The Weekender, September 21, 2018

1) “Leave no dark corner ” (ABC News Australia, 7 minutes, September 2018). The subhead: “China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, ‘social credit’ will bring privileges — for others, punishment. ” The article’s use of multimedia is great. The story is terrifying — straight from a George Orwell novel.

Social credit is like a personal scorecard for each of China’s 1.4 billion citizens.

In one pilot program already in place, each citizen has been assigned a score out of 800. In other programs it’s 900.

Those, like Dandan [Fan, a “model Chinese citizen”], with top “citizen scores” get VIP treatment at hotels and airports, cheap loans and a fast track to the best universities and jobs.

“It will allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

Those at the bottom can be locked out of society and banned from travel, or barred from getting credit or government jobs.

The system will be enforced by the latest in high-tech surveillance systems as China pushes to become the world leader in artificial intelligence.

Surveillance cameras will be equipped with facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking to cast a constant gaze over every citizen.

2) Want more info in your inbox?: Now you can get all your news in one email. Check out the 1440 Daily Digest – they scour 100+ sources so you don’t have to. Culture, science, sports, politics, business and everything in between – in a 5-minute read each morning. Pairs well with Now I Know. Sign up here.

3) “How the octopus got its smarts” (Cosmos Magazine, 15 minutes, September 2018). The strange evolution of the octopus.

4) The Now I Know Week in Review:

Monday:  Why You Shouldn’t Fart on a West Virginia Police Officer — I’m still amazed I used this title.

Tuesday:  Why the Big Bad Wolf Wouldn’t be a Good Baseball Player — I forgot that another baseball player tried the same move a few years after, but failed. (Thanks, Scott, for reminding me!)

Wednesday: Yom Kippur. Didn’t publish.

ThursdayWhen Flying First Class Isn’t Good Enough — General Electric’s plane folly.


5) “For Valentino Dixon, a wrong righted” (Golf Digest, 6 minutes, September 2018). Note the source here — it’s Golf Digest. As the article itself points out, “it’s embarrassing for the legal system that for a long time the best presentation of the investigation was from a golf magazine.” Thanks to Adam L. for the tip.

After 27 years in prison, a man who loves golf walked free today. Not only that, he was given back his innocence. Of course, the state can regift innocence about as capably as it can 27 years.Nevertheless, the Erie County District Court in Buffalo, N.Y., has vacated the murder conviction of Valentino Dixon, 48, who was serving a 39-years-to-life sentence—the bulk of it in the infamous Attica Correctional Facility—for the 1991 killing of Torriano Jackson. On that hot August night long ago, both were at a loud street party with underage drinking when a fistfight over a girl turned to gunfire.

But before we dive into what really happened, a quick refresher on why golfers might care extra about Valentino Dixon. Six years ago, Golf Digest profiled this inmate who grinds colored pencils to their nubs drawing meticulously detailed golf-scapes. Although Dixon has never hit a ball or even stepped foot on a course, the game hooked him when a golfing warden brought in a photograph of Augusta National’s 12th hole for the inmate to render as a favor. In the din and darkness of his stone cell, the placid composition of grass, sky, water and trees spoke to Dixon. And the endless permutations of bunkers and contours gave him a subject he could play with.

“The guys can’t understand,” Dixon has said. “They always say I don’t need to be drawing this golf stuff. I know it makes no sense, but for some reason my spirit is attuned to this game.”

It took about a hundred drawings before Golf Digest noticed, but when we did, we also noticed his conviction seemed flimsy. So we investigated the case and raised the question of his innocence.

6) “Chevy Chase Can’t Change” (Washington Post, 19 minutes, September 2018). The subhead: “The 74-year-old comedy star is sober and ready to work. The problem is nobody wants to work with him.”

Have a great weekend!