Telegraph Field Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland

Telegraph Field Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland

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The memorial at Foilhommerum Cliff.

Two whole weeks is an eternity in the age of instant communication, but until the mid-19th century, it took at least that long for a message to travel across the Atlantic. American businessman Cyrus West Field wanted to change this. It was his life mission to connect North America and Europe via telegraph.

The installation of the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable under the ocean was completed on August 5, 1858. After a few failed attempts over the previous year, four ships—two from Britain and two from the United States, successfully installed the cable without it breaking halfway, allowing messages to be sent from Valentia Harbor in Ireland to Trinity Bay in Newfoundland.

A few test messages were sent back and forth, after which President James Buchanan and Queen Victoria swapped pleasantries using the new technology. The glow of this fantastic achievement was, however, short-lived. The cable was not strong enough, and the high voltages passing through damaged it within three weeks. 

The system was improved over the next several years, and in 1866, a ship finished laying the first permanent telegraph cable across the ocean. Valentia Island and Heart’s Content in Newfoundland were the endpoints of the cable. This signaled the beginning of an era of faster interaction, and made the Telegraph Field on Valentia Island a crucial site in the history of communication. Telegraphic messages zoomed in and out of the Valentia cable station for 100 years, until in 1966, it was closed down.

Today, a plaque marks the importance of the spot. In recent years, efforts have been made to have the area declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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August 4, 2017 at 09:06PM

An Ancient Lunchbox Emerges from the Ice

An Ancient Lunchbox Emerges from the Ice

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In the past century, the glaciers and ice fields of the European Alps
have lost half their volume to global warming, and their continued
retreat, like that of glaciers everywhere in the world, is accelerating.
By 2100, many scientists predict, they will have all but disappeared.
The meltdown has already disrupted the region’s sensitive mountain
ecosystems and tourist resorts—some local communities have taken to
laying protective white blankets over the snow and ice—but it has also
opened up new avenues of scientific inquiry. As the glaciers recede,
they are releasing some of the human artifacts that they have absorbed
through the ages, including humans themselves. Ötzi,
the five-thousand-year-old mummified mountaineer discovered in 1991,
remains the most astonishing find. But hundreds of other archeological
objects, preserved in remarkable delicacy, have also turned up—medieval
crossbow bolts, coins of Roman vintage, a pair of
twenty-six-hundred-year-old socks. In July, an employee of a Swiss ski
company came across the mummified remains of a couple who had gone
missing in 1942
; they were found fully dressed, with their wartime identity cards,
backpacks, an empty bottle, a pocket watch, and a book.

Last week, a paper in Scientific Reports described another recent
find, of an object four thousand years old: a circular box, several
inches wide, made of willow and pine and sewn together with twigs. It
was discovered, in 2012, near the summit of Switzerland’s Lötschenpass,
almost nine thousand feet up, and was dated to the Bronze Age. The
recovery of a wooden artifact so old and well preserved would be
remarkable under any circumstances, but this one contained something
curious. “We saw that it has this amorphous glob in the middle of it,”
Jessica Hendy, an archeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the
Science of Human History and one of the paper’s co-authors, told me. She
and her colleagues, led by André Colonese, of the University of York,
analyzed the glob using a technique typically reserved for ceramics; it
detects the presence of fats, revealing if a clay pot once contained,
say, dairy or meat. But this time, and for the first time in the history
of archeology, the analysis showed traces of grain—“some sort of wheat,”
Hendy said, and barley or rye. Science outlets promptly began referring
to the artifact as a lunchbox.

The Lötschenpass discovery fits in with the larger picture that
archeologists are painting of ancient life in the Alps, Albert Hafner,
of the University of Bern, told me. Hafner was not involved in the
lunchbox paper, but from 2004 to 2012 he and a team of researchers
conducted an exhaustive examination of nine hundred artifacts from a
different mountain pass nearby. The items included a bow-and-arrow kit
from forty-eight hundred years ago, rings made of braided twigs that
held together the posts of pasture fences, and a wooden box nearly
identical in age and make to the one studied by Colonese’s team. Taken
as a whole, the artifacts indicate that the alpine passes, when they
were open, were traversed often by herders and hunters. As far back as
seven thousand years ago, people who lived in the lower valleys were
bringing their goats and sheep to graze in high-elevation fields for
days or weeks at a time. The wooden containers weren’t lunchboxes so
much as bread boxes or dry mini-fridges—big enough to hold several days’
worth of meals, but light enough to schlep over mountains. Whatever one
calls them, by four thousand years ago they enabled these early
commuters to transform the alpine environment into their workplace. The
grazing gradually lowered the tree line, converting forests to meadows
and setting in motion wider changes that, a few millennia later, would
make the impact discernible to scientists.

All of these insights are a testament to glacial storage, which can
preserve organic material—wood, fabric, tissue—with unmatched fidelity.
(Ötzi’s
body yielded intact blood cells, and he was found to carry the bacterium
responsible for Lyme disease.) But now the great coolers are vanishing,
dumping out their stores in the Alps and around the world, spurring
archeologists to action. In 2008, Hafner convened the first Frozen Pasts
symposium, which brought together researchers from the United States,
Canada, Norway, and other melting regions of the planet. (The fourth
Frozen Pasts meeting was held last October.) In 2014, he co-founded the
Journal of Glacial Archaeology, which shares the latest insights into
Bronze Age arrows in Norway, Incan ice mummies in Argentina, and the
pollen contents of caribou dung from ice patches in southwestern Yukon.
Hafner is sanguine about the trade-off that climate change has
presented. “What we should do as archeologists is use the situation and
learn as much as possible,” he said.

But glaciers are fickle preservationists. Large ones aren’t much use,
since they can slide between thirty and a hundred feet per year.
“They’re moving quite fast, and all the objects inside are completely
mixed and destroyed,” Hafner said. “People, when they come out after a
hundred years, they come out in a hundred pieces that are found over
twenty or thirty years.” The best finds—Ötzi, the artifacts from the
mountain passes—have emerged from stationary ice patches of perhaps a
hundred feet in length. “These are very rare events,” Hafner said. “If
we find five more like Ötzi, that will be perfect.” Such ancient
artifacts are becoming accessible at an unprecedented rate, but they are
disintegrating just as quickly; wood items might last for a few years,
but ancient leather will dry out and blow away in a week.

So glacial archeologists are in a hurry, racing to find whatever the ice
disgorges before the ice is altogether gone. A report issued in April by
the Austrian Alpine Association noted that, between October of 2015 and
September of 2016, eighty-seven of the ninety glaciers it monitors had
retreated, ten of them by more than a hundred feet and one by more than
two hundred feet. When the glaciers go, their contents will go, too, and
the discipline of glacial archeology, lacking anything to study, will
follow soon after. Even so, Hafner is optimistic. “In the Alps, there’s
still a chance to make good finds,” he said. “Not often, but when they
come, they’ll be spectacular.”

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August 4, 2017 at 08:25PM

Public School 972 in Dallas, Texas

Public School 972 in Dallas, Texas

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Multiplication tables

On the north side of Dallas, there is a restaurant where adults can return to grade school, a place that serves beer to its “students,” and offers eating as its core curriculum. Public School 972 is a school-themed Dallas eatery that offers its customers an “education in the art of gastronomy.”

The restaurant is fully decorated with school-related objects, so nostalgic that only the smell of the burgers and alcohol will remind you that you’re not in an actual school. There are rows of typewriters nailed to the wall, textbooks on the shelves, pencil sharpeners on display, and over a dozen globes hung from the ceiling. 

Dangling above the heads of the restaurant’s customers are those all-too-familiar multiplication and addition flashcards from our childhoods, perhaps adding a sigh of relief to the nostalgia. Public School 972 takes the grade school theme even further by naming Happy Hour as “recess,” updates on the restaurant as “class notes,” and making a reservation as a chance to “get educated” in the “art of food and beer.” But don’t worry: The food at Public School 972 is good, too.  It’s no school lunch.

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August 4, 2017 at 08:07PM

Public School 972 in Dallas, Texas

Public School 972 in Dallas, Texas

http://ift.tt/2u8WSpw

Multiplication tables

On the north side of Dallas, there is a restaurant where adults can return to grade school, a place that serves beer to its “students,” and offers eating as its core curriculum. Public School 972 is a school-themed Dallas eatery that offers its customers an “education in the art of gastronomy.”

The restaurant is fully decorated with school-related objects, so nostalgic that only the smell of the burgers and alcohol will remind you that you’re not in an actual school. There are rows of typewriters nailed to the wall, textbooks on the shelves, pencil sharpeners on display, and over a dozen globes hung from the ceiling. 

Dangling above the heads of the restaurant’s customers are those all-too-familiar multiplication and addition flashcards from our childhoods, perhaps adding a sigh of relief to the nostalgia. Public School 972 takes the grade school theme even further by naming Happy Hour as “recess,” updates on the restaurant as “class notes,” and making a reservation as a chance to “get educated” in the “art of food and beer.” But don’t worry: The food at Public School 972 is good, too.  It’s no school lunch.

Travel

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August 4, 2017 at 08:02PM

Air Berlin Signs Deal With JetBlue on U.S. Flights

Air Berlin Signs Deal With JetBlue on U.S. Flights

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Associated Press

In the photo, JetBlue parks Airbus A320s at Boston’s Logan Airport. The airline has signed a cooperation deal with Germany’s Air Berlin. Associated Press

Skift Take: Beginning in September, Air Berlin passengers flying to New York, Boston, and Orlando will be able to book onward flights on JetBlue. Yet until the carriers connect frequent flyer programs, this is a tiny deal.

— Sean O’Neill

Germany’s Air Berlin says it has reached a cooperation agreement with JetBlue that will improve its customers’ transfer options in the United States.

Air Berlin chief commercial officer Goetz Ahmelmann said in a statement Friday that the deal is “only the beginning” of the two companies’ cooperation and added that “we are working to extend our partnership in the coming months.” The company said that cooperation will include the airlines’ frequent flyer programs in the future.

Air Berlin said that benefits for its customers center on transfer connections at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, JetBlue’s hub.

Air Berlin has struggled with losses over recent years but said in June that it had decided against applying for German government loan guarantees after making progress with restructuring efforts.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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August 4, 2017 at 08:02PM

Accidental Swastika at Coronado Navy Base in Coronado, California

Accidental Swastika at Coronado Navy Base in Coronado, California

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Swastika from satellite view

In 1967, before modern satellite imagery, the U.S. Navy constructed four three-story barracks at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado just outside of San Diego. Little did they know that four decades later, it would be clearly evident via Google Maps that when viewed from above, these four buildings form a shape that looks just like a swastika.

To conspiracy theorists, this discovery raised a lot of questions. Is the U.S. Navy actually a Nazi entity? The far more likely explanation, of course, is that in the age before Google Earth, how a building would be viewed from outer space wasn’t a top concern. But intentions aside, the shape of these four buildings have come back to haunt the U.S. Navy and are now regarded as the largest (if not the only) swastika to ever be propped up by U.S. taxpayer dollars.

The public response to the discovery of the swastika shape was so bad that the Navy proposed a $40 million renovation to give the barracks a square shape with a cross in the middle. This cost, however, was determined to be too high for the government to agree on, and the swastika shape is yet to be changed. Consequently, of course, this has reaffirmed the suspicions of many conspiracy theorists, making the Navy’s PR nightmare even worse.

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August 4, 2017 at 07:53PM

Accidental Swastika at Coronado Navy Base in Coronado, California

Accidental Swastika at Coronado Navy Base in Coronado, California

http://ift.tt/2ubHIUg

In 1967, before modern satellite imagery, the U.S. Navy constructed four three-story barracks at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado just outside of San Diego. Little did they know that four decades later, it would be clearly evident via Google Maps that when viewed from above, these four buildings form a shape that looks just like a swastika.

To conspiracy theorists, this discovery raised a lot of questions. Is the U.S. Navy actually a Nazi entity? The far more likely explanation, of course, is that in the age before Google Earth, how a building would be viewed from outer space wasn’t a top concern. But intentions aside, the shape of these four buildings have come back to haunt the U.S. Navy and are now regarded as the largest (if not the only) swastika to ever be propped up by U.S. taxpayer dollars.

The public response to the discovery of the swastika shape was so bad that the Navy proposed a $40 million renovation to give the barracks a square shape with a cross in the middle. This cost, however, was determined to be too high for the government to agree on, and the swastika shape is yet to be changed. Consequently, of course, this has reaffirmed the suspicions of many conspiracy theorists, making the Navy’s PR nightmare even worse.

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August 4, 2017 at 07:48PM

Enter to Win a Culinary Experience on Ellis Island With Citi Prestige

Enter to Win a Culinary Experience on Ellis Island With Citi Prestige

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How does a high-end dinner with unbeatable views of the iconic Manhattan skyline sound? We’re teaming up with Citi to give one lucky TPG reader a night to remember in celebration of the relaunch of the Citi Prestige Card. The winner and a guest will accompany TPG himself on a private ferry ride past the Statue of Liberty for a culinary experience on Ellis Island.

The event, which is next Thursday, August 10, will start with a private ferry ride departing from Battery Park in Downtown Manhattan. We’ll sail through the New York harbor and to Ellis Island. From there, we’ll experience a memorable culinary journey with celebrity Chef Josh Capon. The four-course meal will follow a welcome reception on the island. It’s surely to be a night to remember, complete with those Instagram-worthy skyline views.

Here’s how to enter for your chance to win:

  • Join the new “TPG Lounge” group on Facebook.
  • Look for the post highlighting this Ellis Island giveaway.
  • In the comment section of the Facebook post, add a photo of yourself in a city where you’d like to spend a 4th night free. (Be sure to list where you are and what hotel you’d use it for.)
  • The TPG team will pick one winner. All photos must be submitted no later than 12:00pm on Monday, August 7, 2017.

Note that you must be able to provide your own transportation to and from Battery Park in NYC on the day of the event. We’ll be sailing away in the early evening, so be sure you can be at the park by 6:45pm next Thursday, August 10. We’ll be sending full details of the event to the winner in the coming days. View the official TPG sweepstakes rules here.

Good luck with this giveaway!

Featured image courtesy of Tetra Images via Getty Images.

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August 4, 2017 at 07:35PM

Stara Elektrarna (The Old Power Station) in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Stara Elektrarna (The Old Power Station) in Ljubljana, Slovenia

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The structures erected during the Industrial Revolution helped pioneer modern architecture, which borrowed from the era’s desire for functionality and eventually dominated landscapes after WWII. Amidst venues in buildings that mimic industrial refineries and warehouses, the power station offers an authentic industrial background for the performing arts in Slovenia.

The power station in Ljubljana has gone through plenty of modifications, upgrades, and enlargements since it was built in 1898. It was the city’s first power plant and continued producing electricity until the 1940s when its obsolete technology was replaced by a heating plant on the edge of town. Parts of the plant were brought back into service in the 1960s, and today it continues to produce a third of the city’s electricity.

Artists began displaying work in the unused portions of the building in the 1980s, and in 1998 the Ministry of Culture began renovations to make those areas even more conducive to the arts. Bunker, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to foster the performing arts in Slovenia, was awarded management of those portions in 2004, when the Ljubljana Urban Municipality and the Ministry of Culture offered management contracts as a remedy for the lack of rehearsal spaces in the area. The 2004 Mladi Levi (Young Lions) festival of contemporary performing arts marked the official opening.

Bunker’s program for Stara Elektrarna divides the power station into three sections: rehearsals and residencies, educational workshops and seminars, and performances. Besides theatre and dance productions, the organization hosts concerts and other events in the building. The plant’s chimney, over 300-feet tall, features a gallery, and still contains equipment for monitoring coal exhaust.

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August 4, 2017 at 07:10PM

Al Franken Unbound, and the Scaramucci Call

Al Franken Unbound, and the Scaramucci Call

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Al Franken spent decades as a comedy writer and performer, but his career in humor became a liability when he ran for Senate. He talks with David Remnick about questioning Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing. And Ryan Lizza plays back the late-night phone call from Anthony Scaramucci that ended his brief career as the White House communications director. Lizza has heard a lot in his life as a Washington correspondent, but he was speechless after he hung up, and he named the audio file “insane Scaramucci interview.”


The Scaramucci Call

David Remnick and Ryan Lizza listen to the phone call from Anthony Scaramucci that ended his brief term as White House communications director.


Senator Al Franken Really Is Senatorial

Senator Franken and David Remnick discuss the health-care vote, the Russia investigation, and how his sense of humor has been a liability.


Emily Flake on How to Live

The cartoonist Emily Flake recommends a book of philosophy from the nineteen-thirties that presciently describes our current moment.


The Hunt for Nazi Gold

Jake Halpern investigates a legend about a Nazi train filled with treasure, hidden deep underground.


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August 4, 2017 at 07:07PM