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In the News 18.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 18.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@houseandgardenuk
In the News 18.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@_hollyt
In the News 18.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@_hollyt

Neuroscience Has a Lot To Learn from Buddhism

Can training the mind make us more attentive, altruistic, and serene? Can we learn to manage our disturbing emotions in an optimal way? What are the transformations that occur in the brain when we practice meditation? In a new book titled Beyond the Self, two friends—Matthieu Ricard, who left a career as a molecular biologist to become a Buddhist monk in Nepal, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist—engage in an unusually well-matched conversation about meditation and the brain. Below is a condensed and edited excerpt.

Matthieu RicardAlthough one finds in the Buddhist literature many treatises on “traditional sciences”—medicine, cosmology, botanic, logic, and so on—Tibetan Buddhism has not endeavored to the same extent as Western civilizations to expand its knowledge of the world through the natural sciences. Rather it has pursued an exhaustive investigation of the mind for 2,500 years and has accumulated, in an empirical way, a wealth of experiential findings over the centuries. A great number of people have dedicated their whole lives to this contemplative science.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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Generation Screwed

The most striking thing about the problems of millennials is how intertwined and self-reinforcing and everywhere they are.

Over the eight months I spent reporting this story, I spent a few evenings at a youth homeless shelter and met unpaid interns and gig-economy bike messengers saving for their first month of rent. During the days I interviewed people like Josh, a 33-year-old affordable housing developer who mentioned that his mother struggles to make ends meet as a contractor in a profession that used to be reliable government work. Every Thanksgiving, she reminds him that her retirement plan is a “401(j)”—J for Josh.

Fixing what has been done to us is going to take more than tinkering. Even if economic growth picks up and unemployment continues to fall, we’re still on a track toward ever more insecurity for young people. The “Leave It To Beaver” workforce, in which everyone has the same job from graduation until gold watch, is not coming back. Any attempt to recreate the economic conditions the boomers had is just sending lifeboats to a whirlpool.

But still, there is already a foot-long list of overdue federal policy changes that would at least begin to fortify our future and reknit the safety net. Even amid the awfulness of our political moment, we can start to build a platform to rally around. Raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation. Roll back anti-union laws to give workers more leverage against companies that treat them as if they’re disposable. Tilt the tax code away from the wealthy. Right now, rich people can write off mortgage interest on their second home and expenses related to being a landlord or (I’m not kidding) owning a racehorse. The rest of us can’t even deduct student loans or the cost of getting an occupational license.

Read the rest of this article at: Highline

The Insane True Story Of How “Titanic” Got Made

As one of David Lynch’s regular players, MacLachlan has learned not to parse the material for meaning—just as he’s learned not to demand too much explanation from his director. This, he admits, he learned the hard way. “On Dune, I was rabid. I drove David to madness,” he says. “And finally he closed the door on me.” He offers no detailed analysis of what has transpired over the show’s 16 episodes so far, and I get the sense that my intuition—to focus less on the meaning and more on the form—is the best way to experience it.

The first time I saw Titanic, my father left the theater in the middle of the movie to get a haircut. I didn’t notice he was gone. I wasn’t conscious of any reality but Titanic, even though I already knew exactly what was going to happen. One of my friends had briefed me on what to expect: Jack and Rose fall in love, the ship sinks, and Jack finds a piece of wreckage floating in the sea and helps Rose clamber onto it, saving her from the freezing death that claims him before the lifeboats return for survivors. But it wasn’t fair, my friend explained: It was obvious to her that there was room for them both.

It didn’t matter that I knew exactly what was coming. I couldn’t think about anything else while the movie played. And even when the lights came up and I realized my father was missing, his absence didn’t seem to matter much. I was 9, but I already understood he had a habit of wandering off when he got bored. I was even used to it. What was new was this feeling: that I had to get back to Titanic as soon as possible. The credits were barely rolling as I began to strategize my next viewing. I knew that the movie had completely devastated me, and I knew that all I wanted was to be devastated again. But why?

Read the rest of this article at: BuzzFeed

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Meet the Man Who Has Lived Alone on This Island for 28 Years

Seventy-eight-year-old Mauro Morandi often walks along the rocky shores of Budelli Island and looks out over the disconsolate sea, feeling dwarfed by the phantom forces that tug and twist the tides.
“We think we are giants that can dominate the Earth, but we’re just mosquitos,” Morandi says.
In 1989 on a stretch of water between Sardinia and Corsica, with a crippled engine and anchor adrift, Morandi’s catamaran was gripped by these same inexorable forces and carried to the shores of Budelli Island. When he learned that its caretaker was retiring from his post in two days, Morandi—long disenchanted with society—sold the catamaran and took his place.
He has lived alone on the island for the past 28 years.

Maddalena Archipelago National Park is comprised of seven islands, and Budelli is considered the most beautiful among them for its Spiaggia Rosa, or Pink Beach. The rose-colored sand derives its unusual hue from microscopic fragments of corals and shells, which have been slowly reduced to powder by the relentless shifting of the waves.
In the early nineties, Spiaggia Rosa was dubbed a place of “high natural value” by the Italian government. The beach was closed off to protect its fragile ecosystem, and only certain areas remain accesible to visitors. The island rapidly went from hosting thousands of tourists per day to a single heartbeat.
In 2016, after a three-year legal battle between a New Zealand businessman and the Italian government for ownership of the land, a court ruled that Budelli belonged to Maddalena National Park. The same year, the park challenged Morandi’s right to live on the island—and the public responded. A petitionprotesting his eviction garnered more than 18,000 signatures, effectively pressuring local politicians to delay his expulsion indefinitely.

Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic

In the Maze

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One of the purposes of this section is to provide a testimony of a moment — to recognize and record, as C. L. R. James said — the questions and debates that preoccupy us. But sometimes life furnishes situations that cannot be approached intellectually. None of the usual keys fits the lock. An intellectual situation grades into an emotional situation and becomes untouchable. How do you write a history of the present, then? Sublimate, sublimate — until that stops getting you anywhere.

Two years ago, in January 2016, I wrote to my coeditors with a proposal for an Intellectual Situation about what I felt was an impending male backlash. One colleague asked, “What backlash?” Another worried it was too close to the bone. In the end I abandoned the essay because I couldn’t find a way in. I couldn’t figure it out.

What was happening was that the men I knew were beginning to feel persecuted as a class. They remarked on it obliquely, with jokes that didn’t quite sound like jokes, in emails or in offhand remarks at parties. Irritation and annoyance were souring into something worse. Men said they felt like they were living in Soviet Russia. The culture was being hijacked by college students, humorless young people who knew nothing of real life, its paradoxes and disappointments. Soon intellectuals would not be able to sneeze without being sent to the gulag.

Women, too, felt the pressure. “Your generation is so moral,” a celebrated novelist said to an editor my age. Another friend, a journalist in her fifties, described the heat she got from online feminists for expressing skepticism toward safe spaces. “I’m conservative now,” she said, meaning to the kids. But the most persistent and least logical complaint came from men — men I knew and men in the media. They could not speak. And yet they were speaking. Near the end of 2014, I remember, the right to free speech under the First Amendment had been recast in popular discourse as the right to free speech without consequence, without reaction.

The examples in the press could be innocent and sinister. A Princeton undergraduate, the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, could not argue he was not privileged in Time magazine without facing ridicule on Twitter. A tech executive could hardly make a joke without being fired, a young tech executive told me. “Take Mahbod Moghadam,” he said. Moghadam was one of the founders of Genius, and had been dismissed for his annotations of the shooter Elliot Rodger’s manifesto. (“This is an artful sentence, beautifully written” he wrote. Of Rodger’s sister, he added, “Maddy will go on to attend USC and turn into a spoiled hottie.”) Once, on my way to work, I heard a story on NPR about a Pennsylvania man named Anthony Elonis who was taking a First Amendment case to the Supreme Court. He was defending his right to make jokes about murdering his ex-wife on Facebook, in the form of non-rhyming, rhythmless rap lyrics. “I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, / soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts,” he posted. When she filed a restraining order, Elonis posted again. “I’ve got enough explosives / to take care of the state police and the sheriff’s department.” Posts about shooting up an elementary school and slitting the throat of a female FBI agent followed. When he was convicted for transmitting intent to injure another person across state lines, via the internet, he argued he was just doing what Eminem did on his albums: joking. Venting, creatively. Under the First Amendment, the government had to prove he had “subjective intent.” His initial forty-four month prison sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court but was ultimately reinstated by an appeals court. I learned later that he had been fired from his job for multiple sexual harassment complaints, just after his wife left him.

Read the rest of this article at: n+1

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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