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In the News 29.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 29.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 29.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 29.11.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Robert Caro, The Art of Biography No. 5

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Since 1976, Robert Caro has devoted himself to The Years of Lyndon Johnson, a landmark study of the thirty-sixth president of the United States. The fifth and final volume, now underway, will presumably cover the 1964 election, the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the launch of the Great Society, the deepening of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the unrest in the cities and on college campuses, Johnson’s decision not to seek reelection, and his retirement and death—enough material, it would seem, for four ­additional ­volumes. If there is a question that annoys Caro more than “Do you like Lyndon Johnson?” it is “When will the next book be published?”

This interview took place over the course of four sessions, which were conducted in his Manhattan ­office, near Columbus Circle. The room is spartan, containing little more than a desk, a sofa, several file cabinets, and large bookcases crammed with well-thumbed volumes on figures like FDR, Al Smith, and the Kennedy ­brothers—not to mention copies of Caro’s own books. One wall is dominated by the large bulletin boards where he pins his outlines, which on several ­occasions he politely asked me not to read. On the desk sit his Smith-Corona Electra typewriter, a few legal pads, and the room’s only ­ornamental touch: a lamp whose base is a statuette of a charioteer driving two rearing horses.

Read the rest of this article at The Paris Review

Unfathomable

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Charles and John Deane knew it would be dangerous. But the brothers—raised in the slums of Victorian London—also knew that plundering undersea shipwrecks could make them phenomenally rich. And so, in 1828, they invented the world’s first practical deep-sea diving rig.

Largely forgotten by history, the brothers opened a new frontier for human exploration—and exploitation. They achieved glory but paid the price in suffering, estrangement, and madness.

Read the rest of this article at Epic True Stories

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My High School Girlfriend Became America’s Most Wanted Drug Queenpin

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By the time I read these Facebook comments I was one-hundred percent obsessed with and embroiled in the story of Elizabeth Barrer — the girl I’d once cared for deeply, the girl I hadn’t seen for exactly half the time I’d been alive and yet thought more about than almost anything else.

I had just turned thirty and was doing what one does after a big birthday: lamenting my failures. My life felt like a solid C+ and to make it worse I started obsessively stalking old friends’ Facebook pages, finding nothing but achievements and milestones. I’d been hoping for failures and tribulations, for any excuse I could find to grade my life on a curve. I began to focus on people I knew from the sleepaway performing arts summer camp I went to when I was fourteen. The theater-focused program boasted famous alumni in film, on the stage and even in the music world: your Strokes drummers and Maroon Five singers, your Broke Girls, your baby Cosettes from the 28th revival of “Les Miserable,” they all attended.

Read the rest of this article at Narratively

How Humans Became ‘Consumers’: A History

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“Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production,” Adam Smith confidently announced in The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Smith’s quote is famous, but in reality this was one of the few times he explicitly addressed the topic. Consumption is conspicuous by its absence in The Wealth of Nations, and neither Smith nor his immediate

“Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production,” Adam Smith confidently announced in The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Smith’s quote is famous, but in reality this was one of the few times he explicitly addressed the topic. Consumption is conspicuous by its absence in The Wealth of Nations, and neither Smith nor his immediate pupils treated it as a separate branch of political economy.

It was in an earlier work, 1759’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that Smith put his finger on the social and psychological impulses that push people to accumulate objects and gadgets. People, he observed, were stuffing their pockets with “little conveniences,” and then buying coats with more pockets to carry even more. By themselves, tweezer cases, elaborate snuff boxes, and other “baubles” might not have much use. But, Smith pointed out, what mattered was that people looked at them as “means of happiness.” It was in people’s imagination that these objects became part of a harmonious system and made the pleasures of wealth “grand and beautiful and noble.”

treated it as a separate branch of political economy.

It was in an earlier work, 1759’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that Smith put his finger on the social and psychological impulses that push people to accumulate objects and gadgets. People, he observed, were stuffing their pockets with “little conveniences,” and then buying coats with more pockets to carry even more. By themselves, tweezer cases, elaborate snuff boxes, and other “baubles” might not have much use. But, Smith pointed out, what mattered was that people looked at them as “means of happiness.” It was in people’s imagination that these objects became part of a harmonious system and made the pleasures of wealth “grand and beautiful and noble.”

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic

The End of the Anglo-American Order

For decades, the United States and Britain’s vision of democracy and freedom defined the postwar world. What will happen in an age of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage?

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One of the strangest episodes in Donald Trump’s very weird campaign was the appearance of an Englishman looking rather pleased with himself at a rally on Aug. 24 in Jackson, Miss. The Englishman was Nigel Farage, introduced by Trump as “the Man Behind Brexit.” Most people in the crowd probably didn’t have a clue who Farage — the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party — actually was. Yet there he stood, grinning and hollering about “our independence day” and the “real people,” the “decent people,” the “ordinary people” who took on the banks, the liberal media and the political establishment. Trump pulled his face into a crocodile smile, clapped his hands and promised, “Brexit plus plus plus!”

Brexit itself — the decision to withdraw Britain from the European Union, notwithstanding the almost universal opposition from British banking, business, political and intellectual elites — was not the main point here. In his rasping delivery, Trump roared about Farage’s great victory, “despite horrible name-calling, despite all obstacles.” Quite what name-calling he had in mind was fuzzy, but the message was clear. His own victory would be like that of the Brexiteers, only more so. He even called himself Mr. Brexit.

Many friends and experts I spoke to in Britain resisted the comparison between Trumpism and Brexit. In London, the distinguished conservative historian Noel Malcolm told me that his heart sank when I compared the two. Brexit, he said, was all about sovereignty. British democracy, in his view, would be undermined if the British had to abide by laws passed by foreigners they didn’t vote for. (He was referring to the European Union.) The Brexit vote, he maintained, had little to do with globalization or immigration or working-class people feeling left behind by the elites. It was primarily a matter of democratic principle.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: tumblr, This Is Glamorous, @jocechewbacca