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News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@tanyachronicles
News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@emilytaubert
News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@sh_mong_

‘Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.’ This popular quip, often misattributed to Oscar Wilde, appears without any apparent irony in self-help books and blog posts celebrating authenticity. Understandably, they take the dictum to ‘be oneself’ as a worthy, nearly unassailable goal. Our culture is saturated with authenticity: we’re forever ‘finding ourselves’, ‘self-actualising’, ‘doing you’, ‘being real’, ‘going off the beaten path’, ‘breaking free of the crowd’. We spend our youth trying to figure out who we are; our later years trying to stay true to ourselves; and the time in-between in crisis about whether we are who we thought we were.

But ‘Wilde’s’ quote, inauthentic though it might be, suggests something foolish at the heart of authenticity. All this introspection can seem gratuitous. Why expend so much effort trying to be something we can’t help but be? ‘In the end,’ as the author David Foster Wallace put it, ‘you end up becoming yourself.’

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 1990, not long after Jean-Marie Robine and Michel Allard began conducting a nationwide study of French centenarians, one of their software programs spat out an error message. An individual in the study was marked as 115 years old, a number outside the program’s range of acceptable age values. They called their collaborators in Arles, where the subject lived, and asked them to double-check the information they had provided, recalls Allard, who was then the director of the IPSEN Foundation, a nonprofit research organization. Perhaps they made a mistake when transcribing her birth date? Maybe this Jeanne Calment was actually born in 1885, not 1875? No, the collaborators said. We’ve seen her birth certificate. The data is correct.

Calment was already well known in her hometown. Over the next few years, as rumors of her longevity spread, she became a celebrity. Her birthdays, which had been local holidays for a while, inspired national and, eventually, international news stories. Journalists, doctors and scientists began crowding her nursing-home room, eager to meet la doyenne de l’humanité. Everyone wanted to know her story.

Calment lived her entire life in the sunburned clay-and-cobble city of Arles in the South of France, where she married a second cousin and moved into a spacious apartment above the store he owned. She never needed to work, instead filling her days with leisurely pursuits: bicycling, painting, roller skating and hunting. She enjoyed a glass of port, a cigarette and some chocolate nearly every day. In town, she was known for her optimism, good humor and wit. (“I’ve never had but one wrinkle,” she once said, “and I’m sitting on it.”)

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

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You are reading this in a café, the steam wafting gently off your coffee, a soft rain pattering on the window outside. You are in an old library late at night, with the creak of old chairs and the scratching of a pencil from a writer immersed in their thoughts. You are in a dense, foggy forest in the shadow of a mountain where your party has set up temporary camp, hoping no belligerent creatures wander through during the night. Hours tick by as these atmospheres spool out from your computer screen and speakers. Before moving to your next piece of business, you glance at your browser window to confirm: The coffee is still hot; the monsters have yet to arrive. The scene is set for your everyday activities, but only within the frame of the platform itself.

These “ambience videos,” each streaming on YouTube, epitomize a transformation in mood-regulating media: Where ambient media once intervened in the mood of an existing space, newer forms promise instead an atmospheric escape from wherever you find yourself.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

During a particularly polarising election campaign in the state of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, waded into the fray to stir things up even further. From a public podium, he accused the state government – which was led by an opposition party – of pandering to the Muslim community by spending more on Muslim graveyards (kabristans) than on Hindu cremation grounds (shamshans). With his customary braying sneer, in which every taunt and barb rises to a high note mid-sentence before it falls away in a menacing echo, he stirred up the crowd. “If a kabristan is built in a village, a shamshan should also be constructed there,” he said.

“Shamshan! Shamshan!” the mesmerised, adoring crowd echoed back.

Perhaps he is happy now that the haunting image of the flames rising from the mass funerals in India’s cremation grounds is making the front page of international newspapers. And that all the kabristans and shamshans in his country are working properly, in direct proportion to the populations they cater for, and far beyond their capacities.

“Can India, population 1.3 billion, be isolated?” the Washington Post asked rhetorically in a recent editorial about India’s unfolding catastrophe and the difficulty of containing new, fast-spreading Covid variants within national borders. “Not easily,” it replied. It’s unlikely this question was posed in quite the same way when the coronavirus was raging through the UK and Europe just a few months ago. But we in India have little right to take offence, given our prime minister’s words at the World Economic Forum in January this year.

Modi spoke at a time when people in Europe and the US were suffering through the peak of the second wave of the pandemic. He had not one word of sympathy to offer, only a long, gloating boast about India’s infrastructure and Covid-preparedness. I downloaded the speech because I fear that when history is rewritten by the Modi regime, as it soon will be, it might disappear, or become hard to find. Here are some priceless snippets:

“Friends, I have brought the message of confidence, positivity and hope from 1.3 billion Indians amid these times of apprehension … It was predicted that India would be the most affected country from corona all over the world. It was said that there would be a tsunami of corona infections in India, somebody said 700-800 million Indians would get infected while others said 2 million Indians would die.”

“Friends, it would not be advisable to judge India’s success with that of another country. In a country which is home to 18% of the world population, that country has saved humanity from a big disaster by containing corona effectively.”

Modi the magician takes a bow for saving humanity by containing the coronavirus effectively. Now that it turns out that he has not contained it, can we complain about being viewed as though we are radioactive? That other countries’ borders are being closed to us and flights are being cancelled? That we’re being sealed in with our virus and our prime minister, along with all the sickness, the anti-science, the hatred and the idiocy that he, his party and its brand of politics represent?

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 30.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Bitcoin? Blasé. Gold? Going out of style. “The hottest commodity on the planet,” according to Dustin Jalbert, an economist at the market-research firm Fastmarkets, is lumber.

In North America, lumber is typically traded in units of 1,000 board feet; builders need about 15,000 board feet, on average, to construct a single-family home. From 2015 to 2019, lumber traded at $381 for 1,000 board feet, according to Fastmarkets. This month, it reached an all-time high of $1,104 for the same amount. The lumber shortage has added at least $24,000 to the cost of a new home, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

On its face, the surge in lumber’s price has a simple explanation: Demand for wood is really high right now. Over the past year, Americans have bought new homes, started renovations, and embarked on DIY projects at stratospheric rates. But the lumber story is not simply about record-breaking demand. The spike has hit just as lumber supply is dwindling and undergoing a major transition, analysts and scientists told me.

Since 2018, a one-two punch of environmental harms worsened by climate change has devastated the lumber industry in Canada, the largest lumber exporter to the United States. A catastrophic and multi-decade outbreak of bark-eating beetles, followed by a series of historic wildfire seasons, have led to lasting economic damage in British Columbia, a crucial lumber-providing province. Americans have, in effect, made a mad dash for lumber at the exact moment Canada is least able to supply it.

Climate change, which has long threatened to overturn dependable facts about the world, is now starting to make itself known in commodities markets, the exchanges that keep staple goods flowing to companies and their customers. For years, scientists and agricultural forecasters have warned that climate change could result in devastating failures among luxury goods, such as fine chocolate and wine. Others have speculated about several grain-producing regions slipping into a simultaneous drought, a phenomenon dubbed “multiple breadbasket failures.” But for now, a climate-change-induced shortage is showing up more subtly, dampening supply during a historic demand crunch.

“There are people who say, ‘Climate change isn’t affecting me,’” Janice Cooke, a forest-industry veteran and biology professor at the University of Alberta, told me. “But they’re going to go to the hardware store and say, ‘Holy cow, the price of lumber has gone up.’”

When you ask lumber economists about this year’s astonishing price run, they tell a story that you can summarize with three D’s: DIY, demand, and demography. When the economy shut down last spring, sawmills across North America planned on a long-lasting and deep recession. They slowed production lines and paused up to a third of their lumber production, according to Dustin Jalbert, a wood-products economist at Fastmarkets.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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