“To have lived one’s life at the same time, and in the same natal country, as Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, was a guidance and a privilege we South Africans shared.”—Nadine Gordimer remembers her friend, Nelson Mandela: http://nyr.kr/1f0D4rn (via newyorker)
On August 21, 1945, the plutonium core produced a burst of neutron radiation that led toHarry Daghlian's death. Daghlian, a physicist, made a mistake while working alone performingneutron reflection experiments on the core. The core was placed within a stack of neutron-reflective tungsten carbide bricks and the addition of each brick moved the assembly closer tocriticality. While attempting to stack another brick around the assembly, Daghlian accidentally dropped it onto the core and thereby caused the core to go critical, a self-sustaining chain reaction. Despite quick action in moving the brick off the assembly, Daghlian received a fatal dose of radiation. He died 25 days later from acute radiation poisoning.
the ethanol era has proved far more damaging to the environment than politicians said and much worse than the government admits today, an Associated Press investigation found. As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conserved land, destroyed habitats and polluted water supplies.
Five million acres of land — more than in Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite national parks combined — have been pulled from conservation on Obama’s watch, according to Agriculture Department figures.
What’s more, from 2005 to 2010, corn farmers increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer by more than 1 billion pounds. More recent data isn’t available from the Agriculture Department, but because of the huge increase in corn planting, even conservative projections by the AP suggest another billion-pound fertilizer increase on corn farms since then.
Worth reading the contrasting opinions on this one—it’ll be an ongoing debate for some time, no doubt.
“Similarly, while we understand that the Church is a multinational organization that requires money to do God’s work on Earth and do not expect its administrators to live off of stale bread donated by the pious, we feel that your accounts receivable techniques, which consisted of priests literally raking in money for you, with actual, non-metaphorical rakes, to be, as they say today, bad optics.”—Popes Who Didn’t Make the Cut to be Saints
Tom Vanderbilt on the evolution of the term “neighborhood”.
Whatever size neighborhood we live in, we are likely to further rearrange it in our own conception. The writer Jonathan Raban, reflecting a few decades after the publication of his influential 1974 book Soft City, which proposed the idea of the “city of illusion, myth, aspiration, nightmare,” talked about the liberating quality of the metropolis, where you were not “stuck” with your neighbors, as in suburbia, but could construct your own personal city. He wondered, as critics such as Mumford had done before, whether gentrification and increasing class segmentation were destroying that sense of possibility. Perhaps the Internet, where his daughter dwelt in an “elective community of exactly the kind I once sought in the big city,” was where the soft city now resided. Perhaps social networks and the like were the new neighborhoods, not of proximity, but interest.
But Raban’s whole supposition, of the freedom, essentially from one’s context, that could be found in the city, ignores one thing: For many urban residents, neighborhoods are more than fictive constructs. They are real, and they are the very stuff of life and death.
Again he hit the bucket shops, again accumulating a stake that allowed him to get back into the game. He returned to New York with what he termed a “fair-sized roll.” Then, on April 16, 1906, he was hit by a premonition. With no warning, he yielded to a strange urge to sell short a thousand shares of Union Pacific railroad—an urge even he admitted he didn’t understand. Two days later, the San Francisco Earthquakehit. Union Pacific was decimated; he’d made $250,000 literally overnight. Inexplicable, the sudden intuition, but just as inexplicable was what happened next: again trading in shares of Union Pacific, he violated two of his most cherished principles—never heed insider information, and always keep your own counsel—and sold short when a friend tipped him off that the stock was about to tank. It didn’t. His net loss: more than $40,000.
The arcs described by the pendulum continued to widen, the swings to grow ever more vertiginous. During thePanic of 1907, Livermore again shorted the market, earning $1 million in the course of a few days. He then proceeded to lose everything in an attempt to corner the cotton sector, declaring bankruptcy and running up debts of over $1 million by 1916. Once again, he amassed sufficient capital to recover, making first $3 million (in assorted commodities), then $10 million (in wheat). Then came his greatest moment: sensing the impending 1929 crash, he again shorted the market, emerging from the rubble of October 29 with a net profit of $100 million—well over a billion dollars in today’s money.
Five years later, he was bankrupt, his vast fortune completely wiped out, for reasons that remain mysterious even today.
Any rumination on Cleveland’s fortunes in the ’70s must include the woeful state of the Cuyahoga River, which ran a winding course through downtown. In 1952, it caught fire for the ninth time. Years and years of absorbing liberal amounts of industrial waste had turned the Cuyahoga into something more than just a waterway. The fetid river burned with Stygian fury, destroying $1.5 million in property. Despite the significance of the incident, it didn’t attract much national news coverage. But in 1969, when the Cuyahoga caught fire again, flames reached five stories in height and burned for almost a half-hour. Still, they did little more than scorch a rail bridge, and the damage cost just $50,000 to repair. In Cleveland, this was viewed as improvement. Between ‘52 and ‘69, however, the national attitude toward flammable bodies of water had changed.
The Pacific Ocean is warming at a faster rate than it has in the previous 10,000 years, suggesting more difficulties in countering the effects of global warming, according to a new study published Friday in the journal Science.
The study, “Pacific Ocean Heat Content During the Past 10,000 Years,” reconstructs Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 100 centuries by measuring the chemistry of ancient marine life to recreate the climates in which they lived.
In 2003, researchers went to Indonesia to collect cores of sediment from the seas where water from the Pacific flows into the Indian Ocean. They compared the levels of magnesium to calcium in the shells of Hyalinea balthica, a one-celled organism buried in those sediments, in order to estimate the temperature of the middle-depth waters where the organism lived, about 1,500 to 3,000 feet below sea level.
The measurements of middle-depth temperatures in this region are representative of the larger western Pacific, the researchers said, since the waters around Indonesia originate from the mid-depths of the North and South Pacific.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded that the middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000 years.
By John A. Cassara, former special agent for the Treasury Department:
Our State and Treasury Departments routinely identify countries that are havens for financial crimes. But, whether because of shortsightedness or hypocrisy, we overlook the financial crimes that are abetted in our own country by lax state laws. While the problem is concentrated in Delaware, there has been a “race to the bottom” by other states that have enacted corporate secrecy laws to try to attract incorporation fees.
Watchdog groups like the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Global Financial Integrity and Global Witness say that anonymous companies registered in the United States have become the vehicle of choice for drug dealers, organized criminals and corrupt politicians to evade taxes and launder illicit funds. A study by researchers at Brigham Young University, the University of Texas and Griffith University in Australia concluded that America was the second easiest country, after Kenya, in which to incorporate a shell company.
While school curriculums in the Middle East and North Africa have long emphasized allegiance to a version of history promoting militaristic Arab nationalism, small steps are being taken to diversify perspectives represented in textbooks and classrooms since the regime changes of the last few years. Financial Times’ Borzou Daragahi reports that in Libya, for example, the parliament has recently allowed the option of studying the country’s minority languages, Amazigh, Tabu and Tuareg, in school. And in Egypt, the story of Khaled Saeed (the Egyptian computer programmer whose death sparked protests, a social media movement against torture, and the subsequent Egyptian revolution) is being taught to Egyptian second-graders. How long this will last is unknown, because of pushback from Egypt’s security forces. It’s an incredibly complicated reformation movement: read more about it here.
Somewhat Related: A 2011 Carnegie Endowment report discusses what education for empowered citizenship in the Arab World could and should look like, and what challenges such a model faces.
“Sandberg’s definition of feminism begins and ends with the notion that it’s all about gender equality within the existing social system. From this perspective, the structures of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy need not be challenged. And she makes it seem that privileged white men will eagerly choose to extend the benefits of corporate capitalism to white women who have the courage to ‘lean in.’ It almost seems as if Sandberg sees women’s lack of perseverance as more the problem than systemic inequality. Sandberg effectively uses her race and class power and privilege to promote a narrow definition of feminism that obscures and undermines visionary feminist concerns”—
The chilling dilemma of “the unbefriended elderly,” who don’t have family or close friends to make medical decisions on their behalf if they can’t speak for themselves, generated a bunch of ideas the last time we discussed it.
One reader, Elizabeth from Los Angeles, commented that as an only child who had no children, she wished she could hire someone to take on this daunting but crucial responsibility.
“I would much rather pay a professional, whom I get to know and who knows me, to make the decisions,” she wrote. “That way it is an objective decision-maker based on the priorities I have discussed with him/her before my incapacitation.”
Elizabeth, it turns out other people have been thinking the same way.
‘Choreograph’ is like some brilliant cross between the intricate lightness of arrangement that Four Tet displays, the hyper-pitch of Grimes all put together with a dizzying mastery of its source material.
It’s only the second track in the public domain from Moss who says that most of his friends and family didn’t know he made music.
When Hu Yinan meets someone new, say, in a meeting or at a party, she prefers to introduce herself by her English name: Number.
For obvious reasons, it usually takes the uninitiated — those who understand English anyway — a few seconds to overcome the shock.
“Their reaction is ‘Number, uh, really? Why?’” said Ms. Hu, 25, who works as a consultant in Shanghai.
She then explains that the name, which appears on her business cards (alas, not as “#”), is simply a way to help her stand out from the crowd of Chinese who have chosen more generic Western monikers. “There are a lots of Amys and Crystals around me. I can’t tell the difference. But there’s only one Number.”
“…What does it mean, however, that even in his fall, the perishing dirty man demands to be loved? Is it an animal instinct? or the faint cry of the soul smothered under the heavy burden of base passions, still trying to break through the hardening crust of abominations, still crying: ‘Save me, brother!’”—Nikolai Gogol,Dead Souls (via spookilyunspookily)
“Note: this is not legal advice. You pay for legal advice. You should not look for legal advice from the Internet, the place you go to get pictures of ungrammatical cats and theories about why the Belgians are behind 9/11. You should go to a real lawyer to get legal advice suited to your situation and your jurisdiction.”—