News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the fall of 1963, an enterprising young anthropologist named Richard Lee journeyed to the Dobe region of the northwest Kalahari Desert, in southern Africa. He was there to live among a community known as the Ju/’hoansi, which was made up of approximately four hundred and sixty individuals, split among fourteen independent camps. This area of the Kalahari was semi-arid and suffered from drought every two or three years, leading Lee to describe it as “a marginal environment for human habitation.” The demanding conditions made the territory of the Ju/’hoansi less desirable to farmers and herders, allowing the community to live in relative isolation well into the twentieth century.

As Lee would later explain, the Ju/’hoansi were not completely cut off from the world. When he arrived, for example, the Ju/’hoansi were trading with nearby Tswana cattle herders and encountered Europeans on colonial patrols. But the lack of extensive contact with the local economy meant that the Ju/’hoansi still relied primarily on hunting and gathering for their sustenance. It was commonly believed at the time that acquiring food without the stability and abundance of agriculture was perilous and gruelling. Lee wanted to find out whether this was true.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

As the planet lurches towards a climate emergency and its life support systems falter, the need for visionary thinkers with fresh insights and big ideas has never been more pressing. No wonder, then, that the world mourned the death earlier this year of James (‘Jim’) Lovelock, whose Gaia theory provided a new framework to think about nature, one that changed the way we regard our relationship with Earth.

Lovelock contributed to many fields, such as environmental science, cryobiology and exobiology, from thawing hamsters to building exquisitely sensitive detectors to find life on Mars or to sniff out ozone-destroying chemicals. But when he died on 26 July, the day of his 103rd birthday, the world lost what the Earth scientist Timothy Lenton in Science magazine called ‘a genius and iconoclast of immense intellectual courage’. Lovelock was a true original who was detached from the pressure to conform, one who had found a way to do research outside an institution, and who showed a disregard for disciplinary boundaries.

Driven by his scepticism about conventional wisdom, enabled by his skill as an inventor, and guided by visceral scientific insights, Lovelock made much of his independence. When asked about ‘thinking outside the box’ at a meeting in the University of Exeter to celebrate his centenary, he replied: ‘What box?’

Read the rest of this article at: Aeon

Urban hellscapes, New York ones in particular, look more heavenly in the soft glow of hindsight. Seventies Manhattan, formerly Exhibit A for how the country was going straight to shit, is widely remembered as a wonderland, quattrocento Florence for punks. The neon-pickled, pre-Disney Times Square of Midnight Cowboy looks fresh beside the current version, and the midcentury Midtown alienation of The Apartment and Revolutionary Road rests on the kind of job security many would trade an organ for. Edward Hopper’s drawings and paintings of New York are all but synonymous with quiet desperation: the distinctly big-city feeling of being gray and alone in a loud, colorful place. But look at Nighthawks—based, Hopper said, on a restaurant on Greenwich Avenue, not far from where he lived—and tell me you don’t long for this prehistoric land where you never have to wait for a seat and distraction has yet to conquer the world.

At first, Edward Hopper’s New York, an exhibition at the Whitney Museum, a few blocks from where that restaurant once stood, seems like a straightforward case of grass-is-always-greener thinking. There’s more than a little in curator Kim Conaty’s companion essay: writing about Early Sunday Morning, Hopper’s 1930 painting of a cheerily (or is it eerily?) bright stretch of Seventh Avenue, she draws the following comparison between then and now: “The neighborhood barber shop, marked by its red, white, and blue pole and patronized by casual walk-ins, has all but been replaced by the destination salon. . . . Customers patronizing whichever generic chain pharmacy on any given corner may hardly even bother to look up from the screens in their hands.” This kind of nostalgia can be hard to resist, even if you’re fully aware that the murder rate in Seventies New York was four times the current figure—or for that matter, that a Village barber shop in the Thirties could only handle all those walk-ins because nobody had money for a haircut.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In late April of 1995, Jack Welch suffered a crippling heart attack. He was then in full stride in his spectacular run as the C.E.O. of General Electric. He had turned the company from a sleepy conglomerate into a lean and disciplined profit machine. Wall Street loved him. The public adored him. He was called the greatest C.E.O. of the modern age. He was a plainspoken, homespun dynamo—a pugnacious gnome with a large bald head and piercing eyes that made him as instantly recognizable as Elon Musk is today.

But, that spring, his fabled energy seemed to flag. He found himself taking naps in his office. He went out to dinner one night with some friends at Spazzi, in Fairfield, Connecticut, for wine and pizza. Then, when he got home and was brushing his teeth, it happened. Boom. His wife rushed him to the hospital at 1 a.m., running a red light along the way. When they arrived, Welch jumped out of his car and onto a gurney, shouting, “I’m dying, I’m dying!” An artery was reopened, but then it closed again. A priest wanted to give him last rites. His doctor operated a second time. “Don’t give up!” Welch shouted. “Keep trying!”

The great C.E.O.s have an instinct for where to turn in a crisis, and Welch knew whom to call. There was Henry Kissinger, who had survived a triple bypass in the nineteen-eighties, and was always willing to lend counsel to the powerful. And, crucially, the head of Disney, Michael Eisner, one of the few C.E.O.s on Welch’s level. Just a year earlier, Eisner had survived an iconic C.E.O. cardiac event: a bout of upper-arm pain and shortness of breath that began at Herb Allen’s business conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, and ended with Eisner staring God in the face from his bed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles. The first chapter of Eisner’s marvellous autobiography, “Work in Progress” (1998), is devoted to the story of his ordeal, complete with references to Clint Eastwood, Michael Ovitz, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Sid Bass, Barry Diller, John Malone, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, David Geffen, “my friend” Dustin Hoffman, Tom Brokaw, Robert Redford, Annie Leibovitz, Steven Spielberg, and at least three prominent cardiologists. In one moment of raw vulnerability, he called his wife over to ask about the doctor who was slated to do his surgery: “Where was this guy trained?” he asked. He explains, “She knew I was hoping to hear Harvard or Yale.” No such luck. “ ‘Tijuana,’ she replied, with a straight face.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 07.11.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I kept the news in all the way out of the terminal until halfway through the airport parking garage, which was as far as I could hold it. It was the kind of announcement that was too voluminous for the inside of a car, so I blurted it out to my parents in the open air in a half-mumble, half-laugh.

“So, umm, I turned $15,000 into $1.2m in the past year.”

They both stopped and looked at me, silent.

“Are you on drugs?” my mom finally asked, anxiety flashing across her face. My dad said nothing. I dispelled her accusation by opening up my investment account on my iPhone and turning the screen towards her to show her the balance.

“Oh my God, are you one of those … GameStop people?” she said, referring to the brief and spectacular rise in stock price of the video game retailer after amateur investors rallied around it in early 2021.

My dad remained silent, in a way that felt more accusing and harder to confront – as if I had suddenly upended his conception of the world. Both of my parents had taken vows of poverty to each other as part of their wedding vows; their guiding philosophy was to “live simply so that others may simply live”. They owned no property because of their choice to be “war tax resisters”, and both had consciously dedicated their careers as a legal aid attorney and a Presbyterian minister to low-paying social justice work at the detriment of material possessions and substantial retirement accounts.

But if his worry was that he didn’t know how to relate to a son who was now rich, then he needn’t have. Not about the money anyway, because within four weeks, the bulk of it was gone. In the span of a year, the numbers came, danced, disappeared.

What took longer was un-becoming the asshole they almost made me.

Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, have spent their entire adult lives in a financial paradox. Despite cascading crises, right now is the most materially comfortable moment in human history. Climate change threatens to render all of this moot, but on a pure quality of life measure, we collectively enjoy better health outcomeslonger livesmore educationmore individual freedoms and more geographic mobility than anyone before us.

Though there is inequality shot through this, it does not merely describe the rich world experience: the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has plummeted as developing countries have converged on their wealthy neighbors. For the average person in the world, there has never been a preceding era when it has been better to be alive.

And yet, relative to our boomer parents, the millennial financial reality and future is objectively more precarious and less optimistic. The most educated and diverse generation in the US also has the highest debt-to-income ratio and has earned on average 20% less than boomers had at the same age. At the same time, the cost of housing has far outpaced both inflation and incomes. Nearly half of millennials and Gen Z report that they live paycheck to paycheck and worry about covering their expenses, and 30% of millennials are worried they won’t ever be able to retire.

When Robinhood launched its gamified stock and options trading app in 2015, and rose to popular prominence over the next few years, this is who it targeted: a generation financially on the fritz, with enough disposable cash for avocado toast but not enough for mortgages. Of its 21 million users, the average age is 31, and half are first-time investors. And by March 2020, the financial world was threatening to collapse on them for the second time in a decade. If there was ever a time to yolo, wouldn’t this be it?

In the stock market, it takes money to make money. So what do you do when you don’t have very much to begin with? You pour what little you have into overly leveraged, rarely brilliant, sometimes inane trades that lie somewhere in between gambling and investing.

Call it the millennial desperation capitalism of r/wallstreetbets, where I ended in February 2020, just before Covid crashed the world.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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