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In the News 09.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 09.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 09.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 09.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Five or Six Things I
Didn’t Know About Brad
Pitt, by Marlon James

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1. Brad Pitt is a plant murderer.

The worst kind, too. The kind who lets a plant starve to death. The evidence, at two opposing corners of his office in Beverly Hills; skeletal remnants that long gave up hope of ever being watered. He’s been away for 10 months, he says. An explanation, if not exactly an excuse. Regardless, I vow to expose his plant-murdering ways because the American public deserves to know, and besides, at 52 one should take whatever notoriety one can get.

I’m at Plan B, the film production company Pitt co-founded in 2001 and now owns, and I’ve decided to impress him with my knowledge of architecture, something he learned about while helping to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I figured I’d introduce him to Shigeru Ban, famous for his Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, and other disaster-relief projects around the world. But there, sitting on Pitt’s bookshelf, is an entire monograph of his work.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

The 24-Year-Old Coca-Cola Virgin

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Are humans more alike or more different? I try my best never to think about it, partly because the implications are far too terrifying, and partly because the evidence is too abstract and boring. The fuck can I do with the grand observation that all around the world, at any given time, people of all walks of life are feeling pleasure and pain? It’s easier to connect with a billion people by eating Big Macs than it is to conceptualize our common reckoning with death. Just see if you don’t feel moved in some direction as you read this quote from Andy Warhol about Coca-Cola:

You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

If you’re looking for evidence of mass commonality, it doesn’t come cheaper or more convenient than Coke. It’s consumed around 1.9 billion times per day, and distributed everywhere except North Korea and Cuba (for now). Through Coke we all have something in common — Liz Taylor knows it, the president knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it. I, on the other hand, can only trust and speculate. I’ve never had a Coke in my life.

Read the rest of this article at Eater

Is urban cycling worth the risk?

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If you live in a big city, you may have thought about cycling to work. You will have weighed up the pros and cons: the health benefits, the low cost, the speed – versus the fact that you might be hit by an 18-tonne articulated lorry. On balance, you may have decided you didn’t want to take the risk.

You would be in the majority. In 2014, 64 per cent of people surveyed by the UK’s Department of Transport said they believed it was too dangerous for them to cycle on the road. These decisions are often based on gut feelings or anecdote: a friend who has had a great experience commuting by bike can inspire us to follow suit, while seeing or hearing about a bad cycling accident may put us off for life.

Such experiences are important. But what do the data say? As cities grow busier, obesity levels rise and climate change becomes a more pressing concern, we asked the FT’s transport correspondent and two of our specialist data journalists to investigate the risks and benefits of commuting by bike in big cities, something all of them do regularly. Here they give us their verdict: is it worth it?

Read the rest of this article at Financial Times

This small Indiana county sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. Why?

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LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — Donnie Gaddis picked the wrong county to sell 15 oxycodone pills to an undercover officer.

If Mr. Gaddis had been caught 20 miles to the east, in Cincinnati, he would have received a maximum of six months in prison, court records show. In San Francisco or Brooklyn, he would probably have received drug treatment or probation, lawyers say.

But Mr. Gaddis lived in Dearborn County, Ind., which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison.

“Years? Holy Toledo — I’ve settled murders for a lot less than that,” said Philip Stephens, a public defender in Cincinnati.

Dearborn County represents the new boom in American prisons: mostly white, rural and politically conservative.

A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America’s prison population for the first time since the 1970s. From 2006 to 2014, annual prison admissions dropped 36 percent in Indianapolis; 37 percent in Brooklyn; 69 percent in Los Angeles County; and 93 percent in San Francisco.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari review – how data will destroy human freedom

It’s a chilling prospect, but the AI we’ve created could transform human nature, argues this spellbinding new book by the author of Sapiens

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At the heart of this spellbinding book is a simple but chilling idea: human nature will be transformed in the 21st century because intelligence is uncoupling from consciousness. We are not going to build machines any time soon that have feelings like we have feelings: that’s consciousness. Robots won’t be falling in love with each other (which doesn’t mean we are incapable of falling in love with robots). But we have already built machines – vast data-processing networks – that can know our feelings better than we know them ourselves: that’s intelligence. Google – the search engine, not the company – doesn’t have beliefs and desires of its own. It doesn’t care what we search for and it won’t feel hurt by our behaviour. But it can process our behaviour to know what we want before we know it ourselves. That fact has the potential to change what it means to be human.

Yuval Noah Harari’s previous book, the global bestseller Sapiens, laid out the last 75,000 years of human history to remind us that there is nothing special or essential about who we are. We are an accident. Homo sapiens is just one possible way of being human, an evolutionary contingency like every other creature on the planet. That book ended with the thought that the story of homo sapiens could be coming to an end. We are at the height of our power but we may also have reached its limit. Homo Deus makes good on this thought to explain how our unparalleled ability to control the world around us is turning us into something new.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @lucindawhartonartist, @taylranne, @lucindawhartonartist