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News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Fritz von der Schulenbur / via @style_secrets_magazine
News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I put the Twitter app back on my phone and scroll aimlessly. I’m trying to hurt my own feelings, and I’m always successful. I want something to hate, I want someone to be wrong, I want someone or something to hurt me. And I always get it, because that’s what the internet is for.

Lately, the point at which I get enough of what I wanted that I delete the app again is when I see a tweet telling me I’m old. I don’t mean it says my name or anything, but that it targets a category of people and makes fun of them for being online at all at 32, 35, 37. I get into a snarly little snit of indignance, and then I get mad at myself for getting mad, and then I delete the app and go to bed, essentially obeying the command in the tweet: Get off of the internet, you’re the wrong age to be here.

Millennials are getting old, and everyone is going to have to hear about it. Characteristically and in the only way we know how, we are making it everybody’s problem. Until somewhat recently, I felt like I knew where the lines were, and who was on which team. I felt like I knew who was old online, and who was young, who was the butt of the jokes, and who was making them. But in the last few years, those categories have shifted.

The hierarchy in online social spaces is changing as we reach a series of page breaks: The oldest millennials have already turned 40, and the youngest are staring down 30. Our slang terms are embarrassing, and our memes are outdated; the clothes we wore the first time around in middle school or high school are in retro fashion for teens and young adults who weren’t alive yet for Y2K.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

As social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have struggled with the onslaught of fake news, disinformation, and bots, Wikipedia has transformed itself into a source of trusted information—not just for its readers but also for other tech platforms. The challenge now is to keep it that way.

Some researchers believe that Wikipedia could be an overlooked venue for information warfare, and they have been developing technologies and methods similar to the ones used on Facebook and Twitter to uncover it. A team from the UK-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (IDS) and the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) published a paper today exploring how to uncover disinformation on Wikipedia. They also believe that the data mapping may have uncovered a strategy that states could use to introduce disinformation. The trick, they say, is playing the long and subtle game.

“We can see what’s happening on YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and Telegram, we can see how much effort states are putting into trying to control and maneuver in those spaces,” says Carl Miller, a research director at the CASM under UK public-policy think tank Demos. “There’s nothing to me that suggests that Wikipedia would be immune to as much effort and time and thought as in any of those other areas.”

Governments have good reasons to influence Wikipedia: 1.8 billion unique devices are used to visit Wikimedia Foundation sites each month, and its pages are regularly among the top results for Google searches. Rising distrust in institutions and mainstream media have made sources of reliable information all the more coveted.

“Because of its transparency and auditability, Wikipedia became one of the few places where you can actually build a sense of trust in information,” says Mathieu O’Neil, an associate professor of communication at the University of Canberra in Australia who studies Wikipedia. “Governments and states that want to promote a particularly strategic perspective have every reason to try and be there and kind of try and influence it.”

Proving government intervention, however, has proved difficult, even as some cases have raised suspicion. In 2021, the Wikimedia Foundation banned an “unrecognized group” of seven Wikipedia users from mainland China and revoked administrator access and other privileges for 12 other users over doxing and threats to Hong Kong editors. Speculation of “pro-China infiltration,” however, was never proven.

Miller can’t say if coordinated disinformation campaigns already happen on Wikipedia nor whether such attempts would be successful in avoiding the platform’s intricate disinformation rules. But, he says, new tools might shed more light on it: “We’ve never tried to analyze Wikipedia data in that way before.”

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

On On April 29, 1969, Carnegie Hall was sold out. The artist who filled the fabled performance hall wasn’t a symphony orchestra, or a Broadway belter, or a jazz star. It wasn’t a rock band or a folk singer or any hero of the counterculture taking the stage just a few months before Woodstock. On that night, more than 3,000 fans filled the Main Hall on 57th Street to see a placid blond man wearing a sweatshirt and sneakers. He stood before a microphone on his 36th birthday and performed a poem about a lost cat named Sloopy.

His name was Rod McKuen. He was the most popular poet in American publishing history.

Rod McKuen sold millions of poetry books in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a regular on late-night TV. He released dozens of albums, wrote songs for Sinatra, and was nominated for two Oscars. He was a flashpoint in the battle between highbrow and lowbrow, with devotees revering his plain-spoken honesty and Dick Cavett mockingly calling him “the most understood poet in America.” Every year on his birthday, he sold out Carnegie Hall.

But by the time I was a teenager, he had completely vanished from the cultural landscape. I only know of him because I spent the entire 1990s in thrift stores and used bookshops, and everywhere I went, I saw Rod McKuen’s name. His chiseled face stared out at me from abandoned hardcovers, torn paperbacks, and dusty record albums, all adorned with the most ’70s fonts you ever saw. He wore a turtleneck and luxurious blond hair on the cover of Come to Me in Silence. He reclined on a sandy beach on the front of Seasons in the Sun. On one paperback he stared out to sea and the title of the book told me just how he felt: Alone…

Read the rest of this article at: Slate

News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

One June morning in 2017, an Albanian-American real-estate broker named Viktor Gjonaj parked outside a strip mall in Sterling Heights, a small suburb on the outskirts of Detroit. He hurried past a halal meat shop, through a waft of spices from an Indian grocery store, and into the claim office of the Michigan Lottery. Gjonaj, who is 6 foot 5, loomed over the front desk in his designer Italian shoes, his dark hair slicked back and glistening in the fluorescent light, and announced that he had won the Daily 4 lottery draw. Twice a day since 1981, the Michigan Lottery has drawn four numbered ping-pong balls from a plastic tank and paid up to $5,000 to any player with the same four digits on their pink ticket. But Gjonaj did not have one winning ticket. He had 500.

Skeptical lottery officials ushered him into a back office and checked his tickets carefully. Each was genuine and contained the four winning numbers—7-8-0-0—drawn on June 18. The odds of winning were just 1 in 416—not terribly long by lottery standards—but it was extremely unusual for someone to play the same numbers 500 times in one day. There were other red flags. Most people who present themselves at lottery claim centers are ecstatic, yet this winner waited for his prizes with the impatience of someone picking up dry cleaning. It took staff six hours to cut 500 checks for $5,000 each. Then Gjonaj (his name is pronounced Joe-nye) tucked them inside the pocket of his sports jacket and roared away in his Lincoln Navigator, richer by $2.5 million.

Over the next nine months, the 40-year-old real-estate broker would return many times, exchanging thousands of winning tickets for nearly $30 million, making him one of the biggest winners in the history of the Michigan Lottery. His luck appeared to defy the laws of statistics and probability, and sent the lottery commission into a spin. Had Gjonaj found a way to rig the machines? Or had he somehow developed a system to predict the winning combinations again and again and again?

Since he was a little boy, Viktor Gjonaj had had a head for numbers. His parents emigrated to the United States from Montenegro and spoke little English, so it was 12-year-old Viktor who handled the sale of their home in Sterling Heights, an area populated by many Yugoslavians and Albanians. As a teenager, he haggled so aggressively for a used car that the owner promised him a job at his real-estate firm. The day after Gjonaj’s 18th birthday, he became a full-time agent. “Every day, fear played a role in it,” he later said on a community television chat show. But, he added, “I knew deep down inside that I was going to figure it out. And I was going to eventually be successful.”

By the time he was in his 30s, he had become one of the busiest commercial-real-estate brokers in Detroit, negotiating deals for a gigantic Walmart and several Taco Bells and Burger Kings. Gjonaj charmed clients with meals at fine restaurants and liked to recite poetry. He was also a ruthless dealmaker who began his days before 6 a.m. and was known for his catchphrase: “People lie. Numbers don’t.”

In his relentless drive to make money, Gjonaj took risks and cut corners. He liked to “flip paper”—he’d enter into a contract to buy a $1.2 million tract of land, then quickly find a buyer to assume the purchase for $1.4 million, pocketing the difference. This wasn’t illegal, but it required nerves of steel. “He just pushed edges and boundaries that he really didn’t need to,” Randy Thomas, who employed Gjonaj in the 2000s, says. “He wanted to be the man.”

At home, Gjonaj and his wife, Rose, doted on their young daughters—together they have three, and he has a fourth from a previous relationship. To blow off steam, he spent Friday nights downing vodka–Red Bulls at a restaurant named Tiramisu. He loved to play Club Keno, a $1-minimum lottery game with live drawings every few minutes. The owner let him play alone at the bar after closing time. “That’s where I fell in love with the algorithms of numbers,” he told me. Gjonaj was convinced that the draws weren’t purely random. He developed a smartphone app that he thought predicted winning numbers based on patterns in previous draws. A $52,000 win seemed to confirm his belief.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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News 16.10.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

At the peak of their fame, they were arguably the most famous magicians since Houdini.

he last survivors of a lost empire live behind the Mirage, in Las Vegas, out back by the pool. On a good day, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden will draw more than 1,000 visitors, the $25 adult admission fee justified mostly by the palm shade and tranquility it offers relative to the mania outside its walls. There are also long summer stretches when it’s 100 degrees and things get a little grim. During a recent visit, only a few families strolled through, surveying the five sleeping animals on display: three tigers, a lion, and a leopard. The Secret Garden ostensibly operates as an educational facility. “Look, a lion,” one young father said to his son, while pointing at a tiger.

Yet residual magic remains. The best time to visit is late afternoon, just before closing, when the heat has started to subside and the sleeping cats stir. If you’re lucky—in this city built on the premise that you, against all odds, will be lucky—a tiger will roar when you’re standing nearby. A tiger’s roar is more than audible. You feel it in your chest, in your teeth, in the prickles of your skin. And if you turn to look at its source, you might catch a tiger’s gaze, its haunting eyes staring into yours, tracking your every move, knowing what you’re about to do before you do it.

At the peak of their particular and possibly extinct brand of celebrity, Siegfried & Roy were arguably the most famous magicians since Houdini. They were without question the most famous German magicians performing with a large collection of apex predators. Depending on when you enter and exit their story, it’s either triumphant or tragic, surprising or inevitable. It can serve as a testament to the power of lies, including the ones we tell ourselves, or a cautionary tale about fiction’s limits, especially when fact takes the form of a fed-up tiger. Now it’s about to reach its sad, instructive conclusion, the way so many modern fables end: with a corporate takeover.

In December 2021, Hard Rock International agreed to pay MGM a little over $1 billion for the right to operate the Mirage, including a three-year license to the name. For a little while longer, the hotel will continue to be marketed as a desert oasis, and its iconic volcano will still erupt. But Las Vegas is the least sentimental city on Earth, and Hard Rock has already announced plans to reimagine the property, including by building a guitar-shaped hotel like the one it opened in Hollywood, Florida, in 2019. The Mirage—the hotel that changed Las Vegas—will vanish from the Strip around the time it turns 35 years old.

It’s less obvious what will happen to the Secret Garden or its inhabitants, which include a few dolphins as well as the cats. There were once more than 50. Today, 14 remain, including Leni, a leopard; Maharani and Star, striped white Bengal tigers; and Timba-Masai, the “White Lion of Timbavati.” They’re put on display in shifts, mornings and afternoons, shuttled between their exhibits and their kennels in a complex the size of a football field. The animals have never known another home, and some of their human caretakers have worked here for more than three decades. Employees greet one another with the same worried question: Have you heard anything? No one has heard anything. There is a singular certainty in the Secret Garden: Its breeding program ended years ago, and so, one by one, its population will continue to decline. The only question is when, exactly, it will reach zero.

Their story is either a testament to the power of lies, or a cautionary tale about fiction’s limits, especially when fact takes the form of a fed-up tiger.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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