Shared posts

27 Apr 18:52

Our Future In Space

by Reza


28 Apr 17:15

Longform: Blood and Echoes: The Story of Come Out, Steve Reich’s Civil Rights Era Masterpiece

by Andy Beta
30 Apr 00:49

They love him

by Mark Liberman


Annotated lyrics here; more on the Black Trump site.

Instances of the word love in the 12 Republican and 9 Democratic debates:

CRUZ      1
TRUMP    39
30 Apr 12:40

Ed Balls

by britneysummitgil at Cyborgology


While those of us in the states were mired in election drama, across the Atlantic Brits came together to celebrate a sacred and time-honored holiday: #EdBallsDay.


On April 28th, 2011, British Member of Parliament Edward Balls mistook the field for writing tweets for the search bar. Instead of searching for his name, he tweeted his name. And, because his name is Ed Balls, people lost their damn minds. At the time of this writing, the original tweet has over 70k retweets and 40k likes.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.38.57 PM

It is entirely unremarkable that a British MP whose last name is Balls got so much attention for tweeting his own name. What is remarkable is that people still remember every year. Many a think piece has been written on the ways the internet is destroying our brains, specifically our memories. Plato, the original think piece writer, recounted a story about some king who I can’t remember to make the point that writing would induce forgetfulness in those who learned it. Thousands of years later, people are still buttering their bread on the same idea. The internet ruins our memory. But what about the internet’s memory?


Ed Balls even made a cake to celebrate. 

For Marshal McLuhan, what is “new” about a new medium is its capacity to extend the human sensorium to new scales. Speech allows us to transfer thought from our brains to the air and to other brains. Writing transfers these thoughts to a durable surface. Television broadcasts material sensations across the world. And with the internet, it often seems like everything is happening everywhere all of the time. This new scale requires new modes of cognition, such as Katherine Hayles’ “hyper attention” in which we pull information from multiple sources in quick succession, scan documents for key words, and frequently switch between tasks.

One of the results of this new scale of human cognition is the role of networked information technology in determining what we remember and how we remember it. The internet allows us to extend our memory outside of our individual minds, with important consequences for what gets remembered and how we are reminded of things. Something that has struck me throughout this election season is the work that Bernie Sanders supporters have done digging up old video clips and transcripts to write narratives that are lacking in major news outlets. The fact that no millennial remembers a speech Sanders made before the Senate in 1992 does not preclude their ability to find it, watch it, and use it to make a political argument. This becomes all the more important when these narratives are lacking from other vehicles of mediated memory. In other words, if mainstream news sources are failing to remember important historical moments and contexts, the affordances of digital media offer an alternative.

If every single individual who was party to Ed Balls’ tweet had to remember to celebrate April 28th each year, it’s unlikely that this fabulous holiday would have survived. But it only takes a few individuals, or perhaps one individual with a large enough audience, to remember given the affordances of Twitter. Over time, the effect snow balls—more and more people remember each year, and as #EdBallsDay gains greater traction it enters the consciousness of more people. Who knows; by April 28th 2021 it might be a national holiday.

So to my British friends, a happy belated Ed Balls Day. I’m sorry I didn’t send a card. I’m sure I’ll remember to next year though. Or, more likely, the internet will remember for me.

Britney is on Twitter.

22 Apr 16:45

9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher

1. Be prepared to be confused with the other black birder. Yes, there are only two of you at the bird festival. Yes, you’re wearing a name tag and are six inches taller than he is. Yes, you will be called by his name at least half a dozen times by supposedly observant people who can distinguish gull molts in a blizzard.

2. Carry your binoculars — and three forms of identification — at all times. You’ll need the binoculars to pick that tufted duck out of the flock of scaup and ring-necks. You’ll need the photo ID to convince the cops, FBI, Homeland Security, and the flashlight-toting security guard that you’re not a terrorist or escaped convict.

3. Don’t bird in a hoodie. Ever.

4. Nocturnal birding is a no-no. Yeah, so you’re chasing that once-in-a-lifetime rare owl from Outer Mongolia that’s blowing up your twitter alert. You’re a black man sneaking around in the nether regions of a suburban park — at dusk, with a spotting scope. Guess what? You’re going to have some prolonged conversations with the authorities. Even if you look like Forest Whitaker — especially if you look like Forest Whitaker.

5. Black birds — any black birds — are your birds. The often-overlooked blackbirds, family Icteridae, are declining across the board. Then there are the other birds that just happen to be black — crows and their kin are among the smartest things with feathers and wings. They’re largely ignored because of their ubiquity and often persecuted because of stereotype and misunderstanding. Sounds like profiling to me.

6. The official word for an African American in cryptic clothing — camo or otherwise — is incognegro. You are a rare bird, easy to see but invisible just the same. Until you snap off the identification of some confusing fall warbler by chip note as it flies overhead at midnight, or a juvie molting shorebird in heavy fog, you will just be a token.

7. Want to see the jaws of blue-blooded birders drop faster than a northern gannet into a shoal of shad? Tell them John James Audubon, the patron saint of American ornithology, had some black blood coursing through his veins. Old JJ’s mom was likely part Haitian. Hey, if we can claim Tiger Woods . . .

8. Use what’s left of your black-president momentum on the largely liberal birder crowd to step to the front of the spotting-scope line to view that wayward smew that wandered into U.S. waters from Eurasia. Tell them you’re down with Barack, and they’ll move even more to the left to let you look at the doomed duck. After all, you stand about as much of a chance of seeing a smew again as you do of seeing another black president.

9. You’re an endangered species — extinction looms. You know all the black birders like siblings and can count them on two hands. You’re afraid to have lunch with them all because a single catastrophe could wipe the species from the face of the earth. There’s talk and posturing about diversifying the hobby, but the money is not where the mouths are. People buy binoculars that would fund the economy of a small Caribbean island — where, coincidentally, lots of neotropical migratory birds winter, and where local people of color might contribute to their conservation if more birders cared about more than counting birds.

19 Apr 01:24

CMD Exclusive: Why I Chose to Get Arrested in Defense of Our Democracy

by Arn Pearson
18 Apr 14:10

From the Pitchfork Review: So Plain Only the Deaf Can Hear

by Carvell Wallace

From the Pitchfork Review: So Plain Only the Deaf Can Hear

From the Pitchfork Review: So Plain Only the Deaf Can Hear

by Carvell Wallace
April 24, 2016 Photo by: Illustrations by Brandon Celi

The following story is featured in the latest issue of our print quarterly, The Pitchfork Review. Subscribe to the magazine here.

In 1964, Thelonious Sphere Monk appeared on the cover of Time magazine. It was a remarkable achievement for a middle-aged black man who had been broke just a decade before. Despite the fact that the virtuosic pianist and bebop originator’s compositions were beginning to be studied by jazz and classical musicians alike, most of his nearly 15-year career had been spent in relative obscurity. The Time cover seemed to mark the end of all that. Churchill had been on the cover of Time. FDR. Clark Gable. This was for-real business. And they didn’t just take a photo. They had a portrait painted: Monk’s profile in a feathered chapeau, his stately gaze off to the distance as though he were surveying the kingdom he ruled. A black man who sometimes played piano with his forearms in portrait on the cover of one of the most serious magazines in the country. In 1964. What the hell. 

Consider that Monk was a largely self-taught pianist from a section of New York City that doesn’t even exist anymore. San Juan Hill—reportedly named in honor of its population of former Buffalo Soldiers whose bravery won one of the most decisive battles of the Spanish American War—stood hemmed in by Amsterdam and West End Avenues, 59th and 64th Streets. The blackest section in Manhattan at the time, it was predictably marked for wholesale demolition to make way for Lincoln Center and its subsequent streams of tuxedoed season subscribers. But in its day, it stood as a wry and tough neighborhood of fighters and families, hustlers and musicians, so quintessentially New York that West Side Story was filmed on its streets. This was the soil from which Monk sprang. His family moved there from North Carolina when he was just 4, sealing his fate as a New Yorker. 

A quiet but confident child, he fell immediately in love with the piano after taking 15-cent lessons at the community center, and hustled his way into jamming with every local musician he could. He won Amateur Night at the Apollo so many times he was banned by the time he was 13. He attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, but dropped out to tour the South as an accompanist for a traveling preacher. Unlike the jazzman who travels north with an instrument case and a dream, Monk was, almost by birth, an apartment dweller, a man utterly at home in the dense and sardonic temperament of Manhattan. 

He was already experimenting with his brand of off-kilter boogie woogie by the time he reached his late teens. A master of stride piano, he forged his sound from pieces left by the jaunty traditions of Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson, self-accompanying pianists who insisted you dance rather than listen. But Monk approached this style with a vicious sarcasm that was at once beautiful and contentious. Behold his sharp re-working of the 1925 Vaudeville tune “Dinah,” a piece previously treated as a blithe soundtrack to early Max Fleischer cartoons and made famous by novelty quartet the Mills Brothers. Monk’s take appears on the 1964 masterpiece Solo Monk, released on Columbia Records. He flashes his stride chops to glittering and playful effect, entertaining with the cunning of his right hand, while the left dexterously covers vast stretches of the keyboard. The upshot is a savvy rendering of a goofy love song. A day at the amusement park. A shared sundae and a dollop of whipped cream on the nose. It’s the audio version of those old-timey pictures of lovers posing on a paper moon. But Monk’s tendency to occasionally drop a wrong note—to pound out a dissonant thud in the bass run—lends a comedic, if satirical, edge. The tune, by Harry Akst, written for the vaudeville show “The New Plantation,” has been recorded by Chet Baker, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, and many more. But only Monk’s version unpacks the song’s fluffy innocence to reveal something wry underneath. 

Photo by Herb Snitzer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

For better or worse, Monk’s public persona was one of extreme, almost mystical inscrutability. He was wildly introspective and capable of extreme focus, often to the exclusion of social niceties like greetings and small talk. He mumbled while he played and sometimes became overwhelmed with a desire to write, reportedly staying up pacing and working literally for days at a time. But sometimes, it was impossible for him to get out of bed. He could be notoriously taciturn, and when he did deign to talk to reporters he frequently parried obvious questions with philosophical games of “Who’s on First?” Frank London Brown learned this when he profiled Monk in 1958 for Downbeat magazine. Brown asked Monk where he thought modern jazz was going. “You can’t make anything go anywhere. It just happens,” replied Monk. His stalwart wife, Nellie, and his precocious adolescent niece both tried to help Brown out by rephrasing the question, but Monk would not be moved. “I don’t know where it’s going. Where is it going?...I don’t know how people are listening”—a wildly paradoxical response from a man whose work defined modern music for generations. 

Everything about Monk’s life and work suggests a person unconditionally committed to the world in his head. Even in his poorest days, he never left the house unless cleanly appointed in a pressed suit and tie accessorized with an array of ascots, wild glasses, and funny hats. But while magazines and movies ran with this cartoon version of the scatting hep cat, Monk’s visage was authentically acquired, a product of his unceasing creativity. This desire, indeed, was what drove his offbeat and mesmerizing compositions. Early pieces like “Well You Needn’t,” with its spastic call and response, was laid out on a bed of chromatically rising and falling tones; “In Walked Bud,” a raucous tribute to best friend and mentor Bud Powell; and the Monk standard “Round Midnight,” which managed to fashion purposeful dissonance into a kind of slowly rollicking ethereal bliss, all stood out as pieces well ahead of their time. Not only musically, but in shape and meaning. In vibe. A vast cosmic wink permeated all of Thelonious Monk’s work. You never knew if he was crazy, or if he was just trolling you. 

If you want to understand Monk trolling, you have to understand bebop trolling. Prior to the form’s inception, the once fiery swing genre had cooled to a series of bland big bands in dance clubs. The music had become simple, easy to comprehend. One and a two and a three and a four. Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey had taken over, and it was for white people again. Even Duke Ellington and Count Basie, as beautiful as their compositions were, enjoyed what fame they did outside of black communities precisely because they received benediction from the likes of Aaron Copeland, George Gershwin, and others; they had to prove they could speak the language of white music in order to be taken seriously. The framers of bebop—Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Milt Hinton, and Kenny Clarke—began to rebel against this idea of “friendliness” in music, perhaps subconsciously at first, but then with greater purpose. They wanted to play music that expressed how life actually felt. Angry, complex. Tragicomic. Emotionally full. They began to experiment with more densely layered chords, stacked high like the levels of a skyscraper: 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, 15ths. Dissonance buried like gems within pockets of harmony. A smaller band with bigger freedom. A feeling that things were slightly off. Asymmetrical melodies that started off one way but didn’t resolve themselves. Didn’t assure the listener that everything was all right. Because everything wasn’t all right. Blacks were routinely beaten for being on the wrong side of town. New York City police forced every jazz musician to carry an identification card without which they were barred from playing. (Monk, by all accounts a generally sober fellow, nonetheless lost his when a car he was in with Bud Powell was pulled and a bag of heroin was found in the glove compartment.) The most gifted musicians in town often died broke and penniless, overdosing while country clubs played handsome fees to white men to perform their compositions. Bebop had chord progressions that took you for dangerous rides without exactly telling where you might be going. Musical cycles that tumbled you up one hill and down another side, landing you in an entirely different place than you began. And it was played fast. So fast, in fact, that musicians that didn’t know what was up couldn’t participate. They would be lost. And that was the point. If you didn’t understand it, then you couldn’t steal it. It wasn’t for you.

This insistence on leaving the less-learned behind was at the core of Monk’s singular and captivating peculiarity. Think of the piano intro to the iconic “Straight No Chaser.” Monk lays out a relatively straightforward melody but continues to plant dissonance bombs at the bottom of each figure. He then leverages the churning characteristics of bebop to return you to this same discomfort again and again at different points in the measure. It’s almost as if he’s testing you, teasing you like an older sibling, training you to hear it again and again until you understand the impartial beauty of its disfigurement, until you finally recognize the delicacy and grace of the perfectly placed wrong note. How spiritually necessary and personally honest it is to do things as they’re not supposed to be done.

Sometimes it seems the entirety of black American music is about this: trying to carve out a space unspoiled by the overbearing whiteness of being. Slave songs were coded messages about escape and freedom. Blues was filled with complex and culturally specific imagery. Jazz expressed an attempt to deconstruct and complicate American band music in a way that captured the violent and frenetic pace of life in northern cities. R&B beat with hidden messages about revolutions and uprising in the ’60s. Then funk generated intergalactic imagery and a colorful form of mystical Egypto-alien visuals to create a world of inaccessible and separatist blackness. 

In the early ’80s, hip-hop began as a tenement cultural collage, sly, transmutable, and infinitely self-referential. Run-D.M.C. took the disco goofiness of the Sugarhill Gang and planted it on cinder blocks in burned-out lots. N.W.A. took the Saturday morning b-boy cartoonism of Run-D.M.C. and infused it with the clear-eyed nihilism of the post-crack era. Biggie and Puff took the hole-in-the-shoes hoodism of N.W.A. and let the shit be platinum clean, razor sharp, and fabulous as fuck. Timbaland and Pharrell took Puffy’s gold-plated pinky rings off and let it be nerd-core. Kanye decided you could be therapeutically self-reflective while dropping televangelist-level braggadocio. And then Drake just started bodying people as an unapologetically suburban singing nigga. These contradictions weren’t just to be weird. They were meant to leave your ass behind. If you didn’t understand how these things worked together, then it was not for you. Every moment of this progression consists of a black artist making something that challenges the norm and tries to give life to the specificity of their experience. Every moment imbues the maker with the power that comes when you create music that is direct, epic, and (most importantly) impossible to understand for people that don’t live it. Doing things wrong is often how black people create their own freedom. 

But the wizardry of Monk, who is comfortably situated in this 400-year tradition, is that he was as much a brilliant musical technician as he was a brilliant troll. He possessed indelible speed on the keyboard, as demonstrated by his vivid runs, tossed on to the ends of tunes as if to say, Yeah, I can do that shit, too. And his two-handed stride work, most evident on jumpy solo sessions like “North of Sunset” and even midtempo gems like “I’m Confessin,’” distinguished him from contemporaries who favored an aloof comping approach to their solo work—playing chords fully on the left hand. But the most lavish demonstrations of Monk’s aptitude come with his compositions. Probably none more so than his breakthrough album, 1957’s Brilliant Corners.

The title track is legendary, in that it almost caused a fist fight in the studio. Producer Orrin Keepnews had to stitch the final product together from 25 different takes. At one point during the recording, bassist Oscar Pettiford was just pretending to play, miming while the tape was running. He would never speak to Monk again after it was over. They worked on the song for five long, smoke-filled, tense, and probably stinky hours, and still couldn’t nail it. Monk brought it on himself. He was trolling the universe with this hilariously complicated hook, one that makes no sense whatsoever, except for the fact that it’s perfect. Last year, I tried to teach myself to hum it, and it took over three weeks of continuous listening just to get close. And yet what makes this track so good isn’t the technical proficiency it requires. It’s just what the melody means. Climbing and falling, unfolding over itself like a telescopic barroom fractal. And then the whole thing starts double timing. The song has two tempos, a loping 92 bpm passage that feels like stumbling home contentedly drunk—and then suddenly you’re tossed you into a breathless 108 that leaves you panting and looking over your shoulder. The composition knows exactly how much of each speed you can take, and every transition offers well-earned relief. It’s high-intensity interval training for your ears. Monk’s playing on the hook manages to simultaneously lead the procession and trail behind it like a child dropping magnolia petals in a glorious small-town parade. 

Photo by Echoes/Redferns

The Time magazine cover story, of course, did not go as Monk might have hoped. The writer, Barry Farrell, treated him as a zoo-ish curiosity, devoting over 5,000 words to describing his idiosyncrasies while only managing to include two or three direct quotes from his subject. Farrell does talk, however about the jazzman’s tendency for what he called “the put on,” which he defines as “a mildly cruel art invented by hipsters as a means of toying with squares.” Having missed the irony altogether, the writer barrels on with his portraiture of Monk as a mumbling, shuffling, sweating savant, rather than one of the most complex composers of the 20th century, and concludes by describing a sleeping Monk in an “Oriental” hat with cabbage on his lapel while his wife prepares ice cream for him. For Monk, who had spent a lifetime fucking with people in as many ways as he could think of—benignly, angrily, feigning ignorance, feigning interest, and most frequently just by subverting expectations—there’s a cruel yet entirely predictable irony to the fact that the most important piece written about him up until that point was written by someone completely unequipped to understand him. Barry Farrell did not grow up in a community of black warriors from a segregated military unit. He did not travel from church revival to small town to make money to help his mother. He did not teach himself to both play and subvert classical piano as a child. He did not have to, as a grown man, ask NYPD for a permission slip to make his art. He did not have to watch the best and most genius men of his generation kill themselves because they did not want American racism to do it first. But what the 28-year-old Farrell did have was a pen and a national magazine cover on which to explain his understanding of this man almost two decades his senior.

The Time magazine cover story, of course, did not go as Monk might have hoped. The writer, Barry Farrell, treated him as a zoo-ish curiosity, devoting over 5,000 words to describing his idiosyncrasies while only managing to include two or three direct quotes from his subject. Farrell does talk, however about the jazzman’s tendency for what he called “the put on,” which he defines as “a mildly cruel art invented by hipsters as a means of toying with squares.” Having missed the irony altogether, the writer barrels on with his portraiture of Monk as a mumbling, shuffling, sweating savant, rather than one of the most complex composers of the 20th century, and concludes by describing a sleeping Monk in an “Oriental” hat with cabbage on his lapel while his wife prepares ice cream for him. For Monk, who had spent a lifetime fucking with people in as many ways as he could think of—benignly, angrily, feigning ignorance, feigning interest, and most frequently just by subverting expectations—there’s a cruel yet entirely predictable irony to the fact that the most important piece written about him up until that point was written by someone completely unequipped to understand him. Barry Farrell did not grow up in a community of black warriors from a segregated military unit. He did not travel from church revival to small town to make money to help his mother. He did not teach himself to both play and subvert classical piano as a child. He did not have to, as a grown man, ask NYPD for a permission slip to make his art. He did not have to watch the best and most genius men of his generation kill themselves because they did not want American racism to do it first. But what the 28-year-old Farrell did have was a pen and a national magazine cover on which to explain his understanding of this man almost two decades his senior.

But to many of us who live lives of broken chords and impossible dissonance that nonetheless create wild and beautiful music, Monk’s message was as straightforward as the black keys on a piano. In the 1958 Downbeat profile, Frank London Brown reported that Monk’s wife Nellie once chided him for his opacity in the public eye. Monk, as usual, saw it differently. “I talk so plain,” he said, “that a deaf and dumb man can hear me.”

17 Apr 21:41

St. Vincent makes the Rolling Stones funky with her cover of “Emotional Rescue”

What could possibly be better than the four-on-the-floor grooves of the disco-era Rolling Stones? How about Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, covering that group’s 1980 song “Emotional Rescue?” Well, slip on your platform shoes and set up a line of coke in a dank club bathroom, because thanks to the producers of the upcoming romantic comedy A Bigger Splash—starring Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes—we have the all the proof we need.

Produced by Kendrick Lamar collaborators Sounwave and Terrace Martin, Clark’s take on the popular Stones single is very much in line with the guitarist/singer’s general sonic aesthetic, best exemplified on her latest self-titled record. It also seems to draw a lot of influence from the sort of jazz-funk fusion made most popular by Prince in the ’80s. But don’t just take our word for it, listen to it for yourself below:

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28 Mar 22:05

A Powerful Collective Rooting for You: On Vin Diesel’s Facebook

A Powerful Collective Rooting for You: On Vin Diesel’s Facebook:


Need advice or cheering up or to see some photos of a guy working out in a muscle tee? Check VinBook. His page is a stream of resplendent images paired with tidbits of wisdom, generally quotes from Diesel. “Slow down and think about life,” VinBook advises. “Look inside yourself for the answers and always move forward with an open heart.” The advice, gentle and empowering, is transposed over placid images, most often beach sunsets.

There are also shoddily watermarked, fan-made photos of Vin looking contemplative, flexing his muscles and giving shockingly earnest takes on the struggles of life. Even though the images — VinArt — are often amateurish, he is gracious enough to always thank his fans for depicting him at all and, what’s more, VinBook always gives proper attribution. It’s part of the loving ethos of the page: Vin believes in you and your work. VinBook celebrates creativity because, in his world, there’s nothing more sincere than creating something and allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to put it into the world to be judged. Every Sunday, he puts out a call on his page for his fans go out and make something.

The fan art is mixed in with a stream of behind-the-scenes shots from his movies, depicting the his goofy personality that is hilariously at odds with the epic costumes he’s wearing and the sets he battles on. There’s arecurring motif involving saving endangered African elephants, usually tied to Hannibal fan art.

Vin Diesel is better at social media than most professional social media people. 

29 Mar 00:14

My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT

by (Maciej Ceglowski)

Imagine if your sewer pipe started demanding that you make major changes in your diet.

Now imagine that it got a lawyer and started asking you to sign things.

You would feel surprised.

This is the position I find myself in today with IFTTT, a form of Internet plumbing that has been connecting peacably to my backend for the past five years, but which has recently started sending scary emails.

If you've never heard of it, If-This-Then-That is a service that lets you connect websites together, so that things that happen in one place automatically trigger some regrettable action someplace else. For example, you might write an IFTTT ‘recipe’ that tweets anything you post on Facebook, because you are a monster.

A lot of Pinboard people use IFTTT. Yesterday, they received the following form letter:

Dear username,

We're working on a new IFTTT platform for developers that makes building Channels and Recipes a breeze.

Recently, we've worked with our partners to migrate to the improved platform, but some have chosen not to do so. Unfortunately, the Pinboard Channel did not migrate to the new platform and will be removed on April 4th.

Pinboard is one of our favorite services and we're all sad to see it go. We hope down the road it may be back.

Stay tuned to the latest Channels launching on IFTTT!

— The IFTTT Team

Because many of you rely on IFTTT, and because this email makes it sound like I'm the asshole, I feel I should explain myself.

In a nutshell:

  1. IFTTT wants me to do their job for them for free

  2. They have really squirrely terms of service

1. Working for Free

A service like IFTTT writes "shim code" that makes it possible to connect online services together like Legos. Everything slots into everything else. This is thankless, detailed work (like developing TurboTax or Dropbox) that when done right, creates a lot of value.

IFTTT has already written all this shim code. They did it when they were small and had no money, so it's difficult to believe they have to throw it away now that they have lots of staff and thirty million dollars.

Instead, sites that want to work with IFTTT will have to implement a private API that can change without warning.

This is a perfectly reasonable business decision. It is always smart to make other people do all the work.

However, cutting out sites that you have supported for years because they refuse to work for free is not very friendly to your oldest and most loyal users. And claiming that it's the other party's fault that you're discontinuing service is a bit of a dick move.

I am all for glue services, big and small. But it's better for the web that they connect to stable, documented, public APIs, rather than custom private ones.

And if you do want me to write a custom API for you, pay me lots of money.

2. Squirrely Terms of Service

The developer terms of service don't seem to be available by a public URL, so I will quote the bits that stung me. I invite IFTTT lawyers to send me a takedown notice, because that will be the funniest part of this fracas so far.

To begin with, IFTTT wants me to promise never to compete with them:

2.You shall not (and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to), directly or indirectly: [...] (xii) "use the Developer Tool or Service in conjunction with a product or service that competes with products or services offered by IFTTT. You hereby make all assignments necessary to accomplish the foregoing.”

Pinboard is in some ways already a direct competitor to IFTTT. The site offers built-in Twitter integration, analogous to IFTTT’s twitter->Pinboard recipe. I don’t know what rights I would be assigning here, but this is not the way I want to find out.

Next, they make a weird claim about owning not just their API and service, but the content that flows through it:

3. Ownership. IFTTT shall own all right, title, and interest (and all related moral rights and intellectual property rights) in and to the Developer Tool, Service, and Content.

They require that I do custom development work for them, for free, on demand:

11. Compatibility. Each Licensee Channel must maintain 100% compatibility with the Developer Tool and the Service including changes provided to you by IFTTT, which shall be implemented in each Channel promptly thereafter.

And they assert the right to patent any clever ideas I have while doing that free work for them, even though I hate software patents:

12. Patent License. Licensee hereby grants IFTTT a nonexclusive, sublicensable, perpetual, fully-paid, worldwide license to fully exercise and exploit all patent rights with respect to improvements or extensions created by or for Licensee to the API

Finally, they reserve the right to transfer this agreement to anyone at all, without my consent:

17.This Agreement is personal to Licensee and may not be assigned or transferred for any reason [...]. IFTTT expressly reserves the right to assign this Agreement and to delegate any of its obligations hereunder.

I say nuts to all that.

I'm sorry your IFTTT/Pinboard recipes are going to stop working.

It's entirely IFTTT's decision to drop support for Pinboard (along with a bunch of other sites). They are the ones who are going to flip the switch on working code on April 4, and they could just as easily flip the switch back on (or even write an IFTTT recipe that does it for them). Weigh their claims about Pinboard being a beloved service accordingly.

For users left stranded, I recommend taking a look at Zapier or Botize, which offer a similar service, or at one of the dozens of new sites that will spring up next week to capture the market that IFTTT is foolishly abandoning.

30 Mar 18:24


by Reza


23 Mar 05:00

Interview: 35 years in, Paul Reubens doesn’t know—and doesn’t want to know—why Pee-wee Herman works

by Kyle Ryan

Although he has extensive film and TV credits—and a reputation as one of the early superstars of The Groundlings, the famed L.A. sketch and improv troupe—Paul Reubens will forever be associated with Pee-wee Herman. He created the character more than 35 years ago at The Groundlings, where it quickly became a hit that progressed to a bigger club, then an HBO special, and eventually, the hit 1985 film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. That led to a critically acclaimed hit TV series Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which ran for five seasons, and another film, 1988’s Big Top Pee-wee. That film didn’t match its predecessor’s success, but the TV show would run through 1990 and score more than a dozen Emmys in the process. The character lay dormant for nearly 20 years until Reubens revived him for an acclaimed stage show, which eventually went to Broadway. That ...

14 Mar 19:50

As The Snow Melted

Ivan Wernisch
translated by Jonathan Bolton

They appeared as the snow melted
Those who had perished in the last days of March,
Then those from the February skirmishes, followed by the dead of January

In the end there were also several who had fallen in November
The fewest in number, because there were still burials back then

Everyone waited together in the matted, golden-brown grass

And finally here was the river
One morning steam rose from a ship at the small wooden pier
It had brought chickens in cages, live pigs
The road to the city was open
I began to think of escape

via woodslot

18 Mar 07:00

Chris Dunn  -  -...

17 Mar 18:50

Silicon Valley’s Unchecked Arrogance — The Development Set

14 Mar 10:05


by Aeon Video

In 2007, three brothers, Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka, were arrested in their hometown of Cherry Hill, New Jersey for conspiring to kill US military personnel at nearby Fort Dix. They were alleged to be members of a terrorist cell that became known as the ‘Fort Dix Five’. Quickly deemed guilty in the court of public opinion, their verdict was made official in 2008 when they were each sentenced to life in prison. But were the Dukas’ arrests and convictions a major victory in the War on Terror, as the media, politicians and law enforcement claimed, or the unjust result of that same war gone very awry on US soil? Read The Intercept’s full investigation here.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

26 Feb 23:45

princemarley: thenathanzed: Hey Jude - The Beatles (Trap...



Hey Jude - The Beatles (Trap Cover). As payback for the acoustic covers of Beyoncé’s “Formation”


09 Feb 11:05


by Aeon Video

For many, Mardi Gras is synonymous with beads, brass bands and elaborate parades down New Orleans’s famed Bourbon Street. But travel to rural Cajun country in Louisiana on Fat Tuesday, and you’ll find a very different celebration. Based on a traditional French begging procession, Courir de Mardi Gras (Cajun French for ‘Mardi Gras run’) involves revellers donning tattered, homemade costumes and grotesque masks to beg ingredients for a communal meal. Music, booze and chicken chases play a not-insignificant role in the festivities as well. In this short observational documentary, whose name comes from the Cajun for ‘dangerous carousing’, the US directors Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri chronicle the celebration in all its raucous, peculiar glory.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

13 Feb 18:50

Sugarbellies "the Lost Episode" (Bravest Warriors - Season 1 Lost Episode on Cartoon Hangover)

Subscribe: Cartoon Hangover presents Bravest Warriors, "Sugarbellies" When the adorable S...
06 Feb 18:58

Hong Kong In The 1950s Captured By A Teenager


These stunning photographs of Hong Kong in the 1950s are captured beautifully by a teenager. Ho Fan who arrived from Shanghai in 1949. The streets, filled with vendors, coolies and rickshaw drivers, fascinated Ho. Taking pictures in a studio was the norm then, but the Ho was more interested in random, candid shots of strangers. His targets, however, did not always smile into the lens of his Rolleiflex. But it is great street photography that gives a peek into daily life in Hong Kong at that time. The photography is part of his book “A Hong Kong Memoir

h/t: wherecoolthingshappen


05 Feb 19:04

ben-solo-trash: obiwanssixthrobe: if there’s a chance that...



if there’s a chance that your actions may lead to a galaxy-wide fuck-up, it’s best to just die first and avoid the consequences

05 Feb 08:00

Roast Beef's Coffee Situation

Achewood strip for Friday, February 5, 2016
30 Jan 18:50

biffbangbarf: fourtygay: cogcomics: Tony Stark (alcoholic...




Tony Stark (alcoholic with heart condition) VS Guy Smith (mutant with hypersensitive skin)

comics’ most fierce battle

(X-Statix #24 by Peter Milligan & Michael Allred)

are comics not glorious

Always re-blog X-Statix

12 Jan 18:36

Great Job, Internet!: CNN turns The State Of The Union into a Wes Anderson movie

by Joe Blevins

Numerous networks will air President Barack Obama’s final State Of The Union address tonight, and they will likely do so in a very straightforward manner without too much thought given to aesthetics. But the fusty, formal traditions surrounding the annual speech and the fusty formality of Washington in general lend themselves quite easily to the inimitable, quirky visual style of twee auteur Wes Anderson, as demonstrated by CNN senior reporter Chris Moody and producer Alex Rosen in a clever new video. Moody narrates the video in the classic deadpan Anderson style, explaining what the State Of The Union is, how it came to be that way, and what viewers should expect to see when they tune in tonight. There is a lot of good civics-class-type information here, but Moody and Rosen take time to highlight some Anderson-esque details as well, like the little underground train that runs directly into ...

11 Jan 19:26

the-great-khorneholio: priest-of-hell: These gifs… are the best… This is...



These gifs… are the best…

This is the kind of content I come here for!


28 Nov 17:33


22 Dec 17:00

(Give Me That) Old-Time Socialist Utopia

by Ezra Glinter

We’re away until January 4, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2015. Please enjoy, and have a happy New Year!


Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

How the Strugatsky brothers’ science fiction went from utopian to dystopian.

Near the beginning of The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn, a 1970 novel by the Russian science-fiction writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, the innkeeper, Alek Snevar, proposes to his guest, police inspector Peter Glebsky, that mystery is always preferable to explanation. “Haven’t you ever noticed how much more interesting the unknown is than the known?” Snevar asks. “The unknown makes us think—it makes our blood run a little quicker and gives rise to various delightful trains of thought. It beckons, it promises. It’s like a fire flickering in the depths of the night.”

It’s a strange idea to appear at the beginning of what seems to be a locked-room mystery novel—a genre in which all puzzles are meant to be solved. Soon after Glebsky’s arrival, a blizzard blocks the road to the inn. Right on cue, another of the guests, a Scandinavian named Olaf Andvarafors, is found dead in his room with his neck twisted, the window open, and the door locked from the inside. Everyone at the inn is a suspect: Simone Simone, a nervous, billiard-playing physicist; Hinkus, a “youth counselor” on sick leave; a celebrity magician named Du Barnstoker and his androgynous ward, Brun (“the sole progeny of [his] dear departed brother”); an imperious alcoholic named Albert Moses, and his knockout wife, Mrs. Moses. Then there is Snevar and his maid, Kaisa; a St. Bernard named Lel; and Luarvik L. Luarvik, a mysterious one-armed man who shows up half dead after being caught in the storm. With this bizarre cast you expect to find plenty of red herrings before a hiding-in-plain-sight solution is revealed.

Instead, The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn departs from anything that either detective or reader could deduce. For the Strugatskys, the deviation was practically involuntary. In his 1999 memoir, Comments on the Way Left Behind, Boris Strugatsky writes that they intended to write a commercial mystery novel along the lines of Erle Stanley Gardner or John le Carré. But they were unable to resist their speculative impulses: in place of a clever solution for the events at the inn, they introduced a bigger mystery. Read More >>

01 Dec 17:33

wernerhertzaftig: Welcome back, mother fuckers


Welcome back, mother fuckers

11 Sep 08:59

inside out

inside out

29 Jul 16:06

The Aging Rock

by Reza