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Obituary: Frankie Fraser

“Frankie Fraser, who has died aged 90, was a notorious torturer and hitman for the Richardson gang of south London criminals in the 1960s; he spent 42 years behind bars. His nickname ‘Mad Frank’ derived from his violent temperament which caused him to attempt to hang the governor of Wandsworth prison (and the governor’s dog) from a tree, and to be certified insane on three separate occasions” (2,120 words)

The World In 2050 And Beyond

If we even get that far. The biggest dangers are the ones that we pose to ourselves. “Our Earth is 45 million centuries old. But this century is the first when one species – ours – can determine the biosphere’s fate.” We just missed nuclear Armageddon in the Cold War. Now we’re juggling geo-engineering, AI and biotech. “The bells that toll for mankind are like the bells of Alpine cattle. They are attached to our own necks” (6,860 words)

Virginia Woolf On Movies

Condescending but prescient note on the future of film. Woolf sees the cinema of the 1920s as technically accomplished but artistically stunted, devoted mainly to dramatising novels badly. Film needs a language of its own. “When some new symbol for expressing thought is found, the film-maker has enormous riches at his command. The exactitude of reality and its surprising power of suggestion are to be had for the asking” (2,220 words)

One Year Later: Frozen

Big songs and big emotions give Frozen the staying power of a classic musical. One year on it “practically still seems like a new release”. The script is witty without being snarky. The plot creaks, but Anna and Elsa soar above it. “It’s there for kids now and, like the best Disney films, it’ll still be there for them when they get older, ready to pass on to their own kids. It’s built to last whatever the weather” (1,980 words)

A Rare Peek Into The Massive Scale Of AWS

What Amazon does when it isn’t selling books. It builds the cloud. Every day Amazon Web Services “installs enough server infrastructure to host the entire Amazon business from 2004″. By now it probably runs 3-4 million servers in data centres worldwide. Storage is cheap, but networking is expensive: “At the same time that networking is going Anti-Moore, the ratio of networking to compute is going up” (3,390 words)

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