News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
via @stylinginparis
News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Siberian city of Norilsk is best known as the home of mining giant MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC.  With a population of 180,000, it’s one of the biggest human settlements beyond the Polar Circle and only reachable by plane or boat. The city may soon be famous for a different type of mining though — it now hosts the Arctic’s first crypto farm for producing new Bitcoins. BitCluster, the facility’s Russian owner, is already planning an expansion after starting operations late last year.

A Bitcoin sculpture is installed at the BitCluster mining farm, made from scrap metal. Bitcoin mining is the process through which transactions are validated to the blockchain, with miners receiving a reward of 6.25 bitcoin per block they mine. The data center’s capacity is already being contracted and it will serve clients from all over the world, including Switzerland, the U.S. and Japan, BitCluster co-founder Vitaly Borschenko said in an interview.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Let’s imagine planet Earth without viruses.

We wave a wand, and they all disappear. The rabies virus is suddenly gone. The polio virus is gone. The gruesomely lethal Ebola virus is gone. The measles virus, the mumps virus, and the various influenzas are gone. Vast reductions of human misery and death. HIV is gone, and so the AIDS catastrophe never happened. Nipah and Hendra and Machupo and Sin Nombre are gone—never mind their records of ugly mayhem. Dengue, gone. All the rotaviruses, gone, a great mercy to children in developing countries who die by the hundreds of thousands each year. Zika virus, gone. Yellow fever virus, gone. Herpes B, carried by some monkeys, often fatal when passed to humans, gone. Nobody suffers anymore from chicken pox, hepatitis, shingles, or even the common cold. Variola, the agent of smallpox? That virus was eradicated in the wild by 1977, but now it vanishes from the high-security freezers where the last spooky samples are stored. The SARS virus of 2003, the alarm that we now know signaled the modern pandemic era, gone. And of course the nefarious SARS-CoV-2 virus, cause of COVID-19 and so bewilderingly variable in its effects, so tricky, so dangerous, so very transmissible, is gone. Do you feel better?


This scenario is more equivocal than you think. The fact is, we live in a world of viruses—viruses that are unfathomably diverse, immeasurably abundant. The oceans alone may contain more viral particles than stars in the observable universe. Mammals may carry at least 320,000 different species of viruses. When you add the viruses infecting nonmammalian animals, plants, terrestrial bacteria, and every other possible host, the total comes to … lots. And beyond the big numbers are big consequences: Many of those viruses bring adaptive benefits, not harms, to life on Earth, including human life.

We couldn’t continue without them. We wouldn’t have arisen from the primordial muck without them. There are two lengths of DNA that originated from viruses and now reside in the genomes of humans and other primates, for instance, without which—an astonishing fact—pregnancy would be impossible. There’s viral DNA, nestled among the genes of terrestrial animals, that helps package and store memories—more astonishment—in tiny protein bubbles. Still other genes co-opted from viruses contribute to the growth of embryos, regulate immune systems, resist cancer—important effects only now beginning to be understood. Viruses, it turns out, have played crucial roles in triggering major evolutionary transitions. Eliminate all viruses, as in our thought experiment, and the immense biological diversity gracing our planet would collapse like a beautiful wooden house with every nail abruptly removed.

Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic

The Balmoral in Chestnut

Shop the Balmoral in Chestnut
at Belgrave Crescent &

“It’s alright, Ma, I’m only bleeding.”

You live your life alone but tethered to the deed of a mother. You live your life naked to the world and what it will pile upon you. And, no, you will not avoid death. You won’t survive it. And by “you” I mean not just Jesus, who is invoked in this Bob Dylan song, whether intentionally or not, but you as in you, the person reading this. Someone loves you. That’s not small. You suffer and she watches, living or dead. She can’t protect you, but it’s alright, Ma, I can make it.

Jimmy Carter used a famous line from the same Dylan song—“he not busy being born is busy dying”—to make a point about patriotism: America was busy being born, Carter said, not busy dying. Italics mine. This was in his acceptance speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, in Madison Square Garden. I watched it on television with my grandparents, in their bed, as the three of us ate bowls of ice milk from Carvel, whose packaging, like everything that year, was bicentennial-themed, in red, white, and blue. For Carter, a lifelong Christian, surely the idea of being born had an undertone of religious conversion, of being brought closer to God, not just born but reborn: in a state of constant renewal, rejuvenation, renovation, change. I liked Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer who wore denim separates on the campaign trail and was approved by my anti-establishment family. I was seven and could not have understood what Carter meant, what Dylan meant.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Bob Reid rubbed his eyes and stared again at the computer screen. Outside, daylight was fading, but the detective barely noticed. He’d been holed up in his apartment since the coronavirus had emptied the streets of Arusha, hushing the clamor of the otherwise vibrant east African capital. Reid was fine with the tranquility. He hadn’t come to Tanzania for the safaris or the day trips to Kilimanjaro. The window in his study faced a concrete wall. He was locked in on his laptop.

As he scrolled with his mouse, Reid watched phone numbers zip past. Thousands and thousands of them, alphabetized by the relay stations from which they had originated in Europe. Amid the blur of data, he found himself adrenalized by a hunch. The mystery that had consumed him for months suddenly felt solvable, and if it was, Reid let himself believe, the epic hunt for one of the world’s most wanted criminals—a search that had quietly been under way for nearly a quarter of a century—might finally come to an end.

Among the small coterie of specialists who track the world’s most monstrous fugitives, Bob Reid has a well-earned reputation for finding his man. Even when the trail grows cold for years. A decade ago, as chief of operations at the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Reid directed the search for the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, the so-called Butcher of Bosnia, who was responsible for the murder of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. Mladic had been running for 16 years when Reid tracked him to a shabby farmhouse in northern Serbia. Masked agents hauled him away to face the tribunal, which convicted Mladic of genocide and crimes against humanity, sentencing him in 2017 to life in prison.

There had been others, of course: During his nearly 25 years chasing war criminals for the U.N., Reid had helped round up a litany of fugitive outlaws—from military commanders to homicidal strongmen—who’d fled the scenes of some of the most depraved episodes in recent memory. He had come to this highly specialized line of work after a storied law enforcement career in New South Wales, in his native Australia, where he pursued murderers and drug lords. But Reid is not of the breed of swashbuckling detectives. He is genial in his dealings with colleagues, gregarious in a way that belies the focused attention he must summon to confront the perpetrators of heinous atrocities. His success depends on a rare obsession for detail and a deep commitment to teamwork. He is clever and he is careful, and perhaps not surprisingly, Bob Reid is uncommonly patient—a particularly advantageous trait in a line of work that requires endurance.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

Follow us on Instagram @thisisglamorous

News 01.20.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Some years ago, I was invited by my then boss, Jann Wenner, the owner of Rolling Stone, to be the lead singer in a band he was putting together from the magazine’s staff. I had just turned 41, and I jumped at the opportunity to sustain the delusion that I was not getting old. “Sign me up!” I said.

My chief attributes as a singer included impressive volume and an ability to stay more or less in tune, but I was strictly a self-taught amateur. I had, for instance, never done a proper voice warmup, and had certainly never been informed that the delicate layers of vibratory tissue, muscle and mucus membrane that make up the vocal cords are as prone to injury as a middle-aged knee joint. So, on practice days, I simply rose from my desk (I was finishing a book on deadline and spent eight hours a day writing, in complete silence), rode the subway to our rehearsal space in downtown Manhattan, took my place behind the microphone and started wailing over my bandmates’ cranked-up guitars and drums.

The folly of this approach became clear to me a few weeks into rehearsals when J Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf, whom Jann had enlisted to perform a song, pulled me aside. “You don’t have to sing full out in rehearsal, man,” he said. “Save something for the show.” I followed his advice, but by then my voice had taken on a pronounced rasp. I wasn’t concerned. I had suffered hoarseness in the past and it had cleared up. Plus, a little vocal raggedness is never out of place in rock’n’roll. Also, and perhaps most importantly, I felt no discomfort – so how could I have hurt my throat?

I continued attending twice-weekly rehearsals and soon reverted to my old ways – actually singing harder, trying to put some of the old volume back into my voice, which was sounding weirdly dampened. I was also finding it difficult suddenly to hit high notes, like the F above middle C in the Stones’ song Miss You (“Ohhhhhh, why’d you have to wait so long?”). Reaching for it, my voice would break up into a toneless rattle, or vanish altogether. This began to concern me as the days ticked down to our gig – a holiday party at a downtown dance club, to which Jann had invited 2,000 of his closest friends, including a constellation of celebrities.

Singing is as psychological as it is physical. Stress attacks the vocal apparatus, tightening muscles that should remain loose and pliable, restricting breathing, closing off the throat, paralysing the tongue and lips. I was experiencing all of these symptoms as I took my place, centre stage, in the glare of the lights, and began our opening number, the Beatles’ song I’ll Cry Instead, originally sung by John Lennon. It would seem a little on the nose to suggest that Yoko, along with her and John’s son, Sean, were looking up at me from the front row, except they were.

Today, I can barely bring myself to listen to the CD of that concert, which Jann later presented to each band member as a memento. I wince at the tentative way I sing that “Ohhhhh” in Miss You, sneaking up on the note from below, sliding into it gingerly. I get there, sort of. But at what cost? By the end of the night, I was growling the lyrics to White Room like it was a Tom Waits number.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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