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News 04.08.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 04.08.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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@_hollyt

Something to Celebrate: 50 Favourite Places in the UK

With the nation blinded by Brexit, it’s easy to lose sight of how varied, fascinating and often beautiful these islands are. So we asked 50 writers to celebrate what’s great about the UK

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 04.08.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Orwell’s Last Neighborhood

News 04.08.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s hard to know what would be a good place from which to imagine a future of bad smells and no privacy, deceit and propaganda, poverty and torture. Does a writer need to live in misery and ugliness to conjure up a dystopia?

Apparently not.

We’d been walking more than an hour. The road was two tracks of pebbled dirt separated by a strip of grass. The land was treeless as prairie, with wildflowers and the seedless tops of last year’s grass smudging the new growth.

We rounded a curve and looked down a hillside to the sea. A half mile in the distance, far back from the water, was a white house with three dormer windows. Behind it, a stone wall cut a diagonal to the water like a seam stitching mismatched pieces of green velvet. Far to the right, a boat moved along the shore, its sail as bright as the house.

This was where George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. The house, called Barnhill, sits near the northern end of Jura, an island off Scotland’s west coast in the Inner Hebrides. It was June 2, sunny, short-sleeve warm, with the midges barely out, and couldn’t have been more beautiful.

Orwell lived here for parts of the last three years of his life. He left periodically (mostly in the winter) to do journalism in London and, for seven months in 1947 and 1948, to undergo treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis. Although he rented Barnhill and didn’t own it, he put in fruit trees and a garden, built a chicken house, bought a truck and a boat, and invested numberless hours of labor in what he believed would be his permanent home. When he left it for the last time, in January 1949, he never again lived outside a sanatorium or hospital.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

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Usain Bolt’s Split Times
and the Power of Calculus

“Art,” said Pablo Picasso, “is a lie that makes us realize truth.” The same could be said for calculus as a model of nature. To see why, let me tell you a story about the fastest sprinter on the planet.

The evening of August 16, 2008, was windless in Beijing. At 10:30, the eight fastest men in the world lined up for the finals of the 100-meter dash. One of them, a 21-year-old Jamaican sprinter named Usain Bolt, was a relative newcomer to this event. Known more as a 200-meter man, he’d begged his coach for years to let him try running the shorter race, and over the past year he’d become very good at it.

He didn’t look like the other sprinters. He was gangly, 6 feet, 5 inches tall, with a long, loping stride. As a boy he had focused on soccer and cricket until his cricket coach noticed his speed and suggested that he try out for track. As a teenager he kept improving as a runner, but he never took the sport or himself too seriously. He was goofy and mischievous and had a fondness for practical jokes.

Read the rest of this article at: Quanta Magazine

News 04.08.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How A.S.M.R. Became a Sensation

When Jennifer Allen watched videos of space, she sometimes felt this peculiar sensation: a tingling that spread through her scalp as the camera pulled back to show the marble of the earth. It came in a wave, like a warm effervescence, making its way down the length of her spine and leaving behind a sense of gratitude and wholeness. Allen loved this feeling, but she didn’t know what caused it. It was totally distinct from anything she’d experienced before. Every two years or so she’d take to Google. She tried searching things like “tingling head and spine” or “brain orgasm.” For nine years, the search didn’t turn up anything.

Then, around 2009, it did. As always, Allen typed her phrases into Google, but this time she got a result on a message board called SteadyHealth. The post was titled WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD:

i get this sensation sometimes. theres no real trigger for it. it just happens randomly. its been happening since i was a kid and i’m 21 now. some examples of what it seems has caused it to happen before are as a child while watching a puppet show and when i was being read a story to. as a teenager when a classmate did me a favor and when a friend drew on the palm of my hand with markers. sometimes it happens for no reason at all

The poster went on to demand an explanation. In the discussion, nobody had one, but many described a similar feeling — a “silvery sparkle” inside the head, a euphoric “brain-gasm” or a feeling like goose bumps in the scalp that faded “in and out in waves of heightened intensity.” Many people agreed that the sensation was euphoric. (“Aside from an actual orgasm, it’s probably the most enjoyable sensation possible,” one user wrote.) Its triggers were as varied as watching someone fill out a form, listening to whispering sounds or seeing Bob Ross paint landscapes on TV.

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

What If Mexico Still Included California, Nevada and Texas?

ALBUQUERQUE — Mention the border with Mexico these days and dystopian images might come to mind: Agents detaining children in a holding pen, blimps hunting drones, the corpses of border crossers marking the frontier.

But even as President Trump presses ahead with his cry for a wall along the entire border — implying, yet again, that neighbors to the south threaten the richest and most powerful country on Earth — history offers other perspectives.

The photographer Tomas van Houtryve had in mind the nuanced past of what is now the American West when he set out on the border.

No, not the current one, but the long-forgotten boundary that existed before the Mexican-American War.

Mr. van Houtryve, 44, wanted to challenge what he calls the West’s “puffed-up mythology” in which Hollywood nurtured the view that the expansion of the United States spread ideas like equality, liberty and democracy in conquered lands.

“In reality, these values arrived in the West straight from Mexico City,” said Mr. van Houtryve, who was raised in California and now lives in Paris. “The main ideological import of Anglo-Americans to the West at the time was actually strident white supremacy.”

Before President James K. Polk prodded the two nations into war, Mexico was nearly twice as large and the border was some 700 miles north of where it is now. Mexico prohibited slavery; American slave owners wanted to expand the institution.

Then came the 1845 annexation of Texas, where American immigrants to what was then Mexico’s state of Coahuila y Tejas had staged their slaveholder rebellion. The Texas Revolution’s martyrs included men like the slave trader James W. Fannin.

A few years later, the United States orchestrated the war with Mexico that led to one of the most colossal land grabs in American history: territory now including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

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

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