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Inside the Nightmare Voyage of the Diamond Princess / GQ

At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, one ill-fated cruise ship became a symbol for the panic and confusion that would soon engulf the globe. Doug Bock Clark uncovers what two harrowing weeks trapped aboard the ocean liner felt like—for unsuspecting tourists, for frightened crew members, even for the captain himself.

An innocent man spent 46 years in prison. And made a plan to kill the man who framed him. / CNN

Phillips was about 12 years old when his stepfather’s watch disappeared. It was a Friday night in Detroit around 1958. The stepfather had a thick leather belt. He took a drink of Johnnie Walker and asked Phillips if he’d taken the watch. Phillips said no. The stepfather beat him with the belt for a long time. Then he asked again: Did you steal my watch? Phillips said no. The beating continued. Did you steal my watch? No. The belt tore into the boy’s skin. His mother watched, too afraid to intervene. The stepfather asked once more for a confession. Phillips stood firm. The belt struck again, and again, and again, and finally it shattered some internal barrier. Did you steal my watch? Yes, the boy said, just to make it stop, and the young man who emerged from that beating told himself that was the last false confession he would ever make. Some lies require more lies. Phillips had to account for the watch somehow, so he said he’d given it to another boy at school. The stepfather told him to go to school Monday and get it back. Phillips went up to sleep in the roach-infested attic, as he did every night, and wondered how to conjure a watch out of thin air. The next morning he ran away. He gathered a can of pork and beans and a can opener and a few slices of bread and an empty syrup bottle full of Kool-Aid and he crammed them into his lunchbox and walked outside into his new life. That night he slept on the hard floor of a vacant house, aware that he had no one in the world but himself. The police caught him the next day. His stepfather beat him again. And alone in the attic or on the streets of Detroit, Phillips taught himself how to survive. How to steal cherries from other people’s trees. How to have a vicarious Christmas morning by talking his way into a neighbor’s house and watching other children open their presents. How to escape into his own mind by drawing pictures: an airplane, or Superman, or even the Mona Lisa, with a pencil on a piece of cardboard. On those streets, he made the friend who would betray him.

The Eruption Of Instagram Island / GQ

New Zealand's White Island is otherworldly, an 800-acre fantasyland that has beckoned Hollywood filmmakers and everyday selfie-seekers alike. It is also an active volcano, a roiling catastrophe waiting to happen. This is the story of the day when the worst-case scenario became real—and of the race to save those who faced the blast.

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How China Sees the World / The Atlantic

From my first day on the job as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, China had been a top priority. The country figured prominently in what President Barack Obama had identified for his successor as the biggest immediate problem the new administration would face—what to do about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. But many other questions about the nature and future of the relationship between China and the United States had also emerged, reflecting China’s fundamentally different perception of the world. [...] Leaving China, I was even more convinced than I had been before that a dramatic shift in U.S. policy was overdue. The Forbidden City was supposed to convey confidence in China’s national rejuvenation and its return to the world stage as the proud Middle Kingdom. But for me it exposed the fears as well as the ambitions that drive the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to extend China’s influence along its frontiers and beyond, and to regain the honor lost during the century of humiliation. The fears and ambitions are inseparable. They explain why the Chinese Communist Party is obsessed with control—both internally and externally.

An all-access Michael Jordan documentary? How 'The Last Dance' was made possible / ESPN

The pitch was as audacious in 1997 as it would be today. A producer for NBA Entertainment wanted to do an all-access, season-long documentary with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls as they headed into what was likely to be their final season together. In the huddles as Phil Jackson coached. Behind closed doors as Michael Jordan barked instructions and four-letter words. In the training room as Scottie Pippen vented about general manager Jerry Krause's publicly humiliating trade discussions involving him. Off the court -- or Atlantic City, in the case of Dennis Rodman, who escaped there and once skipped town in the middle of the Finals to wrestle Hulk Hogan in Detroit. Asking for this kind of access, with a team with as much controversy and pressure swirling around it as the 1997-98 Bulls, was unprecedented. [...] But if Silver was willing to front all of the production costs and give Jordan control over the content, there wasn't much downside. "Worst-case scenario," Silver told Jordan, "you'll have the greatest set of home movies for your kids ever created." It was a brilliant pitch, and maybe the only one Jordan would have agreed to. When Jordan hit the winning shot in the 1998 NBA Finals to clinch the Bulls' sixth NBA title and second three-peat, Thompson felt he had just shot one of the most incredible sports documentaries ever. "I mean the guy scores 45 points and pretty much won the game by himself," Thompson said. "You couldn't ask for a better ending than that." But for the next two decades, those home movies -- more than 500 hours of film -- sat in a vault in Secaucus.

So, those Navy videos showing UFOs? I'm not saying it's not aliens, but it's not aliens / Syfy

But my favorite bit is a video where he gives a single, simple explanation that accounts for two things seen in the Navy videos, specifically, why the object in the GOFAST video appears to scream across the water so rapidly, and how in the GIMBAL video the object seems to travel against a strong wind. The answer: It’s an illusion due to parallax, how an object close to you seems to move more rapidly against a more distant background as the camera moves. [...] In general, UFO reports, even ones where there are photos and videos, have fairly mundane explanations, so much so they’re clichés: Venus, Jupiter, even the Moon. Pilots have a lot of experience seeing things around them, but that’s not a guarantee they’ll know what they’re seeing every time, and in fact there are a lot of reports from pilots of UFOs moving off at high speeds, chasing them, circling them, and so on, and it turns out to be the planet Venus in the evening sky. Venus can be astonishingly bright, and gets mistaken for a UFO a lot. A lot a lot. Remember, too, that in the videos the pilots are watching the displays from the cameras, and not necessarily seeing the objects directly. That would explain their exclamations, and also why they may have been fooled.

The “Mile an Hour” Marathon / Kottke

Over the course of 24 hours, Beau Miles ran around his mile-long block once every hour (plus a few more at the beginning) to complete a marathon in a day. But he also did a bunch of other stuff along the way: cooked dinner, made a table, fixed things, picked up trash, played Scrabble, got a bit of sleep, and made the short film above.

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68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice / Kevin Kelly

It’s my birthday. I’m 68. I feel like pulling up a rocking chair and dispensing advice to the young ‘uns. Here are 68 pithy bits of unsolicited advice which I offer as my birthday present to all of you. [...] Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points. [...] On vacation go to the most remote place on your itinerary first, bypassing the cities. You’ll maximize the shock of otherness in the remote, and then later you’ll welcome the familiar comforts of a city on the way back. [...] Buying tools: Start by buying the absolute cheapest tools you can find. Upgrade the ones you use a lot. If you wind up using some tool for a job, buy the very best you can afford.

Anatomy of a rental phishing scam / Jeffrey Ladish

I was recently the (unsuccessful) target of a very well-crafted phishing scam. As part of a housing search a few weeks ago, I was trawling craigslist and zillow for rental opportunities in the SF bay area. I reached out to a beautiful looking rental place to inquire about a tour. Despite my experience as a security professional, I didn’t realize this was a scam until about the third email! Below I will account the story in excessive detail including screenshots. I’m writing this to illustrate that the best phishing attacks will look very convincing. Often people are told to watch out for poor grammar and formatting to protect against phishing. This will work in some cases, but not in cases like the one I’m about to show. Sophisticated scammers use good English and pattern-match with legitimacy.

Give yourself gout for fame and profit / Slate Star Codex

Gout is traditionally associated with kings, probably because they used to be the only people who ate enough meat to be affected. Veal, venison, duck, and beer are among the highest-risk foods; that list sounds a lot like a medieval king’s dinner menu. But as kings faded from view, gout started affecting a new class of movers and shakers. King George III had gout, but so did many of his American enemies, including Franklin, Jefferson, and Hancock (beginning a long line of gout-stricken US politicians, most recently Bernie Sanders). Lists of other famous historical gout sufferers are contradictory and sometimes based on flimsy evidence, but frequently mentioned names include Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Leonardo da Vinci, Martin Luther, John Milton, Isaac Newton, Ludwig von Beethoven, Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain. Question: isn’t this just a list of every famous person ever? It sure seems that way, and even today gout seems to disproportionately strike the rich and powerful. In 1963, Dunn, Brooks, and Mausner published Social Class Gradient Of Serum Uric Acid Levels In Males, showing that in many different domains, the highest-ranking and most successful men had the highest uric acid (and so, presumably, the most gout). Executives have higher uric acid than blue-collar workers. College graduates have higher levels than dropouts. Good students have higher levels than bad students. Top professors have higher levels than mediocre professors. DB&M admitted rich people probably still eat more meat than poor people, but didn’t think this explained the magnitude or universality of the effect. They proposed a different theory: maybe uric acid makes you more successful. Before we mock them, let’s take more of a look at why they might think that, and at the people who have tried to flesh out their theory over the years.

“Glowing” Dolphins Swimming in Bioluminescent Waters / Kottke

Well, this is just beautiful. Photographer Patrick Coyne was lucky enough to capture some dolphins swimming through bioluminescent algae off the coast of Newport Beach, CA. When this kind of algae is disturbed, it emits a bluish light, which causes the dolphins to glow as they move through the water.

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