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In the News 05.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 05.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@negin_mirsalehi
In the News 05.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@rebeccahope
In the News 05.21.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@laura.caffrey

Unreal News

On November 4, 2016, with four days to go in the strangest presidential election ever, the New York Times was worrying about comedy. “How to Satirize This Election?” a headline asked. “Even the Onion Is Having Trouble.” As the Onion’s managing editor, Ben Berkley, told the Times, “It’s hard to turn up the volume when the speaker is already blown out and everyone’s ears are already bleeding.”

The Onion, a joke website and arguably the most successful satirical outlet in history, was dealing with the same problem as every other media organization: a campaign that refused to abide by the long-established rules of the game. Traditional news outlets reacted to Donald Trump with institutional indignation, a chorus of disbelief in his electability, and an ambient sense of unreality that still permeates the industry today; meanwhile, comedians faced the difficult task of making fantasy funnier than any of this already was. Political humor is meant to chip away at the false sense of dignity attached to elected office, but Trump did that on his own. He was, it turned out, easy to mock but hard to satirize.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

Stay Messi, My Friend

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Lest there be any confusion, it must be said: He does talk sometimes.

Not a lot, certainly. Messi doesn’t do news conferences before games like most other big-name players, doesn’t often stop in mixed zones afterward. He doesn’t even speak in most of his commercials.

Interviews with unfamiliar reporters or outlets too are rare. For this story, Messi initially agreed to a face-to-face conversation but called it off a few weeks later, without explanation, sending word that he would answer questions only if they were emailed to an associate. (Even then, he answered only certain questions, and several of the ones sent were simply ignored.) Messi and I did meet, very briefly, shaking hands the day of the photo shoot: I said “Hello.” He replied “Gracias.” It was lovely.

Still, there are moments. As he has gotten older (he’ll turn 31 during the World Cup), Messi has put himself in certain situations in which he cracks the door.

Earlier this year, he spent nearly half an hour being interviewed for an Argentine television show and speaking at length, for him, on subjects that ranged from his children (he loves them) to how a diet filled with chocolate and carbonated beverages led to frequent bouts of on-field vomiting earlier in his career (he eats healthier now).

Messi also gave his take on the feeling that this summer will be his final chance to claim the biggest prize that has eluded him — a World Cup title — and make amends for the four major final defeats he has been part of with Argentina (he would like this to happen).

Read the rest of this article at: ESPN

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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This physicist’s ideas of time will blow your mind

Time feels real to people. But it doesn’t even exist, according to quantum physics. “There is no time variable in the fundamental equations that describe the world,” theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli tells Quartz.

If you met him socially, Rovelli wouldn’t assault you with abstractions and math to prove this point. He’d “rather not ruin a party with physics,” he says. We don’t have to understand the mechanics of the universe to go about our daily lives. But it’s good to take a step back every once in a while.

“Time is a fascinating topic because it touches our deepest emotions. Time opens up life and takes everything away. Wondering about time is wondering about the very sense of our life. This is [why] I have spent my life studying time,” Rovelli explains.

Rovelli’s new book, The Order of Time, published in April, is about our experience of time’s passage as humans, and the fact of its absence at minuscule and vast scales. He makes a compelling argument that chronology and continuity are just a story we tell ourselves in order to make sense of our existence.

Read the rest of this article at: Quartz

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The Myth Of The Mad Genius

Is creativity inherently related to mood disorders? It’s a common belief today that there exists some intimate relationship between the two. Consider common paragons of creativity: Vincent van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Anne Sexton (and countless others), all reaching new creative heights while struggling with a terrible mental disorder of some kind. This idea of a connection between the two stems from the Romantic Era, when mental disorder was thought to be a sign of creativity – an idea that remains remarkably tenacious today. But is there any scientific reason to believe in a connection? Trying to answer this question illustrates how difficult it is to address knotty, multi-layered problems like this with research. It is not as straightforward as just seeing if ‘creativity’ is correlated with ‘mood disorder’. We’ve got to dig deeper.

The relationship is deeply enmeshed in the public mind for a couple of reasons. For many, the idea of the ‘creative person’ comes from popular media, which inundates us with news stories and movie portrayals of the suffering artist and the mad genius. And there are anecdotal accounts closer to our real lives: many of us have heard stories about someone who suffers from a deep depression – but also creates beautiful poetry. Repeatedly hearing these accounts fuels a stereotype. When we frequently see two unique things (eg, extraordinary creativity and mood disorders) occur together, they become paired in our minds, creating what is termed an illusory correlation.

This effect is compounded by the availability heuristic, wherein we judge how common something is by how easily it comes to mind. If our mental representation of a creative person is based on this notion of genius and disorder, it will be easier to remember creative people who have a disorder, rather than those that don’t. This makes the connection seem more common. These two types of biases occur unconsciously and are often beyond our control. It is only by studying the issue scientifically, limiting our bias to the greatest extent possible, that we can we truly understand if creativity is related to mood disorders.

The scientific study of creativity and mood disorders is limited. There are vastly more reviews and commentaries discussing why and how a relationship might exist than there are studies examining if there is a relationship at all. And the studies that do ask this fundamental question are frequently plagued by methodological issues that introduce bias, in part stemming from the available methods for measuring creativity and mood disorders, and the ambiguities inherent in the concepts themselves. It is important to understand just how difficult it is to establish a connection with scientific precision.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy

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For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan. Only much later in life did I learn that the stories about the Colonel and his tangles with titans fell far short of the truth.

At the end of each week, we would return to our place. My reality was the aggressively middle-class world of 1960s and ’70s U.S. military bases and the communities around them. Life was good there, too, but the pizza came from a box, and it was Lucky Charms for breakfast. Our glory peaked on the day my parents came home with a new Volkswagen camper bus. As I got older, the holiday pomp of patriotic luncheons and bridge-playing rituals came to seem faintly ridiculous and even offensive, like an endless birthday party for people whose chief accomplishment in life was just showing up. I belonged to a new generation that believed in getting ahead through merit, and we defined merit in a straightforward way: test scores, grades, competitive résumé-stuffing, supremacy in board games and pickup basketball, and, of course, working for our keep. For me that meant taking on chores for the neighbors, punching the clock at a local fast-food restaurant, and collecting scholarships to get through college and graduate school. I came into many advantages by birth, but money was not among them.

The meritocratic class has mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children.
I’ve joined a new aristocracy now, even if we still call ourselves meritocratic winners. If you are a typical reader of The Atlantic, you may well be a member too. (And if you’re not a member, my hope is that you will find the story of this new class even more interesting—if also more alarming.) To be sure, there is a lot to admire about my new group, which I’ll call—for reasons you’ll soon see—the 9.9 percent. We’ve dropped the old dress codes, put our faith in facts, and are (somewhat) more varied in skin tone and ethnicity. People like me, who have waning memories of life in an earlier ruling caste, are the exception, not the rule.

By any sociological or financial measure, it’s good to be us. It’s even better to be our kids. In our health, family life, friendship networks, and level of education, not to mention money, we are crushing the competition below. But we do have a blind spot, and it is located right in the center of the mirror: We seem to be the last to notice just how rapidly we’ve morphed, or what we’ve morphed into.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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

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