Weird week: Coworking goes classified, skin is no longer in, and more wild stories

Another week behind us, another week of the world being a strange, strange place.

  • Pete Davidson and Colin Jost want to turn a rusty old boat into “New York’s hottest club.” The two Staten Island natives are dropping $34m on converting a ~300-foot decommissioned ferry into a 24-room traveling hotel with two restaurants and multiple bars. The pair purchased the boat, built in 1965, for $280.1k in 2022. Instead of fixing the vessel’s busted engine, it will be towed between locations like NYC and Miami. For now, it’s docked in Staten Island.
  • Remote spies need shared working spaces, too. Following a 200-page government manual, private companies are building coworking spaces exclusive to the ~4m people with US government security clearance. They’re popping up around DC and other areas with defense centers, positioned as alternatives to Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities: dedicated spaces for viewing and discussing sensitive information, typically located within government buildings. Amenities range from on-tap coffee and kombucha and high-speed WiFi, to more spy-specific offerings, like air vents outfitted with sound-dampening materials, motion sensors, and shredders with labeled “burn bags” for classified documents.
  • After nearly a century, Harvard is removing a book bound in human skin from its collection. Harvard University’s Houghton Library has housed the 19th-century novel — Des Destinées de l’Ame (“Destinies of the Soul,” in English), written by French author Arsène Houssaye — since the 1930s. Though the nature of the book’s binding was confirmed in 2014, the university has now deemed it “ethically fraught” and is working with authorities to respectfully dispose of the human remains. Disturbing? Yes. Unheard of? No — the use of human skin in book binding, AKA anthropodermic bibliopegy, was commonplace in the 1800s.
  • RIP: A necropsy reveals that the city is no place for a wild animal. The Department of Environmental Conservation’s testing revealed that Flaco — the Central Park Zoo’s escaped Eurasian eagle-owl that died last month — had a severe pigeon virus and high levels of rat poison in his system. The report links the bird’s death to his diet of feral pigeons and rats, confirming something we already knew: NYC’s rats, and its rats of the sky, are simply built different. The 13-year-old bird celebrated one year of freedom just three weeks before his death.

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