In the News 21.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 21.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 21.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 21.07.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

This Brooklyn Artist Is Taking On the Media

We met in May, close to midnight on a quiet industrial street in Bushwick, in front of an unremarkable steel building. On the second floor was Alexandra Bell’s small, square studio, its walls plastered with blown-up reproductions of the front page of the most recognizable newspaper in America — specifically, the edition delivered to newsstands and doorsteps on August 25, 2014. In skinny strokes of red permanent marker, she’d circled words, crossed out sentences, and written notes and questions in the margins, a public humbling designed to present the paper of record as little more than a series of decisions made by human hands and brains — decisions Bell was now questioning with force. Earlier that evening, at Shoestring Press, a print shop in Crown Heights, we’d picked up copies of the finished versions of those same augmented articles. Michael Brown’s eyes seemed to follow us around the room, staring intently from beneath the jaws of a giant black printer. Bell rolled the finished product into cylinders and tucked them away.

Read the rest of this article at: The Village Voice

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How We Really Tamed the Dog


One longstanding idea about wolf domestication was that humans had adopted wolf pups, perhaps choosing ones that were especially cute, with the most juvenile facial and body features. But what if it were the wolves that initiated contact, not the humans? Naturally more adventurous when it comes to humans, tamer wolves might have begun making their way into human encampments to scavenge for food. Maybe, given that they’re nocturnal, they snuck into campsites in the night as our early ancestors slept. Or perhaps they had learned to closely follow human hunting parties to scavenge for prey. It’s easy to understand why wolves who were relatively comfortable with human presence—naturally semi-tame—would have done so. Humans were a much more reliable food source than the wild. But why had early human groups accepted the wolves into their inner sanctums? Wolves on their way to becoming dogs might well have helped with hunting and acted as sentinels, warning of approaching dangers. But there must have been earlier stages of their transition before they were performing these functions particularly well. If the process of the silver foxes’ domestication really was mimicking that of wolf domestication, then perhaps these same lovable solicitous behaviors emerged early on in wolves also. And maybe that made them more appealing to our early ancestors.

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus

When To Trust A Story That Uses Unnamed Sources

The various investigations into the Trump administration and its alleged ties to Russia are hard to follow. The allegations are sometimes muddled, the probes are still ongoing, and all sides in the dispute are leaking information that favors their points of view. These stories are also hard to follow because few officials are willing to put their names behind their claims and comments, leading to a stream of stories rife with unnamed sources.

What’s a reader to do? Well, here’s a guide to unnamed sources in government/politics/Washington stories — who they are, how reporters use them, and how to tell if you should trust what they say. Having covered Congress, the White House, several presidential campaigns and briefly the Education and State departments, I have begged (usually unsuccessfully) many sources to allow me to use their names, written a fair number of stories with unnamed sources, and spent a lot of time trying to decode stories with unnamed sources written by other journalists. For this piece, I also consulted other journalists and political types who have served in senior staff roles on campaigns, on Capitol Hill and in presidential administrations.

Read the rest of this article at: FiveThirtyEight


Percy Ross Wants to Give You Money!


Percy Ross was a trash-bag tycoon, a serial entrepreneur who had made millions in plastics in the 1960s and relished spending it. But in 1977 he staged an astonishing reinvention. Ross would become a philanthropist — and not just any philanthropist, but one for people like him: a “blue-collar millionaire,” as he put it. He’d give money away the way he’d gotten it, in bills small and large, and always when it was needed the most. He’d portion out his millions in cash, in checks, accompanied by the satisfying clink of a silver dollar. Percy Ross would become, as the newspapers called him, “America’s Rich Uncle.”

Ross always said — boasted, really — that he’d made and lost two fortunes. It was his third business that stuck, the one in plastics. Ross had been a fur auctioneer in the 1930s — he met the woman who eventually became his wife at a craps table in Las Vegas while in the company of Clark Gable — and an organizer of farm-equipment auctions. In 1958, the story went, Ross borrowed $30,000 to invest in a failing plastics company. He knew nothing about the industry, and within five years he’d filed for bankruptcy — but with hard work, the help of his family, and a little innovation, he eventually turned the company around. Poly-Tech, as he renamed it, made plastic garbage bags. He liked to tell people he sold Poly-Tech for $8 million on the same day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon: July 20, 1969.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

Did Airbnb Kill the Mountain Town?


Brian Barker was living in Portland, Oregon, with a well-paying union job as a spokesperson for the fire department. But despite having “a job you don’t leave”—he had an itch. “I wanted to go live in the mountains,” he says. “I didn’t want to sit in traffic all the time. I was tired of living in the city.”

So he began searching. Missoula, ­Boise, Truckee—“anywhere within 30 ­minutes of a ski area.” In 2014, he relocated to ­Crested Butte, a 1,500-person-strong former coal-mining town nestled in Colorado’s ­Upper Gunnison River Valley. It’s often referred to as the last great American ski town, a distinction that locals, despite acknowledging it with a hint of self-deprecating smirk, do not really go out of their way to dispute. Phenomenal skiing aside, it is the sort of place where doors go unlocked (except, occasionally, to keep bears out); where locals on the Crested Butte Bitch and Moan Facebook page gripe about tourists (typi­cally Texans) exceeding the 15-mile-per-hour speed limit downtown; where powder days mean closed stores and canceled meetings; where even the gas pumps at the local Shell station seem to take things just a bit more slowly.

“This is a great place to raise kids,” ­Barker, a divorced father of two young children, tells me one evening, wearing a baseball cap, a vest, and a hint of stubble. We’re ­seated at the Brick Oven, a locals’ hangout on Elk Avenue, the town’s main spine, where tidy wood-frame buildings in a rainbow palette glow beneath the snow-capped mass of the eponymous mountain.

Barker’s life seems enviable. He rents a “beautiful” place a mile south of town. He had his kids on skis practically before they could walk. He has a job he loves, as marketing manager for the town’s Adaptive Sports Center, a nonprofit that gives people with disabilities the chance to participate in outdoor activities. “They ski down that mountain,” he says, “and now they realize they can ride the bus to the grocery store.”

This postcard existence comes at a price, though. The cliché about remote adventure-town idylls is that people either have a second home or a second job. ­Barker has three jobs. “I produce videos on the side—I just shot my first wedding. Oh, and I drive an ambulance,” he says, laughing. “As a single parent”—his ex-wife lives 35 minutes away, in Gunnison—“you pretty much have to work multiple jobs.”

Not long ago, Barker stopped by the property-management company that oversees his rental to talk about a water heater on the fritz. “The manager said, ‘I know you have kids, but the owners are thinking about turning your place into a VRBO. You should probably start looking.’ ”

Read the rest of this article at: Outside

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @katiearmour; @domsli22; @janicejoostemaa