Monthly Archives: August 2017

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Mr. Know-It-All: When Someone Melts Down in Public, Can I Record It? (Please?) NISHANT CHOKSI How do I know if filming a public confrontation is my civic duty or just click-rabid voyeurism? Don’t ask why, but for a few years my brother-in-law and I had a tradition of watching Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man to round out our Thanksgiving night. Stuffed full of bird, lethargic and tipsy, we’d settle in to reexperience the tragic and brutally unnerving saga of Timothy Treadwell, the eccentric bear enthusiast who lived among grizzlies in the Alaskan bush. It’s a masterfully made film. But year after year, there was one scene that always felt slightly off to me. You know the one: Treadwell’s friend Jewel Palovak and Herzog are sitting across from each other. She stares at him. He stares at the ground, his hands cupping a pair of headphones over his ears. She’s letting Herzog […]

The Meme-First Reality of Today’s Music Promotion Game French Montana attends his album release on July 20, 2017 in New York City. On April 8, French Montana posted a video to Instagram. That alone wasn’t unusual; the rapper uses the platform as a constant promotional tool, blasting photos and clips of the good life to his more than 6 million followers. This time, though, he slapped a new hashtag on the video, in which he held a white cup and hopped lazily in a quarter-circle to the strains of his own music: #UnforgettableDanceChallenge. Two more videos would follow that day—both with the same hashtag or a similar one, both with the same dance move, both with fellow artist Travis Scott. The next day the reason for the hashtag (and the dance) became clear when Montana released the video for his newest single, “Unforgettable.” The video, which featured a Ugandan dance […]

Game of Thrones Recap: The Kids Are All Right In the very first episode of Game of Thrones in 2011, the very first scene at Winterfell was about the children: Septa Mordane praising Sansa for her elegant embroidery; Bran trying and failing to land an arrow in a target while his brothers laughed; Arya showing him up from twice the distance, hitting the bullseye with a cocky smile. When news arrived that a deserter had been captured—running from the White Walkers, who were only a myth then—Ned brought Bran along for the execution. He wanted him to see. Now that the three living children of Ned and Catelyn Stark have finally returned home, the contrasts are inevitable—they are different people now. But for all their otherworldly visions and mass assassinations, if you draw lines from the children they were to the people they have become, you’ll find them parallel and […]

Meet Alex, the Russian Casino Hacker Who Makes Millions Targeting Slot Machines Late last autumn, a Russian mathematician and programmer named Alex decided he’d had enough of running his eight-year-old business. Though his St. Petersburg firm was thriving, he’d grown weary of dealing with payroll, hiring, and management headaches. He pined for the days when he could devote himself solely to tinkering with code, his primary passion. The time had come for an exit strategy. But Alex couldn’t just cash out as if he owned an ordinary startup because his business operates in murky legal terrain. The venture is built on Alex’s talent for reverse engineering the algorithms—known as pseudorandom number generators, or PRNGs—that govern how slot machine games behave. Armed with this knowledge, he can predict when certain games are likeliest to spit out money—insight that he shares with a legion of field agents who do the organization’s grunt […]