inspiration & news

In the News 31.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 31.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 31.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 31.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Seeking the Lost Art of Growing Old with Intention

Great lives often begin amid tumult and suffering. Seventy years ago, long before Bernd Heinrich became one of history’s fastest ultramarathoners, and ages before his scientific studies on ravens made him a leading naturalist, he was a skinny, impoverished kid living in a hut in the forest of Hahnheide, in Germany. Before World War II, his family had owned a vast agricultural estate roughly 400 miles east of there, in Poland, with foxes and storks and rolling fields of potatoes and sugar beets; but after the Eastern Front pushed west, they became refugees. Bernd’s father shoveled manure to survive, and the family lived mostly off forage—nuts, berries, mushrooms, and also trout, which Bernd caught with his bare hands.

It was a confusing time. Bernd and his sister had no other playmates, and he spent long days exploring the forest on his own. His father, a top entomologist specializing in wasps, was marginalized in postwar Germany, and he could be tyrannical. Once when Bernd was five years old and collecting beetles, he found a prized rare specimen at the base of a stump, and his father confiscated the insect to punish him for being “overstimulated,” as he put it, when the boy leaped for the bug. Real men, Gerd Heinrich believed, were unflappable, with nerves of steel.

Read the rest of this article at: Outside


The Follower Factory


The real Jessica Rychly is a Minnesota teenager with a broad smile and wavy hair. She likes reading and the rapper Post Malone. When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends. Occasionally, like many teenagers, she posts a duck-face selfie.

But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio — “I have issues” — the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted graphic pornography, retweeting accounts called Squirtamania and Porno Dan.

All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure American company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.

The accounts that most resemble real people, like Ms. Rychly, reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysis.

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

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone

I have been in school for more than 40 years. First preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school. Then a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, followed by a doctoral program at Princeton. The next step was what you could call my first “real” job—as an economics professor at George Mason University.

Thanks to tenure, I have a dream job for life. Personally, I have no reason to lash out at our system of higher education. Yet a lifetime of experience, plus a quarter century of reading and reflection, has convinced me that it is a big waste of time and money. When politicians vow to send more Americans to college, I can’t help gasping, “Why? You want us to waste even more?”

How, you may ask, can anyone call higher education wasteful in an age when its financial payoff is greater than ever? The earnings premium for college graduates has rocketed to 73 percent—that is, those with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, 73 percent more than those who have only a high-school diploma, up from about 50 percent in the late 1970s. The key issue, however, isn’t whether college pays, but why. The simple, popular answer is that schools teach students useful job skills. But this dodges puzzling questions.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic


My Inheritance Was My Father’s Last Lesson To Me And I Am Still Learning It

In 2000, I became, somewhat by accident, the director of All Souls Unitarian Church’s Monday Night Hospitality program for the homeless, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The former director had a medical emergency and had to leave her responsibilities immediately, and so the next week when I went in for my volunteer shift, I was asked if I would consider running the program, at least until someone else could be found. I would be acting director for three years.

On my first day, I went to Western Beef, a low-cost butcher shop and grocery store where the program did its shopping, the week’s dinner budget in an envelope of cash. And even though I had previously gone along with the director, as her assistant, I was nervous that first day on my own. The program fed 100 guests on a first-come, first-served basis — more, if more showed up. Some diners even took leftovers back to their shelters for those who couldn’t leave. This was a big responsibility. I planned the meal, bought the food under budget, and returned to the church, and I did the job for three years. Gradually the program expanded, especially after 9/11. I was proud of the work we did.

The calm with which I did this every week was not visible in the rest of my life. In the apartment I returned to after those volunteer shifts, my closet stacked full with boxes of files and receipts going back 15 years. Many were unpaid bills, missed payments, or collection notices. Letters from the IRS. A personal organizer I had hired a few years before had said, looking them over, “Oh, wow, you don’t need these,” then she laughed and told me to throw all the papers away. But I could not. When I eventually moved out in 2004, I moved with those boxes.

In some way I wasn’t quite aware of, I had imagined the problem was receipts. But I did not feel that pain when I shopped for the church’s program and put the receipts in an envelope before turning them over to the office. The more I kept a steady hand on the program, the more I was aware I was in the presence of a revelation about myself. The ordinary transactions contrasted with the pain I felt, almost supernatural, every time the money was mine.

Read the rest of this article at: Buzzfeed

The Road

_DSC2689-1_landscape_lg (1)

Highway BR-163 cuts a brutal path through Brazil’s conflicting ambitions: to transform itself into an economic powerhouse and to preserve the Amazon as a bulwark against climate change. Stephanie Nolen travelled 2,000 kilometres along the dusty, dangerous corridor, and found a range of realistic — and often counterintuitive — ways that the forest could work for everyone.

Every single day, cameras on satellites 700 kilometres above the Earth sweep over the five million square km of Amazon rainforest in Brazil and record a series of images. The pictures show the soaring trees that spike above the canopy and the tangle of jungle below, threaded through with rivers, some swift and muddy brown, others nearly as green as the sea of trees. They show the cities and the towns and the Indigenous aldeias that are home to the 30 million people who live within the forest.

And the pictures show the fires that rage across the Amazon, the bare patches of charred ground, the gouged raw earth of the mines, the speckled sprawl of hectares of grazing cattle, and the fresh scars where trees stood yesterday and have disappeared today.

As the satellites pass over the forest, they record its disappearance in real time.

Brazil began to collect these images (on satellites belonging to NASA, China and India) in 2004, a key part of the country’s big push to stop the burning and the gouging. The pictures are sent to teams of field agents who head to the sites of fires and patches of newly denuded land, to make arrests, levy fines and destroy the equipment of loggers and miners and those who cleared the land for ranches and farms.

And it worked. Between 2004 and 2014, Brazil drove deforestation down by 82 per cent.
The early pictures photographed the forest at a resolution that showed the land in 25-hectare blocks. And so those who cleared it started to strip out smaller patches, hoping to elude the satellites. Over time, Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and the Brazilian space agency developed a new camera that zoomed in to capture images as precise as a single hectare. Deforestation rates fell further.

Yet the forest was still disappearing: A chunk bigger than Prince Edward Island vanished last year alone. And when I set out to try to understand why – and what that means, not just for Brazil, but for the rest of us humans – the most knowledgeable people I talked with seemed to be filled with a level of despair I had never encountered before when reporting on climate issues.

Read the rest of this article at: The Globe and Mail

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

Follow us on Instagram @thisisglamorous