News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Age Of The Influencer Has Peaked. It’s Time For The Slacker To Rise Again

It’s hard to remember a time when scrolling through Instagram was anything but a thoroughly exhausting experience.

Where once the social network was basically lunch and sunsets, it’s now a parade of strategically-crafted life updates, career achievements, and public vows to spend less time online (usually made by people who earn money from social media)—all framed with the carefully selected language of a press release. Everyone is striving, so very hard.

And great for them, I guess. But sometimes one might pine for a less aspirational time, when the cool kids were smoking weed, eating junk food, and… you know, just chillin’.

Back in the 1990s, our heroes were slackers: the dudes and the clerks, the stick-it-to-the-man, stay-true-to-yourself burnouts we saw in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Slacker, and Reality Bites. In the latter, Winona Ryder’s character, Leilana, chooses the disillusioned musician (Ethan Hawke) over the TV exec (Ben Stiller), and it’s presented as an excellent choice. Nobody cool was trying to monetize their lifestyle back then, or rake in the brand endorsements. Selling out (remember that?) was whack.

Read the rest of this article at: Quartzy

News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How the News Took Over Reality

News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The afternoon of Friday 13 November 2015 was a chilly one in Manhattan, but that only made the atmosphere inside the Old Town Bar, one of the city’s oldest drinking haunts, even cosier than usual. “It’s unpretentious, very warm, a nurturing environment – I regard it with a lot of fondness,” said Adam Greenfield, who was meeting a friend that day over beers and french fries in one of the bar’s wooden booths. “It’s the kind of place you lay down tracks of custom over time.” Greenfield is an expert in urban design, and liable to get more philosophical than most people on subjects such as the appeal of cosy bars. But anyone who has visited the Old Town Bar, or any friendly pub in a busy city, knows what he and his friend were experiencing: restoration, replenishment, repair. “And then our phones started to vibrate.”

In Paris, Islamist terrorists had launched a series of coordinated shootings and suicide bombings that would kill 130 people, including 90 attending a concert at the Bataclan theatre. As Greenfield reached for his phone in New York, he recalls, everyone else did the same, and “you could feel the temperature in the room immediately dropping”. Devices throughout the bar buzzed with news alerts from media organisations, as well as notifications from Facebook Safety Check, a new service that used geolocation to identify users in the general vicinity of the Paris attacks, inviting them to inform their friend networks that they were OK. Suddenly, it was as if the walls of the Old Town Bar had become porous – “like a colander, with this high-pressure medium of the outside world spurting through every aperture at once.”

It wasn’t the first time that Greenfield, a former designer for Nokia, had guiltily worried that mobile phones might be making our lives more miserable. But the jarring contrast between the intimacy of the bar and the news from Paris highlighted how vulnerable such spaces, and the nourishment they provided, had become. Suddenly, the news was sucking up virtually the whole supply of attention in the room. It didn’t discriminate based on whether people had friends and family in Paris, or whether they might be in a position to do anything to help. It just forced its way in, displacing the immediate reality of the bar, asserting itself as the part of reality that really mattered.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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The Magic of Estate Sales

We’re in a difficult moment for stuff. It’s become almost retro to admit you feel something for the buildup of quotidien objects that clutter your life. Thanks to the pop psychology of reality shows and self-help books, a moral hierarchy has emerged in relation to material possessions: It goes from hoarders, with their storage spaces crammed full of sadness, all the way up to minimalists, with their Buddhist non-attachment to anything that can’t be digitized. Most of us are between these two extremes, somehow with more stuff than we think we should have and also less than we find ourselves coveting. This is the true appeal of Marie Kondo’s lofty promises about tidying: “Out with the old” is a tacit permission slip for “in with the new.”

I’m not anti-Kondo, but you can put me down as a firm skeptic. I believe that the physical things you collect as you move through your life—even those that don’t make your stomach flip with joy—add up to something more than their individual utility or aesthetic appeal or heirloom potential. They aren’t just things, they’re your things. And if you remove yourself from the picture, the stuff you surround yourself with tells a story about you. It is a physical autobiography you write by living.

Read the rest of this article at: Curbed

News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Why We Must Not Let Europe Break Apart

News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s time to sound the alarm. Seven decades after the end of the second world war on European soil, the Europe we have built since then is under attack. As the cathedral of Notre Dame burned, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National was polling neck and neck with Emmanuel Macron’s movement for what he calls a “European renaissance”. In Spain, a far-right party called Vox, promoting the kind of reactionary nationalist ideas against which Spain’s post-Franco democracy was supposedly immunised, has won the favour of one in 10 voters in a national election. Nationalist populists rule Italy, where a great-grandson of Benito Mussolini is running for the European parliament on the list of the so-called Brothers of Italy. A rightwing populist party called The Finns, formerly the True Finns (to distinguish them from “false” Finns of different colour or religion), garnered almost as many votes as Finland’s Social Democrats in last month’s general election. In Britain, the European elections on 23 May can be seen as another referendum on Brexit, but the underlying struggle is the same as that of our fellow Europeans. Nigel Farage is a Le Pen in Wellington boots, a True Finn in a Barbour jacket.

Meanwhile, to mark the 30th anniversary of the velvet revolutions of 1989, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has denounced a charter of LGBT+ rights as an attack on children. In Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland successfully deploys a völkisch rhetoric we thought vanquished for good, although now it scapegoats Muslims instead of Jews. Remember Bertolt Brecht’s warning: “The womb is fertile still/ from which that crawled.” Viktor Orbán, the young revolutionary hero of 1989 turned bulldog-jowled neo-authoritarian, has effectively demolished liberal democracy in Hungary, using antisemitic attacks on the billionaire George Soros and generous subsidies from the EU. He has also enjoyed political protection from Manfred Weber, the Bavarian politician whom the European People’s party, Europe’s powerful centre-right grouping, suggests should be the next president of the European commission. Orbán has summed the situation up like this: “Thirty years ago, we thought Europe was our future. Today, we believe we are Europe’s future.”

Italy’s Matteo Salvini agrees, so much so that he is hosting an election rally of Europe’s rightwing populist parties, an international of nationalists, in Milan later this month. To be sure, the spectacle of a once-great country reducing itself to a global laughing stock, in a tragic farce called Brexit, has silenced all talk of Hungexit, Polexit or Italexit. But what Orbán and co intend is actually more dangerous. Farage merely wants to leave the EU; they propose to dismantle it from within, returning to an ill-defined but obviously much looser “Europe of nations”.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

My Cousin Was My Hero. Until the Day He Tried to Kill Me.

News 05.09.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Three years ago, my cousin tried to kill me. When people ask why, I don’t know what to say. Usually I mumble that he didn’t have a reason. I say that he didn’t even think he had a reason. We had no argument that day or any other in 40 years.

I say that we didn’t think of each other merely as cousins. We were best friends. We spoke for hours every week, often late at night, squinting through the portal of a video chat to exchange complaints about our lives and show off household projects. I say that we had been planning for months to get together that weekend. We organized a family reunion at his house. My son and I were staying in his guest room, while a swarm of aunts and uncles and cousins spilled into a nearby hotel. I had spent the day with them, watching our kids play in the hotel pool, and everyone was planning to gather at my cousin’s house for a party that evening. I say that none of our relatives knew there was conflict between my cousin and me. Neither did I, and neither did he. There was no sign of anything wrong until he tried to kill me.

When I say this, I know it doesn’t make sense. I know it sounds incomplete. It sounds like a story I tell myself to avoid responsibility, and maybe it is.

“Boys,” he said, “can I talk with Liam’s daddy?” That was how it began. He was standing in the doorway of the guest room with an easy smile. My son and I had just returned from the pool to get ready for the party. We brought along my sister’s son and another cousin’s daughter. The kids dried off and flopped on the bed to play video games while I straightened the room. I remember the careless way they glanced up when my cousin appeared at the door. His giant frame blocking the exit gave them no concern. I can still hear the humor in his voice as he asked their permission to speak with me. I remember that he called them “boys,” even though one was not. Should that detail have alarmed me? I wonder now. And what about his kids — where were they? Were they upstairs with their mother, as he said? Or was he alone when we returned? Did our arrival interrupt him? Did we make too much noise coming inside, or had he already vanished into rage from the whispers he heard the previous night?

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

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

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