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In the News 29.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 29.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 29.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 29.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Consciousness: Where Are Words?

Words, words, words. With the advent of the stream of consciousness in twentieth-century literature, it has come to seem that the self is very much a thing made of words, a verbal construction forever narrating itself and reconstituting itself in language. In line with the dominant, internalist view of consciousness, it is assumed that this all takes place in the brain—specifically, two parts known as Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area in the left hemisphere. So, direct perception of sights and sounds in the world outside the body are very quickly ordered and colored by language inside our heads. “Once a thing is conceived in the mind,” wrote the poet Horace in the first century BC, “the words to express it soon present themselves.” And we call this thinking. All our experience can be reshuffled, interconnected, dissected, evoked, or willfully altered in language, and these thoughts are then stored in our brains.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Review Of Books


What It’s Like to (Almost) Become a Cryptocurrency Millionaire


What to know about the crypto-craze before it implodes.

It’s a lazy Sunday morning away from my family, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Montreal, and I’ve got $160,000 in my pocket. Or, rather, my “pocket.”

I’m staying in the neighborhood known locally as the McGill Ghetto, thanks to its proximity to the city’s famous university. My room is large — with a kitchen and living area — but not fancy.

The money is tied up in cryptocurrency — and I’m not ready to cash out.

With a few mouse clicks, I could liquidate my positions and transfer the proceeds (minus fees) into my bank account overnight. After paying capital gains tax, I’d have six figures in legally earned legal tender.

But here’s the rub: Twenty-four hours earlier, my portfolio was worth less than $80,000. Overnight, one particular cryptocurrency — a low-cap privacy coin called Verge — caught fire with the Asian markets. By the same time tomorrow, that $80,000 might evaporate. Or it may double again.

Welcome to the wild world of cryptocurrency, an impossibly young global financial market that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Especially in recent months, the media has become feverish over bitcoin, ethereum, and Initial Coin Offerings, as breathless reporters publish stories of college seniors turned millionaires thanks to tiny investments made during their freshman years.

The reality is far less romantic. For every 1,000-times windfall, thousands more investments have gone south, wiping out trading accounts and nest eggs. As a bitcoin enthusiast since 2013 and casual crypto trader since 2015, I’ve had my share of euphoric wins and heart-crushing losses.

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

Kenji Dreams of Sausage

This past spring the cook and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt took the stage at Italy’s Teatro Scientifico del Bibiena, in the small city of Mantua, with sacrilege on the brain. López-Alt, known to his devotees simply as Kenji, is a soft-spoken 38-year-old partial to sandals and backyard woodworking, but his laid-back affect obscures a taste for provocation. Mantua is in Lombardy, the birthplace of risotto, and López-Alt, in town to speak at a food festival, had come to tell his audience that the way they’d always made the dish — a technique passed down by two centuries’ worth of beloved, rice-whispering nonnas — could stand some rejiggering. “Italians are the most emotional people in the world when it comes to their food,” López-Alt says. “So I knew I was in for some trouble.”

Making risotto the time-honored way involves three basic steps: Sauté aromatics in fat, toast rice in that mixture, then stir in broth slowly so that the starch thickens to create a creamy sauce. The problem, López-Alt argued onstage, is that this method pits the dish against itself. If only you could prolong the grain-toasting stage, you’d get a huge enhancement of flavor — “a nutty-brown aroma, almost like toasted pine nuts” — but all that toasting would destroy your starches: no creaminess. So he proposed a workaround. Rinse your uncooked rice with broth first and set aside that starchy liquid; toast the rice like crazy; then stir the broth back in, reintroducing the starches you safeguarded in step one. “This way,” López-Alt explains, “you get creaminess and flavor.”

Read the rest of this article at: Grub Street


How To Be Entitled: Can Debrett’s Help Outsiders Join Britain’s Elite?

Although the comic novelist Nancy Mitford made them famous, the terms “U” and “non-U” were coined in 1954 by a linguistics professor, Alan Ross, to distinguish the language used by the upper classes from that of the other social orders. It was a language a child could learn if you sent it to the right prep school, Ross asserted, but an adult could “never attain complete success”.

Mitford, a fully paid-up U, disagreed. In her essay The English Aristocracy, she claimed that aristocracy was more than a language, it was an attitude. When it came to entry in the official lists – of the gentry, the baronetage, the peerage – public service and money were often as important as birth. “The English lord,” noted Mitford, “marries for love, and is rather inclined to love where money is.”

These days, the oldest of those official lists still active is Debrett’s, now approaching its 250th birthday. (The other is Burke’s, the most recent edition of which was published in 2003.) Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage is an extraordinary artefact, running to more than 3,000 pages of fine print. Peers and barons, lords and hons are listed by name, title, date of birth, education, job (in that order). Then the coat of arms, a veritable explosion of arcana: “Sable, two flaunches, or three Welsh triple harps in fess counter-changed”. In some cases, mailing address. Progeny, and sometimes their addresses, too – evincing remarkable trust in the reader (though less surprising if you think of the readership as an extended family who might drop in for tea). Debrett’s is, among people who pay attention to these things, “the social bible” – but it is a bible stripped back to its begats. Outsiders can be frustrated by the lack of the colourful narratives that they suspect must be behind a lot of the begetting.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The Teens Trapped Between a Gang and the Law

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Juliana grew up with a single memory of her father. He was sitting in the half-light of evening on the porch of their home, in a small town in El Salvador, while her mother cooked dinner in the kitchen. A man in a black mask emerged from the darkness. Juliana heard three gunshots, and saw her father fall off his chair, vomiting blood. She was three years old at the time, and afterward she wondered if the killing had actually happened. The most tangible detail was the man in the mask, who came to seem more present in her life than her father ever was. Juliana used to find her mother by the windows, pulling back a corner of the curtains to be sure that he had not returned. “It was like that man went on living with us,” Juliana told me. One day when she was older, her mother said that a gang called the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, had killed her father for refusing to pay a tax on a deli that he operated out of the house.

For five years after the killing, the family moved every six months, staying with relatives throughout El Salvador, trying to keep ahead of the gang. In 2011, after Juliana’s mother, Ramona, testified against the killer, a member of MS-13 tried to stab her at a soccer game, where she was selling refreshments. She escaped, and fled the country, leaving Juliana and her two younger sisters at an aunt’s house, because she couldn’t afford to bring them with her. She went to Brentwood, on Long Island, where she had relatives, and took a job cleaning houses. A few years later, she was returning home from work, when she got a call. “What I need is money to pay a lawyer for the people who have been affected by what you’ve said,” a male voice told her. “I know the people of the neighborhood. I know your family, your kids, your daughter.” One of Juliana’s schoolmates, a sixteen-year-old boy who belonged to MS-13, had kidnapped her from her aunt’s house; for weeks, she was raped and beaten. She managed to call her mother one afternoon, and together they plotted her escape.

In June, 2015, Juliana, who was then thirteen, and her sisters set off in the back of a truck, covered by a nylon tarp, packed in with other migrants heading north; at one point, in a jungle along the border between Guatemala and Mexico, Juliana had an asthma attack and the smugglers almost abandoned her. Six weeks later, the group was arrested in Texas by United States Border Patrol agents. Juliana was relieved. “You hand yourself over, and you know what’s going to happen. You’re going to experience the hielera,” she told me, referring to the cold cells, called “refrigerators” by migrants, in borderland detention centers. “And then I’d finally get to see my mom.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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

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