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News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@lindapyra
News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@varsovianna
News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@jakearnold

ON MARCH 6, 1995, WIRED’s executive editor and resident techno-optimist Kevin Kelly went to the Greenwich Village apartment of the author Kirkpatrick Sale. Kelly had asked Sale for an interview. But he planned an ambush.

Kelly had just read an early copy of Sale’s upcoming book, called Rebels Against the Future. It told the story of the 19th-century Luddites, a movement of workers opposed to the machinery of the Industrial Revolution. Before their rebellion was squashed and their leaders hanged, they literally destroyed some of the mechanized looms that they believed reduced them to cogs in a dehumanizing engine of mass production.

Sale adored the Luddites. In early 1995, Amazon was less than a year old, Apple was in the doldrums, Microsoft had yet to launch Windows 95, and almost no one had a mobile phone. But Sale, who for years had been churning out books complaining about modernity and urging a return to a subsistence economy, felt that computer technology would make life worse for humans. Sale had even channeled the Luddites at a January event in New York City where he attacked an IBM PC with a 10-pound sledgehammer. It took him two blows to vanquish the object, after which he took a bow and sat down, deeply satisfied.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Peter Kalmus, out of his mind, stumbled back toward the car. It was all happening. All the stuff he’d been trying to get others to see, and failing to get others to see — it was all here. The day before, when his family started their Labor Day backpacking trip along the oak-lined dry creek bed in Romero Canyon, in the mountains east of Santa Barbara, the temperature had been 105 degrees. Now it was 110 degrees, and under his backpack, his “large mammalian self,” as Peter called his body, was more than just overheating. He was melting down. Everything felt wrong. His brain felt wrong and the planet felt wrong, and everything that lived on the planet felt wrong, off-kilter, in the wrong place.

Nearing the trailhead, Peter’s mind death-spiralled: What’s next summer going to bring? How hot will it be in 10 years? Yes, the data showed that the temperature would only rise per decade by a few tenths of a degree Celsius. But those tenths would add up and the extreme temperatures would rise even faster, and while Peter’s big mammal body could handle 100 degrees, sort of, 110 drove him crazy. That was just not a friendly climate for a human. 110 degrees was hostile, an alien planet.

Lizards fried, right there on the rocks. Elsewhere, songbirds fell out of the sky. There was more human conflict, just as the researchers promised. Not outright violence, not here, not yet. But Peter’s kids were pissed and his wife was pissed and the salience that he’d so desperately wanted others to feel — “salience” being the term of choice in the climate community for the gut-level understanding that climate change isn’t going to be a problem in the future, it is a crisis now — that salience was here. The full catastrophe was here (both in the planetary and the Zorba the Greek sense: “Wife. Children. House. Everything. The full catastrophe”). To cool down, Peter, a climate scientist who studied coral reefs, had stood in a stream for an hour, like a man might stand at a morgue waiting to identify a loved one’s body, irritated by his powerlessness, massively depressed. He found no thrill in the fact that he’d been right.

Sharon Kunde, Peter’s wife, found no thrill in the situation either, though her body felt fine. It was just hot … OK, very hot. Her husband was decompensating. The trip sucked.

Read the rest of this article at: ProPublica

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Standing on the edge of a cliff, I took my time setting up my tripod and camera in anticipation of a sunset. The light would soon be bathing the mountains in front of me, illuminating the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. One of the most beautiful sights my eyes had ever seen, the two tributaries have very distinct colors at the place where they join. The Indus is jade green, while the Zanskar has cyan blue hues. I had big plans for capturing the magic of this place in a photograph. After futzing around with my gear for a while, I had my composition and focus set. All I had to do was press the shutter when the time was right.

As I waited, I peered over the edge and saw a group of off-duty paramilitary servicemen taking selfies with their backs to the scene. They were capturing the moment using nothing but the cameras on their smartphones. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Here I was, standing high above, with a camera rig that cost as much as a second-hand sedan, waiting for the perfect light as I took great care to keep my own shadow out of the frame. And there they were, recording the same moment with faint regard for the quality of the light or the image itself. Instead, they were letting the chips figure it all out as they strained to document their own presence.

Read the rest of this article at: OM

News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

ONE DAY IN the spring of 2010, Kathleen McCaffrey, a sophomore at New York University, received an invitation from a stranger named Arthur Breitman. On the basis of what Breitman had been told about her political persuasion by a mutual acquaintance, he thought she might want to join his monthly luncheon for classical liberals. (­Breitman had also seen a photograph of McCaffrey and thought she was pretty.) McCaffrey, the curious type, accepted.

Breitman was not typically one to overextend himself socially, but he made a “beeline” for McCaffrey, she recalls, when she walked in the door. The luncheon, it turned out, was actually for anarcho-capitalists—people who believe that an absolutely free, self-regulating market will allow individuals, bound to one another by contract alone, to flourish in radical harmony. But by the time McCaffrey discovered she’d been misled, they’d already hit it off. She told Breitman she admired Milton Friedman. Breitman was pleased to report that he was friends with Friedman’s grandson, Patri, and offered to lend her a book about freedom by Patri’s father.

To keep McCaffrey nearby, Breitman threw an impromptu party at his disorderly financial-­district apartment after lunch. The next morning he texted her to say he’d reserved a table for two for that evening. Everything from that point forward felt like a fait accompli.

The match, despite their vast differences in temperament and background, was an inspired one. Kathleen is relentlessly animated and quick-witted, with thick tangerine hair, steely eyes, and an endearing personal idiolect that suggests both an autodidactic reading in philosophy and economics and the gusty crudity of the merchant marine. Arthur is by turns retiring and pointed, with a soft, cublike appearance and a tight, parsimonious grin. Kathleen had grown up in northern New Jersey, the daughter of a Bronx-raised contractor and an Irish elementary-­school teacher; she read The Wall Street Journal and played on the golf team at her all-girls Catholic high school. Arthur had been raised just outside Paris by a well-known playwright/television impresario and a civil servant; at 18 he’d won France’s first-ever medal, a bronze, in the International Olympiad in Informatics, and he’d gone on to take his degree in applied math and computer science at the extremely selective École Polytechnique. Now, at 28, he worked as a quant in Goldman Sachs’ high-frequency trading shop.

Arthur only discovered that Kathleen was eight years his junior sometime later, when he remarked that her academic work, in epistemology and mathematics, frankly seemed pretty easy for a grad student. Kathleen was insulted, but she got over it. Arthur was unfazed by her youth; what mattered was that Kassleen had a mind that could keep pace with his own. They admired in each other a brusque self-assurance and artless candor that others often perceived as arrogant.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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News 02.01.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Guy Babcock vividly remembers the chilly Saturday evening when he discovered the stain on his family. It was September 2018. He, his wife and their young son had just returned to their home in Beckley, an English village outside of Oxford. Mr. Babcock still had his coat on when he got a frantic call from his father.

“I don’t want to upset you, but there is some bad stuff on the internet,” Mr. Babcock recalled his father saying. Someone, somewhere, had written terrible things online about Guy Babcock and his brother, and members of their 86-year-old father’s social club had alerted him.

Mr. Babcock, a software engineer, got off the phone and Googled himself. The results were full of posts on strange sites accusing him of being a thief, a fraudster and a pedophile. The posts listed Mr. Babcock’s contact details and employer.

The images were the worst: photos taken from his LinkedIn and Facebook pages that had “pedophile” written across them in red type. Someone had posted the doctored images on Pinterest, and Google’s algorithms apparently liked things from Pinterest, and so the pictures were positioned at the very top of the Google results for “Guy Babcock.”

Mr. Babcock, 59, was not a thief, a fraudster or a pedophile. “I remember being in complete shock,” he said. “Why would someone do this? Who could it possibly be? Who would be so angry?”

Then he Googled his brother’s name. The results were just as bad.

He tried his wife.

His sister.

His brother-in-law.

His teenage nephew.

His cousin.

His aunt.

They had all been hit. The men were branded as child molesters and pedophiles, the women as thieves and scammers. Only his 8-year-old son had been spared.

Guy Babcock was about to discover the power of a lone person to destroy countless reputations, aided by platforms like Google that rarely intervene. He was shocked when he discovered the identity of the assailant, the number of other victims and the duration of the digital violence.

Public smears have been around for centuries. But they are far more effective in the internet age, gliding across platforms that are loath to crack down, said Peter W. Singer, co-author of “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.”

The solution, he said, was to identify “super-spreaders” of slander, the people and the websites that wage the most vicious false attacks.

“The way to make the internet a less toxic place is setting limits on super-spreaders or even knocking them offline,” Mr. Singer said. “Instead of policing everyone, we should police those who affect the most people.”

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

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