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In the News 12.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 12.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 12.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A compulsive audience and a complicit news media

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In 2007, two years after the launch of The Huffington Post and two weeks before the incorporation of Twitter, Arianna Huffington collapsed in her office from fatigue. She regained consciousness in a pool of blood with a broken cheekbone and an epiphany about the internet. Her exhaustion was symptomatic of a public health crisis, she declared: Our addiction to modern technology creates the need for “digital detoxing.” Since then, the soon-to-be-former head of one of the most popular and prolific news websites has campaigned for a health awakening rooted in the belief that digital media, consumed in large doses, are, effectively, toxic.

Read the rest of this article at Columbia Journalism Review

The Strange Brain of the World’s Greatest Solo Climber

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Alex Honnold has his own verb. “To honnold”—usually written as “honnolding”—is to stand in some high, precarious place with your back to the wall, looking straight into the abyss. To face fear, literally.

The verb was inspired by photographs of Honnold in precisely that position on Thank God Ledge, located 1,800 feet off the deck in Yosemite National Park. Honnold side-shuffled across this narrow sill of stone, heels to the wall, toes touching the void, when, in 2008, he became the first rock climber ever to scale the sheer granite face of Half Dome alone and without a rope. Had he lost his balance, he would have fallen for 10 long seconds to his death on the ground far below. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.

Honnold is history’s greatest ever climber in the free solo style, meaning he ascends without a rope or protective equipment of any kind. Above about 50 feet, any fall would likely be lethal, which means that, on epic days of soloing, he might spend 12 or more hours in the Death Zone. On the hardest parts of some climbing routes, his fingers will have no more contact with the rock than most people have with the touchscreens of their phones, while his toes press down on edges as thin as sticks of gum. Just watching a video of Honnold climbing will trigger some degree of vertigo, heart palpitations, or nausea in most people, and that’s if they can watch them at all. Even Honnold has said that his palms sweat when he watches himself on film.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

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Anna Wintour’s Wild Garden

In the News 12.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On the wrong side of the highway to the Hamptons, in a modest town unfashionably distant from the area’s white-sand beaches, a simple wooden farm gate gives onto a rough drive cobbled from dirt, sand and pebbles. It winds through wild cherry trees in a meadow of high grass and ends in a small gravel court, walled in faded brick and covered in ramblers with soft pink muddled blooms. Peonies, which are often the last flowers to survive an abandoned garden, and the self-sowing herb Angelica, grow haphazardly at the foot of the wall; weeds poke up through the stones on the ground. An old wood door cut into the wall is the only sign that you have arrived.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

The Super-Recognisers of Scotland Yard

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A successful thief sets his own rules and the best ones live by them. These were some of Jimmy McNulty’s: target luxury stores only, dress as smartly as the wealthiest customer, engage and charm the salespeople if approached. Never rush, never panic, and always trust in your powers of sleight of hand.

Here he is at 12.59pm on 28 September 2013, ringing the bell of the Leica Store in Mayfair, where cameras sell for thousands of pounds. He is 40 years old, with short, dark hair and of athletic build – McNulty is the name given to him by a Metropolitan Police detective who saw a resemblance to Dominic West’s character in the television series The Wire. He wears a pink dress shirt, a dark cardigan and jacket, smart shoes. Under his arm is a wad of papers. McNulty picks up a camera, and then a pair of binoculars, carefully appraising them. Two store assistants stand a few metres away. When they turn their backs, he slips the camera inside his jacket. He asks to be let out and casually strolls away.

Read the rest of this article at New Statesman

Trust No One

Kim Philby and the hazards of mistrust.

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When Kim Philby decided that he wanted to join the British Secret Intelligence Service, he “dropped a few hints here and there,” as he later recalled, and waited patiently. Philby had attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and his father had been in the Foreign Service. He had the right accent. It was the late nineteen-thirties, when the British class system was still firmly in place, and a formal application wasn’t necessary. On a train to London, Philby found himself in the first-class compartment with a journalist named Hester Harriet Marsden-Smedley, who was of that same small world. She looked him over and said that she would make a few inquiries on his behalf. Then he got a call from someone at the War Department, and was invited to tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel, off St. James’s, with an imperious Tory doyenne named Sarah Algeria Marjorie Maxse. They chatted. Philby was famously charming. He had impeccable manners, a disarming stammer, and an epic capacity for alcohol. His name was passed up the line to M.I.5—the British F.B.I.—which came back with the laconic verdict “nothing recorded against.” The deputy head of the British spy service, M.I.6, had served with Philby’s father in India. “I was asked about him,” the official explained later, “and I said I knew his people.”

Once Philby joined M.I.6, he roamed its halls, gossiping and making friends. The man who controlled the “source books”—the inventory of British intelligence assets—was a red-faced ex-policeman with a crippling drinking habit. Philby would go out and get him drunk, and soon had the run of the files. He became fast friends with James Angleton, who later rose to the head of counterintelligence at the C.I.A. The two of them served together in Washington, and had long boozy lunches, at which they traded the most intimate secrets. Philby was promoted to head the anti-Soviet section of M.I.6, and then became the principal liaison between the British and the U.S. intelligence agencies. “I looked around at the part-time stockbrokers and retired Indian policemen, the agreeable epicureans from the bars of White’s and Boodle’s, the jolly, conventional ex-Navy officers and the robust adventurers from the bucket shop; and then I looked at Philby,” the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper later wrote. “He alone was real. I was convinced that he was destined to head the service.”

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @happilygrey, @alinakolot, @lornaluxe