News 08.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 08.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 08.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 08.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The ABC Of Time

Ronnie O’Sullivan is an absurdly talented snooker player. When it suits him, the English five-times world champion can switch from playing right-handed to left-handed, and has even hit competition shots one-handed. But can he play snooker backwards in time? Of course he can’t. Why not? Well, there’s nothing particularly special about O’Sullivan, nor about snooker, in this respect. Think of any familiar process in our ordinary past-to-future direction, then play it backwards, and you’re faced with bizarre, improbable scenarios. With time flipped, we see a world in which shards of glass spontaneously jump off the floor into smooth wineglasses, cars suck carbon dioxide out of the air while moving backwards, and the surface of each Phil Collins LP is slowly smoothed out until no record of his music remains. As desirable as each of these processes might be, they appear not to describe the world in which we live.

Instead, we are very much ingrained in thinking that time goes from past to future; that there is something important about the world that past-to-future descriptions get right and future-to-past descriptions get wrong. Even though the Universe is expanding relative to the past-to-future direction, and contracting relative to the future-to-past direction, we nonetheless take it for granted that ‘really’ the Universe expands and does not contract. This idea of time going from past to future underlies much of our wider philosophical thinking about the nature of reality: we think of the past history of the world as fixed but of the future as undecided and open to a wealth of possibilities; we think that the way things are now depends on how they were in the past, but not on how they are in the future; we think of the laws of nature as telling the Universe how to evolve from earlier to later, and not later to earlier. And so on.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

It has been one of the most aggravating sounds on earth for more than 100 million years — the humming buzz of a mosquito.

She gently lands on your ankle and inserts two serrated mandible cutting blades and saws into your skin, while two other retractors open a passage for the proboscis. With this straw she sucks your blood, while a sixth needle pumps in saliva that contains an anticoagulant that prevents that blood from clotting. This shortens her feeding time, lessening the likelihood that you splat her across your ankle.

The female mosquito needs your blood to grow her eggs. Please don’t feel singled out. She bites everyone. There is no truth to the myths that mosquitoes prefer women over men or blondes and redheads over those with darker hair. She does, however, play favorites. Type O blood seems to be the vintage of choice. Stinky feet emit a bacterium that woos famished females, as do perfumes. As a parting gift, she leaves behind an itchy bump (an allergic reaction to her saliva) and potentially something far worse: infection with one of several deadly diseases, including malaria, Zika, West Nile, dengue and yellow fever.

Mosquitoes are our apex predator, the deadliest hunter of human beings on the planet. A swarming army of 100 trillion or more mosquitoes patrols nearly every inch of the globe, killing about 700,000 people annually. Researchers suggest that mosquitoes may have killed nearly half of the 108 billion humans who have ever lived across our 200,000-year or more existence.

Flying solo, the mosquito does not directly harm anyone. It is the diseases she transmits that cause an endless barrage of death. Yet without her, these pathogens could not be vectored to humans. Without her, human history would be completely unrecognizable.

The mosquito and her diseases have accompanied traders, travelers, soldiers and settlers (and their captive African slaves) around the world and have been far more lethal than any manufactured weapons or inventions.

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

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To Cheat and Lie in L.A.: How the College-Admissions Scandal Ensnared the Richest Families in Southern California

It was so not like Jane Buckingham to behave this way. After all, she was the model for a responsible, successful, hip 21st-century parent. She built her career on being an expert in millennial and Generation Z trends, she wrote articles on parenting, gave talks on the subject, was featured on shows like Good Morning America and Today. We parents need to be more chill, she told people in her girlish, approachable way. Let our kids make mistakes. Don’t bulldoze a path for them. And yet here she was, committing a crime in order to give her son a leg up.

Summer of 2018, and the time had come for Jack, a rising senior at Los Angeles’s tony Brentwood School, to take the ACT. Buckingham had hired Rick Singer to shepherd them through the college application process. And Singer knew how to make the test easy for Jack—so easy that he wouldn’t even have to take it himself. Thanks to a provision for students with learning disabilities, and two alleged Singer coconspirators in Houston—master test taker Mark Riddell and test administrator Niki Williams—Jack would be able to “take” the ACT from the comfort of his own home while awaiting a tonsillectomy. Riddell, as Jane knew, would take the actual test—and score brilliantly. Later, Williams would submit that fabulous test to the ACT. Singer just needed one more thing: a handwriting sample from Jack so that Riddell could fake the essay portion convincingly. Jane asked Jack to provide one. “To whom it may concern,” Jack wrote in distinct, uneven lettering, “this provides an example of my current writing style. Thank you for your attention.” Jane snapped a picture of it and emailed it along. She knew she was acting bananas and tried to laugh it off. “I know this is craziness,” she said to Singer. “I know it is. And then I need you to get him into USC, and then I need you to cure cancer and make peace in the Middle East.” Then she forked over $35,000 of a promised $50,000 to Singer’s Key Worldwide Foundation and waited for her son to get into the University of Southern California.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

Wealth is a number, sure, but it’s also a feeling. I grew up living with my mom and maternal grandparents, while my dad played and coached in the NBA. For a time, our family’s safety net was held together by my grandfather’s HVAC business, but in 2001, it nearly came apart. That year, the company worked on a project performing mechanical-contracting work at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The timeline did not account for delays. My grandfather estimates that the company lost $4 million on the project. Our house was put on the market shortly after. I loved that house because it felt like home, but also because it made me feel at home in a predominantly white world, where I felt as if my every move was on display. The house served as a symbol of wealth to justify belonging. When we sold it, I felt exposed, as though my family was showcasing the fragility of black wealth for all to see. I told friends that my family wanted to downsize. I’m sure they saw through the lie.

Americans are uncomfortable talking about money. We use careers, homes, and clothing to stand in as proxies. Certain markers in these areas signify wealth, regardless of the actual amount in your bank account. I harbor no delusions about how privileged my family and I are. As an adult, I am thankful every day for how much my family sacrificed for my freedom. But I also know that, as a whole, black wealth is delicate, because for generations lawmakers and power wielders attempted to prevent African Americans from building it. When I set out to write this story, I wanted to better understand the intricate narratives that make wealth in the black community so complex. My own understanding was rooted in the idea that while my family represented a version of the American dream, the injustices that have kept black families without a safety net for generations still reverberated throughout our history. I found those historical echoes still ringing in the stories of other families, too.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

The ideal woman has always been generic. I bet you can picture the version of her that runs the show today. She’s of indeterminate age but resolutely youthful presentation. She’s got glossy hair and the clean, shameless expression of a person who believes she was made to be looked at. She is often luxuriating when you see her – on remote beaches, under stars in the desert, across a carefully styled table, surrounded by beautiful possessions or photogenic friends. Showcasing herself at leisure is either the bulk of her work or an essential part of it; in this, she is not so unusual – for many people today, especially for women, packaging and broadcasting your image is a readily monetizable skill. She has a personal brand, and probably a boyfriend or husband: he is the physical realization of her constant, unseen audience, reaffirming her status as an interesting subject, a worthy object, a self-generating spectacle with a viewership attached.

Can you see this woman yet? She looks like an Instagram – which is to say, an ordinary woman reproducing the lessons of the marketplace, which is how an ordinary woman evolves into an ideal. The process requires maximal obedience on the part of the woman in question, and – ideally – her genuine enthusiasm, too. This woman is sincerely interested in whatever the market demands of her (good looks, the impression of indefinitely extended youth, advanced skills in self-presentation and self-surveillance). She is equally interested in whatever the market offers her – in the tools that will allow her to look more appealing, to be even more endlessly presentable, to wring as much value out of her particular position as she can.

The ideal woman, in other words, is always optimizing. She takes advantage of technology, both in the way she broadcasts her image and in the meticulous improvement of that image itself. Her hair looks expensive. She spends lots of money taking care of her skin, a process that has taken on the holy aspect of a spiritual ritual and the mundane regularity of setting a morning alarm.

The work formerly carried out by makeup has been embedded directly into her face: her cheekbones or lips have been plumped up, or some lines have been filled in, and her eyelashes are lengthened every four weeks by a professional wielding individual lashes and glue. The same is true of her body, which no longer requires the traditional enhancements of clothing or strategic underwear; it has been pre-shaped by exercise that ensures there is little to conceal or rearrange.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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

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