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In the News 20.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 20.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 20.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 20.09.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math

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I was a wayward kid who grew up on the literary side of life, treating math and science as if they were pustules from the plague. So it’s a little strange how I’ve ended up now—someone who dances daily with triple integrals, Fourier transforms, and that crown jewel of mathematics, Euler’s equation. It’s hard to believe I’ve flipped from a virtually congenital math-phobe to a professor of engineering.

One day, one of my students asked me how I did it—how I changed my brain. I wanted to answer Hell—with lots of difficulty! After all, I’d flunked my way through elementary, middle, and high school math and science. In fact, I didn’t start studying remedial math until I left the Army at age 26. If there were a textbook example of the potential for adult neural plasticity, I’d be Exhibit A.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

I Used to Be a Human Being

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I was sitting in a large meditation hall in a converted novitiate in central Massachusetts when I reached into my pocket for my iPhone. A woman in the front of the room gamely held a basket in front of her, beaming beneficently, like a priest with a collection plate. I duly surrendered my little device, only to feel a sudden pang of panic on my way back to my seat. If it hadn’t been for everyone staring at me, I might have turned around immediately and asked for it back. But I didn’t. I knew why I’d come here.

A year before, like many addicts, I had sensed a personal crash coming. For a decade and a half, I’d been a web obsessive, publishing blog posts multiple times a day, seven days a week, and ultimately corralling a team that curated the web every 20 minutes during peak hours. Each morning began with a full immersion in the stream of internet consciousness and news, jumping from site to site, tweet to tweet, breaking news story to hottest take, scanning countless images and videos, catching up with multiple memes. Throughout the day, I’d cough up an insight or an argument or a joke about what had just occurred or what was happening right now. And at times, as events took over, I’d spend weeks manically grabbing every tiny scrap of a developing story in order to fuse them into a narrative in real time. I was in an unending dialogue with readers who were caviling, praising, booing, correcting. My brain had never been so occupied so insistently by so many different subjects and in so public a way for so long.

Read the rest of this article at New York Magazine

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Patagonia’s Philosopher-King

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When Yvon Chouinard, the climber and environmentalist and the co-founder of the outdoor-apparel company Patagonia, spends days by himself at a house he owns in Moose, Wyoming, his wife, Malinda, the other co-founder, often sends mass e-mails to their friends, with the number of the landline there. “He likes phone calls and will be alone,” she’ll write. Chouinard, who is seventy-seven, has a cell phone but hardly ever turns it on. He does not use e-mail and disdains the proliferation of devices. He considers Apple to be a manufacturer of toys. “I’m getting more and more marginalized,” he told me. “My friends are constantly e-mailing with each other, and I’m excluded.” To the suggestion that he take it up, he says, “It’s too late.” On his own in Moose, he fly-fishes, reads, ties flies—and fly-fishes some more. He can fish all day. He does not require an audience, although he likes to have someone around to outfish. Taciturn as he may be, he still prizes company. He has a lifelong habit of collecting garrulous friends and yet a tendency to induce some measure of taciturnity in all but the most voluble of them. His style of reticence is contagious.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

Want to Find Fulfillment at Last? Think Like a Designer

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STANFORD, CALIF. — Take out your flow journals. We’re going to talk about flow moments.

You’re going to learn how to find a fulfilling career. You’re going to learn how to better navigate life’s big-moment decisions and kill your “wicked problems” dead.

How? By training yourself to think like a designer.

That, anyway, is the premise of “Designing Your Life,” a class taught at Stanford University (the school’s “most popular class,” according to Fast Company magazine) as well as the just-published book that grew out of it, “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” (Knopf).

The two men who created the class and wrote the book are Silicon Valley veterans, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. They believe they have hit upon a system to help you deal with almost any challenge.

“How do you find the one to love — we don’t do that,” Mr. Burnett said. “We also don’t give advice on weight loss.”

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

President Trump’s First Term

His campaign tells us a lot about what kind of Commander-in-Chief he would be.

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On the morning of January 20, 2017, the President-elect is to visit Barack Obama at the White House for coffee, before they share a limousine—Obama seated on the right, his successor on the left—for the ride to the Capitol, where the Inauguration will take place, on the west front terrace, at noon.

Donald Trump will be five months short of seventy-one. If he wins the election, he will be America’s oldest first-term President, seven months older than Ronald Reagan was at his swearing-in. Reagan used humor to deflect attention from his age—in 1984, he promised not to “exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Trump favors a different strategy: for months, his advisers promoted a theory that his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, who is sixty-eight, has a secret brain illness and is unable to climb stairs or sit upright without help, and, in speeches, Trump asked whether she had the “mental and physical stamina” for the Presidency.

The full spectacle of Trump’s campaign—the compulsive feuds and slurs, the detachment from established facts—has demanded so much attention that it is easy to overlook a process with more enduring consequences: his bureaucratic march toward actually assuming power. On August 1st, members of his transition team moved into 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, a thirteen-story office building a block from the White House. The team is led by Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, and includes several of his political confidants, such as his former law partner William Palatucci. As of August, under a new federal program designed to accelerate Presidential transitions, Trump’s staff was eligible to apply for security clearances, so that they could receive classified briefings immediately after Election Day. They began the process of selecting Cabinet officials, charting policy moves, and meeting with current White House officials to plan the handover of the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and other agencies.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @georgiannalane, @alianaevents, @thurleyofficial