New York City finally figured out what to do with all its old phone booths.

New York City's phone booths are about to be replaced.

By what? You may ask.

By these:


A LinkNYC Wi-Fi hotspot outside of Jay Zs home. Photo from YouTube

That, my friends, is a public Wi-Fi hotspot. And it's free.

They may look like the monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey," but instead of providing light-speed, mind-expanding information access to a species of primates, the Wi-Fi hotspots will ... actually, they'll sort of do exactly the same thing! (Humans are primates for those of you who slept through biology class.)

Starting this summer, Wi-Fi terminals from a project called "LinkNYC" will start appearing all over New York City.

Since at least 2012, New York has been trying to figure out what to do with all the old pay phones. They launched a nationwide competition looking for solutions, and the idea to turn them into Wi-Fi hotspots was the winner.

The project is run by CityBridge and funded in part by three tech companies: Qualcomm Technologies Inc., a smartphone chip maker; CIVIQ Smartscapes, a networking company; and Intersection, which has backing from Google's parent company Alphabet.

CityBridge plans to install 500 of these hotspots in July 2016, with the eventual goal of 7,500 appearing throughout the city.

Cities have tried in the past to provide free public Wi-Fi, and CityBridge plans to leave those efforts in the digital dust. LinkNYC terminals will provide a whopping 1,000 megabits/second (mbps) Internet speed with no ads. That's a lot faster than a typical wireless carrier offers. (One of Verizon's more expensive wireless plans is only 50 mbps.)

That's great news for New York City's many cafe writers, Instagrammers, and public porn-viewers.

Lots of New Yorkers go to coffee shops to use free Wi-Fi and pretend they're working. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

This is also great news for the wireless market in general.

New York City offering such blazing fast Internet for free will force all Internet carriers in that market to step up their game.

“This is creating all kinds of competition,” Colin O’Donnell, CityBridge’s chief technology officer told the Wall Street Journal. “This is going to set a new standard for speed, drive pricing competition, and set new expectations for data caps."

Since New York City is one of the countries largest Internet markets, competition is beneficial to all. Among the chief providers of Internet service in New York is Time Warner Cable, which has been rated as the most unpopular company in America.


They were even voted worse than Skynet, a fictional company that literally ended humanity. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Three hand clap emojis for New York City setting yet another major precedent.

After all, this is the same city that successfully banned trans fats and invented salt warnings for the sake of public health, recently gave working parents and caretakers legal job protection, and even planted 1 million trees to improve the environment.

Now, NYC is setting a high bar for information access in the age of the smartphone.

In 2011, the UN declared Internet access a human right, calling "upon all states to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest."

Starting summer 2016, all of New York City's residents can enjoy that human right free of charge and free of hassle. Perhaps it could set an example for other cities to do the same.

Frankly, it'll just be nice to have something in the city without Donald Trump's name on it.

The only question left is: Where is Superman supposed to change now?

Sorry, buddy. DISCLAIMER: May not actually be Superman. Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

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Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

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via SNL / YouTube

Christopher Walken is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's been nominated for an Academy Award twice for best supporting actor, winning once for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and receiving a nomination for 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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