way just where they stand in America today.

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What’s in Prince’s Fridge?

”This stuff is TOO AMAZING. It clarifies your skin and your mind. It is given freely by the yak, so U can truly enjoy it. Great with Chex – Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, whatever!!!”

If, like me, you have always wondered what was in Prince’s fridge, finally it is revealed.

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“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”

When Musicology came out a decade or so ago, anyone who went to see Prince live on that tour received a copy of the album. It was certainly not the first time an artist got creative in getting in distributing his or her work, but it caught my eye at the time in, after reaching number one on the charts, causing Billboard to reevaluate how they count album sales.

Never being one to do things the way they’ve always been done himself, Jay-Z has now partnered up with Samsung to offer his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, free to anyone with a Samsung smart phone. Much like Prince before him, the powers that be did not take kindly to having another weird distribution channel.

My first thought was that this is a great way to promote his new work. It gets people talking and puts the music into the hands of hundreds of people who otherwise would probably not have sought it out. But the devil, it turns out, is in the details.

Say you’ve got a Samsung phone and want to hear Magna Carta Holy Grail. How do you go about it? This being 2013, you download an app. This app then digs into your phone in a way that is downright preditory.

It demands permissions, including reading the phone’s status and identity, which made some users, notably the rapper Killer Mike, suspicious: Does Jay-Z really need to log my calls? It also gathers “accounts,” the e-mail addresses and social-media user names connected to the phone. Those permissions are often part of a typical app package. This one got worse.

When installed, it demanded a working log in to Facebook or Twitter and permission to post on the account. “We would like fans to share the content through social networking sites,” a Jay-Z spokeswoman said by e-mail. (E-mail to Samsung Mobile’s customer service address for the app was returned as undeliverable throughout Wednesday.) But the app was more coercive.

Frankly the whole thing skeeves me out. They say that if you’re not paying money for something, you’re not the customer. And if you’re not the customer, then you’re the product being sold. I’ve got nothing against marketin stunts, but this one crosses a line from seeking out new customers to seeking out new product.

Update:

Ars Technica has more.

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Ain’t Nobody’s Problem

The Lumineers turned me on to this song during their Bonnaroo set (which was an experience I’ve been meaning to write about). It’s one of those tunes that sounds so natural you’d think it had always existed.

Sawmill Joe – Ain’t Nobody’s Problem from Humble Monster on Vimeo.

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Tsunami-like wave in N.J. being investigated | NJ.com

Tsunami. Here. In New Jersey. Fucking tsunami.

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Summerfest 2013: Artisanal Software For Writers

You don’t need great software to be a great writer, but it helps. That’s why I was excited to see Eastgate Systems partner with a number of other indie software developers to offer special deals on software designed for writers.

I haven’t tried most of these titles, but I can vouch for Scrivener. It is expertly designed to help you organize your thoughts. Notes on characters, places, themes, or any other subject live in harmony beside your text, always accessible, never getting in your way. I use it whenever I’m working on any prose longer than a page. Scrivener is well worth the money at full price. At 20% off it is a steal 1.

Typing furiously into Microsoft Word can certainly get the job done, but it’s a blunt instrument. It’s nice to know that there are tools designed by and for authors to help with some of the heavy lifting 2.

  1. To be clear, this is not a paid endorsement.
  2. In the spirit of right tools for the right job, let me also endorse Mars Edit as a blogging tool. It’s much cleaner than writing directly into your browser, and you don’t have to worry about losing a post if the browser crashes.
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If A Gun Is Fired In The Ghetto, Does It Make A Sound?

David Dennis on our society’s uneven distribution of empathy.

This is the largest mass shooting in the United States where the shooters were still at large after the crime was committed. Think about that for a minute. From Columbine to Virginia Tech to Fort Hill to Aurora, all the shooters were either killed or apprehended on site. But the person or people responsible for shooting 19 Americans are still free.

So why am I allowed to go outside? Where‘s the city quarantine or FBI and Homeland Security presence for this act of “terrorism”?

Because this is an act of domestic terrorism right? Just because the alleged shooter was wearing a white tee and jeans does that suddenly make the shooting a gang-related affair? And we all know how irrelevant gang-related shootings are in America. The Mother’s Day shooting is so irrelevant that politicians haven’t even bothered to mention it to further their anti-gun agendas. If the shootings aren‘t even important enough for politicians to spin, then it’s truly reached a black hole of irrelevance.

It’s a sad reminder that, in America today, some folks are deemed worthy of our attention and some are not.

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Home of Proto-IndoEuropean Language Found?

Linguists believe that the first speakers of the mother tongue, known as proto-Indo-European, were chariot-driving pastoralists who burst out of their homeland on the steppes above the Black Sea some 4,000 years ago and conquered Europe and Asia. A rival theory holds that, to the contrary, the first Indo-European speakers were peaceable farmers in Anatolia, now Turkey, some 9,000 years ago, who disseminated their language by the hoe, not the sword.

The new entrant to the debate is an evolutionary biologist, Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He and colleagues have taken the existing vocabulary and geographical range of 103 Indo-European languages and computationally walked them back in time and place to their statistically most likely origin.

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that such disparate cultures share a common mother tounge, and the idea that we can, to some small extent, reconstruct it. Now we might be narrowing in on a place of where it originated.

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Selves-Portraits

Brian Lewis Saunders on DMT

Artist Brian Lewis Saunders has been working on a series of self portraits for over a decade now. Every day, no matter his mood, physical ailments, or state of sobriety. Here’s his facinating series under the influence of various substances.

/via Kottke.

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Dance

Cause you’re a big girl now. 

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