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In the News 24.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 24.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 24.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 24.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan and How We Are by Vincent Deary – review

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A few years ago, in a survey conducted by an accident prevention charity, 80% of respondents admitted to going through life on autopilot: arriving at the end of a car journey with no memory of driving there, buying the same item twice without realising, even turning up at the office on a day off. The other 20% must have been lying or deluded. (Or just answering the survey on autopilot, perhaps?) To an unnerving extent – made clearer by ongoing research – we’re all creatures of habit, spending our days acting out ingrained behaviours and responses over which we exert no control. This has many advantages: if our brains weren’t built to convert as many actions as possible into automatic routines, we would seize up trying to breathe or walk, let alone drive a car. But it’s also frightening. Treading the well-worn paths of habit, we easily get mired in jobs, relationships or ways of thinking that make us miserable, in lives we’d never have consciously chosen. “Here you are, here we all are, semi-automated creatures in our tram-track worlds, running through the paths of least resistance,” as Vincent Deary puts it, in one of two new books on how we get stuck – and on finding the will to forge new paths when life demands it.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

The Hacking of Hollywood

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It’s a cold day in Munich, and Oliver Stone, Hollywood’s most notorious director, is staring down the world’s most notorious hacker, Edward Snowden — or, at least, the actor who’s portraying him, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Stone’s here filming his controversial biopic of Snowden. The film, which will be released in spring 2016, traces the whistleblower’s rise from lowly army enlistee to the National Security Agency contractor who exposed the U.S. government’s classified surveillance program.

But Stone isn’t just concerned about capturing the saga behind Snowden’s incredible leaks. He wants to make sure that no hacker comes after his film and leaks its secrets before the movie’s release. “It’s a major concern for every filmmaker,” he tells me, during a break from shooting. And it’s one that’s even more pronounced with a movie that promises to reveal more about Snowden than the world yet knows. “If you can hack his story,” Stone says with caution, “it would be a big prize.” In a way, Stone is making a meta-movie that no one has seen before, building a firewall around a film whose subject is an icon of bad infosec.

This explains the stealthy guy with the Fu Manchu beard milling around the set. He’s Ralph Echemendia, Hollywood’s go-to digital bodyguard, a reformed hacker from the dark side who now helps filmmakers, celebrities, and moguls keep their valuable data secure. It’s a challenge that’s only compounding as Hollywood — like the rest of the world — moves more and more of its content and communications online. “The concern is a lack of control,” Echemendia tells me.

Stone says such precautions, while new, are “the wave of the future.” In the wake of the giant hack against Sony Pictures last November, now marking its one year anniversary, Hollywood is playing an increasingly wacky game of Whack-A-Mole, trying to club down one hacker only to find another one rearing its head. It’s a game coming at an increasingly costly price. Last month, court documents revealed that Sony will be coughing up as much as $8 million to settle a class action suit with employees whose personal information was compromised in the breach, and that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg. While the total potential cost of such hacks are hard to gauge, some estimate the bill could fall somewhere between $150 and $300 millionbased on similar incidents at other companies.

This is the big-screen version of how vulnerable it feels to live online in 2015, from Beverly Hills to Capitol Hill. Just a few weeks ago, CIA director John Brennan’s email account was hacked — with its content dumped online by Wikileaks — after he was compromised by what appears to be a high school student. And as Snowden’s most recent leak of documents on the U.S.’s clandestine drone program proves, the nation is fighting to future-proof itself before it’s too late. It’s a battle that’s leaving everyone on edge. As Stone tells me, “it’s a dicey, unknowable game.”

Read the rest of this article at Medium

The Keys To Enya’s Kingdom

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Everyone knows how to get to Enya’s castle. At least everyone in Killiney, the sloping oceanside village 45 minutes out of Dublin. Walk past a massive public park, where paths thread by a resting quarry and an obelisk, erected in 1740 to distract the Irish peasants from the hard year that had come before. From there, it’s a quick stroll down the road, past the groundskeeper’s cottage that’s now a coffee shop, and through a stone gate that narrows an already spindly road.

Here, you’ll pass clumps of walkers taking the air, most with golden retrievers, all with sturdy anoraks in sensible colors. Those walkers don’t pause when they pass the place in the 8-foot stone wall where a legit turret peeks over massive wooden gates — where, if you look closely, you can see the seam in the stone wall where Enya added four additional feet of height when she moved in back in the late ‘90s. Surveillance cameras eye and remind: Enya does not accept visitors unbidden.

The castle is small, as castles go: just six bedrooms. But when Enya moved in, she redid them all. And the bathrooms, which she’s filled with Lalique glass — a word she pronounces like it were a bonbon melting on her tongue. Her bedroom has no curtains, just shutters, and when she opens them each morning, the Irish sea sprawls out before her. There are the Wicklow Mountains in one direction, and there’s Dalkey Island, where the mystical stones of the druids still mystify, in the other. “I open those shutters, and the sea, it’s different ev-er-y day,” she says. “It’s very inspiring to me. I just look at the view, and if it’s overcast and raining, no matter: I never tire of it.” Her bedroom, Enya tells me, is her favorite room.

Read the rest of this article at Buzzfeed

SELFIE

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Shot One: Open on a woman snapping a picture of herself, by herself. Maybe she is sitting at an outdoor cafe, her phone held out in front of her like a gilded hand mirror, a looking glass linked to an Instagram account. Maybe she tilts her head one way and then another, smiling and smirking, pushing her hair around, defiantly staring into the lens, then coyly looking away. She takes one shot, then five, then 25. She flips through these images, appraising them, an editrix putting together the September issue of her face; she weighs each against the others, plays around with filters and lighting, and makes a final choice. She pushes send and it’s done. Her selfie is off to have adventures without her, to meet the gazes of strangers she will never know. She feels excited, maybe a little nervous. She has declared, in just a few clicks, that she deserves, in that moment, to be seen. The whole process takes less than five minutes.

Read the rest of this article at Matter

KIDS, WE’RE MOVING TO GREENLAND

For generations, Greenland’s best and brightest have done all they can to leave the island as quickly as possible. But now a few young parents are bringing their families back to this frigid frontier.

Nuuk, Greenland, 28.08.14

Nearly 1,900 miles northwest of Denmark lies Greenland, the world’s largest island and an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Greenland has about 56,000 residents, but this number shrinks by an average of 350 people every year. Many leave to go live in Denmark, where they find greater economic opportunity.

About 18,500 Greenlanders now live in Denmark. Research studies have reported that while almost all of them miss Greenland, fewer than one-third consider going home. The country has many social problems — high rates of alcoholism, a struggling school system, and the highest suicide rate in the world.

Still, there are a few who choose to go back to Greenland, to fight against these issues — like Georgine Graversen and Sussi Wille Broge. Both have lived in Denmark for several years; they completed their educations, married and gave birth to their children there, but always longed to go back to Greenland. They want their children to be able to explore what nature has to offer, and to know where they come from. Both mothers feel a responsibility to give something back to this place. For a lot of Danes, Greenland is synonymous with no more than igloos, dog sleds and alcoholics — but for Greenlanders it is so much more.

Read the rest of this article at Narratively

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