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In the News 21.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 21.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 21.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 21.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In Search of Fear

A void like that is terrifying. Prisoner of a morsel of space, you will struggle desperately against occult elements: the absence of matter, the smell of balance, vertigo from all sides, and the dark desire to return to the ground, even to fall. This dizziness is the drama of high-wire walking, but that is not what I am afraid of.

After long hours of training for a walk, a moment comes when there are no more difficulties. It is at this moment that many have perished. But in this moment I am also not afraid.

If an exercise resists me during rehearsal, and if it continues to do so a little more each day, to the point of becoming untenable, I prepare a substitute exercise—in case panic grabs me during a performance. I approach it slyly, surreptitiously. But I always want to persist, to feel the pride of conquering it. In spite of that, I sometimes give up the struggle. But I do so without any fear. I am never afraid on the wire. I am too busy.

Read the rest of this article at: Lapham's Quarterly

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Are You a Self-Interrupter?

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Our technology-rich world has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. While on the one hand we have access to information or people anywhere at any time, on the other hand we find our attention constantly drawn by the rich, multisensory, technological environments. It all started with the graphical user interface that took us from the flat, two-dimensional text-based environment that operated on a line-by-line basis similar to a typewriter, to a small picture depicting an operation or program. From there it was a short hop to a completely multisensory world appealing to all of our visual, auditory, and tactile or kinesthetic senses. We now see videos in high definition, often in simulated 3-D. We hear high-definition stereo sounds that feel as crisp as sounds in the real world. Our devices vibrate, shake, rattle, and roll, and our attention is captured. It is no accident that we now attach specific ringtones and vibrations to certain people to grab our attention. When Larry D. Rosen hears that piano riff from his iPhone he knows it must be either his fiancée or one of his four children, and he grabs the phone before the end of the first few notes. As B.F. Skinner would say, he has been positively reinforced on a fixed-ratio schedule, as it is almost always a positive experience to talk to any of them. On the other hand, several people in his contact list have an “alarm” ringtone, which causes the exact opposite visceral reaction, and he reaches for the button to ignore the call.

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus

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Conspicuous Consumption Is Over. It’s All About Intangibles Now

In 1899, the economist Thorstein Veblen observed that silver spoons and corsets were markers of elite social position. In Veblen’s now famous treatise The Theory of the Leisure Class, he coined the phrase ‘conspicuous consumption’ to denote the way that material objects were paraded as indicators of social position and status. More than 100 years later, conspicuous consumption is still part of the contemporary capitalist landscape, and yet today, luxury goods are significantly more accessible than in Veblen’s time. This deluge of accessible luxury is a function of the mass-production economy of the 20th century, the outsourcing of production to China, and the cultivation of emerging markets where labour and materials are cheap. At the same time, we’ve seen the arrival of a middle-class consumer market that demands more material goods at cheaper price points.

However, the democratisation of consumer goods has made them far less useful as a means of displaying status. In the face of rising social inequality, both the rich and the middle classes own fancy TVs and nice handbags. They both lease SUVs, take airplanes, and go on cruises. On the surface, the ostensible consumer objects favoured by these two groups no longer reside in two completely different universes.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

Thisisglamorous articles of interest 21.06.17

The Quantum View of Reality Might not be So Weird After All

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The Quantum theory contradicts common sense. Everyone who has even a modest interest in physics quickly gets this message. The quantum view of reality, we’re often told, is as a madhouse of particles that become waves (and vice versa), and that speak to one another through spooky message that defy normal conceptions of time and space. We think the world is made from solid, discrete objects – trees and dogs and tables – things that have objective properties that we can all agree on; but in quantum mechanics the whole concept of classical objects with well-defined identities seems not to exist. Sounds ridiculous? The much-lauded physicist Richard Feynman thought so, yet he implored us to learn to live with it. ‘I hope you can accept Nature as She is – absurd,’ he said in 1985.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon



The Ether Thief

SUMMER COLDS ARE the worst, and Emin Gün Sirer had caught a wicked bug from his 1-year-old son. So it was with watering eyes and a stuffy nose that the associate professor of computer science at Cornell found himself working from his sickbed on Monday, June 13, 2016. Gün—everyone calls him Gün—couldn’t tear himself away from his laptop. He had another type of bug in his sights, a flaw in a line of computer code he feared put $250 million at risk of being stolen.

It wasn’t just any code. It was the guts of the newest breakthrough in software design related to blockchain, the novel combination of decentralized computing and cryptography that gave life to the virtual currency bitcoin in 2009. Since then, the promise of blockchain to transform industries from finance to health care has captured imaginations in corporate boardrooms and governments alike. Yet what the Turkish-born professor was exploring that Monday was the next leap forward from bitcoin, what’s known as the ethereum blockchain.

Rather than moving bitcoin from one user to another, the ethereum blockchain hosts fully functioning computer programs called smart contracts—essentially agreements that enforce themselves by means of code rather than courts. That means they can automate the life cycle of bond payments, say, or ensure that pharmaceutical companies can authenticate the sources of their drugs. Yet smart contracts are also new and mostly untested. Like all software, they are only as reliable as their coding—and Gün was pretty sure he’d found a big problem.

In an email sent to one of his graduate students, Philip Daian, at 7:30 p.m., Gün noted that the smart contract he was looking at might have a problem—on line 666. (They say the devil is in the details.) Gün feared the bug could allow a hacker to make unlimited ATM-like withdrawals from the millions, even if the attacker, who’d have needed to be an investor, had only $10 in his account.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @ashleytstark; @nastasiaspassport; @theflowerbx

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