Inside the making of the brilliant, moving first 10 minutes of Pixar’s ‘Up’
On the night of May 29, 2006, after seeing the documentary An Inconvenient Truth in Manhattan, Jeff Gross drove home from the Staten Island ferry to Ganas, a communal-living experiment he’d spent decades building.
He climbed the steep steps up to the group’s cluster of houses scattered among leafy walkways and squinted his way through uncut shrubs and poor lighting. As Jeff approached his porch, a figure stepped from the shadows and raised a handgun.
“What do you want?” Jeff shouted, and then, “No, no, don’t do it!”
Shots pop-pop-popped as the shooter unloaded six rounds into his hip, stomach, arm, and neck. Jeff fell to the ground, blood pumping from his wounds. His assailant stepped over him and fled. A neighbor who heard the shooting knelt beside Jeff and shouted for towels to stanch the bleeding.
Many moments had delivered Jeff to this one. Since 1980, Ganas had been a community that embraced all manner of new-agey life. But his relationship with the group—particularly with its charismatic and often abusive leader, Mildred Gordon—had become unrecognizable since their early days. He’d signed over a small fortune, endured thousands of hours of “feedback” sessions, and entered a four-way marriage. And now he was bleeding out in the back of an ambulance.
How had Jeff gotten into this mess? And why had he stayed?
Researchers found bacterial cells so large they are easily visible to the naked eye, challenging ideas about how large microbes can get. […]
The simplicity of bacteria seemed to explain why they were so small: They just didn’t have the complexity essential for getting big.
However, this conclusion was made too hastily, according to Shailesh Date, the founder of the Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems in Menlo Park, Calif., and a co-author with Dr. Volland. Scientists made sweeping generalizations about bacteria after studying just a tiny portion of the bacterial world. […]
Inside the cells of Thiomargarita magnifica, the researchers have discovered a bizarre, complicated structure. Their membranes have many different kinds of compartments embedded in them. These compartments are unlike those in our own cells, but they may allow Thiomargarita magnifica to grow to huge sizes.
Some of the compartments seem to be fuel-generating factories, where the microbe can tap the energy in nitrates and other chemicals it consumes in the mangrove.
Thiomargarita magnifica also has other compartments that look remarkably like human nuclei. Each of the compartments, which the scientists call pepins after the small seeds in fruits like kiwis, contains a loop of DNA. While a typical bacterial cell has just one loop of DNA, Thiomargarita magnifica has hundreds of thousands of them, each tucked inside its own pepin.
Even more remarkably, each pepin contains factories for building proteins from its DNA. “They’ve got essentially little cells within the cells,” said Petra Levin, a microbiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the study.
From there, the team sorts each client into one of three groups:
If they’re planning to have the baby: “LTC,” likely to carry.
If they’re on the fence: “AV,” abortion vulnerable.
If they’re planning to get an abortion: “AM,” abortion minded.
The Pregnancy Center of the Coastal Bend, which advertises itself as the “#1 Source of Abortion Information” in the region, is one of thousands of crisis pregnancy centers across the United States, antiabortion organizations that are often religiously affiliated.
When Brooke showed up with her mom for her appointment, she had no idea she’d walked into a facility designed to dissuade people from getting abortions. She also didn’t know how much significance her form held for the staff: By signaling that she wanted an abortion, she became their first “AM” of the Texas Heartbeat Act.
Brooke heard about the center from her mom’s friend, who knew she needed an ultrasound. This place offered them free. Brooke felt a sense of calm, sitting in the waiting room, lulled by its decorative throw pillows and soft watercolors of ocean scenes.
The advocate assigned to her case, Angie Arnholt, had been counseling abortion-minded clients at the pregnancy center for a year. While many of the center volunteers signed up only to talk to “LTCs” to have happy conversations about babies their clients couldn’t wait to have, Arnholt, a 61-year-old who wears a gold cross around her neck, felt called to do what she could to help women “make a good decision,” she later told The Washington Post.
Back in a consultation room, Brooke told Arnholt all the reasons she wanted to get an abortion. She had just enrolled in real estate classes at community college, which would be her first time back in a classroom since she dropped out of high school three years earlier at 15. She and Billy had been dating only three months.
Sitting across from Brooke and her mom, Arnholt opened “A Woman’s Right to Know,” an antiabortion booklet distributed by the state of Texas, flipping to a page titled “Abortion risks.” The first risk listed was “death.”
The crews of these ultra-large ships are, by comparison, ultra-tiny; a U.L.C.V. can travel from Hong Kong to California carrying twenty-three thousand containers and just twenty-five people. As a result, it is not unheard-of for a few of those containers to go overboard without anyone even noticing until the vessel arrives in port. (That’s despite the fact that a fully loaded container is roughly the size and weight of a whale shark; imagine the splash when it falls a hundred feet into the ocean.) More often, though, many containers shift and fall together in a dramatic occurrence known as a stack collapse. If fifty or more containers go overboard in a single such incident, the shipping industry deems the episode a “catastrophic event.”
How often any of this happens is a matter of some debate, since shipping companies are typically under no obligation to publicize the matter when their cargo winds up in the ocean. […]
The W.S.C. disputes the idea that its data are in any way inaccurate. But, whatever the number, container loss seems to be growing more common. In November of 2020, a ship called the one Apus, on its way from China to Long Beach, got caught in a storm in the Pacific and lost more than eighteen hundred containers overboard—more in one incident than the W.S.C.’s estimated average for a year. The same month, another ship headed to Long Beach from China lost a hundred containers in bad weather, while yet another ship capsized in port in East Java with a hundred and thirty-seven containers on board. Two months later, a fourth ship, also on its way from China to California, lost seven hundred and fifty containers in the North Pacific. The past few years have been characterized by a steady stream of reports about some other quantity of containers lost in some other patch of ocean: forty off the east coast of Australia; twenty-one off the coast of Hawaii; thirty-three off Duncansby Head, Scotland; two hundred and sixty off the coast of Japan; a hundred and five off the coast of British Columbia. On and on it goes, or, rather, off and off.
Advocates of this kind of training have their hearts in the right place. We are all familiar with comparisons showing that Black people earn 50% less than white peers and women earn 70 cents for every dollar that a man earns.
However, the most popular tools used to combat disparities in the workplace have produced almost no measurable results.
The average impact of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training is zero and some evidence suggests that the impact can become negative if the training is mandated. […]
One of the most important developments in the study of racial inequality has been the quantification of the importance of pre-market skills in explaining differences in labor market outcomes between Black and white workers. In 2010, using nationally representative data on thousands of individuals in their 40s, I estimated that Black men earn 39.4% less than white men and Black women earn 13.1% less than white women. Yet, accounting for one variable–educational achievement in their teenage years––reduced that difference to 10.9% (a 72% reduction) for men and revealed that Black women earn 12.7 percent more than white women, on average. Derek Neal, an economist at the University of Chicago, and William Johnson were among the first to make this point in 1996: “While our results do provide some evidence for current labor market discrimination, skills gaps play such a large role that we believe future research should focus on the obstacles Black children face in acquiring productive skill.” […]
In 2013, collaborators and I developed a similar test to detect information-based bias. Our approach uses the insight that if employers have information-based biases at the time of hiring, but then learn more about an employee’s productivity once they are on the job, one would expect to see the returns to tenure within the company to be higher for the group that faced the initial bias. Using a nationally representative dataset of thousands of individuals, we found that there was a significant gap at the time of hiring for Black candidates relative to white peers but that, as predicted, Black candidates experienced a 1.1 percentage point higher return to tenure.
Writing about ideal governance reminded me of how weird my experiences with nonprofit boards (as in "board of directors" - the set of people who formally control a nonprofit) have been.
I thought that was a pretty good intro. The rest of this piece will:
Try to articulate what's so weird about nonprofit boards, fundamentally. I think a lot of it is the combination of great power, unclear responsibility, and ~zero accountability; additionally, I haven't been able to find much in the way of clear, widely accepted statements of what makes a good board member.
Give my own thoughts on what makes a good board member: which core duties they should be trying to do really well, the importance of "staying out of the way" on other things, and some potentially helpful practices.
People use imprecise words to describe the chance of events all the time — “It’s likely to rain,” or “There’s a real possibility they’ll launch before us,” or “It’s doubtful the nurses will strike.” Not only are such probabilistic terms subjective, but they also can have widely different interpretations. One person’s “pretty likely” is another’s “far from certain.” Our research shows just how broad these gaps in understanding can be and the types of problems that can flow from these differences in interpretation.
In a famous example (at least, it’s famous if you’re into this kind of thing), in March 1951, the CIA’s Office of National Estimates published a document suggesting that a Soviet attack on Yugoslavia within the year was a “serious possibility.” Sherman Kent, a professor of history at Yale who was called to Washington, D.C. to co-run the Office of National Estimates, was puzzled about what, exactly, “serious possibility” meant. He interpreted it as meaning that the chance of attack was around 65%. But when he asked members of the Board of National Estimates what they thought, he heard figures from 20% to 80%. Such a wide range was clearly a problem, as the policy implications of those extremes were markedly different.
In publishing, there are some books that are too big to fail. Very early on you get the message that this is a Major and Very Important Book. In 2013, that book was Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which sold more than 1.5 million copies in its first year. She was the chief operating officer of Facebook, back when most of us had no understanding of the platform’s fearsome powers—in the halcyon days when we thought it was just for sharing pictures of the grandkids and ruining marriages. The book was about how women can make it to the top. It was a sort of “work-life balance” category buster, because she was telling women to pretty much forget about the “life” part.
In the weeks before the big rollout, I was contacted by editors at several publications asking if I would write something about it. I knew exactly what they wanted—not the main article, which would be a rapturous announcement of this bold American visionary. They wanted some crank to pump out a “What About the Children?” sidebar, pointing out that to lean into work you have to lean away from your family, to lend a spirit of objectivity to their 21-gun salutes to author and book. Trust me, around 2013 I was the top crank for that kind of thing. […]
During her 14 years at the company, she’s done so much damage to our society that we may never recover. The simple truth is that you cannot simultaneously dedicate yourself to making untold fortunes for a giant corporation and to championing a social good. […]
“We made mistakes and I own them,” Sandberg eventually said about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “They are on me.” The impression was of radical transparency, a Harry Truman of the C-suite: The buck stops here.
But according to The New York Times, the buck was about to embark on an Oh, the Places You’ll Go! journey to the bottom of the Earth. Sandberg oversaw the company’s bizarre damage-control efforts. It was an old-school, dirty-tricks campaign, combined with the unimaginable power of Facebook. That campaign included hiring “a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros,” and lobbying “a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.”
Excuse me—Facebook did what?
But more interesting is the way that Sandberg deployed some of her personal power. In Lean In, we were power-posing, assuming male levels of self-confidence, asking for the big money and knowing we deserved it. But when The Daily Mail attempted to publish something unflattering about Sandberg’s then-boyfriend, the Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, she seemed more like the head cheerleader standing up for the captain of the football team. On two separate occasions she is said to have contacted The Daily Mail and successfully kept the information out of the paper.
The only reason this is worth including is because this was written in December 2021:
With over $20b in assets under management Celsius Network is the biggest centralised lending platform in the crypto space. Its flagship product: 10 to 12.68% annual returns on USD stable coins and this with little to no risks.
Sounds too good to be true? It certainly is!
There are a lot of them: Americans on the run from U.S. law enforcement who have slipped into northern Mexico. They include fugitives on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, serial killers, billionaires accused of securities fraud.
Here in Baja California, there’s one small unit of state police — 10 men and two women — assigned to catch them. Officially, they’re the International Liaison Unit. But they’re known by another name: the Gringo Hunters.
Pursuing American fugitives in Mexico might seem like the punchline of an unwritten joke, a xenophobic stereotype inverted: Donald Trump’s “bad hombres” in reverse.
This is, after all, the Baja Peninsula, a dagger of land jutting into the Pacific, with deserted beaches and sprawling cities that nurture anonymity. Among its most popular tourism campaigns? “Escape to Baja.”
The unit now catches an average of 13 Americans a month. Since it was formed in 2002, it has apprehended more than 1,600. Many of those suspects were inspired by one of America’s oldest cliches: the troubled outlaw striding into a sepia-toned Mexico in the hope of disappearing forever.
When this project launched, I wrote, “People are at their most generous, their funniest, and their most fascinating when talking with and about their friends.” The interviews that followed only reinforced that belief. I could continue this for the rest of my life and only scratch the surface of the infinite ways friendship shapes our lives, but I’ve done my best to pull out the recurring themes I’ve observed from these 100 conversations. Though every bond evolves in its own way, I have come to believe that there are six forces that help form friendships and maintain them through the years: accumulation, attention, intention, ritual, imagination, and grace.
Attractiveness is associated with the belief that economic success is dependent on individual effort, rather than external circumstances | PsyPost
Physical attractiveness is associated with many positive outcomes – greater happiness, higher wages, better jobs, and even higher cognitive outcomes. According to a recent study published in Economics and Human Biology, beauty is also associated with lower support for redistribution. Attractive individuals are more likely to attribute economic success to individual effort, as opposed to external circumstances. […]
Fazio writes, “Perhaps, the relationship between attractiveness and redistributive preferences might depend on how attractive individuals rationalize the success they gain thanks to their beauty. An example can be the self-serving bias, i.e., people tend to attribute success to their own actions and failure to external factors. Attractiveness improves a considerable number of socio-economic outcomes, but good-looking subjects might hardly recognize that part of their success depends on their beauty.”
A time capsule of the stories that captured our collective attention this decade, including Michael Lewis’s revelatory profile of Barack Obama, Ed Yong’s pandemic predictions, and Anne Helen Petersen’s magnum opus on millennial burnout.
An incredible discovery has just revealed a potential new source for understanding life on ancient Earth.
A team of geologists has just discovered tiny remnants of prokaryotic and algal life – trapped inside crystals of halite dating back to 830 million years ago.
Halite is sodium chloride, also known as rock salt, and the discovery suggests that this natural mineral could be a previously untapped resource for studying ancient saltwater environments.
Moreover, the organisms trapped therein may still be alive.
But it has little to say about what to do about the consequent difficulties of building anything new. Similarly, here’s Binyamin Applebaum in the NYTimes correctly decrying the fact that historic preservation laws mean you can’t put solar panels on the rooftops of many homes in Washington, DC. Applebaum suggests a tiered approach.
I am more radical. All historical preservation laws should be repealed.
A new research program at the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI), supported by a $11 million commitment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), seeks to use CRISPR genome editing to enhance the natural ability of plants and soil microbes to both capture and store carbon from the atmosphere. Along with efforts to reduce existing sources of emissions, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) could play an increasingly important role in reducing the global impact from climate change and reversing its course, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In any discussion of CDR, it is often noted that we already have technologies that do this quite well: plants, microbes, and other living organisms, but they were optimized for a world without large amounts of excess carbon produced by human activities. The IGI project aims to enhance the natural carbon-removal abilities of living organisms to meet the scale of the climate change problem.
Schooling may build human capital not only by teaching academic skills, but by expanding the capacity for cognition itself. We focus specifically on cognitive endurance: the ability to sustain effortful mental activity over a continuous stretch of time. As motivation, we document that globally and in the US, the poor exhibit cognitive fatigue more quickly than the rich across field settings; they also attend schools that offer fewer opportunities to practice thinking for continuous stretches. Using a field experiment with 1,600 Indian primary school students, we randomly increase the amount of time students spend in sustained cognitive activity during the school day—using either math problems (mimicking good schooling) or non-academic games (providing a pure test of our mechanism). Each approach markedly improves cognitive endurance: students show 22% less decline in performance over time when engaged in intellectual activities—listening comprehension, academic problems, or IQ tests.