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In the News 04.09.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 04.09.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 04.09.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 04.09.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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The Cult Of Being Kind

One cold morning in Bristol, a man named Gavyn Emery tied a scarf to a lamppost, and on a cardboard tag wrote: “I am not lost.” It was 2016, and rough sleeping in Bristol had risen by more than 800% in seven years. As temperatures plummeted, more people were inspired to do the same, wrapping trees in coats, sticking hats on bollards, warmth for anybody who needed it. Scarves started appearing in Cornwall, Glasgow, London, Cambridge; across the UK through this very long winter it was possible to see a blossoming compassion, visible in wool.

Kindness is not new. It’s old, pretty old. Aristotle said: “It is the characteristic of the magnanimous man to ask no favour but to be ready to do kindness to others.” Kindness is mankind’s “greatest delight,” said Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius. And yet, for a long time it has been seen as sort of… suspicious. As religion’s hold on our culture has weakened, and with it the insistence upon loving thy neighbour, a certain selfishness has come to be expected. To be kind is also to be weak, unfocused on achievement. Unsuccessful. Kindness is seen as a nostalgic throwback to simpler times, or worse, a con. A man who throws his coat over the puddle is a man who onlookers suspect must be protecting something valuable in the mud. To go out of one’s way to be kind suggests an ulterior motive – who has time to look up from their phone, let alone expose themselves to the discomfort of empathising with a stranger?

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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The Business Of Being Cardi B

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On August 12, 2017, Cardi B, The Bronx-hailing 25-year-old rapper, performed her now-quintuple-platinum single “Bodak Yellow” for the first time in New York, during a concert held at MoMA PS1’s Warm-Up, an outdoor summer series held at the venerated museum’s offshoot in Long Island City. A hometown crowd of around 4,000, from all ages and ethnic backgrounds, acted as a barometer of her ascendant stardom — the “Cardi B effect” was spreading. Quickly. Decked out in a red lace dress and a blunt black bob, Cardi was greeted with flashes, cheers and phones recording her every move. When she finally performed her fast-rising single, the crowd erupted in unison: “Said lil’ b****…”

“She was like: ‘Are people even going to know me here?,’ ” remembers Ashley Kalmanowitz, vice president of publicity at Atlantic Records, who was on the side of the stage that day.

Like the liquor in the cups of the concertgoers and the weed smoke around them, the Cardi B effect was not only perceptible, it was intoxicating — even for members of Cardi’s own team. “The way the venue is set up, since it gets narrow, you can feel the energy coming from the back of the room to the front of the stage. It’s amazing,” DJ Sparkx, Cardi’s longtime DJ, tells NPR Music.

But Cardi’s trepidation over the crowd at PS1 was warranted. At that point, the cool kids at Warm-Up weren’t considered her core demographic (a performance at New York’s Dominican Day Parade the following day likely didn’t come with the same initial wariness). And yet, the immediate embrace of the artistic bleeding-edge of New York meant that Cardi’s crossover was underway. Over one pivotal weekend, she proved to herself and her haters that, riding the wave of “Bodak Yellow,” she could rule every enclave in her city, from the from the Uptown bodegas to the bougie outer-borough art scene and everywhere in between.

Read the rest of this article at: NPR

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Trouble In Paradise

The venerable Privy Council sits behind the usual barricades of modern life on prime London real estate at No. 9 Downing Street. The court’s power has faded from its colonial heights, when one of its decisions banned suttee, the Hindu practice of burning the widow with her husband’s body atop his funeral pyre. Now it sits as the court of last resort only to the splinters of an empire undone: British Gibraltar and a lingering handful of island territories in far-off seas.

On a day in the hot London summer of 2006, the smallest of all those colonial shavings, Pitcairn Island, took center stage for the first and surely the last time with a child-rape case that seemed to hover somewhere between Paradise Lost and Lord of the Flies. But it also carried with it—or the case never would have reached this archaic pinnacle—a subplot of a powerful government stumbling out of centuries of neglect. This was Britain’s attempt to clean up a mess it had allowed, through inattention, to spin out of control.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

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Patagonia vs. Donald Trump

Patagonia was built in the image of its founder, Yvon Chouinard. In late January, when we met for the first time, that image included a flannel shirt, beat-up trousers, and flip-flops. Chouinard is an unlikely nominee for wealthiest man in the room. He walks with an air of deflection, as if to duck attention. “It’s funny, the first time I met him,” the celebrated mountain climber Tommy Caldwell told me, “I walked into the cafeteria at Patagonia, and I was like, ‘That guy looks like a homeless dude.’ ”

Chouinard is both a beatnik dropout and a renegade capitalist. A revolutionary rock climber in his day, who still disappears regularly to surf and fly-fish, he oversees a corporation that did $800 million in sales last year. At 79, Chouinard looks like a recovering mountain troll who enjoys sunshine, food, and wine but will probably outlast the rest of us if the apocalypse hits tomorrow. “I’ve spent enough time in the mountains,” he told me, “that I can get from point A to point B safely and efficiently. If shit hits the fan, I could feed my family off the coast. But I’m totally lost in the desert. I don’t understand the desert at all.”

In the months leading up to our meeting, Chouinard and Patagonia had seen a few disasters. The Thomas wildfire, the largest in California history, torched the hills around the company’s Ventura headquarters. Five employees lost their homes, and then came the mudslides. All of which took place while Patagonia dealt with a crisis back east: a decision by President Trump, the great un-doer, to shrink some of his predecessor’s national monuments. The pledge was a first for an American president; limiting the size of monuments like Bears Ears in Utah would mean the largest reduction of protected land in U.S. history. Which is what led Patagonia, in early December, to change its home page to a stark message: “The President Stole Your Land.”

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete

In the News 04.09.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The scientific paper—the actual form of it—was one of the enabling inventions of modernity. Before it was developed in the 1600s, results were communicated privately in letters, ephemerally in lectures, or all at once in books. There was no public forum for incremental advances. By making room for reports of single experiments or minor technical advances, journals made the chaos of science accretive. Scientists from that point forward became like the social insects: They made their progress steadily, as a buzzing mass.

The earliest papers were in some ways more readable than papers are today. They were less specialized, more direct, shorter, and far less formal. Calculus had only just been invented. Entire data sets could fit in a table on a single page. What little “computation” contributed to the results was done by hand and could be verified in the same way.

The more sophisticated science becomes, the harder it is to communicate results. Papers today are longer than ever and full of jargon and symbols. They depend on chains of computer programs that generate data, and clean up data, and plot data, and run statistical models on data. These programs tend to be both so sloppily written and so central to the results that it’s contributed to a replication crisis, or put another way, a failure of the paper to perform its most basic task: to report what you’ve actually discovered, clearly enough that someone else can discover it for themselves.

Perhaps the paper itself is to blame. Scientific methods evolve now at the speed of software; the skill most in demand among physicists, biologists, chemists, geologists, even anthropologists and research psychologists, is facility with programming languages and “data science” packages. And yet the basic means of communicating scientific results hasn’t changed for 400 years. Papers may be posted online, but they’re still text and pictures on a page.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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

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