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In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Is Compassion Fatigue Inevitable In An Age Of 24-Hour News?

In April this year, a woman calling herself Apathetic Idealist wrote to an advice columnist at the New York Times, asking for help in overcoming a sense of political paralysis. This condition, which was keeping her from engaging in “real action”, began in November 2016, when Donald Trump won the US presidential election. “I continue to be outraged by this administration’s treatment of Latinos, Native Americans, Muslims, LGBT folks, women and so many others,” she wrote. “But I’m struggling to summon a response.”

“I have no doubt that many people can relate to your letter. I can relate to it,” began the response from the columnist, Roxane Gay. “It is damn hard to expand the limits of our empathy when our emotional attention is already stretched too thin.”

This seems to be an increasingly common condition. Glance at Twitter or Facebook, and you’ll probably see someone say, “I’m so tired”. There is so much bad news that it feels like we’re running out of emotions. I can relate to Apathetic Idealist, too. For the past several months, I have experienced a creeping psychic exhaustion. “I’m in a numb period,” I tell my friends when they send me frantic texts about the day’s events or ask me how I’m holding up.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How Cosmic Is The Cosmos?

In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There is a story that the Buddha was once addressing his sangha, the monastic community who had gathered around to listen to him preach, when one of his bright young followers posed a series of questions. What, he asked his spiritual leader, is the origin of the Universe? Is the cosmos infinite? Is it eternal, or did it have a beginning?

After the student had finished, he looked up to the Buddha to hear his pearls of wisdom, but the older man was silent. Eventually, the young monk left, disappointed, only to come back the next day with the same queries. Once again, however, the Buddha remained quiet. On the third day, the young man returned and said in frustration: ‘I have asked you these questions twice. If you don’t know the answer, then admit that you don’t know. If you do know but you think I won’t understand, then just say that, but I urge you to try to explain. If, however, you stay silent, then I’m going to leave and not return.’

Finally the Buddha replied, saying gently but firmly that these are simply not issues to which the Buddha speaks. ‘What I address is human suffering and liberation from this suffering,’ he said. ‘Nobody asked you to come here, and you are always free to leave.’

This tale was recounted to me by Abhay Ashtekar, a physicist at Pennsylvania State University who, over the past two decades, has delved deeply into meditative Buddhist philosophy. In tandem, however, he has investigated precisely those puzzles about the origins of the Universe and the nature of time that the Buddha deemed irrelevant. Unlike the Buddha, Ashtekar sees profound resonances between his spiritual quest and his scientific one. Though his theories of the early Universe are not directly based on Buddhist concepts, Ashtekar has inadvertently uncovered some surprising similarities, both in the methods of his scientific and spiritual practice and in some of the answers that they can offer about the nature of physical reality.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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Instagram’s Wannabe-Stars Are Driving Luxury Hotels Crazy

Jack Bedwani, who runs The Projects, a brand consulting agency that works with several top hospitality brands, said that he’s close with the PR manager for a new hotel and day club in Bali. “They get five to 20 direct inquiries a day from self-titled influencers,” he said. “The net is so wide, and the term ‘influencer’ is so loose.”

“You can sort the amateurs from the pros very quickly,” Bedwani said.“The vast majority of cold-call approaches are really badly written. It sounds like when you’re texting a friend inviting yourself over for dinner—it’s that colloquial. They don’t give reasons why anyone should invest in having them as a guest.”

Some hotels report being so overwhelmed by influencer requests that they’ve simply opted out. In January, a luxury boutique hotel in Ireland made headlines for banning all YouTubers and Instagram stars after a 22-year-old requested a free five-night stay in exchange for exposure.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Major Quantum Computing Advance Made Obsolete By Teenager

In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A teenager from Texas has taken quantum computing down a notch. In a paper posted online earlier this month, 18-year-old Ewin Tang proved that ordinary computers can solve an important computing problem with performance potentially comparable to that of a quantum computer.

In its most practical form, the “recommendation problem” relates to how services like Amazon and Netflix determine which products you might like to try. Computer scientists had considered it to be one of the best examples of a problem that’s exponentially faster to solve on quantum computers — making it an important validation of the power of these futuristic machines. Now Tang has stripped that validation away.

“This was one of the most definitive examples of a quantum speedup, and it’s no longer there,” said Tang, who graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, in spring and will begin a Ph.D. at the University of Washington in the fall.

In 2014, at age 14 and after skipping the fourth through sixth grades, Tang enrolled at UT Austin and majored in mathematics and computer science. In the spring of 2017 Tang took a class on quantum information taught by Scott Aaronson, a prominent researcher in quantum computing. Aaronson recognized Tang as an unusually talented student and offered himself as adviser on an independent research project. Aaronson gave Tang a handful of problems to choose from, including the recommendation problem. Tang chose it somewhat reluctantly.

“I was hesitant because it seemed like a hard problem when I looked at it, but it was the easiest of the problems he gave me,” Tang said.

Read the rest of this article at: Quanta Magazine

In the News 08.03.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Denialism: What Drives People To Reject The Truth

We are all in denial, some of the time at least. Part of being human, and living in a society with other humans, is finding clever ways to express – and conceal – our feelings. From the most sophisticated diplomatic language to the baldest lie, humans find ways to deceive. Deceptions are not necessarily malign; at some level they are vital if humans are to live together with civility. As Richard Sennett has argued: “In practising social civility, you keep silent about things you know clearly but which you should not and do not say.”

Just as we can suppress some aspects of ourselves in our self-presentation to others, so we can do the same to ourselves in acknowledging or not acknowledging what we desire. Most of the time, we spare ourselves from the torture of recognising our baser yearnings. But when does this necessary private self-deception become harmful? When it becomes public dogma. In other words: when it becomes denialism.

Denialism is an expansion, an intensification, of denial. At root, denial and denialism are simply a subset of the many ways humans have developed to use language to deceive others and themselves. Denial can be as simple as refusing to accept that someone else is speaking truthfully. Denial can be as unfathomable as the multiple ways we avoid acknowledging our weaknesses and secret desires.

Denialism is more than just another manifestation of the humdrum intricacies of our deceptions and self-deceptions. It represents the transformation of the everyday practice of denial into a whole new way of seeing the world and – most important – a collective accomplishment. Denial is furtive and routine; denialism is combative and extraordinary. Denial hides from the truth, denialism builds a new and better truth.

In recent years, the term has been used to describe a number of fields of “scholarship”, whose scholars engage in audacious projects to hold back, against seemingly insurmountable odds, the findings of an avalanche of research. They argue that the Holocaust (and other genocides) never happened, that anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is a myth, that Aids either does not exist or is unrelated to HIV, that evolution is a scientific impossibility, and that all manner of other scientific and historical orthodoxies must be rejected.

In some ways, denialism is a terrible term. No one calls themselves a “denialist”, and no one signs up to all forms of denialism. In fact, denialism is founded on the assertion that it is not denialism. In the wake of Freud (or at least the vulgarisation of Freud), no one wants to be accused of being “in denial”, and labelling people denialists seems to compound the insult by implying that they have taken the private sickness of denial and turned it into public dogma.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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