In the News 04.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 04.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 04.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 04.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

OLPC’s $100 Laptop Was Going To Change The World — Then It All Went Wrong

It was supposed to be the laptop that saved the world.

In late 2005, tech visionary and MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte pulled the cloth cover off a small green computer with a bright yellow crank. The device was the first working prototype for Negroponte’s new nonprofit One Laptop Per Child, dubbed “the green machine” or simply “the $100 laptop.” And it was like nothing that Negroponte’s audience — at either his panel at a UN-sponsored tech summit in Tunis, or around the globe — had ever seen.

After UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan offered a glowing introduction, Negroponte explained exactly why. The $100 laptop would have all the features of an ordinary computer but require so little electricity that a child could power it with a hand crank. It would be rugged enough for children to use anywhere, instead of being limited to schools. Mesh networking would let one laptop extend a single internet connection to many others. A Linux-based operating system would give kids total access to the computer — OLPC had reportedly turned down an offer of free Mac OS X licenses from Steve Jobs. And as its name suggested, the laptop would cost only $100, at a time when its competitors cost $1,000 or more.

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

Framed For Murder By His Own DNA


When the DNA results came back, even Lukis Anderson thought he might have committed the murder.

“I drink a lot,” he remembers telling public defender Kelley Kulick as they sat in a plain interview room at the Santa Clara County, California, jail. Sometimes he blacked out, so it was possible he did something he didn’t remember. “Maybe I did do it.”

Kulick shushed him. If she was going to keep her new client off death row, he couldn’t go around saying things like that. But she agreed. It looked bad.

Before he was charged with murder, Anderson was a 26-year-old homeless alcoholic with a long rap sheet who spent his days hustling for change in downtown San Jose. The murder victim, Raveesh Kumra, was a 66-year-old investor who lived in Monte Sereno, a Silicon Valley enclave 10 miles and many socioeconomic rungs away.

Around midnight on November 29, 2012, a group of men had broken into Kumra’s 7,000-square-foot mansion. They found him watching CNN in the living room, tied him, blindfolded him, and gagged him with mustache-print duct tape. They found his companion, Harinder, asleep in an upstairs bedroom, hit her on the mouth, and tied her up next to Raveesh. Then they plundered the house for cash and jewelry.

After the men left, Harinder, still blindfolded, felt her way to a kitchen phone and called 911. Police arrived, then an ambulance. One of the paramedics declared Raveesh dead. The coroner would later conclude that he had been suffocated by the mustache tape.

Three and a half weeks later, the police arrested Anderson. His DNA had been found on Raveesh’s fingernails. They believed the men struggled as Anderson tied up his victim. They charged him with murder. Kulick was appointed to his case.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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This Must Be David Byrne

For over four decades, the rock ‘n’ roll icon has carved out a career by zagging when everyone else was zigging—whether with his band Talking Heads or with collaborators ranging from Brian Eno to St. Vincent. Now, with his first solo record in 14 years, Byrne is attempting his trickiest act of subversion yet: finding stuff to feel good about in 2018.

The elevator that leads up to Todomundo—David Byrne’s Manhattan studio, which is hidden in a drab building on lower Broadway, just up from Canal Street—can be tetchy. If the door slides open and the staff of a boiler-roomish telephone-sales operation turn away from a corkboard hung with printouts about cruise-ship-vacation packages to stare balefully at you like body snatchers about to unhinge their jaws and shriek, go back down—you’re on the wrong floor.

The first thing you see when you get off on the correct floor is a painting by Howard Finster, the outsider artist and Baptist preacher whose illustration of Byrne as an Atlas in tighty-whities adorned the cover of the Talking Heads album Little Creatures. The Finster in Byrne’s foyer depicts a Day of Judgment–type situation in which earth loses its gravity. The little people in the painting are floating up to heaven. Their houses are in motion.

David Byrne will be in the back, wrapping up a call. But please, make yourself at home. Enjoy a cup of coffee fetched by a Todomundo staffer with a Jean-Seberg-as-Joan-of-Arc haircut, a woman so hip she’s never heard a podcast. Note how everyone who works for David Byrne is the hippest person you’ve ever met.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry

Two years ago, Kazushige Nishida, a Tokyo salaryman in his sixties, started renting a part-time wife and daughter. His real wife had recently died. Six months before that, their daughter, who was twenty-two, had left home after an argument and never returned.

“I thought I was a strong person,” Nishida told me, when we met one night in February, at a restaurant near a train station in the suburbs. “But when you end up alone you feel very lonely.” Tall and slightly stooped, Nishida was wearing a suit and a gray tie. He had a deep voice and a gentle, self-deprecating demeanor.

Of course, he said, he still went to work every day, in the sales division of a manufacturing company, and he had friends with whom he could go out for drinks or play golf. But at night he was completely alone. He thought he would feel better over time. Instead, he felt worse. He tried going to hostess clubs. Talking to the ladies was fun, but at the end of the night you were alone again, feeling stupid for having spent so much money.

Then he remembered a television program he had seen, about a company called Family Romance, one of a number of agencies in Japan that rent out replacement relatives. One client, an elderly woman, had spoken enthusiastically about going shopping with her rental grandchild. “The grandchild was just a rental, but the woman was still really happy,” Nishida recalled.

Nishida contacted Family Romance and placed an order for a wife and a daughter to join him for dinner. On the order form, he noted his daughter’s age, and his wife’s physique: five feet tall and a little plump. The cost was forty thousand yen, about three hundred and seventy dollars. The first meeting took place at a café. The rental daughter was more fashionable than Nishida’s real daughter—he used the English word “sharp”—but the wife immediately impressed him as “an ordinary, generic middle-aged woman.” He added, “Unlike, for example, Ms. Matsumoto”—he nodded toward my interpreter, Chie Matsumoto—“who might look like a career woman.” Chie, a journalist, teacher, and activist, who has spiky salt-and-pepper hair and wears plastic-framed glasses, laughed as she translated this qualification.

The wife asked Nishida for details about how she and the daughter should act. Nishida demonstrated the characteristic toss of the head with which his late wife had rearranged her hair, and his daughter’s playful way of poking him in the ribs. Then the women started acting. The rental wife called him Kazu, just as his real wife had, and tossed her head to shake back her hair. The rental daughter playfully poked him in the ribs. An observer would have taken them for a real family.

Nishida booked a second meeting. This time, the wife and daughter came to his house. The wife cooked okonomiyaki, a kind of pancake that Nishida’s late wife had made, while Nishida chatted with the daughter. Then they ate dinner together and watched television.

More family dinners followed, usually at Nishida’s house, though one time they went out for monjayaki, another variety of pancake beloved by the late Mrs. Nishida. It hadn’t been a fancy meal, and Nishida wondered whether he should have taken the women, who were, after all, his guests, to a nicer place. Then again, in real life, the Nishidas hadn’t gone to any of those nicer places.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

The Hardest Job in the World


Donald Trump often appears to be a president in rebellion against his office. A president, we have come to expect, hastens to the scene of a natural disaster to comfort the afflicted. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Trump arrived tardily and behaved unseriously, tossing rolls of paper towels at storm-battered residents as if he were trying to drain three-point shots.

We have come to expect that when the national fabric rends, the president will administer needle and thread, or at least reach for the sewing box of unity. After white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, shouting “Jews will not replace us,” President Trump’s instinct was to emphasize that there were good people among the neo-Nazis.

We expect presidents to be deal makers. Even when the opposition has calcified, they are supposed to drink and dine with the other side and find a bipartisan solution. Trump promised that his decades in the real-estate business would make him an especially able negotiator, but on health care, taxes, and immigration, he hasn’t much bothered to trade horses with Democratic lawmakers. Not even Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia—up for reelection in a state Trump won easily—was seriously approached as a negotiating partner.

To his critics, Trump’s detours from the expectations of his office prove he is unfit to inhabit it. Or they demonstrate his hypocrisy: The man who now ignores the traditional responsibilities of the job was once perhaps the nation’s foremost presidential scold, regularly criticizing his predecessors when they responded to a disaster inadequately or played too much golf or couldn’t make a deal. Trump even suggested that Barack Obama’s manner of descending the stairs of Air Force One was unpresidential.

Members of maga nation scoff at the president’s detractors, and bask in the glow of the burning norms. Why should Trump throw all his energy and political capital into producing quick results in Puerto Rico when the island’s poor planning and weak infrastructure have made success impossible? Why should he bow before Democrats who will never work with him anyway? Trump’s backers see him as a new kind of president, unburdened by political correctness and unconstrained by the old rules of Beltway deal making. He doesn’t let niceties get in the way of taking care of business.

The intensity of public feelings about President Trump makes it hard to measure him against the presidency. His breaks with tradition are so jarring, and the murmuration of tweets so thick, that debate about his behavior tends to be conducted on the plane of propriety and the president’s seeming disregard for it.

If Trump were a less divisive figure, we might view these lapses differently. We might consider that what looks like incompetence or impertinence on the part of the officeholder could also be evidence that the office itself is broken.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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

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