News 27.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

News 27.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web
Christy Turlington by Chris Colls for Vogue Poland September 2018

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.


“Playing sports is a good thing for ordinary people; sports played at the professional level is not good for your health,” Rafael Nadal observes in the first pages of his autobiography, “Rafa,” which was written with the British journalist John Carlin. “It pushes your body to limits that human beings are not naturally equipped to handle.” The book was published in 2011, and, by then, Nadal, with the unflagging physicality of his tennis, had already been testing those limits for some time. He had tendinitis in both knees, plus Mueller-Weiss syndrome, a degenerative and chronically painful disease that cuts off blood flow to the navicular bone, and which caused him to require injections before matches to numb his left foot. These are conditions commonly associated with aging. Nadal, when he wrote “Rafa,” had yet to turn twenty-five.

Fresh injuries were continually added to what would eventually be a long list; in his roughly two-decade-long career, Nadal has been sidelined for sixteen majors. But the list of victories would grow along with it: ninety-two singles titles, including twenty-two major titles and, among those, an astounding fourteen French Open wins. Nadal, who will turn thirty-eight next month, is in Paris once more to compete in what is likely to be his last French Open, and perhaps his last tour tournament as a singles player. For his ardent fans, it’s the stop that’s most freighted with remembrance on what has been, in fits and starts this spring, something of a farewell tour.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

America’s conception of itself as a nation has always been built on the aspirations of the immigrant. But to immigrate to this country can be dehumanizing—can demand, to some degree, the erasure of one’s previous identity. In many cases one is expected to undergo a homogenizing process, smoothing away any prickly individualities: names, languages, sometimes entire systems of belief. The French writer Georges Perec, describing Ellis Island in the 1970s, likened it to “a sort of factory for manufacturing Americans, a factory for transforming emigrants into immigrants; an American-style factory, as quick and efficient as a sausage factory in Chicago.”

Long Island, the Irish writer Colm Tóibín’s new novel, is the follow-up to his popular 2009 book, Brooklyn, a coming-of-age story about a young woman named Eilis Lacey who leaves Ireland and tries to make a life in New York. The sequel picks up in the 1970s, 20 years after the events of that earlier story, and begins with a betrayal. Tony Fiorello, Eilis’s third-generation Italian American husband, has impregnated another woman. So far, so familiar; an infidelity plot in a domestic drama is not exactly new territory.

But the way Eilis becomes aware of the affair is jarring. Her prosperous suburb seems to be populated mostly by second- or third-generation Americans, so when the husband of Tony’s mistress knocks on her door and tells her about the pregnancy, she’s surprised to note his Irish accent. Immediately, “she recognized something in him, a stubbornness, perhaps even a sort of sincerity … She had known men like this in Ireland.” Like a ghost, this voice and this man have shown up on Eilis’s doorstep, a reminder of the country that she left 20 years ago. And, as Long Island’s story unfolds and we follow the dissolution of Eilis’s marriage, along with her subsequent summer-long retreat to an Ireland already in the beginning stages of its own sea change, Tóibín asks that most American of questions: Can you go home again? His new novel suggests that to emigrate might itself be a fundamental betrayal, a breaking of a bond not unlike a husband betraying his wife—and that even when one returns to the homeland, one remains in a sort of exile that demands humility, flexibility, and perhaps some form of penance.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

Humans are compelled to review. The five-star and 10-point rating systems just make implicit sense to us, each number having its own gravity and texture that can be transposed on to a gut-feeling or opinion. So, last night’s dinner: what was that? I had a sort of dal and paratha thing that I’d put at about 7/10 (it was nice, but 8 feels too much). Obviously Dune: Part Two was a five-star movie whereas Dune was maybe only a four.

But we are powerfully swayed by other people’s reviews, too. I am forever in some area of London, not knowing where I am or what I want to eat, squinting at Google Maps through raindrops, deciding whether I want to eat at the 4.4-rated pizza place or the 4.3-rated Vietnamese place. Entire evenings of my life have been shaped by the aggregated internet review culture of Rotten Tomatoes telling me one streaming-service film is slightly better than another. I have blindly bought fragrances, books and music just based on what 1,000 or so anonymous reviewers sort of rated each one out of five. The number out of five having an experience pipeline is an intrinsic part of our lives.

These are all things, though. You know where you are with a thing. What’s harder to attribute a number value to are those ambient feelings and experiences that make up a week. There are a lot of hours in a week (168, I just checked), and a lot of minutes, too (10,800). Not all of those can be good and not all of them can be bad. Over the course of that time, how might you rate an entire week of your life? Well, there’s only one way to find out, I suppose.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 27.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

On a Saturday morning this winter, while my wife trained for a half-marathon, I was tasked with taking our eighteen-month-old daughter to the neighborhood synagogue for “Shabbat for Tots.” Shabbat for Tots was exactly what it sounds like: about two dozen children between one and four years old gathered in a preschool classroom with their parents while a woman in her twenties played guitar and sang songs very loudly. Some of the songs contained ostensibly religious content; one, about “Shabbat feelings,” caused the woman with the guitar to shudder, weep and laugh hysterically in turn—none of which cleared up for me what these emotions had to do with the Jewish day of rest. Others were simple and didactic; the kids were asked to identify their knees, then to bend their knees, to identify their feet, then to stomp their feet. At one point they were all handed rattlers, with which they made hideous sounds for a few minutes before being asked to return them to a large bucket—an instruction that led to my daughter being nearly stampeded by two heedless three-year-old girls, toward whom I felt an unwelcome spasm of hatred.

Notwithstanding my neighborhood’s reputation for avant-garde family arrangements, I was the only man at Shabbat for Tots who had not come with his wife, something I noticed because, whenever I was not preventing my daughter from drinking cleaning detergent or unplugging the window air-conditioning unit, I was looking at the other men in the room. Looking at other men is a somewhat novel experience for me. In my former life as a non-father, if I took any notice of another man in the same room, it was probably to appraise him physically, on the off chance that we were to become locked in some form of primitive combat. (Would I be able to beat him in a race? How easy would it be for him to strangle me?) As a father, however, I find myself looking at other men—at other fathers—all the time, and not at all as competition. Often they look back, just as quizzically, at me. I think we are trying to figure out how we should look, how we should act, how we should deal with the perennial awkwardness of being a father in public.

I was reminded, or in truth was already interpreting my experience in light of, a scene in Book Two of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s autobiographical novel, My Struggle. In the scene, which comes as part of a much longer reflection on modern fatherhood, Knausgaard takes his eight-month-old daughter Vanja to “Rhythm Time,” a music class in Stockholm. As one of the few men sitting on the floor in a room full of mothers, babies and soft pillows, he imagines how he must look to the attractive young woman who is leading the class:

Read the rest of this article at: The Point

News 27.05.24: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

You’re in a crowd of tens of thousands of fellow fans. The band starts playing your favorite song. Everyone screams. You will never, ever forget this moment.

Seeing a musician you adore live can be a transcendent experience. But getting to that moment has become a nightmare because getting tickets that won’t completely bankrupt you now requires weaving through an obstacle course. Tickets to a popular show dropping means pandemonium. You might get errors when you try to purchase tickets, and can spend hours waiting in a virtual line to grab any available tickets you can. Then the entire ticketing site crashes, apparently due to too many bots trying to access the site.

On resale sites, tickets are already exponentially costlier than what you were prepared to pay. But you’ve been waiting years for the chance to see them up close — so you shell out the money. In 2024, that can mean hundreds of dollars, even thousands, for the best available seats. The very best tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, as of last year, were sold on resale sites for as much as $200,000 — enough to pay for a four-year private college with no financial aid.

It’s no wonder music fans are disheartened and furious. Of course, the fact that the biggest music promoter and ticketing service is one single, giant company that has a lot of control over how tickets are bought and sold definitely doesn’t help matters. The Department of Justice is set to file an antitrust lawsuit against that company — Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster — accusing it of using exclusive ticketing contracts, among other things, to maintain a monopoly. But while it’s easy to blame just one party for the chaos and the cost, the reality is that there’s a complicated concoction of reasons why obtaining tickets to a major concert has gotten so dire, and dealing with so much demand isn’t easy, either. Millions of fans want to attend a Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, or Harry Styles concert — and there are only so many shows and seats. Who should get to go?


The fact is, concerts have steadily gotten more expensive even on the primary market — the place where someone can originally buy tickets, like Ticketmaster — before any scalper upcharge is added. According to the live music trade publication Pollstar, the average ticket price of the top 100 music tours last year was $122.84. In 2019 it was $91.86 — a rise that outpaced inflation by a good margin. Back in 2000, it was $40.74. For the top 10 grossing tours in 2023, the average price was even higher: $152.97.

Though there are a number of factors involved in this price creep (including high fees, which a 2018 Government Accountability Office report says make up an average of 27 percent of the ticket’s total cost), the heart of the matter is simple: demand. People all over the world are clamoring to go to just a handful of the most popular artists’ concerts. Live Nation reported that 145 million people attended one of its shows in 2023, compared to 98 million in 2019. The momentum doesn’t appear to be slowing, with ticket sales in the first quarter of 2024 higher than they were this time last year.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox