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News 09.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 09.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@luciazolea
News 09.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@heaveeen
News 09.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@anya_keyton

In the weeks I spent listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, I learned that lobsters have serotonin, that Elvis Presley suffered from parapraxis and that Mr. Gladwell adheres to a firm life rule that he drink only five liquids: water, tea, red wine, espresso and milk.

On the afternoon I met the author and journalist, I had just listened to an episode in which he interviews an intimidating guest. His audio recorder malfunctions, and he has to sprint to Staples to get a replacement. “I was embarrassed,” Mr. Gladwell confides in the podcast. “I worried that he would think I was pathetic.” It sounded mortifying. And yet when I sat down to interview Mr. Gladwell, at the kitchen table of his Manhattan apartment, I went ahead and trusted my own recorder.

This is what Mr. Gladwell, in his new book, “Talking to Strangers,” calls “default to truth.” Human beings are by nature trusting — of people, technology, everything. Often, we’re too trusting, with tragic results. But if we didn’t suppress thoughts of worst-case scenarios, we’d never leave the house. We definitely wouldn’t go on dating apps or invest in stocks or let our kids take gymnastics.

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

News 09.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The authoritarian leaders taking power around the world share a vocabulary of intolerance, insult, and menace. Jair Bolsonaro, who was elected President of Brazil on promises to end crime, right the economy, and “make Brazil great,” has spent his career gleefully offending women, black people, environmentalists, and gays. “I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son,” he has said. “I would prefer that my son die in an accident than show up with some guy with a mustache.” As a national legislator, he declared one political rival, Maria do Rosário, “not worth raping.” Immigrants are “scum.” The United Nations is “a bunch of communists.” He supports the torture of drug dealers, the use of firing squads, and the empowerment of a hyper-aggressive police force. “A policeman who doesn’t kill,” he has said, “isn’t a policeman.”

On New Year’s Day, Bolsonaro was inaugurated in the capital city of Brasília. Standing in the back of a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith convertible, he waved at crowds of supporters, and they shouted back, “The captain has arrived!” “The legend!” Bodyguards trotted alongside the car, flanked by uniformed cavalrymen on elegant white horses. Bolsonaro is sixty-four, tall and slim, with sharply parted dark hair and heroically bushy eyebrows. His third wife, Michelle, stood next to him, waving at the masses.

After the inaugural ceremony, Bolsonaro gave a speech outside Planalto, the Presidential palace; huge video screens magnified his image for tens of thousands of supporters. Many wore Brazilian flags draped over their shoulders and T-shirts featuring the outline of Bolsonaro’s face, in the style of the movie poster for “The Godfather.” At the ceremony, Bolsonaro had spoken broadly of the need to “unite the people.” Now, addressing his most fervent supporters, he could relax. He said that he had come to free them from the scourge of socialism—an allusion to his left-leaning predecessors Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, who had governed from 2003 to 2016. “Our flag will never be red,” he said. “It will be red only if we need to bleed over it.” The crowd took up a chant: “Never red!”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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Charles Schulz did not create Charlie Brown and Linus and Lucy to talk—or act—like normal children. He created them to be funny, and to act out what became a deeply personal theater of cruelty. But it is kids, real or unreal, that he put front and center, and it is kids who have been among his most avid readers, my own younger self very much included. I suspect that school-age children, who have to be shamed out of their natural inclination to laugh at others’ misfortune, enjoy Peanuts’ harshness as a subversive, vicarious thrill. I know I did. It helps that most of the jokes, references to Dostoyevsky and Beethoven notwithstanding, are accessible at a fairly early age, if not the deeper resonances of Schulz’s wit (such as the implication that adults also like to laugh at other people’s misery and pratfalls). It helps, too, that the strip’s surface concerns are children’s: friendships, pets, baseball, kite flying, thumb sucking, schoolyard crushes. Schulz met kids on their own terms, but then wrote up to them.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 09.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

AT FIRST THE LETTER read to Mira Feticu like a suicide note. “I am tired of being the guard,” it said. “The story is over. It only brings trouble.”

Consisting of a few short sentences typed on cream-colored paper, the letter wasn’t signed. “It was so dark,” Feticu said later. “I thought, What story? Somebody needs something.” The letter described a remote forest in Romania, Feticu’s native country, and included instructions. “Follow the path. After 450 meters you will find an old tree,” it directed. Nearby was another tree, marked with red paint. “Harlequin lies buried under the rock.”

The letter wasn’t a suicide note—it was a treasure map. The harlequin was Pablo Picasso’s Tête d’Arlequin (Harlequin Head). Completed in 1971, two years before the artist’s death, it’s a drawing in ink, colored pencil, and pastel on thick brown paper. The work was part of a private collection that hung in Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum, a pavilion designed by Rem Koolhaas, until the early morning hours of October 16, 2012, when thieves broke in through a back door and made off with the Picasso and six other works, by Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Lucian Freud, and Jacob Meyer de Haan. Experts estimated that the missing items were worth as much as $115 million. Four Romanian men were apprehended, tried, and convicted, but the art was never recovered. The mother of one of the men claimed to have burned it in her kitchen to protect her son; she later retracted her statement, but a forensic analysis of the ash in her stove found traces of what appeared to be nails from art frames used before the end of the 19th century. Some experts believe that at least three paintings went up in flames.

The mysterious letter sent to Feticu in November 2018 suggested that the harlequin drawing had survived. “Can you imagine?” she asked me a few months after she received it in the mail. “The chance to find a Picasso.”

Feticu is an author and poet who lives in the Netherlands. She has a round, youthful face and straight dark hair that she sometimes dyes blond. In 2015, she published a novel called Tascha, based on the story of a girlfriend of one of the Rotterdam thieves, who brought his lover to the Dutch city to become a sex worker. Presumably because of the book, Feticu was the recipient of the letter indicating that whoever had the Picasso drawing wanted to give it up. The note was an invitation: Come get it.

Feticu told me that she contacted the Dutch police, speaking briefly with a detective who had investigated the heist in 2012; he said that he would call her back. When he didn’t, Feticu confided in Frank Westerman, a fellow writer and friend. They decided to go to Romania together.

Five days later, Feticu and Westerman were tromping through a snowy forest in eastern Romania, near the village of Carcaliu, where the thieves were originally from. Following the letter’s instructions, the writers walked until they located a stripe of red paint on a tree. After clearing away snow, leaves, and a thin layer of dirt at the foot of the trunk, Feticu and Westerman found a rock. Underneath, wrapped in plastic, was the treasure they’d hoped would be there. The black ink, the pastel shading, the elongated, contorted face with a bulbous nose, close-set eyes, and deep wrinkles that hardly look like laugh lines—it was the missing harlequin.

Feticu burst into tears. “I was more than excited,” she told me. Holding the Picasso in her hands, she considered how the tragedy of the Rotterdam heist, and the humiliation she felt it cast on Romanians, might be transformed into a story of redemption.

Read the rest of this article at: the Atavist Magazine

THE CALIFORNIA COAST GREW AND PROSPERED during a remarkable moment in history when the sea was at its tamest.

But the mighty Pacific, unbeknownst to all, was nearing its final years of a calm but unusual cycle that had lulled dreaming settlers into a false sense of endless summer.

Elsewhere, Miami has been drowning, Louisiana shrinking, North Carolina’s beaches disappearing like a time lapse with no ending. While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare confluence of favorable winds and cooler water. This “sea level rise suppression,” as scientists call it, went largely undetected. Blinded from the consequences of a warming planet, Californians kept building right to the water’s edge.

But lines in the sand are meant to shift. In the last 100 years, the sea rose less than 9 inches in California. By the end of this century, the surge could be greater than 9 feet.

Wildfire and drought dominate the climate change debates in the state. Yet this less-talked-about reality has California cornered. The coastline is eroding with every tide and storm, but everything built before we knew better — Pacific Coast Highway, multimillion-dollar homes in Malibu, the rail line to San Diego — is fixed in place with nowhere to go.

But the world is getting hotter, the great ice sheets still melting, the rising ocean a slow-moving disaster that has already swept past California’s front door. Seaside cliffs are crumbling in Pacifica, bringing down entire buildings. Balboa Island, barely above sea level, is spending $1.8 million to raise the wall that separates it from the ocean.

Winter storms pummeled a Capistrano Beach boardwalk, turning the idyllic shoreline into a construction zone as bulldozers rushed to stack boulders into a barricade. From San Diego to Humboldt counties, homeowners scramble to fend off increasing erosion and storm surges, pleading with officials for bigger seawalls that can hold back the even bigger ocean.

There are only so many ways to play against the rising sea. Seawalls are one option, but they come with a hidden cost — forcing the sand before them to wash away. For every new seawall protecting a home or a road, a beach for the people is sacrificed.

Adding sand to disappearing beaches is another tactic, but that race against nature lasts only so long as there’s money and enough sand.

Then there’s what scientists and economists and number-crunching consultants call “managed retreat”: Move back, relocate, essentially cede the land to nature. These words alone have roiled the few cities bold enough to utter them. Mayors have been ousted, planning documents rewritten, campaigns waged over the very thought of turning prime real estate back into dunes and beaches.

Retreat is as un-American as it gets, neighborhood groups declared. To win, California must defend.

But at what cost? Should California become one long wall of concrete against the ocean? Will there still be sandy beaches or surf breaks to cherish in the future, oceanfront homes left to dream about? More than $150 billion in property could be at risk of flooding by 2100 — the economic damage far more devastating than the state’s worst earthquakes and wildfires. Salt marshes, home to shorebirds and endangered species, face extinction. In Southern California alone, two-thirds of beaches could vanish.

Read the rest of this article at: Los Angeles Times

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