News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The phrase “the dawn of everything” first struck David Wengrow, one of the authors of The Dawn of Everything, as marvelously absurd. Everything. Everything! It was too gigantic, too rich, too loonily sublime. Penguin, the book’s august publisher, would hate it.

But Wengrow, a sly, convivial British archaeologist at University College London, and his coauthor, the notorious American anthropologist and anarchist David Graeber, whose sudden death in Venice two years ago shocked a world of admirers, couldn’t let it go.

Twitter users, after all, dug the title—Graeber had asked—and it suited the pair’s cosmic undertaking. Their book would throw down a gauntlet. “It’s time to change the course of human history, starting with the past,” as the egg-yolk-yellow ads now declare in the London Underground. Wengrow and Graeber had synthesized new discoveries about peoples like the Kwakiutl, who live in the Pacific Northwest; the foragers of Göbekli Tepe, a religious center in latter-day Turkey built between 9500 and 8000 BCE; and the Indigenous inhabitants of a full-dress metropolis some 4,000 years ago in what’s now Louisiana.

Citing this existing research, and more from a range of social scientists, Wengrow and Graeber argue that the life of hunter-gatherers before widespread farming was nothing like “the drab abstractions of evolutionary theory,” which hold that early humans lived in small bands in which they acted almost entirely on instinct, either brutish (as in Hobbes) or egalitarian and innocent (as in Rousseau). In contrast, the Dawn authors represent prehistoric societies as “a carnival parade of political forms,” a profusion of rambunctious social experiments, where everything from kinship codes to burial rites to gender relations to warfare were forever being conceived, reconceived, satirized, scrapped, and reformed. In an act of intellectual effrontery that recalls Karl Marx, Wengrow and Graeber use this insight to overthrow all existing dogma about humankind—to reimagine, in short, everything.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the gloom of an 18th-century drawing room at the private rehab clinic Castle Craig, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, Roy, a 29-year-old victim of the global cryptocurrency crash, tells me his story. It is a dazzling summer’s day, but here the mood is sombre. Roy shifts uncomfortably in his chair as he begins.

It all started in February 2021, with a radio advert for Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency promoted by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla. Intrigued, Roy started Googling, eventually using his credit card to make an initial investment of €2,500 (£2,200) in a range of cryptocurrencies. The value of Roy’s portfolio climbed to €8,000, then €100,000, then €525,000. Roy had entered the market during an adrenalised bull run, meaning an extended period of price growth. A combination of Covid stimulus packages, low interest rates and an unprecedented level of enthusiasm for cryptocurrency among furloughed workers meant the bull was careering out of sight.

Roy started spending all his time watching YouTube videos and speaking to other cryptocurrency enthusiasts in private groups on the messaging app Telegram. He had been treated for cocaine and alcohol addiction twice, but by 2021 he was sober and working as an addiction counsellor, although he was on sick leave as a result of panic attacks brought on by childhood trauma. He soon relapsed. By day, he checked his cryptocurrency wallets every 10 seconds; by night, he set alarms to go off on the hour. He began fantasising about a life free of financial constraints, in which he would never have to work. “I thought I was on top of the world,” Roy says. “Nobody could tell me anything. Money would fix every single problem I faced from now on.”

Then the cryptocurrency market crashed. The price of bitcoin fell from £42,000 in May 2021 to £23,000 by the end of June. It rallied to an all-time high of £48,000 in November, before diving to £26,000 at the end of January. Since then, it has been in near-continuous freefall. At the time of writing, bitcoin is hovering at £17,000. “It felt like I had lost my life,” says Roy. “Because I had invested everything in crypto. I had built every dream I had on there. So, when it came crashing down, my whole life came crashing down.”

Desperate, Roy made a string of bad bets. The value of his portfolio dwindled to €20,000, then €3,000. “It got so out of control because I saw all my chances to live a better life fading away,” he says. “So I became really desperate and eventually just completely isolated. I didn’t want to see anybody, because I thought I was a failure.”

Most mornings, he would wake up shaking from alcohol withdrawal, order booze online and spend the day drinking and taking drugs. He developed stomach ulcers. “You can’t explain the pain,” he says. “I would drink and puke and drink and puke and drink and hope to keep it in, so the pain would go away. I felt like dying.”

In May, jobless and broke, Roy checked into Castle Craig, one of the only centres in the world that treats cryptocurrency addiction. (He lost his job when he relapsed; his rehab fees are covered by medical insurance.) His cryptocurrency portfolio is worth about €300. Now, amid the incongruous grandeur of a Scottish stately home, he is attempting to rebuild his life – and quieten the tormenting thought that he should have pulled out his money when he had the chance.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Roy says, softly. “I hate myself for the fact that I didn’t take it out.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

As soon as Brazilian umpire Carlos Bernardes stepped on to the court on 29 March, he knew it was going to be a difficult morning in the chair. It was the Miami Open 2022 and he’d been assigned the last-16 clash between the young Italian player Jannik Sinner and the Australian Nick Kyrgios. From the start, Kyrgios was on edge, muttering about the slow conditions on court. At 4-4 in the first set, Kyrgios made a good return on Sinner’s serve, only for noise from Bernardes’s walkie-talkie to loudly interrupt play. Bernardes called for the point to be replayed. “You should be fired on the spot,” Kyrgios yelled at him. “How is that possible? How is that possible! The fourth round of Miami, one of the biggest tournaments, and you guys just can’t do your job.”

Unfortunately for Bernardes, that was only the beginning. With each changeover, Kyrgios continued to criticise the umpire, calling his performance “outrageous” and “embarrassing”. As the first set reached its climax, Bernardes issued Kyrgios a warning for audible obscenity, then docked him a point for unsportsmanlike conduct, after the Australian loudly said to his friend in the stands that he could do a better job than Bernardes. Upon losing the set with a double-fault, Kyrgios went off at Bernardes once more, shouting repeatedly “What is unsportsmanlike?” before smashing his racket, demanding to see a higher-ranked tournament official, and receiving a game penalty. “Everything is just the worst when you’re in the chair,” Kyrgios later said to Bernardes.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

As the sun set on May 31, 1991, the streets of Dresden crackled with energy. All day the city had been abuzz with the rumor that there was going to be a riot in the city’s nascent red-light district. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall some 18 months before, the smog-choked, bomb-scarred city in East Germany had changed. Suddenly, it was filled with new imports from the West, including drugs, gambling, and prostitution. Kiosks that once sold Neues Deutschland, the dour Communist Party propaganda sheet, now carried German editions of Playboy and Hustler. One man had sworn to clean house. His name was Rainer Sonntag, and he was a far-right vigilante—an avowed neo-Nazi.

Sonntag was born and raised in Dresden, but had fled across the Iron Curtain to West Germany five years earlier. By the time the wall fell, Sonntag had become one of the West’s leading neo-Nazis, thanks to a willingness to roll up his sleeves and fight. When he returned home, he recruited a ragtag army of acolytes to rid Dresden of influences he claimed were noxious. Most of his followers came from the grim maze of housing projects in Gorbitz, on Dresden’s western edge. The buildings there were filled with young people who had been stripped of stability and purpose by Communism’s implosion. Sonntag had charisma and an uncanny ability to channel the energy and anger of Gorbitz’s youth. They flocked to him, calling him the Sheriff.

Sonntag’s gang of neo-Nazis had started their supposed purification of the city by targeting the hütchenspieler, three-card swindlers who plied their trade on Dresden’s central Prager Strasse. They handcuffed the men and handed them over to the local police. Then the youth hounded the city’s Vietnamese cigarette sellers. Now they were eyeing brothels. Never mind that not so long ago, Sonntag himself had worked in a red-light district in the West; he timed an assault on a Dresden brothel called the Sex Shopping Center for midnight on the last day of May.

Throughout the evening, far-right youth—some with shaved heads, others with the feathery mullets still fashionable in the Eastern Bloc’s dying days—gathered in nearby bars and outside the boarded-up Faun Palace porn cinema, just down the street from the brothel. From behind the wheel of a parked car, Sonntag waited to give the signal to attack. The Sex Shopping Center was run by a Greek pimp named Nicolas Simeonidis and his business partner, Ronny Matz.

Around 11:45 p.m., as Sonntag’s army assembled beneath the Faun Palace’s faded neon sign, Simeonidis and Matz arrived in a black Mercedes to confront them. Simeonidis, a compact amateur boxer with a 16-1 record, brandished a sawed-off shotgun. “Get out of here!” he yelled at the forty or so young men gathered in the street. Simeonidis waved the shotgun in a wide arc, sending the neo-Nazis scattering for cover behind cars and bushes. “Leave us in peace!” he shouted.

Sonntag opened his car door and emerged. He was of average height and stoutly built, with dark, wavy hair and a round, friendly face that even now seemed on the verge of breaking into an infectious smile. Sonntag had charm to spare and a vicious stubborn streak. He wasn’t likely to back down just because his target had a gun—especially not with his troops watching. “Go on, then! Shoot, you coward!” Sonntag called out, removing his jacket and advancing steadily on Simeonidis.

From their hiding places, the neo-Nazis sensed a shift in the balance of the situation. One by one, they emerged to join their leader. They were willing to follow him anywhere.

But Sonntag’s young disciples didn’t know his darkest secret. While outwardly he was a neo-Nazi, he was also a spy for East Germany’s feared secret police, the Stasi. Not only that, he had ties to the KGB. In fact, right up until the Iron Curtain fell, one of his handlers was a young, ambitious Russian officer stationed in Dresden. The handler’s name was Vladimir Putin.

The story that follows is based on dozens of interviews with neo-Nazis, eyewitnesses, and former spies, and hundreds of pages of Stasi files and court records. It is the story of how, more than thirty years before Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, under the disingenuous banner of “de-Nazifying” the country, he and some of his closest intelligence associates helped nourish a neo-Nazi movement across Germany. Their preferred tool for sowing hate and discord was Rainer Sonntag.

Read the rest of this article at: Atavist

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News 13.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The warmth of a flickering candle as part of a nighttime routine. Freshly washed towels, dried and stacked, bask in sunlight. Bright red tomatoes sit atop a counter, ready to be used. If you’ve watched any form of home-oriented YouTube videos — from apartment tours to cottagecore to “day in my life” videos — these sorts of images may sound familiar. While some videos about homes make a spectacle of lavish real estate (e.g., Erik Conover’s channel), “home vlogs” — a more quotidian and subdued genre — document and aestheticize what might otherwise appear as domestic mundanity: waking up early, watering plants, vacuuming, cooking dinner. Utterly entrancing at times, home vlogs revel in not just indoor activities but in the senses of comfort, coziness, and even beauty that the ideal home and its rituals bring. Not concerned with architecture or property values, they instead fixate on what happens inside, on objects and practices that generate moods, vibes, feelings.

Unlike shows such as MTV Cribs or those on Home & Garden TV, home vlogs make domestic mundanity slow and exquisite through alluring cinematic visuals often reminiscent of still-life paintings. Even in more “chatty,” personality-based home vlogs by influencers with large followings, there will almost always be a montage of some domestic task — making a smoothie, say — backed up by a low-key soundtrack. Though such sequences are not explicitly meant to be how-tos, they are instructive in that they exemplify what vitality and refreshment at home should look like. As you watch a close-up of the smoothie being poured into a glass, then a shot of the vlogger at a window, looking out at their morning view with smoothie in hand, before raising the cup to their mouth, you are being shown and taught how to feel. In these kinds of distillations of domestic moments, home vlogs depict not so much a place and its occupants than they extract a particular sensation: home not as place but an amalgam of affects.

A reoccurring comment across various home vlogs is how relaxing, peaceful, and inspired the videos make the viewer feel. In this sense, home vlogs are akin to other affect-based media such as ASMR videos or ambience channels that stream lo-fi beats and immersive sound effects. Home vlogs also reflect the tradition of marketing products by evoking domesticity (these 1990s commercials for Folgers coffee, for instance, associate at-home coffee consumption with family and morning sunshine, as if domestic feelings can be imbibed). But as much as they rely on affect, home vlogs additionally draw upon the aesthetics of longstanding shelter magazines like Architectural Digest that have likewise inspired homey feelings in readers since their first issues in the early 20th century, and online formats in the 21st.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

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