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News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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After The Tsunami

Obā-san tasted ash. Yes: ash and dust. Her youngest son’s kanji and hiragana on paper could not assuage the bitter news the letter delivered: that her youngest son would not return from America to his hometown of Kesennuma, Japan. He would stay to marry the American woman who carried his child. Dishonor. Shame. Betrayal. And I was the ash she tasted: the end of the pure line of the Komatsu name. Nothing more than an accidental flutter in the brine of my mother’s womb.

My grandmother would not have considered this metaphor of the sea, despite the proximity of her home to it, the wind-borne scent of the waterfront fish market and processing plants mere blocks away, burbling down the streets, seeping through the window and door cracks of her home. And beyond, the vast blue-gray of the Pacific Ocean, heaving and rolling the life it contained. She would not have thought of the sea’s power to both create and destroy.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Harmony Korine, Glorious Weirdo

News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When the filmmaker Harmony Korine was young, and interviewers would ask him about his past, he would tell stories. Some of these stories, in retrospect, were probably truer than others. In 1995, while promoting Kids, the controversial Larry Clark film for which Korine had written the screenplay as a 19-year-old living in his grandmother’s apartment in Queens, Korine was invited onto the Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman, bemused at the tiny person in a giant suit who’d appeared in front of him, asked Korine how he had come to write Kids. “I just wanted to make a sequel to Caddyshack,” Korine told his host. “And I used to live by this guy and he was Hasidic Jewish and he always played with basketballs, and also his father was a dentist. But once, I was walking down the street and he said ‘You’re a sinner!’ like that. So I just wrote it.” Later, Korine would be banned from the show, for pushing Meryl Streep backstage—or maybe it was for going through her purse. Like many things with Korine, the precise truth remains elusive.

As Korine’s career went on, he did his best to live up to the fictions. He refused most work within the Hollywood system, except on his own abstruse scripts. Two of his homes in the ’90s, in New York and Connecticut, burned down under mysterious circumstances. In the Connecticut fire, he lost most of the footage of what was to be his third feature as a director, after 1997’s Gummo, a series of unrelated and often disturbing vignettes that took place in Ohio and were inspired by the neighborhoods he’d grown up in around Nashville, and 1999’s Julien Donkey-Boy, about a schizophrenic boy and his unhinged family, the patriarch of which was played by the German director and Korine mentor Werner Herzog. The third film was called Fight Harm: It was going to consist entirely of real footage of Korine being beaten up in various violent confrontations that he initiated. Two of the cameramen on the project were Leonardo DiCaprio and the magician David Blaine. “At that time, I thought it would be the greatest comedy the world had ever seen,” Korine told me.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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The Tragedy of Baltimore

On April 27, 2015, Shantay Guy was driving her 13-year-old son home across Baltimore from a doctor’s appointment when something — a rock, a brick, she wasn’t sure what — hit her car. Her phone was turned off, so she had not realized that protests and violence had broken out in the city that afternoon, following the funeral of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who drew national attention eight days earlier when he died after suffering injuries in police custody.

As she saw what was happening — fires being set, young people and police officers converging on the nearby vortex of the disorder — she pushed her son, Brandon, down in his seat and sped home. “Mom, are we home yet?” Brandon asked when they pulled up at their house just inside the city line, where they lived with Guy’s husband, her grown daughter and her husband’s late-teenage son, brother and sister-in-law.

Read the rest of this article at: ProPublica

News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Cold Case Factory

News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

April Tinsley’s murder should have been easy to solve. Three days after her April 1, 1988, disappearance, when the eight-year-old girl’s body was discovered in a ditch in Fort Wayne, Indiana, police were able to collect plenty of clues that could help identify the culprit. They found one of April’s shoes lying near her body, as well as a shopping bag containing a dildo. DNA could be extracted from this physical evidence, which made the absence of any leads to the murderer’s identity incredibly frustrating for the police. As long as the perpetrator’s DNA had no corresponding match among the information cataloged in CODIS, the FBI’s flagship DNA database, or in similar databases at the state level, the prospect of an arrest dimmed.

Early optimism gave way to anguish, frustration, and fury, exacerbated when notes started to appear a few years after April’s murder. One turned up in 1990, scrawled on a barn door: I kill 8 year old April M Tinsley. Then nothing until 2004, when four handwritten notes appeared in mailboxes across Fort Wayne, and plastic bags containing used condoms and obscene photos of a man’s penis were found on girls’ bicycles. The notes mocked April’s family and taunted the police, while also threatening to kidnap and kill more victims.

Forensic DNA testing wasn’t common when April Tinsley was murdered in 1988. It was cumbersome, time-consuming, expensive, and the tests required much more physical evidence—semen, blood, and saliva—than is common today. DNA tests would only become de rigueur in the mid-1990s, when the protocol changed and investigators could now amplify small amounts of DNA taken not just from bodily fluids, but from objects like guns, clothes, and tools.

The trouble was, even as Fort Wayne police kept up with advances in testing, the DNA they had from the scene where April’s body was found simply wasn’t enough to produce a conclusive result. By 2015, even though the sensitivity of DNA testing had improved enough to detect DNA at the level of a single nanogram—a grain of salt is about 58,000 nanograms—the evidence still didn’t match anyone in the FBI database.

In June 2015, Fort Wayne police learned that Parabon NanoLabs, a biotech company headquartered in Reston, Virginia, was offering a service called Snapshot, in which a working sketch of a criminal suspect could be generated directly from minuscule amounts of DNA. Parabon’s roots were in bioinformatics, and their techniques, including Snapshot, which was invented and trademarked by the company in 2012, were originally designed for use in medical research.

Read the rest of this article at: Topic

The World Wide Web Turns 30. Where Does It Go From Here?

News 03.13.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

TODAY, 30 YEARS on from my original proposal for an information management system, half the world is online. It’s a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also an opportunity to reflect on how far we have yet to go.

The web has become a public square, a library, a doctor’s office, a shop, a school, a design studio, an office, a cinema, a bank, and so much more. Of course with every new feature, every new website, the divide between those who are online and those who are not increases, making it all the more imperative to make the web available for everyone.

And while the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.

Against the backdrop of news stories about how the web is misused, it’s understandable that many people feel afraid and unsure if the web is really a force for good. But given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can’t be changed for the better in the next 30. If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.

To tackle any problem, we must clearly outline and understand it. I broadly see three sources of dysfunction affecting today’s web:

  • Deliberate, malicious intent, such as state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behavior, and online harassment.

  • System design that creates perverse incentives where user value is sacrificed, such as ad-based revenue models that commercially reward clickbait and the viral spread of misinformation.

  • Unintended negative consequences of benevolent design, such as the outraged and polarized tone and quality of online discourse.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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

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