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In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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The Mystery Of People Who Speak Dozens Of Languages

Last May, Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in the Dutch city of Nijmegen, flew to Malta for a week to learn Maltese. He had a hefty grammar book in his backpack, but he didn’t plan to open it unless he had to. “We’ll do this as I would in the Amazon,” he told me, referring to his fieldwork as a linguist. Our plan was for me to observe how he went about learning a new language, starting with “hello” and “thank you.”

Rojas-Berscia is a twenty-seven-year-old Peruvian with a baby face and spiky dark hair. A friend had given him a new pair of earrings, which he wore on Malta with funky tank tops and a chain necklace. He looked like any other laid-back young tourist, except for the intense focus—all senses cocked—with which he takes in a new environment. Linguistics is a formidably cerebral discipline. At a conference in Nijmegen that had preceded our trip to Malta, there were papers on “the anatomical similarities in the phonatory apparati of humans and harbor seals” and “hippocampal-dependent declarative memory,” along with a neuropsychological analysis of speech and sound processing in the brains of beatboxers. Rojas-Berscia’s Ph.D. research, with the Shawi people of the Peruvian rain forest, doesn’t involve fMRI data or computer modelling, but it is still arcane to a layperson. “I’m developing a theory of language change called the Flux Approach,” he explained one evening, at a country inn outside the city, over the delicious pannenkoeken (pancakes) that are a local specialty. “A flux is a dynamism that involves a social fact and an impact, either functionally or formally, in linguistic competence.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How Dev Hynes, English Misfit, Became Blood Orange, R.&B. Miracle Worker

In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a sticky late-spring Saturday in New York, Devonté Hynes was on the set of the video for the song “Jewelry,” one of his newest solo recordings under the name Blood Orange — a typically restless, jazzy slow jam that starts as a spoken-word poem and ends as a kind of languid rap. The “set,” in this case, meant the sidewalk on a slip of street running west to east between Sixth Avenue and Washington Square Park. As with most of the videos the 32-year-old Hynes has created since he began making music professionally, back in his late teens, he was directing this one himself.

Earlier, Hynes and a cast of shirtless, mostly tattooed friends had performed the video’s elegantly homoerotic dance scenes. Then they rolled their gear through the park, past a crowd protesting New York’s criminalization of sex work, to this side street, where they shot a scene featuring Janet Mock, the writer, director and activist. Mock doesn’t just appear on Blood Orange’s fourth and latest album, “Negro Swan”; she serves, via a narration woven throughout the record, as a kind of proxy for Hynes’s authorial voice. “I’ve gotten so many texts from people,” she says of the response since Hynes started sending his new album around. “My friend Ilana Glazer is like, ‘I heard you on “Negro Swan,” and oh, my God, it’s amazing!’ ”

The list of stars Hynes has produced and written songs with — Solange Knowles, Kylie Minogue, Carly Rae Jepsen, Mariah Carey — might lead you to expect a maker of slick and splashy hits, churning out bangers destined for a mall near you. But Hynes’s work, even with the shiniest of stars, is something else entirely: It has a tender, gauzy feel, a new-wave R.&B. sensibility more suited for bedrooms than big stages. It’s pensive; there is a streak of sorrow in almost everything he writes. It’s also, in countless ways, the aural incarnation of a socially engaged, emotionally intelligent, multicultural, gender-fluid zeitgeist that’s now reaching the shores of mainstream pop.

“Basically, releasing music that sounds like demos” — that’s how the producer and songwriter Fred Macpherson summarizes his longtime friend’s signature sound. “The way Dev makes music, and even his attitudes toward production, he’s quite anti-intellectual. It’s never the best studio, it’s never the best microphone. But if you have a microphone, a computer, a room, an instrument, he will put something down, and it can be very good.” That approach, he says, “has always made sense in the indie world. Now that’s what pop music sounds like.”

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

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Maybe Your Sleep Problem Isn’t A Problem

I hate that Delta Air Lines commercial, the one called “4 a.m.,” that mocks me from my in-seat screen.

It starts off with a montage of perky professionals, rising before dawn in homes and executive-class hotel rooms around the world, stretching their gym-toned bodies and firing up coffeepots at an hour usually reserved for mating fruit bats.

“Here’s to all 180 million of you early risers, go-getters and should-be sleepers,” the voice-over says, as Disney’s “Heigh-Ho” swells in the background. “Because the ones who truly change the world are the ones who can’t wait to get out in it.”

Yes, I get it. I have heard this all my life: Society likes morning people. Loves them, actually. Early risers tend to be more punctual, get better grades in school and climb up the corporate ladder. These so-called larks are celebrated as the high achievers, the apple polishers, the C.E.O.s.

It’s basically the idea that Ben Franklin touted more than 250 years ago — “early to bed, early to rise” — with everyone else cast as lazy or self-indulgent.

But what if they are wrong? What if night owls are actually the unsung geniuses? What if we are the ultimate disrupters and rule changers, the ones who are better suited to a modern, postindustrial society ruled by late-night coders, digital nomads, freelance moguls and co-working entrepreneurs?

Perhaps it is finally time for the night owls of the world to rise! (Just not too early, of course.)

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

In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Electric Scooters’ Sudden Invasion Of American Cities, Explained

In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Hundred of motorized electric scooters quietly descended upon San Francisco seemingly overnight in March.

And then one day in June, they were gone.

In the months before their rapture, the scooters puzzled, infatuated, and infuriated residents. Those who dared to try them discovered a whimsical and cheap way to get around. Non-riders saw a swarm of locusts devouring precious inches of sidewalk and street, backed by companies that were the epitome of tech-bro arrogance. The city panicked, ordering that all scooters be removed until it could come up with a permitting process.

San Francisco is a microcosm of the promise and perils of the scooter stampede. Already, scooter companies operate in 65 cities and are vying for the top prize, New York City. Some city officials, however, are desperately trying to rein in and regulate scooters, which often appear without warning and without local input.

Without docks, scooters are cluttering sidewalks and blocking wheelchair ramps. Riders weaving through crowds or ignoring traffic rules have caused bruises and broken bones. In Santa Monica, California, it’s apparently hard to walk without tripping over a scooter:

The companies behind the scooters haven’t done themselves any favors either. Following in the tracks of aggressive ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, some scooter companies have adopted the notorious “ask forgiveness rather than permission” approach when setting up shop. As in San Francisco, officials in cities like St. Louis were surprised to see hundreds of scooters suddenly perched on curbs without any forewarning.

Other cities, like Seattle, are trying to keep them out until they can write rules of the road to manage them. And this being 2018, scooter companies have attempted to seed a social media backlash to the backlash.

Amid the feverish passion for and against scooters, there’s a larger reckoning taking place about rapid changes to our cities and public spaces. The scooters are forcing conversations about who is entitled to use sidewalks, streets, and curbs, and who should pay for their upkeep.

They’re also exposing transit deserts, showing who is and isn’t adequately served by the status quo, and even by newer options like bike share. That people have taken so readily to scooters shows just how much latent demand there is for a quick and cheap way to get around cities.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

Glenn Greenwald, The Bane Of Their Resistance

In the News 08.27.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Like a man in the first draft of a limerick, Tennys Sandgren is a tennis player from Tennessee. Last winter, after scraping his way onto the list of the top hundred professional players, he secured a spot at the Australian Open. He advanced to the quarter-finals. At a press conference, he responded happily to questions about his unexpected achievement. Then someone asked him about his Twitter feed. Sandgren had tweeted, retweeted, or “liked” disparaging remarks about Muslims and gays; he had highlighted an article suggesting that recent migration into Europe could be described as “Operation European Population Replacement”; he had called Marx’s ideas worse than Hitler’s. He had also promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which accuses Hillary Clinton of human trafficking. Sandgren told reporters that, though he didn’t support the alt-right, he did find “some of the content interesting.”

This became a small news story. Sandgren then lost his quarter-final, and, at the subsequent press conference, he read a statement condemning the media’s willingness to “turn neighbor against neighbor.” Later that day, he was surprised to receive a supportive message from Glenn Greenwald, the journalist, whom he followed on Twitter. (Sandgren also followed Roger Federer, Peter Thiel, and Paul Joseph Watson, of Infowars.)

Greenwald, a former lawyer who, in 2013, was one of the reporters for a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the Guardian on Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the National Security Agency, is a longtime critic, from the left, of centrist and liberal policymakers and pundits. During the past two years, he has further exiled himself from the mainstream American left by responding with skepticism and disdain to reports of Russian government interference in the 2016 Presidential election. On Twitter, where he has nearly a million followers, and at the Intercept, the news Web site that he co-founded five years ago, and as a frequent guest on “Democracy Now!,” the daily progressive radio and TV broadcast, Greenwald has argued that the available evidence concerning Russian activity has indicated nothing especially untoward; he has declared that those who claim otherwise are in denial about the ineptitude of the Democrats and of Hillary Clinton, and are sometimes prone to McCarthyite hysteria. These arguments, underpinned by a distaste for banal political opinions and a profound distrust of American institutions—including the C.I.A., the F.B.I., and Rachel Maddow—have put an end to his appearances on MSNBC, where he considers himself now banned, but they have given him a place on Tucker Carlson’s show, on Fox News, and in Tennys Sandgren’s Twitter feed. Greenwald is also a tennis fan—and a regular, sweary player. He recently began working on a documentary about his adolescent fascination with Martina Navratilova.

Sandgren told me that Greenwald’s message had celebrated his success in the tournament, adding, “He knows quite a lot about tennis—enough to know it was the result of my lifetime. And he wanted to encourage me in that particular moment to continue to learn, to continue to grow, and to remember to be kind—to yourself and to your critics.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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

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