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Friday Morning (Somewhere, Maybe in Alaska): Rhapsodic

Friday, you old dog, you. You came back once again, a little worse for wear but alive and kicking. Let’s see what kind of jazzy treat we can cook up for you.

Ah, let’s have some Third Stream (not to be confused with neoliberalists’ Third Way). Music in this not-quite-jazz subgenre walks the line between classical music’s formality and jazz’s improvisational nature. This isn’t chamber jazz — jazz performed on chamber instruments, discussed in a previous Friday Jazz post. Third Stream is composed work heavily influenced by jazz, played by an orchestra.

In the example shared today, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, this is a composition without improv, but with strong jazz and pre-jazz elements. You can hear the pre-jazz particularly well in the piano; by pre-jazz I mean ragtime, using rapid, “ragged” hand movements (note this sound as early as 1:35 in the music video). The example here is a performance of the original composition using a 24-piece jazz band. Do open the video and play at YouTube’s site in order to expand and read the notes accompanying this piece. Compare this version to a performance based on the later arrangement of the same piece for a full orchestra (ex: Leonard Bernstein and New York Philharmonic, compare ragtime-like keyboarding at 2:09).

And then poke around and enjoy some other Gershwin. It’s a nice way to start the weekend.

All about the (free) speech
Good gravy. This week has been a mess when it comes to free speech and the media. Hard to pick a starting point, there’s so much content. Let’s begin with the circus-like story and a bit of a tick-tock for n00bs unfamiliar with it.

  • December 2007 — Gawker’s Valleywag outed technology venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, and a major investor in Facebook with a seat on its board of directors.
  • October 2012 — Gawker published part of a sex tape showing Hulk Hogan engaged in sex with radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge’s wife about six years earlier. (Christ, I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.)
  • November 2015 — Hogan sued Gawker for defamation, loss of privacy, emotional pain.
  • March 2016 — Court found for Hogan, awarding him $115 million.
  • May 24, 2016 — Hogan’s lawsuit financier revealed — it’s Peter Thiel.
  • May 25, 2016 — Gawker tried to get award reduced; the media outlet has already been forced to sell a sizable portion of itself to fund the award to Hogan.
  • Today — Denton published an open letter to Thiel with a mess of questions, some focused on the legitimacy of Gawker media. It’s a fair question when Facebook is under fire for its presentation of news content to its users.
  • Speaking of Facebook, the now-open warfare between Thiel and Denton casts a different light on the stories Gawker property Gizmodo published about Facebook. You’ll recall the furor raised among conservatives after Gizmodo relied on a single conservative contract-employee as a source for its claim that Facebook filters out conservative media.
  • Media outlets are very concerned about the future, especially if Trump is elected to the presidency (see also CNBC’s opinion‘s mentioning a chilling effect, suggesting investormnt media very concerned). Billionaires shopping for cases to wipe out small-to-medium-sized media outlets could become more common where laws prevent the use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP). Trump has admitted to using litigation to harass or punish media.

Bottom line: Reporting on someone’s sexuality and outing them merely because they’re a hypocrite isn’t adequate reason to do so. Some rich people are going to be asses as they have been through history; media should report when wealth’s actions affect the public’s interests. But using one’s billions to burn down the entire Fourth Estate isn’t merely revenge against careless journalism. Attacks intended to weaken a media outlet are attacks on the First Amendment in general; this only exacerbates inequality, and it’s fundamentally unAmerican.

And now speech having nothing to do with the above…

Long Reads
Hey. You could use a couple for your road trip to your summer weekend hide-out destination. Try these:

  • The Bank Robber (The New Yorker) — Great piece on an unreliable character, Herve Falciani, who ‘liberated’ client data from HSBC while working in IT at its Swiss facility. Wonder who’s buying the film rights?
  • Welcome to Disturbia (Curbed) — Interesting look back at the origins of our suburbs and how they were then perceived as toxic. A look at bowling alone, long before Bowling Alone.

That’s a wrap on this week. See you Monday!

Monday Morning: Tarantela [UPDATE]

I could listen to this piece on a loop. It’s Santiago de Murcia’s “Tarantela,” performed by noted lutist Rolf Lislevand. The instrument he is playing is as important as the music and his artistry; it’s an extremely rare Stradivarius guitar called the Sabionari. While tarantellas more commonly feature additional instruments and percussion like tambourines, this instrument is stunning by itself.

You can learn more about the Sabionari at Open Culture, a site I highly recommend for all manner of educational and exploratory content.

And now to dance the tarantella we call Monday.

Wheels

  • What’s the German word for ‘omertà’? Because Volkswagen has it (Forbes) — Besides the use of obfuscation by translation, VW’s culture obstructs the investigation into Dieselgate by way of a “code of silence.” And money. Hush money helps.
  • Growing percentage of VW investors want an independent investigation (WSJ) — An association 25,000 investors now demands an investigation; the problem continues to be Lower Saxony, the Qatar sovereign-wealth fund and the Porsche family, which combined own 92% of voting stock.
  • VW production workers get a 5% pay raise (IBT) — Is this “hush money,” too, for the employees who can’t afford to be retired like VW’s executives? The rationale for the increase seems sketchy since inflation is negligible and VW group subsidiary workers at Audi and Porsche won’t receive a similar raise.
  • Insanity? VW Group a buy opportunity next month (The Street) — Caveat: I am not a stockbroker. This information is not provided for investment purposes. Your mileage may vary. But I think this is absolute insanity, suggesting VW group stock may offer a buy opportunity next month when VW publishes a strategy for the next decade. If this strategy includes the same utterly opaque organization committing fraud to sell vehicles, is it smart to buy even at today’s depressed prices? The parallel made with Apple stock is bizarre, literally comparing oranges to Apples. Just, no.

Bad News (Media)

Cybersec

  • Organized criminals steal $13M in minutes from Japanese ATMs (The Guardian) — And then they fled the country. What?! The mass thefts were facilitated by bank account information acquired from an unnamed South African bank. Both Japan and SA use chip-and-pin cards — so much for additional security. Good thing this organized criminal entity seeks money versus terror. Interesting that the South African bank has yet to be named.(*)
  • Slovenian student receives 15-month suspended sentence for disclosing state-created security problems (Softpedia) — The student at Slovenia’s Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security in Maribor, Slovenia had been investigating Slovenia’s TETRA encrypted communications protocol over the last four years as part of a school project. He used responsible disclosure practices, but authorities did not respond; he then revealed the encrypted comms’ failure publicly to force action. And law enforcement went after him for exposing their lazy culpability hacking them.
  • Related? Slovenian bank intended target for Vietnamese bank’s SWIFT attempted hack funds (Reuters) — Huh. Imagine that. Same country with highly flawed state-owned encrypted communications protocol was the target for monies hackers attempted to steal via SWIFT from Vietnamese TPBank. Surely just a coincidence, right?

Just for the heck of it, consider a lunch read/watch on a recent theory: World War 0. Sounds plausible to me, but this theory seems pretty fluid.

Catch you here tomorrow morning!

* UPDATE — 1:20 P.M. EDT —
Standard Bank reported it had lost 300 million rand, or USD $19.1 million to the attack on Japanese ATMs. First reports in South African media and Reuters were roughly 11 hours ago or 9:00 a.m. Johannesburg local time. It’s odd the name of the affected bank did not get wider coverage in western media, but then South Africa has a problem with disclosing bank breaches. There were five breaches alleged last year, but little public information about them; they do not appear on Hackmageddon’s list of breaches. This offers a false sense of security to South African banking customers and to banks’ investors alike.

Japan Times report attribute the thefts to a Malaysian crime gang. Neither Japan Times nor Manichi mention Standard Bank’s name as the affected South African bank. Both report the thefts actually took place more than a week ago on May 15th — another odd feature about reporting on this rash of well-organized thefts.