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In the News 02.12.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 02.12.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@sincerelyjules
In the News 02.12.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@sincerelyjules

Crafting A Life

White-collar workers are fleeing their desks to become brewers, bakers and pickle-makers. Ryan Avent reckons the artisanal boom points to the modern economy’s failings, and maybe its future as well

The One Eight distillery occupies a stretch of a low-slung brick warehouse in Ivy City, a bedraggled, industrial neighbourhood two miles north-east of the Capitol, in Washington, DC. Inside the heavy metal doors that mark the entrance sits a handsome, fully stocked bar, a seating area complete with table football, and a merchandise display featuring branded T-shirts which are occasionally pilfered by the resident dog, Boomer. Opposite the entrance are doors leading to the business end of the distillery, where huge sacks of grain come in and bottles of whiskey are sent out. It is industrial in a strange and inviting way. Shapely copper and steel stills line one wall. In the bulb atop the still, a soup of fermented grains is heated to boiling point, sending on its way a vapour of alcoholic refinement that will become hard liquor. At the far end of the room, great oak barrels of ageing whiskey rest in stacks.

Both Sandy Wood and Alex Laufer, the distillery’s co-founders, are on their second careers. Wood previously worked as a lawyer, specialising in immigration cases. Laufer ran a biotech lab in Silicon Valley. Old friends who decided to take the plunge, the two spent several years studying the art and science of the business, learning from other craft distillers, raising capital and finding the right location for their operation. Even after they began making spirits the waiting continued; bourbon, which Wood and Laufer were most interested in producing, must age for more than a year to develop its distinctive flavour and colouration. Since opening two years ago, One Eight has sold unaged spirits like gin and white whiskey. This autumn, at long last, they released the first bourbon to be produced in the District of Columbia since the end of Prohibition in 1933.

Read the rest of this article at: 1843

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Simple, Open Pleasure in a New Landscape

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There are some painters whose influence on the course of painting is so diffuse as to become unremarkable. This is the case with the illustrious octogenarian David Hockney. Without him, it’s hard to imagine the category of queer figurative painting, for example, or the casual semi-abstraction seen lately in much American art. The point goes double for painting in Los Angeles, the city where Hockney has made most of his work, with its cerulean swimming pools, indolent bathers, and cubist highways, and which now looks (the city, and much of its painting) like the displaced Yorkshireman’s art.

By the same token it’s also banal to note these connections, along the lines of observing that many rock bands over the years really owe a lot to David Bowie. Hockney and his work have always been admired and distributed (among living artists perhaps only William Wegman, of the trained Weimaraner dog photos, has more publications to his name) and the price of this degree of middle-class, poster-above-the-dentist’s-chair cultural saturation is the dereliction of serious critical regard. I’m not alone in having encountered and idolized Hockney during my formative years as a painter, and therefore in having spent a lot of time over the years minimizing, second-guessing, if not disavowing altogether, that early artistic crush. Sometime during college, for instance, I consciously changed my handwriting to resemble Hockney’s casual-yet-elegant scrawl. I had completely forgotten this deliberate transformation—forgotten the why behind the how, the invisible Hockney hand guiding my own—until I started thinking about this essay. One’s relationship with Hockney, in other words, is like any influential romance: easier to renounce than repress.

His retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a good occasion to take stock of the artist’s long and varied career, to contemplate both the official Hockney mythology (joyful experimenter, charming virtuoso, like Picasso without the sadism) and the official Hockney critique: that, compared to other great artists of this era, he’s a bit on the thin side, philosophically speaking.

Read the rest of this article at: n+1

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The Case Against Sidewalks

On a fall Saturday at Panorama High School, deep in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, an arborist fields questions about which street trees produce the most shade with the least amount of water. A rep from a local street furniture vendor explains the difference between a bus bench and more protective transit shelter. Just outside the school’s gates, a group moves slowly along busy Van Nuys Boulevard performing a walk audit, noting details like missing curb cuts, sign poles planted in a way that a wheelchair can’t pass, and signals that aren’t long enough to allow everyone to cross the daunting six-lane roadway.

For the past year, the nonprofit Investing in Place has been holding these summits all over Los Angeles as part of an effort to train an army of sidewalk advocates, teaching neighborhood and community groups how to petition the city to fix broken pavement, improve bus stops, and plant more trees. Attendees range from environmental scientists to housing activists, from high school students to new moms.

“Someone in City Hall told me there’s no constituency for sidewalks and that’s why it wasn’t a priority for them,” says Investing in Place’s director, Jessica Meaney, who wears a magenta shirt that says “Stop Trippin’.” “They said no one is knocking on their door asking to fix sidewalks.”

Meaney points to a report commissioned by LA’s Chief Administrative Officer which specifically cites sidewalk repair as one of the most important quality-of-life issues for community members. The problem was that the repair process is so complicated—Meaney counted 11 agencies with overlapping responsibilities—Angelenos don’t know how or where to get help: “They don’t know who is trimming trees or making the curb cut or power-washing the bus shelter.” What’s more, the decisions about the repair and maintenance of sidewalks are made in a completely different department from the transportation planning that guides buses, cars, and even bikes.

Read the rest of this article at: Curbed

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When You’re A ‘Digital Nomad,’
The World Is Your Office

On the far eastern edge of Miami’s Little Havana, beyond a tall black gate, sit four century-old wooden buildings made of strong Dade County pine, arranged around a courtyard with a pool. Letters on the frontmost building’s pale yellow facade identify it as the Miami River Inn. One of the city’s very first hotels, it was built in 1908 to house transient laborers working on the docks, back when Miami was still a frontier outpost of barely 5,000 people. Locals have long harbored a belief that the bottom floor of one house is haunted.

At the time of the inn’s construction, the surrounding area was known as Riverside; like the rest of the city, it became a hotbed of real estate speculation over the coming decades. As a new residential neighborhood grew around it, the inn remained a holdout from another era. In the ’80s, its rent was $100 a week, and the buildings were crumbling. Then, in 1990, a preservationist bought the property and turned it into a bed-and-breakfast, and in 2015, it was flipped again to a hip hotel group. Two years ago, the buildings were leased by a start-up that intended to return them to their original use, housing itinerant workers — albeit a very different kind.

That company is called Roam, and since its founding in 2015, it has constructed an international housing network for so-called digital nomads, a growing demographic of people who travel the world while working remotely over the internet. Roam operates complexes of furnished, single-occupancy residences in four cities (Miami, Tokyo, London and Ubud, in Bali), with three more on the way (in New York, Berlin and San Francisco). The idea is that you never have to leave the system: Roam is everywhere you want to be. Residents pay rent starting at $500 a week to comfortably live and work, two activities that quickly become indistinguishable within Roam’s confines.

More than a mere chain of upscale hostels, Roam signals the crystallization of a moment long in the making. Telecommuting has been feasible since the days of dial-up, but the early digital nomads were pioneers, planning solo trips around the world, seeking out spare rooms and spotty connections in the name of escaping drudgery back home. Roam aims to make dislocation easy and glamorous, transforming digital nomadism into a mainstream, off-the-rack proposition. To date, Roam has hosted more than 2,200 members, a wandering group of entrepreneurs, programmers, freelancers, retirees and tourists who call themselves “Roamies” the way stationary types might namedrop their hometowns.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times Magazine

The Strange Order Of Things By Antonio Damasio Review
– Why Feelings Are The Unstoppable Force

Nietzsche would have given four cheers for this intricately argued book, which is at once scientifically rigorous and humanely accommodating, and, so far as this reviewer can judge, revolutionary. Antonio Damasio, a professor of neuroscience, psychology and philosophy, sets out to investigate “why and how we emote, feel, use feelings to construct our selves … and how brains interact with the body to support such functions”. We are not floating seraphim, he reminds us, but bodies that think – and all the better for it.

From Plato onwards, western philosophy has favoured mind over “mere” body, so that by the time we get to Descartes, the human has become hardly more than a brain stuck atop a stick, like a child’s hobbyhorse. This is the conception of humanness that Damasio wishes to dismantle. For him, as for Nietzsche, what the body feels is every bit as significant as what the mind thinks, and further, both functions are inextricably intertwined. Indeed, from the very start, among the earliest primitive life forms, affect – “the world of emotions and feelings” – was the force that drove unstoppably towards the flowering of human consciousness and the creation of cultures, Damasio insists.

The idea on which he bases his book is, he tells us, simple: “Feelings have not been given the credit they deserve as motives, monitors, and negotiators of human cultural endeavours.” In claiming simplicity, it is possible the author is being a mite disingenuous. The tone in which he sets out his argument is so carefully judged, so stylistically calm and scientifically collected, that most readers will be lulled into nodding agreement. Yet a moment’s thought will tell us that we conduct our lives largely in contradiction of his premise, and for the most part deal with each other, and even with ourselves, as if we were pure spirit accidentally and inconveniently shackled to half a hundredweight or so of forked flesh.

“Feelings, and more generally affect of any sort and strength,” Damasio writes, “are the unrecognised presences at the cultural conference table.” According to him, the conference began among the bacteria, which – who? – even in their “unminded existence … assume what can only be called a sort of ‘moral attitude’”. In support of his claim, he adduces the various ways in which bacteria behave that bear a striking resemblance to human social organisation. The implication is, then, that “the human unconscious literally goes back to early life-forms, deeper and further than Freud or Jung ever dreamed of”. Damasio’s argument is that we are directly descended not only from the apes, but from the earliest wrigglers at the bottom of the primordial rock pool.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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

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