News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A couple months ago, I was hunting for the holy grail. Somewhere within the chaotic aisles of a Target in the suburbs of Washington, DC, was a magic wand that would somehow transform my very short, very thin, very flat, and very blonde eyelashes into the lash equivalent of a mink coat. Granted, most mascara commercials promise as much, but this was different. I’d actually seen it happen, on TikTok.

The video went like this: A girl shows the vast difference between her normal eye and the one anointed with the mascara, then the video cuts to another user whose lashes curl up in the exact same impossible way. The second video acted as confirmation that it wasn’t all a prank, that These Are Not Paid Actors. It was, in other words, like a really good, really short infomercial.

The magic wand’s real name is the Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High mascara, which comes in a rather demure rosy tube but otherwise looks exactly like the other 12 billion products in any makeup aisle. The only way I knew I’d arrived at the right place was when I came across a devastating scene: Two teenage girls staring at a single empty rack.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In December 2016, progressive economist Heather Boushey, who had recently advised Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was trying to cheer me up. Sure, America had just elected Donald Trump, whose economic team consisted of six white guys named Steve, Boushey told me then. But the good news was that Clinton’s economic team, which included several women — and only three white guys named Mike (Pyle, Shapiro, and Schmidt) — had been planning infrastructure legislation that was half traditional bridge-and-road stuff and half unprecedented support for America’s wobbly child-, elder-, home-, and community-care systems through a mandated paid-leave policy, caps on child-care costs, and increased wages for caregivers — long-elusive feminist priorities.

Even in the wake of devastating loss, Boushey was confident that enormous shifts were taking place, ones that had been under way for some time. The Democratic Party, even its Establishment leaders like Clinton, had begun to move away from the centrist, Wall Street–driven approach that had characterized it for the past 50 years toward a greater commitment to bigger public investment, the kind that came out of movements for gender and racial equity. “Those Mikes all understand the care economy,” Boushey joked then. “And someday there is going to be another Democratic administration.”

But she wasn’t going to just wait around. Boushey and Pyle (one of those Mikes) began hosting dinners for economists, lawyers, and policy nerds who believed things needed to change. The dinners were held in restaurants in New York and San Francisco; Boushey hosted a couple at her house in D.C. and cooked for the crew. Among those invited were Rohit Chopra, who had helped Elizabeth Warren set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Wally Adeyemo, who had worked at the CFPB; Stef Feldman, a policy aide to Joe Biden; Angela Hanks, then at the Groundwork Collaborative; and Jennifer Harris of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Bharat Ramamurti, an adviser to Warren, and antitrust specialist Lina Khan were also informally involved.

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

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Peter Zinovieff, a composer and inventor whose pioneering synthesizers shaped albums by Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk, died on June 23 in Cambridge, England. He was 88.

His death was announced on Twitter by his daughter Sofka Zinovieff, who said he had been hospitalized after a fall.

Mr. Zinovieff oversaw the design of the first commercially produced British synthesizers. In 1969, his company, EMS (Electronic Music Studios), introduced the VCS3 (for “voltage controlled studio”), one of the earliest and most affordable portable synthesizers. Instruments from EMS soon became a staple of 1970s progressiverock, particularly from Britain and Germany. The company’s slogan was “Think of a sound — now make it.”

Peter Zinovieff was born on Jan. 26, 1933, in London, the son of émigré Russian aristocrats: a princess, Sofka Dolgorouky, and Leo Zinovieff. His parents divorced in 1937.

Peter’s grandmother started teaching him piano when he was in primary school. He attended Oxford University, where he played in experimental music groups while earning a Ph.D. in geology. He also dabbled in electronics.

“I had this facility of putting pieces of wire together to make something that either received or made sounds,” he told Red Bull Music Academy in 2015.

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

News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

After years of starting the day with a tall morning coffee, followed by several glasses of green tea at intervals, and the occasional cappuccino after lunch, I quit caffeine, cold turkey. It was not something that I particularly wanted to do, but I had come to the reluctant conclusion that the story I was writing demanded it. Several of the experts I was interviewing had suggested that I really couldn’t understand the role of caffeine in my life – its invisible yet pervasive power – without getting off it and then, presumably, getting back on. Roland Griffiths, one of the world’s leading researchers of mood-altering drugs, and the man most responsible for getting the diagnosis of “caffeine withdrawal” included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the bible of psychiatric diagnoses, told me he hadn’t begun to understand his own relationship with caffeine until he stopped using it and conducted a series of self-experiments. He urged me to do the same.

For most of us, to be caffeinated to one degree or another has simply become baseline human consciousness. Something like 90% of humans ingest caffeine regularly, making it the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, and the only one we routinely give to children (commonly in the form of fizzy drinks). Few of us even think of it as a drug, much less our daily use of it as an addiction. It’s so pervasive that it’s easy to overlook the fact that to be caffeinated is not baseline consciousness but, in fact, an altered state. It just happens to be a state that virtually all of us share, rendering it invisible.

The scientists have spelled out, and I had duly noted, the predictable symptoms of caffeine withdrawal: headache, fatigue, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, decreased motivation, irritability, intense distress, loss of confidence and dysphoria. But beneath that deceptively mild rubric of “difficulty concentrating” hides nothing short of an existential threat to the work of the writer. How can you possibly expect to write anything when you can’t concentrate?

I postponed it as long as I could, but finally the dark day arrived. According to the researchers I’d interviewed, the process of withdrawal had actually begun overnight, while I was sleeping, during the “trough” in the graph of caffeine’s diurnal effects. The day’s first cup of tea or coffee acquires most of its power – its joy! – not so much from its euphoric and stimulating properties than from the fact that it is suppressing the emerging symptoms of withdrawal. This is part of the insidiousness of caffeine. Its mode of action, or “pharmacodynamics”, mesh so perfectly with the rhythms of the human body that the morning cup of coffee arrives just in time to head off the looming mental distress set in motion by yesterday’s cup of coffee. Daily, caffeine proposes itself as the optimal solution to the problem caffeine creates.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 07.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Five years ago, Luo Huazhong discovered that he enjoyed doing nothing. He quit his job as a factory worker in China, biked 1,300 miles from Sichuan Province to Tibet and decided he could get by on odd jobs and $60 a month from his savings. He called his new lifestyle “lying flat.”

“I have been chilling,” Mr. Luo, 31, wrote in a blog post in April, describing his way of life. “I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong.”

He titled his post “Lying Flat Is Justice,” attaching a photo of himself lying on his bed in a dark room with the curtains drawn. Before long, the post was being celebrated by Chinese millennials as an anti-consumerist manifesto. “Lying flat” went viral and has since become a broader statement about Chinese society.

A generation ago, the route to success in China was to work hard, get married and have children. The country’s authoritarianism was seen as a fair trade-off as millions were lifted out of poverty. But with employees working longer hours and housing prices rising faster than incomes, many young Chinese fear they will be the first generation not to do better than their parents.

They are now defying the country’s long-held prosperity narrative by refusing to participate in it.

Mr. Luo’s blog post was removed by censors, who saw it as an affront to Beijing’s economic ambitions. Mentions of “lying flat” — tangping, as it’s known in Mandarin — are heavily restricted on the Chinese internet. An official counternarrative has also emerged, encouraging young people to work hard for the sake of the country’s future.

“After working for so long, I just felt numb, like a machine,” Mr. Luo said in an interview. “And so I resigned.”

To lie flat means to forgo marriage, not have children, stay unemployed and eschew material wants such as a house or a car. It is the opposite of what China’s leaders have asked of their people. But that didn’t bother Leon Ding.

Mr. Ding, 22, has been lying flat for almost three months and thinks of the act as “silent resistance.” He dropped out of a university in his final year in March because he didn’t like the computer science major his parents had chosen for him.

After leaving school, Mr. Ding used his savings to rent a room in Shenzhen. He tried to find a regular office job but realized that most positions required him to work long hours. “I want a stable job that allows me to have my own time to relax, but where can I find it?” he said.

Mr. Ding thinks young people should work hard for what they love, but not “996” — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week — as many employers in China expect. Frustrated with the job search, he decided that “lying flat” was the way to go.

“To be honest, it feels really comfortable,” he said. “I don’t want to be too hard on myself.”

To make ends meet, Mr. Ding gets paid to play video games and has minimized his spending by doing things like cutting out his favorite bubble tea. Asked about his long-term plans, he said: “Come back and ask me in six months. I only plan for six months.”

While plenty of Chinese millennials continue to adhere to the country’s traditional work ethic, “lying flat” reflects both a nascent counterculture movement and a backlash against China’s hypercompetitive work environment.

Xiang Biao, a professor of social anthropology at Oxford University who focuses on Chinese society, called tangping culture a turning point for China. “Young people feel a kind of pressure that they cannot explain and they feel that promises were broken,” he said. “People realize that material betterment is no longer the single most important source of meaning in life.”

The ruling Communist Party, wary of any form of social instability, has targeted the “lying flat” idea as a threat to stability in China. Censors have deleted a tangping group with more than 9,000 members on Douban, a popular internet forum. The authorities also barred posts on another tangping forum with more than 200,000 members.

In May, China’s internet regulator ordered online platforms to “strictly restrict” new posts on tangping, according to a directive obtained by The New York Times. A second directive required e-commerce platforms to stop selling clothes, phone cases and other merchandise branded with “tangping.”

The state news media has called tangping “shameful,” and a newspaper warned against “lying flat before getting rich.” Yu Minhong, a prominent billionaire, urged young people not to lie down, because “otherwise who can we rely on for the future of our country?”

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

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