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News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@london_blooms
News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@tessaneustadt
News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@matildadjerf

Had it succeeded, Quayside could have been a proof of concept, establishing a new development model for cities everywhere. It could have demonstrated that the sensor-­laden smart city model embraced in China and the Persian Gulf has a place in more democratic societies. Instead, Sidewalk Labs’ two-and-a-half-year struggle to build a neighborhood “from the internet up” failed to make the case for why anyone might want to live in it.

By May 2020, Sidewalk had pulled the plug, citing “the unprecedented economic uncertainty brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.” But that economic uncertainty came at the tail end of years of public controversy over its $900 million vision for a data-rich city within the city.

It’s hardly unusual for citizens to get up in arms about new development, and utopias fail for all sorts of reasons. But the opposition to Sidewalk’s vision for Toronto wasn’t about things like architectural preservation or the height, density, and style of the proposed buildings—the usual fodder for public outcry. The project’s tech-first approach antagonized many; its seeming lack of seriousness about the privacy concerns of Torontonians was likely the main cause of its demise.

There is far less tolerance in Canada than in the US for private-sector control of public streets and transportation, or for companies’ collecting data on the routine activities of people living their lives.

Read the rest of this article at: MIT Technoledy Review

News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 1982, when the BBC’s prime-time technology show – Tomorrow’s World – did a segment on a new musical format called the “Compact Disc” the presenter skeptically asked “Whether there’s a market for this, remains to be seen”. We all know what happened next, but even in the early ‘80s the benefits of CDs should have been clear: high quality, non-degrading sound in a compact format. Oh, and you could even skip, shuffle and repeat tracks, which, in a pre-digital world, truly felt like the future.

The Compact Disc turns 40 this year, and there are already signals the format is primed for a mini revival. For the first time in 17 years, CD sales actually went up – and by almost 50 percent, according to the RIAA’s sales database.

It’s still a long way from the format’s peak. In 2021, 46.6 million CDs were shipped in the US – compared to nearly a billion back in 2000. For context, that 46.6 million barely accounts for four percent of last year’s total music revenue. Vinyl albums, by contrast, sold fewer overall units (39.7M) but are more of a money spinner for artists (seven percent of total revenues).

Some reports claim that the uptick in CD sales is mostly due to mega-artists like Adele and BTS releasing new albums (the former’s 30 accounted for two percent of total CD sales alone). But there are other potential – and more practical – contributing factors, too, including the pandemic.

“CD sales are growing again now that retail stores are reopening and artists are back on tour. And while CDs haven’t yet seen the same type of revival as vinyl, the CD format remains a steady revenue stream for independent artists.” Rob Bach, COO of CD Baby told Engadget. They should know, as one of their services is the production and distribution of CDs for indie bands.

Kevin Breuner, SVP of Artist Engagement and Education for the company, thinks there’s an increasing appetite for CDs as memorabilia, rather than just as a way of playing music. “Part of it is that streaming hasn’t replaced anything at the merch table … the appeal of a physical item like a CD is that it’s a piece of memorabilia in a live setting, something you can have signed by artists. Similarly, for artists, there’s nothing that can replace when a fan goes back to the merch table to buy a CD or a t-shirt; it’s always been that way.”

There’s also the fact that what once seemed restrictive to younger listeners – having to own a song if you wanted to hear it – now presents a different way of enjoying music. A good album isn’t merely a collection of songs, but a structured experience to be enjoyed from start to finish. You can, of course, do this with streaming, but a CD requires getting up to change, Spotify is usually just a click away.

CDs launched in Japan in October 1982. The format and hardware to play it on didn’t land in the US and Europe until the following year. Adoption was relatively swift and just two years later the first million-selling CD album – Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits – would cement the shiny disc’s popularity. By the early ‘90s, assisted by increasingly smaller, affordable and even portable players, the CD was the de facto way to listen to music. And for good reason.

In this new digital world, the CD format was consistent in a way that analog never could be. What became known as the “Red Book” standard – two-channel 16-bit PCM at 44.1kHz – would be the prevailing specification from there on out. When someone used to say “it’s CD quality” one might assume that’s what they were referring to.

This standard is considered the minimum requirement to be called “lossless” by today’s streaming services. Of course, how or what you record at 16-bit/44.1 is really what matters, but that’s a whole other story.

Read the rest of this article at: Engadget

The just-announced U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization represents a stunning reversal of precedent that inserts government into the personal lives and health care of Americans. Yet it was not unexpected. In the long, painful prelude to the decision, many states have severely limited access to reproductive health care. The fig-leaf justification behind these restrictions was that induced abortion was a dangerous procedure that required tighter regulation to protect the health of persons seeking that care. Facts belie this disingenuous rhetoric.1,2 The latest available U.S. data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics are that maternal mortality due to legal induced abortion is 0.41 per 100,000 procedures, as compared with the overall maternal mortality rate of 23.8 per 100,000 live births.3,4

Experience around the world has demonstrated that restricting access to legal abortion care does not substantially reduce the number of procedures, but it dramatically reduces the number of safe procedures, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. Millions of persons in states lacking protections for abortion care are also likely to be denied access to medication-induced abortions. It may be difficult for many Americans in 2022 to fully appreciate how complicated, stressful, and expensive, if even attainable, their most private and intimate decisions will become, now that Roe has been struck down. A recent New York Times article recounted the experiences of women, now in their 60s and 70s, who sought abortions before Roe.5 They described humiliating circumstances, unsafe procedures literally performed in back alleys, and the deep shame and stigma they endured. Common complications of illegal procedures included injury to the reproductive tract requiring surgical repair, induction of infections resulting in infertility, systemic infections, organ failure, and death.6 We now seem destined to relearn those lessons at the expense of human lives.

Read the rest of this article at: The New England Journal of Medicine

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News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I hate the beach. My skin burns and blisters as soon as the sun touches it, I dislike sweating without exercising, and sand makes no sense at all to me—it’s just hot and gritty dirt that other people apparently enjoy rolling around in. I was raised by parents whose idea of leisure is cutting miles of trails in the woods and painting an entire house by hand, so the prospect of enforced idleness makes me panicky. Plus, the ocean itself, while aesthetically pleasing, is terrifyingly untrustworthy, with its riptides and hurricanes and tsunamis and sharks and microplastics and slithering monsters of the deep. It has just too many sneaky ways to kill you.

I’ve gleefully stored away this factoid about the Situationists, along with many others that come from Sarah Stodola’s new book, The Last Resort: A Chronicle of Paradise, Profit, and Peril at the Beach, a sharp and exhaustive examination of the history and pitfalls of luxury beach resorts all over the world. Stodola tells us that “the world’s first known seaside resort” was Baiae, near Naples, where Romans from the first to fourth centuries created an opulent and wild party town that the philosopher Seneca called “a hostelry of vices.” There, Stodola goes scuba diving to explore the submerged half of the ancient city, with its intricately decorated geothermal baths and saunas and a nymphaeum, which she describes as “a sanctuary room dedicated to water.” During its heyday, Baiae was a debauched playground for emperors; it was, in fact, where the emperor Nero tried to murder his own mother, Agrippina, by putting her on a boat designed to self-destruct beneath her as it floated off. When she survived by swimming away, he had one of his henchmen finish the botched job later that night.

When I have gone on beach vacations, it’s been under duress. I married into a family of generous people who are also horrifying extroverts, and whose notion of a good time is a nice, boozy, mostly reclined stay on some tropical island together. But for catastrophists like me, the luxury beach resort raises a whole new set of psychological torments on top of those provided by more ordinary beaches. The entire time that we’re in our ostensible paradise, I’m busy obsessing over the unintended consequences of our stay, such as the environmental degradation caused by bringing wasteful tourists to delicate ecosystems and the racist and classist issues of displacement. The Situationists, as usual, said it best in Paris in the spring of 1968, when, in protest of capitalism, they scrawled graffiti reading CLUB MED: A CHEAP HOLIDAY IN OTHER PEOPLE’S MISERY.

For a long time after the Romans, the concept of the luxury beach resort disappeared, resurfacing in altered form when the English upper classes, grown weary of their inland spas, began to be seduced by the curative properties of cold ocean water. In 1753 a doctor named Richard Russell moved to the old Saxon town of Brighton, on the south coast of England, and built a guesthouse for himself and his patients, setting off a little craze that spread across the channel to places like Trouville and Cabourg (which Marcel Proust reinvented in his fiction as Balbec). But these attempts at the beach resort were somewhat unpleasant and chilly. They offered very little luxury and relaxation, and encouraged drinking a great deal of seawater to purge bodily ills and leaping frequently into the frigid waves from horse-drawn bathing machines.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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News 04.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

By 1991, sampling had entered a golden era with De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, NWA’s Straight Outta Compton and the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique. I was a senior in high school, frustrated that I couldn’t afford turntables, let alone a sampler. I was doing poor man’s sampling by cueing records directly into my four-track cassette recorder, trying to fool the industry that I was more equipped.

I pooled all my money, went down to the Guitar Center in San Francisco and bought the Akai MPC60. When anybody buys an instrument, they always say that they go home and stay awake for two and a half days, just playing. That’s exactly what I did. You could only sample 2.5 seconds of stereo and store 13 seconds, so I would do the beat, melody, percussion, and go to the studio of Dan the Automator, a producer who had an early form of multi-tracking using VHS tapes. For the seven-inch mix of Stem, I wanted to sample Heat, the 1995 movie, so I said: “Make sure you’ve got a VCR. I’m gonna go rent the movie.”

I wanted people to understand that sampling has a long lineage, so the credits are right there in the liner notes. James Lavelle from Mo’Wax said: “Give us a list of the big eight.” So I identified the samples most likely to cause issues, such as Metallica, Björk and the piano on Midnight in a Perfect World that comes from 1969 song The Human Abstract by David Axelrod. A few weeks later I said, “Do you want some more?” and he said, “We still have our hands full, thanks.”
I spent the summer of 1996 in the UK promoting the album. As a 23-year-old, there seemed such an optimistic aura. The album didn’t take off in the US until a year later. I’d hop on the phone to do an interview and would be met with a confused silence: people assumed I was British.

I know some fans think I don’t like talking about Endtroducing, as if it’s some sort of albatross, but that’s not true. There’s also been a narrative that James and I don’t get along. There has been some truth to that, but I’d do anything for James, and I’m sure he feels the same.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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