Around the Web | What We’re Reading

We’ve tried to go a week without putting Trump in our news round-up and we have to admit it’s hard, really hard. We decided to swerve around him and focus on how the rest of the world sees America. Nothing really new here, but maybe a little mindfulness is needed. In other news, Instagram continues to be used by psychologists and researchers to detect mental health conditions, plus a whole new series of volcanoes have been found in Antarctica. Could Bill Gates just solve all of the world’s problems? You decide.

There you have it, the week in a roundup:

Writer Suzy Hansen decided to take a long hard look at America from outside the myopic view of her fellow natives. She has some things to tell us, namely, “American exceptionalism had declared my country unique in the world, the one truly free and modern country, and instead of ever considering that that exceptionalism was no different from any other country’s nationalistic propaganda.” An intellectual take on the tall poppy syndrome.

As global warming accelerates, a new map of the world emerges with it. With Larsen Ice Shelf already falling off into the ocean, ice continues to melt at a dizzying rate in Antarctica. Now, scientists at the University of Edinburgh have found 91 volcanoes that previously were not there hidden from plain sight. This brings the total to 138. The biggest question is how active are these volcanoes? Which reminds us, pretty please, let sleeping dogs lie.

Bill Gates is already the richest person in the world, well Jeff Bezos usurped him for a moment, but now Gates cements his position as the world biggest philanthropist, having just given away 64 million of the company’s shares (valued at $4.6 billion) to an unnamed recipient who is most likely the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The pair has given away a total of $35 billion (£27 billion) in cash and stocks since 1994.

“When companies like Goldman Sachs start offering free meditation training to employees, and puts a meditation room on each floor of a San Francisco office building, it’s a safe bet that heightened appreciation of Buddhist metaphysics isn’t the goal.” Author Robert Wright takes a divisive look at how meditation has evolved in our capitalist system and if it’s worth a whole new appraisal for its usefulness.

In her continuing series of intimate voyeurism, videographer Barbara Anastacia takes a peek into the dark and eccentric world of Jake Chapman, one-half of devious art duo the Chapman brothers. Traveling to his house in the sleepy UK town, the Cotswolds, “I hope this idyllic setting doesn’t make my work positive,” mutters Chapman.

This is one way to respond to the diversity chaos surrounding the recent gender Google memo. A cafe in Australia has started charging an 18% tax to men one week out of every month. The tax has been initiated as a way to raise awareness about the 18% pay wage gap between men and women that currently exists in Australia. It is optional, but it has attracted lovers of the tax from around the world, “We’ve had men travel across town to visit us and pay ‘the man tax’ and throw some extra in the donation jar.”

Social media is being used more and more as a way of filtering mental health issues. Researchers at Harvard and the University of Vermont looked at more than 43,000 photos from 166 users, 71 of whom had a history of depression, and found that people with depression, “share more photos, use fewer filters, and post more images that are darker and grayer in color.” The discovery has already been reported in the past but improves on a vast canyon of research starting to emerge. This might become a way for clinicians in the future to assess whether users display traits of depression or various other health conditions.