Who says Britain can’t negotiate a Brexit deal? We’ve got Frosty the No Man | Marina Hyde

Setting ourselves up as the country you really can’t trust seems an eccentric way to launch a new era of global dealmaking

Right at the start of Gladiator, there’s a bit where Russell Crowe’s forces are waiting for the return of the negotiator they’ve sent to do a deal with the barbarians. The negotiator’s horse is heard returning, leading to a brief soar in hopes, before Maximus Crowe observes its rider is now headless. Correctly parsing this nuanced negotiating gambit, he judges: “They say no.”

Spoiler 1: thereafter, it doesn’t end well for the barbarians. Spoiler 2: even though I can exclusively reveal that UK prime minister Boris Johnson knows Latin, his government does not take the role of the Roman army in this Brexit negotiations analogy.

Related: UK’s top legal civil servant quits ‘over Brexit deal changes’

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L.A. WITCH – Play With Fire

Some top notch rock n’ roll from Los Angeles (there is a clue in the name). It is their second LP and they have been on the radar for a while thanks to the AV Club, NPR  and Mr Andy Von Pip.  I had thought they were a bit style over substance, but with this LP I have I found some top tuneage beneath the aching coolness.

John Naughton: From viral conspiracies to exam fiascos, algorithms come with serious side effects

A mesmerising, unaccountable kind of algorithm – machine learning – is blinding governments to the technology’s often disastrous flaws

Will Thursday 13 August 2020 be remembered as a pivotal moment in democracy’s relationship with digital technology? Because of the coronavirus outbreak, A-level and GCSE examinations had to be cancelled, leaving education authorities with a choice: give the kids the grades that had been predicted by their teachers, or use an algorithm. They went with the latter.

The outcome was that more than one-third of results in England (35.6%) were downgraded by one grade from the mark issued by teachers. This meant that a lot of pupils didn’t get the grades they needed to get to their university of choice. More ominously, the proportion of private-school students receiving A and A* was more than twice as high as the proportion of students at comprehensive schools, underscoring the gross inequality in the British education system.


Machine-learning systems are ‘uninterpretable’. Which should, in principle, limit their domains of application

As we click and click, we are carried along by the exciting sensation of uncovering more secrets and deeper truths

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John Naughton: Apple’s iOS update will be bad news for developers, but a boon for users | John Naughton

The tech giant’s monopoly over App Store content will bring a change to data privacy on its devices that has advertisers worried

If in August 2018 you had invested £5,000 in Apple stock, you’d have doubled your money in two years. Nifty, eh? But if you’d bought a single share at the company’s IPO price of $22 in 1980, it would be worth nearly $28,000 (£21,000) today. This is the kind of hindsight that is bad for one’s blood pressure: it merely confirms Warren Buffett’s famous observation, quoting his mentor Ben Graham, that in the short run the stock market may be a betting machine, but in the long run it’s a weighing machine.

Either way, Apple’s market capitalisation now weighs in at $2.2tn. What was once a plucky little outfit battling against the mighty Microsoft has somehow morphed into a corporate behemoth. And the interesting thing is that, until recently, nobody outside of stock exchanges seemed to have noticed the implications of this metamorphosis. When the House judiciary antitrust subcommittee summoned four tech bosses to a critical hearing in Congress, for example, Apple’s Tim Cook got off lightest. Subcommittee members reserved most of their ire for Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Related: ‘This isn’t the 1990s’: Apple under pressure from app developers

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This is mission control to Dominic Cummings: you have a problem

Talking about a ‘Nasa-style’ nerve centre is not a good idea when your mistakes can be seen from space

Another universe-beating week for the government, as Matt Hancock unveils Operation Moon Shot, and Dominic Cummings cuts the ribbon on a new “Nasa-style mission control”. I love how hard these guys are for galactic talk, which means so much more coming from a government whose cock-ups can now be seen even from space. Could Cummings bring a damaged lunar exploration craft back down to Earth in 45 hours without loss of astronaut life? Babe, he can’t even bring your sister back from the Algarve without three days of confused hokey cokey.

Still, we fight on. Summer has ended and Boris Johnson’s Downing Street gang has got back to doing what it does best: centralising power in an ever-decreasing number of people’s hands, no matter how many times those people prove they can’t wield the power they already have without diurnal U-turns and/or broken promises. Is it too much to expect a government of superforecasters to make predictions even Mystic Meg could manage? “Luck wears blue stripes while Pluto challenges finances, but appointing Tony Abbott is going to be an unmitigated shitshow.”

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Farage, Ferrari and a Bafta Rising Bile award: Welcome to Fox News UK! | Marina Hyde

With an ultra-rightwing news network in the pipeline, here’s a schedule guaranteed to give the Beeb a run for its money

Stories that various UK versions of Fox News are planned to counter the BBC provoke a two-word response. Yes! Finally! I know there will be cautious people who’d ideally like another country to launch a hyperpartisan rightwing news network, then watch how it plays out for everyone across the political spectrum there for a couple of decades before we decide if we honestly want to do that to ourselves. But how could such a controlled experiment be possible? And honestly – what’s the worst that could happen? Herewith the launch schedule.

Great to see the eternally silenced Nigel get a spot even though his BBC appearance tally is second only to Attenborough

Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist.

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