News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Not Here To Dance

This is the story of the greatest night of my entire life. This is about a moment from the Ballon d’Or ceremony that I will never forget, even if I lived 200 years.

It has nothing to do with dancing.

It has everything to do with respect.

And with Roberto Carlos, and Kylian Mbappé, and Mario Balotelli.

But this story actually starts two weeks before the ceremony. It starts with a simple sentence, completely out of the blue.

“Ada, can you keep a secret?”

That was the start of this fantastic dream. One of my assistant coaches at Olympic Lyonnaise had called me into his office after training.

He said, “Listen, you can’t tell anyone.”

I said, “O.K.?”

Read the rest of this article at: The Players Tribune

News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

As Facebook Raised A Privacy Wall, It Carved An Opening For Tech Giants

News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.

The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The exchange was intended to benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users connected with friends across different devices and websites. But Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2 billion users — control it has wielded with little transparency or outside oversight.

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

Facebook has been reeling from a series of privacy scandals, set off by revelations in March that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly used Facebook data to build tools that aided President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Acknowledging that it had breached users’ trust, Facebook insisted that it had instituted stricter privacy protections long ago. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, assured lawmakers in April that people “have complete control” over everything they share on Facebook.

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

How Russian Trolls Used Meme Warfare To Divide America

THERE’S A MEME on Instagram, circulated by a group called “Born Liberal.” A fist holds a cluster of strings, reaching down into people with television sets for heads. The text declares: “The People Believe What the Media Tells Them They Believe: George Orwell.” The quote is surely false, but it’s also perfect in a way. “Born Liberal” was a creation of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian propaganda wing that might as well be part of Oceania. In other words, we live in a time when American democratic debate is being influenced by liars spreading memes about our inability to understand the truth.

This particular meme is one of many revealed in a new report released on Monday, commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee and written by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity firm whose director of research, Renee DiResta, is a WIRED contributor. This report, along with a second one written by the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University and Graphik, offers the most extensive look at the IRA’s attempts to divide Americans, suppress the vote, and boost then-candidate Donald Trump before and after the 2016 presidential election. The report sheds new light on the ways the IRA trolls targeted African Americans and the outsized role Instagram played in their work. It also calls into question statements tech executives have made under oath to Congress in the past 18 months.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Lost In The Valley Of Death

News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Between the ocean’s bright blue surface and its blackest depths — 660 to 3,300 feet below — is a mysterious, dark span of water. Welcome to the twilight zone.

Recent evidence suggests there are more animals here by weight than in all of the world’s fisheries combined. But who lives here, and in what quantities?

Since August, a group of scientists has been using new technology to better understand the twilight zone’s strange inhabitants. They hope their findings will lead to a more sustainable approach before the fishing industry tries to harvest some of its abundant life as fisheries closer to the surface are diminished.

“The time is right to get this knowledge before it’s too late,” said Heidi Sosik, a biologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who is leading The Ocean Twilight Zone project. “This twilight zone region of the ocean is really, very barely explored, but the more we learn, the more interesting and more important it seems to be in playing a role in the whole ecosystem.”

Each animal in the ocean has its own auditory signature that ships usually detect by sending out sound waves that bounce or scatter off their bodies. It’s how whale watching cruises often find humpbacks for you to view.

But the acoustic fingerprints of twilight zone animals are still mysterious because shipboard sonar don’t have the bandwidth to distinguish the many organisms living far below the surface in what’s called the deep scattering layer. It’s an area so dense with life that people once thought it was the seafloor.

Around 250 different species of myctophids, or lantern fish, like the specimens above, make up much of this dense layer. Though abundant enough to trick sonar, individually they are no bigger than your index finger.

Read the rest of this article at: Outside

The Enduring, Incandescent Power Of Kate Bush

News 12.19.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Female pop geniuses who exercise their gifts in rampant, restless fashion over decades, writing, performing, and producing their own work, are as rare as black opals. Shape-shifting brilliance and an airy indifference to what’s expected of you are not the music industry’s favorite assets in any performer, but they are probably easier to accept in a man than in a woman. And such a musician, even today, is subject to the same pressures that have always hindered women’s artistic expression. Like the thwarted writers whom Virginia Woolf described in “A Room of One’s Own,” the female pop original is “strained and her vitality lowered by the need of opposing this, of disproving that”—by the refusal to please and accommodate that only a deep belief in one’s own gift can counteract. “What genius, what integrity it must have required in the face of all that criticism, in the midst of that purely patriarchal society,” Woolf writes, “to hold fast to the thing as they saw it without shrinking.”

Kate Bush, the English singer-songwriter, is one of those who have held fast without shrinking, so it is curious and instructive to see how certain cultural signifiers have been trotted out over the years to diminish her. Certainly, she’s had her share of respect and even adoration. Prince, Peter Gabriel, and Elton John collaborated on songs with her, and she has inspired younger talents; Tori Amos, Björk, Joanna Newsom, St. Vincent, Perfume Genius, and Mitski are all heirs. Every year, around the world, people get together by the hundreds to dance in public to Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”—a goofy but heartfelt tribute to her interpretive dance moves in the song’s glorious freak flag of a video. She’s got credit for her pioneering use of the Fairlight synthesizer, in the eighties, and the headset microphone onstage, for producing her own albums, and for evolving an ahead-of-its-time sound that combined heavy bass with the ethereal high notes, swoops, and screeches of her own remarkable voice. She is a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty, and critics have always noticed that.

And yet—in part because she emerged into the public eye at just eighteen, and with “Wuthering Heights,” surely the most literary and therefore one of the strangest hit singles in history—Bush struck some people as a wide-eyed sprite to whom music somehow happened, not an artist fully in command of her own ideas and craft. The evidence against this reading, even then, included the fact that Bush had defied EMI record executives to pick “Wuthering Heights” as the lead single from her 1978 debut album, “The Kick Inside”; it went to No. 1, making Bush the first female performer with a self-written No. 1 hit in the U.K.

In “Under the Ivy,” the music journalist Graeme Thomson’s smart and respectful biography of Bush, from 2010, the author describes how, early on, reactions to Bush often condescended to her as a child of privilege. She was a doctor’s daughter from Kent, raised by an affectionate, mildly oddball family in a rambling old farmhouse (I kept thinking of the Weasleys from the Harry Potter series), where she was kindly listened to and afforded time and space in which to play the piano and write songs. It was a house full of hidden corners and secret-garden nooks, a portal to the imagination almost as good as a magic wardrobe. The family was Catholic, and Kate, the youngest of three, attended convent school; home, meanwhile, was vibrant with the Celtic singing and sayings of her Irish mother. The twin influences of mystical Irishness and Roman Catholicism bequeathed an atticful of imagery to Bush’s songwriting. Her two older brothers, John Carder and Paddy, were early creative collaborators who became lifelong ones, introducing her to prog rock and the pre-Raphaelites, and, in Paddy’s case, playing a startling array of instruments. Her mum and dad loved her songs, even the ripe ones about adolescent sexual longing. “Our father bought a good reel-to-reel tape recorder,” John Carder writes in his book “Kate,” “and we assiduously recorded all her songs, typed out the lyrics, catalogued them and then posted the tapes to ourselves in registered envelopes—the simplest way of preserving copyright.” Later, a college friend of John Carder’s got David Gilmour, the guitarist for Pink Floyd, to come listen to young Kate play at home, and Gilmour, impressed, arranged recording sessions for her at a London studio.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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