Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Hollywood’s caravan problem, death of consensus, cooking ancient Hittite food, seniors and fake news, the High Line’s problem, and more.

Blu is an Italian street artist who hasn’t meet a type of capitalism he doesn’t hate. These take on consumerism and contrast it with some very well-known sculptures. More images of his recent work on Colossal (via Colossal)

The dialogue and imagery of cartel movies associates Latino identity with inherent, pure evil again and again. It’s time for Hollywood to ask: What message are we sending to the American public by asking this country’s Latino actors to act out one execution-style killing after another? And isn’t this all becoming a bit tired and predictable?

The world as a whole and the West in particular is moving from a world of broadcast-based consensus to what scholar Penny Andrews has called digital dissensus: “We had the post-war consensus, then the (neo)liberal consensus, and now we are somewhere else entirely — what I call a digital dissensus, quick to jump to outrage and fragmented into echo chambers. People don’t necessarily vote based on their class, their employment or other traditional factors. A lot of people don’t vote at all.”

More broadly, as media scholar Ethan Zuckerman has observed, people are trusting traditional institutions less and less, a phenomenon that’s been occurring long before the current election cycle and even before the rise of the internet.

Today, the High Line serves as an elevated cattle chute for tourists, who shuffle from the Whitney to Hudson Yards, squeezed between high glass walls and luxury guard towers. The views are mostly gone, which is a good thing because stopping to admire one would cause a 16-pedestrian pileup. The rail-level traffic mirrors the congestion overhead, caused by construction so hellbent on milking New York’s waning real estate hyper-boom that any patch of land bigger than a tick’s front yard is considered suitable for luxury condos.

  • An archaeological team excavating the ancient site of Alacahöyük, one of the most significant centers of the ancient Hittite civilization, cooked a 4,000 year old menu that would’ve been familiar to the Hittites themselves:

Akkor said experimental foods were cooked using findings found on ancient tablets. “There is a lot of information about food culture on Hittite tablets. We used buckwheat brought from Germany for cooking. It was crushed on stones and we did not use kitchenware other than a knife. Considering the conditions at the time, we understood that the Hittites were highly successful in the kitchen as well as in other areas,” Akkor said, adding that more than 100 pastry names were found on Hittite tablets. During the excavations, findings about olive oil, honey, beverages and vegetables were also discovered. Underlining the hygienic measures taken in Hittite kitchens, Akkor said if a chef with a large, unmanaged beard or long, unmanaged hair cooks in the kitchen or an animal wandered into the kitchen, he or she used to receive a death penalty along with their family. The rule was valid for those who cooked without having a bath beforehand. “These rules show how the Hittites took sanitary issues very seriously 4,000 years ago,” he said.

Sleep Dealer was an early warning that the internet might appear borderless and community oriented, but as a tool, it can be harnessed for the purposes of authoritarianism, bigotry and exploitation.

Last week park staff closed its campgrounds to overnight use because of sanitation problems, but many visitors ignored that closure. With just eight law enforcement rangers working during the partial government shutdown it was impossible to cover all areas of the park, which is about the size of Delaware.

“There are about a dozen instances of extensive vehicle traffic off roads and in some cases into wilderness,” Smith replied when asked about the damage in the park. “We have two new roads that were created inside the park. We had destruction of government property with the cutting of chains and locks for people to access campgrounds. We’ve never seen this level of out-of-bounds camping. Every day use area was occupied every evening.

“Joshua trees were actually cut down in order to make new roads.”

Across all age categories, sharing fake news was a relatively rare category. Only 8.5 percent of users in the study shared at least one link from a fake news site. Users who identified as conservative were more likely than users who identified as liberal to share fake news: 18 percent of Republicans shared links to fake news sites, compared to less than 4 percent of Democrats. The researchers attributed this finding largely to studies showing that in 2016, fake news overwhelmingly served to promote Trump’s candidacy.

But older users skewed the findings: 11 percent of users older than 65 shared a hoax, while just 3 percent of users 18 to 29 did. Facebook users ages 65 and older shared more than twice as many fake news articles than the next-oldest age group of 45 to 65, and nearly seven times as many fake news articles as the youngest age group (18 to 29).

Of all the terms we could use to describe these social-media stars, why have we found influencer so useful? Well, to start, the term influencer has something that similar titles lack. It’s not tied to any one platform, and it’s more all-encompassing than domain-specific terms like YouTube star, Twitter personality, or gamecaster. There’s a certain heft to influencer that allows it to move beyond social-media platforms and into offline realities.

Influencer marketing is so effective in part because of its near-invisibility. Encountering sponcon on our Instagram feed next to posts from our family and friends is such an organic experience that it blurs our awareness of our role as consumer. We’re constantly being advertised to, but it’s more like our cool friend is telling us their secrets. Perhaps the weight inherent in this title is linked to the original connotations of influence—that mystery, intrigue, and divine force with the power to shift the positions of heavenly bodies.

  • The amazing thing about Donald Trump is that there’s either a tweet, a quote, or some video footage to contradiction anything he is doing at the current moment:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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