In the News 12.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 12.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.06.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Greatest Sports Achievement in my Lifetime?

Football players seem even more like gladiators when they play in short sleeves in a winter storm, and baseball players who don’t wear batting gloves feel like throwbacks to a more rough and tumble era. What category of admiration should we reserve, then, for someone who ascends a sheer rock face of 3,000 feet using only a pair of climbing shoes and a bag of chalk?

We debate whether Lebron James or Clayton Kershaw or Tom Brady might be the best ever to play their positions, and credible arguments can be made for them all, yet we’re all alive during the career of someone who is unequivocally the greatest at his sport, and until a week ago most of the world didn’t know his name.

A week ago, Alex Honnold free climbed El Capitan. With no ropes or climbing gear besides his shoes and chalk, Honnold became the first person to free climb what is universally acknowledged, among the climbing world, as the most daunting challenge in what most people consider to be less sport than a perverse game of Russian roulette with fate.

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Alex Honnold making a rope-less ascent of the famous Seperate Reality, a difficult over hanging hand rack that is perched 500ft. above the Valley floor.  This route has only been done rope-less three other times.

The Bounty Hunter of Wall Street


A month after the 2016 election, the stock trader Andrew Left went out to the Madison Club in La Quinta, Calif., to lick his wounds and play golf. The way Left invests, he can make a killing in a bear market while everyone else on Wall Street suffers. But in December, even dubious stocks were rising, lifted by the promise of incipient deregulation. Reading the news on his phone between holes, Left happened upon an interview with President-elect Donald Trump, the purveyor of all this optimism, in Time magazine. “I’m going to bring down drug prices,” Trump said. “I don’t like what’s happened with drug prices.” Left hurried back to the clubhouse and gave his ticket to the valet.

In the finance world, Left, 46, is what is known as an “activist” short-seller. After he places a bet against the price of a stock, he then publishes research designed to torpedo the company’s value, often by airing accusations of fraud or abuse. This is entirely legal, as long as what he publishes is not itself fraudulent. Left takes short positions in companies across a whole range of industries — Tesla, Valeant, GoPro — and though he makes mistakes, he has an unusually high success rate.

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

Losing Gloria

It was just after school got out, on one of those blinding, bright days in Phoenix, when 10-year-old Angel Marin learned that his mom was gone. He was walking home from class with his older sister Yesi. They ducked through the iron gate to the largely Mexican trailer park where they lived and passed the blooming rosebush and the rainbow-rod swing set.

When they turned the corner onto K Street, they spotted their cousin halfway down their block. He shook his head as he cut toward them. “Don’t go home,” he said. Mothers stood outside their trailers, staring as the kids approached their double-wide.

Angel and Yesi, who was 14, were soon surveying the trailer with their two sisters — 15-year-old Evelyn and Briza, the family chatterbox, only 7. When Yesi walked into her mom’s purple-polka-dotted bedroom, she broke down in tears. “Why would they do this?” she asked. Briza stood by her side, shaking. Yesi glanced over at Evelyn. “We’ll be fine,” her older sister said. The four began righting the furniture and folding clothes, as if cleaning would bring some calm. Angel, who was scrawny and short with a coolness to his gait, figured as the only boy around he’d have to step up. He couldn’t sleep that night. He and his sisters had all been born in the States, but their mom was from Mexico, and she was undocumented. Angel knew what happened to people without papers. Once they were picked up, they didn’t come back.

In the living room, computer parts were splayed across the floor, the corduroy couches overturned. In the kitchen, food spilled from the cabinets onto countertops. There was a hole in the wall. Their mom’s sparkly blouses and blue jeans were thrown about. Their mother, Gloria, had been arrested, and the kids didn’t know why. “Nobody told us anything,” Yesi says.

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

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Can Trump Actually Bring Jobs Back to Ford?


The 10,000 residents of Flat Rock, Michigan, are cheerful lately — you might even say optimistic. Fifteen new businesses have opened in the past year, including Blue Heron Trading Company, a candle-scented gift shop selling local jams and jellies, and a Burger King franchise directly across the street from the Ford Motor Company assembly plant, which the town mayor, a baby-faced 43-year-old man named Jonathan Dropiewski, enthusiastically calls “a license to print money!” There’s a spanking-new ­Meijer big-box store, which last summer hired more than 300 people, and dozens of new homes have been built, mostly in sub­divisions, some selling for north of $350,000. All this blooming industry and prosperity was a matter of fact even before Donald Trump took up the cause of Flat Rock, and other industrial towns like it, relentlessly targeting and humiliating Ford for shipping jobs overseas — ultimately shaming the company into adding 700 jobs to the Flat Rock plant. Which, politics aside, seemed to be the culmination of a very good year. That mood was dampened when, on May 15, it was reported that the company would be cutting about 10 percent of its white-collar jobs in North America and Asia.

The small towns encircling Detroit resemble nothing so much as feudal villages: grids of neat, one-story workers’ homes growing up around a great manufacturing plant. Ford operates 14 factories in Michigan; Chrysler and General Motors, a dozen each. Auto-industry economists calculate that one new automaking job has a multiplier effect of between five and seven, meaning that one new worker at Flat Rock begets five to seven additional jobs: glass workers, steel workers, and truck drivers to service car production; fast-food workers and auto mechanics and hotel clerks to service the workers themselves; robotics and AI engineers who consult at HQ. “Is Flat Rock dependent on that plant?” asks Dropiewski. “Absolutely it is.”

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools

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In San Francisco’s public schools, Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, is giving middle school principals $100,000 “innovation grants” and encouraging them to behave more like start-up founders and less like bureaucrats.

In Maryland, Texas, Virginia and other states, Netflix’s chief, Reed Hastings, is championing a popular math-teaching program where Netflix-like algorithms determine which lessons students see.

And in more than 100 schools nationwide, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief, is testing one of his latest big ideas: software that puts children in charge of their own learning, recasting their teachers as facilitators and mentors.

In the space of just a few years, technology giants have begun remaking the very nature of schooling on a vast scale, using some of the same techniques that have made their companies linchpins of the American economy. Through their philanthropy, they are influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose and fundamental approaches to learning.

The involvement by some of the wealthiest and most influential titans of the 21st century amounts to a singular experiment in education, with millions of students serving as de facto beta testers for their ideas. Some tech leaders believe that applying an engineering mind-set can improve just about any system, and that their business acumen qualifies them to rethink American education.

“They are experimenting collectively and individually in what kinds of models can produce better results,” said Emmett D. Carson, chief executive of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which manages donor funds for Mr. Hastings, Mr. Zuckerberg and others. “Given the changes in innovation that are underway with artificial intelligence and automation, we need to try everything we can to find which pathways work.”

But the philanthropic efforts are taking hold so rapidly that there has been little public scrutiny.

Tech companies and their founders have been rolling out programs in America’s public schools with relatively few checks and balances, The New York Times found in interviews with more than 100 company executives, government officials, school administrators, researchers, teachers, parents and students.

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

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @alexandrine_ar; @engagedlife; @wallis_p_