Monday, February 18, 2019

What It’s Like to Work Inside Apple’s ‘Black Site’: Deepfakes are scary

The task of a writer is not to solve the problem but to state the problem correctly.
 Anton Chekhov, born in 1860

 “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” 
– Robert Frost

'We will keep them here in NSW': Labor announces jobs policy

NSW Labor leader Michael Daley has promised more local workers and materials will be used in major state government contracts if elected in next month's election. 

'Sydney should shine after dark': Labor to revive 'twilight economy'

Labor wants to revitalise Sydney's "twilight economy" but remains supportive of the inner city's lock-out laws.
The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses WaPo. Martha Stewart when to jail on a nothingburger insider trading charge. Why are we even “negotiating” with Zuckerberg?

What It’s Like to Work Inside Apple’s ‘Black Site’
While companies aren’t required to disclose the sizes of their contingent workforces, there’s ample evidence that tech companies use large numbers of contractors and temps. At Alphabet Inc.’s Google employees accounted for less than half its workforce.

How long will the shocking revelations of the royal commission remain at the forefront of their strategies for governance and cultural change? And will our regulators be up to the task of ensuring that long into the future, complacency and misconduct does not become the norm again?
Graeme Samuel AC is a Professorial Fellow in the Monash Business School. He was a co-author of the Report of the APRA Prudential Inquiry into the culture, governance and accountability of Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Banking royal commission: Kenneth Hayne has a message for every boardroom ...

Small security firm given less than a week to bid for huge Manus Island contract

Paladin, which until last week had its head office as a beach shack on Kangaroo Island, was awarded contracts worth up to $423 million to provide security for refugees.

Art Dealer Mary Boone Sentenced To Prison For Tax Fraud

“After pleading guilty in September to filing false tax returns that claimed she had taken in millions of dollars less than was the reality, Mary Boone — an art dealer with roots in New York’s 1970s-era SoHo scene and galleries in the present in Midtown and Chelsea — was sentenced on Thursday to 30 months in prison in New York’s Southern District Court. – ARTnews

The Stolen Equifax Data Has Never Been Found, Experts Suspect a Spy Scheme CNBC

Revolt of the gig workers: How delivery rage reached a tipping point SF Chronicle

From Misfit With Blog to Author With Deal

ZDNet: “Cyber-criminal groups are exploiting a Gmail feature to file for fraudulent unemployment benefits, file fake tax returns, and bypass trial periods for online services. The trick is an old one and has been used in the past. It refers to Gmail’s “dot accounts,” a feature of Gmail addresses that ignores dot characters inside Gmail usernames

Deepfakes are scary because they allow anyone’s image to be co-opted, and call into question our ability to trust what we see. Even if the incriminating footage is subsequently proven to be fake, the damage to the victim’s reputation may be impossible to repair. What is at stake is the underlying social structure in which we all agree that some form of truth exists, and the social realities that are based on this trust. One approach will be to decentralise trust, so that we no longer need a few institutions to guarantee whether information is genuine and can instead rely on multiple people or organisations with good reputations. One way to do this could be to use blockchain

Germany Opens Massive Intelligence Complex (Maybe the World’s Largest) in Berlin NYT

Opinion – Wired: “…What blockchain does is shift some of the trust in people and institutions to trust in technology. You need to trust the cryptography, the protocols, the software, the computers and the network. 

“We know how important it is for marketers to have their pulse on the latest consumer insights and industry trends. To help you easily stay up-to-date we organized hundreds of Google insights and facts by industry, platform, and theme. Search through to find inspiration, or the perfect insight to power your thinking. Insight cards are shareable and downloadable, so you can easily use in a presentation, or send as inspiration to your colleagues…”

Any Western country using Huawei or other Chinese tech makers in major projects will risk consequences, US ambassador warns South China Morning Post

The strange superstitions of Chinese tech companies Abacus

Why have we become so bamboozled by numbers?
Official figures are produced to serve particular ends. Their names are mere labels, with no connection to infallible underlying stable properties. Most of the time, the statistics that politicians and the media quote do not reveal scientific facts. In the 1980’s TV comedy Yes, Prime Minister, the prime minister asks: “Is it OK to mention figures?” The TV director replies: “Yes. Practically no one takes them in and those who do don’t believe them, but it makes people think you’ve got the facts at your fingertips.”
Facing death with Tolstoy
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, as its title plainly suggests, tells the story of the final months of one man: an ordinary, reasonably prosperous, and successful middle-aged Russian judge. An apparently trivial injury (he hurts his side in a fall from a chair while hanging curtains in his new apartment) quickly develops into something worse. Doctors offer all kinds of diagnoses, medicines, and guarded reassurance, but within weeks, Ivan Ilyich can see that he is a dying man, confronted with the agony, indignity, loneliness, and (in Tolstoy’s uncompromising description) foul stench of his own demise. For most of his family and colleagues, his death is an inconvenience and an embarrassment; they were, as the living usually are, relieved not to be dying themselves but simultaneously aggrieved by the reminder of their own mortality that Ivan Ilyich’s death gave them. It is only a young servant, Gerasim, with all of Tolstoy’s favorite peasant virtues, who can look the processes of dying in the eye and care for his master with true humanity; he deals unashamedly with excrement and allows the dying man to lie in the one position in which he can find some comfort—with his legs raised, resting on Gerasim’s shoulders.

SV pair tackle Commissioner of Police over revocation of security licence

Ex-acting FBI chief describes secret meetings to 'remove Trump'

In his first TV interview, Andrew McCabe also revealed that he launched the Russia investigation because he was disturbed by Donald Trump's comments.

How Zip Pay works, and why the extra cost of ‘buy now, pay later’ is still enticing
In the past three years, the number of Australians using such services has jumped from 400,000 to 2 million. Its business model means it can avoid the responsible lending requirements of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act. As such, Zip lends money without verifying a person’s income or credit history. The potential it will entice those with low income and bad credit has attracted the scrutiny the Senate inquiry into credit and financial services. The problems should be obvious, despite the “interest-free” boast, Zip Pay’s $6 monthly fixed fee is in fact a quasi-interest charge, equivalent to paying 7.4% interest annually on a $1,000 debt.

One-third of Australians think banks do nothing for the greater public good
The leaders of our banks and financial institutions are seen as the most self-serving in the nation. More than a third (35.4%) of respondents believe banking and financial institutions show “no leadership for the greater good”. This score is slightly worse than public perceptions of the Federal Government, substantially worse than religious institutions and significantly worse than trade unions.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Writing Stories and Planting Words

We are all potentially characters in a novel — with the difference that characters in a novel really get to live their lives to the full.
 — Georges Simenon, born in 1903 

How We Think of Our Lives: Boredom in Contemporary Literature

Everybody wants to own the end of the world:

Doubts, but still wants to believe—how else to explain the generations of people, from twentysomething anarchists to aged professors, whose lives have been altered by Cold River? As different as these readers have been, they’ve all been drawn to the possibility that enlightenment can be achieved by abandoning the “normal” life whose ingredients include anthropological view of communisms, childhoods, black markets, money, folkloric groups, friends, army education. This possibility might seem naïve, self-indulgent, or just absurd: Cold River has borne all these insults, and others, and survived unscathed. Iron Curtain survivors not only accepted but welcomed his detractors’ mockery, and in an era when a lot of stories aspire to avoid criticism at all costs, that might be the timeliest virtue....

Watching the shied core

Striking the basket, skidding across the floor,

Shows less and less of luck, and more and more

“Of failure spreading back up the arm

Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,

The apple unbitten in the palm.”

'A Time When Jests are Few'

Why We Keep Falling For Lying Memoirs

“While [Dan] Mallory’s story seems remarkable — a con man using a sob story to sashay his way to literary power — it’s actually extremely common. … The reason these frauds happen is because of the publishing industry’s and the audience’s hunger for authentic voices, particularly voices of suffering. Apologies to Barthes, but the author didn’t die; she became the text.” – The Outline

Larkin exceeds Beckett’s overused “fail better.” Like original sin, failure is built into human action. It’s a familiar Larkin theme, one he refutes by composing so concisely clever a poem out of such unpromising material – throwing refuse at the waste basket, something we do every day. He finished writing “As Bad as a Mile” on Feb. 9, in 1960 when so many kids when trough terrible twos ...


Most writers, even those we enjoy and admire, are fated to remain minor or disappear from memory if not always from the dustiest library shelves. This is an unhappy Darwinian truth. Literature is not a democracy, talent is not fame and good wishes count for nothing. For every Tennyson there are ten thousand Arthur O’Shaughnessys. Consider the case of the English poet Henry Austin Dobson (1840-1921). He studied to be a civil engineer, worked for the Board of Trade in London and turned himself into a poet adept at the triolet -- hardly a prescription for Parnassian immortality. That he titled his second collection of verse Proverbs in Porcelainprobably didn’t help. By all accounts he was a good, conventional man who worked earnestly at his craft, and no one reads him.

'A Browner Shade the Evening of Life'

Salvation by Words: Iris Murdoch on Language as a Vehicle of Truth and Art as a Force of Resistance to Tyranny

Tyrants always fear art because tyrants want to mystify while art tends to clarify. The good artist is a vehicle of truth.” 

Why People Devour Novels About Food, And Why Novelists Cook Them Up

Food is the great equalizer — everyone eats — and what we eat and how we eat it can be so emotional and can carry deep meaning.” Eleven authors offer their thoughts about writing work you can sink your teeth into. – Literary Hub
Maria Imrichova Chef Cook Connoiseur 1917-2006
I often think about my photography when I’m writing… visualizing what I want my readers to see, focusing my words as I would my camera lens. To go even further, I believe that being a photographer makes me a better writer, just as being a writer strengthens my photography.

Chris Christie’s Agonizing New Memoir Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi.

The Best Books on Tales of Soviet Russia | A Five Books Interview

Writing Fiction by Craw

Set Your Browser To Private: The British Library Puts Its Collection Of Obscene Books Online

Together with an 18th-century directory of sex workers in the Covent Garden area of London, and the violent erotic works of the Marquis de Sade, the Merryland books are among the 2,500 volumes in the British Library’s Private Case collection. The volumes have now been digitised, and are being made available online by the publisher Gale as part of its Archives of Sexuality and Gender academic research resource. – The Guardian 
ford Kilian

The Best Author Blogs 

It is no secret that authors write some of the very best blogs. Our editors have compiled a list of author blogs that they believe are truly outstanding. The list ties in with the article, "The Author's Dilemma: To Blog or Not to Blog" and our blogging section.

Although the styles and subject matter of the author blogs vary widely, they all share two important qualities: they are all frequently updated and interesting to read. Be sure to read our blogging tips if you plan to start your own blogs. We have also included blogging resources below.

Author Blogs