News 15.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

News 15.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web
News 15.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web
via @claudehome
News 15.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

If you’ve been enjoying these curated article summaries that dive into cultural, creative, and technological currents, you may find the discussions and analyses on our Substack page worthwhile as well. There, I explore themes and ideas that often intersect with the subjects covered in the articles I come across during my curation process.

While this curation simply aims to surface compelling pieces, our Substack writings delve deeper into topics that have piqued our curiosity over time. From examining the manifestation of language shaping our reality to unpacking philosophical undercurrents in society, our Substack serves as an outlet to unpack our perspectives on the notable trends and undercurrents reflected in these curated readings.

So if any of the articles here have stoked your intellectual interests, I invite you to carry that engagement over to our Substack, where we discuss related matters in more depth. Consider it an extension of the curation – a space to further engage with the fascinating ideas these pieces have surfaced.


I’m told by those who claim to know such things that the best campaign slogan in American presidential history was 1952’s “I like Ike.” It’s hard to disagree. For one thing, the words fit perfectly onto a campaign button or bumper sticker and make for an unusually sonorous phrase when spoken. But their effectiveness probably had more to do with that gentle and genial verb “like,” which not only rhymed with General Eisenhower’s famous nickname but captured the affable and nonideological appeal of the candidate. Supreme Allied Commander, overseer of the largest and most successful amphibious assault in military history: What’s not to like?

Anyway, there’s no denying that like is a versatile word. Noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, suffix: It can do them all without breaking a sweat. And its meanings tend to have something pleasant in common. There is nearly always a mild gravitational pull at work in the word, an inclination toward togetherness either of affection or resemblance. I “like” you because you are “like” my brother. Like tends to be a token of sunny optimism and harmony, the byword of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Yet it is a respectable word that knows its limits and chastely observes them, eschewing the Sturm und Drang and ambiguous risks of its more passionate cousins.

Read the rest of this article at: The Hedgehog Review

Le’Essa Hill, aged eighteen, works at a Subway sandwich shop near Flint, Michigan. Her younger sister, a fifteen-year-old aspiring zookeeper named Addy, helps run a “mini-farm” inside the family’s green clapboard house. When I first met the girls, early this year, Addy was caring for five dogs, four cats, two rabbits, and a lizard named Lily, who ate crickets and kale. Le’Essa and Addy were unlikely candidates to wage an ideological battle against two big private-equity firms, but they were in the midst of one because of a situation involving their father, Adam Hill. For more than a year, while Adam was held in the county jail, awaiting trial, the girls had been prevented from seeing him in person.

“My dad is the kind of guy who can climb a tree even if it doesn’t have any branches,” Le’Essa told me. “He just wraps his legs around the trunk.” Le’Essa’s parents separated when she was young, and her dad has struggled with addiction. “He can be really silly and childish, but in a good way,” she added. “Like when something goes wrong, he’ll make up a funny song about it.” Le’Essa, who, like many teen-agers, has experienced mental-health struggles, wished that she had Adam’s companionship. “I feel like my perception of other people is often completely wrong, and I get slapped in the face by that reality a lot,” she told me. “My dad is the only person who really gets it, and so if I could have deeper conversations with him that would be magical.”

Last fall, Le’Essa learned why the children of Flint had been blocked from seeing their parents at the Genesee County Jail. In 2012, a company called Securus Technologies struck a deal with the county, offering financial incentives to replace jail visits with video calls. Families would pay fees that could exceed a dollar a minute to see their loved ones on an often grainy video feed; the county would earn a cut of the profits. “A lot of people will swipe that Mastercard and visit their grandkids,” a county official told the press at the time.

A few years later, the county went after an even steeper commission. In the sheriff’s office, a captain named Jason Gould helped negotiate a deal with a Securus competitor called Global Tel*Link (or GTL, now known as ViaPath), which included a fixed commission of a hundred and eighty thousand dollars a year, plus a sixty-thousand-dollar annual “technology grant,” and twenty per cent of the revenue from video calls. The jail chose not to restore families’ access to in-person visits. To celebrate the deal, an undersheriff joked to Gould, by e-mail, “You are not Captain Gold for nothing!”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 15.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

A year ago, Google said that it believed AI was the future of search. That future is apparently here: Google is starting to roll out “AI Overviews,” previously known as the Search Generative Experience, or SGE, to users in the US and soon around the world. Pretty soon, billions of Google users will see an AI-generated summary at the top of many of their search results. And that’s only the beginning of how AI is changing search.

“What we see with generative AI is that Google can do more of the searching for you,” says Liz Reid, Google’s newly installed head of Search, who has been working on all parts of AI search for the last few years. “It can take a bunch of the hard work out of searching, so you can focus on the parts you want to do to get things done, or on the parts of exploring that you find exciting.”

Reid ticks off a list of features aimed at making that happen, all of which Google announced publicly on Tuesday at its I/O developer conference. There are the AI Overviews, of course, which are meant to give you a general sense of the answer to your query along with links to resources for more information. There’s also a new feature in Lens that lets you search by capturing a video. There’s a new planning tool designed to automatically generate a trip itinerary or a meal plan based on a single query. There’s a new AI-powered way to organize the results page itself so that when you want to see restaurants in a new city, it might offer you a bunch for date night and a bunch for a business meeting without you even having to ask.

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

News 15.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

Much has been made of Ozempic face. The eponymous visage resulting from monthly injections of a weight-dissolving amino acid has generated endless fodder for social media and the tabloids, which have revelled in the grotesqueries of John Goodman, Robbie Williams and the poster child of the gaunt and ghostly look — Sharon Osbourne. There’s nothing quite as stimulating of schadenfreude as the tell-tale sagging of fat-starved skin, a calamity that might be rectified by fillers such as Sculptra and Restylane, by drinking two quarts of water a day, or, God forbid, by eating lunch.

Despite the risk of public shame and the menace of non-reimbursable insurance cost ($1,349 a month for Wegovy and $1,060 a month for Zepbound), steep demand has sent the stock market valuations of Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly through the stratosphere of the S&P 500. Not since the debut of Viagra has there been such hype in pharma, raising questions as to whether Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk can produce enough of the magical elixir, as demand outstrips supply.

As competitors flood the field — most recently, Amgen’s MariTide, yet another semaglutide already in Phase 2 trials — Goldman Sachs analysts estimate that by 2030, the market for such drugs will be worth in excess of $100 billion. The lion’s share will be sold in America, where for hundreds of years the seemingly simple alternative — to eat or not to eat — has been a national obsession. Washington Irving, America’s first author whose fame crossed the Atlantic, invested a great deal of his literary capital describing the young republic’s utter lack of proportion when it came to food. His History of New York, published in 1809, asserted that the earliest political leadership of Manhattan was a Dutch “colony of huge feeders”, in which the burgomasters were “generally chosen by weight”. Their chieftains were “the best fed men in the community; feasting lustily on the fat things of the land, and gorging so heartily on oysters and turtles, that in process of time they acquire the activity of the one, the form, the waddle, and the green fat of the other”.

Today, Americans are no less obsessed with weight. Such disses of the Dutch were the Federalist equivalent of present-day body-image disputes over Ozempic, typified by the hysterical row last month over Barbra Streisand’s intervention as to whether or not Melissa McCarthy was shooting up with the serum.

Read the rest of this article at: UnHerd

News 15.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

There’s a reason the most successful night of primetime used to be branded “Must See TV.” In the late 1990s, NBC’s “ER” would attract more than 30 million viewers a week in its Thursday 10 p.m. time slot. At its peak, the medical drama came close to commanding a 40 share — meaning that 40% of people watching TV in that hour were tuned in to the Warner Bros. Television series.

Today, such an accomplishment is beyond the reach of any TV program short of the Super Bowl. Viewers now watch TV in very different ways than they did 25 years ago, on their own timetables. Spending big to establish their businesses, streamers ushered in an era of series that came with shorter episode orders, high-wattage A-list talent and pricey production values. For nearly a decade, the traditions of old-fashioned linear TV have paled by comparison to the big-budget, commercial-free fare offered by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and others.

The recent “peak TV” era generated some of the best TV in history. Audiences, critics, awards shows and the rest of the industry shifted a lot of their attention to prestige streamer fare, while the linear worlds of broadcast and cable weren’t seen as sexy. Streamers’ steady output of new six- and eight-episode series orders were meant to draw viewers away from the old guard and get people to sign up for the new — and it worked.

“Must See” turned into “I Binged It in a Weekend, But Now I Won’t See It Again for a Year or Two.” But, as the streaming business has matured, concern over consumer “churn” has grown — and those short orders make it easier for audiences to cancel their subscriptions.

As advertisers, network executives and talent head to New York’s annual network upfronts presentations this week, they’re encountering something unexpected: The streamers that had been quick to destroy the old network TV formula are now looking to emulate it.

That includes embracing TV commercials, which is why outlets like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video will be present at upfronts week, a four-day marathon in which the largest networks make glitzy presentations to advertisers at venues like Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Streamers have joined the fray, doing exactly what the Big 4 networks have done for decades: touting their wares to the advertising buyers who spend billions of dollars in TV spots every year. (CBS gave up its traditional upfronts presentation last year, so they’ll be missing out.)


Read the rest of this article at: Variety