How do you contribute?

Question: What impact does your work have on the world?

 

Calvin Trillin: Oh not a whole lot of impact. You know I always thought that reporters who think that they’re actually affecting things are following the path to madness or pomposity or something. I mean I . . . The only time I ever met Jane Jacobs, the great urbanist, was in Toronto after she moved from here. And we were talking about the effect of one’s work and the impact on changes that might be made – governments falling and things like that. And she said . . . And this is a woman who I think had tremendous influence on city planners, and people who write about cities. And she said when she looked back over the . . . whatever it was, “The Death and Life of American Cities” or whatever it was, that big book . . . she said she imagined a church in the village that, at night, locked its gates of its playground and had barbed wire on top of the gates.

And she said after the book came out they took the barbed wire down. They still had the gates locked. And I said the only thing I could think of that I affected was I once affected the clerk – or I’m told . . . I never checked this out – the clerk of the county court race in Lecture County Kentucky with a piece that I thought was about something else. But somebody didn’t come out very well in it, and she ran for clerk of the country court, and people apparently got a hold of the piece. And so I don’t think . . . I think that I would settle for maybe giving somebody a smile on the Madison Avenue bus after a hard day when he or she reads The New Yorker. I don’t . . . I think the idea that you’re gonna have an impact is a kind of pipe dream.

 

Aslan describes himself as a bridge between Islam and the West.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

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Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

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Brain study finds circuits that may help you keep your cool

Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP/ Getty Images
Mind & Brain

MIT News

The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.

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34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
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How pharmaceutical companies game the patent system

When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
  • When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
  • Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.