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In the News 21.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 21.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 21.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 21.08.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The White Lies of Craft Culture

Last fall, the chef Sean Brock and brewmaster Ryan Coker of Revelry Brewing unveiled a collaboration called Amber Waves, a malt liquor made with locally sourced ingredients and grains reflective “of the 19th-century South.” The “historically accurate heritage grain” malt liquor, whose name derives from the lyric in “America the Beautiful,” comes in a bottle that’s wrapped in the iconic brown paper bag, which is stamped with a blue corn logo and comes tastefully pre-unrolled. Sold in a modest 22-ounce portion, rather than the 40-ounce size that the malt liquor is known for, a bottle runs $29, or more than $1.30 an ounce.

Outlets like Modern Farmer have praised Brock and Coker for “successfully elevating this bottom-shelf booze to small-batch status,” a rhetorical sleight of hand that both conceals and dramatizes its racial subtext: “Bottom shelf” is code for corner store and drunk on a dime, for poverty and homelessness, and for the black and brown communities who’ve made the beverage a part of hip-hop and hood culture; “small-batch status” and “heritage grain” signifies the antithesis of the former — something artful and refined. By evoking the 19th-century South — an era when slavery and indentured servitude thrived — Amber Waves transforms hood to urbane.

Read the rest of this article at: Eater

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Who Owns the Internet?

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On the night of November 7, 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife, Lucy, took to her bed with a headache. The returns from the Presidential election were trickling in, and the Hayeses, who had been spending the evening in their parlor, in Columbus, Ohio, were dismayed. Hayes himself remained up until midnight; then he, too, retired, convinced that his Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, would become the next President.

Hayes had indeed lost the popular vote, by more than two hundred and fifty thousand ballots. And he might have lost the Electoral College as well had it not been for the machinations of journalists working in the shady corners of what’s been called “the Victorian Internet.”

Chief among the plotters was an Ohioan named William Henry Smith. Smith ran the western arm of the Associated Press, and in this way controlled the bulk of the copy that ran in many small-town newspapers. The Western A.P. operated in tight affiliation—some would say collusion—with Western Union, which exercised a near-monopoly over the nation’s telegraph lines. Early in the campaign, Smith decided that he would employ any means necessary to assure a victory for Hayes, who, at the time, was serving a third term as Ohio’s governor. In the run-up to the Republican National Convention, Smith orchestrated the release of damaging information about the Governor’s rivals. Then he had the Western A.P. blare Hayes’s campaign statements and mute Tilden’s. At one point, an unflattering piece about Hayes appeared in the Chicago Times, a Democratic paper. (The piece claimed that Hayes, who had been a general in the Union Army, had accepted money from a soldier to give to the man’s family, but had failed to pass it on when the soldier died.) The A.P. flooded the wires with articles discrediting the story.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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What a Border Collie Taught a Linguist About Language

Tansy was not into sports. The little border collie, a rescue, didn’t care for agility trials or flyball. But her adopted family—with two other border collies already in the house—played them all the time.

Border collies, the elite athletes of the canine universe, are working dogs. They go a little nuts without something to do. After a little consternation, Tansy’s new owner Robin Queen, a linguist at the University of Michigan, got some advice: sheep. And why not? Border collies are, after all, sheepdogs. As soon as Tansy caught sight of some livestock, “it was the first time she showed evidence of understanding something about the world,” Queen says.

That’s how Tansy got into competitive sheepdog trials, a sport in which a handler and dog manage a half-dozen sheep through various tasks. Despite their name, sheep are not sheepish and often act on their own closely held ideas about where to go. Keeping a flock on track can require dogged persistence. It’s difficult and takes a lot of practice. “We were a little bit unusual in that we had very little dog experience and certainly no livestock experience,” Queen says. “People like us don’t tend to stick it out for very long because it’s hard, and you don’t get a lot of fuzzies very fast. It’s hard to control a dog around sheep.”

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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Can Rotten Tomatoes Crush a Movie at the Box Office?

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Shannon and Matt wanted to see a movie. It was date night, and on date nights, they see movies. Shannon turned to her most trusted moviegoing adviser. Matt turned to his.

“It had over a 93 percent! I think it was actually 97 percent,” says Shannon as she exits a Saturday-evening screening of Detroit at Los Angeles’s Glendale Galleria mall. “I just trust Rotten Tomatoes.”

“I hate Rotten Tomatoes,” says Matt, Shannon’s date who works in home video marketing for a major studio. “I think it’s helping ruin the movie industry. I work in the movie industry. … I hear too many people say, ‘I won’t see anything under 80 percent.’ But the way that they determine the rating is [that] people now game the system.”

Matt trusts filmmakers and the word around town when he makes his decision. Shannon uses a website that aggregates reviews and tabulates a score that represents a movie’s “freshness.” Shannon sees consensus in math. Matt sees a fraudulent system.

“Studios are gaming the system,” he says. “Rotten Tomatoes is gaming the system, and the reviewers that Rotten Tomatoes uses, some of them tell Rotten Tomatoes whether or not to give a positive or negative [review]. People are relying on it too much.”

Shannon, naturally, disagrees.

“If you like movies of a certain genre, then you can understand that, ‘OK, [New York Times film critic] Manohla Dargis isn’t gonna like it.’ And so, if you’re a critical-thinking consumer of how the system works, then you can use it to figure out what you wanna see. And I use it every week!”

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

Photos: Inside One of the World’s largest Bitcoin Mines

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One of the world’s largest bitcoin mines is located in the SanShangLiang industrial park on the outskirts of the city of Ordos, in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region that’s part of China. It’s 400 miles from China’s capital, Beijing, and 35 miles from the the city of Baotou. The mine is just off the highway, near the intersection of Latitutde 3rd Road and Longitude 3rd Road. It sits amidst abandoned, half-built factories—victims of an earlier coal mining boom that fizzled out, leaving Ordos and its outlying areas littered with the shells of unfinished buildings.

The mine belongs to Bitmain, a Beijing-based company that also makes mining machines that perform billions of calculations per second to try and crack the cryptographic puzzle that yields new bitcoins. Fifty Bitmain staff, many of them local to Ordos, watch over eight buildings crammed with 25,000 machines that are cranking through calculations 24 hours a day. One of the buildings is devoted to mining litecoin, an ascendant cryptocurrency. The staff live on-site in a building with a dormitory, offices, a canteen, and a repair center. For recreation, they play basketball on an unfinished cement court.

Bitcoin mining consumes enormous amounts of electricity, which is why miners seek out locations that offer cheap energy. The Ordos mine was set up in 2014, making it China’s oldest large-scale bitcoin mining facility. Bitmain acquired it in 2015. It’s powered by electricity mostly from coal-fired power plants. Its daily electricity bill amounts to $39,000. Bitmain also operates other mines in China’s remote areas, like the mountainous Yunnan province in the south and the autonomous region of Xinjiang in the west.

Despite the costs, bitcoin mining remains a lucrative industry. At the current bitcoin price of about $4,000 per bitcoin, miners compete for over $7 million in new bitcoins a day. The more processing power a mining operation controls, the higher its chances of winning a chunk of those millions. The Ordos mine accounts for over 4% of the processing power on the bitcoin network—a huge amount for a single facility.

Read the rest of this article at: Quartz

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @lizzabetsz; @kaitlynn; @lucywilliams02