News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Picture your day before you started to read this article. What did you do? In every single moment – getting out of bed, turning on a tap, flicking the kettle switch – your brain was blasted with information. Each second, the eyes will give the brain the equivalent of 10m bits (binary digits) of data. The ears will take in an orchestra of sound waves. Then there’s our thoughts: the average person, researchers estimate, will have more than 6,000 a day. To get anything done, we have to filter out most of this data. We have to focus.

Focusing has felt particularly tough during the pandemic. Books are left half-read; eyes wander away from Zoom calls; conversations stall. My inability to concentrate on anything – work, reading, cleaning, cooking – without being distracted over the past 18 months has felt, at times, farcical.

The good news? We can learn to focus better, but we need to think about attention differently. It is not something we can just choose to do. We have to train the brain like a muscle. Specifically, with short bursts of daily exercises.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

She made a note that the case “warrants a closer look,” and then, in June of 2019, another envelope arrived from Chestnut. This time, he had enclosed the police’s investigatory reports. Brian Ellis, the investigator for the Conviction Integrity Unit, was in Lipscomb’s office when she opened the envelope and pulled out the reports, including the one cataloguing leads that the police had received soon after the murder. She started reading, passing each page to Ellis as she finished it. “Are you seeing this?” she asked.

That summer, Bishop received a brief letter from the state’s attorney’s office, citing State v. Alfred Chestnut, et al. “We need to speak with you about the case at a time and place convenient for you,” the letter read. Bishop was now fifty years old, but the letter frightened him, and at first he did not respond. “I was shaky, anxious, nervous,” he recalled. “I felt like it was a trap.” He worried that he might be sent to prison for lying in court in 1984, or for some fabricated crime connected to the murder.

After mulling the letter over for several days, however, he decided to respond. “I’m tired of living this lie, that those three guys did it,” he explained later. “If I have to tell the truth and it sends me to prison, I’ll go to prison.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

The Balmoral in Chestnut

Shop the Balmoral in Chestnut
at Belgrave Crescent &

It’s rare to see a bad photo today. If, by chance, a bad photo is taken and cannot be filtered, edited, or otherwise enhanced into something visually acceptable, it is swiftly deleted. Why hold on to anything less than perfect? Why, when with a cost-free click you can disappear it from your digital life, lest it ever inadvertently make its way onto someone else’s social feed, where it might be screengrabbed for eternity.

It wasn’t always like this. Bad pictures used to abound in what could seem like an almost deliberate, karmic attempt to humiliate and haunt their imperfect subjects. Back when the one-click Kodak dominated, most pictures—unflattering, off-center, accidental, overexposed, and everyone as red-eyed as vermin—were not worth keeping. No one could figure out how to operate the focus. Hardly anyone knew when to turn off the flash, or how. Few people had any aesthetic sense. You could sift through a roll’s worth of fresh prints, their chemical scent almost wetting the air, and not find a single picture aimed anywhere less ominous than the region directly below your chin.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It is the hour for despair. The writer sits, crumpled and waiting. The sun sets. He lays his head upon his desk. A plot—he must have a plot. The public, ravenous for story, has no use for his fine observations and his subtle characterizations. A plot: his publishers require it, his wife demands it—there is a child now. Slowly, miserably, he gouges the words out of himself.

George Gissing’s 1891 novel, “New Grub Street,” is one of the most pitiless portraits of the writing life in any age. Set among London’s hacks, grinds, and literary “women of the inkiest description,” the story follows Edwin Reardon’s nervous and financial collapse as he struggles to complete a book that might sell. His friend, the sleek and cynical Jasper Milvain, regards his efforts as so much unnecessary fuss. “Literature nowadays is a trade,” Milvain maintains, a matter of deft pandering. Find out what the reader wants and supply it, for God’s sake, with style and efficiency.

It’s not just the writer’s usual demons—skimpy word rates, self-doubt, the smooth ascension of one’s enemies—that torture Reardon but the strictures of the three-volume frigate that dominated Victorian novel-writing. The triple-decker, as it was called, was the form of much work by the likes of Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Benjamin Disraeli, and Anthony Trollope: typically nine hundred octavo pages divided into volumes of three hundred pages each, handsomely printed and bound. “The three volumes lie before me like an interminable desert,” Reardon moans. “Impossible to get through them.” Gissing lifted such laments from his own diary; “New Grub Street” was itself a triple-decker, Gissing’s eighth, and he used every available trick to stretch it, wheezily, to length. “The padding trade,” Trollope called literature at the time.

As luxury items, unaffordable for outright purchase by most readers, triple-deckers were championed by Mudie’s Select Library, a behemoth of British book distribution. For its founder, Charles Edward Mudie, who often bought the bulk of a print run and could demand commensurate discounts from publishers, the appeal was plain: since his subscribers—at least those paying the standard rate of a guinea a year—could borrow only one volume at a time, each triple-decker could circulate to three times as many subscribers. Publishers were equally fond of the form, which allowed them to stagger printing costs. A tantalizing first volume could drum up demand for subsequent volumes, and help pay for them.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 27.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

At this point, we’re all familiar with the trope. A local news station visits a retirement home to celebrate Muriel’s 106th birthday. She’s deaf or blind or both or neither, sitting in a wheelchair in the “good spot” next to the TV set, and a reporter asks her her secret. You’ve lived through both World Wars?! How’d you do it? Then Muriel gets to flash a mischievous grin and tells us she smoked a pack a day for 50 years.

Interacting with centenarians in this way has long made them seem like circus oddities. It trivializes the concept of lifespan and longevity, reducing the science to a throw-your-hands-in-the-hair “Who the hell knows!” It reinforces the idea that our time on this planet isn’t necessarily under our control. If my dad had a stroke and his dad had a stroke then one’s probably coming for me too, right? If I make it to 80, or — god forbid — 90, I’ve just beaten the odds. Right?

Not exactly. Since the mid-1990s, in fact, following the infamous Danish twins study, researchers have understood longevity to be “only moderately heritable.” For a while, this spawned estimates that genetics accounted for somewhere between 20 and 30% of one’s longevity. More recently, scientists have concluded that the true heritability of human longevity at birth is closer to just 7%.

Where does that other 93% come from? Your lifestyle. Your decisions. Your everyday habits, big and small. It’s possible to put years on your life, to surge past both average life expectancy and your own expectations, by resolving to live a certain way. The crazy part? This doesn’t involve some complex Ponce de Leónian quest. You don’t even have to search far and wide for the answers.

Thanks to the efforts of vanguard sociologists, geneticists and historians, we know where the world’s largest concentration of centenarians live and how they spend their days. (They’re called Blue Zones, and the way people cook, move and even happy hour in them is truly revelatory.) We also know, courtesy of a renowned doctor with whom we spoke last year, that certain behaviors can decelerate cellular aging and push the human lifespan into hitherto uncharted territories, and also that we should probably stop eating hot dogs.

You might wonder: Why would I want to live longer? Doesn’t the end of life look drawn out, expensive and horrible? Why would I sign up for decades of suffering? Well, the latest wave of longevity research isn’t focused on living years for the sake of years. It’s concerned with quality years.

Think about it. More years to travel, to exercise, to spend time with your family and whatever new family comes along. An entire life of creativity and challenges to enjoy after retirement. And consider this: those who make it to 100 are no more likely to die at 108 years old than 103. Genetics do start to factor in a bit more once you get way up there in age (hence how the Muriels of the world make it to 106), but overall, your risk of dying from any of the usual diseases plateaus. Longevity wizards only really suffer in the last couple years of their lives.

Read the rest of this article at: InsideHook

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