Thursday 8 October 2015

Links 08/10/15


Earlier this year, the President recalled, he made this point in an interview, noting that the country persists with lax gun laws despite repeated mass killings. “And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana. That day! Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.”
Obama’s emotion—his anger—was palpable. He went on: “We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun. And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun-safety laws. Does anybody really believe that?” 
The New Yorker: Obama, Guns, and the Politics of Hopelessness, October 2, 2015

Without any clarity on what has actually been agreed upon in the now agreed-upon Trans-Pacific Partnership between Canada, the US, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Japan (the New York Times summarises it as "phasing out import tariffs, opening markets, establishing rules on IP") - the agreement needs approval in the relevant legislatures (both currently running Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, are opposing), the Electronic Frontier Foundation sees negative ramifications for users, and Foreign Policy analyses what the agreement may mean for China

US operations forces in Afghanistan are struggling to explain why it targeted a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders which killed 12 staff members and 10 patients. 

The European High Court has ruled that the sharing of personal data between EU countries and the US, which was part of the so-called "Safe Harbor" agreement, is invalid (a result of an Austrian law student complaining about the amount and kind of data which Facebook is collecting on its users). It is unclear how this will affect companies operating in Europe. 
Although the Court of Justice did find that the US provided inadequate safeguards for individual privacy, the ruling does not necessarily mean that Facebook, or any other country, will be found guilty of breaking the law. Rather, it places that decision-making authority in the hands of the supervisory authorities of individual EU countries, such as Ireland, as opposed to the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch. That’s why the consequences of the decision are so unclear at the moment. 
Wired: Thank (Or Blame) Snowden for Europe’s Big Privacy Ruling, October 6, 2015

The future of cities: here are 8 examples of cities looking into the future, how a city can accomodate children's independence and their ability to walk to school unaccompanied: The key is "responsibility for shared spaces" and "group reliance". And a video about "Flipping Levittown", about one of the US' oldest mass-produced suburb (and a book recommendation for Ellen Dunham-Jones' Retrofitting Suburbia.) 

The future of coal in an economy dependent on coal (another entry to this would be - the future of manufacturing in an economy dependent on manufacturing).
These efforts are being made despite the darkening storm clouds hanging over the industry’s future. Not only are coal prices down by around two-thirds from their peak in late 2011, but the financial underpinnings of the entire industry are crumbling. Investors in Australia and around the world have been stampeding out of coal stocks for both financial and ethical reasons. Dedicated coal producers in Australia like New Hope and Whitehaven have seen their market valuation slashed by 70–80% over the past five years, making them some of the worst-performing shares in the entire market. While these are relatively small companies, giants like America’s largest coal producer Peabody have also been brought to their knees. Peabody has posted a string of massive losses, including US$1 billion in one quarter alone, and its share price has slumped to around US$2 from a high of US$72 four years ago. 
The Monthly: Coal Crash. How long can Australia ride the coal wagon?, October 2015 
The future of quantum computing, whatever on earth it is ("What is it capable of? Google and its partners are still trying to figure that out.")

Pop Culture: 

This week, Henning Mankell passed away. The fact that his works have been adapted so many times that the stories themselves have become classics within his lifetime speaks volumes to his ability, and I have a lot of memories of watching all of these cover versions with my mum. 

Director Chantal Akerman died last Monday. 

With Freeheld finally being released after years and years of production, two excellent profiles of Ellen Page: 
At her most ascendant moment as a young actor, Page had signed on to play a lesbian and to produce a movie about a significant, soon-to-be historical moment in the marriage equality movement. Did that mean she was envisioning a future time when she would come out?
“No,” Page said, shaking her head, as if she couldn’t believe it herself. “I think back to not that long ago, and I didn’t think it was possible to be out. And I don’t know why I believed that so strongly, but I remember someone was like, ‘So when do you think you could maybe come out?’ And I was like, ‘No, that’s impossible.’ And I really, really, really believed it. Which I think back to now, and it’s amazing, because it’s like — that’s insane. That is an insane thought that I had!” She pointed at her head and added, “But something had gotten inside of me; it had gotten in my thoughts. It had gotten in my body — I was just not a healthy person. And I believed it!” 
Buzzfeed: Ellen Page. The Trailblazer, September 30, 2015 
The discussion had hit ideological bedrock, it seemed, beyond which persuasion was impossible. ‘‘We follow the Bible,’’ the father said, and added that they could probably talk about the subject for five hours straight and never agree. No one was angry, but soon the conversation petered out, and the crew left the bus. Page seemed crestfallen that she hadn’t been able to get through to these nice people.
This is what most impressed me about Page: her radical empathy. Radical because it didn’t extend only to her allies. (I was struck, even when she told me about the heartbreak of losing her final soccer game in a late comeback, that she took a moment to acknowledge the joy of the other team: ‘‘It was dope for them,’’ she said.) Page seems to believe that the ultimate good, and the strongest possible argument for tolerance, is genuine human connection.  
The New York Times: Ellen Page Goes Off-Script, October 1, 2015
And loosely connected, here's a story about how the Ex-Gay Movement failed in the US

A possible final entry into the long saga of "what on earth happened on the set of The Good Wife" - a swansong to what could have been, if only (but what an excellent reaction by Archie Panjabi, hopefully she'll get her own gig very soon). 

No comments: