You must read this graphic novel about a future without the Internet

Originally posted on Fusion:

Two years ago, comic book writer Brian Vaughan and comic book artist Marcos Martin teamed up for a 10-volume series called The Private Eye, about a future in which society has abandoned the Internet due to “the Cloud” bursting. It’s the year 2076, sixty years after everyone’s secrets spilled out into the open, and no one wants to own a smartphone or commit anything to collective digital memory. The graphic novel’s hero is a journalist who has to solve a murder (while deprived of the power of Googling) and thwart an evil TV executive. (Without Internet, television is thriving of course.)

The protagonist's father can't cope with an iPhone-less life The protagonist’s father can’t cope with an iPhone-less life

Science fiction is one of the best places to grapple with the consequences of rapidly advancing technology and the ways it’s changing how information about us gets collected, mined and exploited. But sometimes technology moves so fast that it outpaces the fiction writers…

View original 853 more words

Afghanistan’s fantastic plan for economic success leaves the US on the outside

Originally posted on Quartz:

Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, plans to remake his war-torn country’s economy by relying on its traditional geographic advantage as the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It’s a plan that could leave the US with diminishing influence, even as it bears the costs of the country’s security.

Ghani, a former World Bank official, stressed regional ties and infrastructure investment as the key to a prosperity at a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York City today, March 26.

For example: Pakistan is short on electricity, but Tajikstan is over-flowing with power from Soviet-era hydro electric projects. So string wires across Afghanistan. Need a trade route from China to Iran? Build railway lines across Afghanistan. There are inter-continental fiber optic lines to lay, and roads to pave. There will be dams, and mines for copper and rare earth metals—”we are the Saudi Arabia of Lithium,” Ghani said.

Of course, all that…

View original 331 more words

Investors think streaming could take music back to its glory days

Originally posted on Quartz:

Investors suddenly seem to think the outlook for the music business is not as bleak as the commentary surrounding it suggests.

Consider the following examples:

  • A streaming music takeover battle, with the rapper Jay Z overcoming resistance to gain control of Swedish based Aspiro Group, which operates a relatively obscure, high-end competitor to Spotify.
  • A streaming music venture capital investment, with Google Ventures, pouring money into Kobalt, a publisher hugely supportive of new, digital music models.
  • An activist hedge fund is pushing for a streaming music spin-off.

Let’s focus on the last one. New York-based P. Schoenfeld Asset Management (PSAM) is pressing for changes at French media conglomerate Vivendi aimed at boosting the company’s share price. Most of PSAM’s suggestions are pretty boring, except for a proposal to spin off Universal Music, the world’s biggest music company, which controls more than 30% of the global recording industry.

It’s worth noting from the outset that PSAM owns less than…

View original 359 more words

Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy

Originally posted on Quartz:

Costa Rica is running without having to burn a single fossil fuel, and it’s been doing so for 75 straight days.

Thanks to some heavy rainfall this year, Costa Rica’s hydropower plants alone are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. With a boost from geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the country doesn’t need an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on. Of course, the country has a lot of things going in its favor. Costa Rica is a small nation, has less than 5 million people, doesn’t have much of a manufacturing industry that would require a lot of energy, and is filled with volcanoes and other topographical features that lend themselves to renewable energy.

Nonetheless, it is both a noble and significant feat for a nation of any size to eschew fossil fuels completely.

Costa Rica is not the only place in the area committed…

View original 260 more words

A WHO report says a Monsanto weed killer ingredient is probably causing cancer

Originally posted on Quartz:

Monsanto, the US-based agrochemical giant that has dominated the agricultural industry with its herbicides and genetically modified seeds, is the focus of yet another controversy over the potential hazards of one of its biggest chemicals.

Glyphosate, one of the primary ingredients in Monsanto’s ubiquitous weedkiller Roundup, probably causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to a new report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The report is based on a review of existing evidence, including multiple studies of the effects of glyphosate on agricultural and forestry workers since 2001, co-author Kate Guyton tells Quartz. She says the report stopped short of saying the chemical conclusively causes cancer, because these existing studies focused on a limited population of healthy male workers; they did not include young people or women. It’s unclear how much exposure would be cancerous, or why glyphosate leads specifically to this kind of cancer, Guyton says.

What the scientists do know is that the people in these studies…

View original 236 more words

A Finnish company now owns America’s most iconic baseball brand, Louisville Slugger

Originally posted on Quartz:

This post has been updated with a comment from Hillerich & Bradsby.

It’s hard to think of any object more American than the Louisville Slugger, a bat that generations of baseball lovers grew up revering. But now the Louisville, Kentucky-based company Hillerich & Bradsby has sold the global rights (paywall) to the brand to Wilson Sporting Goods, which itself is owned by the Finnish equipment conglomerate Amer Sports.

The unofficial bat of major league baseball, the Louisville Slugger was used by legends such as Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, and has been immortalized in pop culture and in songs by artists ranging from Carrie Underwood (video) to Eazy-E (video) to Dire Straits (video). The company’s bats, which have been around for 130 years, are used by about 60% of major league baseball players.

Here is the New York Yankees recent retiree and future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter talking about his Louisville Slugger:

But despite the status of its signature bat, the company has struggled…

View original 188 more words