Astronaut John L. Swigert, Jr., Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot, holds the “mailbox,” a makeshift device used to purge carbon dioxide from the Lunar Module that played a significant role in saving the doomed astronauts lives. Apollo 13 Hasselblad image from film magazine.
During the course of the Apollo space program astronauts were charged with enduring unknown perils, conducting science experiments, piloting spacecraft, walking on the surface of the moon, and comprehending sights, sounds, and physical stresses never before experienced by humans. All the while, they were also asked to snap a couple thousands photographs of practically every moment with a modified Hasselblad camera.
Last Friday, for the first time ever, NASA uploaded the entire catalogue of 8,400 Apollo mission photos to Flickr spanning Apollo 7 (the first manned test flight in 1968) through Apollo 17, the final lunar mission in 1972. The effort to bring the photos online was lead by Kipp Teague of the Project Apollo Archive who first began scanning camera film magazines on behalf of the Johnson Space Center in 2004.
While we’re all used to seeing the more iconic photos like Blue Marble, the Apollo 11 bootprint, or this image of Buzz Aldrin, this random assortment of mundane moments and blurry horizons seems to highlight the humanity of the entire endeavor. Collected here are a few of our favorite shots, and you can see thousands more organized by mission on Flickr. Digg and PetaPixel also have collections of their favorites.
Le carton y'a que ca de vrai!
Peindage du dimanche avec m. Mandrein
The numbers are quite mind-boggling.
Rumblings of discontent about executive wages, the 1%, and wealth gaps know no borders. And neither does fierce debate about income inequality in general. But until now, it’s been relatively unclear how much people think CEOs should really make compared to other workers on a global scale.
In their recent research, scheduled to be published in a forthcoming issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, Chulalongkorn University’s Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton investigate “what size gaps people desire” and whether those gaps are at all consistent among people from different countries and backgrounds.
It turns out that most people, regardless of nationality or set of beliefs, share similar sentiments about how much CEOs should be paid — and, for the most part, these estimates are markedly lower than the amounts company leaders actually earn.
Using data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) from December 2012, in which respondents were asked to both “estimate how much a chairman of a national company (CEO), a cabinet minister in a national government, and an unskilled factory worker actually earn” and how much each person should earn, the researchers calculated the median ratios for the full sample and for 40 countries separately.
For the countries combined, the ideal pay ratio for CEOs to unskilled workers was 4.6 to 1; the estimated ratio was about double, at 10 to 1. But there were some differences country to country. People in Denmark, for example, estimated the ratio to be 3.7 to 1, with an ideal ratio being 2 to 1. In South Korea, the estimated gap was much larger at 41.7 to 1. The ideal gap in Taiwan was particularly high, at 20 to 1. This is what the breakdown looks like, country by country:
And how does this compare with how much CEOs really earn? Here’s the data for 16 countries where the data is available; as Kiatpongsan and Norton note, it “includes the estimated and ideal data from [the other chart], but both are so much smaller than the actual pay ratios that they are nearly invisible”:
My colleague Walter Frick and I calculated the ideal wages for average workers if CEO compensation remained the same, based on the same 2012 average Fortune 500 CEO pay data used by the researchers. Even workers in the country with the largest desired ratio difference (Australia at 8.3 to 1) would be hypothetically making over $500,000 a year, while those in countries that emphasized the need for a smaller gap (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway at around 2 to 1) would earn over a million (note: the ISSP and AFL-CIO numbers do not align perfectly, so there is a slight difference between the wages of unskilled and average workers):
Taken together, these numbers say a lot, even if the latter chart isn’t exactly based on real life. Importantly, though, it’s not just the starkness of the data that’s striking — it’s the thinking behind them. While the estimated pay ratios Kiatpongsan and Norton found did differ based on, say, political leanings, the ideal pay ratios were similar across the board:
Note, for example, that respondents who “strongly agreed” that differences in income were too large estimated a much larger pay gap between CEOs and unskilled workers (12.5:1) than respondents who “strongly disagreed” (6.7:1; Table 2). Yet, the ideal ratios for both groups were strikingly similar (4.7:1 and 4.8:1), suggesting that whether people agree or disagree that current pay gaps are too large, they agree that ideal gaps should be smaller.
When it comes to other beliefs — ranging from the importance of working hard or having a lot of job responsibility — differences among people didn’t result in major shifts in how much CEOs should get paid, either.
“My coauthor and I were most surprised by the extraordinary consensus across the many different countries in the survey,” Norton says. “Despite enormous differences in culture, income, religion, and other factors, respondents in every country surveyed showed a universal desire for smaller gaps in pay between the rich and poor than the current level in their countries.”
We’re currently far past the late Peter Drucker’s warning that any CEO-to-worker ratio larger than 20:1 would “increase employee resentment and decrease morale.” Twenty years ago it had already hit 40 to 1, and it was around 400 to 1 at the time of his death in 2005. But this new research makes clear that, one, it’s mindbogglingly difficult for ordinary people to even guess at the actual differences between the top and the bottom; and, two, most are in agreement on what that difference should be.
“The lack of awareness of the gap in CEO to unskilled worker pay — which in the U.S. people estimate to be 30 to 1 but is in fact 350 to 1 — likely reduces citizens’ desire to take action to decrease that gap,” says Norton. Though he notes some movement on that front, including an unsuccessful vote in Switzerland to cap the ratio at 12 to 1 in 2013 and recent protests by fast food workers in the U.S.
He also emphasizes that “many of the heated debates about whether CEO pay should be capped or the minimum wage increased are debates based on an extreme lack of knowledge about the true state of affairs. In other words, both liberals and conservatives fail to accurately estimate the actual current gaps in our pay. Our hope is that presenting the data to all sides might force people to examine their assumptions about whether some people are making more than they would like, and others less.”
For more on executive compensation and inequality:
Je ne peux m'empecher d'etre fasciné par tant d'inventivité.
Marre de rater vos selfies avec votre chien ? Pooch a la solution.
(Merci à Klumy pour la suggestion)
Le plus incroyable c'est la taille de la vessie de ce petit camarade!
Muy a su estiloPosted by Ke Buena México on Friday, February 27, 2015
(Merci à Arnault pour la suggestion)
Meet the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts.
The biggest pop star in America today is a man named Karl Martin Sandberg. The lead singer of an obscure ’80s glam-metal band, Sandberg grew up in a remote suburb of Stockholm and is now 44. Sandberg is the George Lucas, the LeBron James, the Serena Williams of American pop. He is responsible for more hits than Phil Spector, Michael Jackson, or the Beatles.
After Sandberg come the bald Norwegians, Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Hermansen, 43 and 44; Lukasz Gottwald, 42, a Sandberg protégé and collaborator who spent a decade languishing in Saturday Night Live’s house band; and another Sandberg collaborator named Esther Dean, 33, a former nurse’s aide from Oklahoma who was discovered in the audience of a Gap Band concert, singing along to “Oops Upside Your Head.” They use pseudonyms professionally, but most Americans wouldn’t recognize those, either: Max Martin, Stargate, Dr. Luke, and Ester Dean.
Most Americans will recognize their songs, however. As I write this, at the height of summer, the No. 1 position on the Billboard pop chart is occupied by a Max Martin creation, “Bad Blood” (performed by Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar). No. 3, “Hey Mama” (David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj), is an Ester Dean production; No. 5, “Worth It” (Fifth Harmony featuring Kid Ink), was written by Stargate; No. 7, “Can’t Feel My Face” (The Weeknd), is Martin again; No. 16, “The Night Is Still Young” (Minaj), is Dr. Luke and Ester Dean. And so on. If you flip on the radio, odds are that you will hear one of their songs. If you are reading this in an airport, a mall, a doctor’s office, or a hotel lobby, you are likely listening to one of their songs right now. This is not an aberration. The same would have been true at any time in the past decade. Before writing most of Taylor Swift’s newest album, Max Martin wrote No. 1 hits for Britney Spears, ’NSync, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, and Katy Perry.
Millions of Swifties and KatyCats—as well as Beliebers, Barbz, and Selenators, and the Rihanna Navy—would be stunned by the revelation that a handful of people, a crazily high percentage of them middle-aged Scandinavian men, write most of America’s pop hits. It is an open yet closely guarded secret, protected jealously by the labels and the performers themselves, whose identities are as carefully constructed as their songs and dances. The illusion of creative control is maintained by the fig leaf of a songwriting credit. The performer’s name will often appear in the list of songwriters, even if his or her contribution is negligible. (There’s a saying for this in the music industry: “Change a word, get a third.”) But almost no pop celebrities write their own hits. Too much is on the line for that, and being a global celebrity is a full-time job. It would be like Will Smith writing the next Independence Day.
Impressionable young fans would therefore do well to avoid John Seabrook’s The Song Machine, an immersive, reflective, and utterly satisfying examination of the business of popular music. It is a business as old as Stephen Foster, but never before has it been run so efficiently or dominated by so few. We have come to expect this type of consolidation from our banking, oil-and-gas, and health-care industries. But the same practices they rely on—ruthless digitization, outsourcing, focus-group brand testing, brute-force marketing—have been applied with tremendous success in pop, creating such profitable multinationals as Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift.
The music has evolved in step with these changes. A short-attention-span culture demands short-attention-span songs. The writers of Tin Pan Alley and Motown had to write only one killer hook to get a hit. Now you need a new high every seven seconds—the average length of time a listener will give a radio station before changing the channel. “It’s not enough to have one hook anymore,” Jay Brown, a co-founder of Jay Z’s Roc Nation label, tells Seabrook. “You’ve got to have a hook in the intro, a hook in the pre, a hook in the chorus, and a hook in the bridge, too.”
Sonically, the template has remained remarkably consistent since the Backstreet Boys, whose sound was created by Max Martin and his mentor, Denniz PoP, at PoP’s Cheiron Studios, in Stockholm. It was at Cheiron in the late ’90s that they developed the modern hit formula, a formula nearly as valuable as Coca-Cola’s. But it’s not a secret formula. Seabrook describes the pop sound this way: “ABBA’s pop chords and textures, Denniz PoP’s song structure and dynamics, ’80s arena rock’s big choruses, and early ’90s American R&B grooves.” The production quality is crucial, too. The music is manufactured to fill not headphones and home stereo systems but malls and football stadiums. It is a synthetic, mechanical sound “more captivating than the virtuosity of the musicians.” This is a metaphor, of course—there are no musicians anymore, at least not human ones. Every instrument is automated. Session musicians have gone extinct, and studio mixing boards remain only as retro, semi-ironic furniture.
The songs are written industrially as well, often by committee and in bulk. Anything short of a likely hit is discarded. The constant iteration of tracks, all produced by the same formula, can result in accidental imitation—or, depending on the jury, purposeful replication. Seabrook recounts an early collaboration between Max Martin and Dr. Luke. They are listening, reportedly, to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”—an infectious love song, at least by indie-rock standards. Martin is being driven crazy by the song’s chorus, however, which drops in intensity from the verse. Dr. Luke says, “Why don’t we do that, but put a big chorus on it?” He reworks a guitar riff from the song and creates Kelly Clarkson’s breakout hit, “Since U Been Gone.”Session musicians have gone extinct, and studio mixing boards remain only as retro, semi-ironic furniture.
Pop hitmakers frequently flirt with plagiarism, with good reason: Audiences embrace familiar sounds. Sameness sells. Dr. Luke in particular has been accused repeatedly of copyright infringement. His defense: “You don’t get sued for being similar. It needs to be the same thing.” (Dr. Luke does get sued for being similar, and quite often; he has also countersued for defamation.) Complicating the question of originality is the fact that only melodies, not beats, can be copyrighted. This means a producer can sell one beat to multiple artists. The same beat, for instance, can be heard beneath Beyoncé’s “Halo” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone,” hits released within four months of each other in 2009. (The producer, in his defense, claimed they were “two entirely different songs conceptually.”) As Seabrook notes, although each song was played tens of millions of times on YouTube and other platforms, few fans seemed to notice, let alone care.
Once a hit is ready, a songwriter must find a singer to bring it to the masses. The more famous the performer, the wider the audience, and the greater the royalties for the writer. Hits are shopped like scripts in Hollywood, first to the A-list, then to the B-list, then to the aspirants. “… Baby One More Time,” the Max Martin song that made Britney Spears’s career, was declined by TLC. Spears’s team later passed on “Umbrella,” which made Rihanna a star. The most-successful songwriters, like Max Martin and Dr. Luke, occasionally employ a potentially more lucrative tactic: They prospect for unknowns whom they can turn into stars. This allows them to exert greater control over the recording of the songs and to take a bigger cut of royalties by securing production rights that a more established performer would not sign away.
But the masters of star creation remain the record-label executives. The greatest of them all, Clive Davis, whose career has run from Janis Joplin to Kelly Clarkson, is an avuncular, charming presence throughout The Song Machine. He tells Seabrook that the key to pop longevity is “a continuity of hits,” a phrase Davis imbues with the gravity of scripture, though it means only what it says: lots of hit songs. More telling is the record executive Jason Flom’s reaction to meeting a young Katy Perry: “Without having heard a note of music, I was sure that Katy was indeed destined for stardom”—a statement that says more about the nature of the industry than about Perry.In the music industry, the performers are called artists, while the people who write the songs remain largely anonymous.
Most memorable—and instructive—is the story of the obese, oleaginous Orlando entrepreneur Louis Pearlman. A luxury-plane magnate, he met the New Kids on the Block in 1989 when they chartered one of his jets. Upon learning that they were earning more than Michael Jackson, Pearlman decided to cast his own boy group. After Pearlman hired Denniz PoP and Max Martin to write their songs, the Backstreet Boys went from playing in front of Shamu’s tank at SeaWorld to selling out world tours. Millennium, released in 1999, is one of the best-selling albums in American history. Pearlman then decided to start an identical boy band, performing songs by the same songwriters. “My feeling was, where there’s McDonald’s, there’s Burger King,” Pearlman tells Seabrook on the phone from the federal prison in Texarkana, where he is serving a 25-year sentence for defrauding banks and investors in Ponzi schemes. Pearlman was a poor businessman but a savvy promoter. ’NSync, led by Justin Timberlake, formerly of The Mickey Mouse Club, was even bigger than the Backstreet Boys. Next, seeking his own Debbie Gibson, Pearlman scouted another ex-Mouseketeer: Britney Spears.
Many of Pearlman’s strategies continue to dominate the construction and marketing of pop acts, particularly in the one pop market more delirious than the United States. Seabrook credits the Backstreet Boys’ 1996 Asian tour with helping to inspire a Korean former folk singer, Soo-Man Lee, to create K-pop, a phenomenon that gives new meaning to the term song machine. Lee codified Pearlman’s tactics in a step-by-step manual that guides the creation of Asian pop groups, dictating “when to import foreign composers, producers, and choreographers; what chord progressions to use in particular countries; the precise color of eye shadow a performer should wear in different Asian regions, as well as the hand gestures he or she should make.”
In K-pop there is no pretension to creative independence. Performers unabashedly embrace the corporate strategy that stars in the United States are at great pains to disguise. Recruits are trained in label-run pop academies for as long as seven years before debuting in a new girl or boy group—though only one in 10 trainees makes it that far. This level of control may seem eccentric to American readers, but Seabrook reveals that the careers of stars like Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson are almost as narrowly choreographed.
By the end of The Song Machine, readers will have command of such terms of art as melodic math, comping, career record, and track-and-hook (a Seabrookian neologism). One term remains evasive, however: artist. In the music industry, the performers are called artists, while the people who write the songs remain largely anonymous outside the pages of trade publications. But can a performer be said to have any artistry if, as in the case of Rihanna, her label convenes week-long “writer camps,” attended by dozens of producers and writers (but not necessarily Rihanna), to manufacture her next hit? Where is the artistry when a producer digitally stitches together a vocal track, syllable by syllable, from dozens of takes? Or modifies a bar and calls it a new song?
Hitmakers today don’t only create hits. They create “artists.” The trouble comes when successful performers believe their press and begin writing their own songs, or when songwriters try to become stars themselves. Taylor Dayne—who, against Clive Davis’s advice, demanded to write her own songs, and bombed—is a cautionary example of the former. Ester Dean, who has had mixed success as a solo act, is an example of the latter. “To be an artist, that’s another story,” says Mikkel Eriksen of Stargate. “You can be a great singer, but when you hear the record it’s missing something.” Esther Dean, a prolific writer of melodies and lyrics, is an artist, but Ester Dean is not making it as an “artist.”
What is that ineffable something that separates pop stars from the rest of us? What is the source of Rihanna’s magical powers? Eriksen, trying to pin it down, describes it as “a sparkle around the edges of the words.” A K-pop star proposes another theory: “Maybe it is because of our great good looks?” Seabrook lands on a more subtle quality: an “urgent need to escape”—escapism as a matter of life or death. Rihanna was desperate to escape an abusive father; for Katy Perry it was her family’s repressive evangelical faith; for the Backstreet Boys it was Orlando. The perfect pop star creates a desire loop between audience and performer. We abandon reality together, meeting in a synthetic pop fantasy of California Gurls and Teenage Dreams. Only they are not really our teenage dreams. They are Karl Martin Sandberg’s.
Les cactus n'ont pas besoin de porter un t-shirt Nirvana de chez H&M pour prouver qu'ils sont rock'n'roll.
"le wagon de queue (lol)"
The unfamiliarity of death in Western societies makes it all the more traumatizing, I wish it was less of a taboo in our culture.
It’s hard to predict events in the final days and hours of a person’s life. Some deaths are wonderful – a gentle decline preceding a gracious demise. Certainly these are the sorts of deaths we see in films or on television, where the dying patient bids farewell to gathered family and friends before softly closing his eyes.
These gentle departures happen in real life too – many people simply die in their sleep, and many families and friends share the privilege of witnessing the calm and serene departure of a loved one. Of course, grief follows, but those left behind are able to take solace in the knowledge and memory of a peaceful passing.
Unfortunately for every “good” death, there are many which are much more stormy and drawn out. These deaths can leave families traumatised for many years or simply make the grief that much harder.
Most people in western societies die in hospital or in institutional care. Keeping death out of sight and out of mind in this way means that most people have little real experience of death and dying.
It is difficult to accept death in this society because it is unfamiliar. In spite of the fact that it happens all the time, we never see it.
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Death: The Final Stage of Growth, 1975
The dying process is unpredictable. While dying may occur quickly and unexpectedly, it can take many, many hours or even days.
Some families interpret a long process as a reflection of the strength of their dying relative, and see this time positively, often as an opportunity for reflection.
But many struggle to find any positive meaning in a prolonged, confronting bedside vigil, observing and awaiting an inevitable outcome. For frail elderly family members this can be especially stressful, with other family members worrying about the impact, physical and emotional, on them.
This is particularly the case when the changes accompanying the process are not as gentle and predictable as we would like. The bodily reactions that accompany dying can be quite florid. The majority of patients become unsettled as they approach death.
As the end nears, it’s not uncommon for the breathing pattern to change, involving repeated cycles of breathing stopping (for what seems like ages) only to start up again. This restarted breathing is often quite rapid and deep. It then slows and stops again, and this cycle repeats over and over. (This sort of breathing is called Cheyne-Stokes respiration, named after Dr John Cheyne and Dr William Stokes who described it in the 19th century).
For family this can be difficult for each time the breathing stops it seems death has finally come, but no. Death seems to toy with them.
On top of this, breathing often becomes noisy. This is the so-called “death rattle”. During dying, swallowing becomes impaired and secretions, which would normally be swallowed or would provoke a brisk cough, sit at the back of the throat. With each breath, air bubbles through this fluid, and the resulting guttural noise often causes concern and distress to onlookers.
Medications to dry the secretions may help, and positioning the patient differently may also assist, but rarely do they stop the noise completely.
Warning families of these common changes that they may witness may help prepare them for the time ahead, but some are still disturbed.
For some people – both patients and their families – dying is difficult. Irish author Sheridan le Fanu (1814-1873) commented, “Old persons are sometimes as unwilling to die as tired-out children are to say good night and go to bed.” And it can seem this way to exhausted and emotional relatives.
Frequently family members ask if anything can be done to speed up the process – the patient is unconscious anyway, and the outcome will be the same. Others worry that symptom-relieving medication may hasten death.
A recent letter I received from a grief stricken lady who sat with her husband for many hours through a long and difficult death, reported how he coughed, choked and wheezed, breathed erratically and gasped sporadically. He kept appearing to have died, only to start breathing again. This poor woman was completely traumatised, sitting through a night and day with her much-loved husband.
“It was a complete nightmare, like something out of a horror movie,” she wrote “… I just wanted the it to end, but it went on interminably. I will never forget it and I so wish it could have been made more dignified.”
The death of a loved one is sad and challenging enough without having to cope with extra trauma that results from a difficult end.
When illness or age present an inescapable conclusion to life, then it is the doctor’s dilemma to ensure a good death. However, the challenge is that this good death must occur within the constraint that medication must not be given to accelerate death, nor to relieve symptoms that are distressing to the family (as treatment is only permitted for the direct benefit of the patient).
Maybe it is time to question the belief that it is wrong to treat a dying patient in order to minimise the distress that their dying may cause their closest relatives. After all, few of us would desire our own deaths to be viewed as “something from a horror movie” and would support actions that might help our family at this difficult time.
Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, 1969
Charles Corke receives project funding from the Victorian Department of Health.
Peter Martin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.