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In the News 23.10.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 23.10.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

How Friendships Change in Adulthood

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In the hierarchy of relationships, friendships are at the bottom. Romantic partners, parents, children—all these come first.

This is true in life, and in science, where relationship research tends to focus on couples and families. When Emily Langan, an associate professor of communication at Wheaton College goes to conferences for the International Association of Relationship Researchers, she says, “friendship is the smallest cluster there. Sometimes it’s a panel, if that.”

Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, like marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure. You wouldn’t go months without speaking to or seeing your significant other (hopefully), but you might go that long without contacting a friend.

Still, survey upon survey upon survey shows how important people’s friends are to their happiness. And though friendships tend to change as people age, there is some consistency in what people want from them.

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic

The Justin Trudeau I Can’t Forget

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IN LATE 2013, I spent several months working as a freelance editorial assistant on Justin Trudeau’s memoir, Common Ground. Aside from interviewing Trudeau himself over many days, I spoke with the Liberal leader’s relatives, colleagues, and close friends. During these discussions, I leafed through albums of old photos, laughed at funny stories, and watched a few people cry. The experience felt intimate. I had to remind myself that these people were not my friends, even if they treated me in a friendly way. They were editorial resources—made available to me on a temporary basis, for a narrowly defined purpose.

After the book was written, my communication with Trudeau and his social circle ceased. By the time Common Ground was published, I was back at my day job as a journalist. When I appeared on TV or wrote about politics, I critiqued Trudeau as I would any other politician. I felt confident that my role as editorial contributor had been decisively air-locked from the rest of my professional life. Justin Trudeau was just another paycheque.

Read the rest of this article at The Walrus

Hope Is the Enemy

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In November 2010, when I was 25 years old, I moved in with a man who was 98. This man, whom I’ll call Mr. Schecter, wasn’t a friend or relation or anyone I knew. He was a Holocaust survivor in the first stages of dementia, and I’d been hired to look after him. Although my background was in clinical psychology, I was by no means a professional caregiver. I was employed because Mr. Schecter’s son—I’ll call him Sam—had seriously underestimated his father’s condition. Sam’s mistake was understandable. The most obvious paradox of dementia is the victim’s frequent inability to recognize it, and Mr. Schecter went about his life as though burdened by the normal aches and pains of aging rather than by an irrevocable and debilitating illness. If he put the laundry detergent in the oven or forgot which floor he lived on, he’d shake his head and sigh, Mayn kop arbet nisht (“my head doesn’t work”). But it was a lament, not a diagnosis. And this denial, both clinical and profoundly human, led Sam to misjudge the illness as well.

Read the rest of this article at The American Scholar

How memories form and how we lose them

Think back to a really vivid memory. Got it? Now try to remember what you had for lunch three weeks ago. That second memory probably isn’t as strong—but why not? Why do we remember some things, and not others? And why do memories eventually fade? Catharine Young gives the basics on memory and memory loss.

Read the rest of this article at TED

Ten Borders

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In 2012, the Syrian civil war reached the suburbs of Damascus. Army tanks rolled over anti-government protesters in Ghouta; artillery shells fell on Darayya. One morning that May, a car bomb exploded in the town of Jdeidet Artouz, southwest of the capital. The blast jolted Ghaith, a twenty-two-year-old law student, out of bed. He lived in a two-bedroom apartment with his mother; his father had died when he was an infant, and his siblings—four sisters and a brother, all older—had left the house after getting married. Ghaith stepped to the window and pulled back the curtain. Across the street, a sedan was spewing flames. Body parts littered the road.

The victim was Ghaith’s neighbor, an Alawite man whom rebels had apparently targeted for assassination. In the weeks that followed, the government crackdown intensified. One of Ghaith’s nieces, a teen-ager, was imprisoned for posting a comment on Facebook that condemned a barrel-bomb attack by the Syrian Air Force on civilians in Homs. Government agents snatched two of Ghaith’s friends off the street and took them away. That August, the Army moved into Jdeidet Artouz and massacred dozens of people.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.