In the News 09.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 09.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 09.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 09.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How Three Tokelau Teenagers Survived Being Lost In The Ocean For 51 Days

A crewman on a commercial tuna-fishing boat was the first to spot it: something shiny and metallic in the water off the ship’s bow. The crewman alerted the navigator, and the 280-foot San Nikunau slightly altered course to avoid a collision. As the ship came closer, the object revealed itself to be a small boat, an aluminum dinghy. It was late in the afternoon on November 24 of last year. The New Zealand–based San Nikunau was in open water, a couple of days out of Fiji, amid the vastness of the southern Pacific—an expanse the size of a dozen Saharas in which there are only scattered specks of land.

The dinghy, fourteen feet long and low to the water, was designed for traveling on lakes or hugging a shoreline. There was no way it should’ve been in this part of the Pacific. If the San Nikunau had passed a quarter mile to either side, likely no one would have noticed it. Anyway, it appeared empty, another bit of the ocean’s mysterious flotsam. But then, as the big ship was approaching the dinghy, something startling happened. From the bottom of the tiny boat, emerging slowly and unsteadily, rose an arm—a single human arm, skinny and sun-fried and waving for help.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

It Came From the ’70s: The Story
Of Your Grandma’s Weird Couch


Futzing around on social media, as one does, I recently stumbled upon a meme that hit close to home. Over a picture-patterned sofa in an autumnal-colored velour with scrolling dark wood trim, it declared, “Everyone’s grandparents had this couch. Everyone’s.” I paused, because my grandmother did, in fact, have this exact type of couch. The site TipHero took the meme further in a list associating this couch style with an “ancient” television very similar to my grandma’s large floor model with turned wood in the frame. The list nailed Grandma’s house in other ways: “Bonzana” on the old TV, lace doilies, tomato pin cushions, hard candies, crossword puzzles, transferware, shag-rug toilet covers, and leftovers in Country Crock tubs.

When I was growing up, Grandma lived in a small prefabricated Lustron house built for World War II vets on the northwest side of Tulsa. Grandpa died when I was age 5 in 1980, so my memories of him are hazy. But the couch was a part of her home as long as I could remember: It was printed with a repeating image that might have been a rustic barn with a wagon wheel perched outside or an old mill with a water wheel, surrounded by reddish orange and gold flowers, and possibly wild fowl like pheasants or turkeys. The fabric also had a fuzzy velour-type texture, but it was scratchy against the skin. And the arms, made out of scrolling dark wood covered in more of that fabric, were hard and unfriendly for leaning against.

The couch was perfectly set among the wood-paneling on the wall, the dense, rust orange carpet on the floor, the cuckoo clock, the dark-wood furniture, and the heavy, wood-frame TV set that never knew cable. On side tables, she kept a Sooner slag-glass swan bowl and a pressed-glass candy jar always filled with Starlite Mints in both peppermint and spearmint. When the TV was off, she loved to play country music, whether on the radio, vinyl, or cassette tape—from Hank Williams to the Oak Ridge Boys and Alabama to Randy Travis and Garth Brooks. Her tiny kitchen had a Formica table and roosters on trivets and tea towels. One of my earliest memories of the house is my cousin, Bryan, then 10 years old, eating cereal on his Spider-Man TV tray, watching “Dukes of Hazzard” next to the floor furnace, while Grandma sat on the couch, asking for help with “TV Guide” crossword-puzzle clues, nibbling on a frozen home-made oatmeal cookie she had retrieved from a Country Crock container.

Read the rest of this article at: Collectors Weekly

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

Franken-Algorithms: The Deadly Consequences Of Unpredictable Code

The 18th of March 2018, was the day tech insiders had been dreading. That night, a new moon added almost no light to a poorly lit four-lane road in Tempe, Arizona, as a specially adapted Uber Volvo XC90 detected an object ahead. Part of the modern gold rush to develop self-driving vehicles, the SUV had been driving autonomously, with no input from its human backup driver, for 19 minutes. An array of radar and light-emitting lidar sensors allowed onboard algorithms to calculate that, given their host vehicle’s steady speed of 43mph, the object was six seconds away – assuming it remained stationary. But objects in roads seldom remain stationary, so more algorithms crawled a database of recognizable mechanical and biological entities, searching for a fit from which this one’s likely behavior could be inferred.

At first the computer drew a blank; seconds later, it decided it was dealing with another car, expecting it to drive away and require no special action. Only at the last second was a clear identification found – a woman with a bike, shopping bags hanging confusingly from handlebars, doubtless assuming the Volvo would route around her as any ordinary vehicle would. Barred from taking evasive action on its own, the computer abruptly handed control back to its human master, but the master wasn’t paying attention. Elaine Herzberg, aged 49, was struck and killed, leaving more reflective members of the tech community with two uncomfortable questions: was this algorithmic tragedy inevitable? And how used to such incidents would we, should we, be prepared to get?

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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Rethinking Manhattan’s Grid

Mobility in New York City is at a tipping point. Average car speeds in the Midtown core have dropped precipitously over the past few years, to a pace barely faster than walking. Streets are crowded with delivery vans, and the number of ride-sharing vehicles has grown disproportionately. The cost of overly congested streets to the city’s economy is estimated to be $20 billion a year.

With the growth of car share, ride share, and bike share, and with driverless cars on the horizon, the number of personal vehicles may wane. But this does not mean that congestion on our streets is decreasing—quite the contrary. In a “tragedy of the commons,” as we find more ways to exploit the space on our streets for vehicles, the urban environment becomes degraded for everyone. Some cities have chosen to manage the use of urban roads with congestion pricing or similar models. A physical redesign would be a bolder, more lasting approach.

The city grid, which once served to organize the development of private real estate by providing access to land parcels, now has a more pressing role to play in making cities livable. Our reimagining of the grid starts from the premise that how we use public rights of way no longer meets the city’s needs, so we should transform the streets radically, dedicating them to pedestrians.

Our idea has two major precedents: the Dutch woonerf and the Barcelona superblock. The shared street or woonerf has a continuous, curbless, textured surface, and through these cues and others (such as signage), nudges car drivers to conform to the speed of pedestrians using the same space—approximately 6 miles per hour.

Variations of the woonerf are being installed in major cities around the world. Amsterdam, for example, has one with bicycle-only access on either side of the street, removing cars from the equation altogether and freeing up the center of the road as a playground.

In Barcelona, the city has been carrying out a radical experiment. It is taking nine-block sections of the city’s grid and making them into “superblocks” that are limited to local traffic inside. The planner behind this concept, Salvador Rueda, found in one early trial (implemented in 2007) that walking and cycling increased, while driving fell considerably, by 26 percent overall.

Read the rest of this article at: Citylab

Siberia’s Forgotten Women – A Photo Essay


In a remote peninsula in northern Siberia lives a group of elderly women. They were once part of a migrating community of reindeer herders but today, in their old age, they spend most of their days in the village of Yar-Sale, cut off from their nomadic relatives and friends.

Though the men are encouraged to stay within the wandering community as they grow older, the women often find themselves facing the struggles of ageing in isolation.

In the past, each woman held an essential role in her community. Pudani, for example, was a leading herder, while Liliya was the only person in her tribe who knew how to read.

Over many cups of tea, these women shared their life stories. They told me about magical snowy landscapes, lost parents and partners.

I asked each woman for permission to take their portrait in the natural light of their homes and wearing a precious item from their past. Using their stories as a guide, I also documented the wild landscapes they once wandered.

Life in the village might seem more comfortable than life as a migrating elder in the wild tundra, but it comes at the cost of great loneliness and a loss of purpose.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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

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