News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

ON A MUNDANE SATURDAY NIGHT during lockdown last year, I was tapping through Instagram Stories to pass the time. Like so many millennials, I turn to the app mostly to send my friends memes and screenshots that sum up universal truths about our late-twenties lifestyle. A tweet—made into an Instagram post—by Canadian author Jonny Sun caught my attention. It read:

I’m an ADULT

which means I don’t have any HOBBIES

If I have any FREE TIME AT ALL

I will go LIE DOWN

I came to a stark realization: I don’t have any hobbies—and nobody else I knew seemed to either. It had been nearly a decade since I played the piano. Aside from the dodgeball league I joined impromptu at the height of unemployment one year, I never fostered the time and commitment toward a joyful activity when I wasn’t on the clock.

In the first several months of the pandemic, I remember calculating the weekly hours I saved by not commuting and asking myself how I could use that time more effectively. Naturally, I relied on Instagram trends to help with my identity crisis. I started by aggressively completing an adult colouring book while everyone around me made body-shaped candles. Photos of sourdough baking and people concocting at-home “quarantinis” cluttered my timeline. While these activities captured the zeitgeist of the pandemic—especially in those early months—I allowed myself to believe that in the midst of those hours between solving puzzles and baking bread, my hobby would miraculously turn up. Surely, if everyone was struggling with the long and dark days of the pandemic, posting an Instagram Story would make me feel less alone. I found myself leaning into all of my online community, determined to share my DIY renovations with my small but loyal audience. At the peak of my crafting phase, I painted my bedroom walls purely out of boredom. Ever since that accomplishment, I have been possessed by a certain kind of hubris and invincibility. What handy task will I do next?

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For America to decarbonize, it must reindustrialize.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. It is no exaggeration to say that his signature immediately severed the history of climate change in America into two eras. Before the IRA, climate campaigners spent decades trying and failing to get a climate bill through the Senate. After it, the federal government will spend $374 billion on clean energy and climate resilience over the next 10 years. The bill is estimated to reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions by about 40 percent below their all-time high, getting the country two-thirds of the way to meeting its 2030 goal under the Paris Agreement.

Since the law emerged from a surprise compromise between Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last month, most attention has been paid to the fact of the bill itself: that it is a climate bill, that America’s sorry environmental record has begun to reverse. Far less attention has been paid to the ideas that animate the IRA. That is a shame. Every law embodies a particular hypothesis about how the world works, a hope that if you pull on levers A and B, then outcomes C and D will result. Yet even by the standards of landmark legislation, the IRA makes a particularly interesting and all-encompassing wager—a bet relevant to anyone who plans to buy or sell something in the U.S. in the next decade, or who plans to trade with an American company, or who relies on American military power. And although not a single Republican voted for the IRA, its wager is not especially partisan or even ideological.

The idea is this: The era of passive, hands-off government is over. The laws embrace an approach to governing the economy that scholars call “industrial policy,” a catch-all name for a wide array of tools and tactics that all assume the government can help new domestic industries get started, grow, and reach massive scale. If “this country used to make things,” as the saying goes, and if it wants to make things again, then the government needs to help it. And if the country believes that certain industries bestow a strategic advantage, then it needs to protect them against foreign interference.

The approach is at the core of how the IRA seeks to resolve climate change. Democrats hope to create an economy where the government doesn’t just help Americans buy green technologies; it also helps nurture the industries that produce that technology.

This reflects a homecoming of sorts for the United States. From its founding to the 1970s, the country had an economic doctrine that was defined by its pragmatism and the willingness of its government to find new areas of growth. “Yes, there was an ‘invisible hand,’” Stephen Cohen and Brad DeLong write in their history of the topic, Concrete Economics. “But the invisible hand was repeatedly lifted at the elbow by the government, and placed in a new position from where it could go on to perform its magic.” That pragmatism faded in the 1980s, when industrial policy became scorned as one more instance of Big Government coming in to pick so-called winners and losers.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

You can’t escape gray floors.

You’ve seen the gray flooring. You know its lifeless hue even if you haven’t been house hunting recently. The stuff is in old-house-rehab shows on HGTV, in the house next door that’s now on the market for the second time in nine months, in the ads for at least one but probably several new condo buildings in a rapidly gentrifying part of your city. It’s as omnipresent online as it is in real life, making frequent appearances in the newly purchased houses of 20-something TikTok-hustle influencers and in the homes that play background to Millennials trying to make their pets Instagram famous.

These floors—almost always made of what’s called luxury vinyl plank flooring in trade terms, or laminate or fake wood in real terms—can vary in shade anywhere from vape cloud to wet gravel. The companies that market them tend to use terms like sterling and chiffon lace and winding brook. Gray laminate seems to have begun the journey to popularity about a decade ago; when I last apartment hunted, in 2017 in Brooklyn, it was already common in listings that bragged of newly renovated units. Now gray flooring is so ubiquitous that all kinds of people—interior designersreal-estate agentsrandom Redditors—have begun to plead for mercy.

If you, like me, have frittered away a frankly embarrassing proportion of your one wild and precious life watching women with perfect blowouts and annoying husbands gut-reno houses on HGTV, or idly scrolling through Zillow listings you have no intention or ability to buy, then you know that the gray floors rarely travel alone. With them, you’ll likely also find one or more of a handful of other design flourishes that tend to get stuffed into the same dwellings: a subway-tiled backsplash; upper kitchen cabinets replaced with minimalist open shelving; a shower stall covered in tiny, multicolored sheets of glass mosaic tile; a barn door gliding along a faux-rustic decorative track instead of turning on hinges. These bundled aesthetic commonalities aren’t just coincidences, and they can’t be entirely described as trends—at least not in the sense of bottom-up collective favor that the word tends to evoke. In part, they’re what happens when house flippers and landlords run roughshod over the housing market.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a bright summer day in July 2021, James Fisher rested nervously, with a newly shaved head, in a hospital bed surrounded by blinding white lights and surgeons shuffling about in blue scrubs. He was being prepped for an experimental brain surgery at West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, a hulking research facility that overlooks the rolling peaks and cliffs of coal country around Morgantown. The hours-long procedure required impeccable precision, “down to the millimeter,” Fisher’s neurosurgeon, Ali Rezai, told me.

Prior to operating, Rezai and his team of neuroscientists created a digital rendering of Fisher’s brain, a neural map that would help them place what looked like a pair of long metal chopsticks roughly six centimeters deep into his nucleus accumbens, a structure in the center of the brain. The nucleus accumbens, according to the latest research, is associated with processing reinforcement, motivation, and desire. It’s also where the most famous neurotransmitter, dopamine, gets released when we anticipate rewards from behaviors like sex, drug use, or gambling. Rezai, who thinks as much like a neural engineer as like a surgeon, described the nucleus accumbens as the brain’s Grand Central Station, a junction for “addictions and anxiety and obsessions.”

Once Fisher was anesthetized, Rezai bored two holes about the size of nickels into the top of his skull. Then he slowly inserted the long metal probes into Fisher’s brain, as if sticking a dull knife into a mold of opaque Jell-O. The probes were lined with four tiny round electrodes, each just over a millimeter in diameter, that were to deliver continuous electrical impulses to Fisher’s nucleus accumbens. The surgery is known, fittingly, as deep brain stimulation, or DBS.

The probes were connected to wires that ran under Fisher’s skin, beneath his scalp, behind his ear and down his neck, then into a pulse generator sewn into his chest below his collarbone. Imagine a pacemaker, but for the brain. Once the generator’s battery was switched on, low-voltage electricity began traveling up the wires and out of the electrodes resting in the nucleus accumbens. Rezai, the executive chair of the institute and the head of its DBS experiments, hypothesized that stimulating this region of Fisher’s brain would reduce his cravings and help him recover from a severe addiction to opioids and anti-anxiety pills that had persisted despite numerous treatments and life-threatening consequences, including multiple overdoses.

For decades, addiction and overdose deaths have been skyrocketing across the United States—and particularly in West Virginia, which has been dubbed the epicenter of the overdose crisis and consistently has one of the highest death rates in the nation. Patients like Fisher have been deemed “treatment-resistant,” meaning conventional approaches have failed to bring about lasting recovery. Medication, therapy, inpatient and outpatient care—Fisher has tried it all. Deep brain stimulation, which before this trial had never been tested in the United States to treat addiction, was a last resort.

Still supine on the operating table, Fisher was woken by a team of doctors eager to hear from him. Rezai asked, “What are you feeling?” An oxygen hose in his nose, Fisher looked up and tried to laugh. “Happier,” he said.

Read the rest of this article at: Harper’s Magazine

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News 31.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

DENVER, COLORADO — Dr. Larry Rudolph was always going to testify for himself. His lawyer wanted him to, but didn’t want Larry to appear rehearsed, like in the hokey TV ads for his dental practice back in Pittsburgh. His girlfriend, Lori Milliron, tells Rolling Stone she agreed that Larry should take control of what she calls a nearly six-year “witch hunt” by the FBI and federal prosecutors. “When I was still able to talk to him on the phone, before I was arrested,” she says, “I told him, ‘You need to get on the stand and tell your story.’ He was like, ‘I dunno.’”

But the feds were recording last winter’s prison calls between the defendant and his hygienist, turned mistress, turned business partner, turned partner in crime. If Larry, a figure cut from Trumpian cloth, was going to beat the charges — that he killed his wife on safari in Africa, so that he could spend millions in life-insurance payouts to live large with Lori — then his legal strategy would require overcoming the odds stacked against him. When his attorney revealed at the opening of the couple’s three-week joint trial here last month that the dentist planned to close the show himself, all bets were off.

On the stand last Wednesday, Larry attempted to transform his image from that of an accused murderer and alleged fraudster — a liar and philanderer, a lobbyist for big-game hunting who begged the Trump administration to let him join the cabinet — into a weeping widower. He claimed he was a shamed cuckold who couldn’t please a sex-charged spouse and so entered a “don’t ask, don’t tell” open marriage. He made himself out to be an ailing doctor whose wife had died tragically of an accidental shotgun discharge, while he took a shit in the bathroom next door. “Sometimes,” he said on the witness stand, “it takes me a while.”

And the metamorphosis could have worked. But on Monday evening, Larry was found guilty of foreign murder and mail fraud, facing a maximum sentence of life in prison or possibly the death penalty. Lori was convicted on charges of being an accessory after the fact to the murder and obstruction of justice, as well as two counts of lying to a grand jury; she was found not guilty on three other perjury counts and remains under house arrest, staring down up to 35 years after Larry waved her a parting goodbye in court. (They’re both already planning appeals.) But an exclusive window into the culmination of the case — its motley crew of defense attorneys, the flabbergasted star witnesses, and a frantic prosecution — provides a glimpse at how suspects relentlessly rebel agains trial by tabloid. Even at the palpitating finish, nobody beyond the jury room was sure if the dentist and his long-time mistress would get off — if the prosecution had blown it, if the scales of criminal justice had bent against the rich and innocent, or if the jurors might declare a mistrial.

Indeed, less than an hour after Larry’s teary testimony, the mood at Lori’s Airbnb down the block from the federal courthouse was straight-up cocky. The 64-year-old kicked up tan heels with a glass of wine, her two daughters, her lawyer, and her trial-prep coach, who were attempting to lighten the mood with dick jokes about how Larry, even at 67, couldn’t be that bad in bed. “It’s been a while,” she demurred. They all decided that Larry had come across as genuine. “There was one part that felt rehear—,” someone began to say, before glancing back over at the reporter in the living room.

But Lori was already worried about the next Larry Rudolphs — the villains of true-crime virality who can’t afford O.J.-caliber attorneys pleading the I’m-not-Trump defense. “It’s scary,” she told Rolling Stone before the verdict. “Usually they discriminate against the poor. They discriminated against Larry because he’s wealthy and he’s traveled — it’s like reverse discrimination.”

Read the rest of this article at: RollingStone 

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