News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Americans are emerging from the pandemic more stressed out and reactive than ever. For example, in a typical year, the United States sees about 100 to 150 cases of “air rage”—passengers becoming violent or unruly on airplanes. In 2021, there were more than 5,700 cases, of which more than 4,100 were mask-related. The problem is not limited to the skies: As my colleague Olga Khazan writes, “disorderly, rude, and unhinged conduct seems to have caught on as much as bread baking and Bridgerton.”

You might not be disrupting a flight or assaulting a stranger in the street, but maybe you are more emotionally volatile than you would like—more prone to strong negative feelings, and more often ending up in confrontations you would prefer to avoid, perhaps with people you love. A friend of mine refers to COVID as “the Divorce Lawyers’ Full-Employment Act of 2020,” and indeed, evidence suggests that the pandemic has torn many families apart. Emerging data on adolescents abroad show that emotional reactivity—when emotions are unstable in response to the stressors of ordinary life—increased during the pandemic.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There used to be a phone box at the top of my street. It stood in the middle of a traffic island, near a bin, a lamp-post and a bollard. I never questioned the presence of the phone box, just as I never questioned the presence of the bin, the lamp-post or the bollard. Often, when we passed, my daughter and I would play the phone-box game. I had to stand to one side and pretend to call the phone in the phone box, which didn’t work. She would then pretend to answer, before making a series of further calls in a complicated unfolding of phone-related business that involved making plans, changing plans and then ringing everyone she had just spoken to again to tell them she was going to be late.

It was fun, this game, and it became hard to pass the phone box without playing it. The phone box, to her, was the best kind of toy. It was a real object that no longer worked, and therefore had the gravitas of something adults had once used, but could now be deployed to her own imaginative ends. It also had an extra, loopy charm. A giant phone housed in its own little shelter outside in the middle of the street made absolutely no sense. A phone, to her, was a small, shiny rectangle that lived in my coat pocket. This outdoor cubicle with a handset on a cord and fat, squishy buttons was both hilarious and mysterious, as if it had landed from the sky.

Walk round a city, a town, a village and you see them. The last phone boxes. Once you start seeing them, you see them everywhere. For a while, I became preoccupied by their contradictory presence, often standing proudly on a street corner, completely ignored. At their peak, in the mid-1990s, the British population of phone boxes was about 100,000. Now, there are just over 20,000 working boxes left, which still sounds like quite a lot, given it’s hard to imagine anyone actually using one. And yet, they do. According to Ofcom, 5m calls are still made from phone boxes annually. Five million! It seems impossible. A number so surprisingly large it made me think there must be a lone guy in a box somewhere obsessively making one-minute calls all day to random numbers.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

After four decades of training and studying dogs, Marjie Alonso has lost track of the number of pets she’s seen because their humans felt they weren’t acting as they “should.” There were the golden retrievers who weren’t “friendly” or “good enough with kids,” and the German shepherds who were more timid scaredy-cats than vigilant guard dogs. There was the Newfoundland (who later turned out not to be a Newfoundland) who had been adopted to fulfill a Peter Pan–esque fantasy of a devoted dog nanny, but acted so aloof that his owners put him on meds. And then there was the horde of Shih Tzus, acquired by a woman who was “super pissed,” Alonso told me, to find the little dogs regularly escaping her home and terrorizing her neighbors’ yards—nothing, she complained, like the regal pooches whose “idea of fun is sitting in your lap acting adorable as you try to watch TV,” as advertised by the American Kennel Club.

Alonso, who’s now the executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants Foundation, gets it; she really does. Stereotypes about breed “personalities” are hardwired into almost every interaction people have with dogs: They influence which canines are adopted first, which are routed into service jobs, which are allowed to inhabit apartment buildings. Breed is one of the first things people ask about a dog, and the answer has a way of guiding how they’ll treat that animal next. Which is exactly the problem. “Any good dog trainer will tell you those stereotypes are a disaster,” says Marc Bekoff, a dog-behavior expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “Breeds don’t have personalities. Individuals do.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 29.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Conservatives on Twitter have greeted Elon Musk as a liberator. The mega-billionaire is in the process of purchasing the social-media platform and reorienting it toward what he calls “free speech.” The conservative columnist Ben Shapiro celebrated the news of the new free-speech era by insisting that Musk engage in politically motivated mass firings of Twitter workers based on their perceived political leanings.

For those who are not terminally online, a little explanation is in order. Compared to the big social media giants, Twitter is a relatively small but influential social network because it is used by many people who are relatively important to political discourse. Although the moderation policies of a private company don’t implicate traditional questions of free speech—that is, state restriction of speech—Twitter’s policies have played a prominent role in arguments about “free speech” online, that is, how platforms decide what they want to host.

When people talk about free speech in this more colloquial context, what they mean is that certain entities may be so powerful that their coercive potential mimics or approaches that of the state. The problem is that when private actors are involved, there’s no clear line between one person’s free speech and another’s: A private platform can also decide not to host you if it wants, and that is also an exercise of speech. Right-wing demands for a political purge of Twitter employees indicate just how sincerely conservatives take this secondary understanding as a matter of principle rather than rhetoric.

The fight over Twitter’s future is not really about free speech, but the political agenda the platform may end up serving. As Americans are more and more reliant on a shrinking number of wealthy individuals and companies for services, conservatives believe having a sympathetic billionaire acquire Twitter means one less large or influential corporation the Republican Party needs to strongarm into serving its purposes. Whatever Musk ends up doing, this possibility is what the right is actually celebrating. “Free speech” is a disingenuous attempt to frame what is ultimately a political conflict over Twitter’s usage as a neutral question about civil liberties, but the outcome conservatives are hoping for is one in which conservative speech on the platform is favored and liberal speech disfavored.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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Joaquin Castillejos remembers walking past goats and alpacas in a neighbor’s yard to get to his elementary school in the 2000s. That home, the goats, and alpacas are gone now. In their place is a massive warehouse.

From above, you can see those concrete boxes closing in on Castillejos’ hometown of Bloomington, California. It’s a community that’s been a haven for many families like Castillejos’ who wanted to escape Los Angeles’ urban sprawl. In Bloomington, they found open space — plots big enough for a home, horses, and gardens to grow squash, corn, beans, chilis, and tomatoes.

Now, real estate developers and major retailers are eyeing that space for warehouses. E-commerce has made the warehouse market hot. Before gadgets, shoes, or whatever we buy online winds up at our doorsteps, it sits in a warehouse. Behind every $1 billion in online sales is an estimated 1.25 million square feet of warehouse space.

Bloomington sits within California’s Inland Empire, which has become one of the biggest warehouse hubs in the nation in part because of its proximity to the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere. Unlike in neighboring cities where warehouses and suburban sprawl have already taken over, residents in unincorporated Bloomington have managed to hold onto a more rural lifestyle.

“[My dad] grew up in Mexico on a ranch. He wanted to go back to that lifestyle, so we moved to Bloomington,” Castillejos, who was born in South Los Angeles, tells The Verge. Many other residents in the community moved here for similar reasons.

On a typical morning, Ana Carlos, a teacher, and her kids wake up and feed their chickens before heading to school. Her husband feeds their goats and five horses before work. When the kids are home from school, the family spends most of their time outside. They make soap and ice cream with their goats’ milk. Her husband and 13-year-old son go riding in the hills behind their home every day.

“For me, it’s really just a dream,” Carlos says. Her husband grew up with horses in Mexico, and they wanted the same thing for their kids. But with warehouses cropping up nearby, Carlos worries about how long they can keep that dream going.

As she drives to the school where she works in the neighboring city of Fontana, she passes by block after block of warehouses where homes like hers used to be. “I saw South Fontana go down a block at a time,” she says. The city’s mayor, Acquanetta Warren, has been so welcoming to developers that she’s earned the nickname “Warehouse Warren.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

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