News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When I arrived at Oxford in 1988 to study history and German, it was still a very British and quite amateurish university, shot through with sexual harassment, dilettantism and sherry. Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and the much less prominent David Cameron had graduated just before I arrived, but from my messy desk at the student newspaper Cherwell, I covered a new generation of future politicians. You couldn’t miss Jacob Rees-Mogg, the only undergraduate who went around in a double-breasted suit, or Dan Hannan who, at the age of 19, founded a popular Eurosceptic movement called the Oxford Campaign for an Independent Britain, which, with hindsight, looks like the intellectual genesis of Brexit. Cherwell was a poor imitation of Private Eye – inaccurate, gnomic and badly written in the trademark Oxford tone of relentless irony, with jokes incomprehensible to outsiders, but it turns out that we weren’t just lampooning inconsequential teenage blowhards. Though we didn’t realise it, we were witnessing British power in the making.

Probably the main reason Oxford has produced so many prime ministers is the Oxford Union debating society. Founded in 1823, based in a courtyard behind the Cornmarket shopping street, the union when I encountered it was a kind of children’s House of Commons. Like its London model, it resembled a gentlemen’s club complete with reading rooms, writing room and bar, and, across the garden, Europe’s largest purpose-built debating chamber.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

THERE IS A LACK OF IMAGINATION when it comes to metaphor. “I’ll shill my balls off for a lambo.” “Every time I look at my charting I get a chub.” “there’s no way I’m buying a green dildo like that.” “XPR chart got me horny af.” “The moment people talk about $rose like that is the moment I’m dipping the bare ball sack even deeper!” “That buy wall at .7 is holdin us by our balls.” “longing ETH big dick style!”

Sometimes the market is a woman, or turns you into a woman: “whole crypto market acting like a girl on her period in these days smh.” “fuck price dropping. wtf are these women’s emotions i’m having, gotta get rid.” “If it goes to 4 dollars im gonna ape my wife and children in.” “BTC is playing with my emotions like that toxic ass girlfriend.” “$dreams scares me more than giving my credit card to my gf.”

The memes, too, lack ingenuity, offering recycled variations of Soyjak, Pepe, and the late Bogdanoff twins as puppet masters of the global markets (“He bought? Dump it.”). When the market pulls back, and crypto prices slump, a cascade of tweets link to the McDonald’s job application or a crying Wojak wearing a red cap stamped with the golden arches (“time to get a job boys”). Everyone is a bro, or a bruh, or a brah.

I can’t explain exactly how I ended up on crypto Twitter (or CT, as it’s known in the cryptosphere) and in the crypto-focused Telegram and Discord groups I started lurking in late last summer. There was a bull run going on, and whenever cryptocurrency values skyrocket the corporate press turns up like a kettle of raptors spewing headlines about improbable fortunes: “This mom quit her job to focus on crypto full time and build ‘generational wealth.’ Now she makes around $80,000 per month.” “This 33-year-old ‘dogecoin millionaire’ is now being paid in the meme-inspired cryptocurrencyand continues to buy the dips.” I was curious about NFTs, I guess. An NFT of Nyan Cat, an animated cat with a Pop-Tart for a body, sold for nearly $600,000. A few weeks later, a JPEG collage by a name few in the art world knew went for $69 million at Christie’sa record sum for a work of digital art sold at auction. NFTs had been around since 2014, when Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash minted the first at Seven on Seven, the annual one-day conference hosted by the arts organization Rhizome. So why were they attracting interest now? Would they actually help artists, potentially automating royalty payments? Or did the sale at Christie’s sound the death knell? Then there was the morning I spent at the doctor’s office, watching the talking head on the New York local news imply that people didn’t need their stimulus checks, they were spending them on cryptocurrency. Were they? I started noodling around on Twitter. Eventually I found my way into a cluster of channels where people from all over the world shared ideas and practiced a form of divination involving candlestick charts and momentum oscillators. “Beautiful falling wedge bullish divergence/Oversold on HTF. elliot wave 2 LTF. healthy volume clusters.” I have now been lurking long enough to know what that means.

Read the rest of this article at: n+1

Abe Rosenthal, the totemic New York Times editor who published the Pentagon Papers, used to say that there was one path to the executive editor’s office — over the dead, burned, and maimed bodies of the ten other people who wanted the job. So I turned to Joseph Kahn, the new top dog at the Times, and asked whom he incinerated to get here.

“I didn’t kill anybody,” he said, suppressing a sly smile. It was late last Friday afternoon — just days before it would be announced that he had ascended to journalism’s Iron Throne — and we were sitting in a conference room high above the empty newsroom. “The truth is that we’re in a bit of a different era, and some of the transitions in the past admittedly have been rocky, and there have been more abrupt changes in leadership. I think we’re going to have a really smooth change in leadership.”

Rocky? There have been four executive editors of the Times in the past two decades, and two of them — Howell Raines (2001 to 2003) and Jill Abramson (2011 to 2014) — imploded spectacularly in public after losing the faith of the Sulzberger family. Was Kahn nervous? “I am,” he told me, “for a variety of reasons. Not really because I think that I’m going to self-destruct but because it’s an enormous responsibility to manage a newsroom of this size and ambition at this particular moment.”

After Abramson, Dean Baquet took over in 2014 and became one of the most popular executive editors in the paper’s modern history. Kahn is no prom king, but nobody is much surprised that the paper’s proprietors picked him. He is the ultimate inside man, so sturdy, disciplined, and reverential to the mission of the Times that the very notion of him self-destructing seems improbable.

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Last year, the team behind The Simpsons produced a video for the French luxury fashion house Balenciaga that debuted in October at Paris Fashion Week. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) It featured the show’s characters walking a runway in Balenciaga designs, and was, depending on your worldview, what you might call a long commercial for the brand or a short episode of the show. David Silverman, a veteran Simpsons producer and animator who directed the short, describes it as “one of the hardest things I ever did.” Demna, Balenciaga’s artistic director and, like a lot of 40-somethings, a fan of The Simpsons since childhood, gave note after note, trying to strike the right balance between caricature and sincere presentation of his clothing. “Simpsons characters,” Silverman says, are “quite different from human proportions, so in some respects we took great liberties. Cheating, we call it.” It took a year’s worth of work and in the end gave the people something they didn’t know they needed: an animated Homer Simpson—a lovable oaf who once gained 61 pounds to qualify for disability so he could work from home—posing in a red Balenciaga puffer jacket, a more recent iteration of which costs $2,850.

That the fashion industry now looks to The Simpsons for inspiration is odd for a group of characters who have, for the most part, never changed outfits. But Bart—with his skateboard and his malleable mind—is a proto-hypebeast if there ever was one. And in a recent episode parodying contemporary fashion, The Weeknd voiced the owner of a white-hot new streetwear company, Slipreme. Adidas has a Simpsons sneaker line, and Nike has made a shoe with a Marge Simpson color-way (featuring swaths of blue, like her hair, and light green, like her dress), which fetches an ungodly average price of $873 on the resale market. From the outset, the show’s creators always understood its business cachet. In the ’90s, The Simpsons shilled Butterfingers and plastic key chains—and mocked itself for its craven commercialism. As one Springfieldian says after encountering the latest example of the Simpson family selling out (an ad for a record, The Simpsons Go Calypso!), “Man, this thing’s really getting out of hand.” Three decades later, it’s a testament to the show’s longevity, not to mention American progress, that the Simpsons still appear on key chains, only now they’re made out of calfskin, by a luxury fashion house, and cost $260.

Even for a culture that’s obsessed with recycling intellectual property—we’ve seen no fewer than eight live-action movies starring Spider-Man in the past 20 years—The Simpsons is ubiquitous. In a bizarrely sincere music video for the Bad Bunny single “Te Deseo Lo Mejor,” the pop star, animated in the classic Simpsons style, reunites Homer and Marge after an argument. Artists mine the show for material, as its imagery, like Mickey Mouse and the McDonald’s arches, has become a stand-in for American materialism. In 2019, the designer NIGO sold a painting by the artist known as KAWS that depicts, rather faithfully, the cover of a 1998 album performed by the show’s characters: the extended cast of The Simpsons posed like the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. (The CD was priced at $11.98; the KAWS painting went for $14.8 million at Sotheby’s.) And the conceptual artist Tom Sachs made a series of paintings of Krusty the Clown, the cynical, burnt-out host of Bart and Lisa’s favorite TV show, some featuring the hucksterish Krusty Brand Seal of Approval slogan that graces all the dubious products to which the clown lends his name (handguns, pregnancy tests, crowd-control barriers, et cetera): “It’s not just good. It’s good enough!,” which America might as well adopt as its motto.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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News 22.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For Maria Martinez, the future of work has never looked particularly bright. In most of her 25 years as a dishwasher at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Southern California, she had never gotten a raise beyond the minimum wage hikes mandated by the government. Before the pandemic hit, there were three people helping with her shift. Now, it’s often just her. Martinez keeps asking her bosses for help — business at the hotel has picked back up again — but for the moment, they’re not really budging. “The workload has increased, and it’s just me, by myself,” she says.

Martinez, 70, feels like no one appreciates the work she does or the work of people like her. Until recently, she was making $15 an hour, thanks to California’s minimum wage increases, but she says she’s still struggling. “Life isn’t like it used to be. The pay isn’t enough for this day and age,” she says. “We’ve got to figure out if we’re going to pay rent, pay bills, eat or not eat, and that’s got to change.”

It should change, but will it? For people like Martinez, the work revolution that’s supposedly going on across the country right now doesn’t feel very revolutionary.

The zeitgeist is characterized by a certain sense of optimism about the future of work and the power of the worker. Wages are rising (albeit not as fast as inflation), especially for the lowest-wage workers. Companies are scrambling for employees, in turn giving those employees more bargaining power. A raft of news stories has declared that remote work is here to stay, a celebration of a moment in which, maybe, there’s finally greater work-life balance.

But what does the future of work actually look like for the majority of Americans whose jobs require them to show up in person? Despite all the buzz about high-profile union efforts last year, union membership actually fell in 2021. Wages aren’t going up as fast as they were, and any hope for an increase in the federal minimum wage is, at least for now, dead. Many of the circumstances that have made the current moment possible, including unprecedented support from the federal government, are fading or already have expired in the super-speed recovery.

For many workers, the current state of work looks very much the same — or even worse. In many ways, so does the future.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

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