How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution - The New York Times
Darwin's idea of sexual selection, once dismissed as a romantic gloss on processes of natural selection whose function weren't immediately obvious, is getting increasing attention. Debates continue over whether traits like spectacular feathers or distinctive mating calls are simply some kind of evidence of underlying fitness, or if animals may in some sense appreciate beauty for its own sake.
evolution  nature  science  animals  darwin  beauty  aesthetics 
8 days ago
The Yoda of Silicon Valley - The New York Times
Profile of Donald Knuth, a pioneer in computer programming of all kinds, but algorithms in particular; author of the vast and still-unfinished "The Art of Computer Programming," as well as the creator of the LaTex typesetting system.
computers  technology  programming  algorithms  science  typography 
4 weeks ago
Where Can Berlin Build the Affordable Housing It Wants? - CityLab
Berlin plans to build 200k new homes, and make a large portion of them affordable, but the question of where to put them (specifically, whether to redevelop brownfield sites within the city, or expand into green areas on the outskirts) continues to be controversial.
cities  germany  housing  power_in_city 
5 weeks ago
The British Once Built a 1,100-Mile Hedge Through the Middle of India - Atlas Obscura
On the "Great Hedge of India," built by the British in the 19th century to help enforce the salt tax.
india  history  colonialism  infrastructure 
5 weeks ago
Do You Feel Secure? | Urban Omnibus
On the development of the idea of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED, which continues to be popular despite the lack of evidence that it works, and the inarguable failure of many projects designed with its principles in mind.
urban_planning  design  architecture  security  governmentality  power_in_city  surveillance 
5 weeks ago
John Lanchester · The Case of Agatha Christie · LRB 20 December 2018
On the enduring appeal of Agatha Christie, whose writing and characterization are inferior to many of her contemporaries but whose formal/structural experiments and social details, the author argues, have allowed her books to age better.
mysteries  agatha_christie  books  writers  writing  dorothy_sayers 
5 weeks ago
Minnette de Silva: the brilliant female architect forgotten by history | Cities | The Guardian
Brief profile of Minnette de Silva, a Sri Lankan architect whose work was recognized as innovative and important early on, but who was gradually eclipsed by men who often followed on from her ideas.
architects  architecture  women  gender  art  sri_lanka 
5 weeks ago
Morality Wars response: Criticism of representation creates vibrant conversation.
Wesley Morris Is Missing How Vibrant Representation-First Criticism Truly Is via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
6 weeks ago
Race and Pop Culture: A Roundtable Conversation
How Do We Talk About Race and Pop Culture Without Going Insane? via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
6 weeks ago
New anti-homeless architecture: Seattle uses bike racks to block rough sleepers | Cities | The Guardian
Examples of Unpleasant Design/hostile architecture, starting with sidewalk bike racks in Seattle used to prevent homeless people from camping.
homelessness  housing  urban  power_in_city  cities  inequality 
6 weeks ago
Valley of Square Trees – Anton Valley, Panama - Atlas Obscura
A small valley in panama, on the slopes of an active volcano, has trees with square trunks, for reasons that nobody quite understands.
nature  panama  latin_america  trees  environment 
6 weeks ago
Inside the Flat Earth Conference, Where the World’s Oldest Conspiracy Theory Is Hot Again
Flat earthers are drawn together out of a desire for community, a sense that the world is out of balance, and a profound collective misapprehension.
conspiracy_theories  flat_earth 
6 weeks ago
Haint Blue, the Ghost-Tricking Color of Southern Homes and Gullah Folktales - The Awl
On the practice of painting porch ceilings "haint blue," a light blue color, to deceive vengeful spirits. The idea is drawn from Gullah folklore.
history  design  culture  color  gullah  south  race 
6 weeks ago
China’s largest movie studio is vast, and so is its audience. But filmmakers have to toe the party line - Los Angeles Times
Hengdian World Studios claims to be the largest outdoor film studio in the world, and it is dedicated mostly to historical melodramas that meet the demands of the current Chinese leadership.
china  chinese_film  film  movies  art  censorship 
6 weeks ago
The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Perfume
Perfume as a combination of beautiful and disgusting.
history  senses  smell  scent  perfume  nature 
6 weeks ago
The Forgotten Mother of Cinema
Short interview with director Pamela Green about her film "Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché." Despite having made over a thousand films, with numerous technical innovations, Guy-Blaché is almost unknown.
directors  film  cinema  women  movies  documentary  interview 
6 weeks ago
Can Blockchain Maps Replace GPS? - The Atlantic
On the idea of "Proof of Location" (PoL) contracts, verified by blockchain, as a mechanism for various kinds of transactions and services. I still don't understand blockchain.
blockchain  bitcoin  technology  maps  location  GPS  tech_and_demos 
6 weeks ago
Framing nature | 3 Quarks Daily
On the function of square frames around images of nature, and the new angle (literally) provided by drone photography.
photogprahy  drones  nature  art  framing 
7 weeks ago
The Gray Scale
An essay from a book of photos by David Taylor, whose "Monuments" project documents "the 276 Boundary Monuments constructed by the International Boundary Commission in the last half of the 19th century from El Paso-Juárez to San Diego-Tijuana."
geography  borders  landscape  politics  immigration 
7 weeks ago
Maintenance and Care
Shannon Mattern on the importance of maintenance, very broadly defined.
maintenance  care  labor  design  urban  politics 
7 weeks ago
Welcome to Poppy’s World | WIRED
Kind of profile/interview/explainer about Poppy, who is...on the internet.
celebrity  art  music  internet  technology 
7 weeks ago
A Cryptocurrency Millionaire Wants to Build a Utopia in Nevada - The New York Times
An entrepreneur who got rich trading Ethereum hopes to use the core technology behind it to develop a new kind of democratic, transparent community in the Nevada desert.
blockchain  bitcoin  ethereal  tech_and_demos  technology  democracy  politics 
7 weeks ago
As Slums Teeter in Marseille, a Poverty Crisis Turns Deadly - The New York Times
The city government in Marseille has ignored the deteriorating and dangerous condition of buildings in the center of the city, home mainly to poor and immigrant communities. The recent collapse of two buildings, one of which was occupied, has brought new attention to the problem.
cities  urban  inequality  poverty  france  immigration 
8 weeks ago
Deep River
The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project seeks to catalogue, preserve, and digitize recordings from the "golden age" of gospel (1945-1975), an estimated 75% of which have been lost.
music  preservation  gospel  race  digitization 
10 weeks ago
In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing? | The New Yorker
On the growing power of digital image synthesis, which is increasingly convincing. Really interesting stuff in here about applying the concept of "texture" to other areas, and the ways in which human predictability makes plausible images easier to synthesize.
artificial_intelligence  technology  computers  images  science 
10 weeks ago
U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It. - The New York Times
U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It. via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
10 weeks ago
On the nose
Sissel Tolaas goes nose-on with the whole world via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
10 weeks ago
Opinion | The Newest Jim Crow - The New York Times
Michelle Alexander on the dangers of systems of electronic surveillance and monitoring, which might seem like a better alternative to mass incarceration but really present some of the same problems.
crime  race  prisons  surveillance  tech_and_demos 
10 weeks ago
Demolishing the California Dream: How San Francisco Planned Its Own Housing Crisis | Collectors Weekly
On the use of zoning and other regulations to maintain racial segregation, and how that policy precipitated he housing shortage in San Francisco.
history  housing  segregation  racism  zoning  urban_planning  power_in_city 
11 weeks ago
The Quietus | Film | Film Features | From Pickpocket To The Qing Dynasty: A Jia Zhangke Primer
The Quietus | Film | Film Features | From Pickpocket To The Qing Dynasty: A Jia Zhangke Primer via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
11 weeks ago
Female Candidates Break Barriers, Except When It Comes to Money - The New York Times
2018 has more women running, and more winning primaries, but many face a disadvantage in fundraising.
election_2018  elections  women_and_politics  women  gender  politics  campaigns 
11 weeks ago
Jia Zhangke - BOMB Magazine
Interview with Jia from 2016, focused mainly on "Mountains May Depart."
chinese_film  jia_zhangke  directors  film  interview 
12 weeks ago
Retailers Are Using Facial-Recognition Technology Too
On the use of facial recognitions systems to track customer habits.
tech_and_demos  technology  democracy  privacy  surveillance 
12 weeks ago
Class Differences in Child-Rearing Are on the Rise via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
12 weeks ago
What Do Kendrick And Kanye Owe Women Listeners?
What Do Kendrick And Kanye Owe Women Listeners? via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
october 2018
Interview: Jia Zhang-ke - Film Comment
2009 interview with Jia, discussing his films "Still Life" and short film "Cry Me a River."
film  directors  chinese_film  china  interview 
october 2018
White women voters are sticking -- not just with Kemp, but Trump, too
On some recent polling data (Oct. 2018) showing that white women in Georgia continue to support both Donald Trump and GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp against Stacy Abrams, the Democratic nominee who would be the first African American woman governor ever if elected.
women_and_politics  PSC_217  women  gender  politics  elections  election_2018 
october 2018
Charles White Was a Giant, Even Among the Heroes He Painted - The New York Times
Review of the MOMA version of the Charles White retrospective that appeared first at the Art Institute.
art  artists  art_shows  exhibitions  charles_white 
october 2018
Growing Up in the Library | The New Yorker
Excerpt from Susan Orlean's "The Library Book," describing her childhood visits to the library, and her return to them as an adult.
libraries  books  reading  memory 
october 2018
How TripAdvisor changed travel
A history of TripAdvisor, which is much older than I would have thought. Some interesting bits about the history of travel writing, and the analogy between travel and using the internet.
travel  travel_writing  technology 
october 2018
The origins of prison slavery in the American South.
Why Do Inmates Fight Wildfires for Dollars a Day? The Origins of Prison Slavery in America. via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
october 2018
White Americans Gain the Most From Trump’s Tax Cuts, a Report Finds - The New York Times
Explains how the distribution of income, and different means of earning that income, have meant that the benefits of tax cuts are very uneven for different racial groups.
inequality  taxes  race  trump 
october 2018
The First Abstract Painter Was a Woman
On Hilma Af Klint, a Swedish artist whose painting embraced full abstraction, possibly before and without the influence of the men going in this direction at the time. A show at the Guggenheim in NYC, her first in the US, is the reason for the article.
artists  art  women  modernism  abstract 
october 2018
Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture
Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
october 2018
How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music | Pitchfork
Simon Reynolds's capsule history of Auto-Tune, including his thoughts about the resistance to it, and more generally authenticity of expression in recorded music.
criticism  music  authenticity  autotune  technology 
october 2018
'The rich man's road': Nairobi slum demolished for highway | Cities | The Guardian
On the clearance of part of Nairobi's Kibera slum for a new road, which most of the displaced residents would never use.
slums  cities  urban  power_in_city  africa  planning 
september 2018
Walmart’s Veggie-Tracking B.L.T.: Blockchain Lettuce Technology - The New York Times
On Walmart's use of a blockchain database to maintain records of produce, allowing them to track any given piece to its source and better detect contamination. Questions remain about implementation, in particular why a blockchain system is useful when the database will still be centrally maintained.
technology  bitcoin  blockchain  tech_and_demos 
september 2018
Women Have Won More Primaries Than Ever Before. Will They Set a Record in November? - The New York Times
More women are on the ballot in November 2018 than any previous election, but many are challenging incumbents or running in difficult districts, and so the numbers elected may be less striking.
women  women_and_politics  PSC_217  elections  election_2018  campaigns  political_science 
september 2018
Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not. - The New York Times
The belief in work as the way out of poverty depends on the possibility of securing a job that pays enough; increasingly, such jobs do not exist, particularly for people with little education.
work  labor  poverty  inequality  social_justice  PSC_235 
september 2018
Europe and nationalism: A country-by-country guide - BBC News
An overview of the main right-wing/nationalist/anti-immigrant parties in Europe right now (Sept. 2018).
politics  nationalism  far_right  immigration  EU  europe  racism  psc150 
september 2018
Ayanna Pressley Seeks Her Political Moment in a Changing Boston - The New York Times
On a primary challenge by a popular member of Boston's city council to a long-time Congressman, Michael Capuano.
women_and_politics  women  gender  PSC_217  elections  campaigns  election_2018 
september 2018
Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar - BBC News
Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar - BBC News via Instapaper
IFTTT  Instapaper 
august 2018
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