News 11.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For a certain kind of worker, the pandemic presented a rupture in the space-time-career continuum. Many Americans were stuck, tied down by children or lost income or obligations to take care of the sick. But for those who were unencumbered, with steady jobs that were doable from anywhere, it was a moment to grab destiny and bend employment to their favor.

Their logic was as enviable as it was unattainable for everyone else: If you’re going to work from home indefinitely, why not make a new home in an exotic place? This tiny cohort gathered their MacBooks, passports and N95 masks and became digital nomads.

They Instagrammed their workdays from empty beach resorts in Bali and took Zoom meetings from tricked-out camper vans. They made balcony offices at cheap Tulum Airbnbs and booked state park campsites with Wi-Fi. They were the kind of people who actually applied to those remote worker visa programs heavily advertised by Caribbean countries. And occasionally they were deflated.

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

News 11.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Notes from the Weekend & a Few Lovely Links >>>

Before dawn on January 23, 2019, Mark McConnell arrived at the Key West headquarters of the military and civilian task force that monitors drugs headed to the United States from the Southern Hemisphere. McConnell, a prosecutor at the Department of Justice and a former marine, left his phone in a box designed to block electronic transmissions, and passed through a metal detector and a key-card-protected air lock to enter the building. On the second floor, he punched in the code for his office door, then locked it behind him. On a computer approved for the handling of classified information, he loaded a series of screenshots he had taken, showing entries in a database called Helios, which federal law enforcement uses to track drug smugglers. McConnell e-mailed the images to a classified government hotline for whistle-blowers. Then he printed backup copies and, following government procedures for handling classified information, sealed them in an envelope that he placed in another envelope, marked “SECRET.” He hid the material behind a piece of furniture.

McConnell had uncovered what he described as a “criminal conspiracy” perpetrated by the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. Every year, entries in the Helios database lead to hundreds of drug busts, which lead to prosecutions in American courts. The entries are typically submitted to Helios by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the F.B.I., and a division of the Department of Homeland Security. But McConnell had learned that more than a hundred entries in the database that were labelled as originating from F.B.I. investigations were actually from a secret C.I.A. surveillance program. He realized that C.I.A. officers and F.B.I. agents, in violation of federal law and Department of Justice guidelines, had concealed the information’s origins from federal prosecutors, leaving judges and defense lawyers in the dark. Critics call such concealment “intelligence laundering.” In the nineteen-seventies, after C.I.A. agents were found to have performed experiments with LSD on unwitting Americans and investigated Vietnam War protesters, restrictions were imposed that bar the agency from being involved in domestic law-enforcement activities. Since the country’s founding, judges, jurors, and defendants have generally had the right to know how evidence used in a trial was gathered. “This was undisclosed information, from an agency working internationally with different rules and standards,” Nancy Gertner, a retired federal district judge and a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, told me. “This should worry Trump voters who talk about a ‘deep state.’ This is the quintessential deep state. This is activities beyond your view, fundamentally affecting what happens in American courts.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

IN APRIL 2017, a man started hiking in a state park just north of New York City. He wanted to get away, maybe from something and maybe from everything. He didn’t bring a phone; he didn’t bring a credit card. He didn’t even really bring a name. Or at least he didn’t tell anyone he met what it was.

He did bring a giant backpack, which his fellow hikers considered far too heavy for his journey. And he brought a notebook, in which he would scribble notes about Screeps, an online programming game. The Appalachian Trail runs through the area, and he started walking south, moving slowly but steadily down through Pennsylvania and Maryland. He told people he met along the way that he had worked in the tech industry and he wanted to detox from digital life. Hikers sometimes acquire trail names, pseudonyms they use while deep in the woods. He was “Denim” at first, because he had started his trek in jeans. Later, it became “Mostly Harmless,” which is how he described himself one night at a campfire. Maybe, too, it was a reference to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Early in the series, a character discovers that Earth is defined by a single word in the guide: harmless. Another character puts in 15 years of research and then adds the adverb. Earth is now “mostly harmless.”

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 11.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Scott Boswell stood at the start of his bowling run-up, immersed in his own very public hell. It was the final of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy in 2001, which should have been the highlight of his cricket career. Instead, he found himself unable to do what he had been doing his entire life.

“I became so anxious I froze. I couldn’t let go. It was a nightmare,” Boswell recalled. “How can I not be able to run up and bowl – something that I’ve done for so many years without even thinking about it? How can that happen? What’s going on in my brain to stop me doing that, and to make me feel physically sick and anxious and that I can’t do something that I’ve just done so naturally?”

Boswell was a fast bowler for Leicestershire. After a man of the match performance in the semi-final, he had earned the right to play in the final at a sold-out Lord’s cricket ground, the home of cricket. It was the dream of every county cricketer.

But Boswell had lost his form in the three weeks since the semi-final, and his place in the final had become less secure. At 10pm the night before the final, Leicestershire’s coach said he wanted to see him. He asked Boswell “whether I was up for it, and whether I could manage. So there was a seed put in my head before I actually played.” He was finally told he was playing 45 minutes before the game. Somerset, Leicestershire’s opponents, won the toss and chose to bat on a sunny day. Boswell, as one of the opening bowlers, bowled the second over.

“The first couple of balls, I felt OK,” he recalled. But on his last ball of the over, Boswell bowled an easy-to-hit short ball that was hit for four runs. “It just didn’t come out of the hands right … It just became a little bit stuck.” It signalled trouble ahead. The next over began with a huge wide. “I thought: ‘Oh, Jesus Christ. I’ve never bowled it that wide before – what’s happened there?’ And that was it. I then bowled another wide, the crowd started to make a bit of noise, I’m thinking: ‘Crikey.’ It went down the leg side, so I’ve got one on the offside, one on the leg side, I’ve overcompensated and I’m thinking: ‘Wow.’”

An over in cricket comprises six balls – that is, six balls that are not considered a no-ball or wide. There are normally only a handful of no-balls in an innings. But Boswell’s second over in the final lasted 14 balls, as he repeatedly sprayed the ball too wide of the crease on either side. A YouTube video of the over, entitled The worst over ever? has been watched more than 1.5m times.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 11.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s February in Las Vegas, and because I have managed to step on my glasses and break them, as I do at least once a year, I have gone to the LensCrafters at the Boulevard Mall, a faux deco artifact of midcentury Vegas that, like so many malls in America, is a mere husk of its former self. In a faculty meeting a few days earlier, I’d watched as one of my colleagues bent and manipulated a paper clip, then used it to refasten the left bow of his glasses, creating a tiny antenna at his temple. That’s not a look I’m after, so I am here, obsessively trying on frame after frame, as the young Iranian man who is helping me on this quiet Monday afternoon patiently nods or shakes his head: yes, yes; no, no, no.

I order two pairs. LensCrafters, the movie theater chain of eyeglasses, is always offering deals: half off a second set of frames, a supersize popcorn for fifty cents more. While I wait, I walk around the mall, a 1.2-million-square-foot monstrosity built on seventy-five acres, with a 31,000-square-foot SeaQuest aquarium and a 28,000-square-foot Goodwill.

Next door to LensCrafters, there’s a shop that sells gemstones, crystals, sage, and pink Himalayan salt lamps. The burning sage makes that end of the mall smell musky, animalistic—a strangely feral odor in this synthetic environment. Snaking its lazy way around the scuffed tile floor is an automated miniature train, the sort children might ride at the zoo, driven by an adult man dressed as a conductor; it toots loudly and gratingly at regular intervals. JCPenney and Macy’s and Dillard’s closed months and years ago, while Sears is limping along in its fire-sale days. At Foot Locker, I try on black-and-white Vans in an M. C. Escher print. At Hot Topic, I browse the cheap T-shirts printed with sayings like Keep Calm and Drink On and Practice Safe Hex. I eat a corn dog, fried and delicious, at a place called Hot Dog on a Stick. (I really do.) The atmosphere is depressing, in all its forced cheerfulness and precise evocation of the empty material promises of my ’80s-era youth.

I am almost three miles east of the Strip, but I could be anywhere, at any ailing mall in America. The only clues that I am in Las Vegas are a couple of clothing shops that carry items like six-inch Lucite stilettos and pearl-encrusted crop tops. And then, outside, a well-worn swimsuit someone has discarded on a pedestal near the entrance, where Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” blares. The swimsuit has a built-in corset-like bra, an exoskeleton of sorts—it could probably stand on its own—and it’s as if someone has left a part of her body behind. There’s no pool, I think. Who undressed here? Such odd Vegas-y details are everywhere in this city—the Elvis impersonator shopping in full-spangled regalia at my local health food store, the pink vibrator melting on Maryland Parkway in 110-degree heat—and I assume you eventually become blind to them, but after four years here, I still see them.

Read the rest of this article at: The Believer

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