In the News 28.04.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 28.04.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 28.04.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 28.04.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

What Makes a Genius?


The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia houses an array of singular medical specimens. On the lower level the fused livers of 19th-century conjoined twins Chang and Eng float in a glass vessel. Nearby, visitors can gawk at hands swollen with gout, the bladder stones of Chief Justice John Marshall, the cancerous tumor extracted from President Grover Cleveland’s jaw, and a thighbone from a Civil War soldier with the wounding bullet still in place. But there’s one exhibit near the entrance that elicits unmatchable awe. Look closely at the display, and you can see smudge marks left by museumgoers pressing their foreheads against the glass.

The object that fascinates them is a small wooden box containing 46 microscope slides, each displaying a slice of Albert Einstein’s brain. A magnifying glass positioned over one of the slides reveals a piece of tissue about the size of a stamp, its graceful branches and curves resembling an aerial view of an estuary. These remnants of brain tissue are mesmerizing even though—or perhaps because—they reveal little about the physicist’s vaunted powers of cognition. Other displays in the museum show disease and disfigurement—the results of something gone wrong. Einstein’s brain represents potential, the ability of one exceptional mind, one genius, to catapult ahead of everyone else. “He saw differently from the rest of us,” says visitor Karen O’Hair as she peers at the tea-colored sample. “And he could extend beyond that to what he couldn’t see, which is absolutely amazing.”

Read the rest of this article at National Geographic

From Kidnapping to Kids, My Life on and off the Rock


Before I was kidnapped, before I discovered the chaos that is true love, I believed in routine. Even in high school, mine was ­ornate. Monday, climb at gym. Tuesday, rest. Wednesday, train lightly, eat Bisquick biscuits and eggs for dinner. On Thursdays I packed. I stored my gear for climbing competitions in individual Ziploc bags—my purple Mythos climbing shoes in one, my blue Verve chalk bag in another, my black harness in a third. Then I placed the bags in separate pockets of my purple backpack.

Friday morning I prepared my road food: Just Right cereal, with the raisins picked out, in a Tupperware container, plus four apples, cut into slices, some of which I’d eat on the plane. That afternoon my father and I flew. Once on the ground, we rented a car from Hertz—always Hertz. We requested a Mercury Mystique every time. “Mr. Rodden, you have an interesting rental history,” a desk clerk once said. My dad just smiled. We stayed at Courtyard by Marriott, even if it meant an hourlong drive to the climbing gym, and ate dinner at Olive Garden. Each night before a national indoor climbing competition, I consumed two and a half breadsticks, one order of penne with red sauce, a side salad, and a virgin strawberry daiquiri. In the morning, I showered and drank a bottle of Evian. Then I put on my faded light green sports bra, my black shorts, my thick green socks, my Tevas, and my father’s patterned fleece. I was 15 years old, five feet tall and 80 pounds, and I could do two-finger pull-ups. If I placed first, second, or third, I rewarded myself with a double scoop from Baskin-Robbins—always Gold Medal Ribbon and mint chocolate chip. Always in a cup, no cone.

Read the rest of this article at Outside


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The Power Thinker


Imagine you are asked to compose an ultra-short history of philosophy. Perhaps you’ve been challenged to squeeze the impossibly sprawling diversity of philosophy itself into just a few tweets. You could do worse than to search for the single word that best captures the ideas of every important philosopher. Plato had his ‘forms’. René Descartes had his ‘mind’ and John Locke his ‘ideas’. John Stuart Mill later had his ‘liberty’. In more recent philosophy, Jacques Derrida’s word was ‘text’, John Rawls’s was ‘justice’, and Judith Butler’s remains ‘gender’. Michel Foucault’s word, according to this innocent little parlour game, would certainly be ‘power’.

Foucault remains one of the most cited 20th-century thinkers and is, according to some lists, the single most cited figure across the humanities and social sciences. His two most referenced works, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) and The History of Sexuality, Volume One (1976), are the central sources for his analyses of power. Interestingly enough, however, Foucault was not always known for his signature word. He first gained his massive influence in 1966 with the publication of The Order of Things. The original French title gives a better sense of the intellectual milieu in which it was written: Les mots et les choses, or ‘Words and Things’. Philosophy in the 1960s was all about words, especially among Foucault’s contemporaries.

Read the rest of this article at aeon

Anna Wintour on Politics and the Fashion Business in Trump’s America — Part 1


NEW YORK, United States — “I kind of call her the chairman or president of the fashion industry,” says Bob Sauerberg, chief executive of Condé Nast, when asked about Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue and artistic director of the storied media giant that owns it. “She plays a role and advises everybody, including us. Yes, she’s our creative head, but she’s also a terrific business person.”

Indeed, Wintour’s role is much bigger than Condé Nast and her influence is felt far beyond the company’s New York headquarters. She is an unofficial, behind-the-scenes consultant to CEOs, designers, politicians and movie stars in America and beyond. She advises major European luxury conglomerates like Kering and LVMH on new designer appointments and chairs regular breakfasts discussing the season’s most important fashion trends with the head honchos at American luxury department store behemoth Neiman Marcus. Designers seek her advice on potential investors; and investors turn to her for tips on the hottest new design talents.

A small sampling of her itinerary during the last round of fashion weeks demonstrates just how deeply she is embedded in every corner of the fashion industry and its intersections with politics, celebrity, pop culture and the arts.

Read the rest of this article at BOF

Hot Takes and “Problematic Faves”: The Rise of Socially Conscious Criticism

Modern criticism’s affinity for discussing social issues has changed pop culture, for creators and audiences alike.


Get Out is a message movie. That’s not a bad thing or a good thing, just a description: Jordan Peele’s hit movie uses horror and comedy to make deliberately unsubtle points about the dangers of being black in America and the hypocrisy of white liberals. And critics loved it for having a lesson to teach.

From Slate’s Aisha Harris, who praised Peele for “laying bare the many layers of America’s historic treatment of the black body,” to Vulture’s David Edelstein, who called the film “a mash-up of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and The Stepford Wives that’s more fun than either and more illuminating, too,” almost every writer who reviewed Get Out saw it as a plus that the film wasn’t just mindless genre entertainment, that it had a sociopolitical point to make.

But if you look at the older movies that helped inspire Get Out — satirical, unsubtle horror-comedies like The Stepford Wives and They Live — you’ll find their critics had much less enthusiasm for social commentary.

When John Carpenter released They Live in 1988, his attack on the selfishness and commercialism of 1980s America (the white family in Get Out has the same name, Armitage, as one of the characters in They Live), the Washington Post sneered that “the heavy artillery of sociological context and political implication” was just a distraction from a silly plot. The People Under the Stairs, Wes Craven’s 1991 horror-satire about a black child who discovers that his white landlord is a murderous monster, was dismissed by Variety as having “a pretense of social responsibility.”

Back then, mainstream, non-academic pop culture critics often saw a work’s political message as unimportant at best, a liability at worst.

Something has changed in criticism since then. Critics working today, whether veterans or newcomers, are more likely to praise a work for having a political or social message, and they’ll also criticize a work for not confronting its own implications. Today, a nostalgic, lightweight musical like La La Land can inspire discussions of whether the story is what’s Ira Madison III called “a white-savior film in tap shoes,” because the hero is a white jazz fan whose tastes are portrayed as more authentic than a black character’s.

The Oscar race between La La Land and Moonlight earlier this year was treated in openly political terms, even though neither movie was particularly political: “Moonlight NEEDS to win Best Picture,” wrote Amrou Al-Kadhi in the Independent, because a La La Land win would be Hollywood “rejoicing in its own nostalgic — and white — mythology.” The conversation got so heated that Moonlight director Barry Jenkins told Esquire that La La Land was becoming a victim of “a very superficial read.”

But whether it’s superficial or perceptive, today’s pop cultural criticism can’t seem to ignore social issues.

Read the rest of this article at Vox


P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @pamelalove; @rachparcell;