Book Report: The Marrow Thieves

the marrow thieves

I just finished reading Cherie Dimaline’s book, The Marrow Thieves.  It’s kinda sad that it was voted out on Day Three of Canada Reads.

The Marrow Thieves is a story about a world in which Indigenous peoples are being hunted and harvested for their marrow. Why, because, the rest of world have lost the ability to dream. The book follows Frenchie as he travels north and meets with various other runners.

The Marrow Thieves reminds us of how the European settlers abused the Indigenous people upon contact. I was reminded of the horrors of the residential school system and the “sixties scoop” while reading this book.

This book is must reading for anyone wanting to better understand the continuing Indigenous experience.

The 2018 Junos

After catching a bit of the 2018 Junos I realized that a few people that I saw on TV have actually been in studio with me!

Anna Hill – Episode #63 – What does Anna have to do with the Junos? Nothing really. Except, I saw her on the TV broadcast! She was sitting beside Jim Creeggan of the Barenaked Ladies. (They’re partners!)

Jim Creeggan –  Episode #51 – Now in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as a member of the Barenaked Ladies!

Maestro Fresh Wes – Episode #100 – Wes was nominated in the Rap category at this year’s Junos.

Mike Downie – Episode #88 – Mike Downie is, of course, the older brother of Gord Downie and accepted (at least once) the awards that Gord won. At this year’s Junos, Gord won Songwriter of the Year, Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Artist of the Year.

 

ShareTheMeal App Links Monthly Givers to the Families they Support

UN World Food Programme

BERLIN – Starting on International Women’s Day, ShareTheMeal, the app from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), will enable monthly givers to follow their donation and see exactly how it is helping families in need. Monthly givers will automatically join The Table – a new feature within the app –  which connects members with the family they are supporting through personalised updates and exclusive stories. Using data from WFP’s beneficiary data management platform, SCOPE, monthly givers will learn when a family has purchased food thanks to their donation.

The Table brings together vested givers and empowered recipients, who will be connected virtually through this new feature of ShareTheMeal. Each month, members of The Table will be connected to a different family to learn more about how their support is helping them. For example, givers will receive personalised in-app content on the impact of their donation, such as videos and stories. By fundraising for some of WFP’s most critical operations including Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Bangladesh, users will be directly helping the most vulnerable families.

Over the past decade, WFP  has increased the use of cash-based transfers alongside food deliveries to provide assistance to people in need. In 2017, WFP provided US$ 1.3 billion in cash transfers. Cash transfers allow WFP to reduce delivery costs, which means that for every dollar saved, is one additional dollar that can be spent helping the people it serves. Through The Table, monthly donors directly support families with cash assistance, so that they can purchase the food that best suits their family’s needs.

“The digital revolution is enabling WFP to create online platforms, such as SCOPE, which help us to enhance the use of digital identities for people in need, so that we can know and serve them better. Digital identities allow WFP to rapidly and effectively provide food and cash assistance, especially in emergency situations,” says Kenn Crossley, Global Coordinator of Cash Transfers at WFP. “With the launch of The Table, we are leveraging this data to show donors their tangible impact.”

Through The Table, WFP is able to respond to the desire of donors, especially millennials, to give to transparent and efficient charities. It is clear that this tech-savvy generation wants to follow their impact and be connected to those they are helping. Addressing this mindset, ShareTheMeal will provide personalized stories and video to donors, paving the way for long-term engagement in philanthropy and social good.

“We believe this generation is not only eager to change the world, but feels strongly about transparency and proven impact. By providing real-life data on the impact of a shared meal through The Table, we will demonstrate how – with a tap on the app – this generation can lead the way to a zero hunger future,” says Massimiliano Costa, Head of ShareTheMeal.

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Cybersecurity Trends 2018: The costs of connection

cybersecurity

After a highly eventful 2017, when an increasing number of cybersecurity incidents grabbed headlines in the mainstream media, we’re now looking ahead to the coming year, which will no doubt generate further vibrant discussions about the threat landscape.

One refrain is likely to be heard time and time again. Cyberthreats and attacks are here to stay. Indeed, they will continue to expand in scope and volume next year. They may evolve and diversify, but a common underlying thread will persist – an effective cybersecurity posture pivots on knowledge of the value of information, coupled with insight into and an understanding of the threatscape. In a way, when all is said and done, plus ça change.

Arming ourselves with facts and experience, better enables us to control the criminal hive mind swarming online. To help the reader navigate through the maze of such threats, ESET’s thought leaders have zeroed in on several areas that top the priority list in our exercise in looking forward.

Criminals following the money

With data being the most valuable asset (so much so that many have called data ‘the new oil‘), ransomware is poised to remain in great demand among cybercriminals. With an eye to slashing the risk that your data may end up mangled, we offer take-home lessons and observations gleaned from the recent evolution of ransomware.

Cautiously, we extrapolate from recent trends to the foreseeable future. We note the largely indiscriminate nature of ransomware campaigns and highlight the perils of paying up in exchange for (by no means guaranteed) restoration of access to data held ransom. Organizations seen as willing to pay up in lieu of hardening their defenses may run the risk of finding themselves a target of choice, yet with no certainty of getting their data back.

In a world of smartphones and other mobile devices, attackers are more focused on denying the use of devices themselves than on data stored therein.

The generally perilous state of affairs in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) arena presents a host of challenges of its own, as the dramatic increase in the number of smart devices shows no signs of stopping. By contrast, the addressing of security concerns is often an afterthought.

Where cyber meets physical

“Arming ourselves with facts and experience, better enables us to control the criminal hive mind swarming online”

On a different note, we cannot help echoing our past – and prescient – sentiment that attacks aimed at critical infrastructure are set to continue to generate headlines. Worryingly, industrial equipment targeted by malware known as Industroyer – the biggest threat to industrial control systems (ICS) since Stuxnet – is in wide use, while much equipment in ICS was not designed with internet connectivity in mind.

Making things worse, prompt upgrades, though important in striving for a secure environment, are not always a panacea: the drive towards a cheap generic architecture for industrial devices may introduce additional weaknesses into the supply chain, ultimately endangering our physical safety.

Democracy in peril?

Electronic voting systems – another obvious area where security is playing catch-up with technological advancements – are grappling with vulnerabilities of their own. The preponderance of evidence that such systems can be manipulated highlights the risks of over-reliance on technology for something as significant for our societies as elections.

This brings us to the overarching question: can a cyberattack rig the results of a nation’s election and, thereby, subvert democracy? We note the use of social media for undermining election campaigns by spreading faux news reports or launching ad hominem attacks.

Admittedly, such attacks may not signal doomsday for democracy, yet technological interference poses critical challenges in opposition to the need to ensure the legitimacy of future elections. To this end, all aspects of an electoral system must be regarded as part of every country’s critical infrastructure, and be safeguarded accordingly.

Privacy and data bonanza

“In a world of smartphones and other mobile devices, attackers are more focused on denying the use of devices themselves than on data stored therein”

The apparent appetite among some trusted security vendors for the monetization of user data in exchange for free antimalware software is set to persist into the next year. This will add to risks associated with data privacy, which is already under fierce attack given the endless trail of digital exhaust left behind by a plethora of (notably IoT) devices.

Such digital breadcrumbs can be collected to tell a story about us and, coupled with machine learning and artificial intelligence, that story could be used as a basis for manipulating our thoughts and actions. The data detritus should raise concerns of users as to what ‘free’ products or services actually entail and how the data being slurped are used.

While we hope for greater user awareness, we suspect that the stockpiles of data will expand dramatically next year with little awareness on the user’s part. We may not be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but we need to make informed decisions and choices lest our privacy be eroded further.

Safer for all

This year has seen ESET’s malware analysts continue to help law enforcement crack down on malicious campaigns and, by extension, the criminals spewing them. We are confident that 2018 will bring further successful investigations as we will continue to lend a hand to authorities so that, ultimately, the internet can become a safer place for everyone – except cybercriminals.

We also believe that the increasing general awareness of cyberthreats and our preparedness to cooperate in tackling any and all manner of felonious wares served up by attackers will accrue to our shared benefit, particularly as technology is now woven through the entire fabric of our societies and we face a host of internet-borne threats.

The collected reflections of our experts are available in Cybersecurity trends 2018: The cost of our connected world.

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Etymotic’s new earphones

_ER4 Boxes

For more than two decades, the ER-4S has been the world’s most accurate high-fidelity, noise-isolating earphone. Because of this, and its 30-40 dB noise isolation, the ER-4S has remained largely unchanged until now.  The new models meet three design goals: 1) to provide greater accuracy in sound reproduction in the ER4SR Studio Reference earphone, 2) to offer consumers a choice with the ER4XR Extended Response option that delivers a little more bass without sacrificing the overall quality of the listening experience, and 3) a durable cable that is user replaceable.

The ER4SR Studio Reference earphone improves the accuracy of the previous ER-4S model, while providing a significant improvement in sensitivity, making it more compatible with the portable media players on the market today.  The ER4SR offers audio professionals and those wanting the ultimate in sound accuracy a new level of performance.

The ER4XR Extended Response earphone offers a modest bass boost, building on the original ER-4’s neutral sound, while providing a sound signature that some ER-4 fans have been asking for.

“Etymotic invented the noise-excluding in-ear earphone, giving consumers an unparalleled listening experience with noise isolation superior to other in-ears as well as headphones with ‘active noise-cancellation’ options,” says Etymotic VP of Sales and Marketing Al Arends. “For 25 years, the state-of-the-art insert earphone has been the ER-4. Now, with the arrival of the ER4SR and ER4XR, the world’s most accurate earphone just got better.  Then or now, we have found no multiple-driver design that can match the accuracy of the ER4.”

About Etymotic

Etymotic is a research, development and manufacturing company that designs high-fidelity personal audio products and hearing wellness solutions to assess enhance and protect hearing. For over 30 years, innovation and education have been central to Etymotic’s mission. Etymotic is one of the most respected leaders in high-fidelity audio and hearing conservation. For more information about Etymotic, its hearing wellness mission and its products, please visit www.etymotic.com.

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Book Report: Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

While reading Jason Zinoman’s book, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night . I was reminded of many moments that I got to watch over the years. You see, I was, and remain, a huge fan of David Letterman.

While I stopped actively watching TV in 2000 (I got married and we decided to not get cable) I still followed the Letterman and his show online. I remember sneaking down the stairs every night just before 12:30am to watch his 3 joke opening monologue, Stupid Pet Tricks, calling familiar strangers on the phone, drop stuff off the building and interview Richard Simmons for the hundredth time. I had both of his Top Ten List books and a framed Time magazine cover on my bedroom wall. I even once had tickets to go see his Late Night show in New York City. I wished I actually asked my parents to help me get there. Sigh. And even after I got married I still had his photo in my wallet. Yes. I was a huge.

However, some parts of the book upset me a bit. For example, I always thought the character of David Letterman that I saw on TV was just that. A character. Yet, Zinoman writes that that was actually the real Letterman. I struggle with the notion that Letterman was never satisfied with his show/success or was really angry underneath it all.

Letterman now has his popular Netflix show, My Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. Thank goodness I don’t need TV to watch!

Thanks Jason for writing this book. And thanks Dave for continuing to make us laugh.

Blue Rodeo (with special guests, The Sadies)

blue rodeo

Last night Canadian iconic band, Blue Rodeo (with opening act, The Sadies) brought their 1000 Arms Tour to Oshawa’s Tribute Communities Centre.

While my favourite song is Diamond Mine (see above) I was introduced to an old song by Blue Rodeo called “Disappear”. A sad story, great lyrics and wonderful song. Here’s a fan’s recording from a gig in Toronto:

Here is last night’s setlist:

blue rodeo setlist oshawa

minaz asani with karim kanji

Concussion

concussion | will smith

I was going to call the title of this blog post: How professional football got away with murder. This is how emotional and powerful this story is.

Based on real life events, Concussion is the story of how Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith) discovers a neurological deterioration that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease while conducting an autopsy on former NFL football player Mike Webster (played by David Morse). Dr. Omalu names the disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and co-publishes his findings in a medical journal. As other football players face the same diagnosis, the doctor begins a mission to raise public awareness about the dangers of football-related head trauma.

As the movie states, football players know that football is dangerous. They know they can break their leg playing the game. They may even get a concussion. However, the movie suggests that the NFL hid from the players the one thing they didn’t know could happen to them: That the repeated head trauma would lead to former football players literally losing control of their minds and body.

There are better writers than I who have written about this issue. Here’s one such article from USA Today that is well worth the read. It’s titled, “The chilling first script of ‘Concussion’ is everything the NFL doesn’t want you to see.”

Read the book, see the movie. It will change the way you watch NFL football.

The Big Short: An important movie/book

the big short

Over the holidays millions of people went to the theatre multiple times to see one film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, there are at least two movies that are more important (at least here in North America).

One of them is the movie adapted from Michael Lewis’ book of the same name: The Big Short. According to IMDB, The Big Short is about “Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed.” However, it’s much more than that. This is, of course, a true story. Millions of people in North America and around the world lost jobs, their homes and their entire life savings.

In an interview with Variety, movie director and screenwriter Adam McKay said this when asked how the banking world has reacted to the film,

It started when we were filming. We’d book a location and then be told, “No, no, they pulled the plug. The husband’s a banker” or “the wife’s dad is a huge banker.” At first it was little prickly things like that. And then as the film opened in a limited run (on Dec. 11), there were six or seven op-ed pieces in the world of economics and finance, crossfire arguments. The Wall Street Journal reviewer liked the film but an op-ed piece took a swipe at us, then Paul Krugman responded to the Journal piece, then Forbes responded to Krugman, then a Libertarian columnist really liked this movie. … It’s encouraging. We made this movie to get the conversation going. Even in the last few Q&As, there’s been — well, I’d say a little arguing, but not yelling. It’s a good sign. This movie was designed to stir the pot. And even more than financial people, I’m glad that “regular” people are talking about it. What’s amazing about this story is that it’s still happening.

Go see this movie. Not only is it important but it is also entertaining.

 

 

Scott Weiland

scott weiland | karim kanji

On December 3 2015, Scott Weiland was found dead. He will be best remembered as the frontman of the successful rock band Stone Temple Pilots. Weiland’s recognizable voice and dark lyrics were part of my high school days along with the music of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden (to name but a few).