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Link Roundup 12.16

In this new roundup: sentences for both Jared Lee Loughner and Anders Behring Breivik, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, more on “trading robots”, security and the “clouds”, Internet Archive is on BitTorrent, David Pogue on Hollywood and online piracy, a provocative review of Beast of the Southern Wild (2012), storing data with DNA, intellectual integrity and stardom, Kodak is selling its printed film business while Samsara (2011) was entirely shot in 70mm (but will be shown exclusively in a digital format) and, finally, an excerpt from Burden of Dreams (1982), a making-of documentary about Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo (1982).

• • •

  • The New York Times: “Life Term for Gunman After Guilty Plea in Tucson Killings” by Fernanda Santos, August 7, 2012.

    Jared L. Loughner pleaded guilty on Tuesday to killing six people and wounding 13 others last year during a meet-and-greet event here held by Gabrielle Giffords, then a member of the House of Representatives and the primary target of his rampage. The plea brought a sudden resolution to a case that seemed threatened by the fragility of Mr. Loughner’s mental state.

    The shooting occurred on January 8, 2011. With this verdict, the defense avoids the death penalty while prosecutors avoid the risk of having him declared legally insane (and therefor not responsible for his actions). Previously here: “Loughner’s Mental Competence Is Doubted” (The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2011) and Jared Lee Loughner Not Competent to Stand Trial.

    Loughner Pleads Guilty

  • BBC: “Anders Behring Breivik: Norway court finds him sane” August 24, 2012.

    Breivik, who admitted killing 77 people when he bombed central Oslo and then opened fire at an island youth camp, told the court he would not appeal. He insisted he was sane and refused to plead guilty, saying last year’s attacks were necessary to stop the “Islamisation” of Norway. Prosecutors had called for him to be considered insane. Breivik was convicted of terrorism and premeditated murder, and given the maximum sentence of 21 years’ imprisonment. However, that can be prolonged at a later date if he is deemed to remain a danger to society.


  • NASA – Mars Science Laboratory: Images. With NASA’s new rover “Curiosity” safely arrived on Mars, we can all checked on the various updates (news, multimedia, images) at the NASA’s official webpage for the MSL’s mission.

    NASA Curiosity Mars

  • Technology Review: “Watch High-Speed Trading Bots Go Berserk” by Will Knight, August 7, 2012.

    The animated .gif above shows the rise of high-frequency trading across several U.S. stock exchanges over the last five years. You’ll notice that there’s relatively little activity in 2007, followed by spikes in activity at the opening and close of the market starting in 2008. And then, sometime around the start of 2010, activity becomes much, much more frenetic and erratic. The image was originally posted by Nanex, a company that provides market data to traders.

    Algorithmic trading lets financial firms to spot and exploit market patterns at lightning speeds. This can bring a tidy profit, but it also puts computers in charge of making decisions that can cost a company millions, and that may have an unpredictable effect on the rest of the market.

    The ascent of high-frequency trading has long been a concern within the financial industry (see “Trading Shares in Milliseconds”). But criticism reached a fever pitch last week when Knight Capital Group, a well respected and fairly conservative trading firm, suffered catastrophic losses when one of its algorithms went haywire for 30 minutes.

    Algorithmic trading

  • Wired: “How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking” by Matt Honan, August 6, 2012.

    And it’s also worth noting that one wouldn’t have to call Amazon to pull this off. Your pizza guy could do the same thing, for example. If you have an AppleID, every time you call Pizza Hut, you’ve giving the 16-year-old on the other end of the line all he needs to take over your entire digital life.

    In a follow up video, Honan acknowledged one crucial aspect in this story:

    In the video above, Honan assumes partial responsibility for losing irreplaceable family photos in the attack. “Because I wasn’t backing up makes me feel a lot of this stuff I could have prevented, stuff that was my fault,” he says. “I’m a technology journalist — I’ve been a technology journalist since the ’90s — I know better than to not be backing up.”

    Anyone using a computer on a regular basis should have a rock solid backup strategy. External hard drives are affordable and the whole backup process can be automated so it doesn’t even have to be a hassle.

    Matt Honan 2012

  • Internet Archive Blogs: “Over 1,000,000 Torrents of Downloadable Books, Music, and Movies” August 7, 2012.

    The Internet Archive is now offering over 1,000,000 torrents including our live music concerts, the Prelinger movie collection, the librivox audio book collection, feature films, old time radio, lots and lots of books, and all new uploads from our patrons into Community collections (with more to follow). […]

    BitTorrent is the now fastest way to download items from the Archive, because the BitTorrent client downloads simultaneously from two different Archive servers located in two different datacenters, and from other Archive users who have downloaded these Torrents already. The distributed nature of BitTorrent swarms and their ability to retrieve Torrents from local peers may be of particular value to patrons with slower access to the Archive, for example those outside the United States or inside institutions with slow connections.

    Internet Archive

  • The Verge: “Japanese company will 3D print your fetus for $1,275” by Jeff Blagdon, August 8, 2012.

    Called Tenshi no Katachi or “Shape of an Angel,” the product is based on a digital model of the mother’s torso built from CT or MRI scans, reports DigInfo TV. That model then gets 3D printed with two resins simultaneously using a process called Bio-Texture, which Fasotec also uses to create medical models. The result is a scale reproduction of your unborn baby, composed of an opaque white fetus encased in the mother’s clear, colorless abdomen.

  • Slog: “Yesterday, I Went to the American Idol for Startups. It Made Me Want to Die” by Paul Constant, August 9, 2012.

    But, oh, my God, the terrible things these people do to words. It’s like watching some sadist work over a baby lamb with a rusty crowbar and a broken gin bottle. The names of these startups sound like the products of an aggressive brain tumor on the frontal lobe. Crowdegy, Placeling, Kouply, QuoteRobot, Appthwack, Makegood, Onthego, Nickler, Kahal, Tanzio, Taskk. They’re all whimsical and unique in exactly the same way. One of the judges works for Storenvy. The main corporate sponsor for Startup Riot is Mailchimp, along with a flock of smaller sponsors like Uber, Gist, and Twilio. I could staple the mismatched meat of syllables together all afternoon and you wouldn’t be able to tell the legitimate businesses from the illegitimate: Mehole, Kaprah, Yimmy, Blanter, Catzap, Dunzyinonezy, Simplert, Lustaminate.


  • “Hushpuppy, anarchist antihero?” Kelly Candaele’s review of Beasts of the Southern Wild (IMDb), August 9, 2012.

    The feeling of being disciplined and punished by cold and bureaucratic agents of social control seems to resonate with a good portion of moviegoers, not to mention voters. What social and psychological storms threaten us so much that even the technology of flood control can seem a “restrictive” interference with our freedom? Has the “State” truly become a self-perpetuating machine of repression, or are the burdens of modernity so inherently alienating that juvenile rebellion feels like liberty?

    In his new book The Age of Fracture, Princeton historian Daniel Rodgers suggests that post-World War II American history has seen a “disaggregation of the social,” where the broad social contract that had brought more and more Americans into the domain of full economic and political citizenship has dramatically shrunk. We are left with smaller and smaller visions of “community,” often being reduced to the level of a single “rights-holding self.“ In a sad way, the characters in the Bathtub are an artistic reflection of this fragmented world.

    Beast of the Southern Wild

  • ExtremeTech: “Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram” by Sebastian Anthony, August 17, 2012.

    A bioengineer and geneticist at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have successfully stored 5.5 petabits of data — around 700 terabytes — in a single gram of DNA, smashing the previous DNA data density record by a thousand times.

    The work, carried out by George Church and Sri Kosuri, basically treats DNA as just another digital storage device. Instead of binary data being encoded as magnetic regions on a hard drive platter, strands of DNA that store 96 bits are synthesized, with each of the bases (TGAC) representing a binary value (T and G = 1, A and C = 0).

    To read the data stored in DNA, you simply sequence it — just as if you were sequencing the human genome — and convert each of the TGAC bases back into binary. To aid with sequencing, each strand of DNA has a 19-bit address block at the start (the red bits in the image below) — so a whole vat of DNA can be sequenced out of order, and then sorted into usable data using the addresses.


  • Scientific American: “How Hollywood Is Encouraging Online Piracy” by David Pogue, August 21, 2012.

    And if you don’t make your product available legally, guess what? The people will get it illegally. Traffic to illegal download sites has more than sextupled since 2009, and file downloading is expected to grow about 23 percent annually until 2015. Why? Of the 10 most pirated movies of 2011, guess how many of them are available to rent online, as I write this in midsummer 2012? Zero. That’s right: Hollywood is actually encouraging the very practice they claim to be fighting (with new laws, for example).

    Online piracy Hollywood

  • Foreign Policy: “Intellectual power and responsibility in an age of superstars” by Daniel W. Drezner, August 23, 2012.

    I think there are three interlocking things going on that explain why everyone feels so cranky. The first, as I alluded to in my Zakaria post, is that the economics of superstars has now reached the world of public intellectuals. There’s been a lot of talk about “brands” recently, and it gets at how the rewards for intellectual output have expanded at the upper strata.

    See also: “Jonah Lehrer Resigns From The New Yorker After Making Up Dylan Quotes for His Book” (by Julie Bosman, The New York Times, July 30, 2012), “Malcolm Gladwell Unmasked: A Look Into the Life & Work of America’s Most Successful Propagandist” (by Yasha Levine, S.H.A.M.E., May 31, 2012) and “The Naked and the TED” (by Evgeny Morozov, The New Republic, August 2, 2012). While those are not identical cases, they all can be linked to the general topic regarding the relation between intellectual integrity and stardom.

  • CNET News: “End of an era: Kodak to sell its film business” by Lance Whitney, August 24, 2012.

    Or perhaps the reaction should be: what film business? Regardless, the company is auctioning off what’s left of its print film business and other segments amid its bankruptcy proceedings.

    Kodak film

  • Samsara (official website): “Note from Mark Magidson on 70mm film, digital projection, and Samsara, August 23, 2012.

    All three of the films Ron and I have made have been photographed in 70mm (65mm negative), a process that has become more and more difficult as time has gone by for our kind of filmmaking due to security issues and the need to move film stock in and out of so many locations without it being X-rayed. We have employed this rarely used format because we have no actors or dialogue in our films, image is the main character. 70mm brings an unsurpassed emotional impact to the viewing experience. […]

    We have chosen to output SAMSARA to DCP for digital projection rather than creating 70mm film prints this time. There are many reasons for this, but the bottom line is we believe a digital output from the high res scan of our film negative yields the best possible viewing experience. It is a combination of using a 50-year-old camera system and cutting-edge digital technology that works for our kind of filmmaking.

    So in all likelihood, if you goo see Samsara in a movie theatre, you’ll get to see it either in 2K or 4K. As always, if you care at all, you should ask what you’re being served.

  • YouTube: Excerpt from the documentary Burden of Dreams (1982) about the making-of of Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo. If the footage looks and sound familiar, it’s because it was used in the Herzog’s excellent documentary My Best Fiend (1999, IMDb). Visit The Criterion Collection for more information about Burden of Dreams.

Link Roundup 13.04

In this new link roundup, the upcoming demise of Google Reader, LACMA’s new collections website, the machine that turns itself off, the Cyprus crisis, California’s 13th largest city goes bankrupt, Baudelaire on criticism, Wittgenstein on Facebook, sign painters, 507 mechanical movements, the ends of man, death penalty is sought for James Holmes, Game of Thrones sets a new record on BitTorrent, unemployment in Europe, the beauty of letterpress, Simondon at Cerisy, the Chinese word for “crisis”, Fujifilm doesn’t manufacture motion picture film anymore, Louis C.K., Roger Ebert and John Coltrane.

Images link directly to the content they illustrate. All those links were first collected on @aphelis (Twitter).

• • •

  • Google Official Blog: “A second spring of cleaning” March 13, 2013.

    We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader.

    This announcement triggered a lot of reaction (online) by tech journalists and commentators. Alternatives to Google Readers already exist and more of them are expected to emerge in the upcoming weeks. On the relevance and usefulness of RSS technology, one can read “Why I love RSS and You Do Too” by Brent Simmons (March 14, 2013). Brent Simmons was the creator of NetNewsWire which was later acquired by BlackPixel. NetNewsWire was the very first RSS feed reader I used before switching to Reeder. Reeder developer Silvio Rizzi has put up a statement to the effect that Reeder will continue to work after July first.

    As always, Aphelis will remain fully accessible through its RSS feed. Posts are made available in full (i.e. not truncated) and since I do not use FeedBurner ―which is also owned by Google― I don’t have to worry about this service going down as well. Besides, the Facebook Page for Aphelis was specifically set up as an alternative notification system for those who do not like RSS feeds or do not know how the technology works.

    Google reader

  • The LACMA blog: “What Do Cats Have to Do With It? Welcome to Our New Collections Website” by Amy Heibel, March 14, 2013. In March, LACMA launched its new collections website where, among many things, one can download over 20,000 high-quality images of art, a quarter of which are in the public domain.

    LACMA new collection website

  • The Wall Street Journal: “Inventors Dream Up Machines That Exist Only to Turn Themselves Off; ‘Unspeakably Sinister’” by Abigail Pesta, March 12, 2013. If the link leads you to a paywall, try searching for the title in Google instead, or even searching for the link itself.

    He also dreamed up the useless machine, although the name he gave it was the “ultimate machine.” His mentor at Bell Labs, Claude Shannon, built one and kept it on his desk, where the science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke spotted it one day. “There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing—absolutely nothing—except switch itself off,” Mr. Clarke later wrote, saying he had been haunted by the device. Mr. Shannon built a few more and handed them out to people at Bell Labs. Those versions used little doll hands to flip the switch, Mr. Minsky says.

    Shannon machine

  • The Guardian: “Cyprus crisis: limits on bank withdrawals to last ‘about a month’” by Helena Smith, March 28, 2013.

    I posted many more links about the Cyprus crisis on Twitter during the past three weeks. Although feared bank runs didn’t happened and bank accounts under €100,000 were left untouched (for the moment), the situation is still dire. At the same moment in the United-States, the 13th largest city of the state of California was authorized by a federal judge to proceed with bankruptcy (see below).


  • Reuters: “Court says city of Stockton, California may proceed with bankruptcy” by Jonathan Weber, April 1st, 2013.

    In a case being studied by other cash-strapped American cities including Detroit, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Klein’s decision was a setback for bondholders and insurers who had resisted the California city’s bankruptcy filing. Stockton is the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy.

    The crisis is just starting to unfold. The next problem is to know who will get paid between retired city workers (to whom a pension is due for work done) or the bondholders.


  • University of Chicago Press: The Cruel Radiance. Photography and Political Violence by Susie Linfield, 2010.

    In 1846, Charles Baudelaire wrote a short essay called “What Is the Good of Criticism?” This is something that virtually every critic asks herself at some point, and that many have had trouble answering; it has been known to evoke hopelessness, despair, even self-loathing. Baudelaire didn’t think that criticism would save the world, but he didn’t think it was a worthless pursuit, either. For Baudelaire, criticism was the synthesis of thought and feeling: in criticism, he wrote, “passion… raises reason to new heights,” and he urged his fellow critics to eschew antiseptic writing that “deliberately rids itself of any trace of feeling.” A few years later he returned to the subject, explaining that through criticism he sought “to transform my pleasure into knowledge”: a pithy, excellent description of what criticism should be.

    Cruel radiance

  • University of Reading / Staff Portal: “Wittgenstein has personal profile on Facebook” January 14, 2013.

    As part of his research into the life and work of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dr John Preston, Senior Lecturer in and Head of the Department of Philosophy has collected a large amount of biographical material. So much material that he realised that he could recount the events that happened in Wittgenstein’s life day-by-day as they occurred one hundred years ago on a Facebook account

    See the webpages and the Facebook pages.


  • Sign Painters is a 2013 documentary film directed by Faythe Levine & Sam Macon.

    There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade.

  • is an online edition of the classic technical reference from 1868 Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements by Henry T. Brown (see “About”; get a free copy of the book on

    This site contains the original illustrations and text from the 21st edition of the book, published in 1908. It also includes animated versions of the illustrations, and occasional notes by the webmaster. The animated versions are not yet complete. They are identified by color images in the thumbnail pages.

    Mech movements

  • Backdoor Broadcasting Company: “Catherine Malabou – From the Overman to the Posthuman: How Many Ends?” March 22, 2013.

    In this presentation, I will read and discuss Derrida’s text The Ends of Man (Margins Of Philosophy), and ask what remains of the notions of The Human, Humanity, and Humanism after deconstruction. To what extent are we still allowed to elaborate a notion of the “proper” of man? This will also be a reflection on Nietzsche and current biology.

    Catherine Malabou wasn’t able to attend the event and her text was read by Professor Jon Goldberg-Hiller. Audio only, which can be played online or downloaded.


  • The New York Times: “Death Penalty Is Sought in Shooting at Colorado Theater” by Jack Healy, April 1st, 2013.

    James E. Holmes deserves to die for killing 12 people in a storm of bullets inside a packed Colorado movie theater last July, prosecutors said in a hearing here on Monday.

    Holmes death penalty

  • TorrentFreak: “Game of Thrones Pirates Break BitTorrent Swarm Record” by Ernesto, April 1st, 2013.

    With a million downloads on BitTorrent in less than a day, the season premiere of Game of Thrones is breaking records on multiple fronts. Never before has there been a torrent with so many people sharing a file at the same time, more than 160,000 simultaneous peers. Data gathered by TorrentFreak further shows that Australia has the highest piracy rate of the popular download destinations, while London tops the list of pirate cities.

    Game of Throne

  • New York Times: “Unemployment in Euro Zone Reaches a Record 12%” by David Jolly, April 2, 2013. Get the original news release from Eurostat: PDF.

    The jobless crisis is hitting hardest in the south of Europe. Eurostat said Greece, with its economy in free fall, had the euro zone’s highest unemployment rate ,at 26.4 percent in December, the latest month for which data are available. Among Greek youth, the jobless rate has hit a staggering level, 58.4 percent.

    Greece unemployment

  • The Beauty of Letterpress is a brand new website dedicated to the art of letterpress printing:

    The Beauty of Letterpress is brought to you by Neenah Paper featuring Crane® Papers as an online resource and showcase, featuring the best and most innovative letterpress work in the industry today. In addition, the community will be assisting the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in their efforts to relocate and effectively salvage a priceless piece of letterpress history. There will be monthly issues curated by prominent designers, highlighting their favorite projects on the site. (read more)


  • Centre Culturel International de Cerisy: “Gilbert Simondon et l’invention du futur”, April 5 to April 15, 2013. Program with abstracts. Found via 10 Secondes Tigre.

    Récemment redécouverte, l’œuvre de Gilbert Simondon (1924-1989) inspire désormais de nombreux travaux novateurs en France (notamment à l’Atelier Simondon) et de par le monde. Une nouvelle génération de philosophes et de chercheurs en sciences humaines s’attelle non seulement à commenter cette pensée encyclopédique, mais aussi à la réactualiser en l’appliquant aux problématiques contemporaines.


  • “danger + opportunity ≠ crisis: How a misunderstanding about Chinese characters has led many astray” by Victor H. Mair, September 2009.

    There is a widespread public misperception, particularly among the New Age sector, that the Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of elements that signify “danger” and “opportunity.”


  • Fujifilm Global: “Discontinuation of Motion Picture Film production”, April 2, 2013.

    As previously announced, Fujifilm has stopped production of the majority of Motion Picture Film products by March, 2013. […] Products in discontinuation of manufacturing: Color Positive Film, Color Negative Film, B&W Positive and Negative Film, Intermediate Film, Sound Recording Film, High Contrast, Panchromatic Films, Chemicals (Japan only).


  • The New York Times: “The Joke’s on Louis C.K.” interview with Dave Itzkoff, April 4, 2013.

    So how did Woody Allen approach you?

    It just came out of nowhere. I got this e-mail: Woody Allen wants you to come in for something. I’ve been waiting for that e-mail my whole life.


  • Roger Ebert’s Journal: “A Leave of Presence” by Roger Ebert, April 2, 2013.

    Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter. However you came to know me, I’m glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.

    American film critic Roger Ebert died two days later, on April 4th, 2013.


  • YouTube: “The World According To John Coltrane” a 60 mins documentary film directed by Robert Palmer and Toby Byron and released in 1990. See Wikipedia for more information (it is not listed on IMDb). Watch it below: