Some pics from the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

I just saw some of the submissions to the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest on the The Atlantic‘s website and they are amazing.  So amazing I decided to share the link with you. So again, this is the link to The Atlantic’s article, and this here is the link to all the submissions on the actual National Geographic website.

National Geographic Magazine has opened its annual photo contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on November 16, 2015. The Grand Prize Winner will receive $10,000 and a trip to National Geographic headquarters to participate in its annual photography seminar.

I set as the featured image my favourite pic from The Atlantic’s selection. All credit for the photo goes to the author.

Image source: National Geographic Photo Contest; Photographer Marco Grassi.

Some thoughts about the state of freelance writing in 2015

Many newer outlets offer fifty cents per word or more—sites like The Verge might pay a dollar per word—as do established publications, including New York‘s blog network and The Guardian. “You can expect that two hundred and fifty dollars is an ultimate baseline for anything that you do,” Kyle Chayka, a New York-based freelancer, told me. “No one is paying less than that. My own perception is that fifty cents per word is a fair going rate for an experienced freelance writer who’s writing something primarily for the web that’s been reported.

“You see editors framing it that way. They will say that our pay is comparable to a national magazine and that’s part of their pitch.” It’s not there yet, but it’s getting closer. Long pieces at SBNation, BuzzFeed, or other well-capitalized outlets are frequently well-edited, smart, tight, and sometimes influential.

The article was written for The Awl, you can find it here and is definitely worth reading.

Also, since I mentioned freelance writing, I have to let you know that if you are a beginner in this space, Writers in Charge is a pretty great resource to help you get started.

Image source: Flickr.com

Fathers as primary parents – why is this so frowned upon ?

I read this article from The Atlantic  about the experience of a man who chose to support his wife in a carrier more demanding ( and better paid ) than his. It is quite an interesting article and I find that I, for one, am very close to his way of thinking in this matter. What exactly would be so wrong with a man taking a more a active role in raising a child ? Why would you mind that your wife is more successful than you, for that matter ? I will leave you with a few quotes from the article and the link to the original piece.

A dad in his 20s or 30s who takes some time off to care for an infant is adorable. (Think of those Samsung commercials with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell.) But a dad in his 40s or 50s who limits his work schedule or professional ambition to attend to a teenager is suspect—not least to some women, ironically.

For men, lead parenting can also be lonely. Parent networks are essential for raising children. They transmit crucial information—about good and bad teachers, carpooling, extracurricular activities, summer camps, and much else. These networks tend to be dominated by moms who understandably invest a lot in them socially. At school events, the moms gossip with each other and make plans; I get out my laptop and try to catch up on work. As a fully employed dad with a professorial personality, I find the scene impenetrable. A lawyer I know in San Francisco who managed much of his daughter’s education is more scathing: “At best, the moms tolerate you; at worst, they shun you.” The result is that, except around organized sports, most fathers have difficulty finding buddies from whom to seek support. If you are a man contemplating lead parenting, one of your first imperatives should be to find other lead dads. You will need them.

Promoting gender equality is laudable. Yet if taking the lead at home is so tough, many men may wonder what is in it for them. The answer is a lot.

First, being a lead dad can be good for your marriage. I am passionately committed to academic research and teaching, and I value professional success. But Anne-Marie is more competitive and driven than I am. Her achievements make me proud, and the balance we have struck leaves us happier as a couple.

 

The article was written by Andrew Moravcsik for The Atlantic.

Image source: Flickr.com

A few things that should be taught in every school

I read an article today, 5 Things That Should Be Taught in Every School by Mark Manson and it is one of the best article on the subject I have ever read. Sure you can most likely find stuff more detailed written by bigger publications but this particular one resonated best with me. Most of our schools ( and this is a very broad “our” ) have a similar curriculum to the one from 30 years ago, and that should not be the case. For instance, history is taught to empathize with the country where it is taught (in most places) and not in an objective manner, we learn about the Renaissance, we learn about the geopolitical situation of the world, we learn a lot of math ( not to belittle its importance, but, most schools simply teach to much of it ), when, as Mark says, we should learn personal finance, basic logic and reasoning and other such as these. Because let’s be honest, this is our current level of education, these people chose a bar of chocolate when they had to choose between it and a 10 ounces bar of silver. Really ? In my own country most people would choose the silver bar, but that only because it has a much greater value here than it has there, but I am sure that given a choice with a similar parity, most people here would also go for the chocolate bar. And yeah, you may think I give very little credit to my countrymen, but to be honest I give very little credit to most people everywhere.

Our education system is fucked.

I mean, almost all of the important history I learned between grades 5 and 12 I could probably find on Wikipedia and understand within a few weeks now. And pretty much any basic scientific knowledge you could ever want to learn is explained with pretty videos on YouTube. On top of that, you have the most unstable job market in almost 100 years, technology developing so rapidly that robots will be doing half the work in another decade, college degrees that some argue are now worthless, and new industries and technologies being invented practically every six months.

Yet we’re still pushing kids through the same curriculum their grandparents went through.

Now that you read my opinion, and a small excerpt of the article, go on Mark’s website and read the rest. I will be a win for you today. Also spread the word and share this on your Facebook and Twitter.

featured image source Flickr.com

NYTimes’ ISIS and its Theology of Rape

This is a very powerful piece of journalism about one of the most talked about atrocities of our time. I don’t even know how best I can explain this article. It needs to be read for anyone to fully grasp the magnitude and horrificness of its story. All I can say is that I have never truly wished harm to anyone, but these people do not deserve to live. Go read the article and you will see my point. I am afraid this time, I have no further words for you.

QADIYA, Iraq — In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

The article was written by RUKMINI CALLIMACHI and you can find it here, on The New York Times.

New data on the rise of phone reading

Well, with the increasing size of smartphone displays, I can see why this is. I mean on a 4.3 inch phone is kind of weird to read a book, but when you consider a 5 inch or a 5.5 inch display, things change. I personally have a 4.3 inch phone and so I do most of my reading on a 7 inch tablet, but I plan on upgrading my phone in the newer future and I can definitely see myself spending more time on the phone, and why not, because as  Willem Van Lancker said “The best device to read on is the one you have with you”.

“The future of digital reading is on the phone,” said Judith Curr, publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books. “It’s going to be on the phone and it’s going to be on paper.”

But what has captured publishers’ attention is the increase in the number of people reading their phones. In a Nielsen survey of 2,000 people this past December, about 54% of e-book buyers said they used smartphones to read their books at least some of the time. That’s up from 24% in 2012, according to a separate study commissioned by Nielsen.

The number of people who read primarily on phones has risen to 14% in the first quarter of 2015 from 9% in 2012.

I am curious, do any of you still use a tablet for reading or have you switched to your smartphone for this activity ? I am asking because a lot of the people I know don’t really use their tablets all that much since they bought bigger phones.

The article was written by Jennifer Maloney and you can find it here, on The Wall Street Journal. Enjoy!

The Telegraph’s exclusive interview with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is one of the great men of our era, he founded the world’s largest internet retail site Amazon in 1994 in his garage and he just doesn’t seem to want to stop doing more awesome things. In this interview we get an overview of his life so far, a sneak-peak into his current projects ( including those related to the former Top Gear trio ) and a glimpse of his future plans. Oh, and he went to watch The International ( that is the Dota2 International championship, for you laymans ), and that alone made me like him more. Whether he went there to enjoy the games or just because he wanted a more close-up look at an esports championship, is of little importance. The thing that matters is that someone of his caliber is taking note in esports.

The Amazon founder and chief executive talks exclusively to The Telegraph on the Top Gear trio, drones in the suburbs and why he goes weak at the knees when he meets another entrepreneur.

The Bezos’s were there, with 17,000 others, to watch the Dota2 International championship, at which video gamers battled it out for an $18m prize. The whole thing was streamed to hundreds of thousands of Dota2 fans on the internet, via Twitch.TV.

“eSports has become a big thing. There were many, many thousands watching live…and it was really quite amazing,” says Bezos.

The article was written by James Quinn and you can find it here, on The Telegraph’s site.

 

Hackers Are Sneaking Into Women’s Webcams and Posting the Footage on YouTube

The fact that webcams can be hacked isn’t exactly a secret. It has been done, I believe, ever since webcams have existed, but now, it’s a lot easier to hack a webcam than ever before. With a small piece of malware you can take control of not only a laptop’s camera but the entire system. This is why you should have an antivirus installed. Good antivirus software can protect you from most of these kind of hacks

According to a new report by digital rights group Digital Citizens Alliance, hackers are hijacking the webcams of women and girls and uploading the intimate footage to YouTube for profit.

The report, which was released at the Black Hat conference, describes how hackers known as “ratters” use a special kind of malware called a remote access trojan, or RAT, to gain access to a victim’s computer and control their webcams.

Yeah. Go and find yourself a good antivirus software.

The article was written by Jordan Pearson and you can find it here, on Vice’s Motherboard section.

The Unbreakable Rebecca Black

It still amazes me how hard people were on this girl. And all she did was sing a not-so-great song and put it on YouTube. That was it. She didn’t flaunt it, she didn’t act like a diva afterwards, and what she got, from people who didn’t actually knew her, by the way, was just a lot of hate.

However, she didn’t let all that crap keep her down, she rose above it and now she is just doing her thing, like a normal person would. I respect this girl and the way she dealt with adversity and you should too.

Four years ago, she introduced the world to the most hated (and maddeningly unforgettable) song in a generation, was passed over by the music industry, and turned into a punchline — all before she was old enough for a learner’s permit. Now 18, Rebecca Black is too famous to be normal and too normal to be famous. So what does she have to smile about?

Today Black has over a million subscribers on the platform, almost all of them her age and younger, where she posts silly weekly videos and answers questions about how to navigate school drama, how to be a better friend, and what to do about bullying.

Until recently I wasn’t aware BuzzFeed did actual journalism, and I am pleasantly impressed. The article was written by Reggie Ugwu and you can find it here, on BuzzFeed.

Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse”

Tinder and similar apps have been growing a lot, and not only in the US, and that may not necessarily be a good thing. This article shares an interesting point of view, that we are starting to grown more and more into the hookup culture. You get to see it from the perspective of both young men and young women, and I have to say it’s not pretty. The guys only care about getting laid and the women seem to either get with the program or get left behind. And that is sad to me.

People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, but now Internet meeting is surpassing every other form. “It’s changing so much about the way we act both romantically and sexually,” Garcia says. “It is unprecedented from an evolutionary standpoint.” As soon as people could go online they were using it as a way to find partners to date and have sex with. In the 90s it was Craigslist and AOL chat rooms, then Match.com and Kiss.com. But the lengthy, heartfelt e-mails exchanged by the main characters in You’ve Got Mail (1998) seem positively Victorian in comparison to the messages sent on the average dating app today.

“It’s instant gratification,” says Jason, 26, a Brooklyn photographer, “and a validation of your own attractiveness by just, like, swiping your thumb on an app. You see some pretty girl and you swipe and it’s, like, oh, she thinks you’re attractive too, so it’s really addicting, and you just find yourself mindlessly doing it.” “Sex has become so easy,” says John, 26, a marketing executive in New York. “I can go on my phone right now and no doubt I can find someone I can have sex with this evening, probably before midnight.”

“I’ve gotten numbers on Tinder just by sending emojis,” says John. “Without actually having a conversation—having a conversation via emojis.”

He holds up his phone, with its cracked screen, to show a Tinder conversation between him and a young woman who provided her number after he offered a series of emojis, including the ones for pizza and beer.

“Now is that the kind of woman I potentially want to marry?” he asks, smiling. “Probably not.”

 

The article was written by Nancy Jo Sales and you can find it here on Vanity Fair.

The New Science of Sentencing

There is a very long conversation to be had about the sentencing process, not only in USA, but the world. It is far from perfect, it is subjected to biases and interference. But can risk assessment based on statistical data be any better ? Well, people’s opinions are divided, as it was to be expected, but we won’t really know just how effective it is until someone tries it. I realize that this experiment will be made at the expense of people’s lives but, we already have a broken system in place, is it not worth it if it will make people’s lives better in the future ?

Should prison sentences be based on crimes that haven’t been committed yet?

Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign.

The article was written by Anna Maria Barry-Jester, Ben Casselman and Dana Goldstein and you can find it here on The Marshall Project.

Also to add to your knowledge on the subject, there is this piece from Last Week Tonight:

The Raise That Went Sideways

I am borrowing the title from Dave Pell, because it sounded better to me than theNYTimes’ title ( A Company Copes With Backlash Against the Raise That Roared ). So, you may be asking, what raise is this you are talking about ? Well, the CEO of Gravity Payments, Dan Price, decided to pay everyone at his company a minimum salary of $70 000. People weren’t sure what to make of this at the time ( 3 months ago ), but now, it pretty clear, it wasn’t such a great idea after all.

He was just thinking of the 120 people who worked for him and, let’s be honest, a bit of free publicity. The idea struck him when a friend shared her worries about paying both her rent and student loans on a $40,000 salary. He realized a lot of his own employees earned that or less. Yet almost overnight, a decision by one small-business man in the northwestern corner of the country became a swashbuckling blow against income inequality.

Two of Mr. Price’s most valued employees quit, spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises.

Everyone may have equal rights, but not equal talent or motivation.

The article was written by Patricia Cohen and can find if here. But just so you know, like most NYTimes articles, this is not a short one.