Hacking, Kazuo Ishiguro, Passports, Biology, Referenda

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We Need More Hacking

Ido Kalavaty | Lawfare | 6th October 2017

The counter-intuitive lesson from the Equifax fiasco is that we need more attempted hacks, to test the security of data companies and expose their weaknesses. Governments should implement a sort of whistle-blowers’ immunity and bounty for public-spirited hackers who break into servers to show that data can be stolen, but do not steal it. As things stand, companies overestimate their security, and only find out that their data is vulnerable when real thieves steal it (988 words)

Kazuo Ishiguro

Graham Swift | Bomb | 6th October 1989

Conversation between Ishiguro, the latest Nobel prize-winner for literature, and Graham Swift, a considerable novelist in his own right. Topics include butlers, dignity, memory, messiness, national identity. “So far, in my writing career, I’ve aspired more to the Chekhov: the spare and the precise, the carefully, controlled tone. But I do sometimes envy the utter mess, the chaos of Dostoevsky. He does reach some things that you can’t reach in any other way than by doing that” (2,700 words)

Citizens Of Anywhere

Matthew Valencia | 1843 | 2nd October 2017

For $10,000 you can buy residency in Thailand. For $10 million you be fast-tracked for residency in Britain. Within that price range are thirty or forty other countries happy to sell citizenship or residency for cash — the polite term is “citizenship by investment”. Caribbean nations are popular since they tend to have good visa-free access to the rest of the world. St Kitts and Nevis sells passports for $250,000; Dominica for $100,000. If you want an EU passport, Malta charges $650,000 (3,040 words)

Puzzles In Modern Biology

Steven Frank | F1000 | 8th September 2017

Three puzzles from biology, asked if not answered. First, why are many men sterile, given that this, of all traits, should have been punished out of existence by evolution? “Exceptional failure often reveals deep principles of evolutionary design”. Second, is there a single event which triggers the degeneration of human brain tissue in old age, or is it a general property of the tissue? Third, why are genomes so much more complicated than they apparently need to be? (1,275 words)

Yes Or No?

Neal Ascherson | New York Review Of Books | 5th October 2017

A short history of referendums, plebiscites, and the confusion between them. “The central factor in referendums is who has the right to call them. Formally, the Kurdish and Catalan referendums were both illegal because neither the Iraqi nor the Spanish government licensed them. But the European Union showed despicable hypocrisy in snubbing the Catalans, since more than half the EU’s members only exist because they broke away from larger states without permission or prior referendum” (1,700 words)

Video of the day: Does Not Compute

What to expect:

Kevin Kelly recalls seeing his first mainframe computers in the 1960s (1’12”)

Thought for the day

Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form
Vladimir Nabokov

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