In the News 08.29.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 08.29.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 08.29.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 08.29.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How To Be Human: The Man Who Was Raised By Wolves

The first time Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja ever heard voices on the radio, he panicked. “Fuck,” he remembers thinking, “those people have been inside there a long time!” It was 1966, and Rodríguez woke from a nap to the sound of voices. There was nobody else in the room, but the sounds of a conversation were coming from a small wooden box. Rodríguez got out of bed and crept towards the device. When he got closer, he couldn’t see a door, a hatch, or even a small crack in the box’s surface. Nothing. The people were trapped.

Rodríguez had a plan. “Don’t worry, if you all move to one side, I’ll get you out of there,” he yelled at the radio. He ran towards the wall at the other end of the room, the device in his hand. There, breathless and red in the face, he held it high above his head and brought it down hard against the brick wall, in one violent swing. The wood splintered, the speaker popped out of its casing, and the voices fell silent. Rodríguez dropped the radio on to the floor.

When he knelt down to search through the debris, the people weren’t there. He called for them, but they didn’t respond. He searched more frantically, but they still didn’t appear. “I’ve killed them!” Rodríguez bellowed, and ran to his bed, where he hid for the rest of the day.

Rodríguez was in his early 20s. He did not have any learning disabilities. Indeed, there was nothing to suggest his intelligence was below average. But he was ignorant of the most basic technology because, between the ages of seven and 19, according to his own testimony, Rodríguez lived alone, far from civilisation, in the Sierra Morena, a deserted mountain range of jagged peaks that stretches across southern Spain.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Ethan Hawke Is Still Taking
Ethan Hawke Extremely Seriously

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Now he’s 47, but when he was much younger, Ethan Hawke read “Cassavetes on Cassavetes,” the indie filmmaker bible, and then went to hear the author’s widow, Gena Rowlands, speak. She looked out at the crowd and laughed. She said John Cassavetes was always disappointed because nobody would finance his movies; he’d always felt dismissed and disregarded. “‘And now here you guys are making a big deal out of him,’” he remembered her saying. She said that was nice, but that they shouldn’t miss the point. “‘Make a big deal of yourself.’ You know? Whatever indifference the world gives you, he felt it, too. So you’re just as good as he is. Like, go out and do it.”

Mr. Hawke found that so moving, the idea of ignoring what the world was telling you about yourself and instead living only by standards that you had, yourself, carefully defined for your life and work. He vowed right then that he would do whatever it took to make good art on his own terms, no matter what anyone said. He would take himself seriously, even if no one else did.

He’d had his first starring role by then — in “Explorers,” when he was 14. By the time he was 20, he’d already starred in “White Fang” and “Dead Poets Society.” But he didn’t just want to be a movie star. He started a theater company in 1991 called Malaparte with his friends, but the world didn’t quite know how to react to his kaleidoscope ambitions. He debuted on Broadway in 1992 in “The Seagull,” and The New York Times said he played Konstantin with an “arm-waving display of unfocused nervous energy.” Variety determined that he gave the “single truly ineffective performance” in 2003’s “Henry IV”: “Movie actor Ethan Hawke is simply out of his depth.” Movie actor! The Chicago Tribune said his Macbeth in 2013 was a “tragic hero without drive.” I can’t even bear to print what The New York Post said about his “Clive” that very same year.

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

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The Distracted State Of The Union

IF ANYTHING DISTINGUISHES my generation of American writers, it’s that everyone in my generation became a writer, simply through the act of going online. More words have been written, more words have been read, by my generation than by any other generation in human history. I have to say, as a person who’d always planned on becoming a novelist, as a person who’d always planned on supporting the writing of novels through the writing of nonfiction, I found this daunting. The amount of information and the speed of its dissemination overwhelmed. I’m guessing this was the experience of most Americans born within reach of a midsized untangled extension cord from the year 1980—most Americans who’d grown up with books, only to exchange them for millennial adulthood and screens.

This ever-increasing amount of information coming at us at this ever-increasing speed rendered us unable to adequately attend to our own divided presences, let alone to a world that, though it wasn’t united, was suddenly “global.” Terrorism in Istanbul, hostages in Afghanistan, shark attacks, lethal mold, a sex scandal involving a missing congressional intern, the Giants v. the Broncos (to mention just a few of the “headlines” of September 10, 2001)—we were utterly incapable of absorbing what was happening. Rather, we were only capable of reacting to it: We scrolled through the plenitude, and clicked “like,” and clicked “dislike,” and generally ignored anything we weren’t able to assimilate efficiently. The dangers of our impatience were obvious: no depth. But considerably less obvious were the dangers involved with a mass culture’s rupture into myriad subcultures. Today, our sense of selfhood is undergoing a similar fragmentation. We’re all becoming too disparate, too dissociated—searching for porn one moment, searching for genocide the next—leaving behind stray data that cohere only in the mnemotech of our surveillance.

Read the rest of this article at: n+1

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The Great Chinese Art Heist

The patterns of the heists were evident only later, but their audacity was clear from the start. The spree began in Stockholm in 2010, with cars burning in the streets on a foggy summer evening. The fires had been lit as a distraction, a ploy to lure the attention of the police. As the vehicles blazed, a band of thieves raced toward the Swedish royal residence and smashed their way into the Chinese Pavilion on the grounds of Drottningholm Palace. There they grabbed what they wanted from the permanent state collection of art and antiquities. Police told the press the thieves had fled by moped to a nearby lake, ditched their bikes into the water, and escaped by speedboat. The heist took less than six minutes.

A month later, in Bergen, Norway, intruders descended from a glass ceiling and plucked 56 objects from the China Collection at the KODE Museum. Next, robbers in England hit the Oriental Museum at Durham University, followed by a museum at Cambridge University. Then, in 2013, the KODE was visited once more; crooks snatched 22 additional relics that had been missed during the first break-in.

Had they known exactly what was happening, perhaps the security officials at the Château de Fontainebleau, the sprawling former royal estate just outside Paris, could have predicted that they might be next.

With more than 1,500 rooms, the palace is a maze of opulence. But when bandits arrived before dawn on March 1, 2015, their target was unmistakable: the palace’s grand Chinese Museum. Created by the last empress of France, the wife of Napoleon III, the gallery was stocked with works so rare that their value was considered incalculable.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

American Beauties


The story of the plastic bag—the kind that is so ubiquitous in grocery stores, in gutters, in the branches of trees—is a story of persuasion, one that began with a battle between paper and plastic in the hearts of the American people.

“People are fond of the old paper bag,” Peter Bunten explained to the New York Times in 1984. “It’s as American as the flag and apple pie and all those other red, white, and blue clichés.” At the time, Bunten worked for American Paper Institute, and the plastic bag, first introduced to grocery stores in 1979, was ready to challenge the paper bag’s supremacy over how people carted home groceries—a $600 million market at the time.

To the plastics industry, the grocery bag was “the last stronghold” of the American supermarket, Ronald Schmeider, marketing manager at Mobil Chemical, a subsidiary of what is now ExxonMobil, told the Los Angeles Times in 1986. Plastics already had conquered the meat tray, the egg carton, and the produce and bread bag, jobs previously performed by paper. But the paper grocery bag proved harder to supplant.

The first plastic bags were introduced to consumers in the 1950s to collect trash and carry home dry cleaning. This kind of bag, it must be noted, had had a troubling start. Early on, there had been a series of suicides-by-bag and child suffocations, as the material strangely stuck to skin. In 1959, Life magazine featured a story cautioning parents about bags. It was accompanied by an image of Dr. Leona Baumgartner, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health gasping for breath, an impermeable bag over her head, the film stretched taut over her mouth. The Society of the Plastics Industry pledged to educate everyone about “what a plastic bag is for … and what it is not for.” This bag is not a toy.

Mobil Chemical began a trial run of its version of the plastic grocery bag in US stores in 1976. The bag seemed primed to become its own kind of Americana—printed for the bicentennial in red, white, and blue. (Though, in fact, the plastic-handled carrier bag had been invented by a Swedish company, which filed a patent for the simple, handled sack in 1962, more than a decade earlier.) Mobil’s bags made a poor first showing in their US test market: store clerks had to lick their fingers to work open the bags, and they were easily overfilled and either ripped or fell over in the back of a car.

To promote the plastic sack—different, its makers claimed, from the bag in cost, strength, and name—the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) founded an ad hoc Plastic Grocery Sack Council in 1985, and formalized it a year later. The council then developed a public relations strategy “to facilitate supermarkets’ move toward plastic sacks.” Their inaugural marketing campaign—called “Check Out the Sack. It’s Coming on Strong”—sent press kits to 100 trade and 600 general-consumer publications. Trainings were held to teach baggers how to best use the bag-dispensing system and to efficiently pack groceries in plastic.

Read the rest of this article at: Topic

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

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