The Mammoth Pirates

Amos Chapple (RFE/RL): With the sale of elephant tusks under close scrutiny, “ethical ivory” from the extinct woolly mammoth is now feeding an insatiable market in China. This rush on mammoth ivory is luring a fresh breed of miner – the tusker – into the Russian wilderness and creating dollar millionaires in some of the poorest villages of Siberia.

The Mammoth Pirates

This 65-kilogram tusk, photographed a moment after it was plucked from the permafrost, was sold for $34,000. The two men who found it unearthed three more in just over a week, including one weighing 72 kilograms.

Ravaged landscape is the obvious result of the tusk hunters’ methods, but the impact on Yakutia’s waterways is far-reaching.

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Progression and regression

The Mammoth Pirates

On condition that he not reveal names or exact locations, RFE/RL photographer Amos Chapple gained exclusive access to one site where between bouts of vodka-fueled chaos and days spent evading police patrols, teams of men are using illegal new methods in the hunt for what remains of Siberia’s lost giants.

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Facebook news
Shape of things to come

What is Facebook doing to our politics?

Essential reading. This is probably the future of news, for the Right at least: Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine

Facebook, in the years leading up to this election, hasn’t just become nearly ubiquitous among American internet users; it has centralized online news consumption in an unprecedented way.

[Facebook’s] algorithms have their pick of text, photos and video produced and posted by established media organizations large and small, local and national, openly partisan or nominally unbiased. But there’s also a new and distinctive sort of operation that has become hard to miss: political news and advocacy pages made specifically for Facebook, uniquely positioned and cleverly engineered to reach audiences exclusively in the context of the news feed. These are news sources that essentially do not exist outside of Facebook, and you’ve probably never heard of them. They have names like Occupy Democrats; The Angry Patriot; US Chronicle; Addicting Info; RightAlerts; Being Liberal; Opposing Views; Fed-Up Americans; American News; and hundreds more. Some of these pages have millions of followers; many have hundreds of thousands.

Individually, these pages have meaningful audiences, but cumulatively, their audience is gigantic: tens of millions of people.

Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine, by John Herrman, New York Times.

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Indie magazines
Craft and creativity

Making a sustainable independent print magazine

Kai Brach is the publisher, editor and designer of Offscreen Magazine. He has written about the lessons he has learned in a comprehensive Medium post: Indie Magonomics

Kai covers everything from sourcing content (“The hard truth is that most indie publications rely on a lot of favours by a lot of generous people”), to printing (“A lot of indies start with 1000–2000 copies. I started with 3000 for my first issue, but it did take me more than a year to sell them all”), to distribution (“Ask anyone who sells physical products and they will tell you that one of the most biggest challenges is getting the product from A to B. Shipping is hard”), and marketing (“…no matter how boring or old-fashioned it seems, email is still the most powerful marketing tool for most online businesses”), and finally, to making moneyContinue reading

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Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong

TED: Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.


No, It’s Not Your Opinion. You’re Just Wrong

Jef Rouner: Before you crouch behind your Shield of Opinion you need to ask yourself two questions.

1. Is this actually an opinion?
2. If it is an opinion, how informed is it and why do I hold it?

I’ll help you with the first part. An opinion is a preference for or judgment of something. My favorite color is black. I think mint tastes awful. Doctor Who is the best television show. These are all opinions. They may be unique to me alone or massively shared across the general population but they all have one thing in common; they cannot be verified outside the fact that I believe them.

There’s nothing wrong with an opinion on those things. The problem comes from people whose opinions are actually misconceptions. If you think vaccines cause autism you are expressing something factually wrong, not an opinion. The fact that you may still believe that vaccines cause autism does not move your misconception into the realm of valid opinion. Nor does the fact that many other share this opinion give it any more validity.

Houston Press: No, It’s Not Your Opinion. You’re Just Wrong

See also:

Beam me up Scotty
Use your words

Churchillian drift: Great quotations find their way to famous names

Aaron Hutchins, Great quote! But who really said it?: William Shatner’s character in Star Trek never said, “Beam me up, Scotty.” The closest he came was: “Beam us up, Mr. Scott.” Quotes often get condensed in people’s memories. “Memory may be a terrible librarian, but it’s a great editor,” writes Ralph Keyes in his book The Quote Verifier.

Great quotations seem to find their way to famous names.
(not) Mark Twain

Nigel Rees, Policing Word Abuse: Long ago, I coined the term “Churchillian Drift” to describe the process whereby the actual originator of a quotation is often elbowed to one side and replaced by someone more famous. So to Churchill or Napoleon would be ascribed what, actually, a lesser-known political figure had said. The process occurs in all fields.

Why are people so culpable when it comes to using quotations? In the run-up to the war in Iraq, Barbra Streisand, the well-known Shakespearean scholar, quoted this and said it came from Julius Caesar: “Beware the leader who bangs the drum for war.” Sheer invention. Why did she do it? Ignorance, laziness or what? It’s impossible to know for sure, but she wanted–as we all do–to use the supposed words of someone better than ourselves to lend weight to her argument.

See also

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WGBH News: For the next 26 days, one letter will leap out on the front page of Fitchburg’s daily newspaper. Today, it’s a minimalist red A that fills the space above the fold like a house. Tomorrow, B could be big or small, legible or hardly so. Only those putting together the Sentinel & Enterprise’s public art project, “The Alphabet,” know, and they’re out to surprise their readers—”make them wonder, what the hell is going on with the paper?” said visual artist Anna Schuleit Haber, who’s steering it all the way to Z.

WGBH News will be updating the article with every new design in the series.

Use your words

Typographic A to Z for Massachusetts’ Sentinel & Enterprise

‘Schuleit Haber, who was born in Germany and who usually works by herself in her New Orleans studio, recruited 26 typographers from around the world and a team of students and volunteers. Then she embedded herself in the Sentinel & Enterprise newsroom to oversee the endeavor, with the blessing of editor Charles St. Amand.’ — WGBH News

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EightByEight magazine looks at the ‘cheat sheets’ of two sports commentators:
BBC’s Nick Barnes and NBC’s Arlo White.

Barnes creates a detailed two-page spread for each match he commentates for BBC Radio Newcastle. The notes are divided into two color-coded segments: The left-hand page contains background information on Sunderland’s opposition—the club’s starting XI from its last fixture, previous results, and stadium details—while the right-hand side is updated in real time as the action happens.

NBC Sports’s lead football commentator Arlo White devised his system of note-taking from watching other commentators in action. He cites legendary commentator Barry Davies as a personal hero—and his notes, which White was once shown at Wembley Stadium, as an inspiration. “They were beautifully handwritten, detailed and meticulous,” he said.

Miscellany

The art of sports commentary

“Behind every great football match is a great commentator, and in front of every commentator is a set of notes. BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes and NBC Sports’ Arlo White have some of the best—and most unique—in the business.” – EightByEight magazine

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