Category Archives: Media

Updates from Adobe

The Infinity Wall
By Charles Purdy – Inspired by the event space’s interior design—which involved curvilinear wood elements and sculptural wooden columns—the team came up with the “Infinity” theme.

“The interior had planes of wood, and there was a beautiful Zaha Hadid bench that looked like a tree trunk made of slats of wood,” says Vincent Rogozyk. “For this reason, we started designing with slats. The scale of the wall informed the scale of the graphics—the idea was to make the whole thing look like a giant object.”

Bałauszko and Michał Czubak brought the designers’ sketches to life, turning the biomorphic and geometric shapes into polished motion graphics. The final work comprised four basic scenes of abstract 3D kinetic animations that were programmed to morph and transition in a loop. “We designed using 3D software and Adobe After Effects CC, with the help of an offsite render farm,” says Rogozyk. “We definitely tested the limits of the hotel’s Internet connection.” more> https://goo.gl/JzQHRZ

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The Global War on Tourism

By Daniel Benaim – Initial data suggests that a “Trump slump” in tourism may well be materializing: Oxford Economics predicts that foreign travel to the U.S. could drop by 8 percent, or 6.3 million visitors, this coming year. Travel sites have reported massive declines in searches from the UK for travel to Tampa, Orlando, Miami, San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The Global Business Travel Association estimates that Trump’s policies have already cost the U.S. travel industry nearly $200 million. Meanwhile, New York City is predicting 300,000 fewer foreign tourists than last year at a cost of $600 million – a figure revised sharply down after Trump won.

The irony in all of this is that America’s marketer-in-chief is damaging America’s brand – and the self-declared “America-first” president is keeping foreigners’ money out of Americans’ hands. Foreign tourists do not get to vote in American elections, but they will vote with their feet. Let’s hope that President Obama’s record tourism numbers do not give way to a “Trump slump.” more> https://goo.gl/kOz8Eq

Big data’s power is terrifying. That could be good news for democracy

By George Monbiot – Our capacity to resist manipulation is limited. Even the crudest forms of subliminal advertising swerve past our capacity for reason and make critical thinking impossible. The simplest language shifts can trip us up.

Already big money exercises illegitimate power over political systems, making a mockery of democracy: the battering ram of campaign finance, which gives billionaires and corporations a huge political advantage over ordinary citizens; the dark money network (a web of lobby groups, funded by billionaires, that disguise themselves as thinktanks); astroturf campaigning (employing people to masquerade as grassroots movements); and botswarming (creating fake online accounts to give the impression that large numbers of people support a political position).

All these are current threats to political freedom. Election authorities such as the Electoral Commission in the UK have signally failed to control these abuses, or even, in most cases, to acknowledge them.

That’s the bad news.

But digital technologies could also be a powerful force for positive change. Political systems, particularly in the Anglophone nations, have scarcely changed since the fastest means of delivering information was the horse. They remain remote, centralised and paternalist.

The great potential for participation and deeper democratic engagement is almost untapped. Because the rest of us have not been invited to occupy them, it is easy for billionaires to seize and enclose the political cyber-commons. more> https://goo.gl/0PGihC

When Bankers Started Playing With Other People’s Money

By William D. Cohan – On April 10, 1970, nearly a year after first filing its IPO prospectus with the SEC, DLJ pulled it off, raising $12 million from the public and as a result fundamentally altering how Wall Street has functioned ever since. “Going public changed Wall Street permanently and forever,” Richard Jenrette (the J in DLJ) told the Times.

On April 10, 1970, nearly a year after first filing its IPO prospectus with the SEC, DLJ pulled it off, raising $12 million from the public and as a result fundamentally altering how Wall Street has functioned ever since. “Going public changed Wall Street permanently and forever,” Richard Jenrette (the J in DLJ) told the Times.

The truth was going public made perfect sense for DLJ and the many Wall Street firms—nearly every one—that followed its lead.

The problem is that the country is still dealing with the unintended consequences of the DLJ IPO to this day. And, of course, back in 1970, very few people, if any, were paying attention to what a small private partnership on Wall Street was trying to do to change the system. And honestly, the importance of the DLJ IPO has still not been fully appreciated. But it was a seminal event.

Ultimately, the unintended consequences of the DLJ IPO would be devastating. In October 1970, Weeden & Co. followed DLJ’s lead and went public. Then the floodgates opened. more> https://goo.gl/z6MzwK

How the baby boomers destroyed everything

By Bruce Cannon Gibney –  My indictment of boomers may seem overbroad, but the thesis is quite specific: the unusual prevalence of sociopathy in an unusually large generation. How does that disorder manifest?

Improvidence is reflected in low levels of savings and high levels of bankruptcy.

Deceit shows up as a distaste for facts, a subject on display in everything from Enron’s quarterly reports to daily press briefings. Interpersonal failures and unbridled hostility appeared in unusually high levels of divorce and crime from the 1970s to early 1990s.

These problems expressed themselves at generationally unique levels in boomers, to a greater extent than in boomers’ parents or children at comparable ages. (My forthcoming book lays out all these data in detail.)

When problems grow large, boomers resort to deceit, and the huge degradation of truth suggests just how bad things have gotten. Whether it be misrepresentations by Worldcom, Lehman Brothers, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, or General Michael Flynn, boomer culture has wallowed in duplicity for decades. more> https://goo.gl/9FOqFv

What is global history now?

By Jeremy Adelman – To understand what global history was, it helps to understand what it was supposed to eclipse.

It used to be that, in the US, history departments had their cores in American and/or European fields; in Canada, Australia and Britain, the nuclei were also national. History meant the history of the nation, its peoples and their origins. When social and cultural history came along, it changed the subject from presidents or prime ministers to Hollywood or garment workers. But the framework remained mostly national; historians still wrote books about the making of the English working class, or the conversion of peasants into French citizens. There might be a smattering of East Asian or Latin American historians in the mix.

Often, they were cordoned into regional studies units, or lumped – as in my home department at Princeton – as ‘non-Western historians’, defined by their fundamental difference, there to embellish but not challenge the national canon.

By the 1980s, it was no longer foregone that the Rest was synonymous with decline, or the West with rise. The Rest, to some, became the new threat to define the purpose of the West.

No sooner did historians catch the glottalization wave with fancy new courses, magazines, textbooks and attention, than the wave seemed to collapse. The story changed. A powerful political movement arose against ‘globalism’. White-supremacists and Vladimir Putin fans from the Traditionalist Worker Party in the US proclaim as their slogan that ‘Globalism is the poison, nationalism is the antidote.’ Donald Trump put it only a bit more mildly. ‘Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,’ he thundered to cheering Republicans in his convention speech in July 2016. more> https://goo.gl/OAj1lI

Exponential growth devours and corrupts

By David Heinemeier Hansson – It’s through this exponential lens that eating the world becomes not just a motto for software at large, but a mission for every aspiring unicorn and their business model. “Going viral” suddenly takes on a shockingly honest and surprisingly literal meaning.

The goal of the virus is to spread as fast as it can and corrupt as many other cells as possible. How on earth did such a debauched zest become the highest calling for a whole generation of entrepreneurs?

It used to be that successful, upcoming companies would show a prudent mix of present-day profits and future prospects, but such a mix is now considered old-fashioned and best forgotten. Now it’s all potential, all the time.

Because the core assumption is that growth is always good, growth is always unlimited, and if you’re not growing you’re dying. Swim or sink, no wading.

Which is why growth is now everything and residual value is nothing. In fact, the latter can be outright harmful to the former. When you’re being priced on the hopes and dreams of potential, reality can be a dangerous and undesired competitor. Best just to appeal to the exponential curve and let the imagination roam free. An epic capital gains score awaits! more> https://goo.gl/HWN3au

Will President Trump derail the U.S. economy?

By George L. Perry – The stock market should like these economic proposals for several reasons.

Lower tax rates directly raise after-tax profits. Faster expansion from the fiscal push means higher profits. And reducing regulations cuts costs and raises profits. Banks, which are a clear target for deregulation, also benefit from higher interest rates that raise lending profits. No surprise their stocks have been the best performers in the market rally.

he impact of these budgetary policies in the longer run are more murky.

Today’s Congress is likely to give the Administration most of what it asks for. And one big risk in this is that budgetary projections will be made based on dynamic scoring that assumes the programs produce large increases in productivity growth, and so project unrealistically fast growth in the economy’s potential output and revenues.

The CBO and Finance Committee make professional assessments of these supply-side effects in estimating future budgetary impacts of tax changes. But the Administration will push for more generous estimates of future revenues that will make the tax and budget proposals more palatable at present.

This will only put off dealing with long-run budget deficits and a rising ratio of debt-to-GDP that is projected as the population ages. The adverse effects of swelling debt will be someone else’s problem at some future time. more> https://goo.gl/th1nzJ

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Trump is right to criticize NAFTA—but he’s totally wrong about why it’s bad for America

BOOK REVIEW

The Mexican Shock, Author: Jorge Castañeda.

By Jeff Faux – Will he deliver on this pledge? No.

But the reason is not, as the conventional economic wisdom has it, because outsourcing work to low-wage countries is the inevitable result of immutable global forces that no president can reverse.

The problem for American workers is not international trade, per se. America has been a trading nation since its beginning. The problem is, rather, the radical new rules for trade imposed by NAFTA—and copied in the myriad trade deals signed by the US ever since—that shifted the benefits of expanding trade to investors and the costs to workers.

Trump is right that the 1994 agreement with Mexico and Canada displaced US jobs—some 850,000, most of which were in manufacturing. But he is wrong in his claim that American workers lost out to Mexican workers because US negotiators were outsmarted. The interests of workers were never a priority for either American or Mexican negotiators.

NAFTA was the first important trade agreement that reflected the dramatic realignment of economic class interests across national borders. The globalization of corporate finance, production, and marketing has disconnected the interests of investors and workers throughout the world. more> https://goo.gl/anxVjL

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

BOOK REVIEW

The Enigma of Reason, Authors: Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber.
The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, Authors: Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach.
Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, Authors: Jack Gorman and Sara Gorman.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Author: Elizabeth Kolbert.

By Elizabeth Kolbert – Stripped of a lot of what might be called cognitive-science-ese, Mercier and Sperber’s argument runs, more or less, as follows: Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Coöperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain.

For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.

“Reason is an adaptation to the hypersocial niche humans have evolved for themselves,” Mercier and Sperber write. Habits of mind that seem weird or goofy or just plain dumb from an “intellectualist” point of view prove shrewd when seen from a social “interactionist” perspective.

Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them.

If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias.

Imagine, Mercier and Sperber suggest, a mouse that thinks the way we do. Such a mouse, “bent on confirming its belief that there are no cats around,” would soon be dinner. more> https://goo.gl/hUYB9s