US Inequality Rises: "The number of billionaires in the United States has more than doubled in the last decade, from 267 in 2008 to 607 last year, according to UBS." and meanwhile "Rents in New York have risen twice as fast as wages, according to StreetEasy data from 2010-2017, squeezing lower-income residents. And the number of homeless people sleeping in the city’s shelters is 70% higher than a decade ago".
New York’s new malls: Hudson Yards, Empire Outlets, and more: "Experts claim retail is dead, but the “vertical centers” and “food halls” in America’s densest city just keep coming." One big shopping mall. At odds with previous.
Neanderthals glued their tools together: “We continue to find evidence that the Neanderthals were not inferior primitives but were quite capable of doing things that have traditionally only been attributed to modern humans,” said co-author Paolo Villa, adjunct curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.
Class and optimism: "What I’m describing here is a little different from the tendency for posh people to be more confident than the rest of us, but perhaps connected. My point is that posh folk are more optimistic than others not just about their personal prospects, but about prospects for the economy generally."
A Field Goes to War With Itself: "While medievalists battle, white nationalists try to co-opt the past." Has that tendency not always been there? After all, and at least in Europe, this is the period where territorial state formations start appearing. Fertile ground.
Inside Paraguay’s failed Aryan ‘utopia’: "Deep in the jungle of central Paraguay, a town announces itself with a wire sign suspended between two stone towers that look like freestanding Medieval turrets: “Bienvenidos a Nueva Germania,” it reads. A few thousand people live in “New Germany” today, but if the town’s founders had their way, it would have taken over the entire South American continent."
Private Equity and "Institutional" Investor Owned U.K. Utility Engaged in Massive Fraud, Regulatory Evasions, Worker Coercion, Caused "Catastrophic" Environmental Damage: well, color me surprised. And not about this, either: 'We all suffer': why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed. And then there is the gig economy, and the fact that Alabamians defend the arrest of woman whose fetus died in shooting. I should stop following the news.
The new left economics: how a network of thinkers is transforming capitalism says The Guardian. Does not seem as if they transform anything. Yet? Britain ‘increasingly divided’ with most influential people five times more likely to have gone to private school - good place to start transforming. See also the sham of shareholder capitalism.
Furthermore, 9 people built an illegal $5M Airbnb empire in New York - and screwed the poor yet again. No wonder our neoliberal overlords love the gig and sharing economies, eh? But at least Microsoft employees want to starve its PAC, which keeps giving money to homophobic, racist, climate-denying Republicans.
Walmart got a $2.2 billion tax cut and now it's laying off workers, while in Chicago, the rich live 30 years longer than the poor. No one should be a billionaire complements Germany’s business barons are finding it harder to keep a low profile. And at the same time the chance of a 15-year-old boy dying by the age of 50 is now higher in America than in Bangladesh, but the article also points out that there are some positive signs in worldwide demographics.
Will Hot-Desking Kill Your Company? "Hot-desking is a working arrangement where employees have no assigned desk. Each morning you get a workstation based on that old standby, first-come-first-served. If you show up at 5:30 a.m. then you'll likely have your pick. Later than 9 a.m., then probably you'll get what's left even if that means working apart from your colleagues. The theory behind this idea is that it provides companies with increased flexibility in managing office space." And I thought open space offices were bad enough.
I Made Meringues Out of My Own Blood and Ate Them: No. Just no.
- Auschwitz Is Not a Metaphor: "The new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage gets everything right—and fixes nothing."
- Yes, You Should Delete Facebook: " Facebook knows so much about you they can make you believe they’re listening to your personal conversations. They have so much data about you they can send you ads that have an uncanny relevance to what is going on in the real world."
- ‘High likelihood of human civilisation coming to end’ by 2050, report finds: "Over-conservative climate scenarios mean we could face ‘world of outright chaos’, says analysis authored by former fossil fuel executive and backed by former head of Australia’s military."
- Autofiction: fiction of facts
- A mysterious nonprofit made millions suing companies to put California cancer warnings on coffee: Somebody found a niche to make money in. But is it legit?
- The Gambling Nuns of Torrance, California: Weird as weird goes. I sense that this will become a movie, and perhaps sooner than later.
- The Truffaut Essays That Clear Up Misguided Notions of Auteurism
- William Godwin’s Stunning 1794 Advice to a Young Activist on How to Confront the Status Quo with Self-Possession, Dignity, and Persuasive Conviction: "Above all… abstain from harsh epithets and bitter invective… Truth can never gain by passion, violence, and resentment. It is never so strong as in the firm, fixed mind, that yields to the emotions neither of rage nor fear."
Tooting my own horn here: I took that photo. There are many more here.
- The Secret Oral History of Bennington: The 1980s' Most Decadent College: "Seated around the table, ready to gorge on the conversation if not the food (cocaine, the Pernod of its era, is a notorious appetite suppressant), berets swapped for sunglasses, were the neo F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Djuna Barnes: Bret Easton Ellis, future writer of American Psycho and charter member of the literary Brat Pack; Jonathan Lethem, future writer of The Fortress of Solitude and MacArthur genius; and Donna Tartt, future writer of The Secret History and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Goldfinch. All three were in the class of 1986. All three were a long way from home—Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Grenada, Mississippi, respectively."
- Hear the Song That Two Teenage Musicians, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, Recorded Together in 1958
- Headteacher who used school funds to build ‘sex dungeon’ banned from profession
- Robert Macfarlane and the Dark Side of Nature Writing
- In Turkey, Keeping a Language of Whistles Alive: "Before cellphones, Turkish “bird language” allowed farmers to communicate across long distances in the Pontic Mountains."
- The preachers getting rich from poor Americans: "I understand the laws that govern insurance, stocks and bonds and all that is involved with Wall Street," he once said, looking directly into the camera. "God has called me… as a financial deliverer."
- The freedom of bike slaves: "The beauty of the free market economy is well known to be that individuals are not the passive victims of some patronizing authority, but everyone is the architect of their own fortune. How great that the modern service economy, in the wake of “digitization” and thanks to innovative start-ups, provides a wealth of opportunities that everyone can make the most of, according to their own intitiative and criteria. For example, as a bike courier for food delivery services like UberEats, Foodora and Deliveroo."
- From dietary supplements to the emergency room
- How do you like your coffee? Rectally?: Fill it to the rim? Please don’t.
- Chronic Lyme disease: Fake diagnosis, not fake disease: "Yes, big surprise, last week Dr. Oz was promoting the quackery that are treatments for chronic Lyme disease."
You could do worse than read some of this:
How computing's first 'killer app' changed everything : "According to the Planet Money podcast, in the US alone, there are 400,000 fewer accounting clerks today than in 1980, the first full year that VisiCalc went on sale. But Planet Money also found that there were 600,000 more jobs for regular accountants. After all, crunching numbers had become cheaper, more versatile, and more powerful, so demand went up."
Is the World Doomed to Far Rightwing Soft Dictatorship?: "Don’t bet on politics as usual to lower the temperature and put a stop to this moment’s tidal surge of ugly intolerance. Because the nature of the game has changed, those who oppose the global New Right must engage in a strategic rethink — or we’ll all drown in the rising waters."
Total Depravity: The Origins of the Drug Epidemic in Appalachia Laid Bare: "The influence of opioids on rural United States today eclipses these precedents. Perhaps only London in the throes of the Gin Craze, or Imperial China after the Opium Wars, could compare. This new phase, described as ‘the opioid epidemic’ (seldom capitalized), has different characteristics. It has been so frequently outlined by statistics that there is an accompanying complaint: that, like the old irony about deaths and statistics, these factoids muffle rather than amplify the tragedy. But the calamity is on a scale that cannot be quantified by other means."
Amazon, Walmart, and Other Stores Have Too Many Options: "The presence of so much stuff in America might be more valuable if it were more evenly distributed, but stuff’s creators tend to focus their energy on those who already have plenty. As options have expanded for people with disposable income, the opportunity to buy even basic things such as fresh food or quality diapers has contracted for much of America’s lower classes."
Europe's surging, far-right, "anti-establishment" parties: funded by billionaires, voting for billionaire-friendly policies, lining their own pockets : "Even as these parties are campaigning as insurgent anti-establishment forces, they have been largely funded by massive cash infusions, sometimes laundered through financial secrecy havens like Switzerland, sometimes openly attributed to the richest, most powerful people in Europe. What's more, the voting records of these parties reflect their debt to the super-rich, consistently opposing progressive taxation, anti-tax-evasion measures, strong labour laws, social benefits, and other measures that would benefit the voters who have backed these parties."