Thursday 31 December 2015

The Procrastinator (some) Times End of 2015 & Beginning of 2016 Edition

Dear friends,

Welcome to the last edition of 2015 of The Procrastinator (some) Times. 2015 was a very intense year, not the best I've remember, definitely. This is how I wave you good-bye 2015 (merci Marine for such accurate representation of my feelings).

So, here are the articles that we have been reading lately and that will make a meaningful procrastination during this lazy January days. 

In our News and Science sections: New research on the role that poverty plays in intellectual development finds that a disadvantaged environment can prevent genetics from doing its jobThe Economist promises to explain Thomas Piketty's (massive) "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" in four decent sized paragraphs. The Independent will teach you how to cut down on meat without going cold turkey, if that's what you're into with this New Year's resolutions. Ozy introduce us to Jeremy England, the man who can change what we think about evolution... and faith.

In our Culture & Entertainment sections: the artist Francis Alÿs will stage workshops at an Iraqi refugee camp as part of the project Creativity for Survival: Art Workshops in Refugee Camps in Iraq. Gotta love Alÿs. I know, I do. CityLab, on the other hand, have compiled a list of myths we’re tired of debunking and phrases we’re tired of seeing—not to mention writing; from "hipster" to "sharing economy." #HatersGonnaHate. Ari Basciani, of Culturetas, shares with us this list published by The Atlantic of the TV shows to look forward to in 2016, and our collaborator Kerilyn shares why we should be watching The Royals.

So, this is it. We will be back soon(-ish), don't worry and enjoy your parties, your readings and keep making your procrastination a meaningful one in 2016!

Happy happy new year!

NEWS: Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarised in four paragraphs

Photo via The Economist.

"IT IS the economics book taking the world by storm. "Capital in the Twenty-First Century", written by the French economist Thomas Piketty, was published in French last year and in English in March of this year. The English version quickly became an unlikely bestseller, and it has prompted a broad and energetic debate on the book’s subject: the outlook for global inequality. Some reckon it heralds or may itself cause a pronounced shift in the focus of economic policy, toward distributional questions. This newspaper has hailed Mr Piketty as "the modern Marx" (Karl, that is). But what’s it all about?" The Economist promises to explain this (massive) book in four decent sized paragraphs. E.T.P. 4'

NEWS: Poverty's Role in Intellectual Development

Photo via CityLab.

"Whether intelligence is more the product of nature or nurture has long fascinated American social scientists and the general public alike. Typically the result is explained as some balance of genetics and environment, but since the early 1970s, researchers have noticed that this scale tends to shift dramatically across social classes. It’s as if nature and nurture play by different rules for rich and poor." Read full article in CityLab. E.T.P. 

SCIENCE: Jeremy England, the Man Who May One-Up Darwin

Photo via Ozy.

Ozy introduce us to Jeremy England, the man who can change what we think not only about evolution but also about faith.

"On a sunny afternoon, at a bustling cafe less than a mile from Stanford University’s campus, near Palo Alto, and more than 5,000 miles from his home, an assistant professor from MIT is telling me about science. Very advanced science. His name is Jeremy England, and at 33, he’s already being called the next Charles Darwin.
Say what?

In town to give a lecture, the Harvard grad and Rhodes scholar speaks quickly, his voice rising a few pitches in tone, his long-fingered hands making sudden jerks when he’s excited. He’s skinny, with a long face, scraggly beard and carelessly groomed mop of sandy brown hair — what you might expect from a theoretical physicist. But then there’s the street-style Adidas on his feet and the kippah atop his head. And the fact that this scientist also talks a lot about God."
Read full article in OZY. E.T.P. 7'

SCIENCE: How to cut down on meat without going cold turkey

Photo via The Independent.

"The environmental, health and animal welfare benefits of a meat-free diet are well known - but convincing people to forgo crispy bacon or juicy steak for the rest of their lives is not easy.
There might be a better way, one campaigner says. Instead of advocating vegetarianism, he is encouraging people to drastically cut down on eating meat without cutting it out completely. He calls it "reducetarianism"." Read full article in The Independent. E.T.P. 8'

CULTURE: Francis Alÿs to Hold Refugee Workshops in Areas Affected by ISIS

Francis Alÿs. Photo via ArtNet News.

This has to be one of the best news I've read lately. 

"The artist Francis Alÿs will stage workshops at an Iraqi refugee camp as part of the project Creativity for Survival: Art Workshops in Refugee Camps in Iraq.
Alÿs' activities, to start next year, will be in support of the Ruya Foundation, whose work is also supported by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The foundation is setting up a permanent art space in Camp Shariya in northern Iraq, which will facilitate adult refugees engaging in art through a program of talks, classes, and workshops led by a range of local and international artists including Alÿs, whose work has dealt with spatial justice and land-based poetics." Read full article in ArtNet News. E.T.P. 3'

CULTURE: Stubborn Myths and Dated Terms We'd Like to Retire in 2016

Photo via CityLab.

"Whether they’re overused, misunderstood, or wrongfully deployed, sometimes good words and concepts go bad. As CityLab wraps up 2015 and looks forward to a new year full of promise, we’ve compiled the following list of myths we’re tired of debunking and phrases we’re tired of seeing—not to mention writing. Maybe, just maybe, if we all hold hands and jump together, we can reduce the number of times we’re collectively forced to contend with these terms in 2016." Go to CityLab to read the extense list that include from "millenials" and "hipsters" to "artisanal" and "sharing economy"... They have their reasons. E.T.P. 8'


Image via The Atlantic.

Our contributor at Culturetas and confessed TV addict, Ari Basciani, shares with us this list published by The Atlantic of the shows to look forward to in 2016.

"2015 may have spawned the phrase “Peak TV” thanks to an onslaught of shows in every format imaginable, but 2016 isn’t going to offer much respite. In the coming months, terrestrial networks, premium cable, and streaming services will continue to pump out new series and bring back old favorites, no matter how niche their audience. Here’s a look at a fraction of what’s in store for the early months of 2016."

Go to The Atlantic to see the full list. E.T.P. 8'

ENTERTAINMENT: Top 5 Reasons You Should be Watching The Royals

Image via E!

By Kerilyn Tacconi.

1. Anglophilia - it is a show written by Americans for an American TV network about a fictional British royal family. And fabulously fictional they are! No English man or woman would be caught dead saying any of the lines because of their fabulously cheesy nature. There also are far too many Americans in the cast, which is especially absurd because of how posh everyone is. I am not sure if it is actually how America sees England or if it is how we wish England was. Either way, it is a love affair built on fantasy, which is the best kind. 

2. Aesthetic bliss - everyone is beautiful and wears beautiful clothes and the sets and locations are gorgeous. I don’t know where they found the clean streets and sun, but I’ll be the first in line for the bus tour. 

3. Jaspenor / Opheliam - who doesn’t love watching a blighted romance between people who are completely perfect for each other but incapable of a functional relationship? Will Jasper the bodyguard earn back Princess Eleanor’s trust? Will Prince Liam and Ophelia ride off into the sunset? We all, the entire internet, hopes so, but as season 2 rolls on that dream seems more impossible to realize. Excuse me while I go light some candles and listen to Adele’s 25 on repeat. 

4. A Soap Opera for Modern Times - it is a shame that us twenty and thirty somethings did not get the chance to spend our college days discussing daytime soap operas - who killed whom, whose kid was whose, who married their sister and who came back from the dead. Until now! The Royals has it all: an unsolved murder, a paternity scandal, people we thought were dead are not really, marital affairs, blackmail and back stabbing. Where’s my martini? 

5. Elizabeth Hurley - [nuff said] oh, and Joan Collins. 

Sunday 29 November 2015

The Procrastinator (some) Times Sunday 29th of November Edition

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, happy almost beginning of December! Let's hope the month ahead and the end of this very dense 2015 is a bit lighter that this terrible November.

This is a rather serious edition and we start, of course, with the News: Foreign Policy talks about the importance of saving the Shenghen Zone, a treaty that is under more pressure than ever. The Economist in its article A Continent like Belgium, affirms that the country is politically splintered and vulnerable to terrorism... just as the rest of Europe, because Belgium can be seen as a microcosm of Europe, "first, in its expression of the dream that domestic differences can be dissolved in a federalist soup; subsequently as an example of north-south mistrust. Recent events provide a third prism: like other European countries, Belgium is floundering in the face of a domestic terror threat. Here, as elsewhere, budget cuts have left police and intelligence services short of resources, including Arabic-speakers." 

Also, hundreds of thousands of people have marched worldwide to demand action to stop climate change, the day before a UN summit starts in Paris. And finally, The Economist share some of the newest Venezuelan slang sparked by the so-called Bolivarian Revolution. " After 17 years of "chavismo", the left-wing-ish ideology of the late Hugo Chávez, they have plenty of new material." (I added the -ish to the left-wing, just for the sake of keeping it real, you know).

In Science & Technology, we share TIME's research on the strange new science of floating. Scientists like the neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein believes floating could be a shortcut for many people to reach a meditative state, and reap some of its proven benefits. The Atlantic on the other hand teach us How not to die of botulism. "Highly-poisonous botulinum toxin (the stuff in Botox), played a formidable role in the history of food and warfare. It is still a factor in prison-brewed alcohol and some canned foods, and can quickly kill a person." 

In Culture & Entertainment, in an interview with Le Monde, the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler declared that the only way of fighting ISIS is by creating a believable, sustainable future for the young. Justin Gammil put together a list of just 30 words that -he says- will make an excellent addition to your everyday vocabulary; among them are askhole, bedgasm and chairdrobe. Also The Daily Dot responds why you shouldn't be scaring your cat with a cucumber

Hope you enjoy your reading, happy beginning of December for everyone!

NEWS: A Continent like Belgium

Illustration via The Economist.

"Brussels, wrote Tony Judt, is “a metaphor for all that can go wrong in a modern city”. The late historian, writing in 1999, was referring to the civic neglect that has left much of the Belgian capital, home to most institutions of the European Union, an unsightly mess of concrete and roadworks with the worst traffic in Europe. But his words could just as well apply to the string of terrorist plots and attacks that has provided Brussels, and some other Belgian cities, with a scabrous reputation as an incubator of jihadi ideology and a paragon of law-enforcement incompetence.

Belgium has long been the butt of European jokes, thanks in large part to its dysfunctional politics. In 2010-11 squabbles over the rights of Flemish-speakers on the outskirts of Brussels held up the formation of a government for 589 days, a world record. But the terror threat has exposed the darker side of Belgium’s maladministration, in the form of uncoordinated security services and neglected areas like Molenbeek, a down-at-heel Muslim-majority commune in west Brussels. After the Paris attacks, French officials sniped at their Belgian counterparts on learning that several of the perpetrators had hatched their schemes in Brussels. Two had been questioned by Belgian police earlier this year. One of them, Salah Abdeslam, fled to Brussels after having driven three of the Paris suicide-bombers to their destination.

We are all Belgians now

Yet no European country with a large Muslim minority has solved the problem of integration. Britain and France take different approaches, but each has seen scores killed in “home-grown” terrorist attacks. In Sweden, towns like Gothenburg are partially segregated; this week the government executed a screeching U-turn on its asylum policy. Even Germany, which is embarking on its own experiment in integration after having welcomed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, has struggled to accept that it is a land of immigration rather than of Gastarbeiter (“guest-workers”). In each of these countries and others, anti-immigration parties are climbing in the polls; in some, they top them.

Twenty years ago the main terrorist threat in Europe came from regional separatists. Ten years ago it was spectacular attacks by al-Qaeda, or groups inspired by it. It is now evolving into something messier, directed against softer targets, organised across borders and linked to gangland crime and weapons-trafficking. (Olivier Roy, a French expert on extremism, speaks of “the Islamicisation of radicalism”.) This raises urgent questions for officials across Europe, not least over how far they are willing to share intelligence and data with their counterparts elsewhere, whether within the EU or in other formats. It is time to stop bashing Belgium. Much of Europe is in the same boat."

Read the article in The Economist. E.T.P. 4'

NEWS: How to Save the Schengen Zone

Image via Foreign Policy.

"Even before the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month, the Schengen Agreement, which has largely removed barriers to internal movements of people across 26 European countries, was in trouble: A steady flow of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war and violence elsewhere in the Middle East had led to deep political strains, “temporary” fences and border closures, and finger pointing among member states. But now, with reports indicating that those involved in the Paris attacks made good use of Schengen’s open borders, entering Europe through an overwhelmed Greece, and using Belgium as a staging ground to attack the French capital, the treaty is under more pressure than ever." Read full article in Foreign Policy. E.T.P. 7'

NEWS: COP21: Rallies call for Paris climate change action

Pairs of shoes have been symbolically placed on the Place de la République in Paris

Nuns in South Korea rally. Phoyo by Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters via The Guardian.

Photo by Hani Mohammed/AP via The Guardian.

Pope Francis shoes in Place de la République, Paris.

Emma Thompson and Dame Vivienne Westwood attend the London march

Berlin, Germany. Photo by
via The Guardian.

Hundreds of thousands of people have marched worldwide to demand action to stop climate change, the day before a UN summit starts in Paris.

One campaign group says more than 570,000 protesters took part in marches on all the main continents.
Activists want action at the Paris talks to limit the rise in the average global temperature to 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels.

Hundreds of pairs of shoes were left on Place de la Republique to remember those left frustrated in their plans to march. Among them were a pair donated by Pope Francis, who has called for urgent action on climate change.

Elsewhere across the world:
  • an estimated 50,000 people took part in a march in central London, where opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed crowds
  • some of the earliest protests in the day took place in the Marshall Islands, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean threatened by rising seas
  • in Kenya, a march took place across the equator
  • a small group took part in a march across a glacier in the south of Chile
  • the mayor of Sydney in Australia tweeted to say that there were "at least 45,000" demonstrators, making it the biggest ever such march in the city

Read more in BBC. E.T.P. 3'  and see photos from around the world The Guardian E.T.P. 3'

NEWS: A Bolivarian-English dictionary

Illustration via The Economist.

Venezuelans are famously inventive with words. After 17 years of "chavismo", the left-wing-ish ideology of the late Hugo Chávez, they have plenty of new material. " Insults aimed at his “Bolivarian revolution” abound; the regime, now led by Nicolás Maduro, hurls its own ammunition. With parliamentary elections due on December 6th, The Economist offers a sample." Read them all in The Economist. E.T.P. 2'

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: The Strange Science of Floating

Image via TIME.

"While floating has always had fans in the wellness world, it’s undeniably grown in popularity. In 2011, there were 85 float centers in the United States, according to Aaron Thompson, who runs an online directory of flotation centers, and now there are more than 250. Floating has also attracted the interest of a small group of scientists who are trying to figure out if it has a place as a kind of therapy for some kinds of distress, including PTSD. Any proof that this helps people with stress disorders is anecdotal at this point, but something special appears to happen in brain while the body floats. Now, some scientists, like the neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein, are trying to find out what.

Feinstein believes so deeply in the therapeutic potential of floating that he built his whole career, and laboratory, around trying to prove it. This year he opened the only float lab in the country: the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Inside, you won’t find the claustrophobic coffin-like pods that make up most of the float tank market. His custom-made float pool has no enclosure, ensuring that people with anxiety disorders won’t be afraid to get in."

Read full article in TIME. E.T.P. 9'

SCIENCE 6 TECHNOLOGY: How Not to Die of Botulism

Image via The Atlantic.

"Botulinum toxin, a protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, could be “the most poisonous poison” there is, as writer Carl Lamanna called it in an article for Science, in 1959. First weaponized by Imperial Japan in the 1930s, and later, Nazi Germany, the United States, the Soviet Union, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, a single gram of toxin could theoretically kill more than a million people if dispersed into the air and inhaled. But before botulinum toxin became a bioweapon and a smoother of crow's feet as the drug Botox, botulism was historically a foodborne malady, and the toxin lurked in sausage and cured meats.

Botulism, the illness caused by toxin exposure, first received scientific attention in rural Germany in the late 18th century. Officials in Stuttgart saw an increase in “sausage poisoning” in the wake of the Napoleonic wars, possibly due to poor sanitation and widespread poverty. In the 1820s, a young German physician named Justinus Kerner was the first scientist to publish an accurate and comprehensive description of the disease. He analyzed more than 200 cases of suspected sausage poisoning. He fed extracts of these “sour” sausages to animals and described the classic symptoms of botulism. Muscle weakness leading to drooped eye lids, difficulty swallowing, and respiratory failure; altered autonomic nerve function leading to vomiting, pupil dilation, and dry mouth. Brazenly, he sampled a few drops of this extract himself—he survived, though it caused a “great drying out of the palate and pharynx,” a harbinger of Botox’s modern application in treating uncontrollable salivation for those with amyotrophic  lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Grateful citizens dubbed the scientist “Wurst-Kerner,” for his pioneering contributions to public health and sausagery. In 1870, another German physician renamed the illness “botulism” after the Latin word “botulus,” or sausage."

Read full article in The Atlantic. E.T.P. 8'

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: Bernard Stiegler on Daesh

Photo via Le Monde.

In an interview with Le Monde, the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler declared that the only way of fighting ISIS is by creating a believable, sustainable future for the young. "Employment is collapsing, especially among young people, and despair breeds violence. That's one more reason to help generate hope today. The attacks of November 13 were suicide attacks, and that is not insignificant: suicide is developing around the world, especially from a young population who knows they will be unemployed for a long time."

Read full interview (in French) in Le Monde. E.T.P. 

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: 30 New Words for Your Everyday Vocabulary

Image via I Heart Intelligence

"It’s weird to think that in our evolution as humans; speech has become so complex, yet we are always creating new words. In the first quarter of 2015 alone, there were roughly 500 words added to the Oxford English Dictionary. But how many of those words are relevant?" Justin Gammil put together a list of just 30 words thanks to Urban Dictionary and Bored Panda, that -he says- will make an excellent addition to your everyday vocabulary; among them are askhole, bedgasm and chairdrobe. Read them all in I Heart Intelligence. E.T.P. 3'


Image via The Daily Dot.

"People are scaring their cats with cucumbers. It’s been a meme for a little while now, but it became the subject of curiosity after Huffington Post made a supercut of cats getting startled by the sudden appearance of cucumbers. National Geographic followed up with several interviews with cat behaviorists, who generally agreed that this is a cruel thing to do to your pet. But why?" Find out in The Daily Dot. E.T.P. 4'

Sunday 1 November 2015

The Procrastinator (some) Times Sunday 01 of November Edition

Dear friends, we are back!

These holiday and post-holiday's weeks have been very busy, and we almost didn't make it for today. But I reckoned that if I didn't make this edition, even though is a short one, I was going to stop the Procrastinator all together, and I'm not ready yet to let go. Also, I have a really good excuse for not coming back until now: procrastination. Isn't it beautiful?

Anyway. Here's your edition. In our News section: China's one-child policy ends to "“increase labor supply and ease pressures from an ageing population”. The Guardian shares a drone-footage of the refugees in the Slovenian-Croatian border that shows the scale of the migration. We also ask ourselves if Hillary Clinton has a Lead GIF advisor, Matt Bors affirms in Medium that she might be the first presidential candidate to have one. Finally, in Venezuelan news, such is the extent of the country's economical crisis that even thieves reject the local currency.

In Science the latest research on the brain proves that working fewer hours doesn't just make you healthier. It makes you smarter, too.

In Design, Business & Innovation, Andrew Smith argues that PowerPoint is killing critical thought "Through PowerPoint, everything has a tendency to resemble a pitch rather than a discussion: information is “storyboarded”, as for a movie – but the presentation is not a movie and the presenter is rarely Brad Pitt. No wonder we are bored." Plus the little-known story behind Britain's road signs.

In Culture & Entertainment, The Guardian shares with us the first chapter of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman; Open Culture shares 130 free philosophy courses, on death, love, religion, film, law, the self the ancients and the moderns, a very wide spectrum; and since we're on it, we also have 30 Jean-Paul Sartre quotes for your next existential crisis. 

Finally, a little gift: Haute Cat-ure. Yes, yout got it. It's cat photos. 

Happy reading, happy Sunday, happy month, and hope you enjoy this late rentrée edition (:


NEWS: Refugees on Slovenia-Croatia border – drone video footage

Image: video pic via The Guardian.

"Aerial footage shows the scale of migration at the Slovenian-Croatian border, where hundreds of refugees are seen crossing farmland on foot on Sunday. The Balkan route switched to Slovenia after Hungary closed its border. An EU summit on Sunday agreed a plan to manage the flow of refugees by providing more shelter, border registration and increased naval operations." Watch the footage in The Guardian. E.T.P. 1'

NEWS: China Ends One-Child Policy

Photo: Cecilia Oramas via Flickr.

"Driven by fears that an aging population could jeopardize China’s economic ascent, the Communist Party leadership ended its decades-old “one child” policy on Thursday, announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children. The decision was a dramatic step away from a core Communist Party position that Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who imposed the policy in the late 1970s, once said was needed to ensure that “the fruits of economic growth are not devoured by population growth.” Read full article in The New York Times. E.T.P. 6' You can also read about it in The Guardian. E.T.P. 5'

NEWS: Does Hillary has a Lead GIF advisor?

GIF via Medium.

This is the theory that Matt Bors handles in Medium, while Republicans are playing for the audio bite, Hillary might be playing for the GIF, and she might be the first presidential candidate to consciously do so. "GIFs matter. Even if it presents a false narrative or cuts out crucial context — like the sound bite of yore — a fast-traveling GIF bite will prove devastating for candidates unable to preemptively supply the public with GIF-fable reactions and gestures that fit their campaign’s narrative. The 2016 election may very well hinge on a four second loop of an image file developed by CompuServe in 1987." Read full article in Medium. E.T.P. 3'

NEWS: Few in Venezuela wants Bolívares, but no one can spare a dime

All the meat freezers were empty last month in a grocery store in Caracas, Venezuela, part of a long list of shortages. CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times via NYTimes.

"Pity the bolívar, Venezuela’s currency, named after its independence hero, Simón Bolívar. Even some thieves do not want it anymore.
When robbers carjacked Pedro Venero, an engineer, earlier this year, he expected they would drive him to his bank to cash his check for a hefty sum in bolívars — the sort of thing that crime-weary Venezuelans have long since gotten used to. But the robbers, armed with rifles and a grenade, and sure that he would have a stash of dollars at home, wanted nothing to do with the bolívars in his bank account.
“They told me straight up, ‘Don’t worry about that,’ ” Mr. Venero said. “Forget about it.”
The eagerness to dump bolívars or avoid them completely shows the extent to which Venezuelans have lost faith in their economy and in the ability of their government to find a way out of the mess.
A year ago, $1 bought about 100 bolívars on the black market. These days, it often fetches more than 700 bolívars, a sign of how thoroughly domestic confidence in the economy has crashed."
Read full article by William Neuman and Patricia Torres in The New York Times. E.T.P. 9'

SCIENCE: Relaxing Makes You More Creative

Image via INC

You've probably heard the saying "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I suspect that most people interpret this as a comment on Jack's personality: He's "dull" because all he can think or talk about is work.
But that's not what the saying actually means. According to the latest neuroscience, overwork makes your brain "dull" in the sense of being the opposite of "sharp." Overwork, in other words, kills your creativity.
Scientists studying brain scans recently discovered that moments of creativity take place when the mind is at rest rather than working on something. And since creative approaches are so crucial to success, workaholics are working themselves out a job." That's why you should relax when you procrastinate, you'll probably end up doing a more creative job anyway! Read full article by Geoffrey James in INC. E.T.P. 5'

DESIGN, BUSINESS & INNOVATION: How PowerPoint is killing critical thought

Photo via The Guardian.

Andrew Smith shares his impressions on PowerPoint as the equivalent of a sleeping pill for the eager mind while enforces "a rigidly hierarchical authority, which has not necessarily been earned. He recalls listening to a debate, on Radio 4’s Today show, about lecturing standards at British universities. He says: "I have two children at uni who have both have found lectures frustrating, so the contention of the education minister Jo Johnson that quality in this area was “highly variable” came as no surprise to me. What’s more, during sample orations on open days, I had the same experience of being bored to tears by things I felt I should have enjoyed. So when my daughter reported an exception to this rule, I knew what my first question would be.

“Did the lecturer use PowerPoint?”

“Hm. No, he just spoke,” she said.

PowerPoint is so ubiquitous that Lotte hadn’t made the connection. But the lectures I attended had left me in no doubt that Microsoft’s wildly successful “presentation” program is not just inimical to, but destructive of, deep thought, and could have been scientifically designed to put the most eager mind to sleep. The more I inquired into why this might be, the more I began to see its somnolent reflection everywhere." Read the full article in The Guardian. No PowerPoint visual resources guaranteed. E.T.P. 4'

DESIGN, BUSINESS & INNOVATION: The Little Known Story of British Road Signs


"If you think about it, traffic signs should be invisible. Not see-through invisible, but intuitively invisible; if they work like they’re supposed to, you won’t even realize you’re using them.
That was the challenge put to Lock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert in 1958, when the British government hired the London designers to devise a new signage system for the country’s roads. Up until then, traffic wayfinding in the UK had been aided through a slapdash series of roadside posts, cobbled together in various colors, fonts, and type sizes. The system was so bad that the design magazine Typographica published two photo essays condemning its terrible usability. If longevity is any measure, the Kinneir-Calvert signage system worked: It’s still in place today, and has informed a number of other similar projects around the world." Read full article in Wired. E.T.P. 4' 

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

The Guardian shares with us (and the rest of the world) exclusively the first chapter of Harpers Lee's Go Set a Watchman. You can read it and see the beautiful illustrations and animations in the website or listen to Reese Witherspoon read it for you. Go have a read or a listen in The Guardian. E.T.P. 23'45''. 

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: Tools for Thinking About Life, Death & Everything Between

Image via Open Culture

"What is “Philosophy”? Yes, we know, the word comes from the Greek philosophia, which means “the love of wisdom.” This rote etymological definition does little, I think, to enhance our understanding of the subject, though it may describe the motivation of many a student. Like certain diseases, maybe philosophy is a spectrum, a collection of loosely related behaviors. Maybe a better question would be, “what are all the symptoms of this thing we call philosophy?” The medical metaphor is timely. We live in an age when the discipline of philosophy, like many of the humanities, gets treated like a pathology, in universities and in the wider culture. See, for example, popular articles on whether science has rendered philosophy (and religion) obsolete. There seems to be an underlying assumption in our society that philosophy is something to be eradicated, like smallpox."

Open Culture has compiled a list of 130 philosophy courses "from as much of the wide spectrum as we could, spanning such diverse ways of thinking as University of Chicago’s Leo Strauss on Aristotle’s Ethics and Plato’s Laws, to Columbia University Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman (Uma’s dad) on “The Central Philosophy of Tibet”. So, go ahead and have a listen, a download, a read, a revelation, an epiphany in Open Culture. E.T.P. Something between the whole winter or your whole life. One never knows.

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: 30 Jean-Paul Sartre Quotes For Your Next Existential Crisis

Photo via The Star.

I have no idea why I bumped into this (old) article this week, but I did and I though: why not sharing it after all winter is coming. Best season for an existential crisis, am I right? "Hated, revered, and sending people into an existential tizzy since 1940-something, Jean-Paul Sartre’s work remains crucial. Today (June 21, 2014) would have been his 109th birthday. Intent on provoking us to “challenge every idea and every person,” Sartre’s assertions demanded we accept responsibility for our choices and our world, while embracing the inconceivable unknown. His devastating philosophies about being and nothingness continue to plunge people and their angst-ridden egos into the depths of an existential crisis. Mull these 30 quotes over the next time you’re contemplating the meaninglessness of it all, your place in this alien universe, and feeling trapped within the deeper recesses of your own psyche. After all, misery loves company." Read all the quotes in Flavorwire. E.T.P. 3'

PROCATINATION: United Bamboo: Haute Cat-ure

“The idea of putting cats in clothes is kind of a national past time in Japan, so I’m told,” explains Noah Sheldon, who shot these decked-out feline portraits for cult brand United Bamboo's 2011 calendar. Sheldon credits the idea to the Japanese arm of the fashion design duo, Miho Aoki (the other half being Thuy Pham, who is Vietnamese). Fashion Institute of Technology graduates Aoki and Pham—favorites on New York’s downtown scene, whose clients and collaborators include Karen O, Kim Gordon, Sean Lennon and Terence Koh—culled looks from their fall and resort collections, as well as a few annual staples such as the parka, and recreated them in miniature for the furballs." Read full article and have a look at the photos in Nowness. E.T.P 4'