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News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Two and a half years ago, the Internet Archive made a decision that pissed off a lot of writers—and embroiled it in a lawsuit that many netizens fear could weaken the archive, its finances, and its services long into the future.

In March 2020, as bookstores and libraries joined other businesses in closing their doors, the Internet Archive tried a virtual solution. It had long offered an Open Library, which contains a massive number of scanned books that can be checked out online by users one at a time. In response to the pandemic, it temporarily lifted limits on the number of scanned copies available for checkout as well as the length of time a given book could be checked out, temporarily becoming a “National Emergency Library.” The plan was to conclude the project by June 30, 2020.

As Slate reported at the time, prominent writers including Chuck Wendig, N.K. Jemisin, and Colson Whitehead spoke out against the National Emergency Library; many called it “piracy” and condemned the archive for allegedly stealing from creators. More than two months after the National Emergency Library kicked off, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and John Wiley & Sons (all members of the Association of American Publishers) sued the Internet Archive, alleging “willful mass copyright infringement.” The publishers alleged that the archive had made 127 of their books available to the public without permission, thus infringing upon publishers’ intellectual property rights and eating into their profits during a moment of economic turbulence. In response, the archive ended the National Emergency Library a little earlier than planned, on June 11, 2020.

But that lawsuit’s ongoing—and it’s recently escalated. In July, both sides of Hachette v. Internet Archive requested that the district court overseeing the case speed it up and lay down a ruling before a trial can be held. More recently, both parties to the suit also filed opposition briefs in order to further negate each other’s cases. We may find out sooner than later whether the beloved digital nonprofit will prevail in its fight against some of the world’s biggest publishers.

Read the rest of this article at: Slate

News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A decade into her optometry career, Marina Su began noticing something unusual about the kids in her New York City practice. More of them were requiring glasses, and at younger and younger ages. Many of these kids had parents who had perfect vision and who were baffled by the decline in their children’s eyesight. Frankly, Su couldn’t explain it either.

In optometry school, she had been taught—as American textbooks had been teaching for decades—that nearsightedness, or myopia, is a genetic condition. Having one parent with myopia doubles the odds that a kid will need glasses. Having two parents with myopia quintuples them. Over the years, she did indeed diagnose lots of nearsighted kids with nearsighted parents. These parents, she told me, would sigh in recognition: Oh no, not them too. But something was changing. A generation of children was suddenly seeing worse than their parents. Su remembers asking herself, as she saw more and more young patients with bad eyesight that seemed to have come out of nowhere: “If it’s only genetics, then why are these kids also getting myopic?”

What she noticed in her New York office a few years ago has in fact been happening around the world. In East and Southeast Asia, where this shift is most dramatic, the proportion of teenagers and young adults with myopia has jumped from roughly a quarter to more than 80 percent in just over half a century. In China, myopia is so prevalent that it has become a national-security concern: The military is worried about recruiting enough sharp-eyed pilots from among the country’s 1.4 billion people. Recent pandemic lockdowns seem to have made eyesight among Chinese children even worse.

For years, many experts dismissed the rising myopia rates in Asia as an aberration. They argued that Asians are genetically predisposed to myopia and nitpicked the methodology of studies conducted there. But eventually the scope of the problem and the speed of change became impossible to deny.

In the U.S., 42 percent of 12-to-54-year-olds were nearsighted in the early 2000s—the last time a national survey of myopia was conducted—up from a quarter in the 1970s. Though more recent large-scale surveys are not available, when I asked eye doctors around the U.S. if they were seeing more nearsighted kids, the answers were: “Absolutely.” “Yes.” “No question about it.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

Ihave very few memories of my mother, Iris. Neither does my older brother, Norman. The simple explanation is that, in our house, after she died she was never spoken of again.

I fear it was worse than that. That we rarely thought of her again.

We were three Irish men, and we avoided the pain that we knew would come from thinking and speaking about her.

Iris laughing. Her humor black as her dark curls. Inappropriate laughing was her weakness. My father, Bob, a postal worker, had taken her and her sister Ruth to the ballet, only to have her embarrass him with her muted howls of laughter at the protruding genitalia boxes worn by the male dancers under their leotards.

I remember, at around seven or eight, I was a boy behaving badly. Iris chasing me, waving a long cane that her friend had promised would discipline me. Me, frightened for my life as Iris ran me down the garden. But when I dared to look back she was laughing her head off, no part of her believing in this medieval punishment.

I remember being in the kitchen, watching Iris ironing my brother’s school uniform, the faint buzz of my father’s electric drill from upstairs where he was hanging a shelf he’d made. Suddenly the sound of his voice, screaming. An inhuman sound, an animal noise. “Iris! Iris! Call an ambulance!”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Harry Jho worked out of a 10th-storey Wall Street office, in which one corner was stacked with treadmill desks and another was filled with racks of colourful costumes and a green screen for filming nursery rhymes. He worked as a securities lawyer. With his wife, Sona, Jho also ran Mother Goose Club, a YouTube media empire.

Sona had produced short children’s segments for public-access TV stations before the couple decided to branch out on their own. As educators – the Jhos once taught English in Korea – they saw television’s pedagogical flaws. To learn words, kids should see lips move, but Barney’s mouth never did. Baby Einstein mostly showed toys. The Jhos, who were Korean American, had two young children, and noticed how few faces on kids TV looked like theirs.

So they started Mother Goose Club, investing in a studio and hiring a diverse set of actors to don animal costumes and sing Itsy Bitsy Spider and Hickory Dickory Dock. It was like Teletubbies, only less trippy and inane. The Jhos planned to sell DVDs to parents, ginning up interest for a possible TV show. YouTube offered a convenient place to store clips, and, in 2008, Jho started an account there, not thinking much of it.

Two years in, he started checking the account’s numbers after leaving work. One thousand views. He checked the next day. Ten thousand. He couldn’t find many other videos for kids on YouTube. Maybe, instead of television, he thought, we can be the first to do this.

It was the spring of 2011 when he received an email from someone at YouTube, a division of Google. Jho read it but did not believe it. He had long since given up on trying to speak to a human from the company. Once, at an event, an employee had handed him a business card, which he thought was a promising sign until he looked down to see the email address – [email protected] – and no name. Now, a YouTube employee was extending an invitation to Google’s Manhattan office. At the meeting, they showed Jho plans for the site’s forthcoming redesign and shared some tips. Finally, Jho asked the question he was itching to ask: “Why did you call us?”

“You might be the biggest YouTuber in New York,” the staffer replied.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 19.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Last March, a band of horsemen journeyed through the province of Paktika, in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. Predator drones were circling the skies and American troops were sweeping through the mountains. The war had begun six months earlier, and by now the fighting had narrowed down to the ragged eastern edge of the country. Regional warlords had been bought off, the borders supposedly sealed. For twelve days, American and coalition forces had been bombing the nearby Shah-e-Kot Valley and systematically destroying the cave complexes in the Al Qaeda stronghold. And yet the horsemen were riding unhindered toward Pakistan.

They came to the village of a local militia commander named Gula Jan, whose long beard and black turban might have signalled that he was a Taliban sympathizer. “I saw a heavy, older man, an Arab, who wore dark glasses and had a white turban,” Jan told Ilene Prusher, of the Christian Science Monitor, four days later. “He was dressed like an Afghan, but he had a beautiful coat, and he was with two other Arabs who had masks on.” The man in the beautiful coat dismounted and began talking in a polite and humorous manner. He asked Jan and an Afghan companion about the location of American and Northern Alliance troops. “We are afraid we will encounter them,” he said. “Show us the right way.”

While the men were talking, Jan slipped away to examine a poster that had been dropped into the area by American airplanes. It showed a photograph of a man in a white turban and glasses. His face was broad and meaty, with a strong, prominent nose and full lips. His untrimmed beard was gray at the temples and ran in milky streaks below his chin. On his high forehead, framed by the swaths of his turban, was a darkened callus formed by many hours of prayerful prostration. His eyes reflected the sort of decisiveness one might expect in a medical man, but they also showed a measure of serenity that seemed oddly out of place. Jan was looking at a wanted poster for a man named Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who had a price of twenty-five million dollars on his head.

Jan returned to the conversation. The man he now believed to be Zawahiri said to him, “May God bless you and keep you from the enemies of Islam. Try not to tell them where we came from and where we are going.”

There was a telephone number on the wanted poster, but Gula Jan did not have a phone. Zawahiri and the masked Arabs disappeared into the mountains.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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