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News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@diaryofdays
News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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The Cannes Film Festival has been an adoring showcase for Quentin Tarantino ever since he was anointed with the big prize, the Palme d’Or, for Pulp Fiction in 1994. That only made the discomfort of his tense exchange with New York Times reporter Farah Nayeri at this year’s event more telling. Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, made its world premiere at the festival in May, where it received a six-minute standing ovation. The filmmaker and his cast were holding court at the subsequent press conference when Nayeri pressed Tarantino about why the movie’s woman lead, Margot Robbie (playing real-life Manson family murder victim Sharon Tate), had so little dialogue in the shaggy 1960s-set showbiz comedy.

“This is a person with great acting talent, and yet you haven’t given her many lines in the movie,” Nayeri said, citing Robbie’s roles in I, Tonya and The Wolf of Wall Street. “I guess that was a deliberate choice on your part. And I just wanted to know why that was that we don’t hear her speak that much.” Tarantino didn’t reply to Nayeri so much as refuted her whole line of questioning. “Well, I just reject your hypotheses,” he said, leaving Robbie to smooth over the awkward moment by speaking about the challenge of playing a character who’s mostly by herself in her biggest scenes.

Read the rest of this article at: BuzzFeed

News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The messages started arriving on a Sunday afternoon in mid-May. “Just wanted to draw your attention to this,” one began. “Rumors are starting to surface,” another informed me. “I’d be very interested in getting your thoughts,” a third suggested. My correspondents, mostly strangers, were polite but insistent. They wanted my take on a theory, newly circulating online, that offered a resolution to one of the most alluring digital mysteries of the past decade, the real identity (or identities) behind the persona of Satoshi Nakamoto.

The question, as someone in my Twitter DM’s articulated it, was this: “Do you think that Paul Le Roux is bitcoin creator Satoshi?”

In one sense, they’d all come to the right place. I spent five years tracking Paul Calder Le Roux, a South African pro­grammer who built a global drug and arms dealing empire, and transformed himself into one of the 21st century’s most prolific and pursued criminals. I’d obsessively catalogued his life, from his early history as an encryption coder; through his creation of an online prescription drug business worth hundreds of millions of dollars; to his diversification into smuggling, weapons, and violence; to his 2012 capture by, and cooperation with, the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Along the way he had, among other endeavors, simulta­neously fed the American opioid epidemic; built his own base operations in Somalia, protected by an armed militia; run gold and timber extraction operations in a half-dozen African countries; laundered millions of dollars through Hong Kong; plotted a coup in the Seychelles (later abandoned); bought off law enforcement in the Philippines, where he was based; trafficked methamphetamine out of North Korea; and overseen a team of engineers building missile guidance systems for Iran and drones for drug delivery.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

Tuscany Tote in Cognac

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When the Venetian merchant Marco Polo got to China, in the latter part of the thirteenth century, he saw many wonders—gunpowder and coal and eyeglasses and porcelain. One of the things that astonished him most, however, was a new invention, implemented by Kublai Khan, a grandson of the great conqueror Genghis. It was paper money, introduced by Kublai in 1260. Polo could hardly believe his eyes when he saw what the Khan was doing:

He makes his money after this fashion. He makes them take of the bark of a certain tree, in fact of the mulberry tree, the leaves of which are the food of the silkworms, these trees being so numerous that whole districts are full of them. What they take is a certain fine white bast or skin which lies between the wood of the tree and the thick outer bark, and this they make into something resembling sheets of paper, but black. When these sheets have been prepared they are cut up into pieces of different sizes. All these pieces of paper are issued with as much solemnity and authority as if they were of pure gold or silver; and on every piece a variety of officials, whose duty it is, have to write their names, and to put their seals. And when all is prepared duly, the chief officer deputed by the Khan smears the seal entrusted to him with vermilion, and impresses it on the paper, so that the form of the seal remains imprinted upon it in red; the money is then authentic. Anyone forging it would be punished with death.

That last point was deeply relevant. The problem with many new forms of money is that people are reluctant to adopt them. Genghis Khan’s grandson didn’t have that difficulty. He took measures to insure the authenticity of his currency, and if you didn’t use it—if you wouldn’t accept it in payment, or preferred to use gold or silver or copper or iron bars or pearls or salt or coins or any of the older forms of payment prevalent in China—he would have you killed. This solved the question of uptake.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Plant Parenthood

News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

IN THE YEAR 2019, I finally found an apartment with a big window. I lived alone, with no pets. This was a perfect arrangement, one that allowed me to cultivate a lifelong desire: to live among a ridiculous number of houseplants.

As a child in rural North Carolina, I spent my time in the woods with a field guide. The soil of the Sandhills ecosystem prevented many of my mother’s gardening attempts, so my plant interest was pursued entirely in the wild. Even today, my escapist fantasies involve going back to school, becoming a botanist, and living the remainder of my life in a cabin in the North Carolina mountains.

My perspective on plants and plant rearing comes from this botanizing background, rather than a gardening one. Until I got into houseplants, my idea was that plants were best left in the wild, with our roles in their lives restricted to being good-hearted environmental stewards and reverent observers. Now, I have twenty-five houseplants, and despite some encounters with spider mites and clumsy repottings, they are all thriving. This isn’t because I followed a specific, top-secret recipe for plant success or because I have some kind of natural gift, a green thumb, if you will. It’s because I haven’t been consumed by the dreaded expectations of so-called “houseplant culture,” which are fueled almost wholly by Instagram. Numerous tags, such as #houseplantclub and #crazyplantlady, betray an endless parade of twee wall hangings, big lofts with giant fiddle leaf fig trees, and expensive West Elm furniture complemented by drooping monstera leaves.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

Such Perfection

News 08.02.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

No one else is paying attention. The train approaches the station at Varenna Esino. It is a small, regional train, headed north from Milan, its passengers whiling away the boredom of their daily commutes. A young man across the aisle gazes at the floor. A woman swaps her heels for a pair of sandals and reads.

But I struggle to keep my composure. The mountains have slowly been gathering themselves up, out of the fields and above the rooftops. They are now so high and so close to the train. Without warning, the lake is upon us. I notice first a change in the light. The sun breaks freely on the water, drawing sharp silver lines along lapping waves. In the changing light, the faces of strangers on the train look new. I see now a faint scar on the young man’s temple, and the woman reading the book is younger than I’d first thought. Her mouth appears bisected, half in shade, half illuminated. Her lipstick is red in shadow, magenta in the light.

I once heard that every painting is a solution to the problem of how to best carve light, but it is only at that moment that I finally understand what that could mean. My way of looking shifts. Every painting I’ll see from now on will bring with it, if gently, the memory of being on this train, watching the lake spread out before me, the light changing all I’d been observing. The moment is educative; it retrains my eye, refines my perceptual discernment. I see dust particles dancing, a static laid upon the scene. The passengers look lit as if by soft spotlights. I see their bodies plainly, the curves under their clothes, where their skin is smooth, their sweat, the whites of their eyes. The woman with the brilliant lipstick glances up from her book, tilts her chin to the window. The young man with the scar no longer looks so bored. He watches the lake with clear longing, as if he wished to strip himself bare and dive in. The sun penetrates our train car and I feel it, a heat on my body, and I know that the passengers can now see more of me too. The train ducks behind a grove of trees, and shadowed patterns of leaves grow across our laps. I hold my breath. I’ve never seen light carved so beautifully.

*

The night before I left for Italy for a vacation alone, I had dinner in Brooklyn with a man whom I’d been skeptical of for years. We have many friends in common and so I’d run into him at parties and housewarmings. Each time, I left unsure whether I liked him. He was indifferent to me, which was not unusual and did not offend me. He didn’t owe me his attention, nor had I expected we’d be friends just because we knew the same people. I myself was indifferent to most people I met and resented any implication that I should be nicer or more socially gracious than I felt inclined to be.

The quality of his indifference intrigued me, though. At parties, he would sometimes answer my questions tersely and then walk away with no concern, it seemed, for a guise of reciprocal politesse. Once, at a dinner hosted in a friend’s Williamsburg loft, I made a game of seeing how many questions I could ask before he’d ask me one in return. It was a one-sided game played for my own satisfaction, and it was, perhaps, ungenerous of me to play it. But I was feeling ungenerous. I asked him where he grew up, did he have siblings, where had he traveled, did he like living in Williamsburg. I got to thirty-six questions, fifteen of which were follow-ups based on his answers, all of which he answered while looking mostly at his phone. As I asked the thirty-seventh, he got a text about another party, and left.

Read the rest of this article at: The Believer

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