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News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@amberlyvalentine
News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@amberlyvalentine
News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@amberlyvalentine

Madonna at Sixty

The night before the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas in May, Madonna was sitting in the arena attached to the MGM Grand hotel, staring at a double of herself. The double, who was standing on the stage many yards away, was younger and looked Asian but wore a similar lace minidress and a wig in Madonna’s current hairstyle, a ’30s movie star’s crimped blond waves. “It’s always the second person with the wig — she wants to see it,” a stage designer said, adding that when she makes a decision, she is definitive. “Madonna wants 10 options, but when she says it’s the one, it’s the one.”

Madonna was observing Madonna to make sure Madonna was doing everything perfectly. Up on the stage set of a funky urban street with lampposts and a tiled bar, the double hit her marks and held a fist up to her mouth like a faux microphone for a rendition of “Medellín,” the on-trend, Latin-inflected song that Madonna would be singing. Madonna looked at a TV and assessed the augmented-reality part of the show, in which four additional virtual Madonnas, one playing an accordion and another dressed like a bride, would materialize in the televised awards performance out of thin air. Nearby, guys bowed heads and said cryptic things like “Where’s the digital key?” and “I need the alpha channel” to one another, tensely.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Always In

News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I still remember the first time I saw someone order at a coffee shop without removing their AirPods. I’d seen people with regular headphones do this many times before, of course, but they had just seemed obviously rude. Strangely, this person didn’t. He carried himself with a nonchalant ease, his body language reflecting the calm knowledge that his behavior was not only acceptable but somehow prescient. Once the rest of us had AirPods too, we would understand. I sensed that I was witnessing a new norm taking shape.

Years before AirPods started appearing, mobile phones had already accomplished a similar reshaping of etiquette, evolving from novelty to necessity in a relatively short time. We carry phones for the majority of our waking lives, touching them more than 2,600 times a day and treating them with a fondness rarely afforded to other objects. Once a discrete tool, the phone has become an appendage; we feel its absence, sometimes painfully, when separated from it. This can be partly attributed to Apple’s iPhone design, which made the smartphone into an elegant and smooth object, something to covet and obsessively handle.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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Too Many People Want to Travel

Late in May, the Louvre closed. The museum’s workers walked out, arguing that overcrowding at the home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo had made the place dangerous and unmanageable. “The Louvre suffocates,” the workers’ union said in a statement written in French, citing the “total inadequacy” of the museum’s facilities to manage the high volume of visitors.

Half a world away, a conga line of mountaineers waited to approach the summit of Mount Everest, queued up on a knife’s-edge ridge, looking as if they had chosen to hit the DMV at lunchtime. A photograph of the pileup went viral; nearly a dozen climbers died, with guides and survivors arguing that overcrowding at the world’s highest peak was a primary cause, if not the only one.

Such incidents are not isolated. Crowds of Instagrammers caused a public-safety debacle during a California poppy super bloom. An “extreme environmental crisis” fomented a “summer of action” against visitors to the Spanish island of Mallorca. Barcelona and Venice and Reykjavik and Dubrovnik, inundated. Beaches in Thailand and Mexico and the Philippines, destroyed. Natural wonders from the Sierra Nevadas to the Andes, jeopardized. Religious sites from Cambodia to India to Rome, damaged.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Anthropocene Epoch: Have We Entered A New Phase Of Planetary History?

News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It was February 2000 and the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen was sitting in a meeting room in Cuernavaca, Mexico, stewing quietly. Five years earlier, Crutzen and two colleagues had been awarded the Nobel prize in chemistry for proving that the ozone layer, which shields the planet from ultraviolet light, was thinning at the poles because of rising concentrations of industrial gas. Now he was attending a meeting of scientists who studied the planet’s oceans, land surfaces and atmosphere. As the scientists presented their findings, most of which described dramatic planetary changes, Crutzen shifted in his seat. “You could see he was getting agitated. He wasn’t happy,” Will Steffen, a chemist who organised the meeting, told me recently.

What finally tipped Crutzen over the edge was a presentation by a group of scientists that focused on the Holocene, the geological epoch that began around 11,700 years ago and continues to the present day. After Crutzen heard the word Holocene for the umpteenth time, he lost it. “He stopped everybody and said: ‘Stop saying the Holocene! We’re not in the Holocene any more,’” Steffen recalled. But then Crutzen stalled. The outburst had not been premeditated, but now all eyes were on him. So he blurted out a name for a new epoch. A combination of anthropos, the Greek for “human”, and “-cene”, the suffix used in names of geological epochs, “Anthropocene” at least sounded academic. Steffen made a note.

A few months after the meeting, Crutzen and an American biologist, Eugene Stoermer, expanded on the idea in an article on the “Anthropocene”. We were entering an entirely new phase of planetary history, they argued, in which human beings had become the driving force. And without a major catastrophe, such as an asteroid impact or nuclear war, humankind would remain a major geological force for many millennia. The article appeared on page 17 of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s newsletter.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Knowledge Is Crude

News 06.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I’m against knowledge. Don’t get me wrong: I’m as keen on the facts as the next person. I’m no friend of fake news. I want truth rather than falsity. It is specifically knowledge I’m against, not true belief. Knowledge asks more of us than true belief, and it isn’t worth it. In reality, the concept of knowledge is a hangover from a stone-age way of thinking that has long outlived its usefulness. We’d be far better off without it.

Philosophers are fond of showing how knowledge goes beyond mere true belief. To see the difference, imagine that you are convinced, on no very good grounds, that a horse called Meadowlark will win the 3:40 race at Ascot tomorrow. And then suppose it does in fact romp home. We wouldn’t say you had knowledge it would win, just because your belief turned out to be true.

What more than true belief is required for knowledge? A natural thought is that your belief needs to be backed by good reasons. It can’t just be a guess that happens to turn out right. But this doesn’t seem enough either. Imagine a friend buys you a lottery ticket as a gift. You don’t think much of the present, because you’re convinced that it won’t win, for the very good reason that it’s one in a million. And in due course it indeed turns out not to be the winner. Even so, we still wouldn’t say that you had knowledge that the ticket was worthless. Your belief might have been eminently reasonable, as well as true, but it still seems too happenstantial to qualify as knowledge.

For those philosophers who work in epistemology (the ‘theory of knowledge’), the holy grail is to pin down the nature of knowledge and explain why it matters. But despite thousands upon thousands of articles devoted to the topic, the philosophers haven’t been able to come up with a good story. I say that’s because they’re barking up the wrong tree. The notion of knowledge doesn’t in fact pick out anything important. It’s a crude concept we have inherited from our prehistoric ancestors, and it positively handicaps us in our dealings with the modern world.

Before the emergence of modern humans, our prehistoric ancestors couldn’t grasp such sophisticated representational notions as belief. Instead, they worked with a rough distinction between those thinkers who were in contact with the facts and those who weren’t. This rudimentary way of thinking lives on in the concept of knowledge. But we don’t need that concept anymore. The modern notion of true belief is far more subtle and flexible. Yet somehow the archaic concept of knowledge keeps us in its grip, like an old lover we can’t get out of our system. It messes us up in so many ways. We really need to forget about knowledge.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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