Nothing you think matters today will matter the same way tomorrow

Why we don’t really have a clue about the future

“Asked at the time of the 1964 World’s Fair to anticipate 2014, Isaac Asimov got some things right (miniaturized computers, online education, flat-screen television, and what we now know as Skype), but many of his utopian predictions were delusional. His wrong calls included not just his interplanetary fantasies but his vision of underground suburbs that would protect mankind from war…” Image Credit

Frank Rich | New York Magazine

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The truth about evil

On the danger of believing a uniquely human characteristic can be vanquished

““But the man’s uniquely evil, isn’t he?” Blair made this observation in November 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, when he invited six experts to Downing Street to brief him on the likely consequences of the war. The experts warned that Iraq was a complicated place, riven by deep communal enmities, which Saddam had dominated for over 35 years.” Image Credit

John Gray | The Guardian

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She tweeted against the Mexican cartels. They tweeted her murder.

How a ruthless cartel finally caught up with a citizen journalist

“Extortion, kidnappings, shootouts, arson, bodies excavated from arid pits, all of this happens in Tamaulipas, practically on a daily basis, but hardly any of it gets reported because of a media blackout the cartels decreed four years ago that is as strictly enforced as martial law after a coup. Two rival drug cartels in Tamaulipas, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, have final say over what gets printed or broadcast in the local media.” Image Credit

Jason McGahan | The Daily Beast

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The malaria fighter

On the man quietly trying to bring down malaria

“He first drafted a resignation letter after Mr. Obama was elected; it was declined. He prepared it again after the transition team for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the new secretary of state, ousted his counterpart overseeing AIDS…He may attract less fire, he conceded, because his disease is less controversial. It does not involve condoms, abstinence, homophobia or prostitution, and no one lobbies for mosquito rights.” Image Credit

Donald G. McNeil Jr. | The New York Times

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How Lincoln played the press

If you think the media today is bad…

“Every bit of that information was blatantly biased in ways that would make today’s Fox News blush. Editors ran their own candidates—in fact they ran for office themselves, and often continued in their post at the paper while holding office. Politicians, knowing this, cultivated their own party’s papers, both the owners and the editors, shared staff with them…” Image Credit

Garry Wills | The New York Review of Books

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Life on the Himalayan trail just days before a disastrous snowstorm

A trip to the Thorung La Pass just days before the disaster that killed 40 people

“Most people who attempt to cross the pass do not require any training, but the potential for acute altitude sickness remains, and it has taken lives of both foreigners and Nepalis in the past. So, like most enthusiastic foreigners who come to the Himalayas, we decided to trek the circuit without any technical preparation.” Image Credit

Anup Kaphle and Whitney Shefte | The Washington Post

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The anarchic experimental schools of the 1970s

What happened to the kids who attended Britain’s rule-free schools?

“There was no formal funding and they charged no fees. They relied on donations and freebies…One day, Ord says, Paul McCartney phoned up the school in Scotland Road. Wings were doing a gig in Liverpool. “Would you like to bring some of the kids? Oh and bring a bucket – I’ll make an announcement and you can do a collection.”” Image Credit

Tom de Castella | BBC News Magazine

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Bill Clinton in BubbaLand

On the place where they still believe the former president is capable of miracles

“Pretty much everyone here, even many of the Democrats, can’t stand Obama. Romney beat the President here by 24 points, and his approval ratings out in the countryside can hit single digits. The most staggering thing is that people will tell you straight up it’s because he’s black. Most often, this comes with a qualifier—“You know the history of the South,”…” Image Credit

Lisa DePaulo | Bloomberg Politics

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Why Instagram worked

Co-founder Mike Krieger describes the change of course that led to incredible success

“At first, we were building an app called Burbn, a location-based social network written in HTML5. Burbn was well-liked and had a few passionate daily actives, but it wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Our attempts at explaining what we were building was often met with blank stares, and we peaked at around 1,000 users. For those early adopters, though, it was a new way of sharing what they were doing out in the world.” Image Credit

Mike Krieger | Backchannel

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Forty years on from the Rumble in the Jungle, Kinshasa is a city of chaos

On Kinshasha in the aftermath of the showdown between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman

“A huge image of President Mobutu, who had offered an extraordinary $10m to bring the fight to Kinshasa and put the country he had renamed Zaire on the map, joined the stadium’s four distinctive banks of lights in towering over the crowd. Mobutu had left little to chance. He allegedly rounded up 1,000 of Kinshasa’s leading criminals before the fight and held them in rooms under the stadium before executing 100 of them to make his point.” Image Credit

Thomas Yocum | The Guardian

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