News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When my father moved back to Taiwan, my family bought a pair of fax machines. In theory, this was so he could help me with my math homework. I was starting high school, in California, and everything, from what instrument I played to the well-roundedness of my transcript, suddenly seemed consequential. In seventh grade, I had tested just well enough to skip two years of math, and now I was paying for it. I had peaked too early. In fact, I was very bad at math. Like many immigrants who prized education, my parents had faith in the mastery of technical fields—math and science—where answers weren’t left to interpretation. You couldn’t discriminate against the right answer.

Faxing was cheaper than long-distance calling, and involved far less pressure. The time difference between Cupertino and Taiwan was such that I could fax my father a question in the evening and expect an answer by the time I woke up. My homework requests were always marked “Urgent.”

He replied with equations and proofs, explaining the principles of geometry in the margins and apologizing if anything was unclear. After wearying of America’s corporate ladder, he’d moved to Taiwan to work as an executive in the burgeoning semiconductor industry, and he was busy establishing himself at his new job. I skimmed the explanations and copied down the equations and proofs. Every now and then, I rewarded his quick, careful attention by interspersing the next set of math questions with a digest of American news: I told him about Magic Johnson’s announcement that he was H.I.V.-positive, I narrated the events that led up to the Los Angeles riots, I kept him up to date on the fate of the San Francisco Giants. I told him about cross-country practice, made honest commitments to work harder at school.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

 News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

 News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The text message came a little before 5 p.m. It was August 26, 2021. Eleven days earlier, the Taliban had overthrown the Afghan government. My friend—a German writer and academic—had been trying to help my family flee the country. Now she told me she had gotten my two younger sisters and me on the list for a flight to Frankfurt, a last-minute evacuation negotiated by the German government and a nonprofit group.

“What about my mom?” I asked. She didn’t reply for a moment. “I was not able to get her on this flight,” she answered. Please, I begged her: “My brothers are gone and my father is living with his second wife. She just has us, no one else, for God’s sake please do something.”

But there was nothing she could do. “These are the names that they offered me,” she wrote. “I know it’s a terrible choice.”

She said we had 20 minutes to decide whether to stay or go. We would need to pack, then take a taxi to a secret location, where we’d meet the buses that would drive the evacuees to the airport.

Just a few weeks earlier, my life had been relatively normal. We knew the Afghan National Army was getting weaker—on the battlefield, scores of soldiers were dying—and the front lines kept getting closer to Kabul. And yet, inside the city, schools, offices, and cafés were still open. People were going out to sing and dance; music played in restaurants and taxis. I was 21 and had recently started working for a newspaper, which had me traveling around the city reporting. I loved writing about people, especially the poor, whose voices were rarely heard. I wrote about how they lived, the problems they faced, the joy they experienced regardless.

My father is from Tolak, a remote district in Ghor province, where, even after the fall of the Taliban 20 years ago, women were still flogged and stoned to death. As far as I know, there has never been a journalist from Tolak, certainly not a female one. I knew that the life I was living would not have been possible if my father hadn’t worked hard to bring our family to Kabul. I knew it would not have been possible if the Taliban had remained in power.

But now the Taliban were back. On August 15, the government collapsed, the security forces disintegrated, and the president, Ashraf Ghani, fled. Once he’d left his people behind, Europe and the United States abandoned us too. If I could meet Ghani today, I would have nothing to say to him. I would silently stare into his eyes so that he could feel the homelessness of a young woman.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

As the sun tucked itself beneath the horizon, all was still on Michigan’s White River. Kandace Griffin, a fisheries and wildlife doctoral student at Michigan State University, sat on her gently bobbing research boat, listening to the evening chorus of frog croaks and red-winged blackbird songs. Every so often, a series of sharp taps emitted from a small speaker broke through the natural sounds, signaling that a sea lamprey—part of an experimental group she’d tagged earlier—was weaving through the depths below.

Griffin is part of a decades-long effort between the US and Canadian governments, researchers, and fisheries to control populations of the sea lamprey, an invasive species in the Great Lakes region. While the Great Lakes are home to four species of native lamprey, the sea lamprey slithered in from the Atlantic Ocean more than a hundred years ago, and promptly began annihilating native fish populations.

Earlier that morning, at a Great Lakes Fishery Commission lab, Griffin had pulled nine sea lampreys from a large aquarium where, suckered onto the tank walls, they unknowingly awaited surgery. The lampreys took some expertise to handle—once out of the water, they lashed chaotically until anesthetic relaxed them into “wet noodles”—but Griffin had practiced her operations on more docile subjects first. “I did a lot of banana surgeries,” she said with a smile, as she masterfully implanted the sea lampreys with Tic Tac-sized acoustic telemetry trackers and quickly closed up the sutures.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

 News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


 News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

More than three thousand people surround me in the packed Roxy nightclub on West 18th Street in Manhattan. It’s hot. We’ve been dancing for hours. But the wind-milling arms, roundhouse kicks, and javelin-like body tosses on this night in ’97 bear little resemblance to the more subdued moves once executed in Roxy’s early days as a roller disco. Still, we’re grateful the surface below our feet was custom designed to support hard falls.

Instead of short-shorts and go-go boots, the few females in attendance are wearing cargo shorts and Doc Martens. Many of the more buff men have relinquished their shirts, revealing glazed, inked skin and nipple piercings matching the ones in their septums.

The houselights darken. Piercing feedback drowns out the roar of the crowd. After four quick clicks of drumsticks, it’s chaos.

The lights blare again. The headlining band’s singer, Lou Koller of Sick of It All, is at the foot of the stage, a pile-on of fans mounting at his feet.

He screams his first lines of lyrics: “Thinking back on what we had!”

The audience handles the next part: “Wooooah-Oh!”

Distorted guitar parts are blasted out over a catchy groove. Crowd members defend themselves from possessed slam dancers. Koller offers the mic to a crowd surfer. Someone in the pit falls down, and three people quickly scoop him up.

“Hardcore was very real,” says Kevin Gill, a former co-manager of the underground hardcore record label Striving for Togetherness. “It was punching you in the face, where punk was shoving you and saying, What’s up, bro? Hardcore’s about ‘fuck the world,’ but it’s also about the opposite: respecting people.”

After a few minutes of near complete sensory overload, the band strikes the tune’s last note, the crowd cheers, and everyone readies themselves for the next song.

Intense, original and cultivating an infectious sense of community, hardcore music began its reign of underground terror nearly forty years ago. Though its fabric extends far beyond traditional sonic labels, when it emerged in the late ’70s hardcore was simply defined as a more rambunctious, faster-paced form of punk rock. Merging with thrash metal in the ’80s, it experienced both jumps and dips in popularity. But throughout the ’90s a slew of fresh faces officiating a polygamous marriage between punk, metal and hip-hop reignited the scene, making hardcore the biggest it’s ever been in and around New York City.

“The mid-90s was the best,” says Tim Williams, front man of the Long Island band Vision of Disorder. “There was no makeup. No facades. No laser-light shows. The music came from an honest place. And I know these people personally. They weren’t talking shit.”

Read the rest of this article at: Narratively

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 News 24.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 1953, the British pediatrician and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott began writing about the idea of “good-enough” parenting—a term he coined, and one he’s still famous for today. According to Winnicott, after infancy, babies do not need tirelessly responsive or self-sacrificing parents. In fact, he wrote, it is developmentally key for parents to lessen their “active adaptation” to their children’s needs over time. In doing so, they teach their kids to “account for failure” and “tolerate the results of frustration”—both necessary skills at a very young age, as anyone who’s watched a baby learn to crawl knows.

In his recent book The Good-Enough Life, the scholar and writing lecturer Avram Alpert radically broadens Winnicott’s idea of good-enoughness, transforming it into a sweeping ideology. Alpert sees good-enoughness as a necessary alternative to “greatness thinking,” or the twin beliefs that everybody has the right to embark on “personal quests for greatness” and that the great few can uplift the mediocre many. Adam Smith’s invisible hand of capital is an example of greatness thinking; so is its latter-day analogue, trickle-down economics. So are many forms of ambition: wanting to win the National Book Award, to start a revolution that turns your divided and unequal country into a Marxist utopia, or to make a sex tape that catapults you to global fame.

Alpert does not ask his readers to abandon their goals completely, but he does ask us to acknowledge the unlikelihood of becoming the next Kim Kardashian or creating a workers’ paradise. He also argues that clinging too tightly to such dreams, at the expense of smaller or partial ones, sets us up for both practical and moral failure: To him, it’s selfish, especially on the political level, to strive exclusively for changes so large that they may be unattainable. Rather than aim for greatness, then, Alpert asks us to accept that frustration and limitation are inescapable—and sometimes beneficial or beautiful—parts of human life.

Alpert splits his book into quarters, exploring ways we can seek good-enoughness in ourselves, our relationships, our societies, and our efforts to mitigate climate change. His vision of a good-enough world—one in which “all humans have both goodness (including decency, meaning, and dignity) and enoughness (including high-quality food, clothing, shelter, and medical care)”—is energizing, but beyond it, his ideas about politics and global warming lean heavily toward summaries of or arguments with other people’s analyses. This is fair, given that he’s a philosopher and not a political or environmental scientist, but it’s also not especially interesting. His discussions of the good-enough self and the good-enough relationship, though also in dialogue with other thinkers, are more innovative and, as a result, more exciting. I also found them useful. His arguments for holding ourselves not to the monolithic standard of greatness but to the seemingly looser metrics of goodness and enoughness are, paradoxical though this may seem, guides toward a more determined way of inhabiting the world.

Many of Alpert’s ideas about good-enough selves and good-enough relationships ask only that his readers be more patient and less selfish. Greatness thinking, he argues, teaches us to defend our own ideas, time, and convenience above all else; it suggests that anyone who wishes to excel must hoard their time and energy, ignoring all the little tasks, negotiations, and compromises that make up so much of daily life. (The writer Vladimir Nabokov, supposedly, didn’t even lick his own stamps.) On an interpersonal level, greatness thinking suggests that discord and friction are, like licking your own stamps and running your own errands, needless time sucks—or, worse, signs that a relationship is on the rocks. A great friendship, according to this line of thought, is one of unbroken companionship and total harmony, a lifelong version of Broad City’s Abbi and Ilana at their most intertwined. But even on Broad City, a show utterly devoted to the joys of friendship, Abbi and Ilana are at odds, if only briefly, on nearly every episode. Alpert would say that this is as it should be. Disagreement and compromise are crucial parts of friendship. They teach us openness, acceptance, and resilience. If we let them, they make us more whole.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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