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News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@takkeb
News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@hannahschonberg

No one can predict how a revolution starts. Nor can anyone know when one injustice will be what causes a people’s fury to overcome their fear. In 2011, in Tunisia, a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, sparked an uprising by setting himself on fire. In 2022, in Iran, the death in police custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, has brought Iranians onto the streets in every corner of the country.

Amini and her brother had traveled from Saqqez, a city in Iran’s Kurdistan Province, to visit relatives in the capital, Tehran, when, on September 13, the so-called morality police arrested her for improperly wearing her hijab, or headscarf. Three days later, she was declared dead. The authorities claim she died of cardiac arrest. According to a U.K.-based independent Iranian news site, the CT scans of her skull showed signs of fractures.

Each time I see the images of her lying in a coma in a hospital bed, I cannot help thinking that I could have been Mahsa Amini. I was a girl in Iran in 1981, when a law making the hijab a mandatory dress code for women first came into force, two years after the Islamic Revolution. And I was a teenager when the morality police began making the rounds, stopping and arresting people on a whim, sometimes on no more pretext than a few strands of hair peeking out from under one’s scarf.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

MY BUSINESS WAS BOREDOM. For years, I was the person whose job it was to keep you clicking, to keep you scrolling. To keep you grimly entertained. Forgive me—the concepts of “amusement” and “information” have never been so porous, the line dividing “news” from “diversion” has never before worn so thin. What I needed from you was time, your time, now understood to be a commodity. Somehow, through the alchemy of AdSense, this was supposed to turn into money. In the so-called attention economy, even the most cloistered institutions were aghast to find themselves now begging for spare change.

“It had occurred to her early,” begins Henry James’s 1898 novella In the Cage, which follows an unnamed telegram operator in London, “that in her position—that of a young person spending, in framed and wired confinement, the life of a guinea-pig or magpie—she should know a great many persons without their recognising the acquaintance.” James’s protagonist—young, female, lower middle class at best—passes her days as a kind of ghost, sending and receiving other people’s messages, other people’s words. She is the conduit for so many other people’s lives—all while remaining essentially invisible. Every letter, every piece of punctuation, every “STOP” must pass through her, but she herself leaves behind no trace. Not even when she tries to intervene, to insert herself into the story—not even when she tries to better shape the goings-on of Captain Everard and Lady Bradeen—can she truly claim authorship. She is brimming with words, too many words, she spills over with too much information. “She had seen all sorts of things and pieced together all sorts of mysteries,” is how James writes it. And yet she does not garner a name.

She is not unlike her more contemporary iteration, the social media manager. When I first encountered her, I was in the cage myself, spending my working hours tweeting for one outlet or another, and I underlined more sentences regarding her life than I thought possible. Her concerns, her observations, the arc of her story, startled me, so closely did they seem to resemble my own. Spending my days mired in the muck of other people’s words, shaping and reshaping their phrases so as best to fit a character limit or possibly make a desperate morsel of content go viral, I also felt as though I were invisible, swept up in the detritus of other people’s days, other people’s fantasies. Every day I stared at my computer, and my computer stared back at me.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

Human beings crave all sorts of things: coffee, sugar, sex, gambling, Xanax, porn, binge-watching TV shows, doomscrolling on social media, cocaine, online gaming, heroin, methamphetamines, hoarding. We each find different substances and activities alluring, and we develop distinct habits of choice. Cravings are an especially forceful and persuasive class of desires. When a craving strikes, it can be very tricky to resist or ignore. Sometimes we distract ourselves and move on with little effort. In other instances, it can feel nearly impossible not to act on a craving. What we’re drawn to, and what we’re vulnerable to, seems to reflect our individual personalities, preferences, cultural location, values, identities, coping mechanisms, and other life circumstances. So, why do we crave what we crave, and why are cravings sometimes so forcefully motivating?

One way to see the power of cravings is to think about substance addictions. Substance addictions present the sharpest example of how cravings seem to impact motivation and behaviour differently than other desires. Cravings make for one of the most challenging, baffling and terrifying aspects of addiction: no matter how devastating the consequences of ongoing drug use become for someone, as well as for those who love and care for them, no matter whether their addiction is no longer pleasurable, and no matter how adamantly they want and try to manage or stop their drug use, their attempts are continually overwhelmed by intensely motivating desires to engage in the addiction. This loss of control is often taken to be a defining feature of addiction.

Read the rest of this article at: Aeon

News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

At the wheel of an armored Toyota Land Cruiser, trailed by a car full of bodyguards, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed drove me around Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. With a politician’s pride, he pointed out some of his recent civic projects: a vast park and a national library; a handicrafts market; a planetarium, still under construction. Throughout the city were government buildings that he’d built or remade: the federal police headquarters, the Ministry of Mines, an artificial-­intelligence center, the Ministry of Defense. In the Entoto Hills, above Addis, he had established a complex of recreational areas to showcase his Green Legacy Initiative, aimed at making Ethiopia a pioneer in sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. He boasted of having planted eighteen billion trees. “If in five years the world does not recognize what we have done,” he said, as he negotiated a turn, “then I am not your brother.”

It was all part of his vision, he explained, to transform his country into a modern state. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation, with the largest economy in East Africa. But it is ethnically fractured, with more than eighty distinct groups, many of them beset by old enmities and overlapping territorial claims. Abiy came to power in 2018, promising to heal the country’s divisions. A former soldier and intelligence officer, he was born to parents from Ethiopia’s two main religious communities—his mother from the Orthodox Christian majority and his father from the sizable Muslim minority. His guiding principle was medemer, an Amharic term meaning “syn­­ergy,” or “coming together.”

Abiy, at forty-six, could be mistaken for a prosperous real-estate agent: medium height, trimmed goatee, and a wardrobe of khakis, casual shirts, and gold-rimmed Cartier sunglasses. He projects the self-assurance of a motivational speaker. Soon after taking office, he published a best-selling book about the transformative power of med­emer, which is sold at roadside stalls, alongside volumes by Tony Robbins and Jordan Peterson. In conversation, Abiy does most of the talking, but he demands constant feedback. It is not enough to nod along with him; he wants to know what you think, if only to disagree.

Abiy writes in his book that human beings have a “direct existential need” to be free of massacres and wars, and not long after his election he delivered a surprising advance. For two decades, Ethiopia had been in a hostile standoff with its neighbor Eritrea—the lingering aftereffect of a war that claimed as many as a hundred thousand lives. Abiy forged a peace deal, which ended the standoff and earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of his efforts to “promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice.” At the Nobel ceremony, in Oslo, he invoked both the Bible and the Quran: “Before we can harvest peace dividends, we must plant seeds of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 30.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Arthur Brooks has a confession to make: “I’m not a very naturally happy person.” He tells me this one May morning in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, thirty miles south of San Francisco, where he’s come to emcee The Atlantic’s two-day “In Pursuit of Happiness” festival. Brooks has spent the past twenty years training himself to overcome his less-than-sunny disposition and become a genuinely happy person, and now some 200 people have paid $700 to attend this conference, many flying across the country, because they believe he can help them do the same.

Brooks’s credentials suggest that he can. He teaches a course at Harvard Business School called “Leadership and Happiness.” His book From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Meaning in the Second Half of Life became a New York Times bestseller. His column in The Atlantic, “How to Build a Life,” reaches over a million people in a good week.

Brooks, 58, is bald and trim and looks a little like Stanley Tucci, for whom he is often mistaken in airports. But when he strode onto a conference room’s makeshift stage earlier this morning wearing a wireless mic, the vibe was unmistakably Steve Jobs. Only the technology Brooks was selling was more abstract—a new way of pursuing joy. Here was the guru of happiness, and we were his acolytes.

We’re badly in need of one, according to the data (and Brooks loves nothing more than data). Last year was the first time, according to a University of Chicago survey going back to 1972, that more Americans reported being “not too happy” than “very happy.” An annual poll by Marist reported that in 2021 just 49 percent of Americans were more optimistic than pessimistic about the state of the world, a low point since the survey began in 2009. There are many conceivable reasons for our national saddening—a pandemic, political division, mass shootings, our addiction to social media platforms that deliver us these and other daily terrors intravenously—but Brooks says that a lot of what our collective sorrow boils down to is fear. “When you have a chronic drip of stress hormones that come from an uncertainty that is bred by a culture of fear,” he says, “you can’t maintain a positive outlook in a society.”

Whatever the cause, the quest for happiness has become big business in the last decade or so. Social psychologists like Dan Gilbert (author of Stumbling on Happiness) and Jonathan Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis) have built massive followings offering lessons for leading a happier life. There are college courses devoted to happiness (like Dr. Laurie Santos’s “Psychology and the Good Life” at Yale, which became so popular it led to a podcast, The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos), TED talks (“How to Be Happy When Life is Not,” “The Habits of Happiness”), and even entire media companies (Dan Harris’s Ten Percent Happier, based on his book of the same name, which includes a podcast and guided meditations).

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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