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News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@cgrabowska
News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@alinakolot

Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?

“Driving Miss Daisy” is the sort of movie you know before you see it. The whole thing is right there in the poster. White Jessica Tandy is giving black Morgan Freeman a stern look, and he looks amused by her sternness. They’re framed in a rearview mirror, which occupies only about 20 percent of the space. You can make out his chauffeur’s cap and that she’s in the back seat. The rest is three actors’ names, a tag line, a title, tiny credits, and white space.

That rearview-mirror image isn’t a still from the movie but a warmly painted rendering of one, this vague nuzzling of Norman Rockwell Americana. And its warmth evokes a very particular past. If you’ve ever seen the packaging for Cream of Wheat or a certain brand of rice, if you’ve even seen some Shirley Temple movies, you knew how Miss Daisy would be driven: gladly.

As movie posters go, it’s ingeniously concise. But whoever designed it knew the concision was possible because we’d know the shorthand of an eternal racial dynamic. I got off the subway last month and saw a billboard of black Kevin Hart riding on the back of white Bryan Cranston’s motorized wheelchair. They’re both ecstatic. And maybe they’re obligated to be. Their movie is called “The Upside.” A few months before that, I was out getting a coffee when I saw a long, sexy billboard of white Viggo Mortensen driving black Mahershala Ali in a minty blue car for a movie called “Green Book.”

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

News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Who Gentrifies The Gentrifiers?

News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I love reading books, so I was excited to check out classic SoHo booksellers McNally Jackson’s new store in Williamsburg. I hadn’t been on Bedford Avenue (Williamsburg’s Champs-Élysées) in a few years, and man… it’s changed. Back in 2013, when I used to hang out there, there were a bunch of fancy stores selling overpriced artisanal stuff and half-finished condo buildings on every corner. Now, there are more stores selling more overpriced artisanal stuff, and the condo buildings are all finished. I guess I should’ve seen that coming, the logical conclusion of a generation of gentrification.

The new bookstore is lovely, located in an industrial loft space called the Lewis Steel Building. A genuine, playful-yet-purposeful remixing of the industrial for our post-industrial world — this is what being a hipster is all about. Just check out this faded-ass sign on Google Maps:

But then you look closer at the sign. It’s too perfect, the temporal distress too uniform. Thanks to the terrifying power of Google, we can see what that same building looked like before it became condos:

Indeed, the building was never called the “Lewis Steel Building.” It’s not that there was never a steel mill there — there was — it’s just that it was called The Lewis Steel Products Building. But Toll Brothers Inc., a massive real estate development company with several buildings in and around New York City, decided to renovate the name along with the building itself.

Mark Greif, in his essay “What Was The Hipster?” (originally published in New York Magazine 2010, reprinted in his 2016 essay collection Against Everything), separates the hipsterdom of the 2000’s into two distinct epochs. The first, in which artsy urbanites ironically adopt the signifiers of the previous generation’s working-class masculinity (think PBR, trucker hats, and boot cut jeans), began in 1999, when VICE Magazine moved from Toronto to the Big Apple. Around the time of the Iraq War, it became supplanted by a wave of anti-war/primitivist “green” hipsterdom that preferred skinny jeans, only listened to bands named after animals (Animal Collective, Wolf Parade, Band of Horses, etc.), and was frequently parodied on Portlandia. These two trends are often conflated in discussions of hipsters — a term which Greif says no longer has any meaning — but they are in fact quite distinct.

Read the rest of this article at: The Outline

A Study On Driverless-Car Ethics Offers A Troubling Look Into Our Values

The first time Azim Shariff met Iyad Rahwan—the first real time, after communicating with him by phone and e-mail—was in a driverless car. It was November, 2012, and Rahwan, a thirty-four-year-old professor of computing and information science, was researching artificial intelligence at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a university in Abu Dhabi. He was eager to explore how concepts within psychology—including social networks and collective reasoning—might inform machine learning, but there were few psychologists working in the U.A.E. Shariff, a thirty-one-year-old with wild hair and expressive eyebrows, was teaching psychology at New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi; he guesses that he was one of four research psychologists in the region at the time, an estimate that Rahwan told me “doesn’t sound like an exaggeration.” Rahwan cold-e-mailed Shariff and invited him to visit his research group.

The lab was situated in Masdar City, an experimental planned community in the heart of Abu Dhabi. The city runs entirely on renewable energy and prohibits the use of gas-powered vehicles. Instead, residents travel by “personal rapid transit”—a system of small, driverless cars that snake around the streets on magnetized paths. Rahwan waited for Shariff in a parking lot near the city limits, where commuters transfer from gas-powered cars to the self-driving pods. The cars function more like trains than like true autonomous vehicles, or A.V.s; they don’t deviate from set paths and make almost no decisions on their own. But, in 2012, when A.V.s were almost entirely theoretical, whirring around in a car with no steering wheel and no brakes felt electrifying for Shariff. As he travelled through the city with Rahwan, he held his phone out in front of him, filming the entire ride.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Trapped In A Hoax: Survivors Of Conspiracy Theories Speak Out

News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Conspiracy theories used to be seen as bizarre expressions of harmless eccentrics. Not any more. Gone are the days of outlandish theories about Roswell’s UFOs, the “hoax” moon landings or grassy knolls. Instead, today’s iterations have morphed into political weapons. Turbocharged by social media, they spread with astonishing speed, using death threats as currency.

Together with their first cousins, fake news, they are challenging society’s trust in facts. At its most toxic, this contagion poses a profound threat to democracy by damaging its bedrock: a shared commitment to truth.

Their growing reach and scale is astonishing. A University of Chicago study estimated in 2014 that half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory. When they repeated the survey last November, the proportion had risen to 61%. The startling finding was echoed by a recent study from the University of Cambridge that found 60% of Britons are wedded to a false narrative.

The trend began on obscure online forums such as the alt-right playground 4chan. Soon, media entrepreneurs realized there was money to be made – most notoriously Alex Jones, whose site Infowars feeds its millions of readers a potent diet of lurid lies (9/11 was a government hit job; the feds manipulate the weather.)

Now the conspiracy theorist-in-chief sits in the White House. Donald Trump cut his political teeth on the “birther” lie that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and went on to embrace climate change denial, rampant voter fraud and the discredited belief that childhood vaccines may cause autism.

Amid this explosive growth, one aspect has been underappreciated: the human cost. What is the toll paid by those caught up in these falsehoods? And how are they fighting back?

The Guardian talked to five people who can speak from bitter personal experience. We begin in a town we will not identify in Massachusetts where a young man, who tells his story here for the first time, was asleep in his bed.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?

News 01.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Never once at the start of my workweek — not in my morning coffee shop line; not in my crowded subway commute; not as I begin my bottomless inbox slog — have I paused, looked to the heavens and whispered: #ThankGodIt’sMonday.

Apparently, that makes me a traitor to my generation. I learned this during a series of recent visits to WeWork locations in New York, where the throw pillows implore busy tenants to “Do what you love.” Neon signs demand they “Hustle harder,” and murals spread the gospel of T.G.I.M. Even the cucumbers in WeWork’s water coolers have an agenda. “Don’t stop when you’re tired,” someone recently carved into the floating vegetables’ flesh. “Stop when you are done.” Kool-Aid drinking metaphors are rarely this literal.

Welcome to hustle culture. It is obsessed with striving, relentlessly positive, devoid of humor, and — once you notice it — impossible to escape. “Rise and Grind” is both the theme of a Nike ad campaign and the title of a book by a “Shark Tank” shark. New media upstarts like the Hustle, which produces a popular business newsletter and conference series, and One37pm, a content company created by the patron saint of hustling, Gary Vaynerchuk, glorify ambition not as a means to an end, but as a lifestyle.

“The current state of entrepreneurship is bigger than career,” reads the One37pm “About Us” page. “It’s ambition, grit and hustle. It’s a live performance that lights up your creativity … a sweat session that sends your endorphins coursing … a visionary who expands your way of thinking.” From this point of view, not only does one never stop hustling — one never exits a kind of work rapture, in which the chief purpose of exercising or attending a concert is to get inspiration that leads back to the desk.

Ryan Harwood, the chief executive of One37pm’s parent company, told me that the site’s content is aimed at a younger generation of people who are seeking permission to follow their dreams. “They want to know how to own their moment, at any given moment,” he said.

“Owning one’s moment” is a clever way to rebrand “surviving the rat race.” In the new work culture, enduring or even merely liking one’s job is not enough. Workers should love what they do, and then promote that love on social media, thus fusing their identities to that of their employers. Why else would LinkedIn build its own version of Snapchat Stories?

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

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

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