How Changed Libel Laws Unmasked Rob Ford, and More

Aboard Brand ItalyMonocle
Welcome to diplomacy in the 21st century. Where once major powers used their navies to project strength and force others to toe the line – Commodore Perry’s black ships opening Japan to trade by gunpoint come to mind – countries are now finding less intimidating ways to wield their military might. One use has been to drum up business for their nation’s manufacturers. It’s no surprise to learn then that the Maserati that has attracted Milazzo’s ear and the capital ship it now sits on are in the middle of a goodwill tour to fly the flag and, more importantly, flaunt the “Made in Italy” label.

The Broken Down Grace of Bill MurrayThe Dissolve
It’s tempting to suggest that Murray has learned how to cultivate an air of mystery. But the truth is that mystery can’t be cultivated, any more than charisma or magnetism can: An artist either has it or doesn’t. Murray, remarkably, has been able to maintain it even after appearing in Larger Than Life, Osmosis Jones, and multiple motion pictures in which he provided Garfield’s voice.  That helps explain the remarkable longevity of Murray’s career. Of everyone Murray started out with at Saturday Night Live, he’s the only one who has gone the distance, the one who hasn’t died, semi-retired, or been rendered irrelevant by the cruelty of time and a lack of reverence for his comic elders. 

A Star in a BottleThe New Yorker
Years from now—maybe in a decade, maybe sooner—if all goes according to plan, the most complex machine ever built will be switched on in an Alpine forest in the South of France. The machine, called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or iter, will stand a hundred feet tall, and it will weigh twenty-three thousand tons—more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower. At its core, densely packed high-precision equipment will encase a cavernous vacuum chamber, in which a super-hot cloud of heavy hydrogen will rotate faster than the speed of sound, twisting like a strand of DNA as it circulates. The cloud will be scorched by electric current (a surge so forceful that it will make lightning seem like a tiny arc of static electricity), and bombarded by concentrated waves of radiation. Beams of uncharged particles—the energy in them so great it could vaporize a car in seconds—will pour into the chamber, adding tremendous heat. In this way, the circulating hydrogen will become ionized, and achieve temperatures exceeding two hundred million degrees Celsius—more than ten times as hot as the sun at its blazing core.

The Science of Solitary ConfinementSmithsonian Magazine
Although the practice has been largely discontinued in most countries, it’s become increasingly routine over the past few decades within the American prison system. Once employed largely as a short-term punishment, it’s now regularly used as way of disciplining prisoners indefinitely, isolating them during ongoing investigations, coercing them into cooperating with interrogations and even separating them from perceived threats within the prison population at their request.

How to Get a Job at GoogleNew York Times
Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies — noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” — now as high as 14 percent on some teams. At a time when many people are asking, “How’s my kid gonna get a job?” I thought it would be useful to visit Google and hear how Bock would answer.

The Story Behind the Rob Ford StoryThe Walrus
The journalists say they were just doing their jobs, but the lawyers who defend them when lawsuits materialize say that until recently being a good journalist was not enough. In 2009, the practices that enabled the telling of the Rob Ford story were written into Canadian law, and the change—a new defence for libel—came as no accident. Rather, it represented the culmination of decades-long hard work by a group of lawyers who felt that up until then Canadian libel law had been more intent on protecting reputations than on fostering debate.

One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret SocietyNew York Magazine
Once we made it to the lobby, Ross and Lebenthal reassured me that what I’d just seen wasn’t really a group of wealthy and powerful financiers making homophobic jokes, making light of the financial crisis, and bragging about their business conquests at Main Street’s expense. No, it was just a group of friends who came together to roast each other in a benign and self-deprecating manner. Nothing to see here.

Photo courtesy of smplstc

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