News 04.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 04.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.04.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Lost History of One of the World’s Strangest Science Experiments

Before dawn on April 4, 1994, Abigail Alling and Mark Van Thillo slipped across the foothills of Arizona’s Santa Catalina Mountains. They made their way to a looming monument of geodesic domes and pyramids known as Biosphere 2. The three-acre complex contained a miniature rain forest, a mangrove, a desert and a coral reef — along with seven people who had been sealed inside for a month.

Ms. Alling and Mr. Van Thillo had recently emerged from a two-year stay in Biosphere 2. Later, after they were arrested, they told reporters that they feared for the safety of the people inside. They were determined to bring the mission to an end.

They pulled open five of Biosphere 2’s doors and broke their seals. As outdoor air rushed in, they made their way to the ventilation system, where they smashed some glass panels.

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

How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire Of Influence Remade The World

News 04.01.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Rupert Murdoch was lying on the floor of his cabin, unable to move. It was January 2018, and Murdoch and his fourth wife, Jerry Hall, were spending the holidays cruising the Caribbean on his elder son Lachlan’s yacht. Lachlan had personally overseen the design of the 140-foot sloop — named Sarissa after a long and especially dangerous spear used by the armies of ancient Macedonia — ensuring that it would be suitable for family vacations while also remaining competitive in superyacht regattas. The cockpit could be transformed into a swimming pool. The ceiling in the children’s cabin became an illuminated facsimile of the nighttime sky, with separate switches for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. A detachable board for practicing rock climbing, a passion of Lachlan’s, could be set up on the deck. But it was not the easiest environment for an 86-year-old man to negotiate. Murdoch tripped on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Murdoch had fallen a couple of other times in recent years, once on the stairs while exiting a stage, another time on a carpet in a San Francisco hotel. The family prevented word from getting out on both occasions, but the incidents were concerning. This one seemed far more serious. Murdoch was stretchered off the Sarissa and flown to a hospital in Los Angeles. The doctors quickly spotted broken vertebrae, which required immediate surgery, as well as a spinal hematoma, increasing the risk of paralysis or even death. Hall called his adult children in a panic, urging them to come to California prepared to make peace with their father.

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

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Inside the Mind of a Hurricane Chaser

Around 7 A.M. on September 20, 2017, the wind has become a roaring white wall. In his hotel room, Josh Morgerman presses his hand flat against the trembling glass of the patio door. He’s filming, and his left hand appears in the shot, heavy with the skull-shaped biker ring he bought on the Sunset Strip and the pinky ring he had made in the shape of his brand logo—a lowercase i over the meteorological symbol for a cyclone. The glass flutters under his palm.

Outside, Hurricane Maria churns over Humacao, Puerto Rico, nearly a Category 5 storm, winds moving at the speed of a jet at takeoff. He feels the familiar gut clench of fear: primal, perfect.

An older woman, a young woman, and a boy are huddled inside his bathroom. Strangers. The windows in their room exploded hours ago, and they took shelter here. Morgerman’s camera flicks back and forth between their grim faces and the chaos outside. He’s narrating, handing them pillows: “I always say the bathroom’s the best place to be during the really bad winds.” They look as if they’re at a funeral. He sounds like he’s at a birthday party. The wind rattles the glass.

Read the rest of this article at: Outside

News 04.01.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Corporations Devouring American Colleges

News 04.01.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

If there’s one thing you can count on in these uncertain times, it’s that the cost of college will rise—and then rise some more. Almost every year, whether the economy is in a state of boom or bust, tuition hits a record high. But why? Is it really twice as expensive to provide a degree as it was 20 years ago? Colleges go to absurd and extraordinary lengths to avoid answering this question, reporting their financials in a way that deliberately obscures how much money different units spend and make. They don’t even like to use the word “profits,” preferring euphemisms like “surplus.” If nobody knows how much your degree really costs to run, then nobody can accuse you of charging too much, which is an excellent strategy for charging too much.

One of the very few prestigious colleges that has attempted to create an affordable online degree is the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2014, its college of computing created an online master’s with the radical objective of charging the lowest tuition possible. Charles Isbell, a Georgia Tech dean, says he saw the effort as part of the university’s mission of public service. Udacity, an online education provider, helped design the program. AT&T chipped in a $4 million gift for startup costs. Georgia Tech sets a price that allows it to break even—currently, $6,600.

To understand just how jaw-droppingly low this figure is, consider that Georgia Tech has the eighth-ranked computer science department in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Here are the prices for similar online degrees, along with the department’s ranking:

Read the rest of this article at: Huff Post

The Challenge of Going Off Psychiatric Drugs

News 04.01.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Laura Delano recognized that she was “excellent at everything, but it didn’t mean anything,” her doctor wrote. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the wealthiest communities in the country. Her father is related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and her mother was introduced to society at a débutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. In eighth grade, in 1996, Laura was the class president—she ran on a platform of planting daffodils on the school’s grounds—and among the best squash players in the country. She was one of those rare proportional adolescents with a thriving social life. But she doubted whether she had a “real self underneath.”

The oldest of three sisters, Laura felt as if she were living two separate lives, one onstage and the other in the audience, reacting to an exhausting performance. She snapped at her mother, locked herself in her room, and talked about wanting to die. She had friends at school who cut themselves with razors, and she was intrigued by what seemed to be an act of defiance. She tried it, too. “The pain felt so real and raw and mine,” she said.

Her parents took her to a family therapist, who, after several months, referred her to a psychiatrist. Laura was given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and prescribed Depakote, a mood stabilizer that, the previous year, had been approved for treating bipolar patients. She hid the pills in a jewelry box in her closet and then washed them down the sink.

She hoped that she might discover a more authentic version of herself at Harvard, where she arrived as a freshman in 2001. Her roommate, Bree Tse, said, “Laura just blew me away—she was this golden girl, so vibrant and attentive and in tune with people.” On her first day at Harvard, Laura wandered the campus and thought, This is everything I’ve been working for. I’m finally here.

She tried out new identities. Sometimes she fashioned herself as a “fun, down-to-earth girl” who drank until early morning with boys who considered her chill. Other times, she was a postmodern nihilist, deconstructing the arbitrariness of language. “I remember talking with her a lot about surfaces,” a classmate, Patrick Bensen, said. “That was a recurring theme: whether the surface of people can ever harmonize with what’s inside their minds.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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

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