Category Archives: geography

Peary Land, The Land of Extremities

The northern tip of Greenland, despite being situated a little over 700 km from the north pole, is entirely ice free and has been for the last 8,000 years since the glaciers retreated. It is the most northerly ice-free region in the world. The climate is high arctic with a relatively warm summer of less than two months and long winters. Precipitation levels are so low that this region has been dubbed a ‘polar desert’.

This region, a peninsula, is called Peary Land—named in honor of Robert Peary, who first explored it during his expedition of 1891 to 1892.


Peary Land contains the most northerly ice-free region of the world.

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Do You Order the Second-Cheapest Wine?


What’s both a punch line and a wine-ordering strategy? The second-cheapest wine.

If you enjoy wine but don’t know too much about vintages and varieties, you may have fallen into the following logic: You’re not sure whether you want wine with “hints of cherry”; you don’t know whether 2015 was a good year for Argentinian wine; and you think Pinot Noir is the type of wine you like, but you don’t quite remember. Honestly, apart from red vs. white and sparkling vs. not, you don’t think wines taste terribly different. So why not just order the cheapest wine? Or, if that feels a little cheap and too obvious, how about the second-cheapest one?

People often joke about ordering wine this way, usually while making self-deprecating jokes … Read the rest

How a Gang of Thirsty Thieves Stole Over $500,000 Worth of Wine


One December night in 2014, a group of wine aficionados congregated in front of Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry restaurant. They hadn’t called ahead to see if the Yountville, California, institution, which has an infamous, months-long waitlist, could accommodate them. Since it was Christmas night, the restaurant wasn’t even open.

Regardless, the crew got what they came for. They broke in and walked out with over $500,000 worth of wine, including some of the most coveted bottles in the world.

Nearly four years later, investigators have recovered all but a handful of the 110 missing bottles. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice released a statement confirming that two of the thieves—Alfred Georgis and Davis Kiryakoz—also conspired with others to steal and transport fine wines from … Read the rest

How Better to Protest Federal Policy Than With an Embroidered Scorpion Demon?


If you want to register dissatisfaction with a piece of legislation, you’ve got a few options. You can contact your local representative. You can join a protest or campaign. Or—if you want—you can embroider the most frightening creature you can imagine onto a piece of satin, and stitch the name of said legislation underneath it, as above.

This creature was embroidered by Eleanor B. Roosevelt—not to be confused with the other, more famous Eleanor Roosevelt, who probably would have represented the New Deal in a very different way. Eleanor B. was married to Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt, Jr., the oldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt. Both Eleanor and Ted were staunch Republicans: When Ted’s fifth cousin, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, won the Presidency in 1932, Ted resigned … Read the rest

The Desert Architecture School Where Students Build Their Own Sleeping Quarters

The first thing Lorraine Etchell sees each morning is the sun rising over the Sonoran Desert and illuminating the iconic Camelback Mountain. She doesn’t even have to leave her bed to become one with the desert: From her mattress, she can see the horizon stretching out before her and watch groups of Gambel’s quail scuttling around the cacti and creosote bushes.

Her view is uninterrupted by city high-rises and accompanied only by the sounds of quail calls and shrieking hawks.

That’s because Etchell is a resident of one of the world’s most unusual dorms. The second-year graduate student at the School of Architecture at Taliesin (SOAT) in Scottsdale, Arizona, lives in a desert shelter, carrying on a tradition started by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1937.… Read the rest

From Prison’s Horrors, a Work of Art

Haunted by the suffocating horror and hopelessness he witnessed in Haiti’s national prison, this artist finds solace in his work.

Accused of arson, Paul Junior Casimir spent a year there, awaiting a trial that never was scheduled. He is one of the lucky ones; others have died waiting. Freed only because aid workers recognized his talent and a non-profit organization was willing to work on his case, upon release, Casimir began frantically building an art installation that recreates the hell he experienced.

Casimir, 35, hopes the project, a traveling installation called “Enfermé, Libéré” [Locked Up, Freed] will draw public attention and help build momentum for change.

A visitor views the exhibit at the FOKAL Art Center in Port-au-Prince in February. (Jean Marc Hervé Abelard)

The exhibition, … Read the rest

CityLab Daily: Why New York Stopped Building Subways

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What We’re Following

Illustration from 'Why New York City Stopped Building Subways'
(Madison McVeigh/CityLab)

Days of our lines: New York City’s 6 million daily subway riders face constant delays, overcrowded cars, big gaps in service, and (today) rain-drenched tunnels. Yet long-promised funds and improvements never seem to come.

That wasn’t always the case. In the early 20th century, the system grew quickly, unfurling from just a single line in 1904 to a vast network hundreds of miles long by the 1920s. After World War II, that growth came to a hard stop, and the city hasn’t opened a new full-fledged line since 1940.

Why? In a gorgeous illustrated timeline, CityLab … Read the rest

Self-Driving Cars Still Have a Lot to Learn

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA—The question posed to Phil Koopman, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, was stark. “Where were you when you heard about Elaine Herzberg?”

He had a fitting answer: He was teaching a software safety class when one of his students raised a hand as the news showed up on their phone that a self-driving Uber vehicle had struck and killed a pedestrian. Elaine Herzberg, 49, was crossing a seven-lane road in Tempe, Arizona, when the Volvo SUV, which was operating in autonomous mode at the time, struck her.

At the Pennsylvania Automated Vehicle Summit in Pittsburgh last week, Koopman gave a talk on how to make AV testing safer for other road users. This is a question he’s been pondering for many … Read the rest

Atlanta’s Cityhood Movement Might Be Out of Control

Last November, the city of Stockbridge, a small municipality about 20 miles south of Atlanta, elected its first black mayor: Anthony Ford, a retired, decorated U.S. Army Colonel. Not only that, but several other African Americans were elected, making this the first time in its history that Stockbridge would be governed by an all-black city council and mayor.

Five months later, the state passed two bills allowing one of Stockbridge’s wealthiest communities, Eagle’s Landing, to break off to form its own city. That moving schedule might appear racist on its face, especially since it was initiated by a woman named Vikki Consiglio who happens to be white. Consiglio has pointed out, though, that the new city of Eagle’s Landing, if formed, would be a Read the rest

These Literary Vending Machines Serve Up Short Stories


In Grenoble, France, the short story addict doesn’t have to go far to get their fix. Across the seven square miles of the central city, 14 orange-and-black machines are dotted like Easter eggs in train stations, municipal buildings, and even the local museum. At the push of a button, each one will unspool a little piece of literature, printed on a long strip of paper, like a grocery store receipt. You can select for length—one, three, or five minutes—but precisely what you’ll be served up is in the hands of the gods. These are story dispensers, built by Grenoble-based publishing company Short Edition.

When the company began producing the machines in 2015, they were hardly set on global domination. But today, they are found around … Read the rest