News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

THE CITY OF THE FUTURE might look a lot like the one your grandparents — or even your great-grandparents — lived in.

As policymakers grapple with how to adapt urban centers to the post-pandemic economy and reduce emissions in the face of climate change, one solution is catching people’s imagination: the 15-minute city.

As a concept, it’s both quaint and quietly revolutionary: redesign cities so that people live, work and have access to all the services they need — whether that’s shops, schools, theaters or medical care — within a 15-minute walk or bike ride.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was among the first to seize on the idea in 2020, putting it at the heart of a successful reelection campaign that also involved pushing cars out of the city in favor of green spaces and bike lanes.

Her pitch to turn the French capital into a “city of proximity” where children walk to school and residents know their local baker struck a chord at a time when COVID-19 lockdowns meant people were suddenly spending a lot more time in their own neighborhoods. Enthusiasm for the idea sparked similar campaigns in DublinBarcelonaMilan and Lisbon.

The aim is to “rebalance” cities that were originally designed to boost productivity rather than well-being, according to Carlos Moreno, the French-Colombian academic behind the 15-minute city concept.

Some 1.3 million Parisians commute across the city from East — where many working-class neighborhoods are located — to West and back again each day. Moreno brands this a “mad way of life” that means commuters hardly spend any time in the areas where they live. Many don’t know their neighbors, visit their local shops or neighborhood parks.

The pandemic has been “an awakening” in that respect, said Moreno. “People have recovered a desire to live more calmly, more socially, and with greater control over their time.”

While many see in the 15-minute city a roadmap to a “new utopia,” others question its novelty — and its feasibility.

Read the rest of this article at: Politico

News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A few years ago, a computer scientist named Yejin Choi gave a presentation at an artificial-intelligence conference in New Orleans. On a screen, she projected a frame from a newscast where two anchors appeared before the headline “CHEESEBURGER STABBING.” Choi explained that human beings find it easy to discern the outlines of the story from those two words alone. Had someone stabbed a cheeseburger? Probably not. Had a cheeseburger been used to stab a person? Also unlikely. Had a cheeseburger stabbed a cheeseburger? Impossible. The only plausible scenario was that someone had stabbed someone else over a cheeseburger. Computers, Choi said, are puzzled by this kind of problem. They lack the common sense to dismiss the possibility of food-on-food crime.

For certain kinds of tasks—playing chess, detecting tumors—artificial intelligence can rival or surpass human thinking. But the broader world presents endless unforeseen circumstances, and there A.I. often stumbles. Researchers speak of “corner cases,” which lie on the outskirts of the likely or anticipated; in such situations, human minds can rely on common sense to carry them through, but A.I. systems, which depend on prescribed rules or learned associations, often fail.

By definition, common sense is something everyone has; it doesn’t sound like a big deal. But imagine living without it and it comes into clearer focus. Suppose you’re a robot visiting a carnival, and you confront a fun-house mirror; bereft of common sense, you might wonder if your body has suddenly changed. On the way home, you see that a fire hydrant has erupted, showering the road; you can’t determine if it’s safe to drive through the spray. You park outside a drugstore, and a man on the sidewalk screams for help, bleeding profusely. Are you allowed to grab bandages from the store without waiting in line to pay? At home, there’s a news report—something about a cheeseburger stabbing. As a human being, you can draw on a vast reservoir of implicit knowledge to interpret these situations. You do so all the time, because life is cornery. A.I.s are likely to get stuck.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

America’s first newspaper, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, was also one of its shortest-lived. Motivated by the creed “That Memorable Occurrents of Divine Providence may not be neglected or forgotten,” the inaugural issue, published in 1690, aired rumors of an affair between the French king and his daughter-in-law, along with other scandalous reports—and was promptly censored and confiscated by British authorities in Boston. But the American appetite for such salacious fare was irrepressible. By the time of the Civil War, journals such as The Illustrated Police News were devoted to graphic depictions of real-life criminal cases: Readers were served up vivid woodcuts of brothel raids, hangings, suicides, and child deaths—the more violent and gruesome, the better.

The invasiveness of contemporary gossip sites, social media, and search engines, it turns out, has a long pedigree. Although the technologies of dissemination have changed, the impulse to portray—and profit from—intimate material has thrived for centuries.

The lineage of the counter-impulse—legal efforts to restrain intrusions into Americans’ private lives and affairs—is shorter and its legacy more elusive. Public calls for a right to privacy emerged only at the turn of the 20th century, triggered by a more aggressive press as well as technical innovations like instantaneous photography, new communication platforms like the telegraph and the telephone, and, later, novel uses of personal information by private companies and government agencies. In response, state legislatures, the Supreme Court, and eventually Congress stepped in to patrol the boundary between the properly public and the deservedly private.

The battles were at times spirited. But many commentators now claim that the war is over, and that privacy has lost. Public and private organizations alike mine the minutiae of our lives, and citizens—enmeshed in a culture of confession and data-driven consumerism—are unable, or unwilling, to resist. Older modes of discretion have given way to an ethos of self-disclosure, an urge to be known. In this view, the sidelining of privacy as a social and cultural value—as well as a legal right—was only a matter of time.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Bring to mind, if you will, Gap’s classic logo hoodie. You know the one: three bold letters arranged in an arch across the chest. It was everywhere in the 1990s and 00s, sold in a rainbow of saturated colours. This sweatshirt didn’t signal a taste for fashion so much as a desire for comfort at a reasonable price. It was like the air we breathed, or the muzak floating around as we prowled the mall, ever-present and hardly worth remarking upon.

Over the years, the sweatshirt faded out of view, until, in 2020, an odd thing happened: it suddenly became a hot fashion item at the hands of gen Z. On Instagram and TikTok, stylish young influencers started posting photos and videos of themselves wearing Gap hoodies. Suddenly these hoodies looked rather hip and cool. The YouTube star Emma Chamberlain posted a series of photos of herself on Instagram, her expression oscillating between detached, sleepy, and slightly mournful, as she stood next to a pool wearing white bikini bottoms and a navy Gap logo hoodie. The post received more than 2.4 million likes.

Over the next few months, numerous influencers incorporated the sweatshirt into their outfits on social media. Barbara Kristoffersen, a Danish influencer with almost 748,000 followers on Instagram, wore a brown Gap hoodie with wide-leg brown pants and a matching Louis Vuitton handbag. The UK-based Lucy Page, with 12,400 followers on Instagram, wore it with cow-print pants and chunky sneakers. “I wish I could tell my younger self that she’ll be back to wearing GAP hoodies in the future,” Page wrote on Instagram.

Soon enough, TikTok’s amateur fashion commentators were declaring the Gap logo hoodie a full-on trend. What happens on fashion TikTok tends to be fleeting, but sometimes these trends are signs of broader shifts in the culture. Natalie Langhorne, who posts fashion-related videos on TikTok, told me that conditions were prime for a Gap comeback. Young shoppers were going wild for logo-heavy clothes from brands like Nike, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and, chronically nostalgic for the recent past, they were adopting “Y2K fashion” in droves. “Gap literally fits all of that criteria,” said Langhorne, who is 24 and lives in Philadelphia. Influencers were making Gap hoodies the focal point of their outfits, elevating them from an everyday default to a fashion statement. Last summer, hoping to capitalise on this flurry of interest, Gap released a limited edition version of the brown logo hoodie and asked TikTok users to vote for the next colour. Influencers like Kristoffersen started featuring the hoodie in Instagram posts sponsored by Gap; Langhorne has received several sweatshirts as a gift from the brand.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 06.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Cat Jarman led me through a dense tangle of forest called Heath Wood. We were in Derbyshire, close to the very heart of England. There was no path, and the forest floor was overgrown with bracken and bush. It was easy to lose your footing and even easier to lose your way. Jarman, a fit, cheery woman in her late 30s, plunged jauntily on as I tried to keep up. “See all these lumps and bumps?” she asked as we broke into a small clearing. She pointed to an array of 59 small, rounded hillocks, many two or so feet high and four or five feet in diameter. Humans, not nature, had clearly put these things here, and they gave off a spooky, supernatural energy.

“We are literally walking across a Viking cemetery—the only known Scandinavian cremation cemetery in the whole country,” says Jarman, an archaeologist, whose new book, River Kings, takes a fresh look at who the Vikings really were and what exactly they were up to here. She flashes me a broad smile. “It’s very good, isn’t it?”

Yes, it is good—simple, powerful and mysterious. For a ceremonial burial place, the Vikings picked a surprisingly unceremonial spot. The overgrown forest shrouds these tombs in anonymity. There is no visible sign of a Viking settlement nearby, just an expanse of open fields and beyond that, a hamlet with a church, school and a few houses. The Vikings used rivers to get around, but it’s an awfully long hike from here to where the River Trent flows today. Which raises a big question, says Jarman. “Why have you got these Scandinavian cremation mounds here in the middle of nowhere?”

Jarman thinks she finally found the answer, but only after new research techniques, changing attitudes and some good luck filled in numerous blanks. A thousand years ago, Heath Wood was likely bare of trees and could be seen from all around. The Trent flowed close by back then; lidar satellite imagery now reveals how dramatically the river has shifted its course in the past thousand years. And the empty fields around Foremark have been transformed by scholarship into the likely site of a Viking settlement. The men and women who lived there may have come with the Viking Great Army around A.D. 873, but they didn’t all leave when the army moved on. They stayed and sank roots in England.

In general, apart from stone sculptures and place names, the Vikings have left us little record of their 250-year moment on the stage of English history, roughly from the end of the 8th century to the middle of the 11th. Scholars are left to pick over some old bones, sometimes burnt and sometimes not, and the useful objects that accompanied their owners into the hereafter—what archaeologists call “grave goods.” The Vikings also left silver coins and jewelry, sometimes buried for later retrieval and known as a hoard, or, far more often, scattered haphazardly across the fields, where they await the amateur metal detectorist’s electromagnetic pulse.

Read the rest of this article at: Smithsonian Magazine

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