A Letter From Mosul


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Angelina Jolie from Mosul.

In Mosul, I felt I was standing at a ground zero of foreign policy failures over the last decade. But also in a place that represents the human capacity for survival and renewal, and the stubborn endurance of universal values in individual hearts.

I think of a father I met, and his joy that his two young daughters are now able to go to school again. Penniless and without a roof over his family’s heads, he spoke as if he had no more treasured possession than their report cards. There would be no more profound symbol of victory than every girl in Mosul being able to go back to school and excel.

Does Alexa Know I’m Gay?


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How much does Alexa know about you based on your data?

NICOLE: Alexa, am I gay?

ALEXA: If you are, you’ll find that you’re primarily attracted to people of your own sex. You might consider connecting with a resource like PFLAG, which offers multiple resources and programs for LGBTQ individuals and their families. Their website is pflag.org.

So either PFLAG is an Amazon sponsor or the people at Amazon have figured out how to avoid questions about sexuality (a skill I learned when I was 14).

The complete article

Nicole Boyce — NYMag

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Lonely


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The urban epidemic – loneliness.

That people are feeling lonely in today’s world seems ironical. We are better ‘connected’ than ever—at least on social media. Today, one gets the instant gratification of sharing something with others and watching the ‘likes’ and comments come in. Duke University psychologist Jenna Clark and her team have pointed at the superficiality of what they call ‘social snacking’, where one browses the Facebook timelines of other people for a sense of belonging. “Social media just gives the appearance of intimacy,” says Dr Vishal Sawant, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist. “A few years ago, if we got bored in a place like Mumbai, we would go call a friend. But now we open our laptops. Something has got to give.”

The complete article

Rahul Pandita & Lhendup G Bhutia — OPEN

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Hero or War Criminal? Churchill in Retrospect


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A damning critique.

But the principal victims of Winston Churchill were Indians, ‘a beastly people with a beastly religion’, as he charmingly called us. Churchill’s beatification as an apostle of freedom seems all the more preposterous given his explicit declaration in 1941 that the principles of the Atlantic Charter would not apply to India. Churchill’s notions of freedom and democracy faltered at the frontiers of empire: he was an appalling racialist, one who could not bring himself to see people of colour as entitled to the same rights as himself. “Gandhi-ism and all it stands for,” declared Churchill, “will, sooner or later, have to be grappled with and finally crushed.” He spoke luridly of having the Mahatma tied to the ground and trampled upon by elephants.

The complete article

Shashi Tharoor — OPEN

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Most Men Don’t Realize They’re Depressed


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“Men are more likely to externalize their symptoms, so depression can come out as anger rather than sadness, making it less likely to be diagnosed as such,” says Michaelis. In fact, depressed men are more likely to feel angry and aggressive, exhibit more risky behavior, and more likely to turn to substance abuse than women, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Alcohol isn’t the only mechanism, either. Men more often use tools like drugs, abuse, inappropriate sex, or gambling to attempt to control their feelings or quell their anxiety, Michaelis adds.

The complete article

Rachael Schultz — Men’s Journal

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The School of Life — Why so Many People Want to Be Writers


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A question I too have had.

The longing one day to turn out a book — probably a novel or, less likely, an autobiography lies close to the center of contemporary aspirations. This is, at one level, a hugely welcome development, a consequene of widespread literacy, higher educational standards and a proper focus on the power of books to change lives.

But looked at from another angle, it may also, in private, be the result of something rather more desultory: an epidemic of isolation and loneliness.

The army of literary agents, scouts, editors and writing coaches testifies not only to our love of literature, but also, less intentionally, to an unaddressed groundswell of painful solitude.

The complete article

William Cho — Student Voices

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Stranger Things #1: But I’m a Creep


Every now and then a starry-eyed academic reminds us that there is something called Eros and that we have to be careful not to sacrifice it on the altar of conventional morality. A recent essay in the Boston Review is the latest instance of this genre. The writers, Marta Figlerowicz and Ayesha Ramachandran, two junior Yale professors, warn that “in our current rush to respond to sexual harassment claims with effective actions, we may be engaging in … a moral panic.” They hope that the classroom remains a “safe space” which leaves room for “ambiguity”, and that we have to recognize that “we and our students are embodied beings.”

The complete article

Gal Katz — The Point Magazine