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News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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The stakes could not be higher for Beyoncé—an artist who has challenged herself at every turn—to do more, to be more, to say more. She has, throughout her solo career, rewritten the rules of album releases, of stage performance, of music videos, of Black representation, of cultural legacy, and of self-expression. The final frontier of innovation, the only thing left for her to achieve, is to walk away from it all. And that’s what she’s trying to do these days—sort of. “I just quit my job,” she announces on “Break My Soul,” a clubby and joyous house track, on her new album, “Renaissance.” “I’m looking for new motivation.”

It’s been six years since Beyoncé released “Lemonade,” an album (and film) on which she laid bare her marital strife, and subsequent reconciliation, with Jay-Z. The album was a feat of storytelling so ambitious that it made us reconsider what a modern pop star could accomplish. For years after its release, Beyoncé worked to expand the cultural footprint of “Lemonade,” first touring it in arenas around the world. In 2018, at Coachella, she blew it out into a baroque theatrical production honoring the legacy of Black collegiate marching bands. She followed that performance with a documentary about her preparation for the show, along with an accompanying live album called “Homecoming.” That year, she and Jay-Z released “Everything Is Love,” a joint album that was more a “Lemonade” victory lap than a new musical chapter. And yet the “Lemonade” era was so monumental that its long tail felt justified. Each iteration seemed to pump new fuel into the project.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Everything in America is getting older these days. In practically every field of human endeavor—politics, business, academia, science, sports, pop culture—the average age of achievement and power is rising.

Politics is getting older. Joe Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history. Remarkably, he is still younger than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And they aren’t exceptions to the general rule: The Senate is the oldest in history.

Businesses are getting older. The average age of new CEOs at Fortune 500 companies is very likely at its record high, having gradually increased throughout the 21st century. And it’s not just the boss; the whole workplace is getting older too. Between the 1980s and early 2000s, Americans under 45 accounted for the clear majority of workers. But that’s no longer the case, since the large Baby Boomer generation has remained in the labor force longer than previous cohorts.

Science is getting older—not just in this country, but around the world. Discovery used to be a young person’s game. James Watson was 24 when he co-discovered the structure of DNA, and Albert Einstein was 26 when he published his famous papers on the photoelectric effect and special relativity. But in the past few decades, the typical age of scientific achievement has soared. Nobel Prize laureates are getting older in almost every discipline, especially in physics and chemistry. The average age of an investigator at the National Institutes of Health rose from 39 in 1980 to 51 in 2008, and the average age of principal investigators receiving their first major NIH grant increased from about 36 in 1990 to about 45 in 2016. In fact, all of academia is getting older: The average age of college presidents in the U.S. has increased steadily in the past 20 years. From 1995 to 2010, the share of tenured faculty over the age of 60 roughly doubled.

In pop culture, the old isn’t going out of style like it used to. The writer Ted Gioia observed that Americans have for several years shifted their music-listening to older songs. In film, the average age of movie stars has steadily increased since 1999, according to an analysis by The Ringer. So far this year, the seven highest-grossing American films are sequels and reboots. Sports such as tennis and football are dominated by superstars (Nadal, Djokovic, Brady, Rodgers) who are unusually old for the game. Incredibly successful young artists and athletes obviously do exist—but older songs, older stars, and existing franchises are dominating the cultural landscape in a historically unusual way.

So, what’s going on?

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

The team at the Oxford English Dictionary felt some nervousness about writing the definition for “Terf”, an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, which this month has been added to its pages. “To a certain extent, it is like any other word,” says Fiona McPherson, a 50-year-old lexicographer from Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, who has worked at the dictionary since 1997. “But it would be disingenuous to say that it is exactly the same. There seems more at stake. You want to be accurate, you want to be neutral. But it’s a lot easier to be neutral about a word that isn’t controversial.”

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has served as a lexical record of the world’s most widely spoken language – and its culture – since it was founded in the mid-19th century. “Post-truth”, for example, was the dictionary’s word of 2016, the year of Brexit and Trump, while in 2020 it elected not to choose one – because no single word could sum up the pandemic experience. Last year, “police brutality”, “deadname”, “cancel culture” and “anti-vaxxer” entered the dictionary for the first time; previous years gave us “fake news” (2019), “Silent Generation” (2018) and “woke” (2017).

The June 2022 update includes several terms that reflect our changing understanding of sexuality and gender: “multisexual”, “pangender”, “gender expression”, “gender presentation” and “enby” (derived from “NB”, meaning “non-binary”), as well as Terf. But this wasn’t, McPherson says, a conscious decision; rather, these additions organically came together as their usage grew. The team decided against labelling Terf “offensive”, instead explaining in a usage note that it might be considered so; it was felt that this “was a bit more nuanced than just slapping on ‘derogatory’ or ‘chiefly derogatory’”.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Statesman

News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a Thursday night in August 2021, hundreds of people gathered along the banks of the Okanogan River in the small town of Omak, Washington. The air was thick with smoke from recent wildfires and shot through with tension. The crowd craned their necks to see the top of a nearby hill, which on one side plunged straight into the river. At the hill’s crest, illuminated by floodlights, more than a dozen men sat on horseback wearing helmets and life preservers. An ambulance was stationed below. Some spectators began to pray.

In Omak, the second week of August is synonymous with Stampede, an annual four-day rodeo featuring saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, and Native American drumming and dancing. Stampedes like the one in Omak are common across the American West, but the big draw here—the grand finale of each day’s festivities—is unlike anything else in the country. Riders like the ones atop the hill spur their horses to top speed, fly over the crest, and charge down a precipitously steep dirt track. After crashing into the Okanogan, they cross to the opposite bank and—if they make it that far without serious injury—dash 500 feet to the Stampede’s main arena. The thrilling, grueling spectacle is known as the Suicide Race.

The jockey with the best showing over four days earns the coveted title King of the Hill. There are men who have won once, twice, or several times, making them local celebrities. Omak sits on the edge of the Colville Indian Reservation, and the vast majority of riders are Native. Competing in the Suicide Race is a matter of pride: Many riders’ forefathers “went off the hill,” as locals say, and the event echoes Native traditions dating back centuries.

In 2021, most of the riders were repeat contenders or past winners, but one man was both an outsider and an underdog. Around Omak, which has a population of fewer than 5,000 people, Andres Beckett was known as “the rookie.” Twenty-nine years old and Mexican-American, Andres mostly worked construction. His forebears didn’t go off the hill, and he had to fight for years to get to the race’s starting line—a streak of white paint hastily sprayed onto the ground. Jockeys in the Suicide Race need skill and grit, but even more important is mentorship. The tight-knit community of legacy riders know the course in detail—how to train for it, survive it, master it—and they don’t share that expertise with just anyone. Wannabe racers have to prove themselves, earn the privilege of learning from the best.

Andres had done that, enduring setbacks and humiliations before securing the guidance required to compete. Now he waited impatiently for the starting gun to go off. Between his legs was the muscled mass of JD, his horse. Andres’s boots were taped into the stirrups of his saddle—falling off was not an option. He knew JD could sense his nerves; whenever he gripped the reins, the horse’s ears twitched. “Let’s have some fun, JD,” Andres said. “Let’s get it.” In his head he heard music, the eerie melody of a song by a Russian electronic band he’d listened to while preparing for the race. It made him feel close to death.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atavist

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News 05.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When Roe v. Wade was overturned, I didn’t know about it for an hour. The verdict in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization came down around 10 a.m. EDT on a Friday in late June, while I was interviewing a woman who’d given birth in a hospital hallway because all of its delivery rooms were full. After we hung up, I had about 60 missed text messages from friends. I read the texts. Then the news. And then I went back to work. At the time, I was 24 weeks pregnant.

In the weeks since, I’ve found myself dwelling not on the immediate effects of the decision and what it means for my 2-year-old daughter’s future or even my own pregnancy, but on all the ways this country has shunted onto women the responsibility of keeping its society and economy running. I’ll fold my toddler’s onesies and think about how the US, a country in which two-thirds of mothers of young children work, has such a forceful “pro-life” movement, and yet it’s the only wealthy nation that doesn’t guarantee new moms time off work after they have a baby.

I’ll sanitize her binkies and remember that last year Congress toyed with the idea of offering four weeks of paid family leave—an amount of time so short that a postpartum mother would still be bleeding into adult diapers, her baby too young to be legally accepted by a licensed day care—for what the Congressional Budget Office estimated would’ve cost the federal government about $22 billion a year, or 2% of next year’s proposed military budget. They wrapped it into a bill nicknamed “Build Back Better”—implying, I suppose, that life in the US would improve. But it didn’t pass. “We just can’t be spending so much money,” West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told paid-leave advocates, according to Politico.

The other day, when I got my breast pump out of storage, I considered how the same week the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that women breastfeed for two years instead of one, the Senate declined to pass a law that would’ve granted 9 million working women breastfeeding protections at work. And how, in the midst of a nationwide baby formula shortage, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz voted against a bill that would make it easier for mothers to use their Women, Infants, and Children funds to buy formula, saying that if Congress helped mothers on welfare feed their infants, it would be “crowding out many hardworking American families.” That night, I sang my daughter to sleep and thought about how a child’s worth depended on how much money their parents made.

And on it goes. Two years of the country reminding women again and again that it doesn’t care about them. In March the speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, Philip Gunn, who’d facilitated the passing of the state’s 2018 abortion law on which the Dobbs case was based, killed a bill that would’ve allowed postpartum mothers to keep their Medicaid coverage for as long as a year. Because it failed, poor women in Mississippi—a state that’s 38% Black—are kicked off the program eight weeks after they give birth. In 2019 the state’s own health department noted that Mississippi’s maternal mortality rate was almost twice as high as the national average and that close to 40% of mothers who died did so more than six weeks after childbirth. “Every life is valuable,” Gunn said at a press conference celebrating the overturning of Roe v. Wade. More women die in childbirth in the US than in any other wealthy country.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

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