News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — Or Falling Into Old Traps?

1. The Ghosts of Teouma
A faint aura of destiny seems to hover over Teouma Bay. It’s not so much the landscape, with its ravishing if boilerplate tropical splendor — banana and mango trees, coconut and pandanus palms, bougainvillea, the apprehensive trill of the gray-eared honeyeater — as it is the shape of the harbor itself, which betrays, in the midst of such organic profusion, an aspect of the unnatural. The bay, on the island of Efate in the South Pacific nation Vanuatu, is long, symmetrical and briskly rectangular. In the expected place of wavelets is a blue so calm and unbroken that the sea doesn’t so much crash on the land as neatly abut it. From above, it looks as though a safe harbor had been engraved in the shoreline by some celestial engineer.

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

News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

These Boston High School Valedictorians
Set Off To Change The World.

News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

OKINAWA, JAPAN — Standing at the kitchen counter, Michael Blackwood sliced a plantain the way his mother used to in Jamaica. As it browned in the pan, the sizzle of oil and sweet aroma mingled with the laughter of his two boys playing in the living room, drawing his wife from the bedroom on an unhurried Saturday morning.

For Blackwood, the scene of domestic comfort — in a roomy high-rise not far from the beach and near a good school — resembled the easier life he hoped for when he gave his valedictory speech back in 2006. He was just 17 then, bound for Boston College on a full scholarship after graduating first in his class at The Engineering School in the Hyde Park Education Complex. His picture appeared in the Globe’s “Faces of Excellence” display honoring the city’s valedictorians. Half of the 38 were immigrants, and nearly 8 out of 10 were students of color, like him. It was a tightly packed mosaic of ambition and achievement, with room enough for just a hint of biography and a quote. His said:

Wants to be a doctor; mother died during pregnancy.

“I want to prevent that from happening to other women.”

What it did not say was this: Michael was 6 when he woke to the sound of his mother crying in pain in a little house with no electricity, no phone, and water that ran from a drum, in a Montego Bay neighborhood tourists tended to avoid. By the time they found a neighbor who could drive her to the hospital, it was too late.

Read the rest of this article at: The Boston Globe

Life Lately: Recently in Photos December 2018

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Bruce Willis Gets No Respect

Is Bruce Willis the biggest American movie star of his generation without an Oscar nomination? He’s definitely a movie star: To date, his films have grossed a shade over $3 billion, an amount that puts him squarely on the all-time top earners list without the benefit of participation in a long-running fantasy or superhero franchise. (Yes, you’re very clever, Unbreakable is a superhero movie, and Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and shut up).

And yet, unlike generational peers such as Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage, Willis has never really been an art film guy. Glance at his filmography, and you can count the brand-name auteurs on one hand (or one fist made with your toes): Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, M. Night Shyamalan, Robert Zemeckis … does Terry Gilliam count? Forget about comparing Willis to Daniel Day-Lewis. Even next to fellow Expendables like Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, and Sylvester Stallone, consolidated prestige seems to have passed him by.

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How The Slice Joint Made Pizza
The Perfect New York City Food

News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Pizza can be a great divider in New York. In fact, one of the easiest ways to get into argument (without end) is to name a “best pizza in the city.” But at the same time, pizza — specifically the reheated, foldable, portable slice — is one of the city’s great uniters. There is no culinary experience that New Yorkers share more widely and more unanimously than the slice joint. Like catching a sunset over the skyline or stepping in an icy curbside puddle, the slice joint has, since its beginnings more than 50 years ago, become common currency.

The price has changed over the decades, but the scene and staging remain much the same. Look at the crowd of New Yorkers and tourists alike bundled in winter coats on a recent Wednesday night at Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street. The pies at Joe’s, which opened in 1975, are considered among the city’s best. See how the customers rotate in a perfect line through the door and up to the glass case, their orders ready and their money in hand. “Three dollars,” the pizza man says briskly, after he has placed the requested slice into a decked oven. Out come the hot, bubbling triangles of cheese and sauce on thin, pliable crust. Once their slices are ready, the diners — if so formal a word even applies — grab a place at the counter in the window or push out the door, slice in hand, on to wherever the evening may take them. This is the “New York style.”

The origin story of New York pizza starts with large waves of Italian immigrants settling in the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1920, roughly a quarter of the 1.6 million Italian immigrants in the United States were living in New York, establishing enclaves in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Such neighborhoods were home to the first pizzerias, like Lombardi’s in Little Italy, which opened on Spring Street in 1905. The namesake of the Neapolitan immigrant Gennaro Lombardi, the restaurant used a coal-fired oven to create pizzas with puffy, charred crusts and a bubbling layer of tomato sauce and cheese that made it one of the most popular restaurants in Little Italy. As if in biblical succession, as apprentices left to start their own pizza operations, Lombardi’s begat Totonno’s in Coney Island, John’s in Greenwich Village and Patsy’s in what is now Spanish Harlem. These are the four acknowledged prewar pizza pillars in the city. (Though none of them was a slice joint in the current sense.)

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

A Primer On The Geopolitics Of Oil

News 01.18.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Last year was a wild one for the oil industry. Between January and October, oil prices rose to almost $80 per barrel — a 25 percent increase since the start of the year — thanks to fears stemming from Washington’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. In the months that followed, due to increased U.S. shale oil production, weak consumer demand, fears over the future global economic outlook (exacerbated by the prospect of a Sino-U.S. trade war), the Trump administration’s decision to authorize waivers to various countries to continue importing Iranian oil, and the inability of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to cut production sufficiently, prices cratered. This collapse wiped out any earlier gains and, combined with the threat of U.S. anti-trust legislation, has called into question the future of OPEC. Qatar, a marginal oil producer but the holder of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, even chose to leave OPEC.

At a time like this, it is tempting to think that oil will finally become just another commodity rather than one of the most important factors in global geopolitics. The experience of the past century would suggest that some caution is in order before strategists denigrate oil’s future significance. Oil will remain the world’s single largest source of energy for the foreseeable future, and the balance between global supply and demand remains perilously narrow. A major disruption in just a single major oil producer could send prices skyrocketing again and quickly push the world into a recession. U.S. production growth in the short run appears limited, especially as higher interest rates may starve small U.S. firms of the cheap capital they require to finance their operations. Despite their success in boosting U.S. oil production, most shale oil firms are notoriously unprofitable. Investors are tiring of the companies’ flawed assumptions and questionable business practices and are urging them to focus less on production and more on profitability, which could mean lower output until prices recover. If U.S. production growth fails to keep pace with global demand growth, the relative power advantage over pricing would again shift back to OPEC, which, along with Russia, controls over 55 percent of global oil production and 80 percent of proven reserves. Finally, the collapse in Venezuelan output has removed an important source of non-Middle Eastern oil from world markets. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon U.S. national security professionals to understand how the oil industry functions and keep the stability of global oil production high on their list of priorities.

Read the rest of this article at: War On The Rocks

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

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