News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The most memorable villains possess not only terrifying power but also complex motives. In Star Wars, Darth Vader’s path to darkness is driven as much by the allure of the fantastical abilities he gets out of it as by the belief that these powers are the key to his family’s survival. X-Men’s Magneto loses faith in the goodness of humankind and becomes a mutant supremacist, having seen the worst we’re capable of as a German Jewish youth left to die in Hitler’s Polish death camps and later (after he escapes and his powers manifest) when a fearful, hateful mob murders his daughter while trying to purge the city of mutants. Doctor Doom, one of Marvel’s most intriguing big bads, dons his chilling metal mask after burning his face in an experiment gone wrong: He attempts to break into hell and steal the soul of his mother, a witch who cut a deal with the Devil for the power to save her people from a ruthless authoritarian leader but who died in the struggle and is cursed to eternal torment as payment for her request. The mask is a monument to pain and a promise to protect a people no matter the cost; Doom’s moves, cruel as they are, are rooted in a kind of cracked altruism. He shares his mother’s willingness to uplift his people by any means necessary.

Read the rest of this article at: Vulture

News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

One day a number of years ago, I was deep into a game of draughts on holiday with my daughter, then almost four, in the small library of a beachfront town. Her eye drifted to a nearby table, where a black-and-white board bristled with far more interesting figures (many a future chess master has been innocently drawn in by “horses” and “castles”).

“What’s that?” she asked. “Chess,” I replied. “Can we play?” she pleaded. I nodded absently.

There was just one problem: I didn’t know how. I dimly remembered having learned the basic moves as a kid, but chess had never stuck. This fact vaguely haunted me through my life. I would see an idle board in a hotel lobby or a puzzle in a weekend newspaper supplement, and feel a pang.

I had picked up a general awareness of chess. I knew the names Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. I knew that the game had enchanted historical luminaries including Marcel Duchamp and Vladimir Nabokov. I knew the cliche about grandmasters being able to look a dozen moves ahead. I knew that chess, like classical music, was shorthand in movies for genius – often of the evil variety. But I knew chess the way I “knew” the Japanese language: what it looks like, what it sounds like, its Japaneseness, without actually comprehending it.

I decided to learn the game, if only to be able to teach my daughter.

It took a few hours, hunched over my smartphone at kids’ birthday parties or waiting in line at Trader Joe’s, to get a feel for the basic moves. Soon, I was playing, and some-times even beating, the weakest computer opponents (the ones with catastrophic blunders abundantly programmed in). Yet it soon became apparent that I had little concept of the larger strategies. I didn’t want to try to teach what I knew only poorly.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The Balmoral in Chestnut

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As through-lines go, this is one of the best, if one of the most random: Salvador Dalí, Richard Gere, Michael Douglas, Jimi Hendrix, Ernst Fuchs, JFK, Brigitte Bardot, Leonard Bernstein and Andy Warhol. In some way or other, these boldface names are all related to Mati Klarwein, a man who once was, in Warhol’s words, “The most famous unknown painter in the world.”

He was largely unknown because he chose to work on album covers rather than pursue a painting career, and while he produced more than 50 ground-breaking covers – most famously for Miles Davis and Santana – he was until recently something of a ghost-like figure. It is only in the last ten years or so that his work has started to be appreciated, largely because it has started to be shown in the kind of galleries that weren’t available to him in the Seventies and Eighties. Klarwein died in 2002 and while he didn’t live to feel the critical acclaim that has since come his way, his legacy is being redefined on an almost weekly basis.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The day Sudan died, everything felt both monumental and ordinary. It was a Monday. Gray sky, light rain. On the horizon, the sun was struggling to make itself seen over the sharp double peaks of Mount Kenya. Little black-faced monkeys came skittering in over the fence to try to steal the morning carrots. Metal gates creaked and clanked. Men spoke in quiet Swahili. Sudan lay still in the dirt, thick legs folded under him, huge head tilted like a capsizing ship. His big front horn was blunt, scarred, worn. His breathing was harsh and ragged. All around him, for miles in every direction, the savannah teemed with life: warthogs, zebras, elephants, giraffes, leopards, lions, baboons — creatures doing what they had been doing for eons, hunting and feeding and scavenging, breathing and going and being. Until recently, Sudan had been a part of this pulse. But now he could hardly move. He was a giant stillness at the center of all the motion.

Sudan was the last male northern white rhinoceros on earth — the end of an evolutionary rope that stretched back millions of years. Although his death was a disaster, it was not a surprise. It was the grim climax of a conservation crisis that had been accelerating, for many decades, toward precisely this moment. Every desperate measure — legal, political, scientific — had already been exhausted.

Sudan was 45 years old, ancient for a rhino. His skin was creased all over. Wrinkles radiated out from his eyes. He was gray, the color of stone; he looked like a boulder that breathed. For months now, his body had been failing. When he walked, his toes scraped the ground. His legs were covered with sores; one deep gash had become badly infected. The previous day, shortly before sunset, he collapsed for the final time. He struggled, at first, to stand back up — his caretakers crouched and heaved, trying to help — but his legs were too weak. The men fed him bananas stuffed with pain pills, 24 pills at a time. Veterinarians packed his wounds with medical clay.

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

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News 01.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Rain was thrashing the world when the phone rang. I was living in Florida, the Lower Keys, looking out at the storm from a house on stilts. As if on a dial, the spooky air had graded from sunlit afternoon to eerie night in no time at all. Wind and lightning had swept in from the Gulf, lashing the palms and skimming the canals all down the island’s spine, that two-lane dirt road called Spanish Main, Cudjoe’s only thoroughfare.

It was Father calling from sunny Chicago. He was a stockbroker now, with a glass office and a luxury automobile.

We began discussing the concept of the price-to-earnings ratio. I was made to understand that that easily-calculated figure could, through a glass darkly, help foretell the future direction of a company’s health and its worthiness as a holding in our entirely imaginary portfolio. I was ten, maybe eleven.

“Have you been reading the book I sent you?” Father asked.

Our textbook, called “Understanding Wall Street.” With chapter titles like “What is a Share of Stock?” and “Reading the Financial Pages,” it was a straightforward primer with a cash-green cover. He sent it to me in the mail, with my name on the envelope: a rare bit of treasure to turn up in that dead metal box. The primer’s preface laid out its purely educational intent, thumbing its nose at both the free pamphlet and the get-rich-quick book that “deluded investors with false hopes of easy gains.” It was not so technical that I couldn’t follow. I’d read its first two chapters, anyway, and I told him as much.

“And what have you been learning?” Father asked.

Of course, no one ever called him Father, least of all me, but in his new guise as a patrician financier, playing the tightening spreads and whatnot, Mother deployed the elevated diction until the day when he came crashing back to earth. Then it would be “Chuck” again, “Dad” to me.

I was glad to be talking to him again; I might have answered all his questions. I wanted in on adult stuff: their workings, sources of wealth. Instead, I took a cue from the chaos of the storm.

“Are you really a stockbroker now?” I asked.

“I told you I was,” he said. “Don’t you believe me?” Father paused. “Or is it your mother who doubts me … again?”

“Will you ever pay your child support?”

“Yes, of course. Of course I’ll pay it. I owe it to her, don’t I?”

Mother had repeated many times how often Father had paid his child support since the court had ordered him to do so: zero. For this he was a deadbeat, a scumbag and a scofflaw—none of which could compete with the truly damning implication of her claim: that he was a bad dad.

“Why don’t you just pay it now, if you’re really a stockbroker?”

“Because I owe other people money, too. Look, I’ll pay it, okay? I will. But these things take time.”

He returned us to our discussion of the P/E ratio and the other fundamentals necessary for placing sound bets on an open market. “Understanding Wall Street” laid it out in much the same manner: cash flow, payout ratio, dividend yield.

It said nothing on the subject of evaluating the worthiness of a man.

Read the rest of this article at: Wealthsimple Magazine

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