News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

All cities have neighbourhoods. This may not sound like much of an observation, but it is in fact a powerful claim for archaeologists of early cities. We now know that neighbourhoods are the only true urban universal – a feature found in every city that has ever existed, past and present. Other seemingly ‘urban’ traits, from streets and big buildings to markets and specialists, are absent from many cities and urban traditions. But neighbourhoods are playing a crucial role in the transformation of archaeological research on the earliest cities. Older views of cities focused on pyramids, tombs, greedy kings and oppressive states. In recent decades, archaeologists and others who study cities have turned to focusing on life and society in ancient cities. But now archaeologists have started to analyse these sites as cities, as urban settlements, comparable with cities in the modern world.

Neighbourhoods provide a good introduction to the different forces that shape cities. In them, we can see the ‘top-down’ forces, or the actions of governments, economies and other institutions that set the scene and circumscribe life. When planners – today and in the past – design cities from the ground up, they usually start by establishing neighbourhood units. Most neighbourhoods throughout history, on the other hand, were not planned by authorities; rather, they grew gradually or organically: what social scientists call from the ‘bottom up’ – through the daily activities of residents. It is the generative quality of these bottom-up processes that concerns most of the important scientific research on both ancient and contemporary cities today.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Near the end of the hellish first year of the coronavirus pandemic, I was possessed by the desire to eliminate sugar – all refined sugar – from my diet. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best time to add a new challenge to my life. My wife and I had been struggling to remote-school three young kids with no childcare. My elderly parents lived out of state and seemed to need a surprising number of reminders that pandemic restrictions were not lifted for Diwali parties or new Bollywood movie releases.

Like many people in those early days, we were looking around for masks and trying to make sense of shifting government guidelines about when to wear them. In addition, as a doctor, I was seeing patients in clinic at a time dominated by medical uncertainty, when personal protective equipment was scarce, and my hospital, facing staff shortages, was providing training videos and “how-to” tip sheets to specialists like me who hadn’t practised in an emergency room for years, in case we were needed as backup. It would have been enough to focus on avoiding the virus and managing all this without putting more on my plate. But cutting processed sugar seemed like an opportunity to reassert some measure of order to the daily scrum, or at least to the body that entered the fray each day.

My former physique was behind me and the stress of clinical practice during the pandemic was taking its toll. Maybe it was all the pandemic death in the air, but I started feeling like I was what the narrator in Arundhati Roy’s novel The God of Small Things calls “Not old. Not young. But a viable die-able age.” Maybe doing away with sugar could slow things down? More tantalisingly, maybe it could even take me back to a fresher time, the days in college when I had actually gone sugar-free for a while.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

For the second year in a row, basketball fans in New York have felt the sting of disappointed dreams. The Brooklyn Nets are, in the words of the staff writer Vinson Cunningham, “a theoretical super-team, not a fully realized force,” and they crashed out of the playoffs in the first round, after losing to the Boston Celtics in “a sweep that even the worst Nets pessimist wouldn’t have predicted.” And yet, on the city’s many courts, the game goes on. We spoke to Kadir Nelson about celebrating a beloved urban pastime.

You spent time in Brooklyn Bridge Park when you were a student at Pratt. Did you join the games there?

I’ve never played there, but I would admire the players from afar. I played for Pratt Institute’s basketball team, the Pratt Cannoneers. We would travel to play within the tri-state area. I loved it.

New York or Los Angeles, where you live now—which is the better sports town?

New York, hands down, for basketball. Over all, it’s too close to call. The cities are both big markets with multiple sports teams. There is so much to choose from on both coasts.

Painting and playing sports both require good motor coördination. Do you often play sports? Does it help you with your art?

I played basketball very regularly before the pandemic, and now that we seem close to the end of it I plan to gradually get back to the game. During my formative years as an artist, creating sports-related artwork taught me how to communicate movement. It was essential to my development as an artist.

Basketball players have to work well on a team. What importance do you attach to teamwork versus individual achievement?

I think it’s a delicate balance. In order to be successful, players must fulfill their roles within the team while also doing what they do best as individuals.

You have painted many celebrated sports heroes. What do you think they mean to children?

I think we all need someone to look up to during our formative years. To a kid, professional athletes are like superheroes. They are able to perform amazing athletic feats beyond anything the kids can do themselves. They motivate the young and push them to dream.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Last week, I asked, “What should be forbidden on Twitter?” You responded with many recommendations for the social-media platform as Elon Musk attempts to purchase it and take it private.

Michael sympathizes with the status quo:

I am married to someone who reviewed graphic / violent posts at Twitter. Our discussions changed my mind on the topic. Social media is not analogous to regular speech. If Musk wants to make a genuine town hall, with no moderation, he should do away with retweets, likes, and other elements that create mob effects. Twitter has spent the last seven-ish years working on content moderation, a major focus for a lot of bright people, and the outcome is highly specific. My suggestion: run with the existing rules, but—I say this to satisfy Musk—break ties in the direction of leaving posts up.

R.C. has mixed feelings:

If you are asking me as a customer what they should ban: I go to Twitter for entertainment and information, but also to be able to interact with others. If there were content I found odious and grotesque and couldn’t block I would stop using the site. Whereas I as a citizen of this country would tolerate and defend people’s rights to use hate speech or even speech that advocates violent revolution, unmolested by any arm of the state. But Twitter just isn’t on that level for me. So, with those caveats, here’s what I would consider a dealbreaker for my Twitter habit: Child Pornography. Snuff videos. Rape videos. Nazi / White Supremacist / Neo-Nazi / Skinhead propaganda videos or messages. Videos or messages that explicitly call on people to commit violent crimes.

M. argues for a First Amendment standard:

My impression is that people arguing for content moderation (AKA censorship) aren’t making a case about why Twitter, specifically, warrants its own unique standard of speech. Instead the arguments I see are (sometimes) veiled arguments that the free speech standard of our society as a whole should be altered. For example, the statement you provided from the NCAA, doesn’t identify anything unique about Twitter that warrants different rules—you could swap “Twitter” out of their statement and replace it with any other platform and the argument would be the same.

If anyone believes that Twitter should have its own unique standard that is different from the First Amendment, the onus is on them to explain why Twitter warrants a unique solution. Twitter certainly has some distinguishing characteristics such as the number of people it reaches, the ease of searching its content, and the speed that a message can spread. But being the most (or one of the most) popular and accessible forums for speech is a poor reason to restrict speech.

Twitter does have at least one somewhat unique characteristic: an algorithm(s) that amplifies certain messages over others. I do believe those algorithms need to be carefully considered so as not to reward hucksters and trolls. Focusing the discussion there—on what that algorithm should be (if there should be amplifying at all)—is more appropriate than debating a new standard of free speech.

That’s a long way of saying that I support the First Amendment standard of free speech for Twitter. This would mean all sorts of abhorrent content (racial slurs, Holocaust denial, etc.) and/or misinformation (masks might suffocate you, Russia is the aggrieved party, etc.) would be allowed. While I think those ideas are horrible, allowing people to express them is a good thing. I want to know who holds racist views so that I won’t vote for them or patronize their businesses. I gain confidence in good ideas—such as covid vaccines or the qualifications of Ketanji Jackson—when I know I can access the arguments against them and see that those arguments are nuts. I also believe censoring ideas often makes them edgier and more appealing. If [the ideas are] left to fester in the open, honorable people will expose how rotten those ideas are with their own free speech. Finally, given who is buying Twitter, I think it’s important to say that the First Amendment standard would also protect criticism of Elon Musk, his companies, or the markets he wants to sell his products in (China). People should be free to criticize Musk or promote competitors.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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News 04.05.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

SIX YEARS AGO, Rwanda had a blood delivery problem. More than 12 million people live in the small East African country, and like those in other nations, sometimes they get into car accidents. New mothers hemorrhage. Anemic children need urgent transfusions. You can’t predict these emergencies. They just happen. And when they do, the red stuff stored in Place A has to find its way to a patient in Place B—fast.

That’s not a huge problem if you live in a city. In the United States and the United Kingdom, 80 percent of the population clusters around urban hubs with high-traffic hospitals and blood banks. In African nations like Libya, Djibouti, and Gabon, about 80 to 90 percent of the populations live in cities, too. But in Rwanda, that number flips: 83 percent of Rwandans live in rural areas. So, traditionally, when remote hospitals needed blood, it came by road.

That’s not ideal. The country is mountainous. Roads can be hot, long, and bumpy. If kept cool, donated blood can be stored for just a month or so, but some components that hospitals isolate for transfusions—like platelets—will spoil in days. A turbulent drive is not a perfect match for such finicky cargo.

That logistics issue historically incentivized rural facilities to order more blood than they needed. “There was a problem of overstocking,” says Marie Paul Nisingizwe, a PhD candidate in Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, who focuses her research on Rwanda, her home country. Stocking a little extra could save time later. But if a low-traffic facility didn’t wind up using the blood before it expired, they’d have to dump it.

In 2016, Rwanda’s government signed a contract with Zipline, a San Francisco-based drone startup, to streamline blood deliveries. Zipline’s autonomous drones would fly the blood from a distribution hub to the health care facility. The blood, contained within an IV bag, would parachute down in an insulated cardboard box, and the drone would zip back. Today, Zipline has two hubs in Rwanda; each can make up to 500 deliveries per day.

And now for the first time, there’s proof that drone blood services improve delivery speed and reduce waste. Writing in the April issue of Lancet Global Health, Nisingizwe analyzed nearly 13,000 drone orders between 2017 and 2019 and found that half of the orders took 41 minutes or less to deliver by drone. On the road, that median time would be at least two hours. Reports of wasted blood donations dropped.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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