In the News 05.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 05.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 05.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 05.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Cerebral Mystique

More than 2,000 years ago, the semi-mythical father of medicine, Hippocrates of Kos, challenged the spiritualists of his time with a bold claim about the nature of the human mind. In response to supernatural explanations of mental phenomena, Hippocrates insisted that ‘from nothing else but the brain come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations’. In the modern age, Hippocrates’ words have been distilled into a Twitter-friendly pop-neuroscience slogan: ‘We are our brains.’ This message resonates with recent trends to blame criminality on the brain, to redefine mental illness as brain disease and, in futuristic-technological circles, to imagine enhancing or preserving our lives by enhancing or preserving our brains. From creativity to drug addiction, there is barely an aspect of human behaviour that has not been attributed to brain function. To many people today, the brain seems like a contemporary surrogate for the soul.

But lost in the public’s romance with the brain is the most fundamental lesson neuroscience has to teach us: that the organ of our minds is a purely physical entity, conceptually and causally embedded in the natural world. Although the brain is required for almost everything we do, it never works alone. Instead, its function is inextricably linked to the body and to the environment around it. The interdependence of these factors is masked however by a cultural phenomenon I call the ‘cerebral mystique’ – a pervasive idealisation of the brain and its singular importance, which protects traditional conceptions about differences between mind and body, the freedom of will and the nature of thought itself.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

The Madness To Wes Anderson’s Method

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Every pizza display case tells a story. The strategist knew that very well. From the signage to the slicers to the arrangement of the Parmesan and red pepper flake shakers, no visual cue could be left to chance, especially for this client: a 20-unit New York style pizza chain headquartered in San Diego. The CEO was very proud of the organic nature of his restaurants’ interiors, and the lack of “chaininess” to them.

Six different pizzas now rested on burnished metal stands, intermittently punctuated with an assortment of calzones, stromboli, salads, and beverages. It had taken three weeks of recipe testing to bake pizzas this good. For every perfect, client-ready pizza, there were at least six that missed the mark­­—crusts that weren’t crispy, mozzarella that didn’t stretch, pepperoni that curled when cast in the oven, pockmarking the pie with tiny buckets of grease. (I was a beneficiary of the process. An arsenal of failed recipe prototypes was accumulating in my freezer.)

The strategist carefully removed a stack of miniature chalkboards from her desk. On each one, she inscribed the name of a different pie: The Triboro (meat lover’s). The Whitestone (white pie). The Bronx (everything but the kitchen sink). New York’s exalted status in the pizza universe was essential to this client’s identity, so much that the client had even implemented a reverse osmosis system in the dough-making process to replicate the pH balance of New York water.

Read the rest of this article at: Los Angeles Review Of Books

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

The Weird, Dangerous, Isolated Life Of The Saturation Diver

For 52 straight days this winter, Shannon Hovey woke up in the company of five other men in a metal tube, 20 feet long and seven feet in diameter, tucked deep inside a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. He retrieved his breakfast from a hatch (usually eggs), read a briefing for the day, and listened for a disembodied voice to tell him when it was time to put on a rubber suit and get to work. Life in the tube was built around going through these same steps day after day after day … while trying not to think about the fact that any unintended breach in his temporary metal home would mean a fast, agonizing death.

Hovey works in one of the least known, most dangerous, and, frankly, most bizarre professions on Earth. He is a saturation diver—one of the men (just about all have been men*) who do construction and demolition work at depths up to 1,000 feet or more below the surface of the ocean.

Read the rest of this article at: Atlas Obscura


You Can’t Handle The Truth About Facebook Ads, New Harvard Study Shows

AFTER IT EMERGED that Facebook user data was illicitly harvested to help elect Donald Trump, the company offered weeks of apologies, minor reforms to how it shares such information, and a pledge to make itself “more transparent,” including new, limited disclosures around advertising. But Facebook still tells its 2 billion users very little about how it targets them for ads that represent essentially the whole of the company’s business. New research illuminates the likely reason why: The truth grosses people out.

The study, based on research conducted at Harvard Business School and published in the Journal of Consumer Research, is an inquiry into the tradeoffs between transparency and persuasion in the age of the algorithm. Specifically, it examines what happens if a company reveals to people how and why they’ve been targeted for a given ad, exposing the algorithmic trail that, say, inferred that you’re interested in discounted socks based on a constellation of behavioral signals gleaned from across the web. Such targeting happens to virtually everyone who uses the internet, almost always without context or explanation.

In the Harvard study, research subjects were asked to browse a website where they were presented with various versions of an advertisement — identical except for accompanying text about why they were being shown the ad. Time and time again, people who were told that they were targeted based on activity elsewhere on the internet were turned off and became less interested in what the ad was touting than people who saw no disclosure or were told that they were targeted based on how they were browsing the original site. In other words, if you track people across the internet, as Facebook routinely does, and admit that fact to them, the transparency will poison the resulting ads. The 449 paid subjects in the targeting research, who were recruited online, were about 24 percent less likely to be interested in making a purchase or visiting the advertiser if they were in the group that was told they were tracked across websites, researchers said.

Read the rest of this article at: The Intercept

Paul Simon vs. The World

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Paul Simon felt grateful.

It was March 2001, and the occasion was the 16th-annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held at the Waldorf Astoria in midtown Manhattan. Along with another honoree that night, Michael Jackson, Simon joined an elite group of artists that has been inducted multiple times. In 1990, he entered the hall as part of Simon & Garfunkel, a dysfunctional but immensely successful musical marriage with Simon’s childhood friend and eventual adversary, Artie. (Simon had been eligible for induction as a solo artist since 1991.) By the time he released his first post–Simon & Garfunkel solo LP in 1972, Simon had already written a career’s worth of iconic songs: “The Sound of Silence,” “I Am a Rock,” “Homeward Bound,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “America,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and many more. He was also incredibly rich, due to owning his own publishing. Practically all of Simon’s classic-rock colleagues — including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones — spent millions in the late ’60s and early ’70s untangling themselves from onerous business deals. But Simon had come up as a teenager in the streetwise world of New York indie labels and publishers — many of them housed in the world-famous Brill Building — working as a song plugger, session guitarist, and budding composer, penning dozens of terrible would-be teenybopper hits like “Teenage Fool” and “Get Up & Do the Wobble.” He was savvy about the value of songs and protecting a hard-won artistic persona. Both had served him well.

In spite of a cocksure aloofness that rubbed many of his contemporaries the wrong way — John Lennon once supposedly referred to the 5-foot-3 Simon as “the singing dwarf” — Simon was often beset by writer’s block and other crises of confidence. After Simon & Garfunkel’s 1970 swan song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, won Album of the Year at the 1971 Grammys (beating out other soothing singer-songwriter benchmarks like Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Sweet Baby James by James Taylor), Simon spent 10 months fretting over his self-titled solo LP, all the while convinced that many in the music industry were betting on the lanky, blond, and angelic-looking Garfunkel having the better solo career. Even after Paul Simon sold more than 1 million copies and spawned two of his most famous tracks, the reggae-infused “Mother and Child Reunion” and the delectable Latin pop number “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” — as well as one of his most beloved deep cuts, the evocative story song “Duncan” — Simon’s self-doubt persisted.

Perhaps this was on his mind as Simon strode to the podium dressed in his usual business-casual attire — white sports jacket, black T-shirt, and red ball cap pulled down tight over a balding dome — like an aging talk show host warming up the audience a few minutes before airtime. Unfortunately, video of Simon’s speech isn’t available online; the Rock Hall induction ceremony back then wasn’t the arena-based spectacle that it is now. (Look closely and you can see Simon playing “Julio” with Jann Wenner on backing vocals during the night’s de rigueur climactic jam session.) But according to accounts of the evening, Simon gave one of the longest speeches in the ceremony’s history, setting an unofficial record by thanking 50 people.

He acknowledged ’50s rock and roll disc jockey Alan Freed, who played Simon’s first hit with Garfunkel, 1957’s “Hey Schoolgirl,” recorded under the name Tom & Jerry, when Simon was just 15. He expressed gratitude for the fans, including “those two girls in Covington, Kentucky,” for undisclosed reasons. He even gave a shout-out to frequent sparring partner Garfunkel, expressing remorse for “the ending of our friendship” and hope that “one day before we die, we will make peace with each other.” Simon and Garfunkel would make peace after that, and then fall back into discord. In 2015, Garfunkel called Simon a “monster” with a Napoleon complex.

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

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

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