News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 08.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Walk down a major street in Manhattan or Brooklyn today, and—wedged between a coffee shop and a FedEx shipping center—you might stumble across a storefront that looks, for all intents and purposes, empty. It probably has frosted glass windows, a door covered in branded stickers or QR codes, a bike rack out front, and a collapsible sign that directs you to download its mobile app to receive grocery deliveries in 10 to 15 minutes. Though employees might be racing in and out, customers aren’t allowed inside.

These ghost storefronts—often called “dark stores”—are warehouses in all but name, yet they look markedly different from the gargantuan spaces where older online grocery companies like FreshDirect store their goods. Traditional warehouses are zoned to regions outside of commercial districts, meaning they will be set apart from areas with lots of walking traffic. Dark stores are located in retail storefronts on main streets, near the heart of busy neighborhoods, but they serve only ecommerce customers. And they’ve gone from a niche phenomenon discussed largely in retail industry circles to a feature of major American cities.

The rise of dark stores directly parallels the acceleration of ecommerce as a whole, especially in the grocery industry. Online sales represented 13 percent of all grocery spending in 2021, a new high, and dark stores are designed to make the delivery process smoother.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I was a 14-year-old schoolboy when the rapper 50 Cent released Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The most precocious kids in class declared the debut hip-hop album an instant classic and hailed the rapper’s legend: “He’s been shot nine times, you know?” The failed attempt on 50 Cent’s life was at the centre of his sales pitch as the bulletproof king of gangsta rap. My friends and I were easily sold. His debut was the bestselling album of 2003, selling 12m copies worldwide. Curtis Jackson may have been born black and poor in New York, but as 50 Cent, he was now worth $30m.

There are few things we find more compelling than a fable of overcoming the odds and achieving self-made success. Everyone loves an outsider, because deep down most of us believe we are one, and each generation has its own version for inspiration. For me, it was the constant reinvention of the hustler made good in hip-hop that stuck.

I grew up in Tottenham, north London, a multiracial area between the city and the Hertfordshire suburbs with a character defined by its then underperforming football club and its Caribbean, Ghanaian and Turkish Cypriot communities. My whole life, this corner of the city has been notorious for the anti-police riots that broke out in the 1980s. A Jamaican-born mother had died after her home was raided by police officers, a policeman was killed in the ensuing revolt, and the tension between the residents and the authorities has festered ever since.

By 2003, much of the area could have slipped with ease into the background of a rap video in Queens. My friends and I wore American hip-hop streetwear: baggy Akademiks jeans, Fubu tops and Timberland boots. New-Era baseball caps felt like part of our school uniform. My school had a high intake of students poor enough to qualify for free school meals, but even the poor kids wore luxury streetwear. In the year I completed my GCSEs, 75% of my fellow students failed to get the five A*-C grades necessary to go on to further education. It is unsurprising that the hustler was an inspiration to a student body of underdogs.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The paperback’s cover showed a woman and man walking down Ludgate Hill towards Fleet Street with St Paul’s behind them and a red double decker passing to their right, dressed in the office fashions of the post war years. It looked like a still from an Ealing Comedy.

A friend posted the image on his social media because he liked the look of the Fontana edition which he had found on his father’s shelves. It was a copy of London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins. Most people seeing this would immediately start thinking of the fifties but for me it had rather different associations, triggering intense memories of the 1990s. This was because I had spent many hours over several years of that decade trying to find a copy of this very book.

I must have first come across a reference to it in a magazine article in around 1991. It sounded just my sort of thing, a portmanteau novel spun around the various inhabitants of a shabby lodgings house in Kennington on the eve of World War II, featuring various desperate, dodgy and lost souls. It was quite a hit in its day, inspiring a 1948 film with Richard Attenborough and Alastair Sim, then later a late seventies ITV series. But by the end of the eighties it was largely forgotten and out of print.

Read the rest of this article at: The Spectator

News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Logging season in Romania runs seven months, from mid-September through April, a frenzy of chain saws chewing through millions of spruce, pine, oak, maple, beech, fir. Some of the wood is cut legally; most of it is not, and violence between the logging industry and its opponents breaks out often. Early this season, two Bucharest-based documentary filmmakers, working on a project about the illicit wood trade, set out to find a large, treacherous-looking clear-cut in Suceava, a northern county where some of the country’s largest sawmills are based and where Ikea owns thousands of hectares.

The filmmakers—Mihai Dragolea, a director, and Radu Mocanu, a cameraman—were shadowing a local environmentalist, Tiberiu Bosutar. A former wood chipper turned activist, Bosutar was no stranger to illegal timber. Over the course of five years, he had built a reputation as something of a forest vigilante, accosting loggers engaged in questionable activity or following trucks stuffed with wood contraband, then streaming the encounters on Facebook Live. Just a few weeks before, he’d gone viral broadcasting an attempt to detain a truck carrying illegal logs; when his white SUV ran out of gas, he flagged down an ambulance and kept up the chase.

But the filmmakers’ trip wasn’t meant to be a stunt. The group took Bosutar’s personal vehicle, well-known in the area, and lingered for coffee at a nearby gas station to make their presence known and prove that they had not come to antagonize. Then, with Bosutar behind the wheel, the person who’d tipped them off about the cut riding shotgun, and the filmmakers in the back, they took to the highway, turned left up a dirt road, and began to climb.

It didn’t take long before they saw what they came for: stumps. “The forest was fucked up to the bone,” Dragolea told me. “It was really damaged.” No surprise, really, and on any other day, Bosutar might have taken to Facebook. Instead, he chose to call the forest ranger’s office. It was an ideal opportunity, he thought, to showcase the potential for communication between activists, law enforcement, and loggers, and fulfill a New Year’s resolution to try a less combative approach. “It was a good moment to show that we are open to dialogue.”

Not long after, they heard the whinge of engines; soon, two SUVs arrived. Out jumped not local police, but a horde: 15 men armed with bats and axes. The documentary crew broke for Bosutar’s car but couldn’t get the locks in time. The attackers pried the doors open, snapped the key, slashed the tires, and smashed the camera equipment. They beat Mocanu, trapped between the car and the mountainside, unconscious. They clubbed Dragolea in the face. The director dove down the nearby ravine, where he hid under the roots of a fallen tree and called the police, begging them to come with their sirens on. “I said, ‘They’re killing the journalists in the forest, and they are tracking me down,’” he recounted. “I knew cases where people had died in the forest, I saw axes around me. If someone didn’t call, we were going to die for sure.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Republic

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News 25.02.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The fire in 1831 spared the Cathedral of Notre Dame itself. The rioters scrambled up the roof and toppled a giant iron cross; they shattered stained glass, took axes to a statue of Jesus, smashed one of the Virgin Mary. But they were really after the archbishop of Paris, who wasn’t there—and so they sacked his palace, which stood south of the church, facing the Seine River. Then they set fire to it. The palace is gone now. A 250-foot-tall construction crane stands on that spot.

There’s a drawing of the scene that night, February 14, 1831, viewed from the Quai de Montebello, across the Seine. It was made by Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc—the man who, 13 years later, would undertake a 20-year restoration of the cathedral. Viollet-le-Duc was only 17 when he witnessed the mob attack. In his hasty pencil sketch, agitated stick figures swarm the palace, hurling furniture and other valuables out the windows and into the river. Behind all that stands Notre Dame, then six centuries old.

The jagged wound torn in Notre Dame’s heart by the April 2019 fire that destroyed its spire and roof is seen from above. The cathedral’s towering spire fell through the stone vaulting, crushed a modern altar, and left a hole fringed by charred roof timbers.

In 1980, also at age 17, Philippe Villeneuve saw an exhibit about Viollet-le-Duc at the Grand Palais. He knew he wanted to be an architect—he was already building an elaborate model of Notre Dame—but he didn’t know you could specialise in historic buildings. Today he’s one of 35 “chief architects of historic monuments” in France, a profession most famously embodied by Viollet-le-Duc. Villeneuve has directed restoration work at Notre Dame since 2013, and with terrible urgency since the spring of 2019, when a fire ripped the top off the cathedral. The building has been stabilised at last; reconstruction is about to begin. In more ways than one, Villeneuve owes his current mission, the fight of his professional life, to his ingenious predecessor, Viollet-le-Duc.

“He invented the restoration of historic monuments,” Villeneuve said. “That didn’t happen before. Before, people repaired them, and they repaired them in the style of their day.” Or they didn’t repair them, and tore them down.

In 19th-century France, a government first established institutions to grapple systematically with a question that concerns us all: What part of the past is worth preserving and transmitting to posterity? What duty do we owe the creations of our ancestors, what strength and stability do we draw from their presence—and when, on the contrary, do they become a lead weight, preventing us from projecting ourselves into the future, from creating a world of our own? The question is one each of us faces in microcosm, in our work and in our life. Each of us has a service des monuments historiques in our head, struggling to decide what to hold on to and what to toss, which change to resist and which to embrace. It’s just we’re often not very conscious of it. And we’re often not conscious of our stake in the preservation decisions made by governments—of how old buildings touch us. Until they are threatened.

Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic

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