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News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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As it goes in New York City, the apartment was small, it was expensive, but it was theirs. Heidi Russell and Valentina Bajada owned an 860-square-foot second-floor walk-up, and they loved its single living-room window, cramped kitchen, and two little bedrooms. Their building was on a quiet, tree-lined block of Barrow Street close to the Hudson River. Neighbors kept libraries of free books and walked their dogs in leafy, open courtyards. It was as close to a village as the West Village gets.

Bajada, a Soviet immigrant who owned a catering company with her ex-husband, spent ten years on a waiting list before she was approved to become a tenant in 1998, back when the West Village Houses were still subsidized. They were the result of an affordable-housing triumph of the ’60s, when Jane Jacobs defeated Robert Moses’s plans to demolish the neighborhood and build a highway. Now they are market-rate co-ops in one of the most upscale neighborhoods in Manhattan.

Read the rest of this article at: The Cut

News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Every morning, when Nadeem Iqbal wakes up and walks into his living room, he has a view of a miraculous world first. A crisp oblong of crystal clear water now hangs in the air between two apartment buildings opposite his balcony, a liquid blue block suspended against the sky with the gravity-defying quality of a Magritte painting.

This is the Sky Pool, the latest addition to the luxury residential enclave of Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms, south-west London – one absurdist step beyond the private cinema, indoor pool, gym and rooftop lounge bar. It was dismissed as a “crackers” PR stunt when the plan was unveiled by Irish developer Ballymore in 2015, a fantastical aquarium of captive high net worth individuals for the rest of us to gawp at from far below. Surely it would never materialise. But last week the scaffolding was taken down to reveal a bright blue rectangle hovering against the leaden January skies, 10 storeys up in the air – just outside the 30-metre bomb blast seclusion zone around the new neighbouring US embassy.

It has been billed as the world’s first swimming-pool bridge, a dazzling feat of acrylic engineering that will span the 14-metre gap between the two buildings and give residents the feeling of “floating through the air in central London”. But, although he lives in Embassy Gardens, Iqbal and his neighbours will never enjoy the thrill of going for an aerial dip. “We have a front-row seat of the Sky Pool,” he told me. “But the sad thing for us, living in the shared-ownership building, is that we will never have access to it. It’s only there for us to look at, just like the nice lobby, and all of the other facilities for the residents of the private blocks. Nobody expects these amenities for free, but we’re not even given the choice to pay for them.”

For Iqbal to reach his two-bed flat – valued at £800,000, of which he owns a quarter and pays rent on the rest – he must walk past the grand, hotel-style main entrance to the complex, flanked by supercars with personalised number plates, to the back of the development, past construction fences and piles of rubble, to a small door located between ventilation grilles and a bin store, facing on to a railway line. “There’s a reason they’re called ‘poor doors’,” he said. “I grew up in South Africa, in a country that was racially segregated, but in London there is still really bad class segregation. We have a mortgage and we pay our rent, but every day we are made to feel inferior, like the have-nots of Nine Elms.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The Balmoral in Chestnut

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Growing up, Marilyn Curran Ryan remembers being strictly forbidden from opening the drawers of her father’s secretary desk in the living room of their South Omaha, Nebraska, home. That’s where Union Pacific engineer James Curran kept his blueprints and drawings, including the plans for a very special project that had almost nothing to do with rail lines or bridges: The world’s first ski chairlift.

A chairlift may seem like an unlikely project for a railroad company, but, in the 1930s, Union Pacific developed the first destination ski resort in the United States. Inspired by European ski resorts, the railroad’s top boss, Averell Harriman, ventured that building a resort-style ski area in the United States would help boost passenger rail travel. Sure enough, high-end vacationers flocked to Sun Valley Resort in Ketchum, Idaho, when it opened in December 1936, with the world’s first chairlifts.

Read the rest of this article at: Smithsonian Magazine

News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The last stranger Adriene Mishler hugged before the pandemic was a woman who may or may not have sideswiped her car. It was Friday, the 13th of March, and Mishler, a YouTube yoga celebrity with more than eight million subscribers, was driving back to her house in Austin, Texas. It was exactly a week after the city canceled the annual South by Southwest festival. A female driver in a tan or gold sedan scraped the side of Mishler’s vehicle and, instead of pulling over like a decent person, raced off. The yoga guru gave chase.

“I was not going to chew them out,” Mishler said a few weeks later, reflecting on the incident. “I didn’t give a [expletive] about exchanging insurance or anything — well, obviously I did.” But that wasn’t the point of catching the driver. The point was to have a conversation with that person about the importance of goodness and accountability at a time of global and local turbulence, and as Mishler pursued the driver, she plotted out the interaction in her head. She lost the car, then found it again as it turned into a parking lot outside a thrift store. Mishler parked and got out to examine the other car, which had damage in a location that aligned with where the accident occurred. She followed the woman inside.

“Hi, I’m so sorry to bother you, and this is going to sound really weird, but did you just hit a car 15 or 20 minutes ago?”

The woman’s eyes grew big, which Mishler initially took for a sign of guilt. But the woman denied it. And as soon as she spoke, Mishler could tell this person wasn’t the perp; she had accidentally followed someone else driving a similar car into the parking lot. Mishler was mortified and apologized. As they parted, the woman stopped her and said that she loved doing Mishler’s yoga videos. This is something that has happened with increasing regularity as the videos have exploded in popularity. The two women embraced. “Damn,” Mishler said in late April, reliving the hug. “Outside of my boyfriend, that’s probably the last person I was less than six feet away from.”

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

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News 02.03.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Russians can go nutty when it comes to dogs. Consider the incident a few years ago that involved Yulia Romanova, a 22-year-old model. On a winter evening, Romanova was returning with her beloved Staffordshire terrier from a visit to a designer who specialises in kitting out canine Muscovites in the latest fashions. The terrier was sporting a new green camouflage jacket as he walked with his owner through the crowded Mendeleyevskaya metro station. There they encountered Malchik, a black stray who had made the station his home, guarding it against drunks and other dogs. Malchik barked at the pair, defending his territory. But instead of walking away, Romanova reached into her pink rucksack, pulled out a kitchen knife and, in front of rush-hour commuters, stabbed Malchik to death.

Romanova was arrested, tried and underwent a year of psychiatric treatment. Typically for Russia, this horror story was countered by a wellspring of sympathy for Moscow’s strays. A bronze statue of Malchik, paid for by donations, now stands at the entrance of Mendeleyevskaya station. It has become a symbol for the 35,000 stray dogs that roam Russia’s capital – about 84 dogs per square mile. You see them everywhere. They lie around in the courtyards of apartment complexes, wander near markets and kiosks, and sleep inside metro stations and pedestrian passageways. You can hear them barking and howling at night. And the strays on Moscow’s streets do not look anything like the purebreds preferred by status-conscious Muscovites. They look like a breed apart.

I moved to Moscow with my family last year and was startled to see so many stray dogs. Watching them over time, I realised that, despite some variation in colour – some were black, others yellowish white or russet – they all shared a certain look. They were medium-sized with thick fur, wedge-shaped heads and almond eyes. Their tails were long and their ears erect.

They also acted differently. Every so often, you would see one waiting on a metro platform. When the train pulled up, the dog would step in, scramble up to lie on a seat or sit on the floor if the carriage was crowded, and then exit a few stops later. There is even a website dedicated to the metro stray (www.metrodog.ru) on which passengers post photos and video clips taken with their mobile phones, documenting the ­savviest of the pack using the public transport system like any other Muscovite.

Where did these animals come from? It’s a question Andrei Poyarkov, 56, a biologist specialising in wolves, has dedicated himself to answering. His research focuses on how different environments affect dogs’ behaviour and social organisation. About 30 years ago, he began studying Moscow’s stray dogs. Poyarkov contends that their appearance and behaviour have changed over the decades as they have continuously adapted to the changing face of Russia’s capital. Virtually all the city’s strays were born that way: dumping a pet dog on the streets of Moscow amounts to a near-certain death sentence. Poyarkov reckons fewer than 3 per cent survive.

Read the rest of this article at: Financial Times

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