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In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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No Shirt, No Swipe, No Service

For years, small businesses have asked customers to pay cash, set credit card minimums, or added a surcharge onto card transactions, in an effort to defray the premiums imposed by companies like Mastercard and Visa. Now, an increasing number of businesses are doing the opposite. Head out of Slate’s offices for lunch and you might wind up at Dos Toros, a local burrito minichain; for coffee you might pick Devoción, a Colombian-born coffeehouse with an airy storefront. In either case, you’d be confronted with the same demand: Pay with plastic.

Stores are eliminating cash registers and coin rolls in pursuit of what they say is a safer, more streamlined payment process—and one that most of their customers want to use anyway. At Dos Toros, co-founder Leo Kremer said that more than half of the shop’s customers used cash when its first location opened in Manhattan in 2009. By the beginning of this year, that number had fallen to just 15 percent. At that point, the various hassles of dealing with cash—employee training, banking fees, armored-truck pickups, and the occasional robbery—outweighed the cost of credit card fees on those transactions. The shift wound up being more or less revenue-neutral, Kremer said, but saved a lot of time and trouble. Dos Toros’ New York locations have been fully cash-free since the winter.

Read the rest of this article at: Slate

In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Big Business Of Being Gwyneth Paltrow

In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a Monday morning in November, students at Harvard Business School convened in their classroom to find Gwyneth Paltrow. She was sitting at one of their desks, fitting in not at all, using her phone, as they took their seats along with guests they brought to class that day — wives, mothers, boyfriends. Each seat filled, and some guests had to stand along the back wall and sit on the steps. The class was called the Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports. The students were there to interrogate Paltrow about Goop, her lifestyle-and-wellness e-commerce business, and to learn how to create a “sustainable competitive advantage,” according to the class catalog.

She moved to the teacher’s desk, where she sat down and crossed her legs. She talked about why she started the business, how she only ever wanted to be someone who recommended things. When she was in Italy, on the set of “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” she’d ask someone on the crew about, say, where the best gelato was. When she was in London, on the set of “Shakespeare in Love,” she asked a crew member where to find the best coffee; in Paris, she asked an extra where to find the best bikini wax; in Berlin, the massage you can’t miss. She wasn’t just curious. She was planning this the whole time.

The first iteration of the company was only these lists — where to go and what to buy once you get there — via a newsletter she emailed out of her kitchen, the first one with recipes for turkey ragù and banana-nut muffins. One evening, at a party in London, one of the newsletter’s recipients, a venture capitalist named Juliet de Baubigny, told her, “I love what you’re doing with Goop.” G.P., as she is called by nearly everyone in her employ, didn’t even know what a venture capitalist was. She was using off-the-shelf newsletter software. But De Baubigny became a “godmother” to Paltrow, she said. She encouraged her vision and “gave permission” to start thinking about how to monetize it.

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

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The Theory Of Mind Myth

Following a mass shooting, the gunman’s next-door neighbours are stunned, and tell reporters that he was a good, kind man. Meanwhile, former classmates and co-workers describe him as a ticking time bomb. Pundits attribute Donald Trump’s latest Twitter tirade to unbridled narcissism, early dementia, a bullying father, Machiavellian shrewdness – or a man with a heartfelt mission to make America great again… Show us any human behaviour, and we’ll drum up half a dozen seemingly common-sense explanations. The underlying assumption: we can know with a reasonable degree of accuracy what is going on in another’s mind. Labelled by psychologists as theory of mind (abbreviated as ToM), this ability to understand that others have separate minds containing potentially different beliefs, desires and intentions is often said to be one of our pre-eminent cognitive skills distinguishing us from other creatures.

That we have a folk psychology theory of other minds isn’t surprising. By nature, we are character analysts, behavioural policemen, admirers and haters. We embrace like minds, and go to war against contrarians. Mind-reading is our social glue, guiding virtually all of our daily interpersonal interactions. When trying to decide whether or not a potential gun owner is prone to violence, a mental patient is suicidal, or a presidential candidate is truthful, we are at the mercy of our thoughts about others.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Portugal Dared To Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having A Major Revival.

In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

LISBON — Ramón Rivera had barely gotten his olive oil business started in the sun-swept Alentejo region of Portugal when Europe’s debt crisis struck. The economy crumbled, wages were cut, and unemployment doubled. The government in Lisbon had to accept a humiliating international bailout.

But as the misery deepened, Portugal took a daring stand: In 2015, it cast aside the harshest austerity measures its European creditors had imposed, igniting a virtuous cycle that put its economy back on a path to growth. The country reversed cuts to wages, pensions and social security, and offered incentives to businesses.

The government’s U-turn, and willingness to spend, had a powerful effect. Creditors railed against the move, but the gloom that had gripped the nation through years of belt-tightening began to lift. Business confidence rebounded. Production and exports began to take off — including at Mr. Rivera’s olive groves.

“We had faith that Portugal would come out of the crisis,” said Mr. Rivera, the general manager of Elaia. The company focused on state-of-the-art harvesting technology, and it is now one of Portugal’s biggest olive oil producers. “We saw that this was the best place in the world to invest.”

At a time of mounting uncertainty in Europe, Portugal has defied critics who have insisted on austerity as the answer to the Continent’s economic and financial crisis. While countries from Greece to Ireland — and for a stretch, Portugal itself — toed the line, Lisbon resisted, helping to stoke a revival that drove economic growth last year to its highest level in a decade.

The renewal is visible just about everywhere. Hotels, restaurants and shops have opened in droves, fueled by a tourism surge that has helped cut unemployment in half. In the Beato district of Lisbon, a mega-campus for start-ups rises from the rubble of a derelict military factory. Bosch, Google and Mercedes-Benz recently opened offices and digital research centers here, collectively employing thousands.

Foreign investment in aerospace, construction and other sectors is at a record high. And traditional Portuguese industries, including textiles and paper mills, are putting money into innovation, driving a boom in exports.

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

The Spy Who Drove Me

In the News 07.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It all started last Wednesday night, after the first day of the Aspen Security Forum, perhaps the most high-level annual gathering of national security types: spooks, former spooks, people who rely on spooks to set U.S. foreign policy, people who write about spooks, people who study spooks, and any politicians who want to participate in the forum. That night, after FBI director Christopher Wray had delivered a milquetoast performance on a panel, and after a group of some three dozen national security journalists had sated themselves at Jimmy’s, a local steakhouse, I stood waiting for an Uber with my friend Shane Harris, who reports on the intelligence community for The Washington Post.

Finally, a car pulled up and our designated Uber driver, a woman I’ll call Gloria, welcomed us in. She was an older woman, somewhere in her sixties, and had a sweet and heavy Hispanic accent. It was all very standard Uber chit-chat fare: Have you been to Aspen before? What brings you here? Then we dropped Shane off at his hotel, and on we went to mine.

“So what’s going on with North Korea?” Gloria asked. “What are people saying?”

I murmured something as I dug around Instagram.

“You know, I’ve been to North Korea,” Gloria said.

I looked up.

“What?” I asked, startled. “How? When?”

“As part of a delegation.”

“What kind of delegation?” I asked. Gloria was silent, driving through the dark streets. It’s notoriously difficult to get into—let alone out of—the Hermit Kingdom. How did Gloria the Uber driver manage it?

“What kind of work do you do?” I asked her. “I mean, other than the Uber driving.”

“I’m a person of faith,” Gloria said mysteriously.

“When were you in North Korea?” I asked. Gloria said nothing. “What were you doing there?” Silence still.

“Here you are,” she finally said, and I got out in the dark meadow in front of my hotel, wondering just who this Uber driver was.

The next morning, a group of journalists stood around waiting for FBI director Wray to arrive at this off-the-record briefing, and as we waited, huffing coffee, talk turned to Gloria. She had driven Shane here this morning and asked him about what he expected to hear at the conference. She had pumped another reporter, a national security correspondent with one of the major networks, for information. “I’ll tell you something if you tell me something,” the correspondent recalled her saying. She laughed, we all laughed, but it was now leavened with a good bit of alarm. Was Gloria something more than a mere Uber driver?

“We have to tell Wray about her,” said Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press. We all laughed because we knew she was joking, but only kind of. “Being in this environment makes you hyper-sensitive to it,” Deb told me later when we compared notes on our drives with Gloria. Neither of us was sure if Gloria was a spy or if we were crazy, or both. Deb made a good point: “It is strange that the first thing she asks about when you get in the car is ‘What have you heard about North Korea?’ ”

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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