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In the News 15.01.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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The Trials of Alice Goffman

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Before the morning last September when I joined her at Newark Airport, I had met Alice Goffman only twice. But in the previous months, amid a widening controversy both inside and outside the academy over her research, she and I had developed a regular email correspondence, and she greeted me at the gate as if I were an old friend. A 34-year-old untenured professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Goffman had just begun a year of leave at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, which she hoped she might use to escape her critics and get back to work. Now, though, she was returning to Madison for a four-day visit, to deliver a lecture and catch up with her graduate students.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times Magazine

At Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Slips and Stumbles

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The lady had dropped her napkin.

More accurately, she had hurled it to the floor in a fit of disillusionment, her small protest against the slow creep of mediocrity and missed cues during a four-hour dinner at Per Se that would cost the four of us close to $3,000. Some time later, a passing server picked up the napkin without pausing to see whose lap it was missing from, neatly embodying the oblivious sleepwalking that had pushed my guest to this point.

Such is Per Se’s mystique that I briefly wondered if the failure to bring her a new napkin could have been intentional. The restaurant’s identity, to the extent that it has one distinct from that of its owner and chef, Thomas Keller, is based on fastidiously minding the tiniest details. This is the place, after all, that brought in a ballet dancer to help servers slip around the tables with poise. So I had to consider the chance that the server was just making a thoughtful accommodation to a diner with a napkin allergy.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

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Shop Update: The Return of The Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Seacliff

SGDP in Seacliff & Bruyere now available for pre-order at Belgrave Crescent & This Is Glamorous – The Shop

Let’s Rethink Space

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Space is brutally egalitarian. When you become separated from your lover, the two of you retain no tighter a physical connection than do two lumps of coal. In this way, space serves as the organizing principle of the natural world—the glue that binds the universe together, as the English physicist Julian Barbour has put it. Physical objects do not interact willy-nilly; their behavior is dictated by how they are related to one another, which depends on where they lie in space at a given time. This structuring role is easiest to see in the classical laws of mechanical motion, but also occurs in field theories. The value and rate of change of a field at different points in space fully determine what the field does, and points in the field interact only with their immediate neighbors.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

The Fullness of a Moment

Most everything in the American Museum of Natural History is from another place or time: fossils from extinct creatures, rocks from space or deep within the earth, the yearly hot-house of butterflies sipping nectar and dodging toddlers in the midst of wintry New York. This seems to be what the museum is for. But in one hall of the museum, the artifact from the past is a bit of the museum itself: Like a time capsule of sorts, though it almost seems like they’ve forgotten that it’s there.

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Read the rest of this article at Long Reads

THE DRAGNET

How a man accused of million-dollar fraud uncovered a never before seen, secret surveillance device

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On May 6th, 2008, a package containing $68,000 in cash arrived at a FedEx store in Palo Alto, California. The bills had been washed in lantern fuel, as per instruction, then double-vacuum-sealed and placed inside the cavity of a stuffed animal, which was then gift wrapped. The store had been chosen carefully: it was open all night, and located just 500 feet from a Caltrain station. The package was general delivery, to be picked up at the store by a man named Patrick Stout.

The money was being closely watched. The package had been prepared by a criminal informant, working in cooperation with a joint task force of agents from the FBI, IRS, and US Postal Service, who were investigating a tax fraud scheme. The informant had been arrested and flipped months earlier, betrayed by yet another informant. Now they were after the mastermind.

Around 5 o’clock the next morning, the target appeared. A wiry white man in a dark hoodie came in through the back entrance, presented a driver’s license in the name of Patrick Stout, picked up the package, and left the same way he came in. He tore open the package near a dumpster behind the store, pocketing the stuffed animal, and headed toward the train. Two officers tried to follow, but he recognized the tail and slipped away. Agents rushed to the station but couldn’t find him among the early morning commuters. The trains could have taken him anywhere from San Francisco to San Jose, with connections to each city’s airport.

Just a few minutes after the pickup, Stout was gone. It was as close as the cops would get for months.

Read the rest of this article at The Verge

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