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News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@clairerose
News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@clairerose
News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@alexandrine_ar

Late last month, in one of its final acts of the term, the Supreme Court queued up another potentially precedent-wrecking decision for next year. The Court’s agreement to hear Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina redistricting case, isn’t just bad news for efforts to control gerrymandering. The Court’s right-wing supermajority is poised to let state lawmakers overturn voters’ choice in presidential elections.

To understand the stakes, and the motives of Republicans who brought the case, you need only one strategic fact of political arithmetic. Six swing states—Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina—are trending blue in presidential elections but ruled by gerrymandered Republican state legislatures. No comparable red-trending states are locked into Democratic legislatures.

Joe Biden won five of those six swing states in 2020. Donald Trump then tried and failed, lawlessly, to muscle the GOP state legislators into discarding Biden’s victory and appointing Trump electors instead. The Moore case marks the debut in the nation’s highest court of a dubious theory that could give Republicans legal cover in 2024 to do as Trump demanded in 2020. And if democracy is subverted in just a few states, it can overturn the election nationwide.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For eight minutes, Sam Taggart had them all hooked. Relaxed and sincere, he roamed the stage at the Salt Palace Convention Center, selling fifteen hundred door-to-door salesmen on selling. It was a crisp January morning at the fifth D2DCon, an annual conference in Salt Lake City that’s the centerpiece of Taggart’s campaign to elevate a profession reviled by nearly everyone. You can hang up on a telemarketer, but not on the insistent young man who won’t leave your doorstep until you buy some goddam thing—pest control, an alarm system, solar panels, a new roof, magazines, scented candles, paintless autobody dent repair, or perhaps tri-tip steaks from a delivery van that, he swears, just broke down in front of your house.

The best door-to-door salesmen can earn more than a million dollars a year, but it’s a punishing way of life. Unlike the salesman who hawks minivans or enterprise software, the door knocker can’t network at the Rotary Club, make a catchy commercial, or research his prospect’s needs. He faces an unknown and often hostile customer with only his own brain for backup.

“Is selling good?” Taggart asked, from the stage. He wore a Beckett & Robb suit, and his auburn hair was spiked with American Crew gel. “Say yes!”

“Yes!” everyone yelled.

“Is getting sold good? Say yes!”

“Yes!”

Salesmen are particularly susceptible to the American impulse to turn every art into a science. Taggart’s company, the D2D Experts, has an online “university” of hundreds of videos that show sales reps exactly what to say and how to say it. One trusty method is the “yes train,” an idea formalized in the eighteen-eighties by John H. Patterson, who founded National Cash Register. Patterson believed questions that elicit a “yes” prime the customer to agree to a purchase. Encyclopedia salesmen once practiced an “ascending close” that required summoning forty-two yeses—but even that Joycean crescendo of acquiescence didn’t guarantee a sale. “Direct-to-home is the hardest job in the world, outside of being in the military,” Vess Pearson, the C.E.O. of Aptive Environmental, which dispatches some seventy per cent of the knockers in pest control, told me. “You’re working for free every day until you make a sale. The job is repetitive and mundane. And you get rejected over and over and over—you’ll probably only sell two out of a hundred knocks.”

Selling is instinctual to Taggart. At thirty-two, he has talked his way out of dozens of speeding tickets. When he knocks at a Hispanic family’s door, he’ll blurt a halting phrase in Spanish: “Estoy aprendiendo, ah . . . sorry!” Then he’ll ask if it’s O.K. to practice the language as he goes into his spiel, miraculously achieve fluency, and walk off with a sale. Gracias, mis nuevos amigos! He knows exactly how to inveigle customers into buying a better way of life. “Everything is selling,” he told me. “You find the person’s problem—‘My skin isn’t good’ or ‘I got broken into’ or ‘I don’t believe in anything’—and you solve it through your product.”

Taggart’s audience was largely bearded young men with fade haircuts wearing jeans, Henley T-shirts, expensive sneakers, and watches that tracked their steps. Fit, focussed, and wired on energy drinks, they whooped when a speaker’s exhortation resonated—“There’s gold behind that wall of fear!”—then inscribed the new mantra in their bullet journals. When someone on their team won a Golden Door, a trophy for élite levels of annual sales, they roared and dapped.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Deer almost break their bodies to build antlers each year, and scientists still don’t really know why.

In the 1980s, shortly before I was born, my father killed a male white-tailed deer in the woods of Oklahoma, harvested his flesh, and mounted his head. Years later, my brothers regaled me with the tale of Tony, as they posthumously named the buck. “Dad shot him,” they told me, with glee. “And then he made us eat him.” I hated the circumstances of Tony’s death. But I was also entranced. In the corner of the living room where Tony’s head was perched, his antlers stretched from wall to wall, tines arcing toward the ceiling. The bareness of the bone, embossed with wrinkles and bumps that I could touch if I stood on my toes, made me imagine all that the antlers might have been, had Tony survived.

My younger self was right to marvel. Antlers are crowning biological achievements that do what no other tissues can. They weaponize naked bits of skeleton; they “grow faster than any other animal bone,” says Doug Emlen, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Montana. At the height of spring and summer, some big-bodied cervid species can sprout antlers at a rate of about an inch a day, surpassing the pace of fetal formation and even cancerous tissue growth. The pace is so speedy that deer must pillage minerals from other parts of their skeleton, only to cast their antlers away and sprout a new pair when the seasons turn once more.

No other mammals regularly discard and regenerate bits of bony skeleton like this. And scientists are still working to understand why deer annually jettison these “improbable appendages,” the objects of our envy and one of the greatest energetic investments the animals make. Antlers are a proclamation, majestic enough to attract the attention of deer and humans alike—enough that we may be reshaping the appendages before our knowledge is complete.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

They had just learned that BuzzFeed News was going to publish a story revealing their identities — heretofore carefully hidden, or so they thought — to the wider world.

“We got 20 minutes warning,” Solano recalls, speaking earlier this month at a hotel in downtown Manhattan.

As Solano and Aronow do when making big, and even small, decisions about their business, they immediately jumped on a call — to freak out together and plan their next moves. “There were very real security concerns, to be frank,” says Aronow, sitting next to Solano on a bench in the hotel’s courtyard restaurant. Bad actors could try to hack their accounts. People might show up at their homes — or worse. “We didn’t know what to expect,” they both say now.

They began taking down personal information from the internet — Aronow recalls deactivating his Instagram, fearing it might contain clues as to the location of his home — and warning their families about what was coming, lest they be targets, too.

While Aronow’s immediate family understood exactly why the impending article would cause such concern, Solano had to explain the specifics to his father: He and Aronow were the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, the internet’s hottest NFT project. Yuga Labs — the company through which they launched the Bored Ape Yacht Club in April 2021 — is currently valued at $4 billion.

The Bored Apes are a collection of 10,000 unique digital head-and-shoulders drawings of simians, each with a unique combination of traits, ranging from the common (“bored” mouth) to the ultra-rare (“solid gold” fur). Last October, a rare Ape sold at Sotheby’s for an eye-watering $3.4 million. That same month, Guy Oseary, a veteran talent manager who represents Madonna and U2, came on as a BAYC business partner.

Today, the Apes are everywhere in popular culture, from T-shirts sold at Old Navy to a VMA-nominated music video by Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Celebrities like Steph Curry, Justin Bieber, Gwyneth Paltrow, Post Malone, and Seth Green own them. Other high-profile holders include Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton, who in January engaged in an infamously cringe exchange about their Apes on The Tonight Show. (Solano and Aronow, who say they weren’t aware of the Fallon segment in advance, found it “very surreal.”)

Though the crypto and NFT markets crashed this year, the Apes are still considered a “blue chip” investment in the space. The current floor price of an Ape stands at roughly $140,000, down from a high of about $434,000 in April. With every secondary sale of a Bored Ape NFT, Yuga Labs gets a 2.5 percent royalty.

Solano’s father was aware that his son was working on a project in the NFT and crypto space but didn’t know the details until he got the call from his son that February evening. “I hadn’t told my dad because he would tell everybody,” explains Solano, who is of Cuban descent. “He’d tell the woman at la carreta, the coffee shop: ‘My son is the one who’s behind this! Who else can know, who else can know?’”

This would have been a problem because, up until the BuzzFeed article dropped, most people only knew the duo by the handles they use online — Solano is Gargamel, after the villainous wizard from The Smurfs, and Aronow is Gordon Goner, a punk-inspired name — and their corresponding Ape avatars.

The same went for BAYC’s other two co-founders, the guys on the technical end of things: Zeshan Ali, 32, who went by No Sass, since shortened to Sass (“Here for the Apes. Not for the sass,” his bio on the BAYC site reads), and Kerem Atalay, 31, AKA Emperor Tomato Ketchup (a name taken from an album by the Anglo-French indie pop band Stereolab).

Read the rest of this article at: Input

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News 03.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

If you had twenty dollars and a few hours to spare during the fall of 1970, you could learn about “The Art of Womanhood” from Mrs. Beatrice Sparks. A Mormon housewife, Sparks was the author of a book called “Key to Happiness,” which offered advice on grooming, comportment, voice, and self-discipline for high-school and college-aged girls; her seminar dispensed that same advice on Wednesdays on the campus of Brigham Young University, a school from which she’d later claim to have earned a doctorate, sometimes in psychiatry, other times in psychology or human behavior. “Happiness comes from within,” Sparks promised, “and it begins with an understanding of who and what you really are!”

Such an understanding seems to have been elusive for Sparks, who was then calling herself a lecturer, although she would soon enough identify as a therapist and occasionally as a counsellor or a social worker or even an adolescent psychologist, substituting the University of Utah or the University of California, Los Angeles, for her alma mater, or declining to say where she had trained. But, wherever she studied and whatever her qualifications, Sparks was destined to become best known for being unknown. Although her book on womanhood was a flop, she went on to sell millions of copies of another book, one that even today does not acknowledge her authorship, going into printing after printing without so much as a pseudonym for its author. “Go Ask Alice,” the supposedly real diary of a teen-age drug addict, was really the work of a straitlaced stay-at-home mom.

When “Go Ask Alice” was published, in 1971, the author listed on the cover was “Anonymous.” The first page featured a preface of sorts, an authenticating framework as elaborate as those written by Mary Shelley and Joseph Conrad, explaining that what followed was “based on the actual diary of a fifteen-year-old,” though names and dates had been changed. The diary, according to its unnamed editors, was “a highly personal and specific chronicle” that they thought might “provide insights into the increasingly complicated world in which we live.”

The narrator is unidentified, too. She is not named Alice; the book’s title, chosen by a savvy publishing employee, comes indirectly from a reference in the diary to “Alice in Wonderland” and more directly from the lyrics of the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit.” Early entries dutifully record the nothing-everythings of teen-age life. The narrator frets over diets and dates; wishes she could “melt into the blaaaa-ness of the universe” when a boy stands her up; and describes high school as “the loneliest, coldest place in the world.” She’s from a middle-class, overtly Christian, ostensibly good family, with two younger siblings, a stay-at-home mother, and an academic father whose work takes the family to another state.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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