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News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@lemeurice

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 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

What do bankers, TikTok influencers, and Prince Harry have in common? This sounds like the run-up to the world’s most boring joke, but the answer, pundits assure us, is no laughing matter. These industrious professionals all suffer from burnout.

Psychologists have been studying burnout for five decades, and certain professions—physicians, social workers—have long warned of burnout within their ranks. In the last two years, the cultural status of burnout has radically changed. No longer is “burnout” a specialized term describing a state of depletion among workers in certain strenuous human-services professions. Burnout is now a conflagration, blazing through the ranks of elite professionals with greater firepower than the most flaming royal red hair. Everyone, from veterinarians to Amazon account managers, complains of burnout; the New York Times seems on the verge of creating a burnout beat, if its churn of coverage is any indication. How did “burnout” become a keyword of our age?

The pandemic, of course, has much to do with the term’s newfound popularity. Covid brought in its train a parallel epidemic of worker exhaustion. The stress and social dislocation resulting from a poorly managed, seemingly interminable public health emergency put limits on what workers could tolerate. Yet burnout’s ubiquity cannot be attributed to Covid alone. While exhaustion among nurses, teachers, and other frontline workers accounts for some of the uptick in burnout talk, the term has been seized most avidly by highly educated remote workers in such fields as technology, finance, and media. Is burnout, then, really a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress, as the World Health Organization has classified it? Is it a form of depression? Or is it a mark of disillusionment with the fictions propping up our world of work?

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

If you’ve stood on the right block in the Golden Triangle district of Washington, D.C., or inside the Loop in Chicago, or in San Francisco’s Financial District at 9 a.m. on any recent weekday, you might have experienced the creepy feeling that you had missed the Rapture and been left behind. America’s downtowns have not recovered from COVID-19, and they won’t—at least not to what they were before the pandemic hit.

For two years, federal dollars have buoyed local governments, transit agencies, and downtown businesses. But as we enter the third year of the pandemic, we can see that more fundamental change is needed. The public and private entities that depend on downtown money are going to need a path to a new normal. This future will require plenty of office workers—but also more residents, shoppers, visitors, tourists, students, and seniors.

People will still work in offices in cities. Though Gallup estimates that just over half of U.S. workers went fully remote when the pandemic first arrived in March 2020, that share has gradually declined to one-quarter today. In the long run, a significant number of these remote workers will remain fully online. However, Gallup’s polling and many other surveys and studies have found that a majority of these workers prefer a hybrid model with some in-person work, and that remote workers’ preferences and productivity vary greatly by sector, age, gender, and race. The share of workers who wish to be fully remote for their entire career is likely small, and this share may further shrink as even more workers return to the office, which may entice more of their colleagues to come back too.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The best theory physicists have for the birth of the universe makes no sense. It goes like this: In the beginning—the very, if not quite veriest, beginning—there’s something called quantum foam. It’s barely there, and can’t even be said to occupy space, because there’s no such thing as space yet. Or time. So even though it’s seething, bubbling, fluctuating, as foam tends to do, it’s not doing so in any kind of this-before-that temporal order. It just is, all at once, indeterminate and undisturbed. Until it isn’t. Something goes pop in precisely the right way, and out of that infinitesimally small pocket of instability, the entire universe bangs bigly into being. Instantly. Like, at a whoosh far exceeding the speed of light.

Impossible, you say? Not exactly. As the Italian particle physicist Guido Tonelli has pointed out, it actually is possible to go faster than light. You simply have to imagine spacetime, and the relativistic limits imposed by it, not quite existing yet! Easy peasy. Besides, that’s not even why the theory makes no sense. It makes no sense for the same reason every creation myth since the dawn of, um, creation makes no sense: There’s no causal explanation. What, that is to say, made it happen in the first place?

Tonelli, in his confidently titled book Genesis: The Story of How Everything Began, calls the “it” that made it happen the inflaton. It’s the mystery thing/field/particle/whatever that jump-starts the engine of cosmic inflation. (They thought it might be the Higgs boson, but it’s not. The true God particle is still out there.) Imagine, Tonelli says, a skier cruising down a mountain, who then stalls a little in a depression on the slope. That depression, the unexpected dip or hiccup in the ordered way of things, is the inflaton-induced disruption in the foam out of which the entire known universe, and all the matter and energy it would ever need to make stars and planets and consciousness and us, suddenly springs. But, again, the same question intrudes: What made the inflaton make the dip?

It makes no sense … until you imagine something else. Don’t imagine a snowy slope; it’s too passive. Imagine, instead, someone sitting at a desk. First, they boot up their computer. This is the quantum-foam stage, the computer existing in a state of suspended anticipation. Then, our desk person mouses over to a file called, oh I don’t know, KnownUniverse.mov, and double-clicks. This is the emergence of the inflaton. It’s the tiny zzzt that launches the program.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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News 16.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The video essay’s reintroduction into my adult life was, like many things, a side effect of the pandemic. On days when I couldn’t bring myself to read recreationally, I tried to unwind after work by watching hours and hours of YouTube.

My pseudo-intellectual superego, however, soon became dissatisfied with the brain-numbing monotony of “day in the life” vlogs, old Bon Appétit test kitchen videos, and makeup tutorials. I wanted content that was entertaining, but simultaneously informational, thoughtful, and analytical. In short, I wanted something that gave the impression that I, the passive viewer, was smart. Enter: the video essay.

Video essays have been around for about a decade, if not more, on YouTube. There is some debate over how the form preceded the platform; some film scholars believe the video essay was born out of and remains heavily influenced by essay films, a type of nonfiction filmmaking. Regardless, YouTube has become the undisputed home of the contemporary video essay. Since 2012, when the platform began to prioritize watch-time over views, the genre flourished. These videos became a significant part of the 2010s YouTube landscape, and were popularized by creators across film, politics, and academic subcultures.

Today, there are video essays devoted to virtually any topic you can think of, ranging anywhere from about 10 minutes to upward of an hour. The video essay has been a means to entertain fan theories, explore the lore of a video game or a historical deep diveexplain or critique a social media trend, or like most written essays, expound upon an argument, hypothesis, or curiosity proposed by the creator.

Some of the best-known video essay creators — Lindsay Ellis, Natalie Wynn of ContraPoints, and Abigail Thorn of PhilosophyTube — are often associated with BreadTube, an umbrella term for a group of left-leaning, long-form YouTubers who provide intellectualized commentary on political and cultural topics.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

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