February 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Tales From the Encrypt

It’s easy to say you’re generally in favor of privacy. It gets more tricky when you’re called upon to argue in favor of the right to privacy for terrorists. That’s the issue at stake in Apple’s refusal to create software to give the FBI access to the iPhone owned by the San Bernardino shooter. Why is Apple so opposed to creating a backdoor to give law enforcement access to one iPhone? Apple CEO Tim Cook explains: “While the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.” It’s easy to cheer for Apple (as the tech community is doing) or to rip them (like many politicians and law enforcement officials have done). Ultimately, this decision shouldn’t be left up to a corporation or a law enforcement agency. It’s up to us. Tim Cook should resist. The FBI should push. And we should decide.

+ Cook called for a public discussion of the issue and explained his position in an open letter to customers: “In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

+ “If the FBI comes across a safe in that house, the warrant and permission do not mean it can force the company that manufactures the safe to create a special tool for opening its safes, especially a tool that would make other safes completely useless as secure storage. That’s the situation that Apple’s dealing with here.” Gizmodo: Why you should care about Apple’s fight with the FBI.

+ Digg provides some background on the encryption issue.


The Shooter

“The operator asked, ‘Your neighbor was in the San Bernardino shooting? He died or what? He was the shooter or what?‘ ‘He was the shooter.’ ‘He was the shooter?. The New Yorker’s William Finnegan with the backstory on Sayed Farook and his willing partner: Preparing for Apocalypse in San Bernardino.


Mos Def?

“In an all-white room, mosquitoes are mated and the resulting larvae divided by sex. Workers whisk at stray mosquitoes with electrified tennis rackets — the kind you see in novelty stores, but which have sold out in mosquito-obsessed Brazil.” MIT Tech Review takes you inside the mosquito factory that could stop Zika and other diseases. (Add “working in a mosquito factory” to the list of jobs I’m glad I don’t have…)

+ CNN: How mosquitoes have changed history.


Picks and Stones

“The bald assertion by Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, that he and his colleagues will refuse to consider, much less confirm, any Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, fits precisely in this pattern. ” Jeffrey Toobin explains why the political warfare that began the moment that Antonin Scalia died was entirely predictable: The Brute-Force Politics of Judicial Confirmations.

+ Dahlia Lithwick: We know the type of justice Obama might pick.


Money Can’t Buy You Gov

This has been a weird presidential election. But it’s not just odd because of the unlikely leaders and the anger being vented and voted in the early primary states. It’s because the money being spent isn’t working like it’s supposed to. Haven’t we been complaining for years that money buys elections? Well, take a look at the scoreboard. Money can’t buy you love, or votes. (Well, so far anyway…)

+ Donald Trump has been frustrating Jeb Bush on the campaign trail. And on the Internet.


Freaks and Geeks

“Those blessed with early-onset hotness are drawn to YouTube, the fashionable and seemingly wealthy post to Instagram, the most charismatic actors, dancers, and comedians thrive on Vine. On Facebook, every link you share and photo you post is a statement of your identity. Tumblr is the social network that, based on my reporting, is seen by teens as the most uncool.” And as we’ve learned time and again, the uncool are pretty damn good at using the Internet. From Elspeth Reeve in The New Republic: The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens.


The Binge

TV fans know all about David Milch. He created NYPD Blue and Deadwood, and was a writer and producer on Hill Street Blues. In other words, he’s one of the people who brought the golden age of television into your living room. He also spends a lot of time at the track. From THR: How the $100 Million ‘NYPD Blue’ Creator Gambled Away His Fortune. Let’s hope this series has a happy ending.

+ Nathan Barksdale died in a federal medical prison in North Carolina on Saturday. If his name sounds familiar it’s because he inspired characters you know from The Wire.


Carolina on My Mind

“The likelihood of climbing out of poverty is lower in Charlotte than in any other big city in the country.” Charlotte Magazine’s Lisa Rab introduces you to a working mother trying to get out poverty in a time and place where that’s nearly impossible: It Was Never Okay.


Mathematics Of Love

“Basically, you have to gamble. And as with most casino games, there’s a strong element of chance, but you can also understand and improve your probability of “winning” the best partner.” From WaPo: When to stop dating and settle down, according to math. (They should have a Tinder for Humanities majors.)


Bottom of the News

The Academy is suing a company that gives out gift bags to Oscar nominees. First, the company is infringing on the Academy’s trademark since they have no official connection to the organization. And second, the Academy is upset by some of the products that have been in the bag, such as vaporizers and vibrators. (Celebrities have all the fun…)

+ NYT: Donald Trump is a conundrum for political comedy. (You had me at conundrum.)

+ Inside the Sweet, Strange World of Cereal Box Collectors.

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