What is this CAT Reading List?
This CAT Reading list is created by me, as a result of spending several thousand hours in reading thousands of articles and picking articles that can help a CAT Aspirant in VARC Preparation for CAT, and has about 400+ articles in this collection. Most of the articles in this list are going to be much longer than your passage that appears in CAT. It is done intentionally to help one retain the understanding from reading an article and not facts. It is a collection of all articles I have shared across since 2018 on a daily basis. This will also get updated as and when I post new articles. We are also planning to have a weekly list of articles.
How to Make use of CAT Reading List?
Bookmark this CAT Reading List page. (press ctrl + D if on a PC, or press the star on the right of the url bar, if on chrome either on mobile or pc). Keep coming back to it on a daily basis. Reading everyday helps tremendously in your CAT Preparation in two ways to start with:
1. Your VARC Prep takes care of itself.
2. You get more time to spend on Quantitative Aptitude and DI LR Sections.
This page provides you with meticulously curated articles to improve your English Comprehension, especially if you are preparing for Management entrance exams such as CAT, XAT, IIFT etc.
Find articles classified broadly under 6 different major categories. Click on the Category button to view collection of hand picked articles under that category. You can also scroll down to find recent articles from each category listed under tabs.
Reading List – This Week
Reading list from 4th Week of Sep! In case you have missed any of the articles from last week, check out this post! Read on to Nail CAT VARC!
Categories listed are:
- Technology, Industry and Science (part 1 50+ articles | part 2 60+ articles)
- Psychology and Philosophy (part 1 48 articles | part 2 40+ articles)
- Humans and Culture (part 1 60+ articles| part 2 60+ articles)
- Politics, Law and Crime (part 1 50+ articles| part 2 20+ articles )
- Economy and Business (part 1 20+ articles)
- Fiction and Others (part 1 8 articles)
- Technology Industry Science
- Psychology & Philosophy
- Humans Culture
- Politics Law Crime
- Economy Business
- Fiction Others
This post contains loads of articles categorised under Technology, Industry and Science. These are handpicked articles over the course of years for CAT Aspirants. This is the last of 2 posts. Click on the following link to go to the previous post: LINK here.
Every Article will have blurb, either written by me or an extract from the original post (mostly the latter) followed by the link to reach the article.
“For Math Fans: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Number 42
Here is how a perfectly ordinary number captured the interest of sci-fi enthusiasts, geeks and mathematicians”
“Coffee Rust Is Going to Ruin Your Morning
Coffee plants were supposed to be safe on this side of the Atlantic. But the fungus found them.”
“Pharma Companies Argue That Lower Drug Prices Would Mean Fewer Breakthrough Drugs. Is That True?”
“‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism
Shoshana Zuboff’s new book is a chilling exposé of the business model that underpins the digital world. Observer tech columnist John Naughton explains the importance of Zuboff’s work and asks the author 10 key questions”
“Why Guerrilla Games stubbornly built its amazing game engine from scratch
Meet Decima, the engine that birthed several of your beloved games”
In continuation from yesterday’s article, we go one step back and look at how GPT-2 worked.
“How this A.I became a communist
This A.I was able to change his understanding of life after reading communist books.”
“A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?
We asked GPT-3, OpenAI’s powerful new language generator, to write an essay for us from scratch. The assignment? To convince us robots come in peace”
“Catastrophes and calms Evolution is extraordinarily creative in the wake of a cataclysm. How does life keep steadily ticking over in between?”
“How a Tiny Bacterium Called Wolbachia Could Defeat Dengue Scientists are immunizing mosquitoes against disease with the help of a common microbe”
“The Life-Saving Car Technology No One Wants Safety features that would make vehicles far less lethal to pedestrians exist right now. Why aren’t they required?”
“Extra DNA May Make Unlikely Hybrid Fish Possible The unintentional creation of “sturddlefish” hybrids may illuminate the genomic mechanisms that govern whether species can interbreed.”
“Mathematicians Will Never Stop Proving the Prime Number Theorem
Why do mathematicians enjoy proving the same results in different ways?”
“My Pacemaker Is Tracking Me From Inside My Body
Cloud-connected medical devices save lives, but also raise questions about privacy, security, and oversight. An Object Lesson.”
“Android Phones Might Be More Secure Than iPhones Now
What the market for zero-day exploits tells us about our phones”
“The Brave New World of Chemical Romance
How love drugs will shape the future of our relationships.”
“How to safely reopen offices, schools and other public spaces while keeping people six feet apart comes down to a question mathematicians have been studying for centuries.”
“You Can’t Kill the Bloomberg Terminal. But If You Were Going to Try, Here’s How. Bloomberg is one of the best software companies in history, so good luck and best wishes”
Brilliant experiential writing on Youtube algorithm form a Individual POV.
“See Zeynep Tufekci, in the New York Times: “Given its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.” And Kevin Roose’s extraordinary front-page Times article “The Making of a YouTube Radical.””
“What Happened When I Switched From Mac to Windows
Fed up with the rising cost and declining quality of Apple laptops, I migrated to Microsoft. It has been both a total joy and a complete pain in the neck.”
“How a Defense of Christianity Revolutionized Brain Science”
The Walkman, Forty Years On
The gadget that taught the world to socially distance.”
“The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates
Hospitals and pharmacies are required to toss expired drugs, no matter how expensive or vital. Meanwhile the FDA has long known that many remain safe and potent for years longer.”
“What’s wrong with WhatsApp
As social media has become more inhospitable, the appeal of private online groups has grown. But they hold their own dangers – to those both inside and out.”
Brilliant longform article!
“Move Mirror: An AI Experiment with Pose Estimation in the Browser using TensorFlow.js
Pose estimation, or the ability to detect humans and their poses from image data, is one of the most exciting — and most difficult — topics in machine learning and computer vision. Recently, Google shared PoseNet: a state-of-the-art pose estimation model that provides highly accurate pose data from image data. This is the story of the experiment that prompted us to create this pose estimation library for the web in the first place.” https://bit.ly/2AgO0X4
“The rating game: how Uber and its peers turned us into horrible bosses.
Soon, you’ll be able to go to the Olive Garden and order your fettuccine alfredo from a tablet mounted to the table. After paying, you’ll rate the server. Then you can use that tablet to hail an…”
“Apple Just Crippled IDFA, Sending An $80 Billion Industry Into Upheaval”
“A Deadly Mosquito-Borne Illness Is Brewing in the Northeast
EEE kills almost half of its victims, and cases are on the rise”
“Each night I lay in my bed beside my boyfriend with one eye closed against the pillow and with the other, wheeled down Instagram’s infinite scroll. Each morning, I woke up to my phone alarm and rolled over to tap it off and, if I had time, looked at Instagram while still half-asleep. I easily spent an hour on it a day – in bed, on the subway or at my desk during lunch. Compared with the hours I spent elsewhere on the internet, it felt like nothing.”
“How Time Is Encoded in Memories
Rats and equations help researchers develop a theory of how our brains keep track of when events took place.”
“In March 2017, Loeb caused a media frenzy by suggesting that FRBs could actually be of alien origin – solar-powered radio transmitters that might be interstellar light sails pushing huge spaceships across galaxies.”
“In his first year at university, Li was extremely shy. He came up with a personal algorithm for making friends in the canteen, weighing data on group size and conversation topic to optimise the chances of a positive encounter. The method helped him to make friends, so he developed others: how to master English, how to interpret dreams, how to find a girlfriend. While other students spent the long nights studying, Li started to think about how he could apply his algorithmic approach to business. When he graduated at the turn of the millennium, he decided that he would make his fortune in the field he knew best: education.”
“Two weeks back, Zoho Corporation sued Freshworks for copying its trade secrets. I wrote a report on comparing the two businesses during my MBA as part of a course requirement. In the wake of recent developments, I believe it will be an interesting read: attaching below, a version of the essay.”
“As my colleagues Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer have reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed and distributed a faulty test in February. Independent labs created alternatives, but were mired in bureaucracy from the FDA. In a crucial month when the American caseload shot into the tens of thousands, only hundreds of people were tested. That a biomedical powerhouse like the U.S. should so thoroughly fail to create a very simple diagnostic test was, quite literally, unimaginable. “I’m not aware of any simulations that I or others have run where we [considered] a failure of testing,” says Alexandra Phelan of Georgetown University, who works on legal and policy issues related to infectious diseases.”
“What if I open a program (an Internet-browsing “app,” say), swipe it away, and then open it again? If that program is already running, the system will bring that program to the front again—but shouldn’t I know whether it’s maximizing an already-opened program, or starting it anew? And what if I want to open a second instance of that program instead? These operating systems treat us like we’re children, and I don’t appreciate it.”
“So why is the fatality rate close to 4%?
If 5% of your cases require intensive care and you can’t provide it, most of those people die. As simple as that.”
“If you’re wondering whether it’s an overreaction to cancel large gatherings and public events (and I love basketball), here’s a useful primer as to why these measures can slow the spread of the virus and save lives. We have to look out for each other. – Barack Obama”
“Hospitals filled with Covid-19 patients won’t just strain to care for those patients — doctors may also have to prioritize them over others. “Right now there’s always a doctor available when you need one, but that may not be the case if we’re not careful,” Landon said.”
“Today, China uses almost half the world’s concrete. The property sector – roads, bridges, railways, urban development and other cement-and-steel projects – accounted for a third of its economy’s expansion in 2017. Every major city has a floor-sized scale model of urban development plans that has to be constantly updated as small white plastic models are turned into mega-malls, housing complexes and concrete towers.”
““Cancer,” Bryson reports, “is above all an age thing. Between birth and the age of forty, men have a just one in seventy-one chance of getting cancer and women one in fifty-one, but over sixty the odds [rise] to one in three for men and one in four for women.” With cancer come the complications of radiation and the nightmare of chemotherapy. At what age does one decide to forego treatment and give up the ghost? A gastroenterologist I used to see on occasion showed me a letter one day from a patient, a man of seventy-one, who had decided to forgo any efforts to stave off his recently discovered stomach cancer, preferring death to treatment. He had, he wrote in the letter, “had enough of life.””
“Brain decoding took off about a decade ago1, when neuroscientists realized that there was a lot of untapped information in the brain scans they were producing using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). That technique measures brain activity by identifying areas that are being fed oxygenated blood, which light up as coloured blobs in the scans. To analyse activity patterns, the brain is segmented into little boxes called voxels — the three-dimensional equivalent of pixels — and researchers typically look to see which voxels respond most strongly to a stimulus, such as seeing a face. By discarding data from the voxels that respond weakly, they conclude which areas are processing faces.”
“Winston discovered he had millions of Chinese fans who had never even been on YouTube. He was constantly approached by Chinese fans explaining that they saw his videos on Chinese streaming sites. “This is how China works,” says Winston, “they take your property and make it their own.” Even fewer Westerners are on Chinese social media than Chinese are on Western social media so there is little chance of thieves ever being discovered and, while intellectual property and creative content theft is common in China, the theft is always going towards China, not away.”
“How does it know? There are no dials and settings on the Pot. As far as you can tell, there is only a heating element beneath. There doesn’t look like room for anything else to hide. How does the Pot know how long to cook the rice? It is a mystery of the Orient. Don’t ask questions you don’t need the answers to. The point here is to save you some time and money. If you want gourmet cooking, you aren’t going to learn about it here.”
“His only hope of seeing his father resurrected is to live to see the Singularity — the moment when computing power reaches an “intelligence explosion.” At this point, according to transhumanists such as Kurzweil, people who are merged with this technology will undergo a radical transformation. They will become posthuman: immortal, limitless, changed beyond recognition. Kurzweil predicts this will happen by the year 2045. Unlike his father, he, along with those of us who are lucky enough to survive into the middle of this century, will achieve immortality without ever tasting death.”
“Amazon “generates meager profits,” electing to keep prices low while “choosing to expand at a speed and scale that is pushing it into the red,” she writes. It has risen to become the world’s second most valuable firm, worth about $1 trillion, because it is “at the center of e-commerce” and owns “essential infrastructure for a host of other businesses that depend upon it.””
“It doesn’t matter that its shatterproof windows aren’t very shatterproof at all, or that, based on its design, the Cybertruck sucks at being an actual truck. Seemingly, the Cybertruck is a physical manifestation of Musk’s hubris: He’s built a fandom of nerds so vast and so wealthy, he believes he can sell them a $40,000 truck that looks like an extra from the video game Twisted Metal.”
“The flavor industry is highly secretive. Its leading companies will not divulge the precise formulas of flavor compounds or the identities of clients. The secrecy is deemed essential for protecting the reputations of beloved brands. The fast-food chains, understandably, would like the public to believe that the flavors of the food they sell somehow originate in their restaurant kitchens, not in distant factories run by other firms. A McDonald’s french fry is one of countless foods whose flavor is just a component in a complex manufacturing process. The look and the taste of what we eat now are frequently deceiving — by design.”
“A popular trope about Silicon Valley involves its skill of regurgitation. Its companies vie to replace public services or brick-and-mortar businesses, after deeming these business models inefficient. Then they dress up those same models and spit them back out as their own revenue plans. In 2017, Lyft rolled out Shuttle, where commuters wait at designated locations to share rides: a bus service. MakeSpace raised millions of dollars for its product: “Cloud storage for physical stuff” – or storage lockers. Apple’s human curators of news are editors. WeLive’s co-living spaces are hostels and dorms. Uber Health is the ambulance.”
“The Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program, founded in 2007, took a two-pronged approach, pairing novice speakers with older speakers who were fluent in the Chickasaw language, and using technology to reach a wider audience. Language learners were paired with expert speakers in a master/apprentice program for immersive lessons that lasted several hours a day, five days a week. Hinson credits his ability to learn so much of the language in just a few years to this type of approach and to his own dogged determination. Under Hinson’s direction, the tribe also built an online television network with six different channels that include language lessons, cultural events, and oral histories.”
“Ian Malcolm’s web page stayed up for several months. Stu-Bot would periodically replace the old paper titles with sometimes plausible (and often hilarious) new ones. I don’t know how many people came across this site and actually believed it was real. When the higher-ups at SFI finally got wind of it, they declared it inappropriate and quickly shut down the site.”
“A visit to Chatroulette usually begins with a few rushed clicks of the “Next” button, either out of a sense of danger—do you really want to engage with that empty-eyed guy lounging in bed?—or out of curiosity about what’s around the corner. The majority of Chatroulette users are male and under thirty-five, and many of them are trolling for girls, so they “next” each other at barbaric rates. When you do decide to stop and engage, things can get a little awkward. On one of my first Chatrouletting attempts, I found myself talking to a man from Lyons, who had muted the sound. We watched each other typing and reacting to the words that scrolled next to our images, co-stars in a postmodern silent film.”
“With its cheap geothermal energy and low crime rate, Iceland has become the world’s leading miner of digital currency. Then the crypto-crooks showed up.”
“She hadn’t had much Airbnb experience when she and her daughter decided to book a place in Marina del Rey, California, this past spring, she said. But as a criminal defense attorney, she figured she had a pretty good barometer for bullshit.Just before check-in, Patterson had gotten a call that was almost exactly the same as the one I had received. The man on the other end of the line said that the property’s bathroom wasn’t working, but that he was able to put them up in a much bigger place until a plumber could fix the problem.”
“Thanks to his clever use of social media, he was dubbed the first prime minister of the Instagram age – but after four years in power, cracks in his image have started to show.”
“So far, though, Silicon Valley’s response has been sluggish at best. The tech giants claim immunity under a law that likens social media companies to newsstands rather than to publishers responsible for the content on their platforms. In other words, they argue, social media companies don’t create the offensive material that ends up on their pages, so they can’t be held liable. The law is the subject of fierce debate inside DC’s Beltway and is at the heart of many battles over the publication of hate manifestos, terror screeds, sex ads, fake news, and, more recently, drugs.”
“Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sacklers, marketed the drug so heavily that they were eventually convicted of felony “misbranding.” They said it was non-addictive, abuse-proof. Purdue bought and sold doctors to over-prescribe the medicine across America, bringing in billions of dollars in profits. Rich and poor, black and white, Purdue Pharma bought lunches and dinners and weekends on yachts for the doctors who prescribed the most pills to the most humans. Reps were given bonuses for getting doctors to prescribe more pills and higher doses.”
“Intuit also continues to use “dark patterns” — design tricks to get users of its website to do things they don’t necessarily mean to do — to ensure that as many customers as possible pay, former employees say. A marketing concept frequently invoked at Intuit, which goes by the acronym “FUD,” seeks to tap into Americans’ fear, uncertainty and doubt about the tax filing process.”
“On the great dividing line of first- and second-world influence, anticommunist émigrés living in Western Germany provided a reliable stream of local content. Since the Soviet propaganda machine worked overtime spreading anti-American rumors and disinformation, the broadcasters working for the various U.S.-sponsored “Radio” properties in the Eastern bloc often improvised material to combat the communist threat. Journalists working for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty cherry-picked interviews with recent defectors or accepted unsubstantiated rumors as fact.”
Advice from 1982 on how and why one should buy a computer. “I can hardly bring myself to mention the true disadvantage of computers,” Fallows writes, “which is that I have become hopelessly addicted to them.”“My computer has a 48K memory. Since each K represents 1,024 bytes of information—each byte representing one character or digit—the machine can manipulate more than 49,000 items of information at a time. In practice, after allowing for the space that The Electric Pencil’s programming instructions occupy in the computer’s memory, the machine can handle documents 6,500 to 7,500 words long, or a little longer than this article. I break anything longer into chunks or chapters and work with them one at a time.”
“The MQ-1B Predator drone, or the “Pred,” as its crews call it, is flown from here. Underground and underwater fiber-optic cables link these trailers—ground-control stations, really—to Europe, where a satellite dish makes the connection directly to every Predator in the air over Baghdad, and along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and wherever else they are needed. Local airfields get them into the air, then Las Vegas takes over.”
“TikTok-famous teens, the envy of their generation, are all too aware that their fame could go away at any moment. What goes unspoken is that there is always someone funnier or prettier or more likable or who works harder, and that soon their own face may show up less and less on strangers’ screens. That so many people will become TikTok-famous or Instagram-famous or Twitter-famous that it will cease to mean quite so much; that someday there will be simply too many influencers and not enough eyeballs and money. That if everyone is a little bit famous, no one is.”
“We are given only the noisy half of probability that its cause is located inside of ourselves and never the quiet part of probability that cancer’s source pervades our shared world. Our genes are tested: our drinking water isn’t. Our body is scanned, but not our air. We are told it is in the error of our feelings or told it is in the inevitabilities of our flesh. We are told there is a difference between illness and health, between what is acute and what is chronic, between living and dying, too.”
“My belief is the distinguishing characteristic of humanity is this keystone ability to have descriptions with which we construct stories. I think stories are what make us different from chimpanzees and Neanderthals. And if story-understanding is really where it’s at, we can’t understand our intelligence until we understand that aspect of it.”
“There’s a lot of people that will teach you how to make money. It’s just, the thing is, like, an information product in that niche, is, I mean, how tangible is that information? What is someone going to do with what you tell them. Most people won’t do anything with it. You know, 90% of the people who get that information product, really aren’t going to do anything with it. It’s no different than when our country tells people to go to college for, you know, eight years, four years, like I did and expect a job when they come out. And then there’s no job.”
“But at some point, each of them looked up and noticed the same strange thing: the tiny light beside their webcam glowing. At first they figured it was some kind of malfunction, but when it happened repeatedly—the light flicking on, then off—the girls felt a chill. One by one, they gazed fearfully into the lenses, wondering if someone was watching and if, perhaps now, they were looking into the eye of something scary after all. Nila, for one, wasn’t taking any chances. She peeled off a sticker and stuck it on the lens.” http://bit.ly/2m4YHEH
“Once upon a time” refers to relatively recent years (2001-2006), during which I wrote several books and published more than 50 pieces of magazine journalism and criticism – a total output of, give or take, 4,500 manuscript pages. I rarely felt very disciplined during this half decade, though I realise this admission invites accusations of disingenuousness. Obviously I was disciplined. These days I have read from start to finish exactly two works of fiction – excepting those I was also reviewing – in the last year. These days I play video games in the morning, play video games in the afternoon and spend my evenings playing video games.””
“And this job is just about the only game in town, like it is in lots of towns, and eventually will be in more towns, with US internet retail sales projected to grow 10 percent every year to $279 billion in 2015 and with Amazon, the largest of the online retailers, seeing revenues rise 30 to 40 percent year after year and already having 69 giant warehouses, 17 of which came online in 2011 alone. So butch up, Sally.”
“The story of the Max is ultimately the story of the Darwinian business cycle where mature companies like Boeing face constant threats from new products, new competitors, and the search for new growth. Sometimes this motivates them to new heights of innovation and progress. Other times, it prompts them to pull everything back in the name of cost-cutting.”
“I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said tensely. The only solution was using unscratchable glass instead. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”After one executive left that meeting, he booked a flight to Shenzhen. If Mr. Jobs wanted perfect, there was nowhere else to go.
“To celebrate the Exposition Universelle held in Paris in 1900, a number of French artists were commissioned to produce a series of cigar box cards on the theme ‘En l’an 2000’. They came up with some fantastic imagery: in the future world they portrayed there was clearly going to be a great deal of aerial warfare and submarine sport, and a lot of electricity. The denizens of the year 2000 would put on their makeup with electricity, they would farm with electricity, and travel everywhere by electricity.” http://bit.ly/2HbQ3vZ
“Technology companies engage in “data relations,” which turn our daily lives into a highly profitable “data stream.” This process enacts “a new form of data colonialism, normalizing the exploitation of human beings through data, just as historic colonialism appropriated territory and resources and ruled subjects for profit.” Ultimately, they believe, data colonialism “paves the way for a new stage of capitalism whose outlines we only glimpse: the capitalization of life without limit.””
“His models bear striking resemblance to the one-dimensional cellular automata—life-like lattices of numerical patterns—championed by Stephen Wolfram, whose search tool Wolfram Alpha helps power the brain of Siri on the iPhone. Nonconformist biologist Craig Venter, in defending his creation of a cell with a synthetic genome—“the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer”—echoes Barricelli.”
The term Beats by Dre” was already coined through the failed collaboration, and SLS had come up with a rough prototype headphone that would shape the entire lineup though the present day: giant ear cups, a thick, streamlined headband, and enough gloss for a Formula 1 car. ”
Facebook’s response would be to adopt a “mature role”, not “shunning” but “advocating” the new rules. For a company that has fiercely resisted new laws, Clegg’s message aimed to persuade us that the page had turned. Yet his remarks sounded like Newspeak, as if to obscure ugly facts.
In a relatively coherent set of texts by a single author, a writer’s idiosyncratic linguistic choices leave a mark analogous to a fingerprint. In order to recognize that fingerprint, you need a reasonably large, reasonably similar set of texts to compare with the one you’re curious about, and the one you’re curious about should be long enough to exhibit the fingerprint patterns.
Facebook, in short, is here to help. The immensely arrogant assumption baked into this project, of course, is that the world’s unbanked need access to financial services, much less those furnished by Facebook and its partners like Mastercard and Uber.
Small but super interesting article. Answered one long standing question I had in my life. Where in life is ever something like fourier transform being used. Must Read. “The Fourier transform also tells you how much of each note contributes to the song, so you know which ones are essential. The really high notes aren’t so important (our ears can barely hear them), so MP3s throw them out, resulting in added data compression. Audiophiles don’t like MP3s for this reason—it’s not a lossless audio format, and they claim they can hear the difference.”
New vendors will offer free samples and price-match guarantees to establish their reputation. Promotional campaigns are rife on April 20, also known as Pot Day, the darknet’s equivalent of Black Friday. (The date of Pot Day comes from the North American slang term for smoking cannabis which is 4/20.) “It’s not anonymity, Bitcoins, or encryption that ensure the future success of darknet markets,” writes Jamie Bartlett, author of The Dark Net. “The real secret of Silk Road is great customer service.”
“Dyson had been given £1,000 for travel costs in 1918 (about $75,000 today). During wartime, that was an enormous grant – he decided he could stretch that money to cover expeditions to both sites, important insurance against bad weather or other mishap, dramatically increasing the chance of success.””
“The paper tells you how to make small crystals of the alpha form, which is not too bad, as long as you keep it moist and in the dark, and never, ever, do anything with it. You can make larger crystals, too, by a different procedure, but heed the authors when they say: “This procedure is only recommended on a small scale, since crystalline α-Hg(N3)2 is very sensitive to impact and friction even if it is wet. Heavy detonations occur frequently if crystalline α-Hg(N3)2 is handled in dry state”.”
“And yet, the meaning of “deep” in this context comes simply from the fact that these neural networks have more layers (12, say) than do older networks, which might have only two or three. But does that sort of depth imply that whatever such a network does must be profound? Hardly. This is verbal spinmeistery.””the bridging act not only should maintain clarity, but also should give a sense for the flavor, quirks, and idiosyncrasies of the writing style of the original author”
“Aging has no point; it is the infuriating absence of a point. Having reproduced ourselves externally, we fall down on replicating ourselves internally. The processes of cellular replication that allow us to be boats rebuilt even as they cross the ocean cease acting efficiently, because they have no evolutionary reward for acting efficiently. They are like code monkeys in a failing tech business: they can mess up everything, absent-mindedly forget to code for the color of our hair or the elasticity of our skin, and no penalty is exacted for the failure. We’ve already made all the kids we are going to make.”
I loved reading this article on the other side of Disney World. Fantastic piece of writing. Must read!”This is the story Americans have been sold: the one that pardons the powerful and makes us pay for our own numbness. We submit to a story that tells us we will be good—that we will be made good, and therefore safe—as long as we follow the rules, as long as we forget that there are rules. We enter the castle gates because there can be no danger here, no cruelty, and no adulthood, for as long as we believe: we will be saved not just from the harm that comes to those who are of no value here, but from the knowledge that they even exist. The dream still works, and it will work for at least a little longer. Buy a ticket. See if it’s worth the price.”
“When British manufacturers installed power looms in their factories, workers lost their jobs, and the unemployed masses, desperate for work, dragged down wages for everyone. Those who remained, produced more in less time, earning greater profits for their bosses even as wages slipped. Mechanization simply meant workers spent a greater fraction of their day producing value for someone else.”
“The Earth is, in some ways, in a precarious spot in the solar system. There’s a range of orbital distances inside which a planet can have both liquid surface water (which is believed to be necessary for life) and enough atmospheric CO2 to carry on photosynthesis. This range is called the photosynthesis habitable zone. The Earth orbits barely within the sun’s zone. Some scientists estimate that the inner edge lies just 7.5 million kilometers away, which is only 5 percent of the distance between the Earth and the sun.”
“With eight movie ratings (of which two may be completely wrong) and dates that may have a 14-day error, 99% of records can be uniquely identified in the dataset.” The research showed that for many people, much less information is required to establish unicity: “For 68% [of users], two ratings and dates (with a three-day error) are sufficient.””
“The high-powered cameras send what they see to 16 monitoring centers in Ecuador that employ more than 3,000 people. Armed with joysticks, the police control the cameras and scan the streets for drug deals, muggings and murders. If they spy something, they zoom in.This voyeur’s paradise is made with technology from what is fast becoming the global capital of surveillance: China.”
“At night, I would read and take notes on the device in bed, in a tent, on a train. It was an incredible user experience, full of perceived value, delightful in its absurdity. Most importantly, using the device in these ways felt like an investment in the future of books and reading. Each Kindle book I bought was a vote with the wallet: yes – digital books! Every note I took, every underline I made was contributing to a vast lattice collection of reader knowledge that would someday manifest in ways beautiful or interesting or otherwise yet unknowable.”
“This has the potential to have very destructive fallout for the open source world,” Zitzman says. “When a corporate giant like AWS doesn’t play fair, they are actually shooting themselves in the foot, as they will eventually find themselves without open technologies to roll out.”
“The problem is that, online, we think we’re reconnecting to that smaller grid—we follow our IRL friends, like their posts, and watch their stories! —when that connection is really mediated by a corporate entity less human than the magazine editors or television producers of the past. We are in the grid of social-media users created by that 21st-century bogeyman, the Algorithm. Loosely defined, the Algorithm—Twitter’s, Facebook’s, Spotify’s, Amazon’s, Google’s, so on and so forth—mediates what we read, watch, and listen to online, encouraging us to consume whatever appears on the screen. It regulates how often we get updates from our friends, whose unpopular posts or opinions we might not see if we don’t seek them out. Based on the data it collects, it can tell when we’re flush, lonely, engaged, or pregnant and then sell us products accordingly.”
“When the execs are extremely smart people making ten times what you do, there’s a tendency to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
“The moment she stepped off the elevator, she was met by co-worker after co-worker who needed and wanted to talk to her — one about a health concern, another about his kid excelling at school, another about a disintegrating marriage. She comforted, celebrated with, and listened to each one in turn. She didn’t, however, price the product.”
Article 6 “YouTube doesn’t give an exact recipe for virality. But in the race to one billion hours, a formula emerged: Outrage equals attention. It’s one that people on the political fringes have easily exploited, said Brittan Heller, a fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center. “They don’t know how the algorithm works,” she said. “But they do know that the more outrageous the content is, the more views.””
“Personally, I feel as if I have suddenly gained all that I want in life and no longer have anything to fear. I am perfectly content both mentally and emotionally. All the tension slips from my body and I feel warm and utterly comfortable, as if I were sitting beside a roaring fire, wrapped in a delicate cashmere blanket, rocking gently back and forth. Communication is pleasant but unnecessary. Under the influence of oxycodone, no companionship is needed. I accept myself and the world just as we are, not begrudgingly, but eagerly, ecstatically even.”
“Today, electric vehicles look like the best way to slash both sorts of pollution, another place where the goals of a healthy climate and healthy bodies converge. Electricity by itself is no guarantee of climate friendliness. But it is a necessary prerequisite to powering cars from clean sources such as wind and solar.”
“But, of course, companies design for performance and sales, not life span. They make money when they sell more units, and they’re not financially responsible for disposing of products when consumers are finished using them. Nadim Maluf, the founder of the battery consultancy Qnovo, told me that a decade ago, he went to big tech companies telling them he could help them double the longevity of their products, by extending the life of the lithium-ion batteries they were beginning to use. “No one really cared,” he told me. “Extending product life wasn’t consistent with growth on the financial side.””
“Since 2012, Chinese GDP has grown at an annual rate of 6-8 per cent – weaker than in the pre-crisis period (growth peaked at 14 per cent in 2007) – but still strong enough to support the growth of the Chinese middle class and stimulate the economies of its major trading partners. The US recovery has been slow by historic standards but growth in 2018 (2.9 per cent) was buoyed by Donald Trump’s tax cuts, which dramatically inflated corporate profits. Japan’s growth has been low but stable – unsurprising in view of its rapidly falling population (which declined by 449,000 in 2018). Only the eurozone has continued to struggle, growing by just 1.8 per cent in 2018.”
“Looking at this incredible flurry of funding and activity, it’s worth asking: These companies have done so much—upended labor markets, changed industries, rewritten the definition of a job—and for what, exactly?””The haves and the have-nots might be given new names: the demanding and the on-demand.””For centuries, a woman’s social status was clear-cut: either she had a maid or she was one” “What the combined efforts of the Uber-for-X companies created is a new form of servant, one distributed through complex markets to thousands of different people.”
This post contains loads of articles categorised under Psychology and Philosophy. These are handpicked articles over the course of years for CAT Aspirants. This is the last of 2 posts. Click on the following link to go to the previous post: LINK here.
Every Article will have blurb, either written by me or an extract from the original post (mostly the latter) followed by the link to reach the article.
“Kierkegaard on Why Anxiety Powers Creativity Rather Than Hindering It
“Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self… — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.””
“The self of self-help books is adrift from social and economic facts”
“Is Everyone Depressed?
Suddenly, many people meet the criteria for clinical depression. Doctors are scrambling to determine who needs urgent intervention, and who is simply the new normal.”
“Why it pays to be grumpy and bad-tempered”
“The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Pandemic
The minute we make any decision—I think COVID-19 is serious; no, I’m sure it is a hoax—we begin to justify the wisdom of our choice and find reasons to dismiss the alternative.”
“Army Ranger School Is a Laboratory of Human Endurance.
The military’s toughest training challenges have a lot in common with outdoor sufferfests like the Barkley Marathons and the Leadville Trail 100: you have to be fit and motivated to make the starting line, but your mind and spirit are what carry you to the end. A Ranger graduate breaks down an ordeal that shapes some of the nation’s finest soldiers.”
“The privilege of boredom
How philosophy can happen in isolation”
“There have always been drug addicts in need of help, but the scale of the present wave of heroin and . . “
“A touch of absurdity can help to wrap your mind around reality
And now for something completely different: how a dose of the surreal or absurd helps to make sense of our place in the world”
“How to Master the Invisible Hand That Shapes Our Lives”
“I share dozens of links on Twitter and Facebook. But how many do I read in full? How many do I share after reading the full thing? Honestly—and I feel comfortable saying this because even mom’s stopped reading at this point—not too many.”
“Impostor syndrome: do you sometimes feel like a fraud?
Many people feel like they are just waiting to be found out. Clancy Martin investigates the modern epidemic of impostor syndrome”
“Splendid isolation: how I stopped time by sitting in a forest for 24 hours
My life seemed to be getting busier, faster: I felt constantly short of time – so I stepped outside it for a day and a night and did nothing.”
“Gradually, the notion of nostalgia attached itself almost exclusively to soldiers—Swiss mercenaries being very popular hires in armies across the continent and doctors being a regular part of army life. It would take a little more than two centuries for doctors to figure out that there might be something more than a mysterious nerve disorder causing young men whose sole job was dismembering other humans and dying gruesomely to yearn for the comforts of home”
“If we are to settle the Solar System astronauts will have to travel for months and years. Are these missions too taxing for human minds?”
“If society is fractured today, if we truly care less about one another, some of the blame lies with the values parents have elevated. In our own lives, we’ve observed many fellow parents becoming so focused on achievement that they fail to nurture kindness. They seem to regard their children’s accolades as a personal badge of honor—and their children’s failures as a negative reflection on their own parenting.”
“Nothing has all of the ingredients for the emotional breakdown recipe quite like a pandemic-induced global shutdown. Lack of face-to-face socializing and general social isolation? Check. Financial uncertainty and mass unemployment? Check. Lack of regular exercise, sunlight, and access to basic necessities? Check. High uncertainty of one’s safety and security in the near future? Check. Tons of free-time to refresh news feeds five thousand times per day? Double check.”
“What is wrong with this picture? Why do modern ‘evidence-based’ treatments fail to produce better outcomes? Indeed, why do things seem to be getting worse, with many forms of suffering, even suicide, on the rise?
Sigmund Freud said that work and love are the cornerstones of our lives and human meaning, and the kinds of transformations in work and love that I was able to achieve are exactly what Freud said good therapy of depth, insight and relationship is for.”
“More than five tonnes of Calpol is sold every day – and more than 12 million units each year. Other brands cost half the price, but Calpol has 70% of the market for children’s pain-relief medicine, which is three times the share of its nearest competitor and 50 times more than the next most popular brand of paracetamol. For British parents, Calpol is overwhelmingly the drug of choice.”
“Jacob is just one of a growing number of people seeking inspiration from business schools rather than poetry in the quest to find the right partner. This hard-headed attitude is evident in the practical turn that romance’s ardent lexicon has taken in recent years. We look for partners, not soulmates. We avoid deal-breakers. “Are you in the right headspace to receive information that might hurt you?” reads a recent meme, advising people to ask loved ones for consent before making demands on their emotional labour.”
Brilliant writeup on life and What is important. CAT Aspirant or not, this is a must read.
“On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not.”
“In this vehicle that dwarfed even the beefiest of men, Schwarzenegger saw a business opportunity. He contacted AM General, the heavy-automotive manufacturer behind the Humvee (the military vehicle on which the Hummer is based) and other purpose-driven vehicles, to communicate his adoration. He was sure the Hummer needed to be made available for purchase to regular people, and though the company was initially hesitant, the Hummer was introduced to the civilian market in 1992.”
“In a famous experiment, when participants were presented with evidence counter to their political beliefs, areas of their brain associated with physical pain became more active — it’s as if being wrong physically hurts.”
“PICTURE THIS: everyone in your life is obsessed with ice cream, and you just don’t understand the hype. You’ve tasted it, and maybe you’ve even enjoyed it from time to time, but you don’t actively crave it like the people around you seem to—nor do you centre your life around it like they do. “Can’t wait to get some ice cream!” they effervesce in tweets and Facebook posts, and you wonder why. Dates with potential romantic partners, and even get-togethers with friends, often seem organized around the acquisition or discussion of ice cream, pushing you further into an isolation that feels like your own doing.”
“I know I’m not alone. We all know that person: there’s the child minder who is always late, the colleague who misses every deadline, even if just by a few hours, the friend you must tell to arrive 30 minutes earlier than she needs to for your lunch reservation.”
“The most surprising result of the study was that the non-demanding task was actually better than doing nothing,” Schooler says. Why this is so, however, is less clear. “My best guess is that if you’re engaged in a non-demanding task, it kind of prevents you from having long trains of thought,” Schooler posits. “It’s sort of churning things up, stirring the pot, so you’re not maintaining one thought for a particularly long time. There are a lot of different ideas going in and out, and that sort of associative process leads to creative incubation.”
“From now on, he always consults the dice. Since it has six sides, he gives it six options. The first is to do what he has always done. The five others depart more or less distinctly from this routine. Once it has been subjected to the dice, even the most anodyne choice – that of a film, a restaurant – opens a vast array of possibilities for putting your routine behind you.”
“Ironically, accusing others of virtue signalling might itself constitute virtue signalling – just signalling to a different audience. Whether it should be counted as virtue signalling or not, the accusation does exactly what it accuses others of: it moves the focus from the target of the moral claim to the person making it. It can therefore be used to avoid addressing the moral claim made.”
Brilliant passage that delves deep on solitude, herd mentality, moral stance, introspection, leadership and many other ideas in a beautiful, coherent way. Must Read.
“Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person. One other person you can trust, one other person to whom you can unfold your soul. One other person you feel safe enough with to allow you to acknowledge things—to acknowledge things to yourself—that you otherwise can’t. Doubts you aren’t supposed to have, questions you aren’t supposed to ask. Feelings or opinions that would get you laughed at by the group or reprimanded by the authorities.”
“They would follow him from room to room, everywhere he went in the house, and lie down next to him while he slept. Crawled on, dribbled on, kicked, elbowed and kneed: these occurrences were all treated with a resigned fatalism. The fingers in the eye they received on a daily basis would be shrugged off with an almost Zen-like calm. In many respects, they were better parents than me. If my son so much as squeaked during the night, I would instantly feel two cold noses pressed in my face: get up, you negligent father — your son needs you.”
“I broke this cycle when my daughters were born and I realised that it would be irresponsible to stop treatment because being a good father meant having a stable mood. It was a purely pragmatic decision, made without resolving the existential issues that antidepressants had raised for me before. That being the case, I do not write with the fervour of the newly converted, although sometimes I speculate about how much smoother my life would have been had I decided much sooner to stick to the antidepressants.”
“Never underestimate the willingness of a man to believe flattering things about himself.” Samuelson was not a behavioral economist, but he clearly recognized that people’s self-assessments were often higher than warranted by objective evidence. In surveys, for example, more than 90 percent of people describe themselves as above-average drivers. The same self-assessment was reported by more than 80 percent of drivers surveyed while they were in the hospital recovering from accidents, many of which they had surely caused themselves.
“The worker is the hamster, consumer culture is the hamster wheel. People are tricked into believing that Furbies, iPads and all those other pointless goods and services are necessary for a happy and fulfilled existence. A sense of ‘meaning’ has been replaced with instant, short-term, on-demand happiness.”
Freud believed that, over the course of human history, humankind had suffered three ‘great outrages upon its naïve self-love’. First, there was Copernicus, who, with his finding that the Earth revolved around the Sun, showed that we were not at the centre of the Universe; second, there was Charles Darwin who, with his theory of evolution, showed that we emerged from the animal kingdom, and did not exist apart from it; last, there was Freud himself (he was never one for modesty), via whom psychoanalysis had shown that man was ‘not even master in his own house’ due to the massive effects of the unconscious.
Vohs, who has studied the effect of choice on consumers for many years, found in a recent project that even making pleasant choices can deplete one’s mental resources, making a person less able to concentrate later.
At night, the sky is a watercolor wash. Sunset tries to push in but day resists, never giving over to real darkness, instead smudging the blue over the glaciers peach and mauve. Waterfalls of glacial rock glow rose and coral in the perma-dusk. Clouds roll in just to catch the pinkish light. Distant peaks are scoops of sorbet. Everything seems impossibly far apart, held together precariously in any moment by the eye, always about to drift even farther.
Lunch usually consisted of salad. I would choose three different vegetables or fruits. The first thing I would do was smell the items for freshness and run my fingers over them—a process that filled me with a mixture of delight and disgust. “These are pure enough,” I used to say to myself. Then I would go about washing each one, cutting them in a set order, weighing each portion, and methodically arranging the foods on a plate.
A phobia is generally considered “an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation”.
Mussolini didn’t eat mashed potatoes because they gave him a headache. Idi Amin doesn’t seem like he’d have been a fussy eater, but he had his limits, “I tried human flesh, and it is too salty for my taste.” Of course the reader can’t be sure if this flesh was raw or cooked: if the latter, then surely the saltiness was the fault of the cook.
Forget about RC. Forget about reading practice. Forget about CAT. Read this brilliant and short write-up about scarcity, abundance and generosity.
“Imagine that out of the blue, you tell your child you’re going to go for ice cream. Five minutes later, tell them you’ve changed your mind and you’ll go some other time.”
“I don’t understand how people…live. It’s amazing to me that people wake up every morning and say, ‘Yeah, another day, let’s do it.’ How do people do it? I don’t know how.”
“It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s who you are. And that’s not gonna change whether you’re in California or Maine or New Mexico. You know, you can’t escape…you.”
“Flashback to early capitalism: the Protestant ethic sucked up happy-go-lucky peasants and churned out industrious wage slaves. Flash forward to digital capitalism, which sucks up helpless little babies and churns out Facebook slaves who labour for the likes and turn the conversation to themselves at every opportunity.
Basically, narcissism is the new herpes. It’s not like you got it on purpose, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now everyone’s pointing fingers and trying to pretend they don’t have it, too. Hence the blame game.”
Brilliant perception of death and grief. Will make lot more sense if you have ever lost someone close to heart.
“Death really is the manifestation of the ordinary to everyone except the griever. Barthes’s experience of looking at the Winter Garden image cannot be reproduced because his loss cannot be reproduced. If by merely looking at Henriette as a child we could feel what Barthes feels, grief would be translatable in a way that anyone who has grieved knows it is certainly not.”
“Three features of the definition stand out: the outsider status of intellectuals, their extraordinariness or even their singularity, and their politics.”
“He’s driving his truck, saying “Taco should be a verb.” The taco, he says, is heated on the griddle, and the counterman slides meat onto it and sauces it and hands it to you and you eat it, all in one extended motion. “I know it’s overly romantic,””
“Take Immanuel Kant’s elegant formulation of how to do the right thing: act in ways that could be generalized to universal principles. You’ll choose the right thing to do, every time, if you ask yourself: If everyone acted in this way, would the world be a better place? Reason will always guide you to the right answer, and to its corollary, which is that we should treat others never as means but always as ends in themselves. The narcissist, in contrast, always chooses to act in exactly such a way that if everyone were to follow suit, the world would go straight to hell.”
“More practically, the idea of niksen is to take conscious, considered time and energy to do activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless. The less-enlightened might call such activities “lazy” or “wasteful.” Again: nonsense.”
“At the time, this was a radical idea – and it still is. It essentially suggests that the brain makes no distinction between a broken bone and an aching heart. Rejection, it tells us, actually hurts.
‘It’s not just in our head. It is in our head because it’s in our brain.’
Some participants were told that everyone had picked them, while others were told that no one had. In the end, when all the students rated their feelings, the rejected group showed no change in emotions: instead of feeling upset, they seemed to have become emotionally numb.”
“Today, with the pollution that new technologies have brought to our information ecosystem, this distinction is no longer so easy to make. And this is the real problem, and danger, of satire: not that it mocks and belittles respect-worthy pieties, not that it “punches down,” but that it has become impossible to separate it cleanly from the toxic disinformation that defines our era.”
“Narcissism gives you the confidence to believe you can achieve great things. It’s hard to imagine someone other than Steve Jobs having the grandiose vision of creating Apple. And we’re all drawn to that confidence — it’s why narcissists are more likely to rise up the ranks of the corporate elite and get elected to political office. But alone, narcissism is dangerous. Studies show that tech companies with narcissistic CEOs have more fluctuating, volatile performance.”
“My dissatisfaction was whiny and irrational, as I well knew, so I kept it to myself. When I thought about it—which I did, a lot—I rejected the term midlife crisis, because I was holding a steady course and never in fact experienced a crisis: more like a constant drizzle of disappointment. What annoyed me most of all, much more than the disappointment itself, was that I felt ungrateful, the last thing in the world I was entitled to be.”
“This terrorism takes the form of what psychologists call ‘intrusive thoughts’ — unwanted, painful thoughts or images that invade one’s consciousness, triggering profound fear and anxiety. This is the ‘obsessive’ part of OCD, and it can arise in even the most mundane circumstances. Sitting here typing, for example, I sometimes feel modest pain in my fingers, and my mind kicks into gear: You’re typing too much and causing permanent damage to your hands. Feel those little irritations at the second knuckle of your left ring finger? Those are the harbingers of arthritis. This is how it starts.”
““If you stop logging into Facebook, you’re not going to get the shakes and start vomiting and going into physical withdrawals,” Baumer says. It’s more like a gambling problem, he says, because “it’s less a question of addiction and more a question of impulse control.””
“If you tell me to calm down, I probably won’t. The same goes for: “be reasonable,” “get over it already,” “you’re overreacting,” “it was just a joke,” “it’s not such a big deal.” When someone minimizes my feelings, my self-protective reflexes kick in. My body, my mind, my job, my interests, my talents—these are all “mine”—but nothing has quite the power to declare itself as “mine” as a passionate emotion does. When waves of anger or love or grief wash over me, that emotion feels like life itself. It wells up from an innermost core, like my voice, which it usually inflects. And so if you move to tamp it down, I parry by shutting you out: I erect walls around my sanctum sanctorum, to shield the flame of my passion—my life—from your soul-quenching intrusions. Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot feel?!”
“In her book on international adoption, historian Karen Dubinsky writes about rumors circulating in Guatemala that foreigners abduct local children and turn them into sex slaves or steal their organs. Illustrating the power such falsehoods can have, tourists have been lynched as a result of the accusations.”
Generally, when authors base their articles on research from studies,, I am cynical. But this is an idea that I definitely buy into – Anger leads to more anger. Anger, and as an extent, emotions can be contagious.
“He says when he wrote those angry tweets, he was in a bad place, angry at himself for letting his health deteriorate: “It was easy to snap back and snarl.” But Beatty says the empathy shown toward him changed him. He has begun to think, “People are good.” He realizes that politics divide people, but one on one, “people are caring, generous, helpful.” “
“You cannot convey the pure concussive terror of a panic attack in words either, the sense that all your bones are thrumming a bad, insistent chord. I have tried to explain why I must leave the restaurant, why I must have an aisle seat at the show, why sometimes my throat seizes so powerfully I can’t even drink water. Some friends and family members understand; others don’t; and I hide my phobias when I can.”
“What is workism? It is the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.”
When we are living in a world where we don’t have time for boredom, We might even get existential crisis if the sitcom that one’s watching gets over. I can’t remember a time in the last five years or so when I was bored. I do remember times when I was bored in my childhood and had lot of time to just be with my thoughts, imagination, creatures in my head and fantasy lands. Oh I wish I can get those back.
“You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”
“I have read that Tinder users agree that one should “swipe left’” (i.e. reject) on any prospective mate or hookup who proclaims a fondness for, among other writers, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway or William S. Burroughs. I couldn’t care less about the first two of these, but Burroughs is very important to me. He played a vital role in shaping how I see the world (Cities of the Red Night, in particular), and I would want any person with whom I spend much time communicating to know this. I believe I have good reasons for valuing him, and would be happy to talk about these reasons.”
“I still have the memory of what it’s like when the depersonalisation lifts. Those are periods of such indescribable joy. They’re memories I try to hang on to when things get tough – memories of just sitting at my tiny kitchen table in my flat, without feeling the need to achieve or function or engage. Just being. Just living.”
“Wolf does not mean to suggest that non-moral equals immoral: just because something doesn’t have anything to do with morality (playing tennis, for instance) it does not follow that it is therefore morally bad. The point is that morality is, intuitively, focused on issues such as treating others equally, and on trying to relieve suffering. And good things these are: but so is holidaying with a friend, or exploring the Alaskan rain forest, or enjoying a curry. Moral goodness is just one aspect of the good things in life and, if you live as if the moral aspect is the only aspect that matters, then you are likely to be very impoverished in terms of the non-moral goods in your life. And that means missing out on a lot.”
“It had become, in Clark’s words, “transparent equipment.” And the physiological effects of losing that equipment were acute: my heart began to race in the Verizon store when the employee told me he was deactivating my phone, and in the following hours and days, I would frequently find myself reaching for my iPhone, the way a girl reaches for a non-existent ponytail after a drastic haircut. Of course, I would gradually begin to notice not being able to use Google Maps or post to Instagram, but the physical sense of loss was instantaneous and intense. I literally felt a part of me was missing.”
This post contains loads of articles categorised under Humans and Culture. These are handpicked articles over the course of years for CAT Aspirants. This is the last of 2 posts. Click on the following link to go to the previous post: LINK here.
Every Article will have blurb, either written by me or an extract from the original post (mostly the latter) followed by the link to reach the article.
“mow the tiles
Moving into life lessons”
“Marmalade: A Very British Obsession
Captain Scott took jars to the Antarctic with him, and Edmund Hillary took one up Everest. Marmalade is part of the British national myth. Livvy Potts wants to know why.”
“Now More So Than Ever
It’s not exactly a fun time to start a magazine, nor is it a convenient one. A magazine is by definition an optimistic, social project, and the past few months have found young people fairly hopeless and dramatically isolated—alienated all over again by an undemocratic political system and a hollowed out, dysfunctional government.”
“The Unbearable: Toward an Antifascist Aesthetic”
“What Milk-Sharing Communities Reveal
As women in the United States create networks to give or receive breast milk, anthropologists are illuminating the complex social and cultural forces that shape mothers’ choices.”
“How Aztecs told history
For the warriors and wanderers who became the Aztec people, truth was not singular and history was braided from many voices”
“Celebrity Culture Is Burning
So when Pharrell Williams asked his followers to donate to aid frontline responders, they virtually grabbed him by the pants and shook him upside-down, telling him to empty his own deep pockets.”
“The Strange Saga of Kowloon Walled City Anarchic, organic, surreal, this enclave was once among the most densely populated places on Earth.”
Why good teachers allow a child’s mind to wander and wonder.
“The Things We Can’t Control Are Beautiful
How Maria Konnikova found enlightenment at the poker table.”
“Not Your Server
A tech company touts “inclusion,” while facing accusations of caste bias in the workplace”
“With dismay, I will watch as Americans express their willingness to forfeit their civil liberties in the name of new surveillance measures, violating Ben Franklin’s grievously forgotten saying, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” “
“Tearing Down Statues Won’t Undo History
From the Berlin Wall to Confederate monuments, destroying a historic marker means destroying a learning opportunity.”
“The fascinating objects of fascism
Roger Moorhouse shows it’s possible to treat modern history properly and in context”
“The War on Coffee
The history of caffeine and capitalism can get surprisingly heated.”
“Until recently, scientists and collectors had captured fewer than a hundred specimens of the earless monitor lizard, Lanthanotus borneensis, since the species’ 1877 discovery. Among reptile enthusiasts, its rarity and mystique have earned it a grandiose nickname: “the Holy Grail of herpetology.””
“How Elders Make Us Human.
An anthropologist responds to the suggestion that older people sacrifice themselves for the sake of the economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Article shared by Barack Obama on 10th June.
“Quarantine has changed us — and it’s not all bad
Here are 8 new habits people want to keep post-lockdown.”
“Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?
How massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI.”
“There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.”
The disturbing return of scientific racism
Angela Saini’s Superior charts the rise of race science that’s being enabled by technology and genetics research. Discover the worrying new trend in this extract”
“If the desire to procreate is one of the most powerful of human urges, so too is the desire to know our own identity. In the complex calculus of reproductive medicine, the achievement of a baby is considered the end–a success–when in fact it’s just the beginning. Long-term scientifically controlled studies on the psychological and emotional effects of donor conception have not been conducted.”
“It was a time when male behavior on Wall Street was particularly noxious. “Women started getting jobs … and men did everything they could to make them feel like they didn’t belong,” says Susan Antilla, author of Tales From the Boom-Boom Room, a history of women in banking. That meant parades of strippers in the office, Playboy centerfolds hung up at the desks, care packages for female employees containing dildos or calzones shaped like penises. It could also mean verbal abuse or sexual assault.”
“In an increasingly urbanized world, few people still ride horses for reasons beyond sport or leisure. However, on horseback, people, goods, and ideas moved across vast distances, shaping the power structures and social systems of the premechanized era. From the trade routes of the Silk Road or the great Mongol Empire to the equestrian nations of the American Great Plains, horses were the engines of the ancient world.
Where, when, and how did humans first domesticate horses?”
“Panama disease, an infection that ravages banana plants, has been sweeping across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. The impact has been devastating. In the Philippines alone, losses have totalled US$400m. And the disease threatens not only the livelihoods of everyone in this US$44 billion industry but also the 400m people in developing countries who depend on bananas for a substantial proportion of their calorie intake.”
“The Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death was formed in 1968. Deliberating in private, the 13 men – 10 doctors, one lawyer, one historian and one theologian – put all the stakes on the brain, deciding that those who have a heartbeat and breath (even if machine-controlled) could still be considered dead. Six months later, without public discussion or fanfare, they had produced ‘brain death’, a new category of knowledge and being that would upend everything anyone knew about the end of human life. “
“This is no less bonkers and a lot more good-hearted than the five talks I’ve just sat through where people in suits declared, and I am barely paraphrasing, that bitcoin will go up forever, taking everyone in the room with it until we leave this mortal plane and ascend into the ionosphere where ICOs rain chocolate money and there is no death.”
“My grandfather designed a house that reflected the modernist sensibilities of his time: glass-and-cinder-block exterior, stained-wood walls, and a fireplace mosaic depicting the developmental life cycle of the honeybee. The living room was open, and two towering walls of books there told the story of one generation’s liberated secularism—Richard Feynman, Alfred Kinsey, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, and the art of Native American tribes. In time, my grandparents raised three boys, grew marijuana on their roof, and went to see the Mamas and the Papas sing in Monterey.”
“When she picked up her grandmother from a nearby mobile park, the morning sky had turned dark; the street ahead of her was illuminated orange and red by the flames lining the road and the brake lights of gridlocked cars. She was one of thousands fleeing Paradise, California, as the Camp Fire consumed acres by the minute. It would later be recognized as the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in modern California history.”
“IN NEW YORK CITY AND throughout the country, the professional-managerial class is hunkered down and making the best of a bad situation: working remotely, enjoying time with their families, making sure their children stay up on their schoolwork, finding ways to work out, exercising self-care, and catching up on all the shows they’ve wanted to binge-watch. This could be told as a story about the wonders of technology and capitalism. Social media, communication platforms, delivery services, and streaming entertainment make life under quarantine more bearable and productive. But such a narrative would miss the main story.”
“What does a writer do when his words stop working? I don’t know. All I know is that I am churning inside and everything I knew is windskipping like brown willow leaves in a winter gale. I am afraid and sometimes I am excited. I feel like something is waiting for me, and I don’t know what, but I fear that I do know, I fear that I am being called, and I am taking too long to answer. But who is to say how long it should take?”
“This Indian TikTok star wants you to know his name. Two years ago Israil Ansari was working as a handyman and didn’t even own a smartphone. Then things started to go crazy”
““If you’re gonna mute yourself and not show video, why are you here, bro?” the host scolds about a dozen people on the call. In the chat running down the side of the screen, teenagers who do not know each other are amicably exchanging Snapchat handles and attempting to break off into cliques. Someone writes, of course, “I’m tryna see some titties,” to which someone says out loud, “Oh my god, who the hell said I’m tryna see some titties.” The host starts playing one of Kanye West’s songs about Jesus, and everyone starts yelling in irritation. Someone spills White Claw on their laptop. The flashing red circle that indicates that someone is recording the call starts flashing, and everyone yells again.”
“The downside is, of course, that this would give legitimacy to a terrifying new surveillance system. If you know, for example, that I clicked on a Fox News link rather than a CNN link, that can teach you something about my political views and perhaps even my personality. But if you can monitor what happens to my body temperature, blood pressure and heart-rate as I watch the video clip, you can learn what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, and what makes me really, really angry.”
Super interesting, super well written, super long read. Must read.
“I looked through the window to see whether the men inside were mean. I had this suspicion that I could tell by looking at them, which is how you can tell if men are mean in the movies. But in real life men can behave very well for a while and then suddenly hurt you and then behave well again. I knew this but was ignoring it. I had rent to pay. I got in the car and eyed the locks, checked the door handles, considered my escape.”
“Two countries, thousands of families, and a 16-year quest to identify a silent man in a bed”
“History’s largest mining operation is about to begin. It’s underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable.
Mining companies want access to the seabed beneath international waters, which contain more valuable minerals than all the continents combined.”
“On the maps, green areas, rated “A,” indicated “in demand” neighborhoods that, as one appraiser put it, “lacked a single foreigner or negro.” These neighborhoods were considered excellent prospects for insurance. Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated “D” and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing. They were colored in red. Neither the percentage of black people living there nor their social class mattered. Black people were viewed as a contagion.”
“The goal of the torturers was to vent sufficient emotional fury to avenge their dead kin while simultaneously restraining themselves from killing the captive until the appropriate moment dictated by Indian spiritual beliefs. Indians sometimes treated their captives with meticulous politeness throughout the long ordeal of their execution. A Huron explained to a French missionary: ‘We have nothing but caresses for them a day before their death, even when our minds are filled with cruelties, the severity of which we afterward find all our pleasure in making them feel.’ Such decorum was in keeping with the significance that Indians attached to the rituals of torture and execution.”
“Today, China uses almost half the world’s concrete. The property sector – roads, bridges, railways, urban development and other cement-and-steel projects – accounted for a third of its economy’s expansion in 2017. Every major city has a floor-sized scale model of urban development plans that has to be constantly updated as small white plastic models are turned into mega-malls, housing complexes and concrete towers.”
“Monogamy was coupled with the idea that only a married woman was eligible to bear children. Many women were unable to find husbands from among the limited ranks of men with farm land. They too remained on the family farm as unmarried dependents or sought their fortunes in the town or in domestic service on the estates of the nobility. Legitimacy laws rendered the children of unmarried women without legal rights to a livelihood at all. Indeed, a punitive stance against illegitimate children and their mothers provided incentives for single and hence ineligible women not to have children.”
““Did you read about what happened in Kashmir?” they’d say to each other on a day like February 14, 2019, when a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a group of Indian Army convoys. They’d pause and ponder, dipping biscuits into chai and then comment from afar — in the air of faux expertise — on the details of a mysterious region that seems, these days (and perhaps, one could argue, since its inception) to only exist in the news. Then, after a few moments of discussion, they’d transition into more neutral territory, like the weather in Gujarat, before any great disagreements broke out.”
Ruan itself might come from an ancient Chinese state of the same name, or maybe from the ancient lute-like instrument also called a ruan. Who knows? Either way, it seems likely that some mid-level Chinese bureaucrat, in seeking to figure out who actually lived in his newly conquered Vietnamese territory, simply decided that everyone living there would also be named Ruan—which became Nguyen.”
“A picture that comprises figure and ground requires an enclosed field. Without an enclosure, the space around its figure(s) will not necessarily read as part of the picture; enclosure is, therefore, the originary act that gives rise to the picture but also limits it. Nothing says this enclosure needs to take the shape of a rectangle, but the history of Western art, at least, makes the rectangle look like a virtually inescapable anatomical limit.”
“I used to read stories about men like him and they are heroes to me. Clearly her grandfather is a hero to her as well, and she is going to make him quite proud. This connection with a WWII vet through his amazing granddaughter is a gift. One of many I receive on an almost daily basis in this amazing institution. I think it’s worth taking a moment here and acknowledging that this thing we now call “PTSD” has always been around. Some of us veterans escape it while others, like me and likely this gent in the airplane, felt the sting of it.”
“Between 30 and 45 paparazzi work Britney on any given night. The expensive cars they drive reflect the fact that Britney Spears—her marriages, custody battles, fights with her mom, new boyfriends, Starbucks runs, trips to the hospital—is a bigger and more lucrative story than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton or John Lennon and Yoko Ono. History’s best-publicized celebrity meltdown has helped fuel dozens of television shows, magazines, and Internet sites, the combined value of whose Britney-related product easily exceeds $100 million a year, and helped make Britney Spears the most popular search term on Yahoo once again in 2007, as it has been for six of the past seven years.”
“AAA estimates that forty-nine million Americans will be traveling at least fifty miles by car to Thanksgiving this year, while Airlines for America anticipates thirty-one million will fly between November 22 and December 3. The environmental impact will be brutal, and the stress of handling all those irate passengers is a heavy burden for airport workers. Some mayhem is expected, but thanks to the labor of always overworked and frequently underpaid transportation workers, most travelers make it home in time for turkey.”
“Ramsey Orta filmed the killing of Eric Garner. The video traveled far, but it wouldn’t get justice for his dead friend. Instead, the NYPD would exact their revenge through targeted harassment and eventually imprisonment—Orta’s punishment for daring to show the world police brutality.”
“On December 1, 2009, to commemorate World aids Day, Twitter announced a promotion: if users employed the hashtag #red, their tweets would appear highlighted in red. Megan Phelps-Roper, a twenty-three-year-old legal assistant, seized the opportunity. “Thank God for aids!” she tweeted that morning. “You won’t repent of your rebellion that brought His wrath on you in this incurable scourge, so expect more & worse! #red.””
“Gerald Blanchard could hack any bank, swipe any jewel. There was no security system he couldn’t beat.” http://bit.ly/2WX4PgC
Article 49 “The first lesson was this: Always start at the bottom, then cast your eyes upward in search of the unfolding story. This became, for a time, my preferred way of investigating the world around me. A boat was measured first by its barnacles, and a person by their shoes. In Petersburg, where I grew up, commercial fisherman like my uncles and my grandpa all wore the same brown xtratuf boots. In the jail where my father lived, everyone except the guards wore cheap slip-ons with thin soles. My grandmother, whose feet were badly crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, could only wear sandals;”
“He is a man without a country, a family and a home. For more than a decade, Merhan Nasseri has been living in terminal one at Charles de Gaulle airport, waiting. For what, he doesn’t know anymore”
“Luckier performers have made a success out of flouting conventional morality. In a notorious appearance on Late Night with David Letterman 1994, Madonna (whom Letterman introduced by dryly observing that she had “slept with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry”) smoked a cigar and said “fuck” 13 times. Letterman faux-innocently asked, “You realize this is being broadcast, don’t you?””
“With all these piercings in their bodies and the kavadi on their shoulders, devotees walk for the better part of the day under the tropical sun until they reach the temple. This walk is done either barefooted on the scorching asphalt or in shoes made of upright nails. When they finally reach their destination, the pilgrims must carry their heavy burden (often weighting over 100 pounds) up 242 steps to where the temple is located. This remarkable tradition is performed by millions of Hindus around the world each year, including in Mauritius.”
“At its heart, laughter is a tool to triumph over fear. As we grow older, our senses of humor become more demanding and refined, but that basic, hard-wired reflex remains. We need it, because life is scary. Nature is heartless, people can be cruel, and death and suffering are inevitable and arbitrary. We learn to tame our terror by laughing at the absurdity of it all.”
“In any minority group, the most prominent members are expected to somehow speak for the entire constituency. But, if the burden of being Constance Wu seemed to weigh heavily, it was also evidently not something that she felt she could renounce. The day of the “Simple Man” makeup session, we wandered the scruffy beachfront of Kaiaka Bay, picking our way through cow bush and sugarcane ferns to the water’s edge.”
“This view informed René Descartes, who in the 17th century situated the soul (for him, the mind) precisely in this tiny mid-brain structure, which he imagined to be something of a thought valve; he called it ‘the seat of the soul’.”
“A blood clot had formed in a part of their son’s brain stem called the pons, causing a stroke right at the juncture where his body met his mind. Erik was suffering from an extremely rare and permanent condition known as locked-in syndrome. “Bottom line is that he has no control over any of his muscles,” the doctor told them. “He’ll never move and he’ll never speak.” Otherwise, the accident had spared virtually all of Erik’s conscious and unconscious processing systems. His memory, his reason, and his emotions were all intact. He could see and hear and feel–and feel pain–but he would never again have any way of communicating.”
“Not everything he says is true, not everything he says is false,” says Biella Coleman. Auernheimer deploys a peculiar rhetorical strategy that he’s learned to work to his advantage: he peppers his conversation with bizarre but true facts and historical references—he has an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Greek history, world religions and contemporary U.S. anti-government extremists, among other things—then hits you with dubious details about his own life. The idea is that the overwhelming strangeness of the world will make you more receptive to the relatively banal stuff Auernheimer makes up about himself.
“Would you like bottle service at one of our dance-floor tables? That’ll be another $10,000. How about a 30-liter bottle of champagne to share with a dozen women you’ve never met? $250,000. How about we get Kim Kardashian to come? $100,000. Devin Friedman explores the world, adds it all up, and explains the mysteries and the pitfalls of the hottest club on the planet.”
“In truth, I was on the fence. Children felt like both a way to jump-start my real life and a way to end it. I wasn’t afraid of being a mother, and I didn’t think I’d be a bad one. I just wanted to be other things so much more. As a journalist, my days rarely followed a nine-to-five schedule. I found purpose in my work and couldn’t imagine rearranging my days to include breastfeeding and diaper changes. I knew it was possible to be a mother while maintaining a career, but I had little desire to take on the challenge. I didn’t see children as a punishment or a burden. But I also did not see them as a gift.”
“Evolution is a nice, big idea. It connotes the glacial pace of an unmeditated act unfolding upon species, concepts, and ecosystems. It certainly doesn’t usually get branded as a feeling. But a couple months ago I felt this thing. Maybe a little like what a mommy feels when her fetus kicks the wall crossed with how the baby feels when it gets its pre-K diploma, and the best word I can come up with for it is evolution. Not the glacial kind, but the real-time, Matrix-flavored kind. I was too busy barreling through the wicked pipe of a 30-milligram Adderall to think about it much when it happened, though.”
““Indians don’t ‘fall,’ Debie. We don’t marry by accident. We choose. Choose to marry, choose to love. We’re not powerless like Americans.”
Even in cases where the falling is inconvenient—because it happens too early, or too late, or between lovers whose lives are too messy to bode well for their futures—even in those cases, the falling itself is respected as a legitimate experience, entirely within the realm of the human and the normal.”
The following is a brilliant article from Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic from 2006.
“I was to understand that it was the way of domestic workers to fall short of money, and the obligation of householders to get them out of scrapes. I came to appreciate that the various trials of the employee’s life were very much my business, that ours was inherently an association of unequals, and that decency demanded that I keep that uppermost in my mind and behave accordingly.”
“Nothing pulls at the imagination like extremes – overwrought banquets and orgies, epic battles, devastating natural disasters, glorious human triumphs. Our omnivorous appetites find extravagant feasts awe-inspiring and enviable, and occasionally disconcerting.”
“Immediately, as if drawn by the call of the Sirens, many of Delphine’s 4.1 million followers flocked to her newly established store, where her so-called “Gamer Girl Bathwater,” which she sold for $30 per jar, sold out instantly. The story went viral, with media outlets alternately deriding Delphine’s fans for their naïvete and applauding her for her marketing savvy;
In truth, though, Delphine’s success is not all that surprising — the only thing the internet loves more than a hot, half-naked gamer girl, is a hot, half-naked gamer girl who’s expert at trolling.”
“Perhaps it is that same search for cosmopolitan virtue that still drives the droves of us, the Erasmus kids hastily spending bureaucrat stipends on wine and metro tickets, the Iranian post-docs gazing at stars in newly-built astronomy labs, to here, year after year. In spite of the ever-greater ticking of rent prices and the fact that the Champs-Élysées is now roughly 75% luxury chain stores and two-story McDonald’s franchises, Paris retains a mystique that resists disillusion down to its very essence.”
“Microbes are everywhere, but we take their presence on phones, keyboards, and toilet seats as a sign of filth and squalor. They fill our bodies, helping us to digest our food and safeguard our health, but we view them as adversaries to be drugged and conquered.”
“Among the dismantled rigs, lifeless pyrotechnics, and bowed heads of Burners absorbed in cleaning, we are here trying to answer a simple question: How, after so many years, could Burning Man throw an event of such chaos, and yet leave the desert without a trace? What leads thousands of people in such an extreme environment to consistently engage in cooperative behavior at a scale seldom seen in society?”
“He says that a “failure to teach the growing child age-appropriate limits” produces a child who is “self-centered and immature, unable to delay gratification or to tolerate not having his or her way.” Such a child sees all her wants as needs, and reacts to unmet needs by way of a display of outrage (the temper tantrum). McIntosh notes that hardships such as divorce, family strife and mental disorders (on the part of either child or parent) make such behavior more likely;”
“It was only 100 years ago, after all, that scientists first invented the “intelligence quotient” to measure someone’s intellectual potential. Their success relies on the fact that many cognitive abilities are correlated. So your ability to perform spatial reasoning or pattern recognition is linked to your maths ability and your verbal prowess, and so on. For this reason, IQ is thought to reflect a “general intelligence” – a kind of underlying brainpower.”
“Today’s post is different. This is a link, not to an article, but for a wonderful podcast. This was a beautiful, eye opening and thorough listen. Talks about human beliefs, belief change and cognitive dissonance.
In this episode we explore new research that suggests for the majority of the mind change we experience, after we update our priors, we delete what we used to believe and then simply forget that we ever thought otherwise.”
Studying Earth’s global biosphere together, Margulis and Lovelock realized that it has some of the properties of a life form. It seems to display “homeostasis,” or self‐regulation. Many of Earth’s life‐sustaining qualities exhibit remarkable stability. The temperature range of the climate; the oxygen content of the atmosphere; the pH, chemistry, and salinity of the ocean—all these are biologically mediated. All have, for hundreds of millions of years, stayed within a range where life can thrive.
There is that — the incremental forward movement on the toes that, if prolonged for any length of time, always elicits ecstatic applause from the audience. But there is the added image, central to ballet, of the female dancer posed on her toes with the support of the male consort who is then turned, fast or slow, in pirouette — a perfect doll-like figure displayed dramatically for the male gaze (To appropriate the phrase used most commonly in critique of classic narrative film).
I am now 68 years of age but when I was 21, in my final year at university, I became aware of major problems then facing the world – war, poverty, acid rain, ozone depletion, desertification, deforestation, species loss, civil and military uses and abuses of nuclear power, pollution, population growth, consumerism and the climate crisis. I was determined to devote my life to helping solve these problems.
Before my job, when people would ask me what I did and I’d tell them I was a writer, I felt like a fraud. The reality of freelancing is often waiting months for cheques and payments to arrive. It means knowing that one month you’ll be in demand, and the next month your inbox could be empty. The ebb and flow of the job left me too scared to even call myself a writer out loud to other people. Yes, I had been published—but that didn’t mean I would continue being published or that the people who’d publish me would even have jobs in a month.
Sontag’s own style was monstrous; inspiringly monstrous. We’re used to hearing this term ‘monster’ as an insult. But the monster – a figure of excess, difficult to absorb culturally – confronts us with the limits of our own powers, and forces us to rise to the level of what the text, or the time, demands from us.
“Small wonder that so many of us become at least mildly depressed, while others succumb to more serious forms of mental illness. The brutality of the journey also exacts its toll in more visible ways: I watched as certain of my colleagues gained or lost alarming amounts of weight in short periods. Graduate school is unkind to the body, a time of monastic restraint so vise-like and lasting, your inborn eagerness for touch can dwindle to what William Blake called the “shadow of Desire.””
“What starts as an innocent article about nostalgia, becomes a fantastic thought provoking read!
“”Tom Vanderbilt opined about the ever-shrinking “nostalgia gap,” and comically posited scenarios that might come true if this shrinking continued at its current dizzying speed: “The previous month’s Top 40 will appear in boxed-CD sets, as television commercials intone: ‘Do you remember what it was like in April, to be young and carefree, listening to the music that made you feel that way?’ Hey man, is that April Rock? Well, turn it up!”””
“Homeless individuals present one of empathy’s most difficult tests. Acknowledging their experiences is painful; it induces guilt; it damages our sense that the world is just. Circumstances like these tip the balance in empathy’s tug-of-war, favoring avoidance.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.””
Rapanui songs expressed “the surprise of being alive and also the sadness of life.”
“The new motto says: “If you experience something — record it. If you record something — upload it. If you upload something — share it.””
“The reason dogs make good pets is in large part because they have this innate behavior of finding somewhere to sit and wait for food to arrive, which is exactly what our pet dogs do. Their niche is scavenging food from humans. They are like ravens and foxes that scavenge food from wolves or humans. Where is that dog food supply? Look for humans, and there it is. Why are dogs nice to people? They are the source of food. Dogs find some food source that arrives daily and they sit there and wait.”
“The only thing stopping you from listening to a podcast is you. Just plug in, pick the show, and play it: there’s no flipping through stations, no snatches of song or prayer, no scraps of news, and no chance you’ll settle on something without knowing what it is. There’s nothing intrusive, accidental, surprising — no static, no interference — and it’ll cut out all the other unwanted noise of life, too. An unbroken stream of sound, a stealth multitasking machine, the podcast has no natural predators.”
Fantastic, long read about a cult/not a cult?? 🤔. Must read.
“If the word is living, then God is not dead, the Bible is unfinished, and a new day is coming. Stevens predicted that day would be in 1979, when his followers, through convulsive prayer and spiritual intensity, would lift him into heaven and he in turn would leave the gates wide open, granting the faithful “resurrection life”: immortality.”
“In short, humanists have spent centuries acquiring a distinctive interpretive expertise, and they are right to feel that research on cultural history would be more meaningful if it were built on that foundation. But there is, alas, another side to this story, less likely to be popular in history and English departments. While scientists usually do a better job if they work in collaboration with humanists, it must be admitted that today they can often make genuine contributions to historical understanding with or without our assistance.”
“In a fairly undisguised etymology, the word “influence” comes from the Latin for “inflow,” which provides an image of the way that, every second, our thoughts now stream into one another’s pockets. The same image evokes our anxieties about hostile foreign states penetrating our defenses. Influence is a challenge to sovereignty, both political and personal; to admit to being influenced is to give up the attractive idea that, as individuals or societies, we are entirely self-contained.”
“A gay, 31-year-old Brit with frosted hair, Yiannopoulos has been speaking at college campuses on his Dangerous Faggot tour. He says trolling is a direct response to being told by the left what not to say and what kinds of video games not to play. “Human nature has a need for mischief. We want to thumb our nose at authority and be individuals,” he says. “Trump might not win this election. I might not turn into the media figure I want to. But the space we’re making for others to be bolder in their speech is some of the most important work being done today. The trolls are the only people telling the truth.””
“Apps take this consolation to a new, interactive level. When you swipe in Todoist, you experience a moment of resistance that the designers have intentionally added to generate “a fleeting sense of accomplishment.” Such features, Gregg argues, create an “aesthetics of activity” that makes the apps so appealing. If you can focus on checking items off a list (or adding them to a spreadsheet), you’re absolved from having to think about why you’re doing them.”
“That film grossed over a billion at the box office, with its sequel – the culmination of over a decade of interconnected superhero cinema – on track to do even better. So you think I’d be hoping that those left standing would survive for another decade of adventures. But, actually, not so much. It’s going to hurt, but it’s time for them all to cop it. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Especially Hawkeye.”
“Anthropologists have found that across diverse cultures, tattooing is a way to advertise or emphasize one’s identity. Tatau follows the pattern. “Tattooing is still something important in a man’s life or in a woman’s life in terms of marking their belonging to the community,” Galliot says.”
““If you’re spending all your time as a Twitch broadcaster or creating memes, that is work,” says John Ahlquist, an associate professor at the University of San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, who has done research on the changing nature of work. “People that are trying to earn a living on these platforms are recognizing how vulnerable they are on an individual basis with respect to the platform, and so they’re turning to this tried-and-true model of collective action.””
“Eighty percent of women living in communist East Germany always reached orgasm during sex, according to the Hamburg magazine Neue Revue in 1990. For West German women that figure was only 63 percent. Those counterintuitive findings confirmed two earlier studies, which East German sex researchers had published in 1984 and 1988. Those had found East German women reported high levels of sexual satisfaction outpacing those in the West.”
Wonderful writeup of an ethnomusicologist, about his long winded struggle to understand why some parts of Kenyan drumming was incomprehensible to his White brain, in spite of being reasonably adept at the art form. Very engaging article. Must Read.
“But as I went through one failed relationship after another, falling in and out of lust and love with various men whom I had ascertained to be my soul mates, I began to question my concept of true love. I began to recognize the gradual fade of fiery passion in the early days of a relationship, replaced by a sort of complacent companionship a few years in, where I would find myself disproportionately upset about socks left on the floor and remnants of beard shavings around the sink.”
“Norwegian black metal, though, is inseparable from its history. This month sees the release of Lords of Chaos, director Jonas Åkerlund’s intense dramatisation of events, focusing on the friendship and fatal rift between Aarseth (played by Rory Culkin) and Vikernes (Emory Cohen). It is bruising and brutal – when it screened at the London film festival last November, a man vomited, a woman fainted and an ambulance was summoned.”
“I suspect some degree of fatness has been present in all human societies, except for those on the brink of survival or living in truly extreme environments. I suspect that obese people have been sometimes revered, sometimes reviled, and perhaps sometimes just accepted without shame. But recent ethnographic research in Fiji and elsewhere strongly suggests that cultural attitudes toward fatness are less diverse now than they were in the past.”
“Reading the engaging and well-told life story of a First Lady, then, cannot but feel a bit like reading an obituary. This is particularly true when the woman is Michelle Obama, a woman who undoubtedly had potential that could not be realized within the constraints of the choices she made. Feeling this way is less a feminist preference for one set of choices for another, and more of an exposition of how the gendered arrangements of President and First Lady, East and West Wing, impose suffocating constraints on the women who occupy this role.”
“All of the scents blend together into something barely noticeable, with the occasional whiff of something delicious. We each live in a world of scents that go unnoticed in the backgrounds of our lives; they hum at the edges of our ability to perceive them. It can be a “big blur,” says Christophe Laudamiel, a French master perfumer who is based in New York and Berlin. It doesn’t have to be. “If you are trained, if you are an expert, you can discern things in the noise that you don’t discern if you haven’t practiced before.””
This post contains loads of articles categorised under Politics, Law and Crime. These are handpicked articles over the course of years for CAT Aspirants. This is the second of 2 posts. Click on the following link to go to the previous post: LINK here.
“I’ve Been Fired. If You Value Academic Freedom, That Should Worry You”
“The inferno and the mystery ship
On 4 August, a massive blast devastated the Beirut port area.
A huge store of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse is thought to have been the cause of the explosion.
Who knew about the dangerous cargo and who is to blame for the destruction it unleashed?”
“Death at Delta Sig: Heiress Wages a Million-Dollar War on Frats
A grieving mother fights for a new investigation into what happened to her son.”
“How to Make Government Trustworthy Again
Why have some Asian countries controlled their outbreaks so well? It’s because authorities have earned their citizens’ confidence.”
“The Bizarre Bank Robbery That Shook an Arctic Town As one of the northernmost settlements on earth, the Norwegian hamlet of Longyearbyen has become a magnet for adventurous souls looking to start a new life. But when an unsettling crime happened, it brought home a harsh reality: in the modern world, trouble always finds you.”
“The Past Decade and Future of Political Media: The Ascendance of Social Media”
“Why would someone steal the world’s rarest water lily?”
“By rewriting history, Hindu nationalists aim to assert their dominance over India”
“Better Off Deadbeat: Craig Cunningham Has a Simple Solution for Getting Bill Collectors Off His Back. He Sues Them.”
“Vladimir Putin Is Ready For His Next Act
The Kremlin pulled all the levers to ensure a decisive vote. It won’t be as easy to dictate economic recovery or popular approval.”
“Pepsi’s $32 Billion Typo Caused Deadly Riots
How they accidentally made a promise they couldn’t keep”
“The Secret, Absurd World of Coronavirus Mask Traders and Middlemen Trying To Get Rich Off Government Money
The federal government and states have fueled an unregulated, chaotic market for masks ruled by oddballs, ganjapreneurs and a shadowy network of investors.”
“The Trouble with Oxy
When the news hit that Occidental, the small liberal arts college in Eagle Rock, was the subject of two federal complaints over the way it handled sexual assault cases involving students, it set the campus reeling. Three years later the school has taken steps to improve, but it has yet to salve the bitter rancor between activists, administrators, and faculty”
“Tom Justice was once a cyclist chasing Olympic gold. Then he began using his bike for a much different purpose: robbing banks.”
“When I was fourteen, I had a relationship with my eighth grade history teacher. People called me a victim. They called him a villain. But it’s more complicated than that.”
“On the Trail of a Silver Thief
After serving multiple jail sentences, the country’s most notorious cat burglar headed south, where police suspect he started making up for lost time”
“The unbelievable tale of a fake hitman, a kill list, a darknet vigilante… and a murder.
Hitman-for-hire darknet sites are all scams. But some people turn up dead nonetheless”
“Documents available to the public and reviewed by OneZero — including transcripts of courtroom testimony, sworn statements, and more than 1,000 pages of records produced from a federal hate crime prosecution — reveal that Patton actively participated in white supremacist groups in his youth and was involved in the shooting of a synagogue. In an interview with OneZero, one of the people involved in that shooting confirmed Patton’s participation. Patton has not previously acknowledged this chapter of his life in public.”
“Early Italian fascism broke from socialism only on the grounds of nationalism. The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proposed giving women the vote, lowering the voting age to 18, introducing an eight-hour workday, worker participation in industrial management, heavy progressive capital tax and the partial confiscation of war profits. Of course, he also advocated extreme nationalism and Italian expansionism, but the pro-worker aspects of his programme are striking.”
Click on the link, and then disconnect from the internet (airplane mode) to be able to read this fabulous article.
“Except for the colored rectangles superimposed on each student’s face. “ID: 000010, State 1: Focused,” read a line of text in a green rectangle around the face of a student looking directly at the blackboard. “ID: 000015, State 5: Distracted,” read the text in a red rectangle—this student had buried his head in his desk drawer. A blue rectangle hovered around a girl standing behind her desk. The text read: “ID: 00001, State 3: Answering Questions.”
Jason thought the photo was a scene from a sci-fi movie—until he noticed the blue school badges embroidered on the chest of the familiar white polos worn by the students. It was exactly the same as the one he was wearing.”
“Millions Are Hounded for Debt They Don’t Owe. One Victim Fought Back, With a Vengeance
Andrew Therrien wanted payback. He got it—and uncovered a conspiracy.”
“Although no one tracks big cat ownership in the U.S., it’s estimated that there are likely more pet tigers in America than there are left in the wild. What’s more, depending on the species of cat, federal oversight is either limited or nonexistent. In some states, it’s easier to buy a lion — a 400-pound predatory killer — than it is to get a dog.”
“The once formidable British state is being rapidly reinvented, and on a scale not seen before. Acting with emergency powers authorised by parliament, the government has tossed economic orthodoxy to the winds. Savaged by years of imbecilic austerity, the NHS – like the armed forces, police, prisons, fire service, care workers and cleaners – has its back to the wall. But with the noble dedication of its workers, the virus will be held at bay. Our political system will survive intact. Not many countries will be so fortunate. Governments everywhere are struggling through the narrow passage between suppressing the virus and crashing the economy. Many will stumble and fall.”
“So, what does this mean for me? It isn’t clear yet how the social credit system will play out for foreigners in China. My sesame-credit score is a paltry 570 and China Rapid Finance hasn’t made its social scores available to view yet. There is, however, already a feature on WeChat that has been rolled out in Hebei province. It shows you the deadbeats in your vicinity—a literal map, dotted with clickable icons of anyone within 500 meters of you who has failed to pay back a loan recently.13 It also shows their national ID numbers and explains why they’re being named and shamed.”
“Two decades earlier, in 1996, Montwheeler had been charged with kidnapping a previous wife and their son at gunpoint. He was found “guilty except for insanity,” which meant he avoided incarceration but would remain under state jurisdiction for the maximum possible sentence. In his case, that was 70 years. “Here we are 20 years later,” says Les Zaitz, the publisher of The Malheur Enterprise, which has covered Montwheeler’s story extensively. “Very quickly the question becomes, ‘What’s this guy doing loose in Malheur County?’ “
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have been permitted to run facial-recognition searches on millions of Maryland driver’s license photos without first seeking state or court approval, state officials said — access that goes far beyond what other states allow and that alarms immigration activists in a state that grants special driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.”
“It’s an intentionally dramatic claim, directed not only to Israeli voters but also to the U.S., Europe and even some Arab states that were once enemies. And it is an argument that has animated his entire political career. By advancing Israel’s military prowess, Netanyahu believes, a country about the size of New Jersey with a population roughly the size of New York City has secured a unique place in history. A strong and innovative military, he argues, combined with an embrace of capitalism, has translated into globe-spanning success in technology, business and diplomacy. It’s a major achievement, in Netanyahu’s telling, worth the considerable costs. “I don’t look at my survival,” he tells TIME. “I look at the survival of the country, its durability, its future.””
“As the world has been repeatedly told, India has more than 400 news channels that broadcast news 24X7, far more than any other country on earth. But what is remarkable here is not so much the giant medium, but the invisible, yet incredibly effective, work that has gone into creating an audience that is primed for the message before it even arrives. The stunning swiftness and reach of the new social media are often credited with — or blamed for — the spread of bigotry. This is unfair, for most of that credit belongs to those who tutored the addressees to receive the message without the slightest trace of scepticism. This is no mean achievement in a country where, until yesterday, people prided themselves on their scepticism and wore their cynicism on their sleeves. The same suspicious lot are now eager consumers of the most crudely concocted fake news and alternative facts.”
Brilliant encounter of defectors from the hacking arsenal of North Korea.
“At first Jong didn’t have a computer, so he borrowed one from his roommates, promising to pay a rental fee once he’d made enough money to buy his own machine. He began his new career by obtaining beta versions of commercial software such as video games and security programs, then making pirate replicas his clients could sell online. Orders came in via word of mouth and broker websites from around the world; many were from China or South Korea, allowing for easier communication.”
““It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.””
“THE ROCK THAT FELL TO EARTH
How a meteorite hunter’s obsession took him from the mountains of Colorado, to the Bundy Ranch, and eventually landed him in jail”
“Microsoft had shifted at least $39 billion in U.S. profits to Puerto Rico, where the company’s tax consultants, KPMG, had persuaded the territory’s government to give Microsoft a tax rate of nearly 0%. Microsoft had justified this transfer with a ludicrous-sounding deal: It had sold its most valuable possession — its intellectual property — to an 85-person factory it owned in a small Puerto Rican city.”
“After the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine had no significant domestic energy production and desperately needed gas for winter heating. Russia was (and still is) a major natural gas producer. Firtash built a niche for himself by serving as an intermediary between state-owned Russian gas giant Gazprom and the Ukraine market. From this perch, he emerged as a classic post-Soviet oligarch.”
“For some of these teens, Parkland was not an isolated incident. When Wilson was in sixth grade, a friend of hers was shot and killed; she said she remembered watching the news reports and seeing how “a person’s life can kind of be washed away.” Hope Kahn, who is 18, told me she oversaw a spread in her high school paper dedicated to a teacher who was murdered at the beginning of Kahn’s junior year.”
“The Mongolian government granted Trump Jr. a coveted and rare permit to slay the animal retroactively on Sept. 2, after he’d left the region following his trip. It’s unusual for permits to be issued after a hunter’s stay. It was one of only three permits to be issued in that hunting region, local records show.”
“The Wenzhou crash killed forty people and injured a hundred and ninety-two. For reasons both practical and symbolic, the government was desperate to get trains running again, and within twenty-four hours it declared the line back in business. The Department of Propaganda ordered editors to give the crash as little attention as possible. “Do not question, do not elaborate,” it warned, on an internal notice. When newspapers came out the next morning, China’s first high-speed train wreck was not on the front page.”
Wonderful Longform on Gaile Owens and her getting on to the death row. http://bit.ly/2QiRmP6
Picks up from where the previous article ended. Also has a short synopsis for those who missed the previous article.
“How did it happen? How did a freedom-loving people decide to give up a private right that had been freely exercised by millions since the first European colonists arrived in the New World? How did they condemn to extinction what was, at the very moment of its death, the fifth-largest industry in the nation? How did they append to their most sacred document 112 words that knew only one precedent in American history? With that single previous exception, the original Constitution and its first 17 amendments concerned the activities of government, not of citizens. Now there were two exceptions: you couldn’t own slaves, and you couldn’t buy alcohol.”
“Three hours later, the mood has changed. The gas masks go on one at a time, protester by protester, around each head and over each mouth, tightened until secure. Some of the assembled put on goggles, to help protect against tear gas, and a few fasten helmets, helpful when police batons swing and rubber bullets fly. After what began as a peaceful protest, the demonstrators are now preparing for the inevitable moment when the peace will end.”
“In the fall of 2001, a nation reeling from the horror of 9/11 was rocked by a series of deadly anthrax attacks. As the pressure to find a culprit mounted, the FBI, abetted by the media, found one. The wrong one. This is the story of how federal authorities blew the biggest anti-terror investigation of the past decade—and nearly destroyed an innocent man. Here, for the first time, the falsely accused, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, speaks out about his ordeal.”
“He pressed a thick index finger against Fulton’s temple, hard, then leaned in close to Fulton’s ear and murmured a series of threats: The IRA hunts down all snitches and executes them. Two quick bullets in the brain. Remember the boy from County Armagh who left behind the pregnant wife. Remember the boy from County Louth who left seven children mewling for a father. Remember them all.”
“This mentality now spans the entire political spectrum and pervades societies around the world. A recent survey found that the majority of people globally believe their society is broken and their economy is rigged. Both the left and the right feel misrepresented and misunderstood by political institutions and the media, but the anger is shared by many in the liberal centre, who believe that populists have gamed the system to harvest more attention than they deserve. Outrage with “mainstream” institutions has become a mass sentiment.”
“On the Thursday morning, when Ursula had been missing for more than 36 hours, the phone rang in the Herrmann house. When Ursula’s parents picked up there was silence, and then a short, familiar jingle, which they recognised from the traffic bulletin on the Bayern 3 radio station. More silence ensued, and then the jingle played again before the caller hung up. Three more similar calls – baffling and sinister – followed over a period of hours. A team from the local police department, now stationed inside the Herrmann home, began recording the calls.”
“Glass shattered high above Seventh Avenue in Manhattan before dawn on a cold November morning in 1953. Seconds later, a body hit the sidewalk. Jimmy, the doorman at the Statler hotel, was momentarily stunned. Then he turned and ran into the hotel lobby. “We got a jumper!” he shouted. “We got a jumper!”The night manager peered up through the darkness at his hulking hotel. After a few moments, he picked out a curtain flapping through an open window.”
“He culls them from a larger pool, testing and probing until he finds the most vulnerable. Clay, for example, first put himself in a place with easy access to children—an elementary school. Then he worked his way through his class. He began by simply asking boys if they wanted to stay after school. “Those who could not do so without parental permission were screened out,” van Dam writes. Children with vigilant parents are too risky.”
“The raids are part of the ongoing Operation Synthetic Drugs, a highly coordinated and choreographed sweep through central Ohio. The target of this operation — which has received assistance from the DEA and the FBI — is a strand of a relatively obscure but insidiously metastasizing illegal substance marketed under the name “bath salts,” a deceptively innocuous moniker used to disguise the drug as a benign household product.”
“After the 2016 election, much was written about the Trump campaign’s use of new Facebook tools to “microtarget” voters, sophisticated data analytics and rapid-fire testing of thousands of campaign ad permutations. Parscale was hailed as an innovative “genius,” an impression he encouraged. “I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win,” he told Lesley Stahl, of “60 Minutes,” in 2017. “Twitter is how he talked to the people. Facebook was going to be how he won.””
“With that style, Hong Kong police became known for managing large demonstrations, such as rallies to decry the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 and a 2003 march to oppose a bill defining treason and sedition. The territory’s policing was so respected that Hong Kong officers trained British forces in crowd control.”
“By most estimates, though, Sinaloa has achieved a market share of at least 40 percent and perhaps as much as 60 percent, which means that Chapo Guzmán’s organization would appear to enjoy annual revenues of some $3 billion — comparable in terms of earnings to Netflix or, for that matter, to Facebook.”
“At the time, I had been reporting for years on Koch Industries, one of the largest and most confusingly complex private companies in the world. Its annual revenue is larger than that of Facebook, Goldman Sachs and U.S. Steel combined, and it makes everything from gasoline to nitrogen fertilizer to nylon, paper towels and windows. For all this complexity, one business inside Koch Industries remains more important than the rest — processing and selling fossil fuels.”
This post contains fabulous longform articles categorised under Economy and Business. These are handpicked articles over the course of years for CAT Aspirants. This post contains articles I had shared in 2018 and 2019.
“The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code
Bill Benter did the impossible: He wrote an algorithm that couldn’t lose at the track. Close to a billion dollars later, he tells his story for the first time.”
“The notion of ethics in business can be traced back to the earliest forms of bartering, based on the principle of equal exchange. Countless philosophers and economists have examined the topic, from Aristotle and his concept of justice to Karl Marx’s attack on capitalism. But the modern concept of business ethics dates back to the rise of anti-big business protest groups in the United States in the 1970s. ”
“A rocker’s guide to management
Bands are known for drink, drugs and dust-ups. But beyond the debauchery lie four models for how to run a business. Ian Leslie explains”
“Cryptocurrency Will Not Die.
You thought you successfully avoided ever having to learn how crypto was going to take over your life? Well, too bad: It’s back and maybe stronger than ever.”
“Mukesh Ambani Won the World’s Most Expensive Sibling Rivalry
Being the brother of Asia’s richest man is harder than you think.”
“‘If one of us gets sick, we all get sick’: the food workers on the coronavirus front line.
Low-paid women in US poultry factories are leading the struggle for fair conditions and basic safety. As Covid-19 rips through plants across the country, they have a fight on their hands”
“The untold story of Stripe, the secretive $20bn startup driving Apple, Amazon and Facebook
Patrick and John Collison have democratised online payments – and reshaped the digital economy in the process”
“For a generation, Americans have been outsourcing work to India, where companies like Infosys grew bigger than Facebook and Google combined and created a new middle class. It seemed as though the boom would last forever.”
“My zits didn’t show up with much esprit de corps until I was in my twenties, but in an effort to get ahead of embarrassment, my mom ordered Proactiv—the “easy three-step system that works for all ages and all skin types”—for my brother and me one lazy afternoon when we had the TV tuned to the infomercial channel. It was a whole ordeal. Someone over eighteen had to call a 1-800 number, and the phrase “check or money order” was involved. When the bottles arrived, I used the system once and got a rash in the shape of a beard around my jawline, an early but indelible lesson that anything describing itself as a “system” will come with some measure of pain.”
“Since Uber launched in Argentina in 2016, taxi drivers have come out in force, torching ride-share cars, beating drivers, and shaming passengers. And they’re still angry.”
“The 1918 calendar reform was an abrupt, one-off change, designed to signal the irreversibility of the leap from the ancien régime to the new. Undoing the revolution would now mean literally turning back time—which is what some upper-crust characters attempt to do in Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s 1929 novella Memories of the Future when they ask the inventor of a time machine to take them back to the days of serfdom.”
“It is said India reforms only in crisis. Hopefully, this otherwise unmitigated tragedy will help us see how weakened we have become as a society and will focus our politics on the critical economic and healthcare reforms we sorely need”
“Even before the latest shock, gas operators were reeling from self-inflicted wounds. They had taken on too much debt and drilled so many wells that they had flooded the market with gas, sending its price into a tailspin.”
“None of us ever expected to be emergency workers; the idea of an ‘essential worker’ is a totally new concept that no grocery store bag boy considers when they drop off an application,” a current Whole Foods worker who prefers to stay anonymous told me. “There’s all of this rhetoric around how we’re just as important as the doctors, and yes, that’s true, but we’re getting paid way less, and medical workers have a little bit more of an idea of the risks that they are setting themselves up for. . . . We’re not used to this shit.”
“Throughout all this, Neumann was being Neumann. His private jet trips may have involved some incidental transportation of marijuana across international borders, his wife may have fired employees for their bad vibes, and the company may have ended a meeting announcing layoffs with a performance by a member of Run-DMC.”
“Today, China uses almost half the world’s concrete. The property sector – roads, bridges, railways, urban development and other cement-and-steel projects – accounted for a third of its economy’s expansion in 2017. Every major city has a floor-sized scale model of urban development plans that has to be constantly updated as small white plastic models are turned into mega-malls, housing complexes and concrete towers.”
“Javier’s father jokes that once his son leaves home, he’ll be stuck with only women. “And, God willing, my last remaining son will pass the border safely,” the elder Hernandez says. “I’ll be left with pura mujeres (only women at home).”
In the decade since I met the Hernandez family, their modest hacienda-style home — several tin-roofed rooms scattered around an inner courtyard — has improved thanks to the buying power accrued through remittances sent from the U.S. Erika, one of the three Hernandez sisters still living in the area (the fourth immigrated), gives me a tour, saying that a new room will be added there, where now the ox and sheep are tied to a post.”
“In technology and software, the employees are the company. They are the intellectual property. There’s no machinery. The people are both the labor and the capital. And so, if the employees want to go a certain direction and they are united, well then, I don’t think there’s a CEO in the world that could defy their entire employee base.”
“Prices of voice calls had started drifting lower from 1999 itself. From 16 rupees a minute to 6 rupee a minute to 2 rupees a minute to virtually zero by 2016-17 after the new big player Jio entered the market, voice, which was the bedrock of profitability of telecom companies, started contributing almost nothing towards revenues from 2017. Data became the principal contributor of revenue. Yet, the Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU), which was about Rs. 1600 in 1998 got down to only Rs. 72 per month in March 2018. Profitability of the telecom companies tanked.”
“Hurrying across the marble floor of Hospital Angeles, I approached a receptionist and explained that my husband needed ankle surgery. She gave me the names and office numbers of two different orthopedic specialists who happened to be in that day. I could just drop in, she said; a hospital staffer would get a wheelchair and bring my husband up once I made my selection. At that moment, I felt like we were part of the 1%, getting the best health care available in a country where we weren’t even citizens.”
“It is a case of capitalism at its most hyperactive and brazenly inventive: take a freely available substance, dress it up in countless different costumes and then sell it as something new and capable of transforming body, mind, soul. Water is no longer simply water – it has become a commercial blank slate, a word on to which any possible ingredient or fantastical, life-enhancing promise can be attached.”
“To understand what has gone wrong, we need to start first with the centralised nature of the current government. Not just decision-making but also ideas and plans emanate from a small set of personalities around the Prime Minister and in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). That works well for the party’s political and social agenda, which is well laid out, and where all these individuals have domain expertise. It works less well for economic reforms, where there is less of a coherent articulated agenda at the top, and less domain knowledge of how the economy works at the national rather than state level.”
“While China is the biggest consumer of both products, the United States follows close behind as the world’s second-largest consumer of oil and the third-largest user of sand. Depending on its market price, crude oil is often the first or second most exported good in the world by value. Today’s relatively low prices put crude oil exports in second place, after automobiles. At the end of 2015, the U.S. government rescinded a forty-year ban on the export of crude oil from the States, and since then the country has aggressively reentered the global oil market, becoming the world’s third-largest exporter of petroleum and its refined products, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.”
“The bank was searching for a way to escape this bind, and found it in Janklow. “We were in the poorhouse when Citibank called us,” the governor recalled in a later interview. “They were in bigger problems than we were. We could make it last. They couldn’t make it last. I was slowly bleeding to death; they were gushing to death.””
“Today’s global economy has an insatiable need for raw materials. That’s as true for China’s rise as it is true for the maintenance of America’s economy. With China exporting some 40% of its GDP, Americans need to understand that behind that Made in China tag at Wal-Mart is a mutually reinforcing death spiral. We are beginning to overwhelm our host.”
Short but brilliant read on student debt.
“For Walsh, ballooning tuition didn’t leave much time to consider such questions. The average cost of attendance at public, four-year universities has increased more than threefold since 1987, with much of that increase occurring after the year 2000. This has spawned a vast, all-consuming student finance industrial complex, replete with numerous financial products that emerged like rats from a trash heap to help families pay for their children’s education. In addition to 529s, there are direct private and federal parent PLUS loans.”
“Boris Johnson will kiss hands the next day, not elected by us, not with our consent, no “one nation” unifier but leader of a dysfunctional, disunited kingdom. He will get the usual goodwill poll bounce: May and Gordon Brown had theirs. Skipping spring-heeled across the Downing Street threshold, full of vacuous optimism and “let the sun shine in” self-intoxication, he may bring smiles to the faces of admirers.”
““My input costs shot up from 4,000 to 15,000 rupees [$62 to $235],” remembers Manam’s brother Veeranjaneyu, who still works as a farmer. “The yield increased a little, but not nearly enough to cover the increase in input costs. And my crops sold for less money than before. I was forced to take out six lakhs [$9,412] in loans from private moneylenders. The loan has been a horrible burden on my life.”
“The system now pits human against human,” says Manam, arguing that capitalism reduces the world to competition and cruelty. “People should always be kind and loving to others. People should help one another, whether that person is family, a neighbor, friend, or complete stranger.””
Much detailed version of Anil Ambani’s Journey. Worth reading.
“Anil Ambani – whose surname is so powerful in India that when Ambani sneezes, the who’s who in India catches cold – was asked by the top court of the land to clear his dues or risk going to jail. In a country, where the rich and powerful rarely follow the rule book especially when things go wrong, the Supreme court’s decision is both ground-breaking (for the masses) and earth-shattering (for the classes).”
” Even with training, some said, it is exceedingly easy to revert to the original biases.
“In the moment of stress, we tend to forget our training,” said Mark Atkinson, the chief executive of Mursion, which provides a simulation platform for training workers in skills like interpersonal interactions.”
“Brands like Glossier and Milk have garnered impressive cult followings, thanks to their social media-friendly packaging and refreshing approach to beauty. But, by and large, most brands seem to be all about finding the next trendy ingredient, featuring it in their products and convincing us that their formula is better than the others on the market.
The fact is, certain products don’t work for certain people. We’re all unique, with different skin types or hair types, and have different goals for what we want to achieve. Most beauty brands aren’t selling products tailored to individual consumers. Instead, they’re selling a brand, a luxury, a lifestyle or some product that will magically work on every skin type and solve every skin problem.”
“The following is from an old article from 2015. The article is not just factual, but also opinionated. One can expect to see similar articles in the CAT.
Right to buy is a zombie policy – an idea that’s intellectually dead and widely accepted as harmful, but one that politicians keep trying to revive. Keen for an easy vote winner that essentially amounts to bribing voters in social housing with eye-watering discounts of up to £103,000, the Conservatives have proposed extending right to buy to Britain’s 1.2m housing association homes.”
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.
“The United States cannot win its tariff war with China, regardless of what President Donald Trump says or does in the coming months. Trump believes that he has the upper hand in this conflict because the US economy is so strong, and also because politicians of both parties support the strategic objective of thwarting China’s rise and preserving US global dominance.
But, ironically, this apparent strength is Trump’s fatal weakness. By applying the martial arts principle of turning an opponent’s strength against him, China should easily win the tariff contest, or at least fight Trump to a draw.”
The world of work is undergoing a massive shift. Not since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries and the Information Age that followed in the last century has the scale of disruption taking place in the workforce been so evident. An oft-cited 2013 study from the University of Oxford predicted that nearly half of American jobs—including real-estate brokers, insurance underwriters, and loan officers—were at risk of being taken over by computers within the next two decades. Just last fall, the McKinsey Global Institute released a report that estimated a third of American workers may have to change jobs by 2030 because of artificial intelligence.
Neat article that pokes around with questions that are supposedly Common sense. Talks about how spending culture has lead to the America being where it is now, and why it is important for the old to retire and let the young take on the reigns.
““Look out for China.” “Look out for robots.” Robots? The robots have yet to appear, as Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute has pointed out. (If they were here, productivity would be accelerating, he has said, but that isn’t happening.) Toe-to-toe, it’s the elderly and not the robots who are taking jobs from the young. Too many workers are showing up. In a sense, millions of new elderly workers are gushing into the workforce—simply by staying put.”
Why is it difficult to invest in China? Does the government mechanism strong-arm western investors just with their policies in-to “Forced” technology transfer? Read on to know. Informative read. “China’s main official argument is that, as a developing country, domestic firms are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis foreign investors, which possess advanced technologies that the local companies do not understand. But while this argument may hold water in some of the less developed countries that use it to justify restrictive FDI regimes, China’s technological capabilities have exploded over the last couple of decades.”
This post contains fabulous longform articles categorised under Fiction and Others. These are handpicked articles over the course of years for CAT Aspirants. This post contains articles I had shared in 2018 and 2019.
“Wayne and Nancy exchanged a glance. They’d heard of the Hobson case, of course, had seen the sensational reports in the local news: Mr. Hobson, the former owner, had held his wife captive, tied to a chair in the basement, where, after several days, he shot her, then turned the rifle on himself.”
“Sunken treasure, death-defying adventure, sibling rivalry: How Charles and John Deane invented modern deep-sea diving and saved the British Empire.”
“The following is a story from Alexander Weinstein’s short story collection Universal love set in a near-future world where technology has altered the way people love.”
“When NGS introduced NAD 83, replacing an older datum that dated to 1927, it was the geographic version of the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. If you’d been paying attention, you would have woken up on Dec. 6, 1988, to find that your house wasn’t at the same latitude and longitude anymore. “
“In Defoe’s first novel, considered by some to be literature’s first novel, Crusoe grows up in York wanting to see the world, believing fulfilment lies far from England. He gets enslaved by Barbary pirates; he grows tobacco in Brazil; at the end, he treks across the Pyrenees. But he always wants more, and an ill-fated voyage for slaves runs into a storm and strands him on his famous island. At first, Crusoe bewails his loneliness, but then he sets to work, retrieving supplies from the wreck, building a shelter and all manner of furniture, growing crops, drying grapes, penning goats, even trying to his hand at beer making.”
“For most of time, Earth was a safe and stable home for our world. But over the last century, your world has been advancing exponentially in technology but remaining stagnant in wisdom. You’re rapidly gaining tremendous powers but still behaving like short-sighted primates. The voice of wisdom is there, but it’s being trampled over by political parties, religions, and nations too mired in blind conflict to lift their heads up and see the bigger picture.”
“But Siberia is anything but ethereal. It is perhaps the dreariest, most nullifying place on earth. Stretching from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, from China and the deserts of Central Asia almost to the top of the world, its expanses show little variation across their 4,000 miles east to west or nearly 2,000 miles north to south. Siberia is flat, flat, flat — with the exception of low hills, called sopki, in its eastern regions, and remote mountains, such as the Suntar Khayata, so far north that few Siberians have ever seen them.”
“This reluctance stems from the belief that in rape cases, the biggest problem is not false reporting, but no reporting. Only about one-fifth to one-third of rapes get reported to police, national surveys show. One reason is that women fear police won’t believe them.”
“I take turns sleeping and panicking, sleeping and panicking. We get some warmish soda (they’ve run out of ice, they tell us) and a baguette with ham (no cheese, but no indication whether they’ve run out of it or never intended to place it there in the first place). Twelve hours in, we’re over Turkmenistan. Sixteen hours in, we can see the desert. The Badain Jaran. Thirty minutes later we land directly onto the A-SIG airstrip. The pilot says, “Welcome to sunny Alpha Signatooooory!””
“As the Marvel Cinematic Universe approaches its 10-year mark with the apocalyptic Avengers: Infinity War, its films have begun to move in a similarly dark direction. After kicking things off with stirring origin movies like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, the series has gradually started to examine the shaky underpinnings of its heroic Avengers, and is now laying the groundwork for their calamitous upending.”
Article that squeezes data, statistics, and football into one. Unlke usual clickbaity articles, this neither promises to predict this world cup results nor actually does it.
“Mr Wilson. For spectators, however, this randomness offers a glimmer of hope. Teams from Asia, Africa and North America remain the underdogs, but ought to have had more fairytale runs like South Korea’s in 2002. The 21st Club reckons there is a one-in-four chance a first-time champion will emerge this year. For one intoxicating month, fans around the world will forget the years of hurt and believe that their history books, like those in Montevideo’s museum, could be about to add a glorious new chapter.”
Brilliant piece of fiction that is set on a dystopian future where corporations take over everything, including law and order. Seems like, not too far from reality in a way though! :p
“When it became legally compulsory to carry ID, £300 for the certified ID card, £500 fine if caught without it, he knew he was observing an injustice that sent thousands of innocent people to the patty line, too skint to buy, too skint to pay for being too skint to buy. When it became impossible to vote without the ID, he knew he lived in a tyranny, but by then he wasn’t sure what there was left to do in protest. He’d be okay. If he kept his head down. He’d be fine.”
Excerpt from a sci-fi novel. Curious and curiouser. Very interesting piece to read.
“That other anonymous party could not see Ingray where she sat—saw her as the same sort of dark gray blur she herself faced. Sat in an identical small room, somewhere else on this station. Could not see Ingray’s expression, if she let her dismay and despair show itself on her face. But the Facilitator could see them both. E wouldn’t betray having seen even Ingray’s smallest reaction, she was sure. Still. “Unexpected difficulties are not my concern,” she said, calmly and smoothly as she could manage. “The price was agreed beforehand.” The price was everything she owned, not counting the clothes she wore, or passage home—already paid.”
Brilliant piece of fiction that is set in the future, perhaps not so far from now. Talks about Reviving those you have lost. Great Read.