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In the News 01.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 01.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@local_milk
In the News 01.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@signebay
In the News 01.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@angelacoomey

Where Millennials Come From

Imagine, as I often do, that our world were to end tomorrow, and that alien researchers many years in the future were tasked with reconstructing the demise of civilization from the news. If they persevered past the coverage of our President, they would soon identify the curious figure of the millennial as a suspect. A composite image would emerge, of a twitchy and phone-addicted pest who eats away at beloved American institutions the way boll weevils feed on crops. Millennials, according to recent headlines, are killing hotels, department stores, chain restaurants, the car industry, the diamond industry, the napkin industry, homeownership, marriage, doorbells, motorcycles, fabric softener, hotel-loyalty programs, casinos, Goldman Sachs, serendipity, and the McDonald’s McWrap.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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The New Information Warfare

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Decades before smartphones, the internet, and social media, philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who worked on media theory, predicted a future world war fought using information. While World War I and World War II were waged using armies and mobilized economies, “World War III [will be] a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation,” McLuhan said, a prophecy included in his 1970 book of reflections, “Culture Is Our Business.”

McLuhan’s prediction may have felt outlandish in his own era, but it seems very close to our present-day reality. Decades ago, the barriers to entry for broadcasting and publishing were so high that only established institutions could meaningfully engage in news dissemination. But over the past 10 to 15 years, ordinary individuals have been radically empowered with the ability to record, publish, and broadcast information to millions around the world, at minimal cost.

The revolutionary impact of this new information environment — where any individual or network of individuals can create their own mini-CNN — is transforming our societies. The loss of gatekeeping authority held by legacy media institutions has opened up opportunities for long-suppressed groups to have their narratives heard: Palestinians, African-American activists, feminists, environmentalists, and dissident groups working in authoritarian societies can all find ways, not always without some trouble, to be heard.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death

TOKIWADAIRA, Japan — Cicadas, every Japanese schoolchild knows, lie underground for years before rising to the earth’s surface in summer. They climb up the nearest tree, where they cast off their shells and start their short second lives. During their few days among us, they mate, fly and cry. They cry until their bodies are found on the ground, twitching in their last moments, or on their backs with their legs pointing upward.

Chieko Ito hated the din they made. They had just started shrieking, as they always did in early summer, and the noise would keep getting louder in the weeks to come, invading her third-floor apartment, making any kind of silence impossible. As one species of cicadas quieted down, another’s distinct cry would take over. Then, as the insects peaked in numbers, showers of dead and dying cicadas would rain down on her enormous housing complex, stopping only with the end of summer itself.

“You hear them from morning to evening,” she sighed.

It was the afternoon of her 91st birthday, and unusually hot, part of a heat wave that had community leaders worried. Elderly volunteers had been winding through the labyrinth of footpaths, distributing leaflets on the dangers of heatstroke to the many hundreds of residents like Mrs. Ito who lived alone in 171 nearly identical white buildings. With no families or visitors to speak of, many older tenants spent weeks or months cocooned in their small apartments, offering little hint of their existence to the world outside their doors. And each year, some of them died without anyone knowing, only to be discovered after their neighbors caught the smell.

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

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The Surgeon Who Wants to Connect You to the Internet with a Brain Implant

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It’s the Monday morning following the opening weekend of the movie Blade Runner 2049, and Eric C. Leuthardt is standing in the center of a floodlit operating room clad in scrubs and a mask, hunched over an unconscious patient.

“I thought he was human, but I wasn’t sure,” Leuthardt says to the surgical resident standing next to him, as he draws a line on the area of the patient’s shaved scalp where he intends to make his initial incisions for brain surgery. “Did you think he was a replicant?”

“I definitely thought he was a replicant,” the resident responds, using the movie’s term for the eerily realistic-looking bioengineered androids.

“What I think is so interesting is that the future is always flying cars,” Leuthardt says, handing the resident his Sharpie and picking up a scalpel. “They captured the dystopian component: they talk about biology, the replicants. But they missed big chunks of the future. Where were the neural prosthetics?”

It’s a topic that Leuthardt, a 44-year-old scientist and brain surgeon, has spent a lot of time imagining. In addition to his duties as a neurosurgeon at Washington University in St. Louis, he has published two novels and written an award-winning play aimed at “preparing society for the changes ahead.” In his first novel, a techno-thriller called RedDevil 4, 90 percent of human beings have elected to get computer hardware implanted directly into their brains. This allows a seamless connection between people and computers, and a wide array of sensory experiences without leaving home. Leuthardt believes that in the next several decades such implants will be like plastic surgery or tattoos, undertaken with hardly a second thought.

Read the rest of this article at: MIT Technology Review

Jay-Z Discusses Rap, Marriage and Being a Black Man in Trump’s America

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My conversation with Jay-Z began with O.J.

When I was a kid growing up in black New Orleans in the 1960s, O.J. Simpson was a god. We imitated his moves, his swagger. We didn’t want to just play like him. We wanted to be him, gorgeous and running in the California sun. We practiced his juking moves in the mirror, our hands too small to hold the ball loosely, the way he did. We even wanted to go to U.S.C., where he led the nation in rushing two years in a row. We were angry when he lost the Heisman Trophy to the white, All-American, clean-cut U.C.L.A. quarterback Gary Beban, known as “The Great One.” We were triumphant when he won it the next year.

But O.J. was not a perfect hero for young black boys, even though he launched himself from poverty in San Francisco to superstardom. He was racially ambivalent. At a time when other athletes were starting to make their blackness a cause, he was trying to make his a footnote.

So when I was invited to interview Jay-Z, I wanted to talk about his song “The Story of O.J.,” from his most recent album, “4:44,” in which he quotes the legendary, maybe apocryphal, Simpson line “I’m not black, I’m O.J.”

I was less engaged by the rapper’s marital troubles or his infamous, caught-on-video 2014 elevator dust-up with his sister-in-law. But I did want to try to understand how, with an $88 million Bel Air mansion a freeway ride from neighborhoods where black people endure with so little, Jay-Z holds onto his younger self — a black man who grew up in the ’70s in the Marcy projects of Brooklyn. It seemed from his new body of work that examining this high-wire act of straddling two places had been stirring more deeply within him — much the way it stirs in me, a Southern black man who grew up revering O.J. and whose own success is infinitely greater than anyone in my early life would have imagined for me.

What is it about the story of O.J. Simpson that moved us both?

O.J. must have locked down part of himself when he presented himself as the noncontroversial star who never talked about race, the perfect foil for his fellow football player, Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, who seemed more threatening, angry. I had to wonder if the pressure of that denial caused him to explode decades later.

All of this was on my mind when I met with Jay-Z for two hours in an executive office at The Times this past September. Besides O.J. and racial identity, we talked about his mother’s sexuality, and how he could possibly raise socially aware children who shuttled between mansions: After years of rapping about growing up in the ‘hood, he has produced an album that sounds like a middle-aged black man’s deeply introspective therapy session put to music.

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

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

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