Summary of “Brad Pitt on ‘Ad Astra,’ Faith, and Being a Gazelle”

Pitt made the movie with an old friend of his, the director James Gray, and both men will tell you that-though Ad Astra takes the form of an action film, complete with moon-set buggy chases and space-capsule shoot-outs-it’s really about the ideas and thoughts and fears that seize you as you roll into late middle age.
In the film, Pitt’s McBride is isolated and almost pathologically repressed.
The parallels with Pitt himself were not lost on either man.
In the poolhouse, I asked Pitt if he found it difficult to play a character as alone as McBride is in Ad Astra.
“I’m going down,” Pitt said, trying to regain his balance.
Perhaps because of how infrequently Pitt stars in a movie these days, it’s tempting to try to figure out what in Once Upon a Time or Ad Astra drew him off the sidelines and back to acting.
Pitt will acknowledge that these choices have become increasingly personal as his career has gone on.
It’s when he goes from the Pitt who was a ’90s cinema icon-chiseled, heartthrob-y, gravely standing at the center of whatever movie he was in-to the Pitt we know now, the one who is completely without hang-ups about being looked at, who is confident enough in his absurd beauty and charisma to do weird and character-actor-ish things with it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Soundtrack You Need for Traveling the World With Your Kids”

This song truly was the soundtrack to our travels in Europe, reflecting the glumness which was overtaking our children as they realized that we weren’t kidding, we really were doing this trip for a whole year.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Cut to the Feeling”That glumness was briefly overcome by the pure joy of Carly Rae’s summer 2017 single, a song that soundtracked a number of dance parties in the kitchen of our flat in Delft.
To me all Dutch sounded like throat-clearing, which made this terrific song by a Dutch rapper-the extremely cinematic video of which was always playing on the widescreen TV in our local doner kebab joint-very funny to my ears.
Soon the whole family had made up our own version of the song, “No Mosquitoes,” an ode to the insects who tortured us hour upon hour, ignoring the industrial-strength Deet we slathered on each morning.
As we spent hours doing nothing in an attempt to embrace the mega-chill, pura vida lifestyle of our tiny beach town, Lyra played the same nine M.I.A. songs over and over on the little Bluetooth speaker we had set up on our porch.
Often we’d drive down the road to S├ámara town with this song blaring from the car speakers.
You might think John Cougar Mellencamp has just the one song about small towns-this one-but you’d be wrong.
On our final night in Hays, a freezing-cold December evening, Erin and Manuel invited us to their house for their annual posada, a Christmas tradition from Manuel’s native Mexico City, and dozens of us sang this song together-a song narrated by a Joseph who finds, in a stable in Bethlehem, a place where he and Mary can take shelter at last.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Building of the World Trade Center Restaurant Windows on the World”

There are few New York City restaurants more storied than Windows on the World.
The restaurant made its debut on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower in 1976, offering sweeping views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey – the earth itself peppered with the buildings, the bridges, the Statue of Liberty; the sky with tourist helicopters.
On that day, 73 Windows on the World employees lost their lives, and the stirring prologue of Tom Roston’s The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World focuses on that day: both the seeming averageness of it among the employees heading into work, and the still-palpable ache as New Yorkers look back, 18 years later.
At night, the restaurant would be open to the public, which could use the World Trade Center’s 2,000-car underground garage for free.
The closest comparisons were smaller eateries Baum had set up with Restaurant Associates in Montreal building complexes Place Bonaventure and Place Ville Marie, both of which had restaurants and shops.
Windows on the World would function as an umbrella name for the group of eateries and bars on the 107th floor, most of which, other than the main restaurant, had unique names as well.
On the 107th floor were the five restaurants and bars, plus catering, that fell under the Windows on the World rubric.
Windows on the World would do a greater share of its preparation work in its own kitchen, but the rule for the restaurants and food stations below the 107th floor was to have Central Services, which covered 27,000 square feet, provide almost all the initial preparation of raw materials.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Donna Tartt’s The Secret History Never Became a Movie”

Set in the 1980s at a liberal arts college in New England that’s a thinly veiled version of Bennington, The Secret History is an ode to fatal flaws and the beauty that can be found in terror, in which intellectual pursuits feel as romantic as spiritual ones.
The Secret History is a novel of ideas with plenty of action-there’s sex, drugs, murder, and a Bacchanal gone horribly wrong, all of which are excellent ingredients for a blockbuster movie.
Around the time of its release, literary adaptations including The Silence of the Lambs and Fried Green Tomatoes were thriving at the box office, so The Secret History seemed like the perfect candidate for a screen treatment.
Director Alan J. Pakula snapped up film rights for Warner Brothers when The Secret History was published, with no less than Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne signed on to write the screenplay and Scott Hicks set to direct.
Pakula died a few years later in a 1998 car crash, and his Secret History project never got off the ground.
In this case, Miramax let film rights for The Secret History revert back to Tartt.
Still, as recently as 2013, there had still been talk of adapting The Secret History.
Will the release of The Goldfinch prompt another attempt to bring The Secret History to the big screen? We can only hope.

The orginal article.

Summary of “English Is Not Normal”

Old English is so unlike the modern version that it feels like a stretch to think of them as the same language at all.
Life went on, and pretty soon their bad Old English was real English, and here we are today: the Scandies made English easier.
Starting in the 16th century, educated Anglophones developed a sense of English as a vehicle of sophisticated writing, and so it became fashionable to cherry-pick words from Latin to lend the language a more elevated tone.
The die was cast: English had thousands of new words competing with native English words for the same things.
It is sometimes said that they alone make the vocabulary of English uniquely rich, which is what Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil claim in the classic The Story of English: that the first load of Latin words actually lent Old English speakers the ability to express abstract thought.
What’s more, one way to connote formality is with substitute expressions: English has life as an ordinary word and existence as the fancy one, but in the Native American language Zuni, the fancy way to say life is ‘a breathing into’.
It’s easy to say that comprehend in French gave us a new formal way to say understand – but then, in Old English itself, there were words that, when rendered in Modern English, would look something like ‘forstand’, ‘underget’, and ‘undergrasp’.
The English notion that big words are fancier is due to the fact that French and especially Latin words tend to be longer than Old English ones – end versus conclusion, walk versus ambulate.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Mom, in Touch”

Clockwise from top left: an image of the notebook kept by the author’s mom, Cinde Johnston; the author and her mom in Big Bend National Park, around 1995; the author at her paternal grandparents’ house, in Arlington; the author, age 3, with her mom and dad, Charles Johnston, around 1993; with her mom in 1991; the final note, discovered by the author when she was 23; the author and her mom outside their Huntsville home in November 1990.
Every morning, just before heading out into the predawn light to her job as a dentist for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, my mom would hunch over the laminate countertop in our dimly lit kitchen and scribble a note for me.
My mom had a particular attachment to handwritten notes.
At the same time, I was morphing from an oval-faced kid into something resembling an adult, one who looked and behaved much like my dad. At every milestone I was becoming ever more distant from the girl that my mom knew.
Her father left when she was a kid, and her mother dropped in and out, so my mom spent many of her teenage years taking care of her siblings.
At first I’d consumed the notebook so rapidly that the fact of its existence-that it was here, and my mom was not-was all that registered.
“Abby, Mom went to school a long time to become a dentist, and there is really not a way I can stay home with you. When you’re older, and understand more, maybe my hours will be flexible enough to spend time with you.”
In the first moments she learned of her cancer, my mom was not thinking about the pain or the treatments or the daunting uncertainty.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Break the Dangerous Cycle of Loneliness”

Perhaps one reason the piece made so many internet rounds is just how many people could relate: Last year Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned that Americans are “Facing an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.”
Though “I’m going to die alone” is the common grumble among single people, scientifically, it’s more like, “I’m going to die if I’m alone.” A lack of social connections can spark inflammation and changes in the immune system, so lonely people are far more likely to die prematurely.
People in marriages tend to feel less lonely than people not in marriages.
If you look at online dating, there you’re using it to meet other people, so not surprisingly, that tends to be associated with lower levels of loneliness.
Social interaction is sometimes called social engagement, basically the idea there is that loneliness can be cured by putting people together.
How would you do therapy to try to help people who think they’re lonely but are nonetheless wary of connecting with people?
What we teach is a whole set of skills: How do you read the face, the voice, the posture of people? And we showed them how incorrect those readings can be.
Lots of people want to be their friend, but how would you feel if all the people who want to be your friend, you had the alternative interpretation that they want material or social benefits that you could give them.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Giving Up Refined Sugar Changed My Brain”

Still, I found it hard to believe the refined sugar I was eating at every meal could really effect my cognitive abilities so much, so my friend said there was only one way to find out for sure: give up all refined sugar for two weeks to see if I noticed any changes.
The Refined-Sugar-Free Diet Giving up refined sugar isn’t easy from a practical standpoint.
It’s also important to note that for these two weeks I did not give up sugar entirely, only refined sugar.
“As you were not feeding your addiction, your brain was shouting out to have sugar to satisfy its cravings,” says Rebecca Boulton, a nutritional therapist who specializes in hormonal health and sugar cravings, whom I contacted to help me make sense of what was happening in my body.
“Your blood sugars are balanced without the constant roller coaster of sugar highs and lows,” says Boulton, “Which reduces your brain fog and increases mental clarity.”
I had no expectation that giving up refined sugar would help me sleep better, but it did.
After giving up refined sugars for only two weeks, I feel as if a veil has been lifted and I can see clearly for the first time.
Refined sugar is hidden in tens of thousands of foods and its addictive effect on the brain is more powerful than that of cocaine.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Myth of the Skills Gap”

Proponents of the idea tell an intuitively appealing story: information technology has hit American firms like a whirlwind, intensifying demand for technical skills and leaving unprepared American workers in the dust.
The mismatch between high employer requirements and low employee skills leads to bad outcomes such as high unemployment and slow economic growth.
The basic strategy is to ask: what skills do employers demand, and do the employers that demand high skill levels have trouble hiring workers?
The data imply that we should be careful about calling for more technical skills without specifying which skills we are talking about.
My data show that employers looking for higher-level computer skills generally do not have a harder time filling job openings.
Proponents of the skill-gap theory sometimes assert that the problem, if not a lack of STEM skills, is actually the result of a poor attitude or inadequate soft skills among younger workers.
Only 15 percent of computer help desks demand programming, a number that is slightly lower than the percentage of manufacturing plants that require programming skills for their production workers.
We would ultimately like to ratchet up both employer skill requirements and employee skill levels, but doing so requires that we think not only about adjusting worker skill levels, but also about changing employer behavior.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Dollar General Took Over Rural America”

Dollar General is opening stores at the rate of three a day across the US. It moves into places not even Walmart will go, targeting rural towns and damaged inner-city neighbourhoods with basic goods at basic prices – a strategy described by a former chief executive of the chain as “We went where they ain’t”.
The arrival of Dollar General cost the Foodliner hundreds of thousands of dollars over that time.
“Dollar General were saying this wasn’t an application for a Dollar General, it was an application for a retail store. It could be anything. It could be a clothing store. They didn’t want us to consider some significant issues such as local economic impact,” he said.
“On the average there are about 15 employees in these small grocery stores and Dollar General stores might have five employees. Profits from small-town grocery stores are generally going to stay in that town whereas profits made by Dollar General, a significant percentage of them anyway, are going to the corporate office in Tennessee,” he said.
“Grocery stores give more back to the community. They are much more likely to support local sporting teams, local faith-based organisations. Dollar General corporate policy sets a pretty strict limit on how much community giving they provide,” said Procter.
It remains to be seen how much business will transfer from the defunct grocery store to the Dollar General but the end result is the Haven’s main street is finding it even more of a struggle to survive with the diminished flow of people to pick up groceries.
“I would still vote for Dollar General. If one state didn’t accept the Model-T it wouldn’t have changed the outcome. I think Buhler voted their sentiment. The question is, in five years will they have a Dollar General or something similar?”.
Dollar Generals are frequently to be found in those areas and some studies have made a direct link between the rise of dollar stores and unhealthy eating.

The orginal article.