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In the News 06.07.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 06.07.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
Photo by Emily Faulstich

Last May, Robert Frank, the world’s pre­eminent living photographer, returned to Zurich, the orderly Swiss banking city, cosseted by lake and mountain, where he grew up. When an artist who made his reputation by leaving returns home, mixed feelings are inevitable, and that was especially true for Frank, whose iconic American pictures are notable for their deep understanding of human complication. ‘‘I know this town, but I certainly feel like a stranger here,’’ he said.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

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It’s April in the outback of New South Wales, a southeastern state of Australia, and the afternoon sun is warming the red, sandy, and scrubby plains. We’re near the desolate area where The Road Warrior was filmed. But the movie got it wrong. The real fight around here is not for oil. It’s for water.

“You’re under five meters of water right now,” Barry Philp says. “Hard to imagine, isn’t it?” I look through the windshield of his pickup. The sky is blue and empty and the land is dead flat.

We’re rattling along the gray clay bottom of Lake Menindee, several miles from its shore. Three years ago the lake was full. Together with surrounding lakes, it held five times the water in Sydney Harbor. Rainfall in the past three years is tracking lower than the worst on record. The lakebed is now bone dry.

Philp, a solid man in his late 40s, manages the Menindee Lakes system. The system was built in the 1950s to secure a water supply for the mining town of Broken Hill, 70 miles northwest. It diverts water from the nearby Darling River, storing it in plains and lakes that previously filled only in floods. For the second time this century, it’s on the point of failure.

This past December, government officials estimated Broken Hill, population 18,000, would run out of water in August. Amid news about coming droughts around the world, and record temperatures forecast to get even hotter, I’ve come to an iconic Australian town to see how it’s reached the brink of running dry.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

Much of what makes the world and our lives interesting is being eliminated, according to Crawford, by the notion that freedom means maximization of choices. We have unduly fetishized the notion that liberty means living in a way in which no person or institution tells us what to do. However important this idea might have been in the eighteenth century, Crawford thinks that we have gone too far in demanding that choices not be made for us, ever, not just by kings but by anyone or anything, including our technologies. He manages to find subtle signs of the effects of this philosophy everywhere, such as the contemporary tendency to demand a sort of genial blandness in any shared environment. He is tortured, for example, by a university gym that plays Muzak; the attendant tells him it is to avoid “imposing a choice” on anyone. That, to him, is insipidness posing as freedom.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

lf a century ago, astronomers got their first look at the infant universe: a haze of soft light that suffused the entire sky. This cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation seemed to indicate that the early cosmos was remarkably uniform — a hot, dense fireball that expanded and cooled over the next 14 billion years. It was the world’s first beacon from the Big Bang.

Read the rest of the article at Quanta Magazine

It takes just five words to understand what Paul Marciano once envisioned for Guess , Inc. and the dominating control he and his brothers have exerted on it. Scrawled in a looping, cursive script and lit up like a neon bar sign, the quintet hangs on the first-floor wall of Guess’ Los Angeles headquarters opposite supersize images of its iconic, nearly nude models: The World Is Our Field. “It’s my handwriting,” says Paul Marciano, Guess’ 63-year-old cofounder, chief executive and vice chairman, underscoring the point. “All of this is my handwriting.”

Technically, Guess went public in 1996. As far as control goes, though, it remains as much a family-run company–family-dominated, really–as when it was founded in 1981. Mercurial, obsessive and opinionated, Paul and his siblings, Maurice, Georges and Armand, erected a denim empire by imposing their will on everything: the jeans (tighter, lighter and more stylish), the marketing (the iconic and voluptuous Guess Girls, most notably Anna Nicole Smith, who turned a workman’s staple into a garment as seductive as lingerie) and, yes, even the glowing lettering in the headquarters.

Read the rest of this story at Forbes

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