News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Our exercise habits may influence our sense of purpose in life and our sense of purpose may affect how much we exercise, according to an interesting new study of the reciprocal effects of feeling your life has meaning and being often in motion. The study, which involved more than 18,000 middle-aged and older men and women, found that those with the most stalwart sense of purpose at the start were the most likely to become active over time, and vice versa.

The findings underscore how braided the relationship between physical activity and psychological well-being can be, and how the effects often run both ways.

Science already offers plenty of evidence that being active bolsters our mental, as well as physical, health. Study after study shows that men and women who exercise are less likely than the sedentary to develop depression or anxiety. Additional research indicates that the reverse can be true, and people who feel depressed or anxious tend not to work out.

But most of these studies examined connections between exercise and negative moods. Fewer have delved into positive emotions and their links with physical activity, and fewer still have looked at the role of a strong sense of purpose and how it might influence whether we move, and the other way around.

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

News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Uber driver wasn’t sure what to do when the Lebanese cowboys ambushed him. After he arrived at his destination, at the Old Port of Montreal, five men clad in cowboy hats, plaid shirts, and bandanas rushed his car and pounded on his window. While the cowboys distracted the driver, his passenger snatched the smartphone from the dashboard bracket and exited the car. He then handed the phone to the posse’s leader, Hassan Kattoua, whose authority was made plain by the plastic star on his vest and the toy pistols on his belt. The costumed lawman pocketed the phone and handed the bewildered driver a receipt printed on paper that had been soaked in tea and burned on the edges with a cigarette lighter. The document read:

We have seized the machine that you are using as a weapon for your outlaw activity that is impoverishing drivers in towns and cities. You will retrieve your weapon as soon as the governor of the province and/or his minister outlaw and ban the illegal activities you are engaged in and the province returns to the rule of law that it is famous for.

This was the autumn of 2015. Uber had been operating illegally in Montreal for about a year. The city’s taxi bureau had issued thousands of dollars in fines and seized more than 200 cars, but the penalties hardly dissuaded Uber’s drivers. Montreal cabbies were furious. “They have turned Quebec into the Wild West,” Kattoua told a journalist covering his cellphone heist. Kattoua turned back to the Uber driver and informed him that, if he wanted his phone returned, he needed to take the receipt to the Montreal Taxi Bureau. After the driver sped away, Kattoua pinned a mock “wanted” poster depicting Montreal Uber manager Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, complete with black hat and villain’s moustache, to a tree. Then he and his scowling deputies posed for a photo.

Kattoua reasoned that, when the Uber driver appeared at the bureau to retrieve his phone, he’d have to admit he’d been driving for Uber and would therefore receive a ticket. But this wasn’t enough for Kattoua. “I wanted to punish him a little bit more,” he told me. He planned to hold on to the phone for three days before bringing it to the bureau. That way the driver would lose a few days’ worth of income. Besides, the delay adhered to the operation’s cowboy aesthetic. “It is as if I sent the phone by horseback,” Kattoua said. “It takes some time.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

The Balmoral in Chestnut

Shop the Balmoral in Chestnut
at Belgrave Crescent &

Late in 1980, Henry Getson of Cherry Hill, New Jersey wrote in to his favorite computer hobbyist magazine, Softalk. Getson described himself as a computer user of “less than expert status,” and expressed his appreciation for Softalk’s introductory tone and accessible articles, especially for someone like him, who had recently bought a personal computer and was just learning to program. His letter closed with a short question, a stray thread dangled from the hem of heaping praise: “P.S. Have any remedies for tired eyes?”

Softalk’s editors knew exactly what Getson meant, and responded at length to this “problem that many computerists share.”

“Some relief comes from double folding a washcloth, saturating it with warm water, and holding it against your eyes for several minutes,” they wrote. In later issues, fellow readers volunteered their own tips for dealing with eye strain. A reader from Texas recommended Getson modify his screen with a piece of plexiglass covered in “the sun screen material found in auto stores.” Another reader, from Malibu, California, suggested buying light green theatrical gel sheets, the kind used to color stage lights, and taping one over the monitor. We don’t know how Getson resolved to treat his tired eyes, but certainly he had no lack of homespun options volunteered by computer users negotiating similar issues.

Read the rest of this article at: Vice

News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

SAN FRANCISCO — At a confab for tech and media moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July 2019, Timothy D. Cook of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook sat down to repair their fraying relationship.

For years, the chief executives had met annually at the conference, which was held by the investment bank Allen & Company, to catch up. But this time, Facebook was grappling with a data privacy scandal. Mr. Zuckerberg had been blasted by lawmakers, regulators and executives — including Mr. Cook — for letting the information of more than 50 million Facebook users be harvested by a voter-profiling firm, Cambridge Analytica, without their consent.

At the meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg asked Mr. Cook how he would handle the fallout from the controversy, people with knowledge of the conversation said. Mr. Cook responded acidly that Facebook should delete any information that it had collected about people outside of its core apps.

Mr. Zuckerberg was stunned, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Facebook depends on data about its users to target them with online ads and to make money. By urging Facebook to stop gathering that information, Mr. Cook was in effect telling Mr. Zuckerberg that his business was untenable. He ignored Mr. Cook’s advice.

Two years later, Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Cook’s opposing positions have exploded into an all-out war. On Monday, Apple released a new privacy feature that requires iPhone owners to explicitly choose whether to let apps like Facebook track them across other apps.

One of the secrets of digital advertising is that companies like Facebook follow people’s online habits as they click on other programs, like Spotify and Amazon, on smartphones. That data helps advertisers pinpoint users’ interests and better target finely tuned ads. Now, many people are expected to say no to that tracking, delivering a blow to online advertising — and Facebook’s $70 billion business.

At the center of the fight are the two C.E.O.s. Their differences have long been evident. Mr. Cook, 60, is a polished executive who rose through Apple’s ranks by constructing efficient supply chains. Mr. Zuckerberg, 36, is a Harvard dropout who built a social-media empire with an anything-goes stance toward free speech.

Those contrasts have widened with their deeply divergent visions for the digital future. Mr. Cook wants people to pay a premium — often to Apple — for a safer, more private version of the internet. It is a strategy that keeps Apple firmly in control. But Mr. Zuckerberg champions an “open” internet where services like Facebook are effectively free. In that scenario, advertisers foot the bill.

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

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News 12.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Last spring, several months into the pandemic, a series of images appeared on Instagram, depicting a luxury home nestled into the cliffs of the Scala dei Turchi, on the coast of Italy. The building appeared to be sculpted from cream-colored adobe, and its rounded, uncovered windows and doors looked out over a peaceful aquamarine sea. Furniture by Gerd Lange for Bofinger and Le Corbusier sat invitingly by an ocean-fed pool; inside, Picasso ceramics were arranged artfully around a minimalist seating area, and bathed in early-afternoon light. The residence, Villa Saraceni, was the work of designers Riccardo Fornoni and Charlotte Taylor. It also didn’t exist in real life: the house was built with rendering software, and its design was entirely speculative. In reality, the Scala dei Turchi is a tourist destination that has seen erosion and damage from overuse. In 2007, the surrounding municipality applied to designate the area a UNESCO World Heritage site, and last year it was seized by Italian authorities concerned with its preservation. Still, some admirers of Villa Saraceni were transfixed to the point of sending booking inquiries. “Gorgeous,” one Instagram user commented. “Do they rent?”

Instagram is full of such images: living rooms, patios, bedrooms, and estates that do not and will never exist. The pictures are strangely soothing, with their fanciful palettes, evocative silhouettes, and enticing water features. Sunken living rooms are full of pillows, or clouds; spiral staircases are wrapped in cyan glass. Against the backdrop of something resembling the Mediterranean, a striking, ergonomically nonviable chaise lounge is flanked by two human-size vases and a climatically confused cactus. A high-ceilinged, white-tiled, cerulean spa offers arched, curtained relaxation nooks painted in a soft pink. Atop a brass-plated console table, in front of a geometric, color-blocked backsplash, a floral arrangement seems to be suffering, in a dash of realism, from dehydration. The spaces project order and calm, and rely on a visual vocabulary of affluence, indulgence, and restraint. They are uncluttered and private; welcoming but undamaged by human use. They are also slightly sterile. Although some incorporate hints of activity—a rumpled bedspread, an open magazine placed poolside—the spaces are uninhabited. An important part of the fantasy, it seems, is the absence of other people.

Though C.G.I. models are nothing new, the technology has improved over the years, and the images have become increasingly realistic, as well as cheaper and faster to produce. (Since 2014, the bulk of images in the IKEA catalogue have been computer-generated.) Today, digital artists have a menu of software tools to choose from, including 3-D-modelling programs like SketchUp and Rhinoceros 3D, and rendering engines such as OctaneRender and Enscape. There is a large international talent pool of render artists: Fiverr, a marketplace for freelancers, has profiles for hundreds of artists in Nigeria, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Turkey, who offer rendering and 3-D-modelling services. YouTube tutorials abound—“10 Tips for a REALISTIC Interior Rendering”—and many have been viewed millions of times. To the trained eye, some of these images look less convincing than others. But, for the casual observer, they may scramble a sense of reality.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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