News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets Internets
News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Like most nations, but more acutely, the Ireland of the late nineteen-fifties and the sixties was torn between isolation and community. Most important, it had to navigate a path between the claims of the Church and the secular appeal of the new. The country’s apparent strengths—its population’s ethnic and religious homogeneity, its battle-scarred unity against the old colonial aggressor, the romantic brilliance of its self-mythologizing—were the very forces that were pushing it toward disruptive upheavals. O’Toole is almost Hegelian in his understanding of history as a critical process in which eras helplessly recruit the agents of their own undoing. Religion and nationalism, the cross and the clover, promised a timeless stability but were actually subversive forces.

They were subversive because, despite the rhetoric of confidence, they were anxiously unstable, held together by a will to hypocrisy; when the deficits of this hypocrisy overwhelmed the benefits, the will began to wane. Reading this book, I was struck by parallels with the collapse of various European Communist regimes. In particular, I often thought of the jokes, novels, and allegories that circulated in places under Communist rule, like Czechoslovakia and Albania, with their comic, grim evasions and knowing irony around doublethink. Josef Škvorecký, as much as Flann O’Brien, could have produced the basic script.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

What would it have been like to live in Babel in the days after its destruction? In the Book of Genesis, we are told that the descendants of Noah built a great city in the land of Shinar. They built a tower “with its top in the heavens” to “make a name” for themselves. God was offended by the hubris of humanity and said:

Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.

The text does not say that God destroyed the tower, but in many popular renderings of the story he does, so let’s hold that dramatic image in our minds: people wandering amid the ruins, unable to communicate, condemned to mutual incomprehension.

The story of Babel is the best metaphor I have found for what happened to America in the 2010s, and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.

It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics, and American history. But Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families.

Babel is a metaphor for what some forms of social media have done to nearly all of the groups and institutions most important to the country’s future—and to us as a people. How did this happen? And what does it portend for American life?

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

To be fair to my sweet dog, Trudy, she was just trying to play. But she broke my nose instead. It had been a rough seven weeks since I rescued her from a neglectful owner.

Trudy had ripped a squeaker from a toy, and I bent down to grab the prize so she wouldn’t swallow it. I was more used to caring for an ailing 15-year-old yellow Lab named Sunny—who had died on March 25, 2021—and I was out of practice handling an exuberant youngster. Trudy launched her 65-pound body at my face like she was shot out of a cannon. I heard a crunching sound in the center of my nose and then felt a trickle of blood flowing from my nostrils.

This was the third serious headbutt I’d gotten since bringing Trudy home in June. In previous weeks, similarly energetic body launches from the 18-month-old yellow Lab had left me with a large forehead contusion and a cracked tooth.

I put the squeaker in my pocket, threw my head back, grabbed an ice pack from the freezer, and lay on my bed with blood and tears running down my face. Sunny had been gone a little over two months, and my grief from that loss was still more intense than the pain pulsing through my nose. Trudy looked on, wagging her tail, wanting to play. What was I doing bringing a new dog into my life when I was so heartbroken? I feared I had made a terrible mistake.

Read the rest of this article at: Outside Magazine

News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

She was known, back then, as Susan Thunder. For someone in the business of deception, she stood out: she was unusually tall, wide-hipped, with a mane of light blonde hair and a wardrobe of jackets embroidered with band logos, spoils from an adolescence spent as an infamous rock groupie. Her backstage conquests had given her a taste for quaaludes and pharmaceutical-grade cocaine; they’d also given her the ability to sneak in anywhere.

Susan found her way into the hacker underground through the phone network. In the late 1970s, Los Angeles was a hotbed of telephone culture: you could dial-a-joke, dial-a-horoscope, even dial-a-prayer. Susan spent most of her days hanging around on 24-hour conference lines, socializing with obsessives with code names like Dan Dual Phase and Regina Watts Towers. Some called themselves phone phreakers and studied the Bell network inside out; like Susan’s groupie friends, they knew how to find all the back doors.

When the phone system went electric, the LA phreakers studied its interlinked networks with equal interest, meeting occasionally at a Shakey’s Pizza parlor in Hollywood to share what they’d learned: ways to skim free long-distance calls, void bills, and spy on one another. Eventually, some of them began to think of themselves as computer phreakers, and then hackers, as they graduated from the tables at Shakey’s to dedicated bulletin board systems, or BBSes.

Susan followed suit. Her specialty was social engineering. She was a master at manipulating people, and she wasn’t above using seduction to gain access to unauthorized information. Over the phone, she could convince anyone of anything. Her voice honey-sweet, she’d pose as a telephone operator, a clerk, or an overworked secretary: I’m sorry, my boss needs to change his password, can you help me out?
In the early ’80s, Susan and her friends pulled increasingly elaborate phone scams until they nearly shut down phone service for the entire city. As two of her friends, Kevin Mitnick and Lewis DePayne, were being convicted for cybercrime, she made an appearance on 20/20, demonstrating their tradecraft to Geraldo Rivera. Riding her celebrity, she went briefly legit, testifying before the US Senate and making appearances at security conventions, spouting technobabble in cowboy boots and tie-dye. Then, without a trace, she left the world behind.

I went looking for the great lost female hacker of the 1980s. I should have known that she didn’t want to be found.

Read the rest of this article at: The Verge

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News 11.04.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Locals tell an old joke about the Ukrainian city of Lviv. A man emerges from a train at the railway station there, glad to have finally reached the faraway east. Across the platform, another man steps down from another train. He takes in a breath of air in the strange, exciting west.

Lviv is a gateway, a cipher, a place caught between. Refugees, aid workers, idealists, and goons gather there now because of the war, some coming, others going. It’s become a haven for those fleeing the horrors to its east while a staging ground for those bound for the same. They call it the City of Lions, and it would be difficult for even the most obtuse visitor not to connect their chosen symbol with the emerging national will that’s so fierce it seems to belong to a past century.

In early March, a few days after Russia’s multifront invasion of Ukraine, I joined a small group traveling to Lviv to help advise and train a city defense force of local volunteers. I’d gotten on the plane there mostly thinking I was going as a journalist. Once we landed I knew that one more writer looking for a story was the last thing Ukraine needed. My friends, though, sought a third trainer. So I said I’d do it. They didn’t pressure me. The moment did.

We are all American combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We went on our own volition, representing only ourselves. We brought tourniquets instead of guns, experience instead of Javelins.

We taught basic urban-combat tactics and survivability to teachers, bus drivers, IT workers. Deceit marks any war, and the information battles in Ukraine have become case studies in real time. Yet I never got one whiff of duplicity in the confines of our training compound. These people were who they said they were, which is to say they are regular folks who want nothing to do with any of this but find themselves forced to act.

How do I know? If you’ve ever seen a middle-aged lawyer try to bound across an open field for the first time, you just do.

Then that lawyer does it again, and again, and again, and then, all at once, he’s capable. Because he must be. Every woman and man there said they’ll defend their homes if the war comes to western Ukraine. I pray it doesn’t, but they’ll be ready if those pleas go unheard. During our two weeks together, they gave our group their trust, their commitment. It’s a heavy thing, to pick up a gun in war. The choice, if it does come, belongs to them alone.

One trainee was a twenty-year-old student I’ll call Roman. (Ukrainian names have been changed to conceal their identities.) He proved a natural, kicking down doors and moving through rubbled terrain like a guerrilla. Still, he’d never fired a rifle before we took the Ukrainian civilians to a weapons range. After he squeezed the trigger a few times, putting rounds on target, I asked how he felt.

Read the rest of this article at: Esquire

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