In the News 21.12.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Wednesday 21st December, 2016
In Proof We Trust
The impact of record-keeping on the course of history cannot be overstated. For example, the act of preserving Judaism and Christianity in written form enabled both to outlive the plethora of other contemporary religions, which were preserved only orally. William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, was still being used to settle land disputes as late as the 1960s. Today there is a new system of digital record-keeping. Its impact could be equally large. It is called the blockchain.
Imagine an enormous digital record. Anyone with internet access can look at the information within: it is open for all to see. Nobody is in charge of this record. It is not maintained by a person, a company or a government department, but by 8,000-9,000 computers at different locations around the world in a distributed network. Participation is quite voluntary. The computers’ owners choose to add their machines to the network because, in exchange for their computer’s services, they sometimes receive payment. You can add your computer to the network, if you so wish.
Read the rest of this article at aeon
Wonder and Worry, as a
Syrian Child Transforms
TORONTO — As soon as Bayan Mohammad, a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, arrived here last winter, she began her transformation. In her first hour of ice-skating, she managed to glide on her own. She made fast friends with girls different from any she had ever known. New to competitive sports, she propelled herself down the school track so fast that she was soon collecting ribbons.
Bayan glued herself to the movie “Annie,” the ballet “Cinderella” and episodes of “Wheel of Fortune,” all stories of metamorphosis. As her English went from halting to chatty, she ticked off everything she hungered to do: An overnight school trip. Gymnastics lessons. Building a snowman — no, a snow-woman.
“I just want to be Canadian,” she said.
The volunteers resettling her family — a group of teachers, pediatricians and other friends and neighbors spurred by devastating images of young refugees and casualties of war — watched Bayan with wonder. Her parents, Abdullah and Eman Mohammad, a former grocery store owner and a nurse from a rural village, felt both pride and alarm.
Read the rest of this article at The New York Times
An Interview with Martin Scorsese
On December 23, Paramount will release Silence, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited film about the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan, based on the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo. One of the last century’s most celebrated Japanese novelists, Endo has been called “the Japanese Graham Greene.” Greene himself praised Silence as “one of the finest novels of our time;” John Updike judged it “somber, delicate, and startlingly empathetic;” and Robert Coles, writing in Commonweal after Endo’s death in 1996, called it “a major witness to Christian introspection.”
Endo was a Catholic, and his novel covers a brutal period in Japan’s history, in the time of the Togukawa shogunate, when feudal lords expelled Catholic missionaries and tortured or killed thousands of Japanese Catholics who refused to renounce their faith. Silence takes off from the history of an actual Portuguese Jesuit priest, Cristóvão Ferreira, who in 1633 apostatized after being tortured, then joined Japanese society, marrying, accepting Buddhism, and assuming a Japanese identity. It chronicles the travails of two fictional Jesuit priests sent to minister to the “hidden Christians” of Japan—“to give them courage,” their superior charges them, “and to ensure that the tiny flame of faith does not die out”—while investigating the fate of their former mentor, Ferreira.
Read the rest of this article at Commonweal
The therapist had been working for Talkspace, a popular text-based therapy app, for a few months when she first felt forced to violate her legal and professional obligations.
She had just begun working with a new patient when he told her a family member had been driving drunk with the patient’s baby in the car. Most states in the country, including the therapist’s, legally require licensed therapists to report child abuse, neglect, or endangerment to an appropriate agency, such as law enforcement, child protective services, or a state child welfare hotline. So the therapist, who has requested anonymity due to fear of legal repercussions, told her assigned mentor at the company about the dangerous situation.
Read the rest of this article at The Verge
DANIEL ELLSBERG, EDWARD SNOWDEN, AND THE MODERN WHISTLE-BLOWER
From their backgrounds to their motivations, the two men have some striking differences.
In the summer of 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara commissioned a group of thirty-six scholars to write a secret history of the Vietnam War. The project took a year and a half, ran to seven thousand pages, and filled forty-seven volumes. Only a handful of copies were made, and most were kept under lock and key in and around the Beltway. One set, however, ended up at the rand Corporation, in Santa Monica, where it was read, from start to finish, by a young analyst there named Daniel Ellsberg.
Ellsberg was dismayed by what he learned. For a generation, the U.S. government had been lying to the American people about the Vietnam War. He put the first of the volumes in his briefcase, praying that the security guards at rand would not stop him, and made his way to a small advertising agency in West Hollywood, where a friend told him there was a Xerox machine he could use.
“It was a big one, advanced for its time, but very slow by today’s standards,” Ellsberg writes in his 2002 autobiography, “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers”:
Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker