Daily Blog February 2020

I like to think of February as the “humpday” of winter because it’s the middle of winter and we’re on the downhill slide to spring. That is if we can get thru the Brexpeachment Virus looming on the horizon.

On the bright side, the days are getting longer. I’ll take whatever joy I can get. ;-).

77 thoughts on “Daily Blog February 2020

  1. Today will be politics free

    How we turned into batteries (and the economy forces us to recharge)

    Energy has become modern society’s holy grail, but what if we don’t want to spend our limited time on Earth constantly recharging and draining ourselves? In an age of punishing pressure to be productive, saying no is the opposite of negative.


    All the images in this article are from The Portrait Machine Project by Carlo Van de Roer. They are made with a Polaroid aura camera, about which you can read more underneath the piece.

    An Adidas advert on a billboard on my street made me realise that energy and the rechargeable battery have become symbols of our age. We start our mornings fully charged, but as we find our energy levels running low as the day unfolds, we top up with coffee, energy drinks or drugs. On the weekend, we dedicate time and money to recharging: yoga, meditation, silent retreats – there’s a whole economy surrounding it. But the great irony is this: we recharge to avoid burning out … so that we can work longer and more efficiently in service of the very system that is draining our energy. Just like batteries, as we grow older it takes us longer to recharge and we lose energy at an ever faster rate. We need to stop buying into the recharging myth and say “no” to the demands of this increasingly competitive, performance-driven society in which even our sleep and leisure time are geared towards achieving maximum performance. ~Lynn Berger

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  2. The Democrats Are Finally Brawling Over the Party’s Future

    The knives came out in Wednesday’s debate, a portent of much more consequential fights to come in 2020.


    Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Naturally, any candidate nominated by a contested convention would be representing a wounded and bitterly divided party. The daunting task ahead of the field’s moderates is not only preventing Sanders from gaining a delegate majority but also diminishing Sanders enough in the eyes of the Democratic electorate that primary voters will swallow a hostile effort to give the nomination to someone else. This is the real significance of the recent focus on the behavior of his online supporters. The impression that’s been offered is that Sanders is being carried to the nomination by a crazed minority willing, as Buttigieg said repeatedly over the course of the night, to “burn the house down.” But the candidates hoping for a contested convention are the ones who are promising to do exactly that: spark a conflagration that could alienate not only Sanders’s most dedicated supporters but a great many of the ordinary Democrats who like Sanders as much as, or more than, any of the other candidates, and who would prefer the nomination going to the candidate who wins the most votes.

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  3. The Radicalism of Warren’s Unapologetic Aggression

    The senator’s evisceration of her competitors at the Las Vegas Democratic debate hinted at an ability to shatter a longstanding political convention.


    Scott Olson/Getty Images

    Mike Bloomberg has proposed to buy American votes with $400 million (and counting) in advertisements. Elizabeth Warren walked onto Wednesday’s debate stage proposing to buy American votes with the body of Mike Bloomberg. It was quality television. It was “Big Dick Energy.” And it could mark the end of an era in American politics.

    Four years ago, pundits were blaming Hillary Clinton’s poor early primary showings on her overly cerebral, pragmatic approach. There were many substantive differences between the two candidates, but a surprising amount of criticism focused on Clinton’s detachment, in contrast with Bernie Sanders’s passion and dynamism. Rebecca Traister, writing in New York magazine, took the pundits to task for this stylistic critique. It was gendered, she argued, and hardly fair: If Clinton were to be as “grumpy” and aggressive as Sanders, voters would like her less, not more.

    “Here is a truth about America,” she wrote. “No one likes a woman who yells loudly about revolution. … This is a paradigm; it’s why Mom is the disciplinarian and Dad is the fun guy, why women remain the brains and organizational workhorses behind social movements while men get to be the gut-ripping orators, why so many women still manage campaigns and so many men are still candidates.”

    Traister was not the first to point out that female aggression is often perceived as shrill, which has created something of a bind for female candidates: One has to attack one’s opponents at some point. But how can one do that—against a male opponent in particular—without being seen as undesirable to voters (and pundits)?

    Warren’s unbridled bellicosity Wednesday night offered an unconventional answer to that question. Some saw her performance as an act of desperation: a flagging candidate seeking discount media coverage with a parade of quotable moments. Or it may have been more strategic: driving a stake through the heart of the revenant Stop-and-Frisk architect, as a televised show of devotion for progressive and black voters. Either way, as countless post-debate writeups have already pointed out, it was a return to the “fighter” identity that Massachusetts voted for in 2012. But that’s underselling its novelty.

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  4. The Mischiefs of Michael Bloomberg

    The former New York Mayor isn’t subverting the American electoral system, he’s exploiting it.


    Mark Ralston/Getty Images

    At Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, five of the candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination spent the evening taking pointed shots at one another. But all five reserved a particular ire for the wealthy former Republican who became the debate’s sixth participant after transmuting nearly half a billion dollars of his personal wealth into high poll numbers across the country, thus gaining access to the affair. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came under withering criticism for his history of sexist remarks and actions, his support of stop-and-frisk searches, and a number of other glaring weaknesses. To say that he struggled to defend himself would be an understatement.

    After the debate ended, however, Bloomberg’s team kept their focus on the real enemy. “Tonight, Mike Bloomberg presented himself as the leading alternative to Bernie Sanders,” Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement. “Everyone came to get under Mike’s skin, but instead, Mike got under Bernie’s. Mike delivered the line of the night to Senator Sanders: ‘What a wonderful country we have. The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses.’”

    It’s been noted by many observers, myself included, that Trump is the sort of man that the Founders feared: a reckless demagogue with no interest in maintaining our democratic and constitutional order or the rule of law. Bloomberg, by comparison, may be the candidate that most of the Founders hoped would arise: a wealthy patrician, much like them, who would use his vast resources and influence to defeat what he views as disruptive elements in the nation’s political system.

    Bloomberg’s campaign largely exists to suppress the two ascendant factions in American politics.

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  5. Last one on the NV debate…I hope 😉

    Facing Improbable Odds in Nevada, Elizabeth Warren Goes on the Attack Against Mike Bloomberg


    emocratic presidential hopeful Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during the ninth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 19, 2020. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

    Elizabeth Warren rose to stardom slaying villains. The first time she was widely noticed on the national stage came with a gavel in her hand, as she pounded then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for his mishandling of the Wall Street bailout. Elected to the Senate in 2012, she quickly transformed her perch on the sleepy Banking Committee into a public studio that regularly produced viral videos of her slicing hapless banking regulators and Wall Street executives to pieces. And her damning interrogation of Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan was widely credited as leading to his “resignation.”

    That combative spirit fueled a draft-Warren campaign for president, which she resisted in 2016. But in the 2020 cycle, she largely sheathed her knife until Wednesday, foiled by the muddled intra-party politics of a Democratic primary in which there was no obvious villain who could match a Geithner or Sloan. Even though she had spent a decade as a law professor tangling with Sen. Joe Biden over bankruptcy reform, she largely left him alone. Despite having been a leader in the Senate of the push to expand rather than cut Social Security, she allowed Sen. Bernie Sanders and his campaign team to fight it out with Biden over the program.

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  6. Bloomberg roundly attacked by rivals in fiercest Democratic debate so far

    *Billionaire’s record on policing and discrimination condemned
    *Centrists Buttigieg and Klobuchar rip into each other
    *Warren gives spirited display and likens Bloomberg to Trump


    *Bloomberg with Warren and Sanders. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images *

    The top six Democratic presidential candidates faced off in Las Vegas on Wednesday in the most combative debate of the election and days before the high-stakes caucuses in Nevada.

    It was the first debate for Mike Bloomberg, and the former New York mayor’s rivals in the Democratic race for president immediately took aim – attacking him for his legacy on racist policing and reports of sexist comments and discrimination at his companies.

    In the first minutes of the debate, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders argued that Bloomberg’s legacy of stop-and-frisk made it impossible for him to broaden the Democratic party’s coalition and defeat Donald Trump.

    Democratic debate: key takeaways from the bust-up in Las Vegas
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    The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren compared Bloomberg to Trump in her opening remarks: “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”

    From there, the attacks didn’t let up. Bloomberg gave ineffective responses to a series of stop-and-frisk questions, saying he was “embarrassed” by the tactic deployed in New York while he was mayor: “I’ve apologized. I’ve asked for forgiveness. We stopped too many people.”

    He also claimed he “discovered” the city was conducting too many stops and that he reduced use of the policy. In reality, a court ordered the city to stop the practice, deeming it unconstitutional.
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    “You need a different apology,” Warren interjected.

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  7. Neil Young Pens Open Letter to Donald Trump: ‘You Are a Disgrace to My Country’

    Now an American citizen, Young rails against the president


    Neil Young penned on his official website a long, scathing open letter to Donald Trump, in which he calls him “a disgrace to my country.” Richard Isaac/Shutterstock

    Neil Young has never hidden his contempt for Donald Trump, but now that he’s officially an American citizen, he’s raising his voice even louder.

    “You are a disgrace to my country,” Young writes in a long, scathing open letter to Trump on his Neil Young Archives website. “Your mindless destruction of our shared natural resources, our environment, and our relationships with friends around the world is unforgivable.… Our first black president was a better man than you are.”

    He’s particularly irked by Trump’s usage of his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” at his rallies. Young has asked him to stop this practice numerous times while acknowledging he has no legal recourse to force him. “[It] is not a song you can trot out at one of your rallies,” he writes. “Perhaps you could have been a bass player and played in a rock & roll band. That way you could have been onstage at a rally every night in front of your fans, if you were any good, and you might be …”

    “Every time ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ or one of my songs is played at your rallies,” he continues, “I hope you hear my voice. Remember it is the voice of a tax-paying U.S. citizen who does not support you. Me.”

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  8. ‘This Is Disastrous’: How the Vinyl Industry Is Responding to the Apollo Masters Fire

    “We’ve been saying we need to fix this for years,” one vinyl-pressing executive says. “Now we actually need to fix this”


    The scene outside Apollo Masters Corp. earlier this month after a fire destroyed more than 70 percent of the lacquer plates used in vinyl production.Robert Bauer/RIBsfit Media

    The day that everyone in the vinyl-manufacturing world has been worried about for years finally arrived. Earlier this month, Apollo Masters Corp., one of the two places in the world that produce the lacquer discs needed to assemble master plates for pressing records, burned down. The blaze reportedly took 82 firefighters and three hours to extinguish. No one was harmed, but the fire obliterated the Banning, California, facility responsible for, by most estimates, 70 to 85 percent of the lacquer plates used in vinyl production. There is now just one such factory in the world capable of producing that crucial item, MDC in Japan, leaving the global supply of vinyl in peril.

    “We’ve all been worried about this, we’ve had meetings about it within the industry,” says Cash Carter, chief operating officer at Kindercore Vinyl Pressing in Athens, Georgia. “We’ve gotten together with all the other pressing plants, lacquer cutters, everybody, and been like, ‘What happens if MDC or Apollo goes away? We’re all fucked.’ We were dreading that day, but not thinking it would actually happen — that before anything disastrous happened, someone would come in and fix what needed to be fixed.… Now, is the sky falling? No. But this is disastrous. I think there are going to be pressing plants that close because of this.… We’ve been saying we need to fix this for years. Now, we actually need to fix this.”

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  9. ‘The Whole System Collapsed’: Inside the Music Industry’s Ongoing Distribution Crisis

    ‘It’s amazing how a company most have never heard of can bring the U.S. music industry to its knees,’ said one label exec struggling to get his artists’ records into stores


    Last April, all three major labels started to use the same distributor for CDs and records. The consolidation has resulted in ‘lost stock, unfilled orders, [and] massive delays in fulfillment.’
    Nikolas Joao Kokovlis/Sopa Image/Shutterstock

    Last fall, Steve Harkins was conducting a routine check on a shipment of records and CDs at Ingram Entertainment, a wholesale music distributor headquartered in Tennessee. Instead of vinyl, though, Harkins was amused to find that Ingram’s supplier had sent a pallet packed with bottles of windshield-wiper fluid. “I called customer service, they apologized profusely,” he recalls. “I said, ‘The thing that really bothers me is that you didn’t have the courtesy to throw in some car wax.’ ”

    No harm done — until a few weeks later, when Harkins received another surprise that suggested a troubling trend. This time, a shipment that was supposed to contain music came filled with bottles of prescription cough syrup. Other orders of records and CDs arrived damaged or incorrectly packed. “You can’t make this stuff up,” Harkins says. “In all my years of business, I’ve never been able to report that we’ve been missing significant quantities of product, and in its place, prescription cough syrup and carwash fluid.”

    Harkins isn’t alone. In January, a record store owner in Poughkeepsie, New York, got a similar shock. An unscheduled delivery truck pulled into the parking lot of Darkside Records. “The driver says, ‘I got a weird one for you,’ ” remembers Justin Johnson, who owns the store. Johnson went outside to find that an entire freight truck was being used to haul just four records — copies of a 50th-anniversary reissue of the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, arriving two and a half months after their street date.

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  10. The New Rules of the Game


    Mr. Fish / Truthdig

    Despite the hyperventilating by corporate shills such as Matthews and Friedman, Sanders’ democratic socialism is essentially that of a New Deal Democrat. His political views would be part of the mainstream in France or Germany, where democratic socialism is an accepted part of the political landscape and is routinely challenged as too accommodationist by communists and radical socialists. Sanders calls for an end to our foreign wars, a reduction of the military budget, for “Medicare for All,” abolishing the death penalty, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and private prisons, a return of Glass-Steagall, raising taxes on the wealthy, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, canceling student debt, eliminating the Electoral College, banning fracking and breaking up agribusinesses. This does not qualify as a revolutionary agenda.

    Sanders, unlike many more radical socialists, does not propose nationalizing the banks and the fossil fuel and arms industries. He does not call for the criminal prosecution of the financial elites who trashed the global economy or the politicians and generals who lied to launch preemptive wars, defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, which have devastated much of the Middle East, resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees and displaced people, and cost the nation between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. He does not call for worker ownership of factories and businesses. He does not promise to halt the government’s wholesale surveillance of the public. He does not intend to punish corporations that have moved manufacturing overseas. Most importantly, he believes, as I do not, that the political system, including the Democratic Party, can be reformed from within. He does not support sustained mass civil disobedience to bring the system down, the only hope we have of halting the climate emergency that threatens to doom the human race. On the political spectrum, he is, at best, an enlightened moderate. The vicious attacks against him by the elites are an indication of how anemic and withered our politics have become.

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      1. It hurts when NPR pushes memes proven to be false

        NPR’s Egregious Takedown of Bernie Sanders, Fact-Checked


        *Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr) *

        The Iowa caucuses officially began the Democratic primary, and even in this ongoing, extended battle for the White House, Iowa remains an important marker for candidates and the media. A close look at a piece by two of NPR’s leading political reporters, which aired just before the caucuses, provides a view of how journalists speak with authority on issues they seem to know very little about. The conversation between Mary Louise Kelly and her partner Mara Liasson, headlined “Where Iowa Falls in the Big Picture of the 2020 Election” (All Things Considered, 2/3/20), began with Kelly introducing the importance of Iowa for Democrats, but, she observed, it’s been on the “backburner,” after days of constant impeachment coverage.

        Liasson agreed, then spent most of her introductory remarks on Trump, presenting him as legitimate as any past president:

        >Tomorrow night President Trump appears in the well of the House before he speaks to both houses of Congress for the big curtain-raiser for him, the State of the Union address. It’s the biggest audience he’ll have all year. It’s—every president gets to kind of kick off his re-election campaign with the State of the Union address, and we can expect to hear a campaign message from him tomorrow.
        

        No mention was made that Trump had flouted the Constitution by refusing to cooperate with an impeachment hearing, or that Republican senators would fail to uphold the Constitution by voting to dismiss impeachment charges after a sham trial with no witnesses. Liasson’s critical remarks were reserved for the Democratic Party, both voters and candidates.

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  11. Ralph Nader on Bloomberg’s Plot to Stop Bernie, the Rot Within the DNC, and His Recent Call With Pelosi


    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 6, 2020. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

    Last fall, the third most powerful figure in the U.S. government, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had a phone call with a man who is undoubtedly one of the most hated people among her base of Democratic Party supporters: the famed consumer advocate and former independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

    Their phone call took place as the Democrats were preparing to launch a narrowly focused impeachment case against Donald Trump. On the call, Nader laid out a strategy for attacking Trump that he believed could have resulted in his actual removal from office. Nader, who has spent his life working to implement a wide range of consumer and environmental protections, argued that it would be a mistake to focus solely on the Ukraine phone call. Instead, Nader suggested that Pelosi orchestrate a public prosecution of Trump’s crimes against ordinary Americans — what he called “kitchen table issues.” Nader beseeched Pelosi to go after Trump on issues far more pressing than Ukraine to millions of Americans, regardless of their political affiliation. He suggested subpoenaing witnesses who could testify to Trump’s “destruction of life-saving consumer protections, environmental protections, workplace safety protections, in his destruction of social safety net protections for children.” Pelosi, Nader says, did not take any of his advice.

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  12. ‘I was a bad influence on the Beatles’: James Taylor on Lennon, love and recovery

    The singer has written many beautiful songs – and was a muse for Joni Mitchell and Carole King. He reflects on his relationship with Mitchell and overcoming childhood trauma and heroin addiction


    *James Taylor, photographed in London in February 2020. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian *

    James Taylor looks out at the sprawling London skyline. “This is where it started,” he says. “The moment.” He made his first trip here in 1968, playing for Paul McCartney and George Harrison and becoming the first artist signed to the Beatles’ record label, Apple Records. This was before he moved to Laurel Canyon with the rest of the denim-draped California dreamers who defined the sound of the late 60s and far beyond. Before he met David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Before he and Mitchell fell in love. Before he wrote his pivotal album Sweet Baby James during a stint in a psychiatric hospital. Before his marriage to Carly Simon, which opened up his personal life – including his long battle with heroin addiction – to public consciousness. Before he sold 100m records, performed for the Obamas and the Clintons, and then, decades later, appeared on stage with one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Taylor Swift, who is named after him.

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  13. Michael Bloomberg’s Polite Authoritarianism

    He never hid his callous indifference to civil liberties; too many people just didn’t care.


    Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Over the course of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the New York Police Department arrested nearly 2,000 people at protests. The mass arrests were indiscriminate. Bystanders and journalists were among those hauled to a filthy bus depot terminal that served as a makeshift holding pen.

    Hundreds of people were charged with minor crimes so that they could be kept in jail for the duration of the convention. A judge held the city in contempt of court for failing to abide by a state policy that gives people in jail the right to see a judge or be released within 24 hours. And the city lied about how long it took to process the fingerprints of its detainees. In the end, no serious charges were brought against anyone, because the entire point was to keep people off the streets while Bush and his friends enjoyed their parties, and to dissuade others from attempting any further disruption.

    Even then, it was clear that the arrests were illegal. They were, as the civil rights attorney Norman Siegel put it at the time, “preventative detention.” The cops knew it, the city’s lawyers knew it even as they denied it, and the mayor knew it. I remember all this because I was there. I probably avoided arrest out of happenstance more than anything else. But most of the people who would go on to elect Michael Bloomberg to another two terms as mayor of New York City have probably forgotten the entire episode, because, like the mayor, they never really cared.

    It took 10 years for the city to settle what the New York Civil Liberties Union described as “the largest protest settlement in history.” Bloomberg had been out of office for a few weeks when the settlement was announced. In his final term, he had used similar tactics against Occupy Wall Street.

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  14. TV Executives Celebrate Unprecedented Flood of Bloomberg Campaign Spending

    by Lee Fang


    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a campaign rally at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Feb. 4, 2020. Photo: Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

    Fox News hosts regularly bash former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg as a globalist demagogue intent on seizing Americans’ firearms and big gulp sodas. High-level executives at the company, however, are much more enthusiastic about the billionaire politician and Democratic presidential candidate.

    Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News, is one of several media executives to welcome Bloomberg’s unprecedented spending spree on television advertisements. In a February 5 briefing for investors, Murdoch noted that he had heard “the Bloomberg campaign has expected to sort of double its advertising spend earlier this week.” The billionaire’s campaign, Murdoch noted, makes purchases on a week-to-week basis, making it difficult to project the ultimate benefit for his company.

    “But obviously,” he added, “we expect it to be very strong and particularly, as I mentioned, in the markets of our local TV stations.”

    Read more at the Intercept


  15. Parasite: how Oscar triumph has exposed South Korea’s social divide

    Bong Joon-ho’s film highlights how South Koreans struggle as the gap between rich and poor widens


    * The Kims – played by Choi Woo-sik, Song Kang-ho, Chang Hyae-jin and Park So-dam – in Parasite. Photograph: Allstar/CURZON ARTIFICIAL EYE *

    ew would begrudge South Koreans their moment of joy after Parasite’s historic success at the Oscars. Not only was Bong Joon-ho’s film the first non-English language production in the Academy Awards’ 92-year history to win best picture – one of four Oscars on the night for the director and his crew – it was long-overdue recognition by the global movie industry of the brilliance of South Korean cinema.

    But the celebrations, led by the country’s president, Moon Jae-in, concealed an uncomfortable truth about Bong’s masterpiece. Centring on the tension between the Kims, a basement-dwelling family of “dirt spoons” in Seoul, and the Parks, a family at the opposite end of the social spectrum, Parasite’s plot is predicated on the widening gap between the haves and the have nots in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy.

    Moon, a liberal who came to power in 2017 promising to create jobs, redistribute wealth and weaken the power of the chaebol – the family-run firms that drove postwar development – praised Parasite as a “uniquely Korean story”.

    The film exposes the paradox at the heart of a country better known around the world for its technological prowess and pop music.

    While scenes from the Parks’ spacious designer home and the Kims’ slum basement flat were shot on purpose-built sets, it draws its realism from those set in deprived neighbourhoods a world away from the exclusive Gangnam neighbourhood in the city’s south.

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  16. Firefox’s New Voice Controls Make It As Good As a Smart Speaker


    Photo: Shutterstock

    I’m used to yelling at my Google Home and Amazon Echo, not so much my web browser. However, Mozilla is now testing voice-control capabilities for its Firefox browser, and you can join me in screaming at your screen—which is actually a little more fun and useful than it might sound at first glance.

    To get started, open Firefox and visit Mozilla’s Firefox Voice Campaign page. Click on the “Get started” button, cough up your name and email address, and you’ll get a link to download the Firefox Voice addon:

    Once you’ve installed it, you’ll have to approve a few permissions before you can get going. First, you’ll need to grant it access to your microphone—obviously. Mozilla will also ask whether it can collect and analyze voice transcripts of things you’ve said to your browser. It won’t identify who you are, so I’ll leave this one for you to decide. (I don’t like it when companies have recordings of me, but I also doubt I’ll be talking very scandalously to my web browser.)

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  17. Language Alters Our Experience of Time

    Learning a new language re-wires your brains and you’ll begin to perceive of time in a unique way.


    Amy Adams in Arrival. Photo from Paramount Pictures.

    It turns out, Hollywood got it half right. In the film Arrival, Amy Adams plays linguist Louise Banks who is trying to decipher an alien language. She discovers the way the aliens talk about time gives them the power to see into the future – so as Banks learns their language, she also begins to see through time. As one character in the movie says: “Learning a foreign language rewires your brain.”

    A study I worked on with linguist Emanuel Bylund shows that bilinguals do indeed think about time differently, depending on the language context in which they are estimating the duration of events. But unlike Hollywood, bilinguals sadly can’t see into the future. However, this study does show that learning a new way to talk about time really does rewire the brain. Our findings are the first psycho-physical evidence of cognitive flexibility in bilinguals.

    We have known for some time that bilinguals go back and forth between their languages rapidly and often unconsciously – a phenomenon called code-switching. But different languages also embody different worldviews and different ways of organising the world around us. The way that bilinguals handle these different ways of thinking has long been a mystery to language researchers.

    Time, Imagination and Language

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