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In the News 09.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 09.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 09.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Aziz Ansari Is
Still Searching

Last December at the wrap party for the second season of “Master of None,” the show’s star and co-creator, Aziz Ansari, addressed the cast and crew. But this wasn’t the typical thank-you for hard work. Using what would politely be called a “bathroom word,” he suggested they managed to ruin Season 1 by comparison. “I don’t know how we did it,” he said, “but we did it.”

Mr. Ansari was joking, to underscore how hesitant he felt about doing another run considering how good he felt about the first. Success has brought new concerns.

At 34, he is no longer the stand-up comic joking about his young pudgy cousin Harris (who plays his grown-up and quite buff cousin in the second season). Nor is he the lovably vain city employee and failed entrepreneur from the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” Through the Netflix show; his best-selling book, “Modern Romance”; and his powerful monologue on “Saturday Night Live” after the presidential inauguration, Mr. Ansari has accomplished what Chris Rock once wrote that 1970s-era Woody Allen had done: recast the idea of what a leading man should be.

And as Mr. Allen did with “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan,” Mr. Ansari has also raised expectations of the work he puts out into the world.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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The Way Ahead

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Peter Florence, the supremo of this great literary festival, asked me some months ago if I might, as part of Hay’s celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s kickstarting of the reformation, suggest a reform of the internet. Firstly let me say that, despite a lifetime immersing myself in what I consider the provoking, beguiling, bewitching and often befuddling joy of technological development, especially in the realm of information technology, networking and shiny digital devices, I am no computer scientist, coder or programmer. Many people, some of them no doubt here in this tent now, will know much more about the subject I’m going to discourse upon. Take this, if you take it all, as the offering of a curious mind, curious in both sense, avid for information and just plain odd.

You will be relieved to know, that unlike Martin Luther, I do not have a full 95 theses to nail to the door, or in Hay’s case, to the tent flap. It might be worth reminding ourselves perhaps, however, of the great excitements of the early 16th century. I do not think it is a coincidence that Luther grew up as one of the very first generation to have access to printed books, much as some of you may have children who were the first to grow up with access to e-books, to iPads and to the internet.

Read the rest of this article at: Stephen Fry

From Rust Belt to Mill Towns: A Tale of Two Voter Revolts

The Red Shed is a simple, one-storey wooden building in Wakefield that houses a meeting place and a bar. A sign on the front wall informs the world that it has been the meeting place of the Wakefield Labour Club since 1966: “50 Years a Socialist Shed”.

I happened across this unlikely outbuilding in the course of an effort to understand the politics of modern Britain as it hurtles toward the momentous decision it will make on 8 June. Theresa May presents herself as a strong leader who can go toe-to-toe with the big boys in Brussels; if her mandate is big enough, she will be free to seek the most extreme form of Brexit. If her victory is less convincing, she will have to moderate her stance. Either way, the actual details of the deal that will determine the future of this island are anyone’s guess.

And so I have come to this city of 76,000 in West Yorkshire to see how this country on the brink compares to my own. Hanging around in the affluent and cosmopolitan areas of London wouldn’t do. To come to grips with what has been going on here required a visit to the Britannia that is not cool; the regions where people largely exist outside the lustful gaze of the world.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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The Worst Ever First Day on the Job

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I’ve lived a good part of my life in an odd netherworld. Working people are suspicious of my diction and demeanor, and white-collar people wonder what a guy like me, who looks and sounds like them, is doing driving a truck and moving furniture for a living. The truth is, I wasn’t brought up to be a long-haul mover. I was raised by conscientious parents, educated by the Catholic Church, and fine-tuned by the sensibilities of a prestigious New England liberal arts college. None of it stuck because Dan Bartoli, the proprietor of Dan’s Service Station in Cos Cob, Connecticut, where I got my first job, nailed me at an impressionable time and introduced me to low company and hard work.

Working at Dan’s blasted me out of the sheltered, church-oriented life I had known. My baptism began the first instant of my first day at the gas station when Dan trotted out his employee orientation speech:

“The middle word of this enterprise is ‘Service,’ and that’s what we give here. The first word of this enterprise is ‘Dan’s,’ that’s me. You give service and remember that this business belongs to me, we’ll get along fine. You got that, you dim fuckin’ peckerwood?”

Before that day I can’t remember ever being sworn at. Before that day I had never heard an adult say the word “fuck.” I was 15 years old. Dan wasn’t kidding about service. You had to wash all the windows, check the oil, the power steering fluid, the brake fluid, and the transmission fluid, wipe off any spilled gas, and chat up the customer about the latest Yankee game or town gossip, all in a fluid motion so as not to waste anyone’s time but still give full value to each customer. Dan was a master. He knew every customer’s name, their kids’ names, and the latest news from the church, firehouse, Rotary meeting, or school. In public, Dan always had the perfectly appropriate response for any social situation. It was an elaborate ritual, and regular customers would stop and get two bucks’ worth of gas just for the experience.

Read the rest of this article at: Lit Hub

Oldest Homo Sapiens Bones Ever Found Shake Foundations of the Human Story

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Fossils recovered from an old mine on a desolate mountain in Morocco have rocked one of the most enduring foundations of the human story: that Homo sapiens arose in a cradle of humankind in East Africa 200,000 years ago.

Archaeologists unearthed the bones of at least five people at Jebel Irhoud, a former barite mine 100km west of Marrakesh, in excavations that lasted years. They knew the remains were old, but were stunned when dating tests revealed that a tooth and stone tools found with the bones were about 300,000 years old.

“My reaction was a big ‘wow’,” said Jean-Jacques Hublin, a senior scientist on the team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. “I was expecting them to be old, but not that old.”

Hublin said the extreme age of the bones makes them the oldest known specimens of modern humans and poses a major challenge to the idea that the earliest members of our species evolved in a “Garden of Eden” in East Africa one hundred thousand years later.

“This gives us a completely different picture of the evolution of our species. It goes much further back in time, but also the very process of evolution is different to what we thought,” Hublin told the Guardian. “It looks like our species was already present probably all over Africa by 300,000 years ago. If there was a Garden of Eden, it might have been the size of the continent.”

Jebel Irhoud has thrown up puzzles for scientists since fossilised bones were first found at the site in the 1960s. Remains found in 1961 and 1962, and stone tools recovered with them, were attributed to Neanderthals and at first considered to be only 40,000 years old. At the time, a popular view held that modern humans evolved from Neanderthals. Today, the Neanderthals are considered a sister group that lived alongside, and even bred with, our modern human ancestors.

In fresh excavations at the Jebel Irhoud site, Hublin and others found more remains, including a partial skull, a jawbone, teeth and limb bones belonging to three adults, a juvenile, and a child aged about eight years old. The remains, which resemble modern humans more than any other species, were recovered from the base of an old limestone cave that had its roof smashed in during mining operations at the site. Alongside the bones, researchers found sharpened flint tools, a good number of gazelle bones, and lumps of charcoal, perhaps left over from fires that warmed those who once lived there.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @georgiannalane; Pinterest; @catherinesomething