Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
New York Times – "Catastrophe's Harvest – climate change is propelling enormous human migrations as it transforms global agriculture and remakes the world order – and no country stands to gain more than Russia"
By Abrahm Lustgarten
"Marshall Burke, the deputy director of the Center for Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, has spent the better part of a decade studying how climate change will alter global economies, mostly focusing on the economic damage that could be wreaked by storms and heat waves and withering crops. A 2015 paper he co-wrote in the journal Nature made the geographic implications clear: Draw a line around the planet at the latitude of the northern borders of the United States and China, and just about every place south, across five continents, stands to lose out. Productivity, Burke found, peaks at about 55 degrees average temperature and then drops as the climate warms. He projects that by 2100, the national per capita income in the United States might be a third less than it would be in a nonwarming world; India’s would be nearly 92 percent less; and China’s future growth would be cut short by nearly half. The mirror image, meanwhile, tells a different story: Incredible growth could await those places soon to enter their prime. Canada, Scandinavia, Iceland and Russia each could see as much as fivefold bursts in their per capita gross domestic products by the end of the century so long as they have enough people to power their economies at that level.
This could present an extraordinary opportunity for the world’s northernmost nations — but only if they figure out how to stem their own population decline while accommodating at least some of a monumental population push at their borders. Take, for example, Canada: It is flush with land as well as timber, oil, gas and hydropower, and it has access to 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. It has a stable, incorrupt democracy. And as the climate warms, Canada will move into the ecological sweet spot for civilization, benefiting from new Arctic transportation routes as well as an expanded capacity for farming. But there are only 38 million people in Canada, and Canadians are dying at a faster rate than they are being born. Burke’s research suggests climate change will, by 2100, make Canadians two and a half times richer in terms of per capita G.D.P. than they would be if the planet were not warming. Canada may be able to seize that opportunity only if it welcomes a lot more people.
This is why a group of Canadian business executives and academics have called on their government to turn the country’s immigration system into a magnet for the planet’s most talented people, hoping to nearly triple Canada’s population by 2100. The government has signaled some receptivity, increasing its immigration targets this year by 14 percent, in part reflecting a public sentiment that recognizes the importance of immigration to Canada’s economy. Whether today’s Canadians are truly ready to see migrants outnumber them two to one, though, remains to be seen."
When Europe and the United States imposed sanctions on Russia after the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014, Russia countered by imposing sanctions on European imports. It seemed self-punishing at first, but the move was meant to give Russia’s own domestic food producers an opening and prod them to fill the supply gap. When Putin addressed his Federal Assembly the following December, he boldly proclaimed Russia would soon be “the largest world supplier” of healthful foods, referring to his goal of keeping Russian foods mostly G.M.O.-free. By 2018, Putin’s sanctions had paid enormous dividends: Since 2015, Russia’s wheat exports have jumped 100 percent, to about 44 million tons, surpassing those of the United States and Europe. Russia is now the largest wheat exporter in the world, responsible for nearly a quarter of the global market. Russia’s agricultural exports have jumped sixteenfold since 2000 and by 2018 were worth nearly $30 billion, all by relying largely on Russia’s legacy growing regions in its south and west. In Africa, Putin told attendees of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum held in Sochi last fall, “We are now exporting more agricultural products than weapons.”
"Canadian gastronomy may be better known for poutine, gravy-drenched cheese fries, than for pinot noir. But a new generation of winemakers is putting the Okanagan Valley on the global wine map, alongside famed regions like Bordeaux, Tuscany and the Napa Valley."
Q: Last year you broke with President Trump and decided to stick with California’s tougher emission standards. You’ve publicly characterized that decision as a practical one, saying it would be too hard to make two versions of the same product. But at a personal level, what did you think of the president’s efforts to relax emission standards, which of course were part of a much broader rollback of environmental protections during this administration?
A: I didn’t like it. Very early on we decided to stand with California, and there weren’t many who did. In the end it was ourselves, Volkswagen, Honda, Volvo and BMW, and we were the first to raise our hand. It was just something that I felt was very important. We knew it was the right thing to do.
The president wasn’t very happy with me, and I heard about it. But that’s OK. If you have the right values and you stick with them, then you have to be willing to take whatever comes your way.
I just firmly believed that taking a step backward was absolutely the wrong thing to do. We had also committed to the Paris accord. And why? Well, I feel like I’m working for my children and my grandchildren. Values matter. It just made no sense to me, as someone who cares deeply about the environment and as a business leader, whichever way you looked at it.
Every bottle is numbered with Messi's goal number.
Sunday, December 20, 2020
The year was 1084, and seven men in search of isolation and solitude took refuge in southeastern France’s Chartreuse Mountains — “the emerald of the Alps,” as the French writer Stendhal called them.
According to legend, centuries later, in 1605, the order’s monastery near Paris received an alchemist’s ancient manuscript for a perfectly concocted medicinal tonic of about 130 herbs and plants: the “Elixir of Long Life.”
The monks studied and slowly refined the recipe until by 1764 they had a potent (138-proof) Elixir Végétal, which a lone monk, Frère Charles, delivered on mule to nearby towns and villages. In 1840, they formulated a milder, 55 percent alcohol version, Green Chartreuse, and a sweeter, 40 percent Yellow Chartreuse. Both have become popular cocktail ingredients, while the Elixir continues to be sold medicinally for ailments such as indigestion, sore throat and nausea.
Remarkably, among them, only two monks know the full 130-ingredient recipe.
“The secret of Chartreuse has long been the despair of distillers, just as the natural blue of forget-me-nots has been the despair of painters,” reads an 1886 document referred to in a recent history of the company and order. Father Holleran spent five years overseeing the distillation process, ordering ingredients and planning its production schedules. When he departed the site in 1990, he became the only living outsider to know the liqueur’s ancient formula.
“It’s safe with me,” he said. “Oddly enough, they didn’t make me sign anything when I left.”
This trade secret is both a marketing coup and a potential catastrophe. “I really have no idea what it is I sell,” a Chartreuse Diffusion president told The New Yorker in 1984. “I am very scared always. Only three of the brothers know how to make it — nobody else knows the recipe. And each morning they drive together to the distillery. And they drive a very old car. And they drive it very badly.”
Beyond the two monks who now protect it, all the others — Carthusian or not — involved in the production of Chartreuse know only fragments of the recipe.
The pandemic slowed, but didn’t halt, this transition. Covid-19 did, however, completely disrupt the trek that Chartreuse makes from Aiguenoire to consumers, especially overseas, where the company has been making inroads for more than a century.
In 1912, a dessert of peaches swimming in a Chartreuse gelée made history as one of the final first-class dishes served aboard the Titanic. Before and during Prohibition, some Americans encountered Chartreuse through the Last Word, a cocktail developed at the Detroit Athletic Club and sold for 35 cents, a tidy sum in 1916 and over $8 in inflation-adjusted terms. A few decades later, in the 1980s, another Chartreuse cocktail — the pineapple-juice-based Swampwater — enjoyed brief popularity among college-age drinkers.
The mixology renaissance of the 2000s reopened the door for unique spirits like Chartreuse. A “bartender’s darling,” it’s often served in cocktails, on the rocks or in liqueur-infused desserts, said Tim Master, senior spirits director for Frederick Wildman, the sole Chartreuse importer in the United States.
The trendiness of artisanal, small-batch booze — along with the liqueur’s unusual color, flavor and history — has helped keep Chartreuse relevant despite its age. "
"The Seahawks’ good fortune is obvious to anyone who has paid even casual attention to the team since the start of the 2019 season: Metcalf is a star. He’s a frickin’ megastar. He’s the most physically gifted wide receiver the Seahawks have had — with all due respect to Hall of Famer Steve Largent — and as talented and entertaining as any receiver in the NFL today.
So, yes, Schneider was blessed to select DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf with the 64th overall pick in 2019, after 31 teams had a chance to draft him. They all had their chance, and they passed. Schneider, actually, had earlier opportunities to draft Metcalf — and he passed, twice.
Wilson has taken on the role of big brother to DK Metcalf, and Wilson believed in Metcalf as much as anyone early on. After just two training-camp practices last year, Wilson declared that the rookie receiver had the potential to be “a Hall of Fame-type player.” What sounded like hyperbole might turn out to be prescient.
It’s easy to get carried away daydreaming about what a long-term success Wilson to Metcalf could look like. Wilson has taken that sentiment to another extreme, saying he wants to build a legacy with Metcalf that becomes synonymous with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. And Wilson has said he wants to break the Peyton Manning-to-Marvin Harrison record for quarterback-to-receiver touchdown passes of 114."
By Sam Borden
"In the days after the deal was announced, Diggs found himself wanting to do so much: talk to his new coaches, look at his new playbooks, meet his new receiving corps and, more than anything, get to know his new quarterback. The only problem was that a pandemic had just enveloped the world.
There would be no OTAs. No minicamps. No official team activities of any kind. And Diggs couldn't just hop on a plane and show up to hang out with Allen either. He had to get creative.
Diggs' brother, Trevon, who plays cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, had been really into video games for a while and was always asking Diggs to play. Diggs never was all that interested, and he admits he would even mock Trevon and others for the gear they used. "Like, 'Oh, you got a headset on? You too serious about it,'" he says, laughing.
Only then Diggs learned that Allen was a gamer. And he got a headset of his own.
The game that Diggs and Allen played together, Call of Duty: Warzone, is pretty much what you'd imagine: a mission-based game with lots of weapons, artillery and shooting. Diggs, as a relative novice, spent a lot of time dying (or being "downed," to use the vernacular), but that actually turned out to be a good thing.
While most players simply fight on if someone they know is downed, Allen always retreated from whatever battle he was in -- even if he had an advantage -- to run over to Diggs' avatar and resuscitate him.
"It didn't matter if I was getting shot or not," Allen says. "I was going to revive my guy."
Allen's commitment to helping Diggs ran so deep it infuriated Trevon, who sometimes played with them. Turns out Allen's caring approach to his new receiver isn't the ideal strategy for others playing in the game who might have been counting on Allen to, say, spray a hail of bullets at a passing ATV.
"I had to stop playing with them," Trevon says. "It was getting ridiculous."
Diggs and Allen spent hours on the game, talking to each other on their headsets and bonding over their repeated attempts to dominate whichever console heroes tried to obliterate them on that particular day.
When the two finally met face to face at the Miami workout, Diggs felt like they weren't starting from scratch.
Trevon, who was staying with Stefon in Florida, giggles when he recalls how excited his brother was about Allen after getting back home from the first in-person session with his new internet buddy.
"He just kept saying, 'He's real, bro,'" Trevon says. "They'd played games for a while and now they'd done passing and he felt like he knew. He could tell it was going to be special. He just kept saying it to me over and over. 'He's real, bro. He's real.'""
When CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio behind the video game, announced the title in 2012, it was billed as a gripping, free-flowing saga that would immerse players in a lifelike sci-fi universe. Since then, fans have been treated to impressive teaser trailers, buy-in from celebrities including Keanu Reeves, Grimes and ASAP Rocky, and headlines heralding it as the most anticipated title of the year, if not the century.
The game is set in a dystopian future where digital nomads navigate a high-stakes world of corporate espionage (with Mr. Reeves as their guide) and augment their bodies with high-tech weaponry. Players, especially those using next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft, were promised a revolutionary experience, with extensive character customization options and an expansive world to explore. Eight million people pre-ordered copies, sight unseen, ahead of its December release.
In July 2018, as anticipation for the game neared a crescendo across Twitter, one user tweeted at the official Cyberpunk 2077 account: “Will there be memes in the game?” The account responded: “Whole game is going to be a meme.”
The tweet was somewhat prescient — but not in the way developers had hoped."
"The notion of “ambient music” is pretentious, sure, but the concept is simple. If most music is centered around some alchemy of melody and rhythm, ambient music eschews that for whatever else: tones, moods, atmosphere.
I’ve listened to Peel by Nairobi-based artist KMRU roughly once a day since I first heard it in July. Like most music in the genre, the album is concerned with timbre and texture — a lot of shapeless, ambiguous noise that slowly escalates and envelopes you. (Or, if you are my sister, you might describe it as “scary” and “ominous” and “please turn that off.”) Still, it was nice to put on something consistent in the mornings, which became as much of a ritual for me as taking coffee with oat milk and refreshing the Times’ updated COVID maps."
"Though some of Sigur Rós’s most popular songs pack plenty of whimsy, the Icelandic band often indulges its darker, more brooding tendencies. “Odin’s Raven Magic,” a collaboration with the musicians Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, Steindór Andersen, and Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir that originally premièred in a live orchestral setting in 2002, is one such work of ominous, ambient sounds—now available as a recording for the first time. The project was inspired by an Icelandic poem, in which figures from Norse mythology seek answers about a catastrophic future. They send two ravens to an oracle, who can only weep when she sees what lies ahead. The story continues from there; its twists are captured through cinematic swells of post-rock and orchestral drama that convey an unnerving sense of desperation and unavoidable doom."
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Norrbotten has an even lower population density than Norrland as a whole, even though its two main cities, Lulea and Kiruna, are some of the most populous in the north. Making up roughly 25 percent of Sweden, it’s home to only 2.5 percent of its people. It is also home to some very large scale industrial and scientific projects. Among them: what will soon be Europe’s largest land-based windmill park; the Esrange space center with its massive satellite dishes, research centers and even a launch site; and a groundbreaking project at the SSAB plant just outside Lulea to make steel using hydrogen instead of coal. Facebook is in the process of building a series of large data centers here, lured by the cold weather (data centers generate a lot of heat) but also the energy supply, which comes exclusively from renewables."
By Peter Suderman
"Theaters won’t disappear completely, but they are more likely to become rare first-class events rather than everyday experiences for the masses. To some extent, this was already happening, with comfier seating and more upscale concessions, and ticket prices rising in tandem. In the aftermath of the pandemic, moviegoing, once a Saturday-afternoon time waster and the go-to option for an inexpensive date, could become a comparatively rarefied luxury.
But as theatrical viewing becomes a luxury, movies will become more accessible than ever. The shift to subscription-based home viewing will expand choice and access by reducing the time commitment and cost of watching a movie. Just as Blockbuster Video educated a generation of VHS-obsessed cinephiles in the 1990s, the next generation will grow up with streaming libraries of studio back catalogs.
And as the blockbuster moves from the theater to the couch, it will inevitably reshape itself to the contours of that format. On-demand viewing is likely to result in studios putting greater emphasis on intricately plotted serialized stories that play out over the course of years.
These kinds of stories were almost impossible in the era of network television, when viewers had to catch shows precisely at the moment they aired. But at home, when you can watch at your leisure, filmed narratives can play out over multiple seasons and dozens of hours. Theatrical blockbusters were already sliding in this direction — witness the interconnected, workplace-comedy-like structure of Marvel’s superhero films, or the eight-film sprawl of the “Harry Potter” movies — but there are limits to what can be accomplished in a two- or three-hour time frame, where viewers expect a clear resolution and can’t pause when they to go to the bathroom. Streaming dissolves those limits.
To some extent, the shift is already happening. The Disney+ streaming service recently announced an ambitious new slate of content — 10 new “Star Wars” TV series as well as a new film, and at least another 10 superhero series from Marvel. Arguably, this year’s biggest blockbuster wasn’t a movie at all but a TV show airing on Disney+: “The Mandalorian,” a delightful and occasionally profound adventure series set in American pop culture’s most enduring fictional universe that manages to improve on the recent movies in nearly every possible way. Big-name directors like Ridley Scott and David Fincher have transitioned to streaming services, bringing their grim signature obsessions (despair, robots, serial killers, despair) with them and further blurring the lines between movies and television.
That’s because blockbusters aren’t just big, expensive movies that involve superheroes, magic wands or laser swords: They are also social flash points, touchstones in cultural conversation, common references for how America thinks, perceives and talks about itself. From the original “Star Wars” to “Jurassic Park” to “The Avengers,” each blockbuster is a sign of its times, a shorthand for an era and its obsessions, a way of remembering and reflecting what caught our attention way back when.
The biggest and most successful of these films achieve a virtually unmatched kind of cultural penetration. It can seem as if everyone has seen them, and even those who haven’t have somehow developed an osmotic sense of what they were about. “Game of Thrones” was a couch-era blockbuster — you could see it in your living room. Like all great blockbusters, it gave us more than just something to watch. It gave us something to talk about, a platform for argument and exploration, a mirror onto our own life and politics — and, OK, some pretty incredible twists.
For better and for worse, the next generation of blockbusters is likely to look more like “Game of Thrones” and less like “Tenet.” It will give us sprawling worlds, fictional sandboxes and interwoven stories and systems that demand time and attention to understand, or at least explain.
And the next era of blockbusters is likely to include works that aren’t even, strictly speaking, movies or TV shows, like Cyberpunk 2077, the year’s most anticipated video game, which stars Keanu Reeves. It, too, has been surrounded by great hope and greater hype.
But for those of us still stuck at home, both Cyberpunk 2077 and “Wonder Woman 1984,” in their own disparate ways, offer the same tantalizing promise as all blockbusters: They’re communal experiences, even from the couch. And who knows? They might even live up to their hype.""
The End of Movie Theaters? (November 2020)
ESPN – "The Inheritance of Archie Manning"
By Wright Thompson
"It's been a busy summer. They tell me they're currently in the process of putting their big house in New Orleans on the market. That's where they raised their three sons, and now they're downsizing to a condo a few blocks away. Archie is 71, and Olivia's 71st birthday is in a few months. Their children are grown and gone, and that home is cavernous without the noise and dirty laundry and nonstop football games and driveway basketball shootouts. They bought the house when their lives were expanding. That was a long time ago. They said their middle son, Peyton, is particularly upset about the loss of his boyhood home and all the memories they made there, he being the most sentimental of the three. His parents politely told him that yes, they were aware of his immense wealth, and that no, he couldn't buy it, because what would he do with it, and because life is a circle and they are now in the age of shedding things.
Archie sends out texts every morning to his children and grandchildren and a few of his grandchildren's high school teammates. Sometimes scripture. Sometimes a thought for the day. Sometimes he sends a quote. When Drew Brees decided what the world really needed was his opinion about a protest of social injustice in America, Archie's daily motivational text message the next morning quoted Will Rogers: "Never miss a good chance to shut up."
He checks in on former teammates at all three levels. The fruits of those conversations pepper his daily life: He'll talk about a guy who was on the Saints for two years who has a son who plays college ball out west now, or maybe about a guy from Mississippi who owns a duck-hunting farm or something.
"I'm going, 'Dad, what the hell are you talking about?'" Cooper says.
Sometimes Olivia or the boys will ask him about his day.
"I got a lot of work done," he'll say, and what he means is that he called or wrote about 40 people. It's how Archie chooses to spend his time. Some of this is Archie understanding that a note from him means a lot to people. But he also doesn't want to disappoint. He rarely tries one of the endless and fabulous new restaurants in New Orleans because he feels so guilty.
"The old places have always been so good to me," he explains, "and I feel like if I hadn't been in in six weeks, it's kind of like, 'Where you've been?' So I try to be loyal and faithful.""
The Ringer – "Kid Cudi Helped a Generation of Kids Cope With Depression. I Was One of Them."
"Cudi occupies a lane in hip-hop that cuts against the genre’s most macho instincts. His music demonstrated that you can be vulnerable and strong simultaneously. That’s resonated with plenty of people beyond myself: Pete Davidson credits Cudi for “saving his life”; Jaden Smith calls Cudi his “number one favorite artist”; Travis Scott has collaborated with him and called him an inspiration—and lore has it that he adopted the “Scott” moniker as an homage to Mescudi. Hip-hop as a whole has spoken more openly about mental health in recent years, and that’s at least partly thanks to Cudi’s music."
This excerpt by Wesley Morris:"“Ted Lasso” is a sitcom about a Kansas football coach recruited to lead an English soccer club. Its premise is as baffling as its star’s performance. How has Jason Sudeikis lined this caricature with this much soul? Coach Ted is a goober, barging into offices and banging into people with that blaring twang. In the eyes of the English, he’s a dolt. Sudeikis begs to differ. It’s a cunning piece of acting — broad as a boulevard yet veined by alleyways of solitude and sagacity. The key to the performance is culinary: Ted’s a secret gourmand, and Sudeikis works accordingly. He’s savoring what a lesser star would gnaw. "
“It’s a dependable gray,” Ms. Eiseman said
One person’s dependable is another person’s depressing, however, which is where Illuminating comes in. It’s not the egg yolk-like yellow of Mimosa, the color of the year of 2009, nor an acidic or highlighter yellow, nor the “go into the light” yellow of the afterlife, or sci-fi adventure, but more of a sunshine, or smiley face, yellow.
Together, Ms. Eiseman said, “the color combination presses us forward.” It has been popping up everywhere, from Nike to the Marks & Spencer Pornstar Martini cans."
From Morning Brew on Dec. 8:
While Nicolas Sparks is proof that books can make you cry, turns out catalogs can bring on the waterworks, too. Yesterday, Ikea made the "emotional but rational" decision to discontinue its iconic furniture catalog after a 70-year run.The backstory: A mainstay of coffee tables everywhere, the notoriously thick lookbook is said to be the most widely distributed publication in the world—even more than the Bible. At its peak, Ikea produced 200 million copies in 32 different languages.
But the Bible doesn't compete with e-commerce. Online sales (up 45% last year) have become increasingly important to Ikea's business, and customers just weren't using the paper catalog as much as they used to.
Bottom line: Online furniture sales have been a pandemic winner for retailers like Wayfair and Amazon, so Ikea's decision to focus on its digital operations makes business sense. Just don't get rid of the meatballs.
+ While we're here: If you're feeling nostalgic, visit the digital Ikea museum to leaf through decades of past catalog issues.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
THE SPACE NEEDLE’S design didn’t just happen. It went through numerous incarnations, some quite far-fetched.
In his book, “Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle,” Berger itemized some of the discarded ideas.
In one concept, there was a cable-tethered tower restaurant, resembling the shape of a cocktail shaker. Then there was the dramatic drawing of a restaurant that looked like a flying saucer, hovering over a man-made lagoon.
Berger traces the history of the design to April 1959, and Eddie Carlson, a local guy who made good as a hotel and airline executive and led the effort that resulted in the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.
He and his wife were vacationing with friends in Europe, including a stop in Stuttgart, Germany. They dined at a famous restaurant atop a 712-foot TV tower.
Carlson was so impressed with the views that the next day, “He sketched something resembling a ring or a flying saucer at the top of an obelisk and wrote the word ‘Space Needle’ under it,” writes Berger.
From that doodle on a napkin, or possibly a place mat, or something else — the original one has been lost — the concept ended up with Seattle architect John Graham’s firm.
None of the initial designs by the firm clicked.
That’s when Graham brought in University of Washington architecture professor Victor Steinbrueck for the summer at $5 an hour ($44 in today’s dollars). This was the same Steinbrueck who later led the campaign to save Pike Place Market.
Steinbrueck made more than 1,000 sketches until finally he came back to a 2-foot teak sculpture he had bought from artist David Lemon. It was an abstract figurine with three legs rising to a narrow waist, arms extended upward. Its name was “The Feminine One.” That was his inspiration.
Writes Berger, “It defies the almost-universal idea that towers are masculine symbols … For a 600-foot-tall tower restaurant, there were many cooks in the kitchen, but instead of spoiling the broth, they had cooked up a superb Space Age souffle.”
It turns out the Space Needle is a she."