Blogging The Boys (blog)
Seahawks @ Cowboys: Dallas throws away playoff chances in 21-12 defeat
Blogging The Boys (blog)
It was effectively the end to the season for the Dallas Cowboys as they dropped a really poorly played game to the Seattle Seahawks, 21-12. And the Cowboys pretty much handed the win to the visitors with mistakes in all phases of the game. So many …
The long read: Football has already been transformed by big money but the businessmen behind Man City are trying to build a global corporation that will change the game for ever
On 19 December 2009, Pep Guardiola stood and wept in the middle of Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The 38-year-old Barcelona manager clasped a hand across his face as his body gave way to huge, shoulder-heaving sobs. Zlatan Ibrahimović, the club’s towering Swedish striker, wrapped a tattooed arm around Guardiola’s neck and then gave him a vigorous push in order to jolt him out of it. But Guardiola could not stop. It was a strange place for the world’s most celebrated football coach to break down: Barcelona had just won a game that few people watched on television to secure one of football’s most obscure titles, the Fifa Club World Cup. But the victory secured an unbreakable record: Barcelona had won all six titles available to any club in a single year. That is why Pep was sobbing.
Back at home in Barcelona, it was a bittersweet moment for Ferran Soriano. A hairdresser’s son from the city’s working-class district of Poblenou, Soriano had become one of FC Barcelona’s top executives – and had helped build what could now claim to be the greatest football team the world had ever seen. “I was happy, but it was also painful not to be there when the team reached its pinnacle,” he told me. Instead, he picked up the phone and called Guardiola.
Soriano had overseen Barcelona’s finances for five years until 2008, and the club’s record owed much to the ideas he had developed after running a US-style political campaign to bring a group of swashbuckling, sharp-suited young men to power at elections for a new board of directors in 2003. He had even written a book, La Pelota no entra por azar (“The ball doesn’t go in by chance”), in which he argued that Barcelona’s success – and, by inference, that record – was the result of good, creative business management. Vicious political infighting had driven him to resign from the club the previous year. But even before that, he had seen one of his more ambitious ideas – to set up franchise clubs in other countries – thwarted at Barcelona. This was a step too far for a club owned by 143,000 voting fans, firmly rooted in their city and Catalonia.
But Soriano’s big idea has now been brought to life by two men who were watching very closely on the night Guardiola wept in Abu Dhabi: one is a member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the other is Khaldoon al-Mubarak, a youthful executive and adviser to the royal family. With their backing, Soriano is now upending football’s established order by building its first true multinational corporation – a Coca-Cola of soccer.
That corporation is City Football Group (CFG). It already owns, or co-owns, six clubs on four continents, and the contracts of 240 male professional players and two dozen women. Hundreds more carefully picked teenagers and younger children who aspire to greatness play in CFG’s lower teams. The longterm ambition is huge. The company will trawl the world for players – shaping and polishing them in state-of-the-art academies and training facilities across several continents, selling them on or sending the best to the clubs it will own (and improve) in a dozen or so countries. Supplied and shielded by the vessels around it, the flagship of this new football flotilla – Manchester City FC – will continue its already startling rise to become the world’s greatest club.
That is the Soriano idea – or at least, a simplified version of a complex plan. The corporation is only four years old, but it is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful forces in the world’s favourite sport – watched with awe, envy and fear by those who wonder if it could become football’s own Google or Facebook.
In a game where top players cost £200m, televised matches attract audiences of hundreds of millions and club owners are among the wealthiest potentates on the planet, no expense is spared in seeking any competitive edge. Once upon a time, money alone was enough to make the difference (if it was spent wisely), but that is no longer the case, in part because there is so much of it sloshing around the game.
When Manchester City won the Premier League in 2012, Sheikh Mansour was widely accused of “buying the title for £1bn” – the amount of money he had poured into City since purchasing the club four years earlier. It was City’s first major trophy in 36 years, and grown men cried when Sergio Agüero’s goal in the penultimate minute of the season’s final game secured the title. Mansour watched it on television: he had only ever been to one match at City’s Etihad stadium, and did not enjoy the fuss his visit caused. In the hours that followed, his phone hummed, filling up with 2,500 messages.Continue reading
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Cowboys conundrum: Handling Tyron Smith and his health
Blogging The Boys (blog)
While there are still two games to play (and for fans to sweat out), it is the time of year to start thinking about what the team needs to do to get better. This is especially true for teams that face a high probability of getting eliminated from the …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Opposing player to watch: Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Ezekiel Elliott will be greeted back to the NFL by one of the best linebackers in the league on Sunday. By Joseph.Hatz@JosephHatzBTB Dec 23, 2017, 2:00pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports. A decade or two from now when …
The privacy crisis is a disaster of our own making and now the tech firms who gathered our data are trying to make money out of privacy
For privacy advocates, the Apple-FBI standoff over encryption is deja vu all over again.
In the early 1990s, they fought and won a pitched battle with the Clinton administration over the Clipper chip, a proposal to add mandatory backdoors to the encryption in telecommunications devices.
Soon after that battle was won, it moved overseas: in the UK, the Blair government brought in the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Privacy advocates lost that fight: the bill passed in 2000, enabling the government to imprison people who refused to reveal their cryptographic keys.
The privacy fight never stopped. In the years since, a bewildering array of new fronts have opened up on the battlefield: social media, third-party cookies, NSA/GCHQ mass surveillance, corporate espionage, mass-scale breaches, the trade in zero-day vulnerabilities that governments weaponise to attack their adversaries, and Bullrun and Edgehill, the secret programmes of security sabotage revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The first line of defense for surveillance advocates whether private sector or governmental is to point out just how few people seem to care about privacy. What can it matter that the government is harvesting so much of our data through the backdoor, when so many of us are handing over all that and more through the front door, uploading it to Facebook and Google and Amazon and anyone who cares to set a third-party cookie on the pages we visit?
Painting the pro-privacy side as out-of-step loonies, tinfoil-hatted throwbacks in the post-privacy era was a cheap and effective tactic. It made the pro-surveillance argument into a *pro-progress* one: Society has moved on. Our data can do more good in big, aggregated piles than it can in atomized fragments on your device and mine. The private data we exhaust when we move through the digital world is a precious resource, not pollution.
Its a powerful argument. When companies that promise to monetize your surveillance beat companies that promise to protect your privacy, when people cant even be bothered to tick the box to block tracking cookies, let alone install full-disk encryption and GPG to protect their email, the pro-surveillance camp can always argue that theyre doing something that no one minds very much.
From the perennial fights over national ID cards to the fights over data retention orders, the lack of any commercial success for privacy tech was a great way to shorthand: Nothing to see here just mountains being made from molehills.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century: we disclosed more and more of our information, or it was taken from us.
As that data could be used in ever-greater frauds, the giant databases storing our personal details became irresistible targets. Pranksters, criminals and spies broke the databases wide open and dumped them: the IRS, the Office of Personnel Management, Target and, of course, Ashley Madison. Then the full impact of the Snowden revelations set in, and people started to feel funny when they texted something intimate to a lover or typed a potentially embarrassing query into a search box.
Companies started to sell the idea of privacy. Apple and Microsoft sought to differentiate themselves from Facebook and Google by touting the importance of not data-mining to their bottom lines. Google started warning users when it looked like governments were trying to hack into their emails. Facebook set up a hidden service on Tors darknet. Everybody jumped on the two-factor authentication bandwagon, then the SSL bandwagon, then the full-disk encryption bandwagon.
The social proof of privacys irrelevance vanished, just like that. If Apple the second most profitable company in the world thinks that customers will buy its products because no one, not even Apple, can break into the data stored on them, what does it say about the privacy zeitgeist?
Seamlessly, the US Department of Justice switched tacks: Apples encryption is a marketing stunt. The company has an obligation to backdoor its products to assist law enforcement. Please, lets not dredge up the old argument about whether its OK to spy on everyone we settled that argument already, by pointing out the fact that no one was making any money by making privacy promises. Now that someone is making money from privacy tech, theyre clearly up to no good.
The smog of personal data is the carbon dioxide of privacy. Weve emitted far too much of it over the past decades, refusing to contemplate the consequences until the storms came. Now theyve arrived, and theyll only get worse, because the databases that havent breached yet are far bigger, and more sensitive than those that have.
Like climate change, the privacy catastrophes of the next two decades are already inevitable. The problem we face is preventing the much worse catastrophes of the following the decades.
And as computers are integrated into the buildings and vehicles and cities we inhabit, as they penetrate our bodies, the potential harms from breaches will become worse.Continue reading
Muslim community revisits controversial issue amid demands for increased police presence in mosques after a Queens imam and his friend were murdered
When he spoke at the funeral service of murdered imam Maulama Akonjee and his friend Thara Uddin, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio hoped to send a message to the community.
Since this horrible tragedy, the NYPD has been expending every resource and will continue to, he told the hundreds of people gathered in a Queens parking lot. You will see today, and in the days thereafter, extra NYPD presence protecting our mosques and protecting the people of our Muslim communities.
The comments elicited cheers from the mostly Bangladeshi crowd from the Queens neighborhood where the imam and his friend were killed. Throughout the week that followed, several family members and leaders in the community reiterated calls for increased surveillance at mosques.
They need to put cameras on every corner so the community can be safe, Momin Ahmed, Akonjees son-in-law, said a few days after the killings.
But the calls for increased police presence and security cameras in mosques has divided Muslims across New York City. The memory of a controversial surveillance program carried out by the NYPD still looms large, with many still wary of the police force; some would prefer the community police itself.
We have to respect this community, what theyre feeling, what theyre experiencing, Debbie Almontaser, president of the Muslim Community Network, said. Whether I agree or not with them, I respect their right.
At the same time, she added, My commitment is unwavering in regards to our community safeguarding itself from within.Continue reading
Zing! Blog by Quicken Loans (blog)
7 Stay-at-Home Moms Making Serious Cash from Home
Zing! Blog by Quicken Loans (blog)
Jessi Fearon is a money coach, blogger and stay-at-home mom to three children ages 5 and younger. Jessi says, âI earn anywhere from $1,000 â $7,000 a month from my online business depending on my product and affiliate sales.â Fearon doesn't hire …
Friday Squid Blogging: Gonatus Squid Eating a Dragonfish
Last July, Choy was on a ship off the shore of Monterey Bay, looking at the video footage transmitted by an ROV many feet below. A Gonatus squid was spotted sucking off the face of a âreally huge dragonfish,â she says. âIt took a little while to figure …
“I make money from Facebook for my fake content in order to pay Facebook to promote my fake stories,” said Professor Chaos in one of the most brutal and succinct criticisms of the social network to date. The latest episode of South Park pulled no punches in its take-down of the Facebook fake news scandal. It poses Mark Zuckerberg as an indecipherable bully protecting fake news spreaders for profit and says kids can’t recognize lies on the app, while blaming everyone for allowing Facebook so deep into our lives.
Meanwhile, the episode pokes fun at Netflix for greenlighting low-quality original series, and riffs on the horrible abuse of women by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
South Park’s intense, episode-long focus on Facebook’s fake news problems underlines the severity of the mainstream backlash. The blunt characterization of Facebook and Zuckerberg, and the direct harm fake news has on the show’s protagonists, could force the company to see its actions and explanations through the lens of the public.
Spoilers ahead. If you care, you should probably just watch the 22-minute episode, which was both funny and jaw-dropping in how aggressively it attacks Zuckerberg, in particular.
The plot is essentially that the school boys of South Park have formed a superhero team and are trying to sell to Netflix an original TV series based on their adventures. But their nemesis, Professor Chaos, ruins their reputation and Netflix deal by publishing fake news on Facebook saying the heroes do disgusting things, and then promotes those stories with Facebook ads.
“Look fellas, you have a right to be on Facebook, and I have a right to be on Facebook, and sometimes that’s gonna cause a little…chaos,” says the villain.
The line seems to reference, or at least align with, Zuckerberg’s statement about Donald Trump accusing Facebook of being “anti-Trump.” Zuckerberg responded that “Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”
Professor Chaos goes on to build a profitable fake news and ads farm. The parents of South Park start seeing the fake news, and believe the kids are performing unspeakable sex acts on innocent victims.
But one parent stands up and says [Warning: Graphic Language]: “We all know there’s been a lot of mixing of truth and fiction on Facebook lately, and children lack the cognitive ability to determine what’s true and what isn’t on Facebook. That’s now why we have kids dressing up in costumes, eating poop, and having sex with antelopes in our town.”
The kids are actually acting pretty normal and can spot the lies, but the parents are the ones unwittingly buying into it.
The parents invite Zuckerberg to town for questioning. But when one says “Facebook has become a tool for some to disrupt our country and our community,” Zuckerberg laughs off the critique, saying, “You say these things as if they are my fault, and yet they are not.”
When another responds, “Well you did create a platform with a monetary incentive for people to spread misinformation,” Zuck tells the town it cannot block his fighting style, and waves his arms while making sound effects like an old kung fu movie villain. This seems to be a dig on both Facebook’s unrelenting expansion into every area of life, and Zuckerberg’s at-times opaque public speaking style.
The heroes confront Professor Chaos and Zuckerberg, and say to the CEO, “This kid is deliberately lying about us on your platform for no other reason than to cause harm. Why are you protecting him?” “Simple, he paid me $17.23,” Zuckerberg responds. It’s clear that many see Facebook’s policy of allowing fake news because of free speech as an excuse for greed.
In reality, Facebook’s execs have so much money they probably don’t care much about earning more. My seven years of reporting on and interviewing the company lead me to believe it earnestly believes in free speech despite the ugly side effects, and this scandal has been driven by its idealistic leadership’s naivety about the worst of humanity rather than greed.
Every South Park episode, while laced with profanity and absurdity, resolves with a moral turn. In this case, the townspeople demand police shoot Zuckerberg, or at least kick him out of town. But the police chief asks, “Who invited Mark Zuckerberg to town in the first place?,” and the public glumly admits “we did.” “You all should have thought harder about this before letting him into your lives,” the chief chides the town, and everyone watching South Park.
In the end, the kids gang-stomp Zuckerberg until he fights back, but catch just the second half of the fight on Facebook Live, in turn ruining his reputation despite his protests that it’s all untrue. With a touch of his smartphone, the defeated Zuckerberg neutralizes the fake news peddlers, with the show poking the real him for not using his power to more drastic action. The kids get their Netflix show, and Professor Chaos’ dad berates Vladimir Putin for setting a bad example.
The lessons are clear. South Park highlights how Facebook is profiting off fake news, which the company needs to avoid, even if it means making things harder for innocent advertisers. As for the public, we must accept some of the blame for Facebook’s influence, because we allowed ourselves to become so addicted to its content and to treat it like a verified news source.
Now the question is, did Zuck think it was funny?Continue reading
Generation Z influencers challenge the snowflake label
Between spiralling rents, the crippling cost of third-level education and an ever-constricting jobs market, getting ahead is no joke for the rising generation, which has already lived through not one but two economic recessions, all in the full glare …