News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A project to digitise records from the bookshop and lending library Shakespeare and Company offers a window into Paris during the jazz age, revealing the reading habits of literary titans including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein.

The handwritten cards show that in 1925, decades before he wrote his novel The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway was borrowing Joshua Slocum’s memoir, Sailing Alone Around the World. And the records, scrawled by the shop’s clerks, chart how Stein matched intellectual pursuits with lighter reading including TH Crosfield’s historical romance A Love in Ancient Days, and Andrew Soutar’s fantasy Equality Island.

When Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare and Company in 1919, English-language books were expensive and hard to find in Paris. Writers and artists who had flocked to the capital of literary modernism rushed to sign up for Beach’s library service. Along with Hemingway and Stein, writers from Aimé Césaire to Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Lacan, Walter Benjamin and Joyce all became members – and would have been chased up for late returns with a drawing of an exasperated Shakespeare pulling out his hair.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

SAN FRANCISCO — On Jan. 27, at a regularly scheduled Monday morning meeting with top executives at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg turned the agenda to the coronavirus. For weeks, he told his staff, he had been hearing from global health care experts that the virus had the makings of a pandemic, and now Facebook needed to prepare for a worst-case scenario — one in which the company’s ability to combat misinformation, scammers and conspiracy theorists would be tested as never before.

To start, Mr. Zuckerberg said, the company should take some of the tools it had developed to fight 2020 election garbage and attempt to retool them for the pathogen. He asked executives in charge of every department to develop plans for responding to a global outbreak by the end of the week.

The meeting, described by two people who attended it, helped vault Facebook ahead of other companies — and even some governments — in preparing for Covid-19. And it exemplified a change in how the 36-year-old is running the company he founded.

Since the day he coded the words “a Mark Zuckerberg production” onto every blue-and-white Facebook page, he has been the singular face of the social network. But to an extent not widely appreciated outside Silicon Valley, Mr. Zuckerberg has long been a kind of binary chief executive — extraordinarily involved in some aspects of the business, and virtually hands-off in areas that he finds less interesting.

The beginning of the end of Mr. Zuckerberg’s distanced leadership came on Nov. 8, 2016, with the election of Donald Trump. From that moment, a relentless series of crises — his casual dismissal of concerns over fake news as “a pretty crazy idea”; revelations that the platform had been used as a plaything for state-sponsored espionage; the Cambridge Analytica scandal — jolted Mr. Zuckerberg to tighten his grip.

Many of his consolidation tactics have been highly visible: He replaced the outside founders of Instagram and WhatsApp with loyalists, and he refashioned Facebook’s already-friendly board to be even more deferential, swapping out five of its nine members.

With the attention of a quarter of the world’s population to sell to advertisers, Facebook is so colossal that org-chart moves have the effect of creating powerful new characters on the global policy stage. Mr. Zuckerberg has elevated lieutenants to win over hostile territories — the Republican operative Joel Kaplan in Washington, and the former deputy prime minister of Britain, Sir Nicholas Clegg, in the eurozone. And his more hands-on approach has caused, by the zero-sum logic of corporate clout, an effective sidelining of Sheryl Sandberg, his chief operating officer and the most high-profile woman in technology.

Now, the coronavirus has presented Mr. Zuckerberg with the opportunity to demonstrate that he has grown into his responsibilities as a leader — a 180-degree turn from the aloof days of 2016. It’s given him the chance to lead 50,000 employees through a crisis that, for once, is not of their own making. And seizing the moment might allow Mr. Zuckerberg to prove a thesis that he truly believes: That if one sees past its capacity for destruction, Facebook can be a force for good.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
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I write this from my studio at the back of our garden in London, to which I have retreated for a few moments to be alone, as “alone” is not easily experienced these days. My wife, Felicity, and I have been sequestered here with our two small children, a boy 5, a girl 2; my three older children (whom I had with my late wife, Kate), a girl 18, boy/girl twins 20; and a girlfriend of theirs from university, who was unable to get to her parents overseas.

Cramming all these people with differing personalities, ages, needs, wants, etc. in a house for six weeks creates for an interesting dynamic. For the most part, things have been going very well, meaning no one has murdered anyone yet, although I am sure one of them is plotting my demise as I type this.

At first, I had grand plans for how we might pass the time in convivial and entertaining ways. I thought perhaps a rotating schedule of cooks for the nightly meal, followed by movies, games, or Bordeaux-fueled charades by the fire. Things didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, here’s what our typical day looks like.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When diagnosing the ills afflicting modern science, an entertainment that, along with the disparagement of his critics and fellow researchers, he counts among his great delights, the eminent French microbiologist Didier Raoult will lightly stroke his beard, lean back in his seat and, with a thin but unmistakable smile, declare the poor patient to be stricken with pride. Raoult, who has achieved international fame since his proposed treatment for Covid-19 was touted as a miracle cure by President Trump, believes that his colleagues fail to see that their ideas are the products of mere intellectual fashions — that they are hypnotized by methodology into believing that they understand what they do not and that they lack the discipline of mind that would permit them to comprehend their error. “Hubris,” Raoult told me recently, at his institute in Marseille, “is the most common thing in the world.” It is a particularly dangerous malady in doctors like him, whose opinions are freighted with the responsibility of life and death. “Someone who doesn’t know is less stupid than someone who wrongly thinks he does,” he said. “Because it is a terrible thing to be wrong.”

Raoult, who founded and directs the research hospital known as the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection, or IHU, has made a great career assailing orthodoxy, in both word and practice. “There’s nothing I like more than blowing up a theory that’s been so nicely established,” he once said. He has a reputation for bluster but also for a certain creativity. He looks where no one else cares to, with methods no one else is using, and finds things. In just the past 10 years, he has helped identify nearly 500 novel species of human-borne bacteria, about one-fifth of all those named and described. Until recently, he was perhaps best known as the discoverer of the first giant virus, a microbe that, in his opinion, suggests that viruses ought to be considered a fourth and separate domain of living things. The discovery helped win him the Grand Prix Inserm, one of France’s top scientific prizes. It also led him to believe that the tree of life suggested by Darwinian evolution is “entirely false,” he told me, and that Darwin himself “wrote nothing but inanities.” He detests consensus and comity; he believes that science, and life, ought to be a fight.

It is in this spirit that, over the objections of his peers, and no doubt because of them, too, he has promoted a combination of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, and azithromycin, a common antibiotic, as a remedy for Covid-19. He has taken to declaring, “We know how to cure the disease.” Trump was not the only one eager to embrace this possibility. By the time I arrived in Marseille, some version of Raoult’s treatment regimen had been authorized for testing or use in France, Italy, China, India and numerous other countries. One in every five registered drug trials in the world was testing hydroxychloroquine.

In March, Raoult announced that his hospital would test and treat anyone who cared to show up. Crowds gathered at the entrance to the IHU in winding single-file lines, like pilgrims shuffling toward their private audience with the oracle. On March 16, Raoult released the results of a small clinical trial that showed, he said, a 100 percent cure rate. The study has since been widely debated, and Raoult’s boosterism has been lamented by scientists and health officials around the world; in a comment more or less representative of the tenor of the controversy in France, where Raoult’s name and image have now been everywhere for weeks, one detractor, a generally thoughtful politician, suggested that Raoult “shut his face and be a doctor” and that he “stop saying ‘I’m a genius’ all over the place.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 05.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

If you need a role model for life in a plague, it is hard to beat Samuel Pepys. Pepys (pronounced Peeps) was a man about town in the London of the late 17th century, a member of Parliament and of the Royal Society, and an official in the Royal Navy as the British were fighting the Dutch. But his true claim to fame is that he wrote a personal diary for ten years of his life in the 1660s. Kept private in his lifetime, and much of it in code, he used it to tell the story of his days and nights, with disarming frankness and occasional hilarity, charting his thoughts and feelings, ups and downs, love affairs and marital woes. His diary is now one of the richest accounts of what life was actually like for an aspiring social climber in the period in England when the monarchy was restored. And he lived through the Great Plague of London in 1665 — and, as we might say, blogged about it.

Pepys’s jottings have been a tonic to read in lockdown — fascinating and, with the perspective of time, oddly calming. Unlike Daniel Defoe’s later semi-fictional work A Journal of the Plague Year, Pepys wrote with no knowledge of what the future might bring, and in that way, he was just like us now, as a plague summer beckons in 2020, but with far less information. He had the means to move to the countryside, where most of the elite decamped during the crisis to escape infection, but he opted to stay in London. He had work to do at the Admiralty, organizing and handling logistics for the second Anglo-Dutch war, and he had a quirky curiosity about most things — so he lingered, moving about the city, night and day, noting what he saw and heard.

Some of it is horrifying. He witnessed family members deserting each other and fighting over who would get their own grave. He marveled “how everybody’s looks, and discourses in the street, is of death, and nothing else; and few people going up and down, that the town is a place distressed and forsaken.” Some of it is eerily familiar, even down to the question of whether it was too risky for his wife to hire a cleaning maid, or the great haircutting question: “Up, and after being trimmed, the first time I have been touched by a barber these twelve months.” But what you glean most from his plague diary is that he continued to live his life as fully as he could, and maintained an astonishing amount of poise throughout.

The plague enters the diary in the spring of 1665, but never dominates it. The disease had, after all, ravaged London periodically throughout the 17th century, coming and going, and when an outbreak began, the dread was familiar. But Pepys is busy celebrating new wealth in April: “I end the month in great content as to my estate and getting.” That was the case even as he heard the first rumors: “Great fears of the sickness here in the City, it being said that two or three houses are already shut up. God preserve us all!” In June, he notes how the plague had finally moved into the city, and struck “my good friend and neighbors, Dr Burnett, in Fenchurch Street.” Burnett had already “caused himself to be shut up of his own accord, which was very handsome.”

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

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