Siberia, Massachusetts, Weight Loss, Sabermetrics, CIA

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Welcome To Pleistocene Park

Ross Andersen | Atlantic | 8th March 2017

Two Russian scientists have a “mad vision” to slow climate change, and it might just work: They will deforest the Siberian taiga, exposing grasslands that reflect the sun’s heat, thus halting the thawing of the permafrost below — a thaw which currently threatens to release huge reservoirs of methane into the atmosphere. To keep trees at bay, the new lands will be populated with lab-grown animals last seen in the Ice Age. Siberia needs “hundreds of thousands of resurrected woolly mammoths” (8,900 words)

Sight Unseen

Alex Green | Lapham's Quarterly | 1st March 2017

A local historian reconstructs the tensions between abolitionists and mill-owners in Waltham, Massachusetts, a newly prosperous industrial town in the 1840s and a way-station on the “underground railroad” for escaped slaves fleeing the southern states. “They were sent out of Boston hidden in the backs of carriages, & left at the houses known to the initiated. To be kept out of sight in the daytime, & sent on to Concord by night, on their way to Canada where they were safe” (4,080 words)

How The World’s Heaviest Man Lost It All

Justin Heckert | GQ | 7th March 2017

From the grotesque to the terribly sad. An ordinary young Brit called Paul Mason eats carelessly, then obsessively, until finally he weighs half a ton — he is the fattest man in the world. “I had a waistline of eight feet”. Bedridden for years, kept alive by health visitors, ailing and suicidal, he opts for bariatric surgery. He loses 700 pounds. He can get up, go out, do things. A new life awaits! But only the life of a middle-aged man with poor health, flapping skin, and almost no money (5,750 words)

Cold Takes

Patrick Dubuque | Baseball Prospectus | 7th March 2017

Comparing the impact of computers on chess with that of sabermetrics on baseball. Both innovations seemed set to turn play into mathematical formulae; outcomes would become predictable. But after decades of computerisation, chess is more popular than ever, and playing styles more varied. Sabermetrics will likewise enrich rather than dessicate. “Baseball has always had data; the sport becomes more interesting as we understand how that data is recognized and manipulated” (1,800 words)

When CIA Forgot The Art Of Spying

Alex Finley | Politico | 7th March 2017

Former CIA officer worries about the militarisation of the Agency during the “war on terror”; and about managing the Russian threat under President Trump. The two themes don’t quite dovetail, but there is plenty of interesting stuff along the way, especially on the shift in CIA culture after 9/11. “In the War Zones, CIA officers were constantly partnering with military personnel. In Langley we started to see officers show up in cargo pants and Under Armour shirts. Buzz cuts appeared everywhere” (3,100 words)

Video of the day: Sneaker Broker

What to expect:

Yuanrun Zheng explains his trade. His bots buy Yeezy sneakers from Adidas, and he resells them at ten times the price (5’24”)

Thought for the day

The merit of originality is not novelty; it is sincerity
Thomas Carlyle

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