In the News 08.15.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 08.15.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Photo by @chriswarnes
In the News 08.15.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 08.15.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Spike Lee Wants BlacKkKlansman To Wake America Up

It’s a picture-perfect day on Martha’s Vineyard. Families stream by on a heavily foot-trafficked thoroughfare, while white men in cargo shorts dock their boats and crack open their beers. In the middle of it all is Spike Lee, sitting on a bench, delivering an earful of Saturday-afternoon real talk. “Agent Orange is in office,” he says. “If this isn’t a motivation to get off our asses and register to vote, I don’t know what is.”

It soon becomes clear why Lee picked this spot. He wants to talk about President Trump and Barack Obama and Colin Kaepernick and the Ku Klux Klan. But why do that in private when you could do it loudly, outside, for everyone to hear?

Lee is on the island to shoot scenes for the second season of his Netflix show She’s Gotta Have It, based on the 1986 film of the same name that launched his career. But he’s also a regular in the area, having built a house in Oak Bluffs in 1992 while making Malcolm X. Even though the Vineyard has deeply entrenched roots in black America, with black families sprinkled in every establishment I walk into on this late-July day, Lee still stands out.

Read the rest of this article at: Time

The Unlikely Activists Who Took
On Silicon Valley — and Won

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The way Alastair Mactaggart usually tells the story of his awakening — the way he told it even before he became the most improbable, and perhaps the most important, privacy activist in America — begins with wine and pizza in the hills above Oakland, Calif. It was a few years ago, on a night Mactaggart and his wife had invited some friends over for dinner. One was a software engineer at Google, whose search and video sites are visited by over a billion people a month. As evening settled in, Mactaggart asked his friend, half-seriously, if he should be worried about everything Google knew about him. “I expected one of those answers you get from airline pilots about plane crashes,” Mactaggart recalled recently. “You know — ‘Oh, there’s nothing to worry about.’ ” Instead, his friend told him there was plenty to worry about. If people really knew what we had on them, the Google engineer said, they would flip out.

Mactaggart had spent most of his adult life in the Bay Area, running a family real estate business with his uncle. The rise of the tech industry had filled his condo developments with ambitious engineers and entrepreneurs, making Mactaggart a wealthy man. But he never really thought about how companies like Google or Facebook got so big so fast. The vast pools of data they collected and monetized were abstractions, something he knew existed but, as with plane crashes, rarely dwelt on.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

Maria Konnikova Shows Her Cards

As a science writer at The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova, 34, focuses on the brain, and the weird and interesting ways people use their brains.

Dr. Konnikova is an experimental psychologist trained at Columbia University. But her latest experiment is on herself. For a book she’s researching on luck and decision-making, Dr. Konnikova began studying poker.

Within a year, she had moved from poker novice to poker professional, winning more than $200,000 in tournament jackpots. This summer Poker Stars, an online gaming site, began sponsoring Dr. Konnikova in professional tournaments.

We spoke recently for two hours at the offices of The Times. An edited and condensed version of the conversation follows.

I’d been thinking, for a while, about what my next book was going to be. I was interested in the theme of skill versus chance and was looking for a way to get into it. A friend suggested I read John von Neumann’s “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,” the foundational text of game theory.

Von Neumann, as you know, was one of the geniuses of the 20th century — the hydrogen bomb, computing, economics. And he’d been a poker player. It turned out that all of game theory came out of poker!

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times


Broken Time

It was supposed to be the best day of Richard “Blue” Mitchell’s life, but June 30, 1958, turned out to be one of the worst. The trumpeter had been summoned to New York City from Miami for a recording session with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, an old friend who was being hailed as the hottest alto sax player since Charlie Parker.

But things started going wrong even before Mitchell arrived at Reeves Sound Studios on East Forty-Fourth Street. First, his luggage went astray en route from Florida. Then there was a surprise waiting for him in the control room: Miles Davis, one of his musical heroes, who had taken the extraordinary step of composing a new melody as a gift to Cannonball. Mitchell was supposed to play Miles’s part.

That wasn’t going to be easy, because the tune, called “Nardis,” was anything but a standard workout on blues-based changes. The melody had a haunting, angular, exotic quality, like the “Gypsy jazz” that guitarist Django Reinhardt played with the Hot Club de France in the 1930s. And it didn’t exactly swing, but unfurled at its own pace, like liturgical music for some arcane ritual. For three takes, the band diligently tried to make it work, but Mitchell couldn’t wrap his head around it, particularly under Miles’s intimidating gaze. The producer of the session, legendary Riverside Records founder Orrin Keepnews, ended up scrapping the night’s performances entirely.

The next night was more productive. After capturing tight renditions of “Blue Funk” and “Minority,” the quintet took two more passes through “Nardis,” yielding a master take for release, plus a credible alternate. But the arrangement still sounded stiff, and the horns had a pinched, sour tone.

Only one man on the session, Miles would say later, played the tune “the way it was meant to be played.” It was the shy, unassuming piano player, who was just shy of twenty-eight years old. His name was Bill Evans.

Read the rest of this article at: The Believer

How Bill Browder Became Russia’s Most Wanted Man

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Shortly after Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin wrapped up their recent summit at the Finnish Presidential Palace, in Helsinki, around two hundred journalists gathered in the building’s neoclassical ballroom. It was July 16th, three days after the special counsel Robert Mueller published an indictment charging twelve members of the G.R.U., Russia’s military-intelligence service, with hacking into Democratic Party servers and disseminating e-mails during the 2016 election. As Trump started answering questions about the interference, and it became clear that he would not accept the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies over the denials offered by Putin, the frenetic sense of anticipation in the room turned to silent confusion.

Trump claimed that Putin had made “an incredible offer” during their meeting: investigators working with Mueller could come to Russia to interview the twelve indicted intelligence officers. In exchange, Putin explained to the gathered press, Russian investigators would question certain Americans who the Kremlin believes “have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia.”

Putin singled out William Browder, an American-born hedge-fund manager who had worked in Moscow in the nineties and early aughts. Putin falsely claimed that Browder’s business associates had earned more than $1.5 billion in Russia and “never paid any taxes,” and that Browder had donated some four hundred million dollars of this money to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. (Browder has said that he has “not given Hillary Clinton’s campaign or anybody else’s campaign a single penny ever.”) Browder watched the press conference on his computer: Putin’s “forehead was getting all twisted and furrowed, and you could just tell—he was not playing poker,” he said. “He was pissed.”

At the lectern in Helsinki, Putin did not speak of what is surely the true source of his animus: Browder’s decade-long campaign against Russian corruption. In 2009, Browder’s tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky testified that the Russian police and tax authorities had attempted to steal two hundred and thirty million dollars in Russian taxes paid by Browder’s Moscow-based investment firm, Hermitage Capital. Magnitsky was arrested, and died in a pretrial detention center in Moscow. In the years that followed, Browder strenuously lobbied for a law that would punish those responsible. The Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian human-rights violators and other officials implicated in corruption and abuse-of-power cases, was passed by Congress in 2012 and has been a subject of furious preoccupation for Putin ever since.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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

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