In the News 07.02.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 07.02.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 07.02.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 07.02.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, The Man Who Created The World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets

“For people who want to make sure the Web serves humanity, we have to concern ourselves with what people are building on top of it,” Tim Berners-Lee told me one morning in downtown Washington, D.C., about a half-mile from the White House. Berners-Lee was speaking about the future of the Internet, as he does often and fervently and with great animation at a remarkable cadence. With an Oxonian wisp of hair framing his chiseled face, Berners-Lee appears the consummate academic—communicating rapidly, in a clipped London accent, occasionally skipping over words and eliding sentences as he stammers to convey a thought. His soliloquy was a mixture of excitement with traces of melancholy. Nearly three decades earlier, Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. On this morning, he had come to Washington as part of his mission to save it.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair


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It isn’t fair. Though Africa has more countries and a larger population than Europe, the continent only has five berths in the World Cup compared to Europe’s thirteen. And they had to fight for that: it was only a boycott in 1966, led by Kwame Nkrumah, that changed the policy that allowed only one spot for either an African or an Asia team. There are all kinds of justifications, of course, offered for this inequality. And it will likely take a long time for change to happen, and then it will come incrementally.

While we wait patiently for institutions to change, however, the world has a way of rendering a kind of justice. Post-colonial migration has created a loophole in FIFA’s global apportioning of representation. This year, there will be two additional African teams in the competition: France and Belgium. If they are going to the World Cup at all, it is thanks to goals scored by the children of African migrants: Romelu Lukaku for Belgium, and Mamadou Sakho for France. I’m not sure if these old colonial powers deserve the help, but they’ve gotten it: Africa has come to the rescue. In fact, it might be worth giving new names to these two football teams: Françafrique and AfroBelgica, perhaps? (If we make that change, though, we also might need to make another: most of Algeria’s team is French born and raised: they similarly represent a trans-regional space, something like North and South Mediterranean-Algiers…)

What does it mean, in these two very different European countries, to depend on Africa on the pitch? And what does it mean for players like Sakho and Lukaku to be standing up for, and standing in for, different layers of belonging and identification?

Read the rest of this article at: Roads & Kingdoms

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
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How To Get Away With Financial Fraud

‘Guys, you’ve got to hear this,” I said. I was sitting in front of my computer one day in July 2012, with one eye on a screen of share prices and the other on a live stream of the House of Commons Treasury select committee hearings. As the Barclays share price took a graceful swan dive, I pulled my headphones out of the socket and turned up the volume so everyone could hear. My colleagues left their terminals and came around to watch BBC Parliament with me.

It didn’t take long to realise what was happening. “Bob’s getting murdered,” someone said.

Bob Diamond, the swashbuckling chief executive of Barclays, had been called before the committee to explain exactly what his bank had been playing at in regards to the Libor rate-fixing scandal. The day before his appearance, he had made things very much worse by seeming to accuse the deputy governor of the Bank of England of ordering him to fiddle an important benchmark, then walking back the accusation as soon as it was challenged. He was trying to turn on his legendary charm in front of a committee of angry MPs, and it wasn’t working. On our trading floor, in Mayfair, calls were coming in from all over the City. Investors needed to know what was happening and whether the damage was reparable.

A couple of weeks later, the damage was done. The money was gone, Diamond was out of a job and the market, as it always does, had moved on. We were left asking ourselves: How did we get it so wrong?

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The Counterfeit Queen Of Soul

When Mary Jane Jones sang the gospel, her colossal voice seemed to travel far beyond her local Baptist church, over the ramshackle homes of West Petersburg, and far beyond the green fields of Virginia, where endless church spires pierced the sky. “I don’t know one note from the next,” she would declare. “But what talent I got, I got from God.” By January of 1969, the singer, then 27, had spent six years touring with the Great Gate, the town’s all-black gospel group, led by the man who had discovered her, the Rev. Billie Lee. “I had to teach most of the folk in my groups,” he said. “But that was one young lady I did not have to teach soul.” When she sang Shirley Caesar’s ballad about loss, “Comfort Me,” her face twisted with emotion, sweat soaked her black curls and real tears streamed from her eyes. “The song was about going through trials and tribulations,” said Lee. “She felt that song.”

Nothing in her life had been easy. She’d married at 19, but her husband had died, leaving her with a young son, Larry. She’d remarried, to Robert “Bobby” Jones, and had three more sons, Quintin, Gregory and Keith. But after years of living with Bobby’s alcohol-fueled violence, Jones divorced him in 1968. Navigating single motherhood without much education, Jones survived on government assistance and donations to the gospel group. To feed her young children, Jones began moonlighting in nightclubs as part of a Motown tribute act, earning $10 per night.

“She wanted to be like Aretha Franklin so much, man,” her son Gregory told me. His mother, who’d grown up in a house without plumbing, could only dream of rolling up to sold-out shows in a limousine, dripping in diamonds. Franklin made the dream seem possible. Like Jones, Franklin was 27 and had been discovered in the church, but in 1967 she’d signed with Atlantic Records. By 1969 she had won four Grammy Awards and sold 1.5 million albums. Ray Charles called her “one of the greatest I’ve heard any time.”

Jones followed Franklin’s every move in the digest-size magazine Jet. She painted her eyes like her idol’s and sang along to her hits on an eight-track, Franklin’s lyrics narrating her own struggles. When Jones’ blues band rehearsed at her cramped home, they trailed an amplifier outside and the whole neighborhood would get down to Jones singing “Think”: “I ain’t no psychiatrist / I ain’t no doctor with degrees / It don’t take too much high IQs / to see what you’re doing to me.”

Read the rest of this article at: Smithsonian

Going Nowhere Fast

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In recent years, physicists have been watching the data coming in from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) with a growing sense of unease. We’ve spent decades devising elaborate accounts for the behaviour of the quantum zoo of subatomic particles, the most basic components of the known universe. The Standard Model is the pinnacle of our achievements to date, with some of its theoretical predictions verified to within a one-in-ten-billion chance of error – a simply astounding degree of accuracy. But it leaves many questions unanswered. For one, where does gravity come from? Why do matter particles always possess three, ever-heavier copies, with peculiar patterns in their masses? What is dark matter, and why does the Universe contain more matter than antimatter?

In the hope of solving some of these mysteries, physicists have been grafting on elegant and exciting new mathematical structures to the Standard Model. The programme follows an arc traced by fundamental physics since the time of Isaac Newton: the pursuit of unification, in which science strives to explain seemingly disparate ‘surface’ phenomena by identifying, theorising and ultimately proving their shared ‘bedrock’ origin. This top-down, reductive style of thinking has yielded many notable discoveries. Newton perceived that both an apple falling to the ground, and the planets orbiting around the sun, could be explained away by gravity. The physicist Paul Dirac came up with antimatter in 1928 by marrying quantum mechanics and Einstein’s special theory of relativity. And since the late 20th century, string theorists have been trying to reconcile gravity and quantum physics by conceiving of particles as tiny vibrating loops of string that exist in somewhere between 10 and 26 dimensions.

So when the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) cranked up the LHC just outside Geneva for a second time in 2015, hopes for empirical validation were running high. The fruits of physicists’ most adventurous top-down thinking would finally be put to the test. In its first three-year run, the LHC had already notched up one astounding success: in 2012, CERN announced that the Higgs boson had been found, produced in high-energy, head-on collisions between protons. The new particle existed for just a fleeting fraction of a second before decaying into a pair of tell-tale photons at specific, signature energies. What set the scientific world alight was not the excitement of a new particle per se, but the fact it was a smoking gun for a theory about how matter gets its mass. Until the British physicist Peter Higgs and others came up with their hypothetical boson in 1964, the emerging mathematical model had predicted – against the evidence – that particles should have no mass at all. Eventually, half a century after the ‘fix’ was first proposed, the boson officially entered the subatomic bestiary, the last bit of the Standard Model to be experimentally verified.

This time, though, none of the more exotic particles and interactions that theorists hoped to see has been forthcoming. No ‘stop squarks’, no ‘gluinos’, no ‘neutralinos’. The null results are now encrusting the hull of the Standard Model, like barnacles on a beautiful old frigate, and dragging her down to the ocean floor. It looks like the centuries-long quest for top-down unification has stalled, and particle physics might have a full-blown crisis on its hands.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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

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