News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Of course I have a lot of memories of my father. It’s only natural, considering that we lived under the same roof of our not exactly spacious home from the time I was born until I left home at eighteen. And, as is the case with most children and parents, I imagine, some of my memories of my father are happy, some not quite so much. But the memories that remain most vividly in my mind now fall into neither category; they involve more ordinary events.

This one, for instance:

When we were living in Shukugawa (part of Nishinomiya City, in Hyogo Prefecture), one day we went to the beach to get rid of a cat. Not a kitten but an older female cat. Why we needed to get rid of it I can’t recall. The house we lived in was a single-family home with a garden and plenty of room for a cat. Maybe it was a stray we’d taken in that was now pregnant, and my parents felt they couldn’t care for it anymore. My memory isn’t clear on this point. Getting rid of cats back then was a common occurrence, not something that anyone would criticize you for. The idea of neutering cats never crossed anyone’s mind. I was in one of the lower grades in elementary school at the time, I believe, so it was probably around 1955, or a little later. Near our home were the ruins of a bank building that had been bombed by American planes—one of a few still visible scars of the war.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 2010, the small community of specialists who pay attention to US road safety statistics picked up the first signs of a troubling trend: more and more pedestrians were being killed on American roads. That year, 4,302 American pedestrians died, an increase of almost 5% from 2009. The tally has increased almost every year since, with particularly sharp spikes in 2015 and 2016. Last year, 41% more US pedestrians were killed than in 2008. During this same period, overall non-pedestrian road fatalities moved in the opposite direction, decreasing by more than 7%. For drivers, roads are as safe as they have ever been; for people on foot, roads keep getting deadlier.

Through the 90s and 00s, the pedestrian death count had declined almost every year. No one would have confused the US for a walkers’ paradise – at least part of the reason fewer pedestrians died in this period was that people were driving more and walking less, which meant that there were fewer opportunities to be struck. But at least the death toll was shrinking. The fact that, globally, pedestrian fatalities were much more common in poorer countries made it possible to view pedestrian death as part of an unfortunate, but temporary, stage of development: growing pains on the road to modernity, destined to decrease eventually as a matter of course. The US road death statistics of the last decade have blasted a hole in that theory. (A similar trend has been observed with regards to the country’s cyclists: a recent analysis found that cyclist fatalities decreased through the 80s, 90s and 00s, but since 2010 have increased 25%, with 777 cyclists killed in 2017.)

Trouble, albeit of a less dramatic sort, has also been brewing in the UK and western European countries, long seen as bastions of pedestrian-friendly (and cyclist-friendly) conditions. Through the 70s and 80s, these countries’ fatality rates were just as bad as America’s, or worse. But, since then, their progress has been more substantial and more enduring. The problem is that, since 2010, that progress has mostly sputtered to a halt. In general, the fatality numbers are not going down. “There’s immense frustration,” says Philip Gomm, of the RAC Foundation, a UK organisation that studies road safety issues. “Things were getting better, and now they’re not.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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On a recent Thursday evening in August, a 40-year-old MMA gym owner in Beijing named Xu Xiaodong activated his VPN, hopped over the Chinese government’s internet firewall, and began his first-ever live YouTube broadcast. He wanted to talk about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, in which hundreds of thousands of citizens have demonstrated against mainland China’s attempts to circumvent Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberties. Xu looked into the camera and took a stance on the protests that few, if any, of his countrymen living on the mainland were willing to publicly take: “Hong Kong people are Chinese. I am Chinese. So I love Hong Kong,” he said. “I don’t believe that there are so many violent thugs there.”

Word of Xu’s broadcast spread rapidly throughout the Chinese-speaking world. It was moving to many in Hong Kong, who have found people from the mainland to be publicly unsympathetic at best, and viciously hostile at worst, to their struggle. The comments section under the YouTube video soon flooded with support and praise for Xu’s bravery.

Xu’s livestream didn’t go unnoticed by the Chinese authorities, who had been using Chinese state media to portray the Hong Kong protestors as members of a rabid, violent mob. Four days after the livestream was posted, state security showed up at Xu’s apartment and took him in for questioning.

Read the rest of this article at: Deadspin

News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Haley Sharpe is a little bit famous. This is true for more people right now than ever before in the history of the world, but when you are a 16-year-old in Huntsville, Alabama, it is a very big deal.

Being a little bit famous is different from being famous-famous, but it is not that different, because when you’re a little bit famous it still feels like you are the center of the world. “A little bit famous” is the domain of Instagram influencers, reality TV contestants, YouTube creators, pageant queens, and mid-roster athletes who you yourself might not recognize on the street, but someone would.

Over the past year, another group have entered this category: TikTok stars. These people, most visibly teenagers, have found huge audiences on the nascent app known for short video posts, and Haley is one of them. Back in April, under the username @yodeling.karen — Karen is her middle name; “yodeling” references an old meme page she used to follow — Haley uploaded a video of herself dancing that went viral. A few weeks later, she made a video about celebrities who look like her and that went viral, too. After that, the hits came easier, and today she has just over 100,000 followers.

No, 100,000 followers is not a million followers. On TikTok, where followers are amassed at warp speed, it doesn’t even put Haley close to the top 50 accounts, which all boast followers into the multiple millions, despite most adults having zero clue who any of these people making silly, seconds-long videos are. But this summer Haley got recognized at dance camp, twice. Another time a girl came up to her at the snack shack at the pool where she lifeguards and asked if she was that girl from TikTok. Haley said “Yeah” and handed her her ice cream, and the girl said “Okay, thanks.” Now she has a journalist who flew all the way to Alabama from New York to find out what it’s like to be her.

Haley is on her way to getting the thing she wants, the thing all of her friends want. To be a very online young person in 2019 is to share the same goal: have the kind of social media following wherein performing your life online becomes a paying job. Haley and her friends, and their friends, and their friends, want to be stars in the constellation of professionally watchable influencers who rack up millions of views and considerable livelihoods by simply hanging out on their couch. They don’t want a boring day job, because who does? Why would you choose to eat sad desk salads when you could meet screaming fans and get paid by brands just for being yourself?

Haley has gotten a small taste of this, and like everybody else who has, she wants more.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

In public perception, age is often related to political views. “Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head,” the 19th-century French monarchist François Guizot is supposed to have said. King Louis Philippe’s prime minister was swept from power by the 1848 revolution, presumably by a combination of republican under-30s and older Frenchmen who had lost their heads. Since then, Guizot’s famous one-liner has often been updated.

There is indeed some evidence that people become more conservative with age, as an individual’s views evolve with one’s lifestyle and needs. However, most research suggests that one’s political outlook is formed at an early age, shaped by major economic and political events. In the United States, economic insecurity has pushed Millennials (born from 1981 to 1996) and Gen Zers (born after 1996) to the left on nearly every policy issue, economic and cultural alike. Young Americans want their country to become more “European,” favoring tuition-free education, single-payer health care, and an increased role for the state in the economy. Older Americans are the ones who tend to be attracted to Donald Trump’s populist cocktail of immigration restriction, protectionism, and easy money.

But if a European-style welfare state is the preferred destination of young Americans, where are young Europeans heading? After all, they already have most of the things their transatlantic counterparts say they want.

According to the standard account, the 2008–09 economic crisis and the migration crisis of 2015–16 were bound to drive voters into the arms of the far right. Young Europeans were seen by some as easy prey for populists, as they had no memories of the bad old days of nationalism and war in the mid-20th century.

Indeed, in the European elections in 2015, the far-right National Front and its leader, Marine Le Pen, came in first among French voters under 35, winning 30 percent of their votes. However, more recent election results suggest that Millennials and Gen Zers, like their American counterparts, are pulling the center of gravity of national politics to the left rather than the right.

In the European elections held earlier this year, Le Pen’s score among the young nearly halved, and the Greens triumphed, despite the efforts of the renamed National Rally to attract the youth vote by installing the charismatic 23-year-old Jordan Bardella as the lead candidate.

Across the Rhine, Germans ages 30 and under gave the Greens their best-ever result in a national election. At the other end of the ideological spectrum, the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) came in a distant sixth among the young.

Overall, the 2019 European elections were a disappointment for the leaders of the populist right, some of whom had boasted about taking over Brussels. Unable to win the youth vote in any major EU country except Italy, Poland, and Hungary—more about those countries below—the far right collectively recorded a net gain of only 13 members in the 751-seat European Parliament.

Recent national elections point to the same leftward trend among younger voters. And data from Eurobarometer, which has regularly surveyed the population in all EU member countries since 1973, show that a rising proportion of Millennials and Gen Zers identify themselves as left-leaning or centrist.

It is no surprise, then, that polls show growing support among younger European voters for policies advanced by left-wing parties. Millennials and Gen Zers value public services; they worry about racial and other forms of discrimination, as well as about climate change. They are more pro-European than previous generations and more willing to hand over new governing powers to Brussels.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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

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