Note — Sep 20, 2020

No.142 Asides

  • Gadget Realism. “Where ‘magic realism’ is the contextualisation of supernatural or magical phenomena in a mundane setting, reaching all the way from Borges to Mieville’s ‘new weird’ when a ‘highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe’ gadget realism examines, usually through design fiction, the weirdness of gadgets and their strange effects on the world, often centering them as characters. In magic realism, the ‘magic’ is usually outsize and off-screen, it influences the characters but rarely has fully explored motivations.”
  • 🇺🇸 🏙 🤖 🌳 Bryan Boyer is now director of the Urban Technology at University of Michigan and writing a newsletter about the process of establishing the program. The “Mail Call” answer in the linked issue is worth a read. “One reason we created this program is because Uber (and similar) may be nice for the privileged few, but we need to make sure that cities work for all. The Urban Technology program will give you the perspectives and skills to do so. It’s a mix of understanding how cities work, having enough technical ability that enables you to prototype new ideas in code, and the design skills to research and imagine new apps, services, and organizations.”
  • 🗺 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 🚜 😨 New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States. “Taken with other recent research showing that the most habitable climate in North America will shift northward and the incidence of large fires will increase across the country, this suggests that the climate crisis will profoundly interrupt the way we live and farm in the United States. See how the North American places where humans have lived for thousands of years will shift and what changes are in store for your county.”
  • 🇪🇸 🇵🇹 🐟 ⚓️ Tired: nature is healing. Wired: nature is charging. Scientists baffled by orcas ramming sailing boats near Spain and Portugal. “In the last two months, from southern to northern Spain, sailors have sent distress calls after worrying encounters. Two boats lost part of their rudders, at least one crew member suffered bruising from the impact of the ramming, and several boats sustained serious damage.”
  • 🇸🇪 🏡 IKEA Envisions the Home of Tomorrow. “But after an era of outsourcing daily activities into the city and the prospect of facing future isolating situations, many are now rediscovering the need to create a comfortable space in their homes.”
  • 🗺 📚 Alternate Histories and Societal Complexity. Short interesting post by Samuel Arbesman, make sure to check out the two links at the bottom, to collections of alternate history maps.
  • 🇸🇨 🐡 The deal that saved Seychelles’ troubled waters. “In the five years since, the Seychelles has progressed from protecting 0.04% to 30% of its national waters, covering 410,000 square kilometres (158,000 square miles) of ocean – an area larger than Germany. Fishing, oil exploration and other marine development has been banned or severely restricted in the MPAs. Anyone who carries out illegal activities in these areas faces a hefty fine, or, in some cases, imprisonment.” (Via Future Crunch who always have a “good news” section in their newsletter.)