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News 01.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the nineteen-eighties, I studied photography at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, not far from the White House. Students were poor and film was expensive. We were amazed, therefore, when a classmate interning at National Geographic told us that a photographer there had returned from an expedition with six hundred and fifty rolls of exposed film. At thirty-six frames per roll, that was 23,400 exposures. There was logic to this overproduction: it was the job of the Geographic’s picture editors to distill all those frames into an article that might include just fifteen or twenty shots, and the editors wanted a surfeit of options. To end up with a small number of visual motifs—cowboys in a bar, say, or branding irons in a fire—they needed to start with a larger number, and, for each motif, they didn’t want a few alternatives but hundreds.

Brute force is one way to get good photos. Another is control. After graduation, I worked for a D.C. photo studio. This was before Photoshop, so everything in our photographs had to be controlled. Once, we had to do an overhead shot, looking straight down, of two models, a man and a woman, on inflatable rafts, floating in a dazzlingly blue swimming pool, facing opposite directions but holding hands. It was overcast when we did our test shots, and we realized that our flash units couldn’t reach through the water with sufficient intensity. On the day of the shoot, we’d be dependent on the sun to illuminate the bottom of the pool. The boss fretted and stressed. All the expense, all the planning, only to have our success depend on acts of nature? It was almost more than a self-respecting control freak could stand.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 01.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The day before Russia launched its war against Ukraine, I was in the seaside city of Sochi in southern Russia, not far from the Ukrainian border, attending an arts festival and enjoying a break from the dark and snowy Moscow winter among palm trees and verdant hillsides.

Sochi is on the Black Sea, as is Ukraine. My colleagues and I had been talking for months about aerial photographs that showed a build-up of troops near Russia’s borders with Ukraine, apparently threatening a new invasion. Was it preparation or intimidation? Nothing seemed to be happening, even as the U.S. started warning of an imminent attack.

I work at The Moscow Times, an independent newspaper founded in 1992 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union that publishes online in both English and Russian. As the paper’s arts editor, I was planning to attend the Sochi Winter International Arts Festival beginning on February 16. A few days before I was to leave, I asked my editor if I should go — would it be safe for me to be on the Black Sea coast if war broke out?

“You’ll be in a group,” she said, “and I don’t think it will start.” I said, “I don’t either, but the thing is — I didn’t think Russia would annex Crimea in 2014.” She said, “I didn’t think they’d invade Georgia in 2008.”

I recognize now that the dots were all there. We just couldn’t connect them. We couldn’t imagine a full-scale invasion because a full-scale invasion was unimaginable.

And so I went to Sochi, what now feels like a thousand years ago, and spent every night in the city’s seaside Winter Theater watching the best of Russian and foreign culture, a mix of traditional and very untraditional musical and theater performances, with standing ovations and curtain calls and the local babushkas holding the hands of grandchildren while whispering instructions on proper theater etiquette.

I flew back to Moscow on the evening of February 23. The next morning the war began.

Everything changed in the blink of an eye. Within two weeks, I would find myself in a minivan with a driver and six people, three dogs and mountains of suitcases and bags, getting ready to cross the border out of Russia. I would be the last one of the Moscow Times staff to leave the country, part of an exodus that included most of the foreign correspondents in Russia and thousands of Russians.

I was leaving a place I’d lived for more than 40 years.

Read the rest of this article at: Politico

It is 1992 and a house built on hope is cracking under pressure. A frightened young family huddles in the living room, hiding beneath a torn roof, praying to survive. The floors are lifting, the carpet is flooding, and as one wall then another splinters, this family’s dreams start to collapse.

Outside, Hurricane Andrew: the sound like a freight train, loud and ominous, relentless and otherworldly. It is coming for them, this force of wind and rain and some other power that feels unstoppable and ungodly, spiteful even. A tree spins through violent gusts, snapped cleanly from its roots. Manicured lawns in the housing development explode. Sidewalks heave and ripple. Windows shatter. It’s impossible to know where inside ends and outside begins. Time has stopped, yet everything else is still in motion. The edges of the world have blurred. I’m going to die, thirteen-year-old Oscar Isaac thinks as he hunches beneath flimsy sofa cushions with his brother and sister, with his parents and their already fraying relationship. I’m going to be hurled into the air by this hurricane and disappear.

Read the rest of this article at: Esquire

News 01.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 01.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Though the entertainment industry has seen challenges—set shutdowns because of COVID, the Writers Guild leaving agencies over packaging, audiences disappearing from theaters—none are as devastating as what it’s facing now: a shortage of Adderall. Scripts will be coming in so late that there could be several years between The Fast and the Furious movies.

“All of my patients who go to CVS have trouble getting their Adderall,” says Stephanie Zisook, a psychiatrist in Westwood who treats adults with mood and anxiety disorders. “It’s so weird. I’m not seeing that people are having a hard time getting benzos at CVS.”

While we’ve focused on the opioid epidemic, so many people have gotten hooked on Adderall that it’s now nearly all gone. Since September 2019, the FDA has reported that the drugs in Adderall—amphetamine salts—are “currently in shortage” due to “demand increase in the drug.” Before the pandemic, America was already gobbling up 83.1 percent of the global supply. But in December 2020, prescriptions for Adderall skyrocketed. After hovering at around 3 million a month, they climbed to nearly 3.5 million and have stayed there, according to IQVIA, the biggest healthcare data company in the U.S.

As it turns out, a huge chunk of those prescriptions are being filled for middle and high school students. “There are parents coming in wanting their kids to get it, especially in West L.A., because they know the other kids are taking it and they don’t want them having an advantage,” says Zisook. “Parents are crazy.”

None of that is new. Parents have always been crazy. And kids have been using speed to get better grades for decades. There are New York Times and Time magazine articles from 1937 about college kids using amphetamines to improve their grades. A 1983 episode of Family Ties had Michael J. Fox’s character hopped up for a test. A 1990 episode of Saved by the Bell had Elizabeth Berkley’s character doing the same.

But the pandemic made crazy L.A. parents even crazier. “Parents were not used to being with their kids all the time,” says Leslie Lotano-Saba, vice president of pharmacy solutions at the global management consulting firm AArete. “Kids were staying home without a routine. It was easier to call a pediatrician and say, ‘Joey can’t focus on the computer with remote learning. Can you help?’ ”

Read the rest of this article at: Los Angeles Magazine

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News 01.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In February 1994, in the grand ballroom of the town hall in Hamburg, Germany, the president of Estonia gave a remarkable speech. Standing before an audience in evening dress, Lennart Meri praised the values of the democratic world that Estonia then aspired to join. “The freedom of every individual, the freedom of the economy and trade, as well as the freedom of the mind, of culture and science, are inseparably interconnected,” he told the burghers of Hamburg. “They form the prerequisite of a viable democracy.” His country, having regained its independence from the Soviet Union three years earlier, believed in these values: “The Estonian people never abandoned their faith in this freedom during the decades of totalitarian oppression.”

But Meri had also come to deliver a warning: Freedom in Estonia, and in Europe, could soon be under threat. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the circles around him were returning to the language of imperialism, speaking of Russia as primus inter pares—the first among equals—in the former Soviet empire. In 1994, Moscow was already seething with the language of resentment, aggression, and imperial nostalgia; the Russian state was developing an illiberal vision of the world, and even then was preparing to enforce it. Meri called on the democratic world to push back: The West should “make it emphatically clear to the Russian leadership that another imperialist expansion will not stand a chance.”

At that, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin, got up and walked out of the hall.
Meri’s fears were at that time shared in all of the formerly captive nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and they were strong enough to persuade governments in Estonia, Poland, and elsewhere to campaign for admission to NATO. They succeeded because nobody in Washington, London, or Berlin believed that the new members mattered. The Soviet Union was gone, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg was not an important person, and Estonia would never need to be defended. That was why neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush made much attempt to arm or reinforce the new NATO members. Only in 2014 did the Obama administration finally place a small number of American troops in the region, largely in an effort to reassure allies after the first Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Nobody else anywhere in the Western world felt any threat at all. For 30 years, Western oil and gas companies piled into Russia, partnering with Russian oligarchs who had openly stolen the assets they controlled. Western financial institutions did lucrative business in Russia too, setting up systems to allow those same Russian kleptocrats to export their stolen money and keep it parked, anonymously, in Western property and banks. We convinced ourselves that there was no harm in enriching dictators and their cronies. Trade, we imagined, would transform our trading partners. Wealth would bring liberalism. Capitalism would bring democracy—and democracy would bring peace.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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