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News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Giordana Serrano via instagram
News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In 1675, Mary Walcott, one of the accusers at the Salem witch trials, was born; Domenico II Contarini, the Doge of Venice, died; and, as best as forestry experts can determine, a bunch of gossamer-winged pine seeds landed on a forest clearing in the Adirondack Mountains of what would eventually be designated as the State of New York. Sun, rain, soil, good luck, and (probably) a property-line muddle combined to make this an auspicious landing. Pine trees hate shade, but this was a clearing in the dense Adirondack forest, most likely created by a hearty gust of wind that had toppled the previous overstory, so it was pine-friendly. The Mohawk and Oneida people who lived in the area left them alone. European farmers, who favored a clean-shaven pasture, wouldn’t arrive in the area for another century.

By the late eighteen-hundreds, when the region was being farmed and logged, this lucky bunch of trees had grown so big and thick that they were too large for most sawmills to cut, so they were left unmolested, while the smaller, more manageable trees nearby were made into dining-room tables and hope chests. As it happened, the land where the trees stood was near a newly drawn property line, so, most likely, when loggers began clearing the forest, they weren’t quite sure who owned the stand, and decided to leave it alone rather than get in a pickle over it.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Altafjord is a wide expanse of black water on the edge of the Barents Sea, ringed with mountains. Alta is a relatively large town in the Finnmark province, the crown of the horse’s mane that forms Norway’s jagged coastline and Europe’s northern shore. Here at sea level the most northerly trees in Europe are moving upslope, gobbling up the tundra as they go. The people and animals that live here are trying to make sense of the rapid changes with a mixture of confusion, denial and panic.

Dawn at 70 degrees north during winter lasts nearly the whole day. The sun never rises, the day is permanently on the verge of breaking. It is disorienting. On the way to city hall from the guesthouse, I spied few pedestrians. Alta is a town built along American principles – that is to say a town built for a world in which petrol is cheap and cars are taken for granted. It is a landscape of shopping malls, gas stations and spaced-out residential suburbs. Normally at this time of year it isn’t safe to be outside for long without wearing animal skins, but on the day of my visit it was only -1C.

All along the road to the city centre were rows of young Scots pines, their orangey bark contrasting with the fresh dusting of snow. Intermingled with the pines were shorter, ragged-looking trees with lumpy trunks, wizened branches and fine twigs like gnarled fingers: Betula pubescens, downy birch. It is these trees that had brought me here, to the office of Hallgeir Strifeldt, the director of planning for the municipality of Alta, at 9am on a Monday in the middle of winter.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The products of mass culture have learned to speak a new language: the language of the occult. Come in, an app pleads, and listen to an algorithmically curated playlist of songs that “fit the vibe.” “We caught a vibe!” yelps a voice in one of those songs; it isn’t immediately clear whether this means caught as in brass ring or caught as in disease. It’s hard, a marketing email laments, to build an organization filled with people whose “energies align.” An AI-generated horoscope ascribes to today’s events a total “Taurus full moon during Scorpio season mood.” From every corner you are buffeted by vibrations and waves, moods and intensities.

The products speak words of magic. But who are they speaking to? Once, vibe, mood, and energy were watchwords of the counterculture. Among hippies, dropouts, and other assorted voyagers in psychedelia, they were part of a private shorthand for sensations strongly felt but not so easily explained. Today, this vocabulary has diffused beyond any niche group. Yuppies profess to feeling certain energies; New York Times writers divine vibes; venture capitalists do a booming business in moods, pouring money into astrology apps. The occult is for everyone, and so for no one in particular.

Read the rest of this article at: The Drift

News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 2013, when Jennifer Forward-Hayter was fourteen, she would log onto the social network Tumblr from the desktop computer in her family’s working farmhouse in Dorset, England. The machine sat on a dark wooden desk in a hall off the porch. “Proper picturesque English countryside,” she said. On the site, she would look at GIFs and images from the TV shows “Doctor Who” and its spinoff “Torchwood.” Tumblr was Forward-Hayter’s main access to culture—her rural town had no museums, galleries, or art scene. (She is now a photographer in London.) In late 2016, when she left home for university, her Tumblr use trailed off; there was plenty of cultural discussion to be found at art school. But during the early months of the pandemic, on a whim, she logged back on. “My dashboard”—the main Tumblr feed—“was still weirdly active. People I followed a long time ago were still posting stuff, which I thought was very strange,” she told me. “I fell back into it quite easily.” Since then, she has spent time on Tumblr every day. It has rejoined her regular rotation of social media, alongside its much more popular competitors Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Tumblr is something like an Atlantis of social networks. Once prominent, innovative, and shining, on equal footing with any other social-media company, it sank under the waves as it underwent several ownership transfers in the twenty-tens. But it might be rising once more. Tumblr’s very status as a relic of the Internet—easily forgotten, unobtrusively designed, more or less unchanged from a decade ago—is making it appealing to prodigal users as well as new ones. Tumblr’s C.E.O., Jeff D’Onofrio, told me recently that forty-eight per cent of its active users and sixty-one per cent of its new ones are Generation Z. That’s the same demographic that Facebook and Instagram are concerned about losing. According to the leaked Facebook Papers, the company now known as Meta estimates that teen-age Facebook users are likely to drop by almost half in the next two years.

Tumblr was founded by David Karp and launched in New York City, in February of 2007. (Facebook began in 2004 and Twitter in 2006.) It was built to be a simple, social blogging platform, but its multimedia approach set it apart. Users could design their own home pages; post text, images, GIFs, or videos; and follow a feed of others doing the same. Long before Instagram launched, in 2010, Tumblr was a home for curated imagery. “It was right at a time when everyone was getting cell phones; “you could take a picture from your phone and post it on the Tumblr app,” Sharon Butler, a painter who used Tumblr for her art blog, Two Coats of Paint, said. “You could have more text than on Twitter, but it was a cooler community than Facebook.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 21.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There is an implicit promise hidden in the millions of words spilled on time management, productivity, and self-help: if we could just figure out the right strategy, we’d finally be able to live a more meaningful life.

“American culture has popular theories about how to build a perfect life,” writes Kate Bowler in her new book No Cure For Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear). “You can have it all if you just learn how to conquer your limits. There is infinity lurking somewhere at the bottom of your inbox or in the stack of self-help books on the bedside table.”

This guarantee of the American self-help industry is the same one Bowler saw in her work as a historian of Christianity at Duke’s Divinity School, that “everything is possible if you will only believe.” But at age 35, Bowler was diagnosed with incurable stage IV colon cancer, throwing into sharp relief ideas about productivity, efficiency, grind culture, time, and the lie that getting life “right” is simply about finding the right strategy.

In No Cure For Being Human, Bowler, who has been able to manage her cancer with immunotherapy, explores what it’s like to spend years studying and learning about how to conquer your limits, only to run into a limit that refuses to be conquered. After spending so much time steeped in our efficiency-obsessed “gospel of hustle,” which always demands more, pushing us to conquer every to-do list (which would allow us to finally graduate to doing everything on our bucket list), she describes the book as a project in “trying to figure out what enoughness feels like.”

So we were curious to ask her how to cope with that feeling of having too much to do and too little time to do it, which self-help cliches are bullshit, and what to do when you find yourself in a situation where self-help doesn’t help much at all.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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