News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The first person to solve a Rubik’s Cube spent a month struggling to unscramble it.

It was the puzzle’s creator, an unassuming Hungarian architecture professor named Erno Rubik. When he invented the cube in 1974, he wasn’t sure it could ever be solved. Mathematicians later calculated that there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 ways to arrange the squares, but just one of those combinations is correct.

When Rubik finally did it, after weeks of frustration, he was overcome by “a great sense of accomplishment and utter relief.” Looking back, he realizes the new generation of “speedcubers” — Yusheng Du of China set the world record of 3.47 seconds in 2018 — might not be impressed.

“But, remember,” Rubik writes in his new book, “Cubed,” “this had never been done before.”

In the nearly five decades since, the Rubik’s Cube has become one of the most enduring, beguiling, maddening and absorbing puzzles ever created. More than 350 million cubes have sold globally; if you include knockoffs, the number is far higher. They captivate computer programmers, philosophers and artists. Hundreds of books, promising speed-solving strategies, analyzing cube design principles or exploring their philosophical significance, have been published. The cube came to embody “much more than just a puzzle,” the cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter wrote in 1981. “It is an ingenious mechanical invention, a pastime, a learning tool, a source of metaphors, an inspiration.”

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

News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In a year pitched to endless anxiety and rife with perilous unknowns, I have spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about Enya. Maybe it is because the Irish musician born Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin, who has never toured and yet has become her own enchanted genre over the last 33 years, moved to a 19th-century Victorian castle just south of Dublin at the turn of the century and has been a practitioner of self-isolation ever since. Maybe it is because her atmospheric compositions are full of imagination, of openness, each note like a new horizon coming into focus. Maybe it is because her many-layered catalog is so sad and healing at once, or because it makes the complex work of being indefinitely alone sound easy.

Last December, after noticing a substantial uptick in the number of effusive Enya fans in my orbit—both friends and musicians I follow—I finally asked someone for a mix of her best work. I now feel that the 19-song Enya primer I received in the final days of 2019 was cosmically tailored to prepare me for the impending hell of 2020. From the windswept dream pop of “I Want Tomorrow” to the skylike chorus on “Anywhere Is,” from the wild arpeggiations of “Aldebaran” to the shaded beats and Gaelic lyrics on “Ebudae,” my journey with Enya became a reminder of how music could hold the days together when it felt like reality was in a free fall.

At 59, Enya has now released eight studio albums. Most popular among them are the earliest: her cinematic 1987 debut, The Celts; 1988’s Watermark, the unlikeliest of pop smashes; and 1991’s oceanic Shepherd Moons, which sold even more. Each mixes the ancient with the modern, folklore and ambience, the human and the electronic, containing hundreds of ornate layers of Enya’s own vocals and rhythms woven like cloth. She and longtime collaborators Nicky and Roma Ryan turned this choral synthesizer music into the obsessive sound of serenity.

Read the rest of this article at: Pitchfork

A Pandemic, A Motel Without
Power And A Potentially Terrifying
Glimpse Of Orlando’s Future

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Rose Jusino was waking up after working the graveyard shift at Taco Bell when a friend knocked on her door at the Star Motel. The electric company trucks were back. The workers were about to shut off the power again.

The 17-year-old slammed her door and cranked the air conditioning as high as it would go, hoping that a final blast of cold air might make the 95-degree day more bearable. She then headed outside to the motel’s overgrown courtyard, a route that took her past piles of maggot-infested food that had been handed out by do-gooders and tossed aside by the motel’s residents. Several dozen of them were gathered by a swimming pool full of fetid brown water, trying to figure out their next move.

The motel’s owner had abandoned the property to its residents back in December, and now the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic was turning an already desperate strip of America — just down the road from Disney World — into something ever more dystopian. The motel’s residents needed to pay the power company $1,500.

Read the rest of this article at: The Washington Post

News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Toby Dorr never ran a red light, never rolled through a stop sign, never got so much as a speeding ticket. As a kid, she was always the teacher’s pet, always got straight A’s. Her parents never bothered to give her a curfew, because she never stayed out late. She married the only boy she’d ever dated, raised a family, built a career, went to church. She did everything she was supposed to do.

She’s in her early 60s now, just over 5 feet tall, and with her wry smile and auburn curls, she could be your neighbor, your librarian, your aunt. But people in Kansas City remember Toby’s story. She’s been stared at in restaurants, pointed at on sidewalks. For more than a decade, people here have argued about whether what she did was stupid and selfish or brave and inspirational. In the papers, she was known as the “Dog Lady” of Lansing prison, but that moniker barely hints at why she made headlines.

Looking back now, it all seems surreal to Toby, like a dream or a movie. Watching news clips from that time in her life makes her sick to her stomach. She has to turn away. She says the woman in those videos is another person entirely. She can hardly remember what she was thinking.

“I was a rule follower for sure,” she says with a sweet Kansan lilt. Then she catches herself. “I mean,” she says, “except the one time.”

We love to tell the world how happy we are. Our relationships, our children, our jobs: #blessed. But from time to time, it’s only natural to imagine a different life. What it might be like to escape our responsibilities, to get away, to start over. Of course, for most of us, that’s just a fleeting thought.

Growing up on the Kansas side of Kansas City in the early 1960s, Toby Phalen was the oldest of seven children—five girls, two boys—in a middle-class Catholic family. When she was 5, her father was burning willow branches in their backyard and the fire flared in his face. She saw him come into the house. His ears were gone and his flesh looked like it was rolling down his shoulders and arms, “like it was my mom taking off her pantyhose at night,” she recalls.

He was hospitalized for eight months, and Toby felt it was her responsibility as the eldest child to help take care of her younger siblings. Even then, she wanted to solve whatever problem was in front of her. She changed diapers, packed lunches, tried to provide stability in a stressful time. “She was less like a sister than like a third parent,” one of her siblings would later tell The Wall Street Journal.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 09.18.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Julian “Joe” Elliott was training to be an educational psychologist when his supervisor invited him to lunch one day. The year was 1984, and Elliott was 28. As they were eating, Elliott’s supervisor mentioned that he had spent the morning testing a child for dyslexia. He had determined the child was dyslexic, and put her on a programme called Data-Pac, a new approach to teaching literacy which paired teachers with children for individual sessions that taught them how to sound out letter combinations. Elliott asked what he would have recommended if the child hadn’t been dyslexic. His supervisor appeared sheepish. He would have put her on Data-Pac anyway, he said.

Elliott thought that was weird, but what did he know? He qualified as an educational psychologist in 1986 and began practising. Over the next decade, he was often asked to assess children for dyslexia. At this time, most educational psychologists believed that dyslexia was a learning difficulty with a neurological basis, which affected bright children whose difficulties reading and writing could not be explained by the usual factors, such as low IQ, not having attended school or having a chaotic home life. The method for diagnosing dyslexia, known as the discrepancy model, was relatively straightforward: test a child’s IQ and their reading age, and if there was a discrepancy between the two – average-to-high IQ, low literacy – that child was dyslexic. Elliott felt unsure about these assessments. The children he tested for dyslexia all struggled to read and write – that much was clear – but their literacy difficulties manifested in different ways. Elliott was still junior, and he chalked up this sense of uncertainty to imposter syndrome.

In 1998, Elliott co-wrote a guide for teachers working with children with special needs. The book was nominated for the Times Educational Supplement’s academic book of the year award, but if Elliott was being honest with himself, the chapter on dyslexia wasn’t up to much. “It was a bit of a shitty chapter, really,” Elliott told me. “I hadn’t got a handle on it.” Six years later, when his publishers asked him to write a second edition of the book, he was determined to nail the chapter on dyslexia. He was older now, more experienced. He collected every study on dyslexia he could find and started reading.

In his research, Elliott came across one particularly startling paper. In 1964, a young researcher called Bill Yule was sent to the Isle of Wight to carry out fieldwork on dozens of schoolchildren with reading difficulties. Yule was in no doubt that many of the children he studied suffered horrendously in trying to read and write. He saw it firsthand. But Yule – who would become one of the leading educational psychologists of his generation – couldn’t find a pattern of indicators, common to all the children he tested, that would coalesce into a single syndrome called dyslexia. Each child’s literacy problems seemed to be different.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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

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