Steven Spielberg To Complete Stanley Kubrick’s Unfinished Project
Steven Spielberg has been working for the last ten years on a project of seven-part series for the premium cable network based on Stanley Kubrick’s unfinished project for making a movie about Napoleon Bonaparte. Kubrick had planned to film the movie across the Europe and considered to star Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino as Napoleon and Audrey Hepburn as Josephine. Kubrick made an extensive research for decades and despite the remarkable development, MGM studio changed its mind and ended the project. Some notable movie critics believed that it was the result of pressure from the British because Kubrick was an admirer of Napoleon and his film would portray a very positive image of the Emperor. Now Spielberg is pursuing to continue with Kubrick’s unfinished project. We can hope for an interesting series about Napoleon. But Ridley Scott’s new film has been a disappointment from the beginning. In 2020 he chose a humiliating title for the movie about Napoleon. First he chose the title: “Kitbag”. There was an enormous negative feedbacks from all around the world; as the result he changed the title to Napoleon.
The following article in NY Times is about the negative feedbacks that film critics have had about “Englishman’s Napoleon!” The critics in the Boston Globe have had negative reviews and believed that Ridley Scott’s movie has been boring, historically inaccurate and even concluded dishonest. Some negative feedbacks about this film by Ridley Scott even refer to the potential “character assassination plan”! Napoleon Bonaparte was an extraordinary person who had a remarkable character and he was very charming and intelligent with a strong personality and determination. This movie has been a disappointment. It was almost ridiculous that Ridley Scott mentioned “Napoleon came from nothing.” In fact, Napoleon’s father,an aristocrat , and Napoleon’s mother lived in their palatial ancestral home on Corsica. Napoleon’s family were descended from Italian Tuscan nobles who emigrated to Corsica in the 16th century. Kubrick and Spielberg made decades of research on Napoleon before making any plans for the movie; in sharp contrast, Ridley Scott made an inaccurate, hasty, lazy and almost ridiculous movie without bothering to do some research.
That is a pity that the French film industry hasn’t made a remarkable movie about its national (and even international ) treasure. In 1927, the director Abel Gance made an epic silent movie: « Napoléon » that was remarkable. Let’s hope for Steven Spielberg’ future series about Napoleon.
« 74% des Français pensent que l’Empereur a été bénéfique pour la France. »
“In a national poll conducted this week, 74 percent of respondents with an opinion on Napoleon considered his actions beneficial for France.”
« Patrice Gueniffey, biographe de Napoléon, a aussi vivement attaqué le film dans les colonnes du Point. Pour lui, c’est « une réécriture de l’histoire très anti -française et très pro-britannique. »
“This very anti-French and very pro-English film.”
France Scoffs at an Englishman’s ‘Napoléon
French critics considered Ridley Scott’s new biopic lazy, pointless, boring, migraine-inducing, too short and historically inaccurate. And that’s just to start.
« The French do not like an Englishman’s rendition of Napoleon.
Or at least, the French critics do not.
Looking grim and moody from under an enormous bicorn hat, Joaquin Phoenix glowers from posters around Paris, promoting the film by Ridley Scott that offers the latest reincarnation of the French hero whose nose — as one reviewer deliciously wrote- still rises in the middle of French political life two centuries after his death. French critics considered it lazy, pointless, boring, migraine-inducing, too short and historically inaccurate. And that’s just to start.
The critic for the left-wing daily Libération panned the film as not just ugly, but vacuous, positing nothing and “very sure of its inanity.” The review in Le Monde offered that if the director’s vision had one merit, it was “simplicity” — “a montage alternating between Napoleon’s love life and his feats of battle.”
The right-wing Le Figaro took many positions in its breathless coverage, using the moment to pump out a 132-page special-edition magazine on Napoleon, along with more than a dozen articles, including a reader poll and a Napoleon knowledge test. The newspaper’s most memorable take came from Thierry Lentz, the director of the Napoleon Foundation, a charity dedicated to historical research: He considered Phoenix’s version of Napoleon — compared to more than 100 other actors who have played the role — “a bit vulgar, a bit rude, with a voice from elsewhere that doesn’t fit at all.”
All of this was to be expected. As the French writer Sylvain Tesson once famously said, “France is a paradise inhabited by people who think they’re in hell.” How else would you expect a country where the perennial response to “How are you?” is “Not bad” to respond to a historical film about itself?
But to have that film be about a French legend — even one whom many detest — played by an American actor and directed by a British filmmaker?
“This very anti-French and very pro-English film is, however, not very ‘English’ in spirit,” said the historian Patrice Gueniffey, in Le Point magazine, “because the English have never compromised their admiration for their enemy.”
“It’s hard not to see this hasty approach as the historical revenge of Ridley Scott, the Englishman,” assessed the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné. “An Austerlitz of cinema? More like Waterloo.”
Bracing under the waterfall of negative reaction, you begin to wonder whether the criticism reveals more about the French psyche than the nation’s taste in historical cinema.
“When we talk about Napoleon, in fact we are getting at the heart of our principles and our political divisions,” explained Arthur Chevallier, a Napoleon expert who has published five books on the Corsican soldier who seized power after the French Revolution, crowned himself emperor and proceeded to conquer — and later lose — much of Western Europe.
“The common point among all French people is that Napoleon remains a subject that influences our understanding of ourselves, our identity,” Chevallier said.
More than 200 years after his death, the smudge of Napoleon’s fingerprints still liberally decorate the country and its capital: along the streets and metro stations named after his generals and battles; from atop the Arc de Triomphe that he planned; in the gleam of the gold dome of the Invalides, under which his giant marble tomb rises.
Lawyers still follow an updated version of his civil code. Provincial regions are still overseen by prefects — or government administrators — in a system he devised. Every year, high schoolers take the baccalaureate exam that his regime introduced, and citizens are awarded the country’s top honor, which he invented.
Last Sunday, before the film hit theaters here, a French auction house announced that it had sold one of Napoleon’s signature bicorn hats for a record 1.9 million euros, or $2.1 million.
In recent decades, Napoleon’s record for misogyny, imperialism and racism- he reimposed slavery eight years after the revolutionary government abolished it — has come under glaring critical light. But that seems to have simply reinforced the weight of his legacy.
To many, Napoleon is the symbol of a France that has come under assault from what they consider an American import of identity politics and “wokeism.” The latest front page of the weekly far-right magazine Valeurs Actuelles declared him “The Anti-Woke Emperor.” (Its reviewer also panned the film: From the first scene, the viewer knows that “historical accuracy will suffer the guillotine,” wrote Laurent Dandrieu.)
In a national poll conducted this week, 74 percent of respondents with an opinion on Napoleon considered his actions beneficial for France.
“You have the impression that when we talk about him, he’s a living politician,” said Chevallier, who has already seen the film twice and counts himself among its few unabashed French fans.
What he liked, he said, was its different take on Napoleon and the revolution that birthed him and modern France. Instead of a regal leader with insatiable energy and ambition, Joaquin Phoenix portrays a regular grasping mortal who is the product of a bloodthirsty, barbaric upheaval — something that some find “very destabilizing,” Chevallier said, but that he considered interesting and instructive, “because you understand why Napoleon inspired such hate” among other European powers at the time.
He predicted that his fellow citizens who were more cinema fans than history buffs would like the film, which opened to the public on Wednesday.
Some 120,000 people went to see it across France that day — a strong opening, but not a blockbuster like “Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom,” which drew more than 460,000 on its opening day early this year, according to figures collected by C.B.O. Box Office, a firm that collates French box office data.
Moviegoers streaming out of a theater in the Latin Quarter of Paris on Thursday night were not enthused.
Augustin Ampe, 20, said he was all for demystifying Napoleon, but this was just too much. “Here he looks like a clumsy man focused only on his wife,” said the literature student, breaking for a moment from a fierce debate over the film’s failures with his friends. He preferred the mythical figure offered in the books and poems of Chateaubriand and Victor Hugo, he said.
Waiting for her movie date to finish his post-film cigarette, Charline Tartar, a librarian, assessed Phoenix’s rendition as too moany.
“It’s too bad Napoleon looks like a loser,” said Tartar, 27. She thought a French director would have paid more attention to historical accuracy.”
The “Treasury of Notre-Dame” Grand Exhibition, at the Louvre
Le Trésor de Notre-Dame de Paris Au musée du Louvre
An elaborate, all-but forgotten ecclesiastical cape worn by an Italian cleric at Napoleon’s coronation in 1804 resurfaced, too. Though it is depicted in a monumental painting by Jacques Louis David that is on display at the Louvre, the cape had never been identified as being worn at the event, and so was stored, anonymously, for more than two centuries.
More than 120 objects, ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts and a 12th-century bishop’s gold ring to ornately embroidered vestments and multiple reliquaries — which once housed what was said to be Jesus’s crown of thorns and fragments of his cross — are featured in The Treasury of Norte Dame Cathedral , from its origins to Viollet le Duc ( through Jan.29)
« In Paris, Notre-Dame’s Treasures Are on Display. The Curators say examination of some pieces after the cathedral’s 2019 fire turned up notable surprises. The newly renovated Notre-Dame isn’t scheduled to reopen to the public until Dec. 8, 2024, but some of the cathedral’s oldest treasures — survivors of revolutions, regime change and disasters — are now on display at the Louvre.
And, although they had been inside the cathedral for centuries, the existence of some of these pieces came as a total surprise, even to experts.
More than 120 objects, ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts and a 12th-century bishop’s gold ring to ornately embroidered vestments and multiple reliquaries — which once housed what was said to be Jesus’s crown of thorns and fragments of his cross — are featured in The Treasury of Norte Dame Cathedral , from its origins to Viollet le Duc ( through Jan.29)
The title refers to Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the celebrated French architect who restored the building in the mid-19th century, adding its spire (which collapsed in the 2019 fire), its famous gargoyles and other features. But he also designed furniture and objects used for ritual and worship, some of which are highlights of the show: an imposing gold vessel, dating to 1867, that was used during devotional ceremonies to display a consecrated host, and an intricately enameled gold dove that served as a receptacle for holy oils.
While Notre-Dame’s sacristy — a separate space, off the choir, which held the cathedral’s treasury — was not touched by the blaze that tore through the building on April 15, 2019, the destruction of the site and its security system meant that all the cathedral’s treasures had to be removed immediately, said Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, a co-curator of the exhibition. Most pieces are now being stored in the Louvre’s Department of Decorative Arts, where she is the deputy director.
“It gave us an opportunity to really study these objects, whose spiritual dimension makes them very striking,” Ms. Dion-Tenenbaum said in an interview. Over time, she and her fellow curators uncovered a few surprises in the treasury, which led them to look in other repositories around Paris and the rest of the country to unravel the mysteries of what was in the treasury, what wasn’t and what it all meant.
One rare document they turned up contained the first known reference to the treasury: In a will dating to the sixth century and written on papyrus, during the first Frankish dynasty of ancient Gaul, a Merovingian noblewoman named Ermentrude left a silver plate worth 60 gold coins to Notre-Dame. And a richly colored prayer book illustration, from around the 15th century, depicted the moment in the early 12th century when what was said to be a fragment of Jesus’s cross arrived at Notre-Dame.
The grand cathedral’s repositories also yielded highly embellished garments from the 19th century, like a cope, or long cloak, in gold cloth embroidered with lilies, peonies and oak branches, made about 200 years ago for King Charles X of France by silk manufacturers in Lyon. An elaborate, all-but forgotten ecclesiastical cape worn by an Italian cleric at Napoleon’s coronation in 1804 resurfaced, too. Though it is depicted in a monumental painting by Jacques Louis David is on display at the Louvre, the cape had never been identified as being worn at the event, and so was stored, anonymously, for more than two centuries. The “Treasury of Notre-Dame” exhibition is its first public showing.
Many objects in the exhibition are not known by Parisians, Ms. Dion-Tenenbaum said, because, in the past, the treasury primarily was visited by tourists. But once the cathedral reopens, she hopes that the French, too, will discover the synergies between Viollet-le-Duc’s renovation of the building and the objects it has held.
“What characterizes this treasure is that it’s a very homogeneous example of the 19th century,” she said. “That the place, its vitrines and its contents are all the work of a single architect gives it a harmony that is unique in the world.” NY Times
Splendeurs et misères du trésor de Notre-Dame
Au musée du Louvre, une exposition inédite des objets précieux de la cathédrale de Paris retrace son destin tourmenté.
« Dans la nuit du 15 avril 2019, les pompiers extraient précautionneusement de Notre Dame en flammes la Couronne d’épines acquise par Saint Louis en 1238 et conservée dans l’enceinte de la cathédrale de Paris depuis 1801. Et le lendemain de l’incendie, c’est au tour des calices, des ciboires, des étoles et des livres anciens d’être sortis un à un de la sacristie pour être acheminés en différents lieux de stockage d’Île-de-France, notamment dans les réserves du Louvre… Mis à part les reliques de la crucifixion, le trésor de Notre Dame n’a pas été directement menacé par le feu, mais il est évidemment impossible de continuer à le conserver dans un lieu désormais privé d’électricité et non sécurisé.
Le transfert spectaculaire du printemps 2019 a marqué les esprits, pourtant il ne constitue que l’un des innombrables épisodes de l’histoire extraordinairement chaotique du trésor de la cathédrale la plus célèbre du monde.
Alors que les travaux de restauration de Notre-Dame entrent dans leur dernière phase et avant que cet ensemble d’objets précieux ne réintègre la sacristie, le Louvre en expose une centaine et tente surtout de reconstituer, depuis ses origines, leur destin mouvementé.
Tout a été fondu. Première surprise ? Contrairement aux trésors de la cathédrale de Sens ou de l’abbatiale de Conques, par exemple, celui de Notre-Dame ne comporte presque aucun objet des périodes médiévale et moderne, puisque tout a été fondu à la Révolution. « Les biens du clergé ayant été nationalisés en 1789, les révolutionnaires commencent par confisquer et envoyer à la cour des Monnaies les objets inutiles au culte, puis, en une seule nuit, en août 1792, ils détruisent toutes les reliques et font fondre l’intégralité de l’orfèvrerie », explique la conservatrice Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, cocommissaire de l’exposition.
Le Louvre réussit cependant à donner aux visiteurs une idée assez nette de la splendeur de ce trésor évanoui, en exposant notamment l’un de ses inventaires dressé en 1438 ou encore un rarissime papyrus du VIe siècle sur lequel sont listés les objets qu’une aristocrate mérovingienne lègue à la « sacro-sainte église de la cité des Parisiens »…
Saut de l’ange. À compter de 1802, date à laquelle la cathédrale est rendue au culte, le trésor est patiemment reconstitué, en particulier au temps de Napoléon qui, pour se démarquer des anciens souverains, choisit de se faire sacrer à Notre-Dame : dans cette cathédrale qui doit à ses yeux supplanter tous les hauts lieux symboliques de l’Ancien Régime (Reims, Saint-Denis), l’empereur fait, entre autres, transférer la Couronne d’épines (alors conservée à la Sainte-Chapelle).
La restauration ouvre ensuite un nouveau chapitre de dons et de commandes fastueuses, mais le trésor subit, au moment de la révolution de 1830, deux sacs rageurs d’émeutiers parisiens. « En juillet 1830, l’archevêché est entièrement pillé par des insurgés, les objets de culte sont saccagés, et nombre d’œuvres sont balancées dans la Seine ou précipitées par la fenêtre », raconte encore Anne Dion-Tenenbaum. Une Vierge en argent offerte par Charles X fait ainsi le saut de l’ange dans le ciel parisien et s’en trouve gravement mutilée. Elle est aujourd’hui visible au Louvre.
Pillage. Un nouveau pillage, en février 1831, endommage cette fois gravement la sacristie néoclassique érigée jadis par Germain Soufflot. C’est évidemment Eugène Viollet-le-Duc qui, ayant remporté avec Jean-Baptiste Lassus le concours pour la restauration de la cathédrale, la reconstruira. Il sera même chargé, dans un souci très moderne d’harmonie entre le contenant et le contenu, d’en dessiner le mobilier liturgique et les reliquaires dont l’exposition montre d’ailleurs plusieurs extraordinaires dessins préparatoires.
Le trésor, jusque-là temporairement stocké dans divers lieux de la capitale, prit place en 1854 dans ce nouvel écrin néogothique. Et si, le jour de ce transfert pour l’éternité, on avait dit à Viollet-le-Duc qu’à peine cent soixante-cinq ans plus tard il en serait à nouveau évacué, sans doute n’y aurait-il pas cru…
Le Trésor de Notre-Dame de Paris. Des origines à Viollet-le-Duc », au Louvre, jusqu’au 29 janvier 2024. »
Non, dormir peu ne va pas atrophier votre cerveau
Selon une étude publiée dans la revue « Nature », il n’y aurait aucune preuve d’association entre la durée du sommeil et l’atrophie cérébrale.
« Si les auteurs de l’étude n’ont trouvé aucune preuve d’association entre durée du sommeil et atrophie cérébrale, ils ne nous recommandent pas pour autant de changer nos habitudes.
D’après le bulletin épidémiologique hebdomadaire (publié par Santé publique France), les adultes dorment en moyenne 6 h 42 par nuit. Alors que certains ont dû mal à sortir du lit, d’autres dorment peu. Si le manque de sommeil impacte la santé générale, est-ce qu’il altère vraiment le cerveau ? Peut-être pas, à en croire les conclusions d’une récente étude publiée dans la revue scientifique Pour le savoir, des chercheurs de l’université d’Oslo (Norvège) ont analysé 8 153 scanners cérébraux provenant de 3 893 adultes en bonne santé. Ils n’ont trouvé aucune preuve d’une association entre la durée du sommeil et l’atrophie cérébrale. « Les analyses transversales (51 295 observations) ont montré des relations en forme de U inverse, dans lesquelles une durée de 6 h 30 était associée au cortex le plus épais et aux volumes les plus importants par rapport au volume intracrânien », détaillent les scientifiques.
Sept heures de sommeil associées à une bonne santé
Avant de compléter : « Cela concorde avec les données convergentes des recherches sur la mortalité, la santé et la cognition, qui indiquent qu’environ sept heures sont associées à une bonne santé. Les analyses d’association à l’échelle du génome suggèrent que les gènes associés à un sommeil plus long chez les adultes qui ne dorment pas beaucoup sont liés à un sommeil plus court chez les personnes qui dorment plus que la moyenne. » Des conclusions qui remettent en question le lien soupçonné entre un sommeil court et une atrophie cérébrale. Toutefois, l’auteur principal, Anders Fjell, ne recommande pas pour autant de changer ses habitudes de sommeil à la suite des résultats de cette étude.
Le sommeil a également été l’objet d’une autre recherche menée par des neurobiologistes de l’université Northwestern, qui se sont intéressés à l’impact d’une nuit blanche. « Non seulement la libération de dopamine a augmenté pendant la période de perte de sommeil aiguë, mais la plasticité synaptique a été améliorée, recâblant littéralement le cerveau pour maintenir une humeur pétillante pendant les jours suivants », rapportent les auteurs dans le communiqué de l’étude.
Le sommeil n’isole pas vraiment
Enfin, des équipes de l’Institut du cerveau et du service des pathologies du sommeil de l’hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, à Paris, ont constaté que le sommeil n’était pas réellement un état qui isole de l’environnement extérieur. En effet, pendant que nous dormons, nous sommes capables d’entendre et de comprendre des mots.
Les chercheurs ont montré que des dormeurs sans troubles particuliers sont capables de capter des informations verbales transmises par une voix humaine, et d’y répondre par des contractions des muscles du visage. Or, cette capacité étonnante se manifeste de manière intermittente durant presque tous les stades du sommeil – comme si des fenêtres de connexion avec le monde extérieur s’ouvraient temporairement à cette occasion », résume l’Institut du cerveau. Des conclusions relevées dans une nouvelle étude parue dans la revue Nature Neuroscience. »
Esperti in dieta mediterranea, nasce un master all’Università di Pisa
“E’ nato all’Università di Pisa il master di primo livello in Scienze Sensoriali per un’Alimentazione Sana e Consapevole in collaborazione con l’International Academy of Sensory Analysis. Obiettivo del master è rendere più consapevole l’approccio al cibo e più gratificante l’applicazione dei principi di una sana e corretta alimentazione a cominciare dalla dieta mediterranea. Il master è aperto ai laureati in ogni disciplina ed è possibile iscriversi sino al 13 novembre. Le competenze acquisite potranno essere spese in vari settori, dal tecnologico per ottimizzare il profilo sensoriale degli alimenti, alla comunicazione, al marketing, sino all’ambito educativo. Il percorso formativo è organizzato in quattro moduli di cui tre on line, con lezioni concentrate tra il venerdì e il sabato da metà gennaio a metà luglio. Sono inoltre previste sessioni interattive di analisi sensoriale dei principali alimenti che caratterizzano la dieta mediterranea, ad esempio vino, pane e prodotti da forno, olio, formaggi, salumi, cioccolato, caffè. “La dieta mediterranea è spesso citata nei programmi tv che parlano di cucina e di corrette abitudini alimentari per raggiungere il benessere, ma quando proviamo a calare questi concetti nella vita reale arrivano le difficoltà – spiega la professoressa Francesca Venturi dell’Università di Pisa – Sappiamo infatti scegliere il cibo che mangiamo e riconoscerne le caratteristiche al di là delle informazioni nutrizionali che troviamo sulle etichette?”. “In realtà i nostri sensi ci parlano, ci danno indizi – continua Venturi – tuttavia, nella maggior parte dei casi non sappiamo ascoltare quello che il cibo ci racconta oppure ci facciamo distrarre da ciò che è appositamente aggiunto agli alimenti per condizionarci nelle scelte. Da qui l’esigenza del master, per sviluppare un approccio innovativo e consapevole alla scelta dei regimi alimentari”. Il master è promosso dal Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-ambientali dell’Università di Pisa e dal Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca Nutraceutica e Alimentazione per la Salute Nutrafood. Il costo è di 3600 euro e sono previste agevolazioni e borse.” La Nazione
The continuous cases of the art looting & counterfeits
“The buyer is usually a person with high purchasing power and social prestige, and does not want to appear to have been deceived.”
Counterfeits are proliferating on the market because of the fraudulent certificates, the hunt for a bargain, and the ability of scammers to deceive collectors.
Juanjo Águila, a captain of the Spanish Civil Guard and head of the Historical Heritage section of the UCO, was interviewed by phone at the Milan airport. With his team, he has been tracking fake works, thefts, looting, and all kinds of art fraud for seven years. According to him, airports are one of the counterfeiters favorite locations to present forgeries onto the market.
And who are the artists whose works are usually counterfeited? All the paintings that have high values: artworks from Sorolla, Juan Gris, Rusiñol, Dalí, Goya. He believes that the Vollard Suite, by Picasso, is the most counterfeited work in the world of modern art.
The cases are never ending. “And many remain unknown. The buyer is usually a person with high purchasing power and social prestige, and does not want to appear to have been deceived,” Captain Águila continues. Fraudsters know the human nature. “They are very skilled people, they know the ways to get inexperienced people to lower their guard,” he observes. And sometimes it involves millions of dollars. It could be the plot for a series on Netflix. They falsify the certificates, even using real notary seals and use typewriters with ink from the fraudulent time of certification to recreate them. “Sometimes they use books, some have compiled artists’ signatures, and they try thousands of times on thousands of pages, until they are very similar,” adds Águila.
“Sometimes there is complete stupidity. Like a supposed Picasso from 1922 that had a Nazi seal stamped on the painting itself and not on the back [the logical place for it] that the criminals were pretending had been looted. There are also works that are pastiches, but the buyer, usually inexperienced one, purchases it because they believe they are getting a great deal.”
The captain cannot talk about ongoing investigations, such as the theft of Madrid’s Bacons, nor does he provide figures for the pieces, but he warns that the business is booming. Maybe because forging has been going on for centuries. And other countries — according to sources familiar with this “market” — facing the same level of deception as Spain.
How is human error distinguished from deception? For example, The Capitulations of Charles IV (1808), 60 x 80 cm. It even appears referenced in a catalogue. And subjected to expert opinion, the “expert” writes: “The seal stamped here is a guarantee that the painting represented, The Capitulations of Charles IV, was done by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. The same seal and signature is also found in the authentication document and in the partial photos taken of the painting, where the small signatures are located. The scientific-technical studies having been verified by myself,” signed by the Goya expert technician [with name and surname]. When the painting is shown to someone who is perhaps one of the world’s leading experts on the artist, but prefers not to be cited, he certifies it in two words: “A horror.”
An example of how far greed can go could be the paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and the colossal prices his paintings fetch. Last June, the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) had to cancel its Heroes and Monsters exhibition because the 25 works on display were all fakes. The FBI seized them immediately.
The history of how these “unknown” works appeared is like the plot from a theatre play. The alleged Basquiats were acquired by screenwriter Thad Mumford (famous for his work in the 1970s on the hit T.V. series M*A*S*H). Then, they were lost for some time until Los Angeles auctioneer Michael Barzman found them by chance at an abandoned storage locker sale. But since Basquiat had lived in Los Angeles in 1982 and had prepared an exhibition for the Gagosian gallery, there was something of a fit. The problem is that the works, most of them on cardboard, were extremely poor quality. Still, business continued.
The fraud was set in motion in 2012 by Barzman himself, beset by financial problems, as he ended up acknowledging; and the bar accused former OMA director Aaron De Groft of being involved. He was fired immediately but he has “categorically” denied having anything to do with the deception even maintained against all logic, that the Basquiats are real. The museum has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Another Basquiat, thousands of miles away, looks real. Kept in the shade, to protect it, for years it had been in a salon of one of the best Spanish collections of American painting from the 1980s and 1990s. A collection of more than 500 works in Castilla-Léon. The owner has declined to publish the image. Although it can be described. A human figure with large teeth and a kind of halo of spikes on its head, standing on a structure of interlocking boards, framed in black and, at its base, two words in large boxes: Ribs and Sports. The painting measures one meter by one meter, and it has been priced at around €12 million ($12.7 million). But it’s a fake. The work was acquired in the 1980s by the collector’s father, who he started the process of authenticating it. “We sent a form to the authentication committee [controlled by Basquiat’s family] with the details of the work, the annotations on the back, the purchase documents, the history [of the provenance] that we had, high-quality photos and a check for the services,” recalls the collector’s son. An expert even came to see it in person. However, the committee ruled that it was not the artist’s.
Sometimes this process is missing from some auction houses that sell works by old masters, without pigment studies or even a simple x-ray, for millions of dollars. Christie’s talks about “detailed cataloguing” and Sotheby’s acquired Orion Analytical Lab in 2016, a tool to prevent this type of fraud. But they have the same problem as always: the anarchy of the unregulated market.
Some institutions try to bring order. “The Prado has not made appraisals,” explains a spokesman for the art gallery, “since the official state bulletin of August 5, 1970, published an order stating that museums that depend on the state should refrain from carrying out appraisals or expert reports on works of art.” Even some conservatives have received death threats. Today it only responds, in writing, to the requests of the Board of Qualification, Valuation and Exportation of Goods (dependent on the Ministry of Culture and Sports). Legally, forgery is not classified as a crime, only if there is an intention to defraud such as presenting it as an original with the aim of making a profit. If found guilty, a fraudster can be given a prison sentence of one to six years, as established under Article 250 of the Spanish Penal Code.”
Getty Images promises its new AI contains no copyrighted art
And it will pay legal fees if its customers end up in any lawsuits about it.
“Getty Images is so confident its new generative AI model is free of copyrighted content that it will cover any potential intellectual-property disputes for its customers.
The generative AI system, announced today, was built by Nvidia and is trained solely on images in Getty’s image library. It does not include logos or images that have been scraped off the internet without consent.
Fundamentally, it’s trained; it’s clean. It’s viable for businesses to use. We’ll stand behind that claim,” says Craig Peters, the CEO of Getty Images. Peters says companies that want to use generative AI want total legal certainty they won’t face expensive copyright lawsuits.
The past year has seen a boom in generative AI systems that produce images and text. But AI companies are embroiled in numerous legal battles over copyrighted content. Prominent artists and authors- most recently John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, and George R.R. Martin—have sued AI companies such as OpenAI and Stability AI for copyright infringement. Earlier this year, Getty Images announced it was suing Stability AI for using millions of its images, without permission, to train its open-source image-generation AI Stable Diffusion.
The legal challenges have sparked many attempts by others to benefit from generative AI while also protecting intellectual property. Adobe recently launched Firefly, which it claims is similarly trained on copyright-free content. Shutterstock has said it is planning on reimbursing artists whose works have been sold to AI companies to train models. Microsoft recently announced it will also foot any copyright legal bills for clients using its text-based generative models.
Peters says that the creators of the images—and any people that appear in them—have consented to having their art used in the AI model. Getty is also offering a Spotify-style compensation model to creatives for the use of their work.
The fact that creatives will be compensated in this way is good news, says an assistant professor at Durham University, who specializes in AI and intellectual-property law. But it might be tricky to determine which images have been used in generated AI images in order to determine who should be compensated for what, she adds.
Getty’s model is only trained on the firm’s creative content, so it does not include imagery of real people or places that could be manipulated into deepfake imagery.
“The service doesn’t know who the pope is and it doesn’t know what Balenciaga is, and they can’t combine the two. It doesn’t know what the Pentagon is” says Peters, referring to recent viral images created by generative AI models.
As an example, Peters types in a prompt for the president of the United States, and the AI model generates images of men and women of different ethnicities in suits and in front of the American flag.
Tech companies claim that AI models are complex and can’t be built without copyrighted content and point out that artists can opt out of AI models, but Peters calls those arguments “bullshit.”
“I think there are some really sincere people that are actually being thoughtful about this,” he says. “But I also think there’s some hooligans that just want to go for that gold rush.”
MIT Technology Review
Baisse de motivation : que se passe-t-il exactement dans notre cerveau ?
Dans sa Carte blanche au « Monde », la chercheuse en psychologie Sylvie Chokron éclaire les causes de la baisse de motivation, liée à la fois à l’augmentation de la fatigue mentale et à la perte du désir d’aller chercher la récompense suite à l’effort.
“Chaque jour, nous réalisons de nombreuses tâches qui nous coûtent. Nous acceptons volontiers de faire cet effort, car nous savons que nous serons récompensés en retour par un salaire, ou simplement par le plaisir d’avoir mené un projet à terme. Parfois, malheureusement, il devient difficile de se motiver ou de se concentrer. A ce stade, on parle de véritable « fatigue mentale ». Si celle-ci survient essentiellement lorsque nous avons épuisé toutes nos ressources intellectuelles, elle peut également être la conséquence d’une fatigue physique ou d’un manque de sommeil.
Exténués, nous voyons tout comme insurmontable et nous sentons bien incapables de mener à bien la moindre activité. Que se passe-t-il à ce moment précis dans notre cerveau ? Est-ce l’effort requis qui nous semble impossible ou bien la récompense qui soudain ne nous semble plus aussi motivante ? Cette question est au centre de recherches récentes qui montrent que ces deux processus pourraient bien contribuer à notre démotivation.
En 2010, Julian Lim et ses collègues de l’université de Pennsylvanie ont installé des participants dans un scanner et leur ont demandé de réagir à une cible en pressant un bouton dès son apparition, et ce, avec une vigilance permanente, pendant vingt minutes. Au fil de l’expérience, ils ont relevé non seulement une augmentation progressive du temps mis à détecter la cible, mais également une sensation de fatigue mentale de plus en plus notable.
Leurs résultats retrouvent une signature cérébrale du coût attentionnel et cognitif dans le réseau pariéto-frontal de l’hémisphère droit. L’activité de ce réseau, très importante au début de la tâche, tend à diminuer à mesure que la sensation de fatigue mentale apparaît. De plus, l’activité cérébrale enregistrée au repos, avant la tâche, dans deux régions du cerveau, le thalamus et le gyrus frontal droit médian, prédit le déclin de la performance au cours de la tâche. Il y aurait donc aussi des marqueurs cérébraux de la fatigue mentale. Mais ce n’est pas tout : plus nous nous sentons fatigués, plus la récompense pourrait bien.”
New Study suggests that rise in antibiotic resistance is linked to pollution
The research projects that 23% of deaths associated with this phenomenon could be prevented if the required air quality guidelines were met
“The rise of antibiotic-resistant microbes has put the world on edge: superbugs already kill more people than AIDS, malaria and some cancers. And the short- and medium-term outlook is bleak. The World Health Organization considers this phenomenon to be one of the biggest threats to global health and points to the improper and excessive use of antibiotics as an accelerator of the problem. While the inappropriate consumption of these drugs garners most of the attention, it is not the only cause being studied. New research, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, has also found a correlation between antibiotic resistance and pollution: the more air pollution, the more antibiotic resistance there is.
But the authors admit that their findings are only an association; causality cannot be established, and the exact mechanisms that explain this relationship are not clear. However, the researchers argue that reducing air pollution levels could help reduce antibiotic resistance and project that, if the required air quality guidelines are met, a 17% reduction in antibiotic resistance could be achieved by 2050.
Humans are exposed to superbugs through food or direct contact with infectious sources, such as animals. They can also be infected through water, soil or air. “For example, resistant bacteria in hospitals or livestock could be transmitted to water treatment facilities or ecosystems, and even emitted from these environments into the atmosphere, [thereby] exposing humans [to it] through inhalation,” the authors say in the article.
Air is a vector for disseminating resistance to antibiotics. In this study, the researchers focus on one of the main pollutants, fine particulate matter PM2.5: “It has been shown that [these particles] contain various resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes, which are transferred between environments and inhaled directly by humans, causing respiratory tract lesions and infections,” they explain.
Based on that premise, they analyzed available data from 116 countries between 2000 and 2018 — all told, they studied nine pathogens and 43 drugs — and found that air pollution levels correlate with increased antibiotic resistance. For example, a 1% increase in PM2.5 was associated with a 1.49% increase in resistances of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria to carbapenems, a type of broad-spectrum antibiotic. “Globally, a 10% increase in annual PM2.5 could lead to a 1.1% increase in aggregate antibiotic resistance and 43,654 premature deaths attributable to antibiotic resistance,” they state in the article. The research concluded that antibiotic resistance stemming from PM2.5 fine particulate matter caused about 480,000 premature deaths worldwide in 2018.
The authors also found regional differences. Africa and Asia are the areas where the increases in PM2.5 could lead to the greatest increase in antibiotic resistance. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the researchers estimate that a 10% increase in PM2.5 would mean a 3% rise in bacterial resistance.
The researchers believe that reducing air pollution can have a double benefit because it can also prevent poor air quality’s harmful effects. The research modeled several future scenarios based on the fluctuation of several variables, such as air quality, healthcare spending and antibiotic use. The study concluded that, if nothing is done in the coming decades (through 2050), antibiotic resistance will increase by 17%, and deaths attributable to this cause will rise by more than 56% worldwide, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. However, if PM2.5 can be controlled to 5 μg/m³— the threshold recommended by the WHO- global antibiotic resistance could be reduced by 16.8%, preventing 23.4% of the deaths attributable to this phenomenon in 2050.
The mechanism is unclear
The researchers concede the limitations of their study. That includes the data with which they worked, as certain countries did not provide all the necessary information. These shortcomings may influence the study’s final results. The researchers also state that there may be other factors that are causing antibiotic resistance: “Additional social, economic and environmental factors — such as food intake, use of veterinary antibiotics, exposure to other contaminants, extreme environmental events, habits and customs — should be introduced to comprehensively assess [their] association with antibiotic resistance,” the article says.
They also note that the study’s other major open question is that “the underlying mechanism of air pollutants affecting antibiotic resistance is still unclear, and additional medical evidence is still needed to verify that information.” The study’s lead a researcher at Zhejiang University’s School of Environmental and Resource Sciences acknowledges the study’s limitations. In an email response, he specifies that “we all know that correlation does not represent causation, and for the sake of rigorous science, we say ‘may be linked.’ In our analysis, we could say that the correlation between air pollution and antibiotic resistance is strong and significant.”
In regard to how the relationship between particulate pollutants and antibiotic resistance can be explained, he says that the “exact mechanism is not clear.” But he adds that, “according to reports in the existing literature, the main mechanism is that the high concentration of PM2.5 carries more bacteria and antibiotic-resistant genes, and direct exposure to these substances can lead to increased antibiotic resistance in the population.”
He also points out that it has already been shown that PM2.5 particles “could increase cell membrane permeability to enhance horizontal gene transfer’s efficiency, accelerating the evolution and exchange of antibiotic resistance elements in bacterial pathogens.”
More questions than answers
He goes on to say that five years ago, he and his team collected a hundred PM2.5 air samples from hospitals, farms and cities, and sputum samples from human airways. “Surprisingly,” he notes, they found “that the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes in PM2.5 air was very high.” Those airborne antibiotic resistance genes, he explains, were going to be directly exposed to the human body. “We found that, together, outdoor and indoor PM2.5 particles contributed to 7% of antibiotic resistance genes in the airways of hospital patients, suggesting an important exchange between air and human commensals. So, we hypothesized that PM2.5 would affect antibiotic resistance, but at the time we didn’t know what kind of impact. Now, using big global data, we [can] confirm that PM2.5 has a significant impact on antibiotic resistance,” he says.
Juan Pablo Horcajada, the director of the Infectious Diseases Service at Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain, calls this research “innovative and provocative,” although he observes that it involves “data correlations and deductions from very different databases.” He adds “that it was already known that elements related to antibiotic resistance could travel in airborne particles, but this is an interesting message,” he says. The specialist in infectious diseases argues that, if a causal relationship between contamination and antibiotic resistance is confirmed, the impact on the future of resistant microbes may be even greater than expected. “Antimicrobial resistance worries us a lot, and that concern is growing. We no longer know which antibiotics to use to treat certain bacteria. It is of great concern because [we see this phenomenon]… in hospitals, primary care and veterinary medicine,” he says.
Kevin McConway, Professor Emeritus of Applied Statistics at the Open University, tells Science Media Centre that “interpreting [these results] requires a great deal of caution.” He notes that while the authors found “interesting correlations and associations, questions remain about cause and effect.” McConway, who was not involved in the research, points out that the data come from countries as a whole, but there can be a lot of variability in air quality, for example, within a single region, and the average results may not represent what is happening in general.
The expert further advises that “it is likely that there are other possible confounders for which they could not collect any data, and it is still possible that there are confounders at work that are involved in the causality of a country’s level of antibiotic resistance.” He stresses that “overall, this observational data analysis and modeling research indicate that it may well be worth looking further into the role of air pollution in relation to antibiotic resistance, but at this stage there remains a great deal of uncertainty about what is actually happening. I would say that the new research raises more questions than it answers.”
There are ways to operate a cryptocurrency using far less electricity by decreasing the computer guesswork but Bitcoin advocates oppose by saying it would affect the safety
“Bitcoin mines cash in on electricity — by devouring it, selling it, even turning it off — and they cause immense pollution. In many cases, the public pays a price.
The computers performing trillions of calculations per second, hunting for an elusive combination of numbers that Bitcoin’s algorithm would accept. About every 10 minutes, a computer somewhere guesses correctly and wins a small number of Bitcoins worth, recently about $170,000. Anyone can try, but to make a business of it can require as much electricity as a small city. The additional power use across the country also causes as much carbon pollution as adding 3.5 million gas-powered cars to America’s roads, according to an analysis by a nonprofit tech company. Seeking Bitcoin, five operations have collectively made at least $60 million from the program since 2020. Several of the companies are being paid through these agreements a majority of the time they operate. Most years, they are asked to turn off for only a few hours, at which point they are paid even more. So-called mining is a fundamental part of the system: When a computer guesses correctly, it updates the ledger and collects six and a quarter new Bitcoins. Then the guessing game begins again.
Initially, hobbyists could win with personal computers, but as the value of each Bitcoin soared — from under $1,000 in 2017 to above $60,000 in 2021 — mining increasingly became an industrial endeavor. (The price has since dropped.)
The only way for miners to better their odds is to add computing power, which requires more electricity. But as the number of guesses increases, the algorithm makes the game more difficult. This has created an energy arms race. Of course, other industries, including metals and plastics manufacturing, also require large amounts of electricity, causing pollution and raising power prices. But Bitcoin mines bring significantly fewer jobs, often employing only a few dozen people once construction is complete, and spur less local economic development.
Their financial benefit flows almost exclusively to their owners and operators. In 2021, the year Bitcoin’s price peaked, 20 executives at five publicly traded Bitcoin companies together received nearly $16 million in salary and over $630 million in stock options. There are ways to operate a cryptocurrency using far less electricity. Last year, Ethereum, the second-most-popular cryptocurrency, reduced the electricity needed to power the network by more than 99 percent by switching its algorithm. Now it rewards people and trusts them to update the ledger because they are willing to put up their own money as collateral, not because they have spent money to power guessing computers, as Bitcoin does.
But Bitcoin advocates oppose changing their algorithm, saying that it has proved resistant to attacks for longer and at a greater scale than any other approach. In practice, they say, the more computers making guesses, the safer the network.” NYTimes
In A.I. Race, Microsoft and Google Choose Speed Over Caution
The companies usually choose Profit over safety or ethics.
The A.I. technology behind a planned chatbot could flood Facebook groups with disinformation, degrade critical thinking and erode the factual foundation of modern society.
Integrating chatbots into a search engine was a particularly bad idea, given how it sometimes served up untrue details.
Technology companies were once leery of what some artificial intelligence could do. Now the priority is winning control of the industry’s next big thing.
“In March, two Google employees, whose jobs are to review the company’s artificial intelligence products, tried to stop Google from launching an A.I. chatbot. They believed it generated inaccurate and dangerous statements.
Ten months earlier, similar concerns were raised at Microsoft by ethicists and other employees. They wrote in several documents that the A.I. technology behind a planned chatbot could flood Facebook groups with disinformation, degrade critical thinking and erode the factual foundation of modern society.
The companies released their chatbots anyway. Microsoft was first, with a splashy event in February to reveal an A.I. chatbot woven into its Bing search engine. Google followed about six weeks later with its own chatbot, Bard.
The aggressive moves by the normally risk-averse companies were driven by a race to control what could be the tech industry’s next big thing — generative A.I., the powerful new technology that fuels those chatbots.
That competition took on a frantic tone in November when OpenAI, a San Francisco start-up working with Microsoft, released ChatGPT, a chatbot that has captured the public imagination and now has an estimated 100 million monthly users.
The surprising success of ChatGPT has led to a willingness at Microsoft and Google to take greater risks with their ethical guidelines set up over the years to ensure their technology does not cause societal problems, according to 15 current and former employees and internal documents from the companies.
The urgency to build with the new A.I. was crystallized in an internal email sent last month by Sam Schillace, a technology executive at Microsoft. He wrote in the email, which was viewed by The New York Times, that it was an “absolutely fatal error in this moment to worry about things that can be fixed later.”
When the tech industry is suddenly shifting toward a new kind of technology, the first company to introduce a product “is the long-term winner just because they got started first,” he wrote. “Sometimes the difference is measured in weeks.”
Last week, tension between the industry’s worriers and risk-takers played out publicly as more than 1,000 researchers and industry leaders, including Elon Musk and Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak, called for a six-month pause in the development of powerful A.I. technology. In a public letter, they said it presented “profound risks to society and humanity.”
Regulators are already threatening to intervene. The European Union proposed legislation to regulate A.I., and Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT last week. In the United States, President Biden became the latest official to question the safety of A.I.
Tech companies have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe before making them public,” he said at the White House. When asked if A.I. was dangerous, he said: “It remains to be seen. Could be.”
The issues being raised now were once the kinds of concerns that prompted some companies to sit on new technology. They had learned that prematurely releasing A.I. could be embarrassing. Five years ago, for example, Microsoft quickly pulled a chatbot called Tay after users nudged it to generate racist responses.
Researchers say Microsoft and Google are taking risks by releasing technology that even its developers don’t entirely understand. But the companies said that they had limited the scope of the initial release of their new chatbots, and that they had built sophisticated filtering systems to weed out hate speech and content that could cause obvious harm.
Google released Bard after years of internal dissent over whether generative A.I.’s benefits outweighed the risks. It announced Meena, a similar chatbot, in 2020. But that system was deemed too risky to release, three people with knowledge of the process said. Those concerns were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.
Later in 2020, Google blocked its top ethical A.I. researchers, Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, from publishing a paper warning that so-called large language models used in the new A.I. systems, which are trained to recognize patterns from vast amounts of data, could spew abusive or discriminatory language. The researchers were pushed out after Ms. Gebru criticized the company’s diversity efforts and Ms. Mitchell was accused of violating its code of conduct after she saved some work emails to a personal Google Drive account.
Ms. Mitchell said she had tried to help Google release products responsibly and avoid regulation, but instead “they really shot themselves in the foot.”
Concerns over larger models persisted. In January 2022, Google refused to allow another researcher, El Mahdi El Mhamdi, to publish a critical paper.
Mr. El Mhamdi, a part-time employee and university professor, used mathematical theorems to warn that the biggest A.I. models are more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks and present unusual privacy risks because they’ve probably had access to private data stored in various locations around the internet.
Though an executive presentation later warned of similar A.I. privacy violations, Google reviewers asked Mr. El Mhamdi for substantial changes. He refused and released the paper through École Polytechnique.
He resigned from Google this year, citing in part “research censorship.” He said modern A.I.’s risks “highly exceeded” the benefits. “It’s premature deployment,” he added.
After ChatGPT’s release, Kent Walker, Google’s top lawyer, met with research and safety executives on the company’s powerful Advanced Technology Review Council. He told them that Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, was pushing hard to release Google’s A.I.
Jen Gennai, the director of Google’s Responsible Innovation group, attended that meeting. She recalled what Mr. Walker had said to her own staff.
Her team had already documented concerns with chatbots: They could produce false information, hurt users who become emotionally attached to them and enable “tech-facilitated violence” through mass harassment online.
In March, two reviewers from Ms. Gennai’s team submitted their risk evaluation of Bard. They recommended blocking its imminent release, two people familiar with the process said. Despite safeguards, they believed the chatbot was not ready.
Ms. Gennai changed that document. She took out the recommendation and downplayed the severity of Bard’s risks, the people said.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, made a bet on generative A.I. in 2019 when Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI. After deciding the technology was ready over the summer, Mr. Nadella pushed every Microsoft product team to adopt A.I.
Microsoft had policies developed by its Office of Responsible A.I., a team run by Ms. Crampton, but the guidelines were not consistently enforced or followed, said five current and former employees.
Despite having a transparency principle, ethics experts working on the chatbot were not given answers about what data OpenAI used to develop its systems, according to three people involved in the work. Some argued that integrating chatbots into a search engine was a particularly bad idea, given how it sometimes served up untrue details, a person with direct knowledge of the conversations said.
Users could become too dependent on the tool. Inaccurate answers could mislead users. People could believe the chatbot, which uses an “I” and emojis, was human.
In mid-March, the team was laid off, an action that was first reported by the tech Newsletter Platforms.
Microsoft has released new products every week, a frantic pace to fulfill plans that Mr. Nadella set in motion in the summer when he previewed OpenAI’s newest model.
He asked the chatbot to translate the Persian poet Rumi into Urdu, and then English. “It worked like a charm,” he said in a February interview. “Then I said, ‘God, this thing.’”
Da Caravaggio a Bernini, a Palazzo Barberini una mostra racconta le arti a Roma al tempo di Urbano VIII
“La storia di un papato ma soprattutto la storia di una città — Roma — in uno dei suoi periodi di massimo splendore per quanto riguarda le arti e la cultura, con l’esplosione di quel Barocco di cui l’Urbe è da sempre considerata la culla: tutto ciò viene evocato nella mostra L’immagine sovrana. Urbano VIII e i Barberini, inaugurata ieri nel Palazzo di famiglia, dagli anni Cinquanta del Novecento sede museale come Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica.
Un’esposizione allestita in occasione del quattrocentesimo anniversario dell’elezione al soglio di Maffeo Barberini — Urbano VIII — regnante sul più lungo e significativo papato del XVII secolo, dal 1623-1644. Tre i curatori della rassegna: due interni, la direttrice del museo Flaminia Gennari Santori e Maurizia Cicconi, cui si è unito Sebastian Schütze, tra i massimi studiosi internazionali di Casa Barberini. L’Immagine Sovrana — in mostra quadri, sculture, libri, oggetti — intende celebrare il profilo sia culturale sia politico del papa e della sua famiglia, raccontando un’influenza che andò molto oltre le arti e le lettere.
Come è noto Urbano promosse imprese colossali come il baldacchino di San Pietro, disegnato da Bernini, o l’affresco di Pietro da Cortona ancora ammirabile nel grande salone del Palazzo di famiglia, lo stesso dove per l’occasione sono stati esposti — come avveniva all’epoca — alcuni esemplari di arazzi prodotti dall’arazzeria Barberini (una delle imprese del casato).
La mostra è anche l’occasione per ammirare di nuovo «a casa» loro alcuni dei capolavori di una collezione un tempo sterminata ma smembrata nei secoli già dal Settecento e oggi sparsa nei principali musei del mondo (ancora nel 1934 il governo Mussolini abolì il vincolo fidecommissario permettendo agli eredi Barberini di vendere all’estero capolavori da Caravaggio a Dürer). Al netto di prestiti oggi ritenuti impossibili (uno su tutti, il celebre Fauno Barberini, a Monaco) l’esposizione presenta non poche meraviglie in arrivo da vari musei internazionali. Si apre con il ritratto di Urbano VIII non ancora papa, da collezione privata, attribuito in maniera assertiva a Caravaggio mentre la storia dell’arte dibatte da tempo sull’autografia o meno dell’opera (dibattito riportato nella scheda in catalogo).
Si prosegue con i volti, oltre che del papa, dei nipoti, i cardinali Francesco e Antonio, e del principe Taddeo… Ottanta le opere esposte. A Merisi — di cui gli Uffizi hanno prestato il Sacrificio di Isacco, quadro realizzato dal pittore per i Barberini — si aggiungono lavori di Bernini (tra cui il ritratto marmoreo del cardinale Richelieu, dono di casa Barberini al potente porporato, in prestito del Louvre), di Valentin de Boulogne, Nicolas Poussin (La Morte di Germanico, dal Minneapolis Institute of Art, una delle più celebri opere del pittore francese commissionata dal cardinale Francesco) e di Andrea Sacchi, di cui è esposto il Ritratto di Marc’Antonio Pasqualini , il castrato cantore di casa a Palazzo, in arrivo dal Metropolitan di New York.”
Corriere della Sera
Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them
“Why does writing your goals help? It’s an important thing to know; after all, it might seem like a lot of extra work to write something down when you can just as easily store it in your brain, right?
Writing things down happens on two levels: external storage and encoding. External storage is easy to explain: you’re storing the information contained in your goal in a location (e.g. a piece of paper) that is very easy to access and review at any time. You could post that paper in your office, on your refrigerator, etc. It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to know you will remember something much better if you’re staring at a visual cue (aka reminder) every single day.
But there’s another deeper phenomenon happening: encoding. Encoding is the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analyzed. From there, decisions are made about what gets stored in our long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded. Writing improves that encoding process. In other words, when you write it down it has a much greater chance of being remembered.
Neuropsychologists have identified the “generation effect” which basically says individuals demonstrate better memory for material they’ve generated themselves than for material they’ve merely read. It’s a nice edge to have and, when you write down your goal, you get to access the “generation effect” twice: first, when you generate the goal (create a picture in your mind), and second, when you write it down because you’re essentially reprocessing or regenerating that image. You have to rethink your mental picture, put it on the paper, place objects, scale them, think about their spatial relations, draw facial expressions, etc. There’s a lot of cognitive processing taking place right there. In essence, you get a double whammy that really sears the goal into your brain.
Study after study shows you will remember things better when you write them down. Typically, subjects for these types of studies are students taking notes in class. However, one group of researchers looked at people conducting hiring interviews. When the interviewers took notes about their interviews with each of the candidates, they were able to recall about 23% more nuggets of information from the interviews than people who didn’t take notes. Parenthetically, if you’re being interviewed for a job, and you want the interviewer to remember you, you better hope he or she is taking notes.
It’s not just general recall that improves when you write things down. Writing it down will also improve your recall of the really important information. You know how when you’re in a classroom setting there’s some stuff the teacher says that’s really important (i.e. it’ll be on the test) and then there’s the not so important (i.e. it won’t be on the test)? Well, one study found that when people weren’t taking notes in class, they remembered just as many unimportant facts as they did important facts (there’s a recipe for a “C”). But when people were taking notes, they remembered many more important facts and many fewer unimportant facts (and that, my friends, is the secret of “A” students). Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff. And your goals absolutely should qualify as truly important stuff.”
Pour vivre plus longtemps, il faut dormir mieux
Selon une étude scientifique, il faudrait privilégier la qualité à la quantité du sommeil. Cela irait jusqu’à jouer sur notre espérance de vie.
« Pour bien vivre, il faut bien dormir. Jusqu’ici, rien d’étonnant, c’est une affirmation commune. Sauf que selon Frank Qian, clinicien au Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center de Boston, aux États-Unis, il faut aller plus loin. Selon ses études, il faut privilégier la qualité du sommeil à la quantité. Il a établi les cinq facteurs garantissant un bon sommeil, qu’il a expliqués: « Il faut dormir entre sept et huit heures par nuit, ne pas être sujet à l’insomnie plus de deux fois par semaine, ne pas avoir du mal à s’endormir plus de deux fois par semaine, ne pas utiliser de somnifères et se sentir reposé après le réveil au moins cinq jours par semaine. »
Pour en arriver à de telles conclusions, le chercheur et son équipe ont analysé les données du sommeil de 172 321 personnes, d’une cinquantaine d’années en moyenne, pendant un peu plus de quatre ans. Durant cette période, 8 681 personnes de l’enquête sont mortes. L’étude, qui sera présentée en détail au début du mois de mars, est catégorique : les personnes rassemblant les cinq facteurs du sommeil de qualité « avaient 30 % de risque en moins de mourir toutes causes confondues, 21 % de risque en moins de succomber d’une maladie cardiovasculaire et 19 % en moins de mourir d’un cancer ».
« Je pense que ces résultats soulignent qu’il ne suffit pas d’avoir suffisamment d’heures de sommeil. Il faut vraiment avoir un sommeil réparateur et ne pas avoir trop de mal à s’endormir et à rester endormi. Si les gens ont tous ces comportements de sommeil idéaux, ils sont plus susceptibles de vivre plus longtemps. Donc, si nous pouvons améliorer le sommeil en général, et que l’identification des troubles du sommeil est particulièrement importante, nous pourrons peut-être prévenir une partie de mortalité prématurée », insiste Frank Qian.
Toujours selon cette étude, les hommes sont avantagés s’ils respectent les cinq critères de bon sommeil. Ils gagneraient en effet 4,7 ans d’espérance de vie, contre 2,4 ans pour les femmes. Des chiffres encore inexpliqués, d’autres recherches devront être faites pour déterminer les raisons de cet avantage masculin.
Si les personnes étudiées étaient pour la plupart quinquagénaires, les conclusions sont valables pour tout le monde, selon Frank Qian : « Même dès le plus jeune âge, si les gens peuvent développer ces bonnes habitudes de sommeil consistant à dormir suffisamment, à s’assurer qu’ils dorment sans trop de distractions et à avoir une bonne hygiène de sommeil dans l’ensemble, cela peut grandement bénéficier à leur santé globale à long terme. » Le Point
Even Chess Experts Perform Worse When Air Quality Is Lower
“There are more and more papers showing that there is a cost with air pollution.”
“Here’s something else chess players need to keep in check: air pollution.”
“When people are exposed to higher levels of air pollution, they make more and larger mistakes.”
Cleaner air leads to clearer heads and sharper thinking.
“That’s the bottom line of a newly published study co-authored by an MIT researcher, showing that chess players perform objectively worse and make more suboptimal moves, as measured by a computerized analysis of their games, when there is more particulate matter in the air.
More specifically, given a modest increase in particulate matter, the probability that chess players will make an error increases by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increases by 10.8%. In this setting, at least, cleaner air leads to clearer heads and sharper thinking.
“We find that when individuals are exposed to higher levels of air pollution, they make much more mistakes, and they make larger mistakes,” says Juan Palacios, an economist in MIT’s Sustainable Urbanization Lab, and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study’s findings.
The paper, “Indoor Air Quality and Strategic Decision-Making,” published online in the journal Management Science. The authors are Steffen Künn, an associate professor in the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University, the Netherlands; Palacios, who is head of research in the Sustainable Urbanization Lab, in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP); and Nico Pestel, an associate professor in the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University.
The toughest foe yet?
Fine particulate matter refers to tiny particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter, notated as PM2.5. They are often associated with burning matter—whether through internal combustion engines in autos, coal-fired power plants, forest fires, indoor cooking through open fires, and more. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution leads to over 4 million premature deaths worldwide every year, due to cancer, cardiovascular problems, and other illnesses.
Scholars have produced many studies exploring the effects of air pollution on cognition. The current study adds to that literature by analyzing the subject in a particularly controlled setting. The researchers studied the performance of 121 chess players in three seven-round tournaments in Germany in 2017, 2018, and 2019, comprising more than 30,000 chess moves. The scholars used three web-connected sensors inside the tournament venue to measure carbon dioxide, PM2.5 concentrations, and temperature, all of which can be affected by external conditions, even in an indoor setting. Because each tournament lasted eight weeks, it was possible to examine how air-quality changes related to changes in player performance.
In a replication exercise, the authors found the same impacts of air pollution on some of the strongest players in the history of chess using data from 20 years of games from the first division of the German chess league.
To evaluate the matter of performance of players, meanwhile, the scholars used software programs that assess each move made in each chess match, identify optimal decisions, and flag significant errors.
Comparison Impact Size of Air Pollution on Move Quality Across Samples for the Likelihood of Making a Meaningful Error. The figure shows the standardized estimated PM coefficients on the probability of making a meaningful error for each subsample separately. Gray bars represent the results using the full sample of moves, and white bars display the coefficients for the subsample of moves from the 31st to 40th move of the game, just before the time control takes place.
During the tournaments, PM2.5 concentrations ranged from 14 to 70 micrograms per cubic meter of air, levels of exposure commonly found in cities in the U.S. and elsewhere. The researchers examined and ruled out alternate potential explanations for the dip in player performance, such as increased noise. They also found that carbon dioxide and temperature changes did not correspond to performance changes. Using the standardized ratings chess players earn, the scholars also accounted for the quality of opponents each player faced. Ultimately, the analysis using the plausibly random variation in pollution driven by changes in wind direction confirms that the findings are driven by the direct exposure to air particles.
“It’s pure random exposure to air pollution that is driving these people’s performance,” Palacios says. “Against comparable opponents in the same tournament round, being exposed to different levels of air quality makes a difference for move quality and decision quality.”
The researchers also found that when air pollution was worse, the chess players performed even more poorly when under time constraints. The tournament rules mandated that 40 moves had to be made within 110 minutes; for moves 31–40 in all the matches, an air pollution increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter led to an increased probability of error of 3.2%, with the magnitude of those errors increasing by 17.3%.
“We find it interesting that those mistakes especially occur in the phase of the game where players are facing time pressure,” Palacios says. “When these players do not have the ability to compensate [for] lower cognitive performance with greater deliberation, [that] is where we are observing the largest impacts.”
You can live miles away and be affected’
Palacios emphasizes that, as the study indicates, air pollution may affect people in settings where they might not think it makes a difference.
“It’s not like you have to live next to a power plant,” Palacios says. “You can live miles away and be affected.”
And while the focus of this particular study is tightly focused on chess players, the authors write in the paper that the findings have “strong implications for high-skilled office workers,” who might also be faced with tricky cognitive tasks in conditions of variable air pollution. In this sense, Palacios says, “The idea is to provide accurate estimates to policymakers who are making difficult decisions about cleaning up the environment.”
Indeed, Palacios observes, the fact that even chess players—who spend untold hours preparing themselves for all kinds of scenarios they may face in matches—can perform worse when air pollution rises suggests that a similar problem could affect people cognitively in many other settings.
“There are more and more papers showing that there is a cost with air pollution, and there is a cost for more and more people,” Palacios says. “And this is just one example showing that even for these very [excellent] chess players, who think they can beat everything—well, it seems that with air pollution, they have an enemy who harms them.” Management Science
Firenze, 85% dei cittadini a favore della tramvia.
Sempre secondo i dati raccolti dal Comune i cittadini hanno espresso giudizio positivo anche sullo stadio Franchi
“Firenze: I fiorentini promuovono la riqualificazione dell’area di Campo di Marte e lo sviluppo della rete tranviaria: è quanto emerge dalle due indagini statistiche (campione totale di 2400 residenti) realizzate dal Comune di Firenze per conoscere il gradimento sul progetto di ristrutturazione dello stadio Artemio Franchi e la riqualificazione dell’area di Campo di Marte e l’opinione dei cittadini sulle nuove linee della tramvia. Oltre l’85% dei fiorentini (per la precisione 85,3% nel complesso) giudica positivamente la tramvia e l’ampliamento delle reti tranviarie, è stato sottolineato nel corso della conferenza stampa a Palazzo Vecchio.
Oltre il 40% dei fiorentini quotidianamente passa dal Campo di Marte, sia perché ci vive, sia perché è collocato lì il luogo il luogo di studio o di lavoro sia perché comunque quotidianamente ci transita. L’84,6% dei fiorentini sono d’accordo che la ristrutturazione dello stadio sia molto importante per tutta la città, il 68,4% sono quelli più entusiasti. Coloro che invece pensano che questo progetto non sia importante per la città sono circa il 15%. Il quartiere 2, dove sono concentrati i lavori, è quello con il minore numero di persone che giudicano importante il progetto di ristrutturazione dello stadio ma con una percentuale, comunque, di oltre il 77%. Oltre l’84% dei fiorentini pensa che la ristrutturazione dello stadio migliorerà la capacità attrattiva dell’area di Campo di Marte e sono oltre il 78% coloro che pensano che migliorerà la capacità attrattiva dell’intera città. Oltre il 72% ritiene che ci saranno positive ricadute sulla viabilità dell’area del Campo di Marte mentre circa il 69% pensa che gli effetti sulla viabilità saranno positivi sull’intera città.
L’83% pensa ritiene che questi lavori avranno effetti positivi sui collegamenti dei mezzi pubblici da e verso Campo di Marte mentre il 77% pensa che ci saranno effetti positivi sulla rete dei trasporti pubblici per l’intera città. Circa il 77% ritiene che il progetto comporterà un miglioramento della disponibilità dei parcheggi nella zona coinvolta dai lavori e il 69% pensa che una maggiore disponibilità di parcheggi avrà effetti positivi anche per tutta la città.
La riqualificazione dell’area di Campo di Marte porterà anche alla realizzazione di un museo per spazi espositivi e di un auditorium; per questo il 76% dei residenti è d’accordo questa iniziativa avrà influenza sullo sviluppo culturale dell’area e il 73% dei residenti pensa che gli effetti positivi sullo sviluppo culturale ci saranno su tutta la città. Un progetto di questa portata non può non avere effetti anche sull’economia di zona e più complessivamente cittadina e infatti l’84% dei rispondenti ritiene che ci saranno positive ricadute sullo sviluppo delle attività economiche dell’area mentre il 78% ritiene che si saranno positive ricadute sullo sviluppo economico di tutta la città. Sulla tramvia il 76,4% dei rispondenti ha dichiarato di aver utilizzato almeno una volta la tranvia, questa percentuale sale all’83,4% se si considerano i giovani tra i 18 e i 30 anni. Oltre il 43% dei rispondenti usano la tranvia almeno una volta al mese e il 7,9% tutti i giorni. Considerando i giovani queste percentuali salgono a 57% e 16%.
I residenti del quartiere 4 sono quelli che utilizzano più frequentemente la tranvia, il 54% la usa almeno una volta al mese; i residenti del quartiere 3 sono invece quelli che la usano di meno: solo il 18% la usa almeno una volta al mese. Il 54,6% dei rispondenti si è dichiarato molto soddisfatto del servizio tranvia e comunque i soddisfatti nel complesso sono il 95,5% dei fiorentini. Il voto medio è 4,3/5. Tra gli aspetti migliorabili, il 21,3% dei rispondenti ha dichiarato la sicurezza e il 13,2% la pulizia. Il 54,3% dei rispondenti sostiene che non ci sono aspetti migliorabili. Tra coloro che non utilizzano la tramvia, per il 46,1% il motivo principale è che non copre il percorso di interesse, il 28,7% perché non hanno avuto bisogno e il 24,8% preferiscono muoversi con altri messi. L’85,3% dei fiorentini è d’accordo con la realizzazione del sistema tranviario nel suo complesso, tra questi il 60,2% sono quelli che hanno espresso il giudizio più elevato sulla realizzazione del sistema tranviario. I fiorentini contrari sono il 14,7% e tra questi il 7,6% sono completamente in disaccordo con la realizzazione della tranvia nel suo complesso. I motivi principali per i quali si è d’accordo con la realizzazione del sistema tranviario sono “perché migliora la viabilità della città” per il 46,7% dei casi, perché riduce le tempistiche degli spostamenti” e “perché consente di coprire meglio tutte le zone della città” con il 43,4% per entrambe le opzioni (si supera il 100% perché sono possibili più scelte). Tra coloro che sono contrari alla tranvia, il 49,0% lo sono perché ritengono non risolva il problema della viabilità e il 42,1% lo sono per il disagio creato dai lavori.
“I sondaggi ci danno risposte molto incoraggianti – ha detto il sindaco Dario Nardella -. In sintesi, oltre l’85% dei fiorentini giudica positivamente la tramvia e l’ampliamento delle reti tranviarie. Questo giudizio sale se viene dato dai residenti dei quartieri dove le tramvie ci sono: questo significa che chi ha provato il tram, lo usa abitualmente e lo ha vicino casa dà un giudizio molto positivo. Questi dati ci consentono di procedere con fiducia per la realizzazione delle nuove linee”. “Sullo stadio l’85% dei fiorentini giudica l’opera importante – ha continuato il sindaco -. Lo scetticismo da parte dei residenti 2 c’è, è nell’ordine del 20%, e noi lo leghiamo alla preoccupazione per i cantieri e forse anche al fatto che il nuovo stadio porterà un flusso di persone maggiore. Comunque saranno realizzati più parcheggi e una linea del tram che sarà molto utile per abbattere il traffico”.
“Vedendo questi dati emerge chiaramente l’importanza di andare avanti nell’ampliamento e completamento del sistema tranviario – ha detto l’assessore alla mobilità Stefano Giorgetti -. Anche le risposte degli intervistati dei quartieri dove ancora la tramvia non è stata realizzata, evidenziano la richiesta della infrastruttura che garantisce un trasporto pubblico efficiente e puntuale. Altro dato di grande rilievo è quello del gradimento molto alto nei quartieri già serviti dalla tramvia. In particolare, nei quartieri 4 e 5 emerge che a un grande utilizzo del tram si accompagna un importante uso della bicicletta, a testimonianza di una diffusione dell’intermodalità”.
For Tech Companies, Years of Easy Money Yield to Hard Times
Rock-bottom rates were the secret engine fueling $1 billion start-ups and virtual attempts to conquer the physical world. But in 2023, reality bites.
“Eighteen months ago, the online used car retailer Carvana had such great prospects that it was worth $80 billion. Now it is valued at less than $1.5 billion, a 98 percent plunge, and is struggling to survive.
Many other tech companies are also seeing their fortunes reverse and their dreams dim. They are shedding employees, cutting back, watching their financial valuations shrivel — even as the larger economy chugs along with a low unemployment rate and a 3.2 annualized growth rate in the third quarter.
One largely unacknowledged explanation: An unprecedented era of rock-bottom interest rates has abruptly ended. Money is no longer virtually free.
For over a decade, investors desperate for returns sent their money to Silicon Valley, which pumped it into a wide range of start-ups that might not have received a nod in less heady times. Extreme valuations made it easy to issue stock or take on loans to expand aggressively or to offer sweet deals to potential customers that quickly boosted market share.
It was a boom that seemed as if it would never end. Tech piled up victories, and its competitors wilted. Carvana built dozens of flashy car “vending machines” across the country, marketed itself relentlessly and offered very attractive prices for trade-ins.
“The whole tech industry of the last 15 years was built by cheap money,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst with Guidehouse Insights. “Now they’re getting hit by a new reality, and they will pay the price.”
Cheap money funded many of the acquisitions that substitute for organic growth in tech. Two years ago, as the pandemic raged and many office workers were confined to their homes, Salesforce bought the office communications tool Slack for $28 billion. Salesforce borrowed $10 billion to do the deal. This month, it said it was cutting 8000 people, about 10 percent of its staff, many of them at Slack.
Even the biggest tech companies are affected. Amazon was willing to lose money for years to acquire new customers. It is taking a different approach these days, laying off 18,000 office workers and shuttering operations that are not financially viable.
Carvana, like many start-ups, pulled a page out of Amazon’s old playbook, trying to get big fast. Used cars, it believed, were a highly fragmented market ripe for reinvention, just the way taxis, bookstores and hotels had been. It strove to outdistance any competition.
The company, based in Tempe, Ariz., wanted to replace traditional dealers with, Carvana said grandly, “technology and exceptional customer service.” In what seemed to symbolize the death of the old way of doing things, it paid $22 million for a six-acre site in Mission Valley, Calif., that a Mazda dealer had occupied since 1965.
Where traditional dealerships were literally flat, Carvana built multistory car vending machines that became memorable local landmarks. Customers picked up their cars at these towers, which now total 33. A corporate video of the building of one vending machine has over four million views on YouTube.
In the third quarter of 2021, Carvana delivered 110,000 cars to customers, up 74 percent from 2020. The goal: two million cars a year, which would make it by far the largest used car retailer.
Then, even more quickly than the company grew, it fell apart. When used car sales rose more than 25 percent in the first year of the pandemic, that created a supply problem: Carvana needed many more vehicles. It acquired a car auction company for $2.2 billion and took on even more debt at a premium interest rate. And it paid customers handsomely for cars.
But as the pandemic waned and interest rates began to rise, sales slowed. Carvana, which declined to comment for this article, did a round of layoffs in May and another in November. Its chief executive, Ernie Garcia, blamed the higher cost of financing, saying, “We failed to accurately predict how all this will play out.”
Some competitors are even worse off. Vroom, a Houston company, has seen its stock fall to $1 from $65 in mid-2020. Over the past year, it has dismissed half of its employees.
“High rates are painful for almost everyone, but they are particularly painful for Silicon Valley,” said Kairong Xiao, an associate professor of finance at Columbia Business School. “I expect more layoffs and investment cuts unless the Fed reverses its tightening.”
At the moment, there is little likelihood of that. The market expects two more rate increases by the Federal Reserve this year, to at least 5 percent.
In real estate, that is trouble for anyone expecting a quick recovery. Low rates not only pushed up house prices but also made it irresistible for companies such as Zillow as well as Redfin, Opendoor Technologies and others, to get into a business that used to be considered slightly disreputable: flipping houses.
In 2019, Zillow estimated it would soon have revenue of $20 billion from selling 5,000 houses a month. That thrilled investors, who pushed the publicly traded Seattle company to a $45 billion valuation and created a hiring boom that raised the number of employees to 8,000.
Zillow’s notion was to use artificial intelligence software to make a chaotic real estate market more efficient, predictable and profitable. This was the sort of innovation that the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen talked about in 2011 when he said digital insurgents would take over entire industries. “Software is eating the world,” he wrote.
In June 2021, Zillow owned 50 homes in California’s capital, Sacramento. Five months later, it had 400. One was an unremarkable four-bedroom, three-bath house in the northwest corner of the city. Built in 2001, it is convenient to several parks and the airport. Zillow paid $700,000 for it.
Zillow put the house on the market for months, but no one wanted it, even at $625,000. Last fall, after it had unceremoniously exited the flipping market, Zillow unloaded the house for $355,000. Low rates had made it seem possible that Zillow could shoot for the moon, but even they could not make it a success.
Ryan Lundquist, a Sacramento appraiser who followed the house’s history closely on his blog, said Zillow realized real estate was fragmented but perhaps did not quite appreciate that houses were labor-intensive, deeply personal, one-to-one transactions.
“This idea of being able to come in and change the game completely — that’s really difficult to do, and most of the time you don’t,” he said.
Zillow’s market value has now shrunk to $10 billion, and its employee count to around 5,500 after two rounds of layoffs. It declined to comment.
The dream of market domination through software dies hard, however. Zillow recently made a deal with Opendoor, an online real estate company in San Francisco that buys and sells residential properties and has also been ravaged by the downturn. Under the agreement, sellers on Zillow’s platform can request to have Opendoor make offers on their homes. Zillow said sellers would “save themselves the stress and uncertainty of a traditional sale process.”
That partnership might explain why the buyer of that four-bedroom Sacramento house, one of the last in Zillow’s portfolio, was none other than Opendoor. It made some modest improvements and put the house on the market for $632,000, nearly twice what it had paid. A deal is pending.
“If it were really this easy, everyone would be a flipper,” Mr. Lundquist said.
The easy money era had been well established when Amazon decided it had mastered e-commerce enough to take on the physical world. Its plans to expand into bookstores was a rumor for years and finally happened in 2015. The media went wild. The retailer planned to open as many as 400 bookstores.
The company’s idea was that the stores would function as extensions of its online operation. Reader reviews would guide the potential buyer. Titles were displayed face out, so there were only 6,000 of them. The stores were showrooms for Amazon’s electronics.
Being a showroom for the internet is expensive. Amazon had to hire booksellers and lease storefronts in popular areas. And letting enthusiastic reviews be one of the selection criteria meant stocking self-published titles, some of which were pumped up with reviews by the authors’ friends. These were not books that readers wanted.
Amazon likes to try new things, and that costs money. It took on another $10 billion of long-term debt in the first nine months of the year at a higher rate of interest than it was paying two years ago. This month, it said it was borrowing $8 billion more. Its stock market valuation has shrunk by about a trillion dollars.
The retailer closed 68 stores last March, including not only bookstores but also pop-ups and so-called four-star stores. It continues to operate its Whole Foods grocery subsidiary, which has 500 U.S. locations, and other food stores. Amazon said in a statement that it was “committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies.”
Traditional book selling, where expectations are modest, may have an easier path now. Barnes & Noble, the bricks-and-mortar chain recently deemed all but dead, has moved into two former Amazon locations in Massachusetts, putting about 20,000 titles into each. The chain said the stores were doing “very well.” It is scouting other former Amazon locations.
“Amazon did a very different bookstore than we’re doing,” said Janine Flanigan, Barnes & Noble’s director of store planning and design. “Our focus is books.”
École : ChatGPT, la mort annoncée des devoirs ?
L’intelligence artificielle, interdite dans les écoles new-yorkaises, laisse perplexes certains professeurs de l’Hexagone, qui craignent des « plagiats ».
« Stendhal, Hugo, La Bruyère… Professeure de français au lycée, Anne a corrigé tant de fiches de lecture de classiques de la littérature plagiées de sites Internet, qu’elle assure aujourd’hui « détecter toutes les impostures ». « J’ai l’œil aiguisé : des formules analogues, un style élaboré, aucune faute d’orthographe… » Mais son assurance chancelle à l’évocation de l’intelligence artificielle ChatGPT: « Je dois bien reconnaître que cela me dépasse… »
Lancé en décembre dernier, cet agent conversationnel capable de résoudre des équations complexes comme de rédiger des dissertations en une fraction de seconde inquiète, au-delà d’Anne, une large part de la communauté éducative.
Déjà, le 5 janvier dernier, les écoles publiques de New York interdisaient, sur leurs réseaux, son usage. « Si ChatGPT peut fournir des réponses rapides et faciles à des questions, il ne permet pas de développer la pensée critique et les compétences en matière de résolution de problèmes, qui sont essentielles à la réussite scolaire et tout au long de la vie », justifiait alors la porte-parole de la ville, Jenna Lyle, à CNN.
« Confier ses devoirs à un robot »
« Que les élèves puissent confier leurs devoirs à un robot et produire un texte sans le moindre effort est très préoccupant », abonde Anne, qui a testé l’AI [intelligence artificielle, NDLR] et demeure « stupéfaite » par ses potentialités (« On peut même lui imposer des contraintes de longueur ! »). Un « plagiat 2.0 » qui préoccupe, aussi, les professeurs du supérieur : « Cet outil est forcément une mauvaise nouvelle, confie ainsi Paul Cassia, professeur de droit à l’université Paris 1. Car c’est le cœur de notre métier que d’apprendre aux étudiants à penser par eux-mêmes… »
Et si l’intelligence artificielle reste à affiner (elle puise encore dans des éléments erronés ou obsolètes), elle déconcerte, aussi, parce qu’elle pourrait redéfinir les méthodes d’évaluation. « Si demain, les copies générées par ChatGPT sont parfaitement indétectables, alors cela pourrait signer la fin des devoirs à la maison », augure le professeur. Une fébrilité qui n’a pas échappé aux ingénieurs d’OpenAI [l’entreprise à l’origine de l’agent conversationnel], qui déjà développent un nouvel outil capable de détecter un texte généré par l’intelligence artificielle. Proposant une voie entre interdiction pure et usage débridé.
« Le plagiat a toujours existé »
« Bannir un outil n’a jamais empêché les élèves – qui savent parfaitement contourner les règles – de l’employer », rappelle à ce titre Marie-Astrid Chauviré, professeure d’histoire-géographie au collège, qui voit dans l’apparition de ChatGPT se rejouer celle de Google, une quinzaine d’années auparavant. « Le plagiat a toujours existé, il prend juste des formes nouvelles. Au fond, utiliser une intelligence artificielle n’est pas moins juste que se faire aider par ses parents… », expose, fataliste, la professeure.
Est-ce à dire que la lutte est perdue d’avance ? Pas si l’on considère « les limites » de l’outil. « Je le mets au défi de savoir sur quels points de mon cours j’ai insisté et attends des copies de mes élèves », sourit Marie-Astrid Chauviré. Sans compter que ces derniers devront encore passer le « crash test » du devoir sur table : « Il y a des constantes. Si les connaissances ne sont pas acquises, les élèves ne réussiront jamais les examens de fin d’année… »
The Doctors Who Prescribe HealthyFoods Instead of Medications:
Do they make the pharmaceuticals unhappy and the patients healthy?
“Research shows food prescriptions by medical professionals can improve well-being. Daphne Miller: “Ever since I was a doctor fresh out of residency, I have prescribed food to my patients to prevent and treat chronic health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. But health insurance had never covered the cost of a healthy meal, which means some patients cannot afford the healthy diet I’ve given them.
That has recently changed in California and a handful of other states, where Medicaid now covers some food targeting patients with diet-related conditions. As a result, I now prescribe “Medically Supportive Food,” or MSF, for some patients — a weekly bag of groceries, or up to three daily meals — paid for by insurance as if it were a medication.
This move to embrace “food as medicine” is bolstered by research showing that food prescriptions by medical professionals can cut health-care costs and improve well-being, especially for those who do not have the resources to access healthy food.
According to the recent study, researchers estimated that offering a nationwide “medically tailored meal” benefit to individuals with such conditions as heart disease, cancer and diabetes could save $185.1 billion in medical costs and avert more than 18 million hospitalizations over a 10-year period. For those who see food as an integral part of healing, this is a monumental step forward. But prescribing food is not as straightforward as it sounds.
Food is more complex than any pill. This makes it difficult for doctors and patients to know which medically tailored foods are the best medicine and which suppliers can best deliver these edible therapies.
Michelle Kuppich, a registered dietitian is concerned about the quality of some of the food entering this growing medical marketplace.
“There are many new companies coming into this space because there is money involved and people want the health-care dollars,” Kuppich said. She said she suspects that some of them “started off selling prepared meals for weight loss and then rebranded.”
Kuppich has found it challenging to get information about the nutritional value of some of the food being sold. “There is a lack of transparency in terms of ingredients,” she said.
Health-care providers also face a challenge of identifying which vendors offer food that appeals to the taste buds — and the soul.
None of these food interventions work if the people don’t want to eat the food,” said Seth Berkowitz, a researcher who led some food is medicine pilot studies and is now an associate professor in general medicine and clinical epidemiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He described food as offering gastronomic pleasure, cultural connection and family memories.
Berkowitz said national vendors offer “an economy of scale” that keeps costs down, but the pilot studies he was involved with in Boston that showed positive results had received their food from a nonprofit group that says it serves “scratch-made” meals and buys from local farmers.
“Mission-driven organizations may offer benefits,” Berkowitz said. “It remains to be seen whether the secret sauce that made those small efforts work can be scaled.”
The lack of standardization made it hard, for instance, for Dennis Hsieh, a physician and chief medical officer of the Contra Costa Health Plan based in California, to choose among the food vendors bidding to fill the food prescriptions for his plan’s enrollees.
Hsieh has extensive experience contracting with medical supply companies for drugs and other health-care products, but this is his first foray into the food sector. He said he received little guidance from California’s Department of Health Care Services about what he should be buying.
Some of the vendors are offering food that is just as ultra processed as fast-food meals that Hsieh hopes to avoid. Ultra-processed foods have been linked with chronic diseases and a higher risk of early death.
Also there’s a real challenge in identifying which suppliers provide the most nutritious food.” NY Times
promoting a lifestyle of self-liberation from social media and technology,
Don’t Want Your Likes
On a brisk recent Sunday, a band of teenagers met on the steps of Central Library on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to start the weekly meeting of the Luddite Club, a high school group that promotes a lifestyle of self-liberation from social media and technology. As the dozen teens headed into Prospect Park, they hid away their iPhones — or, in the case of the most devout members, their flip phones, which some had decorated with stickers and nail polish.
They marched up a hill toward their usual spot, a dirt mound located far from the park’s crowds. Among them was Odille Zexter-Kaiser, a senior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood, who trudged through leaves in Doc Martens and mismatched wool socks.
“It’s a little frowned on if someone doesn’t show up,” Odille said. “We’re here every Sunday, rain or shine, even snow. We don’t keep in touch with each other, so you have to show up.”
After the club members gathered logs to form a circle, they sat and withdrew into a bubble of serenity.
Some drew in sketchbooks. Others painted with a watercolor kit. One of them closed their eyes to listen to the wind. Many read intently — the books in their satchels included Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” Art Spiegelman’s “Maus II” and “The Consolation of Philosophy” by Boethius. The club members cite libertine writers like Hunter S, Thompson and Jack Kerouac as heroes, and they have a fondness for works condemning technology, like “Player Piano” by Kurt Vonnegut. Arthur, the bespectacled PBS aardvark, is their mascot.
Lots of us have read this book called ‘Into the Wild,’” said Lola Shub, a senior at Essex Street Academy, referring to Jon Krakauer’s 1996 nonfiction book about the nomad Chris McCandless, who died while trying to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness. “We’ve all got this theory that we’re not just meant to be confined to buildings and work. And that guy was experiencing life. Real life. Social media and phones are not real life. When I got my flip phone, things instantly changed,” Lola continued. “I started using my brain. It made me observe myself as a person. I’ve been trying to write a book, too. It’s like 12 pages now.”
Briefly, the club members discussed how the spreading of their Luddite gospel was going. Founded last year by another Murrow High School student, Logan Lane, the club is named after Ned Ludd , the folkloric 18th-century English textile worker who supposedly smashed up a mechanized loom, inspiring others to take up his name and riot against industrialization.
“I just held the first successful Luddite meeting at Beacon,” said Biruk Watling, a senior at Beacon High School in Manhattan, who uses a green-painted flip phone with a picture of a Fugees-era Lauryn Hill pasted to it.
“I hear there’s talk of it spreading at Brooklyn Tech,” someone else said.
A few members took a moment to extol the benefits of going Luddite.
Jameson Butler, a student in a Black Flag T-shirt who was carving a piece of wood with a pocketknife, explained: “I’ve weeded out who I want to be friends with. Now it takes work for me to maintain friendships. Some reached out when I got off the iPhone and said, ‘I don’t like texting with you anymore because your texts are green.’ That told me a lot.”
Vee De La Cruz, who had a copy of “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois, said: “You post something on social media, you don’t get enough likes, then you don’t feel good about yourself. That shouldn’t have to happen to anyone. Being in this club reminds me we’re all living on a floating rock and that it’s all going to be OK.”
A few days before the gathering, after the 3 p.m. dismissal at Murrow High school, a flood of students emerged from the building onto the street. Many of them were staring at their smartphones, but not Logan, the 17-year-old founder of the Luddite Club.
Down the block from the school, she sat for an interview at a coffee shop. She wore a baggy corduroy jacket and quilted jeans that she had stitched herself using a Singer sewing machine.
“We have trouble recruiting members,” she said, “but we don’t really mind it. All of us have bonded over this unique cause. To be in the Luddite Club, there’s a level of being a misfit to it.” She added: “But I wasn’t always a Luddite, of course.”
It all began during lockdown, she said, when her social media use took a troubling turn.
“I became completely consumed,” she said. “I couldn’t not post a good picture if I had one. And I had this online personality of, ‘I don’t care,’ but I actually did. I was definitely still watching everything.”
Eventually, too burned out to scroll past yet one more picture-perfect Instagram selfie, she deleted the app.
“But that wasn’t enough,” she said. “So I put my phone in a box.”
For the first time, she experienced life in the city as a teenager without an iPhone. She borrowed novels from the library and read them alone in the park. She started admiring graffiti when she rode the subway, then fell in with some teens who taught her how to spray-paint in a freight train yard in Queens. And she began waking up without an alarm clock at 7 a.m., no longer falling asleep to the glow of her phone at midnight. Once, as she later wrote in a text titled the “Luddite Manifesto,” she fantasized about tossing her iPhone into the Gowanus Canal.
While Logan’s parents appreciated her metamorphosis, particularly that she was regularly coming home for dinner to recount her wanderings, they grew distressed that they couldn’t check in on their daughter on a Friday night. And after she conveniently lost the smartphone they had asked her to take to Paris for a summer abroad program, they were distraught. Eventually, they insisted that she at least start carrying a flip phone.
“I still long to have no phone at all,” she said. “My parents are so addicted. My mom got on Twitter, and I’ve seen it tear her apart. But I guess I also like it, because I get to feel a little superior to them.”
At an all-ages punk show, she met a teen with a flip phone, and they bonded over their worldview. “She was just a freshman, and I couldn’t believe how well read she was,” Logan said. “We walked in the park with apple cider and doughnuts and shared our Luddite experiences. That was the first meeting of the Luddite Club.” This early compatriot, Jameson Butler, remains a member.
When school was back in session, Logan began preaching her evangel in the fluorescent-lit halls of Murrow. First she convinced Odille to go Luddite. Then Max. Then Clem. She hung homemade posters recounting the tale of Ned Ludd onto corridors and classroom walls.
At a club fair, her enlistment table remained quiet all day, but little by little the group began to grow. Today, the club has about 25 members, and the Murrow branch convenes at the school each Tuesday. It welcomes students who have yet to give up their iPhones, offering them the challenge of ignoring their devices for the hourlong meeting (lest they draw scowls from the die-hards). At the Sunday park gatherings, Luddites often set up hammocks to read in when the weather is nice.
As Logan recounted the club’s origin story over an almond croissant at the coffee shop, a new member, Julian, stopped in. Although he hadn’t yet made the switch to a flip phone, he said he was already benefiting from the group’s message. Then he ribbed Logan regarding a criticism one student had made about the club.
“One kid said it’s classist,” he said. “I think the club’s nice, because I get a break from my phone, but I get their point. Some of us need technology to be included in society. Some of us need a phone.”
“We get backlash,” Logan replied. “The argument I’ve heard is we’re a bunch of rich kids and expecting everyone to drop their phones is privileged.”
After Julian left, Logan admitted that she had wrestled with the matter and that the topic had spurred some heated debate among club members.
“I was really discouraged when I heard the classist thing and almost ready to say goodbye to the club,” she said. “I talked to my adviser, though, and he told me most revolutions actually start with people from industrious backgrounds, like Che Guevara. We’re not expecting everyone to have a flip phone. We just see a problem with mental health and screen use.”
Logan needed to get home to meet with a tutor, so she headed to the subway. With the end of her senior year in sight, and the pressures of adulthood looming, she has also pondered what leaving high school might mean for her Luddite ways.
“If now is the only time I get do this in my life, then I’m going to make it count,” she said. “But I really hope it won’t end.”
On a leafy street in Cobble Hill, she stepped into her family’s townhouse, where she was greeted by a goldendoodle named Phoebe, and she rushed upstairs to her room. The décor reflected her interests: There were stacks of books, graffitied walls and, in addition to the sewing machine, a manual Royal typewriter and a Sony cassette player.
In the living room downstairs, her father, Seth Lane, an executive who works in I.T., sat beside a fireplace and offered thoughts on his daughter’s journey.
“I’m proud of her and what the club represents,” he said. “But there’s also the parent part of it, and we don’t know where our kid is. You follow your kids now. You track them. It’s a little Orwellian, but we’re the helicopter parent generation. So when she got rid of the iPhone, that presented a problem for us, initially.”
He’d heard about the Luddite Club’s hand-wringing over questions of privilege.
“Well, it’s classist to make people need to have smartphones, too, right?” Mr. Lane said. “I think it’s a great conversation they’re having. There’s no right answer.”
A couple days later, as the Sunday meeting of the Luddite Club was coming to an end in Prospect Park, a few of the teens put away their sketchbooks and dog-eared paperbacks while others stomped out a tiny fire they had lit. It was the 17th birthday of Clementine Karlin-Pustilnik and, to celebrate, the club wanted to take her for dinner at a restaurant on Fort Hamilton Parkway.
Night was falling on the park as the teens walked in the cold and traded high school gossip. But a note of tension seemed to form in the air when the topic of college admissions came up. The club members exchanged updates about the schools they had applied to across the country. Odille reported getting into the State University of New York at Purchase.
“You could totally start a Luddite Club there, I bet,” said Elena Scherer, a Murrow senior.
Taking a shortcut, they headed down a lonely path that had no park lamps. Their talk livened when they discussed the poetry of Lewis Carroll, the piano compositions of Ravel and the evils of TikTok. Elena pointed at the night sky.
“Look,” she said. “That’s a waxing gibbous. That means it’s going to get bigger.”
As they marched through the dark, the only light glowing on their faces was that of the moon.”
LibéCare. Pensez la santé demain : enquête
Médecine du futur : avec l’IA, l’algorithme sous la peau
« Grâce aux avancées scientifiques américaines sur l’intelligence artificielle, notamment dans le domaine de l’imagerie médicale, les médecins pourraient prédire des maladies lointaines à l’aide d’ordinateurs gavés de données.
Un seul cliché du thorax suffit à prédire l’avenir. On le soumet non pas au radiologue, mais à l’ordinateur : le logiciel l’analyse de son œil expert et annonce le risque pour le patient de faire une attaque cardiaque dans les dix ans à venir… Ce genre de scénario ressemblait encore à une pure science-fiction il y a quelques années, mais il devient parfaitement réel, et même banal, grâce à l’intelligence artificielle. Les algorithmes font faire des bonds de géant à la médecine, particulièrement dans le domaine de l’imagerie médicale où ils excellent. Certains logiciels détectent les rétinopathies aussi bien qu’un ophtalmologue, d’autres trouvent les masses suspectes dans les mammographies ou des microfissures dans les radios du poignet…
Mais ce sont donc les attaques cardiaques qui étaient au cœur des discussions au rassemblement annuel de la Société radiologique d’Amérique du Nord. On y a présenté les résultats d’un projet mené au Massachusetts General Hospital, rattaché à la faculté de médecine de Harvard, avec ce nouvel algorithme capable de prédire les risques d’AVC. C’est un exercice pas si évident pour le radiologue car il y a plusieurs organes à examiner et plusieurs facteurs à combiner. On peut remarquer «si le cœur est très gros ou s’il présente une malformation», comme l’explique la cardiologue américaine Nicole Weinberg au média Medical News Today, mais aussi «voir si l’aorte paraît élargie ou s’il y a des dépôts de calcium, qui ressortent à la radio. On peut aussi voir dans le tissu pulmonaire s’il y a une accumulation de fluide […], qui peut traduire une insuffisance cardiaque.»
Volume de données inimaginable»
Pour scruter tous ces endroits à la fois et savoir quoi en conclure, l’algorithme a été entraîné par un processus d’apprentissage automatique. On l’a «nourri» en lui montrant plus de 147 000 radios de thorax provenant de 40 000 patients, en le renseignant pour chaque cliché sur l’existence – ou non – d’une pathologie cardiovasculaire. Après avoir ingurgité cette montagne d’exemples, qui représentent l’équivalent de toute une carrière de radiologue, le logiciel sait se débrouiller seul. Il repère les indices dans les images et établit des prédictions fiables. «La beauté de cette approche est qu’elle nécessite seulement une image aux rayons X, comme on en fait des millions par jour à travers le monde», se réjouit le radiologue Jakob Weiss, auteur principal de l’étude du Massachusetts General Hospital. «Une seule image permet de prédire des épisodes futurs d’événements cardiovasculaires majeurs avec la même efficacité que les évaluations cliniques actuelles», basées sur toute une liste de critères comme l’âge, le sexe, l’hypertension, le diabète, la consommation de tabac, des tests sanguins…
L’intelligence artificielle a un potentiel gigantesque pour ces prédictions médicales lointaines. «Comprendre vraiment les besoins d’un patient à long terme, et pas uniquement ses problèmes transitoires, demande d’avoir un volume de données inimaginable : le génome, des données démographiques, l’historique médical, les facteurs environnementaux… détaille au magazine Forbes Tony Ambrozie, responsable de l’information pour le réseau d’hôpitaux Baptist Health en Floride. De manière réaliste, il est impossible pour les professionnels de santé de faire ces analyses manuellement. L’apprentissage automatique évolue vers des solutions qui effectuent automatiquement ce vaste traitement de données, pour aider les praticiens à mettre au point des parcours de soins sûrs et personnalisés pour leurs patients.»
Copie numérique du cerveau
En France, le projet Aramis est développé à l’Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique pour tester un modèle informatique de cerveau humain qui combine plusieurs sources de données acquises sur des patients suivis dans la durée : la génétique, l’imagerie médicale et les données cliniques (des tests neurologiques par exemple). On recrée ainsi une sorte de copie numérique de leur cerveau, un cerveau de «patient virtuel» que l’on peut faire vieillir informatiquement pour voir quelles maladies il est susceptible de développer. L’espoir est que dans quelques années, l’algorithme sera suffisamment entraîné pour prédire un scénario de vieillissement du cerveau à partir de quelques données sur un patient, et estimer par exemple quelles sont ses chances de développer la maladie d’Alzheimer à un horizon de deux, trois ou cinq ans. Loin de déshumaniser la médecine, l’intelligence artificielle utilisée comme aide au pronostic devrait au contraire permettre une prise en charge plus précoce et plus juste des patients. » Libération
“lo smartphone, ormai, non è più uno strumento, ma è diventato un’appendice del corpo.”
“Un sistema di schiavitù nel quale, grazie al consumismo e al divertimento, gli schiavi amano la loro schiavitù.”
“Sono gli effetti che l’uso, che nella maggior parte dei casi non può che degenerare in abuso, di smartphone e videogiochi produce sui più giovani. Niente di diverso dalla cocaina. Stesse, identiche, implicazioni chimiche, neurologiche, biologiche e psicologiche.
È quanto sostengono, ciascuno dal proprio punto di vista « scienti- fico », la maggior parte dei neurologi, degli psichiatri, degli psicologi, dei pedagogisti, dei grafologi, degli esponenti delle Forze dell’ordine auditi. Un quadro oggettivamente allarmante, anche perché evidentemente destinato a peggiorare.
Sono questi, oggi, i nostri modelli. Modelli avanzatissimi già da anni quanto a diffusione della tecnologia digitale, perciò anticipatori degli effetti che il crescente uso di smartphone e videogiochi produrrà fatalmente sui nostri figli, sui nostri nipoti, sui nostri amici, su di noi e di conseguenza sulla società in cui viviamo.
Sono giovani tra i dodici e i venticinque anni che si sono completamente isolati dalla società. Non studiano, non lavorano, non socializzano. Vegetano chiusi nelle loro camerette perennemente connessi con qualcosa che non esiste nella realtà. Gli hikikomori in Giappone sono circa un milione. Un milione di zombi.
Tutte le ricerche internazionali citate nel corso del ciclo di audizioni giungono alla medesima conclusione: il cervello agisce come un muscolo, si sviluppa in base all’uso che se ne fa e l’uso di dispositivi digitali (social e videogiochi), così come la scrittura su tastiera elettronica invece della scrittura a mano, non sollecita il cervello. Il muscolo, dunque, si atrofizza. Detto in termini tecnici, si riduce la neuroplasticità, ovvero lo sviluppo di aree cerebrali responsabili di singole funzioni.
Mai prima d’ora una rivoluzione tecnologica, quella digitale, aveva scatenato cambiamenti così profondi, su una scala così ampia e in così poco tempo. Il motivo è evidente, lo smartphone, ormai, non è più uno strumento, ma è diventato un’appendice del corpo. Soprattutto nei più giovani. Un’appendice da cui, oltre ad un’infinita gamma di funzioni, in larga parte dipendono la loro autostima e la loro identità. È per questo che risulta così difficile convincerli a farne a meno, a mettere da parte il telefonino almeno per un po’: per loro, privarsene è doloroso e assurdo quanto subire l’amputazione di un arto.
Usarlo incessantemente è dunque naturale. È naturale perché questo li inducono a fare le continue sollecitazioni di algoritmi programmati apposta per adescarli e tenerli connessi il più a lungo possibile. È naturale perché a disconnettersi percepiscono la sgradevole sensazione di essere « tagliati fuori », esclusi, emarginati. È naturale anche e soprattutto perché essere connessi è irresistibilmente piacevole, dal momento che l’uso del digitale che ne fanno i più giovani, prevalentemente social e videogiochi, favorisce il rilascio di dopamina, il neurotrasmettitore della sensazione di piacere.
A tutto ciò vanno sommate le conseguenze sui più giovani dell’essere costantemente a contatto con chiunque e con qualsiasi cosa. Istigazione al suicidio, adescamento, sexting, bullismo, revenge porn: tutti reati in co- stante crescita. Reati facilitati dal fatto che nelle nuove piazze virtuali non trovano spazio le regole in vigore nelle vecchie piazze reali: vige l’ano- nimato, i controlli sono scarsi, i minori vi si avventurano senza alcuna sorveglianza da parte dei genitori.
Non si tratta di dichiarare guerra alla modernità, ma semplicemente di governare e regolamentare quel mondo virtuale nel quale, secondo le ultime stime, i più giovani trascorrono dalle quattro alle sei ore al giorno. Si tratta di evitare che si realizzi fino in fondo quella « dittatura perfetta » vaticinata da Aldous Huxley quando la televisione doveva ancora entrare in tutte le case e lo smartphone aveva la concretezza di un’astrazione fantascientifica: « Una prigione senza muri in cui i prigionieri non sognano di evadere. Un sistema di schiavitù nel quale, grazie al consumismo e al divertimento, gli schiavi amano la loro schiavitù ».
Giovani schiavi resi drogati e decerebrati: gli studenti italiani. I nostri figli, i nostri nipoti. In una parola, il nostro futuro.”
Corriere della Sera
Largest exhibition of Guido Reni—
Frankfurt’s Städel Museum will present around 130 of his paintings, drawings and etchings
“ Bologna’s supreme Baroque artist, Guido Reni (1575-1642), was known in his lifetime as “the divine”, referring to his celestial talents and subject matter.
Frankfurt’s Städel Museum hopes to bring the lustre back to Reni’s star this month by presenting around 130 of his paintings, drawings and etchings in Guido Reni: The Divine. The exhibition, which also includes some 35 comparative works of art and other objects, comprises the largest number of autograph works by the artist brought together in one place, says the exhibition curator Bastian Eclercy, who is the Städel’s expert in Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting.
Divine”—an epithet that Reni’s contemporaries also used to remark on his diva-like manner—is a concise word for summing up the artist’s oeuvre, which was concerned almost exclusively with Christian and mythological imagery. Basking in the patronage of Rome’s Borghese family, he was able to break away from early influences, such as the Carracci clan of his native Bologna and Caravaggio himself, and arrive at an elegant, harmonious synthesis of earlier styles.
The show, which begins with a biographical overview, establishes Reni as a contradictory character who was deeply religious Eclercy says, as well as a high-earning compulsive gambler who “lost in the evening what he earned in the morning”. Reni’s Madonnas—which launched centuries of imitations and, his harshest critics might suggest, paved the way for religious kitsch—are represented here with pathos-filled iterations, including Immaculate Conception (1627) on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Eclercy says Reni showed no outward signs of a romantic life. In his dynamic retelling of the myth of Hippomenes and Atalanta (around 1615-18), Reni has the apple-seeking huntress bending away from her gorgeous would-be suitor, as he makes his own star turn. The life-size work, which has recently undergone conservation treatment, is on loan from Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado, whose own Reni show next spring will share around 30 core works with the Städel’s (28 March-9 July 2023).
Eclercy has incorporated new findings and theories in the show, including the argument that David with the Head of Goliath, a recently cleaned painting on loan from France’s Musée des Beaux-Arts in Orléans, should be regarded as another autograph version, and possibly earlier than the version at the Musée du Louvre, long thought to have come first. Meanwhile, a remarkable loan from the Louvre serves as the show’s centerpiece: in the Allegory of the Union of Drawing and Painting (around 1625), the handsome youth representing drawing is gazing into the eyes of the beautifully adorned maiden who stands for painting. Reni’s depiction of heterosexual love is a match made in heaven.”
The Art Journal
Pour s’offrir une maison de 100 m² en Île-de-France, le coût du crédit flambe
À cause de l’envolée des taux et des prix immobiliers en région parisienne, les mensualités des emprunteurs ne cessent de grimper.
« Sauf si vous achetez sans emprunt, rares sont les ménages qui sont sûrs d’avoir un crédit immobilier», affirme Maël Bernier, de Meilleurtaux. Même des quadras aisés, qui achètent un nouveau logement, peuvent être refoulés. «Il y a un peu moins de jeunes acheteurs à Paris, en sachant que la majorité des acquisitions immobilières, dans la capitale, sont des secundo accédants», analyse Me Thierry Delesalle, notaire à Paris. Ces 4 dernières années, l’accès au crédit était facilité par les taux de crédit historiquement bas. En moins d’un an, ils ont remonté en flèche même s’ils restent parmi les plus bas d’Europe. «Ils peuvent soit bloquer les acheteurs soit les inciter à acheter vite avant que les taux grimpent plus haut», décrypte Me Delesalle.
Mais les conditions d’octroi sont de plus en plus strictes et le coût du crédit de plus en plus cher. Les notaires du Grand Paris ont calculé les sommes qu’un emprunteur doit rembourser à sa banque chaque mois pour acquérir une maison de 100 m² en Île-de-France ou un appartement de 65 m². Le constat est sans appel: dans le premier cas, la mensualité va flamber de 14% entre janvier 2022 et janvier 2023, passant de 1651 euros à 1876 euros, dans le cadre d’un emprunt de 100% du prix d’achat remboursé en 20 ans. C’est en Grande Couronne que l’envolée est la plus spectaculaire: +12% (entre décembre 2021 et octobre 2022) contre 10% en Petite Couronne.
3427 euros à rembourser par mois à Paris
Dans le cas d’un appartement de 65 m², la hausse est de 11% (2030 à 2250 euros par mois) en Île-de-France. À l’instar des maisons, c’est aussi en Grande Couronne que l’envolée de la mensualité est la plus forte: +13% contre 9% en Petite Couronne. Une fois n’est pas coutume, Paris est un peu plus épargnée avec une hausse deux fois moins élevée, + 7%, du fait de la légère érosion des prix de l’immobilier. Vous devrez tout de même rembourser pas moins de 3427 euros par mois pour vous offrir un 65 m². Soit trois fois plus qu’en Grande Couronne et deux fois plus qu’en Petite Couronne. «Même si d’autres paramètres sont susceptibles d’amortir ces évolutions (achat d’un logement plus petit, allongement de la durée d’emprunt, apport personnel plus important…), accéder à la propriété devient de plus en plus compliqué, dans un contexte où les perspectives sur les revenus ne sont pas favorables», soulignent les notaires du Grand Paris, dans leur dernière étude. »
Il 3 dicembre San Giovanni ricorda Don Lorenzo Milani
Sarà presentato il libro di Sandra Passerotti “Le ragazze di Barbiana” in occasione delle celebrazioni per iu 100 anni dalla nascita.
“Arezzo, 24 novembre 2022 – Don Lorenzo Milani, nato a Firenze il 27 maggio 1923, è stato un presbitero, scrittore, docente ed educatore cattolico italiano. La sua figura è legata in maniera indissolubile all’esperienza didattica rivolta ai bambini poveri nella disagiata e isolata scuola di Barbiana, nella canonica della chiesa di Sant’Andrea, in Mugello. Qui, in questa minuscola e sperduta frazione di montagna nel comune di Vicchio, entrò in contatto con una realtà di povertà ed emarginazione molto lontana rispetto a quella in cui aveva vissuto gli anni della sua giovinezza. Iniziò qui, in alta Toscana, il primo tentativo di scuola a tempo pieno, espressamente rivolto a coloro che, per mancanza di mezzi, sarebbero stati quasi inevitabilmente destinati a rimanere vittime di una situazione di subordinazione sociale e culturale. Nel 2023 si celebreranno i 100 anni dalla nascita di questo straordinario sacerdote e il circolo Acli di San Giovanni ha organizzato un evento il prossimo 3 dicembre, alle 10,30, presso la sala conferenze di via Roma. Sarà presentato il libro di Sandra Passerotti “Le ragazze di Barbiana”. L’iniziativa è organizzata con l’intento di dare un contributo all’approfondimento culturale sulla scuola in corso nel Paese, sul suo ruolo e sulla funzione pedagogica, avvicinandosi la ricorrenza del centenario della nascita di Don Lorenzo Milani. L’evento vede il patrocinio del Comune di San Giovanni.”
René Descartes, la tentación geométrica
La matematización de la realidad arrancó con el francés y, bajo el empuje de la física newtoniana, ha gobernado el destino filosófico de Europa y podríamos decir que del mundo
“Las matemáticas son falsas. ¿Qué se quiere decir? Que falsean la vida, que la tasación numérica y cuantitativa del universo supone un reduccionismo intolerable. Ofrecen un sucedáneo de realidad, siniestro, donde no hay deseo ni voluntad, donde todo sucede impersonalmente. Al mismo tiempo, las matemáticas son la invención más prodigiosa de la imaginación humana. Hacen creer que el fondo de lo real es racional. Y esa fue la fe de Descartes, una convicción que, generalmente, aparece en la juventud. Lo real es racional. Lo real puede someterse al escrutinio matemático y éste lo reflejará fielmente. Esa fue la apuesta de un joven metido a militar, seguro de sí mismo, que advirtió en sueños los signos de su vocación filosófica. Un sueño de juventud que plasmó en el Discurso del método y que ha marcado la Edad Moderna. Hasta el punto de que la fe en la racionalidad del mundo (de origen onírico) todavía se enseña en las escuelas. La matematización de la realidad arrancó con el francés y, bajo el empuje de la física newtoniana, ha gobernado el destino filosófico de Europa y podríamos decir que del mundo.
Creo que fue Bertrand Russell quien dijo que a ningún viejo le interesan las matemáticas. Pues el matemático, como advirtió Demócrito, se arranca los ojos para pensar. Y la vida, cuando es veterana, lo que quiere es seguir viendo, seguir sintiendo. Se interesa, fundamentalmente, por el deseo y la percepción. Por indagar cómo la percepción va suscitado el deseo de nuevas percepciones. En ningún caso renunciará al color, como hace el matemático, pues el color es irracional. A la inteligencia madura los modelos matemáticos del universo le hacen sonreír, le parecen el juego inocente (y brillante) de una inteligencia que todavía no ha vivido lo suficiente. Pero ocurre que el sueño matemático, la tentación geométrica, como me gusta llamarla, ha dado unos réditos magníficos a nuestra civilización. Ha hecho posible la expansión colonial y dominar el mundo mediante el poder tecnológico. Nos ha llevado a la Luna, al bosón de Higgs, a la bomba de nuclear y al laboratorio global (a un experimento planetario propiciado por un engendro biotecnológico). Las matemáticas son muy útiles para la guerra, también para controlar el flujo de la información. Las matemáticas no sólo crean teoremas, crean opinión. La consecuencia final de todo ello es moral. Modelos matemáticos (algoritmos) nos dirán qué es bueno y qué es malo, quién es el tirano, cual es el tratamiento adecuado para enfermedades globales, cómo concebir, en definitiva, la realidad.
La noche del 10 de noviembre de 1619 es un momento tan decisivo para la historia de Europa como la batalla contra los turcos de Solimán el Magnífico a las puertas de Viena (1519) o el desembarco de Normandía (1945). Pero lo que ocurre aquella noche no es un episodio bélico sino imaginal. Un joven soldado, educado por los jesuitas, brillante y decidido, tiene una serie de sueños en un campamento militar. De esa experiencia sale un librito, más biográfico que científico, que servirá de fundamento a una ciencia que todavía no existe, la física moderna (creada por Newton medio siglo después), y a otra que, aunque antigua, se verá profundamente renovada: la matemática moderna.
En ese preciso instante nace, de la imaginación, la fe racionalista. Esa fe sustituye a otra fe, anquilosada, que ha dejado de inspirar, que se ha enredado en monsergas escolásticas y academicistas. Las mentes más brillantes de Europa se volcarán en ella. Spinoza, Leibniz (sólo parcialmente), Voltaire, Newton, Laplace, los philosophes, y ese impulso llegará hasta el positivismo del XIX, que dominará por completo la ciencia. Las matemáticas, siendo una fantasía, son una vía posible en nuestras relaciones con el universo. Un universo que en el mundo antiguo concebía mediante cualidades y que pasa a ser de cantidades. Esa es la vía que elige Europa, cansada del puritanismo, las bulas papales y el control jesuítico. Europa se adhiere con entusiasmo a la premisa de Galileo: la naturaleza habla el lenguaje de las matemáticas. Aprendiendo esa lengua, podremos dialogar con ella, o mejor, persuadirla, de que se avenga a nuestros deseos (todo empieza y termina en el deseo). El siguiente paso, claro está, es que, nosotros, al reflejarnos en la naturaleza, quedamos matematizados, es decir, pasamos a ser seres regidos por leyes numéricas y equivalencias cuantitativas. Siendo matemáticos, podemos dar el siguiente paso, considerarnos mecánicos. El ser humano como mecanismo, pariente cercano del androide. Esta es, de manera simplificada, la visión moderna de lo humano. Si no fuera por el temporal que se avecina, resultaría cómica.
¿Dónde han quedado la percepción y el deseo que, según Leibniz y ciertas filosofías de origen indio, son los constituyentes esenciales de lo real? La respuesta es sencilla. Se han mecanizado. La percepción y el deseo son también mecanismos. El mundo al revés. La causa es ahora el efecto. Mecanismos reparables, modificables, perfeccionables. De toda esa deriva; que es la nuestra y con la que habremos de negociar (no valen escapismos, no hay vuelta posible a la selva, ni regreso a Oriente); el primer representante es Descartes.”