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In the News 12.08.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets


In the News 12.08.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
Photo by Emily Faulstich

The World is Not Enough


The thing people always talk about first, when they are talking about Net-a-Porter, is the packaging. For a company known for being on the leading edge of online fashion, it is surprisingly anachronistic: The black, beribboned bags that arrive, brimming with tissue paper and the promise of a life-changing ensemble, could just as easily have been delivered by uniformed footman to Eloise’s Plaza as summoned via the internet into the one inhabited by Russian oligarchs. “It’s like getting a present,” the company’s president, Natalie Massenet, likes to say, which sounds whimsical but isn’t. Elaborate packaging is integral to the Net-a-Porter brand. It was central to Massenet’s vision when she started the company in her apartment in 1999, on the premise that good old-fashioned luxury and the utilitarian promise of the internet need not be mutually exclusive, and has remained so even as the company has expanded to become one of the leading players of global e-commerce.

Read the rest of this article at New York Magazine

On the Hunt for America’s Last Great Treasure


If not for the treasure, it seems unlikely that Forrest Fenn and Darrell Seyler would ever have crossed paths. Fenn is an 85-year-old retired art dealer from Santa Fe; Darrell is a 50-year-old former cop living in Seattle. Fenn grew up exploring Yellowstone National Park; Darrell bounced in and out of foster homes. After a bad tour in Vietnam, Fenn wandered the plateaus and canyons of the desert Southwest; after a divorce, Darrell spent a few unfortunate months on the Dallas club scene—glow sticks, bass drops, put your hands in the air.

Yet the two are inextricably linked by an incredible fact: for the past three years, Darrell has been searching the Rocky Mountains for a chest filled with an estimated million dollars in gold, and Fenn knows where it is. In fact, he put it there.

Read the rest of this article at Outside

The hacker hacked


Any large and alienating infrastructure controlled by a technocratic elite is bound to provoke. In particular, it will nettle those who want to know how it works, those who like the thrill of transgressing, and those who value the principle of open access. Take the US telephone network of the 1960s: a vast array of physical infrastructure dominated by a monopolistic telecoms corporation called AT&T. A young Air Force serviceman named John Draper – aka Captain Crunch – discovered that he could manipulate the rules of tone-dialling systems by using children’s whistles found in Cap’n Crunch cereal boxes. By whistling the correct tone into a telephone handset, he could place free long-distance calls through a chink in the AT&T armour.

Read the rest of this article at Aeon

Dabbawalas: Mumbai’s lunchbox carriers

Amid the press of people huffing up the steep stone steps of Mumbai’s Santacruz railway station in the rising morning heat, only Dashrat Kedari has a 7ft-long wooden crate wobbling precariously on his head. That’s not the extent of his exertion. On the lurid-red crate, fenced in by a metal rim, are 30 or so silver tins, sides dented and lids clattering under the strain of the ascent.

Read the rest of this article at The Financial Times

The New Science of Sentencing

Should prison sentences be based on crimes that haven’t been committed yet?


Criminal sentencing has long been based on the present crime and, sometimes, the defendant’s past criminal record. In Pennsylvania, judges could soon consider a new dimension: the future.

Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign.

Risk assessments have existed in various forms for a century, but over the past two decades, they have spread through the American justice system, driven by advances in social science. The tools try to predict recidivism — repeat offending or breaking the rules of probation or parole — using statistical probabilities based on factors such as age, employment history and prior criminal record. They are now used at some stage of the criminal justice process in nearly every state. Many court systems use the tools to guide decisions about which prisoners to release on parole, for example, and risk assessments are becoming increasingly popular as a way to help set bailfor inmates awaiting trial.

Read the rest of this article at The Marshall Project

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