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In the News 02.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 02.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@adenorah
In the News 02.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@karenharle via @dana_chels
In the News 02.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@ironnsalt

Inside The Mind of The Countess Of Psychedelic Science

Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and March, also known as Lady Neidpath, sits cross-legged on a bench on a tiny island at the center of an artificial pond in her English country estate, a 15-minute drive outside of Oxford. At her feet is a tiny pure-white cloud of a dog, which traipses around chewing on the grass, only occasionally coughing it up.

Feilding is 75 years old. She wears a black skirt and knee-high boots and grips a tan shawl around her shoulders, on account of this being a gray November morning. From her ears hang jewelry that looks like green rock candy. Her light brown hair is frizzy but not altogether unkempt.

In the distance, peeking over a towering hedge, is her castle, built in the 1520s. “In the ’60s we called it Brainblood Hall,” she says in a posh accent that periodically turns sing-songy and high, à la Julia Child. “We always saw it as the masthead from where this change would happen.”

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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Worst Roommate Ever

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Alex Miller’s spare room had been on Craigslist for two weeks when, last March, she got the call she’d been waiting for. The man at the other end identified himself as Jed Creek. Creek was a lawyer from New York, but he had grown up just outside Philadelphia, only a few minutes’ drive from Miller’s apartment in the city’s well-to-do neighborhood of Chestnut Hill. Creek explained that he needed a place to stay while he tended to family matters — his mother was old and frail and his older brother was suffering from complications with hepatitis C, he said — and he’d been looking for a place without much luck. “I find Philadelphians to be very difficult,” he said. “A lot of flaky people.”

“I’m not flaky,” Miller, then 31, assured him, “so you’re off to a good start.”

Creek was tall, slim, and handsome, with hair as black as squid’s ink. Though he was 60, he looked to be in his late 40s. When he came to visit the apartment, he brought his dog, a 13-year-old Border-collie mix named Zachary, so that he could meet Miller’s arthritic black Lab, Cosimo.

To Miller, Creek’s arrival felt like a godsend. She was dealing with the sudden departure of a roommate, a looming lease renewal, a bank account kept precariously afloat by part-time work at a juice bar and at a nearby law firm filing paperwork. Here was a courtly gentleman, Miller thought, as she walked Creek through her cluttered apartment, an experienced lawyer who’d lived in Europe and the Middle East. At the end of the tour, they settled on her couch and fell into a deeper conversation. Creek shared his interest in Buddhist meditation; Miller told him about recent romantic troubles and Creek offered advice. The sky outside was turning dusky blue when Creek said, “I like the place, and I like you. If you like me, I could just do this now”—move in, he meant.

His abruptness surprised Miller, but Creek said he could pay her on the spot. He pulled a check from his pocket and made it out for $800. Miller noticed that the upper-left corner of the check was blank, and in the space where his name and address should have appeared, Creek wrote “219 E. Willow Grove Ave” — her own address now made his. He did not write his name. He signed the check in a messy scrawl, the only discernible letter an enormous, looping J. Then he and Zachary hailed an Uber, with a promise to return that evening. Miller asked if he needed any furniture. “No,” Creek said. “I have everything I need.”

Everything Creek needed, Miller saw when he returned, fit inside six Rubbermaid bins and a cat carrier. (It turned out that along with Zachary, he had a desperately shy tabby named Abigail.) He brought no mattress: For a bed, he dropped a heap of comforters on the bedroom floor. It struck Miller that someone who slept like this might not have much in the way of a proper bank account. But the following afternoon, she deposited his rent check and it cleared.

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

Tuscany Tote in Cognac

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Cognac
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The Breakup Museum

It’s a simple necklace: a tiny, brown-striped clamshell tied to a black leather cord. The shell was gathered from a beach in Italy, and attached to the cord by means of two holes drilled into the shell with a dental drill. The person who made the necklace for me was a dental student in Florence at the time. He did it secretly, in one of his classes, while he was supposed to be learning how to make crowns. I wore that necklace every single day, until I didn’t anymore.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is a collection of ordinary objects hung on walls, tucked under glass, backlit on pedestals: a toaster, a child’s pedal car, a modem handmade in 1988. A wooden toilet paper dispenser. A positive pregnancy stick. A positive drug test. An axe. They come from Taipei, from Slovenia, from Colorado, from Manila, all donated by strangers, each accompanied by a story: In the 14 days of her holiday, every day I axed one piece of her furniture.

Read the rest of this article at: VQR

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The Case Against Google

To say that Thomas Robert Malthus was unpopular would be putting it mildly. His 19th-century contemporary Percy Shelley, the revered poet, called him a eunuch and a tyrant. The philosopher William Godwin dubbed him “a dark and terrible genius that is ever at hand to blast all the hopes of all mankind.” As Malthus’ biographer later put it, he was the most abused man of his age. And that was the age of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Shivaun Moeran and Adam Raff met, married and started a company — thereby sparking a chain of events that might, ultimately, take down this age of internet giants as we know it — because they were both huge nerds. In the late 1980s, Adam was studying programming at the University of Edinburgh, while Shivaun was focused on physics and computer science at King’s College London. They had mutual friends who kept insisting they were perfect for each other. So one weekend, they went on a date and discovered other similarities: They both loved stand-up comedy. Each had a science-minded father. They shared a weakness for puns.

In the years that followed, those overlapping enthusiasms led to cohabitation, a raucous wedding and parallel careers at big technology firms. The thing is, though, when you’re young and geeky and fall in love with someone else young and geeky, all your nerdy friends want you to set them up on dates as well. So Adam and Shivaun, who took Adam’s last name after marriage, approached the problem like two good programmers: They designed a dating app.

The app was known as MatchMate, and the idea was simple: Rather than just pairing people with similar interests, their software would put together potential mates according to an array of parameters, such as which pub they were currently standing in, and whether they had friends in common, and what movies they liked or candidates they voted for, and dozens of other factors that might be important in finding a life partner (or at least a tonight partner). The magic of MatchMate was that it could allow a user to mix variables and search for pairings within a specific group, a trick that computer scientists call parameterization. “It was like asking your best friend to set you up,” Shivaun told me. “Someone who says, ‘Well, you probably think you’d like this guy because he’s handsome, but actually you’d like this other guy because he’s not as good-looking, but he’s really funny.’ ”

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

When Malls Saved the Suburbs From Despair

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“Okay, we’ll see you in two-and-a-half hours,” the clerk tells me, taking the iPhone from my hand. I’m at the Apple Store, availing myself of a cheap smartphone battery replacement, an offer the company made after taking heat for deliberately slowing down devices. A test run by a young woman typing at a feverish, unnatural pace on an iPad confirms that mine desperately needed the swap. As she typed, I panicked. What will I do in the mall for so long, and without a phone? How far the mall has fallen that I rack my brain for something to do here.

The Apple Store captures everything I don’t like about today’s mall. A trip here is never easy—the place is packed and chaotic, even on weekdays. It runs by its own private logic, cashier and help desks replaced by roving youths in seasonally changing, colored T-shirts holding iPads, directing traffic.

Apple operates some stand-alone retail locations, including a glass cube entrance in midtown Manhattan and a laptop-shaped location on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. But a lot of the stores are located in shopping malls. The Apple Store is one of the only reasons I go to the mall anymore. Usually I get in and out as fast as I can. But today I’m stuck.

When all is said and done, it turns out to be a strange relief. Contrary to popular opinion, malls are great, and they always were.

The tragic story of the American shopping mall is well-known by now. Victor Gruen, an Austrian-born architect, emigrated to the United States after Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938. In 1954 he designed the first outdoor suburban shopping plaza, near Detroit. Two years later, in 1956, the Gruen-designed Southdale Center opened in Edina, Minnesota. It was the first enclosed shopping mall in America. In the six decades since, up to 1,500 malls were erected across the country. Then people stopped building them.

Previous few have been erected in the last decade, but plenty have been shuttered, and as many as half of the remaining could close within the next 10 years.* The reasons are many, including economic downturn, the rise of internet commerce, the decline of the suburbs—even just the opening of newer malls, which cannibalize older ones.

Americans loved malls, then they loved to hate them. Good riddance to these cathedrals to capitalism, many think, as they pore over apocalyptic photos of abandoned malls in ruins. This trope runs so deep that it’s begun feeding on itself. The latest example: Bloomberg recently published a bizarre video game, styled like bad 1980s computer entertainment, about the glorious desperation of managing a dying American mall.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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

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