News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In February 2013, on a visit to New York, Ruth spent an afternoon walking the streets, thinking about her divorce. She’d had a good life, once. A healthy, happy family. Beautiful children. But the past few years had been soul-crushing, and the divorce had descended into a no-holds-barred courtroom fight that had broken her family apart and made her feel hopeless and alone.

As the sky darkened, the cold air sank through Ruth’s clothes and crept across her skin. She decided to head back to her midtown hotel. When she got closer, she noticed a sign for $5 psychic readings at a storefront nearby. She hesitated. Maybe this would give her the guidance she’d been craving for so long. And if not, what was the harm? “I didn’t think $5 was much to spend for hope,” she recalled.

Ruth walked up a narrow staircase to a second-floor apartment, where she was greeted at the door by a woman with dark hair and thick-framed reading glasses, who went by “Psychic Zoe.” The woman led Ruth into a tiny office with glistening purple amethysts in each corner—protective stones, she said—and they sat down together.

Ruth told her everything: about her divorce and depression, the sexual abuse in her past, and the lingering pain that racked her body after an accident years earlier. Her children had become emotionally distant, she said, and she feared she was losing them. She didn’t know how to make it right.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

This is one of those places you go for Instagram. The Manhattan Bridge looms, immediate and substantial, over a cobblestone street, framed on either side by a pair of old brick buildings; if you’re standing in the right spot, you can see the Empire State Building through one of the bridge’s uprights. Imagine a woman, young and ambivalent, staring into the middle distance, white sneakers aglow in the dawn, bridge overhead. This area of Brooklyn, once home to abandoned factories and warehouses, now hosts an annual festival for $3,000 German cameras.

All of this could be depressing, conceptually: Thousands and thousands of us cycling through a location for the same photo, then posting it to Instagram, a platform on which you’ve probably seen this photo and will see it again, an endless loop of likes. Restaurant owners think now about how a certain floor tile might look on Instagram, and light the room for the phone’s camera instead of the table; businesses paint ridiculous murals on walls, with human-size white space, so you’ll pop by and pose, ironic or earnest, between technicolor angel wings; Instagram stories of places and people extend out into the jittery forever.

And yet, on nice evenings in early September, on a half block of staggering wealth, the photo line can seem less like a grim tribute to our alienated reality and more like a fun carnival.

You know those little cartoons of a city, where a guy in a beret with a poodle is walking past a baguette-carrying chef in front of a pencil drawing of the Eiffel Tower? Here in Brooklyn, the tall, thin women in silver Birkenstocks pass by groups of two German tourists and three Chinese tourists. “Car coming!” a man shouted every few minutes one night; a Carvel ice cream truck would inch by, followed by a silver Mercedes G-Class, all while the Q train blared overhead as the metal subway cars crossed the steel bridge. Here a couple would pose in black tie; there some teens would be texting on the curb. Here a black Range Rover; there a guy in shorts with an ice cream cone. A shirtless rollerblader would weave through the groups of women in dresses, crowded around a phone.

“That’s a fine shot!” one bridesmaid lovingly called to a bride — who stood without the bridge in the background. “That’s a fine shot!”

None of this — the intersection of a hundred lives in one place, your own Instagram feed crashing into someone else’s — could have happened 10 years ago.

This long and wearying decade is coming to a close, though, even if there’s no sense of an ending. People are always saying stuff like: Time has melted; my brain has melted; Donald Trump has melted my brain; I can’t remember if that was two weeks ago or two months ago or two years ago; what a year this week has been. Donald Trump tells the story of 2016 again. Your Facebook feed won’t stop showing you a post from four days ago, about someone you haven’t seen in three years. The Office, six years after it ended, might be the most popular show in the United States. Donald Trump tells the story of 2016 again. One high schooler dances to a Mariah Carey song from 2009 (“Why you so obsessed with me?”) in a video that loops in 15-second increments on TikTok; then other teens do it; then a high school dance team dances that dance to this Mariah Carey song as a gym full of teens sings along, in a video that loops in 15-second increments on TikTok. Donald Trump tells the story of 2016 again. What was here yesterday no longer is.

Read the rest of this article at: BuzzFeed

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Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

To visit Dr Dirk Obbink at Christ Church college, Oxford, you must first be ushered by a bowler-hatted porter into the stately Tom Quad, built by Cardinal Wolsey before his spectacular downfall in 1529. Turn sharp right, climb a flight of stairs, and there, behind a door on which is pinned a notice advertising a 2007 college arts festival, you will find Obbink’s rooms. Be warned: you may knock on the door in vain. Since October, he has been suspended from duties following the biggest scandal that has ever hit, and is ever likely to hit, the University of Oxford’s classics department.

An associate professor in papyrology and Greek literature at Oxford, Obbink occupies one of the plum jobs in his field. Born in Nebraska and now in his early 60s, this lugubrious, crumpled, owlish man has “won at the game of academia”, said Candida Moss, professor of theology at Birmingham University. In 2001, he was awarded a MacArthur “genius” award for his expertise in “rescuing damaged ancient manuscripts from the ravages of nature and time”. Over the course of his career, he has received millions in funding; he is currently, in theory at least, running an £800,000 project on the papyrus rolls carbonised by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79.

Since he was appointed in 1995, Obbink has welcomed many visitors into his rooms at Christ Church: dons, undergraduates, researchers. Less orthodox callers, too: among them, antiquities dealers and collectors. In the corner of Obbink’s study stands a pool table, from which two Egyptian mummy masks stare out impenetrably. Its green baize surface is all but obscured by papers and manuscripts – even, sometimes, a folder or two containing fragments of ancient papyrus. One bibliophile remembers a visit to this room, “like the set of an Indiana Jones movie”, a few years ago. He was offered an antique manuscript for sale by a man named Mahmoud Elder, with whom Obbink owned a company, now dissolved, called Castle Folio.

One blustery evening towards the end of Michaelmas term, 2011, two visiting Americans climbed Obbink’s staircase – Drs Scott Carroll and Jerry Pattengale. Both worked for the Greens, a family of American conservative evangelicals who have made billions from a chain of crafting stores called Hobby Lobby. At the time, the family was embarking on an ambitious new project: the Museum of the Bible, which opened in Washington DC in 2017. Carroll was then its director. Items for the Green collection were bought by Hobby Lobby, then donated to the museum, bringing a substantial tax write-off. Pattengale was the head of the Green Scholars Initiative, a project offering academics research opportunities on items in the Green collection.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 01.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Last year, lawmakers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania proposed legalizing recreational marijuana in their states. A debate ensued. Some argued that legalizing pot would make crime go up; others claimed that it would make crime go down. There is evidence to favor the optimists: a recent paper in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization reports that, after Washington State legalized recreational marijuana, in 2012, rapes there decreased by as much as thirty per cent, and thefts by about twenty per cent.

And yet there are plenty of pessimists about legalization, too; many of them work in law enforcement. Curious about their views, I reached out to more than seventy-five county sheriffs in California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington—states where recreational marijuana is legal. (It’s also legal in Alaska.) Of the twenty-five sheriffs who got back to me, half said they hadn’t noticed a trend, and the rest were certain that legalizing marijuana had made crime go up. “We can just tell you from our experience that any time you’re around marijuana, or the marijuana industry, the likelihood that you’ll be the victim of some type of crime is higher,” Ray Kelly, a sheriff’s sergeant in Alameda County, California, which is home to Oakland, said. Paul Bennett, a captain in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, in California, told me, “I can certainly say that cops in the field, on the streets, and specifically narcotics officers, have experienced an increase in violent crime, all related to marijuana trafficking, sales, and cultivation, both legal and illegal.” I asked the sheriffs about the paper in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. “Whoever gave you those statistics is so full of crap that they can’t even see how ludicrous these statements are—you can quote me on that,” Kendle Allen, the sheriff of Stevens County, Washington, said. Frank Rogers, the sheriff of Okanogan County, Washington, had a different hypothesis: “Maybe when they wrote it they were indulging in a little of the green stuff themselves.”

Whether smoking marijuana causes crime is an important question. It informs opinion on whether smoking marijuana should be a crime. According to the F.B.I., there were more than six hundred thousand arrests for marijuana possession in 2018—about six per cent of all arrests nationally. Even if an arrest doesn’t lead to imprisonment, it creates a criminal record, disrupts work and family life, and piles up legal fees and other costs; the enforcement of anti-marijuana laws is, moreover, overwhelmingly focussed on poor communities of color.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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