WHICH AMERICAN DREAM?


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There are two versions of the American Dream – one a rising standard of living for all and the the other the ability to achieve success through hard work and talent. Which dream do you live?

It is downright dangerous to identify the American Dream with intergenerational mobility, with progress defined as the children of janitors and store clerks becoming lawyers or doctors or professors. The number of job openings for vocations that require little or no training beyond high school will continue to exceed job openings in elite professions. It would be a social disaster if many janitors and store clerks are overqualified for the work they do and resentful of the society that promised too few high-status jobs to too many ambitious citizens.

A nation in which most citizens are told that they can achieve anything they want and that if they fail to do so the fault is purely their own, will be a society with a majority of embittered failures. In contrast, one in which the standard of living goes up constantly over time, for the less educated and less able as well as the highly educated and talented, is likely to be a happier nation.

The complete article

Michael Lind — The Smart Set

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Cinema Sans Color


Today’s Needull is a Youtube video from the always-so-awesome RocketJump Film School on the importance of the use of Black & White in Cinema. From the brief history of black & white movies to different forms of cinema developed due to limited technology to modern cinemas re-released in black & white, this narrative is an eye opener for anyone who thinks colours add life to movies.

Sometimes, it is the lack of them that does.

“Black and white” isn’t actually a genre of film. Rather, there are a multitude of different kinds of films that have all used black and white as a unique storytelling tool. Cinema’s history of black and white film is a rich one, filled with movies that have defined the very essence of cinema, that invite you to escape into new worlds, see things in new ways, experience the thrill and strangeness of fantasy, as well as the severity and truth of the real world. This video will explore how filmmakers have used black-and-white to the story’s advantage, and why it can be so beautiful and compelling.

Full Video Here

A Related Article by Adrienne Reid

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The Gift of Loneliness


Can loneliness be a gift? How do lonely people feel? What keeps them awake at nights?

Loneliness is accretive, extending and perpetuating itself.

Once it becomes impacted, it isn’t easy to dislodge. One of the good article I have read in awhile….

What did it feel like? It felt like being hungry, I suppose, in a place where being hungry is shameful, and where one has no money and everyone else is full. It felt, at least sometimes, difficult and embarrassing and important to conceal. Being foreign didn’t help. I kept botching the ballgame of language: fumbling my catches, bungling my throws. Most days, I went for coffee in the same place, a glass-fronted café full of tiny tables, populated almost exclusively by people gazing into the glowing clamshells of their laptops. Each time, the same thing happened. I ordered the nearest thing to filter on the menu: a medium urn brew, which was written in large chalk letters on the board. Each time, without fail, the barista looked blankly up and asked me to repeat myself. I might have found it funny in England, or irritating, or I might not have noticed it all, but that spring it worked under my skin, depositing little grains of anxiety and shame.

Full Article Here

Aeon – Olivia Laing

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The Crisis of Attention Theft—Ads That Steal Your Time for Nothing in Return


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Attention is a resource and we have limited quota of it. This is being stolen by Ads, whether we like it or not. Ads are everywhere, ads we don’t want and don’t need.

What makes it “theft?” Advances in neuroscience over the last several decades make it clear that our brain’s resources are involuntarily triggered by sound and motion; hence the screens literally seize scarce mental resources. As neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and psychologist Larry Rosen put it in their book, The Distracted Mind, humans have an “extreme sensitivity to goal interference from distractions by irrelevant information.” Meanwhile, in the law, theft or larceny is typically defined as the taking control of a resource “under such circumstances as to acquire the major portion of its economic value or benefit.” Given the established market value of time and attention, when taken without consent or compensation, it really is not much different from someone taking money out of your pocket. Hence, when the firms selling public-screen advertising to captive audiences brag of double-digit growth and billions in revenue, those are actually earnings derived by stealing from us.

The complete article

Tim Wu — Wired

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In Search of Islam


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“Among the Believers” was written by Naipaul in 1981. Today’s needull is a a review of the book. Many do not agree with Naipaul’s views but almost all agree that he is a great writer.

All four of them, like so many others they stand for, bring to their religion and tradition modern demands and anxieties. This creates pressures, for today’s needs are great. The outside world at once tempts and threatens Moslems. Many of them enter that world, but they can enter it only partly. When they fail to deal with it, they retreat into their shell. When they surrender to it, guilt seizes them. In Naipaul’s words: ”In the fundamentalist scheme the world constantly decays and has constantly to be re-created. The only function of intellect is to assist that re-creation. It reinterprets the texts; it re-establishes divine precedent. So history has to serve theology, law is separated from the idea of equity. …”

This theme comes close to being Naipaul’s central theme, and in dealing with it he lets his personal feelings get in the way of his presentation. He chides Moslems for being ”made” by the Western world they reject. Instead of trying to understand these people, Naipaul is ready to judge them. In his desire to discover their hidden vulnerabilities and point out their contradictions, their need for outside goods and outside approval, he tends to miss the drama and the real meaning of their situation. He forgets that it is part of the painful process of history that people are always made by the world they reject and that the rage at it they express is in large measure rage at themselves.

The complete article

Fouad Ajami — The New York Times

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A Day in an Ambulance


This Needull is a simple but interesting article from across the border, as the author spends a day with an ambulance driver in Karachi. Through the article, we take a look at a nation in shambles as organisations, like Eidhi Foundation, the one which owns this ambulance, do their bit to piece it together.

Sporting red T-shirts emblazoned with bold white letters reading “EDHI”, these workers are a familiar sight at Pakistan’s all-too-common disaster scenes. Here in Karachi, a megalopolis of around 20 million people, there is no state ambulance service.

Karachi has suffered through decades of violence. Ethnic tensions have been simmering since the 1950s, ramping up as conflict and natural disasters elsewhere in Pakistan pushed more and more people into the city. For years, gang war raged in the slum of Lyari, and as terrorism increased in Pakistan in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks and the declaration of the war on terror, Karachi became a key militant operating ground. Since 2014, a crackdown led by the army has brought a semblance of calm, but violence still simmers below the surface.

Full Article Here

Mosaic Science – Samira Shackle

More about Edhi Foundation

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Girls Like Them Long


Thanks to that boring lecture on Charles Darwin in high school, most of us assume that giraffes’ long necks are to help them reach food in the tops of trees. Well, to be fair, this is indeed the most preferred hypotheses by scientists all around.

But a few scientists think the necks have more to do with something more basic – SEX.

Today’s Needull is an interesting 1996 research paper from The American Naturalist journal that I came across inadvertently.

Around 15 million years ago, antelope-like animals were roaming the dry grasslands of Africa. There was nothing very special about them, but some of their necks were a bit long. Within a mere 6 million years, they had evolved into animals that looked like modern giraffes, though the modern species only turned up around 1 million years ago. The tallest living land animal, a giraffe stands between 4.5 and 5 metres tall – and almost half that height is neck.

Most people assume that giraffes’ long necks evolved to help them feed. If you have a long neck, runs the argument, you can eat leaves on tall trees that your rivals can’t reach. But there is another possibility. The prodigious necks may have little to do with food, and everything to do with sex.

Disclaimer: The views in this paper are not accepted by all evolutionary biologists. Most still believe that giraffe necks are a result of the scarcity of food. The necks-for-sex hypothesis by Simmons and Scheepers remains highly contentious and there are also multiple published evidence for the competing-browsers hypothesis.

P.S: As suggested in comments by our reader WeggieBoy, ‘the notion of long necks evolving in giraffes is classically Lamarckian more than Darwinian’. The reason why I have mentioned Darwin is because that is exactly what is taught in most high schools.

Full Paper Here

Related Article Here

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