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News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the InternetsNews 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Capitalism’s New Clothes

IN A SERIES of remarkably prescient articles, the first of which was published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the summer of 2013, Shoshana Zuboff pointed to an alarming phenomenon: the digitization of everything was giving technology firms immense social power. From the modest beachheads inside our browsers, they conquered, Blitzkrieg-style, our homes, cars, toasters, and even mattresses. Toothbrushes, sneakers, vacuum cleaners: our formerly dumb household subordinates were becoming our “smart” bosses. Their business models turned data into gold, favoring further expansion.

Google and Facebook were restructuring the world, not just solving its problems. The general public, seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks, was clueless. Zuboff saw a logic to this digital mess; tech firms were following rational—and terrifying—imperatives. To attack them for privacy violations was to miss the scale of the transformation—a tragic miscalculation that has plagued much of the current activism against Big Tech.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Colonial Cartography

News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 1929, Death Valley Exploration, a highly speculative company selling shares in gold mined in Death Valley, California, created an advertisement calling for investors to help fund a water mill they planned to construct. “Dame Nature,” a letter to shareholders said, “would make her gold deposits the object of an endless game of hide-and-seek between mankind and herself.” Death Valley was one of her “favorite hiding places.”

The advertisement was designed as a map of Death Valley, a “fearsome sand-pocket” and “waste of Inferno white” where “the bones of countless gold-seekers lie.” It pinpointed the exact location of the company’s property and the site of their mining, as well as the closest water source. “Mining wealth is the cleanest in the world,” they wrote. “It takes nothing from any man’s pocket; but out of the practically limitless resources of this planet.”

There was no water where the map said there was; there was no ore there either. Two years later, the company was banned from selling shares. The use of the map was a wise business choice, though: maps, by design, look like reliable sources of information; they had long been used as arguments, propaganda, tools of persuasion. About 60 years earlier, a company called Jay Cooke & Co. sent a map to investors to try and sell bonds in the Northern Pacific Railroad. The map showed clear lines tracing the supposed route of the railroad, from Minneapolis and Duluth to Portland and Seattle — but none of the railroad had yet been constructed.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

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How The Brain Creates
A Timeline Of The Past

It began about a decade ago at Syracuse University, with a set of equations scrawled on a blackboard. Marc Howard, a cognitive neuroscientist now at Boston University, and Karthik Shankar, who was then one of his postdoctoral students, wanted to figure out a mathematical model of time processing: a neurologically computable function for representing the past, like a mental canvas onto which the brain could paint memories and perceptions. “Think about how the retina acts as a display that provides all kinds of visual information,” Howard said. “That’s what time is, for memory. And we want our theory to explain how that display works.”

But it’s fairly straightforward to represent a tableau of visual information, like light intensity or brightness, as functions of certain variables, like wavelength, because dedicated receptors in our eyes directly measure those qualities in what we see. The brain has no such receptors for time. “Color or shape perception, that’s much more obvious,” said Masamichi Hayashi, a cognitive neuroscientist at Osaka University in Japan. “But time is such an elusive property.” To encode that, the brain has to do something less direct.

Read the rest of this article at: Quanta Magazine

News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

House Of Jealous Luckers

News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Millennial Burnout is real, and it’s terrible. If you’re in the habit of reading thinkpieces (dear reader of this thinkpiece), you’ve probably encountered the concept in one of literally 50 articles about it published in the past two weeks.
The concept, essentially, is that millennials came of age in a time of economic crisis and are forced to constantly “hustle” to have any hope of a stable middle-class existence. We’re surrounded by calls for our attention, working 60+ hour weeks loving what we do in a job that “matters” while projecting an “unbothered” persona on Instagram. Anne Helen Peterson’s viral Buzzfeedessay started the conversation about Millennial Burnout, pointing to broad economic factors as well as a set of social pressures as sources of this phenomenon. Millennials are looking for a “holy grail” job that impresses both their parents and their peers. Problem is, it’s very difficult to accomplish this without either enduring up to a decade of debt-financed grad school, moving to expensive cities, or cultivating a social media presence that demands around-the-clock maintenance — and possibly without all three.

Read the rest of this article at: The Outline

Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

News 02.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

AMID the human crush of Old Delhi, on the edge of a medieval bazaar, a red structure with cages on its roof rises three stories above the labyrinth of neon-lit stalls and narrow alleyways, its top floor emblazoned with two words: birds hospital.

On a hot day last spring, I removed my shoes at the hospital’s entrance and walked up to the second-floor lobby, where a clerk in his late 20s was processing patients. An older woman placed a shoebox before him and lifted off its lid, revealing a bloody white parakeet, the victim of a cat attack. The man in front of me in line held, in a small cage, a dove that had collided with a glass tower in the financial district. A girl no older than 7 came in behind me clutching, in her bare hands, a white hen with a slumped neck.

The hospital’s main ward is a narrow, 40-foot-long room with cages stacked four high along the walls and fans on the ceiling, their blades covered with grates, lest they ensnare a flapping wing. I strolled the room’s length, conducting a rough census. Many of the cages looked empty at first, but leaning closer, I’d find a bird, usually a pigeon, sitting back in the gloom.

The youngest of the hospital’s vets, Dheeraj Kumar Singh, was making his rounds in jeans and a surgical mask. The oldest vet here has worked the night shift for more than a quarter century, spending tens of thousands of hours removing tumors from birds, easing their pain with medication, administering antibiotics. Singh is a rookie by comparison, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he inspects a pigeon, flipping it over in his hands, quickly but gently, the way you might handle your cellphone. As we talked, he motioned to an assistant, who handed him a nylon bandage that he stretched twice around the pigeon’s wing, setting it with an unsentimental pop.

The bird hospital is one of several built by devotees of Jainism, an ancient religion whose highest commandment forbids violence not only against humans, but also against animals. A series of paintings in the hospital’s lobby illustrates the extremes to which some Jains take this prohibition. In them, a medieval king in blue robes gazes through a palace window at an approaching pigeon, its wing bloodied by the talons of a brown hawk still in pursuit. The king pulls the smaller bird into the palace, infuriating the hawk, which demands replacement for its lost meal, so he slices off his own arm and foot to feed it.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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