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News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Greenland Is Falling Apart

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the world’s second-largest reservoir of fresh water sitting on the world’s largest island. It is almost mind-bogglingly huge.

If Greenland were suddenly transported to the central United States, it would be a very bad day for about 65 million people, who would be crushed instantly. But for the sake of science journalism, imagine that Greenland’s southernmost tip displaced Brownsville, Texas—the state’s southernmost city—so that its icy glaciers kissed mainland Mexico and the Gulf thereof. Even then, Greenland would stretch all the way north, clear across the United States, its northern tenth crossing the Canadian border into Ontario and Manitoba. Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Iowa City would all be goners. So too would San Antonio, Memphis, and Minneapolis. Its easternmost peaks would slam St. Louis and play in Peoria; its northwestern glaciers would rout Rapid City, South Dakota, and meander into Montana. At its center point, near Des Moines, roughly two miles of ice would rise from the surface.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Inside Story of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s George Magazine

News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

John F. Kennedy Jr. stared out his window overlooking the Hudson River, past the piles of proofs, magazines, Knicks ticket stubs, and take-out containers on his desk. He cracked the faintest smile, as one colleague remembers. It was the summer of 1996; he was the editor of a magazine named George, which was less than a year old and still finding its way; and an idea for the September cover had just occurred to him: Madonna dressed as his mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

He asked his assistant, RoseMarie Terenzio, for a notepad so that he could dash off a note to Madonna with the request, while Matt Berman, George’s creative director, sketched what they hoped would become the cover. Shot by avant-garde fashion photographer Nick Knight, the image would be disguised in such a way that, upon first glance, the reader would think the subject was indeed the editor’s mother, before taking a closer look to realize it was Madonna. Making the cover even more provocative was the fact that Kennedy was rumored to have dated Madonna before starting the magazine.

Unfortunately, the pop star—perhaps one of the few people more famous than Kennedy at that time—shot him down. “Dear Johnny Boy,” she began in her handwritten fax (which appears in Terenzio’s book, Fairy Tale Interrupted), “Thanks for asking me to be your mother but I’m afraid I could never do her justice. My eyebrows aren’t thick enough, for one.”

Read the rest of this article at: Esquire

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A History of the Influencer, from Shakespeare to Instagram

Late last year, the Daily Mail identified Ralphie Waplington as Britain’s “youngest social media ‘influencer.’ ” Ralphie, who is two, has twenty thousand Instagram followers. For most of his life, he has been an unknowing model of baby clothes and other infant paraphernalia. His parents photograph him according to briefs they receive from commercial partners; members of his extended family must seek approval before posting their own photos of Ralphie, lest an off-message picture harm his brand.

Ralphie is undeniably cute. But his cuteness only compounds the sense of unease we feel whenever we contemplate influencers and their craft. On one level, “influencer” is an anodyne, commercial label, describing someone who monetizes an online following by endorsing products or services—a celebrity spokesperson for the social-media age. And yet “influencer” also sounds slightly sinister; the Influencer could be a Batman villain, alongside the Joker. It’s no accident that the term has entered the lexicon at the same moment that influence of a different sort has become a geopolitical weapon of unprecedented proportions. The social-media influencer has an eerie double in the hacker who covertly shapes political discourse. Both flourish in our increasingly networked world, in which digital influence is sharply double-edged—a salable commodity and a threat to democracy, a commercial dream and a political nightmare.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

What Lies Beneath: Robert Macfarlane Travels ‘Underland’

News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

We live in an age of untimely surfacings. Across the Arctic, ancient methane deposits are leaking through “windows” in the Earth opened by thawing permafrost. In the forests of eastern Siberia a vast crater yawns in softening ground, swallowing thousands of trees; local Yakutian people refer to it as the “doorway to the underworld”. In the “cursed fields” of northern Russia, permafrost melt is exposing 19th-century animal burial grounds containing naturally occurring anthrax spores; a 2016 outbreak infected 23 people and killed a child. Retreating glaciers are yielding the bodies of those engulfed by their ice many years before – the dead of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir, or the “White war” of 1915–18 in the Italian mountains. Near the peak of San Matteo, three Habsburg soldiers melted out of a serac at an altitude of 12,000ft, hanging upside down. At Camp One on Everest in 2017, after a period of unseasonal warmth, a mountaineer’s hand appeared, reaching out of the ice into which he had been frozen. Gold miners in the Yukon recently unearthed a 50,000-year-old wolf pup from the permafrost, eerily preserved right down to the curl of its upper lip.

Spring bulbs push themselves up into flower far earlier than a century ago. Last August’s heatwave in Britain caused the imprints of long-vanished structures – iron age burial barrows, Neolithic ritual monuments – to shimmer into view as parch marks visible from the air: aridity as x-ray, a drone’s-eye-view back in time. The same month, water levels in the River Elbe dropped so far that “hunger stones” were revealed – carved boulders used since the 1400s to commemorate droughts and warn of their consequences. One of the stones bears the inscription “Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine” (If you see me, weep). In northern Greenland, an American cold war missile base – sealed under the ice 50 years ago with the presumption that snow accumulation would entomb it for ever, and containing huge volumes of toxic chemicals – has begun to move towards the light. This January, polar scientists discovered a gigantic melt cavity – two-thirds the area of Manhattan and up to 300 metres high – growing under the Thwaites glacier in west Antarctica. Thwaites is immense. Its calving face is the juggernaut heading towards us. It holds enough ice to raise ocean levels by more than two feet, and its melt patterns are already responsible for around 4% of global sea-level rise.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

How Cults Corrected America

News 04.24.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Most people have never heard of Cyrus Teed, which is a shame. He was born in Trout Creek, New York, in 1839. As a boy, he worked along the Erie Canal, experiencing some of the worst labor conditions that nineteenth-century America had to offer. As Adam Morris recounts in a new book, “American Messiahs,” Teed soon became a staunch anti-capitalist, and he spent much of his life trying to abolish wage labor entirely. This didn’t prevent him from pursuing a number of business ventures. At one point, he ran a mop factory; at another, he hawked something called an Electro-Therapeutic Apparatus, which provided its owners with the putative health benefits of mild, recurrent electrocution. Teed was a student of “eclectic medicine,” a branch of healing that rose in response to widespread—and frequently justified—fears of doctors. In Teed’s day, you didn’t become a surgeon if you didn’t have the stomach to wield a bone saw.

Teed also believed that he had, living within him, a spirit of some sort. He would go on to proclaim that this spirit had once empowered Enoch, Elijah, and Jesus. The New York Times headline wrote itself: “A Doctor Obtaining Money on the Ground That He is the New Messiah.” Teed called himself Koresh, a transliteration from the Hebrew version of the name Cyrus, and criticized mainstream Christianity as “the dead carcass of a once vital and active” faith. Then, in the eighteen-seventies, he founded a commune, Koreshan Unity, and announced that “the new kingdom” would be formed through women’s emancipation—he envisioned a group of celibate, bi-gendered beings—and the destruction of monopoly capitalism.

Teed is one of the case studies in “American Messiahs,” in which Morris exhumes the lives and beliefs of a linked procession of self-appointed prophets who tried to upend American religion—and the American way of life. They did so by attracting thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of followers while preaching a version of what Morris calls “apostolic communism,” which has a clear basis in scripture. According to Acts 4:32, the first Christians, in Jerusalem, “were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” The typical history of Christianity will tell you that this passage has been influential in certain monastic communities but scarcely anywhere else.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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

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