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Confessions of an Outlaw: Finding Focus
Philippe Petit calls himself something of a Luddite. We live in a world in which we are slaves to our gadgets. His brand of art calls for a level of focus not possible when tethered to a device.
Philippe Petit has performed on the high wire more than eighty times around the world. He is famous for his 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Petit is also a magician, street juggler, visual artist, builder, lecturer, and writer. He is the author and illustrator of several books, including To Reach the Clouds, the basis of the 2009 Academy Award–winning documentary Man on Wire.
Petit's latest book is titled Creativity: The Perfect Crimes. His World Trade Center act is the subject of the 2015 biographical film The Walk directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Philippe Petit: I don’t have much respect for the century that we live in. I mean I actually I live in the 18th century or maybe in the Middle Ages. Because I see people generally speaking, you know, dragging their feet on the pavement, not listening, not smelling, not looking, but being slave to little gadgets, you know, little thing that they look at. Instead of asking somebody where is the church, you go to a little machine in your palm that will tell you. So I think slowly of course I am a, you know, a Luddite, but I think slowly because of all those great gadgets that simplify our lives we also become slaves of them and we dull our senses and our sensitivity.
If I teach a kid how to saw a piece of wood or how to make a mortise, a little pocket in which a tenon will go which is the base of all furniture and post and beam barn building. And if I put a simple chisel and a mallet in the hand of that teenager knowing that those instruments existed 4,000 years ago and the people who build the pyramid or who build the temple of Greek had them in their hand and nothing much has changed, you will see that there is an automatic focus. I would call it a human focus that comes into consideration. The task is so simple.
You are cutting a piece of wood with one simple cutting edge and a little bit of power from the mallet and you‘re not scattered, you’re not receiving messages from 20 friends and then exploring, you know, what people think, what they have done and having rules of how many characters to send a little message and having time also preventing you from being who you are. So I think it’s our way of living today a little bit that prevents us from being focused. We are being called to be unfocused. I mean I don’t have a watch. I don’t have jewelry. I certainly don’t have a cellphone. I am an imbecile of course, but maybe that helps me to focus on what I want to do. And when I walk on a wire you can imagine that the focus has to be so intense that a millimeter mistake, which is not permissible, will not happen. So I would say abandon a little bit of your gadgets. I mean try to live one day without your cellphone, you know. Go home and light candle, you know. Don’t open electricity. Go back in a time where every farmer was building his or her barn, you see. Did you ever in your life go to a well and pull a bucket of water and save it because it’s so precious. So it’s a little bit — again I of course, you know, I exaggerate, but I think we should rebecome human and our human focus will come back.
High-wire artist Philippe Petit doesn't own a cellphone, doesn't own jewelry, doesn't wear a watch. These are all distractions that would draw his focus away from his art. And when you're walking a wire and a millisecond's loss of focus results in tragedy, perhaps eschewing gadgetry is the way to go.
Petit explains how an occasional foray into being a Luddite will allow you to reconnect with your raw humanity.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.