News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On the morning of March 1, 2017, Catherine Mörk and Linda Altrov Berg were in the offices of Norstedts, a book publisher in Sweden, when they received an unusual email. A colleague in Venice was asking for a top-secret document: the unpublished manuscript of the forth-coming fifth book in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” series. The books, which follow hacker detective Lisbeth Salander, have sold more than 100 million copies. David Lagercrantz, another Swedish writer, had taken over the series after Larsson’s death, and his latest — The Man Who Chased His Shadow — was expected to be one of the publishing events of the year.

Norstedts was guarding the series closely. Lagercrantz wrote his first “Millennium” book on a computer with no connection to the internet and delivered the manuscript on paper, at which point Norstedts mailed a single copy to each of the book’s international publishers. With the new title, Norstedts wanted to streamline the process — Lisbeth Salander’s publisher, they figured, should be able to protect itself from hackers and thieves. Mörk and Altrov Berg, who handle foreign rights at Norstedts, consulted with other publishers of blockbuster books. The translators working on one of Dan Brown’s follow-ups to The Da Vinci Code, for instance, were required to work in a basement with security guards clocking trips to the bathroom. Norstedts decided to try sharing the new “Millennium” book via Hushmail, an encrypted-email service, with passwords delivered separately by phone. Everyone would have to sign an NDA.

Read the rest of this article at: Vulture

News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Bayesian reasoning is an approach to statistics, but you can use it to interpret all sorts of new information. In the early hours of September 26, 1983, the Soviet Union’s early-warning system detected the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles from the United States. Stanislav Petrov, a forty-four-year-old duty officer, saw the warning. He was charged with reporting it to his superiors, who probably would have launched a nuclear counterattack. But Petrov, who in all likelihood had never heard of Bayes, nevertheless employed Bayesian reasoning. He didn’t let the new information determine his reaction all on its own. He reasoned that the probability of an attack on any given night was low—comparable, perhaps, to the probability of an equipment malfunction. Simultaneously, in judging the quality of the alert, he noticed that it was in some ways unconvincing. (Only five missiles had been detected—surely a first strike would be all-out?) He decided not to report the alert, and saved the world.

Bayesian reasoning implies a few “best practices.” Start with the big picture, fixing it firmly in your mind. Be cautious as you integrate new information, and don’t jump to conclusions. Notice when new data points do and do not alter your baseline assumptions (most of the time, they won’t alter them), but keep track of how often those assumptions seem contradicted by what’s new. Beware the power of alarming news, and proceed by putting it in a broader, real-world context.

In a sense, the core principle is mise en place. Keep the cooked information over here and the raw information over there; remember that raw ingredients often reduce over heat. But the real power of the Bayesian approach isn’t procedural; it’s that it replaces the facts in our minds with probabilities. Where others might be completely convinced that G.M.O.s are bad, or that Jack is trustworthy, or that the enemy is Eurasia, a Bayesian assigns probabilities to these propositions. She doesn’t build an immovable world view; instead, by continually updating her probabilities, she inches closer to a more useful account of reality. The cooking is never done.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

The Balmoral in Chestnut

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In May 2019, Facebook asked the organizing bodies of English soccer to its London offices off Regent’s Park. On the agenda: what to do about the growing racist abuse on the social network against Black soccer players.

At the meeting, Facebook gave representatives from four of England’s main soccer organizations — the Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League and the Professional Footballers’ Association — what they felt was a brushoff, two people with knowledge of the conversation said. Company executives told the group that they had many issues to deal with, including content about terrorism and child sex abuse.

A few months later, Facebook provided soccer representatives with an athlete safety guide, including directions on how players could shield themselves from bigotry using its tools. The message was clear: It was up to the players and the clubs to protect themselves online.

The interactions were the start of what became a more than two-year campaign by English soccer to pressure Facebook and other social media companies to rein in online hate speech against their players. Soccer officials have since met numerous times with the platforms, sent an open letter calling for change and organized social media boycotts. Facebook’s employees have joined in, demanding that it do more to stop the harassment.

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

News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Dirk Syndram stared out the car window from the passenger seat as the blackened streets of Dresden, Germany, zipped by. As a museum director, Syndram doesn’t get many phone calls in the middle of the night; he isn’t often roused from his bed and driven into work in the predawn darkness. That sort of thing can only mean the worst has happened.

As his car slowed to a stop outside the Residenzschloss—the city’s iconic Baroque palace—Syndram could see that the cops had the whole area sealed off. It was now a little before six o’clock on the morning of November 25, 2019, and from the street that ran past the palace, a keen observer might have noticed the damage in a nook on the ground floor. A section of an iron gate had been pried apart. Behind it, where there had once been a window, there was now a gaping hole.

Police wouldn’t allow him through to survey the damage, but Syndram didn’t need to go inside to understand what had happened. He knew—better than anybody—what the thieves had been after. The window led to the so-called Green Vault, a glittering repository of 3,000 of the most precious royal treasures in Europe: gemstone-studded sculptures, ornate ivory cabinets, miniature dioramas, massive diamonds, and hundreds of other rare objects of enormous cultural significance—much of the trove commissioned or acquired by the early-18th-century monarch Augustus II, nicknamed Augustus the Strong, who socked it all away in his sprawling Residenzschloss, or Royal Palace, on the Elbe River.

Syndram, who’d been the Green Vault’s director since 1993, was horrified and mystified: The museum, Syndram would later tell a reporter, had in recent years conducted tests of its security system and determined that all was working perfectly. What could have possibly gone wrong?

When news of the heist hit the press, the robbery was described as one of the most costly art heists in history. Reports valued the looted treasure at as much as $1.2 billion. That figure was debatable, but the scale of the loss was staggering, and Syndram knew a detail that made the problem much, much worse: None of the art was insured. The premiums on a collection that valuable would be too taxing for the museum to handle.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

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News 18.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Like a lot of men, in pursuit of novelty and amusement during these months of isolation, I grew a mustache. The reviews were predictably mixed and predictably predictable. “Porny”? Yes. “Creepy”? Obviously. “ ’70s”? True (the 18- and 1970s). On some video calls, I heard “rugged” and “extra gay.” Someone I love called me “zaddy.” Children were harsh. My 11-year-old nephew told his Minecraft friends that his uncle has this … mustache; the midgame disgust was audible through his headset. In August, I spent two weeks with my niece, who’s 7. She would rise each morning dismayed anew to be spending another day looking at the hair on my face. Once, she climbed on my back and began combing the mustache with her fingers, whispering in the warmest tones of endearment, “Uncle Wesley, when are you going to shave this thing off?”

It hasn’t been all bad. Halfway through a quick stop-and-chat outside a friend’s house in July, he and I removed our masks and exploded at the sight of each other. No way: mustache! I spent video meetings searching amid the boxes for other mustaches, to admire the way they enhance eyes and redefine faces with a force of irreversible handsomeness, the way Burt Reynolds never made the same kind of sense without his. The mustache aged me. (People didn’t mind letting me know that, either.) But so what? It pulled me past “mature” to a particular kind of “distinguished.” It looks fetching, for instance, with suits I currently have no logical reason to wear.

One afternoon, on a group call to celebrate a friend’s good news, somebody said what I didn’t know I needed to hear. More reviews were pouring in (thumbs down, mostly), but I was already committed at that point. I just didn’t know to what. That’s when my friend chimed in: “You look like a lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund!”

What I remember was laughter. But where someone might have sensed shade being thrown, I experienced the opposite. A light had been shone. It was said as a winking correction and an earnest clarification. Y’all, this is what it is. The call moved on, but I didn’t. That is what it is: one of the sweetest, truest things anybody had said about me in a long time.

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

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