Deconstructing Edvard Munch’s famous painting


Today’s needull looks at Munch’s famous painting “The Scream”. There is something about the painting which is timeless. In today’s world of hyper connectivity and noise, this painting has a meaning for me.

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893

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India’s Illiberal Democracy


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A critical piece.

It is also true that, no matter how horrifying the news from India is, the country remains for many commentators in the West a mostly cuddly democracy and “rising” economic power. A recent article in the New York Review of Books was not untypical in this regard. “In Narendra Modi, India now has dynamic leadership for the first time in many years,” wrote Jessica T. Mathews, the former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. After nodding briefly to criticism of Modi for restricting civil liberties, Mathews added, offering no evidence whatsoever, that “Modi may be consolidating enough political strength to force through long-needed reforms in New Delhi.”

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Pankaj Mishra — Bloomberg

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The Once-Common Practice of Communal Sleeping


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Would you be comfortable sleeping on the same bed with a stranger? Communal sleeping sounds such a weird idea today. But, today’s needull discusses how communal sleeping used to be a common practice till very recently.

It was not uncommon for strangers and traveling companions to share a bed while on the road. Etiquette dictated that to ensure relative tranquility when sharing a bed with strangers, a bedmate was to lie still, not hog the blankets, and generally keep to one’s self. But that didn’t always work. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams spent a night sharing a bed at a New Jersey inn which was largely passed bickering over whether to keep the window open or closed.

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Adee Braun — Atlas Obscura

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From Bitcoin to Ethereum


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These crypto currencies have been hot topic of discussion recently with the success of Ethereum. Today’s needull tries to explain what these are and the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The Ethereum blockchain is much faster than that of Bitcoin. The delay between two blocks in the bitcoin system is around 12 seconds. The propagation time of a block through the network, understandably, poses de facto new challenges. The Ethereum protocol provides solutions in both cases. Moreover, and this is the great innovation of this platform, one can arbitrarily store data on the blockchain—by which I mean smart-contracts—that are, in fact, programs written in a complete Turing language. There is thus no restriction on the complexity of programs that can be deposited on this particular blockchain.

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Aurélien Alvarez, reply by Jean-Paul Delahaye — Inference

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Texting Toward Utopia


Many believe the Internet leads to democratization of authoritarian regimes (see media coverage of the Arab Spring). Evgeny Morozov stands against such technological determinism.

[D]rawing conclusions about the democratizing nature of the Internet may still be premature. The major challenge in understanding the relationship between democracy and the Internet— aside from developing good measures of democratic improvement—has been to distinguish cause and effect. That is always hard, but it is especially difficult in this case because the grandiose promise of technological determinism—the idealistic belief in the Internet’s transformative power—has often blinded even the most sober analysts.

Boston Review

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Choosing to Be Childless Comes at a Cost


Do you discriminate against those who choose not to have children?

“Our data suggests that not having children is seen not only as atypical or surprising, but also as morally wrong.”

Pacific Standard

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Quentin Tarantino makes his one true action movie, and it’s glorious


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This needull talks about Kill Bill: Vol. 1. An action movie where Tarantino goes no holds barred on action scenes.

Kill Bill—the whole bloody affair—is messy. The tone veers wildly from cartoonish silliness to bloodcurdling emotional intensity; think of the moment where Uma Thurman wakes from her coma, realizes that she’s no longer pregnant, and lets out a feral-animal howl before she gets to killing motherfuckers. And somehow, probably because Tarantino knows what he’s doing, those abrupt tonal shifts never kill the movie’s momentum. It rockets forward on its own logic, over the course of two movies. It’s a four-hour revenge spectacular that ends with a long philosophical discussion.

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Tom Breihan — The A.V. Club

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