News 07.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 07.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

1. Sometimes I feel as though I have five jobs, and then I realize that this is, in fact, the case. The jobs are teaching at three colleges, working for a private test-prep company, and writing. The last job is the most rewarding but also the one with the most unknowns. “How long does it take you to write a story?” my non-writer friends will ask, and proceed to tell me that, if only I wrote faster, or had a team, like James Patterson, then I could produce up to six solid books in a year.

2. Since writing is not a cost-effective profession, practically speaking, my other jobs are what I do to make and save money. I don’t have an exact fiscal goal in mind, but I won’t starve for my art, and a reasonable young person should always learn how to invest. Fear of poverty and fear of regression play a role, too. I worry that, the moment I stop having money to save, an anvil will fall from the sky onto my head, sending me back to an unpleasant place. It’s impolite to discuss money, but my family’s lack of it was so often the cause of distress and conflict when I was younger that I could never become one of those people for whom money doesn’t exist. The goal is to make enough now so that I don’t have to worry later on. I appreciate what Andrew Carnegie suggested: a person should spend the first third of his life getting as much education as he can, the next third making as much money as he can, and then the last third giving it all away.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 07.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The latest and most laughable online fad erupted in late January, when beauty influencers on TikTok—many of them young white women—started uploading clips of a particular, but not particularly novel, skincare hack as part of their nighttime regimen: lathering their faces in Vaseline.

Called “slugging,” the practice is meant to act as a kind of age-freezing elixir. Its name is drawn from a corner of South Korean TikTok and alludes to snail slime, which has a gloss similar to Vaseline (another common brand used by sluggers is Aquaphor). In one video posted that month, marketing student @Abbikuy’s face is caked in the gooey substance as she mimics the audio of a Black creator, a common trope on the app. The video is layered with text that reads: “When my bf asks me why I come to bed looking like a greasy founding father.” At 4.3 million views, it is among her highest-performing posts. But despite the video’s viral appeal, it was nothing new. Petroleum jelly has been used in Black households for generations as a restorative balm—equal parts moisturizer, lubricant, and healing ointment.

What the popularization of slugging on the internet represents is an ongoing, and unmistakably American, battle over ownership: the masking of cultural theft as cultural literacy. It should come as no surprise that slugging videos have garnered hundreds of millions of views. TikTok’s fabric is woven through with appropriation. Ownership is a shared vocabulary on the app. Nothing is ever one’s alone.

It’s no secret: Black culture drives pop culture. It is “the original avant-garde,” as Felipe Luciano, a former TV producer, has said. But I sometimes wonder if appropriation is a prerequisite of Black culture going mainstream. What’s happening currently is an acceleration of a phenomenon that began in the late 1980s, when corporations started to deliberately mine Black cool as hip-hop was becoming a global force. The incorporation of social media into this—which enables people to make, shape, and share anything they want and call it their own, even when it’s not—further helps to distort what we experience on these platforms. Feeds are flooded with culture that, translated through the screen of a creator who is only interested in clout, comes across as hollow and cheapened.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

On February 16, EcomCrew published a blog post and accompanying podcast outlining their latest attempt to launch an e-commerce business. The since-deleted post explained how the duo were going to build a seven-figure brand in the next 12 months based around the knitting niche. The pair revealed that they’d spent $80,000 — of a planned budget of between $250,000 and $500,000 — in order to buy the dormant domain The plan was to launch an Amazon-based direct-to-consumer retail brand.

Jackness tells Input that they chose knitting because of its similarity to a previous business that EcomCrew had succeeded in: coloring books for adults. “We created a very successful coloring company [in 2016] that had incredibly good reviews that people just really couldn’t get enough of,” he says. “We paid our artists really fairly, and gave them all the credit. We provided amazing customer service. We provided community events and color-alongs.”

What they hadn’t counted on was the knitting community’s response to their business proposition. On February 23, a user posted a link to EcomCrew’s blog post on r/craftsnark, a craft and sewing subreddit, dismissing the notion that they could build “a $10m/year [sic] business” in a year. The thread, which currently has more than 500 comments, quickly spread beyond Reddit and onto Twitter, where it was widely retweeted and reposted.

Read the rest of this article at: Input

News 07.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a strategic blunder by invading Ukraine. He has misjudged the political tenor of the country, which was not waiting to be liberated by Russian soldiers. He has misjudged the United States, the European Union, and a number of countries—including Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea—all of which were capable of collective action before the war and all of which are now bent on Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. The United States and its allies and partners are imposing harsh costs on Moscow. Every war is a battle for public opinion, and Putin’s war in Ukraine has—in an age of mass-media imagery—associated Russia with an unprovoked attack on a peaceful neighbor, with mass humanitarian suffering, and with manifold war crimes. At every turn, the ensuing outrage will be an obstacle to Russian foreign policy in the future.

No less significant than Putin’s strategic error have been the Russian army’s tactical blunders. Bearing in mind the challenges of assessment in the early stages of a war, one can surely say that Russian planning and logistics were inadequate and that the lack of information given to soldiers and even to officers in the higher echelons was devastating to morale. The war was supposed to end quickly, with a lightning strike that would decapitate the Ukrainian government or cow it into surrender, after which Moscow would impose neutrality on Ukraine or establish a Russian suzerainty over the country. Minimal violence might have equaled minimal sanctions. Had the government fallen quickly, Putin could have claimed that he was right all along: because Ukraine had not been willing or able to defend itself, it was not a real country—just like he had said.

But Putin will be unable to win this war on his preferred terms. Indeed, there are several ways in which he could ultimately lose. He could mire his military in a costly and futile occupation of Ukraine, decimating the morale of Russia’s soldiers, consuming resources, and delivering nothing in return but the hollow ring of Russian greatness and a neighboring country reduced to poverty and chaos. He could create some degree of control over parts of eastern and southern Ukraine and probably Kyiv, while fighting a Ukrainian insurgency operating from the west and engaged in guerrilla warfare across the country—a scenario that would be reminiscent of the partisan warfare that took place in Ukraine during World War II. At the same time, he would preside over the gradual economic degradation of Russia, its growing isolation, and its increasing inability to supply the wealth on which great powers rely. And, most consequentially, Putin could lose the support of the Russian people and elites, on whom he depends to prosecute the war and maintain his hold on power, even though Russia is not a democracy.

Read the rest of this article at: Foreign Affairs

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News 07.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

What’s wrong with eating meat and other animal products, such as dairy or eggs? The usual answer appears to be simple: these products involve a great deal of animal suffering, particularly as most of them are produced on ‘factory farms’, where animals are raised in terribly cramped conditions that exacerbate their suffering. Suffering is the problem. If animal suffering were eliminated or significantly minimised, killing animals would not be such a big deal.

That’s the conventional moral thinking on animal ethics, and it applies not only to the use of animals for food but to all animal use: we can use and kill animals for our purposes, as long as we treat them ‘humanely’ and do not inflict ‘unnecessary’ suffering on them. This position is so widely accepted and uncontroversial that it is contained in laws that allow us to use and kill animals but that prohibit cruelty to animals.

The problem is that conventional moral thinking about animal ethics is unsound.

Because animals are chattel property, the concepts of ‘humane’ treatment and ‘necessary’ suffering are largely meaningless as moral concepts. They are primarily economic concepts that, in reality, translate into very little protection for animals. Moreover, the idea that killing animals is not a serious issue as long as animals are not made to suffer rests explicitly on the widely accepted idea that animals do not have a morally significant interest in continuing to live. And that is nothing more than an anthropocentric stipulation.

Before the 19th century, at least in the West, animals were largely excluded from the moral and legal community. They were considered as things. This is contrasted with Eastern thinking, which generally accorded at least some moral value to animals that accounted for the vegetarianism that remains prevalent in the Jain, Hindu and most Buddhist traditions. The Western view was that we could have moral and legal obligations that concerned animals but were not owed to them. To the extent that the cruel treatment of animals was thought to present a moral problem, it was only because it made us more likely to be cruel to other humans. But any obligation to be kind to animals merely concerned animals; the obligation of kind treatment was owed only to other humans. This was the view of Immanuel Kant, Thomas Aquinas and others. We had a legal obligation not to harm our neighbour’s property – whether that property was a cow or a cart. But that was an obligation owed to our neighbour as a property owner, not to the cow or the cart.

Although, in many instances, the status of animals as things was linked to the theological notion that only humans were deemed to have been created in God’s image, its primary focus was on cognition. Animals supposedly were not rational, self-aware or able to use concepts, and this was thought to justify our treating them as having no moral value.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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