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Improving Workplace Culture, One Review at a Time

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One day in 2007, in Seattle, Rich Barton, the C.E.O. of the real-estate Web site Zillow, was getting ready for the company’s annual reviews. The process—talking to each employee about his or her performance and whether he or she would be getting a raise—called for discretion and tact. On his computer, he pulled up a spreadsheet containing the salary and stock options for every employee, and pressed Print. However, instead of sending the document to his personal printer, he sent it to one in the middle of the open-plan office. When Barton’s assistant realized the mistake, she rushed across the room to retrieve the document before anyone could read it. She succeeded, but the moment s... Read More
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How Scripto, the App That Stephen Colbert Helped Build, Became a Fixture of Late-Night Comedy News

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Two months ago, a group of reporters and comedy writers crowded into a conference room in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to begin work on a new HBO show hosted by the comedian and former “Daily Show” correspondent Wyatt Cenac. I had just joined the team and, like everyone else, was still adjusting to the show’s distinctive mix of sensibilities—part journalism, part standup. Cenac and our head writer, Hallie Haglund, another “Daily Show” alum, had convened the meeting to train us in Scripto, an app for writing and producing television. When our trainer appeared on the screen at the front of the room, beamed in from his home on tiny Peaks Island, Maine, he introduced himself as Rusty. Two digital-journalism vets reco... Read More
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A New Documentary Seeks to Capture the Plight of America’s Wild Horses

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There are seventy-three thousand wild horses roaming the American West. Their federally designated territory, which is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, extends across ten states, although most of it, nearly sixteen million acres, is concentrated in Nevada. No other state has such vast expanses of high, empty desert—the kind of landscape, sufficiently undeveloped and unpeopled, where wild horses can thrive. But, even there, they are threatened. For decades, cattle ranchers, ecologists, and, most significantly, the B.L.M. have noted that, because the horses reproduce easily and lack natural predators, their population overwhelms the space they occupy. There is not enough public land left, and the situation is... Read More
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The Neo-Nazis of the Daily Stormer Wander the Digital Wilderness

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Since this past August, the Daily Stormer, a prime hub for neo-Nazism on the Web, has found itself in a peculiar kind of digital exile. Its journey began in the wake of the “Unite the Right” rally, in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which a young woman named Heather Heyer was murdered by a man who drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters. The following day, Andrew Anglin, the Daily Stormer’s founder, published an article about Heyer titled “Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut.” Hours later, GoDaddy, one of the Web’s largest domain registrars, announced that it was cancelling the Daily Stormer’s service. Several other U.S.-based companies, including Google, Namecheap, and Cloudfla... Read More
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Under Trump, a Hard Test for Howard University

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One morning last February, not long after Donald Trump had been inaugurated as President, but long before many people had reconciled themselves to that fact, students at Howard University awoke to find a bold message written on a walkway of the campus’s central plaza, known as the Yard. Spray-painted in blue block letters, it read “Welcome to the Trump Plantation, Overseer: Wayne A. I. Frederick.” The message was aimed at the heart, the character, and the conscience of Howard’s president, a reserved, deliberative oncologist and surgeon whom the board of trustees had unanimously elected to the position in 2014. Frederick is pure Howard: he earned his undergraduate and medical degr... Read More
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The Psychology of Inequality

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In 2016, the highest-paid employee of the State of California was Jim Mora, the head coach of U.C.L.A.’s football team. (He has since been fired.) That year, Mora pulled in $3.58 million. Coming in second, with a salary of $2.93 million, was Cuonzo Martin, at the time the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of California, Berkeley. Victor Khalil, the chief dentist at the Department of State Hospitals, made six hundred and eighty-six thousand dollars; Anne Neville, the director of the California Research Bureau, earned a hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars; and John Smith, a seasonal clerk at the Franchise... Read More
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My Father’s Body, at Rest and in Motion

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Homeostasis holds complex systems together invisibly; we notice only its failures. Illustration by Gérard DuBois The call came at three in the morning. My ... Read More
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Can Hollywood Change Its Ways?

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“I’m calling it the Purge,” a friend who works in Hollywood told me, a few days into the post-Weinstein era. Off the top of his head, he listed half a dozen men in the entertainment business whose behavior, he hoped, would no longer be condoned. In the weeks to come, they started toppling, joined by others, in a seemingly never-ending cascade, the world’s longest domino trick. The morning-news anchor, the worldly talk-show host, the animation genius with the awful shirts, “feminist” men, liberals, tortured artists, moguls, icons, “bad boys,” funny guys, even the folksy curmudgeon from public radio: they are being fired; stepping down; awkwardly apologizing, engendering ridi... Read More
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A Floating House to Resist the Floods of Climate Change

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Last June, not long after a catastrophic thunderstorm swept through southern Ontario, bringing a month’s worth of rain in just a few hours, a group of seventy-five architects, engineers, and policymakers from sixteen countries gathered in the city of Waterloo to discuss how humanity will cope with its waterlogged future. The timing of the conference was a fitting meteorological coincidence; in a world increasingly transformed by climate change, heavy rains and major floods are becoming more common, at least in some areas. In the summer of 2017 alone, Hurricane Harvey dumped more than fifty inches of rain over Texas, a monster monsoon season damaged more than eight hundred thousand homes in India, and flash floods and... Read More
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What If Parents Loved Strangers’ Children As Much As Their Own?

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Last December, the author and philosopher Sam Harris invited Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, to appear on his podcast, “Waking Up.” It was Bloom’s third stint as a guest, and, as before, the two men devoted a significant portion of their conversation to the subject of empathy. Bloom had just published a book, “... Read More
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The Astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell Looks Back on Her Cosmic Legacy

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Jocelyn Bell Burnell arrived at the University of Cambridge in the mid-nineteen-sixties, just as construction was beginning on a new kind of radio telescope. For two years, as she worked on her doctorate in astronomy, she helped string wires between wooden poles, until four and a half acres of field were woven in copper filament and cable. “I came of a family that did a lot of sailing, so it wasn’t totally alien,” Bell Burnell told me recently. “I was used to posts and masts and pulleys.” By July, 1967, the telescope was ready. It resembled a giant metal net. Within a few weeks, its antennae had caught something unusual. Bell Burnell—who analyzed the roughly seven hundred feet of paper generated each week as galactic r... Read More
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Butt-Scratching Caterpillars, Whispering Whales, and Eight Other Sounds That Defined 2017

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Starting on a High Note On the evening of November 10th, the audience at New York’s Metropolitan Opera was treated to the briefest of delights when Audrey Luna, a coloratura soprano, hit an A above high C—the highest note ever sung in the Met’s hundred-and-thirty-seven-year history. On a piano, the note sits just a couple of keys from the far right; if you’re able to sing the high A in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Luna’s A is a full octave higher. The note comes near the beginning of Thomas Adès’s new opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” which is based on the 1962 Luis Buñuel film of the same name. And it is the first note that Luna si... Read More
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A Tech Pioneer’s Final, Unexpected Act

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Johannes Brahms wrote his first violin sonata for his muse, the pianist Clara Schumann. He presented it to her in 1879, soon after the death of her youngest child, Felix, who was named for the composer Felix Mendelssohn and was the only violinist among Schumann’s eight children. Brahms was his godfather. The sonata, which Brahms completed at the relatively late age of forty-six, takes its theme from his own “Regenlied,” or “Rain Song,” and is a meditation on the loss of childhood innocence. The violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who was captivated by the work as a child, has said that it is best played by an adult. “I have a deeper understanding of music and, if you want it or not, ... Read More
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The Dark Bounty of Texas Oil

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For more than a century, the economic fortunes of Texas have depended on oil. The image of mighty geysers spewing depreciable assets out of the ground is forever linked to the state. In the popular imagination, a rich Texan is invariably an oil baron. The Austin Chalk, the Barnett Shale, the Wolfcamp: these layers of subterranean Texas have yielded up so much black gold that their names are recognized by oilmen and everyday citizens alike. In large part because of high oil prices, a disproportionate share of America’s economic growth over the past decade has come from Texas. The gross domestic product of the... Read More
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A Singing Volcano, a North Korean Nuke, and Other Earth-Shaking Events of 2017

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It has been a jittery year. We’ve been shaken by fractious politics at home and abroad, with old alliances rifting apart and established icons toppling. We’ve shuddered with renewed Cold War anxieties even as hot winds have fuelled hurricanes and ... Read More
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New York City’s Bold, Flawed Attempt to Make Algorithms Accountable

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The end of a politician’s time in office often inspires a turn toward the existential, but few causes are as quixotic as the one chosen by James Vacca, who this month hits his three-term limit as a New York City Council member, representing the East Bronx. Vacca’s nearly four decades in local government could well be defined by a bill that he introduced in August, and that passed last Monday by a unanimous vote. Once signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the legislation will establish a task force to examine t... Read More
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As Winter Snows Disappear, Sled-Dog Racers Are Trading Skis for Wheels

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This story is being co-published with InsideClimate News as part of Finding Middle Ground, an original I.C.N. series by Meera Subramanian on perceptions of climate change across the country. Pogo pressed her paws into the ground impatiently, the sound of her yelps joining with those of the three other Alaskan husky mixes that Mel Omernick and her husband, Keith, were hooking up to their tug lines. It was the first weekend of November in Pearson, Wisconsin, and mushers had come from all over the reg... Read More
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The G.O.P. Tax Bill Is Unworkable

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With the House of Representatives set to pass the final version of the Republican tax bill on Tuesday, and a vote in the Senate expected later in the week, here is a prediction: no matter which party controls Congress after next year’s midterms, lawmakers will eventually be forced to revise this tax bill substantially. This legislation simply isn’t workable in the long run. Unless it is fixed, it could end up crippling the tax system. At this stage, the unfairness and ideological bent of the proposal are widely recognized, as is its corrupt nature. Giveaways to the wealthy and large corporations have been at the heart of the bill all along, while last-minute changes made to the final bill, unveiled on Friday, included goodies ... Read More
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Micro-Revolutions: Spidersilk, Edible Drones, Artificial Wombs, and More.

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Food Flier Photograph by Steve Harries for The New Yorker A few years ago, a Royal Air Force wing commander visited the British aeronautics engineer Nigel Gifford, to discuss the idea of dropping aid from the sky to besieged civilians in Syria. Airdrops are extremely rare in urban environments; beyond the political obstacles, there are the logistical difficulties of landing giant pallets in small areas of a city. Even successful drops can endanger civilians. “While unpacking one and... Read More
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Jim Simons, the Numbers King

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A visit to a scientific-research center usually begins at a star professor’s laboratory that is abuzz with a dozen postdocs collaborating on various experiments. But when I recently toured the Flatiron Institute, which formally opened in September, in lower Manhattan, I was taken straight to a computer room. The only sound came from a susurrating climate-control system. I was surrounded by rows of black metal cages outfitted, from floor to ceiling, with black metal shelves filled with black server nodes: boxes with small, twinkling lights and protruding multicolored wires. Tags dangled from some of the wires, notes that the tech staff had written to themselves. I realized that I’d seen... Read More
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Ophelia Dahl’s National Health Service

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In many ways, life in Great Missenden was idyllic, bucolic, sweet. The author Roald Dahl and the movie star Patricia Neal called their cottage there, in the rolling English countryside of Buckinghamshire, Gipsy House, because they’d parked a bright-blue caravan in the garden for their four children to play in, and because there was a freewheeling spirit to the place. A dozen people might show up for dinner on any given night; Neal would frequently be on her way to the United States to shoot a film; Dahl wrote his famous children’s books in a little hut—his “nest”—at the edge of the garden, surrounded by the roses and rhododendrons he liked to tend. “It was a very unmanufactur... Read More
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Estonia, the Digital Republic

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Up the Estonian coast, a five-lane highway bends with the path of the sea, then breaks inland, leaving cars to follow a thin road toward the houses at the water’s edge. There is a gated community here, but it is not the usual kind. The gate is low—a picket fence—as if to prevent the dunes from riding up into the street. The entrance is blocked by a railroad-crossing arm, not so much to keep out strangers as to make sure they come with intent. Beyond the gate, there is a schoolhouse, and a few homes line a narrow drive. From Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, you arrive dazed: trees trace the highway, and the cars go fast, as if to get in front of something that no one can see. With... Read More
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Astronauts Get Writer’s Block, Too: An Interview with Scott Kelly

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Not quite two years ago, I received a call from what appeared to be a Houston area code. When I answered, I discovered that the caller was not in Texas, nine hundred or so miles from my home in Knoxville, but rather two hundred and fifty miles above me, orbiting Earth. The astronaut Scott Kelly was calling from the International Space Station; he had read my book about the end of the Space Shuttle era, and he wanted to talk about his own attempts to portray the personal and emotional meanings of spaceflight in a journal he was keeping during his mission. We talked a long time that day—about Russian literature, our shared love of Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff,” what the inside of a spacesuit smells like, and the food on the I.S.S. ... Read More
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After Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Where Will Trump’s War on Public Lands End?

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On September 18, 1996, while seated somewhat incongruously at a wooden desk on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, President Bill Clinton signed a proclamation that established Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on 1.9 million acres of public land in south-central Utah. Invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906, Clinton declared the new monument to be the “smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected”—objects, in this case, including fossilized crocodilians, ancient petroglyphs, Mormon wagon routes, and a maze of remote and unutterably beautiful red-rock canyons. This past Monday, more than twenty-one years later, President Donald Trump v... Read More
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A Trip to St. Kilda, Scotland’s Lost Utopia in the Sea

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In 1877, George Seton, a visitor to the tiny Scottish archipelago of St. Kilda, observed that the men living there had an unusual physiological characteristic. “The great toes of the cragsmen are widely separated from the others, from the circumstance of their frequently resting their entire weight on that part of the foot in climbing,” Seton wrote. These men with prehensile feet were residents of the most remote settlement in the British Isles, forty miles out in the North Atlantic, where seabirds, garnered from the towering cliffs, formed the major part of their diet. A hundred years after Seton, another visitor wrote that “even today a boat setting out for St. Kilda is by no means assured of reaching its destination.” T... Read More
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Hedy Lamarr’s Forgotten, Frustrated Career as a Wartime Inventor

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The Hollywood screen legend Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Kiesler, the only child of wealthy, assimilated Jewish parents in Vienna. She grew up imbibing the city’s brilliant cultural life and decadent sophistication. At eighteen, she became notorious for flitting across the screen naked and simulating an orgasm—a cinematic first!—in the film “Ecstasy,” from 1933, which was condemned by the Pope and banned by Hitler (though for different reasons). Four years later, she fled to London, escaping both rising anti-Semitism and the first of her six marriages, to an Austrian munitions tycoon allied with the Nazis. There, a film agent took her to a hotel to meet “a little man,” as she later recalled him—Louis B. ... Read More
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Remembering the Chicago Pile, the World’s First Nuclear Reactor

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December 2, 1942, was the coldest day in Chicago in almost fifty years. That frigid afternoon, a crew of men and women—many of them hailing from countries an ocean away, where the Second World War raged—gathered under the viewing stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field to light a secret fire. They were members of the Metallurgical Laboratory, an organization that had existed only since that January, and were attending to their creation, a dusty collection of graphite, uranium, and scientific equipment that they called the Pile. Today, we know it as something different: the world’s first nuclear reactor. The Chicago Pile deserved its low-tech name. It was a stack of forty thou... Read More
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The Strange and Gruesome Story of the Greenland Shark, the Longest-Living Vertebrate on Earth

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Greenland sharks are among nature’s least elegant inventions. Lumpish, with stunted pectoral fins that they use for ponderously slow swimming in cold and dark Arctic waters, they have blunt snouts and gaping mouths that give them an unfortunate, dull-witted appearance. Many live with worm-like parasites that dangle repulsively from their corneas. They belong, appropriately enough, to the family Squalidae, and appear as willing to gorge on fresh halibut as on rotting polar-bear carcasses. Once widely hunted for their liver oil, today they are considered ... Read More
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The Origin of Silicon Valley’s Dysfunctional Attitude Toward Hate Speech

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On January 30, 1989, an article appeared in the student-run Stanford Daily under the headline “Racial slurs cause University to shut down bulletin board.” The bulletin board in question, rec.humor.funny, was one of hundreds of so-called newsgroups—glorified mass e-mails organized around specific interests—that streamed onto the school’s computer terminals via Usenet, an early precursor to today’s Internet forums. Rec.humor.funny was conceived as a place to share jokes, many of them crude and off-color, and one in part... Read More
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At Berkeley, a New Generation of Ethical Hackers Learns the Do’s and Don’ts of Cybersecurity

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“Whenever I teach a security class, it happens that there is something going on in the news cycle that ties into it,” Doug Tygar, a computer-science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told me recently. Pedagogically speaking, this has been an especially fruitful year. So far in 2017, the Identity Theft Resource Center, an American nonprofit, has tallied more than eleven hundred data breaches, the highest number since 2005. The organization’s running list of victims includes health-care providers, fast-food franchises, multinational banks, public high schoo... Read More
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Trump’s Answer to Global Warming, in Bonn? Drill, Baby, Drill!

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Every year around this time, negotiators from across the globe meet in one city or another—Montreal, Marrakech, Copenhagen, Paris—to resolve that the world really ought come up with a plan to do something about climate change. This year’s Conference of the Parties, the twenty-third such gathering, is taking place in Bonn, and in addition to the usual impediments to progress—mistrust, inequality, bad faith—there’s now the Trump Administration to contend with. On Monday, the U.S. delegation used its sole official appearance at COP23 to tout fossil fuels. “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit,” the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was i... Read More
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The Serial-Killer Detector

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Thomas Hargrove is a homicide archivist. For the past seven years, he has been collecting municipal records of murders, and he now has the largest catalogue of killings in the country—751,785 murders carried out since 1976, which is roughly twenty-seven thousand more than appear in F.B.I. files. States are supposed to report murders to the Department of Justice, but some report inaccurately, or fail to report altogether, and Hargrove has sued some of these states to obtain their records. Using computer code he wrote, he searches his archive for statistical anomalies among the more ordinary murders resulting from lovers’ triangles, gang fights, robberies, or brawls. Each year, about fiv... Read More
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How to Get Rich Playing Video Games on Twitch

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The most followed players on the platform Twitch earn well into seven figures. Illustration by Andy Rementer One humid morning this past summer, Omeed Dari... Read More
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Why Governor Jerry Brown Was Booed at the Bonn Climate Summit

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For all their tough-on-carbon rhetoric, Governor Jerry Brown, of California, and other leaders are ignoring a key component of the fight against global warming. Photograph by Lukas Schulze / Getty Spare a little pity for Jerry Brown. The California gover... Read More
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Can a Robot Join the Faith?

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As an apparent coup d’etat ripples through Saudi Arabia, the rising ruling faction is trying to keep things upbeat by sending bullish signals to the world’s mega-rich. Exhibit A is Neom, part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 initiative, a proposed utopian city whose modest slogan is “the world’s most ambitious project.” Neom imagines itself a swinging, sort-of-liberal international trade center, built from scratch, at a cost of five hundred billion dollars, on the shores of the Red Sea. According to its ... Read More
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Call of Duty, Wolfenstein, and the Joy of Killing Virtual Nazis

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Such is the hold that Adolf Hitler exerts on the Western imagination that, more than four decades after the end of the Second World War, my British schoolmates and I were still singing rhymes about his testicles. Where I grew up, in South London, our preferred version of the popular wartime ditty “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball” placed the Führer’s absent gonad in the opulent Royal Albert Hall. (“His mother, the dirty bugger / Cut it off when he was small.”) Our fascination with Nazism went well beyond the playground; it also extended to our computer screens at home. My tumble into puberty was marked by the release, in 1992, of ... Read More
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Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World?

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Carbon Engineering, a company owned in part by Bill Gates, has its headquarters on a spit of land that juts into Howe Sound, an hour north of Vancouver. Until recently, the land was a toxic-waste site, and the company’s equipment occupies a long, barnlike building that, for many years, was used to process contaminated water. The offices, inherited from the business that poisoned the site, provide a spectacular view of Mt. Garibaldi, which rises to a snow-covered point, and of the Chief, a granite monolith that’s British Columbia’s answer to El Capitan. To protect the spit against rising sea levels, the local government is planning to cover it with a layer of fill six feet deep. When ... Read More
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Why Ageism Never Gets Old

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Early in his career, Paul Newman personified a young man in a hurry forced to wait his turn. His go-getter characters infiltrated the old-boy network, wore the gray flannel suit, and toiled away before finally, in midlife, grabbing the brass ring and coasting for home. In “The Young Philadelphians” (1959), for instance, Newman played Tony Lawrence, whose mother, over his cradle, gloats, “Someday, he’ll take the place in this city that belongs to him.” Young Philadelphians, it’s clear, are merely old Philadelphians in the making. While Tony is at Princeton, a silver-haired Philadelphia lawyer so venerable he has a British accent tells him, “I’m confident that in due time you... Read More
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The Tech Industry’s Gender-Discrimination Problem

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One day in 2013, AJ Vandermeyden drove to Tesla’s corporate headquarters, in Palo Alto, California, sat down on a bench outside the main entrance, and waited, in the hope of spotting someone who looked like a company employee. Vandermeyden, who was thirty years old, had been working as a pharmaceutical sales representative since shortly after college, but she wanted a different kind of job, in what seemed to her the center of the world—Silicon Valley. She knew that Tesla’s ambitious, eccentric co-founder Elon Musk was managing companies devoted to space flight and solar energy, in addition to running Tesla, which was producing electric cars, and she was inspired by his mission. Tesla... Read More
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What’s Missing from the National Discussion About the Opioid Epidemic

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Last Wednesday, less than a week after Donald Trump declared America’s opioid epidemic a national public-health emergency, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released its final set of policy recommendations. The panel called on Congress and the White House to consider fifty-six proposals, among them streamlining federal funding for addiction treatment, instituting stricter prison s... Read More
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Where the Small-Town American Dream Lives On

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Orange City, the county seat of Sioux County, Iowa, is a square mile and a half of town, more or less, population six thousand, surrounded by fields in every direction. Sioux County is in the northwest corner of the state, and Orange City is isolated from the world outside—an hour over slow roads to the interstate, more than two hours to the airport in Omaha, nearly four to Des Moines. Hawarden, another town, twenty miles away, is on the Big Sioux River, and was founded as a stop on the Northwestern Railroad in the eighteen-seventies; it had a constant stream of strangers coming through, with hotels to service them and drinking and gambling going on. But Orange City never had a river or ... Read More
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New York’s Majestic Passage in the Sky

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The Bayonne Bridge is an arch of steel that swoops up from Staten Island and alights, about seventeen hundred feet later, on Bergen Point, at the southwestern tip of Bayonne, New Jersey. The arch supports a roadway that goes through it like the slash through a cent sign. Of all the city’s bridges, the Bayonne Bridge is the most powerful and intimate work of modernist-era art. Nothing half as tall stands near it. Sky fills the girders’ interstices and geometries, and above the arch the clouds rise dramatically. The bridge spans the Kill Van Kull, a body of water about two thousand feet across at its widest and about eight hundred fe... Read More
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Remembering Laika, Space Dog and Soviet Hero

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On the evening of November 3, 1957, barely a month after the Soviet Union sent humanity’s first artificial satellite into orbit, a rocket lifted off from a secret site in Kazakhstan, carrying its second. The launch of Sputnik 2 was timed to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and the craft itself was an appropriately showy statement of Communist know-how—six times heavier than Sputnik 1, designed to fly nearly twice as high, and, most impressive of all, containing a live passenger. A week before the mission began, Moscow Radi... Read More
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Janet Yellen Was a Master of Thinking in Public. What About Jay Powell?

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Jay Powell, Trump’s nominee for Federal Reserve chair, is praised as a safe, consensus choice, but no one can be entirely sure what he is thinking. Photograph by T.J. Kirkpatrick / Bloomberg via Getty Much of the time, the Federal Reserve operates a bi... Read More
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Dark Matter Gets Its Day

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Not long ago, the actor Tilda Swinton—cosmic muse to cinéastes, fashion designers, and physicists—took on another shape-shifting role as the voice of a new a planetarium film, “Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter.” “As we look out into the night sky, we are both dazzled and comforted by the patches of light we find there,” her narration begins. In time, Swinton continues, astronomers started to suspect that there was something more out there than these brilliant moons, stars, and galaxies—“something hiding in the dark spaces.” The film premièred in Mexico City, on Sunday, and today has special ... Read More
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The Fifth Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy

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A man walks the flooded streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, on Tuesday, October 30, 2012. Superstorm Sandy made landfall five years ago this Sunday. Photograph by Emile Wamsteker / Bloomberg via Getty... Read More
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The Ignorance of Trump’s Vague Tax Plan

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The Trump Administration’s tax-reform proposal flouts the best practices embraced by economists. Photograph by J. Scott Applewhite / AP Frank Ramsey lived as if he knew he would die young—and he did, just shy of twenty-seven. Born in 1903, he spent his shortened twenties in something of a fury, hurtling around Europe and engaging with the most exciting in... Read More
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Number of Items Identified: 3
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A Ground-Level View of the Fires in Northern California

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Californians have grown accustomed to praying for rain. Only a year ago, nearly two-thirds of the state was in the grip of a severe long-term drought: the mountains were starved of snow, the aquifers and reservoirs were depleted, and more than a hundred million trees had withered and died. But then, in January, the winter rains came, delivering a quarter as much water in eleven days as California usually receives all year. In the Central Valley, in Gold Country, and in other parched areas of the state, thirty million people breathed a sigh of relief. Two weekends ago, when ... Read More
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Profiting from Puerto Rico’s Pain

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In 2012, Cate Long was working at the news service Reuters, where she wrote a daily column on the municipal-bond market. Municipal bonds are typically a sleepy corner of investing. They are forms of debt issued by states, counties, or cities, usually to fund infrastructure projects, such as airports and highways, and they are generally considered a safe investment, paying relatively low levels of interest. Finding a compelling story about the municipal-bond market is not an easy task, so when Long came across a document related to an eight-hundred-million-dollar bond sale that Puerto Rico would be undertaking that spring, she decided to look at the numbers more closely. What she found was startling. “I sat down and read it for a couple... Read More
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A Pill to Make Exercise Obsolete

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It was late summer, and the gray towers of the Salk Institute, in San Diego, shaded seamlessly into ocean fog. The austere, marble-paved central courtyard was silent and deserted. The south lawn, a peaceful retreat often used for Tai Chi and yoga classes, was likewise devoid of life, but through vents built into its concrete border one could detect a slight ammoniac whiff from more than two thousand cages of laboratory rodents below. In a teak-lined office overlooking the ocean, the biologist Ron Evans introduced me to two specimens: Couch Potato Mouse and Lance Armstrong Mouse. Couch Potato Mouse had been raised to serve as a proxy for the average American. Its daily exercise was l... Read More
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Chinatown’s Ghost Scam

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Wang Jing was so ashamed of what had happened to her that, for the first hour of our conversation, in June, at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, she made no eye contact, as if doing so would break some spell and prevent her from finishing her story. She spoke haltingly in Mandarin, the only language we shared; she’d have been more comfortable in Cantonese or Taishanese, the dialect of the small city in Guangdong Province on whose rural outskirts she was born. But, more than that, she seemed unused to being listened to in any language. She asked me not to use her real name and had brought along her son, who is in his late twenties. He sat impassive but watchful, accustomed, like ... Read More
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The Family That Built an Empire of Pain

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The north wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a vast, airy enclosure featuring a banked wall of glass and the Temple of Dendur, a sandstone monument that was constructed beside the Nile two millennia ago and transported to the Met, brick by brick, as a gift from the Egyptian government. The space, which opened in 1978 and is known as the Sackler Wing, is also itself a monument, to one of America’s great philanthropic dynasties. The Brooklyn-born brothers Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler, all physicians, donated lavishly during their lifetimes to an astounding range of institutions, many of which today bear the family name: the Sackler Gallery, in Washington; the Sackler Museum... Read More
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There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse

In Business, Education, Emerging Technology, Energy, Events, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature, Security, Start Up by New Yorker

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Last year, shortly after the election, the coal baron Robert Murray received a phone call from President-elect Donald Trump. “He said, ‘Tell your coal miners I got their backs,’ ” Murray later reported to Fox News. “Then he said, ‘I love you, man.’ ” Murray, who is the chairman and C.E.O. of Murray Energy, the largest private coal company in the country, was one of the first fossil-fuel executives to support Trump’s candidacy. Prior to the Republican National Convention, he hosted a fund-raiser for Trump in Charleston, West Virginia, attracting nearly five hundred thousand dollars in donations and contributing hundreds of thousands more from his own pocket. “It was eigh... Read More
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Where the Fires in Northern California Came From, and What Lies Ahead

In Business, Education, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature, Security by New Yorker

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Since the fires in Northern California began, on a dry and windy night two weekends ago, they have charred nearly a quarter of a million acres of land, destroyed an estimated fifty-seven hundred structures, and killed more than forty people. Most of the immediate damage has been limited to wine country, especially Napa and Sonoma Counties, but the effects of the fires have been felt all over. Last week, the smoke and ash blew south, spreading over much of the San Francisco Bay Area, and stubbornly remaining there. Some school districts in the region hav... Read More
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Hard Up in New York

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Security by New Yorker

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My girlfriend, V, and I were finishing college, with a summer to burn before the next thing, and New York beckoned. V went to the city and signed a three-month lease on the apartment of a Columbia student, Bobby Atkins, who may have been the son of the creator of the Atkins Diet, or maybe we just enjoyed imagining that he was. His place, on the southwest corner of 110th Street and Amsterdam, had two small bedrooms and was irremediably filthy. We arrived in June with a fifth of Tanqueray, a carton of Marlboro Lights, and Marcella Hazan’s ... Read More
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A Washing Machine That Tells the Future

In Business, Finance, Government, Legal, Security by New Yorker

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The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 is perhaps the single most frequently mocked act of Congress in history. It sparked a trade war in the early days of the Great Depression, and has become shorthand for self-destructive protectionism. So it’s surprising that, while the law’s tariffs have been largely eliminated, some of its absurd provisions still hold. The other week, the American appliance-maker Whirlpool successfully employed a 1974 amendment to the act to persuade the United States government to ... Read More
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Scared of the City

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Security by New Yorker

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My girlfriend, V, and I were finishing college, with a summer to burn before the next thing, and New York beckoned. V went to the city and signed a three-month lease on the apartment of a Columbia student, Bobby Atkins, who may have been the son of the creator of the Atkins Diet, or maybe we just enjoyed imagining that he was. His place, on the southwest corner of 110th Street and Amsterdam, had two small bedrooms and was irremediably filthy. We arrived in June with a fifth of Tanqueray, a carton of Marlboro Lights, and Marcella Hazan’s Italian cookbook. Someone had left behind a spineless black plush-toy panther, manufactured in Korea, which we liberated and made ours. We were li... Read More
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The Danger of President Pence

In Business, Education, Events, Finance, Gaming, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature, Security, Start Up by New Yorker

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On September 14th, the right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, who last year published a book titled “In Trump We Trust,” expressed what a growing number of Americans, including conservatives, have been feeling since the 2016 election. The previous day, President Trump had dined with Democratic leaders at the White House, and had impetuously agreed to a major policy reversal, granting provisional residency to undocumented immigrants who came to America as children. Republican legislators were blindsided. Within hours, Trump disavowed the deal, then reaffirmed it. Coulter tweeted, “At this point, who doesn’t want Trump impeached?” She soon added, “If we’re not ge... Read More
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Number of Items Identified: 7
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Welcoming Our New Robot Overlords

In Business, Education, Emerging Technology, Energy, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature, Start Up by New Yorker

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When David Stinson finished high school, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1977, the first thing he did was get a job building houses. After a few years, though, the business slowed. Stinson was then twenty-four, with two children to support. He needed something stable. As he explained over lunch recently, that meant finding a job at one of the two companies in the area that offered secure, blue-collar work. “Either I’ll be working at General Motors or I’ll be working at Steelcase by the end of the year,” he vowed in 1984. A few months later, he got a job at Steelcase, the world’s largest manufacturer of office furniture, and he’s been working at its Grand Rapids metal plant ever s... Read More
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The Fate of Earth

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Yesterday evening, at Manhattan’s New School, the New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert delivered the second annual Jonathan Schell Memorial Lecture on the Fate of the Earth, an event established by the Nation Institute in honor of the late Jonathan Schell, a longtime New Yorker staff writer, and named for “The Fate of the Earth,” a series of articles that Schell wrote for the magazine in 1982 and later published as a book. Kolbert’s remarks have been edited for length. When I was asked to deliver this lecture, the prompt I was given was to address the fate of Earth. At first, I thought of... Read More
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The New Normal

In Business, Education, Government, Legal, Science & Nature, Start Up by New Yorker

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Is hateful speech in the wake of Donald Trump’s election a sign of a new “normal”? Photograph by Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty On November 18, 2016, ten days after Donald Trump won the Presidential election, ... Read More
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O.K., Computer, Tell Me What This Smells Like

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Can machine learning help unravel the bewildering relationship between scent and chemistry? Illustration by Vanessa Mckeown Our sense of smell is gloriously specific. The mellow aroma of butter and flour rising from warm pie crust, the synthetic bite of fresh paint, the familiar odor of a new car—when we get a whiff of something, we know immediately what it... Read More
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Is America Facing Another Sputnik Moment?

In Business, Education, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Sixty years ago today, on a drab steppe in southern Kazakhstan, the Soviet Union launched humanity’s first artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit. It was a shiny sphere of aluminum, magnesium, and titanium, twenty-three inches in diameter and weighing about as much as an adult man, and it was equipped with the barest essentials of spaceflight: a radio transmitter, a battery, and a fan to keep it cool. With its four elongated antennae, the satellite resembled a B-movie insectoid, an impression strengthened by the high-frequency screeches it emitted every three-tenths of a second. (Perhaps ... Read More
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The Winners of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics Helped Us See the Universe Anew

In Education, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) spotted gravitational waves in September of 2015. Now they have won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Photograph by Xinhua / LIGO Lab via Alamy... Read More
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Seeing the Invisible World with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

In Education, Energy, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Chemistry sits halfway between physics and biology; it’s the middle child in the scientific family, as dependable as it is overshadowed. On Monday, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three researchers who helped elucidate the mechanics of circadian rhythms, the gene-based clocks within our cells; on Tuesday, the physics... Read More
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Number of Items Identified: 17
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A Field Farmed Only by Drones

In Education, Emerging Technology, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Security by New Yorker

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Across the United Kingdom, the last of the spring barley has been brought in from the fields, the culmination of an agricultural calendar whose rhythm has remained unchanged for millennia. But when the nineteenth-century poet John Clare wrote, in his month-by-month description of the rural year, that in September “harvest’s busy hum declines,” it seems unlikely that he was imagining the particular buzz—akin to an amplified mosquito—of a drone. “The drone barley snatch was actually the thing that made it for me,” Jonathan Gill, a robotics engineer at Harper Adams University, told me recently. Gill is one of three self-described “lads” behind a small, underfunded initiative called ... Read More
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Number of Items Identified: 3
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Why Aren’t Mothers Worth Anything to Venture Capitalists?

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The struggles of a breast-pump startup underscore V.C.’s blind spot when it comes to women and babies. Photograph by Peter Marlow / Magnum ... Read More
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How Science Saved Me from Pretending to Love Wine

In Business, Education, Events, Finance, Government, Legal, Mobile Technology, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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I was in my late forties when I finally admitted to myself that I would never love wine. As other women fake orgasms, I have faked hundreds of satisfied responses to hundreds of glasses—not a difficult feat, since my father schooled my brother and me in the vocabulary of wine from an early age. Confronted with another Bordeaux or Burgundy, I could toss around the terms I had learned at the dinner table (Pétillant! Phylloxera! Jeroboam!), then painstakingly direct the wine straight down the center of my tongue, a route that limited my palate’s exposure to what it perceived as discomfiting intensity. That admission was a sad one, because my father, the writer Clifton Fad... Read More
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Toys R Us and the Trump Voter

In Business, Education, Finance, Government by New Yorker

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On a recent afternoon, the Toys R Us big-box store in Coney Island, Brooklyn, was lively. The entrance was crowded with racks of Halloween costumes. There were aisles of Lego sets, bats and balls, Minions and Minecraft, Nerf guns, baby dolls, and fairy wands. Families were dragging their children through the store. The reassuringly typical scene belied the fact that the toy retailer had been in financial distress for months, and that many of its suppliers weren’t shipping their products to the stores, for fear that they wouldn’t be paid. On September 18th, a few days before my visit, Toys R Us, five billion dollars in debt, had filed for bankruptcy protection. Some of the early postmortems in the press blamed the chain’s sor... Read More

Is Health Care a Right?

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Is health care a right? The United States remains the only developed country in the world unable to come to agreement on an answer. Earlier this year, I was visiting Athens, Ohio, the town in the Appalachian foothills where I grew up. The battle over whether to repeal, replace, or repair the Affordable Care Act raged then, as it continues to rage now. So I began asking people whether they thought that health care was a right. The responses were always interesting. A friend had put me in touch with a forty-seven-year-old woman I’ll call Maria Dutton. She lived with her husband, Joe, down a long gravel drivew... Read More
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The Strange Tectonic Coincidence of Mexico’s September Earthquakes

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In 1325, the Aztecs, until then a nomadic people, chose the site of their capital, Tenochtitlan, based on a prophecy that the location would be marked by an eagle eating a snake while perched on a cactus. That the cactus in question happened to sit on an island in a mucky lake did not, apparently, deter them from seeing it as a divine revelation; they went ahead and built a great city with grand temples and market squares on a tiny patch of land in a swamp. That metropolis is now Mexico City. The cruel coincidence of there being a large earthquake in Mexico City... Read More
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Why the Last Snow on Earth May Be Red

In Education, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Every spring, in alpine regions around the world, one of Earth’s tiniest migrations takes place. The migrants are single-celled green algae; they are kin to seaweed, but instead of living in the sea they live in snow. (Snow weed, maybe?) They spend the winter deep in the snowpack, atop last summer’s snow, as dormant cysts. In the spring, they wake and swim up through the trickle of snowmelt to the surface, dividing and photosynthesizing as they go. Then, at the top, they turn red. This creates what scientists call pink snow or watermelon snow—drifts and glaciers that look like Slush Puppies and eventually reduce to rivulets of crimson. The color comes from astaxanthin, a molecular cousin... Read More
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How Toys R Us Succumbed to Its Nasty Debt Problem

In Business, Government by New Yorker

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In 1948, a young and ambitious man named Charles Lazarus took over his father’s Washington, D.C., bicycle shop. Lazarus tried selling children’s furniture, but he soon changed to toys, as he later told the New York Times, “after realizing that toys broke and had to be replaced.” In 1957, he opened the first of his stores using the Toys R Us name. Less than a decade later, Lazarus sold his four toy stores to Interstate Department Stores, which had aspirations to become one of the largest toy merchants in the United States; Lazarus stayed on to r... Read More
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Remembering Lotfi Zadeh, the Inventor of Fuzzy Logic

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One night in July, 1964, the logician Lotfi Zadeh found himself alone in his parents’ New York apartment, his dinner plans cancelled. At the time, Zadeh later wrote, he was doing “a lot of thinking about basic issues in systems analysis, especially the issue of unsharpness of class boundaries”—that is, the failure of things in the physical world to conform to classical Boolean logic, the true-or-false, black-or-white, zero-or-one mathematics that underpins much of computer science. “It was at that point that the simple concept of a fuzzy set occurred to me,” Zadeh recalled. ... Read More
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The World’s Greenest Sports Team Is a Century-Old Football Club in a Tiny English Town

In Emerging Technology, Gaming, Government, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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When Dale Vince became the chairman of Forest Green Rovers, a hundred-and-twenty-eight-year-old club in English soccer’s fourth tier, in the autumn of 2010, one of the first problems that he set out to fix was on the menu. The club was serving meat lasagna to the players, a practice that, Vince says, conflicted with the team’s values. “I saw that and realized that made us part of the meat trade,” he told me. He added, “We agreed on the spot that we’d take red meat off the menu. Then we began to express our values into the club in all respects. That began the journey.” Soon, the front office did away with white meat and fish for players, staff, and fans alike. Eventually, Vince, who is fifty-six, and can f... Read More
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Money, Power, and Deer Urine

In Business, Education, Events, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Elam Lapp, Jr., like many Amish people, always wanted to be a farmer, but he knew it was a difficult way to make money. Before the nineteen-seventies, most Amish made their living farming; today, fewer than ten per cent do. Lapp has twelve siblings, none of whom went into the business. But Lapp—a friend of mine, and a man with an easy, self-deprecating sense of humor and the short beard of a newly married Amishman—came across a solution: he would farm deer. Deer farming doesn’t require as much acreage as cows or crops, and there’s little need for technology. All you have to do is throw up some fences, get pregnant does, and buy feed (the deer like beans and corn). There are roughly ten thousand deer farms in North America, and so... Read More
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Saying Goodbye to Cassini, the NASA Mission That Transformed Our Understanding of the Solar System

In Education, Government, Healthcare, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Spacecraft do not rust. Some merely fade away, like Voyagers 1 and 2, which, four decades after their launch, have departed the solar system and are now drifting into the wider cosmos, quite possibly for eternity. Many others, though, end their journeys abruptly and, often enough, intentionally. In 2003, NASA steered its Galileo probe, which had faithfully surveyed the Jovian system for years, into Jupiter’... Read More
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The A.I. “Gaydar” Study and the Real Dangers of Big Data

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature, Security by New Yorker

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Every face does not tell a story; it tells thousands of them. Over evolutionary time, the human brain has become an exceptional reader of the human face—computerlike, we like to think. A viewer instinctively knows the difference between a real smile and a fake one. In July, a Canadian study reported that college students can reliably tell if people are richer or poorer than average simply by looking at their expressionless faces. Scotland Yard employs a team of “... Read More
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The Nightmare Faces of Apple Engineering and Cindy Sherman’s Instagram

In Business, Government, Legal, Mobile Technology, Security by New Yorker

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Philip Schiller announcing the Apple iPhone X’s “Face I.D.” feature against a backdrop of human visages on Tuesday, in Cupertino, California. Photograph by Justin Sullivan / Getty On Tuesday, in Cupertino, California, Apple announced its ... Read More
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Washington State’s Great Salmon Spill and the Environmental Perils of Fish Farming

In Education, Finance, Government by New Yorker

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Just after the thrill of the total solar eclipse, a troubling nature story emerged from northwestern Washington State. On August 22nd, Cooke Aquaculture, a multibillion-dollar seafood company, reported that, three days earlier, extreme tides coinciding with the eclipse had torn apart its enormous salmon farm off Cypress Island, a teal idyll near the college town of Bellingham. More than three hundred thousand non-native Atlantic salmon, housed in a steel underwater pen, were at risk of escape. Tens of thousands of the fish had already spilled into Puget Sound, and some had begun to instinctively swim upstream, t... Read More
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Our Weather-Prediction Models Keep Getting Better, and Hurricane Irma Is the Proof

In Business, Government, Legal, Science & Nature, Security by New Yorker

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By Wednesday of last week, even as Tropical Storm Harvey continued to rain devastation on the Gulf Coast, a new storm, Irma, was taking shape in the eastern Atlantic. Within thirty-six hours, it had morphed into a Category 3 hurricane. Then it seemed to hesitate momentarily, as if to gather itself. “Irma has begun a cycle of reorganization called an eye-wall replacement,” the Weather Channel reported on Friday. This brought to mind something like a home-renovation project, but in practice the replacement cycle is more like mounting a Formula One engine in a Corvette. The eye of a hurrican... Read More
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The iPhone X and Apple’s Mundane Vision of the Future

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Mobile Technology, Security by New Yorker

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“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” Steve Jobs said a decade ago. “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” Standing onstage at the 2007 MacWorld Expo, in San Francisco, arrayed in his usual vestments—bluejeans, black turtleneck, gray New Balances—Jobs was proclaiming a modern gospel. Provided you had five hundred bucks lying around, you could proclaim it, too. By 2008, the company formerly known as Apple Computer, now just as Apple, had attracted millions of new adherents. At the Worldwide Developers Conference that June, Jobs introduced the iPhone 3G. The 3GS followed, in 2009, and soon the good news was coming more than once a year—iPad, iPad 2, iP... Read More
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Is Zika Gone for Good?

In Government, Healthcare, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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While spraying to eradicate mosquito-breeding sites may have contributed to Zika’s demise, it likely wasn’t sufficient to account for the precipitous decline in cases this year. Photograph by Scott McIntyre / NYT / Redux... Read More
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Hurricane Harvey and the Storms to Come

In Business, Government, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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On August 29, 2005, at six-ten in the morning, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the border of Mississippi and Louisiana, just east of New Orleans. Katrina had spent days wobbling over the Gulf of Mexico, and by the time it reached the coast it was classified as a strong Category 3 storm. As it pressed inland, its winds, which were clocked at up to a hundred and twenty-five miles an hour, pushed water from the Gulf westward into Lake Pontchartrain, and north, up a mostly abandoned shipping canal. The levees that were supposed to protect New Orleans failed, and low-lying neighborhoods were inundated. That day in Louisiana, at least six hundred and fifty people died. Katrina was widely describe... Read More
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Cancer’s Invasion Equation

In Education, Emerging Technology, Events, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Mobile Technology, Science & Nature, Security by New Yorker

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Over the summer of 2011, the water in Lake Michigan turned crystal clear. Shafts of angled light lit the lake bed, like searchlights from a U.F.O.; later, old sunken ships came into view from above. Pleasure was soon replaced by panic: lakes are not supposed to look like swimming pools. When biologists investigated, they found that the turbid swirls of plankton that typically grow in the lake by the million had nearly vanished—consumed gradually, they could only guess, by some ravenous organism. The likely culprits were mollusks: the zebra mussel and its cousin the quagga mussel. The two species—Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis—are thought to have ... Read More
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New York City’s Secret World of Exotic Pets

In Business, Events, Government, Healthcare by New Yorker

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11 Mowgli, a ball python. Exotic reptiles a... Read More
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How the Dollar Stays Dominant

In Business, Finance, Government, Security by New Yorker

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The factory that makes the paper for U.S. currency smells like a clean barn just supplied with fresh hay. Built in the eighteen-seventies, in Dalton, Massachusetts, it runs today, as it did then, on the power of the adjacent Housatonic River. The scent emanates from the centerpiece of the mill, a giant, elevated iron sphere larger than a house. Tons of raw cotton and linen are poured in at the top, along with water, and the sphere is heated and spun like a washing machine to break up the fibres, which are run through the paper-making machinery at another, slightly younger plant down the road. It’s in that plant that this nineteenth-century product is outfitted with the latest technology. The hundred-dollar bill, for example, is ... Read More
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What Will Be Preet Bharara’s Legacy?

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Legal by New Yorker

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When the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the conviction of Mathew Martoma yesterday, Preet Bharara might have breathed a sigh of relief. As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 until this past March, when President Trump fired him, Bharara led a crackdown on insider trading. Martoma, a former S.A.C. Capital portfolio manager, represents one of Bharara’s standout successes: one of the largest insider-trading cases the government has ever brought, involving an alleged two hundred and seventy-five million dollars i... Read More
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St. Louis’s First Total Solar Eclipse Since 1442

In Government, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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By 10:30 A.M., the heat index had already crept above ninety degrees. Somehow, though, the Abraham Lincoln impersonator was barely glowing in his three-piece suit and top hat as he mingled with the crowd at Jefferson Barracks Park, in south St. Louis. According to Steve Stenger, the county executive, more than four thousand people had gathered for this, the official Great American Total Solar Eclipse viewing party for St. Louis County, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the path of totality. “This will be my first total solar eclipse,” Lincoln told me, bemoaning the fact that he had been in the wrong place to see both the annular eclipse of 1831, on his twenty-second birthday, and the dramati... Read More
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Watch Our Live Stream of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

In Gaming by New Yorker

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This live stream will run from 11:30 A.M. to 4:15 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, August 21st, tracking the total solar eclipse from coast to coast. It is provided by Slooh, a service that allows users to patch into and personally control online telescopes around the world. The live stream will be hosted from the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch by Gerard Monteux, a former s... Read More
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Who Owns the Internet?

In Business, Education, Finance, Gaming, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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On the night of November 7, 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife, Lucy, took to her bed with a headache. The returns from the Presidential election were trickling in, and the Hayeses, who had been spending the evening in their parlor, in Columbus, Ohio, were dismayed. Hayes himself remained up until midnight; then he, too, retired, convinced that his Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, would become the next President. Hayes had indeed lost the popular vote, by more than two hundred and fifty thousand ballots. And he might have lost the Electoral College as well had it not been for the machinations of journalists working in the shady corners of what’s been called “the Victorian ... Read More
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The Total Solar Eclipse We Deserve

In Business, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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When Monday’s total solar eclipse gets under way, tracing an arc of temporary night across the nation, it will come as a profound relief. “Mr. Trump Makes a Spectacle of Himself,” ran the headline on a Times editorial earlier this week; only a greater spectacle, generated by some larger and far more marvellous force, might allow us to briefly look away. The eclipse fits our historical moment disconcertingly well. It will be American from beginning to end. It starts over the Pacific Ocean at around dawn; becomes visible in Oregon at around nine ... Read More
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Piercing the Veil of Secrecy Shrouding the Trump Deal in the Republic of Georgia

In Business, Education, Government, Legal by New Yorker

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There is no single global repository listing every company and its owners, though it’s usually not hard to find out where a company is based and legally registered. But that wasn’t the case with the Silk Road Group, a mysterious holding company that set out, several years ago, to build a Trump Tower in the Republic of Georgia. I stopped thinking of it as a single firm but, rather, as a diffuse container holding at least several dozen corporate entities who, legally, at least, were registered in different countries around the world and had uncertain r... Read More
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For New York’s Teen Ecologists, Even the Cemetery Is a Laboratory

In Education, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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On a recent Friday morning, a few feet from Abby C. Bradbury’s tombstone in Green-Wood Cemetery, two young women struggled to attach a hand-size black box to an Eastern redbud. They aimed the device—a motion-sensitive digital camera with a fifty-metre range, set inside a waterproof casing—at a field lined with privet hedges. Grackles called in the intermittent rain as irritable drivers pounded their horns along Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue. The box kept slipping down the slight tree’s trunk. A cemetery patrol car pulled up. “Can I be nosy? What is that?” the guard asked. “A camera trap,” Nzinga Stewart, an undergraduate at Fordham University, replied. “For what?” “For tracking small mammals,... Read More
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What the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Will Feel Like, for Humans and Animals

In Education, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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A week from today, in a roughly seventy-mile-wide arc stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, the sun will disappear from the sky. It will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in ninety-nine years, and the first to be visible only in this country since before it was a country. Millions of eclipse chasers will soon set up camp—in Chilly, Idaho; and Hazard, Nebraska; and Sweetwater, Tennessee—to await the moment that astronomers call totality. As they gaze through telescopes and pinhole cameras and ... Read More
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Trump’s Business of Corruption

In Business, Education, Finance, Gaming, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Mobile Technology, Security by New Yorker

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President Donald Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow recently told me that the investigation being led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, should focus on one question: whether there was “coördination between the Russian government and people on the Trump campaign.” Sekulow went on, “I want to be really specific. A real-estate deal would be outside the scope of legitimate inquiry.” If he senses “drift” in Mueller’s investigation, he said, he will warn the special counsel’s office that it is exceeding its mandate. The issue will first be raised “informally,” he noted. But if Mueller and his team persist, Sekulow said, he might lodge a ... Read More
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How Silicon Valley’s Workplace Culture Produced James Damore’s Google Memo

In Business, Government, Science & Nature, Security, Start Up by New Yorker

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Last week, a software engineer at Google, James Damore, posted a ten-page memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” to an internal company network. Citing a range of psychological studies, Wikipedia entries, and media articles on “our culture of shaming and misrepresentation,” Damore argued that women are underrepresented in the tech industry largely because of their innate biological differences from men—their “stronger interest in people rather than things,” their propensity for “neuroticism,” their “higher levels of anxiety.” Damore critic... Read More
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A Tiny Parasite Could Save Darwin’s Finches from Extinction

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Five years ago, George Heimpel, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, travelled to Trinidad in search of insect larvae. He was after several kinds in particular—Philornis downsi, a fly whose parasitic young feed on the hatchlings of tropical birds, and various minuscule wasp species whose own offspring feed on those of the fly. Heimpel hoped that the wasps might solve a problem on the Galápagos Islands, where Philornis has taken a severe toll on native fowl. Those hurt most by the fly, which was likely brought to the archipelago by people, are the Galápagos finches, the songbirds that provided Charles Darwin with some of the earliest evidence of evolution. Currently, eleven of the fourteen finch species ar... Read More
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The Difficult Voyage of Martin Shkreli, the Pharma Bro, Comes to an End

In Business, Government, Legal, Start Up by New Yorker

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As the deliberations in the Martin Shkreli trial dragged into their fifth day, the possibility that he could end up facing a deadlocked jury, or even an acquittal, started to seem increasingly real. So did the potential for yet another embarrassing setback for the government when it comes to prosecuting white-collar crime. Instead, on Friday afternoon, in Brooklyn, the jury delivered a victory, of sorts, to the government, finding Shkreli guilty on three of the eight counts with which he’d been charged—including the two most serious ones, of securities fraud. After the verdict was read, Shkre... Read More