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News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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How We Lost Our Sensory Connection With Food – And How To Restore It

This is going to sound weird, but I want you to look closely for a moment at your thumbs. See how they flex forwards as well as back. Notice how responsive and grippy the skin is. The human thumb is not just a device for giving the thumbs-up sign or for picking up dropped keys. It is also one of the most efficient and sensitive tools in existence for determining the ripeness of fruit.

One of the hallmarks of being a hominid is having opposable thumbs: stronger, longer and more flexible than the thumbless hands of a spider monkey or the non-opposable thumbs of a marmoset. These opposable thumbs are a trait that humans share with our primate cousins such as chimpanzees. But it has only recently been discovered that our thumbs might have first evolved as a device for measuring whether or not fruit was ripe. In 2016, biologist Nathaniel Dominy studied the way chimpanzees pick figs. Dominy found that chimpanzees use their dexterous hands to give figs a quick squeeze to determine whether they are ripe or not – a technique that works four times quicker on average than the method used by monkeys (plucking figs at random, biting them to check for ripeness and spitting out the unripe ones).

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

At the height of the British Empire, just after the First World War, an island smaller than Kansas controlled roughly a quarter of the world’s population and landmass. To the architects of this colossus, the largest empire in history, each conquest was a moral achievement. Imperial tutelage, often imparted through the barrel of an Enfield, was delivering benighted peoples from the errors of their ways—child marriage, widow immolation, headhunting. Among the edifiers was a Devonshire-born rector’s son named Henry Hugh Tudor. Hughie, as he was known to Winston Churchill and his other chums, pops up so reliably in colonial outposts with outsized body counts that his story can seem a “Where’s Waldo?” of empire.

He’s Churchill’s garrison-mate in Bangalore in 1895—a time of “messes and barbarism,” the future Prime Minister complained in a note to his mum. As the century turns, Tudor is battling Boers on the veldt; then it’s back to India, and on to occupied Egypt. Following a decorated stint as a smoke-screen artist in the trenches of the First World War, he’s in command of a gendarmerie, nicknamed Tudor’s Toughs, that opens fire in a Dublin stadium in 1920—an assault during a search for I.R.A. assassins which leaves dozens of civilians dead or wounded. Prime Minister David Lloyd George delights in rumors that Tudor’s Toughs were killing two Sinn Féinners for every murdered loyalist. Later, even the military’s chief of staff marvelled at how nonchalantly the men spoke of those killings, tallying them up as though they were runs in a cricket match; Tudor and his “scallywags” were out of control. It didn’t matter: Churchill, soon to be Secretary of State for the Colonies, had Tudor’s back.

Imperial subjects, of course, sometimes found their own solutions to such problems. A hard-line British field marshal, atop the I.R.A. hit list, was gunned down in Belgravia in 1922. Tudor, worried he would be next, made himself scarce. By the following year, he and his Irish paramilitaries were propagating their tactics for suppressing natives in the British-controlled Mandate of Palestine, Churchill having decided that the violence-prone Tudor was just the fellow to train the colonial police. A letter from Tudor to Churchill that I recently came across crystallizes all the insouciance, cynicism, greed, callousness, and errant judgment of empire. He opens by telling Churchill that he’s just commanded his troops to slaughter Adwan Bedouins who had been marching on Amman to protest high taxes levied on them by their notoriously extravagant emir. This tribe was “invariably friendly to Great Britain,” Tudor writes, a touch ruefully. But, he adds, “politics are not my affair.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

If you’ve ever moved to a beat, joined in a chorus or felt your heart quicken to the lyrics of a song, you’ve felt the power of music. That power runs deep in the human experience, and the urge to dive fully into the sounds, to make those sounds and share them, is strong.

Like millions who’ve learned to play or sing as an adult, I had no idea that music would become so important to me. As a teen I enjoyed playing guitar and singing, and in college I took a few bass lessons. I married a singer/songwriter who had gigged in his youth. But it wasn’t until we’d settled into our middle years that I returned to music. Now I struggle to imagine my life without it. If I could learn music as an adult – with little innate talent or musical upbringing – surely anyone can.

Most of us had musical experiences as children, whether it was singing during religious services, taking lessons that our parents supervised, or attending music clubs in school. But playing music as an adult is different. We have pressing obligations, no supervising parents and fewer opportunities thrust upon us. We have to choose to do more with music, and then we have to make time for it.

Read the rest of this article at: Phyche

News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For the past two weeks, observers of North Korea’s strange and tightly restricted corner of the internet began to notice that the country seemed to be dealing with some serious connectivity problems. On several different days, practically all of its websites—the notoriously isolated nation only has a few dozen—intermittently dropped offline en masse, from the booking site for its Air Koryo airline to Naenara, a page that serves as the official portal for dictator Kim Jong-un’s government. At least one of the central routers that allow access to the country’s networks appeared at one point to be paralyzed, crippling the Hermit Kingdom’s digital connections to the outside world.

Some North Korea watchers pointed out that the country had just carried out a series of missile tests, implying that a foreign government’s hackers might have launched a cyberattack against the rogue state to tell it to stop saber-rattling.

But responsibility for North Korea’s ongoing internet outages doesn’t lie with US Cyber Command or any other state-sponsored hacking agency. In fact, it was the work of one American man in a T-shirt, pajama pants, and slippers, sitting in his living room night after night, watching Alien movies and eating spicy corn snacks—and periodically walking over to his home office to check on the progress of the programs he was running to disrupt the internet of an entire country.

Just over a year ago, an independent hacker who goes by the handle P4x was himself hacked by North Korean spies. P4x was just one victim of a hacking campaign that targeted Western security researchers with the apparent aim of stealing their hacking tools and details about software vulnerabilities. He says he managed to prevent those hackers from swiping anything of value from him. But he nonetheless felt deeply unnerved by state-sponsored hackers targeting him personally—and by the lack of any visible response from the US government.

So after a year of letting his resentment simmer, P4x has taken matters into his own hands. “It felt like the right thing to do here. If they don’t see we have teeth, it’s just going to keep coming,” says the hacker. (P4x spoke to WIRED and shared screen recordings to verify his responsibility for the attacks but declined to use his real name for fear of prosecution or retaliation.) “I want them to understand that if you come at us, it means some of your infrastructure is going down for a while.”

P4x says he’s found numerous known but unpatched vulnerabilities in North Korean systems that have allowed him to singlehandedly launch “denial-of-service” attacks on the servers and routers the country’s few internet-connected networks depend on. For the most part, he declined to publicly reveal those vulnerabilities, which he argues would help the North Korean government defend against his attacks. But he named, as an example, a known bug in the web server software NginX that mishandles certain HTTP headers, allowing the servers that run the software to be overwhelmed and knocked offline. He also alluded to finding “ancient” versions of the web server software Apache, and says he’s started to examine North Korea’s own national homebrew operating system, known as Red Star OS, which he described as an old and likely vulnerable version of Linux.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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News 30.03.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Early in my career in search engine optimization, I was working with an SEO consultant on a particular website project, who gave me some words of wisdom: A website is a building. A domain was brick and mortar, a sitemap was a hallway, webpages were a series of rooms.

It was a compelling metaphor, one I kept returning to as I worked on optimizing and organizing the site’s pages. But the project became more complicated the longer I worked on it: Instead of finding a neatly ordered site structure, I found chaos. In the CMS were hundreds of broken links. On the blogs, old branding sat uncomfortably next to new design. Orphaned pages were hidden and sealed off in various, unexpected locations. There was, in other words, a monstrous version of the site lurking just beneath the public-facing one.
Encountering this hidden version produced the same uneasy feeling as looking at “horrible architecture,” a term developed by Singapore-based architects Joshua Comaroff and Ong Ker-Shing: structures in which “normal anatomy grows deviant — extra limbs appear, holes open where they should not.” In Horror in Architecture, their 2013 work of architectural theory, they use the conventions of horror cinema to read buildings, applying horror genre tropes — like the partially dead (the figure of the zombie, for example, or the haunted house), or the double (the doppelgänger) — to interrogate different architectural forms, from stave churches in Norway to the Twin Towers in New York City. It’s a bizarre and enchanting project designed to change the way we think about our built environment, to draw our attention to what we might ordinarily look past.

Horrible architecture, according to Comaroff and Ker-Shing, has multiple defining features, including “doubling, reiteration, disproportion, formlessness, shifts of scale, excess parts and openings.” Throughout the book, we encounter architecture that deviates from common design conventions. We expect residential buildings to contain windows we can open, for instance, but their examples include houses with false windows; mid-century apartment blocks with idiosyncratic modern extensions; hotels with sealed-off rooms and hidden voids. Here, what we see is not what we expect to find; these buildings embody “the suspicion that official design discourses are not telling the whole story.” Comaroff and Ker-Shing’s readings are underpinned by this suspicion: What is hidden from us in the buildings we occupy? And what does deviance reveal?

When I read their book, I thought first of the monstrous website I had worked on years earlier. Applying their suspicious gaze to the internet, familiar sites begin to suggest something sinister. Horrible architecture might best be read as an aesthetic framework for interrogating all contemporary structures; for identifying what Comaroff and Ker-Shing call the “creeping unease” at the center of modern design, namely the anxious intolerance of deviance. By looking at this deviance directly, we become more alert to the mechanisms used to conceal it; and to the internet’s fallibility, disposability, and ultimate mortality.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

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