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News 07.22.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 07.22.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 07.22.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Gabriel Guimaraes grew up in Vitória, Brazil, in a yellow house surrounded by star-fruit trees and chicken coops. His father, who wrote software for a local bank, instilled in him an interest in computers. On weekends, when Guimaraes got bored with Nintendo video games, he programmed his own. In grade school, he built a humanoid robot and wrote enough assembly code to make it zip around his home. In Vitória, an island city, his most ambitious peers dreamed of attending university in São Paulo, an hour away by plane. Guimaraes set his sights on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. By the time he was in high school, M.I.T. had released hundreds of its classes, free of charge, on the Internet, as a series of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Guimaraes sampled the introductory computer-science class, but he found the lecturer, a “white-haired guy in front of a blackboard,” crushingly dull. In 2011, trawling YouTube for other course material, Guimaraes clicked on a lecture from Harvard’s introductory computer-science class, CS50, which was taught by a young professor named David Malan. Almost instantly, Guimaraes told me, he felt himself “hypnotized.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 07.22.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In February, Jamie Margolin gave a talk at the Seattle middle school from which she graduated just a few years before. As a founder of Zero Hour, a youth-led group advocating for climate action, she does a lot of public speaking — in a few days, she would help warm up a crowd of 17,000 for Bernie Sanders — but her talks with younger children are special. She often feels, she says, as if she’s speaking to her former self. She always starts with an apology: “I know this is unfair. I wish the future could be better than this.” And then she ends by telling kids that they, too, have the power to take action. Before becoming an activist, she tells them, “I was sitting in your seats, not knowing what to do.”

Her message, about the scary realities of climate change and the need to do something about them, is a big one for children to take in. One fifth grader, teary-eyed, asked her, “Do you think we’re going to make it?” But Margolin thinks that young people, armed with information and outrage, have a unique role to play in combating the environmental crises that will define their lives. One middle-school student at the event raised a hand to ask why polluting the earth, because it’s so dangerous and so unfair, isn’t illegal, which struck her as a pretty reasonable question. Children, she told me, “think about it in a logical way that’s more scientific than adults with Ph.D.s. Adults, they go into a whole explanation, but kids will just be like, This is wrong.”

Now 18, Margolin has been helping run a large organization for years. The Zero Hour Slack group, where leadership and core organizers communicate, has more than 100 members. She has met with politicians and celebrities, helped plan international protests from her high school and joined a group of children suing her home state, Washington, for violating their constitutional rights by contributing to climate change. She has seen change be slow and disappointing and watched herself become more jaded, more aware of the impediments to the kinds of transformation she is seeking. To be a teenager in the climate movement is to balance innocence and pragmatism, to inhabit a strange but also deeply useful dual perspective. “I’m not like, What are taxes?” she said. “I’m not that young.” But she’s also able to hear the question from the middle schooler and imagine that the world could still be different, to think: You know what? You’re absolutely right. It should, and even could, be illegal.

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

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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It was just after sunset on an August evening in 1718, and something was approaching through the twilight. The sloop the Francis had come to anchor in Delaware Bay, on the north-eastern seaboard of America. The single-masted Francis and its small crew would wait out the ebb tide before completing their journey from Antigua to Boston. The sloop’s first mate, James Killing, peered over the water. “There’s a canoe-a-coming,” he said. “I wish they be friends.” The sloop was only lightly armed, and the busy trading routes that brought goods and people to the colonies were patrolled by sea-robbers. Every trader was fearful of pirates.

Killing hailed the canoe, asking, “From whence do you come?” He could make out five or so figures within. One of them replied that they were fellow traders, out of Pennsylvania. “Then you are welcome,” yelled Killing, and he ordered his crew to throw down rope rigging for the visitors to climb. It was a terrible mistake. “As soon as they came aboard, they clapped their hands to their cutlasses,” Killing later recalled, “and I said, ‘We are taken.’”

The pirates were a disparate bunch, weathered and scarred from years spent at sea and at battle. Their language was as rough as their appearance. Killing said they cursed and swore at his frightened crew. Along with their cutlasses, they carried pistols and muskets, raiding pikes, and belted knives. Out of sight in the thickening blackness was a pirate ship, with guns and grenades and scores of other men. The crew of the Francis could offer no resistance. The sloop’s captain, Peter Manwareing, was loaded into the canoe and taken away. The remaining crew were ordered to bring lights. Then the pirates began to explore the sloop’s cargo.

Read the rest of this article at: Medium

News 07.22.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.22.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Soon after the discovery of photography in the 1830s, mundane objects captured by the lens—a hairbrush, say, or a china cup—acquired a curious frisson when reproduced on photographic plates. People seeing photographs for the first time wouldn’t regard them as a single integrated view, but rather as details—marvelling at the way, for example, a mason had applied the mortar between the bricks of the house opposite their own. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, the great contemporary theorist of 19th-century mechanisation, puts it thus: “the intensive experience of the sensuous world, terminated by the industrial revolution, underwent a resurrection in the new institution of photography.”

Photography was soon also compensating its enthusiasts for the close-up immediacy annihilated by mechanised transport systems. The train window’s transparency metamorphosed into a magical immateriality, as the passenger ceased to be visually aware of his surroundings, but rather began to view the landscape the train passed through as a series of scenes or staged sets.

If photography supplied the foreground that was robbed by the train, then the train also delivered a huge array of new destinations. During the same period Marx developed his conception of commodities as goods rendered novel and mysterious by the fact of their transportation: imbued, like photographs, with assumptions about their production that turn them into screens; and onto which, in turn, people project their own twisted and exploitative relationships. He dubbed this “fetishism.”

If the train took from us what Ruskin called “an influence, from the silent sky and slumbering fields, more effectual than known or confessed,” the telegraph and the telephone deprived us of those forms of sociality which depended on the presence of others. It’s a truth universally forgotten in our clock-watching era, that when the characters in a Jane Austen novel are expecting company on a given day, they simply wait until the visitors arrive. This imprecision in the time for a rendezvous allowed encounters to be unbounded: conversations expanded into discourses just as luncheon morphed into high tea then dinner. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, with its atemporal neuroticism, perfectly exemplifies the later mid-Victorian mood, caught as it was between murderous timekeeping and a neverending teatime.

Read the rest of this article at: Prospect

News 07.22.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The other day I caught myself reminiscing about high school with a kind of sadness and longing that can only be described as nostalgia. I felt imbued with a sense of wanting to go back in time and re-experience my classroom, the gym, the long hallways. Such bouts of nostalgia are all too common, but this case was striking because there is something I know for sure: I hated high school. I used to have nightmares, right before graduation, about having to redo it all, and would wake up in sweat and agony. I would never, ever like to go back to high school. So why did I feel nostalgia about a period I wouldn’t like to relive? The answer, as it turns out, requires we rethink our traditional idea of nostalgia.

Coined by the Swiss physician Johannes Hofer in 1688, ‘nostalgia’ referred to a medical condition – homesickness – characterised by an incapacitating longing for one’s motherland. Hofer favoured the term because it combined two essential features of the illness: the desire to return home (nostos) and the pain (algos) of being unable to do so. Nostalgia’s symptomatology was imprecise – it included rumination, melancholia, insomnia, anxiety and lack of appetite – and was thought to affect primarily soldiers and sailors. Physicians also disagreed about its cause. Hofer thought that nostalgia was caused by nerve vibrations where traces of ideas of the motherland ‘still cling’, whereas others, noticing that it was found predominantly among Swiss soldiers fighting at lower altitudes, proposed instead that nostalgia was caused by changes in atmospheric pressure, or eardrum damage from the clanging of Swiss cowbells. Once nostalgia was identified among soldiers from various nationalities, the idea that it was geographically specific was abandoned.

By the early 20th century, nostalgia was considered a psychiatric rather than neurological illness – a variant of melancholia. Within the psychoanalytic tradition, the object of nostalgia – ie, what the nostalgic state is about – was dissociated from its cause. Nostalgia can manifest as a desire to return home, but – according to psychoanalysts – it is actually caused by the traumatic experience of being removed from one’s mother at birth. This account began to be questioned in the 1940s, with nostalgia once again linked to homesickness. ‘Home’ was now interpreted more broadly to include not only concrete places, such as a childhood town, but also abstract ones, such as past experiences or bygone moments. While disagreements lingered, by the second part of the 20th century, nostalgia began to be characterised as involving three components. The first was cognitive: nostalgia involves the retrieval of autobiographical memories. The second, affective: nostalgia is considered a debilitating, negatively valenced emotion. And third, conative: nostalgia comprises a desire to return to one’s homeland. As I’ll argue, however, this tripartite characterisation of nostalgia is likely wrong.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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