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In the News 19.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 19.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 19.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 19.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Personal Essay – Boom Is Over

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There’s a certain kind of personal essay that, for a long time, everybody seemed to hate. These essays were mostly written by women. They came off as unseemly, the writer’s judgment as flawed. They were too personal: the topics seemed insignificant, or else too important to be aired for an audience of strangers. The essays that drew the most attention tended to fall within certain categories. There were the one-off body-horror pieces, such as “My Gynecologist Found a Ball of Cat Hair in My Vagina,” published by xoJane, or a notorious lost-tampon chronicle published by Jezebel. There were essays that incited outrage for the life styles they described, like the one about pretending to live in the Victorian era, or Cat Marnell’s oeuvre. There were those that incited outrage by giving voice to horrible, uncharitable thoughts, like “My Former Friend’s Death Was a Blessing” (xoJane again) and “I’m Not Going to Pretend I’m Poor to Be Accepted by You” (Thought Catalog). Finally, there were those essays that directed outrage at society by describing incidents of sexism, abuse, or rape.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker




Crowdfunding Platforms Crack Down on Risky Campaigns

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It’s a story that’s become routine: A crowdfunding campaign whips up a flurry of excitement, receives a deluge of funds, and then collapses with nothing to show for it. It’s what happened to Central Standard Timing, which raised over $1 million for the “world’s thinnest watch” before filing for bankruptcy in 2016. It’s the story behind Taxa, a Kickstarter-backed company that just closed shop last month, ending its dream of bioengineering glowing plants. It was almost the fate of a $13 million campaign to produce the world’s smartest cooler, which had to ask backers for more money years after its campaign was over.

When platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo first emerged, they promised to democratize entrepreneurship. Anyone with a great idea could have a shot at raising capital and building a product. But almost a decade later, the platforms’ high-profile failures loom at least as large as their successes. Improving the hit rate of some of the riskiest ventures, such as high-tech hardware projects like smartwatches, has become a top priority.

Today, Kickstarter has started offering its inventors access to experts in design and manufacturing. (Indiegogo launched a similar program last summer.) These services include a detailed design review of electronics, global sourcing of components and manufacturing, and even assistance with branding, distribution — the kind of information that is often jealously guarded by large multinationals.

Read the rest of this article at Backchannel

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The Mad King of Juice: Inside the Dysfunctional Origins of Juicero

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Juicero began in secret. The startup, a sort of Keurig for cold-pressed plant-water—which made headlines for the $120 million in venture capital it secured from the likes of Google and Kleiner-Perkins between 2013 and 2015, and again when it announced its wi-fi-connected countertop appliance would cost a jaw-dropping $700 on launch—intended to keep its business free from prying eyes, either because it feared corporate espionage, mockery, or both. Was it the future of convenient health food, or an overfunded subscription service for bags of chopped up plants?

Founded in 2013 by Doug Evans, former CEO of New York juice company Organic Avenue, Juicero coupled a bizarre set of interests: a curdled, monopolized tech industry which has run dry on useful new ideas; the medically-vague but burgeoning wellness industry’s promise to fill a physical and spiritual void, stripped away at least in part by tech itself. Two types of snake oil, expertly blended to suit their flavor profiles—and true to the spirit of both industries, accessible only to the wealthy.

Read the rest of this article at Gizmodo

Rules of Ascent

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When asked in the 1920s why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, George Mallory notoriously quipped: ‘Because it’s there.’ It was a flippant remark, of course, but also an instance of what Friedrich Nietzsche had called ‘superficiality out of profundity’. For Mallory’s retort conveyed the deep human impulse to attempt challenging, dangerous and potentially even deadly endeavours, for no better reason than that one might succeed. Getting to the top of Everest – which has now claimed around 280 lives – is not something that mountaineers do for the fame, fortune or bragging rights. They do it because inside of them there is an impulse that demands that they try. If your response to the idea of standing on the highest point on earth is: ‘Yeah, that would be pretty cool,’ then you have something of that impulse too.

Mallory never summited Everest, dying during the attempt in 1924. In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to pull off the feat. It is now repeated, albeit in far less challenging conditions, by around 500 people each year. Yet despite improved technologies and expert help, it is still an unpleasant, painful and dangerous activity. In 2015 alone, 22 people lost their lives on the mountain, while 1977 was the last year to see no fatalities. In April this year, Ueli Steck – one of the greatest mountaineers of all time – died on Everest, the first casualty of the season.

Read the rest of this article at aeon

America Reloaded

The Bizarre Story Behind the FBI’s Fake Documentary About the Bundy Family

FILE - In this April 12, 2014, file photo, the Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle is released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. A federal judge in Nevada is considering crucial rulings about what jurors will hear in the trial of six defendants accused of stopping U.S. agents at gunpoint from rounding up cattle near Cliven Bundy's ranch in April 2014. (Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via AP, File)

RYAN BUNDY SEEMED uneasy as he settled into a white leather chair in a private suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. As the eldest son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had become a national figure for his armed standoff with U.S. government agents in April 2014, Ryan had quite a story to tell.

Eight months had passed since Cliven and hundreds of supporters, including heavily armed militia members, faced off against the federal government in a sandy wash under a highway overpass in the Mojave Desert. Now, here in the comforts of the Bellagio, six documentary filmmakers trained bright lights and high-definition cameras on Ryan. They wanted to ask about the standoff. Wearing a cowboy hat, Ryan fidgeted before the cameras. He had told this story before; that wasn’t the reason for his nerves. After all, the Bundy confrontation made national news after armed agents with the Bureau of Land Management seized the Bundy family’s cattle following a trespassing dispute and the accumulation of more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. But the Bundys, aided by their armed supporters, beat back the government, forcing agents to release the cattle and retreat.

Images of armed Bundy supporters with high-powered rifles taking on outgunned BLM agents circulated widely on social media. As a result, the Bundys became a household name, lionized by the right as champions of individual liberty and vilified by the left as anti-government extremists.

But something seemed off to Ryan about this interview in the Bellagio. While the family’s newfound fame had attracted fresh supporters to their cause, it had also inspired suspicion. With a federal investigation looming, who among these new faces could they really trust?

Among the more recent figures in the Bundy orbit was this mysterious documentary film crew. The director, Charles Johnson, was middle-aged, with a silver goatee, slicked-back hair, and a thick southern accent. His assistant, who identified herself as Anna, was tall and blond. A website for their company, Longbow Productions, listed an address in Nashville, Tennessee, but the Bundys could find no previous examples of their work.

Read the rest of this article at The Intercept

Credits

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @katie.one; @adenorah; @_justynaniko_