News 25.01.23

Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Michael Sinclair / House and Garden
News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

All around the immense city of São Paulo, posters on telephone poles display a Pop-art image of the newly elected President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—Lula, as he is universally known. His head is crowned by dark curls, his face adorned with a red star, a symbol of his Workers’ Party. It is a vision of Lula in his early days: the left-wing idealist, the charismatic strike leader, the prophet of an imaginary future in which Brazil would become a center of social justice where no one went hungry, the rain forest was protected, and the enmity between races and classes dissolved. It is an old cliché that Brazil is the country of the future—a future that will never arrive. It is also true that the colossus of Latin America has not fulfilled many of its people’s hopes.

For generations of Brazilians, Lula is the country’s most familiar public figure. He served two previous terms as President, from 2003 to 2010. In 2018, he was imprisoned on charges of money laundering and corruption. Lula denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he was the victim of a political revenge scheme. His candidacy represented an almost unprecedented comeback.

After a long career of constant crisis, of triumph and embattlement, Lula looks his age. He is seventy-seven, short and sturdy, with a rooster’s erect posture and puffed-out chest. His hands are tough, like a boxer’s, but his skin is pale, and his curly hair has gone thin and white. When I saw him last November, a few days after he won the Presidential election, he entered the living room of a hotel suite in São Paulo surrounded by a phalanx of aides and security guards. He was dressed in a politician’s gray suit jacket and slacks, which he seemed to wish he could trade for his customary guayabera and jeans.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

First, there was Adam, whose creation takes center stage on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Then, fashioned out of Adam’s spare rib, there was Eve, relegated to a smaller panel. In Michelangelo’s rendition, as in the Bible’s, the first man sleeps through the miraculous creation of his soul mate, the first woman and the eventual mother of humanity. Many of our foundational myths are, in this way, stories about men, related by men to other men. The notion of female equality is, historically, an innovation. “Woman has always been man’s dependent, if not his slave; the two sexes have never shared the world in equality,” Simone de Beauvoir wrote in “The Second Sex,” published in 1949. “And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change.” Nearly three-quarters of a century later, that change has continued. By a variety of metrics, men are falling behind parity. Is the second sex becoming the better half?

Many social scientists agree that contemporary American men are mired in malaise, even as they disagree about the causes. In academic performance, boys are well behind girls in elementary school, high school, and college, where the sex ratio is approaching two female undergraduates for every one male. (It was an even split at the start of the nineteen-eighties.) Rage among self-designated “incels” and other elements of the online “manosphere” appears to be steering some impressionable teens toward misogyny. Men are increasingly dropping out of work during their prime working years, overdosing, drinking themselves to death, and generally dying earlier, including by suicide. And men are powering the new brand of reactionary Republican politics, premised on a return to better times, when America was great—and, unsubtly, when men could really be men. The question is what to make of the paroxysm. For the revanchist right, the plight of American men is existential. It is an affront to biological (and perhaps Biblical) determinism, a threat to an entire social order. Yet, for all the strides that women have made since gaining the right to vote, the highest echelons of power remain lopsidedly male. The detoxification of masculinity, progressives say, is a messy and necessary process; sore losers of undeserved privilege don’t merit much sympathy.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In late December 1791, Rose Mainville, a 17-year-old French girl, made a horrifying discovery. She found her name, address and physical description in a pornographic book advertising itself as a detailed guide to the sex workers of Paris. Ashamed, humiliated and terrified at the thought of being confronted by her family, friends and neighbours, she took her own life by drinking a bottle of nitric acid.

Amid the tumult of the early years of the French Revolution, the tragic story of Mainville’s suicide might easily have been forgotten. Instead, it became a cause célèbre, with newspapers across Paris reporting on the story. Mainville was cast as an honest, hard-working street vendor who had been the victim of malicious slander. Two Parisian theatre companies even staged a dramatisation of her story in order to rally public opinion in her defence. Journalists called for the pornographic book to be banned, and for the book’s anonymous author to be punished. In fact, they argued, many other libellous books and pamphlets, offering similarly revealing information, should be forbidden. A private person should not fear exposure in the public sphere.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Lisa Marie Presley died unexpectedly earlier this month, and within hours, lacking any evidence, Twitter users were suggesting that her death had been caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Twitter account @DiedSuddenly_, which has about 250,000 followers, also started tweeting about it immediately, using the hashtag #DiedSuddenly. Over the past several months, news stories about any kind of sudden death or grave injury—including the death of the sports journalist Grant Wahl and the sudden collapse of the Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin—have been met with a similar reaction from anti-vaccine activists. Though most of the incidents had obvious explanations and almost certainly no connection to the vaccine, which has an extremely remote risk of causing heart inflammation—much smaller than the risk from COVID-19 itself—the idea that the shots are causing mass death has been boosted by right-wing media figures and a handful of well-known professional athletes.

They are supported by a recent video, Died Suddenly, that bills itself as “the documentary film of a generation.” The hour-long movie has spread unchecked on Rumble, a moderation-averse video-streaming platform, and Twitter, which abandoned its COVID-misinformation policy two days after the film premiered in November. It puts forth the familiar conspiracy theory that the vaccines were engineered as a form of population control, illustrated by stomach-turning footage of funeral directors and embalmers removing “white fibrous clots” that “look like calamari” from the corpses of people who have purportedly been vaccinated against COVID-19. (There are also some clips of Lee Harvey Oswald and the moon landing, for unclear reasons.)

Died Suddenly has been viewed nearly 20 million times and cheered on by far-right personalities such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Candace Owens. It was released by the Stew Peters Network, whose other videos on Rumble have titles like “Obama Formed Shadow Government BEFORE Plandemic” and “AIRPORTS SHUT DOWN FOR EVERYONE BUT JEWS!” And its creators are already asking for donations to fund a sequel, Died Suddenly 2, which promises to explore “deeper rabbit holes.” (Nicholas Stumphauzer, one of the film’s directors, did not respond to questions, other than to say that the production team was motivated by a desire to “stop the globalist death cult.”)

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 25.01.23: Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In September 2021, Sotheby’s offered up for auction a cache of 101 Bored Ape NFTs as a lot in a special sale called Ape In! The digital art revolution had seemingly remade the art market in the months prior, and this was the finest collection of non-fungible tokens ever assembled by one of the world’s oldest auction houses, founded in 1744. Scrolling through the catalog of cartoon monkeys in funny hats and jackets, one could see one rare Bored Ape with solid gold fur and holographic eyes, but also rarer yet, the Ape with an unshaven face eating a piece of pizza. For digital-art enthusiasts who aspired to membership in the Bored Ape Yacht Club, this was a huge deal.

The house was confident that Ape In! could ride the NFT momentum that had been building since the prior spring—one that began when Everydays, a work by the digital artist Beeple, sold at Christie’s for $69 million—and move these online pictures of weird primates to the tune of millions. A promotional video showed the cartoon monkeys in DJ booths spinning EDM at a party in what appeared to be Sotheby’s global headquarters on York Avenue in Manhattan. Young and ambitious specialists in the house’s digital-art department, a brand-new endeavor, bullishly offered the lot at an estimate of somewhere between $12 million and $18 million.

Instead, the lot of 107 NFTs sold for $24.4 million, smashing records for Bored Apes. What newly minted patron of the digital arts snagged this for eight figures? Sotheby’s wouldn’t comment on the buyer apart from saying that among those heavily involved in the bidding were legacy art collectors.

“We’re seeing a growing number of traditional art buyers getting interested in NFTs,” Michael Bouhanna, cohead of digital art sales at the house, told ARTnews at the time. And why not? Some thought these monkeys with headgear and lasers for eyeballs could be worth billions in our not-so-distant virtual lives. Bored Ape Yacht Club, the moniker given to the 10,000 unique iterations of the NFT created by Yuga Labs in April 2021 and initially sold for about $190 a pop, tweeted out, “To the buyer, I think we speak for everybody when we say: WELCOME TO THE CLUB.” It punctuated the message with a skull-and-crossbones emoji, a monkey emoji, and a boat emoji—to signify a yacht.

Increasingly, it looks as though the buyer was not a traditional art collector or even a human person that other Ape owners could welcome to a club. The blockchain is an opaque-at-best space, but in the months following the purchase, some close observers have settled on the idea that the buyer of the Apes at Sotheby’s was FTX, the crypto exchange that recently crashed and burned, resulting in an inquiry into the possible market machinations of its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, who is currently charged with crimes related to the overnight disappearance of billions of his investors’ funds in the fall. (Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty and, in a statement, said he “did not steal funds.”)

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

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