Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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March 2018

Our children are acting like leaders because our leaders act like children

Ann Hulbert writes: Anyone used to worrying about coddled young people, their backbone eroded by oversolicitous elders and smartphone addiction, was in for a surprisingly mature show of spine at last weekend’s March for Our Lives. The Parkland, Florida, survivors-turned-prodigy-activists and their followers—along with Dreamers and other youthful protesters lately—couldn’t possibly be denounced as out-of-control “bums,” President Nixon’s epithet for (older) student protesters half a century ago. Quite the contrary.

How new data is transforming our understanding of place cells — the brain’s GPS

Adithya Rajagopalan writes: The first pieces of the brain’s “inner GPS” started coming to light in 1970. In the laboratories of University College London, John O’Keefe and his student Jonathan Dostrovsky recorded the electrical activity of neurons in the hippocampus of freely moving rats. They found a group of neurons that increased their activity only when a rat found itself in a particular location. They called them “place cells.” Building

More immigrants = less crime

The New York Times reports: The Trump administration’s first year of immigration policy has relied on claims that immigrants bring crime into America. President Trump’s latest target is sanctuary cities. “Every day, sanctuary cities release illegal immigrants, drug dealers, traffickers, gang members back into our communities,” he said last week. “They’re safe havens for just some terrible people.” As of 2017, according to Gallup polls, almost half of Americans agreed

There is indeed a witch hunt. It’s led by Fox News against Robert Mueller

Former Fox News strategic analyst, Ralph Peters writes: I was the one person on the Fox payroll who, trained in Russian studies and the Russian language, had been face to face with Russian intelligence officers in the Kremlin and in far-flung provinces. I have traveled widely in and written extensively about the region. Yet I could only rarely and briefly comment on the paramount security question of our time: whether

Trump calls on all victims of sexual assault perpetrated by him to hold him accountable

Donald J Trump declares: We must respond to sexual assault by identifying and holding perpetrators accountable. Too often, however, the victims of assault remain silent. They may fear retribution from their offender, lack faith in the justice system, or have difficulty confronting the pain associated with the traumatic experience. My Administration is committed to raising awareness about sexual assault and to empowering victims to identify perpetrators so that they can

Trump walks away from his vow to ‘utterly destroy ISIS’

ABC News reports: President Donald Trump surprised even the most senior members of his Cabinet when he announced Thursday during a speech in Ohio that the U.S. military would be “coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” according to a senior administration official and a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The president has expressed to top members of his national security team that he would like to withdraw U.S.

It’s time to go after Vladimir Putin’s money in the West

Anders Aslund writes: Putin controls the Russian state institutions, its secret police and its big state companies. Together with a few old friends from St. Petersburg, the president is tapping the big state companies through overpriced no-bid procurement, transfer pricing, asset stripping and stock manipulation. They are also making money by extorting old oligarchs and taking loans from state banks, not to be returned. Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered outside

FBI questions Ted Malloch, a Trump defender who opposes the ‘globalist Luciferian agenda’

When Ted Malloch was interrogated by the FBI at Boston’s Logan airport on Wednesday, it’s unclear whether he contacted a lawyer but he did reach out to the head of the Washington D.C. news bureau for InfoWars, Jerome Corsi. Malloch became a source of controversy in 2016 when he was floated in media reports as a possible US ambassador to the EU, following an aggressive campaign in which, according to

Author of Facebook’s ‘ugly truth’ memo says he didn’t agree with what he wrote — employees call for stronger vetting for potential whistle-blowers

The New York Times reports: Late Thursday, [Andrew Bosworth] said he did not agree with what he wrote in the memo “and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it.” He added that “the purpose of this post, like many others I have written internally, was to bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion with the broader company.” After BuzzFeed published the memo, Mr. Bosworth

How Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook targeting model really worked – according to the person who built it

How accurately can you be profiled online? Andrew Krasovitckii/Shutterstock.com By Matthew Hindman, George Washington University The researcher whose work is at the center of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data analysis and political advertising uproar has revealed that his method worked much like the one Netflix uses to recommend movies. In an email to me, Cambridge University scholar Aleksandr Kogan explained how his statistical model processed Facebook data for Cambridge Analytica. The

Did the U.S. miss its chance to stop North Korea’s nuclear programme?

Julian Borger writes: Pyongyang International is one of the world’s quieter airports. The country’s chronic isolation means that there are not many places to fly, and few foreigners keen on visiting. At least until a new terminal was built in 2012, many of the flights on the departure boards were just for show, giving the appearance of connection with the outside world. They never actually took off. Against this melancholy

The Bosworth memo: The ugly truth about Facebook’s addiction to growth

BuzzFeed reports: On June 18, 2016, one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s most trusted lieutenants circulated an extraordinary memo weighing the costs of the company’s relentless quest for growth. “We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more

Can social media be saved?

Kevin Roose writes: I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong with social media. You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Maybe it’s the way you feel while scrolling through your Twitter feed — anxious, twitchy, a little world weary — or your unease when you see a child watching YouTube videos, knowing she’s just a few algorithmic nudges away from a rabbit hole filled with lunatic conspiracies and gore.

The policing of opinion has become established practice in societies that call themselves free

John Gray writes: For liberals the recent transformation of universities into institutions devoted to the eradication of thought crime must seem paradoxical. In the past higher education was avowedly shaped by an ideal of unfettered inquiry. Varieties of social democrats and conservatives, liberals and Marxists taught and researched alongside scholars with no strong political views. Academic disciplines cherished their orthodoxies, and dissenters could face difficulties in being heard. But visiting

John Bolton to Kim Jong Un: Give up your nukes like Gaddafi did — before we killed him

Jeffrey Lewis writes: So, President Trump’s has tapped John Bolton to be his next national security adviser. Most readers will be familiar with the broad outlines of the Bolton story—he is famously awful as a boss and his hawkish tendencies border on the absurd. A Republican Senate refused to confirm his nomination, by George W. Bush, as ambassador to the United Nations. The thought of Bolton in New York literally

Why did Kim Jong Un just visit China?

Ankit Panda writes: For months, China seemed to be a side player as relations improved between North Korea and South Korea. Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, kicked off the year with an address celebrating the completion of his nuclear deterrent after months of boasting about his increasing nuclear capability. In his speech, he also expressed interest in North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics. That, in turn,