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In the News 29.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 29.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@ironnsalt
In the News 29.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@tamara
In the News 29.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@boutierre_girls

The Idea That Everything From Spoons
To Stones Are Conscious
Is Gaining Academic Credibility

Consciousness permeates reality. Rather than being just a unique feature of human subjective experience, it’s the foundation of the universe, present in every particle and all physical matter.

This sounds like easily-dismissible bunkum, but as traditional attempts to explain consciousness continue to fail, the “panpsychist” view is increasingly being taken seriously by credible philosophers, neuroscientists, and physicists, including figures such as neuroscientist Christof Koch and physicist Roger Penrose.

“Why should we think common sense is a good guide to what the universe is like?” says Philip Goff, a philosophy professor at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. “Einstein tells us weird things about the nature of time that counters common sense; quantum mechanics runs counter to common sense. Our intuitive reaction isn’t necessarily a good guide to the nature of reality.”

David Chalmers, a philosophy of mind professor at New York University, laid out the “hard problem of consciousness” in 1995, demonstrating that there was still no answer to the question of what causes consciousness. Traditionally, two dominant perspectives, materialism and dualism, have provided a framework for solving this problem. Both lead to seemingly intractable complications.

Read the rest of this article at: Quartz

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The Lost Art of Staying Put

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NOT ALL THAT LONG AGO, air travel was a clear badge of elite cultural distinction, from the “jet set” to the Sinatra-mangling ad slogan, “Come Fly With Me.” Droit-de-seigneur sexual fantasies of stewardess life were memorialized in that elegantly titled sixties tell-all Coffee, Tea, or Me? People actually used to dress up to take a plane. But that’s all over. Now you need a bulletproof vest when dealing with the cabin crew.

Airlines seem to be competing for Jerk of the Year awards. When they’re not bumping people off, figuratively or literally, they’re frighteningly “reaching out” to the customers they abused, customers with “issues.” (The language is patronizing and predatory.) We’re all sorry United’s planes are so attractive to terrorists. The staff must be under constant strain. But so are the passengers, with whom these tin-pot dictators are increasingly strict, banning leggings on ten-year-olds and bodily removing people from the passenger manifests.

Delta recruited airport police to threaten a couple with jail and the confiscation of their children, all for refusing to give up seats they’d paid for on a flight from Hawaii to LA. An American Airlines flight attendant bullied a tired mother of twin babies over her stroller, and then readied himself to punch a passenger who rose to her defense. These companies seem very exacting about how their customers behave—while apparently giving staff (or airport-based security officials) full license to unleash their inner demons. In airplane disaster movies, the pilot’s always wrestling with the yoke, trying to get full throttle; now these exertions are directed towards throttling the yokels.

Then United killed Simon. Simon was one of the largest rabbits in the world, maybe even a pooka! (United has a high rate of animal deaths, so watch whose hold you’re stuffing your poor pet into.) Rabbits go quietly belly-up, and Spandex-clad girls just sob and slip back into obscurity, taking their improper contours with them. But the sight of the bloodied Dr. Dao being manhandled and dragged along the aisle, on his back, through an “overbooked” United Airlines Chicago to Louisville flight, evoked fascist tactics, and caused United’s CEO to perform some tricky maneuvers to steer the airline out of a self-generated PR nose-dive. It also led to some suggestions for new slogans: Fly the unfriendly skies . . . Red eye and black eye flights available . . . If we can’t seat you we’ll beat you . . . Board as a doctor, leave as a patient . . . United: putting the hospital back into hospitality. Dr. Dao’s plight resonated because it so perfectly encapsulates the now-customary degradation of human dignity, morale, and will-to-live otherwise known as air travel in the twenty-first century.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

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Losing Sight

Asadabad, the sylvan capital of Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan, has a population of more than 30,000 but the feel of a village. Little happens there without being noticed. Were you out surveying the bazaar on September 7, 2013, you might have seen eight men, three women, and four young children climb into a red Toyota pickup. Most were members of an extended family, returning home after running errands. The pickup was just large enough to accommodate the women and children, with the men piled into the back alongside the sacks of flour they had purchased. Their village, Gambir, was a 2 1/2-hour drive northwest on a rough and undulating road. The village had no electricity or running water, and whatever food that couldn’t be grown had to be brought in from town. To get a phone signal, you climbed a hill. To feel warm to the bone, you waited for spring.

Read the rest of this article at: The Intercept

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The Many Acts of Keith Gordon

“When I first met him the only thing I really remember is that he looked familiar to me,” cinematographer Tom Richmond told me about Keith Gordon, the director and former actor. “We would walk down the street…and people would recognize him all the time,” said Bob Weide, an executive producer, writer, director and one of Gordon’s oldest friends. “He has one of those faces where it would be, ‘Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, but don’t I know you?’ …Keith would always give them the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘Um, I don’t know. Do we know each other?’ They’d say, “Did you go to Brandeis?’ And Keith would say, ‘No, no, no, I didn’t.’ …They’d say, ‘Wait a minute, did you grow up in Sacramento?’”

“You know what it’s like, when you see him from that time,” recalled Gordon’s wife, Rachel Griffin, a film producer and former actress. “He looked like somebody you knew.” And it was often true, sort of: many people know what he looked like in the mid 1980s, because Gordon had been a very visible, successful actor in teen comedies and thrillers.

“They would rarely say, ‘Oh my god, you’re the guy in Christine, or you’re the guy in Dressed to Kill or whatever,” Weide said. “Sometimes I would actually just jump in and say, ‘He’s an actor, you’ve probably just seen him in one of his films.’ …It was just really painful for him. People thought they knew him, but he was always way too embarrassed or humble to say ‘I’m an actor, maybe you’ve seen one of my movies’.”

Maybe you have seen one of his movies, and not just one he’s starred in. Gordon has directed five feature films, as well as some of the most prestigious of prestige television, including but not even remotely limited to “Fargo,” “The Leftovers,” and “Homeland.”

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

The Untold Story of the Pentagon Papers Co-Conspirator

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In June of 1971, Gar Alperovitz, a thirty-five-year-old historian, sped through suburban Boston, looking for an out-of-the-way pay phone to use to call a reporter. Alperovitz had never considered himself much of a risk-taker. The father of two ran a small economic think tank focussed on community-building. He had participated in demonstrations against the Vietnam War and rung doorbells with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Boston, as part of an antiwar campaign. But what he was doing on this day, propelled by his desire to end the conflict, could lead to federal prison.

He pulled his old Saab up to a phone booth on the outskirts of Harvard Square, and rang a hotel room nearby. When the reporter picked up, Alperovitz identified himself with the alias he had adopted: “It’s Mr. Boston.” Alperovitz told the journalist to open the door. Waiting in the hallway was a cardboard box, left minutes before by a runner working with Alperovitz. Inside were several hundred pages of the most sought-after documents in the United States—the top-secret Vietnam history known as the Pentagon Papers.

The handoff was one of about a dozen clandestine encounters with journalists that Alperovitz orchestrated over the course of a three-week period, when he and a small group of fellow antiwar activists helped Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst at the rand Corporation, elude an F.B.I. manhunt and distribute the Pentagon Papers to nineteen newspapers. Ellsberg, who had smuggled the documents out of rand’s Santa Monica office two years earlier and copied them with the help of a colleague, has long been the public face of the leak. But Ellsberg was aided by about a half-dozen volunteers whose identities have stayed secret for forty-six years, despite the intense interest of the Nixon Administration, thousands of articles, books, documentaries, plays, and now a major film, “The Post,” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, about the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg told me that the hidden role of this group was so critical to the operation that he gave them a code name—The Lavender Hill Mob, the name of a 1951 film about a ragtag group of amateur bank robbers. He has referred obliquely to his co-conspirators over the years. But he held back from identifying them because some in the group still feared repercussions.

Now, Alperovitz, who is eighty-one, has agreed to be revealed for the first time. “I’m getting old,” Alperovitz told me, with a laugh. Several other members of the group told me that they still wished to remain anonymous, or declined interview requests. One former Harvard graduate student who also played a major role—she hid the papers in her apartment and organized hideouts for Ellsberg—considered coming forward in this piece, but she ultimately decided not to, after conferring with lawyers. As a green-card holder, she worried that her involvement could lead to her deportation by the Trump Administration. Still, she remains proud of her role. “Those were extraordinary days,” she told me. “It was about questioning the government and being against the government. I was very, very angry about what was happening in Vietnam.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @brothervellies; @katie.one; @brightonkeller

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