Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The existential lure of astrology

Astrology is often synonymous with mystery and fate. But popular astrologer Chani Nicholas uses words like “access” and “agency” to describe her approach, which is more akin to that of an activist organizing for social change than a clairvoyant inviting you into a curtained room. Nicholas, whose first book, You Were Born for This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance, was released on January 7, has been working in astrology for over 20 years, amassing over 300,000 followers on Instagram, including superstars like Lizzo and Me Too founder Tarana Burke. Last year, she was commissioned by Spotify to create monthly astrology...

The lost neighborhood under New York’s Central Park

If you’ve been to New York, there’s a good chance you’ve been to Central Park. But there’s a part of the land’s story you will never get to see. It’s a piece of hidden history that goes back to the 1820s, when this land was largely the open countryside of New York. The expanse became home to about 1,600 people — many of whom were escaping the crowded and increasingly dangerous conditions of lower Manhattan. Among them was a predominantly black community that bought up affordable plots to build homes, churches, and a school. The area became known as...

More than half the world’s millennials fear a nuclear attack this...

A majority of millennials around the world believe it’s more likely than not that a nuclear attack will happen sometime in the next 10 years — a sign that younger adults’ views on global affairs is exceedingly bleak. The International Committee of the Red Cross, a worldwide humanitarian organization, surveyed 16,000 millennials — adults between the ages of 20 and 35 — in 16 countries and territories last year: Afghanistan, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Russia, South Africa, Syria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States. Half of those nations are experiencing conflict right now,...

What we still haven’t learned from Gamergate

It’s natural to assess what sociocultural lessons we’ve learned from the previous decade, now that we’ve entered a new one — and whether they’re the kinds that might help us make the 2020s a better era. No honest attempt at such an assessment can be complete without grappling with the messy human dramas and the increasing trend toward polarized, incendiary conversations that emerged in the latter half of the 2010s. And that means contending with the unlikely, unpleasant, and far-reaching watershed movement that was Gamergate. As it was happening, many members of the media were quick to dismiss it....

Is rationality overrated?

Since the 1970s, behavioral economists — from Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky to Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler — have been chipping away at the idea that human beings are basically rational creatures. Their work has suggested that we’re actually a lot more irrational than we think. That’s caused no small amount of hand-wringing: Humans were supposed to be “the rational animal”! Are we instead just doomed to keep making lots of terrible decisions? New research says there’s another way to look at it. What if people often choose to be irrational in cases where doing the rational thing would...

What we know about a shooting, stabbing, and fire in Honolulu,...

Two police officers were killed in a shooting in Honolulu, Hawaii Sunday morning — a third officer was reportedly wounded, and fourth person was stabbed. According to Hawaii News Now, the suspected gunman — who is believed to have died as well — opened fire on police officers responding to a stabbing. That suspected gunman reportedly stabbed his landlord as she tried to evict him. After the officers arrived, the gunman is believed to have set fire to his building, and those flames destroyed at least three other homes. “A little bit before 10, we started smelling some smoke,”...

Is abuse of power an impeachable offense?

Throughout the impeachment process, President Donald Trump’s allies — from former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — have argued abuse of power isn’t an impeachable offense. In December, Trump was, of course, impeached in part on charges of abuse of power. But that isn’t stopping Republicans, including members of Trump’s legal team, from making the claim that abuse of power isn’t impeachable a key part of their defense ahead of the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Sunday, Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s legal team, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos abuse of power “is...

New anti-government protests in Beirut leave more than 300 injured

More than 300 people were injured on Saturday during clashes between protesters and police in Beirut, Lebanon, as the county struggles to find a way out of its worst economic crisis in decades. The protests first began last October after the government attempted to tax WhatsApp users to generate funds for damage caused by wildfires — some which protesters argued could have been avoided if the government had better prepared for the blazes. Already exhausted by water and electricity shortages and the rapid devaluation of the Lebanese pound, people took to the streets demanding the resignation of then-Lebanese Prime...

House managers: Trump poses an “immediate threat to the nation and...

The first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial gave a preview of what to expect in the upcoming weeks: The House impeachment managers called for Trump’s removal, arguing that his “conduct is the Framers’ worst nightmare,” while the president’s defense team called the entire impeachment process “brazen and unlawful.” House impeachment managers filed their 111-page trial brief to the Senate on Saturday. Throughout the document, the managers explain why Trump was impeached and why House Democrats believe he must be removed. They do so by outlining the manner in which Trump tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating his...

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are giving up their “royal highness”...

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced on January 18 that they will surrender their “royal highness” titles and repay the funds spent on renovating their home near Windsor Castle. The announcement comes 10 days after the couple decided to step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family and work to become financially independent. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives,” reads the press statement from Buckingham Palace. The...