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News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Everyone is “dissociating.” Over the past few years, it’s become an open-source cultural term, ripe for applying (or misapplying) to all kinds of circumstances where people feel the need to turn off and tune out. One woman I know is currently dissociating via a series of increasingly eccentric hobbies—bead necklaces, candle making, metal-detecting. She’s hardly alone. The go-to pose on Instagram right now is the “dissociative pout,” where you assume the blankest expression you can muster. The cultural critic Rayne Fisher-Quann, who coined the term, also gave a name to the larger aesthetic—“lobotomy-chic”—and trawling TikTok or Twitter you can find countless riffs on the idea, from fake Claire’s ads advertising “self-care” lobotomies to Doomer memes about the hopelessness of escaping late capitalism. Lack of affect is the new affect.

So what’s happening? The easy answer is: everything. A pandemic, school shootings, the climate crisis, looming recession, the collapse of democracies and the existing world order—the response that many have to all of this is to crawl inside a safer space, to find refuge from the chaos. The world is teeming with threats to our physical, psychological, and emotional well-being, and in order to feel safe and secure, we’ve had to get a bit more resourceful than usual. Enter dissociation, the response at the root of so much trauma.

Anytime a cultural phenomenon spreads this far, you can be sure those neurons are firing in music, too. And sure enough, once I started looking for it, I realized I’d been hearing this hollowness across genres and styles, from British post-punk to West Coast street rap.

Read the rest of this article at: Pitchfork

News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the weeks since a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a case about a Mississippi law that bans abortion after fifteen weeks, with some health-related exceptions but none for rape or incest—was leaked, a slogan has been revived: “We won’t go back.” It has been chanted at marches, defiantly but also somewhat awkwardly, given that this is plainly an era of repression and regression, in which abortion rights are not the only rights disappearing. Now that the Supreme Court has issued its final decision, overturning Roe v. Wade and removing the constitutional right to abortion, insuring that abortion will become illegal or highly restricted in twenty states, the slogan sounds almost divorced from reality—an indication, perhaps, of how difficult it has become to comprehend the power and the right-wing extremism of the current Supreme Court.

Support for abortion has never been higher, with more than two-thirds of Americans in favor of retaining Roe, and fifty-seven per cent affirming a woman’s right to abortion for any reason. Even so, there are Republican officials who have made it clear that they will attempt to pass a federal ban on abortion if and when they control both chambers of Congress and the Presidency. Anyone who can get pregnant must now face the reality that half of the country is in the hands of legislators who believe that your personhood and autonomy are conditional—who believe that, if you are impregnated by another person, under any circumstance, you have a legal and moral duty to undergo pregnancy, delivery, and, in all likelihood, two decades or more of caregiving, no matter the permanent and potentially devastating consequences for your body, your heart, your mind, your family, your ability to put food on the table, your plans, your aspirations, your life.

“We won’t go back”—it’s an inadequate rallying cry, prompted only by events that belie its message. But it is true in at least one sense. The future that we now inhabit will not resemble the past before Roe, when women sought out illegal abortions and not infrequently found death. The principal danger now lies elsewhere, and arguably reaches further. We have entered an era not of unsafe abortion but of widespread state surveillance and criminalization—of pregnant women, certainly, but also of doctors and pharmacists and clinic staffers and volunteers and friends and family members, of anyone who comes into meaningful contact with a pregnancy that does not end in a healthy birth. Those who argue that this decision won’t actually change things much—an instinct you’ll find on both sides of the political divide—are blind to the ways in which state-level anti-abortion crusades have already turned pregnancy into punishment, and the ways in which the situation is poised to become much worse.

In the states where abortion has been or will soon be banned, any pregnancy loss past an early cutoff can now potentially be investigated as a crime. Search histories, browsing histories, text messages, location data, payment data, information from period-tracking apps—prosecutors can examine all of it if they believe that the loss of a pregnancy may have been deliberate. Even if prosecutors fail to prove that an abortion took place, those who are investigated will be punished by the process, liable for whatever might be found.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Adult friendships can be tricky to maintain. People move away from their college town as schooling ends, careers begin and monopolize our time, socializing at happy hours can start to lose its appeal as you get older. And during the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Americans moved from cities full of their friends to less populated areas. Consequently, the close friendships we’ve cultivated from early adulthood might seem more prone to ending as we lose convenient ways of staying in contact, such as living in the same locale. But Millennials and Gen Zers are getting married and having children later than previous generations (or eschewing these milestones altogether), as well as redefining their relationship to work, making friendships more important. Distance, as it turns out, isn’t the barrier it used to be, thanks in part to a way some of us are keeping these relationships alive: the friend vacation.

A trip to meet up with far-flung friends is typically born out of a desire to simply have some fun and maybe relive old memories. For Kathryn Stephenson, a 31-year-old executive recruiter in Atlanta, that used to be true. While living in Los Angeles in 2017, Stephenson met her sorority sisters from the University of Oregon for a weekend vacation in Las Vegas. “It was a very silly, totally ridiculous weekend,” she told me by phone. But the trip was about more than living out stereotypical Vegas debauchery—they found that traveling together was a way to stay authentically connected.

Since then, the trio have become more deliberate about nurturing their long-distance relationship. They’ve met up in Minneapolis and in Bend, Oregon, and are thinking about another trip soon. “In 10 years we’ve had a lot of life changes, from college to our early 30s, and our interactions have gotten deeper,” Stephenson said. And hanging on to those relationships helps her know herself better. “There’s some superficiality in the way we think of friendship these days; the Instagram or Facebook world gives us this feeling of needing more friends, more everything. But being able to travel to see good friends shows you don’t need a huge network; you need an intentional one.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

John Franzese Jr. is just standing there, 60 years old and still wiry, dragging on a Marlboro Light outside a red-sauce place in Wherever, Indiana, when the feeling returns. This surprises him. Minutes earlier, he’d been working the room in his particular way, greeting waiters by name and ordering off-menu—the anchovies with garlic and tomatoes for himself, the carbonara for his guest—while a Buddy Greco song played in the background.

But as John moves through the restaurant’s parking lot, he stops cold; a half smile tightens his aquiline features.

“The feeling,” he says. “It doesn’t go away.”

He stubs out the cigarette.

“When I’m in this kind of mood,” he says, “I’ll notice where I parked and I’m like, Jeez, I’m in between two cars.”

His deep-set eyes scan a lonely service street.

“A perfect location,” he says. “A dead end.”

He pockets his lighter.

“Three or four cars—it’d be done and over in no time…”

He fishes out the lighter.

“I might have one more cigarette.”

It’s not an everyday thing, the feeling; it hits him less and less as the bad old days—“the days when I was a lying degenerate,” John says, “the days when I was a thieving, disgusting animal”—recede in his rearview. His new life of sobriety and repentance generally keeps him too busy to dwell on the past. But occasionally, when visited by certain sights or sounds, he feels a primal shudder unique to anyone who’s spent years in the Federal Witness Protection Program, living a ghostly life of assumed identities and midnight relocations.

John Franzese Jr. has been looking over his shoulder since 2006, when he became one of the most famous turncoats in Mafia history. Having worn a wire for the FBI, he served as the star witness against the last of the great New York mobsters, Sonny Franzese, underboss of the Colombo crime family. Sonny’s given name was John Franzese Sr. The trial marked the first time that a New York Mafia boss watched his own son (and erstwhile heir apparent) testify against him in open court. And that was just the King Lear element of the Franzese (pronounced: “fran-zees”) family saga, an epic stew of betrayals and tragedies, twists and redemptions that suggests a wiseguy version of the British royals.

“Did Dad kill anyone?” John asked. Michael sidestepped the issue. Made guys never discussed past killings. “But if you’re asked to kill someone,” Michael said, “you got to.”

“There’s never been a mob family in America like the Franzese family,” says John’s former FBI handler, Robert Lewicki. “You can go one step further and say there’s never been a family like this in America.”

Such is the family’s grip that John never fully escaped it, because he never wanted to. Even in exile, even with a price on his head, he never thought of himself as Michael Carter or John Maggio or any other of his “new” identities. He was always John Franzese Jr. Despite all better judgment, he couldn’t shake the urge to see his old man one last time—or to die trying. According to the FBI, his father considered having an associate whack his own son.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

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News 24.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On March 4, 2020, a week before the World Health Organization formally declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, Northshore School District, in Washington State, closed its doors, becoming the first in the country to announce a districtwide shift to online learning. Within three weeks, every public-school building in the United States had been closed and 50 million students had been sent home. Half of these students would not reenter their schools for more than a year. No other high-income country in the world relied to such a great extent on remote instruction. The coronavirus caused by far the biggest disruption in the history of American education. Neither the Great Depression nor even the two World Wars imposed anything close to as drastic a change in how America’s schoolchildren spent their days.

Adulthood is stasis: Any year in one’s 50s tends to be much like the next. But childhood is growth, and when schools closed, they shut children out of the place where much of this growth happens. Some of the lost growth was academic and social, as school closures cut children off from teachers and friends. These losses were compounded by children’s exclusion from an array of other goods and services. In the United States, almost all public services for school-age children in some way run through schools. Schools provide nutrition; dental care; nursing services; mental-health care; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; child care for teen parents; referrals to social workers and child-welfare agencies; and laundry facilities and clothing for homeless students. Even in an era of mass shootings and COVID outbreaks, schools are the safest place for children. Moreover, schools don’t just serve the children who attend them. They also provide child care for parents and create social, cultural, and political hubs for communities.

Conventional accounts of the effect of school closures focus on the shift from in-person to online teaching and the academic losses that resulted. This familiar story isn’t false, but it’s only a part of the truth, and it understates both the disruption and the inequities that COVID wrought on students’ lives. When schools closed, all the goods that they provide became suddenly scarcer, and children and families who relied most on public provision of these goods suffered a cascade of harms that touched virtually every aspect of their lives. The disruption the coronavirus has caused to schoolchildren will ripple through the future of the COVID generation. Unfinished learning may turn out to be the easiest of these losses to cure.

A complete reckoning begins by explaining precisely how school closures affected children’s daily lives. For many students, physical school wasn’t replaced with Zoom school. Rather, physical school closures meant no school—literally none at all, for days and even weeks on end.

National surveys of teachers by the EdWeek Research Center, for example, reported that nearly a quarter of students ended the 2020 spring semester “essentially truant.” In Los Angeles, the situation was even more dire: Four in 10 students simply failed to participate regularly in remote-learning programs during the first pandemic spring.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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