In the News 03.02.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Saturday 4th February, 2017
Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze
If you’re a beermaker in Germany, Martin Zarnkow is a guy you want to know. Students come to his department at the Technical University of Munich because it’s one of the few places in this nation of beer drinkers to get a degree in brewing science. Some of Germany’s biggest breweries come to Zarnkow to troubleshoot funky tastes, develop new beers, or just purchase one of his hundreds of strains of yeast. His lab is secured with coded door locks and filled with sophisticated chemical equipment and gene sequencers. But today he’s using none of that.
Instead I find him down the hall, hunched over an oven in the employee kitchen, poking what looks like a pan of mushy granola cookies with a black plastic spatula. The cookies are made from brewer’s malt—sprouted, toasted barley grains—mixed with wheat flour and a few spoonfuls of sourdough starter. Pouring a coffee, Zarnkow tells me that his plan today is to re-create beer from a 4,000-year-old Sumerian recipe.
Read the rest of this article at National Geographic
Thomas1 was a highly successful and mild-mannered lawyer who was worried about his drinking. When he came to see me at my psychotherapy practice, his wine intake had crept up to six or seven glasses a night, and he was starting to hide it from his family and to feel the effects at work. We discussed treatment strategies and made an appointment to meet again. But when he returned two weeks later, he was despondent: His drinking was totally unchanged.
“I just couldn’t cut back. I guess I just don’t have the willpower.”
Another patient of mine, John, also initially came to me for help with drinking. At our first meeting, we talked about moderation-based approaches and setting a healthier limit. But one month later, he came back to my office declaring that he had changed his mind and made peace with his drinking habits. Sure, his wife wasn’t always thrilled with how much he drank, he told me, and occasionally the hangovers were pretty bad, but his relationship was still fairly solid and drinking didn’t cause any truly significant problems in his life.
Read the rest of this article at Nautilus
Whitey on Mars
There are good reasons to worry about the future of humanity. Do we have a future, and if so, how much and what kind? For most people, it’s easier to feel these existential concerns for our species than it is to do something about them. But some are taking action. On 27 September 2016, the SpaceX founder Elon Musk made a bold, direct claim: that, in order to survive an inevitable extinction event, humans would need to ‘become a space-faring civilisation and a multi-planetary species’. Pulses raced and the media swooned. Headlines appeared in the business and technology press about Musk’s plan to save humanity. Experts and laypeople alike debated details of the rockets, spacecraft and fuel needed for Musk’s journey to Mars. The excitement was palpable, and it was evident at the press conference. During the Q&A that followed the announcement, Musk said that his goal was to inspire humanity. One audience member yelled: ‘[Musk] inspires the shit out of us!’ Another offered him a kiss.
Musk’s plan to colonise Mars is a sign of an older and recurring social problem. What happens when the rich and powerful isolate themselves from everyday concerns? Musk wants to innovate and leave Earth, rather than to take care of it, or fix it, and stay. Like so many of his peers in the innovating and disrupting classes, Musk prefers to dwell in fantasy and science fiction, safely removed from the world of here and now. Musk is a utopian, in the original Greek meaning: ‘no place’. Repulsed by the world we all share, he dreams of a place that does not exist.
Read the rest of this article at aeon
High Pressure Parenting
1997, a few months into my first year at university, I was seized by the conviction that I had made a terrible mistake. I had gone to study engineering at the giant state university in my hometown, one of the many enormous, sturdy, low-cost public universities that helped make America’s middle class the largest, best-educated and richest in the world in the 20th century. I thought I should have done better. In exchanging emails with friends on other, more exclusive campuses I started to get the feeling that I had missed the exit onto the fast track, that at that early stage of adult life I had already doomed myself to anonymous mediocrity.
I don’t have too many regrets about my college education now. I’m an economics writer at The Economist and an author; my alma mater helped prepare me for the career. Yet my worries were not entirely unfounded. When I got into journalism in Washington, DC, I found myself surrounded by Ivy Leaguers, with training, connections and a world view very different from mine. When I moved to The Economist’s main office, in London, the air became more rarefied still. The upper echelons of British professional life are dominated by Oxbridge (elite code for Oxford and Cambridge). At times, competing in the professional world without a degree from one of these places can feel like scaling a sheer wall without a rope: it can be done, but sometimes it seems very hard.
Read the rest of this article at The Economist
The Great Manipulator
Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?
Most modern Presidents chart their opening moves with the help of a friendly think tank or a set of long-held beliefs.
Donald Trump’s first steps had the feel of a documentary film made by his chief strategist and alter ego Stephen K. Bannon, a director who deploys ravenous sharks, shrieking tornadoes and mushroom clouds as reliably as John Ford shot Monument Valley.
Act I of the Trump presidency has been filled with disruption, as promised by Trump and programmed by Bannon, with plenty of resistance in reply, from both inside and outside the government. Perhaps this should not be surprising. Trump told America many times in 2016 that his would be no ordinary Administration. Having launched his campaign as a can-do chief executive, he came to see himself as the leader of a movement–and no movement is complete without its commissar. Bannon is the one who keeps the doctrine pure, the true believer, who is in it not for money or position, but to change history. “What we are witnessing now is the birth of a new political order,” Bannon wrote in an email to the Washington Post.
This forceful presence has already opened cracks in West Wing. The Administration was barely a week old when, on the evening of Jan. 27–with little or no explanation to agency heads, congressional leaders or the press–Trump shut down America’s refugee program for 120 days (indefinitely in the case of Syrian refugees), while barring travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries. Almost immediately, U.S. customs and border agents began collaring airline passengers covered by the order, including more than 100 people whose green cards or valid visas would have been sufficient for entry if only they had taken an earlier flight. Protesters grabbed markers and cardboard scraps and raced to airports from coast to coast, where television cameras found them by the thousands.
As the storm reached the gates of the White House on Saturday, many of the West Wing’s senior staff had departed to attend the secretive Alfalfa Club annual dinner, an off-the-record black-tie soiree where politicos drink and tell jokes with billionaires. But Bannon avoided this gathering of the elites he believes to be doomed, and remained at the White House to continue the shock and awe.
Read the rest of this article at Time