In the News 13.03.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Monday 13th March, 2017
Yuval Harari, Author of Sapiens, on How Meditation Made Him a Better Historian
Yuval Noah Harari’s first book, Sapiens, was an international sensation. The Israeli historian’s mind-bending tour through the trump of Homo sapiens is a favorite of, among others, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama. His new book, Homo Deus: a Brief History of Tomorrow, is about what comes next for humanity — and the threat our own intelligence and creative capacity poses to our future. And it, too, is fantastically interesting.
I’ve wanted to talk to Harari since reading Sapiens. I’ve had one big question about him: What kind of mind creates a book like Sapiens? And now I know. A clear one.
Virtually everything Harari says in our conversation is fascinating. But what I didn’t expect was how central his consistent practice of Vipassana meditation — which includes a 60-day silent retreat each year — is to understanding the works of both history and futurism he produces. In this excerpt from our discussion, which is edited for length and clarity, we dig deep into Harari’s meditative practice and how it helps him see the stories humanity tells itself.
Read the rest of this article at Vox
25 Songs That Tell Us where Music Is Going
A strange thing you learn about American popular music, if you look back far enough, is that for a long time it didn’t much have “genres” — it had ethnicities. Vaudeville acts, for instance, had tunes for just about every major immigrant group: the Italian number, the Yiddish number, the Irish one, the Chinese. Some were sung in a spirit of abuse; others were written or performed by members of those groups themselves. And of course there were the minstrel shows, in which people with mocking, cork-painted faces sang what they pretended were the songs of Southern former slaves. This was how we reckoned with our melting pot: crudely, obliviously, maybe with a nice tune and a beat you could dance to.
Read the rest of this article at The New York Times
What Does It Mean to be Human?
The Rock of Gibraltar appears out of the plane window as an immense limestone monolith sharply rearing up from the base of Spain into the Mediterranean. One of the ancient Pillars of Hercules, it marked the end of the Earth in classical times. Greek sailors didn’t go past it. Atlantis, the unknown, lay beyond.
In summer 2016, Gibraltar is in the throes of a 21st-century identity crisis: geographically a part of Spain, politically a part of Britain; now torn, post Brexit, between its colonial and European Union ties. For such a small area – less than seven square kilometres – Gibraltar is home to an extraordinarily diverse human population. It has been home to people of all types over the millennia, including early Europeans at the edge of their world, Phoenicians seeking spiritual support before venturing into the Atlantic, and Carthaginians arriving in a new world from Africa.
But I’ve come to see who was living here even further back, between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, when sea levels were much lower and the climate was swinging in and out of ice ages. It was a tough time to be alive and the period saw the species that could, such as birds, migrate south to warmer climes, amid plenty of local extinctions. Among the large mammal species struggling to survive were lions, wolves and at least two types of human: our own ‘modern human’ ancestors, and the last remaining populations of our cousins, the Neanderthals.
Read the rest of this article at Mosaic
‘But What About the Railways …?’ The Myth of Britain’s Gifts to India
Many modern apologists for British colonial rule in India no longer contest the basic facts of imperial exploitation and plunder, rapacity and loot, which are too deeply documented to be challengeable. Instead they offer a counter-argument: granted, the British took what they could for 200 years, but didn’t they also leave behind a great deal of lasting benefit? In particular, political unity and democracy, the rule of law, railways, English education, even tea and cricket?
Indeed, the British like to point out that the very idea of “India” as one entity (now three, but one during the British Raj), instead of multiple warring principalities and statelets, is the incontestable contribution of British imperial rule.
Unfortunately for this argument, throughout the history of the subcontinent, there has existed an impulsion for unity. The idea of India is as old as the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures, which describe “Bharatvarsha” as the land between the Himalayas and the seas. If this “sacred geography” is essentially a Hindu idea, Maulana Azad has written of how Indian Muslims, whether Pathans from the north-west or Tamils from the south, were all seen by Arabs as “Hindis”, hailing from a recognisable civilisational space. Numerous Indian rulers had sought to unite the territory, with the Mauryas (three centuries before Christ) and the Mughals coming the closest by ruling almost 90% of the subcontinent. Had the British not completed the job, there is little doubt that some Indian ruler, emulating his forerunners, would have done so.
Read the rest of this article at The Guardian
Where Does the Business of Street Style Go From Here?
The multi-million dollar business of street style has hit saturation point. BoF talks to the photographers, editors, designers and influencers who make the market on how they are evolving their strategies.
LONDON, United Kingdom — “It zoomed up really quickly — I went from making nothing to six figures. Since then, it dipped and then it plateaued,” says Phil Oh, the first-generation street style photographer whose work for his blog Streetpeeper.com netted him a sought-after fashion week contract for Vogue.com.
Today, many street style photographers report that the market for street style images has become saturated. Professional cameras are more affordable than ever, and so barriers to entry have fallen and supply is now fast outpacing demand with more and more people sharing their experiences outside of fashion shows as a way to gain online followers.
“The ratio is definitely unbalanced. When I started there were less than 15 of us. Now there can be as many as 250 outside of a big show,” says Adam Katz Sinding, for whom street style photography turned from a hobby into a business upon moving to New York in 2011. “Back then it was a lot easier because there were a lot less photographers but also less people going to the shows. Now there are more photographers than there are people to take photos of.”
“Normally in New York I’m pulling my hair out because there’s so much work, but it’s an unsure time,” says Katz Sinding, who, before publications cut down rates, would make up to $20,000 per big publication in a good month. “For the first time, I was terrified that I wouldn’t have any clients. I’ve lost so many jobs recently, even though I’m asking for less than a reasonable rate,” adds the photographer, whose clients in the past month have included W Magazine, Allure and Karla Otto. “It’s watered down by the fact that if you don’t do a publication, there’s a kid that’s going to do it for free and that’s the problem.”
Online publications like The Cut, Vogue and W Magazine were among the first to recognise street style coverage as a way to lure readers and it has since become an integral part of their fashion week coverage. However, street style is no longer limited to online fashion publications; today, everyone from Net-a-Porter and Farfetch to popular Instagram feeds are flooding the market with imagery, arguably changing the value of street style photography.
Stella Bugbee, editorial director of the Cut, agrees. “We have stepped back a little from the breathless coverage of fashion week street style mainly because of the rise of Instagram, where “stars” have the ability to broadcast their own looks and the ubiquity of slideshows on fashion websites dilutes the coverage. We continue to cover it, but it doesn’t carry the same weight as it did five years ago.”
Read the rest of this article at BOF