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In the News 16.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 16.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 16.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 16.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

What ISIS Really Wants

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What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic

INSIDE MARK ZUCKERBERG’S BOLD PLAN FOR THE FUTURE OF FACEBOOK

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I’m killing time in the Frank Gehry–designed Building 20, whose signature feature is its soaring 434,000 square feet of open space, the latest addition to Facebook’s campus inMenlo Park, California. A PR handler is explaining why CEO Mark Zuckerberg is running slightly behind schedule for our chat. I express surprise. Mark still fixes stuff?

“To say he’s actively involved,” she confides, “is an understatement. He notices things that are broken before anybody.”

As recently as 2012, the year Zuckerberg set a personal goal to code every day, that might have meant he had detected something glitchy on Facebook’s site and was reprogramming it himself. When he emerges a few minutes later, unspecified stuff presumably fixed, we sit down on adjacent couches in a fishbowl conference room near his desk in Building 20, and Zuckerberg makes it clear that those days are gone. “If we’re trying to build a world-class News Feed, and a world-class messaging product, and a world-class search product, and a world-class ad system, and invent virtual reality, and build drones, I can’t write every line of code,” he tells me. “I can’t write anylines of code.”

The Facebook of today—and tomorrow—is far more expansive than it was just a few years ago. It’s easy to forget that when the company filed to go public on February 1, 2012, it was just a single website and an app that the experts weren’t sure could ever be profitable. Now, “a billion and a half people use the main, core Facebook service, and that’s growing. But 900 million people use WhatsApp, and that’s an important part of the whole ecosystem now,” Zuckerberg says. “Four hundred million people useInstagram, 700 million people use Messen­ger, and 700 million people use Groups. Increasingly, we’re just going to go more and more in this direction.”

Read the rest of this article at Wired

Meet Jean Jullien, The Artist Behind The “Peace for Paris” Symbol

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LAST NIGHT, AS the world reeled from an act of unfathomable hatred and cowardice, an artist’s heartfelt symbol of peace became a worldwide sign of support for France. The illustration is powerful in its simplicity: A peace symbol with the Eiffel tower, rendered in bold, black strokes against a white background. Though many attributed the emblem to the artist Banksy, French graphic designer Jean Jullien created the image, “Peace for Paris,” and posted it on Twitter and Instagram at around midnight Paris time.

The world embraced it almost immediately. And now, not quite 24 hours later, people are printing it on T-shirts, on posters, and on flags, bearing it proudly in a global show of solidarity with the City of Light. It has become a way of saying, We are with you, France, and we are not afraid.

We caught up with Jullien via Skype on Saturday to ask him about the image, its creation, and its remarkable reception.

Read the rest of this article at Wired

The new cool girl trap: Why we traded one set of rigid rules about who’s “likable” for another

Miranda July opens her recent interview with Rihanna with the revelation that she had taken a good deal of time to get dressed: “I dressed very carefully for her, the way I would for a good friend, thinking hard about what she likes.”

Throughout her interview, July’s desire for connection and closeness with her interview subject is portrayed as something that is both entirely natural and also carefully cultivated, from the clothes she wears to the questions she chooses to ask and not ask. “A Very Revealing Conversation With Rihanna” is less a glimpse into who Rihanna is than a tender look at the vulnerability of desire, how our need to connect with someone outside of ourselves is always predicated on the hope that we ourselves will actually be seen.

The hope that others will like us strikes me as the most human of existential wants. For women, the question of likability is more fraught, as a woman’s perceived likability is often reductive and linked to very gendered stereotypes about how women can and should behave in public spaces.

A number of prominent feminists over the past several years have criticized the obsession with judging women through the lens of whether or not they are likable. In her recent acceptance speech for the Girls Write Now award, for example, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie argues that the narrative that girls and young women must be likable holds them back: “That you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes and make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to kind of hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy because you have to be likable. And I say that is bullshit.”

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic

Ingenious: Walter Murch

The legendary film editor on underlying patterns in the cosmos.

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n the 1990s, during breaks from editing the film First Knight, starring Sean Connery, Walter Murch was reading The Sleepwalkers, a book on the history of cosmology, by the Hungarian-British writer Arthur Koestler. Murch was struck by a footnote to a passage about Pythagoras and numerology that mentioned “Bode’s law,” formulated in the 18th century, which holds that planets and moons orbit their hosts at predictable mathematical ratios. “The idea made me go ‘Hmmm,’ ” Murch says. “It percolated in my mind for the next six months or so and then for some reason it moved to the front of my agenda.” It has remained there ever since.

Murch may be the world’s most vocal proponent of Bode’s law, also known as the Titius-Bode law, named after its two founders, and what it might say about the identity of the universe. He has given PowerPoint lectures about its role in our solar system and continues to collect NASA data about exoplanets. In the past few years Murch’s advocacy has gotten a boost from astronomers whose research, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has shown the law does indeed apply to numerous exoplanet orbits.

Murch’s talks on the obscure law may be better attended than those by astronomers because anybody who is a casual film buff knows of his work and reputation. He is the sound editor of The Godfather and the film editor of, to name a few, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and The English Patient, for which he won Oscars for both Film Editing and Sound.

Murch, 72, has been a passionate student of science since he was a young man. He went to college intending to be an oceanographer before he fell in love with film. Over the long and adventurous course of his day job, he has continued to read deeply in science. He is a genuine Renaissance man. His passion for science, and Bode’s law in particular, converges with his job as an editor, helping directors refine the narrative line in their footage. “I tend to see in what I do what you might call strange attractors—patterns underneath the patterns that can be quantifiable,” Murch says.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.