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In the News 31.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 31.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 31.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 31.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How the Self-Esteem Craze Took Over America

In 1991, a children’s book called The Lovables in the Kingdom of Self-Esteem was published. Written by Diane Loomans and illustrated by Kim Howard, The Lovables imparts a simple, nurturing message: You, the tiny child reading this book or having this book read to you, are very special.

The inside copy reads as follows:

I AM LOVABLE!

I AM LOVABLE!

I AM LOVABLE!

By using these magical words, the gates to the Kingdom of Self-Esteem swing open for readers of all ages. Inside the Kingdom live twenty-four animals — the Lovables — each one with a special gift to contribute. Mona Monkey is lovable. Owen Owl is capable. Buddy Beaver takes care of the world around him. Greta Goat trusts herself.

It seems mawkish now, even by the standards of children’s books, but The Lovables was published as a runaway cultural trend was cresting across North America: the self-esteem craze. If you grew up, or raised a child, during the 1980s or 1990s, you almost certainly remember this sort of material, as well as goofy classroom exercises focusing on how special each individual child was. A certain ethos took hold during this time: It was the job of schools to educate, yes, but also to instill in children a sense of their own specialness and potential.

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

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The Rise and Fall of Toronto’s Classiest Con Man

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It was the morning before Canada Day 2016, and James Regan needed somewhere to live. A distinguished, even handsome, man of sixty-two with silver hair and a trim moustache, Regan presented himself at the ­Chestnut Park Real Estate office, a luxury brokerage in the heart of Summerhill, one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods. Smartly dressed, he approached the receptionist and inquired about renting an apartment.

His taste was exquisite. He had recently moved out of an opulent rental that he’d outfitted with close to $17,000 in furniture—a striking double-pedestal banded dining-room table set made of yew wood by England’s Bevan Funnell, two ­Regency armchairs, and a pair of chinoiserie cherry-wood nightstands. He drank good French wine and had his eye on an Audi A4. He seemingly knew everyone—judges, lawyers, politicians, nhl players and executives. He presented himself as a ­devout Catholic, a family man devoted to his son, ­Brandon, and ­Brandon’s mother. Claiming to run a thriving consultancy, he hobnobbed at the city’s most exclusive social clubs, hotels, and events.

Regan was met in the boardroom by Robin Ennis, one of Chestnut Park’s realtors. The client was in a hurry: he needed an apartment immediately. As it happened, Ennis was looking to rent out the top floor of her own home, a spectacular detached Victorian on Avenue Road just a few blocks away from Chestnut Park—Ennis herself lived on the main floor. She showed Regan the upstairs apartment, and he agreed to sign for the $2,500 monthly lease, so long as they could finalize it right away. But before Ennis could draw up the agreement, she told Regan, she needed a bank draft for the first and last months’ rent, a credit report, and a criminal background check.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

Long Way Home The Circumnavigations of Henk De Velde

When I first wrote the Dutchman, ten years ago, he was sailing around the world alone for the sixth and final time. His plan, he said, was to keep on sailing, continuing this last circumnavigation until the day he died, or until he found some unknown place “behind the horizon.” At the time, Henk De Velde was somewhere in the Atlantic, slightly closer to South America than any other continent, but not very close to anywhere at all. I was on the nineteenth floor of an office building in midtown Manhattan, working at an adventure travel magazine, looking for stories. De Velde’s journey had a nice hook, a neat beginning, but no real end, which was kind of the point. Several years into our correspondence, I told an editor about it. His response was that De Velde probably needed to die for the story to have a proper arc. In the meantime, De Velde kept sailing, and I kept following him—less and less as the years piled on but well after the magazine shut down and I’d left New York. I still wanted to know what shape De Velde’s story would take, if he would ever find what he was looking for, and if he did ever get behind the horizon, where that might be.

Read the rest of this article at: VQR

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Dude Ranch

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It’s easy to see Deep Springs College — a tiny, highly selective two-year liberal arts institution just outside Death Valley — as a bastion of tradition. The school was founded in 1917 by electricity tycoon L.L. Nunn to create service-oriented leaders, and in many ways it can seem like a finishing school for intellectual cowboys. The 25 or so students are all male. They spend their days engaging in both manual labor (the college is a working cattle ranch) and classroom discourse (syllabi skew toward the Western canon). Alcohol and drugs aren’t permitted during the seven-week academic terms, and the community enforces a strict isolation policy that prohibits students from leaving the Deep Springs Valley except in cases of emergency or religious observance. Even the drive to the college evokes cinematic scenes of frontier outposts: “You come down from the mountains into the valley and see off in the distance a few kinds of trees and a little cluster of buildings in an otherwise empty desert,” says Sam Contis, who has visited the school a dozen times since March 2013. “I wasn’t quite expecting the sense of scale — how small the campus is in relation to the rest of the space around it. It felt like you could blink and it would almost disappear.”

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

The Search for a Habitable Second Earth

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Contact with extraterrestrial life would be an epochal event. Even the discovery of a simple alien organism would be transformative, giving us unprecedented insight into how life forms on Earth and other planets. Yet, there’s exactly zero proof that life exists beyond this world — not one alien germ, spore or cell, let alone an advanced race that could save or enslave us. And we don’t even know how life sprung up here 4 billion years ago from rocks, mud and water.

Scientists are torn on whether extraterrestrial life is abundant, rare or nonexistent. With 300 billion stars in the Milky Way, the late astronomer and futurist Carl Sagan figured there could be up to 10,000 advanced civilizations in our galaxy alone. Others, however, think not only are habitable planets rarer than thought, the odds of life forming are slight even on a promising world. In other words, we might be completely alone in our galaxy or even the universe.

Despite pessimism among some researchers, NASA has often implied that if a planet has the same conditions as Earth, it will automatically have life. “I see that as a marketing thing by NASA to interest people in planetary searches,” said astronomer Caleb Scharf, who co-authored a paper on the odds of life forming on a planet. “I think [the chances] could be a lot lower, personally.”

That’s reinforced by another stark reality. “We haven’t seen life everywhere we’ve looked so far,” said astrobiologist Lauri Barge. “If life really requires some unique conditions to emerge, obviously Earth had them, but how many other planets would have them?”

Read the rest of this article at: Engadget

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @rimearodaky; @boutierre_girls; @evgeniya.prinsloo

 
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