News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Edward Lorenz was just out of college when he was recruited into World War II. He was assigned to be a weather forecaster, despite having no experience in meteorology. What Lorenz knew was math.

So he started experimenting with differential equations, trying to make predictions based on patterns in data on past temperatures and pressures. One day, while testing his system, he repeated a simulation with a few decimals rounded off in the data. To his surprise, a radically different future emerged.

He called this finding “the butterfly effect.” In a complex model, where each day’s weather influences the next day’s, a tweak in initial conditions can have wild downstream consequences. The butterfly effect became central to the emerging field of chaos theory, which has since been applied to economics, sociology, and many other subjects, in attempts to deconstruct complex phenomena. That field is now helping predict the future of the pandemic—in particular, how it ends.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

As late as 1999, Anthony Bourdain’s principal vocation remained his position as executive chef at the venerable but self-consciously middle-brow steak-frites joint Les Halles, on Park Avenue between 28th and 29th streets in Manhattan. Always a blessing and a curse, Bourdain’s restless mind continuously kicked the tires on other career avenues—Random House had published his Elmore Leonard–style culinary crime novel Bone in the Throat a few years previous—but by no means was he walking away from his calling in the kitchen. He was 43 years old, rode hard and put up wet, a recovering addict with a number of debts and a penchant for finding trouble in failing restaurants across the city. At Les Halles—at last—he had found sustained success and something resembling stability. This is what Anthony Bourdain would have had us believe.

But in the spring of 2000, his sublimated literary ambitions suddenly caught up with and then quickly surpassed his cooking. Brought forth by the boutique publishing house Ecco Press, Bourdain’s long-gestating, industry-disrupting, love-letter-cum-horror-show-confessional Kitchen Confidential became an immediate sensation. Flippant and funny, but vested with a deep reverence for his chosen field, the memoir tapped into a rich vein of industry lore and personal history. Bourdain’s prose was robust, witty, gossipy, outrageous, and informative. All at once, the possibilities were endless, the implications exhilarating and terrifying. He was a world-building raconteur, whose handsome visage and wiry 6-foot-4 frame seemed factory-assembled for the biggest stage. He was a ready-made star of the book tour circuit with a clear path forward. The Tony Bourdain show was headed for television.

In the just over two years since his tragic death, Bourdain has taken on a near-mythic stature as an emissary for food culture, an individual whose far-flung televised travelogues evolved over time from carousing misadventures into full-blown celebrations of genuine cultural exchange. By the time of his death, Bourdain had played a pivotal role in the mainstreaming and democratization of food culture, essentially bulldozing centuries-old elitist notions of fine dining by dint of his fierce advocacy and boundless enthusiasm. Bourdain’s overarching hypothesis—that political and social inequality could be both better understood and significantly redressed through an investigation of what and how we eat—has become so widely accepted that it can be strange to reflect that just two decades previous these ideas were largely alien. His big move from workaday chef to revolutionary frontiersman began in earnest 20 years ago, and the journey it would take him and his audience on was breathtaking.

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

Great crises tend to bring profound social change, for good or ill. The consequences of wars and economic depressions have been amply studied; the consequences of pandemics, less so. This spring, in order to understand our possible future, I decided to look at the past through the eyes of Gianna Pomata, a retired professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine, at Johns Hopkins University. When we first talked, on Skype, she immediately compared COVID-19 to the bubonic plague that struck Europe in the fourteenth century—“not in the number of dead but in terms of shaking up the way people think.” She went on, “The Black Death really marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of something else.” That something else was the Renaissance.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

One of the big questions posed by Palm Springs, Andy Samberg’s new wedding-goes-Groundhog Day romantic comedy, is also a timely thought experiment: If you had to spend the rest of eternity stuck in a single day with a single other person, would that be hell? Or, if you were lucky enough to be stuck there with the right person, might desert-oasis purgatory in fact be a kind of heaven? The film picks up after Samberg’s Nyles has re-lived the same hipstery Palm Springs wedding a million times, and right before he drags Cristin Milioti’s sister of the bride into his infinitely recurring marital nightmare. Together, and with more than a few Lonely Island-style hijinks, they try to escape their time-loop. Along the way, they consider the horror—or is it joy?—of eternal cohabitation.

For better or worse, the circumstances of quarantine have led couples everywhere to confront a similar question: what happens to a relationship when every day is the same? Samberg, joyfully boyish at 41 in ballcap and Studio Ghibli tee, opens the first of our two Zoom calls with an admission. “It’s weird to be doing press again at all,” he says, “thinking about saying anything about the world other than COVID or the protests and everything, and George Floyd.” This wasn’t an idle gripe. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, his sitcom about an affable band of detectives, had been pulled into the national debate around policing sparked by Floyd’s death, as audiences and networks alike began to rethink the merits of shows about benevolent cops. But Samberg had Palm Springs to promote, as both star and producer, and had brought himself around on the idea. “You know, the world was kind of fucked up before, and it’s still fucked up, and we were doing press before, and making movies,” he says. “I’m going through all the same stuff,” he’d realized, “and at night I want to watch stuff. So I guess putting something out is okay.” What he’s putting out has that newly relevant pandemic layer, its echo of our endlessly repeating days. And Samberg makes no secret of the fact that he’s plenty happy for this to be the recurring day he’s stuck in, and for the people he’s reliving it with to be his wife, the harpist and songwriter Joanna Newsom, and their young daughter.

Their days at home are placid. There’s a piano, mostly used by Newsom. (Samberg’s repertoire reaches its outer limit with the two-note melody—duh-duhduhduh-duhduhduh-duhduhduh-duh—from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.”) There are three harps, also mostly used by Newsom: two for mom, one toddler-sized, a gift from Newsom’s preferred harpmaker. He’s confident Baby Samberg will get around to making dick jokes sooner than later, but for now she’s taking after mom. “She’s not bad,” he says. “She watches her mom and emulates that sometimes, and it’s the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.”

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

News 07.15.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When a scientific paradigm breaks down, scientists need to make a leap into the unknown. These are moments of revolution, as identified by Thomas Kuhn in the 1960s, when the scientists’ worldview becomes untenable and the agreed-upon and accepted truths of a particular discipline are radically called into question. Beloved theories are revealed to have been built upon sand. Explanations that held up for hundreds of years are now dismissed. A particular and productive way of looking at the world turns out to be erroneous in its essentials. The great scientific revolutions – such as those instigated by Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Lavoisier, Einstein and Wegener – are times of great uncertainty, when cool, disinterested reason alone doesn’t help scientists move forward because so many of their usual assumptions about how their scientific discipline is done turn out to be flawed. So they need to make a leap, not knowing where they will land. But how?

To explain how scientists are able to make this leap, the philosopher of science Bas van Fraassen in The Empirical Stance (2002) drew on Jean-Paul Sartre’s Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions (1939). Sartre was dissatisfied with the major mid-20th-century theories about emotions (especially those by William James and Sigmund Freud) that treated emotions as mere passive states. You might fall in love, or be gripped with jealousy. It seemed that emotions happened to you without any agency on your part. Sartre, by contrast, held that emotions are things that we do. They have a purpose, and they are intentional. For example, when we get angry, we do so to seek a solution, to resolve a tense situation. Sartre wrote:

When the paths before us become too difficult, or when we cannot see our way, we can no longer put up with such an exacting and difficult world. All ways are barred and nevertheless we must act. So then we try to change the world.

The world that Sartre referred to is the world of our subjective experience. It is the world of our needs, our wants, our fears and our hopes. In his view, emotions transform the world like magic. A magical act, such as voodoo, alters the attitude of the practitioner to the world. Magical spells and incantations don’t change the physical environment, but they change our world, by shifting our desires and hopes. Similarly, emotions change our outlook and how we engage with the world. Take Sartre’s example of sour grapes: seeing that the grapes are unreachable, you decide, ‘they are too sour anyway’. Though you didn’t change the chemical property of the grapes in any way, the world has become a bit more bearable. Anticipating contemporary ideas about embodied cognition, Sartre speculated that physical actions help us to produce emotions. We clench our fists in anger. We weep in sadness.

Applying this idea to scientific practice, Van Fraassen argues that scientists draw on their emotions when dealing with new, bewildering ideas, especially those that sprout up during scientific revolutions. If the paradigm is faltering, scientists need to change the way they view the world – and this requires that they change themselves. Scientists need to transform both who they are and what they know. Only once scientists themselves are transformed in this way can they accept a theory that they originally thought outlandish or ridiculous.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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