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In the News 08.06.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 08.06.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Dick Cavett In The Digital Age

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Everyone wants to ask Dick Cavett the same question, and it is a question that he never wants to answer: Of all today’s talk-show hosts, who is the “next Dick Cavett”?

“Well, that’s an awkward subject matter for me, because I know all of them,” Mr. Cavett, 81, said on a recent sunny Thursday afternoon at his sprawling country house in Connecticut. “I’m not addicted to talk shows. God knows, I’ve spent enough time on them.”

As in Mr. Cavett’s 1960s and ’70s heyday, the country is in a period of turbulence, with racial tensions flaring, protests in the streets, and a fundamental ideological fissure. The hosts who have emphasized substance, who have “gone political,” have been praised and nominated for Emmys.

But “the next Cavett”? Is such a thing possible?

If only.

For three decades, Mr. Cavett was the thinking person’s Johnny Carson, embodiment of an East Coast sophisticate. He wore smart turtlenecks and double-breasted blazers, had more cultural references than a Google server and laced martini-dry witticisms into lengthy, probing talks with 20th-century luminaries including Bette Davis, James Baldwin, Mick Jagger and Jean-Luc Godard.

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

In the News 08.06.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain

In the News 08.06.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I am staring at a photograph of myself that shows me 20 years older than I am now. I have not stepped into the twilight zone. Rather, I am trying to rid myself of some measure of my present bias, which is the tendency people have, when considering a trade-off between two future moments, to more heavily weight the one closer to the present. A great many academic studies have shown this bias—also known as hyperbolic discounting—to be robust and persistent.

Most of them have focused on money. When asked whether they would prefer to have, say, $150 today or $180 in one month, people tend to choose the $150. Giving up a 20 percent return on investment is a bad move—which is easy to recognize when the question is thrust away from the present. Asked whether they would take $150 a year from now or $180 in 13 months, people are overwhelmingly willing to wait an extra month for the extra $30.

Present bias shows up not just in experiments, of course, but in the real world. Especially in the United States, people egregiously undersave for retirement—even when they make enough money to not spend their whole paycheck on expenses, and even when they work for a company that will kick in additional funds to retirement plans when they contribute.

That state of affairs led a scholar named Hal Hershfield to play around with photographs. Hershfield is a marketing professor at UCLA whose research starts from the idea that people are “estranged” from their future self. As a result, he explained in a 2011 paper, “saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now.” The paper described an attempt by Hershfield and several colleagues to modify that state of mind in their students. They had the students observe, for a minute or so, virtual-reality avatars showing what they would look like at age 70. Then they asked the students what they would do if they unexpectedly came into $1,000. The students who had looked their older self in the eye said they would put an average of $172 into a retirement account. That’s more than double the amount that would have been invested by members of the control group, who were willing to sock away an average of only $80.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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Growing Up Jobs

Three months before he died, I began to steal things from my father’s house. I wandered around barefoot and slipped objects into my pockets. I took blush, toothpaste, two chipped finger bowls in celadon blue, a bottle of nail polish, a pair of worn patent-leather ballet slippers, and four faded white pillowcases the color of old teeth.

After stealing each item, I felt sated. I promised myself that this would be the last time. But soon the urge to take something else would arrive again like thirst.

I tiptoed into my father’s room, careful to step over the creaky floorboard at the entrance. This room had been his study, when he could still climb the stairs, but he slept here now.

He was propped up in bed, wearing shorts. His legs were bare and thin as arms, bent up like a grasshopper’s.

“Hey, Lis,” he said.

Segyu Rinpoche stood beside him. He’d been around recently when I came to visit. A short Brazilian man with sparkling brown eyes, the Rinpoche was a Buddhist monk with a scratchy voice who wore brown robes over a round belly. We called him by his title. Near us, a black canvas bag of nutrients hummed with a motor and a pump, the tube disappearing somewhere under my father’s sheets.

“It’s a good idea to touch his feet,” Rinpoche said, putting his hands around my father’s foot on the bed. “Like this.”

I didn’t know if the foot touching was supposed to be for my father, or for me, or for both of us.

“Okay,” I said, and took his other foot in its thick sock, even though it was strange, watching my father’s face, because when he winced in pain or anger it looked similar to when he started to smile.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

In the News 08.06.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On The Other Side

In the News 08.06.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Years ago in Yonsa, a small North Korean town near the Chinese border, residents gathered to watch a man die. Executioners tied him by his neck, chest, and waist to a log in the town square, then shot 90 bullets into him. When it was over, all that remained were two legs.

The man, an executive at a trading company, had been ratted out for illegally cutting down and selling trees to China. When the police came to his property, they found his ceiling papered with money and a getaway boat filled with wads of cash. Or so the story goes among locals.

*Names have been changed.

But it was what became of this man’s daughter that haunted a 12-year-old Kim So Won*. The daughter was tall and beautiful and made small but daring fashion statements. “I remember she wore earrings and tight jeans,” says So Won, “and she wore a tight red jacket” — none of which was officially allowed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Rumors circulated that the girl could jump incredible distances, that she could fly across a room. “She was a star.”

Then one day, in 2007, not long after her father was publicly executed, the daughter vanished. No one ever saw or heard from her again. But So Won would always remember the earrings, the skinny jeans, the red jacket.

THE VIEW IN every direction from So Won’s home in Yonsa was dominated by mountains dotted with potatoes in the autumn and strawberries in the spring. The range they called “the gasping mountain” barricaded Yonsa from the Tumen River; in some ways, it felt like a prison wall. Across that water was China and the rest of the world. Being so close to another life, in a way inland North Koreans were not, was the hardest part.

With two rooms and a plot of land for growing vegetables, the Kims’ home was spacious by North Korean standards. So Won lived with her middle sister, So Yeon, who was three years older, along with their mother and father, an engineer who later became the town drunk. “It was such a waste for him to live in North Korea,” So Won says. “He was always drinking to avoid reality.”

The reality was that North Korea’s system had long ago ceased to function: Its economy had stalled, its government was desperate, and its people were growing increasingly aware that their lives had changed for the worse. From 1945 — when the Korean Peninsula was split by the U.S. and the Soviet Union following the Japanese occupation — until the 1970s, North Korea was the richer of the two nations. The communist North enjoyed a better infrastructure and a stronger economy than the democratic South; some Koreans living abroad who had the choice of either country, including So Won’s grand­father who’d moved to Japan, opted to claim citizenship in the North.

But over the following decades, life in North Korea shifted drastically. The fall of the Soviet Union led to the collapse of the economy. A series of floods and droughts culminated in the Great Famine, or “arduous march,” as it was called, from 1994 to 1998. The famine — along with the regime’s human rights abuses, mismanagement of foreign aid, and funneling of money toward its nuclear program — starved and killed 330,000 North Koreans, according to conservative estimates.

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

The Art Of Stealing

In the News 08.06.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Olga is on her own. Her son is in prison, being held on suspicion of having committed what they are calling on television ‘the art theft of the century’. She knows that the accusation is correct. Along with friends, her son Radu stole seven valuable artworks from a museum in Rotterdam, loaded them into a car and drove them to Romania.

There, in Carcaliu, a remote village at the poor south-eastern tip of the country, Olga stands in front of the heating stove in the bathroom. A short while ago she lit the fire then stepped out into the biting cold, making her way to the small graveyard opposite her house where, in the dead of night, she dug up the paintings and brought them back inside.

Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, Meijer de Haan and Freud. On television they are talking about a loot worth hundreds of millions of euros. The amount is not important to her. The pictures are evidence against her son and destroying the evidence seems like the only way she can help him.

The artworks go up like tindersticks.

Early in the morning of 16th October 2012, seven valuable artworks were stolen from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. The theft was world news. But what first seemed like a sophisticated burglary by professionals, turned out to be the work of a few small-time Romanian criminals who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. They knew about house burglaries, not art, and they certainly didn’t know about selling art.

This is the story of the Kunsthal robbery, based on the case files and conversations with those involved.

Read the rest of this article at: nrc.nl

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

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