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In the News 25.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 25.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 25.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 25.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Don’t Think Too Positive

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Do you believe that positive thinking can help you achieve your goals? Many people today do. Pop psychology and the $12 billion self-help industry reinforce a widespread belief that positive thinking can improve our moods and lead to beneficial life changes. In her book The Secret Daily Teachings (2008), the self-help author Rhonda Byrne suggested that: ‘Whatever big thing you are asking for, consider having the celebration now as though you have received it.’

Yet research in psychology reveals a more complicated picture. Indulging in undirected positive flights of fancy isn’t always in our interest. Positive thinking can make us feel better in the short term, but over the long term it saps our motivation, preventing us from achieving our wishes and goals, and leaving us feeling frustrated, stymied and stuck. If we really want to move ahead in our lives, engage with the world and feel energised, we need to go beyond positive thinking and connect as well with the obstacles that stand in our way. By bringing our dreams into contact with reality, we can unleash our greatest energies and make the most progress in our lives.

Read the rest of this article at aeon

Voltaire’s Luck


It was once said of Voltaire, by his friend the Marquis d’Argenson, that “our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix.” The rue Quincampoix was the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris; the country’s most celebrated writer of epic and dramatic verse had a keen eye for investment opportunities. By the time d’Argenson made his remark, in 1751, Voltaire had amassed a fortune. He owed it all to a lottery win. Or, to be more precise, to several wins.

Lotteries were all the rage in eighteenth-century Paris. There had been a financial crisis in 1719, and France had nearly gone bankrupt. The bankers were to blame, having devised financial instruments that magicked debt away, only for it to return multiplied once it was discovered that the collateral wasn’t there. With the ensuing austerity came the lottery and the blandishments of la bonne chance. Why tax a weary and resistant populace when luck might seduce them?

The lottery craze began in 1694 (the year of Voltaire’s birth) when the English Parliament established a lottery in order to raise one million pounds for the country’s treasury. Once the first winners were announced, the craze started to spread around Europe. “We’d never heard so much talk of lotteries,” wrote Swiss theologian Jean Leclerc in a book on lotteries published in Amsterdam in 1696, “before they created one in England two years ago.” Leclerc’s work records how the English lottery had already achieved two-fifths of its target and the model had been adopted in Holland. The lottery, as he noted, was a way “to extract money from people who would not otherwise readily part with it, no matter how worthy its intended use.”

Read the rest of this article at Lapham’s Quarterly



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The Neurotic Eater’s Grocery List


Can’t remember just what’s so bad about eating shrimp? Concerned about consuming the least environmentally ruinous things possible but can’t keep it all straight? Not sure what that “organic” label really means? Below, a guide to what’s morally squishy about so much of our food supply — and practical tips about how to make more informed, socially conscious choices about what you put in your mouth.

Read the rest of this article at Grub Street

The Case Against The Media. By The Media

For decades, the pollsters at Gallup have been asking Americans if they trust their media. In 1974, the year Woodward and Bernstein brought an end to Richard Nixon’s presidency, 69 percent of them did. In a poll released last year, that number was at a historic low. Today, the only institutions Americans have less faith in than television news (21 percent) and newspapers (20 percent) are Congress and “big business.” That’s pretty damn low — humiliatingly low, especially for a group of people who fancy themselves members of “the Fourth Estate.” (For those of you who have never worked in the media, which is basically the only place anyone would still use that 18th-century term: It refers to the power of the press to balance that of the three estates — clergy, aristocracy, and the well-to-do — in the British Parliament.) The other three estates don’t really exist in 21st-century America, but the fourth’s high opinion of its role in the body politic has been pretty constant.

Read the rest of this article at New York Magazine

Just Deserts

Luck,” E.B. White once impishly observed, “is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” Today, the widespread faith in the meritocratic ideal has pushed that taboo well beyond the circles of the successful. Most people in modern democracies cling almost religiously to the belief that merit, and merit alone, leads to success.

But how important is luck? Few questions more reliably divide conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always extremely talented and hard working. But as liberals also rightly note, countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much, or even see much of a rise in their station or status.

In societies that celebrate meritocratic individualism, saying that top earners, celebrities, and assorted other winners may have enjoyed a bit of luck apparently verges on telling them that they don’t really belong on top, that they aren’t who they think they are. The rhetoric of meritocracy appears to have camouflaged the extent to which success and failure often hinge decisively on events completely beyond any individual’s control.

There are, of course, many people who are quick to acknowledge good fortune’s role in their success.

Read the rest of this article at The Hedgehog Review

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @agirlastyle, @journeyintolavillelumiere, @sarahharrisuk