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News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@kristian_sofus_hansen
News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@kristian_sofus_hansen
News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@carlahinojosar

The internet is not what you think it is.

For one thing, it is not nearly as newfangled as we usually conceive of it. It does not represent a radical rupture with everything that came before, either in human history or in the vastly longer history of nature that precedes the first appearance of our species. It is, rather, only the most recent permutation of a complex of behaviors that is as deeply rooted in who we are as a species as anything else we do: our storytelling, our fashions, our friendships; our evolution as beings that inhabit a universe dense with symbols.

In order to convince you of this, it will help to zoom out for a while, far from the realm of human-made devices, away from the world of human beings altogether, to gain a suitably distanced and lucid view of the natural world that hosts us and everything we do. It will help, that is, to seek to understand the internet in its broad ecological context, against the background of the long history of life on earth.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It was by accident that Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch cloth merchant, first saw a living cell. He’d begun making magnifying lenses at home, perhaps to better judge the quality of his cloth. One day, out of curiosity, he held one up to a drop of lake water. He saw that the drop was teeming with numberless tiny animals. These animalcules, as he called them, were everywhere he looked—in the stuff between his teeth, in soil, in food gone bad. A decade earlier, in 1665, an Englishman named Robert Hooke had examined cork through a lens; he’d found structures that he called “cells,” and the name had stuck. Van Leeuwenhoek seemed to see an even more striking view: his cells moved with apparent purpose. No one believed him when he told people what he’d discovered, and he had to ask local bigwigs—the town priest, a notary, a lawyer—to peer through his lenses and attest to what they saw.

Van Leeuwenhoek’s best optics were capable of more than two hundred times magnification. That was enough to see an object a millionth the size of a grain of sand. Even so, the cells appeared minuscule. He surmised that they were “furnished with instruments for motion”—tiny limbs that must “consist, in part, of blood-vessels which convey nourishment into them, and of sinews which move them.” But he doubted that science would ever advance enough to reveal the inner structure of anything that small.

Today, we take for granted that we are made of cells—liquidy sacs containing the Golgi apparatus, the endoplasmic reticulum, the nucleus. We accept that each of us was once a single cell, and that packed inside it was the means to build a whole body and maintain it throughout its life. “People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell,” the physician Lewis Thomas wrote, in his book “The Medusa and the Snail.” But telescopes make more welcome gifts than microscopes. Somehow, most of us are not itching to explore the cellular cosmos.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

In recent years, the subject of language has been prominent on American movie-award stages. In 2020, Lee Isaac Chung’s gorgeous family drama Minari was controversially nominated for best foreign-language film at the Golden Globes despite being in both English and Korean and dealing with the very American experiences of isolation and immigration. A year earlier, after winning in the same category for Parasite, the South Korean director Bong Joon Ho had memorably urged viewers to “overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles.” Both Minari and Parasite were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and the latter became the first non-English-language film to win the top prize.

Both of these films also underscored how insufficient language is as a lens through which to judge, categorize, and enjoy art. In a world where smartphones can translate phrases in a manner of milliseconds and stories from around the globe reach us every day, such barriers feel surmountable and less significant than they have in the past. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Oscar-nominated 2021 film, Drive My Car (which is now streaming on HBO Max), directly addresses the fluidity of language in a contemporary world. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story of the same name, Drive My Car is a profound movie preoccupied with the things that can be communicated among people who do not share a common tongue.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Ameenah Sawwan was up late on Aug. 21, 2013, scrolling through Facebook on her phone, when she saw the first report that a town not far from hers had been hit by a chemical attack. She watched footage from Eastern Ghouta, then saw another post that said that her hometown, Moadamiyat al-Sham, had been hit as well. She started tapping out a reply in the comments: “This is wrong. This is fake news. I’m in Moadamiyat and we were not hit by chemicals.” Then she started hearing screams.

Sawwan and her family — 12 of them were living together at the time — ran outside, but shortly after they did, mortar shells began raining down. They didn’t know where to go next. “It felt like the sky was falling,” Sawwan says.

She made her way to a nearby field hospital — a glorified basement stocked with scavenged medical supplies — stopping along the way to run her hands over her body and make sure she hadn’t been hit by shrapnel. When she got there, bodies were splayed on the asphalt outside as men with hoses sprayed them down.

Inside the hospital, she remembers, “there was barely a place to put a foot. It’s dark, full of screams, and people being washed, and the smell of vinegar.” The medical staff were shouting directives: “ ‘Take their clothes off, wash their bodies, try to do CPR.’ ” At one point, she was handed a 10-month-old baby, but she could not revive the infant. “Nobody knew what they were doing, but you have to do something.”

Sarin — the colorless, odorless nerve agent dropped that night on civilians in the suburbs of Damascus — was developed in the 1930s by German chemists as a pesticide. Exposure will trigger watery eyes, pinpoint pupils, a tightness in the chest in seconds, then paralysis, respiratory failure, and death. In 2013, the Syrian government reportedly possessed several hundred tons of the stuff, plus hundreds more tons of mustard gas and VX, another nerve agent.

The Aug. 21 assaults that killed more than 1,400 Syrians were carried out one year, nearly to the day, after President Obama’s casual declaration that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons was a “red line,” one that would change his “calculus” on America’s involvement in the country’s civil war. It was a clear threat: If Assad gassed his own people, the U.S. would respond with force — and that threat was particularly loaded, given the fact that Syria is a client state of Russia’s. To many observers, it seemed plausible that Obama’s words — and Assad’s blatant disregard for them — could drag the U.S., Russia, and both of their allies into a full-blown global conflict. But then something unexpected happened: Instead of dropping bombs on Syria, the United States cut a deal, through Russia, that would force Assad to give up his chemical-weapons stockpile. And then something even more unexpected happened: It actually worked.

Read the rest of this article at: RollingStone

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News 09.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

If you want a physical manifestation of Britain’s unquestioning acceptance of oligarchs and its refusal to examine the origin of their wealth, you need to take a walk past Harrods towards the Victoria and Albert Museum.

After about 200 metres, you will see on the right-hand side of the road the unmistakable burgundy glazed tiles of a tube station. That is your destination. You can’t get on the underground here, because the station stopped accepting passengers decades ago and became a Ministry of Defence office. But it still has the platforms and shafts of a tube station, and that’s why it came to the attention of a former banker called Ajit Chambers in 2009. Chambers had a plan, which he revealed at one of the public events that Boris Johnson used to hold when he was the mayor of London.

Chambers told Johnson that he had identified 40 disused London underground stations, and he wanted to transform them into tourist attractions. “San Francisco has Alcatraz; Paris has its catacombs,” he said. “I have a proposal. I have been trying to get it to TfL.”

Johnson jumped in. “It is brilliant. I love it,” he said. “London underground. OK, we are going underground.” TfL – Transport for London, which oversees the capital’s trains, buses, taxis, trams and other modes of public transport – is one of the few bodies run by the mayor, so this was something Johnson could theoretically do something about. He promised that his staff would evaluate the proposal and follow up.

There were a few obstacles to Chambers’s plan. For one thing, although dozens of stations have been closed over the years, there aren’t 40 actual ghost stations in the sense of places you could walk into and convert into something new. Most have been demolished. For another thing, the ghost stations that do exist are still stations, packed with power lines and machinery and – at platform level – speeding trains.

Still, if anyone was going to make a go of breathing life back into the ghosts it was Chambers, who was almost comically persistent. He took to haunting Johnson’s public events, and his appearances became so predictable that a columnist at the Times called him “London’s foremost Boris-botherer”. City Hall officials would try to kill off Chambers’s idea on the grounds of health, safety, cost or something else, only for Johnson to bring it back to life by discussing it at public events.

Chambers argued that the most promising place to trial his idea was that station on the Brompton Road, which was closed in the 1930s due to lack of passengers. His vision for the site involved holographic passengers in period dress at platform level, a rooftop bar and an event space in the old ticket hall. Chambers managed to put on a handful of proof-of-concept events in the station, and people who attended them still excitedly describe the thrill of descending the old stairs to platform level, of seeing a huge map dating from when this was an anti-aircraft command post in the second world war, of the sign saying “Danger: ammunition”.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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