News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

One morning in the summer of 1999, Shukriya Barakzai woke up feeling dizzy and feverish. According to the Taliban’s rules, she needed a Maharram, a male guardian, in order to leave home to visit the doctor. Her husband was at work, and she had no sons. So she shaved her 2-year-old daughter’s head, dressed her in boys’ clothing to pass her off as a guardian, and slipped on a burka. Its blue folds hid her fingertips, painted red in violation of the Taliban’s ban on nail polish. She asked her neighbor, another woman, to walk with her to the doctor in central Kabul. Around 4:30 p.m. they left the doctor’s office with a prescription. They were heading toward the pharmacy when a truckload of Taliban militants from the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice pulled up beside them. The men regularly drove around Kabul in pickup trucks, looking for Afghans to publicly shame and punish for violating their moral code.

The men jumped out of the truck and started whipping Barakzai with a rubber cable until she fell over, then continued whipping her. When they finished, she stood up, crying. She was shocked and humiliated. She had never been beaten before.

“Are you familiar with something we call sadism?” Barakzai asked me when we spoke recently. “Like they don’t know why, but they are just trying to beat you, harm you, disrespect you. This is now [what] they enjoy. Even they don’t know the reason.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It was on the day I read a Facebook post by my sick friend that I started to really question my relationship with technology.

An old friend had posted a status update saying he needed to rush to the hospital because he was having a health crisis. I half-choked on my tea and stared at my laptop. I recognized the post as a plea for support. I felt fear for him, and then … I did nothing about it, because I saw in another tab that I’d just gotten a new email and went to check that instead.

After a few minutes scrolling my Gmail, I realized something was messed up. The new email was obviously not as urgent as the sick friend, and yet I’d acted as if they had equal claims on my attention. What was wrong with me? Was I a terrible person? I dashed off a message to my friend, but continued to feel disturbed.

Gradually, though, I came to think this was less an indication that I was an immoral individual and more a reflection of a bigger societal problem. I began to notice that digital technology often seems to make it harder for us to respond in the right way when someone is suffering and needs our help.

Think of all the times a friend has called you to talk through something sad or stressful, and you could barely stop your twitchy fingers from checking your email or scrolling through Instagram as they talked. Think of all the times you’ve seen an article in your Facebook News Feed about anguished people desperate for help — starving children in Yemen, dying Covid-19 patients in India — only to get distracted by a funny meme that appears right above it.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

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If you’re sitting in a safe and comfortable position, close your eyes and try to feel your heart beating in your chest. Can you, without moving your hands to take your pulse, feel each movement and count its rhythm? Or do you struggle to detect anything at all? This simple test is just one way to assess your “interoception” – your brain’s perception of your body’s state, transmitted from receptors on all your internal organs.

Interoception may be less well known than the “outward facing” senses such as sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, but it has enormous consequences for your wellbeing. Scientists have shown that our sensitivity to interoceptive signals can determine our capacity to regulate our emotions, and our subsequent susceptibility to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There are two facts that I have sometimes found it difficult to reconcile. The first is that Tesla, Inc. makes innovative and genuinely impressive electric vehicles that can hold their own against the fastest performance cars in the world. The second is that the CEO of Tesla, Inc., celebrated entrepreneurial genius Elon Musk, is a liar, huckster, and moron, who regularly says things so ignorant that I cannot understand how they can come from a human adult, let alone one treated by his fans as a super-genius. Is one of these facts untrue? Are Tesla’s cars actually bad, their deficiencies carefully covered up and their quality over-hyped? Is Elon Musk actually not a liar, huckster, or moron? If you look more closely, are things that look like fraud and stupidity to me actually signs of brilliance? Or is there a way for both facts to be true?

It turns out it’s all true. The cars are impressive and their flaws get covered up. Musk is a lying ignorant grifter and he has inspired innovation in the electric car industry. Understanding that these seemingly contradictory things can be true simultaneously is important, because societies who cannot hold these two ideas at the same time may end up following scam artists and false prophets off the cliff and into the abyss.

Musk’s tenure as CEO has seen Tesla become the most valuable automaker in the world and has made Musk one of the richest people on Earth, if not the richest. He is treated in the press as a tech visionary who dreams big. Every few months he announces some seemingly hare-brained scheme and pundits sing its praises without much scrutiny about whether it could work. The Simpsons, in a sign of the show’s declining satirical bite, portrayed him not as the second coming of monorail salesman Lyle Lanley, but a brilliant rocket scientist, “a being with intelligence far beyond ours,” “possibly the greatest living inventor.”

Now that the president of the United States is no longer a climate change denier, and there may be some kind of broad national effort to electrify American transit, Musk may take on an even more important role in shaping our national vision for transit, power, and the human future in space. It is therefore vitally important to see through the myths around him, to understand the bleakness of his vision for the future, and to present something better.

Read the rest of this article at: Current Affairs

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News 16.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

If globalisation were to have a meme, the maritime shipping container would be a likely choice. Piled high on the decks of vast oceangoing ships and stacked deep in their holds, these simple steel boxes, typically 40 feet long and eight feet high, emblemise an era in which massive quantities of stuff move around the world at negligible cost. Shoppers everywhere can choose among merchandise in unprecedented variety. Whether they sip a Californian chardonnay or an Australian one, or lace up Indonesian-made running shoes rather than footwear imported from India, the cost of transporting the goods over thousands of miles barely figures into consumers’ decisions about what to buy.

More than 5,000 containerships sail the oceans today, and they are in no danger of vanishing from the scene. But the temporary COVID-19 pandemic-driven boom in trade in goods notwithstanding, the cargo these giant vessels carry is becoming steadily less important as the world economy is reshaped by a new form of globalisation. Over time, globalisation will gradually have less to do with exporting material goods across borders and much more to do with trading services and ideas. This will have important consequences for workers, communities and the health of national economies.

Globalisation itself is not a new phenomenon. Its roots are to be found in an intellectual transformation that began in 1817, when the British financier David Ricardo explained how a country could benefit by importing as well as by exporting. Ricardo dismantled centuries of economic orthodoxy by showing the mercantilist belief that wealth came from importing only raw materials and exporting finished goods to be a fallacy.

As industrial capitalism emerged around 1830, Ricardo’s ideas provided the justification for countries to reduce barriers to imports. With inventions such as the telegraph and the oceangoing steamship providing better information and more reliable connections, foreign trade flourished. So did foreign investment, as European money funded US steel mills, Argentine railroads and South African gold mines. Unprecedented numbers of people moved across borders as well.

In a certain sense, this represented globalisation, although the term was not then in use. But the economic integration of the 19th and early 20th centuries was nothing at all like globalisation as we know it today. For one thing, it was very much centred on Europe, which was responsible for about three-quarters of cross-border commerce and almost all the foreign investment. For another, the vast bulk of international trade involved bulk commodities – coffee, copper, coal – with manufactured goods playing only a minor role.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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