News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The first episode of “Desert Island Discs” was recorded at the bomb-damaged Maida Vale Studios, in West London, on January 27, 1942, and aired on the BBC two days later. It’s an interview show with a simple premise: each celebrity guest discusses the eight recordings that he or she would bring if cast away alone on a desert island. The show is less concerned with logistics—in the early days, it clarified that guests would have “a gramophone and an inexhaustible supply of needles”—than the trigger of sound. Each guest wrestles with the question of what you would want a song to remind you of. Since that début episode, featuring the show’s creator, Roy Plomley, interviewing the Austrian-British comedian, actor, and musician Vic Oliver, there have been more than three thousand castaways. It’s now one of the BBC’s best-known and most cherished shows, hailed by some as one of the greatest radio programs of all time.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Gabriel Jiménez hated the Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. But he loved cryptocurrency. When he built the regime a digital coin, he nearly paid with his life.

Gabriel Jiménez.Credit…Evan Jenkins for The New York Times

Just after midnight one Tuesday in early 2018, the vice president of Venezuela commandeered the nation’s TV airwaves. Looking composed despite the hour, in a blue suit and red tie, he announced that the government was about to make history by becoming the first on Earth to sell its own cryptocurrency. It would be known as the Petro.

Three blocks away, in the vice president’s sprawling offices, Gabriel Jiménez was sitting blearily at an enormous glass conference table, pounding away at a laptop. Powerful air-conditioners chilled the air to a crisp. Lanky, with big black glasses set between a scruffy beard and a receding hairline, Mr. Jiménez had spent months designing and coding every detail of the Petro. Now, alongside his lead programmer, he was racing to make it operational, despite the fact that basic decisions had still not been made.

Just after the vice president signed off the air, his chief of staff burst into the office, furious. Mr. Jiménez couldn’t understand — something about typos on a website, an embarrassment to the nation. The chief brought in two guards, armed with military rifles, and told Mr. Jiménez and his programmer that they were forbidden to leave. If they made any attempt to communicate with the outside world, they would be on their way to El Helicoide. It was a distinctly Venezuelan symbol of terror: a futuristic mall project, with car ramps between stores, converted into a political prison and center of torture.

Below the table, Mr. Jiménez furtively texted his wife. Although she had recently left him, he asked her to send him a hug and to tell his father that he was in trouble.

Mr. Jiménez was finally released just before sunrise. When he made it to his apartment, he burst into sobs. Before he had time to collect himself, he got a call. The president himself, Nicolás Maduro, requested his presence. Mr. Jiménez walked to the presidential palace, pushing his way through the crowds outside with a sense of exhaustion and dread.

A few months earlier, the idea that Mr. Jiménez would be called before the tyrant who ruled Venezuela would have been unimaginable. Mr. Jiménez was just 27, ran a tiny start-up, and had spent years protesting the dictator. Mr. Maduro had not just mismanaged his country into financial crisis — he had detained, tortured and murdered those who challenged his power.

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

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For many Americans right now, the scale of the coronavirus crisis calls to mind 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis—events that reshaped society in lasting ways, from how we travel and buy homes, to the level of security and surveillance we’re accustomed to, and even to the language we use.

Politico Magazine surveyed more than 30 smart, macro thinkers this week, and they have some news for you: Buckle in. This could be bigger.

A global, novel virus that keeps us contained in our homes—maybe for months—is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, even to each other. Some changes these experts expect to see in the coming months or years might feel unfamiliar or unsettling: Will nations stay closed? Will touch become taboo? What will become of restaurants?

But crisis moments also present opportunity: more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, less polarization, a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come, but here is our best stab at a guide to the unknown ways that society—government, healthcare, the economy, our lifestyles and more—will change.

Read the rest of this article at: Politico

News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Before he answers a question, Nathan Williams pauses for longer than is strictly comfortable. He does not run a hand through his strawberry blond hair, nor does he twist the artfully rustic bronze cuff on his wrist. He does not fiddle with the silk triangle tied jauntily around his neck and dyed the exact shade of dark navy as the rest of his well-tailored ensemble. He does, however, blink slowly. If the question is of a personal nature, he may do this several times so that, initially, you read this response as panic—a classic deer-in-the-headlights look. But between blinks, he will hold your gaze, until finally the blinking comes to seem less like protection and more like consideration, a weighing of something—perhaps your trustworthiness, perhaps his own. In this as in all things, the cofounder of Kinfolk—the magazine that helped to codify, and in the process become shorthand for, a certain kind of Instagram-ready millennial aesthetic for an impressive stretch during the last decade—is acting with intention.

“I’m not used to talking about these things,” he says, a few pregnant pauses into our conversation about the magazine’s complicated history. “I want to make sure I get it right.”

Kinfolk is famously about intentionality, about a kind of wholesome slow living that exults in deliberately curated moments, carefully selected objects, and, as its twee tagline once read, “small gatherings.” Like all lifestyle magazines, it traffics in aspiration, and if, in the past eight years or so, you have found yourself craving a precisely sliced piece of avocado toast, or a laundry line from which to cunningly hang your linen bedsheets in the sun-dappled afternoon, you probably have Kinfolk to thank for it. But the seductions featured on its pages have always been aimed as much at the soul as the body. Through intention, Kinfolk’s austerely beautiful pages whisper, lies not just a pretty room or a lovely outfit, but a truer expression of the self, something more meaningful, more, as the marketers now put it, authentic.

That there might be inherent tension in an authenticity that depends on buying the right leather apron or arranging a bunch of wildflowers just so is a notion that does not seem to trouble Williams. But perhaps that is because of the other tensions, the ones that would tear apart the small band of intimates who helped him found the magazine; the ones that would erupt within his own measured soul. It was certainly nothing compared to the trauma that lay ahead, and would strip away the well-curated façade to, ultimately, reveal who he really was. Because although it would not be accurate to say that the Nathan Williams who started Kinfolk was living a lie, neither was he living in truth.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

News 03.20.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

We were at a friend’s doctoral graduation party on a Friday night at the end of March. I had a glass of wine in one hand and our toddler on my hip when Marta found me. “I got a really weird email,” she said.

The moon hung full over our heads, and all of us were in short sleeves, holding beers or wine and licking barbecue off our fingers while our kids played hide-and-seek in the dark.

“What?” I said.

“Something about me sexually harassing students,” Marta said, taking F. from my arms.

“What?” I said, louder this time.

“It’s probably spam,” she said, and then she disappeared.

That night we toasted our friend and her newly minted Ph.D. She thanked her husband for his help, her professors swapped stories about her and we toasted them for their mentorship. Afterward, we all wandered around the backyard talking about our kids or research or how perfect Arizona can seem in March.

When it was time to leave, I found our older daughter, N., standing on our friend’s bed with another little girl, who held a fistful of toilet paper and looked at me the way kids do when they’ve done something wrong. Strips of toilet paper littered the carpet, and I wondered whether one of them had peed her pants. Or maybe they’d had a toilet-paper fight. Or this was their version of snow in the desert.

“We’re gonna pull out her tooth,” the girl said before I could say anything, looking at N. and her loose front tooth.

I laughed. Later, I realized I never would have guessed that a tooth was at the center of that mess. Only a confession gave it meaning.

That night, after the girls fell asleep, Marta and I crawled into bed and pulled out our phones to reread the email she received. The anonymous sender wanted her to be aware that someone was posting about her on the message board Reddit. The email included a screenshot of the first post, which came from a person claiming to be part of a sexual-harassment case against Marta. “If you, like me, have been harassed by Dr. Marta, please contact the anonymous email line with A.S.U.’s Title IX Office,” the person wrote on the subreddit for our university, Arizona State University.

Ten minutes later, another post had gone up, ostensibly from someone else. “I attended a party at Marta’s house one night, where she got several graduate students drunk and then asked me to her bedroom. When I tried to leave she inappropriately touched me and I dropped her as my graduate adviser.”

I turned to look at Marta. She was staring at her phone. I reached out to touch her hip. “This isn’t spam,” I finally said.

That was last year, the year I turned 40 and, in the span of four weeks in January and February, flew to four different states to interview for jobs at universities and colleges in places besides Arizona. This is an experience in academic circles called “being on the market,” a phrase that people tend to speak with both resignation and trepidation, as when facing the pillory.

To go on the market, you first apply to dozens of jobs at universities, all of which require individualized application materials — cover letters, teaching philosophies, writing samples, research statements. Of the sometimes hundreds of people who apply to each job, only about 15 get a screening interview, and of those, only around three are invited to what is called a “campus visit,” a process that entails flying out to a college or university, sitting for interviews with anyone from students to the president, giving a talk or a reading, often teaching a mock class and then going out for a nice meal or two with a handful of faculty members who might one day be your colleagues. That winter, I had four campus visits, which meant I was lucky, which also meant I was exhausted. Marta stayed home with our girls each time I was away. Which meant she was exhausted, too.

My dream job was at the University of Michigan. They were looking for someone to help develop a potential creative-nonfiction concentration at the university, which houses one of the best creative-writing programs in the country. The faculty members I’d met were smart and kind and the students bright and assertive. And then there was the town itself: small, pretty and filled with great public schools.

It was the kind of place we had hoped to live ever since Marta and I met in Iowa City 10 years earlier. She was a Spaniard who grew up in the suburbs of Madrid soon after the death of Franco and later lived in London, Paris, Santiago and Beijing before moving to Iowa City for a graduate degree in linguistics. I had moved to Iowa for an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction after half a dozen years as a newspaper reporter in Florida and Texas. What most attracted me about her, besides the way she looked in a leather jacket, was how little she cared about what anyone thought of her.

What she liked about me, she said, was my independence. That and the fact that I’m generous, even when I get mad.

By the time I turned 40, we had been married for six years, had two kids and had moved twice for academic jobs, and professionally, each of us felt as if we were beginning to find our place in the world. My first book had come out; Marta was publishing articles and presenting regularly at conferences. We also each had tenure-track jobs, me teaching creative nonfiction, Marta Spanish linguistics, at a university we liked — if only it weren’t so far away from our families on the East Coast and from the small-town life we dreamed of when we first decided to have children.

“Can we please move to Michigan?” Marta joked several times after I got back from my January interview.

“Stop it,” I said. But sometimes before bed, I looked at houses for sale in Ann Arbor. I most loved the Craftsman bungalows with their wide porches and green lawns that, from the desert of Arizona, looked like a world someone else had dreamed up.

On Valentine’s Day, I flew out to Virginia to give a reading, and the next day, before flying home, I noticed that I had missed a call. Listening to the message, I heard the voice of a faculty member from Michigan asking me to call him back. He sounded as if he were smiling.

After I hung up the phone with him, I texted Marta: “JOB OFFER FROM MICHIGAN.”

I was told the offer letter would arrive soon, and in the meantime, the university would have a “dual-career coordinator” looking for possible jobs for Marta.

The following week, the same faculty member explained that a final committee approval meant we would have to wait a little longer. But then two weeks passed, and three, and four, and I still hadn’t received the contract, nor had we heard anything concrete about a position for Marta. I started to worry. “We shouldn’t have started looking at houses,” Marta said, only half kidding.

“We’ll hear something soon,” I said.

“Or not,” Marta said.

That was a joke between us. I always assume the news will be good. Marta is the dour Euro­pean. When I say something hopeful, she responds, “Or not.”

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

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