News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Vanishing Groves

No event, however momentous, leaves an everlasting imprint on the world. Take the cosmic background radiation, the faint electromagnetic afterglow of the Big Bang. It hangs, reassuringly, in every corner of our skies, the firmest evidence we have for the giant explosion that created our universe. But it won’t be there forever. In a trillion years’ time it is going to slip beyond what astronomers call the cosmic light horizon, the outer edge of the observable universe. The universe’s expansion will have stretched its wavelength so wide that it will be undetectable to any observer, anywhere. Time will have erased its own beginning.

On Earth, the past is even quicker to vanish. To study geology is to be astonished at how hastily time reorders our planet’s surface, filling its craters, smoothing its mountains and covering its continents in seawater. Life is often the fastest to disintegrate in this constant churn of water and rock. The speed of biological decomposition ensures that only the most geologically fortunate of organisms freeze into stone and become fossils. The rest dissolve into sediment, leaving the thinnest of molecular traces behind.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

American Hustle

News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Robert Mueller III played lacrosse and majored in government at Princeton. He graduated in 1966 and soon thereafter volunteered for and was accepted into the Marine Corps. He won a Bronze Star for heroism in the Vietnam War and later attended law school at the University of Virginia. He has since spent nearly a half century in either private legal practice or law enforcement, including 12 years as director of the FBI. Mueller epitomizes the old WASP establishment.

Donald Trump graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. He dodged the Vietnam War, reportedly by asking a podiatrist to dishonestly attest to the presence of bone spurs in Trump’s heels. Trump sought fame and fortune in the private sector, entering his father’s successful real estate business, which he took from New York City’s outer boroughs to the glitzier, riskier precincts of Manhattan and the casino capital of Atlantic City. He tried his hand at running an airline and a get-rich-quick university before finally finding his true calling: playing a fantasy version of himself on a reality television show. Trump is as American as apple pie.

These two lives—establishmentarian and upstart—collided in May 2017, when the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate, as the order defining his mandate put it, “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” along with “any matters that arose or may arise from the investigation.” In the two years that followed, Mueller and his investigators interviewed around 500 witnesses, issued some 2,800 subpoenas and some 500 search-and-seizure warrants, indicted 34 individuals and three Russian businesses, and secured guilty pleas from or convictions of Trump’s one-time campaign chair and former national security adviser, among others.

In March of this year, Mueller delivered to the Department of Justice a 448-page report in two volumes, a redacted version of which Attorney General William Barr made public a few weeks later. The first volume scrutinizes the evidence of a possible criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, which, the report states, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” by spreading disinformation over social media and stealing and disseminating personal e-mails belonging to senior figures in the presidential campaign of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. The second volume examines evidence of possible obstruction of justice by the president in relation to the investigation—that is, whether Trump violated the law by attempting to make it harder for Mueller to get to the truth.

Read the rest of this article at: Foreign Policy

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The New German Anti-Semitism

One of Wenzel Michalski’s early recollections of growing up in southern Germany in the 1970s was of his father, Franz, giving him some advice: “Don’t tell anyone that you’re Jewish.” Franz and his mother and his little brother had survived the Holocaust by traveling across swaths of Eastern and Central Europe to hide from the Gestapo, and after the war, his experiences back in Germany suggested that, though the Nazis had been defeated, the anti-Semitism that was intrinsic to their ideology had not. This became clear to Franz when his teachers in Berlin cast stealthily malicious glances at him when Jewish characters — such as Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” — came up in literature. “Eh, Michalski, this exactly pertains to you,” he recalls one teacher telling him through a clenched smile. Many years later, when he worked as an animal-feed trader in Hamburg, he didn’t tell friends that he was Jewish and held his tongue when he heard them make anti-Semitic comments. And so Franz told his son Wenzel that things would go easier for him if he remained quiet about being Jewish. “The moment you say it, things will become very awkward.”

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

News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Kate Hudson Was Destined For Hollywood Greatness. Then She Pivoted To Leggings.

News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a recent afternoon at the Fabletics pop-up store in Soho, a small sign stood in front of a mannequin’s disembodied butt fitted with an exercise thong: “Don’t forget to use our hashtag on all your double-tap-worthy photos of our new store.” Search Instagram for that hashtag (#FableticsIRL), and you’ll find hundreds of women in their Fabletics gear, distinguishable by its commitment to vibrantly colored, matching leggings-and-sports-bra pairings. Competitor Lululemon has vibrance, competitor Outdoor Voices has matching outfits, but neither has both — and, even more importantly, neither has Kate Hudson, whose Instagram photos (#MyFabletics, #FableticsFriday) pop up amid the stream of customers, showing her dressed in the same mid-priced leggings.

The Soho pop-up is a modest space — about the size of a New York studio apartment, and far smaller than the slew of Fabletics brick-and-mortar stores that have taken up residency in swanky suburban malls across the country. A window display tells passersby that “Girls Just Wanna Have Pockets” (now available on a wide array of Fabletics leggings and sports bras). Above the register, a neon sign broadcasts a distillation of the Fabletics brand and athleisure in general: “Kick Butt / Look Cute / Repeat.” Attendants dressed in fashionable eyewear and Fabletics outfits ask every customer if they’re familiar with the VIP program: Enroll for $49.95 a month, one says, and you’ll get two pairs of leggings for just $24, plus a 30% to 50% discount on every item in the store.

“But do I really need new clothes every month?” a trim, put-together woman in her fifties asked. “Whatever your lifestyle,” the attendant responded, “you’ll find yourself wearing these clothes.”

That’s the athleisure promise: a new category of clothing, one you don’t necessarily need, but will nonetheless start colonizing your wardrobe. Athleisure’s explicit purpose is working out, but its implicit aim is looking cute — the uniform for the modern woman who might not have it all, but certainly does it all. It “blurs the lines between working out and everything else,” as Jia Tolentino put it in the New Yorker — between the clothes you wear in private and those you wear in public, between the private desire to regiment the body and the public performance of that discipline.

Read the rest of this article at: BuzzFeed

Is Logos a Proper Noun?

News 05.26.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

During Jacques Derrida’s visit to China in 2001, he held a meeting with the Chinese philosopher Wang Yuanhua. Derrida opened their dialogue with a sentence that had the effect, no doubt involuntary, of aggravating his interlocutor and all of those Chinese listeners present: ‘China doesn’t have philosophy, but/only thought [中国没有哲学, 但/只有思想, Zhongguo meiyou zhexue dan/zhi you lixiang]’. This was not actually the original form of the sentence as the French philosopher had pronounced it, but my own later translation of the Chinese translation of the original French sentence, which itself has not been preserved. Regardless, it is the Chinese translation alone that Wang was able to hear and understand. This translation has two versions, or, to be more exact, can be translated in two different ways. All of the nuance resides in the choice of conjunction: either ‘but’ or ‘only’.

First, ‘China doesn’t have philosophy, it only has thought.’ This was the version published in the collection of Wang’s writings. 2 It was also the interpretation of certain Chinese intellectuals. Consequently, the conversation between Derrida and Wang resuscitated amongst these intellectuals the old debate around the question of whether or not China has its own philosophy.

Second, ‘China doesn’t have philosophy, but it does however have thought.’ We believe that this was what Derrida was trying to say. Between ‘only’ and ‘however’ there is a difference of stress. Nonetheless, this difference implies two completely opposing conceptions of Chinese thought.

As we know, for Derrida, ‘philosophy’ is centred on logos and is prisoner to it; presumably his aim in visiting China was thus not to identify the same structure in Chinese thought. Derrida did not understand Chinese, but we need only refer to his criticism of alphabetic writing, in Of Grammatology for example – a writing that is for him intrinsically linked to logos ­– to understand what he may have hoped for from the Chinese language and Chinese thought. That China had no logos, and therefore no ‘philosophy’, presented an opportunity to Derrida’s eyes, as it does to all Western philosophers who find in ‘Chinese thought’ a way of reviving or regenerating their ‘philosophy’.

Unfortunately, those Chinese listeners who heard Derrida’s sentence ignored this probable intention and interpreted his words as a negative value judgement, one that placed Chinese thought in an inferior position vis-à-vis Western philosophy. The reaction of his Chinese interlocutor was therefore to establish in ‘Chinese thought’ those aspects that had most in common with ‘Western philosophy’, particularly its logic and metaphysics. And yet Derrida went to China neither to find ‘philosophy’ nor to speak ill of ‘Chinese thought’. In fact, to foresee the provocative effect of his comment, he would have needed to understand the history of the modernisation of China to see why the Chinese could not but be extremely sensitive to this kind of assessment. The idea that China has no philosophy, no natural science, has nothing related to Western modernity, was historically regarded as a fatal danger, insofar as China had almost perished at the hands of technologically superior Western powers.

Read the rest of this article at: Radical Philosophy

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