News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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At the midpoint of the 20th century, anyone venturing into a gallery or museum would have been hard-pressed to find any photographs on view among the displays of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture. Only a few select museums in major cities—New York, Chicago, San Francisco—considered photographs to be something worth collecting and exhibiting. When photographs were exhibited as works of art, they were far more likely to be found on the dusky walls of coffeehouses and bars than hanging in the white expanses of commercial galleries. Nor, despite their important presence in magazines like Life, Look, and National Geographic, did they much figure on the pages of art magazines or of the few newspapers that could afford to employ art critics.

Scholarly and academic attention was also nearly nonexistent. When I wanted to take a photography class as an undergraduate at Cornell University in the late ’60s, I went to the fine arts department office and asked what was available. “Nothing” was the answer. “We don’t consider photography a fine art.” Confoundingly, the only class on offer, an intro course, was taught in the college of agriculture. I enrolled. The art history survey course I took as a sophomore made no mention of photography. The course textbook, H. W. Janson’s History of Art, did not even list photography in its index.

Read the rest of this article at: The American Scholar

News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Archaeologists and other scientists are beginning to unravel the story of our most intimate technology: clothing. They’re learning when and why our ancestors first started to wear clothes, and how their adoption was crucial to the evolutionary success of our ancestors when they faced climate change on a massive scale during the Pleistocene ice ages. These investigations have revealed a new twist to the story, assigning a much more prominent role to clothing than previously imagined. After the last ice age, global warming prompted people in many areas to change their clothes, from animal hides to textiles. This change in clothing material, I suspect, could be what triggered one of the greatest changes in the life of humanity. Not food but clothing led to the agricultural revolution.

My recent work shows that clothing wasn’t just the unique adaptation of a more-or-less hairless mammal to the changing natural environments. The development of clothing led to innovations with many repercussions for humanity, beyond survival in cold climates. A need for portable insulation from the cold in the Palaeolithic promoted major technological transitions. These include stone toolkits for working animal hides and, subsequently, bone tools such as pointed awls and needles to make tailored garments. Later, during the coldest stage of the last ice age, Homo sapiens in middle latitudes devised multi-layered outfits with an inner layer of underwear. Equipped with effective protection from wind chill, our species could penetrate into the frigid Arctic Circle, further north than cold-adapted Neanderthals had managed to venture. From the northeastern corner of Siberia, modern humans strolled across an exposed land bridge to enter Alaska by 15,000 years ago, if not earlier, to likely become the first hominins to set foot in the Americas. At the Broken Mammoth site in Alaska, archaeologists have unearthed the fragile technology that made the journey possible: a 13,000-year-old eyed needle.

Until recently, the scientific study of clothing was largely the work of physiologists who have explored its thermal properties, which are now well understood. The physiology of clothing allows us to say precisely how much clothing people must wear to survive at sub-freezing temperatures and at differing wind-chill levels. Early hominins in Africa had begun to harness fire between 1 and 2 million years ago, perhaps for cooking more than warmth. Fire was utilised as hominins spread into Europe and northern China, where Homo erectus retreated into caves to escape wind chill. However, even if earlier hominins were more hairy than modern humans, whenever they found themselves in cold conditions beyond certain well-defined survival thresholds, they needed to carry portable insulation while out in the open. For modern humans, exposure times for frostbite can be less than an hour, and life-threatening hypothermia can develop overnight, even in cities. From a thermal perspective, two aspects of clothing are important. First is the number of layers, with each extra layer increasing the total insulation value. The second aspect is whether garments are fitted, or tailored, to enclose the body, especially the limbs. Fitted garments offer superior protection from wind chill, a major risk factor for frostbite and hypothermia.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

The Balmoral in Chestnut

Shop the Balmoral in Chestnut
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IN APRIL, when Joe Biden announced that he would restore US funding for The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides education, health care, and other services to Palestinian refugees, establishment American Jewish groups reacted with dismay. A letter signed by Hadassah, B’nai B’rith, and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) blamed UNRWA’s schools for teaching Palestinian refugees “lessons steeped in anti-Semitism and supportive of violence.” AIPAC accused the organization of “inciting hatred of Jews and the Jewish state.”

But AIPAC and the ZOA did not merely accuse UNRWA of miseducating Palestinian refugees. Along with Israeli government officials, they have questioned whether most of the Palestinians that UNRWA serves are refugees at all. AIPAC has slammed UNRWA’s “misguided definition of refugees.” ZOA called UNRWA’s clientele “the descendants of Arab refugees.” Israel’s Ambassador to the US and the UN, Gilad Erdan, declared that, “this UN agency for so-called ‘refugees’ should not exist in its current format.”

The fundamental problem with UNRWA, according to this line of argument, is that it treats the children and grandchildren of Palestinians expelled at Israel’s founding as refugees themselves. Establishment Jewish critics don’t blame UNRWA merely for helping Palestinians pass down their legal status as refugees, but their identity as refugees as well. In The War of Return, a central text of the anti-UNRWA campaign, the Israeli writers Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf allege that without UNRWA, refugee children “would likely have lost their identity and assimilated into surrounding society.” Instead, with UNRWA’s help, Palestinians are “constantly looking back to their mythologized previous lives” while younger generations act as if they have “undergone these experiences themselves.” To Schwartz and Wilf’s horror, many Palestinians seem to believe that in every generation, a person is obligated to see themselves as if they personally left Palestine.

Read the rest of this article at: Jewish Currents

News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Loftus was under the impression that all girls start menstruating at the age of thirteen. But, when her thirteenth birthday passed and she hadn’t got her period, “I wondered if he did something that made me turn pregnant,” she told me. Loftus imagined that she had somehow been in a state of latent pregnancy for seven years. Eventually, she got her period, but she was distressed when she couldn’t figure out how to use a tampon. “I actually went to my father and said, ‘I’m worried there’s something wrong with me, because I can’t get this in,’ ” she told me. “And he drew me the hymen and explained that I was still a virgin, and then I felt better.”

“That actually does sound traumatic,” I told her, in one of our many conversations on Zoom. “Seven years later, it was still in your mind that you might have been raped.”

She paused for a few seconds, and ran her hand through her hair, which is the color of frost, and spread it like a fan. “I’m not sure,” she said. “I know you think that. But, somehow, you know, somehow when your mother gets depressed and goes away and drowns in a swimming pool—I mean, I had a lot more on my mind.”

She explained that, in “Witness for the Defense,” to avoid liability, she gave her babysitter a pseudonym. “I don’t know why I named him Howard,” she said.

When reading her diary, I noticed that Howard was the name of Loftus’s first boyfriend—an important and ambiguous figure who “serenaded me on the phone” (“Wow! Blast!”) and also dumped her for another girl, causing her to cry in front of her mother.

Loftus dismissed the idea that the name had any significance. She’d had many boyfriends as an adolescent, so, she said, “whatever name I gave the babysitter might have been, at some point, the name of a boyfriend.”

Her brother David said that he had once encouraged Loftus to go to therapy, but she told him, “I can’t, because the next time I take the witness stand they’d grill me with questions.” (Loftus doesn’t remember the conversation.) He said, “I’m not sure if that’s why, or if the wounds are so deep and her habit all her life has been to avoid them.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 17.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Igor Dyatlov was a tinkerer, an inventor, and a devotee of the wilderness. Born in 1936, near Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), he built radios as a kid and loved camping. When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, in 1957, he constructed a telescope so that he and his friends could watch the satellite travel across the night sky. By then, he was an engineering student at the city’s Ural Polytechnic Institute. One of the leading technical universities in the country, U.P.I. turned out topflight engineers to work in the nuclear-power and weapons industries, communications, and military engineering. During his years there, Dyatlov led a number of arduous wilderness trips, often using outdoor equipment that he had invented or improved on. It was a time of optimism in the U.S.S.R. Khrushchev’s Thaw had freed many political prisoners from Stalin’s Gulag, economic growth was robust, and the standard of living was rising. The shock that the success of Sputnik delivered to the West further bolstered national confidence. In late 1958, Dyatlov began planning a winter expedition that would exemplify the boldness and vigor of a new Soviet generation: an ambitious sixteen-day cross-country ski trip in the Urals, the north-south mountain range that divides western Russia from Siberia, and thus Europe from Asia.

He submitted his proposal to the U.P.I. sports club, which readily approved it. Dyatlov’s itinerary lay three hundred and fifty miles north of Sverdlovsk, in the traditional territory of the Mansi, an indigenous people. The Mansi came into contact with Russians around the sixteenth century, when Russia was extending its control over Siberia. Though largely Russified by this time, the Mansi continued to pursue a semi-traditional way of life—hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding. Dyatlov’s group would ski two hundred miles, on a route that no Russian, as far as anyone knew, had taken before. The mountains were gentle and rounded, their barren slopes rising from a vast boreal forest of birch and fir. The challenge wouldn’t be rugged terrain but brutally cold temperatures, deep snow, and high winds.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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