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.
Japan’s Cold War education policy used religion to ‘make’ the ideal humans needed by its nascent economy
Facial hair is biologically useless
The Indian driver turned union leader is brushing shoulders with top politicians and giving ride-hailing firms a run for their money.
340-pound penguins were once normal—and maybe they will be again someday.
Supreme Court of India on Demonetization – A Farce in Three Acts
Prince Harry’s memoir is the UK’s fastest-selling nonfiction book ever. Too busy to read it? All the love, rancour, drugs and petty fights are here
Teleporting and psychedelic mushrooms: a history of St Nicholas, Santa and his helpers
As a manager, a central part of your job is to develop people. But when you delegate a task to someone — with no prior training — simply because you are unavailable to do it, their chances of succeeding are slim
What a year at the University of Oxford taught me about South Asians
Yes the problem is porn: A response to Chanel Contos
The massacre at Montreal’s Polytechnique school, fueled by misogyny, is not a horrifying memory confined to a bygone era – rather it seems like a foretelling of things to come
I bid goodbye to my boxes
Sustainability is about value creation as much as it is about resilience
The private rebellions of Indian women
A Surprising Side of Carl Sagan
Let there be light!
It is one of the best sites excavated after a century. All the artefacts unearthed are excellent.
The Loneliest Man in the World
Watching Irrfan Khan over the years
April showers hopes for maybe this time, flowers
A televangelist, a TikTok bride, and the ever-present camera
Celebrity chefs, food writers, and home cooks have sneered at pre-cut produce. They’re dismissing those of us with disabilities.
Nobody Likes To Be Told What To Do
Nazi or KGB agent? My search for my grandfather’s hidden past
We’re Crossing the Threshold of Survivability — And There’s No Going Back
Are you a baby? A litmus test
Without meds, my back and hip are, to my surprise and delight, nearly pain-free
We’ve become convinced that if we can eat more healthily, we will be morally better people. But where does this idea come from?
Nate still hadn’t returned to the campsite. As the sunlight faded behind the mountains, the cool shadows creeping down their slopes, I pictured the clothes he had been wearing
Five million payphone calls are still made each year in the UK. Who is making them – and why?
One woman’s journey into the heart of grain and how our flour is made
“Shanghai Lockdown Diary: The Quest for Food Brings an Apartment Complex Together
Shanghai residents have become the digital equivalent of ancient hunter-gatherers”.
“The Willy Wonka of Pot
A trip to Hempfest with pioneering cannabis breeder DJ Short”
“A day in the life of (almost) every vending machine in the world
What’s behind the indestructible appeal of the robotic snack?”
“The Artful, Subdued Translations of Modern Pop”
Young artists like Latto, Vince Staples, and Doechii are subtly persuading listeners to rethink the way music genres can be interpreted.”
“Athletics, IQ, Health: Three Myths of Race
An evolutionary biologist and biological anthropologist break down why differences in human athleticism, IQ, and health can’t be explained by the concept of race.”
“Boomers Could Never Survive High School Today
Teens today are held to an absurdly high standard in comparison”
“How we lost our sensory connection with food – and how to restore it
To eat in the modern world is often to eat in a state of profound sensory disengagement. It shouldn’t have to be this way”
Why does public discourse about beauty remain so shallow?”
“The Magic of the Japanese Convenience Store Sandwich”
“How Filipino Sailors—and Coconuts—Helped Create Mexico’s National Drink”
“What TikTok videos have in common with Victorian parlour games”
A chef lifts the veil on his journey from home cook to TV stardom and the heat of the Indian restaurant kitchen.”
“The Second-Book Problem
Finishing my first book meant powering through grief, but tackling the second has required another kind of grit.”
An investigation into the enduring popularity of the watch brand that wears the crown
What Was the TED Talk? | Some Thoughts on the “Inspiresting”
“We hadn’t exchanged numbers, our exchange itself being too brief. This was truly a Tinder message-less, phone call-less, chance encounter. B said that if this was meant to be, if we were really meant to cross paths again, it would happen that evening. “
“A new study blames flawed research and a confounding mistrust of common sense”
“I’ve realised that very often the way I think things should go just isn’t right, to be honest. So I’ve become more open to experiencing things as they actually are, and not trying to control everything. It’s the same with acting. You can prep all you want, and it’s fun thinking about how this person’s going to react and whatever, but — and I don’t want to sound like a cunt here — but now I’m better at just letting the movie be what it wants to be. I’m more excited to discover how things are going to transpire in life.”
“A personal history of how the internet came home, became magazine fodder, and changed a life”
“I dug into my family history and discovered a tale of supernatural evil, buried treasure, and paranoia”
“It is a movie of the interregnum, one that could have been auto-generated by it.”
“The frequent temptation to compare India in 1757 (when British rule was beginning) with India in 1947 (when the British were leaving) would tell us very little, because in the absence of British rule, India would of course not have remained the same as it was at the time of Plassey. The country would not have stood still had the British conquest not occurred. But how do we answer the question about what difference was made by British rule?”
This article is an exhilarating and a provocative read. History matters. As we debate slavery and dispute the role of empire, we have become accustomed to constant sparring over the past. As we seek new, sustainable ways to organize our world, we need to understand the full range of ways our ancestors thought and lived. And we must certainly question conventional versions of our history which we have accepted, unexamined, for far too long.
“Our survey suggests most people don’t even know what the culture war is”
“Why is Arkansas the driest state in America? Where do morality and geography crystalize?”
“These aspirations and pressures are reflected in a scene from the hit 2020 web series Panchayat. Two parents in a village are arguing about what to call their newborn son. The mother likes the traditional-sounding ‘Aatmaram,’ but the father wants ‘Aarav,’ after Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar’s son.”
“Debates about truth and deception have value, but they obscure the fact that documentaries have always been more akin to essays than articles. It would be hard to hold up an essay as proof of anything at all, except perhaps consciousness. They are dramas of a mind, or often several, learning, searching, and making things cohere.”
“For the K’iche’ Mayans, animals were not lower beings but neighbours, alter egos and a way to communicate with the gods”
“Archaeological excavations across Tamil Nadu are reigniting the debate about India’s early history and the dawn of civilisation in the subcontinent.”
“Where Will Everyone Go?
EARLY IN 2019, a year before the world shut its borders completely, Jorge A. knew he had to get out of Guatemala. The land was turning against him. For five years, it almost never rained. Then it did rain, and Jorge rushed his last seeds into the ground. The corn sprouted into healthy green stalks, and there was hope — until, without warning, the river flooded. Jorge waded chest-deep into his fields searching in vain for cobs he could still eat. Soon he made a last desperate bet, signing away the tin-roof hut where he lived with his wife and three children against a $1,500 advance in okra seed. But after the flood, the rain stopped again, and everything died. Jorge knew then that if he didn’t get out of Guatemala, his family might die, too.”
“How Nickelodeon Created Its Slime-Drenched ’90s Style
Thanks to its bright colors, clashing patterns, and a whole mess of green stuff, identifying with Nickelodeon was so easy because kids could so easily identify Nickelodeon shows”
“Typos, tricks and misprints
Why is English spelling so weird and unpredictable? Don’t blame the mix of languages; look to quirks of timing and technology”
“I wrote in 2000. “Anybody with the right degree, job, and cultural competencies can join.” That turned out to be one of the most naive sentences I have ever written.”
“If You Can’t Find a Spouse Who Supports Your Career, Stay Single”
““They stand quietly,” wrote Lightman, “but secretly they seethe with their anger. For they must watch measured that which should not be measured. They must watch the precise passage of minutes and decades. They have been trapped by their own inventiveness and audacity. And they must pay with their lives.””
“How an Ancient Kingdom Explains Today’s China-Korea Relations
The Goguryeo empire has been gone for centuries — but it still has a lingering impact on East Asian politics.”
“An Archaeologist on the Railroad of Death
The 1950s Hollywood movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, about a Japanese POW camp during World War II, nearly contained a fascinating side story about a dedicated archaeologist prisoner. Hendrik Robert van Heekeren deserves the spotlight.”
“A delivery driver’s tale
I gave my youth to this city
Wang Haijia, male, 42 years old, from Hebei, delivery driver”
“The Untold Story of Napoleon Hill, the Greatest Self-Help Scammer of All Time”
“The Time Everyone “Corrected” the World’s Smartest Woman”
“Learning to Forgive My Distant Father
I always knew my dad loved me. But he often seemed to love his music more”
“Shostakovich’s symphony played by a starving orchestra
In the summer of 1942, Leningrad was starving. It had been under siege and bombardment by German forces for nearly a year. And yet an orchestra managed to perform a new symphony by the composer Dmitri Shostakovich, and broadcast it across the city.”
“The Snack Shack Blues
On the illusions of class mobility”
“Futurology: how a group of visionaries looked beyond the possible a century ago and predicted today’s world”
“Officially, India Has the World’s Second-Worst COVID-19 Outbreak. Unofficially, It’s Almost Certainly the Worst”
“Yuri Gagarin’s boomerang: the tale of the first person to return from space, and his brief encounter with Aussie culture”
“The harmful ableist language you unknowingly use
Some of our most common, ingrained expressions have damaging effects on millions of people – and many of us don’t know we’re hurting others when we speak.”
The Keeladi excavations may alter the world’s ideas about the earliest Indians. But progress hasn’t been smooth for one of the country’s most sensational archaeological projects.”
“The student and the algorithm: how the exam results fiasco threatened one pupil’s future
Josiah Elleston-Burrell had done everything to make his dream of studying architecture a reality. But, suddenly, in the summer of 2020, he found his fate was no longer in his hands”
“The triumph of bedroom pop
From Joe Meek to Taylor Swift: a short history of lo-fi”
“‘I’m the Doctor Who Is Here to Help You Die’
Why do so many patients have to wait until they’re suffering terribly before they can get relief?”
“For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War IIIn 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga”
“What Are Magazines Good For?”
“Trump Hotel Employees Reveal What It Was Really Like Catering to the Right-Wing Elite
Four years’ worth of stories about VIP visits and grooming protocols, palm-greasing, rotten vegetables, and that time they lost Steve Mnuchin’s coat.”
“Ayahuasca: a psychedelic murder story
Did ayahuasca tea — brewed from rainforest plants and revered by many Brazilians as holy — contribute to the brutal death of a celebrated Brazilian artist?”
“The BBL is the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world, despite the mounting number of deaths resulting from the procedure. What is driving its astonishing rise?”
“How Capitalism Drives Cancel Culture
Beware splashy corporate gestures when they leave existing power structures intact.”
“the common meal
On Taco Bell and belonging”
“The rise and fall of the Zoom penis
New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin was allegedly caught masturbating during a company Zoom call. He’s not the first”
“Unlocking the Mystery of Paris’ Most Secret Underground Society (combined)
On August 23, 2004, they discovered a cinema 60 feet beneath Paris.”
“VEGAS ON THE BLACK SEA
Gambling on change in Georgia’s most surreal city.”
“Were Neanderthals More Than Cousins to Homo Sapiens?
These members of the genus Homo have long occupied two different branches on the family tree. But now that researchers think these groups interbred, scholars are giving serious consideration to whether we are the same species after all.”
“My Experiments with Matrimony
My matrimonial journey started on the same day I hit 27. That’s the autumn-age of life, not just because it’s beautiful, but also, that’s when your hair starts falling just like the leaves. On the first day of my autumn, my parents tried to surprise me by setting up a matrimonial profile as a birthday gift.”
“Over the last forty years, academics have tried, without much success, to superimpose the idea of the Vikings as peaceful traders on the berserkers-and-horned-helmets tradition.”
“Virtual Influencers Make Real Money While Covid Locks Down Human Stars
The pandemic isn’t a problem when you’re computer-generated.”
“The Stages of Gentrification, as Told by Restaurant Openings
Data from city restaurant inspections, rental prices, and census figures, show how restaurants and gentrification are interconnected”
“A Critic for All Seasons
What would restaurant criticism look like if it represented diners like me?”
“Was Ramesses II really that great?
Emma Slattery Williams considers whether the fêted pharaoh – master builder, war hero and peace broker – was actually a brilliant propagandist who knew how to curate his image”
“Braving the goblet of fire
Nick Cohen salutes J.K. Rowling, whose latest work reflects her refusal to take the easy route”
“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.””