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In the News 19.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 19.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 19.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 19.08.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

David’s Ankles: How Imperfections Could Bring Down the World’s Most Perfect Statue


Last summer, early in the morning, I stood out in the main square of Florence to watch the tourists come in. It was quiet. A Zamboni-like street cleaner drove its rounds, leaving wet circles on the paving stones. A vendor unpacked tarp-wrapped souvenirs from the back of his white van. When the crowds began to arrive — tour groups from Japan, China, Germany, Spain — they seemed less like people than like weather. They surged into the square, pooling and drifting. They clicked selfies in front of the statues. A small herd of Segways rolled past, one rider singing fake opera at the top of his lungs. I watched a tour group from Arizona (clearly identifiable by their neck badges) approach the white figure of Michelangelo’s David, towering on a pedestal in front of City Hall. One of the tourists pointed to it and said, in a tone of amused contempt: “It’s the most famous statue in the world, and they just leave it outside. No big deal — just hose off the pigeon crap.”

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet

This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.

It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.

The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny.

Read the rest of this article at Time



Pin Kings


Kevin Pedersen’s wrestling days were 15 years behind him, and yet he still couldn’t let the sport go. Miami was full of change in the early ’90s, not much of it any good, but these high school wrestling meets were locked in time, their rituals the same as Kevin remembered. Kids in headgear, sizing each other up. Always some dad in the stands letting loose. A hush as a match began, and ultimately a ref raising a winner’s hand. At every meet, a wrestler crying at the outcome.

There’s no purer contest, Kevin thought. One guy against another, no teammate to draft off of or accuse: This is how you know if you measure up. Little Kevin Pedersen, 5-foot-4, buck-oh-five, smallest guy in the room. There had always been a champion inside of him. Without wrestling, he would have been the only one to know it.

And now here he was: a decorated agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency, with a gun on his hip and another tucked in his boot. Out there in South Florida, always on call, he saw the worst in people, the price paid for an undisciplined life. Back in these gyms, wrestling’s ceremony reassured him, relaxed his mind enough to let him dip into his past.

Read the rest of this article at ESPN



What better way to mark the news that the head of, the alt-right news site, is now running Donald Trump’s campaign than with a conspiracy theory? And, unlike some of the conspiracy theories that appear on Breitbart, this one might actually be true.

The theory making the rounds is that Trump’s latest campaign reshuffle isn’t really about trying to win the election. In bringing in Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, and recruiting Roger Ailes, the disgraced former head of Fox News, as an adviser, Trump is making a business play: he’s laying the groundwork for a new conservative media empire to challenge Fox.

The official story is that the shakeup—which saw Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, eclipsed—is all about defeating Hillary Clinton. “I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years,” Trump said in a press release announcing the changes, referring to Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, a pollster he brought in to be his new campaign manager. “They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win.” In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Monica Langley and Janet Hook, who broke the story, Trump added, “I’m going to do whatever it takes and do it the way I think will win.” As for Ailes, the Trump campaign denies that he is playing any official role. (It hasn’t denied the New York Times revelation that Ailes met with Trump on Sunday in New Jersey.)

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

The Concept of ‘Cat Face’

Paul Taylor on machine learning

Over the course of a week in March, Lee Sedol, the world’s best player of Go, played a series of five games against a computer program. The series, which the program AlphaGo won 4-1, took place in Seoul, while tens of millions watched live on internet feeds. Go, usually considered the most intellectually demanding of board games, originated in China but developed into its current form in Japan, enjoying a long golden age from the 17th to the 19th century. Famous contests from the period include the Blood Vomiting game, in which three moves of great subtlety were allegedly revealed to Honinbo Jowa by ghosts, enabling him to defeat his young protégé Intetsu Akaboshi, who after four days of continuous play collapsed and coughed up blood, dying of TB shortly afterwards. Another, the Ear Reddening game, turned on a move of such strength that it caused a discernible flow of blood to the ears of the master Inoue Genan Inseki. That move was, until 13 March this year, probably the most talked about move in the history of Go. That accolade probably now belongs to move 78 in the fourth game between Sedol and AlphaGo, a moment of apparently inexplicable intuition which gave Sedol his only victory in the series. The move, quickly named the Touch of God, has captured the attention not just of fans of Go but of anyone with an interest in what differentiates human from artificial intelligence.

Read the rest of this article at London Review Of Books

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @forloveandlemons, @cellajaneblog, @michaelkors