News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The people here are young and friendly and full of hope. And why shouldn’t they be? For one month, they get to live in a mansion in Beverly Hills (Zillow estimate: $12.9 million). It’s not just any mansion, but the one where Paris Hilton used to live, with a precious little pergola overlooking a million-dollar view of Los Angeles, next to a pool surrounded by tastefully sculpted rocks, with bathroom faucets shaped like swans about to take flight.

This mansion is the home of Launch House, which is both an incubator for startup founders and a social club of more than 500 20- and 30-somethings, many of whom are into crypto. There are two ways to join Launch House: One is to pay the $1,000 annual membership fee, which grants you perks like entrance to the group Discord channel, access to work at the mansion or the New York City location, and invitations to events — an NFT brunch, say, or a boat party during Miami Tech Month. The other is to pay $3,000 to join a month-long “cohort,” in which you and around two dozen other young tech founders live and work together at the mansion.

Launch House’s pitch for its cohorts is that, by networking and bonding in extremely close quarters for just four weeks, its members will learn skills and make connections that are far more valuable for their careers than what a traditional college degree provides. It’s part of a larger trend in the tech world of augmenting or even circumventing traditional institutions — school, church, a shared workplace — to build knowledge but also community, digitally and IRL. No longer is the startup founder’s maxim to create a “minimum viable product”; now they need a “minimum viable community.”

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

God gives you only one body, Deane Berg always said, so you’d better take care of the one you’ve got. A physician assistant at the veterans’ hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, she knew that spotting between periods wasn’t unusual for a forty-nine-year-old woman, but she went to the doctor anyway. Her two daughters had already lost their father to lung cancer, so Berg wanted to stick around.

Just perimenopause, the doctor concluded after a cursory examination. Probably a blood clot, the nurse practitioner told her when a subsequent ultrasound showed something on an ovary. “It’s not going to be cancer,” the gynecological surgeon said before removing both ovaries on the day after Christmas in 2006. But, when Berg went for her follow-up, she read the words on the pathology report before the surgeon had a chance to break the news: serous carcinoma. She cried, and the surgeon did, too. She would now need a full hysterectomy, chemotherapy, and a great deal of luck. Every year, around twenty thousand women are given a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in the United States, and more than half that many will die of the disease.

Berg told herself that twenty-six years of caring for patients might help her get through the treatments ahead. But her experience with veterans’ port-a-caths did not make it any less painful to have them implanted in her own abdomen and chest; nausea and headaches were no more manageable because she’d counselled others through them. And nothing prepares a person for losing her hair and much of her hearing or developing nerve damage in her hands and feet or having her teeth crack from chemo. Weak and immunocompromised, Berg left her job at the hospital, which meant she had more time to study the handouts about ovarian cancer that nurses had given her when she was diagnosed.

One of those pamphlets was distributed by Gilda’s Club, a group founded by friends of the comedian Gilda Radner, who died of the disease in 1989, when she was only forty-two. The pamphlet included a list of risk factors, which Berg went through one by one. No, she didn’t have a family history of reproductive cancer; no, she hadn’t struggled with infertility and had never used fertility drugs; no, she had never had cancer before; no, she had never had an unhealthy diet or been overweight. Then she came to a section about talcum powder. After reading it, she went to look at the big container of Johnson & Johnson body powder she kept in her bathroom to use after daily showers and the little bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder she took with her whenever she travelled. Both listed talc as an ingredient.

Berg immediately posted a message on the forum of the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance, asking if any other women thought their cancer might have been caused by talcum powder. Only two people replied. The first was a cancer researcher in Illinois who had been trying for more than a decade to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to warn American customers that talc could be a carcinogen. The second was R. Allen Smith, Jr., an attorney in Mississippi. He was interested in talking to her about a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson; she wasn’t convinced he was a real lawyer.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Are you an active couch potato? Take this two-question quiz to find out:

Did you work out for 30 minutes today?

Did you spend the rest of the day staring at your computer and then settle in front of the television at night?

If you answered yes to both questions, then you meet the definition of what scientists call “an active couch potato.” It means that, despite your commitment to exercise, you could be at risk for a variety of health problems, according to a sweeping new study of how people move — or don’t move — throughout the day.

The study, which involved more than 3,700 men and women in Finland, found that many dutifully exercised for a half-hour, but then sat, almost nonstop, for another 10, 11 or even 12 hours a day. These were the study’s active couch potatoes, and their blood sugar, cholesterol and body fat all were elevated.

But the study found, too, that men and women who got up and moved around even a little more often, whether by strolling gently or fitting in more exercise, were substantially healthier than the active couch potatoes.

The results tell us that a single 30-minute, daily workout “might not be enough” to alleviate the downsides of prolonged sitting, said Vahid Farrahi, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Oulu and lead author of the new study.

In other words, if we exercise but also sit for the rest of the day, it’s almost as if we had not worked out at all.

The good news is that a few simple steps — literal and otherwise — should safeguard us from becoming an active sofa spud.

Sign up for the Well+Being newsletter, your source of expert advice and simple tips to help you live well every day

Read the rest of this article at: The Washington Post

News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A hundred years ago this week, on September 16, 1922, a young married man and his teen-age paramour discovered the bodies of Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills on an abandoned farm near New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hall, wearing a dark suit and with a panama hat covering his face, had been shot once, the bullet piercing his right temple before exiting below the left ear. Mills, in a polka-dot dress and black stockings, had sustained three shots to the head and a gash that nearly severed her neck; maggots had already infested her remains. Someone had arranged the corpses beneath a crab-apple tree in a pose suggesting intimacy, then further guaranteed a scandal by placing the victims’ love letters between their bodies. Hall had been a prominent Episcopal minister and the husband of a blue-blooded wallpaper heiress with family ties to Johnson & Johnson; Mills, a working-class homemaker, was a soprano in the choir at his church—and the wife of the parish sexton.

Over the next couple of months, the slayings became a fixture on front pages across the country, making celebrities out of an eccentric cast of supporting characters: an oddball savant, a teen-age flapper, and a theatrical hog farmer, dubbed the Pig Woman, who lived near the site where the bodies were found. Despite the case’s notoriety, the initial investigation proved bumbling, and only after public interest intensified did the authorities turn their gaze to some of the most obvious suspects: Hall’s spurned widow and two of her closest male relatives. Prosecutors failed to persuade a grand jury to return any indictments, and readers moved on to new sensations, a specialty of the press in the boisterous nineteen-twenties.

Four years later, the Hall-Mills case roared back to life with the help of a nascent New York City newspaper, the Daily Mirror. An unapologetically down-market tabloid—“90 percent entertainment, 10 percent information”—the Mirror was William Randolph Hearst’s answer to the country’s premier tabloid, the wildly successful New York Daily News, which had been founded in 1919 by Joseph Medill Patterson. Hearst’s circulation-obsessed, politically connected tabloid general, Philip Alan Payne, saw an opportunity in the story, and assigned one of his best reporters to a secretive investigation, a project that produced enough dubious “evidence” to persuade New Jersey’s Democratic governor to reopen the case. In July of 1926, after the Mirror exposé flew off newsstands, Edward Hall’s widow, Frances, faced prosecution once again. This time, she wasn’t so lucky—a second grand jury decided that she, her two brothers, and a stockbroker cousin should face their day in court.

The Hall-Mills trial was to the Jazz Age what the O. J. Simpson case became seventy years later. (The former’s fame might have endured had the murders not been eclipsed, in 1932, by another New Jersey mega-crime, the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s twenty-month-old son, from his crib on the second floor of a secluded mansion outside Princeton.) Throughout the summer and fall of 1926, hundreds of journalists—including stars such as Damon Runyon and Dorothy Dix—descended on New Brunswick, an hour’s train ride from Manhattan, and neighboring Somerville, where the trial would commence inside the Palladian-style Somerset County courthouse. The invading reporters booked up hotels and rented houses, making the trial big business for local landlords, business owners, and Prohibition-era purveyors of alcohol. The journalists’ work would occupy twenty-eight telegraph-switchboard operators and a bevy of mimeograph machines. Four court stenographers recorded the proceedings as a hundred and thirty reporters watched from three rows of hotly contested folding chairs.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 14.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

People cry at airports all the time. So when Jai Cooper heard sobbing from the back of the security line, it didn’t really faze her. As an officer of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), she had gotten used to the strange behavior of passengers. Her job was to check people’s travel documents, not their emotional well-being.

But this particular group of tearful passengers presented her with a problem. One of them was in a wheelchair, bent over with her head between her knees, completely unresponsive. “Is she okay? Can she sit up?” Cooper asked, taking their boarding passes and IDs to check. “I need to see her face to identify her.”

“She can’t, she can’t, she can’t,” said the passenger who was pushing the wheelchair.

Soon, Cooper was joined at her station by a supervisor, followed by an assortment of EMTs and airport police officers. The passenger was dead. She and her family had arrived several hours prior, per the airport’s guidance for international flights, but she died sometime after check-in. Since they had her boarding pass in hand, the distraught family figured that they would still try to get her on the flight. Better that than leave her in a foreign country’s medical system, they figured.

The family might not have known it, but they had run into one of air travel’s many gray areas. Without a formal death certificate, the passenger could not be considered legally dead. And US law obligates airlines to accommodate their ticketed and checked-in passengers, even if they have “a physical or mental impairment that, on a permanent or temporary basis, substantially limits one or more major life activities.” In short: she could still fly. But not before her body got checked for contraband, weapons, or explosives. And since the TSA’s body scanners can only be used on people who can stand up, the corpse would have to be manually patted down.

“We’re just following TSA protocol,” Cooper explained.

Her colleagues checked the corpse according to the official pat-down process. With gloves on, they ran the palms of their hands over the collar, the abdomen, the inside of the waistband, and the lower legs. Then, they checked the body’s “sensitive areas” — the breasts, inner thighs, and buttocks — with “sufficient pressure to ensure detection.”

Encounters like this happen “every day at every airport,” according to Scott Becker, who worked for the TSA at Chicago O’Hare between 2002 and 2015 and wrote a memoir about his experiences. He was one of the more than 40,000 new Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) that the agency hired in its first year of existence. But many new TSOs like Becker found  themselves with little to actually do — hence the “joke” that the agency’s acronym was really short for “Thousands Standing Around.”

Soon enough, however, the policies accumulated. Today, there are eight different tasks that TSOs might perform at a security checkpoint. These include checking documents, performing pat-downs, and “Divestiture,” a fancy term for telling people what items to put on the X-ray conveyor belt. Each task is heavily regulated and standardized. A TSA-approved pat-down, for example, consists of 18 individual steps, and pat-down training alone takes nearly three hours of classroom time.

To ensure compliance with TSA policies, supervisors monitor TSOs via security cameras, random inspections, and regular covert tests. And they hand out discipline liberally. In most cases, TSOs spend their first two years on probation, during which time they can be fired for anything deemed to be “unacceptable performance or conduct.”

This compliance fetish creates a lot of anxiety among the TSA’s front-line workers. “The lower the level you occupy in the organization, the more severe the punishment for committing an error in judgment,” writes Becker. “Everyone [is] always afraid of making a mistake and getting fired.”

“Officers are often referred to on the checkpoint as traitors, Nazis, or child molesters, even to their faces.”

That anxiety gets transferred onto the flying public, too. From the moment we step into the security line until we are disgorged on the other side, shoeless and unbelted and without any liquids greater than 3.4 oz, we become Potential Threats, worthy of severe scrutiny. It’s not personal. It’s just policy.

Only then was the corpse cleared to proceed into the secure part of the terminal.

Not even death can exempt you from TSA screening.

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

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