The Long, Strange History of the Kung Fu Fighting Melody

Welcome to Reading List, Gizmodo's weekend roundup of the best writing from around the web. Today we've got great pieces from NPR, IEEE Spectrum, Chicago Magazine, Nautilus, and more.

  • Our first "read" is actually a listen: NPR's Kat Chow investigates the "Kung Fu Fighting" melody, the nine-note musical phrase that's a shorthand reference to Asia in movies, TV, and music. You're probably most familiar with it from Carl Douglas's song by the same name, but its history reaches back nearly a century. Click the link to hear the NPR radio piece—it's a fascinating listen. [NPR]
  • Ted C. Fishman takes a long look at the story of Motorola, the company that once absolutely dominated the tech and communications industry—and that was nearly destroyed by an ill-fated culture shift. [Chicago Magazine]
  • Stephanie Pell, Assistant Professor and Cyber Ethics Fellow at the Army Cyber Institute, United States Military Academy at West Point, explains how covert devices posing as legitimate cell phone towers are used to track the movement of cellphones and their users. The technique relies on weaknesses in our system that could be used by criminals and cops alike, weaknesses Pell argues should be barred from both groups. [Wired]
  • William A. Radasky tells us the harrowing truth about electromagnetic attacks, where briefcase-sized devices use short, high-voltage electrical pulses to knock out our networked infrastructure. EM attacks used to be the realm of movie trope—it's how the gang knocked out Las Vegas's power in Ocean's 11—but they're real, andn they could already be happening. [IEEE Spectrum]
  • Ben Radatz and Will Perkins show us the best and most creative uses of movie title sequences, a part of the movie anatomy that was once ignored, but can serve as a fantastic way to further the artistic mission of the movie. You may not recognize all of these examples, but they're the best. [Art of the Title]
  • Benjamin Seibold goes deep into the physics, science, and math behind one of modern society's most common frustrations: traffic jams. They affect nearly everyone, but their fleeting, temporary nature makes them almost impossible to study in real-time. [Nautilus]