News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Paranoid Fantasy Behind Brexit

Before the narrative of Len Deighton’s bestselling thriller SS-GB begins, there is a “reproduction” of an authentic-looking rubber-stamped document: “Instrument of Surrender – English Text. Of all British armed forces in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland including all islands.” It is dated 18 February 1941. After ordering the cessation of all hostilities by British forces, it sets down further conditions, including “the British Command to carry out at once, without argument or comment, all further orders that will be issued by the German Command on any subject. Disobedience of orders, or failure to comply with them, will be regarded as a breach of these surrender terms and will be dealt with by the German Command in accordance with the laws and usages of war.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Land That Failed To Fail

News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the uncertain years after Mao’s death, long before China became an industrial juggernaut, before the Communist Party went on a winning streak that would reshape the world, a group of economics students gathered at a mountain retreat outside Shanghai. There, in the bamboo forests of Moganshan, the young scholars grappled with a pressing question: How could China catch up with the West?

It was the autumn of 1984, and on the other side of the world, Ronald Reagan was promising “morning again in America.” China, meanwhile, was just recovering from decades of political and economic turmoil. There had been progress in the countryside, but more than three-quarters of the population still lived in extreme poverty. The state decided where everyone worked, what every factory made and how much everything cost.

The students and researchers attending the Academic Symposium of Middle-Aged and Young Economists wanted to unleash market forces but worried about crashing the economy — and alarming the party bureaucrats and ideologues who controlled it.

Late one night, they reached a consensus: Factories should meet state quotas but sell anything extra they made at any price they chose. It was a clever, quietly radical proposal to undercut the planned economy — and it intrigued a young party official in the room who had no background in economics. “As they were discussing the problem, I didn’t say anything at all,” recalled Xu Jing’an, now 76 and retired. “I was thinking, how do we make this work?”

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

Shopping: Brand New Arrivals at The Shop | November 2018

Shop the Brontë in Caramel
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The City I Love Is Destroying Itself

For the past few years I’ve been working on a topographical film titled Fred’s Rainbow Bar and Other Stages on the International Border featuring a variety of animation styles along with live-action and archival imagery to interrogate histories, memories, and imaginings of the border landscapes of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, the region where I grew up. During this time I’ve also been following the incredible story of “Paso Del Sur” a watch group in El Paso who have been fighting to save Duranguito, the oldest barrio in El Paso Texas.

At any time of day or night, a group of older residents can be seen patrolling the Duranguito neighborhood in downtown El Paso, Texas, located across the river from downtown Juárez, Mexico. Historian David Dorado Romo is one of several “Paso Del Sur” figureheads who have been fighting the City of El Paso, for over a decade, to preserve the spaces Romo has long been writing about. In his 2005 book, Ringside Seat to a Revolution, Romo tracked the footsteps of Mexican Revolutionary folk hero, Francisco “Pancho” Villa and other historical figures of the period throughout Duranguito and greater downtown El Paso. I visited Romo this summer in Duranguito where I interviewed him about their battle with the City and the El Paso Del Norte Group, a bi-national consortium of developers who disobeyed a court order and illegally paid people to demolish their own property. At the time of our interview the neighborhood was in a state of limbo with a section punched out of each of five buildings by orders issued by the City; giving the distinct anthropomorphic appearance of a body disemboweled and left for dead.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Steve McQueen And Viola Davis On Hollywood, Race And Power

News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

CHICAGO — In Steve McQueen’s first meeting with Viola Davis, two years ago at her home in a verdant neighborhood of Los Angeles, he told her the story of his initial encounter with “Widows” — the 1983 British mini-series that has possessed him for 35 years and which will finally be exorcised on Nov. 16, with the release of his take on the brainy, pulpy heist thriller.

A 13-year-old McQueen had been up late in his parents’ living room in London when the show came on television and left him spellbound. “I just immediately identified with these women who were onscreen,” he recalled again last month, sitting next to Davis in a downtown hotel here for the film’s premiere. “They were being judged by their appearance and being deemed to be not capable, similar to how I was being judged as a black child growing up in the ’80s in London.”

The director, whose last film, “12 Years a Slave” (2013), made him the first black Academy Award winner for best picture and the third to be nominated in the directing category, pitched Davis on the adaptation, which follows women who inherit the blueprints for a robbery from their slain gangster husbands in Chicago. The ensemble cast also includes Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo.

“She’s like De Niro, in a way,” McQueen said of Davis, who emitted a bashful laugh that filled the gaudy hotel meeting room. “She reflects something visceral and unpredictable in humanity that you somehow connect to.”

Davis, whose soul-scraping performances on the stage and screen have earned her Academy, Emmy and Tony Awards, recalled how her suitor charmed her. “I felt like he saw me as a vast paradox,” she said of McQueen. “In a different way, it’s sort of like the first time I met my husband — something registers where you feel comfortable enough to open the floodgates and let out all of who you are.”

In a wide-ranging interview, the two discussed their careers, the need for collective action against racial inequity in Hollywood and transcending structural barriers to creativity for black artists.

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

The Problem With Scientific Credit

News 11.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I first learned about Douglas Prasher three years ago, when an algorithm we’d just developed made an unpredictable prediction: He should have been a recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize.

Instead, the award had been given to three other scientists. Even more surprising was our inability to find Prasher anywhere. He wasn’t on the faculty at any university. We couldn’t locate him at an industrial research lab. In fact, as we started digging for him, we realized that he hadn’t written a research paper in nearly a decade. It was truly puzzling. This fellow, who, according to our algorithm, deserved a Nobel Prize, had seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth.

In 2013, Hua-Wei Shen, an accomplished computer scientist from Beijing, joined my lab. Though new to the team, he was intimately familiar with our work. In addition to running a network science lab at his own university, he had also translated my previous book, Bursts, into Chinese. He eagerly joined our small but growing “success group.” Each time we begin a new project, we start with a journal club—a reading group that surveys the current scientific literature to understand what is being done in a particular area. Each of us reads a batch of papers and summarizes key findings for the rest of the lab. Given that a million papers are published each year, this is the only way we’ve found to explore the vast body of knowledge out there.

At one of these journal clubs, Hua-Wei presented a sociology paper that investigated credit allocation in science. As we discussed the issue, we realized how bizarre our profession’s credit protocols are. You have to be an insider to understand the nuances. Take, for example, the paper that reported the discovery of W and Z particles, which was authored by 137 scientists. Who walked away with the Nobel? The 105th and 126th authors, Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer, of course. Somehow, the Nobel Committee manages to sort out who did what and who deserves the lion’s share of the credit, no matter where an author’s name lies. But how exactly?

As we discussed our profession’s strange process of credit allocation in our journal club, I challenged Hua-Wei. If the Nobel Committee could select the deserving scientist from among more than 100 authors, why couldn’t we?

Hua-Wei jumped on the problem, and within a few weeks, he’d developed an algorithm that, like a compass pointing north, located every Nobel Prize winner from extensive lists of contributing scientists with an ease that seemed almost magnetic. Regardless of whether the winner was in physics, where authors are sometimes listed alphabetically, or in biology, where a team’s leader is usually the last named, we could correctly foresee who would win. We were amazed by the algorithm’s accuracy. With remarkable ease, the program not only agreed with the Nobel’s decision to select Rubbia and van der Meer from among 135 authors, it was also able to do the same for all Nobel-winning papers in the past 30 years, without having to read any of them.

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus

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

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