News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

IN LATE MARCH, when New York City went into lockdown, I had to make a choice: either I shelter in place with my roommate (who is at higher risk of illness from the virus) and my two cats in our shared Brooklyn apartment, or I relocate to my partner’s one-bedroom space, some fifteen minutes’ walk east, not to return for the indefinite duration of the pandemic. Neither option was ideal. Our apartment had a slightly more centralized location, marginally more space, a dishwasher, and on-site laundry; it also had all of my stuff and the aforementioned cats (to whom my partner is severely, and frustratingly, allergic). On the other hand, my partner’s apartment had, well, my partner. Intimate companionship. The promise of emotional support amid an unprecedented episode of collective crisis. The assurance of human touch amid mounting paranoia over contact and spread. In the simplest possible terms: I could choose home, or I could choose hugs.

I went with the former.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Long before she became headline news in Pakistan, Cynthia Dawn Ritchie was simply a tourist. In 2009, Ritchie, an American woman living in Houston, Texas, took a trip to Karachi, the sprawling megacity in southern Pakistan. At the time, Pakistan was beset by terrorist violence, and the travel advice of most western countries could be summarised as “don’t go”. But Ritchie had been persuaded by friends who knew the city. “My Pakistani friends said: ‘Cynthia, you’ve travelled much of the world, but you haven’t been to Pakistan, why not come?’ I was like: ‘Sure, why not?’,” Ritchie told me.

After a couple of weeks eating seafood and sightseeing, Ritchie went back to Houston, where she worked in communications and other roles for local government. The next year, she made a few more trips to Pakistan, funded by various Pakistani-American organisations. Houston is twinned with Karachi, and Ritchie told me that back then she “represented the city as an informal goodwill ambassador”. As foreigners in Pakistan often are, she was immediately offered exciting opportunities – working with local NGOs, advising the health department about social media, giving lectures. That year, she decided to move to Pakistan permanently. “I just felt a kinship here, that I belonged here and had a sense of purpose,” she said when we first spoke earlier this year. She settled in the leafy, relatively secure capital city, Islamabad, where most westerners in Pakistan – diplomats, journalists, aid workers – also lived.

Ritchie had no problem making friends and contacts. She has a supremely confident manner, and speaks as if she already knows that you’re going to agree with her. At first, she worked in development, consulting for government agencies and NGOs. A few years after moving, she started work on a documentary series that would showcase Pakistan’s natural beauty and cultural riches. Later, there would be some claims on social media that Pakistan’s powerful military had some involvement in the project, but Ritchie insists that it was entirely self-funded. In October 2015, she posted a short trailer on her YouTube channel and Facebook page. “Living abroad, one often hears of Pakistan in myopic and prejudiced terms,” she announces in the voiceover. “But my time in Pakistan has taught me the world can be wrong about many things.” Over the next three-and-a-half minutes, we see shots of bustling markets, jagged mountain ranges, and Ritchie, a tall, attractive woman, in various street scenes – playing with children, driving a rickshaw. “Join me,” Ritchie says, “as we show a side of Pakistan rarely seen in the international media.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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Not 20 minutes into The Vow, HBO’s enthralling-then-ultimately-gasbaggy docuseries, things started to feel concerningly familiar to me. Sarah Edmondson—an engaging Canadian actor with big valedictorian energy who had joined the Albany-based organization NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um)—was describing how she was first drawn into a group that she would later expose as a sex cult. Edmondson’s career had stalled, and she was looking for a sign from the universe. A chance meeting on a cruise with a documentarian named Mark Vicente led her to her first five-day NXIVM seminar, where, between clunky taped interludes with ’80s fitness-video graphics, Edmondson says, she had a revelation.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Over the past few months, Chinese people from all walks of life, be they software developers, stay-at-home moms, or elite university students, have all discovered their daily lives can be accurately described by the same once-arcane academic term: involution.

Originally used by anthropologists to describe self-perpetuating processes that keep agrarian societies from progressing, involution has become a shorthand used by Chinese urbanites to describe the ills of their modern lives: Parents feel intense pressure to provide their children with the very best; children must keep up in the educational rat race; office workers have to clock in a grinding number of hours.

Involution can be understood as the opposite of evolution. The Chinese word, neijuan, is made up of the characters for ‘inside’ and ‘rolling,’ and is more intuitively understood as something that spirals in on itself, a process that traps participants who know they won’t benefit from it.

In a sense, it’s the latest word for the negative side of China’s cutthroat society, similar to sangthe mentality of people who have turned apathetic by incessant competition, or the various memes people use to decry their intensely boring white-collar jobs. But involution’s academic roots and its widespread application suggest the word, to many, captures something more fundamental.

Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper sat down to discuss involution with anthropologist Xiang Biao, a professor at the University of Oxford and the director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany. Xiang has researched China and other parts of Asia, and is often called on to comment on the country’s social issues. He explains how involution relates to Confucianism, how China’s narrow definition of social success means people end up competing with each other, and how there doesn’t seem to be an exit ramp from this “endless cycle of self-flagellation.” The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Read the rest of this article at: Sixth Tone

News 11.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Just before noon on a warm Wednesday in August 2019, Marilynn-Leigh Francis slowed her boat down and looked out across the water. The buoy wasn’t there. She sat at the bow, held the wheel, and considered the currents. An army-green baseball cap shielded her eyes from the sun. It was almost high tide, and the strong pulls in the Bay of Fundy had likely made her lobster traps disappear, hiding them beneath the ocean’s surface. As she’d hoped.

“See?” Francis called back to her friend. “Tide’s pulling our buoy down.”

“I was gonna say.” Tiffany Nickerson was perched on an empty trap at the stern of the small skiff. It was her second day out fishing with Francis.

The Mi’kmaq have fished these waters, along the coast of what is now Nova Scotia, for millennia and have called this place home for just as long. Francis, like Nickerson, is Mi’kmaw, and she was teaching her friend how to catch lobster.

From the boat, the port town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, appeared in miniature. Like it is to so many coastal communities in the Maritimes, lobster is part of the local DNA: along the town’s main strip, shops sell nautical kitsch—smiling cartoon lobsters drawn on cards, mugs that say “work like a captain, play like a pirate.” Tourists pass through the port and nearby coastal towns to eat at restaurants with names like Captain’s Cabin or The Crow’s Nest. Diners pick lobsters from tanks and don plastic bibs to catch the splatter when they crack open the shells.

Lobster is Canada’s most valuable seafood export. And the sea around southwestern Nova Scotia, or Kespukwitk, where Francis fishes, is one of the largest and most lucrative lobster-fishing areas in the country. (Kespukwitk is one of the seven districts that make up the vast Mi’kmaw territory of Mi’kma’ki.) Federal law requires all fishers to operate with a licence. But, like many Mi’kmaw fishers, Francis and Nickerson assert that they don’t need one. Which is why Nickerson has to learn about more than just how to set traps.

“I wonder if DFO got it,” Francis said to her friend as her boat rocked on the waves. Francis checked the location on a GPS device hanging from a cord around her neck.

It wouldn’t be the first time officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, commonly known as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), had hauled Francis’s traps out of the water and locked them up in a fenced-off compound. Francis was fishing without a licence that day, as she always does. She was also fishing in August, three months before the start of the DFO-regulated season. After providing for her family and giving some of her catch to Elders in her community, Francis usually trades or sells the rest. To the DFO, that’s another affront: without a commercial licence, any sales or trades, however small, are considered illegal.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

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