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News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@thankyou_ok
News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Mathieu Lehanneur

Which was the saddest day of them all?

This is the question you may be asking yourself, surveying the wreckage of 2020 thus far.

There are so many contenders to consider: was it Thursday, March 12, the day after Tom Hanks announced he was sick and the N.B.A. announced it was canceled? Was it Monday, June 1, the day peaceful protesters were tear gassed so that President Trump could comfortably stroll to his Bible-wielding photo op?

Actually, it was neither, according to the Computational Story Lab of the University of Vermont. Instead, the lab offers this answer: Sunday, May 31. That day was not only the saddest day of 2020 so far, it was also the saddest day recorded by the lab in the last 13 years. Or at least, the saddest day on Twitter.

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

News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Wisdom is full of paradoxes. It is one of the oldest topics in the intellectual history of humanity, and yet talking about wisdom can feel odd and disingenuous. People seem to have intuitions about who is and isn’t wise, but if you press them to define wisdom, they will hesitate. Wisdom, with its mystical qualities, sits on a pedestal, inspiring awe and trepidation, a bit of hushed reverence thrown in. It’s easy to distil wisdom’s archetypes in history (druids, Sufi sages) or popular culture (Star Wars’ Yoda, or Harry Potter’s Dumbledore), but harder to apply to the person on the street. Most people would agree that wisdom is desirable, yet what exactly is it?

It’s tempting to claim that the interest in wisdom emerged with the advent of particular Far Eastern philosophical traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, each emphasising lives of sages and ways to make sense of one’s existence in the ever-changing world. Of course, neither the concept of sages nor the process of making sense of the world are specific to a particular school of thought – most religions and ideologies have their own sages and saints, and attempt to provide a certain worldview. The truth is, the concept of wisdom is incredibly ancient, and not unique to any specific culture or way of being.

For instance, more than 5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, the Moon-god Nanna, the Lord of Wisdom, symbolised the sum of all other Sumerian deities’ powers, including foresight, justice, fertility and love. Wisdom was a prominent topic in ancient Egyptian and Jewish texts, and featured as a requirement in advising professions such as divinity, sorcery or at the pharaoh’s court. In his Maxims, the ancient Egyptian vizier Ptahhotep described guidelines for sustaining social order, achieving political success and cultivating self-control – in other words, the skills of wisdom. In the Old Testament’s Book of Ecclesiastes, where life is beyond comprehension, wisdom recognises the limits of knowledge.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

Like a lot of men, in pursuit of novelty and amusement during these months of isolation, I grew a mustache. The reviews were predictably mixed and predictably predictable. “Porny”? Yes. “Creepy”? Obviously. “ ’70s”? True (the 18- and 1970s). On some video calls, I heard “rugged” and “extra gay.” Someone I love called me “zaddy.” Children were harsh. My 11-year-old nephew told his Minecraft friends that his uncle has this … mustache; the midgame disgust was audible through his headset. In August, I spent two weeks with my niece, who’s 7. She would rise each morning dismayed anew to be spending another day looking at the hair on my face. Once, she climbed on my back and began combing the mustache with her fingers, whispering in the warmest tones of endearment, “Uncle Wesley, when are you going to shave this thing off?”

It hasn’t been all bad. Halfway through a quick stop-and-chat outside a friend’s house in July, he and I removed our masks and exploded at the sight of each other. No way: mustache! I spent video meetings searching amid the boxes for other mustaches, to admire the way they enhance eyes and redefine faces with a force of irreversible handsomeness, the way Burt Reynolds never made the same kind of sense without his. The mustache aged me. (People didn’t mind letting me know that, either.) But so what? It pulled me past “mature” to a particular kind of “distinguished.” It looks fetching, for instance, with suits I currently have no logical reason to wear.

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

News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Since the pandemic hit and social life became severely constrained, I’ve been obsessing even more than usual about documentaries. Their very essence is to provide virtual connections to people in far-off times and places—and to experiences that would otherwise remain unshared, even among people close by. Craving such virtual connections, I’ve been watching far more documentaries than I usually do—especially given the dearth of new releases—and more of them than I can squeeze into the regular round of reviews.

This has been no sharp break but only an intensification of the last few years of my movie-watching, which have offered a plethora of rediscoveries (thanks to the ardent connoisseurship of repertory programmers) and have given a new urgency to my viewing of documentaries (thanks to changes in the field). Nonfiction filmmaking has been undergoing an aesthetic revolution over the past decade or so, one that parallels the major change in fiction filmmaking, namely, a shift toward personalization. The main expression and key movement in that change is mumblecore, which has exerted a wide-ranging influence through its luminaries, its aesthetic, and its ideas. Mumblecore’s documentary counterpart is creative nonfiction, an idea that’s rooted in the filmmaker’s presence, be it physical or virtual, and in the conspicuous display of process.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 10.16.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

HBO’s Silicon Valley aired its final episode last year, the tech world’s realities having gotten too dystopian to be fictionalized, in good conscience, for laughs. When a reporter asked what material the show had left on the table, the showrunners, Mike Judge and Alec Berg, admitted, “We missed the WeWork guy.” That guy—WeWork’s telegenic co-founder and former CEO, Adam Neumann—had once been known for turning an upscale co-working business into America’s most valuable private start-up, peddling vague kumbayas like This decade is the decade of “We.” But then WeWork filed paperwork to go public, revealing that the company had lost billions of dollars while enriching Neumann.

Among other extraordinary disclosures, it turned out that he had bought we-related trademarks, then charged WeWork $5.9 million to buy them. The press soon uncovered other details to fill out the portrait of a terrible little richling: Neumann’s practice of hotboxing chartered jets, whether his co-passengers liked it or not; his musings about becoming president of the world; his company-wide ban on meat that left executives puzzling over how to implement it.

When life transcends art, tell it straight. That’s what Reeves Wiedeman, a New York contributing editor since 2016, has done with Billion Dollar Loser, the propulsive tale of WeWork’s, and Neumann’s, rise and fall. Neumann is clearly not the first founder to enrich and empower himself while claiming to do the same for the masses. At a congressional hearing this summer about tech companies’ enormous wealth and influence, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg explained that his company is “giving every person a voice.” And while Neumann’s eccentricities are undeniable, Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX, has a mind-reading start-up and a son named X Æ A-Xii. What sets Neumann apart is the flagrancy with which he exploited investors, employees, and customers for his own benefit. His innovation was, in the terms of the trade, one of scale.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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Life Lately: Recently in Photos December 2018