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News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@notyourstandard
News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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When Beck was a child, his mother would take him and his brother to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and ask them to choose a favorite and a least favorite piece. “I remember thinking, That’s a lot of pressure,” he said last month, in the atrium of the museum’s Ahmanson Building, a few weeks before the release of his new album, “Hyperspace.” He often picked Millard Sheets’s “Angel’s Flight,” an American oil painting from 1931, as his favorite. It shows two dark-haired women on a small balcony overlooking Bunker Hill, in downtown L.A. “Bunker Hill is the neighborhood in all the old noir films,” Beck said. “It was very picturesque, kind of seedy, post-Victorian. Then the nineteen-sixties came, and the city dynamited it—they just blew the whole hill up.”

Much of the museum’s campus—a cluster of buildings interspersed with open-air courtyards—will be demolished early next year, to make way for a contiguous structure. Beck, who is forty-nine, was feeling vaguely nostalgic about the place. He wanted to take a few photographs of the interior (the mid-century brass clock by the elevators, the pebbled concrete floors) before it disappeared. He paused before a stretch of worn oak panelling. “Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of photos of things like this,” he said. “Saying goodbye to stuff from the past. Making way for the new.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Frankie’s morning started before the sun came up, as the steadily increasing volume of his parents’ phone alarm, coming from somewhere near the dashboard, jolted the 8-year-old awake. His dad, Candido, and 6-year-old brother, Josephat, had begun to stir in the cramped rear of the minivan, emerging from a tangle of blankets, towels, pillows, and stuffed animals. His mom, Brenda, was in the driver’s seat, which was reclined as far back as it could go; his baby sister, Adelene, who was 3, was splayed out awkwardly on the seat beside her. As for Frankie, he was in his usual spot: nestled on the floorboard between the front seats and middle row, his skinny 4-foot frame hidden in a furry green-and-brown sleeping bag meant to look like a grizzly bear.

For almost nine months, the family had been living out of their Toyota Sienna in various fields and parking lots throughout Salinas, the industrial and economic center of Monterey County. In this part of the country, there was nothing especially dramatic or exceptional about their plight, or the circumstances that led them to be without a roof over their heads. Frankie’s parents were well aware of the worsening housing crisis that had dragged tens of thousands of Californians into a similar fate. But still, Candido said, it sometimes felt as though they were the only ones out there.

Finding a place to park the van was harder than expected. At first, the family tried the parking lot of a Food 4 Less grocery store. But the following morning, an employee warned them not to return; a neighborhood gang, he explained, controlled the area and had been threatening homeless people. He said they’d recently slashed someone’s tires. The family drove to a nearby strawberry farm, which proved more hospitable. In exchange for doing chores around the property, such as cleaning the bathrooms and emptying the trash, the farm’s owner would fill up their gas tank. But eventually other families, in their own cars and SUVs, began showing up, and it became too much. They’d have to go somewhere else, the owner said.

Now they were in the parking lot of Natividad Medical Center, just outside the emergency room. The lot was well lit, and there were bathrooms in the ER waiting room, open 24 hours. The hospital staff was mostly welcoming. At night, however, after everyone fell asleep, Candido had been noticing the tiny flicker of a lighter in a nearby pickup truck and the profile of an older man. Candido kept the van’s dome light on and made sure its doors were locked.

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

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Giving to charity is great, not just for the recipients but for the givers, too.

But it can be intimidating to know how to pick the best charity, especially when there are thousands of worthy causes to choose from. Here are a few simple tips that can help.

1) Check in with charity recommenders
It’s of course possible to research charity options yourself, but it’s probably better to outsource that labor to a careful, methodologically rigorous charity recommender like GiveWell. (Charity Navigator and Guidestar can be useful resources too, but they don’t try to rank charities or assess which do the most good for the lowest cost.)

GiveWell currently lists eight top charities, listed in order of their funding needs. If you can only support one, they advise that you support the Malaria Consortium, which “can use funding most effectively in the near term.”

Malaria Consortium, which helps distribute preventative antimalarial medication to children (a program known as “seasonal malaria chemoprevention”).

Against Malaria Foundation, which buys and distributes insecticidal bed nets, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa but also in Papua New Guinea.

Helen Keller International, which provides technical assistance to, advocates for, and funds vitamin A supplementation programs in sub Saharan Africa, which reduce child mortality.

Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative, END Fund, and

Sightsavers, which all work on deworming programs to prevent parasitic infections.

GiveDirectly, which directly distributes donations to poor people in Kenya and Uganda, to spend as they see fit.

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), which also does deworming work, but which GiveWell recommends refraining from donating to until they give more information on their near-term funding needs.

GiveWell chose those charities based on how much good additional donations would do, not necessarily how good the groups are overall; in other words, these are organizations that can put new funding to use, rather than sitting on it.

GiveWell takes that factor seriously. In 2013, it revoked its recommendation of Against Malaria on the grounds that the charity had not spent enough of the money it already raised. In 2014, GiveWell judged that Against Malaria once again had room for more funding, and restored it on the recommendation list. So you can expect Against Malaria, and the other recommended charities, to spend anything you donate effectively and reasonably promptly.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In northern Vermont in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, where I grew up in a town whose name was French but where everyone spoke English, the nearby Canadian border was not imposing. Dirt roads crossed the line where New England’s maples become Quebec’s, with no signs to warn passing hikers when they were under foreign trees. On the main highway north to Montreal were a pair of what looked like tollbooths, adorned with flags stitched with a big red leaf or stars and stripes. And when bored customs officers asked you to halt your vehicle, the inquisition to which you were subjected—at least if your Saab or pickup truck bore Vermont plates—was perfunctory. Documents often weren’t required. You could expect to be asked two questions: where you were headed and if you had any liquor.

There were benefits, in high school, to living near a province more libertine than our wholesome state. On Monday mornings, louche upperclassmen sometimes turned up in the cafeteria with tales of having dashed north, over the weekend, to where the drinking age was eighteen, for a case of Molson Ice. But the pull of difference was matched with a sense, at least as strong, that the border didn’t so much divide two nations as amble over a contiguous region. Sure, people on our side of the line pronounced Gallic place names in mountain English. (Calais sounded like “callous.”) But our shared climate and past helped feed a sense, among humans who also shared the complexion of February snow (this no doubt helped), that we had more in common with one another than with citizens of our vast nations who lived in far-off Vancouver or Phoenix.

Such cross-border ties are extremely common, of course, among the many millions of people who live near one of the hundreds of boundaries on earth. Most of the oldest borders date from a couple of centuries ago; many count their age in decades. And the ease with which many people straddled them was until very recently exemplified along the now notorious gran linea to our south, which before the nineteen-nineties neither the United States nor Mexico saw fit to mark with anything more forbidding, along most of its length, than an occasional rock pile in the desert. In a part of the continent once thought too dry to cultivate, that porosity was no less vital for Hispanic ranchers and Native Americans than for the builders of what became an agricultural juggernaut, in California and across the U.S. West, which has long depended on willing workers from the south.

Now Donald Trump’s dream of “sealing” that border has pulled it into the center of our national life. But as the scholar Matthew Longo underscores in “The Politics of Borders: Sovereignty, Security and the Citizen after 9/11,” although the policies that Trump is pursuing may stand out for their cruelty, they aren’t nearly so much of a departure as we may like to think—either from aims held by his predecessors, or from larger trends in how borders have been changing. In fact, Trump has revealed a new consensus among our political classes—and among hundreds of nations on earth—about what borders are, and what they’re for.

For most of the twentieth century, the “hard boundaries” that did exist were militarized for actually military reasons. These included contested frontiers like Kashmir and a few Cold War hot spots, like the D.M.Z. crossing the Korean peninsula, where opposing armies and world views stared each other down through rolls of concertina wire. Now such scenes are replicated along borders dividing countries whose shared system of government is democracy and whose armies are at peace. This is seen in the more than two thousand miles of heavily guarded barbed wire that India has erected between itself and Bangladesh; or the electrified fence with which South Africa confronts Zimbabwe; or the potato fields that Hungary has laced with menacing barriers to keep out refugees. Since the start of this century, dozens of borders have been transformed from mere lines on a map into actual, deadly features of the landscape. These are places where, as the geographer Reece Jones notes in his book “Violent Borders,” thousands of people each year are now “losing their lives simply trying to go from one place to another.”

The once obscure field of “border studies” has won new impetus from the global refugee crisis. But a surge of recent scholarship, of which Longo’s book is perhaps the standout, makes clear that there’s much to be gained from zooming out to examine the history and present of borders everywhere. The ways that borders are evolving in the twenty-first century, in step with changing technology, have profound implications for the future of human rights and international relations—and for the vision of sovereignty that’s shaped both since the first governments embraced the principle of jurisdiction over a strictly defined area of earth.

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

News 11.29.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Money is life. For nearly every human being on the planet, it’s more important than children, mom, art, whatever. Technically, it’s a record of payment. It can be a currency, but it doesn’t need to be. For an abstract idea, both real and unreal, money is quite tangible. Money means your kids eat or go hungry. Money enables a bag of paper to be exchanged for a house full of appliances. Money can be sex. Money can be murder. Say “money” three times fast and it feels like a marble of vanilla ice cream rolling around on your tongue. And money is all kinds of emotional. It’s attached to self-worth, shame, and safety. The other morning I noticed my wallet had no more money in it, so I went to an ATM and a neurological reaction turned the feeling of ten pieces of paper in my hand into “happy,” “more relaxed,” “more secure,” all at once.

You may not know what money is, but you know what is money.

But now money’s changing, perhaps forever.

What is crypto? A couple years ago, crypto was the future, according to your cousin at Thanksgiving. It had something to do with Internet drugs in China? He couldn’t explain it very well; it sounded like another one of his schemes. But then, out of nowhere, crypto kind of was the future. Bitcoin bros the world over became millionaires. And then the bubble burst, everything went to hell, everyone consoled your cousin while breathing a sigh of relief, because crypto had disappeared, and none of you needed to figure out what the hell it had been. Only crypto didn’t disappear, it just went quiet. And this Thanksgiving, the evangelists will tell you it’s bigger, more relevant than ever, only they’re not just your cousin anymore. They’re the People’s Bank of China. They’re Mark Zuckerberg. Talking about crypto today is more like talking about the climate crisis. Forget real or unreal. It’s “how soon,” and “oh crap.”

Crypto is life. You just don’t know it yet.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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

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Roseline Lohr

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