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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

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)

The First Million-Pound Painting

Remembering the first painting to sell at auction for more than a million pounds. Velasquez’s Portrait of Juan de Pareja sold at Christie’s for £2,300,000 in 1970, far above the previous record of £821,482 paid in 1961. “Even the most hardened dealers sitting in the audience breathed gasps of disbelief. Then there was a spontaneous burst of applause. The auctioneer left his rostrum and sheer pandemonium broke out” (720 words)

How The EU Lost Russia Over Ukraine

Gripping diary of the diplomatic struggle between Russia and Europe for the loyalties of Ukraine. Russia won. Europe lost. But Ukraine lost most of all when President Viktor Yanukovich’s surrender to Moscow brought rebellion in Kiev, provoking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nobody emerges with much credit from the sorry story splendidly told here, but Yanukovich’s incompetence beggars the imagination (6,900 words)

Secret Life Of A Crime Scene Cleaner Pick of the day

Sara Pankhurst cleans up after murders and suicides. Which is by no means the most striking part of her curriculum vitae. By her own account she was a steelworker, a sex worker and a funeral director before moving into the “trauma cleaning” business in Melbourne. “Twenty years later, here I am. Still psychotic” Her life partners have included a murdered fiancé, a wife, and a husband whom she met when she was burying his wife (5,600 words)

How Many Snowdens Are There?

Lots, probably, in the shadows. Edward Snowden was unusual in self-reporting his large-scale theft of classified data. Background checks for most American intelligence jobs are perfunctory, outsourced, and easily faked. “I was involved in several espionage investigations, and the one constant was that co-workers never reported their concerns, which turned out to be considerable, to the proper authorities” (1,790 words)

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