Nullary Sources

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Does a Company Own Its Facebook Likes?

Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg Businessweek:

The story (of the legal dispute, not the television show) begins in 2008, when Stacey Mattocks started a fan page for The Game. Soon thereafter, the show went off the air, but the Facebook page lived on. When BET decided to revive The Game in 2010, the network reached out to Mattocks, offering to give her part-time work maintaining her page as the show’s official fan page. BET wasn’t eager to start from scratch: Mattocks had already gathered about 2 million “likes,” according to court documents.

Mattocks and BET signed a deal giving the company administrative access to the page; each agreed not to lock the other out. BET employees and Mattocks worked together, quickly amassing 4 million additional “likes.” But Mattocks wanted a full-time job, and she decided to play hardball to get it. She revoked BET’s administrative access, saying she’d give it back when they agreed to pay her an acceptable salary. The company responded by starting its own page. It also asked Facebook to shut down Mattocks’s page—it contained copyrighted material—and have all the “likes” transferred to its own page. Facebook obliged and Mattocks sued, arguing that she should have the right to capitalize on the business opportunity she had created by getting a lot of people to approve of her page.

Where was the futurist who predicted mundane shit like this? Flying cars my butt.

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On August 16, Janis Ian and Tommy Emmanuel performed “At Seventeen” and “Over the Rainbow” at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Tommy’s improv accompaniment is pretty good.

"At Seventeen" is a famous song so I knew the first couple of lines and general melody of it, but I didn’t really know the song until listening to it here. And I gotta say, the verse 4 lyrics are outstanding. The metaphor is so perfectly bitter and impersonal, and she slips “debentures” into a soft rock song for crying out loud.

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The mystery of the falling teen birth rate

Sarah Kliff, Vox:

For five years now, America’s teen birth rate has plummeted at an unprecedented rate, falling faster and faster. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of babies born to teens annually fell by 38.4 percent, according to research firm Demographic Intelligence. This drop occurred in tandem with steep declines in the abortion rate. That suggests that the drop isn’t the product of more teenagers terminating pregnancies. More simply, fewer girls are getting pregnant.

But there’s something uniquely frustrating about the recent, steep decline in teen birth rates: nobody knows why it’s happened.

She then runs through a number of theories, ranging from somewhat unsatisfying to deeply unsatisfying.

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In Focus had a nice photo set the other day of the Wright brothers and their development of airplanes. This one’s from the Library of Congress:

First flight: 120 feet in 12 seconds, on December 17, 1903. This photograph shows man’s first powered, controlled, sustained flight. Orville Wright at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine. Orville Wright preset the camera and had John T. Daniels squeeze the rubber bulb, tripping the shutter.

That’s basically how we both fly and take pictures these days too.

In Focus had a nice photo set the other day of the Wright brothers and their development of airplanes. This one’s from the Library of Congress:

First flight: 120 feet in 12 seconds, on December 17, 1903. This photograph shows man’s first powered, controlled, sustained flight. Orville Wright at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine. Orville Wright preset the camera and had John T. Daniels squeeze the rubber bulb, tripping the shutter.

That’s basically how we both fly and take pictures these days too.

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Who Invented the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Josh Levin of Slate searches YouTube and Instagram for a whole bunch of videos of people dumping ice water on themselves or other people:

"Where does a phenomenon begin?"

That’s the question ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi seeks to answer in a long SportsCenter feature on the ice bucket challenge, which has reportedly raised more than $50 million for ALS charities in less than a month. Rinaldi says that it began “with one name”: Pete Frates. A former Boston College baseball player, Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. On July 31 of this year, he challenged some friends and celebrities (including NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan) to take the ice bucket challenge to “strike out ALS.” As my Slate colleague Will Oremus pointed out, various outlets have since claimed that Frates invented or inspired the challenge, with the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, and MLB.com joining ESPN in labeling Frates as the stimulus for the chilly, charitable fad.

This origin myth, while heartwarming, just isn’t true. The real story of how the ice bucket challenge came to dominate your Facebook feed takes nothing away from Frates’ inspirational message, or the fact that his personal struggle helped draw celebrities to the cause and drive charitable contributions. But focusing on “one name” obscures another fascinating tale, one that illustrates how movements mutate and evolve as they travel across the Web.

(the answer is that there is no answer)

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Kern Your Enthusiasm #19: Chicago

Alissa Walker has written a warm reminiscence of the only typeface with its own tag here on Nullary Sources, Chicago:

Maybe it was because I was so used to it greeting me, guiding me through every decision — chirping up in a dialogue box confirming that I did, indeed, want to shut down. But when I began writing on the computer, ate age eight, Chicago was the typeface I used. I was mostly writing poems about trees during this period, and I’d bring the text into MacPaint where I could illustrate them using Kare’s paintbrush icon, sweeping the page with basket-weave patterns and single-pixel polka dots. Sometimes I’d click over and scroll through the available typefaces — New York, Geneva, Monaco — and reject each one not only on looks, but on principle.

(Via John “The Grubes” Gruber)

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San Francisco Giants win protest over rain-shortened loss in Chicago

Chris Haft, MLB.com:

San Francisco’s protest of its loss to Chicago on Tuesday was upheld on Wednesday by Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations. Torre agreed with the Giants’ stance that the flawed deployment of Wrigley Field’s tarp meant that the game should have been suspended instead of awarded to the Cubs, who led, 2-0, when rain halted activity after the regulation 4 1/2 innings had been played.

"Were we surprised? Sure," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "How many of these have been upheld? Nine? 10?"

The precise number is unknown, but winning such an appeal is definitely rare. It last occurred in 1986, when a protest by Pittsburgh — that a game against St. Louis had been called too soon — was upheld.

Yes it’s the first successful protest lodged in twenty-eight years, and it’s over fuckin’ rain.

Incidentally, the last one was also over fuckin’ rain.

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From The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, here’s Pierce Brosnan playing the delightful N64 game GoldenEye 007.

Unfortunately, the game only lasts 35 seconds, thus wasting an enormous opportunity.

Colin: That was honestly really disappointing but I guess Jimmy Fallon finds a way to ruin even Goldeneye

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Here’s Bert Smorenburg demonstrating a piano with Yamaha’s new TransAcoustic technology. As I understand it, they’ve taken an acoustic piano and hooked up transducers to the sound board that can play digital samples through it. This means that it can play as a normal piano (no samples), an electric keyboard (only samples), or a hybrid of acoustic piano layered with samples, and in all three cases the sound comes out of the body of the instrument without speakers or anything like that.

I’m linking this half because I think this is cool tech, and half because the guy makes really funny faces while playing. Matt Peckham reviewed the U1TA model for TIME magazine.

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Michele Roberts, N.B.A. Union’s New Leader, Confronts Gender Barriers

Andrew Keh writing for The New York Times about Michele Roberts, who was recently elected executive director of the NBA players’ union, the National Basketball Players Association:

She said she was all too aware that if she was selected, she would represent several hundred male athletes in the N.B.A.; she would deal with league officials and agents who were nearly all men; she would negotiate with team owners who were almost all men; and she would stand before reporters who were predominantly men.

She did not flinch. “My past,” she told the room, “is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.”

Holy shit.