With its melding of genres, excellent acting, complex characters and refusal to be obvious, Alicia Florrick changed not just network TV, but the whole medium
There is something about watching an episode of The Good Wife that brings me immense joy, like eating a delicious Italian dinner, the seamless conversation when catching up with old friends, or the giddy aura after an amazing first date. Thats how I felt every Sunday for seven years tuning into what Ive long considered to be the best show on television. All of that delight will be robbed from me when the series leaves CBS after its final episode on Sunday 8 May at 9pm EST.
The Good Wife is ostensibly not a show so many critics and fans should enjoy. During this age of peak TV, it is not on one of the prestige channels like AMC, FX or HBO. It is on CBS, a fuddy-duddy network whose logo should be a teapot on a doily rather than an eye. Its also, ostensibly, a procedural drama, something that CBS churns out like a factory, ripping out shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds season after season to huge ratings and absolutely zero critical buzz.
But what The Good Wife does to the procedural is perhaps the best thing about it. It tells the story of Alicia Florrick (Emmy winner Julianna Margulies) as she is forced back to work as a lawyer after decades at home raising her children when her politician husband Peter (Chris Noth) is sent to prison for using state funds to pay for sex workers. Since shes back at the law there is a case-of-the week format interwoven with the ongoing arc of Alicias growth and redemption.
Self-driving cars could cut road deaths by 80%, but without better security they put us at risk of car hacking and even ransoms, experts at SXSW say
Youre about to drive to work. You turn on the ignition and a message on the dash lights up. Weve hacked your car! Pay 10 bitcoin to get it back.
Hacking into software and then demanding a ransom to release it whats known as ransomware is not new. Finnish security expert Mikko Hypponen fully expects it to become a reality as self-driving or autonomous cars start to become more commonplace.
Already, one hacker claims to have taken control of some systems on board a passenger plane he was on, getting as far as issuing a climb command that he accessed through the entertainment system. Another pair of hackers caused a Jeep to crash in July 2015 by accessing some of the cars software through another poorly protected entertainment system. At the Defcon hacking conference, as far back as 2011, hackers were asking if they could write a virus that would be transmitted car to car.
Hypponen, chief research officer at the Finnish security firm F-Secure, told an audience at SXSW that in the 25 years he had worked in Cybersecurity, he had seen a big shift in the type of people who do the hacking, as well their motivations. When I entered this field, the hackers had no real motive they were doing it because they could.
He says there are now generally five types of hackers:
Good white hat hackers, who break security so that a weakness can be found, fixed and ultimately improved
Activist hackers, like Anonymous, who are politically but not perennially motivated
Nation-states and foreign intelligence agencies, a growing issue over the past ten years
Supporters of extremism of which Isis is the only really credible threat thus far
Criminals, who Hypponen says now make as much as 95% of all malware, using hacking to make millions of dollars
It is the criminals motivated by money that present the biggest threat and are likely to increasingly target self-driving cars; the multiple components in cars and lack of rigour by carmakers has made this a pressing issue. Legacy manufacturers who build cars have a long history of safety but not of security, and thats why they are starting learn the hard way. Now they take it seriously and last year was a wake-up call, he said of the Jeep hack.
Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute (III), says the US market for cyber insurance is growing massively, from $2bn in 2015 to a predicted $7.5bn in 2020. This is America, and if you have a breach of personal data, you are absolutely positively going to be sued. The legal fees and settlement costs will be more than the cost of the attack.
The III estimates that by 2030, 25% of all cars sold will be autonomous, marking a slightly slower pace than Google et al might have you believe. Hartwig also said that there will be an estimated 80% fewer traffic accidents because of the increased safety of autonomous cars. Data will be critical to this, allowing policies to be based on precise driving habits, safety and how many miles people actually drive not just what they say they do.
Jonathan Matus, CEO of the company behind the Zendrive app, explained how it uses the built-in motion and positioning sensors in smartphones to monitor driving, including rapid acceleration, sharp turns, stop signal compliance and phone use, which is a major factor in the number of global road deaths each year. Despite car ownership peaking, the number of deaths is actually increasing, he said.
New cars already have complex electrical diagnostic systems that include various monitoring systems so dont tell a cop you havent been speeding, because your car wont back you up, said Hartwig.
He pointed out that the road might actually be the last place to be overhauled for autonomous vehicles; Norway is already exploring an autonomous ferry, while planes are already so automated, even for takeoff and landing, that the skills of pilots are atrophying, Hartwig said.
Human-controlled cars will eventually be forbidden to drive on the road, Hypponen said, except for on race tracks. Matus said the same was certainly true of horses, suggesting yet another future threat to electronically controlled cars that could be harder to detect. If you wanted to slow US GDP, all you would have to do is increase the commute time in every urban environment by 15 minutes. Just tweak a few cars, or get one to put on the brake even if these things happen a few times, it will affect the confidence of consumers.
Even though he sees bad things happen all the time, Hypponen remains positive about self-driving cars, he said. The internet has brought us more good than bad. Overall, technology improves our lives and business, even with the risks. And Ill be able to watch cat videos on YouTube while Im driving.
An unrivaled global cyber-attack is poised to continue claiming victims Monday as people return to work and turn on their desktop computers, even as hospitals and other facilities gained the upper hand against the first wave.
More than 200,000 computers in at least 150 countries have so far been infected, according to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency. The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre said new cases of so-called ransomware are possible “at a significant scale.”
“We’ve seen the rise of ransomware becoming the principal threat, I think, but this is something we haven’t seen before — the global reach is unprecedented,” Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright said on ITV’s “Peston on Sunday” broadcast.
The malware used a technique purportedly stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency. It affected the U.K.’s National Health Service, Russia’s Ministry of Interior, China government agencies, Germany’s Deutsche Bahn rail system, automakers Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, PetroChina, logistics giant FedEx Corp., and other company and hospital computer systems in countries from Eastern Europe to the U.S. and Asia.
The hackers used the tool to encrypt files within affected computers, making them inaccessible, and demanded ransom — typically $300 in bitcoin. Russia and Ukraine had a heavy concentration of infections, according to Dutch security company Avast Software BV.
Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith, in a blog post Sunday, said the attack is a “wake-up call” for governments in the U.S. and elsewhere to stop stockpiling tools to exploit digital vulnerabilities. “They need to take a different approach and adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world,” he said.
About 97 percent of U.K. facilities and doctors disabled by the attack were back to normal operation, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Saturday after a government meeting. At the height of the attack Friday and early Saturday, 48 organizations in the NHS were affected, and hospitals in London, North West England and Central England urged people with non-emergency conditions to stay away as technicians tried to stop the spread of the malicious software.
The initial attack was stifled when a security researcher disabled a key mechanism used by the worm to spread, but experts said the hackers were likely to mount a second attack because so many users of personal computers with Microsoft operating systems couldn’t or didn’t download a security patch released in March that Microsoft had labeled “critical.”
Microsoft said in a blog post Saturday that it was taking the “highly unusual“ step of providing the patch for older versions of Windows it was otherwise no longer supporting, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
While the scale of the attack shows Microsoft needs to strengthen its own capabilities, “there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their system,” Smith said in his blog post. “Otherwise they’re literally fighting the problems of the present with tools from the past.
“This attack is a powerful reminder that information technology basics like keeping computers current and patched are a high responsibility for everyone, and it’s something every top executive should support."
Matt Suiche, founder of United Arab Emirates-based cyber security firm Comae Technologies, said he’s seen a variant on the original malware that still contains a kill-switch mechanism — though future versions could find a way to overcome it. “We are lucky that this logic bug is still present,” Suiche said.
Victims have paid about $50,000 in ransom so far, with the total expected to rise, said Tom Robinson, chief operating officer and co-founder of Elliptic Enterprises Ltd., a ransomware consultant that works with banks and companies in the U.K., U.S. and Europe. Robinson, in an interview by email, said he calculated the total based on payments tracked to bitcoin addresses specified in the ransom demands.
Last year an acute-care hospital in Hollywood paid $17,000 in bitcoin to an extortionist who hijacked its computer systems and forced doctors and staff to revert to pen and paper for record-keeping.
A spokesman for Spain’s Telefonica SA said the hack affected some employees at its headquarters, but the phone company is attacked frequently and the impact of Friday’s incident wasn’t major. FedEx said it was “experiencing interference,” the Associated Press reported.
Renault halted production at some factories to stop the virus from spreading, a spokesman said Saturday, while Nissan’s car plant in Sunderland, in northeast England, was affected without causing any major impact on business, an official said.
In Germany, Deutsche Bahn faced “technical disruptions” on electronic displays at train stations, but travel was unaffected, the company said in a statement on its website. Newspaper reports showed images of a ransomware message on display screens blocking train information.
Russia’s Interior Ministry, with oversight of the police forces, said about “1,000 computers were infected,” which it described as less than 1 percent of the total, according to its website.
In China, the malware affected computers at “several” unspecified government departments, the country’s Cyberspace Administration said on its WeChat blog Monday. Since that initial attack, agencies and companies from the police to banks and communications firms have put preventive measures in place, while Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and other cybersecurity firms have begun making protection tools available, the internet overseer said.
China National Petroleum Corp., which owns PetroChina, reported that some of its 21,000 gas stations had seen their digital payment systems disabled by the attack and resorted to accepting cash. More than 80 percent of the stations had been reconnected to the network as of noon on May 14, the company said. Several Chinese universities had also been hit by the attacks, according to local media reports.
In Japan, Hitachi Ltd. said that some of its computers had been affected. In South Korea, CJ CGV Co., the country’s largest cinema chain, said advertising servers and displays at film theaters were hit by ransomware. Movie servers weren’t affected and are running as normal, it said in a text message Monday. Indonesia’s government reported two hospitals in Jakarta were affected.
While any size company could be vulnerable, many large organizations with robust security departments would have prioritized the update that Microsoft released in March and wouldn’t be vulnerable to Friday’s attack.
Ransomware is a particularly stubborn problem because victims are often tricked into allowing the malicious software to run on their computers, and the encryption happens too fast for security software to catch it. Some security experts calculate that ransomware may bring in as much as $1 billion a year in revenue for the attackers.
The attack was apparently halted in the afternoon in the U.K. when a researcher took control of an Internet domain that acted as a kill switch for the worm’s propagation, according to Ars Technica.
“I will confess that I was unaware registering the domain would stop the malware until after I registered it, so initially it was accidental,” wrote the researcher, who uses the Twitter name @MalwareTechBlog. “So long as the domain isn’t revoked, this particular strain will no longer cause harm, but patch your systems ASAP as they will try again.”
There is a high probability that Russian-language cybercriminals were behind the attack, said Aleks Gostev, chief cybersecurity expert for Kaspersky Labs.
“Ransomware is traditionally their topic,” he said. “The geography of attacks that hit post-Soviet Union most also suggests that.”
From Banksy to Daft Punk, innovators in the new millennium are increasingly hiding their identities behind aliases, masks, and avatars.”>
Im a devoted fan of novelist Elena Ferrante, but I cant match my wifewho is currently reading her sixth Ferrante novel and is game for more. Of course, we are hardly alone in our enthusiasm: Ferrante is ultra-trendy right now, and has emerged as Italys leading candidate for a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Except theres a tiny problemshe probably wont show up to accept a Nobel Prize. In fact, readers have no idea who Elena Ferrante really is. Ferrante isnt her real name, and the author might not even be a woman. Various theories about the novelists identity have been bandied about, but the only thing her publisher will admit is that she was born in Naples.
By the same token, Satoshi Nakamoto deserves a Nobel Prize in Economics for his creation of bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that is changing the world of international finance. But theres a problem here toono one knows Nakomotos real identity. A number of candidates have emerged, including Australian Craig Wright, who recently tried to take credit for bitcoin, but many experts doubt his claim. The bottom line: The leading innovator in money matters is a mystery man, and we may never know his real identity.
Banksy is the worlds most famous street artist. Every new work stirs up media attention, and the artists net worth is estimated to be north of $20 million. But dont expect to see Banksy in public. The painters true identity is shrouded in secrecy. Many believe that Robin Gunningham is the real Banksy, but others contend that a woman or a team of people might be behind the artists work.
Welcome to the strange world of modern-day fame, when it helps to be a nobody if you want to be a somebody! In some ways, we are returning to the rules of the medieval world, when major works of art and technology were created by anonymous innovators. But theres a difference nowadays: Todays mystery artists cultivate their aura of secrecy. They prefer obscurity over the perks of celebrity status.
Musical performers have a harder time playing this game. After all, they need to come out on stage at their gigs. Yet even here, the allure of anonymity is evident. Dozens of musicians and DJs, from Daft Punk to deadmau5, are putting on masks or helmets before making public appearances. A generation ago, only bank robbers and a handful of TV wrestlers wore masks when going to work, but now the superstars have latched on to face coverings as the hot new celebrity fashion accessory. In most instances, the real identity of these performers is known to fans, but the artists try to subsume their personality into their disguised persona. In a very real sense, they have turned into their own avatars.
We are all familiar with celebrity reclusesbut they play by different rules than the new breed of anonymous artists. I want to be alone, Greta Garbo proclaimed in an oft-repeated line from the 1932 film Grand Hotel. Garbo lived up to that assertion in her private life, retiring at age 35 and studiously avoiding public appearances in later years. In retrospect, we can see her renunciation of the limelight as the first stirrings of a new kind of fame, amplified by avoiding the public eye. But Garbo didnt crave anonymity, merely privacy.
Over the next half-century, other artists and innovators followed in her footsteps. J.D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, Howard Hughes, Sly Stone, Glenn Gould, Terrence Malick, Harper Lee, and others played this game to perfection. Not only did they maintain a low profile, but in some instances even current photos were unavailable. Yet even these celebrated recluses still enjoyed the perks of personal fame. They may have kept a low profile, but never considered changing their names or denying responsibility for their works.
The new anonymous artists scorn such half measures. They dont want to hide; they prefer to disappear.
We have a few examples of unknown artists from the 20th century. B Traven, author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, sold 25 million books while maintaining total anonymity. Guitarist Kid Bailey left behind some classic Delta blues recordings but his real name is a mystery. Yet these were rare situations, and my research into the Bailey case suggests that the motive for keeping out of the limelight in the Age of Garbo was embarrassment over awkward details of the artists private life.
When I tracked down the enigmatic jazz trumpeter Dupree Bolton in the 80s, and secured the first interview with a musician who had eluded all researchers for decades, he admitted that he hid from view due to shame at his criminal record (on various drug charges). In the case of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriters, they also kept in the shadowsbut, again, for practical reasons unrelated to their craft. They wanted the renown, but were forced to relinquish it.
The cases of Ferrante and Nakamoto are a different thing entirely. I suspect that they celebrate their anonymity. Certainly their admirers do.
Why is this happening at this juncture in history? Artists and empire builders of previous generations have always coveted fame. They devoted entire careers to cultivating it, and mourned its loss almost as if it were akin to death. Certainly we still have people like that. Look at Donald Trump, who puts his name on everythinga tower, a casino, a university, a board game, a cologne, and so on. Yet in the new millennium, such shameless self-promotion is increasingly pass.
The anonymous innovators strike us as cooler, hipper, perhaps even more trustworthy. After all, they have less to gain from the game of fame. They live ordinary lives, unnoticed when they go out in public, not much different from the average person. So perhaps we see them as more realan ironic state of affairs given their total absence from the scene.
But let me suggest three other reasons why anonymity is turning into the new status symbol.
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First, its so bloody hard to achieve nowadays. A host of technologies monitor our activities around the clock. Government and businesses act as if they are in a race to find out who can store the most data on the most people. Given this situation, I am hardly surprised that many of us fantasize about anonymity the way earlier generations craved fame.
Under this scenario, artists such as Banksy or Elena Ferrante are living the dream. They have somehow managed to avoid the constant surveillance that the rest of us have to endure as a matter of course.
The increasing use of avatars in the digital realm might be another reason for this new breed of celebrity. From this perspective, the anonymous celebrity is no different from the millions of people who keep their identities secret on Twitter or other digital platforms. The avatar almost becomes the brand image, more powerfuland more easily fine-tuned and photoshopped to match audience expectationsthan boring flesh-and-blood people.
But theres another likely explanation, perhaps the most encouraging one of them all. Its just possible that audiences are getting tired of the unrelenting narcissism of celebrity culture in the new millennium. After seeing a thousand Kardashian selfies and hearing a thousand boasting rappers and watching a thousand TV commercials featuring the same five NBA stars well, wouldnt you crave something a little less bombastic and ego-driven?
A recent study from the University of Michigan shows that pop songs of the present day are increasingly filled with boasting and ego trips. Compared with previous eras, songs from the current decade are more likely to include the singer referring to the self by name, general self-promotion, and bragging about wealth, partners appearance, or sexual prowess. In an earlier day, this unrelenting self-referential tone was restricted to rap songs, but nowadays it has spread to other genres of popular music.
In response to evidence of this sort, pundits tell us that we are living in an age of narcissism. But perhaps they are looking at the cause, not the effect. Many fans saturated in celebrity cultureespecially in this age of round-the-clock coveragehave already reached the point of overload and resistance. Their willingness to embrace these anonymous artists is perhaps a reaction against the tsunami of selfies and tawdry TMZ tidbits and Instagram updates.
Whatever the reasons behind it, I welcome this new cult of anonymity. In an age in which engagement with artistic works has been displaced by gossiping about celebrity artists, the anonymous innovators have forced us to return our gaze to the creative product. That cant be a bad thing, and we would be wrong to consider it as a mere trend or passing fad. Maybe we should adhere to that same way of contemplating art even when we know the artists identity.
Every generation of artists has defined itself by rebellion. So where are the Generation Y revolutionaries? Our writer enters a world of corporate hijacks, Instagram breakdowns and fake frat parties
For more than 100 years, art has been defined by rebellion. From the surrealists rejection of the rational to the political paintings of Picasso, from the rage of the punks to the sly irony of the YBAs, the work that adorns the walls of our art institutions is overwhelmingly countercultural.
The answer is far from straightforward. In the age of hypercapitalism, the tentacles of the corporate world extend further into our lives than ever before. Even the words that were once used to signify creative rebellion DIY, pop-up, grassroots, punk have been co-opted, fetishised, used to sell coffee, flog old furniture and entice property buyers to up-and-coming areas.
Spaces that once spawned and nurtured a countercultural spirit are also disappearing. Since 2005, the number of nightclubs in the UK has fallen from 3,144 to 1,733 and there are now only 88 live music venues left in London. Studio spaces for artists in the city are being shut down and redeveloped into flats at a breakneck pace, while rents on those that remain are often unaffordable. Even the squats and council housing once occupied by many an artist are no more.