In the News 15.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Tuesday 15th November, 2016
It’s surprising how stressful the first time can be. For months now, I’ve been researching the history of hypnosis for a book on the power of suggestion. But no study of hypnosis would be complete without trying it myself. Which is what led me to the door of my friend, the photographer Meghan Dhaliwal, with butterflies in my stomach. At a dinner party a few nights before, I’d mentioned my plan to learn hypnosis. Meghan had piped up immediately: ‘Oh! I want to get hypnotised! Can you hypnotise me?’
A hypnosis researcher had pointed me to a script – or induction – that I was to read in order to hypnotise Meghan, but I’d never even seen someone hypnotised before, let alone been the one doing it.
Read the rest of this article at aeon
The Story of How McDonald’s First Got Its Start
Before southern California’s glorious, golden landscape was etched with eight-lane superhighways and tangles of concrete flyovers choreographing a continuous vehicular ballet; before families became enchanted with the thrill and convenience of popping TV dinners into the oven; before preservatives and GMOs allowed food in mass quantities to be processed, preserved and transported in refrigerated trucks and served up in disposable packaging at fast-food franchises for quick consumption on the go to harried, hungry travelers, there were oranges. Millions of oranges, fragrantly punctuating thousands of acres.
In this plentiful agricultural bounty at the dawn of the automotive age, visions of dollar signs danced in entrepreneurs’ heads. They erected giant facsimiles of the brightly colored orbs, cheerful and whimsical and visible from a distance to motorists as they bumped and bumbled their way down the open road. Inside these stands, they pressed fresh, thirst-quenching juice, a nickel a glass, to revive the overheated motorist. (For this was before air-conditioning in cars, too.)
Read the rest of this article at Smithsonian
There Is No Such Thing As Western Civilisation
Like many Englishmen who suffered from tuberculosis in the 19th century, Sir Edward Burnett Tylor went abroad on medical advice, seeking the drier air of warmer regions. Tylor came from a prosperous Quaker business family, so he had the resources for a long trip. In 1855, in his early 20s, he left for the New World, and, after befriending a Quaker archeologist he met on his travels, he ended up riding on horseback through the Mexican countryside, visiting Aztec ruins and dustypueblos. Tylor was impressed by what he called “the evidence of an immense ancient population”. And his Mexican sojourn fired in him an enthusiasm for the study of faraway societies, ancient and modern, that lasted for the rest of his life. In 1871, he published his masterwork, Primitive Culture, which can lay claim to being the first work of modern anthropology.
Primitive Culture was, in some respects, a quarrel with another book that had “culture” in the title: Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, a collection that had appeared just two years earlier. For Arnold, culture was the “pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world”. Arnold wasn’t interested in anything as narrow as class-bound connoisseurship: he had in mind a moral and aesthetic ideal, which found expression in art and literature and music and philosophy.
Read the rest of this article at The Guardian
The Prophecies of Jane Jacobs
The year she turned 18, Jane Butzner traveled from her hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to the Appalachian hamlet of Higgins, North Carolina, where she encountered a mystery that haunted her for the rest of her life. It was 1934, the midpoint of the Great Depression, a difficult time to hold a job, even an unpaid one. Butzner—later Jacobs—had been laid off from The Scranton Republican after almost a year working without pay as a cub reporter. At her parents’ suggestion, she went to live in the mountains with her aunt Martha Robison, a Presbyterian missionary. Robison had come to Higgins 12 years earlier on a mission and was so staggered by its poverty that she refused to leave. There were no paved roads, school was rarely in session, the illiterate preacher believed the world was flat, and commerce was conducted by barter. Robison built a church and a community center, adopted children, and established classes in pottery, weaving, and woodwork. Nevertheless, the townspeople continued to live a primitive existence in which, as Robison’s niece later said, “the snapping of a pitchfork or the rusting of a plow posed a serious financial crisis.”
China’s Great Leap Backward
The country has become repressive in a way that it has not been since the Cultural Revolution. What does its darkening political climate—and growing belligerence—mean for the United States?
What if China is going bad? Since early last year I have been asking people inside and outside China versions of this question. By “bad” I don’t mean morally. Moral and ethical factors obviously matter in foreign policy, but I’m talking about something different.
Nor is the question mainly about economics, although for China the short-term stability and long-term improvement of jobs, wages, and living standards are fundamental to the government’s survival. Under China’s single-party Communist arrangement, sustained economic failure would naturally raise questions about the system as a whole, as it did in the Soviet Union. True, modern China’s economic performance even during its slowdowns is like the Soviet Union’s during its booms. But the absence of a political outlet for dissatisfaction is similar.
Instead the question is whether something basic has changed in the direction of China’s evolution, and whether the United States needs to reconsider its China policy. For the more than 40 years since the historic Nixon-Mao meetings of the early 1970s, that policy has been surprisingly stable. From one administration to the next, it has been built on these same elements: ever greater engagement with China; steady encouragement of its modernization and growth; forthright disagreement where the two countries’ economic interests or political values clash; and a calculation that Cold War–style hostility would be far more damaging than the difficult, imperfect partnership the two countries have maintained.