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In the News 06.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 06.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@oliwiapakosz
In the News 06.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@oliwiapakosz
In the News 06.04.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@oliwiapakosz

Why Read Aristotle Today?

In the Western world, only since the mid-18th century has it been possible to discuss ethical questions publicly without referring to Christianity. Modern thinking about morality, which assumes that gods do not exist, or at least do not intervene, is in its infancy. But the ancient Greeks and Romans elaborated robust philosophical schools of ethical thought for more than a millennium, from the first professed agnostics such as Protagoras (fifth century BCE) to the last pagan thinkers. The Platonists’ Academy at Athens was not finally closed down until 529 CE, by the Emperor Justinian.

That longstanding tradition of moral philosophy is an invaluable legacy of ancient Mediterranean civilisation. It has prompted several contemporary secular thinkers, faced with the moral vacuum left by the decline of Christianity since the late 1960s, to revive ancient schools of thought. Stoicism, founded in Athens by the Cypriot Zeno in about 300 BCE, has advocates. Self-styled Stoic organisations on both sides of the Atlantic offer courses, publish books and blogposts, and even run an annual Stoic Week. Some Stoic principles underlay Dale Carnegie’s self-help classic How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948). He recommended Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations to its readers. But authentic ancient Stoicism was pessimistic and grim. It denounced pleasure. It required the suppression of emotions and physical appetites. It recommended the resigned acceptance of misfortune, rather than active engagement with the fine-grained business of everyday problem-solving. It left little room for hope, human agency or constructive repudiation of suffering.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

The Refugees Who Gave Up On Britain

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On a drizzly afternoon in February, Philip Kelly made the short drive from his home near the centre of Derby to a street in Normanton, one of the poorer areas of the city. He stopped at one of the terraced houses owned by G4S, which has a government contract to provide housing to asylum seekers in the region. The upstairs flat was occupied by Said Ghullam Norzai, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, and his 11-year-old son, Wali Khan.

Kelly knocked on the door, but there was no answer. Said and his son had vanished. Almost two years after smuggling themselves into the UK in the back of a lorry from Calais – and just seven weeks before an asylum appeal hearing that might have allowed him to stay and work legally in the UK, Said had smuggled himself and his son back out of Britain.

Said had arrived in the UK in May 2016, after a long, terrible journey from Kunduz province in Afghanistan. It took him almost a year, during which he was separated from his wife and their other children. More than a million people arrived in Europe by sea in 2015, of whom 50% were estimated to be Syrians and 20% Afghans.

A farmer and a family man, Said struggled with his new life in Derby. Here he was in an industrial city thousands of miles from home, confronting a world of bureaucracy in which his life was defined by Home Office letters, solicitors’ meetings, healthcare forms and strict school pick-up times. “I’m a simple man. I’m not educated,” he would often say, with a shrug.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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Signing Away Our Lives On Facebook

When British Columbia resident Deborah Douez signed up for a Facebook account, she didn’t expect that she’d end up going to court against the social-media giant. In 2012, she was told by a friend that her name and photo were showing up in Facebook ads promoting a company that sponsors competitive obstacle mud races, and the friend was wondering if Douez was working for that company.

But Douez wasn’t. All she had done was “like” the company’s Facebook page, the way countless other users do every day. Facebook was using her name and picture as part of a feature it had rolled out the previous year called “Sponsored Stories.” In effect, Douez’s identity was being used to help with an online sales pitch. “I was kind of shocked, because I had liked the page, but it didn’t mean that I was endorsing them,” she says. “It’s one thing to like something and quite another to then support it in a way that’s commercial in nature.”

Douez spoke to another friend who is a lawyer and who was already looking at the same ad campaign. In 2012, Douez sued Facebook on behalf of 1.8 million British Columbians who also had had their faces and names used this way, Douez contends in contravention of British Columbia’s Privacy Act. “When it comes to privacy law, in particular, I think it’s really important that those laws get protected and honoured by anyone who chooses to do business in this country,” she says.

“The underlying claims are without merit and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously,” a Facebook spokesperson stated in an email.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

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The Tortured Mind Of Dan Harmon

“I’ll go, ‘I ate a cupcake today,’ and they’re like, ‘Stop eatin’ cupcakes and write the fuckin’ show, you piece of shit!’ ” Dan Harmon rants, exaggerating only slightly the kinds of tweets he gets from “15-year-olds.” In Harmon’s rants, his fans—equal parts acolyte and troll—are always 15. And they are always demanding more Rick and Morty.

But right now, his hit show isn’t in production. At the moment, Harmon is on a stage inside his Burbank studio, taping a new episode of his podcast Harmontown, venting about yet another thing he’s said that’s caused yet another frenzy. “It can be challenging, especially with crippling lazy alcoholism, to write a show that hasn’t been ordered by a network,” he snarked back at one of those fans two days ago. It spawned a litany of “Rick and Morty in limbo” headlines this morning—all because, Harmon says, this generation lacks the shame to shut up.

“America, can’t you stop fucking commenting on everything?” Harmon shouts to the citizens of Harmontown who come to hear their self-appointed mayor give them shit, doing all this commenting just to get his attention. (I will later find this out for myself when I pop up in one of Harmon’s Instagram videos, where I’m welcomed with “Who’s that bitch?” Harmontown TripAdvisor rating: two stars, would not recommend.)

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

Atheists Are Sometimes More Religious Than Christians

Beyonce performs at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - HP1ED2D05WWOH

Americans are deeply religious people—and atheists are no exception. Western Europeans are deeply secular people—and Christians are no exception.

These twin statements are generalizations, but they capture the essence of a fascinating finding in a new study about Christian identity in Western Europe. By surveying almost 25,000 people in 15 countries in the region, and comparing the results with data previously gathered in the U.S., the Pew Research Center discovered three things.

First, researchers confirmed the widely known fact that, overall, Americans are much more religious than Western Europeans. They gauged religious commitment using standard questions, including “Do you believe in God with absolute certainty?” and “Do you pray daily?”

Second, the researchers found that American “nones”—those who identify as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular—are more religious than European nones. The notion that religiously unaffiliated people can be religious at all may seem contradictory, but if you disaffiliate from organized religion it does not necessarily mean you’ve sworn off belief in God, say, or prayer.

The third finding reported in the study is by far the most striking. As it turns out, “American ‘nones’ are as religious as—or even more religious than—Christians in several European countries, including France, Germany, and the U.K.”

“That was a surprise,” Neha Sahgal, the lead researcher on the study, told me. “That’s the comparison that’s fascinating to me.” She highlighted the fact that whereas only 23 percent of European Christians say they believe in God with absolute certainty, 27 percent of American nones say this.

America is a country so suffused with faith that religious attributes abound even among the secular. Consider the rise of “atheist churches,” which cater to Americans who have lost faith in supernatural deities but still crave community, enjoy singing with others, and want to think deeply about morality. It’s religion, minus all the God stuff. This is a phenomenon spreading across the country, from the Seattle Atheist Church to the North Texas Church of Freethought. The Oasis Network, which brings together non-believers to sing and learn every Sunday morning, has affiliates in nine U.S. cities.

Last month, almost 1,000 people streamed into a church in San Francisco for an unprecedented event billed as “Beyoncé Mass.” Most were people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. Many were secular. They used Queen Bey’s songs, which are replete with religious symbolism, as the basis for a communal celebration—one that had all the trappings of a religious service. That seemed completely fitting to some, including one reverend who said, “Beyoncé is a better theologian than many of the pastors and priests in our church today.”

The Catholic-themed Met Gala earlier this month was another instance of religion commingling with secular American culture. Fashion’s biggest night of the year saw celebrities sweeping down the red carpet dressed in papal tiaras, halos, angel wings, and countless crucifixes. These outfits, along with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s accompanying exhibition, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” drew the ire of some Christians. But it’s notable that so many celebrities, not to mention average Americans, embraced the theme with gusto. It’s easier to imagine this happening in America than in, say, staunchly secular France.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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

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