Bach at the Burger King


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Classical music being used to repel people!

Empty streets, however, are the target audience for this concert. The playlist has been selected to repel sidewalk listeners — specifically, the mid-Market homeless who once congregated outside the restaurant doors that served as a neighborhood hub for the indigent. Outside the BART escalator, an encampment of grocery carts, sleeping bags, and plastic tarmacs had evolved into a sidewalk shantytown attracting throngs of squatters and street denizens. “There used to be a mob that would hang out there,” remarked local resident David Allen, “and now there may be just one or two people.” When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears.

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Theodore Gioia — Los Angeles Review of Books

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No Sympathy for the Devil: ‘The Exorcist’ Director William Friedkin Looks Back


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Those stairs – and steps in general – are a defining metaphor in both The Exorcist and Friedkin’s latest film. When we walked through Georgetown, Friedkin kept pointing out stairways he shot – one in Healy Hall that Jason Miller’s character ascends to ask for the extension, one out front where Burstyn’s character led a student protest, another in a courtyard that led to the Jesuit residence, another outside where two priests discuss obtaining the Roman ritual of exorcism and then two minutes away those famous 75 steps that ended in a pool of blood. In The Devil and Father Amorth, Friedkin explains that the priest used to perform his exorcisms in the Scala Sancta atop a staircase – the Holy Stairs that lead to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate – that can only be climbed on one’s knees.

“It all represented the idea of ascension,” Friedkin says.

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Kory Grow — Rolling Stone

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Learning from Gossip about Free Speech


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Revelations about Facebook are the latest manifestation of dysfunction. Not only is Facebook lax about regulating the speech that takes place on its gargantuan platform, but the very nature of the platform is the result of an unregulated economic market. If Facebook is being used successfully to steal elections, spread false news, and infringe upon civil liberties, then it is undermining the very fabric of democracy.

Ironically, gossip can help to address some of these problems. You might think that gossip is the problem, if by that word we mean self-serving and often fallacious talk about others. But that’s not how gossip works in small-scale societies around the world.

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David Sloan Wilson — The Evolution Institute

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A gang of teen hackers snatched the keys to Microsoft’s videogame empire. Then they went too far.


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Pokora reveled in the perks of his success. He still lived with his parents, but he paid his tuition as he entered the University of Toronto in the fall of 2010. He and his girlfriend dined at upscale restaurants every night and stayed at $400-a-night hotels as they traveled around Canada for metal shows. But he wasn’t really in it for the money or even the adulation of his peers; what he most coveted was the sense of glee and power he derived from making $60 million games behave however he wished.

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Brendan I. Koerner — Wired

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What Not to Wear: The Deadliest Hats, Scarves, and Skirts in History


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Sometimes we do go overboard, don’t we?

While women often choose high heels for themselves for reasons of status, the sense of power that comes with added height, the amped-up sex appeal, and the element of danger implied by a sharp heel, there’s no question that the higher the heel you wear, the harder it is to run. It’s a cliché of horror, sci-fi, and adventure films to depict a beautiful woman stumbling in the face of danger or throwing off her shoes to run from a monster. But in real life, stilettos can deny a woman a quick escape from a monstrous man—and make an everyday activity a hazard.

In Killer Fashion, Wright explains how Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, fell to her death in 1921 trying to navigate a flight of stairs. “Jerome is my poster girl for high heels killing someone,” she says, “but I think it would be incorrect to assume that other women have not toppled off of high heels—especially if they were outrageously high, as they were for quite a bit of history.”

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Lisa Hix — Collectors Weekly

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BOYCOTTING CAPTAIN BOYCOTT


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Have you ever wondered the origins of the word “boycott”?

With the rural poor dying from starvation, the Irish Nationalist Land League decided to make an example of Boycott. He was shunned by his neighbors, and many dozens laid siege to his farm in late 1880. They convinced Boycott’s laborers to join them or frightened off those who wouldn’t. Local shops also refused to serve him. He was essentially isolated with his family, three loyal staff, and a handful of guests.

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Matthew Wills — JSTOR Daily

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WHAT WILL BECOME OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED?


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Will the iconic magazine survive?

With the magazine up for sale, everything surrounding SI’s mission seems uncertain. Despite the staff reductions, there is some money being poured into new platforms. Those at the magazine talk bravely about their digital initiative, SI TV, which earned two sports Emmy nominations this year (one for 89 Blocks, the gritty, veristic chronicle of a high school football team in East St. Louis that premiered last fall on Fox). But it’s hard to know where these ventures will go without knowing the magazine’s next owner, just as it’s hard to know what happens to traffic on SI.com if Peter King leaves.

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Michael MacCambridge — The Ringer

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