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News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@marie_sinitsina
News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@josiemercedes
News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@lovisabarkman

Burnout is generally said to date to 1973; at least, that’s around when it got its name. By the nineteen-eighties, everyone was burned out. In 1990, when the Princeton scholar Robert Fagles published a new English translation of the Iliad, he had Achilles tell Agamemnon that he doesn’t want people to think he’s “a worthless, burnt-out coward.” This expression, needless to say, was not in Homer’s original Greek. Still, the notion that people who fought in the Trojan War, in the twelfth or thirteenth century B.C., suffered from burnout is a good indication of the disorder’s claim to universality: people who write about burnout tend to argue that it exists everywhere and has existed forever, even if, somehow, it’s always getting worse. One Swiss psychotherapist, in a history of burnout published in 2013 that begins with the usual invocation of immediate emergency—“Burnout is increasingly serious and of widespread concern”—insists that he found it in the Old Testament. Moses was burned out, in Numbers 11:14, when he complained to God, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.” And so was Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, when he “went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s noon in Los Angeles toward the end of the Plague Year, and I’m lounging on the patio of a swanky three-floor mansion, watching a scrum of teenage boys perform trending TikTok dances. Arranged in a tidy delta formation near the jacuzzi and pool, the five boys smile into the glare of a ring light, at the center of which is affixed a smartphone recording their moves. These boys possess a teenybopper cuteness and, because they’re between the ages of eighteen and twenty, they have noisomely strong metabolisms and thus go shirtless pretty much all of the time, displaying either the ectomorphic thinness of trees or greyhounds or, in one boy’s case especially, the sharply delineated musculature of a really big insect. They bite their lower lips, and their expressions are—I’m sorry, there’s no other way to describe them—precoital.

Dances that go viral on TikTok, the video-sharing service that has become the most popular app on the planet, tend to be easily replicable, so the choreography is pretty simple and—no offense to the boys here but—kind of cheesy and lame. It’s as if the entire art form were based off the hand jive or the Macarena. For example, when the vocalist sings “throat bay-bee!” each boy makes a cradle with his hands, as though shushing a recalcitrant infant. And then during the next lyric—“I’m tryna bust all on ya”—each turns to the side and humps the air with the gracelessness of a jackrabbit. Wearing a motley assemblage of billowing hoodies and prestige sneakers, these boys are residents of something called Clubhouse FTB—or Clubhouse For the Boys—one of the most popular collab houses that have sprouted up in Los Angeles.

Also known as content houses or TikTok mansions, collab houses are grotesquely lavish abodes where teens and early twentysomethings live and work together, trying to achieve viral fame on a variety of media platforms. Sometime last spring, when most of us were making bread or watching videos of singing Italians, the houses began to proliferate in impressive if not mind-boggling numbers, to the point where it became difficult for a casual observer even to keep track of them. There was Hype House and Drip House and a house called Girls in the Valley. There was FaZe House (for gamers) and Alt Haus (for outcasts) and one called Byte House, the first of its kind in the U.K. Perhaps the most recognizable was the Sway House, tenanted by a cohort of shaggy-haired bros whose content consisted mostly of lifting weights and pretending to have sex with their smartphone cameras. Essentially, they were the Brat Pack of Gen Z, replete with bad-boy antics and dangling, cross-bearing earrings.

Read the rest of this article at: Harpers Magazine

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Arno Funke wanted to be a cartoonist, but it wasn’t working out. He grew up in a working-class family in Berlin, West Germany, in the nineteen-fifties, and spent his childhood tinkering with chemistry kits and sending gunpowder rockets whizzing into the sky. In school, he was mischievous. Because of his sense of humor, a kindergarten teacher called him “Micky Maus.” He left school at fifteen to become an apprentice sign-maker, spent time sketching, and tried his hand at caricatures of politicians and celebrities. “I was born with a talent for drawing,” he told me. When he was twenty-one, he mailed his sketches to a satirical magazine along with a letter asking for advice on how to become a cartoonist. “I never got a reply,” he said.

By 1988, he had become depressed. He was almost thirty-eight, with a bushy mustache and bleached blond hair. He had been married and divorced, and he was struggling for money. He found occasional work painting billboards, airbrushing illustrations onto motorcycles, and varnishing cars at a local garage. He feared that the fumes he inhaled from the solvents were giving him brain damage. “I had this feeling of not being clear in my head,” he told me. “Like when you’ve drunk a bottle of whiskey, but without the positive feelings.” He came to believe that, if he had enough money, he would be able to focus on his art. He decided to turn to a life of crime, but didn’t want to risk the violence of a stickup. “I didn’t want to harm anyone physically,” he later wrote, in a memoir. Then came an idea: he would become an Erpresser—an extortionist.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

GUIYANG, China — On the outskirts of this city in a poor, mountainous province in southwestern China, men in hard hats recently put the finishing touches on a white building a quarter-mile long with few windows and a tall surrounding wall. There was little sign of its purpose, apart from the flags of Apple and China flying out front, side by side.

Inside, Apple was preparing to store the personal data of its Chinese customers on computer servers run by a state-owned Chinese firm.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has said the data is safe. But at the data center in Guiyang, which Apple hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the Chinese government.

Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure.

Internal Apple documents reviewed by The New York Times, interviews with 17 current and former Apple employees and four security experts, and new filings made in a court case in the United States last week provide rare insight into the compromises Mr. Cook has made to do business in China. They offer an extensive inside look — many aspects of which have never been reported before — at how Apple has given in to escalating demands from the Chinese authorities.

Two decades ago, as Apple’s operations chief, Mr. Cook spearheaded the company’s entrance into China, a move that helped make Apple the most valuable company in the world and made him the heir apparent to Steve Jobs. Apple now assembles nearly all of its products and earns a fifth of its revenue in the China region. But just as Mr. Cook figured out how to make China work for Apple, China is making Apple work for the Chinese government.

Mr. Cook often talks about Apple’s commitment to civil liberties and privacy. But to stay on the right side of Chinese regulators, his company has put the data of its Chinese customers at risk and has aided government censorship in the Chinese version of its App Store. After Chinese employees complained, it even dropped the “Designed by Apple in California” slogan from the backs of iPhones.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is increasing his demands on Western companies, and Mr. Cook has resisted those demands on a number of occasions. But he ultimately approved the plans to store customer data on Chinese servers and to aggressively censor apps, according to interviews with current and former Apple employees.

“Apple has become a cog in the censorship machine that presents a government-controlled version of the internet,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Asia director for Amnesty International, the human rights group. “If you look at the behavior of the Chinese government, you don’t see any resistance from Apple — no history of standing up for the principles that Apple claims to be so attached to.”

While both the Trump and Biden administrations have taken a tougher line toward China, Apple’s courtship of the Chinese government shows a disconnect between politicians in Washington and America’s wealthiest company.

Mr. Cook has been on a charm offensive in China, making frequent, statesmanlike visits and meeting with top leaders. On one trip in 2019, he toured the Forbidden City, met with a start-up and posted about the trip on the Chinese social platform Weibo.

Behind the scenes, Apple has constructed a bureaucracy that has become a powerful tool in China’s vast censorship operation. It proactively censors its Chinese App Store, relying on software and employees to flag and block apps that Apple managers worry could run afoul of Chinese officials, according to interviews and court documents.

A Times analysis found that tens of thousands of apps have disappeared from Apple’s Chinese App Store over the past several years, more than previously known, including foreign news outlets, gay dating services and encrypted messaging apps. It also blocked tools for organizing pro-democracy protests and skirting internet restrictions, as well as apps about the Dalai Lama.

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

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News 19.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

EARLY ONE MORNING, Linsey Marr tiptoed to her dining room table, slipped on a headset, and fired up Zoom. On her computer screen, dozens of familiar faces began to appear. She also saw a few people she didn’t know, including Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for Covid-19, and other expert advisers to the WHO. It was just past 1 pm Geneva time on April 3, 2020, but in Blacksburg, Virginia, where Marr lives with her husband and two children, dawn was just beginning to break.

Marr is an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech and one of the few in the world who also studies infectious diseases. To her, the new coronavirus looked as if it could hang in the air, infecting anyone who breathed in enough of it. For people indoors, that posed a considerable risk. But the WHO didn’t seem to have caught on. Just days before, the organization had tweeted “FACT: #COVID19 is NOT airborne.” That’s why Marr was skipping her usual morning workout to join 35 other aerosol scientists. They were trying to warn the WHO it was making a big mistake.

Over Zoom, they laid out the case. They ticked through a growing list of superspreading events in restaurants, call centers, cruise ships, and a choir rehearsal, instances where people got sick even when they were across the room from a contagious person. The incidents contradicted the WHO’s main safety guidelines of keeping 3 to 6 feet of distance between people and frequent handwashing. If SARS-CoV-2 traveled only in large droplets that immediately fell to the ground, as the WHO was saying, then wouldn’t the distancing and the handwashing have prevented such outbreaks? Infectious air was the more likely culprit, they argued. But the WHO’s experts appeared to be unmoved. If they were going to call Covid-19 airborne, they wanted more direct evidence—proof, which could take months to gather, that the virus was abundant in the air. Meanwhile, thousands of people were falling ill every day.

On the video call, tensions rose. At one point, Lidia Morawska, a revered atmospheric physicist who had arranged the meeting, tried to explain how far infectious particles of different sizes could potentially travel. One of the WHO experts abruptly cut her off, telling her she was wrong, Marr recalls. His rudeness shocked her. “You just don’t argue with Lidia about physics,” she says.

Morawska had spent more than two decades advising a different branch of the WHO on the impacts of air pollution. When it came to flecks of soot and ash belched out by smokestacks and tailpipes, the organization readily accepted the physics she was describing—that particles of many sizes can hang aloft, travel far, and be inhaled. Now, though, the WHO’s advisers seemed to be saying those same laws didn’t apply to virus-laced respiratory particles. To them, the word airborne only applied to particles smaller than 5 microns. Trapped in their group-specific jargon, the two camps on Zoom literally couldn’t understand one another.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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

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