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News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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The wind had dropped the night before, but the sea was still running pretty heavy, especially for a boat like the Lucette. The waves were about head height and in a small boat there was a real risk of going over the side. In the distance a shape in the sea moved towards the yacht.

On board, the Robertson family were 200 miles west of Galapagos and two days into a 40-day leg to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia on their round-the-world voyage. Some of the family were sleeping below deck, having kept watch through the night. The morning coffee was brewing on the stove and the family were settling into their normal daily routine. The events that took place in the next few seconds would change their lives forever.

Douglas Robertson, who was 18 at the time, was in the cockpit with his younger brother Sandy when he saw it: the triangular fin of a killer whale. “I pulled a fishing line in and there was a big squid on the end of it, you know, and I said to my brother ‘There’ll be some big fish around here’,” he recalls. “Because where there’s squid there’s whales.”

Read the rest of this article at: BBC

News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Michael and Angela have just turned fifty-five. They know two people who have died in the past few years—one from cancer, another in a car accident. It occurs to them that they should make a plan for their kids. They have some money in the bank. Suppose they were both killed in a plane crash—what would happen to it?

They have four children, who range in age from their late teens to their late twenties. Chloe, the oldest, is a math wiz with a coding job at Google; she hopes to start her own company soon. Will, who has a degree in social work, is paying off his student debt while working at a halfway house for recovering addicts. The twins, James and Alexis, are both in college. James, a perpetually stoned underachiever, is convinced that he can make it as a YouTuber. (He’s already been suspended twice, for on-campus pranks.) Alexis, who hopes to become a poet, has a congenital condition that could leave her blind by middle age.

At first, Michael and Angela plan to divide their money equally. Then they start to think about it. Chloe is on the fast track to remunerative Silicon Valley success; Will is burdened by debt in his quest to help the vulnerable. If James were to come into an inheritance, he’d likely grow even lazier, spending it on streetwear and edibles; Alexis, with her medical situation, might need help later in life. Maybe, Michael and Angela think, it doesn’t make sense to divide the money into equal portions after all. Something more sophisticated might be required. What matters to them is that their children flourish equally, and this might mean giving the kids unequal amounts—an unappealing prospect.

The philosopher Ronald Dworkin considered this type of parental conundrum in an essay called “What Is Equality?,” from 1981. The parents in such a family, he wrote, confront a trade-off between two worthy egalitarian goals. One goal, “equality of resources,” might be achieved by dividing the inheritance evenly, but it has the downside of failing to recognize important differences among the parties involved. Another goal, “equality of welfare,” tries to take account of those differences by means of twisty calculations. Take the first path, and you willfully ignore meaningful facts about your children. Take the second, and you risk dividing the inheritance both unevenly and incorrectly.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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FRIENDSVILLE, MD.Larry Harding left his 12-gauge shotgun propped by the door that September night. He feared that otherwise he might shoot the thieves if he stumbled on them in the dark. Instead, he grabbed his camera and went out across the road where they’d raided his ginseng patch the week before. He suspected the bandits would return, and sure enough, flashlights bouncing around the woods confirmed it.

“I backed up, and I called the law, and I said: They’re here.”

Harding asked the officer to meet him on a hill near his house in Friendsville, in western Maryland, a pastoral town of about 500 a few miles south of the Pennsylvania border. Then he phoned his grown sons, Tyler and Derek, to help round up the crooks.

“After the cops came, we went down the ridge, and there they were, digging with headlamps,” he said, thumping his fist on the countertop in the small farm store where he sells herbal products. Photographs showing his dad Kenneth in his early days of cultivating ginseng decorate the walls. “We yelled, ‘Police! On the ground!’ and they just bellied right down.”

The police identified the men as Terry Blankenship, 46, and Daniel Warren, 32, from Kentucky, and charged them with theft and trespassing. They were each fined about $3,700. The theft took place in 2014, but “I’ve never seen a dime, and I ain’t gonna ever receive a dime. Because that’s what happens a lot of times. A lot of these people stealing ginseng don’t have anything.”

Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic

News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Elizabeth Barrett only looked away from the busy London street for a moment as she stepped up into a carriage. It was a perfect autumn morning on the first of September 1846 and Elizabeth, 40, was out running errands with her sister Arabel, 33. They had brought along Elizabeth’s small brown spaniel, Flush, who had trotted gamely beside them as they shopped. When the outing was over and the carriage pulled up on Vere Street, the ladies climbed aboard while Flush waited patiently beside the wheels.

Once she was seated, Elizabeth called, “Flush!” Flush did not spring into her lap as expected. Elizabeth and her sister frantically searched underneath the chassis and scanned the bustling streetscape for any sign of him. But he was gone. In only a moment, Elizabeth’s beloved dog had vanished without a trace.
During the tense ride back home to their house at 50 Wimpole Street, in the fashionable neighborhood of Marylebone in Central London, Arabel comforted her devastated sister. She promised they would find Flush. But Elizabeth was inconsolable, pale with shock. London was notorious for its dog-stealers, who operated as a collective to capture household pets for profit. The tragic practice was sometimes fatal for the stolen dogs. Elizabeth would later learn that she and her sister had been shadowed from the moment they left their house that morning — tracked as they went from Bond Street to Vere Street, where the thieves finally found their opportunity to grab the dog from beside the carriage’s wheel.
Elizabeth, who had suffered chronic illness since she was sixteen and was in near-constant physical pain, frequently had to pause while walking to sit down and catch her breath. Standing five feet and one inch tall, she was a petite, gaunt woman with “a very little voice.” Perhaps her stature or her gender made her seem an easy target. Contemporary reports of this operation emphasize the group’s victimization of single or vulnerable-appearing women.
But the dog-stealers did not know how much of a force Elizabeth truly was. Despite her long and debilitating illnesses, she had written her way to astounding success. Her most recent collection of verse, simply called Poems, had been released to acclaim, and she would soon become a contender for Poet Laureate. Edgar Allan Poe dedicated The Raven and Other Poems to her in 1845. Celebrated for her sonnets and her long masterpiece Aurora Leigh, she is now perhaps best remembered in popular culture for the lines “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth also had a powerful reserve of inner strength. Nobody could have predicted how she would turn the robbery of her beloved dog into a triumph over oppression in her life.

Read the rest of this article at: Truly*Adventurous

News 01.10.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

IN EARLY 2018, I was spending a warm West Hollywood Sunday evening on the balcony of a young director of film development, drinking a beer and hoping for an early night[*]. I had planned to sleep on his couch, but when I suggested we turn in, he said, “Nah, just take my bed, I’m probably not sleeping tonight.” I asked why not, and he looked momentarily surprised, as though it was strange I wasn’t aware of the impending event that had a small but important segment of the film and publishing industries alive with anticipation at the two ends of the great book-to-film pipeline connecting agents, assistants, film execs, and book scouts through endless emails and group chats. “That new David Grann story drops at midnight,” he said.

I expressed mild shock at this, saying it was sadistic for an agent to send out notices to otherwise self-respecting adults calling on them to stay up to read and compose notes on a magazine story instead of trying to sleep before a workday. Surely they would still be expected, as is the custom in the newly big business of turning books and magazine pieces into films, to send the regular weekly memo about recent publications their peers and bosses might find interesting enough to read, or maybe to offer on, and to be alert and shrewd at the regular meetings about the reading that everyone did over the weekend. The expectation now is to mine, on a bulk scale, for writing that producers might want to buy. In this case, the aim was to acquire a story by a staff writer at The New Yorker who I personally don’t consider one of his generation’s great talents—though living in Los Angeles in the era of book-to-film has given me reason to wonder about the acuity of my taste in literature. My friend gave me a slightly patronizing look, implying that he didn’t need, at that moment, to hear opinions about the great David Grann from a younger writer whose work emphatically does not keep execs and agents awake late on a Sunday night waiting to pull million-dollar triggers. Rather than live as a curmudgeon, I would do better to learn from this moment and start producing books and articles that would get me up off his couch and into some serious money. He knew I knew how to do it because he’d told me how, many times.

A Grann story is maybe not an event for the casual reader of American nonfiction, but it is a big deal in Hollywood. The rights to this story and the resulting book-length expansion sold for $5 million to Imperative Entertainment, the producer of movies like All the Money in the World—a fitting title for the amount invested in Grann. It is already developing a film based on Grann’s massively bestselling book Killers of the Flower Moon, in partnership with Paramount. Leonardo DiCaprio is to star and Martin Scorsese to direct, and Imperative had to pay, again, $5 million for the privilege. The publication of this latest piece—an adventure yarn about a guy who dies trying to walk across Antarctica—broke no news and had no pretensions to social or literary value. But it still set off a quiet acquisitive frenzy familiar to certain story-driven works of middle-brow prose in that style that Grann has come to master. Getting a sneak of a draft of a Grann story is a point of pride in Hollywood—in this case a shaggy forty-page .docx that could serve as the seedbed for a film that makes hundreds of millions. There was more at stake in the writing and editing of Grann’s story than a magazine’s editorial process is built to handle. But, of course, The New Yorker’s readership was not the final intended audience, and it would not be its check that mattered most to Grann. So who was he writing for?

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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