News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

LET’S SAY YOU traveled to London, England, in 1912, and bought a ticket on the RMS Titanic for its maiden voyage. But you’re a frugal time traveler, so you elect to travel third class (only £8!).

That would place you on F deck, six levels below the lifeboats, and mere tens of feet from the starboard hull, which a 1.5 million ton iceberg punctures open at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912.

Eighty-four years later, a scientific expedition to the bottom of the Northern Atlantic ocean recovered a chronometer from the bridge of Titanic. It stopped the moment it hit the water, at 2:11 am.

In other words, you will have 151 minutes to escape.

That seems like it would be enough time, but out of Titanic’s 702 steerage passengers, only 178 survived. That’s for a few reasons. The first is simple logistics. Titanic had lifeboats for only half of its passengers, and in steerage you’re not only bunked the farthest from them, but the escape route is a labyrinth of unmarked and heretofore off-limits tunnels and ladders. And even if you do somehow find the way, crew members haphazardly block steerage passengers from ascending to the upper-class decks. Even with the best preparation, your odds of acquiring a seat are low. And if you fail, a long arctic swim awaits. But do not be alarmed. The maze, discrimination, chaos, and cold can be overcome if you make a few bold and counterintuitive choices.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When I was 8, I noticed an atlas on the bookshelf in my room. I had just started amassing large art books from family museum trips but this was the first abnormally sized book in my posession — it was so oddly shaped its pages spilled over the edge of the shelf. One day I used all my strength to wiggle it down off the bookcase. I sprawled on my bedroom floor and began sifting through the long pages. It must have been from the ’50s or ’60s. It smelled old but it was clearly a book that had been cared for over the years. Its pages were a mix of pastels so dizzying and complex; in how pinks separated from light green and the skinniest blue rivers cut across the pages. Once I was old enough to read, my grandpa started ceremoniously gifting me books from his shelves.

One by one, every time I saw him, a piece of his library became mine. He had travelled all over the world and knew how much it could change a person. And whenever I’d visit him, I’d browse the books on the lower shelves and run my fingers along the spines like a car’s wheels over speedbumps, each cover sort of yellowed from years of his cigarette smoke and constant reading. Once this book and I were formally introduced, I began having regular dates with the atlas. Each day I would lay on my stomach and then sit cross-legged hunched over the pages, running my fingers down the rivers in Africa — the Nile, Limpopo, I’d take a trip to France or Chile. I would attempt to pronounce Czechoslovakia and many other long words that threw me into a joyous tizzy. Every mountain range, every body of water, every large city I would look at longingly wondering one day when I got older, how many of these mysterious places I would see with my own eyes. My wanderlust grew as I grew. There was so much to be explored, there was so much space that existed around my little home in Los Angeles. There was so much I didn’t know.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

The President was despondent. Sensing that time was running out, he had asked his aides to draw up a list of his political options. He wasn’t especially religious, but, as daylight faded outside the rapidly emptying White House, he fell to his knees and prayed out loud, sobbing as he smashed his fist into the carpet. “What have I done?” he said. “What has happened?” When the President noted that the military could make it easy for him by leaving a pistol in a desk drawer, the chief of staff called the President’s doctors and ordered that all sleeping pills and tranquillizers be taken away from him, to insure that he wouldn’t have the means to kill himself.

The downfall of Richard Nixon, in the summer of 1974, was, as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein relate in “The Final Days,” one of the most dramatic in American history. That August, the Watergate scandal forced Nixon—who had been cornered by self-incriminating White House tape recordings, and faced impeachment and removal from office—to resign. Twenty-nine individuals closely tied to his Administration were subsequently indicted, and several of his top aides and advisers, including his Attorney General, John Mitchell, went to prison. Nixon himself, however, escaped prosecution because his successor, Gerald Ford, granted him a pardon, in September, 1974.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

IN THE late spring of 2015, my brother-in-law paid a visit to my sister’s grave, in a lush meadow cemetery amid the Gatineau Hills of southern Quebec. My sister had been dead, at this point, for seven years, and the couple had been separated for twelve. Doug sat in the grass among planted geraniums for half an hour or so, musing about the rise and fall of their marriage. He told Katharine, or her grave, that he was sorry for the part he had played in the dissolution. Then, plucking up and tossing a handful of grass, desultory, he began his two-and-a-half-hour motorcycle journey back to Montreal.

“The landscape is open there, with a big wide sky, but it was overcast and had started to rain—just barely, but it made me a bit nervous,” Doug later told me. Even fit riders in their fifties experience the occasional lapse in confidence. “It wasn’t until I was maybe halfway home that I felt her presence.”

“The sense wasn’t physical at first,” he went on, “just this really nice, strong awareness of her. And then I had the distinct sensation of her arms around me and her leaning in close against my back. It was tactile and fantastic. I felt warm. I was completely calm and happy, smiling from ear to ear. That hardly ever happens to me.” His nervousness about the rain ebbed, and it occurred to him that Katharine was there to keep him safe on behalf of their two sons. She—her presence, her spirit—rode behind him for twenty minutes or so. “What I know is that it did not feel at all like a product of my imagination,” he said. “It felt external to me. It felt real.”

He wasn’t prepared to name what the experience pointed to: that he had been visited by my sister’s ghost. Like other secular North Americans, he is aware that we must uphold a certain paradigm and say “this cannot be.” After all, Doug considers himself a rationalist: the son of an engineer, himself an amateur astronomer. Nevertheless, the sensed presence mattered deeply to him. “It was,” he said, “a remarkable, indelible experience.”

Sigmund Freud was the first to articulate the concept of “wishful psychosis” in grief, a notion of temporary madness featuring wilfully conjured visions of the dead. A person who’s lost someone might see the face of their beloved, hear their voice, notice the smell of their pipe or perfume, or simply be struck by a feeling of their presence. Such ghostly apparitions were diagnosed as fanciful yearnings by Freud—warning signs of some lingering dependency. In his 1917 essay “Mourning and Melancholia,” he urged his patients toward recovery by severing bonds with the dead: move on and let go, lest sorrow bedevil and sink you. For decades, this was one of the counselling profession’s central models for grief recovery: a sort of tacit agreement played out between therapist and patient that what the latter sensed, no matter how comforting it may be or how real it may seem, dwelled in their head and would best be forgotten. When the physician W. Dewi Rees uncovered the prevalence rate of these hallucinations in a 1972 study of Welsh widows and widowers—about 50 percent—he also found that three-quarters of them had never spoken of the experience before being asked in his survey. Unsurprisingly, these people didn’t wish to be pathologized. They also didn’t want to move on.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 11.02.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Whenever President Donald Trump is questioned about why the United States has nearly three times more coronavirus cases than the entire European Union, or why hundreds of Americans are still dying every day, he whips out one standard comment. We find so many cases, he contends, because we test so many people. The remark typifies Trump’s deep distrust of data: his wariness of what it will reveal, and his eagerness to distort it. In April, when he refused to allow coronavirus-stricken passengers off the Grand Princess cruise liner and onto American soil for medical treatment, he explained: “I like the numbers where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.” Unable—or unwilling—to fix the problem, Trump’s instinct is to fix the numbers instead.

The administration has failed on so many different fronts in its handling of the coronavirus, creating the overall impression of sheer mayhem. But there is a common thread that runs through these government malfunctions. Precise, transparent data is crucial in the fight against a pandemic—yet through a combination of ineptness and active manipulation, the government has depleted and corrupted the key statistics that public health officials rely on to protect us.

In mid-July, just when the U.S. was breaking and rebreaking its own records for daily counts of new coronavirus cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found itself abruptly relieved of its customary duty of collating national numbers on COVID-19 patients. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services instructed hospitals to funnel their information to the government via TeleTracking, a small Tennessee firm started by a real estate entrepreneur who has frequently donated to the Republican Party. For a while, past data disappeared from the CDC’s website entirely, and although it reappeared after an outcry, it was never updated thereafter. The TeleTracking system was riddled with errors, and the newest statistics sometimes appeared after delays. This has severely limited the ability of public health officials to determine where new clusters of COVID-19 are blooming, to notice demographic patterns in the spread of the disease, or to allocate ICU beds to those who need them most.

To make matters more confusing still, Jared Kushner moved to start a separate coronavirus surveillance system run out of the White House and built by health technology giants—burdening already-overwhelmed officials and health care experts with a needless stream of queries. Kushner’s assessments often contradicted those of agencies working on the ground. When Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, asked for 30,000 ventilators, Kushner claimed the state didn’t need them: “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this.”

Read the rest of this article at: Highline

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

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