News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a killer.

I fantasized about my superhero speed and instincts, the precision of my kicks, the strength of my blows. I visualized holding a gun as I looked into the eyes of the men I would kill, men I hated, the ones who had taken so much from me.

I was born in Iran after the Revolution. I don’t know the Iran my parents’ generation and those before them knew—one in which women were free.

By the time I was born, women’s bodies belonged to men. Our behavior was regulated terrain. Overnight, we had become subjects of a patriarchal theocratic dictatorship. The Islamic regime’s compulsory hijab laws demanded that women and girls as young as six cover our hair (without a single strand showing), wear a loose fitting robe or chador over our clothes to obscure our figure, abstain from makeup and nail polish, cover our arms and legs. We were forbidden from dancing or singing in public, from being alone with a man who was not related to us. Our value was legally decreed to be half that of a man’s, we were entitled to just a fraction of any inheritance compared to our brothers. We needed our husband’s permission to travel and a child’s custody would always go to the next man in the family after a father’s death. Never to the mother.

,The only Iran I know is one in which I became aware of my own body, its vulnerability as an object of men, at age six. It’s where I became aware of my mortality before I could write or read. It’s where I felt responsible for the lives of my family members, learning to keep secrets in the same breath I learned to speak.

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

News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The wild horses all have names. Ronald, for example, and Becky and Clyde. The names sound mundane, even for horses, but each is something like a badge of honor. For years now, the people of Cedar Island, North Carolina, have named each foal born to the local herd of mustangs after the oldest living resident who hasn’t already had a horse named for them. Every island family of long standing has this connection to the herd.

Cedar Island, located in a pocket of North Carolina known as Down East, is what passes for remote in the continental United States these days. Though it’s only 40 miles as the gull flies from the Cape Hatteras area, with its tourists and mortgage brokers, its restaurants with names like Dirty Dick’s Crab House, Cedar Island remains a place with only a scattering of people and businesses, where you can’t be certain of finding a restaurant meal—not so much as a plate of hush puppies—on a Sunday evening. Upon arrival you might not notice that Cedar Island is an island at all. Crossing the soaring Monroe Gaskill Memorial Bridge, which connects it to the mainland, what you pass over is easily mistaken for another of the region’s sleepy, curlicue rivers. In fact, this is the Thorofare, a skinny saltwater channel connecting the Pamlico Sound to the north and the Core Sound to the south. The Pamlico is one of the largest embayments on the U.S. coastline, while the Core is narrow and compact. Cedar Island stands between them, and all three are hemmed in by the Outer Banks.

I’ve just written that Cedar Island separates two sounds, and on maps this is true. Reality is less decisive. Swaths of the small island are sometimes underwater, depending on wind, tide, and season—in particular, hurricane season.

The shifting, amphibious nature of Cedar Island was never more apparent than on the morning of September 6, 2019. Under the whirling violence of Hurricane Dorian, maps lost all meaning. The Pamlico and Core Sounds joined to become a single, angry body of water, shrinking Cedar Island to a fraction of its acreage. It was no longer separated from the mainland by the thin blue line of the Thorofare, but by nearly six miles of ocean.

Read the rest of this article at: Atavist Magazine

On October 3, renowned South Korean illustrator Kim Jung Gi passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47. He was beloved for his innovative ink-and-brushwork style of manhwa, or Korean comic-book art, and famous for captivating audiences by live-drawing huge, intricate scenes from memory.

Just days afterward, a former French game developer, known online as 5you, fed Jung Gi’s work into an AI model. He shared the model on Twitter as an homage to the artist, allowing any user to create Jung Gi-style art with a simple text prompt. The artworks showed dystopian battlefields and bustling food markets — eerily accurate in style, and, apart from some telltale warping, as detailed as Jung Gi’s own creations.

The response was pure disdain. “Kim Jung Gi left us less than [a week ago] and AI bros are already ‘replicating’ his style and demanding credit. Vultures and spineless, untalented losers,” read one viral post from the comic-book writer Dave Scheidt on Twitter. “Artists are not just a ‘style.’ They’re not a product. They’re a breathing, experiencing person,” read another from cartoonist Kori Michele Handwerker.

Far from a tribute, many saw the AI generator as a theft of Jung Gi’s body of work. 5you told Rest of World that he has received death threats from Jung Gi loyalists and illustrators, and asked to be referred to by his online pseudonym for safety.

Read the rest of this article at: Rest Of The World

News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

At a White House ceremony on August 9, days after the U.S. Senate agreed in a near-unanimous vote to ratify the expansion of NATO to include Finland and Sweden, U.S. President Joe Biden highlighted how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had backfired on Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He’s getting exactly what he did not want,” Biden announced. “He wanted the Finlandization of NATO, but he’s getting the NATOization of Finland, along with Sweden.” Indeed, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a massive strategic blunder, leaving Russia militarily, economically, and geopolitically weaker.

Ukraine’s offensive in Kharkiv in September underscored the magnitude of Putin’s error. As Russian forces grew exhausted, losing momentum on the battlefield, Ukraine seized the initiative, dealing the Russian military a decisive blow. Ukraine’s battlefield successes revealed the extent of the rot in Putin’s army—the sagging morale, the declining manpower, the deteriorating quality of the troops. Instead of giving up, however, Putin responded to these problems by ordering a partial military mobilization, introducing tougher punishments for soldiers who desert or surrender, and moving forward with the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions. Putin reacted to Russia’s falling fortunes in Ukraine just as he did to its shrinking role on the world stage: dealt a losing hand, he doubled down on his risky bet. To Putin’s evident surprise, the war in Ukraine has accelerated long-standing trends pushing his country toward decline. Europe is moving to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, diminishing both the country’s leverage over the continent and the government revenues that depend heavily on energy exports. Unprecedented international sanctions and export controls are limiting Russia’s access to capital and technology, which will cause Moscow to fall even further behind in innovation. A year ago, we argued in these pages that reports of Russia’s decline were overstated and that Russia was poised to remain a persistent power—a country facing structural challenges but maintaining the intent and capabilities to threaten the United States and its allies. Putin’s disastrous invasion underscored the dangers of dismissing the threat from Russia, but it has also hastened the country’s decline. Today, Russia’s long-term outlook is decidedly dimmer.

Read the rest of this article at: Foreign Affairs

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News 04.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There was a moment not so long ago when I thought, “What if I’ve had this crypto thing all wrong?” I’m a doubting normie who, if I’m being honest, hasn’t always understood this alternate universe that’s been percolating and expanding for more than a decade now. If you’re a disciple, this new dimension is the future. If you’re a skeptic, this upside-down world is just a modern Ponzi scheme that’s going to end badly—and the recent “crypto winter” is evidence of its long-overdue ending. But crypto has dug itself into finance, into technology, and into our heads. And if crypto isn’t going away, we’d better attempt to understand it. Which is why we asked the finest finance writer around, Matt Levine of Bloomberg Opinion, to write a cover-to-cover issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, something a single author has done only one other time in the magazine’s 93-year history (“What Is Code?,” by Paul Ford). What follows is his brilliant explanation of what this maddening, often absurd, and always fascinating technology means, and where it might go. —Joel Weber, Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek

If you have money, what you have is an entry in your bank’s database saying how much money you have. If you have a share of stock, what you have is generally an entry on a list—kept by the company or, more likely, some central intermediary1—of who owns stock.

If you own a house, things are slightly different. There’s a house involved. But your ownership of that house is probably written down in some database; in the US this often means there’s a record of you buying the house—your title—in a filing cabinet in the basement of some county clerk’s office. (It’s not a very good database.) In many ways the important thing here is the house: You have a key to the front door; your stuff is there; your neighbors will be unsurprised to see you leaving the house in the morning and would be surprised to see someone else coming back in. But in many other ways the important thing is the entry in the database. A bank will want to make sure you have the title before giving you a mortgage; a buyer will want to do the proper procedures to that record before paying you for the house. The key will not suffice.

Lots of other stuff. Much of modern life occurs online. It’s not quite true that your social life and your career and your reputation consist of entries in the databases of Meta Platforms and Google and Microsoft, but it’s not quite false, either.

Some of this stuff has to do with computers. It’s far more convenient for the money to be computer entries than sacks of gold or even paper bills. Some of it is deeper than that, though. What could it mean to own a house? One possibility is the state of nature: Owning a house means 1) you’re in the house, and 2) if someone else tries to move in, you’re bigger than them, so you can kick them out. But if they’re bigger than you, now they own the house.

Another possibility is what you might think of as a village. Owning a house means you live there and your neighbors all know you live there, and if someone else tries to move in, then you and your neighbors combined are bigger than them. Homeownership is mediated socially by a high-trust network of peers.

A third possibility is what you might think of as a government. Owning a house means the government thinks you own the house, and if someone else tries to move in, then the government will kick them out.2 Homeownership is mediated socially by a government. The database is a way for the government to keep track. You don’t have to trust any particular person; you have to trust the rule of law.

Money is a bit like that, too. Sacks of gold are a fairly straightforward form of it, but they’re heavy. A system in which your trusted banker holds on to your sacks for you and writes you letters of credit, and you can draw on those letters at branches of the bank run by your banker’s cousin—that’s pretty good, though it relies on trust between you and the banker, as well as the banker and the banker’s cousin. A system of impersonal banking in which the tellers are strangers and you probably use an ATM anyway requires trust in the system, trust that the banks are constrained by government regulation or reputation or market forces and so will behave properly.

Saying that modern life is lived in databases means, most of all, that modern life involves a lot of trust.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

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