In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Why Your Brain Hates Slowpokes

Not long ago I diagnosed myself with the recently identified condition of sidewalk rage. It’s most pronounced when it comes to a certain friend who is a slow walker. Last month, as we sashayed our way to dinner, I found myself biting my tongue, thinking, I have to stop going places with her if I ever want to … get there!

You too can measure yourself on the “Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale,” a tool developed by University of Hawaii psychologist Leon James. While walking in a crowd, do you find yourself “acting in a hostile manner (staring, presenting a mean face, moving closer or faster than expected)” and “enjoying thoughts of violence?”

Slowness rage is not confined to the sidewalk, of course. Slow drivers, slow Internet, slow grocery lines—they all drive us crazy. Even the opening of this article may be going on a little too long for you. So I’ll get to the point. Slow things drive us crazy because the fast pace of society has warped our sense of timing. Things that our great-great-grandparents would have found miraculously efficient now drive us around the bend. Patience is a virtue that’s been vanquished in the Twitter age.

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus

In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Vogue via @kyliejenner

The Radical Moral Implications
Of Luck In Human Life

Recently, there was a minor uproar when Kardashian scion Kylie Jenner, who is all of 21, appeared on the cover of Forbes’s 60 richest self-made women issue. As many people pointed out, Jenner’s success would have been impossible if she hadn’t been born white, healthy, rich, and famous. She built a successful cosmetics company not just with hard work but on a towering foundation of good luck.

Around the same time, there was another minor uproar when Refinery29 published “A Week in New York City on $25/Hour,” an online diary by someone whose rent and bills are paid for by her parents. It turns out $25 an hour goes a lot further if you have no expenses!

These episodes illustrate what seems to be one of the enduring themes of our age: socially dominant groups, recipients of myriad unearned advantages, willfully refusing to acknowledge them, despite persistent efforts from socially disadvantaged groups. This is not a new theme, of course — it waxes and wanes with circumstance — but after a multi-decade rise in inequality, it has come roaring back to the fore.

Of course, socially dominant groups have every incentive to ignore luck. And they have found a patron saint in President Trump, who once claimed, “My father gave me a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars.”

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

Yuval Noah Harari Extract:
‘Humans Are A Post-Truth Species’

We are repeatedly told these days that we are living in a new and frightening era of “post-truth”, and that lies and fictions are all around us. Examples are not hard to come by. Thus, in late February 2014, Russian special units bearing no army insignia invaded Ukraine and occupied key installations in Crimea. The Russian government and President Vladimir Putin in person repeatedly denied that these were Russian troops, and described them as spontaneous “self-defence groups” that may have acquired Russian-looking equipment from local shops. As they voiced this rather preposterous claim, Putin and his aides knew perfectly well that they were lying.

Russian nationalists can excuse this lie by arguing that it served a higher truth. Russia was engaged in a just war, and if it is OK to kill for a just cause, surely it is also OK to lie? The higher cause that allegedly justified the invasion of Ukraine was the preservation of the sacred Russian nation. According to Russian national myths, Russia is a sacred entity that has endured for a thousand years despite repeated attempts by vicious enemies to invade and dismember it. Following the Mongols, the Poles, the Swedes, Napoleon’s Grande Armée and Hitler’s Wehrmacht, in the 1990s it was Nato, the US and the EU that attempted to destroy Russia by detaching parts of its body and forming them into “fake countries” such as Ukraine. For many Russian nationalists, the idea that Ukraine is a separate nation from Russia constitutes a far bigger lie than anything uttered by President Putin during his holy mission to reintegrate the Russian nation.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Why Social Class Matters, Even If We Don’t Agree What It Means

In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

You could call it class warfare, except the warfare is on the very idea of class. For generations now, various prominent scholars have decided we’d be better off abolishing it. Back in 1939, the sociologist George Simpson declared in the American Sociological Review that “the term ‘class’ has assumed an importance in contemporary social theory in inverse proportion to its clarity as a scientific instrument,” and that “there is such confusion in the term that it is impossible to use it for social investigation.” In the late 1950s, Robert Nisbet, a prominent conservative sociologist, avowed that the term “social class” “is nearly valueless,” at least in the developed West, and compared it to Ptolemaic astronomy.

By the 1990s, the “death of class” thesis took to the field: a number of sociologists, of various ideological persuasions, were suggesting that class was a historical artifact, ready for the dustbin. Others, in the Simpsonian tradition, doubted whether it had ever been a useful designation. The sociologist Peter Calvert’s study The Concept of Class (1982) argued that the idea was so muddled as to be useless, even dangerous. The great literary scholar P.N. Furbank, writing in the 1990s, proposed that “class” was “a baneful concept and one which we need at least to try to unthink.”

In the years since, many scholars have decided to get on without it, while many others have devised increasingly intricate, multidimensional metrics for measuring it. Leaving the medieval scholastics in the dust, we now have — among other metrics — the Erikson-Goldthorpe-Portocarero schema (EGP), which spawned Casmin, the Comparative Study of Social Mobility in Industrial Nations; the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC); the Cambridge Social Interaction and Stratification scales (Camsis); and the more narrowly tailored Standard International Occupational Prestige Scale (Siops), to say nothing of various small-is-beautiful proposals for “microclass” metrics. Nisbet, anticipating such developments, insisted that real class would be a tangible, easily observable relationship, and that “the proof of existence of a social class worthy of the sociological name should not have to depend upon multivariate analysis.”

What does class mean? Can we measure it? Is it really a thing? The questions buzz like flies over carrion. For all the eloquent obituaries, however, “class” remains in rude health, not least in the university itself — a primary locus of the filtration, training, and signaling that promulgate social hierarchies. The academic perplexity around “class” is a symptom of deeper anomalies internal to the concept. That’s not a reason for burying class. It is a reason to use it with some sense of its pedigree.

Read the rest of this article at: The Chronicle Of Higher Education

The Sounds Of Music In The Twenty-first Century

In the News 08.22.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When the hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music, in April, reactions in the classical-music world ranged from panic to glee. Composers in the classical tradition have effectively monopolized the prize since its inception, in 1943. Not until 1997 did a nominal outsider—the jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis—receive a nod. Lamar’s victory, for his moodily propulsive album “damn.,” elicited some reactionary fuming—one irate commenter said that his tracks were “neurologically divergent from music”—as well as enthusiastic assent from younger generations. The thirty-one-year-old composer Michael Gilbertson, who was a finalist this year, told Slate, “I never thought my string quartet and an album by Kendrick Lamar would be in the same category. This is no longer a narrow honor.”

Lamar’s win made me think about the changing nature of “distinguished musical composition,” to use the Pulitzer’s crusty term. Circa 1950, this was understood to mean writing a score for others to perform, whether in the guise of the dissonant hymns of Charles Ives or the spacious Americana of Aaron Copland. But that definition was always suspect: it excluded jazz composers, whose tradition combines notation and improvisation. In 1965, a jury tried to give a Pulitzer to Duke Ellington, but the board refused. Within classical composition, meanwhile, activity on the outer edges had further blurred the job description. By the early fifties, Pierre Schaefer and Pierre Henry were creating collages that incorporated recordings of train engines and other urban sounds; Karlheinz Stockhausen was assisting in the invention of synthesized sound; John Cage was convening ensembles of radios. By century’s end, a composer could be a performance artist, a sound artist, a laptop conceptualist, or an avant-garde d.j. Du Yun, Kate Soper, and Ashley Fure, the Pulitzer finalists in 2017—I served on the jury—make use, variously, of punk-rock vocals, instrumentally embroidered philosophical lectures, and architectural soundscapes. Such artists may lack the popular currency of Lamar, but they are not cloistered souls.

Writing overnight history is a perilous task, but the British critic Tim Rutherford-Johnson manages the feat in “Music After the Fall: Modern Composition and Culture Since 1989” (University of California). In fewer than three hundred pages of cogent prose, Rutherford-Johnson catalogues the bewildering diversity of twenty-first-century composed music, and, more important, makes interpretative sense of a corpus that ranges from symphonies and string quartets to improvisations on smashed-up pianos found in the Australian outback (Ross Bolleter’s “Secret Sandhills”). By the end of the book, definitions seem more elusive than ever: to compose is to work with sound, or with silence, in a premeditated way, or not. What, then, isn’t composition? Conversations around the term often focus on either erasing or redrawing the boundary between the classical and the popular. Rutherford-Johnson makes us think about other borders: between genres, between ideologies, between art and the world. “Music After the Fall” is the best extant map of our sonic shadowlands, and it has changed how I listen.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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

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