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News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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The loneliness epidemic, in this sense, is rather like the obesity epidemic. Evolutionarily speaking, panicking while being alone, like finding high-calorie foods irresistible, is highly adaptive, but, more recently, in a world where laws (mostly) prevent us from killing one another, we need to work with strangers every day, and the problem is more likely to be too much high-calorie food rather than too little. These drives backfire.

Loneliness, Murthy argues, lies behind a host of problems—anxiety, violence, trauma, crime, suicide, depression, political apathy, and even political polarization. Murthy writes with compassion, but his everything-can-be-reduced-to-loneliness argument is hard to swallow, not least because much of what he has to say about loneliness was said about homelessness in the nineteen-eighties, when “homelessness” was the vogue term—a word somehow easier to say than “poverty”—and saying it didn’t help. (Since then, the number of homeless Americans has increased.) Curiously, Murthy often conflates the two, explaining loneliness as feeling homeless. To belong is to feel at home. “To be at home is to be known,” he writes. Home can be anywhere. Human societies are so intricate that people have meaningful, intimate ties of all kinds, with all sorts of groups of other people, even across distances. You can feel at home with friends, or at work, or in a college dining hall, or at church, or in Yankee Stadium, or at your neighborhood bar. Loneliness is the feeling that no place is home. “In community after community,” Murthy writes, “I met lonely people who felt homeless even though they had a roof over their heads.” Maybe what people experiencing loneliness and people experiencing homelessness both need are homes with other humans who love them and need them, and to know they are needed by them in societies that care about them. That’s not a policy agenda. That’s an indictment of modern life.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Everything feels new, unbelievable, overwhelming. At the same time, it feels as if we’ve walked into an old recurring dream. In a way, we have. We’ve seen it before, on TV and in blockbusters. We knew roughly what it would be like, and somehow this makes the encounter not less strange, but more so.

Every day brings news of developments that, as recently as February, would have felt impossible – the work of years, not mere days. We refresh the news not because of a civic sense that following the news is important, but because so much may have happened since the last refresh. These developments are coming so fast that it’s hard to remember just how radical they are.

Cast your mind back a few weeks and imagine someone telling you the following: within a month, schools will be closed. Almost all public gatherings will be cancelled. Hundreds of millions of people around the world will be out of work. Governments will be throwing together some of the largest economic stimulus packages in history. In certain places, landlords will not be collecting rent, or banks collecting mortgage payments, and the homeless will be allowed to stay in hotels free of charge. Experiments will be underway in the direct government provision of basic income. Large swathes of the world will be collaborating – with various degrees of coercion and nudging – on a shared project of keeping at least two metres between each other whenever possible. Would you have believed what you were hearing?

It’s not just the size and speed of what is happening that’s dizzying. It’s the fact that we have grown accustomed to hearing that democracies are incapable of making big moves like this quickly, or at all. But here we are. Any glance at history reveals that crises and disasters have continually set the stage for change, often for the better. The global flu epidemic of 1918 helped create national health services in many European countries. The twinned crises of the Great Depression and the second world war set the stage for the modern welfare state.

But crises can also send societies down darker paths. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, government surveillance of citizens exploded, while George W Bush launched new wars that stretched into indefinite occupations. (As I write this, the US military’s current attempt at reducing its troop presence in Afghanistan, 19 years after the invasion, is being slowed by coronavirus-related complications.) Another recent crisis, the 2008 financial crash, was resolved in a way that meant banks and financial institutions were restored to pre-crash normality, at great public cost, while government spending on public services across the world was slashed.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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Alison Roman arrived before we needed her — which is a minor piece of luck, in the grand scheme of things, but not nothing. Dining In came out in October 2017, or two and a half years before dining in became a public-health requirement in America’s major metropolitan areas.

Roman’s second cookbook, Nothing Fancy, appeared last year and followed Dining In onto best-seller lists. Between book releases, she joined the New York Times as a food columnist; the email announcing her column bore the subject line “Alison Roman! Alison Roman!” As the country weathers a pandemic, as grocery shopping becomes careful provisioning, as Roman’s hearty stews and pantry-staple pastas fortify her countless fans, she has achieved a new level of culinary success: She has become the domestic goddess of the apocalypse.

Roman was a star before, of course. But she was the kind of star who inspired enthusiasm tempered at times by a certain mild ambivalence — a slight defensiveness, a little self-deprecating shrug. Part of this was just reluctance about jumping on a bandwagon. To peruse the Alison Roman oeuvre is to feel abject in your dumb, recognizable desires: for casual abundance amid beer cans, beach blankets, and burned candles; for indulgent meals in some fantasy Brooklyn-L.A. It is sometimes somewhat unpleasant to sense that somebody has your number so exactly. At the grocery store, in line with your preserved lemons, you knew you were a cliché. Still, assuming you were willing to suck it up and admit you were just like everyone else you knew, the reward was some very tasty pasta (or artichokes, or lamb stew).

Read the rest of this article at: The Cut

News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

At 17, John Humphrey Noyes thought a lot about women. An awkward teenager with a gangly neck and slouching shoulders, he fretted over how good looks were the key to success, especially when pursuing women. And he was shy. ‘So unreasonable and excessive is my bashfulness,’ he wrote in his journal, ‘that I fully believe that I could face a battery of cannon with less trepidation than I could a room full of ladies with whom I was unacquainted.’ Little did he know that he would go on to have sex with dozens of women, fathering children with at least nine in a ten-year period.

Noyes was born in 1811. His father was a Congressman for Vermont. His mother worked to instil in her son a religious reverence, hoping that he would become a ‘minister of the Everlasting Gospel’. In 1831, her wish seemed likely to come true. Noyes, then 20, announced that he would devote himself to the service of God’s truth, and entered a seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. Rather than accepting his teachers’ doctrine, however, he became consumed with the revivalist furore sweeping the northeast like a prairie fire. He left Andover for Yale University and started an uproar when he began preaching Perfectionism, the heretical notion that a religious life must be free of sin. Argumentative and charismatic, Noyes became a local celebrity and attracted small crowds of supporters, opponents and gawkers.

It was around this time that Noyes met Abigail Merwin. He was 22; she was 30. It’s hard to find details about Merwin, other than that she was smart, beautiful and modest, and had dark-grey eyes. Many of Noyes’s descriptions of her are saturated with ecstatic religious imagery. During a period when he stopped eating and sleeping and instead wandered manic through the streets of lower Manhattan, he envisioned her ‘standing, as it were, on the pinnacle of the universe, in the glory of an angel’ (although, in his mania, he wondered whether she was actually the devil incarnate).

Merwin was Noyes’s first follower, and he loved her. In his Confessions of Religious Experience (1849), he admitted that ‘she was undoubtedly the person to whom I was attached more than any other person on earth’. He was drawn to her beauty, modesty and boldness but, just as importantly, he drew inspiration from her company. ‘Abigail Merwin was my first companion in the faith of holiness,’ he wrote. ‘It was natural that I should regard her with peculiar interest and confidence.’

Noyes’s instability eventually scared off Merwin. After his manic spell in New York, she deserted him and Perfectionism. Her father later told Noyes to keep away. Yet when Merwin announced her engagement to a man named Merit Platt, Noyes sent her a letter. ‘I loved you as I never loved another,’ he declared, confessing that ‘the thought of marriage was unavoidable’. Sure, she was engaged, but that didn’t bother Noyes. He was convinced that they were joined in divine matrimony: ‘God shall make you know that he has joined us in an immortal marriage, and that what God hath joined together man can not put asunder.’

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 04.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The night of December 18, 2004, began as an ordinary evening for Blair Cobbs’s father, Eugene. At 33, the elder Cobbs was already a seasoned veteran of the drug trafficking trade. He was flying solo to his hometown of Philadelphia, having taken off from Compton Airport near Los Angeles. After a quick fuel-up in Missouri, it was somewhere over West Virginia that things began to go bad for the self-taught pilot. He was flying above a snowy, wooded landscape when mechanical problems compelled him to scramble for the nearest landing strip. He was forced to attempt an emergency touchdown at the Wheeling Ohio County Airport. It was going to be a tricky landing, as the tower was closed and lighting was limited.

Eugene descended late, missed the runway, and skidded on the ramp, before regaining altitude and hurtling into a ravine in the woods surrounding the airport. Miraculously, he exited the aircraft basically uninjured, save a minor head wound. But he had little time to linger. It’s unknown whether he turned to consider the plane’s $24 million haul of cocaine, but what he did do was flee through the woods, leaving it all behind.

When he came to a road near the airport entrance, he flagged down the first driver he saw. He waved a wad of $100 bills and asked for a ride. The driver said that Eugene, who asked where exactly he was, had a gash on his head.

Airport officials would not discover the wreckage until early the next morning, when a worker on a routine field check noticed that a section of the eight-foot perimeter fence near runway 21 was damaged. The plane was then spotted, and proper authorities and responders were dispatched. Airport manager Thomas Tominack’s initial reaction was that the pilot was lucky to have survived, as portions of the aircraft, including a detached wing, were strewn throughout the vicinity. “The survival rate at that particular crash scene would have been very, very, low,” Tominack says. “It was a bad crash.” He notes that the plane didn’t even land at the airport, but rather bounced off the ramp before hitting the top of the fence and landing in a ravine amid a patch of what locals call “tanglefoot.”

The second thought responders had was that there sure was a hell of a lot of cocaine on board. “I know one thing,” Sheriff Bernie Kazienko told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “it was the most dope I’d ever seen.” Indeed, it was the largest drug seizure ever in West Virginia at the time, with 525 pounds inside the airplane. According to the Northern District of West Virginia’s District Attorney’s Office, investigators “uncovered numerous packages of cocaine wrapped in various forms, including duct tape, saran wrap, vacuum sealed bags, and even as Christmas presents.” Photographs were taken of the tall stacks of cocaine. Longtime West Virginia lawman Richard Ferguson recounts that “it was like after somebody killed a large bear or something,” with everyone wanting their turn to pose with the evidence.

Read the rest of this article at: Narratively

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

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