In the News 18.10.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 18.10.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 18.10.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 18.10.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Political Awakening
of Silicon Valley

Last year on election night, Sam Altman invited a hundred friends to watch TV at his house in San Francisco’s Mission District. One after another, guests showed up with champagne. Altman desperately hoped Donald Trump would lose, but he’d grown up in Missouri, and a decent number of people in his life, including his grandmother, were Trump supporters. He put the bottles on ice on a long hardwood table in his dining room and instructed everyone to leave them alone until they had a reason to celebrate. “I had this inkling that people were complacent and totally wrong,” he remembered later. At 2 o’clock in the morning, someone took a photograph of the unopened bottles, their fine labels softening in buckets of melted ice. Altman felt like it was one of the worst things that had ever happened to him.

Altman is the president of Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley firm that mentors and invests in early-stage startups, and at 32, he has become one of the Valley’s youngest kingmakers. He tosses off gnomic, retweetable business insights that aspiring entrepreneurs recite to one another — “Most people give up on things way too early” — and although more experienced investors sometimes roll their eyes at his cult heroism, few would turn down a meeting. Since assuming leadership three years ago, Altman’s been credited with pushing the organization, then best known for discovering Airbnb and Dropbox, to invest in science-fiction-ish enterprises like supersonic air travel and nuclear fusion. And some of these moonshots have already paid off: A self-driving car startup, Cruise Automation, in which Altman also made a personal investment, was bought by General Motors for more than a billion dollars.

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

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The Secretive Family Making Billions
From the Opioid Crisis


The newly installed Sackler Courtyard at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the most glittering places in the developed world. Eleven thousand white porcelain tiles, inlaid like a shattered backgammon board, cover a surface the size of six tennis courts. According to the V&A’s director, the regal setting is intended to serve as a “living room for London,” by which he presumably means a living room for Kensington, the museum’s neighborhood, which is among the world’s wealthiest. In late June, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was summoned to consecrate the courtyard, said to be the earth’s first outdoor space made of porcelain; stepping onto the ceramic expanse, she silently mouthed, “Wow.”

The Sackler Courtyard is the latest addition to an impressive portfolio. There’s the Sackler Wing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which houses the majestic Temple of Dendur, a sandstone shrine from ancient Egypt; additional Sackler wings at the Louvre and the Royal Academy; stand-alone Sackler museums at Harvard and Peking Universities; and named Sackler galleries at the Smithsonian, the Serpentine, and Oxford’s Ashmolean. The Guggenheim in New York has a Sackler Center, and the American Museum of Natural History has a Sackler Educational Lab. Members of the family, legendary in museum circles for their pursuit of naming rights, have also underwritten projects of a more modest caliber—a Sackler Staircase at Berlin’s Jewish Museum; a Sackler Escalator at the Tate Modern; a Sackler Crossing in Kew Gardens. A popular species of pink rose is named after a Sackler. So is an asteroid.

Read the rest of this article at: Esquire

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

Your Next Gig: Map the Streets For Self-Driving Cars

I went for a drive in San Francisco’s Mission District last month. It was late morning, and there wasn’t much traffic. As I wended my way through the side streets, I avoided a double-parked armored car and steered around construction sites. Though it might have seemed like an aimless outing, my brief sortie was anything but. Every centimeter I drove, every object I encountered, and even the double line I crossed to avoid the Brinks truck was being recorded by a device affixed across the top edge of the windshield, just above the rearview mirror.

Soon, thousands of people might be installing those gadgets in their cars, hoping to make some extra bucks—and, in the process, contributing to the next great crowdsourced project: a ridiculously detailed and constantly updated map of the world’s roads, readable only by the vast swarm of self-driving cars that will populate our byways.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired


You Think With the World, Not Just Your Brain

As always, a horror film managed to express the idea before the scientists ever could, and in better, more visceral terms. “The television screen,” the haunting image of Brian O’Blivion tells us in David Cronenberg’s 1983 classic Videodrome, “is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain.” So far, so much media theory: secondhand McLuhan, thirdhand Baudrillard. It’s what happens next that’s interesting.

Our hero, wilting under the caustic nihilism of the video age, finds that strange things start happening not to his mind, but his body. A howling cavern opens up in his stomach, rimmed by grisly pulsing labial folds. It eats weapons. His hand sprouts metallic screws, driving into his wrist, locking his gun into a hand that swells into a grotesque of formless and seeping flesh. He is told to kill, and he kills. It’s not that his mind has been invaded. It just exists beyond itself; it now contains endless shelves of video tapes. This is, somehow, obscurely, us; this monstrous body is our own.

Among philosophers, biologists, and cognitive scientists, this nightmare is an exciting new field of study, known as embodied or extended cognition: broadly, the theory that what we think of as brain processes can take place outside of the brain. In some cases, this isn’t a particularly radical idea. The octopus, for instance, has a bizarre and miraculous mind, sometimes inside its brain, sometimes extending beyond it in sucker-tipped trails. Neurons are spread throughout its body; the creature has more of them in its arms than in its brain itself. It’s possible that each arm might be, to some extent, an independently thinking creature, all of which are collapsed into an octopean superconsciousness in times of danger. Embodied cognition, though, tells us that we’re all more octopus-like than we realize. Our minds are not like the floating conceptual “I” imagined by Descartes. We’re always thinking with, and inseparable from, our bodies.

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus

The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare


One day in the spring of 2016 I mentioned to a friend that I needed a new mattress. Mine was a sunken hand-me-down that had become about as comfortable as concrete.

“I know a guy who can give you a free mattress,” my friend said.

This sounded too good to be believed, but my friend protested it was true: “This guy Kenny, he reviews mattresses online, and companies just send them to him. He can’t get rid of them fast enough.” Not long after came the email introduction: “David, meet Kenny.”

Journalists aren’t supposed to accept freebies. But the one thing I was certain of was that I would never write an article about online mattress reviewing, a subject so self-evidently boring that I became a little sad just imagining it. So when Kenny replied that he expected to have a mattress to offload soon, I only asked him what sort of wine he liked.

Kenny Kline turned out to live just blocks from me in Brooklyn, and I walked over a few days later with a nice bottle of red under one arm. Kenny buzzed me in and I stepped inside the entryway, where I found a queen-size mattress already waiting for me, ready to grab and go if I pleased. But I wanted to give Kenny his wine.

I called up to Kenny, and he emerged from his apartment to greet me on the stairs. He was tall and good-looking, with a kind of brogrammer affability. Later I’d learn he had studied physics and finance at Washington University in St. Louis, where he rowed crew and was a Beta Theta Phi brother. I’d also look up some of his mattress reviewing videos.

I asked Kenny about his unusual hobby, figuring that reviewing mattresses was something he did for beer money. But he surprised me by saying that this was what he and his business partner, a guy named Joe Auer, did for a living; their two websites, Mattress Clarity and Slumber Sage, were exclusively dedicated to reviewing mattresses.

Kenny told me that in the last few years, numerous mattress reviewing websites had sprung up. Then he made a strangely implausible claim: Just a few days before, the mattress e-commerce company Casper had sued three bloggers–competitors of Kenny’s–whose reviews Casper didn’t like. Kenny and his business partner, fortunately, had been spared.

I called an Uber and hauled my free mattress up to my third-floor walkup apartment. The mattress had a poofy marshmallowy top that I didn’t quite love, but you get what you pay for. I got used to it as the months went by.

I might have forgotten about Casper’s rumored lawsuits altogether, if the mattress brand hadn’t kept following me everywhere I went. That summer and through the fall, Casper ads sprouted all over New York: beautiful ads, often lining subway cars, featuring cartoon creatures curled up together on mattresses. In Casper’s cartoons, even the big bad wolf slept peacefully next to three little pigs.

Read the rest of this article at: Fast Company

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @alabasterfox; @lornaluxe; @windmilldreams

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