Weekend Reading

Yelling at Amazon’s Alexa The first time I met Alexa, the A.I. robot voice inside the wine-bottle-size speaker known as the Amazon Echo, I was at my friends’ house, in rural New England. “Currently, it is seventy-five degrees,” she told us, and assured us that it would not rain. The future is coming. I admit I’m tempted even though I know the technology isn’t quite there. yet. Brain Implant Restores Sense Of Touch To Paralyzed Man Twelve years ago, a car wreck took away Nathan Copeland’s ability to control his hands or sense what his fingers were touching. Science and technology can be marvellous. In every sense of the word. Nations, Fighting Powerful Refrigerant That Warms Planet, Reach Landmark Deal …

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Weekend Reading

A Freudian theory, now backed up by neuroscience, explains why so many fear clowns Creepy clown sightings across the United States are no laughing matter. Glimpses of disturbing clowns began in South Carolina in August, but the phenomenon of pranksters in sinister costumes has become so widespread that it was even mentioned at a White House news conference. Hey… is it Halloween soon maybe? We’re So Addicted to Our Gadgets That ‘Unplugged’ Tourism Is Booming If a tree falls in the Amazon, but you don’t capture it on Snapchat, did it actually fall? I had the thought while hiking through the rainforest, on the third day of a digital detox that was slowly killing me. I’m away for a few …

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Weekend Reading

Bedlam: The story behind the London mental hospital that came to mean hell on earth The word “Bedlam” conjures up scenes of wild chaos and confusion but, in the 13th century, it was linked to one specific place: The Bethlehem Royal Hospital in London. This was the first asylum in England, founded in 1247, and it cared for the mentally ill free of charge. I have a bit of a thing for articles like this, taking something every day and exploring it (try The Allusionist podcast if this floats your boat). New York monument honors victims of giant octopus attack that never occurred Cast-bronze sculpture by Joseph Reginella, who made up the story of a Staten Island ferry disaster, directs …

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Rotterdam or anywhere

I need some time off work. The last week I had off was in June and whilst life as a contractor means no worky = no money, I know I need some downtime. So I’ve booked the middle week of October off and I’m planning to try and get away somewhere. Where? Well that’s the thing, I don’t really care where, I only really care about how much it’ll cost me. I’m thinking a 3-4 night city break (mid-week) and so far places like Prague and Budapest are at the top of the list (and, oddly Milan, cheap flights FTW). However, part of me is tempted to wait until the first weekend (the 15th) and then try and book a …

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Weekend Reading

The women of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel answer your questions about working as legal prostitutes In August, two Quartz reporters, Allison Schrager, who’s also an economist, and Siyi Chen, a video journalist traveled to Carson City, Nevada to visit the famed Moonlite Bunny Ranch Brothel. How do you break the stigma around sex workers? By talking to them. I Used to Be a Human Being I was sitting in a large meditation hall in a converted novitiate in central Massachusetts when I reached into my pocket for my iPhone. A woman in the front of the room gamely held a basket in front of her, beaming beneficently, like a priest with a collection plate. Turn off your smart phone …

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Recently Observed

Organised, Not Organised Having a digital calendar that I can access on my phone is wonderful. Except when I forget to put things in it. In totally related news, I have a ticket for the next Honeyblood gig (8th Dec) at St.Lukes in Glasgow going spare if anyone wants it… me? I’ll be at the Red Hot Chili Peppers gig that same night. Apple Music still not great As a heavy user of playlists, that’s where my focus is when it comes to choosing between streaming services. In that respect, Spotify is by far the better option. I can put together a new playlist and add tracks to it in a few clicks. Apple Music takes about the same number …

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Weekend Reading

The Drug of Choice for the Age of Kale The day after Apollo 14 landed on the moon, Dennis and Terence McKenna began a trek through the Amazon with four friends who considered themselves, as Terence wrote in his book “True Hallucinations,” “refugees from a society that we thought was poisoned by its own self-hatred”. Proof the human beings will always want to try new things, and we are suckers for being ‘in the know’ about ‘the next big thing’. What Makes Stephen King’s It a Horror Story for the Ages I wasn’t much older than the adolescent heroes of the Loser’s Club the first time I picked up Stephen King’s It. I’m a big fan of Mr. King but …

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New Apple Hardware and Software

Given the upgrade cycle I choose to follow with my phone, this past week saw me get a new iPhone (7), which has a new version of iOS (10), as well as a new Apple Watch (Series II) which itself has a new version of watchOS (3). That’s a lot of new and whilst a lot of the improvements across all of these devices and operating systems are evolutionary in nature, the increments are telling enough for me to notice and adapt my usage accordingly. Thankfully none of the changes are negative and are probably best categorised as ‘positive disruption’. iPhone 7 and iOS 10 I’d been running iOS 10 betas on my iPhone 6 which wasn’t kind to the …

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Single woman walking

Walking home from a gig, late on a balmy evening in the West End of Glasgow, light rain was falling as I and others plodded our way along Great Western Road, disappearing and emerging from lamp light to lamp light. Most people were heading in the opposite direction to me. It’s a nice part of the world, a mix of affluence and well to do university students, all branching off into different areas along Great Western Road, a long straight busy street. It feels, to me, safe. But as I walked I noticed something. Every single woman I walked past did the same thing, I didn’t notice if they did it a few steps away from me or just walked …

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Weekend Reading

Not all men commit abuse against women. But all must condemn it Male violence against women is rife – and it’s getting worse. We need a new, inclusive form of masculinity to eliminate it. The failure of men to speak out about male violence against women and girls renders us all complicit. A (now) long standing argument that I will keep repeating and reading. The Falling Man Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror of that day. I’m amazed how vivid my …

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