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In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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Notes from the Weekend & a Few Lovely Links 28.08.17
@theslowpace
In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@wolfiecindy
In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@robertopovero

Google Turns 20: How An Internet Search Engine Reshaped The World

No technology company is arguably more responsible for shaping the modern internet, and modern life, than Google. The company that started as a novel search engine now manages eight products with more than 1 billion users each. Many of those people use Google software to search the repository of human knowledge, communicate, perform work, consume media, and maneuver the endlessly vast internet in 2018. On Tuesday, September 4th, Google turned 20 years old, marking one of the most staggeringly influential runs for any corporation in history.

As Alphabet, the holding company of which Google is now a subsidiary, steadily rises to join Apple and Amazon in the $1 trillion market valuation territory, we’re reflecting on all the moments in Google’s past that led to its position at the peak of industries as diverse as mapping, self-driving cars, and smartphone operating systems. This isn’t a comprehensive history of Google’s past 20 years. But it is an approximation of the company’s biggest product launches, legal quagmires, and instrumental acquisitions that have turned it into a Silicon Valley powerhouse that will likely last for many decades to come.

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Promise Of Misery

In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

WE ARE NOT SHOCKED BY NAKED WOMEN. Skinny women. Women forced to field abuses in the bedroom or advances in the workplace, women who have undergone operations to whittle their waists into fine points. But an unhappy woman appalls us, especially if she does not collude in regarding herself as deficient. All happy women are alike, but each unhappy woman jolts us in her own defiant way. Each woman sulking in the back of the photograph, ignoring injunctions to smile. Each woman insisting that she isn’t angry, or at least, she wasn’t angry before she was asked if she was angry, which made her angry, and with reason.

But an unhappy woman, consensus has it, is unreasonable or unwell. Her unhappiness is an illness she’s obliged to remedy, either by sequestering herself in therapy sessions or by diligently annotating self-help manuals in her domestic prison—in any case, in private, where her discomfort cannot discomfit. And so in the poem “How to Be Perfect,” we find ourselves implicitly situated inside, in the house, where the writer Ron Padgett instructs,

Don’t stay angry about anything for more than a week,
but don’t
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger at arm’s length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass ball collection.

He writes,

As much as possible, use wooden objects instead of plastic or metal
ones.
Look at that bird over there.

After dinner, wash the dishes.
Calm down.

Calm down! Perfection is within your reach if you will only consent to be happy—if you will only agree to shelve your discontent. “Don’t be afraid,” Padgett advises, “of anything beyond your control. Don’t be afraid, for instance, that the building will collapse as you sleep, or that someone you love will suddenly drop dead.” Don’t fret about mortality or meaninglessness. Don’t lament the fragility of your body, which breathes with frightening contingency as you scale the slow slope of 4 a.m. Instead, calm down—and don’t forget to scrub those after-dinner dishes.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

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The Real Goldfinger: The London Banker Who Broke The World

Every January, to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam tells us how much richer the world’s richest people have got. In 2016, their report showed that the wealthiest 62 individuals owned the same amount as the bottom half of the world’s population. This year, that number had dropped to 42: three-and-half-dozen people with as much stuff as three-and-a-half billion.

This yearly ritual has become part of the news cycle, and the inequality it exposes has ceased to shock us. The very rich getting very much richer is now part of life, like the procession of the seasons. But we should be extremely concerned: their increased wealth gives them ever-greater control of our politics and of our media. Countries that were once democracies are becoming plutocracies; plutocracies are becoming oligarchies; oligarchies are becoming kleptocracies.

Things were not always this way. In the years after the second world war, the trend was in the opposite direction: the poor were getting richer; we were all getting more equal. To understand how and why that changed, we need to go back to the dying days of the conflict, to a resort in New Hampshire, where a group of economists set out to secure humanity’s future.

This is the story of how their dream failed and how a London banker’s bright idea broke the world.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Hal Ashby’s American Pictures:
The Realistic Magic Of The 1970s’ Finest Director

In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Hal Ashby lived by night. While working as an editor on Hollywood movies, he’d hunker down in a dingy bungalow suite on the lot of MGM, whittling away at The Cincinnati Kid or The Thomas Crown Affair or In the Heat of the Night, endlessly toggling between takes. He’d press a button and watch, then press it again. And watch again. And again. And once more.

Ashby lived the movies, literally. For seven months at a time, he’d spend all day watching film, then sleep four hours a night, and then smoke a little pot, run a reel, ruminate over sequencing, and begin cutting and dissolving frames of some of the most memorable movies of the 1960s. He was a movie zombie, eating time and film behind shaded window panes. His life could be in shambles, but he was a dedicated editor, with an eye like a jeweler and a clock that never ticked. Not until the edit was locked. Ashby looked the part of a shut-in, his hair growing out into fraying tendrils, bearded and bespectacled hiding sloe-colored eyes; he looked like an AP bio teacher on a bender. A vegetarian with crooked teeth, he couldn’t be bothered with vagaries or politesse. He quested for the perfect cut, and yearned for pacing. And he never left that bungalow.

“Don’t ever stop searching it,” Ashby once said. “Make your film so goddamned good that you see something in it all the time. Every sonofabitching time you sit down and thread up a goddamn reel and you punch a button and you start to look at it, you get a different idea. And whether you pursue it or not doesn’t matter. The film will tell you what to do.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

‘Human Impulses Run Riot’:
China’s Shocking Pace Of Change

In the News 09.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When I try to describe how China has changed over the past 50 years, countless roads appear in front of me. Given the sheer immensity of these changes, all I can do is try first to follow a couple of main roads, and then a few smaller ones, to see where they take us.

My first main road begins in the past. In my 58 years, I have experienced three dramatic changes, and each one has been accompanied by a surge in suicides among officials. The first time was during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966. At the start of that period, many members of the Chinese Communist party woke up one day to find they had been purged: overnight they had become “power-holders taking the capitalist road”. After suffering every kind of psychological and physical abuse, some chose to take their own lives. In the small town in south China where I grew up, some hanged themselves or swallowed insecticide, while others threw themselves down wells: wells in south China have narrow mouths, and if you dive into one headfirst, there is no way you will come out alive.

In the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, many people from the lowest tiers of society formed their own mass organisations, proclaiming themselves commanders of a “Cultural Revolution headquarters”. These individuals – rebels, they were called – often went on to secure official positions of one kind or another. They enjoyed only a brief career, however. Following Mao’s death in 1976, the subsequent end of the Cultural Revolution and the emergence of the reform-minded Deng Xiaoping as China’s new leader, some rebels believed they would suffer just as much as the officials they had tormented a few years before.

Thus came the second surge in suicides – this time of officials who had clawed their way to power as revolutionary radicals. One official in my little town drowned himself in the sea: he smoked a lot of cigarettes first, and the stubs littering the shore marked the agony of indecision that preceded his death. This was a much smaller surge in suicides than the first one, because Deng was not out for political revenge, focusing instead on kickstarting economic reforms and opening up to the west. This policy led in turn to China’s economic miracle, the downside of which has been environmental pollution, growing inequality and pervasive corruption.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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