News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Amanda Lindroth
News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There’s something to be said for the Blockbuster video store of my youth. It was what we had in the suburbs, and it suited the way my mind worked. I liked encountering movies as physical objects dispersed throughout a large room, arranged down walls (where the new releases went) and along shelves (where the older stuff tarried). I suspect the image of walking through such a room will one day amuse my children, four and two.

Still, I miss browsing those chunky, foxed VHS cases and, I suppose, their leaner DVD heirs. You could wander and let your eyes fall where they fell. The supply of any given video was finite, which meant you sometimes had to figure out a Plan B. You had to swivel, double back, hunker down, tilt your head. You could be aimless in a Wordsworthian way. You could meander. This aisle, maybe, or that one. Couples paralyzed by indecision stood around like Vladimirs and Estragons.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The British empire in India was in effect established at the Battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757. The battle was swift, beginning at dawn and ending close to sunset. It was a normal monsoon day, with occasional rain in the mango groves at the town of Plassey, which is between Calcutta, where the British were based, and Murshidabad, the capital of the kingdom of Bengal. It was in those mango groves that the British forces faced the Nawab Siraj-ud-Doula’s army and convincingly defeated it.

British rule ended nearly 200 years later with Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech on India’s “tryst with destiny” at midnight on 14 August 1947. Two hundred years is a long time. What did the British achieve in India, and what did they fail to accomplish?

During my days as a student at a progressive school in West Bengal in the 1940s, these questions came into our discussion constantly. They remain important even today, not least because the British empire is often invoked in discussions about successful global governance. It has also been invoked to try to persuade the US to acknowledge its role as the pre-eminent imperial power in the world today: “Should the United States seek to shed – or to shoulder – the imperial load it has inherited?” the historian Niall Ferguson has asked. It is certainly an interesting question, and Ferguson is right to argue that it cannot be answered without an understanding of how the British empire rose and fell – and what it managed to do.

Arguing about all this at Santiniketan school, which had been established by Rabindranath Tagore some decades earlier, we were bothered by a difficult methodological question. How could we think about what India would have been like in the 1940s had British rule not occurred at all?

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

October, 8 1982. Mom wrote in her diary that she slept until noon that day and woke up feeling refreshed, filled with a renewed sense of hope. She had an appointment with her psychologist that afternoon, so she grabbed her toilet kit and headed for the common bathroom in the hotel where she’d taken up residency after life on the streets.

When she walked in and she saw a big, bald, completely nude man standing in front of a mirror. His muscles, covered in prison tattoos, rippled as he brushed his teeth, while his penis swung back and forth to match the rhythm. Unfazed by Peggy’s sudden appearance behind him, the 6-foot-2-inch man simply continued his brushing. Frozen in her stance, Mom, who looked like a young Mary Tyler Moore, couldn’t take her eyes off him. When he lowered his brushing arm, she could see the words “BAD BOY” written across his chest. At least, that was how the homemade tattoo read in the mirror. He must have etched it into his skin while using a mirror as a guide, because when he turned around, straight on it read, “YOB DAB.” With a mouthful of toothpaste, he barked, “Fuck you lookin’ at?”

“Nothing,” said Mom, sounding like a mouse.

“So I’m nothin’, huh bitch? Get yo’ ass out dis mothafuckin’ toilet till I’m finished.”

He didn’t have to tell Mom twice.

Read the rest of this article at: Narratively

News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

At the dawn of the 20th century, Italian patriots were struggling to overcome a profound inferiority complex. Ever since 1861, when Giuseppe Garibaldi unified the country’s disparate regions into a nation-state, politicians and intellectuals had been anticipating the arrival of a glorious new era. Decades on, however, the economic, diplomatic and cultural results were wanting. Nationalists knew they needed a new mythos to boost public confidence, something to make Italy seem strong and competitive on the world stage. Several options were on the table. Some saw religion as a source of potential unity. Others pointed to the Renaissance, and the long tradition of democratic republicanism as admirable blueprints. After much debate, however, most statesmen came to settle on ancient Rome. The classical legacy, so they reasoned, while admittedly rather distant, was a moment when the peninsula had been at the centre of European and, arguably, world affairs. They set out, quite consciously, with this history in mind, to tell their fellow citizens a new story: that they would make Italy great again.

What this meant in concrete terms was imperialism. In 1912, to demonstrate its global aspirations, Italy launched a ferocious attack against Ottoman Libya. As the bombs fell over Janzur, the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio wrote the ‘Songs of Our Exploits Overseas’, in which he conjured up the spirit of Vittoria, the Roman goddess, to call on all patriots to re-connect with the ‘eternal memory’ of the ancient past, and overcome the stifling ‘crust of centuries’ in order to set out again, under a new flag, to dominate the world. Other nationalists followed suit. The essayist Alfredo Oriani’s 1889 tract describing the need for the country to ‘sail once more on its sea’ as the ‘bringer of a new civilisation’ was republished in 1912, while the journalist Enrico Corradini went as far as to suggest that there was a hidden Roman road concealed under the Mediterranean Sea that linked the modern Italian nation to the African colonies over which it had a ‘historic claim’. Notably, all of these writers referred to the water by its ancient Roman name, Mare Nostrum (‘Our Sea’).

Like all modern colonialism, Italy’s propagandising had racist overtones. In fact, one of the main reasons that the country’s intellectuals were so anxious to present themselves as a homogeneous group was, ironically, a byproduct of their nation’s Mediterranean geography. Over generations, people from both sides of the sea, from Tangier to Istanbul, had mixed with one another to the point that the Italian peninsula’s inhabitants couldn’t feel certain of their ethnic ‘purity’. In response, in the 1920s, philosophers such as Julius Evola posited esoteric theories about an Aryan ‘super-race’, a kind of spiritual nobility that had apparently always existed in Italy since Roman times, and which gave the ‘true’ Italians the moral right to dominate non-Europeans. These strands of thought combined in the ideology of fascism.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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News 02.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Sixty years ago the futurist Arthur C. Clarke observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The internet—how we both communicate with one another and together preserve the intellectual products of human civilization—fits Clarke’s observation well. In Steve Jobs’s words, “it just works,” as readily as clicking, tapping, or speaking. And every bit as much aligned with the vicissitudes of magic, when the internet doesn’t work, the reasons are typically so arcane that explanations for it are about as useful as trying to pick apart a failed spell.

Underpinning our vast and simple-seeming digital networks are technologies that, if they hadn’t already been invented, probably wouldn’t unfold the same way again. They are artifacts of a very particular circumstance, and it’s unlikely that in an alternate timeline they would have been designed the same way.

The internet’s distinct architecture arose from a distinct constraint and a distinct freedom: First, its academically minded designers didn’t have or expect to raise massive amounts of capital to build the network; and second, they didn’t want or expect to make money from their invention.

The internet’s framers thus had no money to simply roll out a uniform centralized network the way that, for example, FedEx metabolized a capital outlay of tens of millions of dollars to deploy liveried planes, trucks, people, and drop-off boxes, creating a single point-to-point delivery system. Instead, they settled on the equivalent of rules for how to bolt existing networks together.

Rather than a single centralized network modeled after the legacy telephone system, operated by a government or a few massive utilities, the internet was designed to allow any device anywhere to interoperate with any other device, allowing any provider able to bring whatever networking capacity it had to the growing party. And because the network’s creators did not mean to monetize, much less monopolize, any of it, the key was for desirable content to be provided naturally by the network’s users, some of whom would act as content producers or hosts, setting up watering holes for others to frequent.

Unlike the briefly ascendant proprietary networks such as CompuServe, AOL, and Prodigy, content and network would be separated. Indeed, the internet had and has no main menu, no CEO, no public stock offering, no formal organization at all. There are only engineers who meet every so often to refine its suggested communications protocols that hardware and software makers, and network builders, are then free to take up as they please.

So the internet was a recipe for mortar, with an invitation for anyone, and everyone, to bring their own bricks. Tim Berners-Lee took up the invite and invented the protocols for the World Wide Web, an application to run on the internet. If your computer spoke “web” by running a browser, then it could speak with servers that also spoke web, naturally enough known as websites. Pages on sites could contain links to all sorts of things that would, by definition, be but a click away, and might in practice be found at servers anywhere else in the world, hosted by people or organizations not only not affiliated with the linking webpage, but entirely unaware of its existence. And webpages themselves might be assembled from multiple sources before they displayed as a single unit, facilitating the rise of ad networks that could be called on by websites to insert surveillance beacons and ads on the fly, as pages were pulled together at the moment someone sought to view them.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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