News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

“I have spent a great deal of my life discovering that my ambitions and fantasies—which I once thought of as totally unique—turn out to be clichés,” Nora Ephron wrote in 1973, in a column for Esquire. Ephron was then thirty-two, and her subject was the particular clichéd ambition of becoming Dorothy Parker, a writer she had idolized in her youth. Ephron first met Parker as a child, in her pajamas, at her screenwriter parents’ schmoozy Hollywood parties. They crossed paths again when Ephron was twenty; she remembered the meeting in crisp detail, describing Parker as “frail and tiny and twinkly.” But her encounters with the queen of the bon mot weren’t the point. “The point is the legend,” Ephron wrote. “I grew up on it and coveted it desperately. All I wanted in this world was to come to New York and be Dorothy Parker. The funny lady. The only lady at the table.”

Unfortunately, after Ephron moved to Manhattan, in 1962, she discovered that she was far from the only lady at the table to have a “Dorothy Parker problem.” Every woman with a typewriter and an inflated sense of confidence believed that she was going to be crowned the next Miss One-Liner. To make matters worse, once Ephron started reading deep into Parker’s work, she found much of it to be corny and maudlin and, to use Ephron’s withering words, “so embarrassing.” Reluctantly, she let her childhood hero go. “Before one looked too hard at it,” Ephron wrote, “it was a lovely myth.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On the five-hour drive to the docks of Buenos Aires, Claudia Osiani thought hard: do I board the cruise ship or cancel my birthday voyage? With her husband, Juan, she discussed the recent spate of deadly virus outbreaks on cruise ships in Japan and California. “This cruise is different; it will be packed with locals,” Juan reassured her, and it made them feel safer. He had sacrificed so much to provide Claudia with this fantasy of a 14-day voyage through the wilds of South America, and she loved him too much to let on that she was petrified at the thought of embarking.

It was early March 2020, and the first wave of the Covid-19 virus was spreading not only in Wuhan, China, but Italy and Spain. In the UK, cases totalled 273; in Argentina there were fewer than a dozen and it felt like a northern hemisphere issue. “We’re going so far south,” Claudia told Juan in the car. “It’s going to be a bunch of Argentinians on that ship, maybe some Chileans.”

At the docks they spotted their ship, the MS Zaandam. Christened in May 2000, the Dutch-flagged vessel had the feel of an ocean liner of a bygone age. She was steeped in the nearly 150-year history of the Holland America Line, for decades the industry leader in service and style, and known in its marketing materials as “the Spotless Fleet”.

Claudia and Juan had been together for 42 years. Claudia was a stickler for detail and liked to swim and cycle. She was an experienced psychologist, and gregarious, open to speaking her mind, making grand gestures. Juan, a soft-spoken accountant, was in many ways her opposite. His mother was an immigrant from Bath, England; his father was from the Netherlands. But they’d made it work, raising three children who’d given them nine grandchildren.

As the couple boarded, they found that almost none of the passengers came from Argentina or South America. Their hopes of cruising with people from countries spared by this new deadly virus vanished. Aboard the Zaandam were 305 Americans, 295 Canadians, 105 French, 131 Australians and 229 UK citizens.

As more than 1,200 guests and almost 600 crew settled in, the Zaandam became a buzzing community that included 10 decks, eight bars, two pools, a casino, a mini tennis court, an art gallery, a library and a performance hall with a capacity for 500. As last-minute preparations to leave were made, dancers limbered up, magicians rehearsed, members of an a cappella choir belted out tunes and a team of massage therapists were busy kneading away knots from the stress of life onshore. Few passengers were monitoring the news channels that would have alerted them that on 8 March 2020, just 48 minutes before the Zaandam’s departure, the US state department posted a warning that was as unambiguous as it was unprecedented: “American citizens, especially with underlying conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Last fall, a group of 30 people gathered at an Etobicoke estate to sample the latest in life-extension innovations. They sipped brain-boosting beverages laced with lion’s mane mushrooms and garnished with grapefruit, participated in a breathwork session and soaked up the electro­magnetic pulses of the BioCharger, a $20,000 device that looks like a giant blender, sounds like a bionic mosquito and is purported to fight chronic disease, brain fog and flagging libido, among many other ailments. The evening was a soft launch for Longevity House, a private members’ club for Toronto’s burgeoning community of biohackers.

The price tag, $100,000 for a lifetime membership, was staggering. The promise, even more so: a chance to live longer, possibly to 120 years old. And not just longer but better, free from chronic illness and cognitive decline, by which standard six figures starts to sound like a bargain.

In the weeks that followed, word spread about the upstart’s hefty entry fee and astonishing 120-year claim, prompting mean tweets and guffaws at the elitism. All of it was predictable, according to Michael Nguyen, the man behind the venture. “There’s always going to be a certain amount of resistance when you’re leading the charge,” he says. Nguyen is not a doctor or health professional. He has no certifications in the wellness field, which he says is a good thing: “I come at all of this with a different lens. I can ask the right questions.”

Read the rest of this article at: Toronto Life

News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Michelle Flitman, a recent art-school graduate who lives in a suburb of Chicago, grew up in a home full of video games. To her dad, Mark, they were the odds and ends of corporate life: he was a game producer and designer who worked on NFL Blitz 2003, Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage, and WWF Raw. But to Michelle, they were part of the fabric of childhood, and she thought her father deserved some recognition.

Michelle tried to interest YouTube hosts and Web-site owners in the relics she grew up with, but nothing came of those efforts. Then, in college, she took a course on video-game history, and her professor nudged her to write a research paper. When we spoke recently, she recalled a realization that she had: “Historians care about this stuff.” She decided to post photos of her dad’s collection—shelves of games in black-and-red boxes, some of them still in their original shrink-wrap—on a subreddit devoted to game collecting. “​​My dad was a video game producer for multiple companies in the 90’s/2000’s,” she typed. “We plan on selling most of his collection. Here’s a fraction of what’s in it.”

The thread quickly filled up with commenters who clearly saw the value of Mark’s stuff. “You can make a living out of these games,” one person told her. Someone else said, “I want that boxed copy of castlevania 4. I’ll give you all of the money for it.” The most popular comment joked, “Do you need kidneys? I’ve got kidneys.” Another said, “I think I have some unwanted family members lying around here somewhere.”

Out of a hundred and forty-nine comments, one or two urged Michelle not to sell the games and to preserve them for posterity instead. One of these comments referenced an organization called the Video Game History Foundation. It was downvoted enough times that it appeared at the very bottom of the thread, but Michelle decided to send the foundation an e-mail.

Two days later, she was on a Zoom call with Frank Cifaldi, a Bay Area preservationist who incorporated the foundation in 2016 and opened it to the public in 2017. He directs it alongside Kelsey Lewin, the co-owner of Pink Gorilla Games, a retailer that sells retro video games in Seattle. Cifaldi and Lewin agreed to fly out to Chicago to sift through Mark’s hundreds of games and dozens of dusty boxes. They have been working to archive his collection ever since.

The oldest video games are now about seventy years old, and their stories are disappearing. The companies that created early games left behind design documents and production timelines and story bibles, but these kinds of ephemera—and even the games themselves—are easily lost. Paper mildews. Disks demagnetize. Bits are said to “rot” as small errors accumulate in stored data. Hard drives die, and so do the people who produced games in the first place.

Generations of kids grew up playing these video games and helped to jump-start the digital revolution. But games aren’t always treated as a serious part of the culture, and historians and archivists are only starting to preserve them. (One museum curator even told me that a federal grant for his game-preservation work ended up on a U.S. senator’s list of wasteful projects.) The challenge isn’t just technical: it’s also about convincing the public that game history is history, and that it’s well worth saving.

In June, Cifaldi and Lewin traveled to Chicago to visit another game designer’s trove, and they took the opportunity to revisit Mark’s stuff. I tagged along to witness the work of the Video Game History Foundation. The Flitmans live just down the street from a suburban high school, and their two-story brick house is so nondescript that I initially drove right past it. By the time I finally found the place, Cifaldi and Lewin were already hard at work in the living room, hunched over piles of old documents. The house, I noticed, was full of cat-themed décor.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 05.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

VERONIQUE POZNER’S panic was a bird, beating its wings inside her chest.

“Sandy Hook Elementary School,” another oncology nurse read aloud from the treatment room television. “Isn’t that where your kids go?”

It was December 14, 2012. A Friday. Sophia was in second grade. The twins, Arielle and Noah, were in first. Veronique couldn’t tell what was happening. One of her patients shouted: “You’ve got to go!”

It was normally a 40-minute drive from the New Britain, Connecticut, medical center to Newtown, almost all highway. Veronique drove over 80 miles per hour. She called her children’s father and left choking messages. She sucked in air in rapid, shallow gasps. Then the check-engine light came on. It felt like a bad omen.

Lenny Pozner was in Naugatuck, 20 miles from the school. When he and Veronique had separated a year earlier, he’d moved there and got a YMCA membership for himself and the kids. Earlier that morning, after dropping the children at school, he cued up a broadcast — it might have been Infowars’ Alex Jones — and got to the Y just in time for the 9:30 a.m. yoga class. Child’s pose. Savasana.

The first 911 call came in just after 9:35 a.m., reporting gunfire at Sandy Hook school. By the time Lenny finished yoga, his cellphone was buzzing with alerts. He ran to his car and called Veronique as he drove.

The roads in the Sandy Hook part of Newtown were crowded with cars, satellite trucks, and emergency vehicles. Hundreds of students had already been evacuated to the nearby volunteer firehouse, led out of the school clinging onto one another with their eyes closed, as instructed. It was a tragic train of pink leggings and cartoon T-shirts. Veronique parked at a restaurant and ran. She found Lenny at the firehouse, then the girls. They waited for Noah.

Early news reports said that a teacher had been shot in the foot. Those who’d been in the school knew the reality was much worse, but others had no idea. Sophia and Arielle didn’t say much, but seemed distant and glassy-eyed. As if a twinkle has gone out, Veronique thought. She told herself she was imagining it. It was almost 50 degrees, warm for December. After this is over, I can take the kids to the park. Wouldn’t that be nice?

“Why isn’t Noah out yet?” she asked.

“He’s probably hiding,” Lenny said. Noah is good at hiding. “Everything is going to be OK.” He kept saying it, even after he no longer believed it.
The crowd thinned. Parents claimed their children and went home. But two first-grade classes and several staff members were still missing. In the firehouse, someone put cartoons on a TV for the kids and directed adults to a back room. There, one man knelt on the floor, wailing. Lenny wondered if the man knew something they didn’t.

News reports were riddled with errors, made worse by rumors spreading on social media. By late morning, outlets reported that multiple people had been shot at the school and the gunman was dead. But there were also reports of other crime scenes, other shooters, and people being handcuffed. A CBS reporter riffed on live TV about the possibility that “a team of individuals have gotten together and conspired to do something like this.” Online, speculation swirled about a purple van.

Around noon, news outlets reported multiple fatalities. Veronique ran to the bathroom and vomited. Then she started menstruating unexpectedly, as if her body were beginning its mourning in her womb.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and local clergy arrived at the firehouse. Rabbi Shaul Praver, who’d presided over Veronique’s oldest son’s bar mitzvah, tried to comfort her but she was inconsolable. How can I go on living if my baby is dead?
Lenny’s friend came to pick up the girls. He had known Lenny since they worked together on computers in Brooklyn, New York, during the tech boom of the 1990s. Lenny was a problem solver. He found Lenny lost in silence, running scenarios in his mind: Maybe Noah is hiding. Maybe he escaped. Maybe they will find him in the woods, at a hospital, down the road. The friend had heard the news and worried Lenny did not grasp how bad it was.

Anger was building in the firehouse.

“Will you please just tell us the truth!” one man yelled.

“You have to level with us!” Veronique screamed. “Is it a morgue up there?”

Law enforcement protocol requires that bodies be identified before families are informed of deaths. But five hours had already passed, and identification would take hours more. Governor Malloy decided to tell them himself.

Veronique dropped to her knees. All she could think about was Noah on the school’s cold floor. She begged to take him a blanket. Officials said she couldn’t; it was a crime scene.

They asked what Noah was wearing. The kids had stayed with Lenny the night before. After dinner and homework, they had lit a menorah for the sixth night of Hanukkah. On the way to school that morning, they all sang along to Noah’s favorite song, “Gangnam Style.” Noah giggled as Lenny reached back to tickle his legs as he drove. The last time Lenny saw his son, he was walking into the school with his sisters, one arm through the sleeve of his coat, the other through the strap of his backpack.

“He’s wearing a Batman sweatshirt,” Lenny said.

Read the rest of this article at: The Boston Globe

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