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News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@theseptemberchronicles
News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Make Life Easier
News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@leasy_inparis

I’VE ALWAYS thought of the Minifie Lecture as a kind of “state of the union” about journalism in Canada. And there are so many issues to think about and discuss at the moment that the possibilities for this lecture seemed almost endless. As I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about, I went back and read the previous Minifie lectures to see what people had talked about before me. While each one is different, it was interesting to see common themes emerge again and again. Frankly, it’s not the happiest picture of journalism. This won’t be a surprise, but journalists don’t typically focus on the good news.

There are concerns about low pay in journalism, the gruelling hours, the lack of public trust in the media, and people’s low opinion—and even downright hostility—toward journalists in a world growing more complicated every day. There are questions about our accountability and our ethics, the perception of bias in media, concerns about media monopolies and job losses.

There is the struggle between the press and authority, the importance of pushing back against media manipulation and spin and those who try to repress us with threats and libel chill. The perennial problem of those “self-important, officious, rude, horrible public-relations people.”

There are fundamental questions about journalistic objectivity versus advocacy and about the role of journalism amidst widening conditions of poverty, isolation, racism, violence, and suffering.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Not long ago, I travelled to the Black Hills of South Dakota to see the place from which humanity would supposedly be reborn after global civilisational collapse. The end of the world was trending, and it seemed as good a time as any to visit a place for sitting out the last days. Over the previous few months, perhaps as a means of sublimating my own anxieties about raising a small child in an increasingly dark and volatile world, I had become preoccupied with the apocalyptic tone of our culture.

One of the more perverse aspects of this obsession was a months-long binge of doomsday prepper content, of blogs and forums and YouTube videos in which burly American guys, most of whom were called things like Kyle or Brent, explained how to prepare for a major catastrophe – your global pandemics, your breakdowns of law and order, your all-out nuclear wars – by pursuing various strategies for “tactical survival”. And this had opened out on to a broader vista of apocalyptic preparedness, and to a lucrative niche of the real estate sector catering to individuals of means who wanted a place to retreat to when things truly went sideways.

I had made arrangements to meet with one Robert Vicino, a real-estate impresario from San Diego who had acquired a vast tract of South Dakota ranch land. The property had once been an army munitions and maintenance facility, built during the second world war for the storage and testing of bombs, and it contained 575 decommissioned weapons storage facilities, gigantic concrete and steel structures designed to withstand explosions of up to half a megaton. Vicino intended to sell them for $35,000 a pop to those Americans who cared to protect themselves and their families from a variety of possible end-time events.

Vicino was among the most prominent and successful figures in the doomsday preparedness space, a real-estate magnate for the end of days. His company specialised in the construction of massive underground shelters where high-net-worth individuals could weather the end of the world in the style and comfort to which they had become accustomed. The company was named Vivos, which is the Spanish word for living. (As in los vivos – as distinct, crucially, from los muertos.) Vivos claimed to operate several facilities across the US, all in remote and undisclosed locations, far from likely nuclear targets, seismic fault lines and large urban areas where outbreaks of contagion would be at their most catastrophically intense. They were advertising an “elite shelter” in Germany, too, a vast Soviet-era munitions bunker built into the bedrock beneath a mountain in Thuringia.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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The change came less as a chrysalis moment, an instant of emergence and blossoming, than after weeks of distress. My apartment at the time was in the rear of the building, away from the street. Even by studio standards, it was tiny — the kitchen too close to the bed, the bed practically touching the bookshelf and the desk. It had a slight view of the Chicago skyline but mainly looked onto a brick wall. My immediate neighbors kept to themselves. They were presences, a series of doors opening and closing. I’d lived contentedly in that remove. It suited me. Then it didn’t.

Naturally, I blamed my apartment — the claustrophobic lack of square footage, the oppressive brick wall. The moment I walked in the door, I felt a crushing weight on my chest, followed by a pit in my stomach. My environment had to be the cause.

In his essay on solitude, the 16th-century essayist Michel de Montaigne disagrees: “Our disease lies in the mind, which cannot escape from itself.” Finding contentment in solitude requires self-reliance. (Ralph Waldo Emerson would later agree, though he remained very much engaged in public life.) Montaigne advises us to keep a “back shop,” a private room within the self, where others can’t enter. Plaster and wood have nothing to do with it. We must have “a mind pliable in itself, that will be company.” My inner back shop had somehow transformed from a place of solitude to one of isolation and loneliness.

The ideal of solitude is strength. It’s a skill to be mastered: the ability to be alone without feeling lonely.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The National Quarantine Center, this nation’s only federal quarantine facility, sits on a single floor of a new building on the campus of the University of Nebraska Medical Center west of downtown Omaha. It holds 20 beds, 15 of which are occupied by patients exposed to the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV2, including several passengers from cruise ship Diamond Princess.

A couple of blocks away sits the UNMC biocontainment unit, the largest of its kind in this country, which takes up part of an upper floor in a large inpatient-care facility. Ten beds, with a 35-bed surge capacity. Two pressurized entrances providing constant negative air pressure via a HEPA airflow system, and decontamination autoclaves for waste disposal. Currently four of the beds are occupied by contagious COVID-19 patients. (“COVID” means coronavirus disease.)

From the hallway outside, the staff entrance is just a plain wooden door, with a coded keypad on the wall. There’s a plaque at the other end but not much else to signify the location as particularly important. This is a health-care facility, peopled by a calm—and, yes, exhausted—staff, otherwise busy with the industry of care.

And as the new coronavirus continued its attack on the globe, the sole diversion from normalcy in the area is the presence of two federal marshals sitting in at a folding table. On the day I visited, one of the marshals was eating a graham cracker. On the table: Aquafina water bottles, two government-issue laptops, Clorox disinfectant spray, and hospital-grade sanitizing wipes. The marshals wore short-sleeved button-down shirts, khakis—they could’ve been on their way to hit some balls at the driving range. On the wall behind them, next to an alcove, a sign said “Soda Machine.”

This is normalcy. And this is the new code red.

Read the rest of this article at: Esquire

News 03.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

That evening, H. is sick, as predicted. I go out for medicine, but things are picked over at Rite Aid. Everything left feels a bit off-brand: chewable grape-flavored ibuprofen, a raspberry-flavored vitamin-C mix. Moms with strollers crowd the aisles, all of us looking for things that aren’t there anymore.

Monday, March 2nd

H. running a fever. Hope it’s just a cold. I’d been planning to go to my office this week, to work on my unfinishable novel, but sick kid means I stay home. I reread a draft while H. plays FIFA 20 on the Switch and watches soccer videos. For lunch, I go to the corner deli and get him a bagel with cream cheese and a small Tropicana orange juice. Vitamin C doesn’t do anything against the coronavirus, but maybe it will help with his regular cold. We eat our lunch on the roof, and we talk in the sunshine. He’s happy and I’m happy.

Tuesday, March 3rd

I take Y., my older son, to hockey practice. One night in December, I’d parked the car and walked him to the rink, then went to a coffee shop to work on the unfinishable novel. Half an hour later, my phone rang. I couldn’t recognize the distraught voice on the other end as my son. The head of the program got on the line and told me to come to the rink at once. Turned out that another kid’s father (white) had berated Y. during warmups, claiming he’d slashed his son with his stick. He followed him off the ice, screamed and swore at him. The various accounts are confusing. At some point he said he would call the cops. The coaches stepped in; he was instructed to leave. The dad was banned from the rink until the end of January.

At the beginning of February, I overhear someone at the rink saying in chummy tones, “So you’re finally back.” It’s another dad (white) talking to the guy who must be the dad. I surreptitiously take a photo and send it to my wife, W. This is the guy who screamed at Y.

At the time, I kept thinking, Would he have treated a white kid that way?

Now I think, Does the coronavirus outbreak make it seem O.K. to shout at an Asian kid?

Tonight I see the dad again, from afar. In the past few months, I’ve played over scenarios in my head. I should shake his hand, say, “No hard feelings.” But no—let him make the first move. Watching him, I think, He doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

Wednesday, March 4th

H. is better and back to school. Spring break is coming up. The Delaware tournament looms large in his mind. He’ll be totally healthy by then. My wife will drive him there, while I take Y. to his tournament in Philadelphia. A divide-and-conquer sort of weekend.

Thursday, March 5th

W.’s birthday. I draw her a card, a New York skyline with arrows pointing to the various places we’ve lived over the years. The boys each write a little note, signing off, “your favorite son.”

There’s an article about a staffer at a Brooklyn assemblywoman’s office who shared a message on Facebook advising people not to frequent Chinese businesses in the city, claiming that the proprietors could be carrying the virus from having gone to China for the Lunar New Year. I can’t believe people sometimes.

I spend a few hours decluttering, in anticipation of finally moving to the new apartment. I post four times to Instagram, a series I call “Marie Kondo vs. _____.” Today’s possible victims: my Village Voice reporter’s notebooks, the sheet music to “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and a copy of an unpublished book I wrote twenty-two years ago—a manuscript that only exists as a printout, not on e-mail, in the cloud, anything but paper. The posts get a hundred and twenty-four, forty-two, and a hundred and eighty-seven likes, respectively.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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