In the News 12.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 12.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Dwayne Johnson for President!

When Dwayne Johnson meets you (and I can assure you, he would love to), the first thing he will do is ask you six thousand questions about yourself, and remember the answers forever. If you are a child, good luck getting past Dwayne Johnson without a high five or some simulated roughhousing; if you’re in a wheelchair, prepare for a Beowulf-style epic poem about your deeds and bravery, composed extemporaneously, delivered to Johnson’s Instagram audience of 85 million people; if you’re dead, having shuffled off your mortal coil before you even got the chance to meet Dwayne Johnson, that sucks—rest in peace knowing that Dwayne Johnson genuinely misses you. For Johnson, there are no strangers; there are simply best friends, and best friends he hasn’t met yet. I’ve known the man for only two hours—and have been in his car now for only a few minutes, listening to the Dixie Chicks, headed to what he’s luxuriously described to me as his “private gym”—and already it’s apparent that I am Dwayne Johnson’s greatest friend in the entire world.

Read the rest of this article at GQ

Accelerationism: How a Fringe Philosophy Predicted the Future We Live In


Half a century ago, in the great hippie year of 1967, an acclaimed young American science fiction writer, Roger Zelazny, published his third novel. In many ways, Lord of Light was of its time, shaggy with imported Hindu mythology and cosmic dialogue. Yet there were also glints of something more forward-looking and political. One plot strand concerned a group of revolutionaries who wanted to take their society “to a higher level” by suddenly transforming its attitude to technology. Zelazny called them the Accelerationists.

He and the book are largely forgotten now. But as the more enduring sci-fi novelist JG Ballard said in 1971, “what the writers of modern science fiction invent today, you and I will do tomorrow”. Over the past five decades, and especially over the past few years, much of the world has got faster. Working patterns, political cycles, everyday technologies, communication habits and devices, the redevelopment of cities, the acquisition and disposal of possessions – all of these have accelerated. Meanwhile, over the same half century, almost entirely unnoticed by the media or mainstream academia, accelerationism has gradually solidified from a fictional device into an actual intellectual movement: a new way of thinking about the contemporary world and its potential.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

The McSorley Poet


McSorley’s Old Ale House, the Manhattan landmark where my father has tended bar since 1972, has always attracted poets, but my favorite verse about the pub wasn’t written by any of the heralded bards who drank there over the years. Not the E. E. Cummings one that begins “I was sitting in mcsorley’s. / Outside it was New York and beautifully snowing. / Inside snug and evil.” Not Reuel Denney’s “McSorley’s Bar,” which contains a couplet whose beauty never fails to leave me gobsmacked: “The grey-haired men considered from their chairs / How time is emptied like a single ale.” Nothing by Dylan Thomas, who never published a poem about the bar but who drank there often enough to get eighty-sixed once upon a time. Not Woody Guthrie, a poet of sorts, who visited McSorley’s in 1943, when LIFE magazine photographed him strumming his guitar for a group of workingmen huddled over mugs of ale in the front room. And not Joseph Mitchell, whose New Yorker prose about the bar carried the simple beauty of poetry and perhaps best captured the essence of McSorley’s.

Read the rest of this article at Hazlitt

Johnny Depp: A Star in Crisis and the Insane Story of His “Missing” Millions


Early one afternoon in October 2012, Jake Bloom and Joel Mandel left their respective Beverly Hills offices, slipped into their luxury cars and embarked on the roughly 30-minute journey to the Hollywood Hills compound of their client, Johnny Depp. Bloom was a rumpled and graying lawyer whose disheveled style camouflaged an intellect exercised on behalf of such luminaries as Martin Scorsese and Sylvester Stallone. Mandel, then in his early 50s, was a tall, rather amiable accountant who favored loose-fitting jeans and looser-fitting shirts, sartorial code designed to assure his clients he was just another boy in their band as well as a top-flight business manager steeped in the arcana of arbitrage and amortization.

Both men had been close to Depp for years. Bloom, indeed, was such a confidant to the actor that he had even joined him for an induction ceremony into the Comanche nation when he played Tonto in The Lone Ranger; as for Mandel, he had accompanied Depp to his three-island property in the Bahamas, atolls Mandel had helped his client buy for a total of $5.35 million.

Read the rest of this article at The Hollywood Reporter

Mysterious Island Experiment Could Help Us Colonize Other Planets

A 150-year-old effort on the remote Ascension Island in the Atlantic may help us green Mars. Can it also help us save Earth?


ASCENSION ISLAND Touching down here feels like landing on Mars.

Clay-colored lava rocks form football field-sized craters visible from my airplane window. Residences near the airfield are low-slung, white, and identical in shape, just like the space colonies in science fiction. There are 800 or so mostly British and U.S. citizens residing on this 33 square-mile island, which sits just south of the equator, about half way between South America and Africa. Hundreds of satellites pepper the craters, listening to U.S. test missiles, space junk, and things that are classified.

I deboard the military charter plane and walk down the U.S. Air Force’s Wideawake Airfield under a cloudless sky. I am over 1,000 miles from any continent. It’s hard to imagine that scientists from another century chose to build the planet’s first artificial ecosystem here.

Rock and blinding sun overpower my senses. While waiting with two-dozen fellow civilians for passport stamps, Lyndon Smith, an elderly British visitor, points to the tripod slung across my shoulders.

“She once wept here,” he says quietly, pointing toward his wife. “There’s no release from the sun. Are you out here to take pictures?” I nod in response.

Charles Darwin popularized the stigma about Ascension Island that Smith and many others are repeating almost 200 years later. Darwin called the island “hideous.” He stopped here en route to England from the lush Galapagos on his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle. Darwin lamented in his journal that this inhospitable place occupied by the British military should be made into a “productive spot.” Darwin called the landscape “burnt” and “completely destitute of trees.” To be fair, there was one solitary tree.

If Galapagos was Charles Darwin’s Eden, Ascension was his Inferno.

Darwin developed names to describe the island’s inferno-like rock formations: Devil’s Riding School, Devil’s Ashpit, and Broken Tooth. Those names have stuck. I pick up a hand-drawn driving map in the open-air immigration area. I count six roads, forty-four volcanic peaks, and five features still containing the word “devil.”

Read the rest of this article at National Geographic

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