The New Yorker

  • The Second Act of Social-Media Activism | The New Yorker

    Un article passionnant qui part des analyses de Zeynep Tufekci pour les reconsidérer à partir des mouvements plus récents.

    Some of this story may seem familiar. In “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest,” from 2017, the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci examined how a “digitally networked public sphere” had come to shape social movements. Tufekci drew on her own experience of the 2011 Arab uprisings, whose early mobilization of social media set the stage for the protests at Gezi Park, in Istanbul, the Occupy action, in New York City, and the Black Lives Matter movement, in Ferguson. For Tufekci, the use of the Internet linked these various, decentralized uprisings and distinguished them from predecessors such as the nineteen-sixties civil-rights movement. Whereas “older movements had to build their organizing capacity first,” Tufekci argued, “modern networked movements can scale up quickly and take care of all sorts of logistical tasks without building any substantial organizational capacity before the first protest or march.”

    The speed afforded by such protest is, however, as much its peril as its promise. After a swift expansion, spontaneous movements are often prone to what Tufekci calls “tactical freezes.” Because they are often leaderless, and can lack “both the culture and the infrastructure for making collective decisions,” they are left with little room to adjust strategies or negotiate demands. At a more fundamental level, social media’s corporate infrastructure makes such movements vulnerable to coöptation and censorship. Tufekci is clear-eyed about these pitfalls, even as she rejects the broader criticisms of “slacktivism” laid out, for example, by Evgeny Morozov’s “The Net Delusion,” from 2011.

    “Twitter and Tear Gas” remains trenchant about how social media can and cannot enact reform. But movements change, as does technology. Since Tufekci’s book was published, social media has helped represent—and, in some cases, helped organize—the Arab Spring 2.0, France’s “Yellow Vest” movement, Puerto Rico’s RickyLeaks, the 2019 Iranian protests, the Hong Kong protests, and what we might call the B.L.M. uprising of 2020. This last event, still ongoing, has evinced a scale, creativity, and endurance that challenges those skeptical of the Internet’s ability to mediate a movement. As Tufekci notes in her book, the real-world effects of Occupy, the Women’s March, and even Ferguson-era B.L.M. were often underwhelming. By contrast, since George Floyd’s death, cities have cut billions of dollars from police budgets; school districts have severed ties with police; multiple police-reform-and-accountability bills have been introduced in Congress; and cities like Minneapolis have vowed to defund policing. Plenty of work remains, but the link between activism, the Internet, and material action seems to have deepened. What’s changed?

    The current uprisings slot neatly into Tufekci’s story, with one exception. As the flurry of digital activism continues, there is no sense that this movement is unclear about its aims—abolition—or that it might collapse under a tactical freeze. Instead, the many protest guides, syllabi, Webinars, and the like have made clear both the objectives of abolition and the digital savvy of abolitionists. It is a message so legible that even Fox News grasped it with relative ease. Rachel Kuo, an organizer and scholar of digital activism, told me that this clarity has been shaped partly by organizers who increasingly rely on “a combination of digital platforms, whether that’s Google Drive, Signal, Messenger, Slack, or other combinations of software, for collaboration, information storage, resource access, and daily communications.” The public tends to focus, understandably, on the profusion of hashtags and sleek graphics, but Kuo stressed that it was this “back end” work—an inventory of knowledge, a stronger sense of alliance—that has allowed digital activism to “reflect broader concerns and visions around community safety, accessibility, and accountability.” The uprisings might have unfolded organically, but what has sustained them is precisely what many prior networked protests lacked: preëxisting organizations with specific demands for a better world.

    What’s distinct about the current movement is not just the clarity of its messaging, but its ability to convey that message through so much noise. On June 2nd, the music industry launched #BlackoutTuesday, an action against police brutality that involved, among other things, Instagram and Facebook users posting plain black boxes to their accounts. The posts often included the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter; almost immediately, social-media users were inundated with even more posts, which explained why using that hashtag drowned out crucial information about events and resources with a sea of mute boxes. For Meredith Clark, a media-studies professor at the University of Virginia, the response illustrated how the B.L.M. movement had honed its ability to stick to a program, and to correct those who deployed that program naïvely. In 2014, many people had only a thin sense of how a hashtag could organize actions or establish circles of care. Today, “people understand what it means to use a hashtag,” Clark told me. They use “their own social media in a certain way to essentially quiet background noise” and “allow those voices that need to connect with each other the space to do so.” The #BlackoutTuesday affair exemplified an increasing awareness of how digital tactics have material consequences.

    These networks suggest that digital activism has entered a second act, in which the tools of the Internet have been increasingly integrated into the hard-won structure of older movements. Though, as networked protest grows in scale and popularity, it still risks being hijacked by the mainstream. Any urgent circulation of information—the same memes filtering through your Instagram stories, the same looping images retweeted into your timeline—can be numbing, and any shift in the Overton window means that hegemony drifts with it.

    In “Twitter and Tear Gas,” Tufekci wrote, “The Black Lives Matter movement is young, and how it will develop further capacities remains to be seen.” The movement is older now. It has developed its tactics, its messaging, its reach—but perhaps its most striking new capacity is a sharper recognition of social media’s limits. “This movement has mastered what social media is good for,” Deva Woodly, a professor of politics at the New School, told me. “And that’s basically the meme: it’s the headline.” Those memes, Woodley said, help “codify the message” that leads to broader, deeper conversations offline, which, in turn, build on a long history of radical pedagogy. As more and more of us join those conversations, prompted by the words and images we see on our screens, it’s clear that the revolution will not be tweeted—at least, not entirely.

    #Activisme_connecté #Black_lives_matter #Zeynep_Tufekci #Mèmes #Hashtag_movments #Médias_sociaux

  • Was E-mail a Mistake? | The New Yorker

    The problem is that some of the computers might crash. If that happens, the rest of the group will end up waiting forever to hear from peers that are no longer operating. In a synchronous system, this issue is easily sidestepped: if you don’t hear from a machine fast enough, you can assume that it has crashed and ignore it going forward. In asynchronous systems, these failures are more problematic. It’s difficult to differentiate between a computer that’s crashed and one that’s delayed. At first, to the engineers who studied this problem, it seemed obvious that, instead of waiting to learn the preference of every machine, one could just wait to hear from most of them. And yet, to the surprise of many people in the field, in a 1985 paper, three computer scientists—Michael Fischer, Nancy Lynch (my doctoral adviser), and Michael Paterson—proved, through a virtuosic display of mathematical logic, that, in an asynchronous system, no distributed algorithm could guarantee that a consensus would be reached, even if only a single computer crashed.

    A major implication of research into distributed systems is that, without synchrony, such systems are just too hard for the average programmer to tame. It turns out that asynchrony makes coördination so complicated that it’s almost always worth paying the price required to introduce at least some synchronization. In fact, the fight against asynchrony has played a crucial role in the rise of the Internet age, enabling, among other innovations, huge data centers run by such companies as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, and fault-tolerant distributed databases that reliably process millions of credit-card transactions each day. In 2013, Leslie Lamport, a major figure in the field of distributed systems, was awarded the A. M. Turing Award—the highest distinction in computer science—for his work on algorithms that help synchronize distributed systems. It’s an irony in the history of technology that the development of synchronous distributed computer systems has been used to create a communication style in which we are always out of synch.

    Anyone who works in a standard office environment has firsthand experience with the problems that followed the enthusiastic embrace of asynchronous communication. As the distributed-system theorists discovered, shifting away from synchronous interaction makes coördination more complex. The dream of replacing the quick phone call with an even quicker e-mail message didn’t come to fruition; instead, what once could have been resolved in a few minutes on the phone now takes a dozen back-and-forth messages to sort out. With larger groups of people, this increased complexity becomes even more notable. Is an unresponsive colleague just delayed, or is she completely checked out? When has consensus been reached in a group e-mail exchange? Are you, the e-mail recipient, required to respond, or can you stay silent without holding up the decision-making process? Was your point properly understood, or do you now need to clarify with a follow-up message? Office workers pondering these puzzles—the real-life analogues of the theory of distributed systems—now dedicate an increasing amount of time to managing a growing number of never-ending interactions.

    Last year, the software company RescueTime gathered and aggregated anonymized computer-usage logs from tens of thousands of people. When its data scientists crunched the numbers, they found that, on average, users were checking e-mail or instant-messenger services like Slack once every six minutes. Not long before, a team led by Gloria Mark, the U.C. Irvine professor, had installed similar logging software on the computers of employees at a large corporation; the study found that the employees checked their in-boxes an average of seventy-seven times a day. Although we shifted toward asynchronous communication so that we could stop wasting time playing phone tag or arranging meetings, communicating in the workplace had become more onerous than it used to be. Work has become something we do in the small slivers of time that remain amid our Sisyphean skirmishes with our in-boxes.

    There’s nothing intrinsically bad about e-mail as a tool. In situations where asynchronous communication is clearly preferable—broadcasting an announcement, say, or delivering a document—e-mails are superior to messengered printouts. The difficulties start when we try to undertake collaborative projects—planning events, developing strategies—asynchronously. In those cases, communication becomes drawn out, even interminable. Both workplace experience and the theory of distributed systems show that, for non-trivial coördination, synchrony usually works better. This doesn’t mean that we should turn back the clock, re-creating the mid-century workplace, with its endlessly ringing phones. The right lesson to draw from distributed-system theory is that useful synchrony often requires structure. For computer scientists, this structure takes the form of smart distributed algorithms. For managers, it takes the form of smarter business processes.

    #Mail #Communication_asynchrone #Management #Culture_numérique

  • The Climate Expert Who Delivered News No One Wanted to Hear | The New Yorker

    Hansen, who is sixty-eight, has greenish eyes, sparse brown hair, and the distracted manner of a man who’s just lost his wallet. (In fact, he frequently misplaces things, including, on occasion, his car.) Thirty years ago, he created one of the world’s first climate models, nicknamed Model Zero, which he used to predict most of what has happened to the climate since. Sometimes he is referred to as the “father of global warming,” and sometimes as the grandfather.

    Hansen has now concluded, partly on the basis of his latest modelling efforts and partly on the basis of observations made by other scientists, that the threat of global warming is far greater than even he had suspected. Carbon dioxide isn’t just approaching dangerous levels; it is already there. Unless immediate action is taken—including the shutdown of all the world’s coal plants within the next two decades—the planet will be committed to change on a scale society won’t be able to cope with. “This particular problem has become an emergency,” Hansen said.

    Hansen’s revised calculations have prompted him to engage in activities—like marching on Washington—that aging government scientists don’t usually go in for. Last September, he travelled to England to testify on behalf of anti-coal activists who were arrested while climbing the smokestack of a power station to spray-paint a message to the Prime Minister. (They were acquitted.) Speaking before a congressional special committee last year, Hansen asserted that fossil-fuel companies were knowingly spreading misinformation about global warming and that their chairmen “should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.” He has compared freight trains carrying coal to “death trains,” and wrote to the head of the National Mining Association, who sent him a letter of complaint, that if the comparison “makes you uncomfortable, well, perhaps it should.”

    Hansen insists that his intent is not to be provocative but conservative: his only aim is to preserve the world as we know it. “The science is clear,” he said, when it was his turn to address the protesters blocking the entrance to the Capitol Power Plant. “This is our one chance.”

    When Hansen began his modelling work, there were good theoretical reasons for believing that increasing CO2 levels would cause the world to warm, but little empirical evidence. Average global temperatures had risen in the nineteen-thirties and forties; then they had declined, in some regions, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties. A few years into his project, Hansen concluded that a new pattern was about to emerge. In 1981, he became the director of GISS. In a paper published that year in Science, he forecast that the following decade would be unusually warm. (That turned out to be the case.) In the same paper, he predicted that the nineteen-nineties would be warmer still. (That also turned out to be true.) Finally, he forecast that by the end of the twentieth century a global-warming signal would emerge from the “noise” of natural climate variability. (This, too, proved to be correct.)

    Throughout the nineteen-eighties and nineties, the evidence of climate change—and its potential hazards—continued to grow. Hansen kept expecting the political system to respond. This, after all, was what had happened with the ozone problem. Proof that chlorofluorocarbons were destroying the ozone layer came in 1985, when British scientists discovered that an ozone “hole” had opened up over Antarctica. The crisis was resolved—or, at least, prevented from growing worse—by an international treaty phasing out chlorofluorocarbons which was ratified in 1987.

    “At first, Jim’s work didn’t take an activist bent at all,” the writer Bill McKibben, who has followed Hansen’s career for more than twenty years and helped organize the anti-coal protest in D.C., told me. “I think he thought, as did I, If we get this set of facts out in front of everybody, they’re so powerful—overwhelming—that people will do what needs to be done. Of course, that was naïve on both our parts.”

    What is now happening, Hansen explained to the group in New Hampshire, is that climate history is being run in reverse and at high speed, like a cassette tape on rewind. Carbon dioxide is being pumped into the air some ten thousand times faster than natural weathering processes can remove it.

    “So humans now are in charge of atmospheric composition,” Hansen said. Then he corrected himself: “Well, we’re determining it, whether we’re in charge or not.”

    Among the many risks of running the system backward is that the ice sheets formed on the way forward will start to disintegrate. Once it begins, this process is likely to be self-reinforcing. “If we burn all the fossil fuels and put all that CO2 into the atmosphere, we will be sending the planet back to the ice-free state,” Hansen said. “It will take a while to get there—ice sheets don’t melt instantaneously—but that’s what we will be doing. And if you melt all the ice, sea levels will go up two hundred and fifty feet. So you can’t do that without producing a different planet.”

    Once you accept that CO2 levels are already too high, it’s obvious, Hansen argues, what needs to be done. He displayed a chart of known fossil-fuel reserves represented in terms of their carbon content. There was a short bar for oil, a shorter bar for natural gas, and a tall bar for coal.

    “We’ve already used about half of the oil,” he observed. “And we’re going to use all of the oil and natural gas that’s easily available. It’s owned by Russia and Saudi Arabia, and we can’t tell them not to sell it. So, if you look at the size of these fossil-fuel reservoirs, it becomes very clear. The only way we can constrain the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to cut off the coal source, by saying either we will leave the coal in the ground or we will burn it only at power plants that actually capture the CO2.” Such power plants are often referred to as “clean coal plants.” Although there has been a great deal of talk about them lately, at this point there are no clean-coal plants in commercial operation, and, for a combination of technological and economic reasons, it’s not clear that there ever will be.

    Hansen continued, “If we had a moratorium on any new coal plants and phased out existing ones over the next twenty years, we could get back to three hundred and fifty parts per million within several decades.” Reforestation, for example, if practiced on a massive scale, could begin to draw global CO2 levels down, Hansen says, “so it’s technically feasible.” But “it requires us to take action promptly.”

    “In nearly all areas, the developments are occurring more quickly than had been assumed,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the head of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, recently observed. “We are on our way to a destabilization of the world climate that has advanced much further than most people or their governments realize.”

    Scientifiques et responsablité : une véritable question à dépasser. Si on se limite à ce qui est « acceptable politiquement », est-on encore un scientifique quand la réalité de l’évolution de la planète est en jeu ? C’est à ce moment là qu’on devient un sciento-politique conservateur. La « communauté scientifique » a peur de son ombre, et pas seulement dans ce domaine. Hansen a raison de dire les conséquences politiques de ce que son travail scientifique lui a permis de découvrir.

    But if Hansen’s anxieties about D.A.I. and coal are broadly shared, he is still, among climate scientists, an outlier. “Almost everyone in the scientific community is prepared to say that if we don’t do something now to reverse the direction we’re going in we either already are or will very, very soon be in the danger zone,” Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science and a provost at the University of California at San Diego, told me. “But Hansen talks in stronger terms. He’s using adjectives. He has started to speak in moral terms, and that always makes scientists uncomfortable.”

    Hansen is also increasingly isolated among climate activists. “I view Jim Hansen as heroic as a scientist,” Eileen Claussen, the president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said. “He was there at the beginning, he’s faced all kinds of pressures politically, and he’s done a terrific job, I think, of keeping focussed. But I wish he would stick to what he really knows. Because I don’t think he has a realistic view of what is politically possible, or what the best policies would be to deal with this problem.”

    #Climat #Jim_Hansen #Science_et_politique

  • Up and Then Down | The New Yorker

    Two things make tall buildings possible: the steel frame and the safety elevator. The elevator, underrated and overlooked, is to the city what paper is to reading and gunpowder is to war. Without the elevator, there would be no verticality, no density, and, without these, none of the urban advantages of energy efficiency, economic productivity, and cultural ferment. The population of the earth would ooze out over its surface, like an oil slick, and we would spend even more time stuck in traffic or on trains, traversing a vast carapace of concrete. And the elevator is energy-efficient—the counterweight does a great deal of the work, and the new systems these days regenerate electricity. The elevator is a hybrid, by design.

    While anthems have been written to jet travel, locomotives, and the lure of the open road, the poetry of vertical transportation is scant. What is there to say, besides that it goes up and down? In “The Intuitionist,” Colson Whitehead’s novel about elevator inspectors, the conveyance itself is more conceit than thing; the plot concerns, among other things, the quest for a “black box,” a perfect elevator, but the nature of its perfection remains mysterious. Onscreen, there has been “The Shaft” (“Your next stop . . . is hell”), a movie about a deadly malfunctioning elevator system in a Manhattan tower, which had the misfortune of coming out the Friday before September 11th, and a scattering of inaccurate set pieces in action movies, such as “Speed.” (There are no ladders or lights in most shafts.) Movies and television programs, such as “Boston Legal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” often rely on the elevator to bring characters together, as a kind of artificial enforcement of proximity and conversation. The brevity of the ride suits the need for a stretch of witty or portentous dialogue, for stolen kisses and furtive arguments. For some people, the elevator ride is a social life.

    #ascenseur #verticalité #densité #urban_matters #ville

    • Plus sûrs que des escalateurs (?).

      Statistics are elusive (“Nobody collects them,” Edward Donoghue, the managing director of the trade organization National Elevator Industry, said), but the claim, routinely advanced by elevator professionals, that elevators are ten times as safe as escalators seems to arise from fifteen-year-old numbers showing that, while there are roughly twenty times as many elevators as escalators, there are only a third more elevator accidents. An average of twenty-six people die in (or on) elevators in the United States every year, but most of these are people being paid to work on them. That may still seem like a lot, until you consider that that many die in automobiles every five hours. In New York City, home to fifty-eight thousand elevators, there are eleven billion elevator trips a year—thirty million every day—and yet hardly more than two dozen passengers get banged up enough to seek medical attention. The Otis Elevator Company, the world’s oldest and biggest elevator manufacturer, claims that its products carry the equivalent of the world’s population every five days.

    • There are two basic elevatoring metrics. One is handling capacity: your aim is to carry a certain percentage of the building’s population in five minutes. Thirteen per cent is a good target. The other is the interval, or frequency of service: the average round-trip time of one elevator, divided by the number of elevators. In an American office building, you want the interval to be below thirty seconds, and the average waiting time to be about sixty per cent of that. Any longer, and people get upset. In a residential building or a hotel, the tolerance goes up, but only by ten or twenty seconds. In the nineteen-sixties, many builders cheated a little—accepting, say, a thirty-four-second interval, and 11.5 per cent handling capacity—and came to regret it. Generally, England is over-elevatored; India is under-elevatored.


  • The Walkman, Forty Years On | The New Yorker

    Even prior to extended quarantines, lockdowns, and self-isolation, it was hard to imagine life without the electronic escapes of noise-cancelling earbuds, smartphones, and tablets. Today, it seems impossible. Of course, there was most certainly a before and after, a point around which the cultural gravity of our plugged-in-yet-tuned-out modern lives shifted. Its name is Walkman, and it was invented, in Japan, in 1979. After the Walkman arrived on American shores, in June of 1980, under the temporary name of Soundabout, our days would never be the same.

    Up to this point, music was primarily a shared experience: families huddling around furniture-sized Philcos; teens blasting tunes from automobiles or sock-hopping to transistor radios; the bar-room juke; break-dancers popping and locking to the sonic backdrop of a boom box. After the Walkman, music could be silence to all but the listener, cocooned within a personal soundscape, which spooled on analog cassette tape. The effect was shocking even to its creators. “Everyone knows what headphones sound like today,” the late Sony designer Yasuo Kuroki wrote in a Japanese-language memoir, from 1990. “But at the time, you couldn’t even imagine it, and then suddenly Beethoven’s Fifth is hammering between your ears.”

    Sony’s chairman at the time, the genial Akio Morita, was so unsure of the device’s prospects that he ordered a manufacturing run of only thirty thousand, a drop in the bucket compared to such established lines as Trinitron televisions. Initially, he seemed right to be cautious. The Walkman débuted in Japan to near silence. But word quickly spread among the youth of Tokyo about a strange new device that let you carry a soundtrack out of your bedroom, onto commuter trains, and into city streets. Within a year and a half of the appearance of the Walkman, Sony would produce and sell two million of them.

    for the Walkman’s growing numbers of users, isolation was the whole point. “With the advent of the Sony Walkman came the end of meeting people,” Susan Blond, a vice-president at CBS Records, told the Washington Post in 1981. “It’s like a drug: You put the Walkman on and you blot out the rest of the world.” It didn’t take long for academics to coin a term for the phenomenon. The musicologist Shuhei Hosokawa called it “the Walkman effect.”

    There had been popular electronic gadgets before, such as the pocket-sized transistor radios of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. But the Walkman was in another league. Until this point, earphones had been associated with hearing impairment, geeky technicians manning sonar stations, or basement-dwelling hi-fi fanatics. Somehow, a Japanese company had made the high-tech headgear cool.

    “Steve’s point of reference was Sony at the time,” his successor at Apple, John Sculley, recalled. “He really wanted to be Sony. He didn’t want to be IBM. He didn’t want to be Microsoft. He wanted to be Sony.”

    Jobs would get his wish with the début of the iPod, in 2001. It wasn’t the first digital-music player—a South Korean firm had introduced one back in 1998. (That Sony failed to exploit the niche, in spite of having created listening-on-the-go and even owning its own record label, was a testament to how Morita’s unexpected retirement after a stroke, in 1993, hobbled the corporation.) But Apple’s was the most stylish to date, bereft of the complicated and button-festooned interfaces of its competitors, finished in sleek pearlescent plastic and with a satisfying heft that hinted at powerful technologies churning inside. Apple also introduced a tantalizing new method of serving up music: the shuffle, which let listeners remix entire musical libraries into never-ending audio backdrops for their lives. Once again, city streets were the proving ground for this evolution of portable listening technology. “I was on Madison [Ave],” Jobs told Newsweek, in 2004, “and it was, like, on every block, there was someone with white headphones, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, it’s starting to happen.’ ”

    #Walkman #Sony #Steve_Jobs #Musique #Isolement

  • The Lancet Editor’s Wild Ride Through the Coronavirus Pandemic | The New Yorker

    I spoke to Horton on Zoom at his home, in Muswell Hill, in North London, where he has been since March 23rd, when Johnson announced Britain’s lockdown. Because of his health, Horton has scarcely left the property. He sat at a garden table, wearing a dark T-shirt, in the shade of a deep-red umbrella. The leaves of a large bush framed an empty summer sky. I asked Horton to describe editing The Lancet during the pandemic. “We’ve been deluged with research papers and communications from all over the world,” he said. Submissions to the journal are currently running at four or five times the usual rate; Horton and the editorial team reject about ninety-five per cent of them. “My constant anxiety is, Have we let something go that could be really important?” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where so much knowledge has been produced in such a short space of time.” He and the journal have struggled to cope. “I don’t think we’ve had the capacity easily to deal with it, and that has stretched all of us,” Horton said. “Inevitably, in moments like that, you get very, very anxious about mistakes.”

    On May 22nd, The Lancet published a striking paper about hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug touted, and taken, by President Trump, as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Unlike other studies, which had merely questioned the drug’s effectiveness, The Lancet article claimed that the use of hydroxychloroquine carried a greater risk of heart arrhythmia and death. The paper’s stark conclusions and huge sample size—it purported to use data from 96,032 patients on six continents—halted hydroxychloroquine trials around the world. But, within days, reporters and public-health experts noticed anomalies in the study’s data set, which was provided by Surgisphere, a small tech company outside Chicago. Surgisphere supplied almost real-time “cloud-based health-care data” from 4,402 COVID-19 patients in Africa, which other researchers found improbable. It overstated the number of deaths from the disease in Australia. Thirteen days after the paper was published, The Lancet retracted it. An hour later, The New England Journal of Medicine, the world’s other preëminent medical journal, also retracted a COVID-19 study that relied on Surgisphere data.

    Horton described the episode as “a monumental fraud.” (On June 3rd, Sapan Desai, the chief executive of Surgisphere, told the Guardian that there was “a fundamental misunderstanding about what our system is and how it works.”) Horton said that something like this happens every few years. “In some ways, this is normal science,” he said. “Science is not immune to having bad people. There are bad people in society, and there are bad people in science. Science is very vulnerable to deceit. . . . When somebody submits a paper to The Lancet, the first thing I think is not, Do I need to consider research misconduct?” He acknowledged the political appeal of the hydroxychloroquine study, in light of Trump’s remarks. “It certainly excited our editors and peer reviewers about the possibility of answering that question,” Horton said. “And we all made a collective error, and that collective mistake was to believe what we were being told.”

    Over the years, Horton’s politics have come to be expressed in studies that The Lancet has chosen to publish. He told me that he chose to make “reparations” for the Wakefield paper with a focus on child and adolescent health. Last year, Horton received the Roux Prize, an award that comes with a hundred thousand dollars, for his contributions to population health.

    But there have been plenty of scrapes. In 2006, three weeks before the U.S. midterm elections, The Lancet published a paper claiming that there had been six hundred and fifty thousand excess deaths as a result of the invasion of Iraq, a much higher figure than most estimates. Horton has been a severe critic of Israel. In 2014, he printed “An Open Letter for the People of Gaza,” signed by twenty-nine Palestinian doctors and scientists, which was widely seen as simplistic and one-sided. Horton backs the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion, which stages acts of civil disobedience around the world. In February, quoting extensively from President Trump’s State of the Union address, Horton launched Lancet Migration, a project to improve the health of migrants and oppose the rise of populism, “which is fuelling racism, xenophobia, and hate.” There can be an all-encompassing quality to Horton’s activism. He questions the business of scientific publishing itself, including the all-important “impact factor,” which preserves the dominance of journals such as his own. “We aid and abet the worst behaviours,” Horton wrote in a Lancet editorial, in 2015. “Our love of ‘significance’ pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations.”

    During the pandemic, Horton has sought to merge almost entirely the scientific mission of The Lancet with a political purpose, while allowing each side to proceed by a different method. “One part of that story, we’re trying to deal with it in as objective a way as possible, and make judgments only about the science,” he told me. “But, at the same time, we’re trying to constantly assess and arrive at some preliminary conclusion or verdict about the political response. And that is obviously not objective. That is clearly political and requires a subjective and often deeply emotional response.”

    #Covid #The_Lancet #Richard_Horton

  • Bob Dylan’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways” Hits Hard | The New Yorker

    few weeks into quarantine, time became liquid. All the usual markers and routines—waking up and lurching down the block to buy a cup of coffee, dressing carefully for a work meeting, corralling friends for karaoke on a Sunday afternoon—were nullified, and the days assumed a soft, amorphous quality. Then, at midnight on a Friday, Bob Dylan suddenly released “Murder Most Foul,” an elegiac, thickset, nearly seventeen-minute song ostensibly about the assassination of J.F.K., but so laden with cultural allusions that it somehow felt even bigger than that. It was the first piece of original music Dylan had released since his album “Tempest,” in 2012, and, on first listen, I found the song surreal. It went on forever; it was over before I knew it. The instrumentation (piano, bowed bass, faint percussion) is hazy and diffuse. Dylan’s vocal phrasing, always careful, felt particularly mesmeric. Rub-a-dub-dub, Altamont, Deep Ellum, Patsy Cline, Air Force One, Thelonious Monk, Bugsy Siegel, Pretty Boy Floyd. What day was it? What year?

    Two months later, “Murder Most Foul” hits different: “We’re gonna kill you with hatred / Without any respect / We’ll mock you and shock you / And we’ll put it in your face,” Dylan sings in the song’s first verse. His voice is withering. “It’s a Murder. Most. Foul.” Dylan has spent decades seeing and chronicling American injustice. Forty-four years ago, on “Hurricane,” he sang frankly about police brutality: “If you’re black, you might as well not show up on the street / ’Less you want to draw the heat.”

    This week, Dylan will release “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” a gruesome, crowded, marauding album that feels unusually attuned to its moment. Unlike many artists who reacted to the pandemic with a kind of dutiful tenderness—“Let me help with my song!”—Dylan has decided not to offer comfort, nor to hint at some vague solidarity. Lyrically, he’s either cracking weird jokes (“I’ll take the ‘Scarface’ Pacino and the ‘Godfather’ Brando / Mix ’em up in a tank and get a robot commando”) or operating in a cold, disdainful, it-ain’t-me-babe mode. Dylan’s musicianship is often undersold by critics, but on “Rough and Rowdy Ways” it’s especially difficult to focus on anything other than his voice; at seventy-nine, he sounds warmed up and self-assured. There are moments when he appears to be chewing on his own mortality—he recently told the Times that he thinks about death “in general terms, not in a personal way”—but mostly he sounds elegant and steady, a vocal grace he might have acquired while recording all those standards. “Three miles north of Purgatory, one step from the great beyond,” he sings calmly on “Crossing the Rubicon.”
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    It’s sometimes hard to think of Dylan doing normal, vulnerable things like falling in love, though he sings about heartache—his compulsion toward it, his indulgence of its wounds—constantly. My favorite track on “Rough and Rowdy Ways” is “I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You,” a gentle ballad about deliberately resigning oneself to love and its demands. It’s not the album’s richest or most complicated song—“Key West (Philosopher Pirate)” is Shakespearean—but I’ve been listening to it constantly, mostly for its evocation of a certain kind of golden-hour melancholy. Imagine sitting on a porch or on the front steps of an apartment building, nursing a big drink in a stupid glass, and reluctantly accepting your fate: “Been thinking it all over / And I thought it all through / I’ve made up my mind / To give myself to you.” It’s not quite romantic, but, then again, neither is love. The song’s emotional climax comes less than halfway through, when Dylan announces, “From Salt Lake City to Birmingham / From East L.A. to San Antone / I don’t think I could bear to live my life alone!” Ever so briefly, his voice goes feral.

    Dylan is a voracious student of United States history—he can, and often does, itemize the various atrocities that have been committed in service to country—and “Rough and Rowdy Ways” could be understood as a glib summation of America’s outlaw origins, and of the confused, dangerous, and often haphazard way that we preserve democracy. He seems to understand instinctively that American history is not a series of fixed points but an unmoored and constantly evolving idea that needs to be reëstablished each day—things don’t happen once and then stop happening. In this sense, linear time becomes an invention; every moment is this moment. This is why, on “Murder Most Foul,” Buster Keaton and Dickey Betts and the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks and the Birdman of Alcatraz can coexist, harmoniously, in a single verse. That Dylan named another dense, allusive song on the album, “I Contain Multitudes,” after a much-quoted stanza from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”—“Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”—also seems to indicate some reckoning with the vastness and immediacy of American culture. (Dylan’s interests are so wonderfully obtuse and far-ranging that it’s sometimes hard to discern precisely what he’s referring to: Is the “Cry Me a River” that he mentions on “Murder Most Foul” a reference to the jazz standard made famous by the actress Julie London, in 1955, or to the dark, cluttered revenge jam that Justin Timberlake supposedly wrote about Britney Spears, in 2002? My money is on the latter.)

    Now thirty-nine albums in, it’s tempting to dismiss Dylan as sepia-toned—a professor emeritus, a museum piece, a Nobel laureate coasting through his sunset years, the mouthpiece of some bygone generation but certainly not this one. (It’s hard, admittedly, to imagine bars of “I Contain Multitudes” finding viral purchase on TikTok.) The sheer volume of writing about his life and music suggests a completed arc, which makes it easy to presume that there’s nothing useful, interesting, or pertinent left to say. Yet, for me, Dylan’s vast and intersectional understanding of the American mythos feels so plainly and uniquely relevant to the grimness and magnitude of these past few months. As the country attempts to metabolize the murder of George Floyd, it is also attempting to reckon with every crooked, brutal, odious, or unjust murder of a black person—to understand a cycle that began centuries ago and somehow continues apace. What is American racism? It’s everything, Dylan insists. Indiana Jones and J.F.K. and Elvis Presley and Jimmy Reed—nothing exists without the rest of it. None of us are absolved, and none of us are spared.
    Amanda Petrusich is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.”

    #Bob_Dylan #Music

  • Bernie Sanders Is Not Done Fighting | The New Yorker

    Longer-term, obviously, what I am trying to do is to bring people together to defeat Trump and to elect Biden. It is no great secret that Joe Biden and I have very serious political differences, but, at this particular moment in history, what is most important is to defeat Trump, who, as you implied a moment ago, is literally a threat to American democracy, and is moving this country not only in a dangerous way but in an authoritarian way, as well. Trump has got to be defeated and, in a variety of ways, I intend to play an active role in that process.

    Thirdly, it is not good enough just to elect Joe Biden. We’ve got to continue the movement in this country for transformative change, and to understand that we are way, way, way behind many other industrialized countries in providing for the needs of working families. So the fight continues for a Medicare for All single-payer program, and that becomes especially obvious when you have seen in recent months millions of people losing their jobs. They’re also losing their health care because, under our system, health care is an employee benefit not a human right. So I’m going to continue that fight, and, no question, we are gaining momentum at the grass roots. And on and on it goes.

    I think one of the myths that is being exploited right now is that I hear my Republican colleagues talk about, Well, you know, yes, this pandemic has been devastating, but, a few months ago, we had this great economy. This really great economy. I don’t know how you have this “great economy” when half of your people are living paycheck to paycheck. And what we are seeing right now, the great economic message of today, is that, when you live paycheck to paycheck and you miss a few paychecks, a few weeks of work, your family is suddenly now in economic desperation. Literally. Struggling to put food on the table and pay the rent.

    So we’ve got to rethink. If there is anything that I hope we achieve in the midst of this unprecedented moment in American history, it’s that we use this moment to rethink, as I have said before, some of the basic tenets and institutions of American society, and learn from this pandemic and economic collapse so that we move this country in a very, very different direction.

    Oh, obviously, I support what Chomsky is saying. It is very easy for somebody to stand up and say, truthfully, “I disagree with what Joe Biden stands for, his politics are much too conservative.” I get that. I share that view. But not to understand what it would mean to this country, and to our children and to our grandchildren—I have seven grandchildren—and what it will mean to this planet in terms of climate change if Trump is reëlected is, to me, to miss the most important point that has to be made. Trump cannot be reëlected. And what we have got to do, if you are unhappy with Biden’s politics, if you disagree with Biden’s politics—and I certainly do—then the fight has got to take place, starting today, to make sure that he moves in as progressive a way as possible, that his Administration is as progressive as possible.

    That’s what our task is. It is not to allow Donald Trump to be reëlected and to see the destruction of American democracy and the destruction of this planet.

    I think everybody knows that the police murder of George Floyd is part of a very, very long pattern, and, because of groups like Black Lives Matter and the A.C.L.U. and others, we have been discussing those murders a lot more in recent years than we have in the past, when it was really quite common practice. So this has gone on for decades, and I think the major transformation that’s coming now is a result of cell phones and video cameras. People are seeing what’s actually happening, which was not the case decades ago. But this has gone on, and it’s got to end.

    Question : In that letter to Schumer, you got some pushback from some of your supporters for a proposal to give better resources to police departments. [The letter argued for “ensuring that the resources are available to pay wages that will attract the top tier officers.”] The criticism was that a lot of people in the progressive movement now are calling for defunding or abolishing the police. Do you—

    Do I think we should not have police departments in America? No, I don’t. There’s no city in the world that does not have police departments. What you need are—I didn’t call for more money for police departments. I called for police departments that have well-educated, well-trained, well-paid professionals. And, too often around this country right now, you have police officers who take the job at very low payment, don’t have much education, don’t have much training—and I want to change that. I also called for the transformation of police departments into—understanding that many police departments and cops deal every day with issues of mental illness, deal with issues of addiction, and all kinds of issues which should be dealt with by mental-health professionals or others, and not just by police officers.

    I think we want to redefine what police departments do, give them the support they need to make their jobs better defined. So I do believe that we need well-trained, well-educated, and well-paid professionals in police departments. Anyone who thinks that we should abolish all police departments in America, I don’t agree.

    I have done more live-streamed town meetings on Medicare for All than all of corporate television has done. We have done two or three wonderful panel discussions viewed by millions of people on why we need to move to Medicare for All. That’s more than CBS has done, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN. They don’t do it. How many programs have we seen about income and wealth inequality and the morality of three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society? You don’t see it. So it’s not what they did to my campaign. Of course, I knew that that was going to happen. They came up with every line that they could. One of them was, Bernie can’t beat Trump, which, I thought then, and I think now, we were probably in the strongest position to beat Trump. Or, Bernie’s this, or Bernie’s that, or whatever—“Bernie bros”—whatever the line was. Nothing surprised me. We knew that that would happen. We knew that our Medicare for All proposal would be opposed by the health-care industry, and they and others spent millions of dollars in super-PACs lying about what I’m trying to do. Did that surprise me? No. Did the role of MSNBC or the media in general surprise me? No, it didn’t. That is the establishment that we have taken on, and that is why we have worked so hard to try to build an alternative media. I’m proud of the fact that we have a lot more viewers and followers on social media and live streams than many other Democrats do. But we worked hard at that, and we do that because I believe strongly that we need an alternative vehicle, an alternative media, to talk about the ideas that impact working society, because it’s very naïve to believe that the corporate media will do that.

    We planted very powerful seeds, and those seeds are going to grow, and you’re seeing them out on the streets of America today. So I say to people who have been supportive of my campaigns that the fight has just begun, and, as I mentioned when I suspended the campaign, the campaign ends, but the struggle continues. And anybody who knows anything about history—whether it’s workers’ rights, whether it’s civil rights, whether it’s women’s rights, whether it’s gay rights, whether it’s environmental rights—understands that change does not happen overnight. It really does not. It changes when political consciousness changes; it changes when millions of people get involved in the process and take to the streets. That’s how change takes place. And we are in the moment when I believe that in fact is going to happen.

    #Bernie_Sanders #Politique_USA

  • Seoul’s Radical Experiment in Digital Contact Tracing | The New Yorker

    Jung has also been candid about the trade-off inherent in these measures. Under the terms of South Korea’s Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act—passed after the 2015 MERS outbreak, during which the government’s withholding of critical information contributed to further transmissions and deaths—it is now required to publish information that can include infected people’s travel routes, the public transport they took, and the medical institutions that are treating them. As long as districts do not reveal the identities of confirmed patients, they have been free to decide levels of disclosure on their own. In a few instances, officials released enough information to make people with COVID-19 publicly identifiable, leading to cases of doxxing and online harassment. “Please don’t spread information about my identity,” one patient wrote on social media. “I’m so sorry to my friends and family that I’ve hurt, but more than the physical pain, it’s been very difficult mentally.” In February, a survey of a thousand people by researchers at Seoul National University found that respondents’ greatest fear about the disease was social stigmatization. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea issued a statement calling for stronger measures to protect individuals from being outed. Experts have also cautioned that over-disclosing can be counterproductive, as patients fearful of public censure may choose to hide instead of seeking treatment.

    Still, he said, somewhat cautiously, “I think we should try to disclose as much information as we can, rather than holding back.” For Song, this has meant including patients’ age and gender, their neighborhood of residence, and the names of businesses and apartment complexes they had visited, which he sees as a way of assuaging other residents’ anxieties. “What most people ultimately want to know is whether their activities overlapped with patient routes,” he explained. In Mapo, this has also boosted testing. “A lot of people come in after seeing the published patient routes, concerned that they might have been in the same place,” one of the doctors at the local testing center, just outside Song’s building, said.

    “It’s a double-edged sword,” Seong Han-bit, the thirty-six-year-old owner of Stance Coffee, a small, independent coffee shop in Seoul, told me. His café has nice lighting and copies of Kinfolk, the chic Danish magazine, at every table. On the morning of March 28th, Mapo’s Patient 15, a woman in her twenties, had briefly stopped by to order a drink. Song’s writeup for her, posted two days later, was unusually long. The woman had arrived at the airport—where she initially tested negative at a screening checkpoint—after visiting the United States. In Seoul, she had visited a cosmetics store, a fried-chicken joint, a hair salon, a post office, and multiple convenience stores and restaurants, before testing positive on March 29th. According to the report, she was believed to have caught the virus in America.

    On a popular local Facebook group, someone had written a post denouncing her for being so irresponsible. “Just die alone, why would you cause other people harm,” one member said. Another remarked that the patient should have been hit with a giant hospital bill in the United States. The original poster, perhaps sensing that this conversation was bringing out people’s worst impulses, locked the comments.

    On Monday, March 30th, after district officials fumigated Stance Coffee, and a major broadcaster mentioned the shop by name in a report about “re-imported” COVID-19 cases, Seong opened up his café. “Because I personally don’t keep up with patient routes, I assumed that other people wouldn’t either,” he said. “But, after the post went up yesterday, I felt it in my bones. From 5 P.M. to 11 P.M. that day, not a single customer showed up. I thought, ‘Ah, this really does have a big impact after all.’ ”

    Sitting in his now empty café, Seong had also received a string of interrogatory phone calls from customers, demanding to know things like whether the barista working on the day in question had since been self-isolating. In reality, Seong told me, Patient 15 had been in the store for only a minute or two while she waited for her order. The barista, who had been wearing a mask during his shift, had interacted with her for just a moment. “It would be nice if the detailed circumstances of the encounter were listed alongside the other information,” Seong said.

    When a patient tests positive here, Kim’s team retraces their movements based on their oral testimony, and then combs through relevant C.C.T.V. footage in order to locate others who might have been exposed. Restaurants, where people must take their masks off to eat, are the most common sites of exposure. “Say there’s someone who was within two metres of the patient at a restaurant, but we don’t know who that person is, except what they look like in the C.C.T.V. footage,” Kim said. “Then we ask the credit-card company to pull up that customer’s information and ask them to tell them to contact us.” That person is then put under monitored self-isolation for two weeks, using an app that tracks his phone to insure that he isn’t breaking quarantine.

    Behind this model of contact tracing is a vast surveillance apparatus expressly designed for such outbreak scenarios. Under South Korea’s Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, health authorities, with the approval of the police and other supervising agencies, can make use of cell-phone G.P.S. data, credit-card payment information, and travel and medical records. As of March 26th, the government has also officially launched the Epidemic Investigation Support System, a data-analysis platform that automates the process, allowing investigators to get clearance and pull up patient trajectories in under a minute. (Previously, the process took about a day.)

    Late last month, I experienced the outbreak-surveillance system for myself. Upon walking through the front door of Gachon University Gil Medical Center in Incheon, I was surrounded by a contingent of hospital workers wearing goggles, masks, face shields, and plastic gowns. After taking my temperature, a nurse asked me if I’d recently travelled to any high-risk areas. I said no. At the next checkpoint, another nurse took my driver’s license and entered my personal identification number into her computer, where a modified version of the Drug Utilization Review—a drug-prescription cross-referencing system widely used in South Korea—pulled up my travel history to check whether I was lying. I wasn’t, so I received a yellow sticker. Eom Joong-sik, an infectious-disease physician who is advising the government on COVID-19, was waiting at the end of the checkpoint.

    “This is one of the benefits of having a universal health-care system,” Eom told me, gesturing behind us. “When they enter your personal identification number, they can review your travel history.”

    #COVID-19 #Contact_tracking #Corée

  • America’s Abandonment of Syria - The New-Yorker
    Many Syrians thought that the U.S. cared about them. Now they know better.

    Since October, even the visits have stopped. Reached by phone recently, Ali said that he is deeply worried about the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in Raqqa. “We can take care of one or two patients, at most,” he explained. The hospital has two ventilators—eight were lost to air strikes.


  • The Coronavirus Meets Authoritarianism in Turkey- The New-Yorker
    Turkey, where more than two hundred people have died from the new coronavirus, has one of the world’s fastest-growing outbreaks, but Erdoğan has resisted urgent action, calling only for a “voluntary quarantine” for most of the country.

  • How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor | The New Yorker

    Ah le plaisir de lire des bio-hagiographies ;-)

    Anthony Fauci certainly did not. At seventy-nine, Fauci has run the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for thirty-six years, through six Administrations and a long procession of viral epidemics: H.I.V., SARS, avian influenza, swine flu, Zika, and Ebola among them. As a member of the Administration’s coronavirus task force, Fauci seemed to believe that the government’s actions could be directed, even if the President’s pronouncements could not. At White House briefings, it has regularly fallen to Fauci to gently amend Trump’s absurdities, half-truths, and outright lies. No, there is no evidence that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine will provide a “miracle” treatment to stave off the infection. No, there won’t be a vaccine for at least a year. When the President insisted for many weeks on denying the government’s inability to deliver test kits for the virus, Fauci, testifying before Congress, put the matter bluntly. “That’s a failing,” he said. “Let’s admit it.”

    When Trump was not dismissing the severity of the crisis, he was blaming others for it: the Chinese, the Europeans, and, as always, Barack Obama. He blamed governors who were desperate for federal help and had been reduced to fighting one another for lifesaving ventilators. In one briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo, of New York, said, “It’s like being on eBay with fifty other states, bidding on a ventilator.” Trump even accused hospital workers in New York City of pilfering surgical masks and other vital protective equipment that they needed to stay alive. “Are they going out the back door?” Trump wondered aloud.

    As a reporter who writes mainly on science and public-health issues, I’ve known Fauci since the H.I.V./AIDS epidemic exploded, in the mid-eighties. He once explained to me that he has developed a method for dealing with political leaders in times of crisis: “I go to my favorite book of philosophy, ‘The Godfather,’ and say, ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s strictly business.’ ” He continued, “You just have a job to do. Even when somebody’s acting ridiculous, you can’t chide them for it. You’ve got to deal with them. Because if you don’t deal with them, then you’re out of the picture.”

    Since his days of advising Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Fauci has maintained a simple credo: “You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological, and you stick to what it is that you do. I’m a scientist and I’m a physician. And that’s it.” He learned the value of candor early. “Some wise person who used to be in the White House, in the Nixon Administration, told me a very interesting dictum to live by,” he told me in 2016, during a public conversation we had at the fifty-year reunion of his medical-school class. “He said, ‘When you go into the White House, you should be prepared that that is the last time you will ever go in. Because if you go in saying, I’m going to tell somebody something they want to hear, then you’ve shot yourself in the foot.’ Now everybody knows I’m going to tell them exactly what’s the truth.”

    #Epidémiologie #Préparation #Anthony_Fauci

  • The MacGyvers Taking on the Ventilator Shortage | The New Yorker

    But Rosie the Riveter isn’t gone—she’s just working from home. The other day, Bruce Fenton, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, posted a call for volunteers on the Web site Medium. He was leading something called the Ventilator Project—a crowdsourced effort to address the shortage. The project’s two goals, Fenton wrote, were to help existing ventilator manufacturers ramp up production, and to design an open-source plan for a cheap and simple emergency ventilator that hospitals can use. As inspiration, he reminded everyone that the Apollo 13 astronauts created a carbon-dioxide scrubber from spare parts.

    The Ventilator Project’s three hundred and fifty volunteers do most of their brainstorming on the chat app Slack. A few proposals: repurposing CPAP machines (sleep-apnea masks) as ventilators, rigging single ventilators to treat multiple patients, and using grounded airplanes as treatment facilities, in order to take advantage of the overhead oxygen masks. Many participants are medical professionals, such as Stuart Solomon, a Stanford anesthesiologist who is mobilizing equipment that functions similarly to ventilators (like anesthesia machines). Fenton has also recruited lawyers, in the hope that, should a solid design emerge from the project, mass production of these ventilators—and their use in hospitals—won’t be stalled by regulators such as the F.D.A. And he has called on “engineers, builders, and MacGyver types who can build a legit ventilator” out of “Home Depot type parts.”

    #Crowdsourcing #Respirateurs

  • How Does the Coronavirus Behave Inside a Patient? | The New Yorker

    The temple was two hundred and fifty years old, the attendant informed me. That would date it to around the time when accounts first appeared of a mysterious sect of Brahmans wandering up and down the Gangetic plain to popularize the practice of tika, an early effort at #inoculation. This involved taking matter from a smallpox patient’s pustule—a snake pit of live virus—and applying it to the pricked skin of an uninfected person, then covering the spot with a linen rag.

    The Indian practitioners of tika had likely learned it from Arabic physicians, who had learned it from the Chinese. As early as 1100, medical healers in China had realized that those who survived smallpox did not catch the illness again (survivors of the disease were enlisted to take care of new victims), and inferred that the exposure of the body to an illness protected it from future instances of that illness.


    • Drôle d’interview qui ressemble plus à une discussion entre copines, la jeune journaliste et la vieille féministe gauchiste (maoïste, dit-elle). Les questions sont presque plus intéressantes que les réponses. Il est question de mayonnaise et de #Marie_Kondo dont #Barbara_Ehrenreich a critiqué le mauvais anglais.

      Well, I think what I said was really stupid—ill considered and written quickly and I was mortified. Some editor had asked me to write something about Marie Kondo, so I watched part of her show on Netflix, and I was appalled. I hope that’s not intrinsically bad. I’ll admit something to you—one thing that was also going on was that my mother would just throw all my clothes out of the chest of drawers and onto the floor when she thought things were messy. Something about that got triggered with Marie Kondo and I felt this sort of rage, not that that’s an excuse or anything.

      #Rebecca_Solnit aussi.

      Bizarre !

  • The Faces of a New Union Movement | The New Yorker

    Haag is part of a wave of young workers who have been unionizing in sectors with little or no tradition of unions: art museums, including the Guggenheim and the New Museum, but also tech companies, digital-media brands, political campaigns, even cannabis shops. At Google, around ninety contract workers in Pittsburgh recently formed a union—a significant breakthrough, even if they represent just a tiny fraction of the company’s workforce. More than thirty digital publications, including Vox, Vice, Salon, Slate, and HuffPost, have unionized. (The editorial staff of The New Yorker unionized in 2018.) Last March, Bernie Sanders’s campaign became the first major-party Presidential campaign in history with a unionized workforce; the campaigns of Eric Swalwell, Julián Castro, and Elizabeth Warren unionized soon after. At Grinnell College, in Iowa, students working in the school’s dining hall unionized in 2016, becoming one of the nation’s only undergraduate-student labor unions. Sam Xu, the union’s twenty-one-year-old former president, said, “Mark Zuckerberg was running Facebook out of his dorm room. I’m running a union out of my dorm room.”

    The American labor movement has been reinvigorated in recent years, with the teacher-led Red for Ed strikes, the General Motors walkout, and the Fight for $15’s push to raise the minimum wage. A Gallup poll last summer found that sixty-four per cent of Americans approve of unions—one of the highest ratings recorded in the past fifty years. The highest rate of approval came from young people: sixty-seven per cent among eighteen-to-thirty-four-year-olds. Rebecca Givan, an associate professor of labor studies at Rutgers University, said that many young people are interested in joining unions because they’re “feeling the pinch”—many “have a tremendous amount of student debt, and, if they’re living in cities, they’re struggling to afford housing.” Givan added that many feel considerable insecurity about their jobs. “The industries that they’re organizing in are volatile,” she said. Jake Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Washington University, said, “Underemployed college-educated workers aren’t buying what was until recently the prevailing understanding of our economy: that hard work and a college degree was a ticket to a stable, well-paying job.”

    #Syndicats #Gig_economy

  • The TikTok-Ready Sounds of Beach Bunny | The New Yorker

    On the video-sharing platform TikTok, there are nearly seventy-four million posts hashtagged #promqueen. Hundreds of thousands of these are set to a track of the same name, from 2018, by a young indie-rock band from Chicago called Beach Bunny. TikTok, which encourages users to post short, surrealist interpretations of memes and dance moves, has become an incubator of musical talent, or at least of persona and digital acumen. Earlier this year, it helped send the rapper Roddy Ricch’s song “The Box”—which features a curious squeaking sound, perfect for TikTok—to the top of the Billboard charts. But, unlike the idiosyncratic hip-hop that typically takes hold on the platform, “Prom Queen” is a doleful ballad. The song dramatizes teen-age self-doubt and has the inverse effect of a pep talk. “Shut up, count your calories,” Beach Bunny’s front woman, a twenty-three-year-old recent college graduate named Lili Trifilio, sings in a disaffected tone. “I never looked good in mom jeans.” TikTok users, most of whom are in their teens or early twenties, have used the song as a backdrop for videos both literal and abstract. In one, a young woman presents an array of prom dresses, prompting her followers to help her decide which to buy. In another, someone splices together short clips of the food she’s eaten that day—quite literally counting her calories. One user attempts to follow a Bob Ross painting tutorial; another tries to cover up his face tattoos with makeup, sporting a sly grin.

    Of all the confessional, female-fronted indie-rock bands to flourish in the past decade, Beach Bunny is perhaps the most shrewdly tailored to the whims of the social Internet, where everything, especially the misery and humiliation of youth, is molded into a bite-size piece of comic relief. On “Painkiller,” a song from Beach Bunny’s 2018 EP, also called “Prom Queen,” Trifilio name-checks pharmaceuticals that might make her feel better: “I need paracetamol, tramadol, ketamine. . . . Fill me up with Tylenol, tramadol, ketamine.” It sounds like it could be from the soundtrack of “Euphoria,” HBO’s breakout show about teen-age dereliction. Trifilio is a potent lyricist who tends toward despondency, but her songs are deceptively snackable—each is a two-minute burst of honey-butter melody, often with a title that incorporates hashtag-worthy slang.

    Acts of earlier eras could more easily be traced to their predecessors, often by the artists’ own admission, but Beach Bunny comes from a generation for which stylistic influence is absorbed through lifelong exposure to a mass jumble of online reference points. Trifilio got her start in music by performing acoustic-guitar covers and uploading them to YouTube, as so many of her peers did before TikTok began pulling aspiring talents into its slipstream.

    TikTok is a new platform, but its catchy, looping clips make use of an old music-industry trick. Psychologists and music-theory scholars have long studied the brain’s response to repeated exposure to music. As early as 1903, Max Friedrich Meyer, a professor of psychoacoustics, showed that a piece of music’s “aesthetic effect” for participants in a study was “improved by hearing the music repeatedly.” In 1968, the social psychologist Robert Zajonc coined the term “mere-exposure effect” to describe this phenomenon. According to Zajonc’s findings, appreciation of a song increased the more the subjects heard it, no matter how complex the music was or how it aligned with their personal tastes. This insight is the driving force behind the marketing of popular music in the modern era: FM radio stations and popular streaming playlists are most successful when they program a small pool of songs, inducing the mere-exposure effect as quickly as possible.

    On TikTok, the length of a video is restricted to sixty seconds, but most clock in at less than half a minute. The app allows a seamless scroll through videos, demanding rapid-fire consumption. It also groups together clips that contain the same song, encouraging you to listen over and over again. The app’s success at making hits is partly due to its ability to accelerate the mere-exposure effect, making songs familiar at warp speeds. Without TikTok, it’s unlikely that a song like “Prom Queen” could have reached the velocity it did. The official video for the song now has more than seven million views on YouTube.

    With increased exposure comes increased scrutiny, and the micro-virality of “Prom Queen” caused some listeners—maybe ones who caught only a snippet of the track—to question its message. In one verse, Trifilio sings, “I’ve been starving myself / Carving skin until my bones are showing.” Last summer, Trifilio pinned a lengthy comment underneath the song’s YouTube video. “Since this video is blowing up I feel the need to address something,” she wrote. “The lyrics are a criticism on modern beauty standards and the harmful effects beauty standards can have on people. . . . You are already a Prom Queen, you are already enough.” The message was about two hundred words—a longer piece of writing than any Beach Bunny song.

    #Tik-Tok #Musique #Culture_numérique