Briefly Noted: Reading and Assorted Links

I’ve been reading Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabbarok’s blog Marginal Revolution more these days. Most Fridays, Tyler puts up his assorted links. Since I’ve been too wrapped up in work on the studio to post as much as I’d like lately, and since I know that my readers are asking for more content, I thought it would at least be useful to put up some of the links and readings that I’m finding on a regular basis. Well, we’ll see if it’s regular. This whole slow blogging thing may have turned out to be too slow. Plus Facebook is evil.

I listen to a lot of podcasts and the COVID-19 podcast from FiveThirtyEight has been a great source of information (it also has really good theme music). I’ve recently become fully vaccinated and thus I am thinking a lot more about the post-vaccine future. This episode on the end of the pandemic (or the endemic) is particularly good for that. We may never wind up getting rid of COVID-19, but that may be just fine as host Anna Rothschild and Emory University infectious disease researcher Jennie Levine discuss. You can also ready a story on Levine’s research here. I’m certainly not an infectious disease expert, but as an urban historian, I have run into disease in cities many times and this is a compelling argument.

Is most art today garbage (why, yes), are Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) the answer to computer art’s marketing problem (no), is Beeple any good (absolutely not) what about KAWS (please, no). Read more about this in an article that I didn’t want to write but luckily Spike Magazine editor Dean Kissick has written “The Downward Spiral: Popular Things” for us instead. Still think NFTs are a good idea? You are wrong, so try this piece by artist and curator Everest Pipkin entitled “HERE IS THE ARTICLE YOU CAN SEND TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY SAY “BUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES WITH CRYPTOART WILL BE SOLVED SOON, RIGHT?” too. Or if you think NFTs are a bad idea, read it anyway.

As my students know, the history of architecture begins with the (pre)history of hominids, and I’ve followed advances in paleontology for many years and during the last decade there have been many advances. Among these is a radical shift in the thinking about how our ancestors looked. Here is a piece, “Team Reveals Amazing Reconstructions of Our Ancestors to Correct Mistakes of the Past” that reviews that. Another fascinating research article addresses the “Out of Africa” hypothesis and concludes that after 500,000 years ago, it becomes quite unclear where our last common ancestors were see “Origins of Modern Human Ancestry” at Nature.

Finally, Ben Ryder Howe’s article “Am I in Manhattan? Or Another Sequel to ‘Blade Runner’?” in the New York Times is one of the first truly well-written articles that I’ve read in that paper in a while. He observes that the emptying out of the city during the pandemic coupled by an ever-greater proliferation of signage is making the city more and more Blade Runner-like but enjoy the ride, there’s a lot more to read about.