One Monday last month, Thomas P. Campbell, the departing director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stooped silently over a burial suit of jade tiles threaded with gold, circa 100 B.C. In this private moment, he had his back to reporters gathering for a first look at the Met’s landmark China survey “Age of Empires.” A moment later, Ken Weine, the new communications chief, tapped him on the shoulder, and Campbell pivoted, summoned up his British charm, and shook my hand. At 54, sandy hair parted in the middle, looking like he’d just exchanged safari khakis for a headmaster’s suit, he wore a trace of the uncomplicated pride he might have felt if journalists weren’t just then dissecting his eight-year tenure and the snowballing crisis of confidence that had ended it just four weeks earlier.
Read the rest of this article at: Vulture
Inside Turkey’s Purge
The police officers came to the doctor’s door in Istanbul at 6 a.m. — dawn raids usually start then, sometimes 5:30 — and one of them said, “You are accused of attempting to kill President Erdogan.”
The doctor couldn’t help it; he laughed. “Really? I did that?”
The police officers smiled, too. “Yes. Also for attempting to destroy Turkey and for being a member of a terrorist organization.”
“Really?” He looked at them. They carried pistols. “Can I have a cigarette then?”
The police seemed surprised. They didn’t expect a Gulenist to smoke. I’m not a Gulenist, the doctor insisted. That didn’t help him. He would soon be one of the many thousands of people in Turkey caught in the machinery of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s purge.
The police searched the doctor’s house and his books and overturned his things, looking for evidence that he was a Gulenist, or a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who began preaching in Turkey in the 1960s and whose followers number as many as five million. Gulen has been living in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, which partly explains why the police were looking for American $1 bills whose serial numbers start with “F” — the Turkish government claims that these were used in some mysterious way by something it has branded the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization, or FETO, which it blames for the attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016.
Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times
Kendrick Lamar, the Best Rapper Alive, Is Still the Best Rapper Alive
Sometimes the most obvious and predictable answer is the right one: Kendrick Lamar is the best rapper alive. If there was any conflict, it was amicably resolved sometime around 11 PM on a Sunday night on the main stage at America's biggest festival in this apocalyptic year of our lord(e), 2017.
The "best rapper alive" isn't a lifetime title. As Biggie explained and tragically embodied, your reign on the top can be short like leprechauns. The position can be vacant for years, as it was in the window between Wayne and Kendrick. Influence and popularity are important but only part of the equation. Streaming numbers, packed pop up shops, and charisma can only take you so far. You can't win the Electoral College but lose the popular vote. You can be YG, arguably the best album artist of your generation, but so regionally specific that your music gets mangled in translation. You can be Young Thug, bending the English language and esoteric rhythms to your supervillainous will, but unable to convince closed minded conservatives that you're doing anything but mumbling.
This is a matter of souls and minds, virtuosic skill and marrow-splitting substance, the ability to summon that supernatural condition that wherever you're performing is the heartbeat of the universe and everything else is irrelevant. It's when you're able to chant, "This What God Feel Like" from your new song, "GOD." and induce chills in the crowd, who nod their heads in stunned disbelief, and silently understand this is as close as anyone is going to get tonight.
Read the rest of this article at: noisey
Astronomers May Finally Have the First Picture of a Black Hole
For the monster at the Milky Way’s heart, it’s a wrap.
After completing five nights of observations, today astronomers may finally have captured the first-ever image of the famous gravitational sinkhole known as a black hole.
More precisely, the hoped-for portrait is of a mysterious region that surrounds the black hole. Called the event horizon, this is the boundary beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape the object’s gargantuan grasp.
As the final observing run ended at 11:22 a.m. ET, team member Vincent Fish sat contentedly in his office at the MIT Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts. For the past week, Fish had been on call 24/7, sleeping fitfully with his cell phone next to him, the ringer set loud.
As the last of the data arrived at project observatories, he watched celebratory comments come pouring in on a special chat line for radio astronomers and engineers. One noted that he was about to open a bottle of 50-year-old Scotch. Another was listening to the triumphant chords of Bohemian Rhapsody.
“I’m very happy and very relieved, and I’m looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep,” Fish says.
But that sense of relief is tinged with anticipation: So much data takes time to process, and the team must wait months to find out if their massive effort was truly a success.
Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic
The human network behind the biggest leak of all
It was a frigid winter, and the Manhattan loft was cold — very cold. Something was wrong with the gas line and there was no heat. In a corner, surrounding the bed, sheets had been hung from cords to form a de facto tent with a small electric heater running inside. But the oddities didn’t end there: when I talked to the woman who lived in the loft about her work, she made me take the battery out of my cell phone and stash the device in her refrigerator. People who have dated in New York City for any length of time believe that they’ve seen everything — this was something new.
That I was in her loft in the first place was strange enough. A year earlier, I was supposed to get married, but the engagement fell apart. After that, I was in no shape for a relationship, and was in any case finishing two books on tight deadlines. I should have been too busy, then, to go to a party in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on a December evening in 2011. The host, Julian Rubinstein, had invited a group of his friends, many of whom were writers, musicians, editors, and documentary-film makers. His email billed the event as a “fireside gathering,” although when he attempted to get a blaze going in the hearth, the apartment filled with smoke. Through the haze, I noticed a striking woman with dark hair occasionally glancing my way.
“Who’s that?” I asked Julian.
He introduced me to Laura Poitras. I was aware of her 2006 documentary, My Country, My Country, about an Iraqi physician running for office in his country’s first democratic election. Her current project, she told me, involved filming the massive data center the National Security Agency was building in Utah. Our conversation was intense, and I found myself wondering why somebody as sophisticated as Laura would be interested in me — at heart, I still felt like a blue-collar kid from Cleveland.
Suddenly, she announced it was late. “Want to share a cab?” she asked.
I shambled down two flights of stairs after Laura, and we hailed a taxi. We shook hands when we reached her stop and I continued north. Two nights later, we met for drinks, and exchanged a lot of passionate talk — about our work. When I saw her name in my email inbox the next morning, I clicked eagerly. Maybe she wanted to go out again? She briefly raised that as a possibility, but Laura had something more important in mind. Her message read:
Read the rest of this article at: Harpers Magazine