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In the News 19.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 19.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 19.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 19.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The End of the Awl and the Vanishing of Freedom and Fun from the Internet

Blogging, that much-maligned pastime, is gradually but surely disappearing from the Internet, and so, consequently, is a lot of online freedom and fun. Before I came to The New Yorker, my only professional writing experience was at blogs, places where a piece like this one, about disappearing blogs, would’ve been either eighty-five words or three thousand, and the lede would have been abrupt and vividly unprofessional, like a friend grabbing you by the collar at a bar. The image above the text would be some low-cost visual joke—a screenshot, or a cheesy stock photo—and the editing would’ve been as intimate and odd as a tarot-card reading, or nearly nonexistent, or maybe both. Blogs were a one-man-band situation: if you were a blog editor, as I was, you were also a blogger, and many other things besides, so you would spend your days not just writing and editing pieces but formatting and tagging them, finding art, scheduling and publishing, posting everything on social media yourself.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker


The Things That Come to Those Who Wait

A many-legged organism winds its way through Soho, crawling the block at an excruciating pace. It strains the flow of New York sidewalk traffic, as ubiquitous as the Eastern gray squirrel, attracting the attention of an alien from Mars. The sound it emits is of low groaning boredom. Passers-by crane their necks, hoping to see all the way to its front.

“Why are you waiting?” they inevitably ask.

The answer, almost always, is a sneaker or dessert.

The sidewalk line is a beast of its own kind, native to the space outside whatever latest bakeshop or store selling limited-edition streetwear. Within the broader genus of lines, it differs from those inside the post office or Starbucks. (I’ll call those normal lines “normal lines.”) All types of lines are a product of math that expresses the rate at which people arrive and how fast a cashier can distribute some stuff. Normal lines are borne from a solvable fluke: too many people, too few cashiers. Sidewalk lines do not want to be solved. They are intentional — cultivated, managed, bred like show dogs. In certain types of luxury transactions, we’ve come to accept them as a predestined fact.

I used to believe that standing in line was a natural arrangement of human bodies, much like geese flying south in a “V.” But queuing is a recent and man-made invention. The first historical description of the line only appeared in 1837, in Thomas Carlyle’s The French Revolution. Describing a postwar scarcity of bread, he wrote: “If we look now at Paris, one thing is too evident: that the Bakers’ shops have got their Queues, or Tails; their long strings of purchasers, arranged in tail, so that the first come be the first served.” According to Carlyle, lining up was a uniquely French eccentricity. How earlier peoples distributed their bread is a fact that I’ve not yet been able to suss out. Before self-serve supermarkets, most stores relied on a deli-counter model. I can only assume that shoppers massed around a vendor, who granted his attention to the squeakiest wheel.

Racked sent photographer Andrew White to document lines in New York City on November 11th, 2017. He started in the downtown neighborhood of Soho. | 9:46-10:04 a.m., La Colombe: Locals and tourists alike line up at the third-wave coffee shop that originated in Philadelphia. La Colombe is known for its draft latte, a cold coffee and milk drink served on tap. It costs $4.25 at the Lafayette Street location.

Read the rest of this article at: Racked

Belgrave Crescent

Shop the Saint-Germain-des-Prés
at Belgrave Crescent &

The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought

A year ago, before the investor lawsuits and the federal investigations, before the mass resignations, and before the connotation of the word “Uber” shifted from “world’s most valuable startup” to “world’s most dysfunctional,” Uber’s executives sat around a hotel conference room table in San Francisco, trying to convince their chief executive officer, Travis Kalanick, that the company had a major problem: him.

The executives were armed that day with something unusual for Uber Technologies Inc.: the results of a survey. Kalanick operated by gut feeling and with a stubborn sense of how people should feel, not how they did. Jeff Jones, Uber’s new president and former chief marketing officer for Target Corp., wanted more substantial insights. Conclusions drawn from the survey were printed and hanging on the walls. About half the respondents had a positive impression of Uber and its convenient ride-hailing app. But if respondents knew anything about Kalanick, an inveterate flouter of both workplace conventions and local transportation laws, they had a decidedly negative view.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg


The New Age of Astrology

Astrology is a meme, and it’s spreading in that blooming, unfurling way that memes do. On social media, astrologers and astrology meme machines amass tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, people joke about Mercury retrograde, and categorize “the signs as …” literally anything: cat breedsOscar Wilde quotes, Stranger Things characters, types of french fries. In online publications, daily, weekly, and monthly horoscopes, and zodiac-themed listiclesflourish.This isn’t the first moment astrology’s had and it won’t be the last. The practice has been around in various forms for thousands of years. More recently, the New Age movement of the 1960s and ’70s came with a heaping helping of the zodiac. (Some also refer to the New Age as the “Age of Aquarius”—the 2,000-year period after the Earth is said to move into the Aquarius sign.)In the decades between the New Age boom and now, while astrology certainly didn’t go away—you could still regularly find horoscopes in the back pages of magazines—it “went back to being a little bit more in the background,” says Chani Nicholas, an astrologer based in Los Angeles. “Then there’s something that’s happened in the last five years that’s given it an edginess, a relevance for this time and place, that it hasn’t had for a good 35 years. Millennials have taken it and run with it.”

Many people I spoke to for this piece said they had a sense that the stigma attached to astrology, while it still exists, had receded as the practice has grabbed a foothold in online culture, especially for young people.

“Over the past two years, we’ve really seen a reframing of New Age practices, very much geared toward a Millennial and young Gen X quotient,” says Lucie Greene, the worldwide director of J. Walter Thompson’s innovation group, which tracks and predicts cultural trends.

Callie Beusman, a senior editor at Broadly, says traffic for the site’s horoscopes “has grown really exponentially.” Stella Bugbee, the president and editor-in-chief of The Cut, says a typical horoscope post on the site got 150 percent more traffic in 2017 than the year before.

In some ways, astrology is perfectly suited for the internet age. There’s a low barrier to entry, and nearly endless depths to plumb if you feel like falling down a Google research hole. The availability of more in-depth information online has given this cultural wave of astrology a certain erudition—more jokes about Saturn returns, fewer “Hey baby, what’s your sign?” pickup lines.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

I Used to Insist I Didn’t
Get Angry. Not Anymore.

For years, I described myself as someone who wasn’t prone to anger. “I don’t get angry,” I said. “I get sad.” I believed this inclination was mainly about my personality — that sadness was a more natural emotion for me than anger, that I was somehow built this way. It’s easy to misunderstand the self as private, when it’s rarely private at all: It’s always a public artifact, never fixed, perpetually sculpted by social forces. In truth, I was proud to describe myself in terms of sadness rather than anger. Why? Sadness seemed more refined and also more selfless — as if you were holding the pain inside yourself, rather than making someone else deal with its blunt-force trauma.

But a few years ago, I started to get a knot in my gut at the canned cadences of my own refrain: I don’t get angry. I get sad. At the shrillest moments of our own self-declarations — I am X, I am not Y — we often hear in that tinny register another truth, lurking expectantly, and begin to realize there are things about ourselves we don’t yet know. By which I mean that at a certain point, I started to suspect I was angrier than I thought.

Of course it wasn’t anger when I was 4 years old and took a pair of scissors to my parents’ couch — wanting so badly to destroy something, whatever I could. Of course it wasn’t anger when I was 16 and my boyfriend broke up with me, and I cut up the inside of my own ankle — wanting so badly to destroy something, whatever I could. Of course it wasn’t anger when I was 34 and fighting with my husband, when I screamed into a pillow after he left the house so our daughter wouldn’t hear, then threw my cellphone across the room and spent the next 10 minutes searching for it under the bed, and finally found it in a small pile of cat vomit. Of course it wasn’t anger when, during a faculty meeting early in my teaching days, I distributed statistics about how many female students in our department had reported instances of sexual harassment the year before: more than half of them.

A faculty member grew indignant and insisted that most of those claims probably didn’t have any basis at all. I clenched my fists. I struggled to speak. It wasn’t that I could say for sure what had happened in each of those cases — of course I couldn’t, they were just anonymous numbers on the page — but their sheer volume seemed horrifying. It demanded attention. I honestly hadn’t expected that anyone would resist these numbers or force me to account for why it was important to look at them. The scrutiny of the room made me struggle for words just when I needed them most. It made me dig my nails into my palm. What was that emotion? It was not sadness. It was rage.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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

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