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News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@peggy_loves
News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@amyastley via @dana_chels
News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@parisianvibe

In the beginning, there was the pub. And the people saw that the pub was good.

The pub was the Old Forge, and the Guinness Book of World Records declared it “the most remote pub on mainland Britain.” It was set in the village of Inverie, the only major settlement on Scotland’s Knoydart peninsula, a wild finger of land with a population of 100. To get there, you had two choices: catch a six-mile ferry from the little port of Mallaig, or set out on a two-to-three-day hike across some of the most isolated mountains in Western Europe—an attempt referred to by the British outdoor community as a “walk-in.” The trek from the hamlet of Glenfinnan is some 27 miles, crossing swollen rivers and lonely mountains along vague and vanishing trails. With every mile walked, every sprain of ankle, every squelch of bog, the beer tasted sweeter.

For many years, the legend of the Old Forge echoed down the glens and out across the world. I heard stories of midsummer nights when the light never quite left the sky and the music never left the pub—the fiddles reeled, the beer flowed, walkers steeled their trail-weary limbs and danced on the tables and out into the streets in the gathering dawn. The hangovers lasted an eternity. “It’s a classic British experience,” says a friend who made the walk-in in 1996. “Getting to the Old Forge was a golden moment. I can still taste the first pint.”

Read the rest of this article at: Outside

News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Suppose I’ve advertised a postdoctoral researcher position, and in one applicant’s file I find a very short reference letter from a PhD supervisor praising her student’s excellent command of English, impeccable use of MS Word templates, and remarkably regular seminar attendances. Even though the letter doesn’t say anything negative, it might make me think twice about hiring this student. How did I arrive at this nonliteral interpretation of the letter? According to the philosopher H P Grice, it all comes down to the assumption that communication is fundamentally a cooperative endeavour. At first sight, the letter-writer’s focus on irrelevant trivialities might seem rather uninformative, and hence not very helpful in assessing the candidate’s suitability for the job. At that point, Grice’s assumption of cooperativity can trigger the following line of reasoning: if the professor had held a high opinion of the student’s academic skills, she surely would have put something to that effect in the letter; she didn’t, so she probably doesn’t think very highly of her student, and is thus communicating to me that I shouldn’t hire her.

This reasoning pattern exploits a specific subtype of communicative cooperativity that involves presenting as much of the relevant information as possible. Grice distinguishes various other parameters of cooperativity, each associated with a number of so-called maxims. In the following we’ll zoom in on the maxims of quality: ‘do not say what you believe to be false’ and ‘do not say that for which you have insufficient evidence’. While it might seem intuitively clear that cooperative speakers should adhere to these maxims, it is equally clear that, as a matter of fact, we violate them on a regular basis.

We exaggerate (‘I’d sooner be found dead in a ditch than ask for another Brexit delay’), we tell lies (‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’), we bullshit – a technical term referring to statements made by someone who doesn’t care about their truth or falsity – we tell jokes (‘I was so proud to finish the puzzle in six months. On the box it said three to four years’), we write novels (‘It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen…’), we use metaphors (‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’) and we use sarcasm and irony (‘Cold, windy and raining? I love Dutch weather!’). In all of these cases there is a clear sense in which we are not really presenting the truth, as we know it, based on the best available evidence. But there are vast differences between these phenomena. For instance, while some constitute morally objectionable behaviour, others are associated with art and poetry. Following Grice’s lead, let’s take a closer look at the different ways in which the maxims of quality are violated, in an attempt to pin down the surprisingly elusive distinction between fiction and lying, and their place in the overarching Gricean theory of linguistic communication as a cooperative endeavour.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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Sometime last fall, a security contractor based in Asia took a call that he found curious. The man on the other end of the line, a longtime acquaintance and, like him, an expert in protecting VIPs and valuable cargoes in challenging environments, was looking to hire for a job in Japan. He offered few specifics. The assignment would involve escorting someone out of the country, he said. It would pay well. And he was looking for operatives with military or police experience and, ideally, fair-skinned East Asian faces—the kind that wouldn’t stand out in Tokyo.

The contractor wanted to know more. Who would the operatives be protecting? What was the specific threat? Would the client be carrying cash or gold or something else of value? The caller wouldn’t say. The contractor was noncommittal but said he would get in touch if anyone else came to mind. They hung up, and the contractor didn’t really think about the job again—until he and the rest of the world saw the news about Carlos Ghosn.

Just before New Year’s, Ghosn, the ousted leader of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, completed a daring escape from Tokyo, where he was facing criminal charges that could have put him in prison for more than a decade. Despite being under intense surveillance while out on bail, with a camera trained on his front door and undercover agents tailing him when he left his house, Ghosn somehow made it to Lebanon, where he lived for most of his adolescence and is a citizen.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the middle of September, shortly before the House of Representatives opened its impeachment inquiry against President Trump, I started texting with his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, to try to arrange a time to get together. I stressed that I wasn’t looking for sound bites; I wanted to talk, in depth, about the whole arc of his career, with the goal of explaining how he wound up at the center of this historic moment. There were several weeks of inconclusive, if at times amusing, exchanges — when I reminded him of the numerous Giuliani profiles this magazine has published over the course of the last four decades, he ‘‘loved’’ my text — before I decided to call him on his cellphone. It was a Friday evening, a few days after his business associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arraigned on charges of conspiring to funnel foreign money into American elections. To my surprise, Giuliani answered. I could hear that he was in a crowded bar or restaurant; he sounded as if he was in good spirits. ‘‘I really want to talk to you,’’ he said. ‘‘The thing is, I’m a little busy right now. Give me another week, and I should have all of this behind me.’’

Since then, things seem to have gotten a lot worse for Giuliani. The House has impeached the president largely on the basis of Giuliani’s work, and Giuliani himself has come under investigation for possibly serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. And yet he has continued to go on cable television and Twitter, making reckless statements, all the while pressing a bizarre and baseless corruption case against Joe Biden. All of this has left a lot of people puzzled. How did a man who was once — pick your former Rudy: priestly prosecutor, avenging crime-buster, America’s mayor — become this guy, ranting on TV, unapologetically pursuing debunked conspiracy theories, butt-dialing reporters, sharing photos of himself scheming in actual smoke-filled rooms? What happened?

Giuliani never did sit down with me, and after awhile I stopped chasing him. There seemed to be little point: The whole drama, including his many unfiltered assertions about it, was out there for everyone to see. But he did eventually reply in writing to 65 statements derived from an early draft of this essay. It was a fascinating document, dismissive and yet indignant, alternating between angry denials, boasts, accusations, elisions and an almost confessional intimacy. In short, it was what I had come to think of as classic Rudy.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 01.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Most visitors come to Cape Canaveral, on the northeast coast of Florida, for the tourist attractions. It’s home to the second-busiest cruise ship port in the world and is a gateway to the cosmos. Nearly 1.5 million visitors flock here every year to watch rockets, spacecraft, and satellites blast off into the solar system from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, reminding us of the restless reach of our species. Nearly 64 kilometers of undeveloped beach and 648 square kilometers of protected refuge fan out from the cape’s sandy shores. And then there’s the draw of relics like Turtle Mound, a vast hill containing 27,000 cubic meters of oyster shells left by Indigenous tribes several thousand years ago.

Yet some of Cape Canaveral’s most storied attractions lie unseen, wedged under the sea’s surface in mud and sand, for this part of the world has a reputation as a deadly ship trap. Over the centuries, dozens of stately Old World galleons smashed, splintered, and sank on this irregular stretch of windy Florida coast. They were vessels built for war and commerce, traversing the globe carrying everything from coins to ornate cannons, boxes of silver and gold ingots, chests of emeralds and porcelain, and pearls from the Caribbean—the stuff of legends.

Cape Canaveral contains one of the greatest concentrations of colonial shipwrecks in the world, though the majority of them have never been found. In recent years, advances in radar, sonar, scuba diving, detection equipment, computers, and GPS have transformed the hunt. The naked eye might see a pile of rocks, centuries of concretions, crusts of coral, decayed and worm-eaten wood, oxidized metal—but technology can reveal the precious artifacts that lie hidden full fathom five on the ocean floor.

As technology renders the seabed more accessible, the hunt for treasure-laden ships has drawn a fresh tide of salvors and their investors—as well as marine archaeologists wanting to exhume the lost relics. But of late, when salvors have found vessels, their rights have been challenged in court. The big question: who should have dominion over these Golcondas of the seas? High-stakes fights over shipwrecks pit archaeologists against treasure hunters in a vicious cycle of accusations. Archaeologists regard themselves as protectors of history and the human story, and they see salvors as careless destroyers. Salvors feel they do the hard grunt work of searching for ships for months and years, only to have them stolen out from under them when discovered.

Read the rest of this article at: Hakai

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

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