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In the News 13.01.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 13.01.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 13.01.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Deceptions of Luck

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Would you say you are a lucky person? Have unexpected things turned up which made your life better? I don’t mean something as extreme as a major lottery win, but perhaps getting a job because a stronger candidate dropped out with the flu, or catching the train despite being late because it was delayed?

Or would you say you are unlucky? You missed the key job interview because you caught the flu, or missed that train because it was cancelled?

Or perhaps you don’t believe in luck, thinking that people make their own good—or bad—fortune, and that success in life is down to hard work and persistence. Of course, even if you believe that, it can’t be a complete explanation—no matter how hard you worked, you could not make that cancelled train appear. There are always things beyond your control.

Luck is obviously closely related to the concept of chance, but it’s not quite the same. Chance describes an aspect of the physical universe: It’s what happens out there. The coin coming up heads rather than tails, the die falling to show a six, and even a particular one of the 45,057,474 possible tickets in the United Kingdom National Lottery being drawn. In contrast, luck attaches a value to the outcome of chance. Luck is chance viewed through the spectacles of good or bad fortune. It’s really good news, at least for you, if you win the lottery, and it’s really bad news if you’re one of the passengers on the plane when it crashes.

Read the rest of this article at aeon

What Is Logic?

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The history of logic should be of interest to anyone with aspirations to thinking that is correct, or at least reasonable. This story illustrates different approaches to intellectual enquiry and human cognition more generally. Reflecting on the history of logic forces us to reflect on what it means to be a reasonable cognitive agent, to think properly. Is it to engage in discussions with others? Is it to think for ourselves? Is it to perform calculations?

In the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Immanuel Kant stated that no progress in logic had been made since Aristotle. He therefore concludes that the logic of his time had reached the point of completion. There was no more work to be done. Two hundred years later, after the astonishing developments in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the mathematisation of logic at the hands of thinkers such as George Boole, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Alfred Tarski and Kurt Gödel, it’s clear that Kant was dead wrong. But he was also wrong in thinking that there had been no progress since Aristotle up to his time. According to A History of Formal Logic (1961) by the distinguished J M Bocheński, the golden periods for logic were the ancient Greek period, the medieval scholastic period, and the mathematical period of the 19th and 20th centuries. (Throughout this piece, the focus is on the logical traditions that emerged against the background of ancient Greek logic. So Indian and Chinese logic are not included, but medieval Arabic logic is.)

Read the rest of this article at The Walrus

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How Albert Woodfox Survived Solitary

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Last summer, five months after being released from prison, Albert Woodfox went to Harlem. It was there, in 1969, during his last week of freedom, that he met members of the Black Panther Party for the first time. He had been mesmerized by the way they talked and moved. “I had always sensed, even among the most confident black people, that their fear was right there at the top, ready to overwhelm them,” he told me. “It was the first time I’d ever seen black folk who were not afraid.”

Woodfox had intended to go to a meeting of the New York chapter of the Party that week, but he was arrested for a robbery before he could. Instead, he founded a chapter of the Party at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, in Angola, where he was held in solitary confinement for more than forty years—longer than any prisoner in American history. He and two other Black Panthers, who were in solitary confinement for a total of more than a hundred years, became known as the Angola 3.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

The Weeknd Is the King of Sex Pop

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Here’s something weird about The Weeknd. So, for a long time, The Weeknd didn’t want anyone to even know who he was. When people first became aware of him, in 2011, after he released the three epic mixtapes that would become his first album, Trilogy, no one knew what he looked like or what his real name was (his real name is Abel Tesfaye, by the way). People didn’t even know if The Weeknd was a person or a group. He was just this voice—a sweet, eunuch-y voice trained in the sacred arts of Michael Jacksonism—that had been completely disembodied from the human who possessed it.

Okay, so on the one hand, Abel didn’t want people to even look at him. And on the other hand, The Weeknd was singing about the dirtiest, most vulnerable things, begging us to not only know the most intimate details of his most intimate moments, but to sing along with them. It’s as if he were the Emily Dickinson of post–R. Kelly deviant-sex R&B singers. Just sitting there in his music studio dreaming up ways to make us look at him and dreaming up ways to disappear, all at the same time.

Read the rest of this article at GQ

Life At 1600

It’s one thing to be elected President of the U.S. Learning how to do the job usually takes longer

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Presidential handoff comes with established rites and rituals, some political, others personal, all a measure of the weight bearing down on the rising leader of the free world: a meeting (or meetings) between incoming and outgoing Presidents, a summit for their lieutenants and Cabinet officers, that first glimpse into the secret compartments of national security and the fearsome threats abounding, the tour of the living quarters by the First Ladies, a conversation about the kids. Eight years ago, when George W. Bush hosted a White House welcome lunch for President-elect Barack Obama and all the living former Presidents, some of the talk was about the economy and al-Qaeda, but much was about how you raise a family in the world’s most turbulent fishbowl. These sessions aren’t required by law, but every­one seems to appreciate the help.

Since Donald Trump’s race for the White House was one long, looping detour from convention, it’s natural that the final lap has veered off road as well. Even veterans eager to help him find themselves challenged not just by his unfamiliarity with the ways of Washington but also by his indifference to them. Whether it’s his disdain of intelligence analysts, his distance from his party’s agenda, his Twitter torture of corporations or his defiant and diversionary Jan. 11 press conference, everything about the Trump transition has tested the machinery of power and protocol. This suggests that the weeks to come will involve a steep learning curve not just for the new Commander in Chief but for the rest of us as well. In his farewell address on Jan. 10, Obama had to stop and quiet those in his crowd who booed his promise to ensure a smooth transition of power to Trump. He called the cooperation a “hallmark of our democracy,” running deeper than his disagreements with the man who will replace him. “Just as President Bush did for me,” Obama said.

In the pages that follow, veterans of the Obama White House offer their own counsel to the incoming team—­including some of the best advice they got from the departing Bush team eight years ago. They cover every­thing from distinguishing what’s important from what’s merely urgent, to managing your health, mastering the computers and navigating the White House mess (closed between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., so stagger your coffee runs). It’s unusual to move into a new workspace with nearly 100% turnover, with the incoming team just meeting one another for the first time under the bright glare of the inter­national spotlight.

There is no predicting the impact any of this will have on the actions and attitude of a newly inaugurated President Trump. Even he has shown some surprise at adopting his new identity, starting with his Oval Office meeting with Obama two days after his victory. “I will tell you, I really liked him, I think he liked me,” Trump told TIME a few weeks later. “I think he was surprised also. There was good chemistry.”

Read the rest of this article at Time

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @crazycatladyldn, @am_bitieuse, @fashion_salad