News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Being stuck at home can be challenging. When I lived on the International Space Station for nearly a year, it wasn’t easy. When I went to sleep, I was at work. When I woke up, I was still at work. Flying in space is probably the only job you absolutely cannot quit.

But I learned some things during my time up there that I’d like to share — because they are about to come in handy again, as we all confine ourselves at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a few tips on living in isolation, from someone who has been there.

Follow a schedule

On the space station, my time was scheduled tightly, from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep. Sometimes this involved a spacewalk that could last up to eight hours; other times, it involved a five-minute task, like checking on the experimental flowers I was growing in space. You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment. When I returned to Earth, I missed the structure it provided and found it hard to live without.

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

News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For a child prodigy, learning didn’t always come easily to Derek Haoyang Li. When he was three, his father – a famous educator and author – became so frustrated with his progress in Chinese that he vowed never to teach him again. “He kicked me from here to here,” Li told me, moving his arms wide.

Yet when Li began school, aged five, things began to click. Five years later, he was selected as one of only 10 students in his home province of Henan to learn to code. At 16, Li beat 15 million kids to first prize in the Chinese Mathematical Olympiad. Among the offers that came in from the country’s elite institutions, he decided on an experimental fast-track degree at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. It would enable him to study maths, while also covering computer science, physics and psychology.

In his first year at university, Li was extremely shy. He came up with a personal algorithm for making friends in the canteen, weighing data on group size and conversation topic to optimise the chances of a positive encounter. The method helped him to make friends, so he developed others: how to master English, how to interpret dreams, how to find a girlfriend. While other students spent the long nights studying, Li started to think about how he could apply his algorithmic approach to business. When he graduated at the turn of the millennium, he decided that he would make his fortune in the field he knew best: education.

In person, Li, who is now 42, displays none of the awkwardness of his university days. A successful entrepreneur who helped create a billion-dollar tutoring company, Only Education, he is charismatic, and given to making bombastic statements. “Education is one of the industries that Chinese people can do much better than western people,” he told me when we met last year. The reason, he explained, is that “Chinese people are more sophisticated”, because they are raised in a society in which people rarely say what they mean.

Li is the founder of Squirrel AI, an education company that offers tutoring delivered in part by humans, but mostly by smart machines, which he says will transform education as we know it. All over the world, entrepreneurs are making similarly extravagant claims about the power of online learning – and more and more money is flowing their way. In Silicon Valley, companies like Knewton and Alt School have attempted to personalise learning via tablet computers. In India, Byju’s, a learning app valued at $6 billion, has secured backing from Facebook and the Chinese internet behemoth Tencent, and now sponsors the country’s cricket team. In Europe, the British company Century Tech has signed a deal to roll out an intelligent teaching and learning platform in 700 Belgian schools, and dozens more across the UK. Their promises are being put to the test by the coronavirus pandemic – with 849 million children worldwide, as of March 2020, shut out of school, we’re in the midst of an unprecedented experiment in the effectiveness of online learning.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Late afternoon on a Wednesday in December, and I’m in a glass-walled conference room in a Hollywood office building, waiting for an audience with Dwight Yoakam. This is his office. The plan was we’d meet at 4:30, but then 4:30 comes and goes, and then a Los Angeles winter sunset stripes the sky outside the window in blazing chemical-sorbet colors, throwing orange light on Dwight’s gold and platinum albums, his framed certificates of achievement from this or that songwriters’ association, the posters from films he’s appeared in, his neatly stacked coffee-table books on art and design, his Philippe Starck Louis Ghost chair, his little Jeff Koons balloon-dog sculpture. Then night falls, and just as I’m beginning to run out of things to say to the representative from Dwight’s management company who’s waiting with me, here’s Dwight, walking in the door with an evening iced tea in a giant reusable plastic cup, sighing apologies. Before ducking into a back room to wrap up a phone call, he conducts a quick inspection of the space and pauses by the conference-room door, at whose base a small birch-bark reindeer with a red-ribbon tie has been doorstoppishly positioned. “Hey, Kyle?” Dwight says to Kyle, who works for him, and Kyle pops out of his office, and they sidebar about the reindeer, and by the time Dwight has finished his call, Rudolph has been disappeared.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s a gloomy April afternoon in rural Oklahoma, and I’m sitting on the floor of a fluorescent-lit room at a roadside zoo with Nova, a 12-week-old tiliger. She looks like a tiger cub, but she’s actually a crossbreed, an unnatural combination of a tiger father and a mother born of a tiger and a lion. That unique genetic makeup places a higher price tag on cubs like Nova, and makes it easier, legally speaking, to abuse and exploit them. Endangered species protections don’t apply to artificial breeds such as tiligers. Hybridization, however, has done nothing to quell Nova’s predatory instincts. For the umpteenth time during the past six minutes, she lunges at my face, claws splayed and mouth ajar — only to be halted mid-leap as her handler jerks her harness. Unphased, Nova gets right back to pouncing.

With her dusty blue eyes, sherbet-colored paws, and prominent black stripes, Nova is adorable. But she also weighs 30 pounds and has teeth like a Doberman’s and claws the size of jumbo shrimp. Nova’s handler, a woman with long brown hair who tells me she recently retired from her IT job at a South Dakota bank to live out her dream of working with exotic cats, scolds the rambunctious tiliger in a goo-goo-ga-ga voice: “Nooooo, nooooo, you calms down!” Nova is teething, the handler explains, so she just wants something to chew on. The handler reaches for one of the tatty stuffed animals strewn around the room — a substitute, I guess, for my limbs. In that moment of distraction, Nova lunges. She lands her mark, chomping into the bicep of my producer, Graham Lee Brewer.

“Ooo, she got me!” Lee Brewer grimaces as he attempts to pull away from the determined predator. Nova’s handler has to pry the tiliger’s jaws open to detach her. After the incident, the woman conveniently checks her watch: “OK, you guys, time is up!”

I paid $80 for the pleasure of spending 12 minutes with Nova, but I’m glad the experience, billed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, is over. On our way out, we pass more than a dozen adult tigers yowling and pacing cages the size of small classrooms. Nearby signs solicit donations. You are their only hope. Sponsor a cabin or compound today! In the safety of our car, Lee Brewer rolls up his sleeve, exposing a swollen red welt. “Look at my gnarly tiger bite,” he chuckles. “I tried to play it off but I was like, this fuckin’ hurts!”

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this world up-close; I spent the better part of eight years investigating wildlife trafficking around the world. During my travels, I visited farms in China and Laos where tigers are raised like pigs, examined traditional medicine in Vietnam, ate what I was told was tiger bone “cake,” and tracked some of the world’s last remaining wild tigers in India. Almost everywhere I went, tigers were suffering and their numbers were on the decline because of human behavior. Until recently, though, I had no idea the United States was part of the problem.

Within a few weeks of my visit, Nova will be far too big and dangerous for overpriced playtime sessions. Cats like her are most likely confined to one of those cramped cages my producer and I passed leaving the zoo, where they spend the rest of their life being speed-bred to crank out more adorable cubs. Or Nova might be sold to another breeder, or to someone who wants to keep her as a pet. Although no one tracks big cat ownership in the U.S., it’s estimated that there are likely more pet tigers in America than there are left in the wild. What’s more, depending on the species of cat, federal oversight is either limited or nonexistent. In some states, it’s easier to buy a lion — a 400-pound predatory killer — than it is to get a dog.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

News 03.25.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Babinski Filho went to court, requesting that the squatters be evicted. But pressed by the judge, he had a hard time proving that the farm was actually productive. Although he claimed that there were 1,700 cattle at Santa Lucia, he could only produce evidence that 75 had been vaccinated. Nevertheless, the court ruled in his favor, and the squatters were evicted. Over the next three years, the farm would be occupied three more times. Each time, the judge ordered the squatters to leave.

As the years dragged on, the squatters grew tired of their leader, a man named Ronaldo da Silva Santos, who seemed more interested in enriching himself than in helping the landless. “Every Sunday he would hold a meeting to raise money,” recalls Fernando Araujo, a member of the sem terra movement who participated in every occupation at Santa Lucia. “At the time there were about 150 families in the occupation, and he’d ask for money from all of us. He would leave with all this money in a suitcase and say it was for meetings with lawyers.”

In 2017, frustrated by their lack of progress in the courts, the families fired Santos and held a meeting to find a new leader. One of the squatters raised his hand. He knew of someone with experience leading occupations. It was his aunt, Jane de Oliveira.

Oliveira had admired the sem terra movement for years.

Her husband, Tonho, had grown up along the BR 155, and like many young men he had started working for the large landowners, known as colonels. His brother Lico, a hired gunman for local ranchers, had even worked for the late Honorato Babinski, running squatters off the land.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

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