In the News 01.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 01.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 01.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 01.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Ken Burns’s American Canon

Like Steven Tyler, of Aerosmith, Ken Burns has a summer house on Lake Sunapee, in New Hampshire. The property is furnished with Shaker quilts and a motorboat; every July 4th, a fifteen-foot-long American flag hangs over the back deck. He bought the house in the mid-nineties, with money earned from “The Civil War,” his nine-part PBS documentary series, and its spinoffs. When PBS first broadcast that series, in a weeklong binge in the fall of 1990, the network reached its largest-ever audience. The country agreed to gather as if at a table covered with old family photographs, in a room into which someone had invited an indefatigable fiddle player. Johnny Carson praised the series in successive “Tonight Show” monologues; stores in Washington, D.C., reportedly sold out of blank videocassettes. To the satisfaction of many viewers, and the dismay of some historians, Burns seemed to have shaped American history into the form of a modern popular memoir: a tale of wounding and healing, shame and redemption. (The Civil War was “the traumatic event in our childhood,” as Burns later put it.) History became a quasi-therapeutic exercise in national unburdening and consensus building. Burns recently recalled, “People started showing up at the door, wanting to share their photographs of ancestors.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker


The Princess Myth: Hilary Mantel on Diana


Royal time should move slowly and by its own laws: creeping, like the flow of chrism from a jar. But 20 ordinary years have jog-trotted by, and it’s possible to have a grownup conversation with someone who wasn’t born when Diana died. Her widower is long remarried. Her eldest son, once so like her, shows signs of developing the ponderous looks of Philip, his grand-father. Diana should be as passe as ostrich plumes: one of those royal or quasi-royal women, like Mary of Teck or Wallis Simpson or the last tsarina, whose images fade to sepia and whose bones are white as pearls. Instead, we gossip about her as if she had just left the room. We still debate how in 1981 a sweet-faced, puppy-eyed 20-year-old came to marry into the royal house. Was it a setup from the start? Did she know her fiance loved another woman? Was she complicit, or was she an innocent, garlanded for the slab and the knife?

For some people, being dead is only a relative condition; they wreak more than the living do. After their first rigor, they reshape themselves, taking on a flexibility in public discourse. For the anniversary of her death, the princess’s sons remember her for the TV cameras, and we learn that she was “fun” and “very caring” and “a breath of fresh air”. They speak sincerely, but they have no news. Yet there is no bar on saying what you like about her, in defiance of the evidence. Private tapes she made with her voice coach have been shown in a TV documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words. They were trailed as revealing a princess who is “candid” and “uninhibited”. Yet never has she appeared so self-conscious and recalcitrant. Squirming, twitching, avoiding the camera’s eye, she describes herself hopefully as “a rebel”, on the grounds that she liked to do the opposite of everyone else. You want to veil the lens and explain: that is reaction, not rebellion. Throwing a tantrum when thwarted doesn’t make you a free spirit. Rolling your eyes and shrugging doesn’t prove you are brave. And because people say “trust me”, it doesn’t means they’ll keep your secrets.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian


Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber

Like many Harvard alumni, I sometimes wander the neighborhood when I return to Cambridge, reminiscing about the old days and musing on how different my life has been from what I hoped and expected then. On a trip there last fall I found myself a few blocks north of Harvard Yard, on Divinity Avenue. Near the end of this dead-end street sits the Peabody Museum—a giant Victorian structure attached to the Botanical Museum, where my mother had taken me as a young boy, in 1943, to view the spectacular exhibit of glass flowers. These left such a vivid impression that a decade later my recollection of them inspired me, then a senior in high school, to apply to Harvard.

This time my return was prompted not by nostalgia but by curiosity. No. 7 Divinity Avenue is a modern multi-story academic building today, housing the university’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. In 1959 a comfortable old house stood on the site. Known as the Annex, it served as a laboratory in which staff members of the Department of Social Relations conducted research on human subjects. There, from the fall of 1959 through the spring of 1962, Harvard psychologists, led by Henry A. Murray, conducted a disturbing and what would now be seen as ethically indefensible experiment on twenty-two undergraduates. To preserve the anonymity of these student guinea pigs, experimenters referred to individuals by code name only. One of these students, whom they dubbed “Lawful,” was Theodore John Kaczynski, who would one day be known as the Unabomber, and who would later mail or deliver sixteen package bombs to scientists, academicians, and others over seventeen years, killing three people and injuring twenty-three.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic


My Week in Lucky House: The Horror of Hong Kong’s Coffin Homes


The residents of Lucky House in Hong Kong are anything but fortunate. They are some of the poorest people in the most expensive city in the world.

In one of its 46 sq metre (500 sq ft) apartments, 30 residents live in purpose-built plywood bunk beds each with its own sliding door, colloquially known as coffins. Two rows of bunks, 16 bunks in each row – still space for two more people.

The residents are retirees, working poor, drug addicts and people with mental illnesses, mostly those unable to keep pace with the spiralling cost of housing in Hong Kong.

In many ways their home feels like a railroad sleeper car, but even more cramped and uncomfortable, and with none of the charm or romanticism that comes with train travel.

For a week I lived at Lucky House, crammed in a stuffy bunk teeming with bed bugs at night, my days spent lazing around with not much to do besides talk to the other residents, stare at my mobile phone and sleep.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Inside an Epic Hotel Room Hacking Spree


Almost exactly five years after seeing the first demonstration of Cody Brocious’ Onity hacking tool, I meet Aaron Cashatt face to face in the fluorescent-lit, cafeteria-style visiting room of the Cibola Unit of the Yuma State Prison Complex. Under his orange jumpsuit he’s bulked up from prison-yard weightlifting and seems clear-eyed and sharp. Despite the prevalence of drugs inside the Arizona corrections system, he says he’s gone clean since he started his third prison term, and even quit smoking.

Cashatt pleaded guilty to three hotel burglaries, the few for which prosecutors had the most airtight evidence. He’s serving a nine-year but hopes to be out in seven and a half. When he’s released, he swears that he’s done with hotel intrusions. He feels, he says, a complicated mix of regret for his thievery, shame for the trauma he caused his victims, and pride for the epic cleverness of his heists. (“No one took the Onity thing as far as I did,” he muses at one point in our visit.) He hopes someday to find a job in the security or perhaps even market his own invention, which he hopes to for preventing check fraud. “Maybe I can work for Kevin Mitnick or Frank Abagnale,” he suggests, naming the world’s most famous reformed hacker and con artist.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: Aimée Song; @mackenizehoran; @lchinteriors