News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life

Last September, Uber rolled out a rebranding campaign. A new television commercial showed car doors being flung open and the young and the old crowding in, flying out, and ending up in a small open-air mercado or at a lake. Though there were a few drivers, the image presented was of ceaseless, liberating mobility for passengers, anywhere in the world. Uber changed its logo, too, to a demure sans-serif display—white against a black background, its only flourish a modest pair of mirrored stems attached to the “U” and the “b.” This was a significant change. Since 2016, the phone app and the stickers that identified Uber-enabled cars had enjoyed an image designed partly by the co-founder and then-C.E.O. Travis Kalanick: a circle bisected with a cord, placed against the background of a colorful tile. When tilted ninety degrees counterclockwise, some design and technology journalists noted, it looked unmistakably like a human bent over and seen from behind.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

America’s Professional Elite:
Wealthy, Successful and Miserable

News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The upper echelon is hoarding money and privilege to a degree not seen in decades. But that doesn’t make them happy at work.

My first, charmed week as a student at Harvard Business School, late in the summer of 2001, felt like a halcyon time for capitalism. AOL Time Warner, Yahoo and Napster were benevolently connecting the world. Enron and WorldCom were bringing innovation to hidebound industries. President George W. Bush — an H.B.S. graduate himself — had promised to deliver progress and prosperity with businesslike efficiency.

The next few years would prove how little we (and Washington and much of corporate America) really understood about the economy and the world. But at the time, for the 895 first-years preparing ourselves for business moguldom, what really excited us was our good luck. A Harvard M.B.A. seemed like a winning lottery ticket, a gilded highway to world-changing influence, fantastic wealth and — if those self-satisfied portraits that lined the hallways were any indication — a lifetime of deeply meaningful work.

So it came as a bit of a shock, when I attended my 15th reunion last summer, to learn how many of my former classmates weren’t overjoyed by their professional lives — in fact, they were miserable. I heard about one fellow alum who had run a large hedge fund until being sued by investors (who also happened to be the fund manager’s relatives). Another person had risen to a senior role inside one of the nation’s most prestigious companies before being savagely pushed out by corporate politics. Another had learned in the maternity ward that her firm was being stolen by a conniving partner.

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


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The ‘Burbs At 30: How The Cult Comedy Horror Skewered Suburbia

There’s the old joke about the fish that says “Hey, how’s the water today?” to a second fish, who replies: “What the hell is water?” This is how the movies have come to occupy the suburbs, as a non-space defined by how easy it is to forget it’s anyplace at all. Maybe it’s the infinite connectivity of the internet erasing the sensation of isolation, but films such as Eighth Grade, Edge of Seventeen and their ilk have developed a passive relationship to their provincial suburban setting, regarding it as dull but harmless. Even the films about stagnating adulthood – see: Game Night (no, really, see Game Night) – draw their unease from within, rather than their surroundings.

Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs, which will reach its 30th anniversary milestone later this week, offers modern viewers a portal back to the previous era’s understanding of suburban living as a collection of loaded cultural signifiers. In 1989, the postwar advent of planned communities was recent enough that humanity still fretted over whether relocating out of the rough-and-tumble city would turn vital men and women into sleepy husbands, wives and parents. Dante’s kooky satire focuses on characters convincing themselves they’re not neutered beta males by unearthing the morass of repressed weirdness believed to be squirming under the handsomely manicured exterior of small-town America. They’re eventually proven right, that all their suspicions about something extraordinary busting up their humdrum day-to-day turned out to be well founded. Dante’s wickedest stroke was showing just how badly they needed that to be true.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Rise of the WeWorking Class

The co-working giant’s real product isn’t office space — it’s a new kind of “corporate culture.“

Imagine you trained an artificial intelligence on a comprehensive stock-photo set of every boutique-hotel lobby from Palm Springs to Stockholm to Milan, then connected it to a five-story 3-D printer fully furnished with pendant-dome lamps, waxy leaves and old-school hip-hop lyrics. The output would be a WeWork. So much serene, lavish and mechanical attention is allocated to every detail: the neon and the daybeds and the fiddle-leaf figs, the wallpaper and the playlists and the typefaces. The newest iteration of its ever-emergent design concept may be indebted to Luis Barragán and Carlo Scarpa, but the degree of thought and investment that goes into its terrarium construction is something its busy occupants are expected to register only as background noise. WeWorks feel voguish but never threatening; comfortable but never shabby; rousing but never intemperate; detailed but never ostentatious.

There’s also free top-shelf coffee, the sort of minor frill most office workers might take for granted in a way the self-employed never would. One premise of the company’s existence is that it’s good business to provide such minor luxuries to the otherwise unfrilled. The coffee — and the draft kombucha, which has come to supplement beer as WeWork distances itself from the frattier aspects of entrepreneurship — is, at any rate, only part of an environment engineered for felicitous exchange. This strategy is supported by narrow hallways, boxy plate-glass enclosures, distant bathrooms and centralized fruit-water dispensers, but the company’s architects never indulged the belief that if they built it, people would come. The spaces themselves are the staging ground for yoga classes, wine tastings, make-your-own-trail-mix bars and vendor workshops about how to cut cloud costs. For what remains of life outside the workplace, there are cross-promotional discounts on and Crunch gym memberships.

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

Do Jails Kill People?

News 02.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There may be no worse place to live in New York City than on Rikers Island, and it is an even worse place to die—locked inside of a jail, forcibly separated from family and friends. Most people whose lives end on Rikers die of natural causes, but there is no doubt that some deaths there have been caused by the culture and conditions of Rikers itself. This tally of preventable deaths includes: Jason Echevarria, twenty-five, who swallowed a packet of soap in his cell, screamed in agony for hours, and died after guards refused to take him to the medical clinic; Carlos Mercado, forty-five, a diabetic in desperate need of insulin, who collapsed in a hallway his first day in jail; Ronald Spear, fifty-two, a kidney-dialysis patient, who died after being kicked in the head by a guard.

Every year, several thousand people across the country die while imprisoned. Local officials report the number of deaths to the Department of Justice, but very little attention is paid to the question of how many of these deaths could have been prevented. Several years ago, Homer Venters, a physician and the former chief medical officer for New York City’s Correctional Health Services, sought to answer this question. Between 2010 and 2016, there were a hundred and twelve deaths in New York City jails. Venters and his team found that ten to twenty per cent of those deaths each year were “caused by actions taken inside the walls” of a jail. He calls these “jail-attributable deaths,” and writes that some years the percentage of such deaths “rose to half or more.”

Reporters have virtually no access to the jails on Rikers Island, but, for many years, Venters had a rare vantage point from which to observe its inner workings. He started working on Rikers in 2008, overseeing health care for thousands of people imprisoned there. On an island known for abuse and violence, Venters became a legendary figure; he often spoke about human rights and was known for his persistent advocacy on behalf of inmates. He left the city’s jail-health service in 2017, and now he has written a crucially important book, “Life and Death in Rikers Island,” in which he examines one of the most overlooked aspects of mass incarceration: the health risks of being locked up.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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