Summary of “Alone: Lessons on Solitude From an Antarctic Explorer”

Fewer are familiar with another tale of Antarctic adventure, that of the almost five months Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd spent alone at the bottom of the world in 1934.
While Byrd’s journey was not outward but inward, his expedition to the farthest reaches of solitude covered a significant amount of ground, circumscribing the spirit of man and his place in the universe.
Why Byrd Decided to Spend a Season of Solitude at the Bottom of the World.
To address these yearnings, Byrd came up with a plan that aimed to kill two birds with one stone: during the long, dark Antarctic winter, he would man, alone, “The first inland station ever occupied in the world’s southernmost continent.” While the rest of his expedition team remained at the Little America base along the coast of the Ross Ice Shelf, Byrd would set up camp at Bolling Advance Weather Base on Antarctica’s colder, even more barren interior.
While Byrd discovered that a life lived in solitude offered many consolations, he was also very cognizant of its challenges.
While Byrd enjoyed two healthy, insight-filled months of solitude, thereafter conditions at Advance Weather Base unfortunately took a near-fatal turn, and cut short Byrd’s sojourn there.
If you plunged into a prolonged period of solitude and silence, away from every besetting distraction, what would happen to your mind? What insights would you discover? Would they be the same as Byrd’s? Different?
While most of us will never experience a state of silent solitude of the prolonged, all-encompassing kind inhabited by Richard E. Byrd, we can all find more pockets of it in our daily lives.

The orginal article.

Summary of “and they’re set to change our world”

About 600 million people, more than half India’s population, are under 25 years old; no country has more young people.
“No matter how poorly placed they find themselves now,” writes the book’s author, Delhi journalist Snigdha Poonam, “They make up the world’s largest ever cohort of like-minded young people, and they see absolutely no reason why the world shouldn’t run by their rules.” The effect, Poonam says, will be to “Change our world in ways we can’t yet imagine”.
Did my caller sound at all Indian? BT has closed one of its operations in India and some former call-centre staff might well be working a scam with stolen customer lists, which as well as making money offered the chance of revenge.
More recently an extract from Poonam’s book in the Guardian suggested another possibility: that the lists had found their way to a business devoted to scamming, such as the one in Mumbai where hundreds of youngsters were arrested for posing as US officials working on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2016, for example, more than 1.5 million people applied for 1,500 vacancies with a state-owned bank; more than 9 million took entrance exams for fewer than 100,000 posts on the railways; and more than 19,000 applied for 114 jobs as municipal street sweepers.
The sheer number of young people has yet to become an asset: only 2.3% of the Indian workforce has had formal training in skills and less than a fifth of Indian graduates are immediately employable.
In one such city, Indore, she visits the ninth-floor offices of WittyFeed, a successful viral content farm where nobody who attends the editorial conference is over 23 but where “a week is all it takes to go from not knowing anything about the world to deciding what the world should know”.
People who have never left India work late into the night to tickle the English-speaking world’s sated curiosity.

The orginal article.

Summary of “You Don’t Need a Daughter to Want a Better World”

Many women respond by projecting what they want onto their daughters.
The problem isn’t an aspiration to make the world a better place for one’s children; it’s that women don’t feel quite as entitled to make the world a better place for themselves.
Often, what we say we want for our daughters are the same things we also seek.
Who doesn’t want the world to be better for girls? Girls are an easy sell.
When we do pursue what we crave, the consequences of saying so out loud can be stark: pity the poor woman foolish enough to say that she doesn’t want children because she’d rather spend her money traveling the world, or had an abortion because she just did not want a baby, or admits she took the job because she craved power, or rejects marrying the nice guy because she would rather date and sleep with whomever she pleases.
Without meaning to, we feed into the same norms that keep the world a hostile place for women who want a good and fair life.
Do we want our daughters to spend their lives fencing themselves in so that they might better cater to others? Do we want our daughters to live their lives primarily in the service of their daughters?
If not, then we should treat ourselves with the love and adoration we bestow on our girls and start demanding what we actually want, right now.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History”

In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone.
“Intellectuals hate progress,” he writes, referring to the reluctance to acknowledge gains, and I know it feels uncomfortable to highlight progress at a time of global threats.
Most of the world lived under dictatorships, two-thirds of parents had a child die before age 5, and it was a time of nuclear standoffs, of pea soup smog, of frequent wars, of stifling limits on women and of the worst famine in history.
What moment in history would you prefer to live in?
Professor Roser notes that there was never a headline saying, “The Industrial Revolution Is Happening,” even though that was the most important news of the last 250 years.
I also believe in stepping back once a year or so to take note of genuine progress – just as, a year ago, I wrote that 2016 had been the best year in the history of the world, and a year from now I hope to offer similar good news about 2018.
The most important thing happening right now is not a Trump tweet, but children’s lives saved and major gains in health, education and human welfare.
Every other day this year, I promise to tear my hair and weep and scream in outrage at all the things going wrong.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Gentle Corrective for the Epidemic of Identity Politics Turning Us on Each Other and on Ourselves – Brain Pickings”

I have thought about Rorty often in watching the steamroller of our cultural moment level the beautiful, wild topography of personhood into variations on identity politics, demolishing context, dispossessing expression of intention, and flattening persons into identities.
Paradoxically, in our golden age of identity politics and trigger-ready outrage, this repression of our inner wildness and fracturing of our wholeness has taken on an inverted form, inclining toward a parody of itself.
Where Walt Whitman once invited us to celebrate the glorious multitudes we each contain and to welcome the wonder that comes from discovering one another’s multitudes afresh, we now cling to our identity-fragments, using them as badges and badgering artillery in confronting the templated identity-fragments of others.
The safety of conformity to an old-guard mainstream has been supplanted by the safety of conformity to a new-order minority predicated on some fragment of identity, so that those within each new group are as harsh to judge and as fast to exclude “Outsiders” from the conversation as the old mainstream once was in judging and excluding them.
In our effort to liberate, we have ended up imprisoning – imprisoning ourselves in the fractal infinity of our ever-subdividing identities, imprisoning each other in our exponentially multiplying varieties of otherness.
Each one of us is privileged to be the custodian of this inner world, which is accessible only through thought, and we are also doomed, in the sense that we cannot unshackle ourselves from the world that we actually carry All human being and human identity and human growth is about finding some kind of balance between the privilege and the doom or the inevitability of carrying this kind of world.
To come to terms with this – with the impermanence and mutability of our thoughts, our feelings, our values, our very cells – is to grasp the absurdity of clinging to any strand of identity with the certitude and self-righteousness undergirding identity politics.
Complement this particular direction of thought inspired by Walking on the Pastures of Wonder with James Baldwin and Margaret Mead’s spectacular conversation about identity and belonging, young Barack Obama on how we fragment our wholeness with polarizing identity politics, and Walt Whitman on identity and the paradox of the self, then revisit O’Donohue on the central pillar of friendship, how our restlessness fuels our creativity, and what makes life’s transience bearable.

The orginal article.

Summary of “D.H. Lawrence on the Antidote to the Malady of Materialism – Brain Pickings”

Half a century before Carson and Fromm, and decades before the golden age of consumerism, the English poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and painter D.H. Lawrence pressed his prescient fingers against the pulse-beat of culture to limn the malady that would define the century to come – the greed for power and material possession that would give rise to numerous dictatorships, exploit vulnerable populations, and deplete Earth’s resources – and envisioned a remedy it is not too late for us to implement.
Just before his thirtieth birthday in the summer of 1915, while escaping the tumult of World War I at the English seaside resort of Littlehampton, Lawrence contemplated the relationship between the increasingly artificial human world and the immutable authenticity of the natural world in a letter to his friend Lady Cynthia Asquith, found in The Letters of D.H. Lawrence.
Also over the river, beyond the ferry, there is the flat silvery world, as in the beginning, untouched: with pale sand, and very much white foam, row after row, coming from under the sky, in the silver evening: and no people, no people at all, no houses, no buildings, only a haystack on the edge of the shingle, and an old black mill.
For the rest, the flat unfinished world running with foam and noise and silvery light, and a few gulls swinging like a half-born thought.
Half a century before E.F. Schumacher made his elegant anti-consumerist case for “Buddhist economics,” Lawrence contrasts this living Paradise with the human-made inferno of materialism – an inferno whose blazing fire of greed and fuming brimstone of ownership have only intensified in the century since.
Lawrence, who was a vocal opponent of militarism despite how unpopular and downright anti-patriotic this rendered him in wartime Britain, no doubt saw the causal relationship between humanity’s growing hunger for material possession -the ultimate end of power – and the first truly global war that had just engulfed the world.
One feels a sort of madness come over one, as if the world had become hell.
Complement this fragment of the immeasurably beautiful Letters of D.H. Lawrence with Alan Watts on money vs. wealth, Henry Miller on how the hedonic treadmill of materialism entraps us, and E.F. Schumacher on how to begin prioritizing people over products and creativity over consumption, then revisit Whitman on what makes life worth living.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The 99 best things that happened in 2017”

In February, the World Bank published new figures showing that 20 years ago, the average malnourished person on planet Earth consumed 155 fewer calories per day than they needed.
In 2017, the United Kingdom, France and Finland all agreed to ban the sale of any new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
In November, a new global alliance of more than 20 countries, including the UK, France, Mexico, Canada and Finland, committed to ending their use of coal before 2030.
The cost of solar and wind plummeted by more than 25% in 2017, shifting the global clean energy industry on its axis.
China is going to install 54GW of solar by the end of 2017, more than any country has ever previously deployed in a single year, and doubled their 2020 goal to 213 GW. PV Magazine.
Following in China’s footsteps, India more than doubled its solar installations in 2017, accounting for more than 40% of new capacity, the largest addition to the grid of any energy source.
On International Women’s Day 2017, Iceland became the first country in the world to make equal pay compulsory by law.
Taiwan became the first Asian country to ban the eating of cats and dogs, with new laws imposing fines for consumption and jail time for killing and cruelty.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Tesla the Car Is a Household Name. Long Ago, So Was Nikola Tesla.”

The A.C. MotorIn 1884, Tesla came to New York to work for Thomas Edison with the hope that Edison would help finance and develop a Tesla invention, an alternating-current motor and electrical system.
In 1896, Tesla designed the power generating system at Niagara Falls, a big advance for his A.C. system.
After successful experiments in Colorado Springs in 1899, Tesla began building what he called a global “World System” near Shoreham on Long Island, hoping to power vehicles, boats and aircraft wirelessly.
Although the main Tesla lab building on Long Island is being restored by a nonprofit foundation – the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe – the World System broadcast tower he built there was torn down for scrap to pay his hotel bill at the Waldorf Astoria in 1917.
Robotic DronesAnother Tesla invention combined radio with a remote-control device.
Shortly after filing a patent application in 1897 for radio circuitry, Tesla built and demonstrated a wireless, robotic boat at the old Madison Square Garden in 1898 and, again, in Chicago at the Auditorium Theater the next year.
Tesla failed to fully collaborate with well-capitalized industrial entities after World War I. His supreme abilities to conceptualize and create entire systems weren’t enough for business success.
An earlier version of this article misstated who named the carmaker Tesla after the inventor Nikola Tesla.

The orginal article.

Summary of “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like 1937”

Much of Europe was in worse economic shape than the US, and political unrest had grown into quite the monstrosity.
The Great Depression led to the political strife of the 1930s, which led to World War II. The Great Recession of ’08-’09 led to much of the political strife we see today.
Will today’s political strife culminate in another massive war?
The political divide in the United States grows more intense by the day.
Will markets drop because of heightened political turmoil, or will falling markets spark more political turmoil? Perhaps both.
A shock from the political world could lead to a shock in markets, which could lead to even more political shocks.
Historically, markets have been most volatile in close proximity to disastrous political shocks.
Today’s economic and political conditions are similar to those of 1937 – a time right before the market crash that kicked off WWII. No, I’m not telling you to sell all your stocks and bury the money in the backyard.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A new featurette for Netflix’s Bright reveals the backstory that should have been in the film”

The action film is set in a modern fantasy world where elves, humans, and orcs live alongside one another, but it only alluded to the larger world that drives much of the story.
To help fill in those gaps, Netflix released a short video that highlights all of the history of the world that would have made the story a bit more comprehensible.
Bright might not have been great film, but it did introduce viewers to an intriguing fantasy world; it just didn’t explain any of it.
In short, magic was once prevalent throughout the world – ancient villages each had a wizard, and used for good.
This backstory is also plagued with some of the same flaws that accompanied the film: incongruities with an alternate world and the familiar history of our own.
It doesn’t all make sense in explaining the fantastical world with the more modern version we saw.
The answers that the short video provides are really useful if you watched the film – it provides some context for the world building that was frustratingly glossed over as Will Smith and Joel Edgerton raced from gunfight to gunfight.
Hopefully, whatever future Netflix has envisioned for this franchise will take a bit more time to explore the world a bit more.

The orginal article.