Boing Boing

Boing Boing

Description

Brain candy for Happy Mutants

Link: boingboing.net

Episodes

Seagull helps man avoid weed bust

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

When two plain-clothes police officers approached a woman smoking a joint at the Gothenburg Cultural Festival in Sweden, they noticed a fellow sitting nearby toss what they say was a bag of weed. As they were moving in for the bust, a seagull snatched the bag and flew away. While the police were distracted by the bird, the man reportedly took off.

“What the policemen did not expect was that a third party would interfere,” explained police spokesperson Stefan Gustafsson.

My hope is that the man and the seagull were in cahoots.

(The Leaf Desk)

image: Ring-billed Gull photographed by Jiyang Chen (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Dataviz of burger-satisfaction rankings

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

The market-research firm Market Force Information surveyed 7,600 people to find out which burger chains the liked the most and least, ranking them by eight attributes, like "food quality", "speed service" and "staff friendliness".

Over at Flowing Data, Nathan Yau took that info and charted it out in a superb dataviz:

What's interesting here isn't just the burger info. What's fun is noticing how beautifully Yau's dataviz here takes eight tables of data -- hard to look at, hard to spot patterns in (you can see the original tables here) -- and transforms it into something that tells a story at a glance: The customer approval for chains like In-N-Out and Whatabuger are pretty well-rounded, while people seem to have only one big thing they like about chains like Steak 'N Shake (value for the money) or Jack in the Box (speed of service.)

Yau's stuff is always good, but this one is a particularly nice object-lesson in the value of well-done data visualization. Read the rest

The "One HTML Page Challenge", a great example of view-source culture

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Behold the "One HTML Page Challenge" -- to build a one-page site using just the code in a single html file: "Practice your skills with no assistance from libraries, no separation of files, and no assistance of a modern framework."

There are a just few entries so far, but they're pretty cool -- like this one that creates a slowly-growing ant colony in ASCII, or this racing game, or this quiz to see if you can identify the correct name of a color.

I dig the constraints here -- all code in one file, no outside code libraries -- because it really honors "view source" culture.

When I was interviewing developers for my latest book Coders, all the ones who grew up during the late 90s and early 00s web talked about how powerful view-source was in teaching themselves to code and make stuff online.

But web development these days has grown byzantine in its complexity; if newbie is trying to learn, view-source is liable to just cough up a slurry of incomprehensible, minified javascript. It closes off the easy onramps that existed back in the earlier days of the web.

So, projects like this one-page challenge are awesome, because the whole goal is to encourage the writing of web-site code that's more legible and tractable. If you view-source any of the entries, some might be a little complex for newbies, but if you spend enough time walking it through, you can figure out what's going on. Read the rest

Rochester, Buffalo: My band The Delorean Sisters plays your cities this weekend

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Hey upstate NY state folks: My band The Delorean Sisters is in your neck of the woods, tonight and tomorrow!

We're a country-Americana band -- our first album was a fun concept project, where we took 80s synthpop hits by acts like Depeche Mode and Eurythmics and transformed 'em into country/bluegrass, with three-part country harmonies and banjo. (This worked surprisingly well, since wow -- 80s synthpop has some of saddest damn lyrics I've ever heard. It's basically already hurtin' country music.) Our second album from this spring is an EP of originals', in the same vein of Americana. 'Tis all on Spotify, or Bandcamp if you're looking for glisteningly DRM-free MP3s or vinyl.

Tonight, Fri. Aug. 23 we're in Rochester, playing at Abilene Bar & Lounge at 9 pm; tomorrow night, Sat. Aug. 24 at 8 pm we're in Buffalo, playing Sportsmen's. Come on out and hassle me!

(In the photo, that's our three singers, Gary, Lizzie and Diane, with our bass player Danny -- I'm hiding behind Diane, on electric.) Read the rest

How to lose one's mind

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

I played this once. I am crying. One of the greatest moments in television. Read the rest

The end of the Delta rocket nears

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

The last planned launch of a Delta IV single stick rocket was a success. The single-core Delta rocket will now be retired, as SpaceX is cheaper.

The iconic Delta IV Heavy is still in use with its multiple boosters.

Ars:

A 2017 report by the US Government Accountability Office put the per-unit cost of a single-core Delta launch at $164 million. This is nearly three times the price of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which can not only be re-used but has comparable or better performance.

To compete more effectively in this new landscape, United Launch Alliance is phasing out its use of heritage Delta and Atlas rockets in favor of a new Vulcan-Centaur rocket. In dropping the Delta IV Medium, the company is eschewing Aerojet Rocketdyne's costly RS-68A main engine in favor of the less-expensive BE-4 engine under development by the new space company Blue Origin. Similarly, it is seeking to cut costs on Vulcan in other ways, while maintaining its performance.

This is not the last Delta rocket to fly, however. The US Air Force will continue to support the Delta IV Heavy program—which consists of three cores and is the second most powerful rocket in existence after the Falcon Heavy—until other heavy-lift alternatives emerge. The final flight for that vehicle is likely to come in 2024, when it lofts a heavy spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.

Image via Wikipedia Read the rest

Viral black and white Roku'd TV now available as glow-in-the-dark enamel pin

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Remember the guy who rigged up his first-gen Roku to an old black-and-white TV to watch The Twilight Zone? Well, that "guy" is my artist pal Josh Ellingson and he's taking his viral moment to the next level. He's created glow-in-the-dark enamel pins of his Roku-enabled 1975 General Electric model 12XB9104V TV. That's cool on its own but he's also made a pack of stick-on screen decals that make it look like a vintage show or movie is playing. The pin shown in the photo above depicts the Moon landing but there are others, like the Nosferatu below. He's made the pins available on Indiegogo for $10 each, or two for $18, which includes the sticker pack. As of this writing, the campaign is 931% funded.

(RED) Read the rest

Life in prison plus 150 years for monster who secretly filmed kids in their bedrooms

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Ryan Alden, a 39 year-old professional sack of filth/security technician, was charged with 28 felonies after getting caught by the cops doing some incredibly invasive, heinous shit.

From Gizmodo:

Nichols Hills Police Chief Steven Cox told News9 that one of the homeowners had called a heat and air company to come and take a look at a climate control issue in their home. Cameras were then found zip-tied to air vents in the teen daughter’s bedroom, bathroom, and closet, according to court documents. As the home was under renovation, several different crews had been in and out of the residence and Alden became a suspect.

After an investigation into Alden’s personal devices, it was discovered that there were victims outside of just the individuals in the homes he had serviced, and an officer with the Edmond Police Department said the recordings could fill 12 spindles of compact discs, News 9 reported. Police said that there was child pornography on five of his computers and two of his phones.

But it doesn't stop there. According to the Associated Press, the investigation into Alden's crimes uncovered that he'd also installed cameras in public bathrooms, clothing store change rooms, schools and gyms. The investigation, which started in 2018 after one of the clients serviced by Alden's company uncovered the cameras secreted away on their property. Upon raiding his Alden's home, the police discovered that he had what was described as "tens of thousands of files" in his possession. Alden was found guilty of all 28 felonies and, for his crimes, was committed to life in prison, plus 150 years. Read the rest

News plagiarism sites run real stories through thesaurus to avoid detection, to hilarious effect

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Jesselyn Cook noticed that a site called NewsBuzzr had ripped off one of her stories at Huffington Post. It turned out to be some kind of awful plagiarism bot that uses a thesaurus to avoid detection as duplicate content, resulting in hilariously mangled prose. Cook calls it "truly excellent “Florida Male” content" and I hope that term sticks.

The intro to my story, which describes a woman feeling an “urgent tap” on her shoulder, had been changed to say that she felt a “pressing faucet” instead. The term “sex videos” had become “intercourse movies,” and the quote “I was definitely shocked” had morphed into this nonsense: “I used to be indisputably surprised.” The entire piece had been altered, seemingly word-by-word, rendering some sentences far less coherent than others.

Humor aside, the scale of the scam is such that it makes real money, which it is ultimately depriving its victims of. There was a point about a decade ago where the number of sites scraping Boing Boing became uncountable, but sadly none of them turned our hard-driving coverage into magnetic storage delineations.

The screengrab above is from the NewsBuzzr-world's own science educator, "Invoice Nye the Science Man." Google has already banned NewsBuzzr from AdSense. Read the rest

This Linux computer plus router is the size of a ring box

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

If there's one thing that stayed consistent through the last decade or so of tech industry turmoil, it's the love affair between techies and Linux. There's just a ton you can do with the OS, and its open-source format means you can customize your rig from the ground up.

Apparently not content with that level of devotion, the good folks at VoCore have gone and made a tiny Linux computer that is impossibly cute, on top of its multiple applications.

The VoCore2 Mini Linux Computer packs a wireless router and 16M of onboard storage into a cube about the size of a coin. Just hook it up to any display monitor through a standard USB2.0 port, and you're ready to put it to work. With 128MB of DDR2 memory and an MT7628AN MIPS processor, it's equally useful as a streaming station, VPN gateway, data storage - you name it.

The standard VoCore2 package comes with an Ultimate Dock that takes MicroSD cards for $42.99 - a full 14% off the list price. For those who want to get cracking right out of the box, there's a VoCore2 Mini Linux Computer Bundle for $69 (a 13% discount), including an 800 X 480 screen just perfect for the tiny powerhouse. Read the rest

Fairyland donkeys react to classical music

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Children's Fairyland, the mid-century theme park for little kids in Oakland, California, posted this video of their resident donkeys reacting to classical music that is too cute not to share.

Fairyland:

Donkeys get a kick out of classical music! We were testing out our PA system and Gideon and Chiquita got into it. As Brett, our staff mechanic, notes, "It's like a real-life Fantasia!"

When they aren't digging classical music (or doing whatever donkeys do), they can be found grazing on grass in the big field when the park is closed:

Previously on BB: Children's Fairyland, the mid-century storybook theme park that inspired Walt Disney and where Frank Oz got his start Read the rest

Custom-made bartop OutRun cabinet

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Circuitbeard created this adorable and pixel-perfect miniature OutRun cabinet to sit atop their bar, complete with not-a-Ferrari dashboard and original cabinet decal art. Check out Picade for a primer on how the guts work (and to buy similar guts).

Read the rest

DIY submarine? DIY submarines!

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

Last year, Shanee Stopnitzky dropped her doctoral studies in marine biology for another soggy pursuit: submarines!

Picking up a pair of used submarines (apparently they're not just for the Canadian Navy anymore), she and a team of volunteer enthusiasts set to repairing, upgrading and making the wee underwater vessels the bad ass exploratory monsters they were always meant to be.

  Read the rest

Bees added to Minecraft, finally

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

My "bee"-obsessed young son will not be delighted to see the addition of bees to Minecraft, as he is still too young to have played Minecraft or, indeed, to have become cognizant of the difference between bees and other winged insects.

We’re buzzing with excitement!

• Bees are cute, fuzzy, neutral mobs • Don’t hurt them, they don’t want to hurt you • If a bee does sting you, it will leave its stinger in you and eventually die, dropping nothing :( • Bees love pretty flowers and spend their lives gathering pollen from them • After gathering pollen, bees fly back to their home nest • Bees help you by growing crops while carrying pollen back to the nest • Bees can be bred using flowers • Bees like sharing the location of their favorite flowers with other bees • If a bee can't find nectar, after a while it will return home for a bit • If a bee doesn’t have a home nest, it will wander around until it finds one it can use • Bees don’t like the rain and they sleep at night. They will go back to the nest in these cases

In keeping with Minecraft's rougueish leanings, there's an entire ecology of honey production to go with it. Can't wait! Read the rest

USB half-golfball with one USB port

Aug 23, 2019

Description:

There's an unlimited wealth of useless USB gadgetry to be acquired, obviously, but something about the USB half-golfball with one USB port [Amazon] posted to Twitter by @foone (whose epic threads about subjects such as "possibly cursed USB adapters" are easily the best thing on Twitter right now) captures the very essence of the genre. I immediately bought one, as it's the perfect gift for an older boomer-age male relative who has never in their life played golf.

Tell me about your conspicuously pointless, low-effort USB gifts in the comments! No prizes for Cuecats. Read the rest

MIT says Jeffrey Epstein gave $800,000, issues statement on MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito, Seth Lloyd

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

The following email was sent today to the MIT community by President L. Rafael Reif.

To the members of the MIT community,

I expect you know that the late Jeffrey Epstein cultivated relationships with and supplied funding to leading researchers at several institutions, including MIT.

I write to share some background on the gifts MIT received, to outline our next steps as an institution and to offer an apology.

Here are the core facts, as best as we can determine: Over the course of 20 years, MIT received approximately $800,000 via foundations controlled by Jeffrey Epstein. All of those gifts went either to the MIT Media Lab or to Professor Seth Lloyd. Both Seth and Media Lab Director Joi Ito have made public statements apologizing to Jeffrey Epstein's victims and others for judgments made over a series of years.

You may read their statements here and here. I appreciate their efforts to take individual responsibility for their past decisions.

However, I believe the situation also requires a broader and deeper institutional response.

MIT offers faculty great freedom in conducting and building support for their research; that freedom is and always will be a precious value of our community. Yet it is important to understand that faculty are not “on their own”; their decisions about gifts are always subject to longstanding Institute processes and principles. To my great regret, despite following the processes that have served MIT well for many years, in this instance we made a mistake of judgment.

In response, I have asked Provost Marty Schmidt to convene a group to examine the facts around the Epstein donations and identify any lessons for the future, to review our current processes and to advise me on appropriate ways we might improve them.

Read the rest

Jeffrey Epstein's efforts to silence press included a bullet on a reporter's doorstep, cat's severed head

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

David Folkenflik of NPR News has a report today about how Jeffrey Epstein terrorized members of the press who sought to report on his activity, alternating between attempting to intimidate or buy off the media. One significant episode involved Vanity Fair, under former editor in chief Graydon Carter (pictured here).

The sexual predator and accused global sex trafficker's methods included a severed cat's head, and a bullet on a doorstep.

Vanity Fair under Graydon Carter was working on a story about Jeffrey Epstein's long-whispered-about sexual predation of young women and girls. Jeffrey Epstein found out, and wanted the story dead, so he applied various forms of pressure.

"He was torturing Graydon," says John Connolly, who was at the time a Vanity Fair contributing editor reporting on crime and scandal:

Soon after publication, Connolly says, Carter called to share an ominous development: a bullet placed right outside his front door at his Manhattan home.

"That wasn't a coincidence," Connolly says.

Even in the absence of any evidence Epstein was involved, Connolly says both Carter and he considered the bullet a clear warning from Epstein. Another former colleague, who spoke on condition of anonymity, recalls receiving an anguished call from Carter linking the bullet to Epstein. (NPR asked Carter repeatedly over the course of a week for his recollections of the bullet incident along with other elements presented here. After this story was broadcast and posted, his spokeswoman wrote to say Carter recalled the bullet appearing in 2004, not 2003.)

In 2006, federal authorities compiled accusations against Epstein in Florida.

Read the rest

US to require air travelers to show 'gold star' at airports in order to fly

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

Starting next year you won't be able to board a plane without REAL ID.

Supermarket workers found $550,000 worth of cocaine in with the bananas

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

On Sunday, workers at a Safeway supermarket in King County, Washington found 48 pounds of cocaine hidden inside banana boxes stacked in the stockroom.

"This is an ongoing investigation as detectives try to determine where the bananas came from," the King Country Sheriff posted to Facebook. "Cocaine was also found inside similar produce containers in Safeway stores in Bellingham, and Federal Way."

Once they peel back the layers, I'm sure they'll find that a smuggler really slipped up. I bet the buyer will be pissed when the sellers can't produce the goods. Man, I really crack myself up.

(UPI) Read the rest

Scratch-and-sniff wallpaper that smells like weed

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

From the far-out folks at Flavor Paper comes Cannabliss, a subtly psychedelic scratch-and-sniff wallpaper that smells like weed. They write:

We have nailed a very pleasant yet dank scent that is made from true flowering hemp terpenes to ensure we’re keeping it real. CBD for your eyes and ol factory. Dope.

As Alex writes at Weird Universe, "Most of the people who will buy this already have rooms that smell like marijuana." Read the rest

Jeffrey Epstein's social media accounts are as gross as you'd expect.

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

No surprises in Jeffrey Epstein's social media accounts.

His Spotify playlists included Louis C.K. and songs like 'Before You Accuse Me' and 'Hot for Teacher.'

His Pinterest includes Peter Pan and Humpty Dumpty imagery for children's bedrooms, next to Roman and Greek “power dude” interior design images.

Business Insider tracked the sex offender's public accounts down: “His tastes varied from Gospel music to Broadway show tunes to tracks by the disgraced comic Louis C.K. One of his playlists shares the name of the 24-year-old daughter of his ex-girlfriend.”

A 2017 Supreme Court ruling allowed registered sex offenders to use social media. Before Trump, they were prohibited. In New York, where Epstein had one of his 4 or more (?) homes, sex offenders have to report social media accounts for the state sex offender registry.

Excerpt:

The contents of Epstein's public Spotify account, recently identified by Business Insider, gesture in a similar direction. They illustrate a wildly varied taste in music, from Beethoven to Elton John and Pitbull to Celine Dion. They also suggest a preference for hard-rock songs from the 1970s that emphasized male sexual conquest, as well as the odd song about sexual attraction between children and adults — Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" and an Oscar Peterson performance of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."

Meanwhile, a Pinterest page includes a painting of Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up and leads a young girl and her siblings out of their home.

Business Insider found three of Epstein's online accounts after reviewing his correspondence with the Florida probation officers who supervised his release in 2009 after serving 13 months in jail on charges that included soliciting a minor for prostitution.

Read the rest

Trump Justice Department officials emailed immigration judges this racist, anti-Jewish blog post

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

Just another day living under our very normal white supremacist government. Justice Department officials reportedly emailed immigration judges a white nationalist blog post that included various attacks on Jewish people.

The National Association of Immigration Judges, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), emailed court employees the url for a VDare post in its morning news briefing earlier this week. VDare is a notorious white supremacist website. Anti-Jewish, Anti-Black, Anti-Latinx. The post included anti-Semitic attacks on sitting immigration judges.

Couldn't be any more direct.

The briefings are sent to court employees every weekday and include links to various immigration news items. BuzzFeed News confirmed the link to a blog post was sent to immigration court employees Monday. The post detailed a recent move by the Justice Department to decertify the immigration judge’s union.

A letter Thursday from union chief Ashley Tabaddor to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s EOIR, said the link to the VDare post angered many judges.

“The post features links and content that directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs and the label ‘Kritarch.’ The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic,” wrote Tabaddor. The VDare post includes pictures of judges with the term “kritarch” preceding their names.

Tabaddor said the term Kritarchy is a reference to ancient Israel during a time of rule by a system of judges.

The Justice Department Sent Immigration Judges A White Nationalist Blog Post With Anti-Semitic Attacks

[via TomNamako, Haleaziz] Read the rest

Watch the wonderful Adventure Time "pilot" short from 2007

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

One of the greatest cartoon series of recent years, Adventure Time ran for ten seasons on Cartoon Network. Created by Pendleton Ward, the original short above was produced for Frederator Studios' Random! Cartoons show and aired on the Nicktoons network on January 11, 2007. Finn was named Pen.

More at the Adventure Time Wiki.

Read the rest

It's possible to be paralyzed by choice

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

Mental health problems are a pain in the ass. One of the more obnoxious coping mechanisms I used to use to deal with depression and anxiety was shopping.

Having nightmares again? Stressed out? But something new! You earned it, pal! Sometimes, the brief rush of endorphins I'd snag from spending a little dough was enough to allow me to slide through another day without addressing any of the problems I was suffering from. On other days, I'd buy something I knew damn well that I didn't need and feel almost instantly guilty. I'd want to return it, but the shame and embarrassment of walking back into a store and having to explain myself felt like too much to tolerate. I'd find ways around having to return stuff by buying non-returnable items, like digital downloads. Back when I was first confronting my addiction to this kind of rampant consumerism, I figured out that I had spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 on iTunes downloads over a five-year period.

That's fucked up, by anyone's standard.

I thought that starting into a career as a tech journalist would help to cure me of my desire to buy stuff all of the time: if I get to play with all the latest gear for free, there's no need to invest any cash in it, right? Nah. I hoped that my exposure to new and fabulous things would allow me to tire of them after spending some time with them. Instead, I ended up having a better idea of what I wanted to buy and, as I already knew what a given product could do, was able to talk myself into it, guilt-free. Read the rest

How Joe Strummer got through this interview is anyone's guess

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

Joe Strummer was born on August 21, 1952 in Ankara, Turkey. The music he made in his 50 years on this rock changed damned near everything, speaking of rebellion, love and everything in between. He would have been 67 years old today.

From all reports Joe wasn't a huge fan of being interviewed and man, I'm pretty sure that he wasn't thrilled with being interviewed by this fella. Despite constant being talked over, baiting, uninformed questions that no one should have to answer and a number of awkward silences, he managed to make it through this 22 minute interview with grace, calm and dignity. I'm not sure I would have been able to manage it, were I in his shoes. Watching this makes me love him, all the more.

Happy birthday, Joe. Wish you were here.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of John Joe Coffey Read the rest

Full story of the missionary killed when trying to convert an "uncontacted" tribe

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

The Sentinelese are one of the world's last "uncontacted" indigenous peoples, a hunter-gatherer tribe who live on the remote North Sentinel Island in India's Andaman Islands chain. You may recall that last November, a missionary named John Allen Chau, 26, obsessed with trying to convert the tribe to Christianity, paid local fishermen to help him get near the island. As soon as he illegally landed his canoe on the shore and started preaching, the Sentinelese fired arrows. He escaped with injuries but returned twice later and was eventually killed. In a long and fascinating GQ feature, Doug Bock Clark tells the whole tale. From GQ:

From his kayak, Chau yelled in English: “My name is John. I love you, and Jesus loves you. Jesus Christ gave me authority to come to you.” Then, offering a tuna most likely caught by the fishermen on the journey to the island, Chau declared: “Here is some fish!” In response, the Sentinelese socketed bamboo arrows onto bark-fiber bowstrings. Chau panicked. He flung the gift into the bay. As the tribesmen gathered it, he turned and paddled “like I never have in my life, back to the boat.”

By the time he reached safety, though, his fear was already turning to disappointment. He swore to himself that he would return later that day. He had, after all, been planning for this moment since high school. It was his divine calling, he believed, to save the lost souls of North Sentinel Island.

And from GQ's summary of the article:

The tribe had for centuries lived in isolation there free of disease, modern technology, and Western religion, ideals, and systems.

Read the rest

What does writer and human guinea pig AJ Jacobs keep in his bag?

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

In the latest issue of the What's in my bag? newsletter (published by Cool Tools, which I edit), my friend AJ Jacobs talks about four things he keeps i his bag:

A.J. Jacobs is a writer, lecturer and human guinea pig. He is the author of four New York Times bestselling books, including “The Year of Living Biblically” and “The Know-It-All.” He is a contributor to NPR, the New York Times and Esquire magazine and is a frequent TED speaker. His most recent book is “Thanks a Thousand.”

Life Changing Questions ($24) My friend — the social scientist and mathematician Spencer Greenberg — developed a deck of cards he calls “Life Changing Questions.” And they are just what they sound like. Each card has a Big Question printed on it (e.g. “What have you changed your mind about?” or “What would you do if you had one week to live?”) Spencer’s research shows these questions are the ones his test subjects find most valuable in reassessing their lives. I like to break the cards out at dinner with my family and use them as conversation prompts. They are much better than arguing over screen time.

ReMarkable ($499) This is an unusual tablet. Its main purpose is to allow you to take handwritten notes on the impressively paper-like interface. It’s too expensive for what it is, but I still recommend it because it’s helped reduce my habit of having dozens of spiral-bound notebooks strewn about my office.

Read the rest

Is this a bird or a bunny?

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose pic.twitter.com/aYOZGAY6kP

— Dan Quintana (@dsquintana) August 18, 2019

His name is Mischief.

(CNN) Read the rest

I wonder if this 'Mach 5' is ready for a second owner

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

He's gainin' on you so you better look alive. He's busy revvin' up the powerful Mach 5.

And when the odds are against him And there's dangerous work to do You bet your life Speed Racer Will see it through.

I'd rather base one off of a 308 GTS, tho. Read the rest

Very inexpensive wall mount for guitars

Aug 22, 2019

Description:

My friend gave me a bass guitar she didn't want any more because she was moving. It's a great bass but I don't have a way to store it. I just saw this great deal for a wall-mount guitar holder for just on Amazon, with free shipping. I doubt this deal will last. Read the rest

Town to install public toilets with anti-sex systems

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

Porthcawl in Wales will install public toilets with systems to prevent people from having sex inside including an alarm, doors that spring open, and a water sprayer. It seems the possibility of false alarms makes this a real, er, shitty idea. From CNN:

Movement sensors inside the toilets will respond to "violent" activity, while weight sensors will be installed to detect the entrance of more than one person, triggering the deterrent measures. The toilets have also been designed to prevent rough sleepers taking shelter inside: If a user remains in the toilet for too long, a warning message will play, while the lights and heating will switch off.

Weight sensitive floors to detect more than 1 user? What baseline weight are they using? I'm easily the weight of 2 teenagers! And what about people who need assistance? I have to go in with my kids. Porthcawl public toilet plan includes anti-sex measures https://t.co/un00GEjO04

— Leah (@Leah_B_H) August 16, 2019

This is absolutely terrifying. I'm a disabled person who falls a lot and occasionally needs assistance. Am I going to have to need to start looking up whether I'll be able to use public conveniences without violent and humiliating consequence, because of moral panic?

— GNU/sophia (@pylonfan) August 16, 2019 Read the rest

Create your robot army with these Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

It's a great time to be a maker. 3D printers are on store shelves for anyone to buy, and coder kits like Arduino and Raspberry Pi are letting kids as young as 9 or 10 dive into the Internet of Things. Here are a few examples of our favorite tech toys, all priced low enough that even a mad scientist in training can afford them.

RoboxDual™ 3D Printer

This workhorse printer is designed to get you creating right out of the box with an impressive dual-head system that allows you to print with two materials at once. Operation is clean and safe for even first-time students, and there are no stray strings on your design thanks to nozzles that cut off the flow of material before pulling away. Pick up the RoboxDual™ 3D Printer for $449.99, almost 70% off the list price.

 

Toybox 3D Printer Deluxe Bundle

Here's one toybox that won't ever run out of toys. Designed for kids but full-featured, this 3D printer gives you access to a catalog of blueprints and the option to upload your own inventions to a companion app. The Toybox 3D Printer Deluxe Bundle is now $314.99, more than 30% off the original cost.

Elecrow Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit

Raspberry Pi systems are already a great introduction to computers and DIY gadget-making, and this kit makes that intro even more painless. The LCD touchscreen and multiple display modes allow you to surf the web your way, from scratch. Grab an Elecrow Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit now for $108. Read the rest

Towards a better practice of online news-corrections

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

Dan Gillmor and the ASU News Co/Lab: "An honest admission of an error is transparency. It’s not just the right thing to do. It can enhance trust when done right. It can lead to more engagement — by which we mean deeper conversations — among journalists and people in communities."

* Gather and analyze the available research on journalistic corrections. We need to be clear what we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to know. We’re encouraged by a

* recent meta-analysis of research on correcting misinformation

that found promising evidence that corrective messages that provide context alongside a retraction are effective. Look for our research roundup in the relatively near future.

* Build a tool that helps streamline the process of sending corrections (and essential updates) down the media pathways the original stories traveled. The tool will include research-oriented features that encourage experimentation, such as A/B testing to see what language gets the best results. We’ll be open-sourcing this work along the way.

* Consult with researchers and journalism partners. (If your news organization is interested in being part of this, let us know. We’re looking for collaborators that span various modes and styles of journalism. The key requirement is a belief in corrections, and willingness to experiment.)

* Convene a meeting with key researchers, journalists, and technologists who are working in this arena. One goal here is to develop an agenda that, we hope, will help the journalism craft as a whole modernize its attitudes about corrections and updates.

Read the rest

McMansion Hell: the Campbell County, Wyoming edition

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

McMansion Hell (previously) continues to tear through America's most affluent ZIP codes with trenchant commentary on realtors' listings for terrible monster homes; in the current edition, critic Kate Wagner visits Campbell County, Wyoming, home to some of the most ill-considered monstrosities in America. As always, she is laugh-aloud funny as she tackles the "Divorce Lawyer house," a 6,000 square foot house from 2002, listed for a mere $700k.

Read the rest

"Inclusive" tech conference surprises registrees with a demand that they wear an unremovable, chipped surveillance bracelet

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

Sumana Harihareswara (previously) writes, "The Abstractions tech conference (Aug 21-23, in Pittsburgh) doesn't tell attendees this before they buy a ticket, but attendance requires you wear their wristband with an embedded tracking chip -- and that you don't take it off at night or in the shower till the conference ends. Organizers haven't addressed privacy, health, physical safety, and inclusivity concerns that registered attendees raised privately earlier this month, so Jason Owen is blogging about the issue in hopes of getting them to modify their policy." Read the rest

The case for allowing children to vote

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

Writing on Crooked Timber, John Quiggin (previously) responds to the epidemic of elderly reactionaries piling vitriol and violent rhetoric on the child activist Greta Thunberg and asks, why not let kids vote?

Quiggin points out that all the arguments against letting kids vote are also arguments for preventing older adults from voting: "Over 60 voters are, on average, poorly educated (the school leaving age in Australia was 15 when they went through and I assume similar in most places), and more likely to hold a wide range of false beliefs (notably in relation to climate change)."

Older voters delivered Brexit, Trump, Boris Johnson, Pauline Hanson, and "respond to unrealistic appeals to nostalgia, wanting to Make America Great Again, and restore the glories of the British Empire, while dismissing concerns about the future."

He says all of this isn't an argument for banning older voters, but for including younger people in elections. He points out that one of the main arguments against this -- that enfranchising teens will merely give an extra vote to their parents -- is the same argument that was deployed against giving women votes (that it would end up being an extra vote for their husbands and fathers).

Of course, we can’t do that kind of thing in a democracy,. That’s why we should act consistently with the core democratic principle that those affected by a decision should have a say in making it, unless they are absolutely disqualified in some way. In my view, that makes an open-and-shut case for lowering the voting age to 16.

Read the rest

Washington state rep Matt Shea secretly backed and organized terror-training camps to create child soldiers to fight in a race war

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

Leaked emails reveal that Washington state rep Matt Shea has "close ties" with Team Rugged, a white nationalist/Christian fundamentalist terror organization that trains children, teens and young men to fight in an apocalyptic race-war against Muslims and communists.

In a leaked email, Team Rugged leader Patrick Caughran describes its mission as "[providing] patriotic and biblical training on war for young men...There will be scenarios where every participant will have to fight against one of the most barbaric enemies that are invading our country, Muslims terrorists." The training included knife, pistol and rifle combat.

Team Rugged's ideology comes from the white nationalist preacher John Weaver, whose writings glorified the Confederacy and slavery and condemns "interracial" marriage.

Shea had already openly supported Team Rugged and appeared with child soldiers the group had trained in promotional videos, praising their training, saying, "I love the fact that you guys looked like almost an acrobatic special-forces team out there." Shea had also acknowledged his authorship of "Biblical Basis for War," a manifesto calling for a "holy war" (he denied that it was a manifesto and claimed instead that it was a "sermon" about "war in the Old Testament").

However, leaked emails and messages from Team Rugged's Facebook group have revealed that Shea's ties with the group run deeper than suspected. The state House of Reps has hired private investigators to produce a report on Shea's promotion of terrorism.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has urged fellow Republicans to denounce Shea as an extremist, compared Team Rugged to the Hitler Youth of Nazi Germany.

Read the rest

Call for boycott after the actor who played Mulan in the reboot supports Hong Kong's brutal police crackdown on pro-democracy protestors

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

Crystal Liu is the actor who plays Mulan in Disney's live-action reboot; on Weibo, she has been publishing messages in support of the Hong Kong police, who have been brutally attacking pro-Democracy protesters and tacitly collaborating with organized crime gangs.

Her Weibo messages included "I support Hong Kong's police, you can beat me up now" and "What a shame for Hong Kong." She's been using the hashtag "#IAlsoSupportTheHongKongPolice." In China, state media outlets have made memes out of Liu's statements and are circulating them widely.

In response, supporters of the Hong Kong protests have called for a boycott of the Mulan reboot, and #BoycottMulan is trending on multiple platforms.

The boycott was initiated by users of Lihkg, a Reddit-style online discussion forum in Hong Kong that has somewhat served as information central for the leader-less protest movement, wielding notable mobilization capability and members/readers across all ages and walks of life — including local police monitoring the posts to gather intelligence. Members of the Lihkg community have organized local protests and demonstrations and launched GoFundMe operations for overseas promotions of the movement that have raised millions.

While the Hong Kong box office is tiny compared with the mammoth Chinese one, the world’s second largest, the boycott's organizers appear to be hoping for international support for their campaign, calling for worldwide filmgoers “who support freedom and democracy” to join in.

The boycotters’ complaints were not only directed at Liu, but also at Disney. Some users of Lihkg expressed their dismay with the entertainment conglomerate for hiring someone who they believed "condones violence" and "suppresses people who are fighting for democracy and freedom but curries favor from powerful authorities," writing that “the image of Disney will be tarnished” and “Disney, you can do better."

Hong Kong Protestors Call for Disney Boycott After 'Mulan' Star Voices Support for Police Crackdown [Karen Chu and Patrick Brzeski/Hollywood Reporter] Read the rest

Shirt at conservative website suspiciously similar to indie artist's design, but with a D on it

Aug 17, 2019

Description:

Truck Torrence is an indie artist, creator of the kawaii Dumpster Fire, a classic internet meme image offered as limited-edition pins and toys. Daily Wire is a website founded by right-wing provocateur Ben Shapiro, at whose Amazon store may be found a crude copy of Torrence's design.

Here's Torrence's original animation:

And here's a close-up of the Daily Wire clone:

There is one "original" element: it added a "D" to make it about the Democratic Party.

Bad merch happens. It often happens because a media site didn't (and perhaps can't be expected to) look into every item offered on co-branded online stores hosted by third parties such as Amazon.

Daily Wire, however, appears to have played a role in designing and promoting the plagiarized shirt, so it would be nice if it explained how it came to be in that position.

Conservative media is more vulnerable to sourcing failures because of the movement's growing dependence on memes, grifters and liars for content; see also the "x days since we published a hoax" flipchart at the Quillette offices. Read the rest

Visiting the dead on Google Street View

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Over at OK Whatever, Jessie Schiewe tells of people who have looked up family addresses on Google Street View and found ghostly images of their dead loved ones in the midst of their everyday lives -- mowing the lawn, grabbing the mail, washing the car. From OK Whatever:

...For most people, finding dead relatives in Google Street View can be a great comfort. The father-in-law of a Reddit user called lovelyriver2929 was elated when he discovered his late-wife standing in front of their home in one of the photos taken of their address.

“He goes and looks at it sometimes,” she wrote. “He loves it because it was just her doing something completely normal on a completely normal day.”

For some people, it’s a reminder of what their loved ones looked like before they got sick, when they were still healthy enough to go outside and wash the car or mow the lawn. Sometimes these are even the last known images to be taken of a person.

“My grandpa died in 2017 and no one had any pictures with him from recent years. He only took photos when he was holding babies, and all us grandkids are in our teens and 20s,” one Reddit user wrote. “But I did this same thing and found a Google Street View photo of him mowing his front lawn from 2016. It was really good to see him doing something he loved to do and was always doing when he was here.”

And then sometimes, the ghosts vanish. Read the rest

Check out these amazing sf movies made by Nigerian teens

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

The Critics Company is a collective of Nigerian teen afrofuturist filmmakers who make incredible looking, smart science fiction movies with camerawork courtesy of old, busted mobile phones and VFX generated in Blender.

Their showpiece is Z: The Beginning, a ten-minute short that took the collective 7 months to shoot and edit: "Z is a short film set in a post apocalyptic era in Nigeria around the 2050's which reveals a developed Nigeria undergoing invasions. The word Z centers around a scientifical project (PROJECT Z) created by a Company called 'The Triangle'."

Their channel also includes some behind the scenes mini-docs showing how they accomplish so much with very little.

(via Kottke) Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren publishes a massive, detailed plan for addressing the injustice of US relations with indigenous American peoples

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Even by Elizabeth Warren's high standards, her plan for "honoring and empowering tribal nations and indigenous peoples is detailed, ambitious, and important.

Warren's plan is a top-to-bottom reimagining of how the US relates to indigenous peoples: American Indians, Alaska natives and native Hawaiians, from broadband plans to criminal justice reform to nation-to-nation treaty negotiations to finance reform to curriculum reform and much, much more.

From creating a permanent, cabinet-level post for nation-to-nation negotiating with indigenous peoples to addressing the systematic problems that gives rise to the epidemic of missing and murdered native women to making budget allocations for indigenous peoples automatic and nondiscretionary, Warren's plan is thoughtful and bold.

The plan covers physical and mental health provision, addiction treatment, community health for chronic disease, physical infrastructure improvements (including broadband provision), free postsecondary education, and a program of reparations for broken treaty promises and centuries of abuse.

A cynic might say that Warren's attention to this issue is a savvy way to head off cheap "Pocahontas" jokes, but a better explanation is:

1. This is totally in keeping with Warren's other plans in its seriousness and its commitment to fundamental justice;

2. The issue of reparations and justice for indigenous American peoples is urgent and long overdue;

3. To the extent that Warren's belief in her indigenous ancestry plays a role here, it is in that it makes the issue of these injustices personal and serious for her.

I am a donor to both Elizabeth Warren's and Bernie Sanders's campaigns.

There is so much more we should do — from leveraging our trade deals to improve indigenous human rights abroad to living up to the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to consulting with tribal officials to better repatriate artifacts that rightfully belong to tribes.

Read the rest

The guy who figured out Bernie Madoff's scam now says GE is about to go bankrupt

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Well before the collapse of Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme -- the largest in world history! -- accounting investigator Harry Markopolos had publicly accused Madoff of running a scam; now he says that General Electric is "one recession away" from bankruptcy, with a "balance sheet in tatters."

Markopolos and his team just released a 175-page report called GENERAL ELECTRIC, A BIGGER FRAUD THAN ENRON, which accuses the firm of using accounting tricks to paper over $40b in liabilities and to disguise problems with the company's stake in oil services firm Baker Hughes.

GE does not dispute that it has $71b in assets and $106b in debt, but says that it "expects to make significant progress" reducing its debts next year.

GE accuses Markopolos of ginning up false claims as part of a drive to benefit short sellers, who make money when GE's share price declines. Markopolos his research was funded by short-sellers, but he says that his research was motivated by his distaste for fraud, not the interests of his funders.

Markopolos also dismissed claims by GE that he will profiting from the fall in the company's stock price because he is working with a firm that is shorting GE stock -- betting that the price will go down so it can make money off of the decline. He would not name the investment firm, saying simply that he's a "seeker of the truth." "If I see accounting fraud, I go after it," he said.

Markopolos added that he's had "ongoing discussions" with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice about their investigations into GE's accounting.

Read the rest

Announcement of Tumblr's sale to WordPress classified as pornography by Tumblr's notorious "adult content" filter

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Tumblr is being sold to WordPress parent company Automattic for a reported price of "less than $3m," a substantial decline from the $1.1B Yahoo paid for the company in 2013 (Yahoo subsequently sold Tumblr and several other startups it had overpaid for and then ruined to Verizon for more than $4b).

Much of that decline in value is the result of Verizon's decision to introduce a fucking terrible automated "adult content" filter (that decision, in turn, was driven by the passage of SESTA, a US censorship law that pushed Apple to briefly remove the Tumblr app from the Ios App Store).

When I first read the announcement of the Automattic acquisition, I briefly held out hope that the new owners would reverse Verizon's mistake, but those hopes were dashed then Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg announced that the filter would stay.

It's hard to understand this decision. The filter is a piece of unadulterated, unsalvageable garbage. Its awfulness is hard to overstate, but it can be neatly illustrated by this Bruce Sterling post, which reveals that the Tumblr porn filter blocked Sterling's post of a screenshot of a news story about the acquisition, which includes the happy coda, "This decision cannot be appealed." Read the rest

Timelapse of the Milky Way with the sky held motionless and the Earth rotating

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

One of the smartest, most interesting people I ever knew once told me about a time when he got really interested in the problem of calculating the orbits of the planets based on the idea tha the Earth was stationary and everything was moving relative to it (this being one of the corollaries of the idea of a relativistic universe); I immediately thought of that project when I saw Aryeh Nirenberg's timelapse of the Milky Way where the sky is held stationary and the Earth is rotated -- such a simple and powerful way to illustrate relative motion! (via Kottke) Read the rest

Penetration tester releases proof-of-concept code for hijacking smart buttplugs

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Last week at Defcon, a security researcher named Smea presented their findings on vulnerabilities in the Lovesense Hush, an internet-of-things buttplug that has already been shown to have critical privacy vulnerabilities.

Smea's attack starts by compromising the Hush's Bluetooth dongle, then using that to send malicious commands or upload malicious code to the insertable sex-toy component. The compromise attacks Lovesense's implementation of the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, and the vulnerability may also be present in other devices (the chips haven't been manufactured since 2017, and its manufacturer, Nordic Semiconductor, has published a security advisory based on Smea's findings).

Smea's attack was successful in part because Lovesense's control app was built with the Electron Javascript framework, which has many known security defects that expose many browser apps to attacks, including Slack, Whatsapp, and Skype.

Smea's proof of concept code is live on Github, with the injunction "don't be a dick, please don't actually try to use any of this."

In an interview with Gizmodo's Dell Cameron, Smea speculates on whether hijacking a sex-toy should be considered sexual assault and concludes, "Personally, I don’t know if that’s the case or not. I know it would be a really shitty thing to do either way, so people should not do it."

smea: The idea is that from the dongle you can actually compromise the app that’s running on a computer. IoT developers have all these newer technologies, like javascript-based applications, working together with these super-low level microcontrollers. They don’t necessarily understand the implications of, for example, dumping raw input from the dongle to HTML.

Read the rest

A new drug that may help lots of people will apparently be more expensive than it should

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Pretomanid, developed by the non-profit TB Alliance, offers a new, safer and more effective treatment for tuberculosis. The non-profit is organized to improve access and affordability of life-saving treatments, but has currently only allowed one drug manufacturer to produce pretomanid. Doctors without Borders fears high prices will limit availability.

NPR:

"In all of the lower-income countries, we will be encouraging other manufacturers, generic manufacturers, to get into the market — to get competition to drive down the price as well," he says.

But Lynch of Doctors Without Borders thinks there is a better way to keep these drugs affordable: baking a low-price requirement into the TB Alliance's licensing agreement with Mylan, which the organizations have not disclosed.

"What works even better than competition — which, by the way, will take a while — is you set the price reasonably low to begin with," she says.

Read the rest

Judge orders the State of Georgia to be prepared for pen-and-paper balloting by March 2020

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Few states have voting machines that are simultaneously more obviously defective and more ardently defended by the state government than Georgia, where 16-year-old touchscreen systems are prone to reporting ballots cast by 243% of the eligible voters and where gross irregularities in election administration sends voters to the wrong polling places or sends co-habitating husbands and wives to polls in different cities to cast their votes.

Georgia's voting catastrophe was overseen by Brian Kemp, who, as Secretary of State, also oversaw one of the nation's most notorious voter-suppression efforts, leading up to his election as governor, beating out Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams in 2018 an election he himself was overseeing, by a squeaker of a margin that could have easily gone Democratic if the machines' defects or the voter suppression had been just a little less egregious.

Now, a District Court Judge has ordered that Georgia's voting machines be scrapped, and that the state prepare to hand-count paper ballots in March 2020 if new machines can't be sourced, tested, and installed in time for the primaries.

Judge Amy Totenberg did not order a paper-ballot election, however, holding out the hope of new digital systems being installed in time. She wrote that "Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases, are antiquated, seriously flawed, and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination, and attack" and said that a full trial over the state's electoral rigging would likely be found in favor of disenfranchised voters, due to "the mountain of voter testimony showing that these vulnerabilities have a tangible impact on these voters’ attempts to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot and have their vote counted."

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has approved a new screen-and-paper balloting system from Dominion Voting Systems of Colorado, who won a $106m contract for machines that comply with specifications established by the state's GOP legislature. Read the rest

This BMW R90S has run 240k miles

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Moon stuff notwithstanding, this particular bike is just beautiful at nearly a quarter-million miles. This bike is clearly well-loved, and her owner seems chill, like an Airhead should be.

Mine has 50,078.

Here is yours. Read the rest

Art Spiegelman pulled his Marvel Folio Society intro after Disney demanded that he not criticize Trump

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

The Folio Society has announced a series of volumes paying tribute to the history of Marvel Comics, the inaugural volume was originally scheduled to feature an introduction from Art Spiegelman, the creator of Maus and the first person to ever win a Pulitzer Prize for a graphic novel.

Marvel is a division of Disney, and its chairman, Isaac 'Ike' Perlmutter, is a longtime personal friend of Donald Trump, donated to Trump's campaign, and serves Trump as an "unofficial and influential advisor." Spiegelman's intro made reference to this fact, and tied the origin of Marvel with its thin-veiled allegories about fighting fascism, to the contemporary moment, comparing Trump to the golden age Marvel villain "Red Skull" and dubbing him "Orange Skull."

In response, Disney/Marvel demanded that Spiegelman redact his essay, removing references to Trump. The corporation said that it was trying to be "apolitical...and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance."

Spiegelman refused to make the change and instead severed ties with the project. His unredacted essay will appear this weekend in The Guardian.

The author, who compares today’s world events to the rise of fascism in the 1930s, writes: “I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travellers, but when asked to kill a relatively anodyne reference to an Orange Skull I realised that perhaps it had been irresponsible to be playful about the dire existential threat we now live with, and I withdrew my introduction.

“International fascism again looms large … and the dislocations that have followed the global economic meltdown of 2008 helped bring us to a point where the planet itself seems likely to melt down,” he writes.

Read the rest

The saddest song: setting the "Amazon Ambassador" borg-tweets to music

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Jonathan Mann (previously) writes, "Like many people, I've been disturbed by the borg-like tweets coming out of the Amazon Ambassador program. I took a few of the bleakest ones and set them to music. It turned into an incredibly sad song." Read the rest

Exoskeleton shorts that amplify running and walking

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

The term exoskeleton usually brings to mind the hulking Power Loader worn by Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. But Harvard University researchers have developed a much lighter, more minimal exoskeleton that reduces the energy needed to run or walk. One breakthrough in this exosuit design is that it can tell if the wearer is walking or running and adjusts the robotic assistance accordingly.

“After wearing the system for 15 minutes or so, you start to question if it’s really helping at all, because you just feel like you’re walking,” David Perry, a robotics engineer at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, told Scientific American. “Once you shut it off, however, your legs suddenly feel heavy, and you realize how much it was helping. It’s a lot like stepping off the end of one of those moving sidewalks at the airport.”

Not surprisingly, the research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s former Warrior Web program. From Harvard:

(The exosuit) assists the wearer via a cable actuation system. The actuation cables apply a tensile force between the waist belt and thigh wraps to generate an external extension torque at the hip joint that works in concert with the gluteal muscles. The device weighs 5kg in total with more than 90% of its weight located close to the body’s center of mass.

More: "Reducing the metabolic rate of walking and running with a versatile, portable exosuit" (Science)

Read the rest

Major corporations blacklist ads on news stories that include the words "Trump," "racism," "gun," "Brexit," "suicide" and more

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

The Wall Street Journal investigates major corporations' ad buyers' practice of blacklisting of ads on news stories that deal with the world's most urgent issues, including any news story that contains the word "Trump" or "racism" or "gun" or "Brexit" or "suicide" (so much for reporting on the opioid epidemic).

Though these blacklists aren't newer, they have radically expanded in scope and importance, thanks in part to "brand safety" consultants who supply readymade blacklists to firms. Some of these blacklists are incredibly long and broad: Google's blacklist has more then 500 entries, including '"privacy," "federal investigation," "antitrust," "racism," "FBI," "taxes," "anti-Semitic," "gun control" and "drought."'

Media companies big and small are feeling the impact, and editors are starting to pressure their reporters to emphasize "lifestyle" stories over political news; they're using algorithms to assess the "sentiment" of stories to determine how profitable they're likely to be. Some companies are pushing back: Vice will not allow advertisers to blacklist some words, including '"bisexual," “gay," “HIV," “lesbian," “Latino," “Middle Eastern," “Jewish" and "Islamic."'

But you can see where this is going. News will have to be massaged to have a high enough “feel good” quotient. How soon will we see AI-based editing that will flag negative-sounding content and send it back to the author for a rewrite?

And what does it say about the US as a society that we tolerate only positive emotions? Every major religion is based on the inevitability of suffering. Trying to deny that that is fundamental to the human condition is a fast track to neurosis.

Read the rest

Listen: John Coltrane track from previously unheard 1964 sessions

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Next month, Impulse! Records will release Blue World, previously unheard recordings that legendary jazz pioneer John Coltrane recorded with his quartet in 1964. Most of the tunes are different versions of known Coltrane songs with the exception of the title track that you can hear above. From Spin:

...Coltrane recorded Blue World between the sessions for his landmark albums Crescent and a Love Supreme, at Van Gelder studio in New Jersey, where he cut many of his albums, including the aforementioned two. He had been approached by a Quebecois filmmaker named Gilles Groulx, who knew Coltrane’s bassist Jimmy Garrison, and asked Coltrane if he would record music for use in an upcoming film called Le chat dans le sac. Coltrane obliged, but Groulx only ended up using 10 minutes of the 37-minute session in the film.

Read the rest

In California, the 2020 elections will feature an epic battle to allow cities to reinstate property taxes

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

In 1978, anti-taxation extremists managed to get a California ballot measure, Proposition 13, passed, and with it, they managed to effectively end the ability of cities to provide services to their residents, by capping property tax at 1% of their cash values, and limiting property tax increases to the lower of the annual inflation or 2%.

Over the decades that followed, California's cities have been slowly starving, as their ability to fund everyday operations has been whittled away by inflation. Cities were left with stark choices: shutting down libraries and schools, limiting road maintenance and spending on public assistance; instituting regressive sales taxes that punished poor people and created a drag on their local economies; or Read the rest

Documentary about the 1980s SoCal underground art happenings with Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, etc.

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

In the 1980s, Stuart Swezey was at the epicenter of Southern California's underground culture. The co-founder of Amok Books, Swezey was also known for organizing extreme industrial and avant-garde outdoor happenings in remote locations like the Mojave Desert that featured performances by Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Minutemen, and many other experimental and transgressive artists. Now, Swezey has made a documentary about those extreme experiences. Above is the trailer for Desolation Center.

Read the rest

Seven-foot crocodile swimming in Ohio creek near kids' church group

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Yesterday, a church group of little kids were playing at a creek in Preble County, Ohio when an adult spotted a big shadowy shape moving under the water. It turned out to be a seven-foot saltwater crocodile, a species not native to Ohio. A wildlife office was called to the scene and, sadly, shot the crocodile.

According to WLWT, pastor Jim Hazelwood "was impressed with the remarkable poise the children displayed and how their first words after the close call were how God had protected them." Read the rest

Artist builds delightful, impractical Rube Goldberg machines for popping balloons

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

Jan Hakon Erichsen is a Norwegian artist whose Destruction Diaries series chronicles his creation of a series of bizarre, whimsical and delightful machines for popping balloons and undertaking other acts of minor mayhem.

The performances often culminate in the destructive contact between balloons and steak knives, usually after some kind of agonizing wait while the two inch towards each other; sometimes there are one or more steak knives strapped to some part of Erichsen; sometimes, it's one or more balloons on Erichsen and the knives are strapped to an apparatus.

Erichsen posts performances through the week to his Instagram accounts but they are available to Zuckervegans like me through a weekly anthology that he posts to Youtube (14 and counting!).

(via Colossal) Read the rest

How to make popcorn

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

"If you think that by threatening me you can get me to do what you want... Well, that's where you're right." Read the rest

Barry's Irish Breakfast is a light version of my favorite tea

Aug 16, 2019

Description:

I was gifted a box of Barry's Irish Breakfast. It is a lot like Barry's Gold Blend, only less so.

A properly steeped pot of Barry's appears to be a bottomless black pit of despair. I have adored it for years.

Barry's Irish Breakfast is a delightful, far lighter version of the same tea. It even seems to come in the same cheap paper sack. Someone once told me they could taste the bag. I was unkind in response.

Using two bags of the Irish Breakfast does not seem to deliver a stronger brew. Go figure!

Barry's Tea Irish Breakfast Teabags (80) - Pack of 2 via Amazon Read the rest

Imagineering In a Box: free instructional video series from Disney and Khan Academy

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

Imagineering In a Box is a free lecture series on Khan Academy that covers a broad swathe of elements involved in storytelling in built environments, from theming a land to landscaping, architecture, sound design, robotics, smell design (!), color, material science, food-based theming, ride design from pitch to execution, animatronic programming, queue management (MY FAVORITE!), costuming, etc.

There's even an educators' guide.

This is an incredibly cool thing. Immersive built environments are one of my favorite art-forms and they're growing in complexity and reach (with things like Santa Fe's Meow Wolf) even as they are becoming more homespun and idiosyncratic (with local escape-rooms).

Lesson 1: Build your own world This lesson addresses the question: where do you want to go? It introduces the idea of experiential storytelling and the difference between an amusement park and a theme park. We’ll explore how storytelling and theme impact every decision made in the design of a land and how they engage all senses. You'll walk out of this lesson with a theme and high concept for a land of your own design along with a mood board and map that conveys the land.

Exercise requirements: All activities can be done with physical materials.

Time requirement: 2 hours minimum

Lesson 2: Build your own attractions This lesson addresses the question: what do you want to do in your themed land? It introduces students to the range of possible attractions within a themed land with a focus on dark rides. It exposes the importance of theme and storytelling in attractions in general.

Read the rest

Brazil's highest court rules that Bolsonaro cannot use criminal investigations to harass Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

After a massive trove of leaks revealed deep corruption in the Brazilian "anti-corruption" heroes who put the popular left-wing presidential candidate Lula in jail and paved the way for the election of the fascist strongman Jair Bolsonaro (a crisis that engulfed Sergio Moro, the judge who jailed Lula and went on to serve as Bolsonaro's public security minister), the Bolsonaro regime retaliated with a federal criminal investigation of Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept Brazil.

Now, minister Gilmar Mendes has handed down a preliminary judgment on behalf of the nation's highest court, ending the retaliation. The ruling is broad and unequivocal, characterizing any Brazilian state investigation into similarly situated journalists as "an unambiguous act of censorship" and continuing: "The immediate right of free speech is the right to obtain, produce, and disseminate facts and news by any means. The constitutional secrecy of the journalistic source makes it impossible for the state to use coercive measures to constrain professional performance and to impede the form of reception and transmission of what is brought to public knowledge."

"A free press is a pillar of any democracy because it is one of the few tools for shining a light on the corrupt acts carried out by society's most powerful actors in the dark," said Greenwald. "That's precisely why those same powerful actors so frequently want to punish journalists for doing our jobs, as Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and his Minister of Justice and Public Security Sergio Moro have been explicitly threatening to do in response to our exposés."

'Huge Victory for Press Freedom': Brazil Supreme Court Bars Bolsonaro From Investigating Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept [Jake Johnson/Common Dreams]

Brazil Top Court Prevents Investigation Into US Journalist [AP/NYT]

(via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Donor maps show just how widespread Sanders' support is

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

Bernie Sanders has raised more money than anyone else standing for the Democratic nomination; more importantly, he's raised that money from more people than anyone else in the race, and even more importantly, he's raised that money from more people in swing states that the Democrats will have to flip or hold in order to take the presidency in 2020.

Sanders' lead is, in the words of the New York Times, "huge." Sanders' lead is to massive that the only way to visualize the other candidates' fundraising is to produce sub-maps that exclude Sanders' fundraising. Otherwise, his lead renders their efforts to date effectively invisible.

The Times spins Sanders' small-money support as a deficit, noting that the average Sanders donor puts in $46, unlike the average of $80 for Biden and Harris. Sanders has raised $36m from 746,000 donors -- a commanding lead over the second-place Elizabeth Warren campaign, which has raised $25m from 421,000 donors.

The data comes from the Democratic party fundraising system Actblue, and is current as of June 2019.

I am a donor to both the Sanders and Warren campaign.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a huge lead over other Democratic presidential candidates in the number of individual donors they have each accumulated so far.

This is the first time since the primary race began in earnest that we can estimate how many individual donors each candidate has attracted — a key indicator of how much they are catching on with voters.

Read the rest

Big Pharma's origin: how the Chicago School and private equity shifted medicine's focus from health to wealth

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

Between 2010 and 2016, the FDA approved 210 new medicines and every single one was produced at public expense, part of a $1T US government investment project in medical research. Despite this massive public subsidy, the pharma industry has only grown more concentrated and rapacious, raising prices and diverting the profits to their execs and investors, who now pocket 99% of industry profits: the industry made $500B in profits between 2006 and 2015, and during that time, the US government pumped $33b/year into pharma research.

The history of Big Pharma's big business is beautifully told in a long piece by Alexander Zaitchik in the New Republic. Zaitchik describes how the NIH changed its policies in 1968, ending the rule that forced publicly subsidized researchers to assign their patents to the federal government and allowing them instead to flog them on the open market. This created a new kind of academic research program, focused on using public money to develop patented products that would be exclusively assigned to pharma companies who'd be guaranteed monopolies over life-saving medicines.

That's when the Chicago School -- the origin node of neoliberalism and the worship of markets as self-correcting, self-optimizing systems that cannot and should not be regulated -- got involved, seeding a network of think-tanks and journal articles that decried competition as "wasteful duplication" and celebrated monopolies for their efficiency.

These articles created the fiction of mass private-sector investment in pharma, downplaying the taxpayer's role in subsidizing the industry and lionizing the few pennies that escaped the grasp of execs and shareholders. Read the rest

An FDNY employee may have compromised the personal information of over 10,000 people

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

Good news, everyone!

If you live in New York City and your personal information wasn't already compromised by the recent, massive hack of Capital One's customer database, there's still an excellent chance that at least some of the sensitive information in your life has its ass hanging out for the world to see, courtesy of the Fire Department of New York.

From Gizmodo:

An estimated 10,253 people who used the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services between 2011 to 2018 had their data exfiltrated well over a year ago, when an “employee, who was authorized to access the records, had uploaded the information onto the personal external device,” which went missing sometime thereafter, according to a statement by FDNY.

A personal hard drive! That's been missing! For a year! I'm sure it's fine! The FDNY would love it if you believed this to be true. To make sure that those possibly compromised in the breach, they sent out a letter, via snail mail (I mean, you obviously can't trust computers), talking the those who received medical care from the Fire Department during the aforementioned, seven-year period:

What happened: On March 4, 2019, the New York City Fire Department (“FDNY”) was notified that an FDNY employee’s personal portable hard drive was reported missing from an FDNY facility. This hard drive is a portable electronic data storage device that can be attached to a computer. It belonged to an employee authorized to access FDNY patient information and contained confidential personal information about patients who had been treated and/or transported by an FDNY ambulance.

Read the rest

Save up to 80% on Sid Meier's Civilization series

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

Everybody wants to rule the world, but only one video game lets you do it in style - and even peacefully if you're savvy enough with your cultural dominance. Sid Meier's Civilization is on its fifth sequel and counting for good reason. No two games are alike thanks to the random mapping and numerous special scenarios, but they're all a test of your resource management and ruthless diplomacy.

Want to see what Meier's cult following has been raving about, or catch up on an old favorite? You're in luck. Full games and expansion packs for the latest versions of Civilization are on deep discount for PC (and for Mac users, via Steam).

Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete

The graphics boost and hexagonal tiles of Civilization V were a big shot in the arm to the series when it launched in 2010, and this version is still a favorite with many players. This strategist's dream edition not only includes that game but complete versions of Civilization III and IV plus the hit spinoffs Beyond Earth and Beyond Earth - Rising Tide. The entire set of Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete is now available for $12.50, almost 80% off the original price.

Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gold Edition

After a long wait, the latest edition of Civilization arrived in 2016, tweaking and improving the formula on previous iterations with a new technology system and an increased focus on the terrain. A series of DLC releases capitalized on the changes, and this Gold edition contains enough of them to keep would-be world-beaters challenged for months. Read the rest

Soft, oversized Lucky Charms marshmallows headed to stores

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

These aren't the chalky little marshmallows you'll find in Lucky Charms cereal. Thanks to a collab with Jet-Puffed, large, soft versions of the cereal's hearts, moons, stars, and clovers will be available nationwide indefinitely in September.

Fun fact: According to an old General Mills press release (via Wikipedia), each of the marshmallow's shapes have magical "powers."

Hearts – power to bring things to life Shooting Stars – power to fly Horseshoes – power to speed/slow down time Green Clovers – luck, but you will never know what kind of luck you will get Blue Moons – power of invisibility Rainbows – instantaneous travel from place to place Red Balloons – power to make things float Unicorn – according to the inaugural cereal box, unicorns can "cleanse water with a touch of their horn," "heal whatever troubles you," and "always know when you are telling the truth" Moon – power to change alternate gravity

It appears you'll only be able to harness the powers of the pink hearts, blue moons, yellow stars, and green clovers with this new product.

(People) Read the rest

Adversarial Fashion: clothes designed to confuse license-plate readers

Aug 11, 2019

Description:

Adversarial Fashions have a line of clothes (jackets, tees, hoodies, dresses, skirts, etc) designed to confound automated license-plate readers; one line is tiled with fake license plates that spell out the Fourth Amendment (!); the designers presented at Defcon this year. (via JWZ)

Read the rest

How facial recognition has turned summer camp into a dystopia for campers, parents, counsellors and photographers (but not facial recognition vendors)

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

The Washington Post's Drew Harwell takes a deep look at the the use of facial recognition products like Bunk1 at summer camps, in a deliciously terrible piece that alternates between Bunk1's president Rob Burns and Waldo Photos's founder Rodney Rice explaining that everyone loves this and it makes everyone happy, and counsellors, parents, campers and photographers (as well as child development experts and civil libertarians) explaining how it is just fucking terrible, which Rice dismisses as "privacy hysteria."

The facial recog summer camp drill goes like this: photographers follow you children around all the time, taking their photos. The facial recognition tool figures out which camper corresponds to which parent and sends the parents pocket-buzzes every time it senses a new photo of your kid, and then you can look at your kid. You can also call your kid if you think they look unhappy or if you are unsatisfied with them in any way and nag them.

So kids mob photographers with big, fake smiles and beg to be photographed so their parents won't harass them. The companies have "privacy policies" that grossly overreach, giving them perpetual licenses to distribute all the photos they take forever, for any purpose. They claim to have super-secure data-centers, but won't describe what makes them so sure their data centers are more secure than, say, the NSA's, Equifax, or any of the other "super secure" data centers that have been breached and dumped in recent memory.

And while parents enjoy all this looking at their kids while they're away in theory, they also report a kind of free-floating anxiety because they know just enough about their kids' lives at camp to worry, but not enough to assuage their worries. Read the rest

Dick Braine to lead Britain's far-right UKIP party

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

Congratulations, Dick Braine.

The BBC:

In a ballot of members, Mr Braine received 53% of the vote - more than double that of his closest rival. Mr Braine was the favoured candidate of his predecessor, Gerard Batten, who resigned after UKIP's poor performance in the European elections in May.

Read the rest

Pressed about Amazon deforestation, Bolsonaro proposes only shitting on alternate days to remediate climate change

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

Torture apologist/homophobe/racist Jair Bolsonaro -- whose successful election to the Brazilian presidency was the result of a conspiracy among the wealthy and senior prosecutors and judges, who subverted the justice system in order to ensure that his rival was kept off the ballot -- has presided over record-breaking Amazon deforestation.

The deforestation was revealed by a Brazilian government report, and Bolsonaro's only response to it so far has been to fire the minister who oversaw the report's production.

This week, a journalist pressed him on the question of deforestation, agriculture and the climate, to which Bolsonaro responded that "It's enough to eat a little less. You talk about environmental pollution. It's enough to poop every other day. That will be better for the whole world."

Official figures suggest that the biggest reason for felling trees there is to create new pastures for cattle.

Over the past decade, previous governments managed to reduce deforestation by means of concerted action by federal agencies and a system of fines.

But Mr Bolsonaro and his ministers have criticised the penalties and overseen a dramatic fall in confiscations of timber and convictions for environmental crimes.

Jair Bolsonaro: 'Poop every other day' to protect the environment [BBC]

(Image: Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil, CC-BY, modified; Dikshajhingan, CC BY-SA, modified) Read the rest

The FBI keeps boasting about all its "domestic terror" arrests, but it can't name a single one

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

In late July, FBI director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his bureau had made 100 domestic terror arrests; later, an FBI spokesperson reduced that claim to 90 arrests -- but when Propublica called the FBI for a list of domestic terror addresses, the Feebs couldn't name one single instance in which they'd made a domestic terror arrest.

Propublica's Fritz Zimmermann recounts the bizarre story of trying to get FBI press officers to explain how it could be that the FBI was certain enough of this figure to provide it under oath to the Senate, but also so fuzzy on it that they can't list a single instance in which it happened.

We tried again: “Thanks for your reply! What I mean is: you clarified the number, so despite DT subjects being charged under ‘other federal, state, and local charges,’ as you wrote, the FBI obviously has information about all these cases. And this is what I’ve been originally asking for. So I would be glad if you could give me the following information about as many of the 90 arrests as possible: who was arrested, where, when and what the allegations were. If you are unable to provide this information or a comprehensive list of press releases I would like to know why.”

On the phone, she again cited the figure of 90 arrests, adding, “These are people that the FBI arrested as a result of a domestic terrorism investigation.”

But she also repeated that the bureau couldn’t give us any information, even press releases, about these arrests.

Read the rest

Jeffrey Epstein is dead of hanging in Manhattan jail, authorities say they failed to prevent suicide

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

Jeffrey Epstein is dead.

The convicted sexual predator committed suicide overnight at MCC Manhattan, the federal lockup where he had been held pending trial on federal sex trafficking charges, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

He was on “suicide watch,” but the MCC jail failed, twice, to prevent attempts of suicide. The second time, his attempt to escape justice through death worked.

The Miami Herald has confirmed that accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein has committed suicide in jail in Manhattan. Story to come. @MiamiHerald

— julie k. brown (@jkbjournalist) August 10, 2019

From ABC News:

Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein has died by suicide in his Manhattan jail early Saturday morning, three law enforcement officials told ABC News.

He was being held without bail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a judge said he wouldn't face trial before June 2020.

He's accused of arranging to have sex with girls as young as age 14 in the early 2000s at Epstein's residences in Manhattan and Florida.

The 66-year-old was also hospitalized in July after he was found unresponsive in what appeared to be a possible suicide attempt.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe urged a June trial date, saying there is "a public interest in bringing this case to trial as swiftly as possible." But Epstein's lawyer, Martin Weinberg, said the case is far from "ordinary," adding the defense team won't be ready before Labor Day 2020.

Read the rest

Pack light for your next trip with this innovative luggage and accessories

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

When it comes to travel, Genius is one company that sweats the details. If you've never owned one of their suitcases or carry-on bags, they feature dedicated compartments for everything you could imagine and often incorporate compression technology to fit more of it in there. If you're planning for one last summer trip, here's a nice list of what to pick up for a total luggage upgrade.

Genius Pack Aerial Hardside Carry On Spinner

 

This carry-on bag squeaks in under the domestic and international carry-on size requirements, but it's scratch and stain-resistant material makes it lighter than bags half its size (6.2 pounds!). Inside, you'll find perfectly-sized compartments for all your necessities including socks and chargers, plus a separated area for dirty laundry. And with 360-degree spinning wheels, you'll be able to breeze through the airport with ease. Get the Genius Pack Aerial Hardside Carry On Spinner in a variety of styles for $159, a drop off the previous sale price of $199 and more than 45% off retail. You can get it in the below color options:

Genius Pack Aerial Hardside Carry On Spinner (Jet Black) Genius Pack Aerial Hardside Carry On Spinner (Matte White) Genius Pack Aerial Hardside Carry On Spinner (Hunter Green) Genius Pack Aerial Hardside Carry On Spinner (Brushed Chrome)

Genius Pack Compression Packing Cubes Set

 

 

For a big trip, these packing cubes are a lifesaver in more ways than one. Not only does the stretch-top nylon mesh compress clothes and other items by as much as 60%, but they'll also keep those shirts wrinkle-free in the bargain. Read the rest

Bear trashes car after locking self inside [PHOTOS]

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

"Insurance doesn't usually cover this," said Snowmass, CO police.

German Shepherd doggo gently munches carrot

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

“Gentle cromch.”

From IMGURian @Lanabear110, who asks, “Anyone else have a dog obsessed with carrots?”

Oh yeah. Our goldens love 'em, and they're fantastic treats for dogs.

Those little bags of raw carrots are such special cromch nuggets.

Gentle cromch

Read the rest

Clever cat finds his way out of a weird labyrinth

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

🐱🌀🐈

Hosico Cat lives in Russia with a woman and man who care for him very much.

“I’m Hosico! Fluffy cheeks! Golden boy, Scottish straight. I like boxes, a bit shy.”

Subscribe to their YouTube, or enjoy their Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Good morning! 🌟

A post shared by Hosico Cat (@hosico_cat) on Jul 28, 2019 at 12:17am PDT

Read the rest

Golden retriever puppy loves his daddy

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

Oh, that face, as the pupper looks up at his poppa. The eyes.

Daddy's Boy

[IMGUR, from @WXYZwxyz/@gffkennel] Read the rest

Trump's 'Protecting Americans from Online Censorship' order would end social platform protections in CDA Section 230

Aug 10, 2019

Description:

Banning Nazis from Twitter should be against the law: Trump, basically.

Florida police admit they will not be able to recover gun stolen during masked orgy

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

All the participants at the 3-day Volusia, Florida orgy were naked and used aliases, and for obvious reasons, DNA-based identification "is not going to be an option, which means we'll probably never find out who stole the Glock from the bedside table. (Image: Eyes Wide Shut/Warners; Askild Antonsen, CC BY-SA, modified) (Thanks, Gnat!) Read the rest

Gideon Irving's trippy music video was made in one take without CGI or greenscreen

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

Gideon Irving's fantastic video, "Woke Up Looking" was made without computer graphics in just one take. The video below shows how he did it.

Here's another wonderful one-take video of Gideon's. It only has 135 views!

Read the rest

The voting machines that local officials swore were not connected to the internet have been connected to the internet for years

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

Election Systems & Software (ES&S) is America's leading voting machine vendor; they tell election officials (who are county-level officials who often have zero cybersecurity advice or expertise) not to connect their systems to the internet, except briefly to transmit unofficial tallies on election night.

This is a stupid idea to begin with. These systems shouldn't have modems, and they shouldn't ever be connected to the internet, at all.

But as it turns out, lots of election officials, including many in heavily contested districts that have determined the outcomes of national elections (cough Florida cough) just leave their machines connected to the internet all the time, while denying that this is the case, possibly because they don't know any better.

A team of ten leading security experts, including some affiliated with NIST's election cybersecurity efforts, have used internet-wide scanning to locate dozens of these systems, live on the internet, and because it's the internet, they're not even sure who all of them belong to, and can't alert the relevant officials. Many of these systems have been online for months; some have likely been online for years.

ES&S has downplayed the risk, using incredibly misleading definitions of "not connected to the internet" (for example, insisting that "behind a firewall" is the same thing as "airgapped"). The company's account of its security best practices, training and maintenance are belied by their own public documents as well as authenticated whistleblower's accounts.

In one case -- Rhode Island -- it appears that every vote cast in the state is tallied on a single system that is often available on the internet. Read the rest

As police scrutiny tightens, Hong Kongers use Tinder and Pokemon Go to organize protests

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

As protests in Hong Kong enter their seventh week, protest organizers are worried that the police might be infiltrating Telegram groups; instead, they've taken to organizing protests by sending messages over Tinder and Pokemon Go, and by using Apple's ad-hoc, serverless Airdrop protocol.

This poster inviting people for a game of Pokémon Go appeared on Reddit-like forum LIHGK. Besides hunting Pokémon, people were also invited to participate in other activities such as sightseeing to defy the assembly ban. (Picture: lihkh.com)

tech hong kong protests [Masha Borak/Abacus]

(Thanks, Don!) Read the rest

Seattle's Roq La Rue Gallery turns 21

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

The groundbreaking Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle is celebrating its 21st anniversary by having a show with a bunch of artists who've shown their work there over the years. The show is called "Ace of Spades, Queen of Diamonds" and runs through September 8, 2019. Read the rest

King of King Court: a graphic novel memoir about intergenerational trauma in Western Mass

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

King of King Court is "a memoir that is both devastating and restrained in detailing Travis Dandro's childhood growing up in Western Massachusetts with an addicted and unstable father and a mother incapable of keeping him at bay," Julia Pohl-Miranda Drawn and Quarterly says. "What's such a gut-punch about this book is how revealing it is about the everyday slog of having mentally ill or abusive family members, the seeming inevitability of intergenerational trauma repeating itself."

Drawn and Quarterly kindly gave me several pages from King of King Court to run here:

Read the rest

Art opening for a new show by painter Ryan Heshka: Freeeks

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

Here's what artist Ryan Heshka says about his show that opens tomorrow (August 10, 2019) at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles:

"The overall theme that weaves all the work together is the celebration of individuality, and celebrating our individual weirdness, quirks, the things that make us who we are. The political climate, the actual climate, and questions about privacy and reality have been heavy on my mind this year. I didn’t necessarily want to do a show that literally explored these themes, but rather have these themes drive my exploration of individual freedom and the evolution and shift of our relationships with each other as we continue to race forward. The show itself is split three ways: a) the original art from Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn, b) the debut of my new comic book, Frog Wife (with a new print and a large oil painting and art from the comic book), and c) a series of new paintings. The narratives in all these works varies, but there is a thread of rebellion, of flipped or evolved stereotypes, and turning figures inside out to reveal an inner self. The show started as an excuse to exhibit my comic book art, but soon took on a life of its own."

He adds, "The show is heavy on the comic book art (close to 60 spreads, or 120 pages), which I have never shown before. There are also two large oil paintings, one of the Mean Girls Club, and one of Frog Wife.

Read the rest

Unsealed Jeffrey Epstein documents show how he & Ghislaine Maxwell lured girls into sex abuse

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

Court documents unsealed in New York on Friday provide the first detailed look at how Jeffrey Epstein operated what appears to be a vast global sex trafficking racket with the help of alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell, “and a number of other powerful business and world leaders,” reports the Miami Herald.

The documents released Friday are part of thousands of pages in a 2015 federal defamation case involving one of Epstein's victims. The contents are graphic and disturbing, with details on how Epstein and accomplices trafficked teen girls mostly from the U.S. Russia and Sweden.

They also detail Ghislaine Maxwell’s role as a co-abuser, and very effective recruiter of vulnerable girls.

One accuser said a court deposition that Maxwell “recruited her under the guise of a legitimate assistant position, but asked her to perform sexual massages for Epstein, and punished her when she didn’t cause Epstein to orgasm”.

Another deposed person “testified that [Maxwell] contacted him to recruit high school-aged girls for Epstein, and also testified that Maxwell and Epstein participated in multiple threesomes with Virginia Giuffre”.

A man working as Epstein's butler “witnessed, firsthand, a 15-year-old Swedish girl crying and shaking because [Maxwell] was attempting to force her to have sex with Epstein and she refused”, the court documents claim.

The 15-year-old girl said Maxwell “tried to force her to have sex with Epstein through threats and stealing her passport”.

From the indefatigable Julie K. Brown, without whom Jeffrey Epstein would not be in jail today:

Some of the testimony is difficult to read, as when one 15-year-old Swedish girl, shaking and crying in despair, tells a butler who worked for one of Epstein’s closest friends that she had been taken to Epstein’s island in the Caribbean and forced to have sex with him and others.

Read the rest

LED light bulbs on sale on Amazon again

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

Amazon has the 24-pack of Sylvania LED light bulbs on sale again for . That's cheaper than an incandescent bulb, which you don't need unless you're A) a climate science denier who wants to trigger the libtards or B) the owner of an Easy Bake Oven, which would make these bulbs of little use to you. Read the rest

Charles Manson's deeply dark and twisted interpretation of The Beatles' "White Album"

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

Fifty years ago today, the Manson Family carried out the grisly Tate-Labianca murders that essentially crushed the hippie dream with a tragic nightmare starring failed songwriter and psychopath Charles Manson. At Manson's trial, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi argued that the cult leader was inspired by his misreading of The Beatles' White Album. Indeed, "Healter Skelter” [sic] had been smeared in blood on the LaBiancas’ refrigerator. Over at Rolling Stone, Kory Grow does a track-by-track analysis of Manson's bizarre misinterpretation of The White Album. From Rolling Stone:

Although he would deny being into the Beatles years later (“I am a Bing Crosby fan,” he declared in 1985 – despite inmates at a prison Manson stayed at in the early Sixties claiming he was obsessed with the Beatles), Manson discussed the group enough with his followers that his warped reading of the Fab Four’s most adventurous album resounded throughout the trial. Bugliosi interviewed several Manson Family members, including those who were not facing criminal charges, and found consistency in their descriptions of his mythology surrounding the White Album and the garbled connections he made between it and the Book of Revelations, which depict end-times.

“This music is bringing on the revolution, the unorganized overthrow of the establishment,” Manson told Rolling Stone in 1970. “The Beatles know [what’s happening] in the sense that the subconscious knows.”

“From the beginning, Charlie believed the Beatles’ music carried an important message – to us,” Manson Family member Paul Watkins wrote in his book, My Life With Charles Manson.

Read the rest

The interesting story behind Dorothea Lange's famous "Migrant Mother" photo

Aug 9, 2019

Description:

In the 1930s photographer Dorothea Lange was hired by the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) to take photos of farm workers affected by the Great Depression. She took this photo of Florence Owens Thompson with her children in 1936 in Nipomo, California and titled it "Migrant Mother."

“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet," Lange said years later in an interview. "I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction... She and her children had been living on frozen vegetables from the field and wild birds the children caught. The pea crop had frozen; there was no work. Yet they could not move on, for she had just sold the tires from the car to buy food.”

According to Moma, however, "Thompson later contested Lange’s account. When a reporter interviewed her in the 1970s, she insisted that she and Lange did not speak to each other, nor did she sell the tires of her car. Thompson said that Lange had either confused her for another farmer or embellished what she had understood of her situation in order to make a better story."

Image: Dorothea Lange. Public Domain Read the rest

Dog's-eye video of pup zooming around excitedly

Aug 6, 2019

Description:

Here's a sweet little sanity break for your achy-breaky brain.

🐶

This video shared by IMGURian @Toast2 during IMGUR's #PetShow2019 is a great example of how to use a GoPro camera to great effect with dogs.

Love it.

That's one happy little pupper, living their best little life.

Here's the video:

Backyard Zoomies

We should each live so well.

Read the rest

Cute foster dog howls silently while doing yoga

Aug 6, 2019

Description:

“Looks like he is howling but he was almost completely silent while he was doing this,” says Max's temporary human.

“Our foster dog was a silly boy!,” says IMGURian Kika1112

“GOOD NEWS, he was just recently adopted out to a wonderful family!”

Happy ending. Hope he has a nice place in which to practice his yoga now.

Yoga with Max

Read the rest

Baby getting an X-Ray looks hilarious and adorable

Aug 6, 2019

Description:

Aww. Poor little sweet thing.

An archival image of awkward, tender, funny cuteness, photographer uncredited, viral from years ago.

Looks a lot like this poor pet getting an uncomfortable groom, which is frankly how I feel, too, when I have to go in for medical scans. I feel you, pups and babies.

Help!

Read the rest

Detailed maps of the Overlook Hotel, from The Shining

Aug 6, 2019

Description:

That Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining features a wealth of subtle references is not in doubt, not least the inconsistent geography of the Overlook Hotel, which seems unremarkable at first viewing but becomes a brain-worm of weirdness when you think about it. Trying to map it out was a fetish of the early 2010s web, but I recalled those efforts ending as inconclusively as the location of the Gold Room. With the sequel coming soon, I decided to check in, and can happily report that the Overlook mappers have taken it to the next level.

Check out this beaut:

The Overlook is not exceptional amongst Kubrick's films for its disequilibrium.

The interior of The Overlook doesn't at all begin to fit with either the exterior on the studio set or the real life exterior of the Timberline in Oregon. At first glance it seems he might have had it constructed to fit with the set exterior, but he didn't. Eventually one realizes that there is likely only one window in the whole of the film that works with the interior, and only one entry/exit likewise. Nor do the different parts of the hotel's interior connect together in the way Kubrick visually leads one to believe. His manner of editing establishes assumptions, but those assumptions are wrong. One finds that the only possible room in the second floor section around which Danny cycles, is room 237.

I think that Kubrick's obsessive, idiosyncratic approach to cinematic composition is the only true reason for the hotel's impossible geography. Read the rest

Portland's Unipiper plays Star Wars theme on 2 flaming bagpipes

Aug 6, 2019

Description:

Unmute the video below. You need this, in all its glory.

Brian Kidd, aka the Unipiper, has been featured before here on Boing Boing. He's internet-famous and locally renowned in Portland for for playing the flaming bagpipes on his unicycle while wearin' a Darth Vader mask.

He upped the ante on himself by doing it with two flaming bagpipes, and it's awesome.

This video of him playing the bagpipe as he unicycles around a blow-up Star Wars All Terrain Armored Transport, or AT-AT walker is a wonderful weird balm.

Now I want a giant inflatable AT-AT, too.

Watch out, you never know where you're going to run into the Unipiper.

View this post on Instagram

Watch out for what's behind door #2. You might run into the Portapiper. #bagpipesinthebathroom #honeybucketsurprise #keepportlandweird #HoneyBucketSelfie @officialhoneybucket

A post shared by The Unipiper (@theunipiper) on Aug 1, 2019 at 7:05pm PDT

You can follow and contribute on Patreon.

PREVIOUSLY: Brian Kidd is the Unipiper: the unicycling bagpiper Read the rest

Toilets with Threatening Auras

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

🧻 😠 🚽

Cat gets a surprise (wait for it)

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Wait for it.

🐈

TFW you encounter something you seriously did not anticipate.

BOX: [exists] CAT: [figures shit out]

Kitty gets a little surprise.

Read the rest

Trans woman trains her new vagina's pelvic floor with a kegel-controlled version of Flappy Bird

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Laura Dale is a trans woman who got a "new vagina" through "bottom surgery"; afterwards, as she cast about for ways to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles, she discovered Perifit, a Bluetooth kegel-based video-game controller that registers every time the user bears down on it with their pelvic floor muscles.

The controller is not a simple on-off switch, but rather it registers subtle gradients of pressure, making it suited to controlling a variety of video-game sprites.

Dale describes the games she played: Catch the Lotus (a Flappy Bird clone), Manage the Gate (a block-the-falling-objects game) and the actual Flappy Bird, though Perifit calls it Perifit Bird.

With all the prepackaged games played, I was honestly a little disappointed by the lack of compelling software for this new gaming controller. Off the top of my head, I am pretty sure I can come up with a decent list of other gaming applications this vagina controller could be used for.

You could make a slot car racing game, where you have to contract harder to speed up on the straights, but lessen your pressure on corners to not fly off the track and lose time. How about using the controller to play a music rhythm game, with contractions done in time with the music. Maybe a Pong-style game, where players contract to raise the paddle and relax to lower it? You could use it as a boost button in a racing game, or to launch your ultimate attack in a fighting game, or even use it to mash through dialogue in a text adventure game until the next actual choice based moment comes up.

Read the rest

Podcast: "IBM PC Compatible": how adversarial interoperability saved PCs from monopolization

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay "IBM PC Compatible": how adversarial interoperability saved PCs from monopolization, published today on EFF's Deeplinks; it's another installment in my series about "adversarial interoperability," and the role it has historically played in keeping tech open and competitive. This time, I relate the origin story of the "PC compatible" computer, with help from Tom Jennings (inventor of FidoNet!) who played a key role in the story.

All that changed in 1981, when IBM entered the PC market with its first personal computer, which quickly became the de facto standard for PC hardware. There are many reasons that IBM came to dominate the fragmented PC market: they had the name recognition ("No one ever got fired for buying IBM," as the saying went) and the manufacturing experience to produce reliable products.

Equally important was IBM's departure from its usual business practice of pursuing advantage by manufacturing entire systems, down to the subcomponents. Instead, IBM decided to go with an "open" design that incorporated the same commodity parts that the existing PC vendors were using, including MS-DOS and Intel's 8086 chip. To accompany this open hardware, IBM published exhaustive technical documentation that covered every pin on every chip, every way that programmers could interact with IBM's firmware (analogous to today's "APIs"), as well as all the non-standard specifications for its proprietary ROM chip, which included things like the addresses where IBM had stored the fonts it bundled with the system.

Once IBM's PC became the standard, rival hardware manufacturers realized that they had to create systems that were compatible with IBM's systems.

Read the rest

Under Covers: stop-motion animation about the mysteries of bedtime

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Under Covers is a delightful NSFW animation by Mighty Oak.

On the night of a lunar eclipse, we uncover the sweet, salacious, and spooky secrets of a small town. From a pigtailed psychopath to naughty nuns and everything in between, this stop motion animated film conjures a comforting thought: that weird is relative.

From the Vimeo blog:

The film, which originally debuted as part of Sundance Film Festival’s 2018 Midnight Shorts Program, provides a God’s-eye-view into the bedrooms of seemingly sweet characters hiding a secret or two under their blankets. What may seem innocuous is not always as innocent as it appears, and Olsen shows us that through a powerful combination of stop-motion animation, detailed character design, and a sick sense of humor.

Read the rest

Here's how to get rid of YouTube's hideous thumbnail images

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

If you are annoyed by YouTube clickbaity thumbnails this Chrome extension, called Clickbait Remover for YouTube, is for you.

This extension replaces thumbnails with a frame from the video, effectively removing any clickbait while still showing a high quality thumbnail so you can still get a good idea of what the video is about. It can also modify titles to stop partial or all caps titles.

It works everywhere on Youtube including the homepage, trending page, subscription page and channel pages.

All functionality of the extension is customizable by clicking on the icon on the top right, you can see the effect of different options have right away if you have a youtube tab open, no need to reload the page.

This extension might help people who have a Youtube addiction or anyone who just doesn't want to be distracted by flashy thumbnails and all caps titles while trying to find some quality content.

[via Lifehacker] Read the rest

A MIDI harmonica

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Lekholm's DM48 is a full-featured MIDI harmonica, with twelve pressure-sensors, one-button presets, and "adjustable breathing resistance." (Thanks, Gnat) Read the rest

Recycling center recovers $23,000 in cash that man accidentally tossed

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

An Ashland, Oregon man dropped an old shoebox into his recycling bin, somehow forgetting that he had stashed $23,000 in the box. He contacted the Recology recycling center in California where the haul had been sent for processing. The facility wasn't optimistic but promised to alert staff to look out for it. Then on Friday, en eagle-eyed employee spotted the box before it reached the baler. Only $320 was missing.

(UPI) Read the rest

A 79-year-old woman is going to jail for feeding stray cats

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Nancy Segula (79) of Garfield Heights, Ohio, doesn't like the idea of allowing stray cats to starve, so she feeds them when they come around, which is a crime. She's been sentenced to 10 days in jail for allowing the cats to accumulate on her property.

From Reason:

Segula's actions are clearly creating a nuisance for her neighbors. But while police are justified in responding to their complaints, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities for the court system to find a more humane approach than incarceration. After all, Segula's 10-day jail sentence is longer than the punishments given for other, much more heinous animal-related offenses that have occurred in the area, including starving dogs, the strangulation of a cat, and leaving kittens in a hot car. And when it's over, is there any reason to think she won't do what she's done after every other intervention, and go back to feeding the cats?

Image: WKYC Read the rest

Scientists develop eye-on-a-chip to improve treatment of diseases

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Approximately 14 percent of the world's population suffer from dry eye disease (DED) but treatments are limited because it's difficult to model the complex human eye for drug development. Now though, University of Pennsylvania bioengineers developed an "eye-on-a-chip" complete with a motorized blinking eyelid. The hope is that the artificial eye will lead to a deeper understanding of dry eye disease, enable drug screening, and even become a testbed for contact lens technology and eye surgery. Their technology also received the 2018 Lush Prize awarded for innovations that could help eliminate animal testing for shampoos and other beauty product. From Eurekalert:

In this study, (Dan) Huh and (Jeongyun) Seo focused on engineering an eye model that could imitate a healthy eye and an eye with DED, allowing them to test an experimental drug without risk of human harm.

To construct their eye-on-a-chip, Huh's team starts with a porous scaffold engineered with 3D printing, about the size of a dime and the shape of a contact lens, on which they grow human eye cells. The cells of the cornea grow on the inner circle of scaffolding, dyed yellow, and the cells of the conjunctiva, the specialized tissue covering the white part of human eyes, grow on the surrounding red circle. A slab of gelatin acts as the eyelid, mechanically sliding over the eye at the same rate as human blinking. Fed by a tear duct, dyed blue, the eyelid spreads artificial tear secretions over the eye to form what is called a tear film.

Read the rest

This war-dialing safe-cracker opens combination safes

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

The war-dialing safe-opener takes a maximum of 8 hours to open a safe.

It looks like something that could be pretty easily built with an Arduino and a stepper motor, but how does it know when is has arrived at5 the right combination? Maybe it feels a change in the torque on the dial, or senses a certain kind of click?

Image: YouTube Read the rest

46% of Scots want to separate from the UK; 43% want to remain

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

An Lord Ashcroft Poll for Holyrood found that the largest group of Scots with a preference favour independence from the UK: 46% leave vs 43% remain; after removing undecided voters, the figures are 52%-48%.

The Scottish Conservatives are adamant that there is no appetite for a Scottish independence referendum; the other major UK-wide parties are also officially opposed another referendum.

The majority of poll subjects were in favor of a referendum in 2021.

(via Bruce Sterling) Read the rest

Keanu Reeves deepfaked onto Sesame Street

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Here's your daily dose of deepfaking and Keanu. Read the rest

Covers of "I'm A Believer"

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

I think Shrek and the innate sweetness of the song have given us unlimited covers of this OG Neil Diamond masterpiece. I am always a fan of this on a Hammond, but away we go...

Vanilla Fudge

Youtuber on Ukelele

I am sure you guys can add the ones I've missed... Read the rest

Great deal on noise cancelling bluetooth headphones

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

These highly rated noise cancelling bluetooth headphones are normally but if you use code MPOW284A1 at checkout on Amazon, you can get them at a much lower price. They are USB chargeable and have a wired mode, too. Read the rest

An entire village built on the roof of a huge building

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Good morning Jakarta. Macam mana lah diorang terfikir nak develop taman perumahan atas bangunan? pic.twitter.com/TNQrnEQ8eA

— shahrirbahar (@shahrirbahar1) June 24, 2019

Jakarta's Comsmo Park is an entire village built on top of a ten story building containing a shopping mall and parking garage. Built a decade ago, Cosmo Park only recently garnered attention when @shahrirbahar1 posted the above drone photo of the curious community. From The Guardian:

“It’s a lovely oasis,” says (resident) Fazila Kapasi, as she tails her four-year-old son around on his bike along one of the complex’s neat roads. “I cannot recommend it enough.”

Fazila and her husband moved to Jakarta from Mumbai, and chose Cosmo Park partly because they were concerned about Jakarta’s floods. But after living there for six years Fazila can reel off a string of other advantages, including that it is less isolating than standard apartment living.

In the afternoon Fazila stops to chat to her neighbours, while most days she and her son feed the pigeons that live in a nearby tree. She also has her own garden, where she has a hammock and space to grow aubergines, tomatoes and chillies.

“It is so good. There is so much open space, my son can ride his bike around. It’s so central, it’s really safe, and there is a lovely neighbourhood feel,” she says.

Read the rest

Tree grows out of drainpipe

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

A tree discovered a way to thrive in an urban environment by squeezing through a multi-story drainpipe.

via Gfycat

Image: gfycat Read the rest

Get Happy

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Shout Hallelujah, come on get happy Read the rest

Short documentary about the early art of bulletin board systems

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

The Art of Warez by Oliver Payne, celebrates the rise and fall of ANSI art in the 1980s and early 90s. ANSI graphics were made from small rectangles. There were 256 rectangles to choose from - 4 density patterns and 16 colors per pattern.

Image: The Art of Warez/Vimeo Read the rest

Inmate attempts prison escape disguised as his teenage daughter

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Brazilian drug lord Clauvino da Silva attempted to escape a Rio de Janeiro prison on Saturday by impersonating his teenage daughter. From The Guardian:

hen Silva – AKA Baixinho (“Shorty”) – requested the return of his daughter’s ID card at the prison entrance, officers saw through his low-budget disguise and asked him to strip in front of the cameras.

Reports on Monday said the 42-year-old drug trafficker had been moved to solitary confinement but was unlikely to face extra prison time since his unsuccessful bid for freedom had not involved violence.

His daughter, Ana Gabriele Leandro da Silva, who had remained behind in the prison as part of the ruse, seemed to have been less lucky.

According to Rio newspaper Extra she will be charged with abetting prison escape, a crime punishable with up to two years in prison. Seven other visitors – including a pregnant woman suspected of smuggling the disguise into the jail – are also being investigated.

Read the rest

David Fincher's Blade Runner-inspired commercial for Coca-Cola (1993)

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

"Coca-Cola: Blade Roller," directed by David Fincher in 1993.

(via ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Why South Koreans are boycotting Japan

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Last month Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe announced that shipments of high tech equipment and material to South Korea will undergo additional screening to make sure the imported materials are not being used for military or weapons purposes. The screenings will start on August 28. Until the announcement, South Korea' enjoyed most favored nation status with Japan, but now it will be treated like any other Asian country Japan trades with. Many Koreans have taken to the streets to protest.

Asian Boss went to Seoul to interview Koreans about the new restrictions.

Image: YouTube/Asian Boss Read the rest

From Tiananmen to Occupy Central to the Umbrella Movement to today's General Strike: understanding the Hong Kong uprising

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

Today, Hong Kongers are staging a general strike, the latest peak in a series of escalating protests over democratic reforms in the face of increased pressure from Beijing and its autocrat-for-life, Xi Jinping.

Writing in the London Review of Books, Chaohua Wang -- an exiled leader of the pro-democratic student uprising that was crushed with the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square -- provides a history of the pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, showing how the Tiananmen massacre only hardened the resolve of the surviving activists, and how that spirit has been nurtured in Hong Kong, with successive waves of protesters adapting their tactics to survive the increasingly brutal suppression that Beijing has visited upon Hong Kong.

It's a vital piece of historical context, illuminating the long history that has led to this moment, while also demonstrating just how brave, smart, principled and resourceful today's strikers have been. It shows the lessons that Hong Kong's pro-mainland puppet regime were too arrogant to learn, and explains how Beijing has been caught flat-footed by the uprising.

The protests have not diminished over the last two months. They have instead become ever more confrontational, vis à vis the police, the Hong Kong government and even the central government’s liaison office. Yet public support has not waned. There is a silent consensus that the not-yet-named protest movement is a collective vote of no confidence in Beijing. Beijing must understand this, more or less, but it has not acknowledged as much. Its first press conference on the current situation in Hong Kong was given by the Hong Kong Macau Office of the State Council in Beijing on 29 July.

Read the rest

Do not watch bark.mp4 while high

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

It's as if the Dog of Wisdom and Hi Stranger had a puppy together. I'd like to credit the genius who created this, but can't find the source.

Previously: Do not watch Hi Stranger while high. Read the rest

My Life on the Road — Staying Still

Aug 5, 2019

Description:

I've been back in Canada since May and I am certain I am losing my mind. It's a certainty that takes hold of me, every year.

We come home because we have to. As Canadians, we can only stay in the Untied States for a maximum of six months at a time. This past year, we stayed just shy of five months in the United States and, another two, down in Mexico. We drove back across the Canadian border with a few days left to spare. This dates-in-da-States wiggle room is important as I sometimes have to head south for work. I'd rather not get into dutch with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Being back in Canada for half the year is , a must if we want to hold on to our sweet-ass socialized medical care (which we totally do.) and for my wife to return to work. While she's a certified dive instructor, she also loves the land-locked gig she works for half of the year. We also come home because we want to. I have few friends and work remotely. Disappointment and distrust have left me happy in the small company of my partner, our pooch and a few well-chosen friends that I seldom see. My missus? Not so much. Community is important to her. Her sister's family—now my family—means the world to her. Reacquainting herself with her people, each year, brings her a happiness that I try hard to understand. I love to see her light up around her friends. Read the rest

Racist Ronald Reagan called Africans "monkeys" in taped call with Nixon

Jul 31, 2019

Description:

The Atlantic unearthed an old tape of Ronald Reagan yukking it up with Richard Nixon about African "monkeys" at the United Nations.

The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then–California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.

P.S. Mickey Mouse is a minstrel caricature. Read the rest

Watch boxer's incredible ability to dodge punches

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

via Gfycat

On Saturday night, junior featherweight boxer Tremaine Williams won two regional title belts by beating Yenifel Vicente. Check out this astonishing clip from the eighth round when Williams masterfully ducked and dodged punch after punch. And don't miss the slow-motion replay below.

.@TevinFarmer22's head movement in slow-mo makes it THAT much better. Insane. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lA78Jw9XIx

— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) July 28, 2019 Read the rest

Quentin Tarantino talks about the sounds in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

One of the things that really stood out for me in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is how he captured the sounds of the late 1960s. Everything from AM car radio speakers, to the way people talked, to KHJ Boss Radio disc jockey airchecks, to TV interstitials, to the rumble of gas-guzzling car engines, added to the perfect visuals of 1969 Los Angeles. In this podcast, Tarantino talks about how he got the sounds for the movie. One of his main sources of information was fan recordings of KHJ radio from the late 1960s.

Here is a great "rapid-fire salute to 93/KHJ Boss Radio in Los Angeles utilizing jingles and other production elements."

And ere's Alison Martino's article for Los Angeles Magazine, "KHJ, L.A.’s Coolest AM Radio Station, Is Basically a Background Actor in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'” Read the rest

My off-label use for these silicone BBQ cooking gloves

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

These silicone gloves are good for handling meat and vegetables on a barbecue but they excel at letting me tear apart a hot roasted chicken without burning my fingers, which is the main reason I use mine. Use code JSSLT8IG for a discount at checkout. Read the rest

Woman who urinated on potatoes at Walmart turns self in

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

A woman suspected of urinating on the potatoes at a Pittsburgh-area Walmart has turned herself in, reports CBS News. The woman was charged with criminal mischief, open lewdness, disorderly conduct and public drunkness.

Adds CBS, helpfully: "The bin of potatoes was at ground level."

West Mifflin police earlier issued a photo of the suspect, but did not include footage of the crime itself.

The LPO was informed by an employee that on the day before he noticed urine on the floor near the potatoes in the produce area. The LPO then pulled video that depicted a female at approximately 22:10 hours on July 24, 2019 urinating in the potato bins. The LPO then reported the incident to the West Mifflin Police.

Walmart released a statement:

“The safety of our customers is a top priority for us. This type of obscene conduct is outrageous and we immediately disposed of the affected products and sanitized the area to ensure its cleanliness and safety for our customers. We’re working with the West Mifflin Police Department to find the responsible party and have them prosecuted.”

It's a brave Yinzer who dares sample the West Mifflin tater salad! Read the rest

Cooking Price-Wise

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Cookbooks by Vincent and Mary Price are amongst my very favorite.

This new edition of Cooking Price-Wise is certainly a family affair. Originally published as a compendium of recipes shared on Price's titular UK television programme 'Cooking Price-Wise,' daughter Victoria and son V.B. have both added memories, stories and personal anecdotes that make this the version to own.

The Price Family's cookbooks are marvelous. In addition to being an authority on art, cuisine and a wonderful actor, Vincent Price was a master storyteller. Recipes are recollection! They involve tales of their origin or other anecdotes that make the dish more than just delicious as prepared.

Cooking Price-Wise is no different! This wonderful book is jammed to the brim with recipes and Price family history. Victoria Price included sections of The New Dr. Price Cook Book and shares the story of Dr. Vincent Clarance Price, the grandfather of Vincent Price, who invented Baking Powder and began a long culinary legacy.

Organized by the types of food Vincent Price was working with during the filming of his UK based TV show, there is a section on Bacon.

Due to the nature of his programme, all the ingredients were generally available in most UK markets at the time of filming. Price and the writers were absolutely certain they needed to make these dishes accessible to the folks who were watching, so generally, you will not go off on a wild goose chase although internet ordering has made that less an issue in many places. Read the rest

"Superflat" artist Takashi Murakami writes about himself

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Over at CNN, fantastically creative and influential Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is CNN Style's latest "guest editor." Along with commissioning a series of articles "exploring the theme of identity," he wrote his own insightful and inspiring essay about his life as an artist. From CNN:

As a child, looking at paintings was absolutely boring. One standout memory was when, around the age of 8, I had to wait in line for three hours with my family, just to see the Spanish artist Francisco Goya's painting at a museum in Tokyo. The work depicted Titan Cronus (or Saturn) eating his own children. The image was haunting and kept me up for many nights after. I think this profound experience, or trauma, formed the basis for my act of painting to this day. It taught me that if my work doesn't move people and induce a "wow!" then it's all for nothing.

Once I started grade school however, reading manga and watching TV anime became more important to me. No longer forced by my parents to go look at paintings, I became obsessed with "Ultraman," robot anime and sport-themed manga about boxing and baseball. I believe these experiences have a lot to do with how I now make films and animations, alongside paintings and sculptures....

In seventh grade, I fell into a hole in the ground and broke my skull and some bones in my right hand. I couldn't go to school for a month and subsequently failed to catch up academically.

Read the rest

Jack Black and Rob Zabrecky contact Kurt Cobain

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Boing Boing recently shared Rob Zabrecky's fantastic memoir Strange Cures.

Jack Black really enjoyed Kurt Cobain's live performances. Zabrecky can contact the undead. What could be more fun?

Other Side with Zabrecky is a series of seances conducted by magician, comedian, punk bassist, and author Rob Zabrecky. Everything that is so wonderful in his live performances translates beautifully to the little YouTube box.

Incredible singer and hilarious comedian Kate Flannery also joins Zabrecky, reaching out to Ethel Merman! Frequent Boing Boing readers may be distracted by the banana.

Check out Mark's review of Rob Zabrecky's memoir. Read the rest

Houstonites! Come see Hank Green and me in conversation tomorrow night!

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Hank Green and I are doing a double act tomorrow night, July 31, as part of the tour for the paperback of his debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It's a ticketed event (admission includes a copy of Hank's book), and we're presenting at 7PM at Spring Forest Middle School in association with Blue Willow Bookshop. Hope to see you there! Read the rest

Heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons were a match made in hell

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons have an interconnected history that goes beyond just being targeted during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Over at Kerrang, John Reppion draws the links from Black Sabbath until today. From Kerrang:

The November 1987 edition of UK RPG magazine White Dwarf was advertised as a ‘Thrash Rock Special’. “Your eyes and minds have been devastated by White Dwarf for the past ten years, now it’s time for your ears to get it!” an ad in the back of the previous issue warned. The magazine came with a free flexidisc whose single track, Blood For The Blood God, was specially written and recorded by British thrashers Sabbat for WD. Printed on the disc are the words “Based on Games Workshop’s Warhammer fantasy roleplay game”, making Blood For The Blood God the first ever official RPG tie-in metal record.

Two years later, death-grind band Bolt Thrower released their second album, Realm Of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness, on Earache Records. The album’s cover art came courtesy of Nottingham-based RPG maker and retailer Games Workshop. Many of the song titles and lyrics related directly to the store’s own sci-fi fantasy RPG, Warhammer 40,000 – of which members of Bolt Thrower were dedicated players. Copies of the album were even sold in Games Workshop, alongside the usual miniatures and rulebooks....

Perhaps the most overtly RPG-inspired band of the moment are Gygax. Named in honour of D&D’s creator, the Californian four-piece play Thin Lizzy-esque hard rock with themes lifted directly from the players’ handbook.

Read the rest

Police searching for woman who urinated on potatoes in Walmart

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

In West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, police are searching for a woman who evacuated the contents of her bladder on potatoes for sale in the produce section of the local Walmart. WPXI ran a video with photos of the suspect along with a statement from Walmart:

"This type of obscene conduct is outrageous and we immediately disposed of the affected products and sanitized the area to ensure its cleanliness and safety for our customers. We’re working with the West Mifflin Police Department to find the responsible party and have them prosecuted.”

Image of potato used to obscure suspect's face: Public Domain Pictures/CC0 Public Domain

Update: she turned herself in. Read the rest

Some of my favorite movie sword fights

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

The greatest of all time. I cry every time I watch Inigo Montoya destroy Count Rugen. I can bring my self to cry by thinking about it.

Errol Flynn fighting Basil Rathbone in Captain Blood is just wonderful.

Something about two-handed butchering people with a broadsword always plays! The Governator is most remembered for his role in Twins with Danny De Vito, but this little known film, was wonderful fun.

Is just a masterpiece.

...and of course Doctor Jones shows us how it's done. Every call back they've made to this scene in later movies was a dud. Read the rest

Excellent bumper from a bootlegged Fantasia videocassette from 1977

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

From a 1977 bootlegged videocassette of Disney's Fantasia, a fine bit of mockery from Miracle Productions Company, "leaders in illegal Betamax recording since '76."

(r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

The guy who played the role of Trump in Hillary Clinton's practice debates explains how to beat him

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Trump is a "malevolent George Costanza," a person who's gotten every job "simply by being [his] obnoxious self, with no filter." That's Philippe Reines' assessment. He should know. As Hillary Clinton's debate sparring partner, he watched every one of the 15 Republican primary debates and forums Trump was in, three times. As a result, he says, "I might know his debating style—if you want to call it that—better than anyone on the planet (aside from Hillary Clinton, of course)."

In this Politico article, he presents the qualities that make Trump "such a tough opponent in a debate, despite the fact that he is possibly the worst debater in presidential history," and some suggestions about how the Democratic nominee could deal with Trump's non-stop torrent of lies during a debate:

[O]ur nominee should know that Trump will lie throughout their debate, but can’t count on the moderator to call them all out and can’t expect the audience to know on their own. So our nominee needs to be able to say, “You’re lying.” Easier said than done. Especially if Trump lies every time he opens his mouth.

One possible tactic is to simply, and calmly, count out loud. First time he lies, the nominee should say, “That was the first of many lies to come because that’s what he does best.” After that, when Trump lies again, the nominee should interject with a simple “Lie number two,” or, “That was a few, so we’re up to six.” The moderator might scold the candidate for interrupting, but he or she should respond, “If you were calling out his lies, I wouldn’t have to.

Read the rest

Children from Mexico and the US play together on seesaws that cross the border wall

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Two artists installed seesaws that cross the border wall between the United States and Mexico, enabling children from both countries to play together. The brilliant creative intervention was created by Ronald Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, a design professor at San Jose State University. From CNN:

In 2009, the two designed a concept for a binational seesaw at the border for a book, "Borderwall as Architecture," which uses "humor and inventiveness to address the futility of building barriers," UC-Berkeley said.

Ten years later, their conceptual drawings became reality. Rael and his crew transported the seesaws to Sunland Park, New Mexico, separated by a steel fence from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico...

In an Instagram post, Rael said the event was "filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall."

"The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S -Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side," he wrote.

More: "Borderwall as Architecture Becomes Reality" (UC Press)

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One of the most incredible experiences of my and @vasfsf’s career bringing to life the conceptual drawings of the Teetertotter Wall from 2009 in an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall. The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S. - Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.

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Scotland has its own "can opener" bridge

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Tam Lindsay (tambothejambo on twitter) witnessed a spectacular mistake by a bus driver in West Lothian that tore the roof off his double-decker ride.

Out a walk in Fauldhouse and heard a huge collision. Local bus tried to go under railway bridge and took top tier of bus

Out a walk in Fauldhouse and heard a huge collision

Local bus tried to go under railway bridge and took top tier of bus pic.twitter.com/Ajc8guJuql

— Tam Lindsay (@tambothejambo) July 30, 2019

The error was egregious enough for the driver to be charged, reports the BBC.

No-one was injured and the Lothian Country bus driver was the only occupant of the vehicle at the time. A spokesman for the operator said: "We can confirm one of our vehicles was involved in an incident earlier today in the Fauldhouse area and we are fully assisting Police Scotland with their inquiries."

Adds the BBC:

A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Just you wait until the procurator fiscal hears of this! Read the rest

Fascinating, accessible guide to cryptographic attacks, from brute-force to POODLE and beyond

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Ben Herzog's Cryptographic Attacks: A Guide for the Perplexed from Check Point Research is one of the clearest, most useful guides to how cryptography fails that I've ever read.

While popular media likes to depict crypto as falling prey to brute-force attacks -- which offer narratively convenient countdown timers as the digital tumblers roll into place -- the actual attacks on crypto are way more interesting (and plausible) than making a lot of guesses very fast.

Herzog lays out how these attacks work, from frequency analysis to precomputation attacks to interpolation attacks to downgrade attacks to oracle attacks, and then gives specific examples of high-profile, real world defects in cryptosystems, including CRIME, POODLE and DROWN.

Understanding how crypto goes wrong -- the complex interplay of history, human error, foolishness, and unanticipated interactions -- is key to understanding computer security. This is an invaluable guide, and Herzog promises as sequel: "In the next blog post of this series, we’ll talk about advanced attacks — such as meet-in-the-middle, differential cryptanalysis, and the birthday attack. We’ll take a short foray into the land of side-channel attacks, and then we’ll finally delve into the exquisite realm of attacks on public-key cryptography."

You might wonder who in their right mind would design a real-world system analogous to a “secure, unless you come in sideways” system, or a “secure, unless you insist otherwise” system, as described above. But much like the fictional bank would rather take the risk and retain its crypto-averse customers, systems in general often bow to requirements that are indifferent, or even overtly hostile, to security needs.

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Cop says Amazon told him they had "partnered" with 200 US police forces to sell and tap into Ring surveillance doorbells

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Last week, Motherboard reported on a public record request that revealed that Amazon had struck confidential deals with local police forces to get them to promote the company's Internet of Things "Ring" doorbells, and the accompanying "Neighbors" app that produces a kind of private surveillance mesh overlooking nearby public spaces -- under the terms of the deal, cops would be able to see a map noting locations of Ring surveillance cams and request footage from their owners.

Now, a further records request shows that one officer who was trained by Amazon for the program was told that 200 law enforcement agencies had struck similar deals.

The officer who sent the email told Motherboard that the email was a transcribed version of handwritten notes that he took during a team webinar with a Ring representative on April 9. Additional emails obtained by Motherboard indicate that this webinar trained officers on how to use the "Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal." This portal allows local police to see a map with the approximate locations of all Ring cameras in a neighborhood, and request footage directly from camera owners. Owners need to consent, but police do not need a warrant to ask for footage.

The email obtained by Motherboard was sent from the Waynesboro, Virginia Chief of Police to himself in an email with the subject line “Neighbors by RING notes.” The email ends with the name and phone number of a Ring Neighborhood’s Training Manager, responsible for communicating with police and training them on the use of Ring products.

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Affluent parents surrender custody of their kids to "scam" their way into needs-based college scholarships

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Propublica Illinois has identified "dozens of suburban Chicago families" who surrendered custody of their children during the kids' junior and senior years of high-school, turning them over to aunts, grandparents, friends, and cousins, so that the kids claim to be independent and qualify for needs-based scholarships, crowding out the poor kids the scholarship was designed for.

The scheme (called a "scam" by Urbana-Champaign director of undergraduate admissions Andy Borst) allows affluent kids to qualify for the Pell Grant and the state Monetary Award Program (MAP grant), up to $11,000/year. The total amount available through these grants is capped and they are awarded on a first come, first serve basis. 82,000 eligible Illinois students were excluded from the program last year because the money ran out.

Propublica identified two key enablers of the "scam": The Rogers Law Group in Deerfield and the Kabbe Law Group in Naperville (Rick Rogers of the Rogers Law Group hired a third firm to handle his own family's case).

The parents involved declined to comment, as did the Rogers Law Group. The Kabbe Law Group said that her firm's services allows kids to get aid where the families are in "a financial position where their income is too high to qualify for financial aid but they still will struggle to pay for college."

Propublica also identifies Lora Georgieva, owner of Lincolnshire Destination College consulting firm, as a key enabler, noting she has ties to several of the families and to Rogers. Destination College advertises a "College Financial Plan, Using Income and Asset Shifting Strategies to Increase Your Financial and Merit Aid and Lower Out of Pocket Tuition Expenses." When reached for comment, Georgieva had an attorney contact Propublica to express her concern that her services would be "depicted in a false light."

The guardianship process the families are exploiting is intended as a way of getting children out of dangerous situations where they face physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Read the rest

At least two dead after man opens fire at Mississippi Walmart

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

At least two people are dead after a gunman opened fire at the Southaven Walmart in Mississippi on Tuesday, with a police officer and the shooter also reportedly injured. CBS News:

WHBQ-TV reports one person was found dead in the store and another found dead in the parking lot. The suspect was taken to a Memphis hospital. His condition wasn't reported. Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto tells WATN-TV the officer was hit in his bulletproof vest and not seriously injured.Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto tells WATN-TV the officer was hit in his bulletproof vest and not seriously injured. Walmart employees joined a prayer circle outside. The company didn't immediately respond to phone calls and information requests.

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Video effects used to improve the Trumpbot at Disney World's Hall of Presidents

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

The election of authoritarian racist garbage person Donald Trump to the presidency was attended by many controversies, but none so salient as his inclusion in Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents, wherein each newly elected president is represented as an animatronic figure whose dialog that president gets to record, using their own human voices.

The Trumpbot's inclusion was controversial enough that Disney reportedly considered changing the show to deny Trump his speaking role (this was later kiboshed), and while the Trumpbot may not be a repurposed Hillarybot, he has certainly attracted his share of hecklers.

Now, the memeslinging video-trickster @PaulLeeTicks has put their video-effects skills to work, putting the Trumpbot in the Nazi uniform that Cheeto Hitler implies with every public utterance.

BREAKING: Antifa thugs break into the Disney World's Hall of Presidents attraction in Florida, and vandalize the Donald Trump animatronic. pic.twitter.com/XgEwRPQnx5

— Paul Lee Ticks (@PaulLeeTicks) July 22, 2019 Read the rest

The darkest SEO: forging judges' signatures on fake court orders to scrub negative Google results

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

It's one thing to send a bogus legal threat in an effort to suppress criticism, because usually the only consequence of that is public humiliation and a little Streisand Effect heat; but if you really want to score an own-goal, the best way to do so is to send a fake court order to Google ordering removal of someone else's embarrassing post from its search index, forging a judge's signature to give it that really authentic look-and-feel.

It's amazing how many people get this brilliant idea. Back in 2017, it was Michael Arnstein, CEO of the Natural Sapphire Company, who was sentenced to nine months in prison for it.

Now, CBS has found more than 60 more of these forged court orders in the public database of takedowns that have been served to Google. Some of them reference clients of a "reputation management" company called Web Savvy, LLC, whose CEO, John Rooney, told an undercover CBS crew that other companies go to "risky...grey areas" that he won't enter.

But Rooney couldn't explain why one of his clients was referenced in a forged court order sent to Google demanding removal of an embarrassing court order.

Many of the fake court orders that CBS turned up were putatitively issued by a judge in Hamilton County, Ohio. The court clerk, local law-enforcement, and the FBI are investigating these.

While some of the fakes that CBS found were seeming attempts to launder the reputations of businesses, two were censorship attempts that targeted factual information identifying their subjects as sex offenders who had targeted children. Read the rest

Judge orders man's mouth taped shut in court, then orders video of it destroyed

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

A man so vexed District Court Judge Marilyn Castle in Lafayette that she ordered his mouth taped shut. The Advocate reports that Michael C. Duhon, already found guilty of theft, repeatedly interrupted his sentencing hearing. Katie Gagliano reports how Castle lost control of her courtroom:

According to court minutes, Duhon objected when the judge asked him to stop submitting motions on his own behalf in the case instead of through his attorney. He objected again when evidence was submitted. He attempted to offer arguments against the inclusion of the evidence and was told to speak through his attorney. After requesting at least twice for Duhon to remain quiet, Castle ordered the bailiff to tape Duhon’s mouth shut during witness testimony. The tape was removed after an objection from Duhon’s public defense attorney, Aaron Adams. He requested the judge remove his client from the courtroom instead of putting duct tape on his client's mouth.

She also held public defender Michael Gregory —not representing Duhon, but in the gallery—with contempt of court for video-recording the incident, and ordered that the video be destroyed. Gregory apparently obviated the command by submitting the video as evidence in his own contempt hearing; Castle placed it under seal.

Lafayette Judge Marilyn Castle ordered public defender Michael Gregory to pay a $100 fine and said he cannot bring his cellphone, nor use someone else's, to the Lafayette Parish courthouse for six months. ...

Gregory said he felt there was “a compelling necessity to record the proceeding,” but Castle said the focus was on the inappropriate filming itself, not what the recording captured.

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Broken tail light replaced with red sports drink

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

A trucker replaced a broken tail light with a red sports drink, reports the Denver Channel. His ingenuity earned him police attention in Longmont, Colo., but they let him go without a ticket.

While we appreciate the ingenuity of this tail light, this is not a permanent solution,” Longmont Fire, Police and OEM wrote in a Facebook post. “Working tail lights prevent accidents.”

Photo: Longmont PD Read the rest

Wearable miniature cooler/warmer

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

You may now cool or heat a small part of your body on the go, if you are in Japan and have ¥13000 to blow. The Reon Pocket is a roughly the size of a smartphone, hangs around your neck, and claims to cool that spot up to 13C or warm it 8.3C. As you can see from the photo, a special shirt will come with it so that it can be perfectly seated. Read the rest

Defects in embedded OS Vxworks leaves an estimated 200m devices vulnerable, many of them mission-critical, "forever day" systems

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Vxworks is a lightweight, thin OS designed for embedded systems; a new report from Armis identifies critical vulnerabilities (called "Urgent 11") in multiple versions of the OS that they estimate affects 200m systems (Vxworks' make, Wind River, disputes this figure).

The defect is network-addressable, meaning that it can be remotely exploited, and can be triggered with the sort of communications that are unlikely to be blocked by firewalls. Because of the fire-and-forget nature of embedded systems -- coupled with the low-level tasks they perform, which can't be interrupted without disrupting many higher-level processes -- many of these devices will be subject to "forever day" vulnerabilities, in which they are likely to never be patched.

Wind River says that many of the affected versions of Vxworks have been end-of-lifed, and that its current OS version is not affected.

The more immediate challenge for organizations that use affected or potentially affected equipment will be to assess the risk they face. Armis researchers are presenting Urgent 11 as posing a serious and imminent threat, potentially at the scale of the Windows vulnerabilities that allowed the 2016 WannaCry worm to sow worldwide disruptions. Armis researchers are also warning that the difficulty of patching the flaws means this risk may be with us for the foreseeable future.

But the threat may very well be much smaller than that assessment. What’s more (assuming the threat is as bad as Armis says it is), it may be possible to mitigate the risk through means other than patching, such as access control lists, which restrict the devices that can connect to a vulnerable device.

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100 million PlayStation 4 consoles sold

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

It's got a long way to overturn the PS2's and Nintendo DS's ~150m hauls, but Sony's PS4 reached the 100m sold mark this summer and has a good shot at ending up the third best-selling game console (currently the Game Boy, 120m sold) of all time.

The PlayStation 4 reached this milestone after just 5 years and 7 months, and less than 3 years after passing 50 million sales. Sony’s PS4 sales have been consistently strong throughout this generation, with 19 million sold in 2017 and 17.8 million last year. Sony also revealed that digital download share has passed the 50 percent mark, meaning more people are now purchasing digital games than physical disc copies. Sony’s next-generation PlayStation, most likely the PS5, now looks set to launch in fall 2020.

Next year is the year 8K TVs become "affordable", hence the big marketing push for a new generation of consoles based around 20XX-series NVidia GPUs. Read the rest

Rockstar Games made £4b between 2013-19, paid no corporate tax in the UK, claimed £42m in tax relief

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

Multinationals are excellent players of the global financial tax system, using "profit shifting" (through which operating profits are remitted to phony sister companies in tax havens as "licensing fees" or "management fees") to make it look like wildly profitable companies are losing money, making them eligible for tax relief and rebates -- thus it is that companies can rake in billions and then receive millions more in corporate welfare.

To see this in action, look no further than Rockstar North, the Scottish branch of Rockstar Games, makers of Grand Theft Auto (owned by Take-Two Entertainment). Between 2013-2019, Rockstar North claimed so little revenue that it owed £0.00 in taxes, and actually managed to claim £42m in tax relief from the British taxpayers.

Take-Two's market cap is £13.1b; over the period in which Rockstar North was pleading poverty (and making an estimated operating profit of £4b), the company dispersed £3.4b in executive bonuses. One of Take-Two's most profitable products is GTA, produced by Rockstar North.

Rockstar North claimed 19% of all available video game tax credits in the UK. The tax credit scheme was created to reward companies whose games make "a significant contribution to British culture" through "British settings, characters and development, and promoting cultural diversity." GTA is set in a fictional California town.

Taxwatch UK's Gaming the System report on Rockstar North's tax evasion notes that the whole scheme is perfectly legal -- in other words, the system is working exactly as it was designed to do.

Although the statutory accounts of Rockstar North, the maker of Grand Theft Auto V, state that the company is hardly making any profit, the game is widely reported to be the most profitable media product in history.

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In 1855, a band of London thieves pulled off the first great train robbery

Jul 30, 2019

Description:

In 1855 a band of London thieves set their sights on a new target: the South Eastern Railway, which carried gold bullion to the English coast. The payoff could be enormous, but the heist would require meticulous planning. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the first great train robbery, one of the most audacious crimes of the 19th century.

We'll also jump into the record books and puzzle over a changing citizen.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon! Read the rest

E-scooter companies are desperate for repo men to stop impounding their vehicles

Jul 25, 2019

Description:

E-scooter companies like Bird and Lime have sued Scootscoop -- a self-financed startup that tickets and impounds e-scooters that have been abandoned on private property -- claiming that the repo men are violating the same traffic laws that the same companies also say don't apply to scooters, a belief that is their basis for filling the sidewalks, streets, lawns and alleys of every city with e-waste that blocks wheelchairs, strollers and pedestrians.

Scootscoop is a San Diego company founded by repo man John Heinkel and his partner Dan Borelli (a bike-store owner who views scooters as an attempt to muscle out bicycling), who self-financed the firm and now do a brisk business impounding more thank 10,000 abandoned scooters. They don't advertise, relying entirely on word-of-mouth.

The thing is that the scooter companies are losing hundreds of millions of dollars and have no conceivable path to profitability, and are hoping for a miracle (like some company in China deciding to make a scooter that is simultaneously much cheaper and longer-lasting) to save them before their investors stop throwing even more millions at them.

Anything that accelerates the pace at which they are hemorrhaging money drastically increases the likelihood that they'll bleed out altogether before their Smurfs Family Christmas miracle arrives.

Bird -- who previously made a laughably baseless legal threat intended to prevent me from reporting on cheap kits that will let you convert impounded scooters into your own personal vehicle -- claims that the act of taking scooters abandoned on private property ("unlawfully impounding micro-mobility devices") and demanding an impound fee to return them is a "demanding a ransom." Scootscoop charges scooter companies a $30 tow fee and $2/day in impound charges. Read the rest

My favorite Apple watch band

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

I like this mesh steel Apple watch band mainly because it is not tiny belt. The magnetic latch makes it easy to wear and remove the watch from my wrist. It is infinitely adjustable, so I have the perfect fit rather than being a the mercy of the hole spacing. I think it looks great, and it's just on Amazon. I've had mine for over a year now and I wouldn't want any other kind of band.

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Oakland's iconic "Mid-century Monster" rescued

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

If you know Oakland, you know about the big, free-form sculpture that lives on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland. You probably also know that it's been behind a chain-link fence in disrepair for several years. But for a long time, it was not just a piece of art to appreciate but a usable play structure for children to climb in and on. Now, a local group of its fans have ensured the now-iconic "Monster" will live on.

In 1968, for their "Dance to the Music" album, Sly & the Family Stone posed on the "Monster."

The "Mid-Century Monster," as it's now called, was created in 1952. Oakland Parks Superintendent William Penn Mott, Jr., who had founded Children's Fairyland just two years earlier, asked local art professor Bob Winston to create the 40-foot, chartreuse sculpture.

The "Monster" in the 1950s, photo via Martha Ellen Wright

Many years later, however, the "Monster" fell into such disrepair that the city fenced it off and forgot about it. In 2015, an effort was launched by Lake Merritt's Mid-Century Monster Fan Club, led by Kyle Milligan and Susan Casentini, to bring it back to its former glory.

This is what the sculpture looked like just four years ago — blanched, broken, and behind a fence. image via Lake Merritt's Mid-Century Monster Fan Club

Earlier this year, the restoration was complete, and on Sunday, July 28, from 11 to 3 the club will be hosting a free party to celebrate at the site. The public is invited. Read the rest

Robert Doisneau's famous street photo "The Kiss" was actually staged

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

In 1950, French street photographer Robert Doisneau captured his iconic image Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (The Kiss). It wasn't until the 1980s that Doisneau was forced to reveal that the photo was staged. Over at PetaPixel, Martin from All About Street Photography writes:

To be fair, Doisneau was actually commissioned to take photos of kissing couples by Life magazine, and he later justified his actions by explaining that he would not dare to photograph kissing people on the streets.

The fact is that the secret was actually hidden to the public until the 1980s, when a retired couple named Jean and Denise Lavergne (Lavern) thought they recognized themselves. When they confronted Doisneau, he did not initially refute their claim. Then, seizing the opportunity, the couple sued Doisneau for money for violating their privacy. That lawsuit led Doisneau to finally reveal that the subjects of the photo were actually hired models paid to pose for the photo.

To make matters worse for the photographer, the hired model sued him too and demanded a percentage of future sales, but she lost. This was a very unpleasant and shocking experience that, as his daughter later said, “ruined the last years of his life.”

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This pot of beef soup has been cooking for 45 years

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Bangkok's family-run Wattana Panich restaurant has been cooking the same pot of beef noodle soup for a very long time. Forty-five years, to be exact.

Every day they simmer the stew -- locally called "neua tune" -- in that big pot, and every night they drain its broth to use in the next day's soup. You'll notice that the pot is encompassed by a dark residue, that's hardened soup that's been accumulating since the early seventies!

Great Big Story shares the tale of the 45-year-old broth:

"Fresh meat like raw sliced beef, tripe and other organs is added daily.... It’s an ancient cooking method that gives the soup a unique flavor and aroma."

(Nag on the Lake, Neatorama) Read the rest

Realistic Starfleet meetings

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Dan Hon (previously at BB) noticed that Star Trek's meetings and conferences always involve military officers, usually occur with ample time for preparation, yet invariably has them just talking to one another. If there are any graphics involved, they are simple, concise and expressive.

This is of course nothing whatsoever like any military on earth or off it. So Hon decided to photoshop what such meetings would actually entail: PowerPoint, and lots of it.

Sorry not sorry. Bajoran Stability / Maquis Dynamics - GOVERNANCE

Heres "Overall Weekly Dominion Attack Trends for Stardate 51145.3 - 51247.5"

Overall Weekly Dominion Attack Trends Stardate 51145.3 - 51247.5 pic.twitter.com/uL7jZWCyUS

— dan hon is back (@hondanhon) July 19, 2019

As reviewed by Lt. Cmdrs. Worf, Data, and LaForge, and Capt. Picard:

L-R: Worf, Data, Geordi and Picard review the latest overall weekly Dominion attack trends. pic.twitter.com/wACdfEC1vP

— dan hon is back (@hondanhon) July 19, 2019

Dave Rutledge, however, plays for the other team:

pic.twitter.com/bVhaYnBCwY

— Dave Rutledge 😑 (@_) July 19, 2019

Vader and Tarkin perform a final review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process in Hyperdrive Station A-226 onboard the Death Star prior to its first use. pic.twitter.com/IEE92idOiN

— dan hon is back (@hondanhon) July 19, 2019

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"Then and Now" photos of Death Valley spots used for Tatooine in Star Wars

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

The excellent "Then & Now Movie Locations" visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park where some of the Tatooine shots were filmed for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). It's a beautiful locale but I can understand why Luke would want to be teleported off this rock.

For more shots of terrestrial locations used for Tatooine, here's a 2015 article from The Guardian about the remains of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's homestead in the Sahara desert.

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Bison at Yellowstone tosses 9-year-old girl into the air (she is OK)

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

A group of visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming got too close to an American Bison, prompting it to charge and toss a 9-year-old girl into the air like a toy. Fortunately, her injuries were minor.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Solar sail test successful so far!

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Yesterday, a satellite smaller than a shoebox unfurled a solar sail making it the first spacecraft to orbit the Earth powered by sunlight. LightSail2 is a project of the Planetary Society, a fantastic nonprofit organization co-founded by astronomer and science educator Carl Sagan. From the New York Times:

For centuries, it was only a dream: traveling through space propelled by the sun’s photons. It was first imagined in the 1600s by Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer who described the laws of the planets’ orbits. In 1964, Arthur C. Clarke moved it into the realm of science fiction in “Sunjammer,” a short story. Carl Sagan, the cosmologist, believed it could be more than a speculative fantasy, and in the 1970s began promoting the building of solar sails for space exploration.

After 10 years of planning and over 40,000 private donations worth $7 million, that idea took flight on Tuesday, as LightSail 2, a spacecraft built for the Planetary Society, co-founded by Mr. Sagan, began what its creators hope will be a year of sailing around Earth.

“This is still one of the most feasible pathways to have real interstellar space travel in the future,” said Sasha Sagan, a writer as well as the daughter of the astronomer.

If it succeeds in its mission, it will contribute to overcoming one of the greatest limitations on the outer bounds of space travel — that the power that steers spacecraft, usually hydrazine fuel, eventually runs out.

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Why didn't OpenAI release the "Unicorn" version of its AI storytelling software?

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

GPT-2 is OpenAI's language model that produces astonishingly lucid text responses to short text inputs. I've been playing around with a small model of GPT-2 (here are installation instructions) for a while and am shocked by the quality of many of its responses. The language model is probabilistic, too, so it gives a new output every time you enter the same prompt. For example, I fed it with this fake news prompt:

Food scientists have developed a process to turn people who have died from ebola into delicious food. The disease victims' bodies are freeze dried, then ground into fine powder and mixed with salt and spices. "Tastes like chicken," say taste testers. The first batch of “Ebola Bowls” will be released on a limited basis at Whole Foods stores by Thanksgiving.

Here are five outputs from the above prompt:

GPT-2 OUTPUT (1): The bowl is made from raw chicken and other animals, which are ground and cooked in water to release oil and protein. This is the best way to cook the human body, says Dr. John D'Agostino, who led the study and now works for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The researchers believe that the Ebola bite is the most common way that people develop Ebola and that some people may carry the virus to other parts of the body. The virus can spread from person to person by contact with bodily fluids.

The study was published in the journal Infectious Diseases. Other scientists are still studying the safety and efficacy of the meal.

Read the rest

Vacation scammer telemarketer spends 15 minutes talking to a bot

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a service that answers phone calls with pre-recorded bots designed to keep telemarketers on the line as long as possible. In these recording, we can hear a scammer trying to trick a bot into paying money for bogus vacation credits. The bot keeps her on the line for 14 minutes.

From the YouTube description:

Here's our newest and my current favorite Jolly Roger bot. His name is Ox-Gut McGee and he has a few new surprises for the telemarketers. In this call, a telemarketer is trying to convince us that we have $2600 in "vacation credits" with a travel agent and we're about to lose all this credit if we don't act now. Naturally, the goal is to get some payment information from us so we can hold this incredible vacation. It breaks my heart that this scam is so effective. We at Jolly Roger Telephone are intercepting as many of these calls as we can, engaging the telemarketers with bots, and wasting as much of their time as possible.

As with all of our bots, Ox-Gut uses IBM Watson to process the speech from the telemarketers. We have found that IBM provides the best speech recognition for low-fidelity telephone calls, and it sure was effective for this particular call. The telemarketer was getting impatient and ready to hang up several times, but Ox-Gut sucked her back into the conversation. Also, I was able to isolate and enhance the inbound audio so we can hear a quiet conversation between the telemarketer and her supervisor.

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Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner's Roy Batty, RIP

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, who famously played replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982), has died at age 75. Above is his unforgettable death soliloquy from Blade Runner, much of which Hauer wrote himself the night before the scene was shot. From Variety:

Handsome, energetic and fluent in several languages, Hauer made his first mark in the late ‘60s in the Netherlands as the star of Paul Verhoeven’s medieval TV series “Floris.” He vaulted to the top ranks of Dutch stardom in 1973 opposite Monique van de Ven in Verhoeven’s sexually explosive drama “Turkish Delight,” which became a box-office smash and garnered an Oscar nod as best foreign film.

After three more Dutch features with Verhoeven that became art-house successes in the U.S., Hauer segued to a Hollywood career with a flashy role as a terrorist in the 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller “Nighthawks.”

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Trailer for new Harriet Tubman biopic

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) escaped to be become one of the most heroic and effective activists and abolitionists leading up to the American Civil War and after. Her courageous efforts as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad directly saved the lives of hundreds of people and inspired countless others. She is a true American hero whose courage and impact can't be overstated. And now she's the subject of a big Hollywood biopic. Harriet, directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Cynthia Erivo, will be released November 1.

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Share prices slide as DOJ announces sweeping antitrust investigations of Big Tech

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Without naming any companies, the DOJ has announced that it will investigate Big Tech platforms that dominate "search, social media and retail services."

The most notable thing about the announcement is the breadth of issues that the DOJ proposes to investigate: " competition, 'stifled innovation' and the impact on consumers."

The notable thing about this is that it is a direct rebuke to the conservative (and totally batshit) theory of antitrust advanced by Ronald Reagan and failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, who claimed that antitrust law was never about fighting monopolies or ensuring competition, but rather only ever about preventing "consumer harm" in the narrowest sense: price raises in the short term.

This orthodoxy is why Amazon has not faced scrutiny for the way it has dominated the books market, while Macmillan paid millions for colluding with Apple and other publishers to fix prices, and why Brett Kavanaugh sided with liberal justices in a Supreme Court ruling that allowed an antitrust suit against Apple for price-fixing in the App Store to go ahead.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st Century: by focusing narrowly on short term price raises and neglecting anti-competitive conduct, the Borkers have allowed for massive concentration in the tech sector, which means that if you piss off half a dozen tech execs, you disappear from the public eye, prompting some Borkers to regret their stance and begin to call for extremely selective broader enforcement of anti-monopoly rules.

The move is the strongest by Attorney General William Barr towards Big Tech, which faces increased scrutiny from both political parties because of the expanded market power the companies have and the tremendous amount of consumer data they control.

Read the rest

FAA approves tests of new design for middle seats that are more comfortable and speed boarding

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

The S1 (AKA the "Slip-Slide Seat") is a radical rethink of airline middle seats from Colorado's Molon Labe Designs; it sits a little back of the seats to either side of it, is slightly wider, and has slightly lower arm-rests -- and in some configurations, it allows the aisle seat to be slid over it, temporarily widening the aisles and speeding boarding and unloading.

The S1 has just had limited approval from the FAA and an unnamed airline will be trying it on 50 planes by the end of 2020. The seats are 5% heavier than regular seats and don't recline, and are intended for short-haul flying. They're working on other designs for long-haul flights.

“We have discovered that what looks like a small stagger actually makes a huge difference. The trick is to actually sit in the seat. In fact our main sales tool is to ship seats to airlines so they can sit in them,” says Molon Labe founder Hank Scott. “I have watched this several times—airline executives see the seat, nod their head and then say they get it. Then we ask them to actually sit down, next to a big fella like our head sales guy Thomas [6-foot-6, 250 pounds]. Within a few seconds they [really] get it—they stop being an airline executive and switch into passenger modes.”

The seat pairs this staggering effect with a two-level armrest design to eliminate the inevitable elbow fights that happen when six arms battle over four armrests. This approach works better in visuals than explained, but basically, the aisle and window passengers end up using the front ledge of the rest, and the middle passenger uses the rear portion.

Read the rest

Celebrity grave-digging, flesh-eating bacteria and alien abductions in this week’s dubious tabloids

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

How long does it take to dig a hole six feet deep and eight feet long using just a fork?

Coming to Burning Man? Join our "Assassination Army" game!

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

This year for Burning Man, my lovely campmates and I at Liminal Labs are running a big, playa-wide squirt-gun game called Assassination Army: come and get a gifted squirter from us (or bring your own!), don a brightly colored wristband, undergo our rigorous strategy-and-tactics training, and then go and soak other players out in the world, collecting trophies when you zap 'em!

We're at 8:30 and Center Camp, and you can/should sign up in advance by emailing playa.assassin@gmail.com.

We're also throwing our annual cocktail party on Thursday at sunset, for players, friends, and passers by.

Also: on Wednesday at noon, I'll be interviewing Andrew "bunnie" Huang, the legendary hardware hacker (previously) for our annual Liminal Speaks lecture series. Come early, seating is limited!

BEAR IN MIND!

All targets must be bracelet-wearing consenting players, no mass casualties (spraying a crowd). There’s no finesse in that kind of sloppy squirtfest.

WATER ONLY in your weapon. No dosing, no liquor, just sweet H20.

Safe Zones: Target’s home camps and Liminal Labs are safe for all assassins and targets. Need a break from the game? You can always remove your bracelet or come chill on our shady couches, indulge in our nightly mirrored movie madness or enjoy our playa safehaus (21 and up, you will be checked). Strategize, stargaze and study up on skillful saturations. You’re safe with us!

For Extra XTRA Credit!

DUELING CIRCLE

Got a gripe with someone?

A nagging difference of opinion?

Has your delicate honor somehow been besmirched?

Read the rest

#Vanlife: Camping California's coast -- Gaviota State Beach

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

This is post is part of a series of reviews of Federal, State, and County provided campsites along California's amazing coastline.

I mistakenly thought Gaviota State Beach was Refugio State Beach. It is not.

Another parking lot style campsite adjacent to a fairly lovely California beach! Gaviota features a lot of bunnies, all of whom appear to have massive ticks in their ears, cold showers, and an all-night party. This is my least favorite style CA campsite, but my daughter really loved it.

Located 33 miles north of Santa Barbara, Gaviota is very popular with RV campers. The site I was in had no RV hookups and was your typical CA picnic table and shitty fire ring. There was no shade to be found and somewhat, unfortunately, a large group of RV campers had decided to leave open spots between their family of trailers when they booked in. This had several folks, not in their party, trapped inside of their large group free for all.

Aside from toddlers wandering around a field of open fire pits, and the occasional off-leash pitbull, we had a lovely overnight stop. I was glad I did not book a second night and we simply continued down the coast. I had thought this site was Refugio, which similarly is right on a beach with a very mild break, perfect for kids to boogie board or body surf.

There are a few really great beachside camping spots in the Santa Barbara area. I am looking forward to El Capitan and Jalama. Read the rest

AP: the mob who attacked Hong Kong protesters were rural thugs hired by gangsters

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

The hundreds of men dressed in white who beat up Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters last week were thought to be affiliated with the notorious triad organized-crime gangs, but according to the AP, the triads' main role in the violence was to round up people in "rural areas" like Yuen Long and paying them to participate in the beatings.

The AP cites T. Wing Lo, "an organized crime expert at the City University of Hong Kong," who estimated that the bill for the violence would be on the order of HKD10m/USD1.28M, and that the individual thugs would likely be paid HKD2000/USD250 for their participation.

Triads have previously been used as recruiters to commit violent assaults on both pro-democracy and anti-democracy protesters, and have no particular ideological commitment either way (Lo: "The Hong Kong triad only works for money, not for political ideology. They will work for anyone").

The AP doesn't say who paid the thugs, but they quote the University of Toronto's Lynette Ong, who studies markets for hired thugs in China and Hong Kong, as saying that the Chinese government has hired thugs to do this kind of thing during previous periods of unrest.

Who are the men in white behind Hong Kong’s mob attack? [Yanan Wang/AP]

(via Naked Capitalism)

Ahead of today’s march, Hong Kong protesters have put together this video reading out their manifesto. The same manifesto was read out during the parliament siege on Jul 1. This version is in English and very much aimed at an international audiencehttps://t.co/5fdwc0SfKa

— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) July 21, 2019

(Image: @CraigChoy)

Internet video shows triad members in Yuen Long of #HongKong gather & pose threat to peaceful protestors.

Read the rest

A generalized method for re-identifying people in "anonymized" data-sets

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

"Anonymized data" is one of those holy grails, like "healthy ice-cream" or "selectively breakable crypto" -- if "anonymized data" is a thing, then companies can monetize their surveillance dossiers on us by selling them to all comers, without putting us at risk or putting themselves in legal jeopardy (to say nothing of the benefits to science and research of being able to do large-scale data analyses and then publish them along with the underlying data for peer review without posing a risk to the people in the data-set, AKA "release and forget").

As the old saying goes: "wanting it badly is not enough." Worse still, legislatures around the world are convinced that because anonymized data would be amazing and profitable and useful, it must therefore be possible, and they've made laws that say, "once you've anonymized this data, you can treat it like it is totally harmless," without ever saying what "anonymization" actually entails.

Enter a research team from Imperial College London and Belgium's Université Catholique de Louvain, whose Nature article Estimating the success of re-identifications in incomplete datasets using generative models shows that they can reidentify "99.98 percent of Americans from almost any available data set with as few as 15 attributes." That means that virtually every large-scale, anonymized data-set for sale or circulating for scientific research purposes today is not anonymized at all, and should not be circulating or sold. (Rob discussed this earlier today)

The researchers chose to publish their method rather than keep it a secret so that people who maintain these data-sets can use it to test whether their anonymization methods actually work (Narrator: They don't). Read the rest

I love the guitar lick in Peter Frampton's "I Want It Back"

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Looks like Frampton has fun with it too. Read the rest

Facebook must also pay SEC $100 million over misuse of user data

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

The $5 billion FTC fine isn't the only fine Facebook must pay.

This affordable Kaweco fountain pen is a pleasure to use

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

I picked up one of these Kaweco Sport fountain pens the other day...

I am unclear what is 'sport' about this pen, but it is a classic. The barrel is a bulbous octagonal design, something like a Rotring pencil that needs a diet. This shape feels wonderful in my hands. The plastic is lightweight and the nib puts down ink.

I bought a converter because I hate using cartridges, however the blue cart that came with the pen is just fine. I will prefer using this with Noodler's Ink however, I am an ink snob.

I tested a medium nib but was sent out the door of the shop with a fine. I will be swapping it, as the paper I am most enjoying these days really needs the broader nib. I do believe their fine is a fine and their medium a medium.

I still enjoying writing letters to folks I like and dropping them in the mail. I think it freaks people the fuck out.

Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pen Black M (Medium Nib) via Amazon Read the rest

William Barr's terrible, stupid idea to ban working crypto is slightly less terrible and stupid than earlier ideas

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Proposals to ban working cryptography were all the rage in the Clinton years, but then they fell out of vogue for a decade, only to come roaring back in the form of bizarre proposals each stupider than the last, with Australia bringing home the gold in the Dumbfuck Olympics.

One feature of all this foolishness is the oft-repeated claim that it is possible to produce cryptography that fails every time the cops need it to, but never fails when criminals, spies, stalkers and identity thieves need it to. This is so implausible and obviously wrong that even people who only have the vaguest idea of how crypto works still immediately grasp that it is either a) bullshit or b) wishful thinking.

Enter William Barr, the new US Attorney General, who also wants to ban working cryptography. Though Barr's desire to ban working crypto is no less deadly and awful than, say, Rod Rosenstein's, Barr is doing one thing different: he's admitting that banning working crypto will make all the people who rely on crypto less secure, with the "trade off" that it will make society more secure because cops will find it easier to spy on "bad guys."

Even if Barr less wrong than other people on his side, he's still wrong. For one thing, it's impossible to keep working crypto out of the hands of bad guys, because working crypto tools are made all over the world and are licensed as free/open source software, and they run on any general-purpose computer, which is every computer, so as a practical matter, any ban on working crypto will only work if people who are willing to commit acts of terror and other bad deeds are intimidated at the thought of facing civil penalties for installing illegal software. Read the rest

Adapting a 100-year-old lens to shoot video on a new camera

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Mathieu Stern is curator of the Weird Lenses Museum.

This lens spent 100 years in the dark, the last think it captured must have been the horrors of the World War I ... i think it was time to use it for something more light and positive. I took this Kodak Vest Pocket camera lens with me for a short trip to Vienna (Austria) to shoot some test footage. I must say i was pretty amazed by the sharpness and the quality of the image i saw on my screen.

It does look great. The go-to practical glass for getting this old-timey look is Soviet M42-mount Zeiss Biotar knockoffs, especially the Mir 1-B 37mm and the Helios 44-2 58mm.

I figure that the magic happens because old uncoated glass offers poor contrast, effectively compressing light and shadow into a thinner range: a bug in 1960 but a useful feature in 2020, where the resulting flat, grayish image can graded in real-time on pocket computers. The upside is capturing a filmlike range of light on everday video sensors. The downside is the loss of information in general--push too hard in the lab and it'll just look nasty. Which is good. Read the rest

Facebook finally cuts 3rd-party 'friend data' access for Microsoft and Sony, under $5B FTC deal

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Oops! Facebook says allowing Sony and Microsoft access was “our mistake.”

FTC announces $5B fine against Facebook for repeated privacy violations

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

Settlement between FTC and Facebook ends 16-month probe that began Cambridge Analytica, Russia, and Trump.

Speeding yacht rams anglers' boat

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

"Hey! Heeeey! HEY! Oh my God."

UPDATE: Charges and a lawsuit were filed against Marlin Lee Larsen, the skipper of the speeding boat. Larsen claimed it was "fake news".

Mr Larsen’s son-in-law, who also was on the boat, told investigators that he had warned his father-in-law to pay attention, that he sometimes saw him using his mobile phone while driving the boat and he had been off-and-on his phone the morning of the crash, according to the sheriff’s report. ... Mr Larsen told The Oregonian the accusation that he was using his phone at the time of the crash was “fake news.” He pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless endangerment and assault and said the lawsuit was unnecessary because no one was seriously hurt.

The charges were dropped upon Larsen's death at 75. Read the rest

Trump hails Boris Johnson as "Britain Trump"

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

After being elected leader of Britain's governing Conservative party yesterday, Boris Johnson today becomes the unelected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, an undemocratic process he once described as "fraudulent" and a "palace coup".

Trump loves him, of course—or at least the things Boris has privately promised to him. Meet "Britain Trump," as America Trump puts it.

The comparisons between the two Anglophone leaders have come fast and furious - some facile and others more nuanced. Even Mr Trump himself got in on the game, in a speech in Washington on Tuesday afternoon.

"He's tough and he's smart," Mr Trump said of Mr Johnson. "They call him 'Britain Trump', and it's people saying that's a good thing. They like me over there. That's what they wanted. That's what they need."

There are plenty of other opinions, of course - that Mr Johnson is either the second coming of Donald Trump in a good way or in a bad way; a British original or a knock-off nationalist.

1. Trump humiliates all who supplicate to him. 2. Boris will channel this humiliation to an entire nation when it befalls him. 3. There is nonetheless a good chance Boris will immediately call Trump "America Boris". 4. This story's a good example of how some U.S. media "edit" Trump to make him look more normal. Some are rendering Trump's description of Boris as "Britain's Trump" when he clearly said "Britain Trump." Such speech patterns are unique to the President and should never be "edited for clarity." Read the rest

Algorithm can identify 99.98% of users in supposedly "anonymized" data

Jul 24, 2019

Description:

In The New York Times, Gina Kolata writes that a team of scientists has proven a method of identifying specific individuals from "anonymous" data sets.

Scientists at Imperial College London and Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium, reported in the journal Nature Communications that they had devised a computer algorithm that can identify 99.98 percent of Americans from almost any available data set with as few as 15 attributes, such as gender, ZIP code or marital status.

Even more surprising, the scientists posted their software code online for anyone to use. That decision was difficult, said Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a computer scientist at Imperial College London and lead author of the new paper.

They had to publish because to do the research is to realize that criminals and governments already did the research. Read the rest

SAMBA versus SMB: Adversarial interoperability is judo for network effects

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Before there was Big Tech, there was "adversarial interoperability": when someone decides to compete with a dominant company by creating a product or service that "interoperates" (works with) its offerings.

In tech, "network effects" can be a powerful force to maintain market dominance: if everyone is using Facebook, then your Facebook replacement doesn't just have to be better than Facebook, it has to be so much better than Facebook that it's worth using, even though all the people you want to talk to are still on Facebook. That's a tall order.

Adversarial interoperability is judo for network effects, using incumbents' dominance against them. To see how that works, let's look at a historical example of adversarial interoperability role in helping to unseat a monopolist's dominance.

The first skirmishes of the PC wars were fought with incompatible file formats and even data-storage formats: Apple users couldn't open files made by Microsoft users, and vice-versa. Even when file formats were (more or less) harmonized, there was still the problems of storage media: the SCSI drive you plugged into your Mac needed a special add-on and flaky driver software to work on your Windows machine; the ZIP cartridge you formatted for your PC wouldn't play nice with Macs.

But as office networking spread, the battle moved to a new front: networking compatibility. AppleTalk, Apple's proprietary protocol for connecting up Macs and networked devices like printers, pretty much Just Worked, providing you were using a Mac. If you were using a Windows PC, you had to install special, buggy, unreliable software. Read the rest

E.P.A. won't ban chlorpyrifos pesticide that scientists say damages children's brains

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

In the Federal Register, EPA said “critical questions remained regarding the significance of the data” that show chlorpyrifos causes neurological harm to young children.

DoNotPay's latest service will auto-cancel your free trials before the billing period starts

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

DoNotPay (previously) is a collection of consumer-advocacy tools automated the process of fighting traffic tickets, help homeless people claim benefits, sue Equifax for leaking all your financial data, navigating the airlines' deliberately confusing process for getting refunds on plane tickets whose prices drop after you buy them, and filing small-claims suits against crooked corporations.

The service was created by Joshua Browder, a British hacker who moved to the USA to pursue a Stanford computer science degree and who funds operations with a mix of venture capital and cash donations.

His latest feature is the "Free Trial Card" -- a virtual credit card that you use to anonymously sign up for services' free trials, using any name and email. When the trial period ends, any attempts to charge the card fail, freeing you from going through the onerous process of cancelling (newspaper paywalls are among the worst for this: the Wall Street Journal lets you create a trial account in seconds with your browser at any time of night or day, but requires you to wait three business days and call a toll number during business hours to cancel the trial, and when you do, you're met with a high-pressure sales-pitch from the person who processes the cancellation).

If you want to continue to use the service after the free trial, fear not: the app automatically emails you when your free trial is about to expire so you can put down a real card to pay for ongoing access. Read the rest

An Indian research university has assembled 73 million journal articles (without permission) and is offering the archive for unfettered scientific text-mining

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

The JNU Data Depot is a joint project between rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously), bioinformatician Andrew Lynn, and a research team from New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University: together, they have assembled 73 million journal articles from 1847 to the present day and put them into an airgapped respository that they're offering to noncommercial third parties who want to perform textual analysis on them to "pull out insights without actually reading the text."

This text-mining process is already well-developed and has produced startling scientific insights, including "databases of genes and chemicals, map[s of] associations between proteins and diseases, and [automatically] generate[d] useful scientific hypotheses." But the hard limit of this kind of text mining is the paywalls that academic and scholarly publishers put around their archives, which both limit who can access the collections and what kinds of queries they can run against them.

By putting 73 million articles in a repository without having to bargain with the highly concentrated and notoriously rent-seeking scholarly publishing industry, the JNU Data Depot team are able to dispense with the arbitrary restrictions put on data-mining. They believe that they are on the right side of Indian copyright law as well, as they are a scholarly institution that is making a single digital copy for local use, and not circulating the articles on the internet; they believe that these precautions might shield them from a lawsuit.

They're relying on precedent set in a 2016 Delhi High Court Ruling that turned on the legality of a copy shop that sold photocopied selections from expensive textbooks, where the court held that section 52 of the 1957 Copyright Act allows reproduction of copyrighted works for education and research. Read the rest

How deceptive browser extensions snaffled up 4m users' browsing history, including Nest videos, medical history and tax returns

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Nacho Analytics sells browsing data from more than 4m users (they advertise "See Anyone’s Analytics Account"), a service it calls "God mode for the internet." The data is harvested by embedding Nacho's spyware (dubbed "Dataspii") in a variety of browser extensions, mostly for Chrome, but also some for Firefox.

Nacho -- and the browser extensions it relies on to harvest data -- claim that everyone involved opts in, provides full consent, and can be assured that the data that Nacho gathers provides to its customers is anonymized first.

But as an in-depth Ars Technica report demonstrates, all of these claims are highly dubious. The "consent" is often obtained through click-throughs that accede to lengthy sets of terms, which include cryptic notices about having your data harvested in this way.

The supposed anonymization is even more problematic: though the company excises obvious personal identifiers from the URLs it harvests, many services unwisely embed personal information in their URLs, and still more rely on secret URLs as the only way of keeping personal data private -- researcher Sam Jadali found that it could use Dataspii/Nacho's "anonymized" URLs to log in to people's electronic health records, internal company documents, tax returns and other extremely sensitive data, including corporate trade secrets and sensitive information from Tesla, Blue Origin, Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Roche, AthenaHealth, Epic Systems, FireEye, Symantec, Palo Alto Networks, Trend Micro, Amazon, FireEye, BuzzFeed, NBCdigital, AlienVault, CardinalHealth, TMobile, Reddit, and UnderArmour.

Some of the blame for this is on web developers who put sensitive info in URLs and rely on URL secrecy to protect user data. Read the rest

Thousands of elderly Hong Kongers march in solidarity with young human rights activists

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

For more than a month, Hong Kong has been rocked by an escalating series of public demonstrations that have persisted in the face of violent police suppression tactics; the demonstrations were kicked off when Hong Kong's puppet regime -- elected after China banned pro-independence candidates from standing in local government races -- proposed a new rule that would make it simple for Beijing to demand the extradition of political dissidents to mainland China, where torture and arbitrary detention of political prisoners is the norm.

Though the marches have seen millions of Hong Kongers in the streets, the majority of those marching were young, with a high proportion of student activists, which has allowed China apologists to write the movement off as youthful zeal in action.

Now, though, 9,000 elderly Hong Kongers have taken to the streets in solidarity with their younger allies, in a "March for the Silver-Haired." The protest leaders reiterated the five demands of the #612strike movement:

1. Withdrawing the extradition bill

2. Revoking the classification of protests as riots

3. Dropping all charges against all extradition bill protesters

4. Investigating police violence

5. Enstating universal suffrage in 2020

Another massive protest is planned for this weekend.

“In their fight against the extradition bill, our youth brave truncheons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, violent arrest and, harsh punishment,” Yeung said. “We are proud of them – their determination, mobilisation and tactics, teamwork and self-organisation.”

The statement also endorsed the storming of the legislature on July 1, describing it as a justifiable response by young people and a “symbolic provocation” to the Chinese Communist Party.

Read the rest

Great deal on the Kano Raspberry Pi computer kit

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

I have a Kano computer and they are a lot of fun, and actually can be used as an everyday computer, if you aren't looking for blazing speed. It comes with a wireless keyboard/trackpad, a Raspberry Pi 3 (with Wifi and Bluetooth built-in), speaker and amp, a microSD card with Kano's custom Linux OS, a case, and all the cables you need. The only thing it needs is an HDMI monitor. It comes with a lot of excellent custom software, including apps that teach you how to program in Python. Amazon is selling it for , which is less than you'll pay if you buy the components individually. Read the rest

Martin Shkreli's fraud conviction upheld in federal appeals court

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Fraudster Martin Shkreli, who enjoyed a brief period of notoriety as an Internet troll and pharmaceutical price-gouger, must remain in prison after a federal appeals court upheld his conviction for multiple instances of securities fraud.

From CNBC:

The three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circut also upheld the more than $6.4 million in forfeiture that a judge imposed on Shkreli last year when she sentenced him for his conviction on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Shkreli, 36, is serving a seven-year sentence in a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

In its ruling, the appeals panel disagreed with Shkreli’s claim that his trial judge’s instructions to the jury at his trial were incorrect and confusing to jurors.

“The instruction given here correctly stated the law,” the appeals panel said in its decision. ” As such, we disagree with Shkreli that exclusion of additional language describing an element not required for the charged crime constituted a prejudicial error.”

Image: JStone/Shutterstock Read the rest

When you use FaceApp, you give a Russian company "perpetual, irrevocable" rights to your photos

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

FaceApp is a wildly popular smartphone app that alters people's faces with various filters. Its most popular filter is one that ages the person in the photo. It turns out when you upload your photos to FaceApp, the Russian company that made the app gets a perpetual license to your photos. In other words, your photo could end up on a billboard or online advertisement for any imaginable product or service and you can't do anything about it.

From Fox 29:

Small business lawyer Elizabeth Potts Weinstein tweeted out the “User Content” section of FaceApp’s terms, saying “if you use #FaceApp you are giving them a license to use your photos, your name, your username and your likeness for any purpose including commercial purposes (like on a billboard or internet ad).”

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate... distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content,” the FaceApp terms read.

If you use #FaceApp you are giving them a license to use your photos, your name, your username, and your likeness for any purpose including commercial purposes (like on a billboard or internet ad) -- see their Terms: https://t.co/e0sTgzowoN pic.twitter.com/XzYxRdXZ9q

— Elizabeth Potts Weinstein (@ElizabethPW) July 17, 2019

(Image: Adam J. Manley, CC-BY, modified (cropping)) Read the rest

Arson attack on Kyoto animation studio leaves at least 33 dead, dozens injured

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Japan and much of the world is in shock after an arsonist entered a Kyoto animation studio, doused the interior with gasoline and set it on fire, killing at least 33 people and injuring dozens of other people who were in the building.

Kyoto Animation Company (KyoAni), where the attack took place, creates anime and manga, much of it about teenage school life. They are known for paying their animation staff a regular salary, unlike other anime houses that pay a stress-inducing per-frame rate. It's suspected that famed director Yasuhiro Takemoto is among the dead.

Just found out that Yasuhiro Takemoto who directed Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu, The Second Raid, Amagi Brilliant Park, Hyouka, and Ms. Kobayashi's Dragon Maid was among the deceased at KyoAni. I cannot begin to imagine what his family is going through. RIP 😭 pic.twitter.com/JoTd4RtjKs

— AnimetalViking (@russellgainsfo1) July 18, 2019

The alleged attacker, who survived, is a 41-year-old man. Witnesses say he was yelling about his work being copied or stolen by KyoAni. He did not work for the company.

“I’m speechless,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a tweet. “I pray for the souls of those who have passed away. I would like to express my condolences to all of the injured and wish them a speedy recovery.”

(Tweet translated from Japanese to English)

Image: Kyoto Animation Company Read the rest

Interactive map of public facial recognition systems in America

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Evan Greer from Fight for the Future writes, "Facial recognition might be the most invasive and dangerous form of surveillance tech ever invented. While it's been in the headlines lately, most of us still don't know whether it's happening in our area. My organization Fight for the Future has compiled an interactive map that shows everywhere in the US (that we know of) facial recognition being used -- but also where there are local efforts to ban it, like has already happened in San Francisco, Oakland, and Somerville, MA. We've also got a tool kit for local residents who want to get an ordinance or state legislation passed in their area." Read the rest

Anti-vaxxer escalates from wishing children dead to threatening to kill adult lawmakers

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

A Pentagon cybersecurity contractor threatened to murder Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) if she advanced a bill to vaccinate children in public schools, The Daily Beast reports today. Yes, we are in a dystopian hellscape.

The feds charged Darryl Varnum in late June after he told the Congresswoman he was ‘gonna kill your ass if you do that bill,’ report The Beast's Jackie Kucinich and Lachlan Markay.

Varnum's LinkedIn says he's “a senior cyber systems engineer.”

In his threats, the man told the lawmaker, who is black, to “get the fuck out” of America, which echoes the same sort of explicitly racist inflammatory speech that is increasingly used by Donald Trump at his hate rallies and on Twitter.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Maryland, Varnum left a voicemail for Rep. Wilson that said, in part:

“I will fucking come down and kill your fucking ass. And you’re a Congressperson, that’s fine. I hope the fucking FBI, CIA and everybody else hears this shit. This is the United States of America, bitch. Get the fuck out.”

Wilson was at the time working on the introduction of a bill that would require public schools to vaccinate registered students.

Darryl Albert Varnum of Westminster, Maryland called the congressperson—identified only as “congressperson #1”—on June 28, 2019, according to the complaint, and left a voicemail threatening to kill the member if the bill was introduced.

“I’m gonna kill your ass if you do that bill. I swear,” Varnum’s voicemail began.

Read the rest

Amazon accidentally sold a $13,000 camera lens for $95 on Prime Day

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Amazon dun goofed on Prime Day by listing high-end camera gear that usually sells for thousands of dollars at the fire-sale price of $95. Petapixel has an article with screenshots of gleeful shutterbugs' bargain purchases.

“Literally everything is $94.48,” one member writes. “I have bought like 10k worth of stuff that was like 900 dollars total.”

“I got a $13,000 lens for $94,” another member writes regarding their Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS order. “LOL waiting for the cancellation but that's like 99.3% off.”

Other members spoke to Amazon customer service about their order and were told that the order would indeed ship.

Read the rest

Sony's copyright bots remove a band's own release of its new video

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

The Sheffield-based experimental music act 65daysofstatic has a new album coming out in September, called "Replicr, 2019." Today, the band began its launch publicity by releasing a video from the album, only to have the video blocked on multiple services by copyright bots working on behalf of Sony, which distributed the band's label, Superball.

It's an important example of the kinds of problems created by automated filtering systems, like the one that the EU turned into a continent-wide obligation with the passage of the new Copyright Directive in March (the EU is about to gut its online privacy protections to ensure that any future legal challenges to the Copyright Directive fail).

This kind of absurd situation is intrinsic to the way that these filters work: large rightsholder organizations like Sony add "upload everything to the filter databases" to their workflows, so any time something is being entered into their catalog, they're also automatically blocked from being published by anyone else. But often, these copyright claims include works that don't belong to the rightsholder, who faces no penalties for making false copyright claims.

Sony is a particularly egregious offender: it has claimed copyright over stock art that it licensed from independent artists and then blocked those artists from posting their own work; it claims all piano performances of Beethoven and other classical composers, etc.

But this isn't limited to Sony: Back in 2012, multiple news broadcasters claimed copyright over NASA's Mars Lander footage, having aired NASA's livestream in their nightly newscasts, which were automatically uploaded to Youtube's copyrighted work blacklist. Read the rest

Five cool mechanisms made from simple materials

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

The Q makes whimsical mechanisms mainly from wood and cardboard, using basic hand tools. In this video, he shows how he made a "fully working gearbox made out of cardboard, Rock 'em Sock 'em board game, a skateboard from newspapers, incredible miniature railway with train track changes, and, last but not least, a semi-auto coin sorting machine from plywood!"

Image: YouTube/The Q Read the rest

This map shows where local police departments partner with Amazon's Ring

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

“For the first time ever, there's a comprehensive map on where local police departments have partnered with Amazon's Ring,” CNet's Alfred Ng writes.

“Amazon and police have been working closely together with Ring partnerships, sometimes using taxpayer money to buy video doorbells and offer them to residents at a discount.”

The technology rights nonprofit Fight For the Future just released its ' Read the rest

Watch the CBS broadcast of the moon landing, old school commercials and all

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

50 years ago this month, our species placed its first footprint on the moon... and we've been leaving space junk there ever since. I mostly kid: the limits of our technology at the time forced us to leave bits and pieces of what NASA's astronauts brought to the moon with them—I like to think of what's up there more as monuments to audacity than litter.

If you're so inclined, CBS is streaming their coverage of Apollo 11's 1969 mission to the moon right now, from soup to nuts. They've even left in the OG commercials that those keeping up with the mission's progress would have watched. It's a great way to grasp a better understanding of the risk, tension and wonder that our venturing beyond our home brought to the world.

Image via The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Read the rest

Ebola outbreak declared a public health emergency of international concern

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Hey! Remember last month when the World Health Organization was like 'nah, let's not declare this outbreak of a viral hemorrhagic fever that's killed over 1,000 people this time around a public health emergency of international concern'? They were afraid that the flow of aid could be impeded into the outbreak's hot zone, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as nations around the world closed their borders to flights in and out of the disease and civil war-addled nation. Welp, screw that: earlier today, the WHO back-peddled on their nah, transforming it into a slightly panicked Yeah.

From The World Health Organization:

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” said Dr. Tedros. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders -- coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities -- to shoulder more of the burden.”

At the time that this post was well, posted, the count for the number of individuals known to have died due to Ebola had risen to 1676 deaths (1582 confirmed, 94 probable) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What made the WHO change their minds on declaring an emergency? Read the rest

Court records show Trump was on calls with aides to kill stories of alleged sex affairs before 2016 election

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Donald Trump was directly and personally involved in the discussions that led to Stormy Daniels being paid to keep quiet about her story of an affair with the then presidential candidate, the FBI says.

READ THE COURT DOCUMENTS HERE.

According to court documents released today, Donald Trump spoke with Michael Cohen on the phone at least two separate times on the same day Michael Cohen initiated a $131,000 wire transfer which would eventually make its way to porn performer and alleged Trump paramour Stormy Daniels.

Prosecution wrote in a letter to the judge that it has “effectively concluded its investigations of “who, besides Michael Cohen, was involved and whether certain individuals, made false statements, gave false testimony or otherwise obstructed justice with this investigation.”

Trump lied about it. Repeatedly. Into the cameras. On Twitter. Everywhere, all the time.

NEW: Pres. Trump tells reporters he did not know about $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. https://t.co/iM43w2tJSK pic.twitter.com/qmnpQDl8wE

— ABC News (@ABC) April 5, 2018

From last April. Just a bold faced lie: https://t.co/LeFyJeZ584

— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) July 18, 2019

Looks like a number of people are in brand-new trouble today.

Breaking news responses from Twitter notables and reporters on the story, below.

Trump, Hicks, and Cohen had a conference call the day after the Access Hollywood tape became public. Cohen had a series of calls with the National Enquirer right afterwards. https://t.co/FDbHiLDuWt pic.twitter.com/Our18Q0h6X

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 18, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Court records show Trump was on calls with aides rushing to squash stories about alleged affairs before election.

Read the rest

Spend a "bunderful" night in the Wienermobile through Airbnb

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Hot dog! First, Hearst Castle made it possible for everyday folks to swim in their pools (as a fundraiser). Now, Oscar Mayer has turned one of their Wienermobiles into a rentable RV of sorts. AlexanDog + Jake N' Bacon, two Chicago area Hotdoggers (that's what the drivers of these iconic hot dogs on wheels are called), have listed their one-bedroom Wienermobile on Airbnb. And, starting on July 24, you can rent the darn thing for $136/night:

Housed inside an authentic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, this cozy space for two is located in Chicagoland. Complete with a bed for dreaming of wienies, sitting area for discussing at length whether a hot dog is a sandwich (spoiler alert – it is!) and other amenities like adjacent outdoor spaces for the bathroom and a hot dog picnic zone, this hot dog paradise is the ideal respite for two music lovers in town for the festival weekend… or just those who relish a good story.

Amenities include a mini fridge stocked with Oscar Mayer hot dogs and all the Chicago-style hot dog essentials, an Oscar Mayer roller grill to take home, an outdoor space for comfortable hot dog eating and a custom Wienermobile art piece by local artist Laura Kiro. And to help you celebrate your love of hot dogs during your visit, each guest also will receive a welcome kit, complete with all the hot dog-inspired accessories you could want after a music-filled, festival day.

It sleeps two non-smoking adults (on a sofa bed) and breakfast is included. Read the rest

Cyriak's obsession became his trippy, weird "Breakfast"

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

"I became obsessed with this old piece of film footage and it evolved into a music video," writes UK Animator Cyriak Harris on his latest work, "Breakfast."

As one commenter quips, "1:40 Because it's not a cyriak video until something mutates into a horrible monster." True story. Read the rest

Taika Waititi's directing Thor 4!

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Thor: Ragnarok was, by one million miles (or parsecs, if you will) one of the most delightful surprises in a decade of superhero flicks. Much of the film's charm was arguably due to the joy that Taika Waititi brings to every project he's associated with. Good news everybody: he's coming back for Thor 4!

From Gizmodo:

Thor will be back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Taika Waititi will once again be steering the ship.

The Hollywood Reporter says that the Thor: Ragnarok director has signed on to direct a fourth Thor movie. He’ll also write, according to EW. This happened after some issues arose with what was expected to be his next film, Akira, which is now going to be delayed.

Yeah, the rear end of the good news is that Waititi's on-again-off-again push to make a live-action version of Akira is going to have to wait a little while longer. That sucks but hey: more Korg, more Hemsworth, more Waititi! I suppose it stands to reason that they'd let him take a crack at the sequel. the film, which had a budget of $180 million, made $853,977,126 in theaters, worldwide

io9 has to say the delay could might be caused by the timing of Thor: Ragnarok (ironic) and issues with Akira's script. What'll happen to Waititi's Akira remains to be seen. However, I'd love to see it made. I might not be a huge Akira fan, but I'd be moderately enthused to see it made, because WAITITI! Read the rest

Man launches iPhone XS into the sky because reasons

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

I'm not sure if the first thing on my to-do list with a late model $1,000 handset would be to tether it to a whack of party balloons and launch it into the atmosphere, but hey: to each their own. That said, you can't argue with the view! Read the rest

No bail for Jeffrey Epstein, he will stay in detention pending trial

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

A judge has ruled that convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein will stay in detention pending his trial.

Judge Richard Miles Berman, Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, said Jeffrey Epstein poses a threat to the community.

Judge Berman called this the heart of his opinion.

He also finds that Epstein is a flight risk.

Judge Berman ended the hearing by scheduling a July 31 conference, primarily for purposes of case management and scheduling.

Epstein is sitting still, his hands folded together on the table in front of him. Judge Berman schedules a July 31 conference.

— Benjamin Adams (@BenAdamsO_O) July 18, 2019

No bail for Jeffrey Epstein. Judge orders accused sex trafficker jailed while awaiting trial. https://t.co/rNfKPk7Ipq

— JamesVGrimaldi (@JamesVGrimaldi) July 18, 2019

BREAKING: Wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will have to wait out a sex trafficking trial from a jail cell after a federal judge in New York ruled against his request for release on bail. #PerversionofJustice https://t.co/8XOyRtHxhx

— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) July 18, 2019

Despite offering everything under the sun and close to $100 million, the judge described Epstein's proposed bail package, which would have allowed him to live in his Upper East Side mansion, as "irretrievably inadequate." @eorden

— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) July 18, 2019

Was just in court as Jeffrey Epstein was denied bail in his sex trafficking case.

“I doubt any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” said Judge Richard Berman. https://t.co/UYAFXMJ7fn

— Amber Jamieson (@ambiej) July 18, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein gulped with force when Judge Berman announced he was going to deliver his conclusion.

Read the rest

Slack resets passwords for users who haven't updated since 2015 Slack Hack

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

Slack says that through its bug bounty program, the company has newly received a set of compromised user credentials from the Great Slack Hack of 2015.

Remember that one? No? Well, it's why Slack has two-factor authentication now.

Credentials for about 65,000 Slack users were impacted, but Slack says they're now resetting the passwords for all users who were active in 2015. Four years later, yep.

Catalin Cimpanu writes for Zero Day that this means about 1 percent of Slack users are getting a mandatory password reset.

We immediately confirmed that a portion of the email addresses and password combinations were valid, reset those passwords, and explained our actions to the affected users," Slack said.

In a message on its website, Slack said this batch of credentials came via its bug bounty program. The company said it initially believed the data came from users who had their PCs infected with malware, or users who reused passwords across different services.

"However, as more information became available and our investigation continued, we determined that the majority of compromised credentials were from accounts that logged in to Slack during the 2015 security incident," Slack said.

While the batch of compromised credentials included 65,000 passwords, today, Slack decided to reset passwords for all users who were active at the time of the 2015 breach -- except users who already changed their password since then, or those who use single-sign-on (SSO) solutions.

Media should report %s, but rather ask for hard numbers.

This isn't to rag on Slack, it's just that as these services get so large, they often say "just 1%" or "under 5% of users impacted"

which look tiny, until you translate to "oh, that's actually 000s or millions of people" https://t.co/gR5MeVz1fa

— 👨🏻‍💻☕️ (@hunterwalk) July 18, 2019

Read the rest

#Vanlife: Camping California's coast -- Morro Strand

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

This is the first in a series of reviews of Federal, State and County provided campsites along California's amazing coastline.

I started my summer of #vanlife at the Californa State Park campsite of Morro Strand. It was pretty depressing to sit there, but you can leave and see wonderful things.

Morro Strand is a cement parking lot next to the beach along California's beautiful central coast. You can see Morro Rock, and easily drive to San Simeon, Cambria, Los Osos or Montaña de Oro. Hearst Castle is also close by.

The campsite has solid support by rangers, the camp host is very nice. There is no shade at most of the campsite. State-provided wifi is sufficient and will allow you to run a VPN. The site is so nestled into a residential area along the coast that it appears pizza and other forms of local food delivery are available to campers.

There is drinking water available and there are restrooms, however no showers! If you'd like to shower however, you are allowed to take your camping pass and drive to Morro Bay State Park and use theirs. The showers at the Morro Bay Campground have long been amongst the best in the Californa system.

Morro Bay was so crowded in late June, however, it looked like a refugee camp.

Morro Strand was mostly RV campers, and mostly groups of 2-3 campers who situated next to one another who were throwing multi-day beach parties. The camphost and rangers kept things well under control and life was always family friendly, clean and relatively quiet. Read the rest

'Station Eleven' is a haunting tale of the apocalypse

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

I was attracted to Station Eleven by the short description,it smacked of Commedia dell'arte: a post-apocalyptic tale of new-troubadours desperate to keep music and performance alive in a time of death. I was captivated, however, by the author's format in story telling.

Emily St. John Mandel starts this book off like almost any other book about the apocalypse. People are doing things so high-up on Maslow's hierarchy of needs to demonstrate how far or bad they are about to fall. The book opens in a theater, where stuff happens. Shortly thereafter humanity loses its shit.

Years after the collapse, we meet the Traveling Symphony, a group of musicians and a troupe of Shakespearian actors who merged and travel the north-central former United States and Canada, entertaining folks. Star Trek gave a member of the Symphony the quotation “Because survival is insufficient.” and it has become their guiding light. Life on the road is very hard, but it is their life.

The book temporally jumps all over the place, telling the life story of a famous Hollywood actor who died the night before the world fell apart, and following some key players in his life through their experience of the new world order. The jumps are connected, but disjointed. The story is touching, occasionally heart-rending, and utterly meaningless to the destiny of the folks who survive the actor. The interactions with him helped make them who they are, they may inform some decision-making, and perhaps even scarred one or two for life, but they mostly serve to show how everyone's concerns about everything beyond survival are either immaterial or amazingly important. Read the rest

Over those AirPods? Here are 10 pairs of earbuds that bring the noise

Jul 18, 2019

Description:

They might be the shiny new thing, but AirPods aren't for everybody. Maybe you're looking for a new sound or you understandably lost those tiny buds during a brisk run. If so, here's 10 headphones and earbuds that break out of the Apple mode with a return to quality and wearability.

Klipsch R5 Bluetooth Neckband In-Ear Headphones

The Bluetooth 4.2 aptX audio is top-notch, but these earbuds are all about the comfort with four different types of ear tips, including the super-secure Comply Comfort Ts-100s. Pick up the Klipsch R5 Bluetooth Neckband In-Ear Headphones for $66.95, a full 43% off the list price.

TRNDlabs Ventura Wireless Headphones

The 40 mm drivers on these headphones deliver a big sound, and you'll be able to blaze through multiple playlists with up to 10 hours of battery life. Grab a set of TRNDlabs Ventura Wireless Headphones for $34.99, down 64% from the original price.

360 5.1 Virtual Surround Sound Earbuds

With infrasonic frequencies in the back cavity, these headphones replicate the seat-rattling feel of a subwoofer in a tiny package. Perfect for gaming, these 360 5.1 Virtual Surround Sound Earbuds are $72, more than half off the MSRP.

Culture Audio V1 Noise-Cancellation Bluetooth Headphones

The AptX and AAC low latency tech in the V1s filter out surrounding noise for a fully immersive experience. But if you absolutely must get back to the real world, a built-in sensor automatically pauses the music when you remove the headphones. The Culture Audio V1 Noise-Cancellation Bluetooth Headphones are now $135, more than 30% off the original cost of $200. Read the rest

House votes to table (kill) impeachment resolution

Jul 17, 2019

Description:

Texas Rep. Al Green introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump this week. Today, the House voted against them.

The vote was to table, or kill, impeachment.

332-95, House rejects Al Green effort to impeach Trump over racism. While an overwhelming bipartisan rejection, 95 Democrats voted against tabling it. That's more than the 58 Democrats who voted against tabling impeachment in 2017 and 66 Dems in 2018. https://t.co/dMs0aNc1Cg

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 17, 2019

The House has voted to table Rep. Al Green's impeachment resolution. The vote was 332 to 95. Of note: More Democrats voted against tabling the resolution than have publicly come out in support for impeachment. @MSNBC

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 17, 2019

332-95-1 final vote. Trump NOT impeached.

— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) July 17, 2019

UPDATE: House overwhelmingly votes to table measure to impeach the President. While easily ending the effort, more Democrats that ever voted to continue impeachment proposal, at least 90 including Judiciary Chair @JerryNadler, who wants to refer the matter to his committee.

— Nick Weig (@tbweig) July 17, 2019

Al Green never has a strategy for *passing* the impeachment resolution; all he ever does is irritate Dems who have to explain why they oppose it. Plenty of Dems who want to begin the actual process will oppose this bc it's toothless. https://t.co/Hadex1xXpf

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 17, 2019

Impeachment article against @POTUS, drafted by @RepAlGreen, voted down by the House.

— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 17, 2019

The House now voting to table Al Green’s resolution https://t.co/i1p0VwF9g8

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 17, 2019

The House of Representatives is voting to table impeachment resolution.

Read the rest

Feds say Jeffrey Epstein's weird passport was used multiple times

Jul 17, 2019

Description:

Government prosecutors just revealed new details about that super suspicious passport —- his photo, different name -- Jeffrey Epstein kept hidden in a safe..

Epstein's lawyers previously said the government did not offer evidence that Epstein had used the passport.

Not so fast, say federal prosecutors.

“In fact, the passport contains numerous ingress and egress stamps, that reflect use of the passport to enter France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.”

Epstein's lawyers said in a previous filing he had the doctored passport in case he encountered hijackers or terrorists.

Mr. Epstein and his attorneys have some splaining to do.

Epstein didn't say he never used it, but his lawyers said the government didn't offer evidence that he used had it. Now, they have. https://t.co/oJwxUompuP

— erica orden (@eorden) July 17, 2019

Read the rest

MLMs are cults that prey on moms, Mormons and the military

Jul 13, 2019

Description:

Pyramid schemes are illegal, but "multi-level marketing" schemes are not; the difference is supposedly that pyramid schemes don't really sell anything -- they just sell the right to recruit people who will recruit people who will recruit people, each paying up the pyramid to their "uplines" -- while MLMs supposedly actually sell stuff.

Except they don't. MLMs are sales cults that encourage their victims to victimize others, commodifying their friendships and turning every interaction into a "sales opportunity." The primary targets of these cults are moms, Mormons and the military.

MLMs don't get prosecuted despite being massive frauds, thanks to the actions of Amway founder Jay Van Andels, who ran the US Chamber of Commerce, and leaned on Gerry Ford to shut down the DoJ's aggressive prosecution of MLMs. Amway ginned up a meaningless, cosmetic "code of conduct" that supposedly differentiated MLMs from pyramid schemes, and since them, MLMs have used the "code of conduct" as a get out of jail free card. Van Andel's co-founder was Rich DeVos, father-in-law of billionaire religious fanatic Betsy DeVos.

A long, beautifully reported story on MLMs by Casey Bond in the Huffington Post describes the unwinnable nature of MLMs and the pitfalls that exist for people who get sucked into them, who not only lose fortunes and alienate their friends -- they also end up owing the IRS vast sums for intangible "benefits" the MLMs toss their way to keep them active.

If this interests you, I strongly recommend The Dream, an amazing podcast series on MLMs, which really leans into the gendered nature of the scam -- a group of powerful, charismatic men who convince women to prey on one another. Read the rest

How to: run a small social network for you and your friends.

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Darius Kazemi runs Friend Camp, a small social network for about 50 people; it costs him about $30/month to run, and consumes about 2h/week to administer: in his guide to running your own social network, Kazemi explains how to run a network of your own, with no ads, no surveillance, and no feature changes without the consent of the community.

Friend Camp is a modified version of Mastodon; there are lots of these (Dolphin Town is a Mastodon fork where the only character you can use in posting your messages is the letter "e").

Kazemi runs down a soup-to-nuts guide for the aspiring online community founder: the tech details, how to adjudicate disputes, an emergency plan to keep the community running if the administrator is hit by a bus...

The main reason to run a small social network site is that you can create an online environment tailored to the needs of your community in a way that a big corporation like Facebook or Twitter never could. Yes, you can always start a Facebook Group for your community and moderate that how you like, but only within certain bounds set by Facebook. If you (or your community) run the whole site, then you are ultimately the boss of what goes on. It is harder work than letting Facebook or Twitter or Slack or Basecamp or whoever else take care of everything, but I believe it's worth it.

Let's go back to Friend Camp. While there are a hundred thousand people we can talk to from Friend Camp, there are only about 50 people with an active Friend Camp login.

Read the rest

Dad tricks his toddlers to stop bawling by telling them to take turns crying

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

An excellent parenting hack!

From the YouTube description:

The father recorded the sweet moment both his daughters calm down after throwing hysterical tantrums after they refuse to take "their turn to cry" during their holiday in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on April 25.

The trick works every time for the dad of a one, three and six-year-old saying: "I figured it out with one of my daughters a long time ago. Works every single time."

Image: YouTube Read the rest

An illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Peter Glanting's illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues is an annotated delight, even if, despite its length, JWZ wrote, "They skipped a few of my favorites."

Read the rest

US Conference of Mayors adopts a resolution to never pay off ransomware attackers

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

As city after city has remitted hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay off ransomware criminals who hijacked their crucial systems, the US Conference of Mayors had unanimously adopted a resolution to never pay these ransoms again, on the basis that these payments "encourage continued attacks on other government systems, as perpetrators financially benefit,"

I'll be interested to see whether this holds up. When Baltimore decided not to pay the ransom, the city was knocked offline for months and lost millions and millions. Are cities really going to opt to pay millions to avoid paying thousands? After all, the companies that claim they can get your data back without paying the ransom are fraudsters who secretly pay the ransom and charge you a markup.

The resolution does not include any censure for the NSA, whose leaked cyberweapon is behind the ransomware epidemic. The NSA decided to keep a flaw it discovered in Windows a secret so that it could exploit the defect to attack its enemies; in not reporting the bug to Microsoft, the NSA was betting that no one else would ever discover it and that it wouldn't leak (the name for this doctrine is NOBUS: "No One But Us" will ever wield this weapon).

They were wrong.

Opposing Payment To Ransomeware (sic) Attack Perpetrators

1 WHEREAS, targeted ransomware attacks on local US government entities are on the rise; and

2 WHEREAS, at least 170 county, city, or state government systems have experienced a ransomware attack since 2013; and

3 WHEREAS, 22 of those attacks have occurred in 2019 alone, including the cities of Baltimore and Albany and the counties of Fisher, Texas and Genesee, Michigan; and

4 WHEREAS, ransomware attacks can cost localities millions of dollars and lead to months of work to repair disrupted technology systems and files; and

5 WHEREAS, paying ransomware attackers encourages continued attacks on other government systems, as perpetrators financially benefit; and

6 WHEREAS, the United States Conference of Mayors has a vested interest in de-incentivizing these attacks to prevent further harm,

7 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors stands united against paying ransoms in the event of an IT security breach.

Read the rest

How science fiction affects (but does not predict) the future

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Wired's Rose Eveleth asks Can Sci-Fi Writers Prepare Us for an Uncertain Future? Eveleth looks at the rise of science fiction writers being asked to consult with companies about their future plans (I've done some of this), a phenomenon supercharged by a Price Waterhouse Cooper report on the practice. Eveleth delves into the difference between futurism (which purports to have predictive power) and science fiction, whose predictive power is vastly overstated -- but suggests that sf might inspire people to strive for a better future, or make them lose hope that such a thing is possible. Read the rest

Trump's trade war cost the world $2t, wiping 6% off the global one percent's books

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Trump's trade war has reduced the world's net worth by $2 trillion ($1.5 trillion of which came off the balance sheets of the 1%), with losses most deeply felt in China and Europe; North and South Americans took smaller losses, while the Middle East actually made gains: the richest Saudis have grown 7% richer during the trade war, while the richest Kuwaitis are 8% richer.

All in all, the global 1% saw a 6% decline in their wealth.

The stats come from Capgemini's 2019 World Wealth Report.

“Geopolitical unrest and trade wars forced countries to adopt a loose monetary policy to encourage economic growth. Another blow to the global economy was the decline in world trade, which shrank from 5% at the start of 2018 to almost zero toward the end of the year. Trade wars may drag the global economy down further, coupled with higher rates and market volatility,” the report said.

Given that, it’s perhaps no surprise that China’s super wealthy lost $500 billion, equivalent to the whole of Europe’s collective losses. North and South America meanwhile only experienced relatively small declines in comparison — due perhaps to the US’ upper hand in trade negotiations. The Middle East was the only region where the rich actually got richer last year.

The world's super wealthy just collectively lost $US2 trillion – and Trump's trade war is to blame [Jack Derwin/Business Insider]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Capgemini) Read the rest

Teens are filling Tiktok with memes deploring #Life360, a parenting app that tracks teens

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Life360 is an app that lets you track a mobile phone user in fine-grained, realtime detail, with options to set alert for things like "is this person exceeding the speed limit?" It's widely used by parents to track their teens, and this seems to be the summer where it comes into its own, with millions of families around the world relying on it to act as a kind of remote leash for their kids.

In response, teens have begun to fill the meme-heavy, kid-centric social app Tiktok (previously) with short videos deploring Life360, offering tips for evading it, and complaining about how their parents use it.

Life360 is an excellent example of how the most important thing about a tool isn't what it does, but who it does it for and who it does it to. My family uses a similar tool (built into Android) sometimes when we're at Disneyland: it means that if you want to split up and then rendezvous later, you don't have to call your kid to find out where they are (which might be inside a ride, where they can't answer the phone), and instead, you can just head over and meet them. Similarly, when my daughter first started walking home from school, we made an arrangement that she'd text us when she left and turn on the location-tracker until she got home, which reassured both her and us.

But expanding that into a system of fine-grained, continuous surveillance that comes complete with alerts that warn you to call your kids and give them hell if they go outside of a certain perimeter or are inside a moving vehicle that exceeds the posted limit by 1mph turns a convenience into a totalitarian nightmare. Read the rest

Ask Reddit: "What book f*cked you up mentally?"

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Posted today on /r/AskReddit/: "What book fucked you up mentally?"

Answers include:

Animal Farm -- "The whole thing spooked the shit out of my 13-year-old mind."

Night -- "A candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of [Elie Weisle's] survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps."

American Psycho -- "Absolutely nothing like the film."

House of Stairs -- "One by one, five sixteen-year-old orphans are brought to a strange building. It is not a prison, not a hospital; it has no walls, no ceiling, no floor. Nothing but endless flights of stairs leading nowhere--except back to a strange red machine."

Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak -- "Professor: 'I choose a book every semester to scar the students' Mission: accomplished"

A Child Called It -- "for a 7th grade book report. It's a very graphic memoir about child abuse. After turning it in, I got sent to the guidance counselor."

The Bell Jar -- "I never knew what depression sounded like before. 'To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.'"

Flowers for Algernon -- "Read it in one sitting and was broken for like 48 hours after reading it.

Johnny Got His Gun -- "is horrifying"

My pick is Level 7 - a 1959 novel. I read it in the 4th grade. It's about the last people on earth living in a deep underground military bunker after a nuclear holocaust. Read the rest

Detroit's police commissioner arrested at commissioners' meeting for demanding answers about secret meetings where facial recognition was planned

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Alan Wendt writes, "Detroit commissioners arrested the police commissioner Willie Burton during a public meeting because he wouldn't stop talking about the secret meetings where the commission decided to install facial recognition systems."

The commissioners are likely to formally approve the city's controversial facial recognition scheme next week.

Burton was trying to call out the Board of Police Commissioners for holding illegal committee meetings that neither he nor the public were allowed to attend. During one of those closed-door sessions, commissioners quietly hashed out a policy for the city’s pervasive and controversial facial recognition system.

But board chairwoman Lisa Carter didn’t want to hear it.

As three police officers dragged Burton to the ground, officers held back protesters, some of whom were wearing masks to show their opposition to facial-recognition technology.

Detroit cops arrest police commissioner, protester at raucous public meeting [Steve Neavling/Detroit Metro Times]

(Image: Akezone) Read the rest

CBP employees' new challenge coin mocks care for migrant kids

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Challenge Coins have their origins in the military; they're a little like a mission patch, commemorating some element of service or event, and they serve as a kind of badge of honor or respect -- you can show a challenge coin you've been given to people who were associated with its issuance as a way of demonstrating that you're on the same side.

Challenge coins are often wry: for example, the Secret Service issued a coin to commemorate their unpaid labor with during the 2019 shutdown.

Some CBP employees stationed on the US/Mexican border have been circulating a new challenge coin that mocks the changing role of the patrol: on one side, it says, "Keep the caravans coming" while on the other side, it reads "Feeding, processing, hospital, transport."

The coins were promoted in I'm 10-15, the secret Facebook group for CBP employees that was/is a cesspit of rape jokes, racism, violence, and threats against members of Congress.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, who worked at CBP under the Bush and Obama administrations, said that the coin was evidence (like the 10-15 Facebook group) of “reflexive dehumanization” by Border Patrol agents, and that the “tolerance for shenanigans” by supervisors and leadership had gone too far. “You have to say, ‘This is affecting the integrity and authority of us all.’”

The coin appears to have been designed, ordered and distributed months into the surge of Central American families at the border. Coins were being distributed to agents by late April, before the current wave of public attention and outrage over conditions for migrants in Border Patrol custody...

Read the rest

Red Dwarf, legendary UK sci-fi sitcom, becomes auto-rescue ad

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

I loved Red Dwarf as a kid, sensed I should "stop immediately" upon seeing the previews for season 7 (or maybe 8?), and had relegated the whole thing to the palace of nostalgia by the end of the last century. But this ad is so charming it makes me think I should check out the recent series. Should I? I will blame you if this is a mistake. Read the rest

For years, the chief of the Border Patrol was a member of the secret CBP Facebook group for racist and threatening chatter

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Last week, Propublica revealed the existence of "I'm 10-15", a secret Facebook group for current and former Customs and Border Protection employees -- a group with 9,500 members, while CBP's total workforce numbers 58,000 -- where it was commons for members to share violent, racist, sexist, misogynist, rape-y memes, including some that threatened and disparaged members of Congress.

At the time, CBP officials acted surprised to learn of the group's existence and vowed to investigate any misconduct there.

The Intercept has been mining the group's archive to learn about the identities and activities of its members, and today, they revealed that CBP Chief Carla Provost was an active member of I'm 10-15 for some years, and posted more than once to it. While Provost's posts are innocuous, her presence on the group suggests that the CBP's official claims to be surprised at the group's existence and character were not entirely truthful.

Provost is not the only high-ranking CBP official who was also a member of I'm 10-15, and some CBP officials' social media activities were less benign that Provost's. For example, Border Patrol Calexico supervisor Tom Hendricks, a 20+ year veteran of the service, posted a meme depicting "a smirking Trump forcing Ocasio-Cortez’s face into his crotch by the back of her neck."

Evidence of Provost’s participation in the secret Border Patrol group comes as Ocasio-Cortez, along with Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas;, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., head into a hearing with the Committee on Oversight and Reform and the inspectors general of DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday to discuss their recent visit to detention centers along the border.

Read the rest

Nintendo announces Switch Lite, new handheld game console

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

The Switch Lite doesn't connect to a TV set, but it's otherwise a slim, pocketable version of Nintendo's popular portable game console.

The Switch Lite — the newly unveiled spinoff of the full-sized Switch console — doesn’t actually “switch.” Instead of the detachable controllers and TV dock that allows the standard Switch to shape-shift between a TV console, portable gamepad, and a mobile multiplayer machine, the Switch Lite has a much narrower focus on just one of those experiences — but that’s not a bad thing. Instead, it shows that the Switch’s audience and appeal extend to a different market than what the full-sized version currently serves.

It's a funny twist of brand-reality that the Switch Lite doesn't actually "switch". I feel that Nintendo has missed a fabulous opportunity to name its new hands-only console the Snatch.

Nintendo Switch Lite [Amazon] Read the rest

Cooperative porno copyright troll gets 5 years in prison, while his co-conspirator got 14 years

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Last month, Paul Hansmeier was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.5m in restitution for the copyright trolling his firm, Prenda Law, engaged in: the firm used a mix of entrapment, blackmail, identity theft, intimidation and fraud to extort millions from its victims by threatening to drag them into court for alleged infringement of copyright in eye-watering pornography, thus forever associating their victims' name with lurid pornography in the public record.

This week, Hansmeier's accomplice, John Steele, was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Steele cooperated with authorities, while Hansmeier fought the system for longer before entering a plea. Like Hansmeier, Steele has to pay $1.5m in restitution. Both men have also been disbarred.

Hansmeier is appealing both the conviction and the sentence.

“Unlike co-defendant Hansmeier, Mr. Steele accepted responsibility for his actions and immediately began zealously and passionately cooperating with the Government,” the prosecution said previously.

“Even before the Government shared the evidence with the defense, Mr. Steele was in their office speaking to numerous law enforcement agents and prosecutors about everything he did. He never lied and never minimized his actions.”

According to the US Department of Justice, Steele deserved a significant prison term. However, his cooperation and genuine remorse should be taken into account.

Cooperative ‘Copyright Troll’ Lawyer Sentenced to Five Years in Prison [Ernesto/Torrentfreak] Read the rest

Mattel announces "David Bowie" Barbie doll

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," Mattel has announced a "David Bowie" Barbie doll. On Amazon, it's priced at $50. From the New York Times:

It’s a notably androgynous look for a doll that epitomized the stereotypes of feminine appearance in its earlier iterations. In more recent years, however, male celebrity depictions have not just been reserved for Ken. Over the past decade, Barbie has dressed like Andy Warhol, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

Read the rest

NRA financial records subpoenaed

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

The attorney general for Washington, DC has issued subpoenas for the National Rifle Association and its charitable foundation. The gun rights organization is in the sights of nonprofit regulators, and under fire separately for connections to convicted Russian military intelligence agent Maria Butina -- not to mention the NRA's own internal power struggles, interpersonal petty drama, and financial ruin.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine issues subpoenas to the NRA and its charitable foundation, the latest example of him using nonprofit laws to take on high-profile targets (see: Catholic Church, Trump's inaugural committee) https://t.co/DbG6pOD8V9

— Fenit Nirappil (@FenitN) July 12, 2019

DC Attorney General issues subpoenas to @NRA and its foundation "as part of an investigation into whether these entities violated the District’s Nonprofit Act,” says @AGKarlRacine in a statement.

— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 12, 2019

The Washington Post was first to report the subpoena news on Friday:

The office of Attorney General Karl A. Racine is seeking financial documents from the NRA and its foundation. The NRA Foundation is chartered in the District and the NRA is registered as a nonprofit and does business there.

“The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia has issued subpoenas to the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) and the NRA Foundation, Inc., as part of an investigation into whether these entities violated the District’s Nonprofit Act,” Racine said in a statement.

He continued: “We are seeking documents from these two nonprofits detailing, among other things, their financial records, payments to vendors, and payments to officers and directors.”

The NRA did not immediately return a request for comment.

Read the rest

Philadelphians debate whether parks and rec centers should use anti-personnel weapons that indiscriminately target children

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

The "Mosquito" is a high-pitched tone generator designed only to be audible to children and teens, and not to adults, in whose ears the nerve cells that detect these high tones have died off.

In Philadelphia, 30 city parks and rec facilities have deployed these anti-personnel weapons under the rubric of deterring "loitering" and "vandalism" (20 other US cities have also deployed these weapons, according to Vancouver-based manufacturer Moving Sound Technologies).

The use of these weapons has sparked a public debate, with Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym decrying the use of "sonic weapons" in an city that is "trying to address gun violence and safe spaces for young people." Gym decries "ideas that are funded by taxpayer dollars to turn young people away from the very places that were created for them."

Part of the debate was sparked by older people whose high-range hearing is still intact; one 27-year-old woman says that she'd had a constant headache since a nearby park installed the weapons.

Mosquitoes have been controversial since their launch in the mid-2000s, with clever teens turning the tones into ringtones that were inaudible to their teachers and other authority figures. They were very popular in the UK, spurring petitions for their removal from public libraries. They came to the USA in 2008.

The weapons have been condemned by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, who said that they violated the rights of children. When the weapons were installed in DC's Gallery Place Metro in 2010, the National Youth Rights Association had them removed. Read the rest

Science offices throughout U.S. government closing under Trump at alarming rate

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

The great science purge, they'll call it one day.

Donald Trump is closing science offices throughout the federal government.

‘As of June, around 85 percent of all scientific posts in the federal government, including an official scientific advisor to the President, were left unfilled,’ write the editors of I F***ing Love Science blog in an op-ed this week.

Despite the veritable purge of scientists and science communication that has characterized the Trump administration, the White House still has an Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Unfortunately, its science division is now completely lacking any staff whatsoever.

As reported by CBS News, the three remaining employees, all of which were holdovers from the Obama administration, have left. One staffer, the assistant director for biomedical and forensic sciences, tweeted, “Science division out. Mic drop” as she left.

Over the last couple of years, there were up to 100 employees working at the OSTP, which saw a high level of investment from the former President. It is unclear when or even if the roles will be filled again, and by whom.

First established in 1976 by Congress, it is designed to provide the President and others with “advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy, national security, homeland security, health, foreign relations, the environment, and the technological recovery and use of resources, among other topics.”

We don’t know about you, but that sounds like a vital role to us. The roles should be filled quickly with qualified scientists, but it’s probably best not to hold your breath on this one.

Read the rest

Arts & Crafts: Build your own air conditioner

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

If you've got a spare bedroom and never plan on having company over, then you've got the space to build and run your own desiccant-based air conditioning system.

I mean, sure, some of the stuff that makes the system work are a lil' toxic and you'll need to be cool with having an open flame burning in your home. Also, you'll need several hundreds of dollars if not a couple of grand's worth of diagnostic tools to make it happen, if this video is anything to go by. But hey: DIY air conditioning!

Or maybe just set up a swamp cooler instead.

Image via YouTube Read the rest

Random mansion generator

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

The Procgen Mansion Generator produces large three-dee dwellings to toy with your imagination, offering various architectural styles and other options. Each mansion even comes with floorplans:

Read the rest

Here is Alex Acosta's resignation letter to Donald Trump

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Acosta calls his role at the Labor Department "the honor of a lifetime."

For rent on Airbnb: Hunter S. Thompson's Woody Creek guest cabin

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Now on Airbnb: gonzo journalism master Hunter S. Thompson's guest cabin on his infamous Owl Farm compound in Woody Creek, Colorado. Eventually, the late writer's wife Anita intends to turn the property, including their living quarters, into a museum and writer's retreat. For now, you can rent the two-bedroom guest cabin for $550/night. According to the listing, Anita Thompson "will try to be available at least once per visit depending on circumstances." HST fan Kevin EG Perry spent a night at the cabin and wrote about it for The Guardian:

It is 4.30 on a Thursday morning and I am writing these words on the big red IBM Selectric III that once belonged to Hunter S Thompson. Owl Farm, Thompson’s “fortified compound” in Woody Creek, Colorado, is dark and silent outside. Even the peacocks he raised are sleeping. The only sound anywhere is the warm hum of this electric typewriter and the mechanical rhythm of its key strikes, as clear and certain as gunfire.

In April, Thompson’s widow, Anita, began renting out the writer’s cabin to help support the Hunter S Thompson scholarship for veterans at Columbia University, where both she and Hunter studied. It sits beside the main Thompson home on a 17-hectare estate marked with hoof prints and elk droppings that gradually rises towards a mountain range. A short walk uphill is the spot where Thompson’s ashes were fired into the sky from a 153ft tower in the shape of a “Gonzo fist”, a logo he first adopted during his unsuccessful 1970 campaign to be sheriff of nearby Aspen...

Read the rest

Starbucks to stop selling newspapers, citing 'shrinkage'

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

If you're going to Starbucks to have some coffee and read the newspaper, BYON: Bring your own newspaper.

On Friday, the Seattle-based coffee chain said it's going to stop selling The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today at its 8,600+ coffeeshops around the U.S.

Why?

Starbucks says too many people read the paper without paying for a copy.

The New York Post cites a source at Starbucks, saying the company is removing newspapers and other goods from retail shelves in part because of “shrinkage,” what people in the industry sometimes say when they mean goods that tend to be shoplifted.

“We will also remove shelving fixtures that display whole- bean coffee and different grab-and-go snacks,” a Starbucks spokeswoman told the New York Post.

Excerpt:

Starbucks has been selling the papers in its stores for nearly two decades, starting with the Times in 2000 and expanding to add the Journal and USA Today in 2010. But many Starbucks customers take them off the rack, read them while they finish their lattes, and then either leave them on the table or walk off with the daily paper without paying.

“Some may have thought it was free, like USA Today in hotels,” said one industry insider.

Starbucks confirmed the decision on Thursday.

“As part of our continuous efforts to enhance the overall experience in our stores for both partners and customers, we are removing select fixtures from our retail lobby in September,” a Starbucks spokeswoman said.

Starbucks will stop selling newspapers in September [Keith J. Read the rest

Leaked Palantir 'Gotham' user manual shows how fast police and government can grab your info

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

“The Palantir user guide shows that police can start with almost no information about a person of interest and instantly know extremely intimate details about their lives.”

Denise Nickerson, "Violet Beauregarde," RIP

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

"Well, I'm a gum chewer, normally. But when I heard about these ticket things of Wonka's, I laid off the gum and switched to candy bars, instead. Now, of course, I'm right back on gum. I chew it all day, except at mealtimes when I stick it behind my ear." - Violet Beauregarde

Denise Nickerson, who at age 13 played the wonderfully sassy Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), has died. She was 62 and hadn't fully recovered from a severe stroke last year. From Vanity Fair:

Nickerson’s first onscreen gig was an appearance in the series Flipper in 1965. She joined the cast of Dark Shadows in 1968, going on to play three characters in the series—Amy Jennings, Nora Collins, and Amy Collins. One year after her run on the ABC show, Nickerson made her big screen debut in Willy Wonka, playing one of the ill-fated children touring the factory in a clandestine competition to inherit the eccentric chocolatier’s fortune.

After Willy Wonka, Nickerson also joined the educational program The Electric Company as a member of the Short Circus—a five-member singing group aimed to boost viewers’ reading skills. After that, Nickerson took a handful of television and film roles before she retired from acting in 1978. Although many reports have said Nickerson retired to pursue nursing, her family clarified that she worked in doctors’ offices in a career they’d most closely identify as “accountant.

"Support for the family of Denise Nickerson" (GoFundMe) Read the rest

Trump wants to fire DNI Dan Coats, eliminate 'unnecessary' Office of Director of National Intelligence: Axios

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

ODNI, RIP? Huge and also completely unsurprising if true.

Trump wants to fire Dan Coats, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, and nuke the entire ODNI from orbit, per Axios today -- citing “five sources who have discussed the matter directly with the president.”

Jonathan Swan from Axios tweets, and Axios reports, that Trump says “he wants to get rid of the entire 'unnecessary' Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” and “has been told that eliminating the ODNI is not politically possible.” Swan cites “A source with direct knowledge.”

A source with direct knowledge told me that Trump has also said he wants to get rid of the entire "unnecessary" Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He has been told that eliminating the ODNI is not politically possible... https://t.co/tAQPt2H6Rn

— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 12, 2019

Here's a snip from the Axios report:

The state of play: Trump hasn't told our sources when he plans to make a move, but they say his discussions on the topic have been occurring for months — often unprompted — and the president has mentioned potential replacements since at least February. A source who spoke to Trump about Coats a week ago said the president gave them the impression that the move would happen "sooner rather than later."

The director of national intelligence serves as an overseer of the U.S. intelligence community and a close adviser to the president and National Security Council, producing each day's top-secret Presidential Daily Brief.

A source with direct knowledge told me that Trump has privately said he thinks the Office of the Director of National Intelligence represents an unnecessary bureaucratic layer and that he would like to get rid of it.

Read the rest

Mueller testimony may be delayed, or not: Conflicting reports

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

Two U.S. House of Representatives panels plan to hear testimony from Special Counsel Robert Mueller on July 17, but there are reports today, Friday July 12, of a possible one-week delay that would push that date to July 24 or thereabouts.

The House Judiciary Committee is intensely negotiating to delay former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony by one additional week, according to NBC News.

According to Reuters, the testimony is still on for the previously scheduled date of July 17.

The ongoing negotiations are said to be focused on providing lawmakers a longer time in which to question Mueller. No resolution yet, so no confirmed date for Mueller's testimony at this time, per NBC.

New reporting on @MSNBC: NBC's Ken Dilanian reports that the Judiciary Committee is in serious negotiations to delay Robert Mueller's testimony by a week. The talks involve giving lawmakers more time to question Mueller. The situation is still fluid.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 12, 2019

However: Reuters is still reporting that the July 17 date is on.

In response to a query from Reuters, a committee aide said in an email, “At this moment we still plan to have our hearing on the 17th and we will let you know if that changes.”

Politico reported that the hearing of the House Judiciary and the House Intelligence panels had been postponed until July 24, citing multiple lawmakers. And the Washington Post reported that Mueller has offered a delay until July 24 to spend more time answering questions from lawmakers.

Read the rest

Video about woman who fell 33,000 feet and survived

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

On January 26, 1972, a suspected bomb exploded on board a Yugoslav Airlines DC-9 and the debris of the plane rained down on mountains in the former Czechoslovakia. Everyone died except flight attendant Vesna Vulovic. After a long but full recovery, she returned to work for the airlines until she was fired in 1990 for protesting against President Slobodan Milošević's nationalism. Vulovic died in 2016. Watch her story above.

More in this BBC News obituary.

Read the rest

Where to catch me at San Diego Comic-Con!

Jul 12, 2019

Description:

I'm headed back to San Diego for Comic-Con next weekend, and you can catch me on Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

Friday, 5PM: Signing in AA04

Saturday, 5PM: Panel: Writing: Craft, Community, and Crossover (with James Killen, Seanan McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders,, Annalee Newitz, and Sarah Gailey), Room 23ABC

Sunday, 10AM: Signing and giveaway for Radicalized, Tor Booth, #2701.

I hope to see you there! Read the rest

Chuck Klosterman on space rock

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

In Technology Review, author and essayist Chuck Klosterman delivers a short introduction to the stars of space rock, from Pink Floyd (above) to Hawkwind to Spacemen 3:

Space is a vacuum: the only song capturing the verbatim resonance of space is John Cage’s perfectly silent “4'33".” Any artist purporting to embody the acoustics of the cosmos is projecting a myth. That myth, however, is collective and widely understood. Space has no sound, but certain sounds are “spacey.” Part of this is due to “Space Oddity”; another part comes from cinema, particularly the soundtrack to 2001 (the epic power of classical music by Richard Strauss and György Ligeti). Still another factor is the consistent application of specific instruments, like the ondes martenot (a keyboard that vaguely simulates a human voice, used most famously in the theme to the TV show Star Trek). The shared assumptions about what makes music extraterrestrial are now so accepted that we tend to ignore how strange it is that we all agree on something impossible.

The application of these clichés is most readily seen in the dawn of heavy metal. The 1970 Black Sabbath song “Planet Caravan” processed Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals through a Hammond organ to create a sprawling sense of ethereal distance. Deep Purple’s 1972 “Space Truckin’” used ring modulation to simulate a colossal spacecraft traveling at high speed. The lyrical content of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” is built on Norse mythology, but the dreamlike drone of John Paul Jones’s mellotron and Jimmy Page’s ultra-compressed guitar mirrored the sensation of exploring an alien landscape.

Read the rest

Video: Ding dong! Who's there? A snake ringing the doorbell.

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

A woman in Converse, Texas was awakened by her doorbell at 1am on Sunday. Video from the doorbell camera revealed the visitor to be a snake that had slithered up the door frame and pushed the button with its face. No word on whether she she invited the snake in for a nightcap. (KSAT)

Previously: Doorbell cam video of snake attacking man Read the rest

Rare image of US Air Force's secretive space plane in orbit

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Astrophotographer Ralf Vandebergh captured an image of the US Air Force's X-37B space plane in orbit. The reusable, uncrewed space vehicle, designated OTV-5, is on a secret testing mission since its launch in September 2017. From Vandebergh's post at Spaceweather.com:

I have been hunting for the OTV-5 since months and saw it visually in May. When I tried to observe it again mid June, it didnt meet the predicted time and path. It turned out to have maneuvered to another orbit. Thanks to the amateur satellite observers-network, it was rapidly found in orbit again and I was able to take some images on June 30 and July 2. This most recent pass was almost overhead. The OTV is a small version of the classic Space Shuttle, it is really a small object, even at only 300 km altitude, so dont expect the detail level of ground based images of the real Space Shuttle. Considering this, the attached images succeeded beyond expectations. We can recognize a bit of the nose, Payload Bay and tail of this mini-shuttle with even a sign of some smaller detail.

Images were taken through a 10 inch F/4,8 aperture Newtonian telescope with an Astrolumina ALccd 5L-11 mono CMOS camera. Tracking was fully manually through a 6x30 finderscope.

Read the rest

USB rechargeable flying insect electrocuter

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

If you've ever used one of these electric flyswatters, you already know they work. Mine finally broke so I upgraded by getting this USB-charging zapper with an LED for swatting in the dark. Amazon has it on sale right now for: . Read the rest

Applying AI filters to an 1830 painting leads to pleasing results

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Pyotr Basin (1793–1877) painted "The earthquake in Rocca di Papa, near Rome," in 1830. According to Bruce Sterling, these images are the result of a "couple of guys screwing around attacking a 19th century Russian painting with deep-dreamers." I can't find anything else about them but they're fantastic.

Read the rest

Whinefeld: the bizarre Seinfeld parody clip from the Stay Tooned! videogame (1996)

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

The clip above is from Stay Tooned!, a 1996 computer game developed by Funnybone Interactive. From Wikipedia:

The player takes the place of an ordinary patron living in an apartment. The player starts off simply channel-surfing with a TV remote and watching short cartoons and commercials that parody real-life shows (such as Seinfeld, which is parodied as Whinefeld). One channel even has the game's chief programmer providing hints on how to play the upcoming game. Several cartoon characters either forbid or encourage the player to push the red button on their remote as the player surfs the channels. When the player pushes the button, the cartoons break out of the television set, steal the remote, and cause the entire apartment complex to go into animated form. The player must recover the television remote, which is the only thing that can zap the escaped toons and send them back to TV Land, the fictional toon world found within the depths of the television.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Watch this dazzling fire at a fireworks store

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

A fire outside Davey Jones Fireworks and the House of Fireworks in Fort Mills, South Carolina resulted in a massive and unexpected fireworks show. From WCNC:

According to Capt. Jeff Nash with Flint Hill Fire Department the fire began at around 5:45 a.m. and started in the Connex Storage containers. Nash said those containers had dozens of cardboard boxes holding fireworks.

Deputies confirmed the storage units where the fire started belonged to Davey Jones Fireworks. The cause of the fire was under investigation, and no injuries were reported.

Deputy Fire Marshal Charles Williamson told NBC Charlotte that they believe the fire was intentionally set.

According to officials, because of all of the explosives, it took crews about 45 minutes to put out the fire.

Read the rest

Penguins new ad campaign celebrates well-read books

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

This new ad campaign from Penguin appeals to those of us who think beat-up, torn, taped, scribbled-upon books are more appealing than pristine ones. I wondered if the books photographed here were found as is, or lovingly distressed by the art director, then I saw the small print in the lower right of each ad, which suggests they were found that way.

[via @gray] Read the rest

This game simulates a frustrating online form

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

User Inyerface is a web-based game in which your challenge is to fill out a poorly designed online form. It's loaded with frustrating examples of hostile user interfaces  that we've all encountered at one time or another.

It's how I feel every time I book airline tickets. Read the rest

Computerphile explains the fascinating AI storyteller, GPT-2

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

GPT-2 is a language model that was trained on 40GB of text scraped from websites that Reddit linked to and that had a Karma score of at least two.  As the developers at OpenAI describe it, GPT-2 is "a large-scale unsupervised language model which generates coherent paragraphs of text, achieves state-of-the-art performance on many language modeling benchmarks, and performs rudimentary reading comprehension, machine translation, question answering, and summarization—all without task-specific training." Because the model is probabilistic, it returns a different response every time you enter the same input.

OpenAI decided not to release the 40GB-trained model, due to "concerns about malicious applications of the technology" but it released a 345MB-trained model which you can install as a Python program and run from a command line. (The installation instructions are in the DEVELOPERS.md file.) I installed it and was blown away by the human-quality outputs it gave to my text prompts. Here's an example - I prompted it with the first paragraph of Kafka's The Metamorphosis. And this is just with the tiny 345MB model. OpenAI published a story that the 40G GPT-2 wrote about unicorns, which shows how well the model performs.

In this Computerphile video, Rob Miles of the University of Nottingham explains how GPT-2 works. Read the rest

Bowling meets the future

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

bruh...😳🎳💪😂 pic.twitter.com/j26E2GlcR6

— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 5, 2019

"Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors...and bowling. And as a surfer, he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and...up to...Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation. He died before his time." -- Walter Sobchak Read the rest

Sneeze during scan results in X-ray image of monster head

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

In the annals of hard-to-replicate works of brilliant, unsettling art, this must surely rank highly: an image created by a human subject sneezing during an X-ray scan. [via Reddit] Read the rest

New Elfquest series

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Elfquest, my favorite series of fantasy comics books and graphic novels, is returning for a run featuring popular character Skywise. Elfquest: Stargazer's Hunt is out November: notify your comics retailer and demand it!

Russ Burlingame writes:

Fans of the series may be surprised to see the Pinis coming back to it; back in 2018, we asked the pair whether they might return do a "reunion tour" in the vein of Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise XXV, and they shot down the notion at the time.

"No, you have met few couples who are more completely in sympathy and in-tune about having no more deadlines in their lives for the rest of their lives," Wendy Pini told ComicBook.com at the time. "I will jump in say, though, that if I knew I was going to be drawing these blankety-blank elves for 40 years, I would have designed them quite differently. They all would have been bald and naked."

ElfQuest: Stargazer’s Hunt goes on sale November 13, 2019, and will be available for pre-order at your local comic shop soon.

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PC BIOS simulator

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Now you too can experience the joy and wonder of changing the BIOS configuration of a Lenovo-brand personal computer with the Lenovo BIOS Simulator Center. [via Hacker News] Read the rest

Mutant fly strains invented by a neural net

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Janelle Shane, harbinger of the generative apocalypse, presents mutant fruit flies invented by a neural network: "Nothing to worry about."

I knew that fruit flies are a mainstay of research labs, but I had never given them much thought until Prof. Greg Neely emailed me to point out how weird the names of mutant fruit flies are. There’s a strain of mutants called “Out Cold” where the fly loses motor coordination below a certain temperature, and another nicknamed “Moonwalker” that walks backwards. Could a neural network learn how to invent new names and mutations?

An unsettling reminder that science fiction isn't a prediction, but the present placed in uncanny focus.

P.S. AI Weirdness is proof that blogging is still great) Read the rest

Consultant helps game developers not do stupid things such as decorate lava levels with Stars of David

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Geographer Kate Edwards helps game developers avoid offensive and malignant stereotypes and tropes in their work. There are more than enough mistakes and blunders to keep her in business.

A common and “safe” way of avoiding problems [is] inventing a whole pseudo-country. It’s worth noting that Ubisoft have since announced that their next big Clancyromp, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, will airlift our angry shootyboys out of Bolivia and drop them in a fictional Pacific Island nation called Aurora. But I want to know if transplanting your story like this really helps. Or if it’s just an ill-fitting patch.

“I actually think that’s a very effective tool,” says Edwards. “Good science fiction and fantasy have been using allegory forever… [It’s] a very powerful way to make people think about the particular situation without just bluntly hitting them over the head with it. You can do that too if your narrative serves that purpose – and I don’t think we should instantly shy away from doing that. If you have a good reason to set your action and narrative in a certain locale that is real, then I would go ahead and explore that option.

“Ultimately, you have to ask yourself… how much of a difference does it make to the narrative purpose of your game whether it’s set in Bolivia or it’s set in some fictional South American country? Is it really going to change things significantly for the narrative of the game?”

But even Edwards admits that allegory can sometimes go wrong

Example: they put an evil alien in Halo 2 and named it "The Dervish" until someone noticed and fixed it. Read the rest

Turtles eating watermelons

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

"This turtle's obsessed with watermelon." Read the rest

Self-driving car jargon

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Bruce Sterling republishes the acronyms in a recent Daimler white-paper on self-driving cars:

Advanced Driver Assistance System Automated Driving System Automotive Safety Integrity Level Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center AUTOmotive Open System Architecture Computer Emergency Response Team Central Processing Unit Car Park Pilot Cyclic Redundancy Check Dynamic Driving Task (Statistisches Bundesamt) Federal Statistical Office of Germany Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis Driver-in-the-Loop Deep Neural Network Electrical/Electronic Electronic Control Unit Electric Power Steering European Union Failure Mode and Effects Analysis Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Functional Safety European General Data Protection Regulation Global Navigation Satellite System Global Positioning System Graphics Processing Unit Hardware-in-the-Closed-Loop Human-Machine Interaction Hardware Hardware Reprocessing Highway Pilot Input/Output Port International Electrotechnical Commission Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inertial Measurement Unit Internet Protocol Security International Organization for Standardization International Software Testing Qualifications Board Light Detection and Ranging Microcontroller Unit Minimal Risk Condition Minimal risk maneuver Naturalistic Driving Study National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Transportation Safety Board Operational Design Domain Original Equipment Manufacturer Open Road One True Pairing Object Under Test Proving Ground Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, Safety and Security Reliable Map Attribute Secure Development Lifecycle Simulation-in-the-Closed-Loop System on Chip Safety of the Intended Functionality (Straßenverkehrsgesetz) German Road Traffic Act Software Software Reprocessing Traffic Jam Pilot Transport Layer Security United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Urban Pilot Verification and Validation Read the rest

Tim Wu rebuts Zuck's reasons for exempting Facebook from antitrust enforcement

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Competition scholar and cyberlawyer Tim "Net Neutrality" Wu's (previously) latest book is The Curse of Bigness: a tight, beautifully argued case for restoring pre-Reagan antitrust approaches.

Wu isn't just good at laying these arguments out in static fashion: if anything, he's even more convincing when he's arguing with the most ardent defenders of monopoly.

Case in point: at a recent appearance as the Aspen Ideas Festival, Wu was asked to rebut Mark Zuckerberg's four-point case for not breaking up Facebook. Zuckerberg argues that:

1. Breaking up Facebook will create a bunch of small companies competing on growth, rather than privacy.

2. If we break up Facebook, they won't have enough money to hire 30,000 people to censor the bad things people post on social media.

3. Breaking up Facebook will allow Chinese tech companies to take over the world.

4. Facebook's acquisitions of companies like Whatsapp and Instagram were not anticompetitive.

Wu's rebuttals are just excellent.

Also, notice in that argument there’s a subtle idea where big tech starts promising it's going to do government's work for it: We’re going to provide security, we're going to fight Russia, and so forth. First of all, I don't think Facebook has a good track record of protecting this country against foreign attack. So if they're promising more of the same, I don't want to hear it. And I also think anyone who studies systems knows that centralized systems are dangerous, because they offer one big, giant target. Most people who have studied the Russian interference in the last election suggest that one of the problems is that you just had a couple of big targets.

Read the rest

Stars who wear clothes more than once, rats in Buckingham Palace, and why sharks attack, in this week’s shocking tabloids

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

It’s the start of July, but it already feels like August in the tabloids, which this week reek of nothing-happening-desperation.

At military parade, Trump celebrates rebels' occupation of airports during American Revolution

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Here's Trump at his rained-out, sparsely-attended, $92m military parade:

During his hour-long speech at the grounds of Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Trump stayed largely off politics. Trump praised the Americans’ military efforts in the war against Great Britain. “Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory,” he said.

It's so perfectly mad that fact-checkers struggle to correct every element of wrongness in a single line. "Planes were not used in warfare until the 20th century", for example, allows the incorrect suggestion that there were airports (or indeed functional aircraft) in the 1770s.

In 1784, French inventor Jean-Pierre Blanchard fitted a propeller to a hot air balloon, creating the first aircraft that went places; the first successful fixed-wing airplane was the Wright Brothers' Flyer, flown in 1903. Read the rest

Sticker portrait of Alfred E. Neuman (RIP, MAD)

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

Noah Scalin (previously) writes, "I'm so devastated to learn about Mad magazine's imminent demise. I just recently finished my own portrait of Alfred E. Neuman, made from stickers, inspired by the reboot of the magazine (which features new works by artists inspired by growing up reading Mad). Mad was such a seminal part of my childhood. As a budding activist I loved seeing popular culture, politics and advertising skewered in such a clever & subversive way (as children's entertainment!). The world is losing a shining beacon just as it needs it most."

Read the rest

This innovative air fryer is now on sale for over 60% off

Jul 5, 2019

Description:

If you're eating healthy, there are more options than ever at restaurants and at home. But we'll bet the one thing you're really missing is the taste of deep-fried food on the regular. If so, we've got your new favorite cooker: The Power Air Fryer 10-in-1 Pro Elite Oven (Certified-Refurbished).

It works by circulating hot air around your food by way of convection vents, simultaneously coating it with a thin layer of oil that's a minuscule fraction of what a deep fryer might use. It's very effective at delivering that signature crispy taste to fries or other appetizers, which would be more than enough for any healthy eater. But with a 6-quart capacity basket, this oven can do most of the work of a traditional convection oven, not to mention a toaster, steamer, pizza oven, dehydrator and much more.

Pick up the Power Air Fryer 10-in-1 Pro Elite Oven (Certified-Refurbished) in black now for $84.99. That's already a 49% discount off the list price, and you can take an additional 15% off by using the online code FIREWORK15. Read the rest

Photos from MAKE's 2008 visit to MAD Magazine

Jul 4, 2019

Description:

Phil Torrone from Adafruit writes, "A million internet years ago in 2008 when I was Senior Editor at MAKE Magazine, Ladyada and I went to DC Comics to meet the MAD Magazine folks for a collaboration issue with MAKE and MAD, it was the Spy vs Spy issue, volume 16 cover by Sam Viviano. Spy vs. Spy is a wordless black and white comic strip that has been published in Mad magazine since 1961. It was created by Antonio Prohias, a Cuban national who fled to the United States in 1960 days before Fidel Castro took over the Cuban free press."

I visited the same year, as it happens, and even took photos of many of the same things!

Read the rest

Frederick Douglass: What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

Jul 4, 2019

Description:

1852: "This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the Fourth of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day."

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employments for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.

Read the rest

Celebrate July 4 with this classic fireworks stop motion animation!

Jul 4, 2019

Description:

"Fireworks," a classic by PES. Happy Independence Day!

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Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Jul 4, 2019

Description:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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Appeals court orders unsealing of the Jeffrey Epstein files

Jul 4, 2019

Description:

More than a decade ago, a federal prosecutor named Alexander Acosta set up a secret sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy, Trump-connected admitted multiple rapist of underaged teen girls who was thought to be running a trafficking ring for wealthy, well-connected sexual predators, that saw Epstein serving only 13 months in a minimum security facility, on a work-release program that let him spend most of that time out of a cell.

Today, Alexander Acosta is Trump's Secretary of Labor, and, as documents later revealed, his actions ensured that the details of Epstein's sentence were hidden from the public; Epstein has used expensive legal tactics to keep those details out of the public eye. More than a decade later, the powerful, wealthy people who protected Epstein are still on the job, and Trump's DoJ is working overtime to make sure the dozens of women who say they were raped by Epstein when they were girls will not be able to seek justice.

But the secrecy might finally be ending: last week, the Second Circuit appeals court ruled that 2,000 pages of previously sealed files implicating Epstein should be released to the press, overturning US District Judge Robert Sweet's decision to keep the files a secret because they would "promote scandal arising out of unproven potentially libelous statements."

The files that will be unsealed come from a civil case pursued against one of Epstein's associates by someone who claims she was trafficked for sex by Epstein and his circle.

Today’s ruling kicks off a lengthy process for unsealing the files.

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Trump writes that "Aircraft One" may do a "low & loud sprint" over his military parade

Jul 4, 2019

Description:

The President's ride is called Air Force One. What, then, is "Aircraft One?"

Trump:

People are coming from far and wide to join us today and tonight for what is turning out to be one of the biggest celebrations in the history of our Country, SALUTE TO AMERICA, an all day event at the Lincoln Memorial, culminating with large scale flyovers of the most modern.....

...and advanced aircraft anywhere in the World. Perhaps even Aircraft One will do a low & loud sprint over the crowd. That will start at 6:00P.M., but be there early. Then, at 9:00 P.M., a great (to put it mildly) fireworks display. I will speak on behalf of our great Country!

Google suggests it's meaningless and offers no exact results for the term from 2010 to 2018.

Fast come the quips:

I can help. I'm Adjunct Professor at Trump Univ Dept of Aeronautics & Planey Things. Aircraft One was the Wright Brothers' (Wilbur & Steven Wright) first airplane. It was a biplane, steam powered and invisible. It was lost in an unfortunate accident while investigating oranges

— Tomi T Ahonen (@tomiahonen) July 4, 2019

Elements of Resistance Twitter claim that it's an unofficial term for the Russian President's jet, but I was was unable to find evidence of that in English news reports, at wikipedia or in machine-translated items from Russian news and the Kremlin.

Nor could I find the There is, however, a Russian documentary by that name about Putin's plane, as referred by Andrew Feinberg. Read the rest

Take an extra 15% off this tech and household gear for the Fourth of July

Jul 4, 2019

Description:

The Fourth of July is nigh, and what better way to celebrate than with a little dose of capitalism? Here's a roundup of 10 of our favorite household gadgets and tech toys, all of which are already sale priced - but you can take an extra 15% off the final cost by using the online code FIREWORK15.

Nomad 1.5M Battery Lightning Cable

Here's one cable that'll keep your phone charged even with no outlet in sight thanks to the integrated 2800mAh emergency battery. Right now, you can get the Nomad 1.5M Battery Lightning Cable for $19.99, a full 59% off the retail price.

11-in-1 Smartphone Photography Accessory Bundle

The best smartphones can take pictures as well as some high-end cameras. This kit gives your smartphone the ability to maximize that power with a tripod, 3-in-1 lens, Bluetooth selfie remote and much more. The full 11-in-1 Smartphone Photography Accessory Bundle is now $24.99, down 80% from the original cost.

EvaSMART 2: Smart Personal Air Conditioner

This power-saving unit not only cools the air evenly in any room, but it also humidifies and filters the air with its natural EvaBreeze technology. Fully compatible with smart home devices, the EvaSMART 2 is now $179.99 - a full 29% off the MSRP.

Lagu Sand Repelling Beach Towel

Just in time for summer, this towel arrives with a special material that makes it not only quick-drying but naturally repellent to both sand and common allergens. Pick up the Lagu Sand Repelling Beach Towel for $24.99, more than 25% off the list price. Read the rest

Watch Trump suck up to Saudi Crown Prince MBS at G-20

Jun 29, 2019

Description:

The shame just keeps on coming, America.

Illegitimate United States President Donald Trump just met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 in Japan.

During their brief meetup, Trump referred to MBS “a friend of mine,” and said the prince blamed for the grisly assassination of Jamal Khashoggi has done “really a spectacular job” and that it's a “great honor” to meet with him.

Bone saws, people.

JUST IN: President Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman at G-20 in Japan, calls him "a friend of mine" and says that he's done "really a spectacular job" and that it's a "great honor" to meet with him. pic.twitter.com/cKvZ8qWFQc

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 29, 2019

Reactions from Twitter, below.

Every journalist in America should cover Trump appropriately given the unequivocal knowledge that he would warmly greet someone who murdered you. This is no different than high-fiving Al Qaeda after they murdered Daniel Pearl. https://t.co/2Z9gkUE42S

— Anil Dash 🥭 (@anildash) June 28, 2019

Trump and MBS are meeting on a high floor of the Imperial Hotel in Osaka right now. Trump calls the Saudi crown prince “a friend of mine” and says it’s an “honor” to be with him. pic.twitter.com/4EMhkS4Mqj

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 28, 2019

We’ve already had to sue the government over Jared Kushner’s meeting with the Saudi crown prince. https://t.co/rGIX9CDPzE

— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) June 29, 2019

Trump lavishes praise on MBS at breakfast, telling him he has done a "spectacular job." He makes no mention of Khashoggi murder, which the US has concluded the crown prince ordered.

Read the rest

'How I built a 4,000 gallon Koi Pond,' DIY fishpond project (photos)

Jun 29, 2019

Description:

Holy crap this is the most ambitious 'hey I think I'll build a fishpond' project I've ever seen.

IMGURian @jcardona1 shares this incredible step by step photo gallery, and starts with the finished product:

You can't have a DIY post without showing the finished product first so here it is! This is the koi pond as of a few days ago. Still have a few projects to wrap up and some finish landscaping but it's mostly complete for now. Been running for almost 4 months now and the fish are doing great.

About the photo below, they say: “In a few years these baby water cows will be full-on meat torpedoes.”

Now, here are the first three steps of the project:

Go check out the whole gallery, with shot-by-shot commentary.

Hats off, this is a great HOWTO post, and it's a lot of fun to keep koi.

I used to keep koi, in a suburban but wild-hills-adjacent part of the East Bay in the SF Bay Area. Coyotes were always finding a way to come in and eat them, though.

How I built a 4,000 gallon Koi Pond

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Now THIS is how you wear a hoodie (if you are a good boi dog)

Jun 29, 2019

Description:

Is this good boi eating... PUP-CORN?

I'll see myself out.

This bulldog is really enjoying his popcorn treat, eaten directly from the hoodie he's wearing.

You gotta unmute for his om nom nom chompy chomper sounds.

Right way to wear a hoodie

[via imgur]

Read the rest

'Hello(?)!' Trump solicits Kim Jong-Un over Twitter at G20

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Call me maybe

G-20: 'Get rid of them,' Trump says of journalists. Putin: Russia also has 'problem' of 'fake news.' They chuckle

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Today is the one year anniversary of the 2018 Capitol Gazette mass shooting, in which a gunman shot and killed 5 people, and injured more.

At the G20 summit today on the other side of the world, illegitimate United States president Donald Trump shared a chuckle with his boss, Russian president Vladimir Putin, over their shared wish to “get rid of” of journalists.

Trump expressed mocking disdain for “fake news,” and mockingly dismissed the seriousness of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says 26 journalists have been murdered in Russia since Putin became president. Here are their names.

At the G20 photo op in front of news photographers, Trump appeared to bond with Putin over their shared scorn for journalists and the press in general.

“Get rid of them,” said Trump of journalists.

“Fake news is a great term, isn't it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”

“We also have,” Putin replied to Trump, in English. “It’s the same.”

Then they shared a laugh.

Here is the bizarre video clip right before that of Trump telling Putin not to meddle in the 2020 elections. Trump wags his finger at Putin, appears to do it to appease the idiot journalists, mocking all of us.

WATCH: President Trump can be heard telling Russia's Putin not to meddle in the upcoming U.S. election ▶ 🔊 https://t.co/THyCggUA5Z pic.twitter.com/EbfOcKBna6

— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) June 28, 2019

More from journalists who were there, and who observed the pool footage of the Trump-Putin theatrics. Read the rest

Why is GrubHub buying thousands of urls similar to restaurant names, and launching 'shadow sites'?

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

GrubHub is buying up thousands of restaurant web addresses, and “also appears to publish shadow pages without owners' consent—sometimes in direct competition with real websites,” reports The New Food Economy.

Why would the app-based restaurant delivery service do such a crazy thing?

It looks like the reason may be -- shocking, I know! -- predatory greed.

H. Claire Brown writes:

The New Food Economy has found that GrubHub owns more than 23,000 web domains. Its subsidiary, Seamless, owns thousands. We’ve published the full list here. Most of them appear to correlate with the names of real restaurants. The company’s most recent purchase was in May of this year.

Grubhub purchased three different domains containing versions of Shivane’s restaurant’s name—in 2012, 2013, and 2014. “I never gave them permission to do that,” she says.

Shivane believes GrubHub purchased her restaurant’s web domain to prevent her from building her own online presence. She also believes the company may have had a special interest in owning her name because she processes a high volume of orders. She rattles off a list of names of local restaurants that she suspects may be in the same predicament. I find versions of about half those names on the list of GrubHub-owned domains.

Additionally, it appears GrubHub has set up several generic, templated pages that look like real restaurant websites but in fact link only to GrubHub. These pages also display phone numbers that GrubHub controls. The calls are forwarded to the restaurant, but the platform records each one and charges the restaurant a commission fee for every order, according to testimony from GrubHub executives at a hearing at New York City Hall on Thursday.

Read the rest

Notorious "Fuck the Draft" poster from 1968 up for auction

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

There are two days left to bid on this famous protest poster from 1968 at Heritage Auctions.

Fuck the Draft by Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1968). Rolled, Very Fine. Protest Poster (20.25" X 29.75").

Offered in this lot is arguably one of the most iconic anti-Vietnam War posters ever created, depicting a young man burning his draft card in a symbolic act of defiance. Designed by famed activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya under the pseudonym Dirty Linen Corp, this poster was distributed via mail order, with suggestions to mail a copy to mothers, and even the White House. Eventually, the FBI arrested Kuromiya for using the US postal service to distribute 'lewd and indecent materials,' but this poster had already made its rounds and secured a place in anti-draft history.

A good reminder that the FBI, in general, is not on the side of progress.

From Wikipedia:

Kiyoshi Kuromiya (May 9, 1943 – May 10, 2000) was a Japanese American author and civil rights activist. He was born in a Japanese American internment camp on May 9, 1943 in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. He was a committed civil rights and anti-war activist. He was also one of the founders of Gay Liberation Front - Philadelphia and served as an openly gay delegate to the Black Panther Convention that endorsed the gay liberation struggle. Kuromiya was an assistant of Martin Luther King Jr. and took care of King's children immediately following his assassination.

To protest of the use of napalm in the Vietnam War in 1968, he announced that a dog would be burned alive in front of the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt Library.

Read the rest

Jony Ive designed a toilet

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Jony Ive, who is leaving Apple after decades as its design chief, once designed a toilet.

It looks very much like it could be an Apple toilet, but the thing is, of course, that everything Apple makes is simply the work of Jony Ive.

His work was not well-received by his client Ideal Standard, however. In a 2014 interview with Time magazine, Sir Jonathan recalled how his client - sporting a Red Nose Day plastic nose - joked about how his work was overly modern and expensive.

The photo is couretesy of Tangerine, the London-based agency where he then worked. Read the rest

Data Goggles or Eye Massager?

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Suggested marketing copy for the Breo iSee4 Eye and Temple Massager Temple:

He is wearing shiny goggles that wrap halfway round his head; the bows of the goggles have little earphones that are plugged into his outer ears.

The earphones have some built-in noise cancellation features. This sort of thing works best on steady noise...

The goggles throw a light, smoky haze across his eyes, and reflect a distorted wide-angle view of a brilliantly lit boulevard that stretches off into an infinite blackness. This boulevard does not actually exist; it is a computer-generated view of an imaginary place.

Actually, the eye massager does not immerse you into the Metaverse, but Snow Crash fans will want this anyway!

Previously: Pain Box or Hand Massager? Read the rest

A glossary of Silicon Valley tech-bro terms

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

The Guardian's Julia Carrie Wong and Matthew Cantor put together a list of "53 essential tech-bro terms." Here are a few samples:

dongle (n) A small, expensive and easily misplaced piece of computer gear. Usually required when a company revolutionizes its products by getting rid of all the ports that are compatible with the accessories you already own. See Apple.

meritocracy (n) A system that rewards those who most deserve it, as long as they went to the right school. The tech industry is a meritocracy in much the same way that America is a meritocracy. See diversity and inclusion.

microdosing (n) – Taking small amounts of illegal drugs while white. It may be possible to microdose without writing a book or personal essay about it, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

smart (adj) – A product that is capable of being hooked up to the internet – thus rendering it capable of being hacked or abusing your data.

thought leader (n) – An unemployed rich person.

Image: achinthamb/Shutterstock Read the rest

Remains of dog-eaten chew toy resembles scene from The Philadephia Experiment

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Tricksy was hungry, so she ate half a polyurethane frog. The remains appear to be misteleported into the metal worktop, reaching out in desperate frozen horror like a hapless sailor from The Philadephia Experiment.

Previously: Chew toys that last a giant dog multiple rainy days Read the rest

WTF is this commercial for a famous brand?

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

If you haven't seen this long commercial before, you'll never guess what it is advertising. The reveal is at the end.

for the record, i trimmed out exactly 2 seconds of this: a full-frame ECU of the mother's nipple before the baby starts breastfeeding. subway! eat fresh

— Ryan Simmons (@rysimmons) June 27, 2019

FAQ:Q: Is this real?A: Real as you and me.Q: Who made it?A: A firm called Stink (!) out of their Brazil office with director Salsa (?)Q: Is that a little boy peeing?A: Yes.Q: I got it right on the first guess.A: That's not a question, and no you did not.

— Ryan Simmons (@rysimmons) June 27, 2019

MORE FAQ:Q: Is he peeping on his mom?A: I don't think so, but anything's possible.Q: Is the sandwich artist the girl he kissed?A: See above.Q: When he shaves his head after the heartbreak, is he becoming an incel?A: Without a doubt, 100% yes.

— Ryan Simmons (@rysimmons) June 27, 2019

Read the rest

The new Tapplock smart lock is a huge improvement over the old one

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Last year Jerry from JerryRigEverything had no difficulty defeating a $100 fingerprint smart lock made by Tapplock. All he did was unscrew the back and remove a few screws inside. Well, Tapplock recently wrote Jerry and told him it had an improved design. Jerry bought four of the locks and looked for vulnerabilities. He learned that the new Tapplock is much more secure than the old one.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Man makes convincing chainsaw noises while cutting cheese

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

BONUS: Man cutting cheese with a chainsaw:

Read the rest

Tech support scammer talks to a bot

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

You are probably familiar with the tech support scam. You get a call from someone (usually from a call center in India) pretending to be from Apple or Microsoft. They tell you they have noticed a problem with your computer and ask you to open a web site that gives them remote access to your computer. Once they do that, they get you to log into your bank account so they can rob you blind.

Here's one such scammer who thinks he's talking to a woman, but he's really talking to a bot programmed to act like a harried mother. The scammer quickly becomes frustrated, and at the 2:20 point he starts to become sexually abusive. Of course, the bot doesn't react as he expects, which frustrates him even more. In the end, the bot wastes 10 minutes of the scammer's time.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

EFF is hiring a Donor Operations Manager

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Wanna work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation? We're looking for "a confident, experienced, and energetic manager to oversee our donation processing team of three" -- "The Donor Operations Manager will manage a team whose job is to guarantee success in all steps of a supporter’s donation process: easy gift transaction, quick and friendly response to any questions, prompt acknowledgement, shipment of requested premiums, and meticulous record-keeping." Read the rest

This woman lives in a tiny house in the British Columbian wilderness

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Here's a tour of a 20-foot long house on wheels that Jessica, a social worker, set up in a British Columbia forest. It has a sleeping loft and plenty of clever storage space.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Chin pimple suddenly disappears during presidential debate

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

This footage of presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard appears to show a small blemish on her chin--a pimple or bug bite, perhaps--that suddenly disappears as she's talking. Conspiracy theorists suggest MSNBC (producers of the footage) added the pimple to make her look bad. But it's obviously more likely that they were using filters to smooth out everyone's meat on a live broadcast (see below) with limited time for makeup, and the pimple got through for a few seconds.

Or maybe it's just a bug and it flew off...

If it's a filter, the filter should go. The times are not amenable to even the most innocuous digital manipulation.

Read the rest

Julián Castro shuts down Megan McCain's 'lawless border' talking points

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Perfect👌🏾

Meghan McCain: How dare you say open borders & no repercussions?@JulianCastro: Thats a Right Wing talking point. I say criminalize crime—not desperation. I clearly defend border security & deportation for criminals.

MM: but...but..pic.twitter.com/NMiHJe7kl4

— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) June 28, 2019

Megan McCain gets a lesson on how talking points aren't actually real. Read the rest

I would love a Bob Dylan cover of "Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

This unrecorded gem has been playing in my head for the last 300 miles of a 500-mile road trip. Read the rest

The magic theatre of High Weirdness

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

In Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf we visit a mysterious and strange magic theatre, where some pretty weird things happen. Meant for madmen and madwomen only, the price of admission is nothing less than one's mind. In High Weirdness, you are invited to enter another kind of magic theatre. It is a place of magic and madness, heaven and hell, beauty and terror. Luckily, the price of the ticket is not your sanity, but just the price of the book, High Weirdness, the latest literary exploration by Erik Davis.

Erik Davis, PhD

A long-time Boing Boing pal, Erik Davis is an intellectual of the highest caliber: a persuasive and provocative essayist, an erudite and unconventional scholar of religions, a charismatic and engaging speaker, an adventurous-minded tripster and all-around experienced explorer of the edges of our reality. Davis is one of the most admired and refined interpreters of all matters mystical, psychedelic and occult. His decades' long travels in hyper-reality—roaming seamlessly from musical festivals to Burning Man to academia—make him a uniquely qualified cyber-anthropologist, a keen observer of our contemporary and turbulent cross-cultural mazes of techno-mystical realms, fringe subcultures, neo-shamanic practices, pop mythologies, conspiracy theories, and spiritual impulses. For those who arrived late to Erik Davis' extensive body of work, let me single out three important contributions: his classic (and still  relevant) read Techgnosis; his musical hermeneutic homage to the Led Zeppelin IV album; and his podcast, a cornucopia of weekly interviews with artists, intellectuals and all sorts of weirdos, all concerned with the cultures of consciousness.  Read the rest

Why the Trump DOJ argues keeping kids in cages is "safe and sanitary"

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

They are monsters looking for any loophole to torture children who came desperately seeking the America that claimed to be a haven. My family sought and received that refuge when we ran from pogroms and German National Socialists.

In a fantastic piece by former Federal prosecutor Ken White The Atlantic shares the hows and whys of this inhumane argument:

It was this sequence of events that brought Fabian before three judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week to make her startling argument. The panel—which included Judge A. Wallace Tashima, who as a child in World War II was confined to an internment camp with other Japanese Americans—was perhaps not an ideal forum. The judges were openly hostile, incredulous that the government would argue that a facility is “safe and sanitary” even if the minors confined there have no soap, toothbrushes, or dark places to sleep. “I find that inconceivable that the government would say that that is safe and sanitary,” said Judge William Fletcher, in a representative comment. The judges ultimately suggested that the United States should consider whether it wanted to maintain the appeal—a signal that litigants ignore at their grave peril.

The United States’s loathsome argument—that it is “safe and sanitary” to confine children without soap, toothbrushes, dry clothes, and on concrete under bright lights—is morally indefensible. It’s also a spectacularly foolish argument to raise in the famously liberal Ninth Circuit, where the United States should have expected exactly the reception that it got.

Read the rest

Felony Contempt of Business Model: Lexmark's anti-competitive legacy

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

In 2002, Lexmark was one of the leading printer companies in the world. A division of IBM—the original tech giant—Lexmark was also a pioneer in the now-familiar practice of locking customers in to expensive "consumables," like the carbon powder that laser-printers fuse to paper to produce printouts.

Lexmark gave its customers the choice of paying extra for their cartridges (by buying refillable cartridges at a $50 premium), or paying extra for their toner (saving $50 on a cartridge whose "lock-out" chip prevented refilling, so that they would have to buy a whole cartridge when the non-refillable one ran dry). Customers, however, had a counteroffer for Lexmark: they wanted to save $50 on a "non-refillable" cartridge and then go ahead and refill it. After all, carbon is relatively abundant throughout the universe, and more locally, Earth has more carbon that it knows what to do with.

Various competitors of Lexmark stepped up to help its customers with their counteroffer. One such company was Static Control Components, which reverse-engineered Lexmark's lock-out chip and found that its 55-byte program performed a relatively straightforward function that would be easy to duplicate: when a cartridge was newly filled, this chip signaled to the printer that the cartridge had available toner. Once the cartridge ran out, the chip would tell the printer that it had an empty cartridge. Refilling the cartridge did no good because the chip would still tell the printer that there was no toner available.

After Static Control performed this bit of reverse engineering, it was able to manufacture its own chips, which it sold to remanufacturers, who would pour in fresh carbon, swap out the chip, and sell the cartridges. Read the rest

Three Halflings in a Trenchcoat: a homebrew fighter class for D&D

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

"Three Halflings in a Trenchcoat" is Redditor Sir_Platinum's homebrew fighter class for Dungeons and Dragons, wherein the halflings' dexterity bonus is canceled out by the need to maintain balance and movement speed is sharply reduced, but this is offset by a "Band of Brothers" effect that -- while not so good for hit points -- provides an armor class bonus, as well as the ability to make three attacks at once with all six arms.

The thing that makes this so great is Sir_Platinum's ha-ha-only-serious devotion to carrying the gag through, with all kinds of bonuses at higher levels, like the "uncanny valley" effect that kicks in at level 15, wherein your improvements to your movement increase your realism to the point where people can't quite put their finger on what's wrong with this picture (gain advantage on intimidation checks).

Sir_Platinum carries on in the comments, weighing in on whether they can all be called "Steve," and providing GM tips for running a game with the class in it; his running notes are invaluable to anyone contemplating playing the class.

I intend this character to be played as a pure fighter, no multiclassing.

You could play this with any small race, I chose it because halflings have a +2 to dex racially, and if anyone can pull it off, they can. Add a minimum dex score requirement if you want.

Only light weapons are allowed for the build as they are the only type that can be easily concealed. No shields, regular, or heavy weapons.

Read the rest

Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working"

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

"The books will stop working": That's the substance of the reminder that Microsoft sent to customers for their ebook store, reminding them that, as announced in April, the company is getting out of the ebook business because it wasn't profitable enough for them, and when they do, they're going to shut off their DRM servers, which will make the books stop working.

Almost exactly fifteen years ago, I gave an influential, widely cited talk at Microsoft Research where I predicted this exact outcome. I don't feel good about the fact that I got it right. This is a fucking travesty.

As Rob Donoghue tweeted, "I keep saying it and it sounds worse each time...There will be refunds, and reasonable voice says to me it's just business, but the book voice wants to burn it all down. I'm kind of with the book voice on this one."

Me too. Here's what I wrote back in April, when Microsoft announced the shutdown.

Microsoft has a DRM-locked ebook store that isn't making enough money, so they're shutting it down and taking away every book that every one of its customers acquired effective July 1.

Customers will receive refunds.

This puts the difference between DRM-locked media and unencumbered media into sharp contrast. I have bought a lot of MP3s over the years, thousands of them, and many of the retailers I purchased from are long gone, but I still have the MP3s. Likewise, I have bought many books from long-defunct booksellers and even defunct publishers, but I still own those books. Read the rest

Improving Q&As with peer-review

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

When I give a talk, it's often the case that the question period after is dominated by dudes, a substantial fraction of whom bloviate ("More of a comment than a question," "It's a two-part question") rather than ask questions.

For the past couple years, my method for addressing this is to announced that I'll be calling alternately on people who identify as female or nonbinary and people who identify as male or nonbinary (and to remind people that a question is one sentence that goes up at the end, and that while a long rambling statement followed by "What do you think of that?" is a technical question, but not a very good one).

Often there's a bit of a quiet period when I announce this policy, because (speaking as a dude), it's generally the case that the men in the audience have spent at least some of the time during the talk thinking of a cool question to ask that makes them look good, while the women have been actually paying attention, so it takes a moment for someone who identifies as female or nonbinary to come up with a question.

Despite that, the process works really well, for the most part, and gets both a higher caliber and a greater variety of questions.

But for all that this is a pretty good method, it pales in comparison to the method deployed by Eve Tuck, Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies at Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Read the rest

Howto: stay civil while discussing the children in America's concentration camps

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

As our political betters are always there to remind us, civility is important, the key to getting things done -- that's why Gerning Joe was so pallsy wallsy with segregationists -- you wouldn't want to offend the eugenics movement, because there's good people on both sides.

The Trump Administration's decision to spend millions paying Beltway Bandits to put kids in concentration camps is a real stain on the nation's character, because of all the incivility this has provoked, which has hurt the feelings of people who are sad about being criticized.

With this in mind, our friends at The Onion have assembled a must-read guide to staying civil while debating child prisons, with tips like "Avoid unkind generalizations like equating the jailing of ethnic minorities with some malevolent form of fascism," "Consider that we all have different perspectives stemming from things like age, ethnicity, or level of racism," and "Recall that violently rejecting a tyrannical government goes against everything our forefathers believed in."

Give your political opponents the benefit of the doubt by letting this play out for 20 years and seeing if it gets any better on its own.

Realize that every pressing social issue is solved through civil discourse if you ignore virtually all of human history.

Avoid painting with a broad brush. Not everyone in favor of zero-tolerance immigration wants to see children in cages—it’s more likely that they just don’t care.

Tips For Staying Civil While Debating Child Prisons [The Onion]

(Image: Rueben Bolling) Read the rest

It's time for the Clarion/Clarion West Write-a-Thon!

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

The Clarion workshops (Clarion at UCSD, Clarion West in Seattle) are key elements of the pipeline for producing excellent new science fiction and fantasy writers; I am a graduate of Clarion 92, and have taught both workshops, and volunteer on the board for The Clarion Foundation, which oversees the Clarion workshop at UCSD.

Leaving your job and family for six weeks to attend a Clarion workshop is hard enough to manage, but adding in the tuition (which is kept as low as possible, but is still substantial) can put the Clarions out of reach for many very promising writers.

So the Clarions are continuously in fundraising mode, raising money to give to promising students in scholarships to help defray tuition and other expenses. And the key to that fundraising are the annual write-a-thons.

Every year, established and new writers sign up to write a certain number of words over the course of a couple of months, and ask the people who love and support their work to pledge to donate to one of the Clarions based on the number of words they write.

I've participated every year for many years, though this year it'll be as a donor, not a writer (I just published a book, have two more in production, and just turned in yet another one, so I'm on a bit of a hiatus, though I do need to write a short story for the fall, so I just might end up on the roster after all).

I hope you'll support the workshops, too. Read the rest

"Because we're not morons:" This bumper sticker announces you're voting for "the Democrat"

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

Five bucks will buy you the bumper sticker that lets people know you're voting for WHATEVER Democratic presidential candidate is on the ballot in 2020. Right now there are 24 in the running.

The Democrat 2020 bumper sticker:

Look, we're all gonna have favorites during the primary. That's what primaries are for. But once we have a Democratic nominee, we're gonna vote for them, because we're not morons. Announce your intent to end the madness by voting for the Democrat in 2020, whoever they are.

...Made with adhesive so it's easy to change when the time comes to replace this sticker with one from your new favorite nominee.

Thanks, Steve Garfield! Read the rest

Travel and converse anywhere in the world with this Lonely Planet bundle

Jun 28, 2019

Description:

The world can seem pretty splintered these days through the narrow lens of the internet, but all it takes is the right conversation in a distant cafe or remote mountain trail to show how much we have in common. For years, the professional globetrotters at Lonely Planet have been facilitating that feeling with guides that give travelers crucial info on lodging, customs, and entertainment with a personal touch.

No matter where you go, Lonely Planet has been there, gone off the beaten path and back - and nowhere is that more evident than in the Lonely Planet & Transparent Language Bundle. This massive online package of travel guides and language tutorials is essential for budding world travelers, especially now that the entire thing is on sale for potentially pennies in a pay-what-you-want deal.

Lonely Planet has been well-regarded for their travel guides since the 70s, and this bundle supplements all that inside info with some very intuitive language lessons. The primers from Transparent teach you how to speak like a native with a multifaceted approach that incorporates interactive text, audio cues, gaming and a host of visual stimuli. The full bundle gets you Transparent language lessons in French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Thai and many more.

Once you're ready to put your newfound fluency into practice, there's a ton of Lonely Planet guides that show you where to do it. In all, there's 13 countries featured in the bundle - several with multiple writeups. You'll get full-fledged travel guides that highlight the best things to do in all the best cities, plus pocket guides that give you hotel prices, exchange rates, neighborhood maps and other essential info at a glance for cities like Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, and Rome. Read the rest

Podcast: Mathmatica creator Stephen Wolfram's favorite tools

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

My guest on the Cool Tools podcast this week is Stephen Wolfram. Stephen is the creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Language; he’s the author of A New Kind of Science; and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. Over the course of nearly four decades, Stephen has been a pioneer in the development and application of computational thinking—and has been responsible for many discoveries, inventions and innovations in science, technology and business.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Wolfram|Alpha Wolfram Alpha is a thing for answering questions using computational knowledge. And I use it every day for all kinds of things. If I'm going to walk outside I go to Wolfram Alpha, usually on my phone, and just type in sunburn. And it will figure out based on where I am predictions for UV index and so on. Plus, skin type data and so on and will tell me what the expected time for me to get sunburned is. It gives you sort of an information presentation. Here's another thing you can do. You can just go to Wolfram Alpha and type in some first name. Like Kevin, for example. And this is a good party trick. Because it knows how many people called Kevin have been born every year since the late 1800's, and it knows mortality tables and so on. It can figure out what the distribution of Kevins in America is. Read the rest

Good price on a Raspberry Pi Zero W starter kit

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is an itty-bitty wireless Linux computer. This kit ( on Amazon) contains almost everything you need to run it, including a case, power supply, and adapter cables. You need to supply your own microSD card, HDMI monitor, keyboard and mouse. I'm working on a project that uses a Pi Zero, which I hope to share with you soon. Read the rest

How to completely renovate and overhaul a 1971 Boler

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

“I spent the last few months completely renovating and overhauling a 1971 #boler,” says IMGURian bteliot. This is an amazing image thread that breaks it all down, and really makes me want to fix up one of these babies and get on the road myself.

Here's the 'Before.'

Renovating a 1971 Boler.

Read the rest

#TrumpRaids are coming: ICE raids and mass deportations as early as Sunday in these 10 cities

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Here are the 10 U.S. cities where ICE, CBP, DHS, and other agencies plan to execute mass raids.

Immigration agents will target Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco this weekend, congressional and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sources have told the Miami Herald.

Earlier this week, a Trump administration official confirmed that ICE will specifically target for deportation as many as 1 million people “who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country.”

Among those to be targeted first, sources said: minors who came into the U.S. without their parents and have since turned 18; people who were ordered removed in absentia; and people who missed a court hearing and did not respond to letters mailed to their homes by the Department of Justice.

Also targeted: families on the so-called rocket docket, a slate of cases fast-tracked for deportation by the Justice Department.

Two ICE enforcement briefings were held this week, one on Wednesday, led by ICE Deputy Director Matthew T. Albence, the other on Thursday by Henry Lucero, field office director for the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in Phoenix.

On the call led by Albence, the target cities were mentioned, although the timing was not shared.

The plan might also focus on a very targeted population: recent arrivals from the border with a final order of removal. In certain communities, including South Florida, these families have received “case management” services from an ICE contractor, or might still be in detention.

Read the rest

E. Jean Carroll accuses Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

'He lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips.' Then it gets worse.

Catholic bishop plans to dump holy water from plane to exorcise city's demons

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Holy chemtrails! Monsignor Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya, Catholic bishop of Buenaventura, Colombia, plans to drop holy water across the city to exorcise its demons. Apparently there have been 51 murders in just five months and the bishop wants to help the best way he knows how. From a Google-translated RCN Radio article:

"It will be a great public demonstration of the entire community, where we will pour holy water to see if so many bad things end and the devil comes out of here," the priest said...

For the moment, Bishop Jaramillo is coordinating the work with the National Navy and the mayor in order to have an aircraft for July 13 or 14 , when the Fiesta de San Buenaventura, the city's patron saint, is celebrated.

More at Mysterious Universe.

image: Contrails (NOAA) Read the rest

Police called to would-be UK PM Boris Johnson's home, 'loud altercation' reported

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

In London, police were called to the home of Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds in the early Friday morning hours.

Neighbors reported “a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging,” reports the Guardian.

“Police attended and spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well,” reported the London police. “There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action.”

On an audio recording obtained by the Guardian, Johnson “can be heard refusing to leave the flat and telling Symonds to 'get off my fucking laptop' before a loud crashing noise.”

Symonds is reportedly heard saying: “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt."

From the Guardian:

The argument could be heard outside the property where the potential future prime minister is living with Symonds, a former Conservative party head of press.

A neighbour told the Guardian they heard a woman screaming followed by “slamming and banging”. At one point Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to “get off me” and “get out of my flat”.

The neighbour said that after becoming concerned they knocked on the door but received no response. “I [was] hoping that someone would answer the door and say ‘We’re okay’. I knocked three times and no one came to the door.”

The neighbour decided to call 999. Two police cars and a van arrived within minutes, shortly after midnight, but left after receiving reassurances from both the individuals in the flat that they were safe.

Read the rest

On the history of concentration camps, and what Trump's doing on the border

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

“When the hardliners win, as they appear to have in the US, conditions tend to worsen significantly.”

The ENIAC Programmers: how women invented modern programming and were then written out of the history books

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project, writes about the buried history of the pivotal role played by women in the creation of modern computing, a history that is generally recounted as consisting of men making heroic technical and intellectual leaps while women did some mostly simple, mechanical work around the periphery.

Kleiman summarizes her twenty years of research into the programmers of the ENIAC -- the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the first modern computer -- whose first programmers were six women: Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Betty Snyder Holberton, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence.

The ENIAC programmers had to invent programming as we know it, working without programming codes (these were invented a few years later for UNIVAC by Betty Holberton): they "broke down the differential calculus ballistics trajectory program" into small steps the computer could handle, then literally wired together the program by affixing cables and flicking the machine's 3,000 switches in the correct sequences. To capture it all, they created meticulous flowcharts that described the program's workings.

The women stayed on the ENIAC project after the war because "no solider returning home from the battlefield could program ENIAC," and went on to train the next generation of ENIAC programmers, also creating modern computer science education; they also went on to create the first computer instruction codes.

Kleiman's scholarship is an important rebuttal to the sexist, revisionist history of early computer science, like Nathan Ensmenger's odious 2010 book "The Computer Boys Take Over," which characterized the ENIAC women as "glorified clerical workers" and insisted that the women were only given the job because it was perceived as "low priority" (in reality, the women were the cream of the US Army's Ballistics Research Labs, recruited from math programs at top universities). Read the rest

Federal judge rules Uber calling its drivers independent contractors may violate antitrust and harm competition

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

A federal judge has ruled that alleged misclassification of drivers as independent contractors by the ride-hailing service app Uber could harm competition and violate the spirit of America's antitrust laws.

• Lawsuit says misclassifying workers creates competitive harm • 30 days to amend complaint with new information

The ruling by Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is not a final decision in the case, but is a “significant warning to ride-hailing companies,” Bloomberg News reports.

“It signals how a 2018 California Supreme Court case and future worker classification laws could open the floodgates to worker misclassification and antitrust claims.”

More here. Read the rest

Refinery explosion in New Jersey

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

I've lived long enough in America to know that...

A) "Shelter in place" means "you'll probably be OK", and that... B) There is no footage so awesome it can't be ruined by graphics, chyrons and the inane narration of news presenters.

Read the rest

IMPEACHMENT: House Chairman of Armed Services Rep. Adam Smith [D-WA] backs inquiry

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Add another prominent lawmaker to the list of names calling for the start of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump: House Chairman of Armed Services Adam Smith, a Democrat from the state of Washington.

House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith, talking to us about Trump's tweets this morning, told us it shows "a level of indecision that I don't think is helpful to us." He added: "That's not the kind of thing that I think the president should say publicly." pic.twitter.com/G5mTj45cay

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 21, 2019

72 US House Representatives now support an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.

Rep. Adam Smith is the 71st Democrat to support an impeachment inquiry.

He is the second impeachment backer in the House from Washington state.

From armedservices.house.gov:

Now in his 12th term, Smith serves as the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, where he is a strong advocate for our military personnel and their families. Smith is also committed to providing our military personnel with the best equipment available to carry out their current and future missions while ensuring that the Pentagon spends taxpayer dollars in the most efficient and effective manner. This includes carefully examining our current policies and working to eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse.

Above: Here's the latest 'Impeachment Tracker' chart from NPR.

From NPR:

This week, both California Democratic Rep. Katie Porter and Illinois Democratic Rep. Sean Casten publicly backed an impeachment investigation. Porter and Casten are two of just three House Democrats who represent competitive districts and are publicly backing impeachment of President Trump.

Read the rest

Man with selfie stick films pickpockets, who get nabbed by cops

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

A man with a selfie-stick recorded a video of himself and his wife as they strolled through a park in Mallorca, Spain. He also inadvertently recorded another man and a woman (dressed in white) attempting to pick their bags and pockets. At the end of the video, undercover cops arrest the pickpockets.

Side note: I think the video recording software digitally erases the selfie stick. You can see the shadow of the stick but not the stick itself.

[via Reddit] Read the rest

Learning from Baltimore's disaster, Florida city will pay criminals $600,000 to get free of ransomware attack

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

The city council of Riviera Beach, Florida has voted unanimously to pay $600,000 to criminals who seized control of the city's computers through a ransomware attack, after three weeks of being locked out of the city systems (the city has also voted to spend $1m replacing its computers).

Despite the fact that paying the ransom will enrich gangsters at public expense, the city is arguably getting a bargain. On May 8, the city of Baltimore was taken hostage by ransomware, and the city opted not to pay the ransom. City services have been paralyzed ever since, and they remain down, more than a month later, with millions in losses to the city.

Though ransomware has been around for years, it gained a new lease on life when an NSA superweapon leaked online. The NSA stockpiles vulnerabilites in widely used system as a means of attacking its adversaries, and subscribes to an official doctrine called NOBUS ("No One But Us") whose premise is that no one in the world is smart enough to rediscover these defects or steal them from the NSA. The NSA is obviously very wrong about this.

I mean, obviously.

In the meantime, the NSA's recklessness has put us all to risk. If your data is locked up and you don't have a backup, your only option is probably to pay the ransom (you most certainly should not hire a "consultant" to recover your data or negotiate on your behalf, as these businesses are nearly as crooked as the ransomware criminals themselves). Read the rest

Guy rigs up his Roku to an old black-and-white TV to watch The Twilight Zone

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Josh Ellingson, an artist from San Francisco, connected a Roku to his old black-and-white TV and enjoyed The Twilight Zone as it should be watched. Here are some other fun things he did with the setup.

[via digg] Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren proposes a ban on private prisons and immigration facilities

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Elizabeth Warren has added another plank to her prodigious and admirable campaign platform of well-thought-through, progressive, sensible, popular proposals for a Warren administration: banning federal agencies (including ICE and the Department of Corrections) from contracting with private prisons. Warren also wants to stop contractors from charging inmates fees for essential services (including price-gouging on phone-calls, videoconferncing, mail, and email), and forcing contractors to comply with FOIA requests for information on their activities on behalf of government agencies.

However bad you imagine private prisons are, you're probably underestimating their awfulness. It's not just the slave labor, it's also the torture, the inhumane medical situation, the incredible violence, and worse. Private prisons are incredibly profitable, and some of those profits are used to draft laws that send more people to (private) prisons; the industry also pays out massive sums (we see you, Chuck Schumer) and their lobbyists are everywhere (looking at you, Beto O'Rourke); when all else fails, they're not above bribing judges to fill their cells with young, brown bodies.

When Obama tried to sunset federal reliance on private prisons, the industry responded by diversifying into immigration detention, halfway houses, and mental health and even though Trump reverse the Obama policy, immigration detention has ushered in a golden age of grifting for the industry, and the GOP #taxscam was especially kind to firms who earn their profits by imprisoning people.

The massive profits from private prisons have also been used to fund legislative initiatives to expand the industry at the state level, rather than improving the conditions in inhumane immigration detention centers, where things have been deteriorating for years. Read the rest

Enjoy this weekly dose of snark about bad product designs

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

The industrial design website, Core77, has recently introduced a sarcastic column about poorly-thought-out products called The Weekly Design Roast. Here are the links to the ones published so far: 1, 2, 3, 4.

"A conventional bookmark, which is just a slip of stiff paper, is too easy to ship and recycle; they also don't use up enough materials or take up any additional desk space. To solve this, I designed mine out of lacquered ash." [True story: This "bookmark" is "ideal for…books under 9 inches in height." For differently-sized books, you can order their larger version in STEEL.]

"Only thing I don't like is, since we have this against a wall, my wife has to climb through my blue water to get into her pink water. But other than that I am satisfied with my purchase." Read the rest

No jail time for man who sexually assaulted 11-year-old girl and infected her with STD

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Joseph Meili, a Missouri man who admitted sexually molesting an 11 year old girl, received five years' probation and has a shot at getting the charge expunged. KFOR reports that his semen was found in the girl's underwear, she tested positive for chlamydia after their encounter, and that he claims she "catfished" him.

Prosecutors recommended Meili serve 120 days in a sex offender treatment program and up to seven years in prison. But Judge Calvin R. Holden sentenced him to just five years of supervised probation

His attorney, Scott Pierson, not only blames the child but suggests Meili himself is a victim of injustice.

Pierson told HuffPost that the girl had reached out to his client online and “catfished” him by claiming to be older than she was.

“He felt horrible about the entire incident,” Pierson said. “He’s going to be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life ... It’s a tough case. Neither side is really going to get justice here.”

There's evidently a problem with the judge, Calvin R. Holden, who has a longstanding reputation for letting men convicted of violent sex crimes walk free. Read the rest

GE is totally messing with customers who need help resetting a lightbulb

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

This (real) video from GE on how to reset their "C" light bulbs is the most incredible how-to video you'll ever see.

They want to see how far they can push their customers before they snap. https://t.co/gbXOc543fy

— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) June 20, 2019

Holy cow! This How-To video sounds like a parody but is just GE being GE, I guess.

Who the fuck needs to reset a lightbulb?

How many GE engineers does it take to reset a lightbulb?

Reset a lightbulb.

(Thank you, BCC) Read the rest

Weed wacker achieves level 99

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Which boss level do you have to clear to get this kind of dropped gear?

via Gfycat Read the rest

Google Maps is still overrun with scammers pretending to be local businesses, and Google's profiting from them

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

We bought a house in 2018 and have been renovating it pretty much constantly ever since: I've had to call out movers, emergency plumbers and electricians, find HVAC repairpeople, hire locksmiths, contract with a roofer, etc etc. Despite the longstanding and serious problems with fraud on Google Maps, I often start my search there, because I am an idiot, because 100% of the time, Google Maps sends me to a scammer. One hundred percent.

Sometimes, the scam is petty, where a company that claims to be a local business but is actually a referral service that sends out a contractor, often someone who has to come a long way, which is no fun when you're talking about waiting for a locksmith (thankfully, I live near a master lockpicker -- which is fantastic (thanks, John!) but doesn't exactly scale).

Sometimes, it's just a scam. The number of people who've offered to move my house or fix my roof who were obviously con artists is astounding. We're talking naked advance-fee frauds and other dopey, corny cons here.

The Wall Street Journal goes deep on something that many of us had long suspected: not only is Google incapable of removing scams from Gmaps, it also profits handsomely from these scammers, who pay big to crowd out the real businesses (cons don't have the same overheads that actual businesses do, so they have more surplus capital to bring to the project of dominating Gmaps).

Thankfully, our renos are nearly at an end (a little landscaping and the solar on the roof and then we're all set!), but I'm still at a loss for the next time I need to hire a skilled tradesperson. Read the rest

People more likely to return lost wallets if there's cash inside

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

You might think that when someone finds a wallet on the street, they're less likely to return it if there's cash inside. But you'd be wrong. According to a new three-year study across multiple countries, people are more inclined to return wallets stuffed with money. The more cash, the more likely they'll turn it over to the rightful owner. From the New York Times:

“The evidence suggests that people tend to care about the welfare of others and they have an aversion to seeing themselves as a thief,” said Alain Cohn, a study author and assistant professor of information at the University of Michigan. People given wallets with more money have more to gain from dishonesty, but that also increases “the psychological cost of the dishonest act...."

Christian Zünd, a doctoral student and co-author, said a survey they conducted found that “without money, not reporting a wallet doesn’t feel like stealing. With money, however, it suddenly feels like stealing and it feels even more like stealing when the money in the wallet increases...."

The researchers surveyed people to see if they expected bigger rewards for returning more money; they didn’t.

Read the rest

Good deal on a new Xbox One controller

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

There is a pretty good deal running on my favorite gaming controller.

I use this with my Xbox, Nintendo Switch and MacBook Pro. It is more durable than the more expensive 'pro controllers' and works just as well.

If you've been waiting for a replacement this is a pretty good price.

Microsoft 4N6-00001 Xbox Controller + Cable for Windows via Amazon

Previously:

The best controller for a Nintendo Switch is the latest model Xbox controller Read the rest

Video - how fingerprint recognition works

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

In this episode of computerphile, Dr. Isaac Triguero, a lecturer in data science at the University of Nottingham, gives a high-level overview of the kind of fingerprint feature-matching algorithm used in mobile phones.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

America can only go to war against Iran if it reinstates the draft

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Gil Barndollar -- a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, the Republic of Georgia, Guantanamo Bay and Bahrain, who also holds a PhD in History from Cambridge -- writes in USA Today about what a US regime change effort in Iran would mean, logistically speaking.

Barndollar observes that in "Hitler’s Germany, Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam or Saddam’s Iraq," US air power was not sufficient to "topple a government," and also that America's regional Sunni allies, having "stalemated in Yemen" would not rush to serve as boots on the ground for an invasion and occupation of Iran, which will require enormous numbers of occupiers because "even if the Islamic Republic were to somehow collapse on its own, concerns about radiological material, the security of the Strait of Hormuz or another massive wave of refugees" would demand that the vacuum be filled.

America boasts of its "all volunteer" military (conveniently ignoring how much of that "all-volunteer" force is composed of people who face economic privation, or who hope for an increasingly unlikely path to citizenship through military service), but the volunteer force is dwindling: just getting the bodies to send to Iraq and Afghanistan required that the forces double their felony waivers for new recruits from 2003-2006.

The reality is that the "all volunteer" US forces are entirely dependent on mercenaries to get the job done (the ratio of soldiers to "military contractors" in Iraq was 50 times the ratio from the Vietnam War); and "getting the job done" is a charitable description: "The All-Volunteer Force was barely able to sustain two large, but low-casualty, campaigns [in Iraq and Afghanistan] — neither of which has resulted in anything resembling a U.S. Read the rest

Bronze sculpture of a cracked-open boulder looks like enormous forbidden snack

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Romain Langlois sculpted this enormous forbidden snack out of bronze, carefully texturizing it to take on the appearance of a boulder cracked-open to reveal a delicious gooey interior. It's at the Artistics gallery in Paris and part of a series of similar works. If you have to ask, you can't afford it.

Read the rest

USB inventor admits that the plugs are annoying

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

In 1996, Intel released USB (Universal Serial Bus) 1.0 and we have been annoyed ever since. National Public Radio spoke with engineer Ajay Bhatt who led the team that unleashed the perpetually frustrating non-reversible plug on the world. From NPR:

"The biggest annoyance is reversibility," Bhatt told NPR. Nonetheless, he stands by his design.

Turns out there's a very specific reason for the USB's lack of reversibility.

A USB that could plug in correctly both ways would have required double the wires and circuits, which would have then doubled the cost.

The Intel team led by Bhatt anticipated the user frustration and opted for a rectangular design and a 50-50 chance to plug it in correctly, versus a round connector with less room for error...

"In hindsight, based on all the experiences that we all had, of course it was not as easy as it should be," Bhatt said.

Read the rest

History of cart racing games

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Simplified racing with weapons: it's not all about Super Mario Kart. the genre is surprisingly diverse and persistent, all the way back to the mid-70s.

The genre got very crowded, very fast at the turn of the century. Roughly two dozen kart racers came out across all platforms from 1999 to 2001. Every man and his dog who had a decent character license decided simultaneously that a generic kart racer was the best video game investment. As a result, we had kart games for Woody Woodpecker, Mickey Mouse, Looney Tunes, South Park, The Muppets, LEGO, Nickelodeon, Star Wars, The Smurfs, Crash Bandicoot, Konami, and more.

Most of these were either irredeemably terrible

It got to the point where cart racers were as abundant and formulaic as MUGEN fighting games. But people were paying money for them! Until they weren't, that is. Read the rest

Jewish human rights scholar: yes, America has built concentration camps

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

Anna Lind-Guzik ("a writer, attorney, and scholar of Soviet history, international law, and human rights, with degrees from Duke University, Harvard Law School, and Princeton") has written an essay defending Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's use of the term "concentration camps" to describe the facilities in which America has imprisoned brown-skinned asylum seekers who have presented themselves at the nation's border.

Lind-Guzik -- who is Jewish -- points out that the term "concentration camp" predates the Holocaust, and that the US refered to the internment camps where it illegally imprisoned Japanese Americans during WWII as concentration camps. There's no question that as a matter of linguistics, "concentration camp" is the right word for what the US is doing on its border.

More pointedly, Lind-Guzik defends comparisons to the Holocaust, because "the lessons of the Holocaust will be lost if we refuse to engage with them...Locking up refugees in camps is the real betrayal of the legacy of the Holocaust... 'Never again' means we must work to deescalate before atrocities rise to the horrors of Auschwitz."

She closes with this: "In memory of the 6 million Jews who perished because they were considered less human, I will not accept my government treating migrants like animals. And as the daughter of a Soviet Jewish refugee, I will not accept the criminalization of stateless people."

I'm also the son of a Soviet Jewish refugee, and I agree. What's more, as a "white-passing" Jew, I've watched with increasing unease as my fellow Ashkenazis have thrown their lot in with white supremacy, making common cause with white supremacists who support apartheid in Israel as part of a deranged end-times prophecy (liberally salted with racism and Islamophobia) and with white supremacists in the GOP who defend white privilege with every weapon at their disposal. Read the rest

Independent audit finds Facebook activity has fallen by 20% since Cambridge Analytica

Jun 21, 2019

Description:

The "business analytics" firm Mixpanel has released its figures estimating the total usage of Facebook (liking, sharing and posting) since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke; they showed usage falling off 10% in the first month following from the news of the scandal, and continuing to fall, with overall usage down by 20% since April 2018.

Mixpanel's figures roughly coincide with Emarketer's stats, which have daily usage-minutes falling from 41 minutes/day/user in 2017 to 38 now.

Facebook's own figures are much rosier: the company claims increases in daily and monthly active users over the same period. Facebook's figures are not subject to independent scrutiny. Facebook previously engaged in widespread, systemic, long-term usage-statistics fraud.

It's possible to reconcile the gap between Facebook's picture of increased usage and independent auditors' claims of a decline: it may be that people still feel like the must use Facebook to coordinate with other Facebook users (they are unable to overcome the collective action problem of convincing their friends to leave Facebook all at once and shift their discussions of their little league games, family reunions and rare diseases somewhere else), but they no longer use it to "share" with friends, only to perform the utility functions that they must use the service for.

Sadly, it's likely that users who do leave Facebook will take their business to Instagram (a Facebook subsidiary); not least because Facebook has used the dirtiest of dirty tricks to crush rivals like Snapchat, depriving their users of an escape to a superior service. Read the rest

This poor alligator with a knife stuck in its head is seen swimming in a Texas lake

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Erin Weaver spotted an American alligator swimming in a body of water near her home in Houston, Texas, and realized that the creature was the one in danger.

“"I saw him swimming and then I saw him turn, like swimming towards me, and I saw something sticking out of his head," she told CNN affiliate KTRK.

"It looked like a steak knife that was sticking out of his head, I don't know if it was in his eye, but it looked, if it wasn't in his eye it was very close to his eye."

"Almost every morning I see them," said Weaver, who has lived in the area for six years. Wild animals are a normal part of life there.

"Never have I seen them aggressive or even defensive, if you walk by and startle, them they just go under water."

How sad.

From Texas ABC 13 Eyewitness News:

Her photos of the injured gator have made the rounds on neighborhood social media groups, drawing concern for how this happened.

"I feel that somebody did this on purpose," she said. "I can't imagine this animal going after somebody that they would have to defend themselves, because we've never had that happen before."

Weaver and her neighbors are hoping to find aid for the animal soon, saying, "I want to get help for this alligator, I don't want to see an alligator swimming around with a knife in his head and suffering."

ABC13 Eyewitness News reached out to Fort Bend Co.

Read the rest

Report: 1,000 new migrant adults detained at U.S. border weekly, "serious risk of exceeding safety standards on a regular basis'

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

One thousand more single migrant adults are being detained by U.S. border protection each week in 2019, with the detention system at "serious risk of exceeding safety standards on a regular basis," documents reported today by Newsweek show.

Newsweek's story reports on a previously undisclosed letter that details how U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies have taken "extraordinary measures" to thwart the sudden overcrowding in the detention system, and are at "serious risk of exceeding safety standards on a regular basis."

The cause for the crisis, the officials say: growing numbers of arriving migrants.

"As of today, CBP has over 8,000 single adults in custody," a DHS official wrote on May 9 to officials at the Pentagon.

"That number has been increasing by 1,000 per week."

Newsweek's James LaPorta James LaPorta tweets, “The documents also provide a breakdown of where bed space is needed at detention facilities at the southwest border: Texas and Arizona: 6,000 in Texas; 1,500 in Arizona.”

"ICE is currently holding more than 50,000 aliens in custody and no longer has the capacity to intake any more single adults," DHS wrote. "CBP facilities nationwide are outdated, overcrowded and suffering from a lack of sufficient investment."

— James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) June 14, 2019

Excerpt:

In response, Department of Homeland security (DHS) officials have taken the unprecedented step of having industrial-style tents constructed to facilitate the transfer of migrants out of overcrowded facilities along the southern border.

In a previously undisclosed letter to the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials detail how their agencies have taken "extraordinary measures" to alleviate overcrowding in the detention system and are at "serious risk of exceeding safety standards on a regular basis," caused by growing numbers of arriving migrants, particularly families, and poor allocation of resources at the border.

Read the rest

Deepfake Jon Snow apologizes for the last season of Game of Thones

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

"When a Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you've fucked up." Read the rest

Facebook hate group investigation reveals 400 police officers, including NYPD cops, to be members

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

A year-long investigation of private Facebook hate groups by REVEAL finds close to 400 current and retired law enforcement officers are members, including officers from small towns as well as big cities -- including NYPD.

Snip:

One guard at the Angola prison in Louisiana, Geoffery Crosby, was a member of 56 extremist groups, including 45 Confederate groups and one called “BAN THE NAACP.”

A detective at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, James “J.T.” Thomas, was a member of the closed Facebook group “The White Privilege Club.”

“One cop was fired before we even published,” writes Reveal's Aura Bogado.

Inside these Facebook hate groups, which require the approval of a doorkeeper “administrator” before one can become a member, active duty and retired police officers are swapping memes and jokes in Confederate, anti-Islam, anti-queer, anti-women, and anti-government militia communities.

From the Reveal feature article:

These cops have worked at every level of American law enforcement, from tiny, rural sheriff’s departments to the largest agencies in the country, such as the Los Angeles and New York police departments. They work in jails and schools and airports, on boats and trains and in patrol cars. And, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting discovered, they also read and contribute to groups such as “White Lives Matter” and “DEATH TO ISLAM UNDERCOVER.”

The groups cover a range of extremist ideologies. Some present themselves publicly as being dedicated to benign historical discussion of the Confederacy, but are replete with racism inside. Some trade in anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant memes.

Read the rest

Pee-wee's Jurassic Adventure

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

The real menace in "Jurassic Park" wasn't a T-Rex or any other dinosaur. Turns out it was Pee-wee Herman! Enjoy Pixel Riot's meticulously rotoscoped mashup of "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" and "Jurassic Park," aka "Pee-wee's Jurassic Adventure." Absolute genius!

They write:

I wanted to see what would happen if I spliced Pee Wee into Jurassic Park. I think it works pretty well! I replaced almost 100% of the audio. I'll never rotoscope someone on a bike ever again...

(Pee-wee Herman) Read the rest

Porno copyright troll sentenced to 14 years: "a wrecking ball to trust in the administration of justice"

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

For years, Paul Hansmeier terrorized internet users through his copyright trolling racket Prenda Law, evading the law through shell companies and fraud, until, finally, he was brought to justice and pleaded guilty last August.

Now, Hansmeier has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and must pay $1.5m in restitution to his victims -- people he accused of being copyright infringers and then bullied into paying "settlement" fees to avoid being dragged through expensive litigation. Any Prenda Law victim can contact the Minnesota DA to apply for compensation.

Prenda's tactics included identity theft, entrapment (uploading their own files to The Pirate Bay in order to generate downloads that they could threaten people over), and several kinds of fraud.

Hansmeier and his co-defendant, John Steele, were indicted for money laundering, perjury, mail and wire fraud. Both men entered into plea agreements.

James Renken attended and livetweeted the sentencing, noting that the judge handed down a sentence in excess of that requested by the prosecutor through the plea deal, saying that Hansmeier's "abuse of trust harmed the administration of justice...Like a wrecking ball to the trust and confidence people have in the administration of justice."

Steele will be sentenced next month; the prosecutor is seeking 8-10 years in prison.

Whether the people that were sued were indeed guilty wasn’t much of an issue. This means that many innocent people were likely targeted as well.

“Hansmeier was generally content to take this step without investigating whether the subscriber was, in fact, the infringer.

Read the rest

A new AI tool from Adobe can detect Photoshopped faces

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

We presume it can tell by the pixels.

Pew: 26% of US adults who earn under $30K/year are 'smartphone only' internet users

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Americans who are poor increasingly use mobile phones as their primary way to go online.

Ukrainian oligarchs accused of laundering $470b, buying up much of Cleveland

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Billionaires Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov used to own Privatbank -- the largest bank in Ukraine -- and now they are being sued for using it for a decade to launder more than $470b (through its Cyprus subsidiary) ($470b is more than double the GDP of Cyprus over the same period).

The bank's new owners are suing Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov for violating Ohio and Delaware racketeering laws. They claim that Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov used the laundered proceeds to buy up whole neighborhoods in Cleveland, becoming the city's largest landowner. Additionally, they are accused of buying "several ferroalloy companies across multiple states" with laundered proceeds.

It's the largest money-laundry scandal in history and it was only possible because US states allow anonymous parties to create thousands of cheap shell companies.

The money trail is surprisingly simple. To begin with, the ultimate beneficiary owners collect retail deposits in Ukraine by offering good conditions and service. The money then flows to their subsidiary, PrivatBank Cyprus. In Cyprus, they benefit from the services of two local law firms.

Untypically, the ultimate beneficiary owners did not take the precaution to establish multiple layers of shell companies in Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands, and Cayman Islands, as is common among Russians with seriously dirty money. Instead, they operated with three US individuals in Miami, who helped them to set up a large number of anonymous LLCs in the United States, mainly in Delaware, but also in Florida, New Jersey, and Oregon.

The typical objects of post-Soviet money launderers are real estate in New York and southern Florida, but the investment profile of this group is different.

Read the rest

Internal organs one piece swimsuit

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

If you're in the market for a long sleeve one-piece bathing suit with human organs on in, here you go. It's just on Amazon. Read the rest

Empirical review of privacy policies reveals that they are "incomprehensible" drivel

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Writer and data journalist Kevin Litman-Navarro subjected 150 privacy policies from leading online services to programmatic analysis for complexity (the Lexile test), and found them to be an incomprehensible mess second only to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in their lack of clarity.

Ninth graders are expected to be able to read and understand texts with Lexile scores up to 1050; college students are expected to be able to read texts with Lexile scores up to 1300; trained doctors and lawyers are expected to cope with Lexile 1440 texts.

Facebook's privacy policy is nestled comfortably between "A Brief History of Time" and "The Critique of Pure Reason."

Litman-Navarro cites Center for Internet and Society director of consumer privacy Jen King, who describes these as "by lawyers, for lawyers" and challenges the sector to produce "human-centric" privacy policies that are "consumer tools."

King suggests that privacy policies should contain "a list of companies that might purchase and use your personal information."

One hopeful note: the European General Data Protection Regulation has produced meaningful improvements to many policies.

A good privacy policy would help users understand how exposed they are: Something as simple as a list of companies that might purchase and use your personal information could go a long way towards setting a new bar for privacy-conscious behavior. For example, if you know that your weather app is constantly tracking your whereabouts and selling your location data as marketing research, you might want to turn off your location services entirely, or find a new app.

Read the rest

Delightful claymation describes how a fungus is used to control an insect pest

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

I've praised Max Helmberger's excellent claymation videos about insects in the past. He has produced another, this time for the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. From the YouTube description:

The Hajek Lab group at Cornell University has been researching methods for biological control of Asian longhorned beetles using entomopathogenic fungi. This video describes the life cycle of Asian longhorned beetles and how an adult beetle gets infected, dies and transmits the infection to other Asian longhorned beetles.

[via The Kid Should See This] Read the rest

Beyond lockpicking: learn about the class-breaks for doors, locks, hinges and other physical security measures

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Deviant Ollam is runs a physical security penetration testing company called The Core Group; in a flat-out amazing, riveting presentation from the 2017 Wild West Hackin' Fest, Ollam -- a master lockpicker -- describes how lockpicking is a last resort for the desperate, while the wily and knowledgeable gain access by attacking doors and locks with tools that quickly and undetectably open them.

Ollam's techniques are just laugh-out-loud fantastic to watch: from removing the pins in hinges and lifting doors away from their high-security locks to sliding cheap tools between doors or under them to turn thumb-levers, bypass latches, and turn handles. My favorite were the easy-exit sensors that can be tricked into opening a pair of doors by blowing vape smoke (or squirting water, or releasing a balloon) through the crack down their middle.

But more than anything, Ollam's lecture reminds me of the ground truth that anyone who learns lockpicking comes to: physical security is a predatory scam in which shoddy products are passed off onto naive consumers who have no idea how unfit for purpose they are.

When locksport began, locksmiths were outraged that their long-held "secret" ways of bypassing, tricking and confounding locks had entered the public domain -- they accused the information security community of putting the public at risk by publishing the weaknesses in their products (infosec geeks also get accused of this every time they point out the weaknesses in digital products, of course).

But the reality is that "bad guys" know about (and exploit) these vulnerabilities already. Read the rest

Video about a man who has lived alone on an island since 1989

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Mauro Morandi has been the sole inhabitant of Budelli Island in Italy since 1989. Great Big Story went to pay him a visit.

In 1989, Mauro Morandi’s boat docked on Budelli Island off the northern coast of Sardinia, Italy. Discovering that the island’s caretaker was retiring within the next two days, Mauro decided to extend his stay indefinitely and step into the role himself. Little did he know that, nearly 30 years later, he would still be there. Mauro has built a small, simple life for himself on the island, collecting rain for drinking water, and building solar panels for electricity. Living alone, his love for his island paradise runs deep, and he hopes to stay as long as his health allows it.

[via Like Cool] Read the rest

Hong Kong's #612strike uprising is alive to surveillance threats, but its countermeasures are woefully inadequate

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

The millions of Hong Kong people participating in the #612strike uprising are justifiably worried about state retaliation, given the violent crackdowns on earlier uprisings like the Umbrella Revolution and Occupy Central; they're also justifiably worried that they will be punished after the fact.

After all, the #612strike was triggered by a proposed legal change that would allow people in Hong Kong to be extradited to the Chinese mainland for political crimes -- and Hong Kong people already witnessed the horrific spectacle of dissident booksellers being kidnapped to China and then tortured into giving coerced, televised "confessions."

The movement is taking countermeasures to avoid identification, using masks to beat facial recognition systems, organizing in encrypted Telegram chats (Telegram blamed the Chinese state for a wave of DDOS attacks that could disrupt these chatrooms), and using cash money to pay for subway fares to and from the protests, avoiding leaving identifiable e-payment trails.

But all of that will be of limited use if the protesters are identified by other means. The most significant risk is from cell-site simulators -- briefcase-sized fake cellular towers that trick your phone into contacting them and coughing up its unique identifier, which can be used to conduct mass re-identifications of every person with a switched-on mobile phone at the protests. These devices are small, cheap, powerful, and can even mounted beneath aircraft, including drones.

Unless the protesters are using burner phones -- not just burner SIMs, but burner handsets, too -- they face a significant de-anonymization risk.After all, they're using mobile phones to coordinate the protests themselves, and that means that they're effectively carrying always-on wireless nametags that the state can silently enumerate and store indefinitely. Read the rest

Fodor's picks the worst airport in the world: LAX

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

According to Fodor's Travel the best US airport is Burbank (BUR). I couldn't agree more. It's 7  miles from my house and takes 2o minutes to get there. "Burbank is an airport free of most of the hassles that take the fun out of travel plans," writes Fodor's. "It’s an agreeable airport in a perfect location, which is why it’s at the top of our list of airports to love."

I'll pay a premium to fly from and to BUR, because my alternative is LAX, which Fodor's rates as the worst airport in the entire world. It's 26 miles from my house and it often takes 2 hours to get there in heavy 405 traffic. And once you get there, you'll get stuck in the "horseshoe." for another 30 minutes. From Fodor's: "Thanks to the improbably stupid design of its catastrophic horseshoe motor-loop, it regularly requires 30 minutes to travel the short mile from the outskirts of the airport to most of its terminals. And because Los Angeles was built as a city beholden to the automobile, there is no other way to arrive or depart from this maddening complex of suffering but through the interminable traffic."

Image: Photo of LAX by Mark Frauenfelder

 

  Read the rest

Reverse mortgages: subprime's "stealth aftershock" that is costing elderly African-Americans their family homes

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Reverse mortgages -- complex home loans -- are aggressively marketed to elderly people, especially in African-American neighborhoods, using deceptive tactics that offer false promised to "eliminate monthly payments permanently" with "a risk-free way of being able to access home equity."

Reverse mortgage sales went into overdrive just before the 2007/8 housing crisis and ramped up after that, and now, a decade later, seniors are discovering that they signed up for a financialized scam that is costing them their family homes, sometimes as a consequence of being widowed.

USA Today has just published the result of its "first-of-its-kind analysis of more than 1.3 million loan records," finding more than 100,000 defaults, with African-Americans being hit the worst: "reverse mortgages end in foreclosure six times more often in predominantly black neighborhoods than in neighborhoods that are 80% white."

Housing wealth is one of keys to understanding racial inequality in America: starting with the official redlining policies that let white families lift themselves out of poverty while condemning Black families to a cycle of rent and debt accumulation whose effects were felt down through subsequent generations -- and on to today, with home-ownership at historic lows and rents jacked up to historic highs, a parent's housing wealth may be the only way to escape the cycle.

Black homeowners were the hardest-hit by the housing crisis: targeted for the most predatory, complex and deceptive financial "products," first evicted when those loans blew up. But the reverse-mortgage crisis had a longer fuse, one that's just burned all the way down, creating a "stealth aftershock" to the crisis. Read the rest

Compilation of Trump ranting while world leaders quietly sit with their obvious discomfort

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

As one YouTube commenter wrote, "These are the faces of people who regret learning English." Read the rest

Star Trek Starfleet insignia found on Mars

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

The high resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image in the Red Planet's Hellas Planitia region. According to the University of Arizona researchers who operate the HiRISE camera for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shapes like this "are the result of a complex story of dunes, lava, and wind." But they also note that "enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo."

They add that it's a coincidence, but we know better.

"Dune Footprints in Hellas" (University of Arizona)

Full image below depicts area 5 km across:

Read the rest

This cast iron griddle is cheap and fantastic

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

I've been using this 10.5" cast iron griddle at my brother's place, and it is just great.

I keep a #9 cast iron skillet on my stove at almost all times. My brother prefers a cast iron griddle. I can see the attraction.

The griddle is great all the things I do with a skillet, and also serves as a pizza stone. The lack of sidewalls can make grease management a bit more of a chore, however when making pancakes or otherwise looking to get under and flip frying items things become a lot easier. I didn't notice how much angling around and dickery goes into using my skillet.

Eggs over easy are a lot easier to wrangle.

I have a #8 'Chicken Pan' that is essentially a very deep walled skillet (with a self-basting lid) that I use for fried chicken. I could use that for deep frying, and a griddle for everything else... however I'm awfully fond of my skillet.

I have a griddle I picked up at a cast iron flea market ages ago, and never bothered to refinish. My brother has this Lodge item and it is wonderful. It will serve for generations.

Lodge 10.5 Inch Cast Iron Griddle. Pre-seasoned via Amazon Read the rest

Man happily pays a London cafe £20 for a boiled egg, a slice of toast, and a mug of tea

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Steve Parks, a digital services director, recently visited a small cafe in north London called Eggs & Bread. His modest meal of a boiled egg, a slice of toast, and a mug of tea set him back £20 ($25). The good news is that the cafe, which has been in operation since the fall of 2018, gives meals away. They don't even drop a bill on your table. You can just eat and leave. But you can drop money into a donation box on they way out, which is what Parks did.

Thread by @steveparks: "£20 for a boiled egg, one piece of toast and a mug of tea? The story of a modern London cafe... (Read to end of thread before commenting!) S […]"

Image: Steve Parks/Twitter Read the rest

Sarah Sanders hopes she'll be remembered as being "transparent and honest"

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Soon-to-be-former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a reporter on Tuesday how she hopes to be remembered, “I hope that it will be that I showed up every day and I did the very best job that I could to put forward the president’s message ... to do the best job that I could to answer questions. To be transparent and honest throughout that process and do everything I could to make America a little better that day than it was the day before.”

"The miserable have no other medicine but only hope." -- Shakespeare

Image: Michael Candelori/Shutterstock

[via The Hill] Read the rest

The making of Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" plus new videos for the album's tracks

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Joy Division's post-punk masterpiece "Unknown Pleasures" turns 40 this year. NME just republished an interview with two of the three surviving members of Joy Division -- bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris -- about creating what is arguably one of the most influential albums of all time. Meanwhile, the surviving band members have invited ten video directors to create new music videos for each song on the album. Below is the first video for "I Remember Nothing," directed by Helgi & Hörður. From the NME:

Was there anything that (producer) Martin Hannett did or asked you to do that was a bit too much?

Morris: “I was alright with what he was asking us to do mostly, although he did make me use the aerosol can on the 12-inch version of ‘She’s Lost Control’ like you see in Control. He shut me in a room with a can of tape-cleaning fluid and made me press it in time with the song. By the end, the booth was just filled with noxious fumes. I think he was just trying to kill me. If I’d have lit up a fag, the whole of Strawberry Studios would have gone up in smoke.”

Is it strange seeing that (album cover) design getting reproduced on just about anything and everything?

Hook: “We never actually did an official ‘Unknown Pleasures’ T-shirt until 1994 but they got bootlegged all over the world. When we got investigated by the taxman because of the Haçienda being all fucked up, he said that he couldn’t find any receipts for ‘Unknown Pleasures’ T-shirts.

Read the rest

"The Banana Splits" trailer is nightmare fuel

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

"Tra la la" my ass. Read the rest

Maine's new ISP privacy law has both California and New York beat

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

The Great State of Maine, having jettisoned its far-right lunatic "government" and replaced it with a responsive, progressive, evidence-based one, is now set to pass the nation's most stringent ISP privacy law, going further than both New York and California.

The new law restores the Obama-era ISP privacy protections that Trump's FCC chair Ajit Pai canceled before they could go into effect: rules that ban your ISPs from selling or sharing or exploiting the about your internet use without your explicit consent (this is what California's law does, too, but in California, it's an opt-out rule and in Maine, it's opt-in, and literally no one ever wanted to opt in to having their phone company spy on them and then sell the information they glean thereby).

The telcoms lobby, US Telecom, has objected on the ground that the Maine law will create a "patchwork" and consumers won't know what the rules are, because in US Telecom land, consumers are constantly buying internet connections in different states and relying on the rules from the last state to be in effect.

(The fact that US Telecom is objecting to an opt-in rule really says it all: if they were convinced that their customers wanted to be spied on by their ISPs, then an opt-in would just be a small hurdle en route to providing their customers exactly what they want)

The Maine law is a dare to both the FCC and Congress. Under Obama, FCC chairman Ajit Pai (then a mere commissioner) argued that the FCC could not tell states what rules the could and could not set for their ISPs (Pai, a former Verizon exec, wanted states to continue their practice of banning cities from setting up municipal broadband networks, while Obama's FCC chair Tom Wheeler [a former Comcast exec!] wanted to ban the practice). Read the rest

LED traffic sign in Texas displays witty warnings of global warming

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

While some who saw this variable message sign in Houston though it had been hacked, it's actually a roadside art installation by Brooklyn artist Justin Brice Guariglia. The words come from Rice University professor Timothy Morton, author of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. The solar-powered sign, located at the Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain, will be displayed through August.

(ABC13)

Read the rest

$5000 gadget for cheating at poker

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

In a 2016 article, Elie Bursztein collects and describes a gadget used to cheat at the card table.

In 2015, I stumbled upon a post in an underground forum, discussing how someone was ripped off at a poker table by a very advanced poker cheating device. From what I understood at that time, the post being in Chinese, the device was able to remotely read card markings to inform the cheater who will win the next hand.

Intrigued, I decided to follow the trail of this fabled device to see if people were indeed cheating at poker using devices that would fit naturally into a James Bond movie.

Without spoiling too much of the rest of this post, let’s just say that the high-end cheating device that I was able to get my hands on far exceeded my expectations and it really is an outstanding piece of technology.

I've watched the video demo of one of the gadgets (embedded above) and didn't figure the trick out. I won't spoil it for you, but for saying it's a $5000 fully functional Android smartphone with extra hardware: "Note that taking a screenshot of the cheating app turned out to be more difficult than expected because the ROM is hardened against analysis"

Previously: HOWTO cheat your friends at poker Read the rest

Trailer for Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

"Come and play with us, Danny... for ever, and ever, and ever." The bigscreen adaptation of Doctor Sleep, Stephen King's 2013 novel sequel to The Shining, is out November 8. From the film description:

"Doctor Sleep” continues the story of Danny Torrance, 40 years after his terrifying stay at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson and newcomer Kyliegh Curran star in the supernatural thriller, directed by Mike Flanagan, from his own screenplay based upon the novel by Stephen King.

Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the “shine.” Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality.

Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra’s innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compel Dan to call upon his own powers as never before—at once facing his fears and reawakening the ghosts of the past.

Read the rest

One Foot Taller Periscope glasses

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Designer Dominic Wilcox isn't short himself but sympathized with a woman at a concert who is, "I was standing at a gig and turned to see a small woman dancing away but unable to see the band. This gave me the inspiration to design a way for people to see over obstacles such as tall people like me."

Dominic's initial sketch

That's how his One Foot Taller Periscope glasses came to be. Yes, the glasses make its wearers look silly but they allow them to see a solid foot over their normal eye level, ie. over the dang crowd. A sturdier version of these would probably sell well if they were actually for sale. Alas, he created them as a proof of concept for a contest that prompted its designers to come up with an extraordinary solution to an everyday problem.

Dominic's got all kinds of great inventions. Take a look.

(Funny or Die) Read the rest

New Dropbox uses half a gig of RAM and "sucks"

Jun 14, 2019

Description:

Dropbox syncs files between computers, but who wants that? The New Dropbox, announced this week, has all sorts of wonderful features to organize your cloud content, package your designs, integrate with slack, and to eat half a gig of RAM just by running on your computer.

John Gruber writes that it sucks.

All I want from Dropbox is a folder that syncs perfectly across my devices and allows sharing with friends and colleagues. That’s it: a folder that syncs with sharing. And that’s what Dropbox was.

Now it’s a monstrosity that embeds its own incredibly resource-heavy web browser engine. In a sense Steve Jobs was right — the old Dropbox was a feature not a product. But it was a feature well-worth paying for, and which made millions of people very happy.

At Hacker News, former Dropbox employee Taylor Schwimmer puts it bluntly:

Many people only use Dropbox as a backup and file share product. That's great. However, it's a terrible business, especially for Dropbox

It's always interesting to go from using a simple, single-purpose tool to being locked inside a toolshed full of rickety contraptions. You wonder what happened, then notice all the enterprise customers manacled to the walls. Read the rest

Watch Dr. John and Leon Redbone perform "Frosty the Snowman"

Jun 8, 2019

Description:

In memory of Leon Redbone and Dr. John who both died in recent days, please enjoy the duo performing "Frost the Snowman" recorded for Redbone's 1988 album Christmas Island.

(r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Child with nonverbal autism surprises mom by singing 'Old Town Road'

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Sheletta Brundidge, @TwoHauteMamas1 on Twitter, shared an awesome story about her son. And there's video.

Brundidge is the co-host of the Two Haute Mommas podcast. Her child Daniel has non-verbal autism.

Mom tweeted, “We had an #oldtownroad miracle at my house. My son Daniel has #autism and doesn't talk. We caught him humming the @LilNasX and @billyraycyrus tune the other day. Then Bless God, my baby started singing the song on his own. His therapists have started to use it in his sessions!”

Pretty cool.

We had an #oldtownroad miracle at my house. My son Daniel has #autism and doesn't talk. We caught him humming the @LilNasX and @billyraycyrus tune the other day. Then Bless God, my baby started singing the song on his own. His therapists have started to use it in his sessions! pic.twitter.com/vtCNWeg6ax

— Sheletta Brundidge (@TwoHauteMamas1) June 4, 2019

“At first I thought I was hallucinating,” Sheletta told Today Parents. “When I realized it was really happening, I almost started screaming, but loud noises are upsetting to Daniel, so I stayed very calm.”

Excerpt:

"Daniel went from humming to actually singing the lyrics," Sheletta told TODAY Parents. “I was crying so hard that tears were dropping on his head. I was like, ‘This is the beginning. This is the light!’ It took him 6 months to learn the letter 'A' using flash cards, but he taught himself a song all by himself."

Sheletta, who co-hosts the Two Haute Mamas podcast, took to Twitter on June 4 to share the incredible footage — where it quickly went viral with more than 1.32 million views.

Read the rest

Ars Technica writer Peter Bright aka @DrPizza arrested for 'enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity'

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Peter Bright (Twitter: @DrPizza), best known as a contributing writer to the tech publication Ars Technica, has been arrested on charges of soliciting sex with children online.

This complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, shows that an undercover FBI special agent contacted Bright via KinkD, a social media platform for sexual fetish connections, on April 18.

“Bright has been charged with one count of attempted enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity,” reports Claire Goforth at The Daily Dot:

A federal complaint alleges that Bright sought to molest a 7- and 9-year-old and met with an undercover agent for this purpose, at which point he was arrested. It also states that Bright claimed to be in a sexual relationship with an 11-year-old. He is currently being held without bail.

According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, an undercover FBI special agent made contact with Bright on KinkD, a social media fetish platform, on April 18.

Bright, using the handle “randomanon,” had responded to a message the agent posted a day prior in which she purported to be a mother seeking to connect with people who could teach her children about “birds and the bees.”

The complaint states that in subsequent messages, the agent informed Bright that she had a 7-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.

At Bright’s urging, the two then began chatting via WhatsApp, which continued for a few weeks.

Read the rest

Former Trump advisor George Nader ordered jailed until his child porn trial

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Witness in Mueller Trump-Russia probe arrested for child pornography

Training a modest machine-learning model uses more carbon than the manufacturing and lifetime use of five automobiles

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

In Energy and Policy Considerations for Deep Learning in NLP, three UMass Amherst computer science researchers investigate the carbon budget of training machine learning models for natural language processing, and come back with the eyepopping headline figure of 78,468lbs to do a basic training-and-refinement operation.

This is about five times the lifetime, cradle-to-grave carbon budget for a car, including manufacture.

The bulk of the carbon is expended at the fine-tuning stage, which involves a lot of trial and error. More complex models, like the Transformer model (employed in machine translation) use even more carbon -- 626,155lbs.

Text and language processing are by no means the most compute-intensive (and hence carbon-intensive) forms of machine learning model -- things like vision systems are even more complex.

One implication the authors explore: the computational intensity of today's machine learning research has priced it outside the realm of most academic researchers, moving the most important work in the field to private firms whose research doesn't necessarily contribute to our collective store of knowledge.

What’s more, the researchers note that the figures should only be considered as baselines. “Training a single model is the minimum amount of work you can do,” says Emma Strubell, a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the lead author of the paper. In practice, it’s much more likely that AI researchers would develop a new model from scratch or adapt an existing model to a new data set, either of which can require many more rounds of training and tuning.

Read the rest

Pharma company will pay $15.4m in fines for bribing docs to prescribe an overpriced med that brings in $1b/year

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

In the 2000s, the pharma company Questcor started raising the price of Acthar, an off-patent, 1950s-era drug prescribed for seizures in babies; they raised the price more than 10,000%, from $40 in 2000 to $38,892 today. To get doctors to prescribe their price-gouging meds, Questcor secretly offered bribes, a fact that came to light thanks to whistleblowers.

Questcor's strategy was so successful that in 2014, the company was acquired by rival Mallinckrodt, who claim that they ceased bribery operations, but continued to raise prices by more than $8,000, with enormous success -- today, Acthar brings in $1b/year for Mallinckrodt.

Now, Mallinckrodt (which is about to change its name to Sonorant Therapeutics) has settled with the FTC and agreed to pay a $15.4m fine, assuming the DoJ okays the deal.

But this development isn’t just about drug prices; it’s about alleged bribery. Needless to say, other people often get prison time for bribery offenses. Recently, a Minnesota man got 29 months for trying to bribe a witness in a burglary case, a Texas prison guard got two years in prison for taking bribes, and a New York businessman got four years for repeatedly bribing New York cops. An Oregon man who recently tried to get his wife deported by bribing an ICE agent got four months in federal prison. But America’s largest businesses really do play by a different set of rules. Especially when those businesses are drug companies that can charge whatever they want and yet face no real consequences. Mallinckrodt’s CEO, Mark Trudeau, made $14 million last year, which means that he makes almost enough in just one year to pay the company’s settlement.

Read the rest

Comcast broke law 450,000 times trying to bilk customers

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Ars Technica reports that a judge ordered Comcast to pay a $9.1 million fine and refund 50,000 customers it tricked into subscribing to a worthless "protection plan."

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Comcast in August 2016, accusing the nation's largest cable company of tricking customers into buying a "near-worthless 'protection plan' without disclosing its significant limitations."

Buying the $5-per-month plan ostensibly prevented customers from having to pay each time a Comcast technician visited their home to fix problems covered by the plan. But in reality, the plan did not cover the vast majority of wiring problems, the AG's lawsuit said. Moreover, Washington state attorneys said that Comcast led customers to believe that they needed to buy a Service Protection Plan (SPP) to get services that were actually covered for free by the company's "Customer Guarantee."

Image: Ken Wolter/Shutterstock Read the rest

Adversarial interoperability: reviving an elegant weapon from a more civilized age to slay today's monopolies

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Today, Apple is one of the largest, most profitable companies on Earth, but in the early 2000s, the company was fighting for its life. Microsoft's Windows operating system was ascendant, and Microsoft leveraged its dominance to ensure that every Windows user relied on its Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). Apple users—a small minority of computer users—who wanted to exchange documents with the much larger world of Windows users were dependent on Microsoft's Office for the Macintosh operating system (which worked inconsistently with Windows Office documents, with unexpected behaviors like corrupting documents so they were no longer readable, or partially/incorrectly displaying parts of exchanged documents). Alternatively, Apple users could ask Windows users to export their Office documents to an "interoperable" file format like Rich Text Format (for text), or Comma-Separated Values (for spreadsheets). These, too, were inconsistent and error-prone, interpreted in different ways by different programs on both Mac and Windows systems.

Apple could have begged Microsoft to improve its Macintosh offerings, or they could have begged the company to standardize its flagship products at a standards body like OASIS or ISO. But Microsoft had little motive to do such a thing: its Office products were a tremendous competitive advantage, and despite the fact that Apple was too small to be a real threat, Microsoft had a well-deserved reputation for going to enormous lengths to snuff out potential competitors, including both Macintosh computers and computers running the GNU/Linux operating system.

Apple did not rely on Microsoft's goodwill and generosity: instead, it relied on reverse-engineering. Read the rest

Inequality makes a nation poorer

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Responding to Professor Sir Angus Deaton’s report into the causes of inequality, economics writer Chris Dillow provides an excellent list of eight ways in which unequal societies sacrifice overall economic growth and national prosperity to preserve the fortunes of their elites.

Topping the list is the diversion of investment resources from innovative products and services into socially useless and inefficient "guard labor" (everything from surveillance to high walls to alarm systems to actual armed guards).

Beyond that, inequality produces an erosion of the trust that is a precondition for growth; unequal access to education and opportunity which means that poor peoples' contributions to national wealth are never realized.

One interesting idea is that high managerial salaries entrench "the forces of conservatism" as top officials at monopoly businesses balk at taking risks that might hurt their profits, even if they result in better companies offering services that are more productive and profitable in the long run.

7. The high-powered incentives that generate inequality within companies can backfire. As Benabou and Tirole have shown (pdf), they encourage bosses to hit measured targets and neglect less measurable things that are nevertheless important for a firm’s success such as a healthy corporate culture. Or they might crowd out intrinsic motivations such as professional ethics. Big bank bonuses, for example, encouraged mis-selling and rigging markets rather than productive activities.

8. High management pay can entrench what Joel Mokyr calls the “forces of conservatism” which are antagonistic to technical progress. Reaping the full benefits of new technologies often requires organizational change.

Read the rest

Amazon's facial recognition fear crusade ramps up: now they're paying Facebook to show you pictures of suspected criminals to scare you into getting a surveillance doorbell

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Amazon's Ring doorbells are surveillance devices that conduct round-the-clock video surveillance of your neighborhood, automatically flagging "suspicious" faces and bombarding you and your neighbors with alerts using an app called "Neighbors"; it's a marriage of Amazon's Internet of Things platform with its "Rekognition" facial recognition tool, which it has marketed aggressively to cities, law enforcement, ICE, businesses and everyday customers as a security measure that can help ID bad guys, despite the absence of a database identifying which faces belong to good people and which faces belong to bad people.

Part of the home surveillance project is a fear-based marketing campaign -- a whole news vertical -- designed to convince Americans that their neighborhoods are so dangerous that they owe it to themselves and their neighbors to conduct surveillance of the streets in front of their homes.

The latest salvo in the war is a paid "promoted post" Facebook campaign featuring Ring surveillance footage of suspected petty criminals (a woman trying a car door handle and walking away), urging viewers to get in touch with local cops in order to help solve a crime that may in fact not be a crime.

A post on the the Mountain View Police Department's websites details the incident and also shares an image from the Ring camera. "Footage obtained from a neighbor’s home captured a woman who is believed to be the suspect in the theft," the post says. The woman is suspected of stealing someone's purse and wallet from inside a car, and making a series of purchases around town with those stolen credit cards.

Read the rest

Company claims flashlight earbuds boost mental alertness by illuminating your brain

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Finnish company Valkee sells the HumanCharger, a pair of $150 earbuds with integrated LEDs to shine light into your ears. Their claim:

This revolutionary device is for your well-being and channels bright light directly to the light-sensitive regions of the brain, right where it is needed the most.

HumanCharger® can be used to increase energy levels, improve mood, increase mental alertness, reduce the effects of jet lag and keep winter blues at bay.

A site called Valkee's Earlight Swindle International argues otherwise.

(via Weird Universe) Read the rest

NASA opening International Space Station to tourists

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

NASA announced today that the International Space Station is now open to private astronauts for commercial business and, yes, tourism. It ain't budget travel, that's for sure. Kenneth Chang writes in the New York Times:

NASA is not selling space vacations directly, but allowing commercial companies to arrange such trips. The agency plans to charge the companies about $35,000 a night for use of the station’s facilities, including air and water.

The tourist companies would charge much more to cover the rocket flights to and from space, and to make a profit.

Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, Nev., has already reserved four launches. The company will use SpaceX, the rocket company run by Elon Musk, to take private astronauts. Each flight would have four seats.

Axiom Space of Houston is also arranging flights and hopes to fly tourists next year.

From NASA:

Pricing released Friday is specific to commercial and marketing activities enabled by the new directive, reflects a representative cost to NASA, and is designed to encourage the emergence of new markets. As NASA learns how these new markets respond, the agency will reassess the pricing and amount of available resources approximately every six months and make adjustments as necessary.

To qualify, commercial and marketing activities must either:

• require the unique microgravity environment to enable manufacturing, production or development of a commercial application;

• have a connection to NASA’s mission; or

• support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy.

NASA’s directive enabling commercial and marketing activities aboard the space station addresses manufacturing, production, transportation, and marketing of commercial resources and goods, including products intended for commercial sale on Earth.

Read the rest

Fantastic TV commercial from Mattel Intellivision (1982)

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

This excellent 1982 TV commercial for Mattel's Intellivision game console features a "computerized" futuristic newscast that predates both Max Headroom's cyber-pisstake on the media and A-Ha's rotoscoped classic "Take On Me!"

Read the rest

Florida man steals car, winds up naked in NY chicken coop

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Rot in jail for cruelty to animals, Florida man.

QCountry 103.7:

A 25-year-old Florida man is jailed in upstate New York after police say he crashed a stolen car and was found naked in a chicken coop after a seven-hour manhunt.

Kirkwood is 57 miles southeast of Ithaca.

State police say John Mehne of Sarasota faces numerous charges, including criminal possession of stolen property for crashing an Audi A5 reported stolen in Florida and cruelty to animals for killing a dog and some chickens.

Police say Mehne crashed the Audi on Interstate 81 about three miles north of the Pennsylvania line Tuesday morning, rode a passing pickup truck for a mile and ran into woods. Police say he stopped at several homes, killing a dog at one and attacking chickens at two others.

He was arraigned Wednesday and jailed without bail. Police say he has requested a lawyer.

Read the rest

NorCal neighbors complain as total jerk cements large swastika in his front yard

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

"What is a swastika?" asked the fool who built a giant swastika in his El Sobrante, CA yard.

The gentleman claims to not be an enthusiast of German National Socialism, nor does it sound like he can spell it. While his neighbors believe he is harmless, they also doubt his sincerity.

The swastika as an age-old symbol of Tibetan something argument seems to be a tool racists return to the privacy of their own home and giggle about. Read the rest

Drop some (art) 'shrooms in Attaboy's upcoming "Game of Shrooms"

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Our friend Attaboy’s got a fun(gi) art happening in the works called “Game of Shrooms.” You can play, no matter where you are, and, no, it’s not a drug-related activity. You can make mushroom art, find mushroom art, or both! Artists from all over the world have already signed up.

Here are the details on how you can plant and play:

#shroomdrop is June 15th! It is open to ALL artists everywhere... 1. Make painting or sculpture or other art. If you are doing little paintings, I find it is best to add little popsicle sticks to bottom of them in the back so that the art doesn’t get dirty if placed near the ground. 2. Post preview teasers if you like. 3. Put your IG tag on the back and #shroomdrop #gameofshrooms if you can. 4. Plant or place art. Don’t hurt nature or property. If it rains, you Can hide inside friendly Indy stores as well... 5. After you plant, take a few photo clues to post. I suggest a close up, then a wide shot, with a landmark of some kind visible (old church, sign post, etc) location tag helps if you are in a suburban area. Don’t hurt nature or property. 6. Oh and be sure to hide it/them on June 15th!”

View this post on Instagram

Only 13 days until the Game Of Shrooms. There’s still time for you to participate. see @attayumfactory for more info. Game of Shrooms happens June 15th! And the list of locations keeps growing!

Read the rest

San Francisco celebrates legendary culture jammer John Law at art opening tonight (Friday)

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

My friend John Law is a legend of San Francisco's underground with an incredible resume of culture jamming brilliance. In the 1970s, he was an integral part of the Suicide Club, a Dadaist group of urban explorers and adventurers that eventually led to Law's co-founding of the Cacophony Society, Burning Man, and the Billboard Liberation Front. Over 40 years, he's also co-founded or contributed to Communiversity, Dark Passage/Ars Subterranea, Seafoam Palace LLC, SF Cyclecide Bike Rodeo, Survival Research Laboratories, SantaCon/flash mobs, Madagascar Institute, SEEMEN, Laughing Squid, and The Bronx Pipe Smoking Society. And he's still keeping the SF Bay Area's high weirdness torch burning even amidst the city's massive (and mostly unfortunate) transformation.

Starting tonight, celebrate John's contributions to the counterculture with SIGNMAN: John Law, a three-month long retrospective of Law's life of art (and art of living). The exhibition at Oakland's Pro Arts Gallery will include "rare documentation of events, pranks and explorations, neon art, and multi-media installations." Complementing the exhibit through the summer will be public programs that include lectures, film screenings, book signings, and, I would bet, some unexpected surprises.

SIGNMAN: John Law (Pro Arts Gallery)

(above photo: John Behrens)

Read the rest

Why was a BogoMip bogus?

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

I woke up this morning wondering something I hadn't in years. Why was Linux' BogoMip bogus?

I first installed Slackware Linux from a huge stack of 3.5" floppy disks. My life was changed. This was in the 1.0.X kernel days.

I stopped dicking around with Linux as my desktop OS when OS X bridged the gap. I have not made zlilo in over 2 decades, but this morning I woke up wondering about BogoMips!?

BogoMips were the computing speed measurement of note at my first internet start-up, an ISP and datacenter, and every new Intel or Intel-compatible CPU was curiously investigated by our tech team. When we'd boot a Linux kernel, we would watch carefully to see "the number of million times per second a processor can do absolutely nothing".

This morning I had to know! What the hell was so bogus about a BogoMip?

Linux Journal's Wim van Dorst answered that question 23 years ago!

Some device drivers in the Linux kernel need timing delays. Either they need a very short delay, or the delay must be very accurately determined. A simple non-busy loop cannot do this. Therefore, Linus Torvalds added a calibration in the boot procedure to predetermine how often a specific busy-loop algorithm can be calculated in one second. This predetermined value, called loops_per_second, is used in the device drivers to delay for precisely measured times.

For fun, Linus also added a print statement presenting this predetermined value (divided by 500,000) as BogoMips. Linus apparently loves it when millions of Linux users are gazing at their computer, baffled by these bogus MIPS.

Read the rest

Sandal socks make you look like you're wearing Birkenstocks

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

It's debatable whether it's ok to wear sandals with socks but what about socks that look like you're wearing sandals? What's next, wearing sandal socks ($11/pair) with actual sandals? Whatever happens, can we please call these things "Birkensocks"?

(Pee-wee Herman) Read the rest

Enjoy a nice warm glass of Dr. Pepper

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

If it's good enough for Dick Clark, it's good enough for me. [via Reddit] Read the rest

The Ellsworth Kelly postage stamps have arrived

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Just a few years after his death, there are now postage stamps showcasing the colorful art of Ellsworth Kelly. The U.S. Postal Service released these Forever stamps at the end of May, and they feature ten of his pieces: “Yellow White” (1961), “Colors for a Large Wall” (1951), “Blue Red Rocker” (1963), “Spectrum I” (1953), South Ferry, (1956), “Blue Green” (1962), “Orange Red Relief for Delphine Seyrig” (1990), “Meschers”, (1951), “Red Blue” (1964), and “Gaza” (1956). $11 for a sheet of 20 stamps.

(RED) Read the rest

Baldur's Gate 3 announced

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

It's been 24 years since Black Isle got to work on Baldur's Gate, the classic computer RPG that melded AD&D rules with realtime-ish gameplay to make something immersive to play and gorgeous to look at. Though often counted among the top PC games of all time, the series ground to a halt after a superior sequel, with a third title announced but lost to time, the press of other projects, and corporate bankruptcy. Come 2019:

Developed by the creators of Divinity: Original Sin 2, Baldur's Gate III is the official next adventure in the venerable Baldur's Gate series. The teaser trailer shows a return of a malevolent presence to Baldur's Gate, intent on devouring it from the inside out, corrupting everything that remains in the Forgotten Realms. The fate of the Forgotten Realms lies in your hands. Gather your party: http://baldursgate3.game

No details of the game, just a teaser setting the scene.

It's funny that my first thought on seeing this was to wonder if it will import my BG2 party! If this is all game-grandpa talk to you, the originals have already been remastered for modern machines and are still pretty good, so long as you can teach yourself to ignore the deranged hidden spreadsheet of 2nd-edition AD&D throwing all its meaningless numbers at you. Read the rest

John Waters' new book, "Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder"

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, John Waters' new book, sounds like a demented must-have:

It “serves it up raw: how to fail upward in Hollywood; how to develop musical taste from Nervous Norvus to Maria Callas; how to build a home so ugly and trendy that no one but you would dare live in it; more important, how to tell someone you love them without emotional risk; and yes, how to cheat death itself. Through it all, Waters swears by one undeniable truth: ‘Whatever you might have heard, there is absolutely no downside to being famous. None at all.'”

He devotes an entire chapter in the book to dropping acid at age 70, which he describes in a recent interview with the Washington Blade:

That’s something that I did that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think if there’s a sentimental chapter in the book about friendship, then maybe that is that. If I had known how strong the LSD was that I took, I probably would have been uptight. But I didn’t and it was great. I spent eight months getting the right acid from the purest source I could find, practically from Timothy Leary’s asshole... But the provenance of it was high and it was great. I don’t have to ever do it again. Just like I don’t have to ever hitchhike across the country again. Why would I? I did it...

(RED) Read the rest

Cops responding to burglary call confronted by complete animal

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

What better joke about American policing could be made than demanding "let me see your hands" of a deer? Read the rest

Turn an ordinary dollhouse into an awesome haunted house

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Turn a thrift-snore into a thrift-score by transforming a dollhouse into a haunted one! The "post-pop culture purveyors" at Soap Plant/Wacko in LA noticed the one pictured while poking around in the Thrift Stores Oddities Facebook group. They write: "If you should find a saccharine sweet, plastic doll house at the Goodwill, don't dismiss it. Repaint it as a gothic mansion suitable for dolls or Halloween decor." Yes, please do!

(RED)

images via Soap Plant/Wacko with thanks to Michelle Koby Read the rest

6 gifts that your dog will love more than a belly rub

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Does your dog need a bit of pampering? We've got just the things with this roundup of six top treats and accessories. If Fido had thumbs and credit, you know he'd do the same for you.

FOMO Bones CBD Dog Treats

CBD is all the rage for stress relief among bipeds, but its benefits can be just as beneficial to dogs. There's no THC in these treats, just full-spectrum CBD along with chamomile, passion flower and other natural ingredients tailored to take your pet to their mellow place. Pick up a bag of FOMO Bones CBD Dog Treats for $32.99, a full 17% off the list price.

Petmaker Foldable Pet Stairs

For older dogs, any elevation change can be a challenge. Help them up into their favorite bed or couch with these carpeted stairs that collapse for easy storage. The Petmaker Foldable Pet Stairs are on sale now for $45, a 74% discount from the MSRP.

Cargo Liner Dog Seat Cover

This non-slip liner fits most SUVs, and it ensures a win-win for your next road trip with man's best friend. More comfort for them, no dog hairs in the back seat for you. Pick up a Cargo Liner Dog Seat Cover for $29 now, more than 40% off the list price of $49.99.

Sunset CBD Pet Shampoo & Conditioner

CBD oil can have anti-inflammatory properties as well as calming ones, which makes it a natural fit for this soothing shampoo. Green tea, lavender, and rosemary keep their coat silky while the THC-free core ingredients soothe their skin. Read the rest

U.S. will examine 2016 North Carolina poll books for election hacking

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Finally. It's been almost 3 years.

Another horse dies at Santa Anita, 2-year-old colt is 27th fatality this season

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

Shut it down. End horse racing. It's animal abuse.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos, the fashion brand

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

The snack food you wear all over yourself if you try to eat it is now a clothing line.

Forever 21 now sells Flamin' Hot Cheetos branded fashion.

Here's the link to the whole collection online.

The rights to CHEETOS, FLAMIN’ HOT and Chester Cheetah belong to Frito-Lay.

I mean, the partnership makes sense as a natural expression of life during Trumptime.

The collection features styles for all genders: t-shirts, sweatshirts, dresses, and more.

You can purchase from the collection now online, and at Forever 21 stores around the USA.

It's affordable. Most items retail between $5 and $30.

[More pix at Popsugar]

PHOTOS courtesy Forever 21 and Frito-Lay of North America Inc. Read the rest

Dr. John, the New Orleans music icon born Malcolm John Rebennack, dies at 77

Jun 7, 2019

Description:

A legend of American music has departed.

His name was Malcolm John Rebennack, or Mac Rebennack, but we knew him as Dr. John.

He was 77 years old, and is said to have succumbed to a heart attack.

pic.twitter.com/9ph7kisvHx

— Dr. John (@akadrjohn) June 6, 2019

On Thursday afternoon, Dr. John's publicist released a statement from the musician's family late on Thursday, saying the cause of his death was a heart attack.

The statement did not say where he died, but the Lake Pontchartrain area had been his home of late.

“Mr. Rebennack belonged to the pantheon of New Orleans keyboard wizards that includes Professor Longhair, James Booker, Huey (Piano) Smith and Fats Domino,” writes the New York Times' Gavin Edwards.

“What distinguished him from his peers was the showmanship of his public persona.”

Excerpt from the New York Times obituary:

Onstage as Dr. John, he adorned himself with snakeskin, beads and brightly colored feathers, and his shows blended Mardi Gras bonhomie with voodoo mystery.

He recorded more than 30 albums, including jazz projects (“Bluesiana Triangle,” 1990, with the drummer Art Blakey and the saxophonist David Newman), solo piano records (“Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack,” 1981) and his version of Afropop (“Locked Down,” 2012). His 1989 album of standards, “In a Sentimental Mood,” earned him the first of six Grammy Awards, for his duet with Rickie Lee Jones on “Makin’ Whoopee!”

His only Top 40 single, “Right Place Wrong Time,” reached No. 9 on the Billboard chart in 1973. In 2011, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Read the rest

Roky Erickson, psychedelic music pioneer, RIP

Jun 1, 2019

Description:

Roky Erickson, the pioneering psychedelic musician behind the 13th Floor Elevators, has died at age 71. A brilliant legend of Texas garage rock who struggled with schizophrenia and drug abuse, Erickson's far out lyrics, songs, and life had a tremendous influence on countless punk, psych, experimental, and avant-garde bands. Erickson moved culture. In 1966, Erickson unleashed the quintessential psych classic "You're Gonna Miss Me." He was right. RIP, Roky.

(Variety)

Read the rest

Mass shooting at Virginia Beach Municipal Center, shooter in custody — multiple injuries and deaths

May 31, 2019

Description:

Multiple injuries in shooting at a municipal center in Virginia Beach, police say; shooter in custody.

Apple to limit third-party tracking in children's apps

May 31, 2019

Description:

You can't trust tech companies' word that the privacy controls they say they're implementing will protect you and your children.

A Wall Street Journal study of 80 apps in Apple’s App Store shows that most apps, including ones selected and featured by Apple editors, are tracking you in ways you would not expect, and cannot avoid.

The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern found apps that track kids, including *her* kid, and send their data to companies including Facebook and Google.

Excerpt:

Uhhh, Curious George? You got a little too curious this time.

There’s a kids’ iOS app called Curious World that, not surprisingly, stars the cute little pants-less monkey. Turns out, the app was collecting my son’s age, name and every book he tapped, and sending that data to Facebook Inc.

The company’s response? Whoopsies!

Apple is reported to be planning to limit third-party tracking in kids' apps beginning next week.

The company hasn't announced the change, but an unnamed source who knows told the WSJ it's happening:

In fact, Apple will limit third-party tracking in apps in the Kids category of the App Store, according to a person familiar with the matter. Apple declined to comment on this, but a spokeswoman provided a statement:

"For privacy and security reasons, Apple does not see what data users choose to share with developers and we can't see what developers do on their servers."

More: iPhone Privacy Is Broken…and Apps Are to Blame

You know those “Apps We Love” in the App Store?

Read the rest

'Mueller' the Golden retriever is now mayor of this Southern California town

May 31, 2019

Description:

Not THAT Mueller, the furry one. He has two Deputy Dawgs helping out.

Beautiful book, augmented reality, and film about stunning rocket launches

May 31, 2019

Description:

In the realm of rocket geeks and space nerds, filmmakers MaryLiz Bender and Ryan Chylinski have dream jobs. The pair have the equivalent of "backstage passes" to SpaceX, NASA and ULA rocket launches where they capture and share breathtaking videos that convey the power, risk, and thrill of space exploration. The work of their studio, called Cosmic Perspective, is visceral, wondrous, and inspiring. Now Bender and Chylinski are creating a fascinating art book enhanced with augmented reality along with a companion short film "documenting humanity's grand adventure to space." Titled "Guidance Internal: Lessons from Astronauts," the book, film, and their touring Cosmic Perspective show lies at the intersection of science and art "to inspire hope, elevate empathy, and bring people together." They've launched a Kickstarter to support the project and it looks, well, stellar.

From Kickstarter:

The art and the pages in this book come to life immediately teleporting you to rocket launch pads, directly to our intimate interviews with astronauts and the people sending missions to space. We fuse art with science blending our love of high-dynamic range photography with compelling video to capture the emotion, excitement, and gravity of these events. We also give you a front-row seat to transformative performances by artists inspired by these experiences.

We place autonomous high-resolution and ultra-high speed video cameras at the launchpads of SpaceX, NASA, and ULA. These are cameras we place well ahead of the liftoff, design to survive the elements and, since no humans can be anywhere near the rockets, trigger without any human interaction.

Read the rest

Italy evicts Steve Bannon from $110,000-a-year medieval monastery that was to be was his “gladiator school for cultural warriors”

May 31, 2019

Description:

Arrivederci, asshole.

In Italy, authorities are reportedly evicting alt-right self-promoter Steve Bannon from the medieval monastery he'd planned to transform into a white supremacist radicalization academy, “after reports of fraud in the competitive tender process.”

Being evicted from his fancy Italian gladiator castle is a big setback for Bannon, who's trying to grow an alt-right empire in Europe.

Italy's La Repubblica newspaper reports today that the Italian government is saying “uh, no, grazie” to the Trump consigliere and global grifter's plans to turn a monastery near Rome into a training academy for would-be 21st-century Wehrmachters.

Here's the official announcement from Italy’s cultural heritage ministry, Friday, May 31, saying the lease granted to Bannon has been revoked after reports of “fraud in the competitive tender process.”

“The former Breitbart chief and aide to US president Donald Trump was reportedly paying €100,000 ($110,000) per year to rent the 13th Century Carthusian monastery, but now will have to search for another spot,” writes Luiz Romero, reporting for QZ.com:

The Italian state allowed the conservative Catholic organization Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI) to use the building early last year. Bannon happens to be a trustee of the institute, and planned to convert the space into a “gladiator school for cultural warriors,” where students would learn philosophy, theology, history, and economics, and receive political training from the former Trump aide himself.

But earlier this month, Italian newspaper Repubblica reported that a letter used to guarantee the lease was forged. The letter had the signature of an employee of Danish bank Jyske, but the bank said that employee hadn’t worked there for years, and called the letter fraudulent.

Read the rest

Hand-drawn fractals

May 31, 2019

Description:

I chanced upon Sheldon Ebbeler's hand-drawn fractals, and now plan on tattooing my entire torso, leaving only a tattered self-similar void around the navel.

Read the rest

David Silverberg's "Terms and Conditionals": the things you just agreed to

May 31, 2019

Description:

[David Silverberg's As Close to the Edge Without Going Over is a new book of genre poetry from Canadian speciality press ChiZine (previously). I was tickled by his poem "Terms and Conditionals" (for reasons that will be immediately obvious) and I asked him if we could reprint it here -- he graciously assented. -Cory]

Thanks for purchasing the latest Augmented Phone!

You can acquire Content on our Services for free or for a charge, which will come as a form of a credit-card payment or a drop of your mitochondrial DNA.

Each Transaction is an electronic contract between you and Zaphex, but we are under no obligation to meet your parents and/or play nice with your cousins. However, if you are a customer of Zaphex Distribution International and you acquire an App or a book, our Distribution team may send a representative to taste that new pasta primavera you cooked up Sunday night, yet we are under no obligation to Instagram it.

When you make your first Transaction or DNA droplet, we will ask you to choose how frequently we should ask for your password for future purchases. Your password should be a minimum of seven characters and have some, well, character, and include at least an Aramaic letter, half a pun and a melody from a Nina Simone song.

If you enable Emotion ID for Transactions, we will ask you to authenticate all Transactions with your BrainPrint and sense of humour. Failure to make our machine-learning program even chuckle may result in the failure to confirm said Transaction. Read the rest

Upset man builds fence around car-share vehicle parked in his driveway

May 31, 2019

Description:

Dan Smith of Seattle contacted Car2Go (a short term car rental company that allows people to pick up and drop off cars anywhere) about one of their cars parked in his driveway. Car2Go didn't give him a satisfactory answer so he built a fence around the car and told Car2Go it would now have to pay him storage fees, a nuisance fee, and fence-building fees before they can get the car. Smith told the Q13 news station in Seattle that Car2Go is accusing him of stealing the car.

Image: Q13 Fox/YouTube

[via Digg] Read the rest

Brass knuckles are now legal in Texas

May 31, 2019

Description:

Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law "relating to the criminal consequences of engaging in certain conduct with respect certain instruments designed, made, or adapted for use in striking a person with a fist." The law strikes "knuckles" from a list of prohibited weapons that a person can't "intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells."

The Texas Penal Code defines "knuckles" in this context as "any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles."

From CNN:

Rep. Joe Moody, a Democratic legislator from El Paso who sponsored the bill told the Texas Standard... "A young woman who has a keychain for self defense, certainly fits the statute of knuckles. And she was arrested for that."

Supporters of the bill argued "knuckles are primarily a defensive tool," the summary says, and shouldn't be associated with "explosive weapons, machine guns, and other prohibited weapons."

The law comes after lawmakers previously removed switchblades from that same banned list in 2013.

"Law abiding Texans who carry knuckles, perhaps as part of a novelty key chain, should not be vulnerable to jail time for possessing a legitimate self defense tool," the summary says.

"It's now legal to carry brass knuckles in Texas. Because, 'self-defense'" (CNN)

image: uncredited via Wikipedia Read the rest

Company that makes dog food from fungi gets $11 million in venture capital funding

May 31, 2019

Description:

Wild Earth is a dog food start-up in Berkeley, California. It specializes in dog food made from the Aspergillus oryzae fungus, known as koji in Japan. Koji is used to make "soy sauce and fermented bean paste (including miso), and also to saccharify rice, other grains, and potatoes in the making of alcoholic beverages such as sake and shōchū." [Wikipedia]. Chemical & Engineering News reports that Wild Earth recently secured $11 million in VC funding from "VegInvest, Mars Petcare, and other backers." This looks like a great snack for people, too.

Image: Wild Earth Read the rest

Arizona sky penis

May 31, 2019

Description:

Again with the military and the sky penises. Last time I posted about this, it was Navy pilots pulling a prank over the state of Washington. This week, it was Air Force fighter jets over Arizona's Luke Air Force Base and the official statement is that it was an "accident." From CNN:

"We've seen the photos that have been circulating online from Tuesday afternoon. 56th Fighter Wing senior leadership reviewed the training tapes from the flight and confirmed that F-35s conducting standard fighter training maneuvers ... resulted in the creation of the contrails," an Air Force spokesperson told CNN. "There was no nefarious or inappropriate behavior during the training flight." Read the rest

Hawaii reports three more cases of parasitic worms that burrow into human brains

May 31, 2019

Description:

Friends, don't eat slugs and snails you find on trails in Hawaii. And while you're at it, make sure to wash lettuce leaves thoroughly to get rid of slug and snail excretions. Failure to heed these warnings could result in rat lungworms that dig into your brain and cause "neurological problems, severe pain and long-term disability."

From Ars Technica:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed three new cases in unrelated adults visiting Hawaii Island from the US mainland, the health department announced. The latest known victims—who became infected at different times—bring the state’s 2018 case total to 10 and the 2019 total to five. While there were 17 confirmed cases in 2017, the state counted only two cases total in the prior decade. The new case counts indicate a sustained boom in the parasite’s population and spread.

The parasitic worm in these cases is the rat lungworm, aka Angiostrongylus cantonensis. As its common name suggests, the wandering worm primarily takes up residence in rats’ lungs, where female worms lay their eggs. Young worms leave the nest early to find their own windy homes, though. Larvae get coughed up into rats’ throats then swallowed. The hosting rat eventually poops out the young parasites, which then get gobbled up by feces-feasting snails and slugs (intermediate hosts). When other rodents come along and eat those infected mollusks, the prepubescent parasites migrate to the rats’ brains to mature before settling into the lungs and reproducing. The cycle then starts again.

Read the rest

Circling the USS Enterprise in 'Star Trek The Motion Picture'

May 31, 2019

Description:

Who needs V'ger? This scene of Kirk and Scotty made the entire movie for me. Read the rest

Watch Nico cover a Gordon Lightfoot tune in 1965

May 31, 2019

Description:

In 1965, two years before Nico made the Warhol/Factory scene with the Velvet Underground and released her first solo LP "Chelsea Girl," she recorded this cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "I'm Not Sayin'." According to Wikipedia, "This version of the song features Jimmy Page, then a studio musician, on the 12-string guitar. Nico's version was produced by Rolling Stones multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones and the promo film was shot at West India Docks in London." Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham released the track as a 7" backed with "The Last Mile," written by Oldham and Page.

Read the rest

A dog collar with owls on it

May 31, 2019

Description:

I put a collar emblazoned with owls on my Cavalier King Charles spaniel, thus combining two things I love.

I can't get a good shot of said owl collar on Zuul, cause she is too fuzzy. They come in sizes for many, if not all, dogs.

The Pyrenees got some gingham bs my kid choose, but it looks good on him.

dogs

Buckle-Down Plastic Clip Collar - Owls Striped w/Swirls Purple via Amazon Read the rest

Battery-powered 1950s lamp beautifully restored

May 31, 2019

Description:

This 1950s era Wonder lamp was purchased at a flea market in France. It's fun to watch this guy restore it to sparkling condition, but now I really want a sandblaster.

Image: my mechanics/YouTube Read the rest

Still Ill: 25 Years of ‘Ill Communication’ by the Beastie Boys

May 31, 2019

Description:

This fantastic documentary must be watched. I love these guys. Read the rest

Trump's pick to head DHS immigration, Ken Cuccinelli, praised anti-Muslim extremist Brigitte Gabriel

May 31, 2019

Description:

Ken Cuccinelli is probably going to be confirmed soon as Donald Trump's new head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He once praised and amplified a racist rant attacking Muslims by Brigitte Tudor, aka Brigitte Gabriel, a prominent anti-Muslim organizer based in the United States.

That's not good.

Cuccinelli was a former Attorney General in my home state of Virginia. Progressive voters in Virginia know all about him.

Brigitte Tudor — aka Brigitte Gabriel — is the founder of ACT for America, the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the country.

Cuccinelli's a big fan.

From MMFA:

Cuccinelli is a right-wing commentator and former Virginia attorney general who will reportedly be appointed as the new director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of DHS. Cuccinelli has a history of anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant rhetoric and positions.

Gabriel is the head of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America. Media outlets have called her “the most influential leader in America’s increasingly influential anti-Islam lobby” and “America's most prominent anti-Muslim activist.” Gabriel has a long history of anti-Muslim statements, including claiming that “a practicing Muslim … cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States,” and saying that Muslims in Europe “started multiplying” after World War II and did not assimilate and that Europe is now “paying the price” because it “ignored the cancer growing within its body when it was at Stage Two.”

The Heritage Foundation hosted a June 16, 2014, panel event about the 2012 Benghazi attacks featuring Gabriel and fellow anti-Muslim commentators Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez.

Read the rest

Public outcry has killed an attempt turn clickthrough terms of service into legally binding obligations (for now)

May 31, 2019

Description:

On May 21, the American Law Institute -- a kind of star chamber of 4,000 judges, law professors, and lawyers -- was scheduled to pass a "restatement" of the law of consumer contracts, with the plan being to codify case-law to ensure that terms of service would be treated as enforceable obligations by US courts.

This would have led to a virtual ban on class action suits, and would have severely curtailed the role of courts in hearing legal complaints brought by members of the public who had been harmed or lied to by corporations, replacing them with binding arbitration kangaroo courts where the "judge" is working for the company that wronged you.

The normally obscure workings of the ALI drew unprecedented attention over the move, with a bipartisan coalition of 23 states' Attorneys General publicly denouncing the plan, along with consumer rights groups and other campaigners.

The pressure worked! When the ALI sat down to finalize it at their meeting on the 21st, virtually the entire four-hour debate slot was taken up with a debate over the first of nine sections; debate began on the second section but time ran out before it could come to a vote.

A year from now, the ALI will sit again and could take up the matter once more.

Although the meeting agenda had assigned a four-hour session for consideration of the Restatement, only the first of the Restatement’s nine sections reached a vote. Section One contains the Restatement’s definitions and describes its scope.

Read the rest

William Barr, Nihilist: 'Everyone dies'

May 31, 2019

Description:

If Donald Trump's bag man Bill Barr weren't such a malevolent son of a bitch, this wild quote of his from a CBS News interview would sound something like wisdom.

“Everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don't believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?"

They're some soul-less bastards, these Trump administration slimeballs.

From CBS News:

Asked by CBS News' Jan Crawford about concerns over his reputation for defending the president amid ongoing probes into the administration's alleged ties to the Russian government and claims that Mr. Trump obstructed justice, Barr appeared indifferent.

"I am at the end of my career," Barr said. "Everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don't believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?"

Barr, who previously served in the George H.W. Bush administration, is only the second attorney general in history who's served in that capacity twice. The first was back in 1850.

He said he knew it would "only be a matter of time" that he would be attacked for what he considers is "behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them." He argued "nowadays, people don't care about the merits and the substance."

"They only care about who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits, everything is gauged by politics.

Read the rest

Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz calls neoliberalism "a failed ideology" and sketches out a "progressive capitalism" to replace it

May 31, 2019

Description:

Joe Stiglitz (previously) holds a Nobel Prize in Economics (not an actual Nobel Prize), and has been an outspoken critic of the rigged economy and austerity.

Now, in a new editorial for Common Dreams, Stiglitz calls neoliberalism "an ideology that has clearly failed" and goes on to try to rescue capitalism from neoliberalism, calling for support for "progressive capitalism...which prescribes a radically different economic agenda,"

Stiglitz's progressive capitalism calls for a stronger role for the state in subjecting markets to democratic oversight; an emphasis on science-led, evidence-based policies that favor benefits for the many over enriching the few; breaking up monopolies; and shielding politics from financial corruption.

It's a platform very similar to Elizabeth Warren's 2020 election playbook, and can be seen as an attempt to establish a new centrism that's far to the left of the likes of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, sitting between their positions and the positions of Sanders, AOC, and other socialists who are skeptical of markets entirely.

A comprehensive agenda must focus on education, research, and the other true sources of wealth. It must protect the environment and fight climate change with the same vigilance as the Green New Dealers in the US and Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom. And it must provide public programs to ensure that no citizen is denied the basic requisites of a decent life. These include economic security, access to work and a living wage, health care and adequate housing, a secure retirement, and a quality education for one’s children.

Read the rest

Google's API changes mean only paid enterprise users of Chrome will be able to access full adblock

May 31, 2019

Description:

Since January, Google has been pushing for a change to its extensions handling in Chrome; one casualty of that change is ability to block unwanted content before its loads, something that would effectively kill privacy tools and ad-blockers.

After a public outcry, Google has tweaked the change, but only for enterprise customers, who will have access to an API that will allow this kind of blocking. That means that corporations will be able to develop internal-use plugins that do the kind of screening that adblockers do for the rest of us today.

Google has warned investors that "New and existing technologies could affect our ability to customize ads and/or could block ads online, which would harm our business," and ad blocker developers like Raymond Hill of Ublock Origin have speculated that "Google’s primary business is incompatible with unimpeded content blocking. Now that Google Chrome product has achieve high market share, the content blocking concerns as stated in its 10K filing are being tackled."

Google denies this, and says "We’re actively working with the developer community to get feedback and iterate on the design of a privacy-preserving content filtering system that limits the amount of sensitive browser data shared with third parties."

Chrome is the dominant browser on the web today, and even though it is nominally open source, Google has used a suite of tricks to ensure that it gets to decide who can adapt it and what features those adaptations can have.

Firefox is available for virtually every OS -- mobile and desktop -- and supports full ad-blocking. Read the rest

Just look at this vintage "banana candle" recipe

May 31, 2019

Description:

Just look at it.

(Thanks, Seth!) Read the rest

Chase credit cards quietly reintroduce the binding arbitration clauses they were forced to eliminate a decade ago

May 31, 2019

Description:

Binding arbitration is a way for corporations to force you to surrender your legal rights as a condition of doing business, relegating you to seeking redress for breaches and harms by going before a paid arbitrator who is in the employ of the company that harmed you, and who almost always sides with their employer.

Ten years ago, Chase did away with binding arbitration in its credit-card agreements (after settling a class action suit accusing the company of conspiring with its competitors to force customers into binding arbitration), but two days ago, the company sent customers holding Chase Slate cards a notice informing them that their new contract includes arbitration: "This arbitration agreement provides that all disputes between you and Chase must be resolved by BINDING ARBITRATION whenever you or we choose to submit or refer a dispute to arbitration. By accepting this arbitration agreement you GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO GO TO COURT (except for matters that may be taken to a small claims court). Arbitration will proceed on an INDIVIDUAL BASIS, so class actions and similar proceedings will NOT be available to you."

Chase Slate customers have until August 7 to opt out, but they must do so in writing by postal mail.

This should send shivers down consumers’ spines. It’s unclear if Chase plans to extend binding arbitration to all of its cards, but that wouldn’t be surprising. And Chase is not alone. A 2016 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that forced arbitration clauses are on the rise among financial institutions.

Read the rest

Watch a rusted flea-market lamp get lovingly restored

May 31, 2019

Description:

"In this video I'm restoring an old French Wonder lamp," writes MyMechanics (Patreon). "My good friend TysyTube Restoration bought this Wonder lamp on a flea market in Paris. He asked me if I want to restore it and obviously I said yes. He already restored two of them himself, I link his videos and channel below. These Wonder lamps are very well known in France, they're used on railroads mostly as far as I know."

I want to put a Raspberry Pi in one of these and I don't know why. Read the rest

Ted Cruz backs AOC's call for a lifetime ban on lobbying by former Congressjerks

May 31, 2019

Description:

Last year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez successfully challenged establishment Dem Joe Crowley for his seat in the Bronx; now Crowley works as a lobbyist, skirting the restrictions on lobbying by Congress by styling himself a "strategic consultant."

AOC publicly proposed a lifetime ban on any Congressman ever lobbying, under any guise, and, when Ted Cruz endorsed her proposal, she seized the opportunity, tweeting ".@tedcruz if you’re serious about a clean bill, then I’m down. Let’s make a deal. If we can agree on a bill with no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc - just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists - then I’ll co-lead the bill with you."

The Democratic Congress has already passed an omnibus bill, HR1, the "For the People Act," that bans former members of the executive branch as well as former Congresspeople from lobbying or serving as "strategic consultants" to lobbyists.

But, as Ocasio-Cortez pointed out in a series of tweets, there’s more to consider than just banning—or at the least delaying—lawmaker entrance into lobbying firms. The nature of congressional pay and the necessities of the work, Ocasio-Cortez said, make the easy money of lobbying very attractive to members of Congress.

“Keeping it real,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “the elephant in the room with passing a lobbying ban on members requires a nearly-impossible discussion about congressional pay.”

AOC Calls for Ban on Revolving Door as Study Shows 2/3 of Recently Departed Lawmakers Now Lobbyists [Jerri-Lynn Scofield/Naked Capitalism] Read the rest

To reduce plastic packaging, ship products in solid form

May 31, 2019

Description:

There's no one way to solve the plastic waste problem, but in the packaged goods sector, an enormous amount of plastic is used in order to surround and protect simple solutions of some agent dissolved in water, from toothpaste to window cleaner to shampoo.

Treehugger's Katherine Martinko surveys a slate of companies that are shipping dehydrated, solid products that outperform their pre-mixed cousins, while costing less and using far less plastic, like Blueland, whose Windex-beating window cleaner ships as a $2 tablet that you add to a spray-bottle (the bottle comes in a starter kit and you only have to buy one).

Obviously, this won't solve the problem, but it represents a substantial advance on the status quo.

When you stop to think about it, much of what we're shipping around the world is water. Whether it's cleaning products or personal care products, these are mostly made up of water, with ingredients mixed in to clean, moisturize, color, or do whatever task you need.

Now imagine if we could remove the water and only ship the additive. It could come in dry tablet or bar form and, depending on its use, could be dissolved in water to create a product just as strong as anything you'd buy at the store, or used in bar form directly on your body. This would save money, hassle (who loves lugging heavy jugs of detergent home from the store?), and environmental impact (think of the carbon emissions required to get that jug from its manufacturer to your home).

Read the rest

Footage of Chernobyl liquidators

May 31, 2019

Description:

Chernobyl, the five-part HBO/Sky dramatization of the 1986 nuclear disaster, is filled with more dread, tension and horror than any Hollywood movie I've seen in years. The most unsettling part of it is knowing that it adheres closely to the truth, right down to the details. Yet I'm still startled to see just how exacting the production design is, as demonstrated by this footage from one of the plant roofs where "liquidators" struggled to remove irradiated debris by hurling it back into the open core of the reactor. Jump to about 7:45 for the roof work.

Compare to the "roof" scene from the show, which integrates the true footage so cleverly you wouldn't know it if you hadn't seen it for yourself:

If you still need convincing that you should check out this amazing show, here's the scene from Ep. 1 where three young plant workers inspect the reactor hall after the explosion. They know what they're afraid of finding, but they don't know that it's going to be... well, you watch it and see for yourself.

Embedded below, a hapless engineer is ordered onto the roof so that managers can debunk claims that the reactor is exposed to the open air. He knows he's dead as soon as he sees the satanic cloud of smoke billowing from the ruin. He knows the guard escorting him up there is dead, too—and that guy doesn't even have to go up to the edge and look down into it. The guard doesn't have to go back to the managers and get yelled at again, either. Read the rest

For the first time since the 70s, New York State is set to enshrine sweeping tenants' protections

May 31, 2019

Description:

There isn't single county in the nation where a minimum-wage worker can afford to rent a two-bedroom home; and although LA has the worst homelessness crisis in the country, New York state is catching up, with homelessness growing by 46% since the financial crisis -- the fastest rate in the nation.

Surging housing prices have a multitude of causes, but they mostly come down to increased inequality and the drive to put money into the pockets of the rich at the expense of working people: basically, it's one part post-2008 evictions, one part wage stagnation, and one part private equity buying-frenzy.

Or, to put it another way: the banks destroyed the economy, their investors cut wages, working people lost their homes while banks got taxpayer bailouts, and then the rich used the tax subsidy to buy the houses that the working people who paid for it had lost, moved those people back into their old homes, and hiked rents while slashing maintenance.

Shelter is a basic human need, right there on Maslow's hierarchy, one step above food and air. When shelter is captured by the finance sector and turned into "an ATM for Wall Street," everybody suffers.

In New York State, things have reached a breaking point, at a statewide coalition stretching from Lake Ontario to the Bronx is promising a huge shakeup in the state's protection for tenants, with rent stabilization and rules prohibiting eviction without cause enshrined in a set of eight interlocking bills that are being carried forward by a slate of state Democratic legislators who won elections last year by refusing to take real-estate industry money. Read the rest

Real estate title insurance company exposed 885,000,000 customers' records, going back 16 years: bank statements, drivers' licenses, SSNs, and tax records

May 24, 2019

Description:

First American Financial Corp is a Fortune 500 company that insures titles on peoples' property; their insecure website exposed 885,000,000 records for property titles, going back 16 years, including bank accounts (with scanned statements), Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, scanned drivers' licenses, tax records, mortgage records, etc -- when notified of the error, the company (which employs 18,000 people and grossed more than $5.7B last year) closed the misconfiguration.

It's not clear whether or which records were compromised.

The error was in the company's customer portal, which anyone who ever closed a real-estate purchase mediated by First American would have accessed. All it took to gain access to other peoples' records was to change the customer number in the portal, adding or subtracting one to step through every customer on file, back to 2003.

KrebsOnSecurity confirmed the real estate developer’s findings, which indicate that First American’s Web site exposed approximately 885 million files, the earliest dating back more than 16 years. No authentication was required to read the documents.

Many of the exposed files are records of wire transactions with bank account numbers and other information from home or property buyers and sellers. Ben Shoval, the developer who notified KrebsOnSecurity about the data exposure, said that’s because First American is one of the most widely-used companies for real estate title insurance and for closing real estate deals — where both parties to the sale meet in a room and sign stacks of legal documents.

“Closing agencies are supposed to be the only neutral party that doesn’t represent someone else’s interest, and you’re required to have title insurance if you have any kind of mortgage,” Shoval said.

Read the rest

Already regretting assigning Anthony Burgess to review the Samsung Galaxy Fold

May 24, 2019

Description:

“Welly, welly, well, to what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this ganjy gadget? What’s it going to be then, eh?

There was me, that is Lexa, and my pelendus Pria, Georgina, and Dim, all sat in the So Milkbar with the package sent my way, safe of the rainy blacklight without. As everybody is fast to forget, newspapers not being read much these days, this thing is quite the jem, folding like a zagamine and opening up to play any viddytube or app.

A dayback marvel, as the literature has it, so here we are ignoring the sayjaylays at the bar in favor of this mystic slab. It was the jang, or so we were told, and two grand to boot.

Unspun from its box, the ol' android came on and the hardware was alive. Oh, jala, jala! Like a sheet of rarespun heaven metal or silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now under my flicking and tapping fingertips. Gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh, flipping and folding, a wonder of wonders, even its music a cage of silk. Ah sa, my sisters, who well wanted a go and made grabby grabs at the magic machine.

"Over my baejae body girls," said I, recoiling and fending. There was yet a film on it, the protector that comes on all such things. Off I pulled this sheeting, daksal and slippy, as any would do. But within seconds there was a line and a flutter and then another and more. Read the rest

The Digital Public Library of America has re-released the Mueller Report as a well-formatted ebook instead of a crappy PDF

May 24, 2019

Description:

Back in April, Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly wrote a column deploring the abysmal formatting in the DoJ's release of the Mueller Report, and publicly requesting that the Digital Public Library of America produce well-formatted ebook editions, which they have now done!

Albanese writes,

To me, this is an important development, because with the DPLA’s publication, a major barrier to access has been eliminated: unlike the DOJ’s poor quality PDF, the DPLA e-book edition is a good reading experience, flowing on any digital device, fully functional, searchable. And, of course, it’s free. I can’t imagine why every media outlet that links to the DOJ version, wouldn't link to this version instead if they are actually interested in having people actually read the report.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of how important of The Mueller Report will turn out to be. And citizens can now turn to the place they’ve traditionally turned when they need access to important, trustworthy information—the library. To me, this is a pretty big deal, that libraries have picked up where the government slacked off. I mean, we live in the e-book age. The technology is cheap, and ubiquitous. There is really no excuse for bad pdfs to be the standard for how important government information like this is released.

Mueller Report [Digital Public Library of America] Read the rest

A(nother) Lego Turing machine

May 24, 2019

Description:

Making a Turing machine is a kind of nerd rite of passage, like manually editing your X11 settings or building a two-second time-machine. As far back as 2005, we were chronicling the adventures of Lego Turing-machine builders (the state of the art advanced rather a lot by 2012), as well as the ongoing effort to attain Turing completeness in wood and also baked goods.

Here's the latest iteration, a Lego Turing machine created by comp sci Masters students at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyons, which comes with its own 7 minute documentary.

(via Evil Mad Scientist Labs) Read the rest

On the visual miracle of "slit-scan" video

May 24, 2019

Description:

Hashimoto Baku ("a Tokyo based video director/visual artist/developer") digs into fascinating depth on the "slit-scan" technique: "[imagine] a quite thick flipbook that all frames of a video are bound page by page. If you just rifle through it, the original video will be just played. Slit-scan intrinsically means slicing the flipbook diagonally."

Applied to digital video, this "means displacing a cross section of 'world volume' (like a flipbook, it is an imaginary 3D cube consists of 2D image + 1D time) along with 'time axis'. Part of time displacement whose cross-section is planar is so-called slit-scan."

The effect is to make things stretch, distort, shrink and produce landscapes that are reminiscent of Inception.

advanced slit-scan pic.twitter.com/gzSua8dlED

— Baku 麦 (@_baku89) May 17, 2019

(via JWZ) Read the rest

How to manage anxiety and depression in 10 easy* steps

May 24, 2019

Description:

*not really

Anxiety and depression are deeply inter-related and both are among the most terrible things I have ever experienced.

This is in no way to say that they are worse than other things. It’s not a competition and one of the many terrible things anxiety and depression do is make you feel guilty about feeling bad because so many people have it worse off than you, because of disaster or illness or poverty or circumstance, which just makes the whole thing worse.

Anxiety often starts with a specific concern, something you are worried about, either personal [aggh money, agggh relationships, aggg jobs, aggg illness] or public [agggh run around screaming the whole world is on fire and no one seems to be able to do anything oh dear god I can never look at the news again did that really say nuclear war why won’t it stop and gosh isn’t it getting hot recently].

At some point, it metastasizes, spreading from a particular thing you have been over-thinking about and becomes a persistent feeling of dread and discomfort that will then alter your perception of anything that you think about.

Or sometimes it just turns up for no fucking reason at all.

Dread and discomfort do not do it justice, however.

It makes getting out of bed sort of…terrifying. In fact, it makes anything you have to do at all sort of…terrifying. Even the thought of doing something is terrifying. The sensation is like when you get frightened and there is this clenching in your chest but it never alleviates and turns into a rat that is constantly gnawing at your insides, a thin ribbon of indescribable panic that sits under your ribcage and pulls your focus away from the world. Read the rest

Stephen Colbert plays D&D with Matt Mercer for Red Nose Day

May 24, 2019

Description:

There are so many things to love about Stephen Colbert. For me, his unapologetic nerdiness is high on that list. His obviously large and tender heart is, too. These two impulses come together in this Critcal Role video, done as a fundraiser for Red Nose Day, dedicated to the fight against childhood poverty in America.

In the 52-minute one-on-one D&D adventure, Matt Mercer does a masterful job of taking Stephen, as the half-elf bard, Capo, and his bee sidekick, Eric, on a harrowing adventure in search of the Crimson Sphere of Generosity.

Besides the fun D&D adventure and the do-gooder intent of the episode, we also get to see Stephen play D&D for the first time in some 30 years. His joy and sense of wonder are palpable. He even has to stop to tell Matt how much he's freaking out as childhood memories of playing with friends overwhelm him. "I can feel the chest hairs growing as we speak," he jokes. At one point, Stephen laughs at one of Matt's colorful descriptions of a gory encounter with an undead beast. "I haven't heard the word ichor in over 30 years."

We also learn more about the origins of Stephen's gaming past. He was a Metamorphosis Alpha player before D&D and he got in on D&D early. He even says that he went to GenCon the year that the first AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide was released. And he admits that he still has his friend's copy (they got switched at the con) which was signed by Gary Gygax. Read the rest

Highly rated Black n' Red notebook on sale

May 24, 2019

Description:

Amazon has a good sale on the 11-3/4" x 8-1/4”, twin wire bound, 70 sheets/140 pages Black n' Red notebook. It has a 4.3 star rating with over 523 customer reviews. Read the rest

Deepfaking Mona Lisa

May 24, 2019

Description:

From a Cornell University paper by Egor Zakharov, Aliaksandra Shysheya, Egor Burkov, and Victor Lempitsky titled "Few-Shot Adversarial Learning of Realistic Neural Talking Head Models"

Several recent works have shown how highly realistic human head images can be obtained by training convolutional neural networks to generate them. In order to create a personalized talking head model, these works require training on a large dataset of images of a single person. However, in many practical scenarios, such personalized talking head models need to be learned from a few image views of a person, potentially even a single image. Here, we present a system with such few-shot capability. It performs lengthy meta-learning on a large dataset of videos, and after that is able to frame few- and one-shot learning of neural talking head models of previously unseen people as adversarial training problems with high capacity generators and discriminators. Crucially, the system is able to initialize the parameters of both the generator and the discriminator in a person-specific way, so that training can be based on just a few images and done quickly, despite the need to tune tens of millions of parameters. We show that such an approach is able to learn highly realistic and personalized talking head models of new people and even portrait paintings.

Image: Egor Zakharov/YouTube Read the rest

A cheap bread lame that should work just fine

May 24, 2019

Description:

I bought a bread lame.

A friend of mine is doing all sorts of fancy scoring to his bread. Mine just tastes good.

I will try to make some fancy cuts in some bread soon, it will probably taste the same. This lame is as cheap as I could find, as I do not think they make much difference. I have seen some fancy stuff tho. I think I have had and lost other lames, so I am going cheap.

Premium Hand Crafted Bread Lame Included 5 Blades and Leather Protective Cover via Amazon Read the rest

That guy who made up a story about stealing a brick of heroin from an MS-13 gang member says he now regrets it

May 24, 2019

Description:

"It’s a lie. I made the whole thing up. Now I'm in huge trouble." That's what Shane Morris is now saying about his epic twitter story about buying an old van, finding a brick of heroin taped to the wheel well, then pulling a con on an MS-13 gang member.  In a Medium post, he wrote:

But this lie has been incredibly stupid, and it comes with a heavy cost. A few hours ago, my weed man came by for his usual delivery. I don’t know how you are with your weed man, but my weed man and I have a good relationship. (Life lesson: Keep a good relationship with your weed man. Tip for delivery.) While he was at my house, I was showing him the thread, the whole story, and how I went viral. When I got to the very end, he said, “Wait. Hol’ up. Hol’ the fuck up. Did you actually just casually throw out how you robbed MS-13? Bro, that is the fucking whitest shit I have ever heard in my entire life. Like, bro, you know me. I used to bang. I know these n****as. These n****as ain’t just gonna murder you. They’re gonna make that shit last for six fucking hours. Bro. I don’t even know if I can be at this fucking house right now.”

The narrator voice went off in my head: “At moment, I realized I had fucked up.”

He demanded I leave my home. I don’t recollect his exact words, but it was, “If you don’t get the fuck outta this house, right now, I’m gonna kill you myself, so at least I know you died a painless death.

Read the rest

Germany demands an end to working cryptography

May 24, 2019

Description:

Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer -- a hardliner who has called for cameras at every "hot spot" in Germany -- has announced that he will seek a ban on working cryptography in Germany; he will insist that companies only supply insecure tools that have a backdoor that will allow the German state to decrypt messages and chats on demand.

He's said that he'll ban any service or app that does not comply with the rule.

If this sounds familiar, it should: it's basically the rule Australia enacted in December 2018. It's also been repeatedly proposed by Rod Rosenstein in his capacity as US Deputy Attorney General; and by GCHQ's Technical Director, Ian Levy.

I wrote a comprehensive explainer about this in 2017 when Theresa May proposed it. Here it is again, because honestly, the idea hasn't gotten any less stupid over two years.

Aaron Swartz once said, "It's no longer OK not to understand how the Internet works."

He was talking to law-makers, policy-makers and power-brokers, people who were, at best, half-smart about technology -- just smart enough to understand that in a connected world, every problem society has involves computers, and just stupid enough to demand that computers be altered to solve those problems.

Paging Theresa May.

Theresa May says that last night's London terror attacks mean that the internet cannot be allowed to provide a "safe space" for terrorists and therefore working cryptography must be banned in the UK.

This is a golden oldie, a classic piece of foolish political grandstanding.

Read the rest

How a quartz watch works

May 24, 2019

Description:

How do quartz watches keep time? Steve Mould gives a great demonstration explaining how they work. Quartz is piezoelectric, which means when it is deformed it generates an electrical signal. A quartz watch has a tiny quartz tuning fork that's been calibrated to vibrate at 215 cycles per second. This signal is fed through a series of 14 flip-flop circuits, each of which divides the frequency of the signal by 2. By the time the signal goes through the 14th flip-flop, the frequency is one cycle per second. Read the rest

Comcast fights shareholder call for lobbying transparency, saying that it would be "burdensome" to reveal how much it spends lobbying states

May 24, 2019

Description:

A group of Quaker investors called Friends Fiduciary have introduced a shareholder motion that was backed by the owners of more than a million Comcast shares, calling on the company to voluntarily disclose its state-level lobbying activities; the company strenuously objects to making such disclosures, calling the measure an "unnecessary burden."

The company falsely stated that "much of this information is already publicly available either through our own filings or those of any trade associations of which we are members" -- some (but not all) of the information about federal lobbying is in the public record, but 22 states have no disclosure requirements and generally state disclosures are less comprehensive than federal ones.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts holds 33.3 percent of the voting shares, making it unlikely, but the Friends Fiduciary proposal has gained more support every year, rising from 16.7% in 2017 to 19.1% in 2018 (that's 32% of the outside shareholders).

The Friends Fiduciary proposal argued that more lobbying disclosures are necessary in part because "Comcast's lobbying spending is perceived to go counter to its public statements, a sentiment which has only grown given recent debates over net neutrality." As evidence, the group pointed to a November 2017 Slate article titled "Comcast wants you to think it supports net neutrality while it pushes for net neutrality to be destroyed."

Separately, Comcast should say how much it gives to Broadband for America, a "group which has been subpoenaed by the New York attorney general in the course of an investigation into the potential fraudulence of some of the 22 million comments submitted to the Federal Communication Commission" during the net neutrality repeal proceeding, Friends Fiduciary said.

Read the rest

A neuroscientist explains the "brain orgasm" response of ASMR videos

May 24, 2019

Description:

Some people shiver with delight at whispers and certain kinds of soft sounds. A psychologist/neuroscientist at Manchester University named Nick Davis tells Wired about the science behind these "brain orgasms."

Image: Wired/YouTube Read the rest

James Brown in Rocky IV

May 24, 2019

Description:

Remember when Russia was our friend? Read the rest

Supercut of Spongebob Squarepants characters screaming "My leg!"

May 24, 2019

Description:

It is, as they say, a running joke. One meticulously catalogued here by Noah Spongy and Jasbre. Read the rest

Terminator bookends and tankard

May 24, 2019

Description:

The bookends ($79) are the clear winner here, but the robot hand tankard ($58) is pretty sweet too; they're made of painted resin (with a stainless steel insert in the tankard), pre-order now for July shipping. (via Geekologie)

Read the rest

The Pirate Bay still lives

May 24, 2019

Description:

Despite 15 years of legal action, jailed founders, and countless takedown demands, The Pirate Bay still remains live on the 'net.

This is the story of a plain-looking website that sprung from the most fertile period of the early internet, blatantly raised its middle fingers at intellectual property laws and copyright owners and lived for what is an eternity in the timeline of digital evolution. It’s thrived, growing from 25 million users to reportedly more than double that figure over the last 10 years, and shows little sign of slowing down. “It’s a testament to what an anonymous crew can do if they really believe in the cause of giving us access to these products that are so corporatized and endlessly monetized,” John says.

Google is happy to list it:

Read the rest

I'm just a bowl cut and a sit and spin away from happiness

May 24, 2019

Description:

I spun til I was dizzy as fuck on that exact same Sit and Spin!

Rockin' out. Read the rest

Rudy Giuliani slurs a tweet attacking Nancy Pelosi for hoaxed slurring

May 24, 2019

Description:

What is going on.

This appears to be a slurred tweet from Rudy Giuliani piling on to an orchestrated political attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But honestly, who knows anymore?

Yesterday, Trump and his party circulated a badly produced fake video that purported to show Nancy Pelosi slurring her words, in response to Pelosi's call for an 'intervention' for Trump because he is clearly nuts and unfit for office.

ivesssapology for a video which is allegedly is a caricature of an otherwise halting speech pattern, she should first stop, and apologize for, saying the President needs an “intervention.” Are pic.twitter.com/ZpEO7iRzV8

— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) May 24, 2019

Is Rudy Giuliani okay? Someone should check on him, and then keep him locked away until mid-November 2020.

Rosie Gray interprets it as best as anyone can.

"In a tweet on Friday, former New York City mayor and President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani made a cryptic reference to a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, misspelling the word 'apology' and attaching an unrelated gif of Atlanta Hawks team members." https://t.co/94ZuhJgDhV

— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) May 24, 2019

Responses from Twitter.

Pete Buttigieg: I’m the only politician who appreciates the prose in “Finnegan’s Wake.”

Rudy Giuliani: https://t.co/HhmzVDtSKl

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) May 24, 2019

Me: *spends an entire day agonizing about sending a tweet where I left out an apostrophe*

Rudy Giuliani, who is an attorney with a law degree and is employed by the President of the United States of America: pic.twitter.com/NTu6ln5KBT

— maura quint (@behindyourback) May 24, 2019

What is wrong with Rudy Giuliani?

Read the rest

British Prime Minister announces resignation

May 24, 2019

Description:

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would stand down as the leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, triggering a party leadership race. She will remain Prime Minister until a replacement is chosen, probably in July.

The BBC:

In an emotional statement, she said she had done her best to deliver Brexit and it was a matter of "deep regret" that she had been unable to do so. ... In her statement, Mrs May said she had done "everything I can" to convince MPs to support the withdrawal deal she had negotiated with the European Union but it was now in the "best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort".

She added that, in order to deliver Brexit, her successor would have to build agreement in Parliament.

"Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise," she said.

Under the UK's parliamentary system the majority party (or a coalition, if there is none) forms the government, meaning that the PM's job often changes hands without a new election.

May succeeded David Cameron three years ago, called a general election in hopes of winning a beefy democratic mandate, failed to win the election, was nonetheless able to form a government with the help of an Irish cult, then was unable to pass a Brexit deal. Read the rest

What's Steve Bannon up to? Stoking race war in Paris, hugging RT's George Galloway in Kazakhstan

May 24, 2019

Description:

Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

Theresa May, yes, but also Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon is in Almaty, Kazakhstan, today, just a few of days before the long-planned handover of power from President Nursultan Äbishuly Nazarbayev to his hand-picked successor.

Here is Bannon, fresh off the plane from stoking race war in Paris and advising Boris Johnson on what to do after Theresa May, in Kazakhstan, giving a consoling embrace to RT propaganda persona George Galloway.

Where's old white nationalist Steve Bannon off to next? “Steve Bannon, Nick Griffin, and Jeff Monson headline the Novorossia Friendship Congress at Moscow’s President Hotel.”

Caption this. Now.

Steve Bannon and George Galloway congratulating each other after hearing news of @theresa_may’s expected resignation. pic.twitter.com/uX7iv50uej

— Ghida Fakhry (@ghida_fakhry) May 24, 2019

“Theresa May has resigned” announced George Galloway. “Let me give you a hug,” Steve Bannon replied. I pulled a camera out just as they let go of tight embrace but here is the far right and far left very much on the same page in Almaty #Kazakhstan pic.twitter.com/96YNBmhv0X

— natalia antelava (@antelava) May 24, 2019

Says everything about Steve Bannon’s fall from grace that he’s sunk to the level of hanging out with George Galloway in Kazakhstan. That is a Seagal-level grind https://t.co/HgUY2esCOa

— max seddon (@maxseddon) May 24, 2019

Steve Bannon's speaking in Kazakhstan this week, alongside RT stalwart George Galloway (lol): https://t.co/utZUhoKlnc ht @ReidStan pic.twitter.com/mYoDXJDdfr

— Casey Michel 🇰🇿 (@cjcmichel) May 21, 2019

Steve Bannon was supposed to be on the opening panel I was moderating on ‘de-globalization.’ He missed it because he arrived late from France where he was busy helping Marine Le Pen’s party in the European parliamentary elections.

Read the rest

Barges strike Arkansas River dam

May 24, 2019

Description:

There's no sound in this video, posted by KARK 4 News, depicting two barges slurped inexorably into a dam on the Arkansas River.

According to locals, the unmanned barges were loaded with fertilier and broke free of their moorings.

two runaway barges broke loose Thursday on the Arkansas River, crashed into a dam in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and sank. Police shut down major thoroughfares and ordered evacuations in the area after the barges came unmoored and threatened to crash through an Interstate 40 bridge and a dam on the bloated Arkansas River.

Read the rest

HACKED: Perceptics, license plate reader provider for US Border Patrol at Mexico border

May 24, 2019

Description:

Hackers have breached Perceptics, which sells border security technology and license plate reader systems and the like to governments and other entities. The U.S. government uses their readers, including along the US-Mexico border.

“The hacker known as 'Boris Bullet-Dodger' has published what appears to be internal data belonging to Perceptics, which provides license plate reader technology for the Mexico border,” reports Motherboard.

Perceptics has contracts with U.S. Customs, The government of Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Motherboard confirms the breach, and reports that hackers have dumped data online.

Excerpt:

“We are aware of the breach and have notified our customers. We can’t comment any further because it is an ongoing legal investigation,” Casey Self, director of marketing for Perceptics said in an online message. The Register first reported the news on Thursday.

The data appears to include a variety of databases, company documents, and financial information, according to the file directory giving an overview of the stolen material. Boris Bullet-Dodger, the hacker who listed the data online, contacted Motherboard with a link to the stolen data on Thursday.

"perceptics.com hacked, dat[a] leak," the hacker wrote in an email.

Perceptics, once a subsidiary of major government contractor Northrop Grumman, mainly distributes license plate readers, under-vehicle cameras, and driver cameras to the U.S., Canada, Mexico to place at border crossings. According to a company slide presentation from 2016, its readers and cameras are designed to be combined with federal “biographic/passport data” of the passengers.

U.S. Customs Service has used Perceptics services since 1982, and the company has had licence plate readers at all U.S.-Mexico border crossings since 2002.

Read the rest

Snap employees used the company's internal 'SnapLion' tool to access Snapchat user data

May 24, 2019

Description:

Abuse happened at Snapchat a "few times," staff tells Motherboard

Listen to an author realize her forthcoming book contains a terrible mistake

May 24, 2019

Description:

Author Naomi Wolf has a new book coming out titled "Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love". It's about the emergence of homosexuality as a concept and its criminalization in 19th-century England.

...the story, brilliantly told, of why this two-pronged State repression took hold—first in England and spreading quickly to America—and why it was attached so dramatically, for the first time, to homosexual men.

Before 1857 it wasn’t “homosexuality” that was a crime, but simply the act of sodomy. But in a single stroke, not only was love between men illegal, but anything referring to this love became obscene, unprintable, unspeakable.

In a BBC interview with Wolf, her host, historian Matthew Sweet, points out two serious problems with her work. First, she assumes "sodomy" refers to homosexuality, but a key example she uses was a child abuser and it often refers to other sexual offenses.

Secondly, she assumes the 19th-century legal term "death recorded" (for example) means the convict was executed, when in fact it means the opposite: the sentence of death being merely recorded rather than carried out, because the prisoner was pardoned and freed. A term she thought signaled draconian punishment turns out to demonstrate leniency.

A quick look at a newspaper report from the time might have sorted things out:

Oops!

Here's the tape. Sweet is polite and professional, and Wolf takes the news well, but it's very painful listening.

Everyone listen to Naomi Wolf realize on live radio that the historical thesis of the book she's there to promote is based on her misunderstanding a legal term pic.twitter.com/a3tB77g3c1

— Edmund Hochreiter (@thymetikon) May 23, 2019

Fortunate that it isn't out yet (and perhaps not even printed, as the release date is months hence) so Wolf and publisher Virago can fix it. Read the rest

After double lot sold to separate owners, one of them erects fence through pool and garage

May 24, 2019

Description:

An Orlando homeowner owned a second lot next to the house. He added a pool that straddled the property lines. Then, following foreclosure, the two lots were sold to different owners, one of whom erected a fence. Over the pool. Through the garage.

When you're just dipping your toe in the real estate market

It's all so very "Florida"! Cities that don't enforce setback rules. Cities that tolerate structures spanning multiple residential lots. Sales that split combined lots into multiple lots without consideration of what is on the lots. Inspectors, appraisers and mortgage lenders saying "this is fine!". People building fences over pools and through garages. Read the rest

Heads up, handypeople: These DIY tools and gadgets are on sale

May 24, 2019

Description:

If you're into tools or gadgets, Memorial Day weekend is your Christmas. Take an extra 15% off the final price of these DIY accessories - all of which are already on sale - by entering the promo code WEEKEND15.

LUXJET Universal 24-in-1 Magnetic Screwdriver Set & Repair Kit

This small but sturdy kit won the 2019 IF Creative Design Award in Germany, and you can bet they know their engineering. Its magnetic storage kit keeps the aluminum alloy pieces from straying, so they're always there when you need them. The LUXJET Universal 24-in-1 Magnetic Screwdriver Set & Repair Kit is 25% off at $29.99. Save an additional 15% with coupon code WEEKEND15.

Laser Distance Measurer

Another IF Design award winner, this digital ruler does the job of the longest roll of measuring tape you have, and then some. It's accurate up to .08 of an inch, with a max range of 131 feet. Right now, you can get the Laser Distance Measurer for $29.99, a full 25% off the MSRP. Save an additional 15% with coupon code WEEKEND15.

Multi-Function Folding Emergency Shovel

Whether you're gardening or camping, this shovel will go where you need it. And thanks to its collapsible design, it can fit into even the smallest of trunks - or even a backpack. The Multi-Function Folding Emergency Shovel is currently more than 60% off at $22. Save an additional 15% with coupon code WEEKEND15.

Mini Cinder Blocks With Pallet & Shipping Crate

Embrace your inner construction worker- no sweat or hard hat necessary. Read the rest

[UPDATED] Google disables Baltimore officials' Gmail accounts created during ransomware recovery

May 23, 2019

Description:

[UPDATE 5/23/19. 2:44pm PT: a Google spokesperson contacted me with the following statement: "We have restored access to the Gmail accounts for the Baltimore city officials. Our automated security systems disabled the accounts due to the bulk creation of multiple consumer Gmail accounts from the same network." An anonymous source told me that the accounts were disabled when Google detected bulk account creation, which is "highly correlated to spammy and fraudulent behavior."]

"Gmail accounts created by Baltimore officials as a workaround while the city recovers from the ransomware attack have been disabled because Google considers them business accounts that should be paid for," reports Ian Duncan of The Baltimore Sun. As my IFTF colleague Dylan Hendricks pointed out on Twitter, this is an "amazing signal about the massive security vulnerabilities of technology-based bureaucracies."

From The Baltimore Sun:

Mona Rock, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said she logged in Thursday morning and can see old messages but not send or receive old or new ones. She said there was no notice showing why the account wasn’t working.

The ransomware struck on May 7, locking up city records and shutting down baltimorecity.gov email addresses. The hackers behind the attack demanded payment in the digital currency bitcoin to turn over the keys to the files.

The mayor’s office has said it could take months to recover. In the meantime, many officials have been using Gmail accounts along to communicate.

Ransomware --> heroin overdoses. This is... such a good story for someone with the right expertise please get out of your bubbles and come cover it.

Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren proposes legislation to enshrine Roe v Wade in Federal law and guarantee reproductive health care in all insurance plans

May 17, 2019

Description:

After a blizzard of state-level Republican attacks on the right of women to choose whether to carry a fetus to term, Elizabeth Warren has added another plank to her campaign platform: Congressional Action to Protect Choice, a four-point plan to rescue reproductive rights from religious extremists and misogynists.

Warren's plan would enshrine the rights established in the Supreme Court's Roe vs Wade ruling in federal law, prohibit states from taking measures to undermine these rights, require all medical insurers to include reproductive health in their plans, and take a suite of actions under the banner of "ensuring equal access and reproductive justice," from limiting harassment by abortion-clinic picketers to undoing the gag laws and other rules enacted by the Trump administration.

I am a donor to Elizabeth Warren's 2020 presidential election campaign.

And these issues are bigger than Roe. The women of color who have championed the reproductive justice movement teach us that we must go beyond choice to ensure meaningful access for every woman in America — not just the privileged and wealthy few. We must go beyond abortion, to ensure access to contraception, STI prevention and care, comprehensive sex education, care for pregnant moms, safe home and work environments, adequate wages, and so much more. We must build a future that protects the right of all women to have children, the right of all women to not have children, and the right to bring children up in a safe and healthy environment.

Congressional Action to Protect Choice [Elizabeth Warren/Medium]

(Image: Tim Pierce, CC-BY; TitiNicola, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

Onion editor regrets portraying Joe Biden as skeevy yet loveable uncle

May 17, 2019

Description:

For years it was one of the most lighty-amusing running jokes in memedom: The Onion's ongoing series of stories about then-VP Joe Biden, portraying him as Diamond Joe, everyone's favorite lewd but obviously harmless shirtless uncle. The editor behind the series regrets it and feels responsible for helping one of the most conspicuously moronic Democrat candidates seem electable despite repeated runs at high office that ended in disgrace and failure.

The handsome guy who’s got it good but doesn’t take himself too seriously is a profoundly American aesthetic, and Biden seemed to embody it. The Onion even produced a Biden book, The President of Vice, in 2013. He may not have been in on the joke, but he certainly knew about it and embraced it, calling it “hilarious” in a 2011 interview and jumping in to a Reddit AMA with the faux Biden to express his preference for Corvettes.

I can’t speak for my colleagues, but at the time, I didn’t take him seriously enough to think we were doing anything wrong. I thought of him as little more than a political necessity: the older, more conservative white guy who softened Barack Obama’s image in regions where the prospect of a black president was too radical. A deeper dive on Biden never felt necessary.

He's likely to be the candidate, unfortunately, guiding just less than half the electorate toward an inexorable sinking feeling as November 2020 approaches. The Onion's book about fake Joe, President of Vice, is now free of charge on Kindle. Read the rest

Europe's top trustbuster thinks it'll be impossible to break up Facebook

May 17, 2019

Description:

Margrethe Vestager (previously) is the EU Commissioner responsible for handing out billions in fines to Big Tech to punish them for monopolistic practices.

Vestager and I both appeared on the bill at Republica in Berlin this month, and at the time, I pressed her from the audience on whether she thought that the ultimate answer to monopolistic abuses was to break up monopolies. She was incredibly skeptical that such a thing was desirable (describing state intervention in the deployment of "private property" as an extreme measure) or even possible (because the Big Tech firms would tie up any divestment orders in the courts for years).

Vestager just repeated these sentiments at the Vivatech conference in Paris today, saying "For us it would be a remedy of the very last resort. It would keep us busy in court for even a decade."

Vestager's remarks are out of step with a growing chorus of calls from all sides to break up the company, and while it's obvious that she's better qualified than almost anyone to assess the realistic chances of a breakup order, the actual breakup isn't the only useful outcome of such a proceeding. As Tim Wu has explained, the mere spectre of a breakup exerts a powerful discipline on firms, who curb their worst impulses in order to avoid attracting their own trustbusting torment.

Worryingly, Vestager calls for Facebook to grant access to its data -- a potential privacy apocalypse -- rather than encouraging adversarial interoperability by giving new entrants the right to make products that plug into incumbents' services to help users liberate their data and stay in touch with their friends on the old service -- a practice that was once universal but has now all but disappeared thanks to a constellation of laws that prohibit it (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Section 1201 of the DMCA, federal trade secrets, etc). Read the rest

Techdirt settles lawsuit with the "I invented email" guy

May 17, 2019

Description:

In 2017, an engineer and entrepreneur sued Techdirt for criticising his claim to have invented email. Though a district court soon dismissed the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds, appeals and wrangling over lawyers' fees continued. The case finally settled this month, Techdirt reports: article stays up, no money changes hands.

It's a win for Techdirt and journalism, as all he got was a link to a response he could have added himself by signing up for a free commenting account. But that was the point: it was a SLAPP, a legal action the plaintiff knew he could not win, whose real purpose was to be so expensive and troublesome for the defendant to fight that they shut up or paid up. Mike Masnick writes that it doesn't feel like victory:

You may wonder how it could possibly take 18 months to negotiate a settlement about adding links to old articles -- and, indeed, I wonder that myself. The entire process has been quite a pain for us. I cannot and would not describe this result as a victory, because this has been nearly two and a half years of wasted time, effort, resources, attention and money just to defend our right to report on a public figure and explain to the world that we do not believe his claims to have invented email are correct, based on reams of evidence.

During those 18 months, we stopped all the fundraising we had done around the lawsuit, as, for nearly all of that time, it did appear that a settlement was close, and we did not wish to mislead anyone into believing that we were raising money on the premise that our continued existence was in grave danger only to settle the case immediately after doing so.

Read the rest

These are the "biggest onscreen mistakes" in Game of Thrones

May 17, 2019

Description:

Nit pickers rejoice: Revisit the infamous coffee cup from this season, rubber swords, and other goofs and gaffs in Westeros.

Read the rest

How can spies from democracies compete with spies from autocracies?

May 17, 2019

Description:

Economist international editor Edward Lucas devotes 4,000+ words in the new issue of Foreign Policy to the changing landscape of state espionage in the 21st century; it's not particularly well-organized (if there's a reason for the order in which his thoughts are laid out, I couldn't find it), but despite that, it's well worth a read, even if there's lots I don't agree with here.

Lucas's main question is whether autocracies are going to win the surveillance race, especially in the face of increased civil society pressure for limits on mass surveillance in democracies. He's obviously conflicted on the issue -- he says "Western democracies need the intelligence services to defend open societies against Putinism—but not at the price of self-Putinization" -- but he's also clearly convinced that spies for democratic states are fighting with one hand tied behind their back relative to their autocratic counterparts.

That said, he's also critical of spy agencies' unwillingness to use careful forensic work on public sources in order to understand the world, basically accusing them of wanting to take shortcuts through wiretapping and dragnet surveillance because studying public sources is hard. But as he recounts, when one of his Economist colleagues was sued for libel by a Russian oligarch that he'd accused of attaining his position and wealth because of his relationship to Putin, the Economist was "able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a detailed, forensic investigation of a segment of the energy market that we believed our target was manipulating" -- but that while "a spy chief from another Western country told me that finding a few hundred thousand dollars in cash to bribe a North Korean would be no problem" there was no hope of getting the same sum to spend on "statisticians and lawyers."

In the meantime, Lucas points at the worrying trend of spies leaving government service to work for commercial military/surveillance contractors who are used to circumvent democratic limits on surveillance, while simultaneously becoming very rich and politically powerful, and thus able to lobby for the expansion of these kinds of programs. Read the rest

Bizarre family selfie in which half of man's body has vanished

May 17, 2019

Description:

Reddit user BeardoGREG shared this unusual selfie of his family. I was mightily confused until one commenter explained it: "You were shot out of a cannon. The cannon is behind you and you are flying straight into the camera with that determined look on your face."

(r/confusing_perspective) Read the rest

Lou Rawls sings about why you should take your blood pressure medication (1970s)

May 17, 2019

Description:

In the 1970s, the great R&B singer and actor Lou Rawls urged everyone to take their high blood pressure medication. With soul. "Do it for them." A public service announcement from the Ad Council.

Read the rest

The world's preeminent cryptographers can't get visas to speak at US conferences

May 17, 2019

Description:

Ross Anderson (previously) is one of the world's top cryptographers; the British academic and practitioner was honored by having his classic, Security Engineering, inducted into The Cybersecurity Canon; however, he was not able to attend the awards gala himself because the US government sat on his visa application for months, and ultimately did not grant it in time.

Anderson's not the only one: Israeli cryptography legend Adi Shamir (he's the "S" in "RSA") could not get a visa to visit the USA to participate in the RSA conference (again, he's the "S" in "RSA"). Shamir is a recipient of the Turing Prize -- computer science's answer to the Nobel Prize. During the panel that Shamir missed, co-panelist Shafi Goldwasser said that Shamir was just one of many cryptographers who could not attend because of visa issues.

Shamir made a video that was presented at RSA that called for a "rethink" of "the question of how and where we organize our major scientific conferences."

It's not just the world's leading security conferences that are having trouble with invited guests and attendees: the World Science Fiction Convention is likely to be held offshore for the foreseeable future, thanks in large part to the inability of global fandom to attend US-based events in the age of "extreme vetting."

Why Are Cryptographers Being Denied Entry into the US? [Bruce Schneier/Schneierblog] Read the rest

Watch this drone dodge soccer balls hurled at it

May 17, 2019

Description:

Researchers from the University of Zurich's Robotics and Perception Group designed an event camera system for drones. In the video above, the fun starts at 1:25. As explained by IEEE Spectrum, "These are sensors that are not good at interpreting a scene visually like a regular camera, but they’re extremely sensitive to motion, responding to changes in a scene on a per-pixel basis in microseconds. A regular camera that detects motion by comparing one frame with another takes milliseconds to do the same thing, which might not seem like much, but for a fast-moving drone it could easily be the difference between crashing into something and avoiding it successfully."

HEADS UP!

Read the rest

Cold War Soviet gas masks available on Amazon

May 17, 2019

Description:

For just $15, you can have your own GP-5 Original Soviet Civilian Protective Gas Mask. The seller reassures us that the standard issue asbestos filter has been replaced by activated charcoal. Shipping is free. From the product description:

It is one of the most popular and truly reliable civilian gas masks produced in the Soviet Union from 1970 to 1989. The GP-5 was made famous for its apparent use in Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster. It can operate in all weather and withstand temperatures from −40 degrees (Celsius and Fahrenheit) to 114 °C (237 °F). The GP-5 also comes with sealed glass eye pieces. They were originally made to protect the wearer from radioactive fallout during the Cold War and were distributed to most fallout shelters. They have recently been tested to see if they have NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) protective capabilities. It was concluded that the mask will last in an NBC situation for 24 hours.

GP-5 Original Soviet Civilian Protective Gas Mask (Amazon via Daily Grail) Read the rest

'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' opens today

May 17, 2019

Description:

I rarely look forward to movies that do not have Star Wars in the title. John Wick, however, is the story of a man's love for his puppy, and a classic American muscle car. I am totally on board. Read the rest

Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage

May 17, 2019

Description:

Two years ago, a Taiwan court ruled that its laws forbidding same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Now legislators there voted to make it the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. The law goes into effect May 24.

Although the island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has bitterly divided Taiwanese society. In a controversial referendum in November last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage. In recent months conservative groups have campaigned against same-sex marriage reform, pushing for a law that would see gay marriages redefined as something closer to same-sex unions.

Good morning #Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society.

Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins. pic.twitter.com/PCPZCTi87M

— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) May 17, 2019

BREAKING: Legislators just passed article 4, which means #Taiwan just legalized same-sex marriage and will be implemented on May 24th#First in #Asia#LGBT #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/FDjWNBAxru

— Equal Love Taiwan (@equallovetw) May 17, 2019

Read the rest

Internet fraudster stole 750,000 IP addresses, say prosecutors

May 17, 2019

Description:

A Charleston man was charged with fraud this week [justice.gov] after investigators unraveled an elaborate scheme to take control of IP addresses. More than 750,000 were snagged, reports the BBC, then sold on.

The US Department of Justice claims that Mr Golestan "fraudulently" won control of the net addresses by using many different shell companies. It alleges that he created websites for fake companies and invented the names of the people who purportedly ran them as part of his scheme. Mr [Amir] Golestan was charged with 20 counts of wire fraud in a US court this week. He has yet to respond to a BBC request for comment. The net addresses were handed over to Mr Golestan by the American Registry of Internet Numbers (Arin) - one of several regional administrators that dole out the few remaining addresses. It is claimed they were then resold allowing him to cash in.

Golestan appears to have attracted attention because he sued ARIN (!) after it failed to transfer control of one block of addresses. Thereafter someone with a three digit IQ finally looks at the paperwork and the FBI gets called in. Read the rest

Video of dam gate collapsing

May 17, 2019

Description:

The Lake Dunlap spillway suffered a catastrophic failure earlier this week, and it was all caught on camera: an old dam gate keeling over and allowing water to surge into the waterway beyond.

But it's not even that big of a problem, apparently. They announced some voluntary water restrictions while they work on it. There isn't much more to the story. That's it.

Well, what did you expect? Eight minutes of breathless narrative? Menacing music and scrapy metal sound effects crafting an aura of suspense? Soundbite interviews with dam workers? Three commercial breaks each followed by a recap of the story so far? It's just an old spill gate failing. Jesus. They're fixing it already. Read the rest

Video captures F-16 crashing into California warehouse

May 17, 2019

Description:

After suffering hydraulic problems, an F-16 fighter jet crashed into a California warehouse Thursday. The pilot ejected safely and no-one on the ground was seriously harmed; a nearby driver captured the collision on video and a warehouse worker filmed the wreckage.

"That's a military airplane, in our building!" says a man on the warehouse video (embedded below, NSFW language), uploaded by Ejler Bettenhausen and credited to Jeff Schoffstall.

#BREAKING image from inside a warehouse near March Air Reserve Base where a fighter jet crashed this afternoon Courtesy: Jeff Schoffstall pic.twitter.com/OJa0WBRMnM

— Rob McMillan (@abc7robmcmillan) May 16, 2019

Read the rest

This unique nonstick cookware heats evenly and resists scratching

May 17, 2019

Description:

Getting a set of cookware that will outlast you is one of those signs you've truly grown up. It used to be easy to find durable materials that also cook well, but these days it can be hard to tell what's quality and what brands are coasting by on a recognizable name.

Well, there's at least one brand that's building their name the right way: After gaining attention from home chefs with their precision kitchen knives, Ausker has branched out into cookware - and so far, the results look just as solid.

Their pots and pans come with a series of tiny innovations, but the main draw is in the material. All Ausker cookware is made from a core of die-cast aluminum. Thanks to that alloy, heat spreads quickly and evenly over the surface, giving you a consistent cooking experience every time on electric, gas or induction stoves. Over that, there are a full five layers of the Swiss compound Granitec. Not only is Granitec corrosion-resistant, environmentally friendly and free of PFOAs, but it's also a reliable nonstick surface. It also has durability in spades, able to withstand abrasion by Scotch-Brite pads, steel balls and ballpoint pens in a battery of tests.

Here are a few highlights from their line:

Ausker Grill Pan

This perfect breakfast pan is a dream to use, and even easier to store, thanks to the removable bakelite handle. Need to pour sauces or bleed off excess grease? The twin spouts on either side are a welcome touch. Read the rest

Grumpy Cat dies

May 17, 2019

Description:

Tardar Sauce, a cat known to many as Grumpy Cat due to her distinctive facial expression and 2012 viral video success, died Tuesday due to complications of an infection. The BBC:

Her image quickly spread as a meme. According to owner Tabitha Bundesen, her facial expression was caused by feline dwarfism and an underbite. Grumpy Cat travelled the world making television appearances and in 2014 even starred in her own Christmas film.

Some days are grumpier than others... pic.twitter.com/ws209VWl97

— Grumpy Cat (@RealGrumpyCat) May 17, 2019

Read the rest

Are you in a school shooting right now? There's an app for that

May 16, 2019

Description:

How messed up is America? This messed up. Schoolteachers are being encouraged to use an app to alert police and school employees about an active shooting incident in real time, as the mass shooting happens.

“Schools are turning to technology to protect kids during mass shootings,” reports Stefanie Dazio at the Associated Press.

“Technology that speeds up law enforcement’s response and quickly alerts teachers and students to danger is a growing tool amid rising concerns over the inability to prevent shootings like the one last week at a suburban Denver high school,” she writes.

The 18-year-old student who rushed one of the gunmen died in that May 2019 Colorado shooting.

There are concerns that school districts and other authorities are too quick to adopt technology as a PR-friendly solution at the same time mental health programs and violence-prevention efforts are defunded.

Here's how the Share911 app referenced above works, from the AP report:

The students are trained to gather in a corner with the classroom’s lights out and blinds drawn in a lockdown, social studies teacher Laura Stark said. Staffers check in via the Share911 app to share information, including if any kids are missing or injured.

Share911 launched three weeks after the Sandy Hook shooting. The app provides real-time data to school employees and law enforcement, such as the type of threat and its location, based on floor plans of the building.

“You can’t decide if you’re going to run, hide or fight in the absence of information,” said Endress, the CEO.

Read the rest

Trump wants a goth brutalist border wall with black spikes (no, really)

May 16, 2019

Description:

Donald Trump reportedly wants his 'Border Wall' painted black and with spiky spikes.

Before Donald Trump became president, he is reported to have spent much of his time reviewing color swatches for hotel carpeting and the like, according to one of the writers who worked closely with him in decades gone by. Swatches of velour for lobby seating was more in his comfort zone, the writer says.

I hear echoes of this character oddity in today's report on Trump's seeming obsession with the goth brutalist aesthetics of his “Border Wall” by Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post:

The bollards or “slats,” as he prefers to call them, should be painted “flat black,” a dark hue that would absorb heat in the summer, making the metal too hot for climbers to scale, Trump has recently told White House aides, Homeland Security officials and military engineers.

And the tips of the bollards should be pointed, not round, the president insists, describing in graphic terms the potential injuries that border-crossers might receive. Trump has said the wall’s current blueprints include too many gates — placed at periodic intervals to allow vehicles and people through — and he wants the openings to be smaller.

At a moment when the White House is diverting billions of dollars in military funds to fast-track construction, the president is micromanaging the project down to the smallest design details. But Trump’s frequently shifting instructions and suggestions have left engineers and aides confused, according to current and former administration officials.

Read the rest

Mueller team says person 'connected to' Congress tried to limit Flynn cooperation

May 16, 2019

Description:

A Washington, D.C. judge today ordered the U.S. Justice Department to post public transcripts of a Michael Flynn voicemail that reportedly captures Trump/Congress efforts "that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.

The newly unredacted filing about Flynn's voicemail is making the rounds, but that part is not new, and corresponds to a message Flynn received from a Trump lawyer that special counsel Robert Mueller mentioned in his report.

But what *is* new is the implication by Mueller's team that someone “connected to” Congress attempted to discourage Michael Flynn's full cooperation with the Mueller probe.

Here's the court order.

JUST IN: MUELLER team unseals evidence that Flynn aided the obstruction invsetigation -- including providing testimony and a *voice mail* that "could have affected" his testimony. pic.twitter.com/MPar2bMGj5

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 16, 2019

ALSO: FLYNN cooperated with prosecutors on WIKILEAKS investigation, sharing internal statements made by senior Trump campaign officials discussing the prospect of reaching out to Wikileaks. pic.twitter.com/CfNqZWOIjb

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 16, 2019

NEWS: Mueller team indicates someone "connected to" Congress attempted to discourage Flynn's full cooperation with the Mueller probe.https://t.co/QiU2lKgjrg

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 16, 2019

Now: DC judge orders USDOJ to post public transcript of Michael Flynn voicemail that purports to capture Trump/ Congress efforts "that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. Court order: pic.twitter.com/CMx9aMZKXI

— Mike Scarcella (@MikeScarcella) May 16, 2019

Is the person who reached out to Flynn to encourage him not to flip (or, other, fill in the Gaetz blank):

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) May 16, 2019

House Democrats ought to hold a hearing with Michael Flynn.

Read the rest

A Royal coup, Malia Obama's bribe scandal, and man-eating Angelina Jolie, in this week’s reality-challenged tabloids

May 16, 2019

Description:

When Carlos Castaneda spoke of “a separate reality,” he could easily have been thinking of this week’s through-the-looking-glass tabloids.

How else to explain the ‘Globe’ cover story: “Malia Obama Caught Up in Harvard Bribe Scandal!” No, she isn’t. Malia allegedly took tennis lessons from the Harvard tennis coach accused of accepting bribes for recruiting non-athletes to the university. But Malia didn’t win a tennis scholarship to Harvard, or any athletic scholarship, so there’s no scandal, just unjustified innuendo.

The ‘National Enquirer’ is no better with its cover story about a coup within the British Royal Family, proclaiming: “William Seizes Throne From Charles! Declares Own Father Unfit to Rule.”

Three minor details: Charles doesn’t have the throne to begin with; The monarch doesn’t “rule” Britain any longer; and the Queen is doubtless aware of the Act of Settlement of 1701 governing the royal succession, which will make Charles the King on her demise whether she or Prince William like it or not. Even if Charles wanted to abdicate on succeeding to the crown it would require an Act of Parliament to make it legal.

The ‘Globe’ sticks it to the Royals with its story: “Mean Meghan to Kate: Keep Your Baby Advice!” Duchess Meghan allegedly exploded angrily when Kate phoned to offer parenting advice. Because the ‘Globe’ monitors all private Royal phone calls, so this must be true. “Man-Eater Angie Strikes Again!” reports the ‘Globe’ about Angelina Jolie, referring to her sexual appetites rather than any possible cannibalism. Jolie is set to “gobble up her hunky new co-star Nicholas Hoult,” claims the rag, though it’s hard to tell if that is an oral sex reference or if she just want to jump his bones - or maybe she has turned cannibal? Read the rest

Watch: Tim Wu debates trustbusting with Tyler Cowen, who just wrote "a love letter" to Big Business

May 16, 2019

Description:

Competition scholar Tim Wu (previously) is one of the most cogent, accessible voices in the antitrust debate; his recent book on the subject is a must-read; this week, he debated George Mason University scholar Tyler Cowen, proprietor of Marginal Revolution and one of the leading voices for the expansion of unfettered, unregulated capitalism -- he's the face of the notorious Mercatus Center, where rich donors choose the faculty and out pop arguments against universal health care and Net Neutrality.

I follow Cowen's work pretty closely because I really disagree with him and also find that he puts forward persuasive arguments, and delving into the deficiencies in those arguments is a good way to figure out what's missing from my own arguments (a friend once emailed me that Cowan "specializes in the 'hey, maybe there's some merit in this overlooked idea, I don't know, I'm just asking' presentation of appalling ideas").

Cowen's latest book is Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero and it fits in that vein, arguing that businesses might not be big enough.

I've often wondered how Cowen would fare in a debate where someone who was really knowledgeable could rebut him in realtime, and now I know. Wu runs circles around Cowen.

It makes for an entertaining hour -- but also an informative one. The rebuttals are really on-point here, and make Cowan's arguments seem very flimsy by comparison.

(via Marginal Revolution) Read the rest

A report from the Christchurch Call, where the future of "anti-extremist" moderation was debated at the highest levels

May 16, 2019

Description:

This week's Christchurch Call event in Paris brought together politicians, tech execs and civil society to discuss means of "countering violent extremism" online; it was convened by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the wake of the deadly white supremacist terror killings in Christchurch last March.

My Electronic Frontier Foundation colleague Jillian C York was there as part of the civil society delegation, and her report on the event highlights some of the genuinely positive outcomes from the event (a commitment to "strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of our societies" and a mandate for tech companies to be transparent in their content moderation); as well as some of the not-so-good conclusions (a lack of distinction drawn between services like Facebook and infrastructure like DNS when it comes to conscripting companies to reduce violent extremism).

Most disturbing, though, was a commitment to requiring algorithmic filters of human expression, something hinted at in the terrible, hastily enacted Australian bill passed in response to the terrorist attack. The use of filters to curb bad speech has gained widespread acceptance in policy circles in the past 12 months, despite the near-total consensus among technologists and computer scientists that this will not work and will have ugly consequences for both human speech and competition.

* The Call asks companies to take “transparent, specific measures” to prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content and prevent its dissemination “in a manner consistent with human rights and fundamental freedoms.” But as numerous civil society organizations pointed out in the May 14 meeting, upload filters are inherently inconsistent with fundamental freedoms.

Read the rest

Lent: Jo Walton's new novel is Dante's Groundhog Day

May 16, 2019

Description:

I love Hugo and Nebula-Award winner Jo Walton's science fiction and fantasy novels (previously) and that's why it was such a treat to inaugurate my new gig as an LA Times book reviewer with a review of her latest novel, Lent, a fictionalized retelling of the live of Savonarola, who reformed the Florentine church in the 1490s, opposing a corrupt Pope, who martyred him (except in Walton's book, and unbeknownst to Savonarola himself, Savonarola is a demon who is sent back to Hell when he is martyred, then returned to 1492 Florence to start over again).

The story is motivated by a mystical shift in Savonarola's destiny that allows him to remember, from one incarnation to the next, who he truly is. He lives many different versions of his life, seeking a way to harrow Hell, restore grace, redeem himself and save Florence.

The Groundhog Day-meets-Dante premise is incredibly weird and incredibly satisfying, a bizarrely effective way of making the characters come to life as we see how they would have reacted to the same circumstance with slight variations, building up a series of incredibly detailed and nuanced portraits. And because this is a Walton novel, there are no easy answers, and ambiguity rules overall -- and because Walton has become so close with the Renaissance scholar and science fiction novelist (and librettist, singer, and all-round genius) Ada Palmer, her Renaissance Florence has the ring of the true metal, incredibly well-drawn in ever way.

Whatever her subject, Walton's fiercest weapon is her delicious ambiguity.

Read the rest

NASA probe spots the final lunar resting place of the crashed Israeli spacecraft

May 16, 2019

Description:

Last month, Israeli non-profit SpaceIL's Beresheet probe made it to the lunar surface but sadly it wasn't a soft landing. Beresheet was the first private attempt at a lunar landing and they got pretty damn close. A couple weeks after the crash, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter orbited over the area and NASA has released images that show the impact site. From NASA:

LROC took this image from 56 miles (90 kilometers) above the surface. The cameras captured a dark smudge, about 10 meters wide, that indicates the point of impact. The dark tone suggests a surface roughened by the hard landing, which is less reflective than a clean, smooth surface.

From so far away, LROC could not detect whether Beresheet formed a surface crater upon impact. It’s possible the crater is just too small to show up in photos. Another possibility is that Beresheet formed a small indent instead of a crater, given its low angle of approach (around 8.4 degrees relative to the surface), light mass (compared to a dense meteoroid of the same size), and low velocity (again, relative to a meteoroid of the same size; Beresheet’s speed was still faster than most speeding bullets).

The light halo around the smudge could have formed from gas associated with the impact or from fine soil particles blown outward during Beresheet’s descent, which smoothed out the soil around the landing site, making it highly reflective...

Most importantly, we knew the coordinates of the landing site within a few miles thanks to radio tracking of Beresheet, and we have 11 “before” images of the area, spanning a decade, and three “after” images.

Read the rest

EPA Inspector General Report finds massive waste from Trump's Pruitt flying business class, staying in swanky hotels

May 16, 2019

Description:

Trump's initial appointee to run the EPA was Scott Pruitt, who resigned in disgrace in 2018 amid a massive corruption scandal in which he was found to have spent lavishly and assigned improper personal duties to government employees.

The EPA's Office of the Inspector General has published the results of a long investigation into Pruitt's spending, finding that he bilked the taxpayer out of more than $120,000 by breaking government rules on flying business class, staying in fancy hotels, and flying expensive itineraries that included personal stops in Pruitt's hometown of Tulsa.

Pruitt was succeeded by coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler in early 2019.

The OIG identified 40 trips and $985,037 in costs associated with the former Administrator’s travel for the 10-month period from March 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017. This covered 34 completed and six canceled trips and included costs incurred not only by the former Administrator but by his Protective Service Detail (PSD) and other staff. Of the 40 trips,16 included travel to, or had stops in, Tulsa, Oklahoma—the location of the former Administrator’s personal residence.

We estimated excessive costs of $123,942 regarding the former Administrator’s and accompanying PSD agents’ use of first/business-class travel because the exception that allowed for the travel accommodation was granted without sufficient justification and, initially, without appropriate approval authority.

Although the EPA’s travel policy is sufficiently designed to prevent fraud, waste and abuse and is consistent with the Federal Travel Regulation, we found that the policy did not initially outline who had the authority to approve the Administrator’s travel authorizations and vouchers.

Read the rest

Big brands like H&M, Adidas, Gap are entangled in China's brutal campaign against Uighur Muslim minority

May 16, 2019

Description:

“Officials have gathered up more than 4,000 residents over the past two years for deradicalization and textile-making courses.”

An important and difficult read in the Wall Street Journal today about the Chinese government's indoctrination camps for the Muslim Uighur minority, and how those concentration camps provide essentially slave labor for factories that supply big Western brands like H&M, Adidas, Gap -- even Kraft Heinz, the ketchup makers.

Excerpt from the WSJ report by Eva Dou and Chao Deng:

Western companies, including brand name apparel makers and food companies, have become entangled in China’s campaign to forcibly assimilate its Muslim population.

Adidas AG, Hennes & Mauritz AB, Kraft Heinz Co., Coca-Cola Co. and Gap Inc. are among those at the end of the long, often opaque supply chains that travel through China’s northwest region of Xinjiang. Residents there are routinely forced into training programs that feed workers to area factories, according to locals, official notices and state media.

Political indoctrination is a significant component of the programs, which are aimed at ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, according to official notices. Along with vocational skills, the curriculum covers Mandarin Chinese, the importance of the Communist Party and national unity, Chinese law and how to counter extremism—such as not dressing too conservatively or praying too frequently. The programs can include militarylike drills.

For workers and factory bosses, resistance to such programs could result in detention as suspected extremist sympathizers.

Western Companies Get Tangled in China’s Muslim Clampdown [wsj.com, paywalled]

Here is an alternate paywall-free link at MarketWatch. Read the rest

One of the greatest things ever made: the Tweezerman hangnail clipper

May 16, 2019

Description:

Hangnails bother me so much that when I get one, I can't think of anything else until I get rid of it. I will even bite it off if I am without clippers (this doesn't work well and usually results in blood being drawn). The Tweezerman hangnail clipper was designed to cleanly cut off a hangnail. The angled blades make it easy to see what you're doing. It gets right to the nub of the hangnail, preventing it from spontaneously regenerating. I keep one in my desk drawer and another in my travel kit. Read the rest

Under Trump, immigrants who serve in the armed forces are finding it harder to attain citizenship than those who do not serve

May 16, 2019

Description:

Serving in the US military has long been a path to citizenship for immigrants to the USA, but after a suite of reforms instituted by the Trump regime, immigrants who serve in the US military are less likely to attain citizenship than immigrants who don't serve.

One major factor was that the Department of Defense did not renew Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program at the end of 2017, leading to the shutdown of naturalization offices at basic training centers.

Today, enlisted immigrants say that they're told a set of conflicting stories about military service and citizenship, advised to wait until they get to their first unit to start the process, then being told in that unit that no one knows anything about the matter.

The Trump administration in 2017 announced major changes to the way the Pentagon would vet and clear foreign-born recruits and other overall changes to when a service member would qualify for naturalization.

The impact was felt across all three categories of recruits, said retired Army Reserve Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, an attorney who specializes in representing immigrant soldiers in her private practice.

Immigrant enlistees previously could join basic training once a background investigation had been initiated, and they could become eligible to start seeking citizenship after one day of military service. Under the new policy, enlistees do not go to basic training until their background investigation is complete, and they have to complete basic training and 180 days of service before they can seek citizenship.

Read the rest

Children's Fairyland, the mid-century storybook theme park that inspired Walt Disney and where Frank Oz got his start

May 10, 2019

Description:

Oakland, California is home to a real gem of a storybook theme park. Located next to Lake Merritt, Children's Fairyland has been delighting families of young children since 1950. As the story goes, Walt Disney himself visited Fairyland in 1955 and soon after built Disneyland, incorporating ideas he learned at the park. He also hired Fairyland's first director, as well as one of its puppeteers, to work at his new amusement park in Anaheim.

While Disney's parks went the commercial route, Fairyland turned into a nonprofit after many years of being managed by the city. It remains the charming, lakeside mid-century park where no adult is allowed in the park without a child** and no child is allowed without an adult.

How do I know all of this? Well, I'm excited to share that I've started working with Fairyland. When I first moved to the Bay Area in the mid-1990s, I lived across the street from Lake Merritt and, as a childless young person, I often wondered what was going behind the giant (Old Lady in the) shoe. I remember devising ways to get in, eventually waiting until I had a baby to pass through its gates for the first time. When my daughter (who's now a teenager) was little, she and I visited many times together. Believe me when I say that it's a great thrill for me to be on the "inside" of this Bay Area institution.

Bert, Fairyland Master Puppeteer Lewis Mahlmann, and Frank Oz in August of 1970. Read the rest

Prince Harry’s paternity nightmare and the Royal Family changed forever, in this week’s dubious tabloids

May 10, 2019

Description:

Let’s give praise where it’s due: the ‘Globe’ has one of the great Royal exclusives of all time with its cover story about Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s newborn son Archie: “Harry’s NOT The Daddy! Baby’s DNA Test Triggers Palace Crisis.”

But just hold on a second - the two-page story inside reveals “. . . new findings show he IS the infant’s biological father.”

Seriously? Was that ever in question?

This “special report,” dubiously emanating from the tabloid’s purported team of spies within Harry and Meghan's Frogmore Cottage home on the grounds of Windsor Castle claims that initial DNA tests on Meghan’s amniotic fluid found that Harry could not be the father - but further tests confirmed that he was indeed Archie’s dad.

I can understand precautionary medical tests and genetic screening being run before a child’s birth, but a DNA paternity test?

Even in the improbable event that the story of a mistaken test diagnosis was true, surely the headline should be: “Harry IS The Daddy!” But evidently that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “Harry’s NOT The Daddy!”

At least the ‘Globe’ is fictionalizing supposedly recent events with this story, whereas its other big stories this week are all rehashed ancient news.

“Gay Elton Jilted Me Days Before Our Wedding!” claims Elton John’s former fiancé, revealing her “heartbreak” . . . 49 years ago. Just to prove it’s an antique story, the Rocket Man’s old flame Linda Hannon is pictured in the ‘Globe’ holding a copy of Britain's Sunday Mirror newspaper dated February 19, 1984, bearing the headline: “Elton Jilted Me.” Worse yet, the Sunday Mirror evidently had a line from Hannon that is better than anything she tells the’Globe’: "He was a lousy lover.” Or maybe he just wasn’t that into her? Read the rest

Uber stock falters on first day

May 10, 2019

Description:

Uber's future prospects depend on doubling fares and halving drivers' pay, or replacing them all with self-driving cars that won't exist for years. What could go wrong?

Experts are hitting the brakes on Uber's trading debut. The ride-hailing company's highly anticipated initial public offering failed to impress investors on Friday, with the stock pricing at the low end of its previously stated range and shedding more than 7% near the end of the session. Market watchers were largely bearish on the IPO, citing Uber's past issues with its culture and corporate governance.

Read the rest

How to remove a common Amazon-bought car boot

May 10, 2019

Description:

The Lockpicking Lawyer saw a report about an illegal car-booting outfit in Chicago (embedded below), and decided to see how hard it is to remove the Amazon-bought car boots that scammers use.

It is easily defeated in a few seconds... so long as you have a screwdriver and a lock impressioning tool.

Looks like an angle grinder would make short work of it, too! Read the rest

Aura digital photo frame allows family photo sharing

May 10, 2019

Description:

I gave my mother an Aura digital photo frame for Mother's Day (hopefully she's not reading this post). Before I shipped it to her, I set it up so it would be preloaded with family photos. It's a 9.7-inch HD display mounted in an attractive frame. It has a sensor so you can wave your hand and scroll through the photos. The cool thing about it is that I can add photos to the frame remotely through the Aura app. I also invited my sister to add photos to the frame, too. The app has face recognition and you can configure it to automatically send certain people to the frame. Overall, it was brainless to set up and I didn't have any connection problems like I often do with Internet of Things stuff (I'm looking at you, SkyBell). Surprisingly, there are no subscription fees. Read the rest

Can you solve the two-fuse puzzle?

May 10, 2019

Description:

Here's a good riddle from Brian Brushwood of Scam Nation.  He found it in Book of Riddles by Fabrice Mazza and Sylvain Lhullier

Imagine that you're making a magic potion. You're a wizard with a long beard. But -- the potion only works if you wait exactly 45 minutes before you stir it. If you stir it before or after the potion's totally ruined. You don't have a smartphone. You don't have a watch. You don't have any kind of time measuring device. What you have is two fuses of irregular consistency. The one thing you know for a fact is that it takes an hour for each of these fuses to burn from one end to the other. How do you use these to measure exactly 45 minutes?

Image: Scam Nation/YouTube

I'm still trying to figure this one out, so I'm not looking at the comments yet! Read the rest

Cable management with Bob Marley

May 10, 2019

Description:

Perfect for those who dread coiling their patch cables.

(r/interestingasfuck) Read the rest

Toy blocks that teach about our solar system

May 10, 2019

Description:

Thomas Romer of the excellent Chop Shop Studio in collaboration with the nonprofit Planetary Society designed these delightful solar system toy blocks to teach kids (and adults) about the wonders of outer space! He's launched a Kickstarter to fund the manufacturing of the wood blocks with debossed typography. They're $75/set. Thomas says:

We worked on the project for over a year and while I did the graphics, etc — they made sure all the data was accurate and totally up to date. It is a set of 20 blocks featuring the most interesting worlds of the Solar System. Notice I didn’t say “planets”. One of my main objectives is to show children (and adults) that planet or not doesn’t matter. There are worlds like Io and Europa that most have never heard of. Two moons are bigger than Mercury, never mind Pluto (also included).

Then each side is loaded with data like size, distance, interior, name, appearance and the missions we have sent to explore them.

When they are shipped to our (Kickstarter) backers they will be sold in the Planetary Society store and profits will be sent to support their overall mission.

"Planetary Blocks: Our Solar System" (Kickstarter)

Read the rest

Maker Faire: A “Bright Spot” for the Future

May 10, 2019

Description:

Find the bright spots, not just the problems, if you want to make change.  That’s an idea expressed in the book “Switch: How to Make Change When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath.  The authors point out that we can be easily overwhelmed by the many problems all around us, but we should look for the bright spots that are also there.  Those bright spots might hold a key for understanding and solving the larger problems.

Maker Faire is one of those bright spots, and it offers us hope and inspiration for the future.  Maker Faire Bay Area takes place on May 17-19 at the San Mateo Event Center its theme is “The Future We Make.”  The best and the brightest future just might come from engaging the creative and experimental minds that you find playing freely at Maker Faire.  Each maker is a “bright spot” standing out in a culture in which consumerism is dominant.

As I reflect back on the 15 years of Make: (and 14 years of Maker Faire), I am most grateful that we find makers of all stripes everywhere all over the world. The launch of this magazine in 2005 (which launched with Mark Frauenfelder at the helm) and Maker Faire in 2006 laid the groundwork for the global maker movement to emerge.  Now there are over 200 Maker Faires around the world in 44 countries. Maker Faire Bay Area is the mothership for all of those Faires.

Where but Maker Faire would you expect to find two makers, Alessandra Nölting and Shanee Stopnitzky, sharing their 32-foot submarine, which they are making ready for others to use as part of the Community Submersibles Project? Read the rest

Helium shortage deflating Party City's business

May 10, 2019

Description:

Party City, the brick-and-mortar retailer that's a one-stop-shop for single-use, brightly-colored plastic crap and other festive decorations, is closing 45 of its 900 stores across the country. Store profits are down due to the shortage of helium on the planet; Party City historically makes big money from filling balloons. From CNN:

The Earth holds pockets of helium buried under rock, but it's notoriously hard to capture because it, well, floats. When drilling or fracking for natural gas, energy companies capture some helium and sell it. But helium makes up a tiny percentage of the gasses trapped under rock formations. Over the past few years, some drillers have claimed to find troves of helium buried underground, but those haven't always panned out. Party City said it really started feeling the pinch in August 2018...

The good news for Party City is it signed an agreement with a new helium supplier. Party City believes the new supplier can help it return its balloon business back to normal starting in the summer, and it hopes the supplies will last for the next two-and-a-half years...

(Party City CEO) Harrison cautioned, however, that the additional helium wasn't a sure thing. Party City's new supplier might believe it is sitting on a lot of helium, but it can't know for sure until it bottles and sells it.

Read the rest

How to remember everything you read

May 10, 2019

Description:

Big Think asked Shane Parrish of Farnam Street to offer advice for getting the most out of a book. From the video (slightly edited for clarity):

Before you read a book, take a blank sheet of paper and write down what you know about that subject. You can mindmap it, or you can write bullet points. Then read a chapter of that book. Now go back to that sheet and use a different color pen and fill in the gaps: what did I learn?, did I learn a different terminology?, can I connect it to what I've already read?

Before you pick up the book for the next chapter skim this sheet. It primes your brain for what you're going to read. I think that's a really effective way to not only build on the knowledge you have but to connect what you're reading to the existing knowledge. It's going to show you what you've learned because it's going to be a very visual distinction. It's going to be a different color of ink, and I think that allows you to connect to the book.

I often do this in the jacket of the book if I don't have a physical piece of paper.

Image: Big Think/YouTube Read the rest

British conservative DESTROYS Ben Shapiro

May 10, 2019

Description:

Conservative thinkeur Ben Shapiro was interviewed by BBC host and UK conservative luminary Andrew Neil. It didn't go well for Ben at all. Facing straightforward questions about his beliefs, he had a tantrum, accusing Neil—chairman of The Spectator!—of being a leftist and finally storming off.

From The Spectator itself:

Ben Shapiro is the famous, fast-talking pundit who regularly ‘owns’ aggressive campus students with his quick wit and rapid repartee. Alas, Shapiro isn’t so ‘crazy smart’ when he comes up against difficult questions from a real interviewer. Yesterday he just couldn’t cope with an interrogation from the BBC’s Andrew Neil. He decided that Neil must be a typical BBC leftist and had an epic tantrum.

As soon as you take right-wingers out of the U.S. cable news environment or their creationist-style YouTube "debates", they fall completely to pieces under even the most impartial and disinterested questioning. With due respect to Andrew Neil, it's amazing how deferential mainstream U.S. media are to conservatives—and as a result inconceivable to an American conservative that a foreign counterpart might issue them challenging questions. So it's no surprise that Neil would humiliate Shapiro, or that Shapiro would do all the work himself given the barest length of rope.

Here's the full 16 minutes:

Here's @afneil interviewing @benshapiro - this is the full, unedited version. it is not Fox News or an unmediated YouTube video but a tough interrogation. https://t.co/9hn6MtdSJx

— Rob Burley (@RobBurl) May 10, 2019

Neil is absolutely no friend of the left: an HIV/AIDS denialist, climate-change critic and 9/11 conspiracy theorist. Read the rest

Watch MTV's 1986 rockumentary about Van Halen

May 10, 2019

Description:

In 1986 David Lee Roth quit Van Halen and Sammy Hagar took his place as lead singer. This 1986 MTV rockumentary covers the transition.  In the Radiolab newsletter, producer Matthew Kielty says the rockumentary "capture[s], and mostly relishes in, the mythology of Rock ’n’ Roll, which is really just sexual conquest and objectification, alcoholism, greed, jealousy and a bunch of men’s stubborn refusal to grow-up."

Image: YouTube Read the rest

California couple ordered to pay $600,000 for uprooting a 180-year-old tree

May 10, 2019

Description:

Toni and Peter Thompson were building a new house in Sonoma, California. They removed three trees, including a 180-year-old oak, from a nearby piece of property they owned with plans to relocate them next to the house. But the trees were damaged in the removal process and they died. The surrounding area around the trees was also damaged. The land was protected by the state, and now the couple has been ordered to pay about $600,000 in damages.

From The Washington Post:

“I was not prepared,” Bob Neale, the trust’s stewardship director, told the Press Democrat. “It was really the most willful, egregious violation of a conservation easement I’ve ever seen.”

Portions of the area that had once been blanketed by untouched native plants were reduced to mounds of loose dirt, and others were scraped down to bedrock, according to court documents. Some photos showed a massive oak tree in a trench with its roots bound and surrounded by yellow construction equipment. A dirt road stretching for about a third of a mile was also carved through the land, destroying 12 smaller trees and other vegetation in the way, the ruling said.

...

Over the course of the trial, the Thompsons offered a dozen defenses, none of which the court found had any merit. The pair were “further undermined by their persistent failure to tell the truth,” Broderick wrote.

Image: Large oak tree providing shade, Sugarloaf Ridge State park, Sonoma County, California, by Sundry Photography/Shutterstock Read the rest

Conan O'Brien explains why he settled the joke theft lawsuit that's been plaguing him for years

May 10, 2019

Description:

Several years ago Twitter funnyman Alex Kaseberg accused Conan O'Brien of stealing several jokes from him and filed a lawsuit. The case was about to go to trial, but O'Brien decided to settle instead. He explained why in a funny essay in Variety. The entire thing is worth reading but here's an excerpt:

The fact of the matter is that with over 321 million monthly users on Twitter, and seemingly 60% of them budding comedy writers, the creation of the same jokes based on the day’s news is reaching staggering numbers. Two years ago one of our writers came up with a joke referencing Kendall Jenner’s ill-fated Pepsi commercial, and so did 111 Twitter users. This “parallel creation” of jokes is now so commonplace that Caroline Moss of CNBC and Melissa Radzimiski of the Huffington Post have given it a name: “tweet-saming.” And, by the way, the person who sued me also tweeted the same Pepsi joke, but only after our show and 24 other tweeters beat him to it.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I believe that the vast majority of people writing comedy are honorable, and they don’t want to steal anyone’s material because there is no joy, and ultimately no profit, in doing so. However, when you add the internet and an easily triggered legal system, the potential for endless time-wasting lawsuits over who was the first to tweet that William Barr looks like a toad with a gluten allergy becomes very real.

Read the rest

Delta targets its workers with anti-union apps that push deceptive memes

May 10, 2019

Description:

Aviation is one of America's most concentrated industries, and workers have steadily lost ground to shareholders and execs, who have enriched themselves with tactics like flying planes to South America for maintenance by non-union technicians who do not speak the language that the maintenance manuals are written in.

Delta's workers are part of a unionization drive by the Machinists' Union, and Delta management has responded by pushing out a pair of apps that push an endless stream of deceptive anti-union messages to its workers: Don't Risk It Don't Sign It and Be Delta Be Different are pathetic attempts to convince Delta employees that their best interests are served by relying on an industry that has cut pay, undermined safety and subjected workers to increasingly hazardous conditions, rather than banding together to demand better conditions through unionization.

Some of the messages are genuinely pathetic, like an infographic that proposes that workers can repuporse the $700 the company says they'll owe in union dues to pay for video-game systems. Naturally, these are ripe for remixing.

Something to think about, @Delta. pic.twitter.com/AIlmUwK0cF

— Superman4Revolution🏴🚩🕊🌹🌻🐦🍉🛠✊⚒🌏🌍🌎 Ⓐ (@Superman4Bernie) May 9, 2019

(via Late Stage Capitalism)

Read the rest

Ever, an "unlimited photo storage app," secretly fed its users' photos to a face-recognition system pitched to military customers UPDATE

May 10, 2019

Description:

Update: I've been emailed twice by Ever PR person Doug Aley, who incorrectly claimed that Ever's signup notice informed users that their data was going to be used to train an AI that would be marketed for military applications. It's true that during the signup process, users are asked whether they want to "use" facial recognition (that is, to label their images), but not whether they consent to having their images used to train that system, and especially not for commercial military applications.

Ever is an app that promises that you can "capture your memories" with unlimited photo storage, with sample albums featuring sentimental photos of grandparents and their grandkids; but Ever's parent company has another product, Ever AI, a facial recognition system pitched at military agencies to conduct population-scale surveillance. Though Ever's users' photos were used to train Ever AI, Ever AI's sales material omits this fact -- and the only way for Ever users to discover that their photos have become AI training data is to plough through a 2,500 "privacy policy."

Ever AI launched after the company realized that photo hosting "wasn’t going to be a venture-scale business," and the switch to Ever AI brought in $16 million in venture capital.

Ever says that it has not deceived its users because the facial recognition disclosure is in its privacy policy; the company also told NBC that it would revise the policy to make the facial recognition applications clearer, while insisting that it was already clear enough. NBC spoke to mulitple Ever users who had no idea their photos had been used to train a facial recognition system, and who strenuously objected to this use. Read the rest

Why bother with Jon Snow when Funko's Ghost comes solo?

May 10, 2019

Description:

This FunkoPop figure of Ghost, Jon Snow's albino dire wolf, comes without Jon Snow, which is how Ghost spent most of his time on the show.

The only characters I've cared about on Game of Throne's are Tyrion and the dire wolves. Ghost is played by an arctic wolf, but when I walk my Great Pyrenees we hear an awful lot of "Ghost!!!"

There is no Falcor Funko, yet. Which is whom my dog most resembles, evidently.

Neverending Story is on our wish list!

— Funko (@OriginalFunko) November 16, 2017

Funko POP! Game of Thrones Ghost Vinyl Figure via Amazon Read the rest

A former college admissions dean explains the mundane reverse affirmative action that lets the rich send their kids to the front of the line

May 10, 2019

Description:

Thanks to the college admissions scandal the issue of inequality and access to postsecondary education is now in our national conversation, but despite the glitz of the bribery scandal, the real issue is a much more mundane form of reverse affirmative action that allows wealthy Americans to dominate college admissions, muscling out better candidates from poorer backgrounds, especially Black students.

In an excellent and comprehensive article for Vox, Jason England -- a former admissions dean for an elite liberal arts college -- maps the many ways that the system is tilted in favor of wealthy, white applicants, especially men, and puts the lie to the idea that education is a "meritocracy" where the best people are admitted.

For example, the majority of applicants are women, but admissions committees seek to establish a gender balance, which means that men face much lower standards than women. On top of that, the low academic standards for admitting students with exceptional athletic ability favor men, as men's teams are more valued than women's teams.

But not all men are created equal. According to England, admissions committees routinely refuse to consider admitting Black athletes under the athletic programs; instead, these candidates are deferred to the colleges' "diversity programs," ensuring that mediocre white men can be admitted even if they're less academically qualified than their female counterparts, and even if they're less athletically qualified than Black athletes applying at the same time.

It's quite an affirmative action program for mediocre white dudes!

That's just the icing on the favoritism cake. Read the rest

Sanders and AOC team up for an anti-loansharking bill that will replace payday lenders with post-office banking

May 10, 2019

Description:

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jointly introduced The Loan Shark Prevention Act, which will cap credit card interest rates at 15% (and closes the loopholes that lets credit card issuers exceed their stated APRs with the use of hidden fees) and which re-establishes American post-office banking.

Critics of the bill say that it will put the payday lending industry out of business and that this will harm poor people, who struggle to get credit elsewhere. It's a position that has been carefully cultivated by the wildly profitable predatory lending industry, who spent lavishly on academic research to support the position, then used bots to flood regulatory proceedings that might have produced evidence to counter it. This has allowed for a modern return of usury, targeting the poorest and most desperate Americans, with out-and-out swindles going unpunished (naturally, Trump has dismantled any protections victims of the debt industry might have sought).

But capping interest rates at 15% won't just benefit the desperate and poor. Today, banks charge an average of 17% on their loans, but -- thanks to generous federal monetary policies and low fed interest rates -- they only pay 2.5% to access capital. That massive spread means that banks are guaranteed massive profits -- at taxpayer expense, and with taxpayers pickup up the pieces when the banks' usury destroys Americans' lives.

America does have a problem with underserved and underbanked poor households, and this has indeed created a thriving alternative finance industry to serve these peopel. Read the rest

The chumbox's favorite vegetable-hating doctor tracked down

May 10, 2019

Description:

The chumbox — the weird clickbaity news "recommendations" hanging under blog posts and news stories across the web — so often cites a mysterious "gut doctor" that Vox's Kaitlyn Tiffany tracked him down. THROW OUT THIS VEGETABLE NOW.

The gut doctor, to me, is elusive. I have refreshed every website he has been seen on dozens of times, and for me, he will not materialize. Yet, luckily, all of these screenshots contain a visible link to a website for a company called United Naturals. Here, I am greeted by the smiling face of Dr. Vincent Pedre, whose bio describes him as “a Certified Medical Doctor, a Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner, and Chief Wellness Officer at United Naturals.” He apparently went to my alma mater for his undergraduate degree. (Go Big Red! Also: Oh, no!) He then attended the University of Miami for medical school, before founding Pedre Integrative Health, “where he takes a largely holistic approach to medicine.”

Following below is my favorite variant of the "throw out this vegetable" ad, as the vegetable in question is clearly the God Emperor of Dune at the point of His death, glistening sandtrout exploding from His appalling body, joining Hwi Noree in the banquet of the Gods.

Read the rest

Frontier receives $283.4m/year in taxpayer money, neglects network, rips off customers -- and Trump's FCC won't investigate

May 10, 2019

Description:

Frontier Communications is a telcoms company so naturally they're a terrible company (a telcoms company is just a collection of regulatory subsidies wrapped up in a layer of greed and malpractice); the company is one of the nation's leaders in the use of fraudulent accounting to evade taxes, and it takes in $283.4 million every year in tax-funded subsidies to provide services to rural Americans, while ripping them off like crazy and cutting corners by neglecting its network and allowing it to fall into dangerous disrepair.

In Minnesota, the situation is so bad that state senators have petitioned the FCC to follow up on the state Attorney General's investigation of Frontier's systematic fraud and lack of maintenance, which found that the company charges customers for services it never delivered and refuses them refunds, while subjecting them to long outages (some lasting months!) without compensation. The AG found that Minnesotans were being left without 911 services for prolonged periods, and that the outages were disconnecting medical devices like pacemakers from remote-monitoring services.

Ajit Pai, a garbage person, is a former Verizon exec whom Trump made FCC Chairman. He has made a career out of campaigning against government waste and the abuse of taxpayer dollars, but he has vetoed any FCC participation in Minnesota's investigations against Frontier, despite the literal billions the company receives at public expense.

Pai insists that Frontier is doing great and does not need investigating. As evidence for this, he cites Frontier's own filings to the FCC. Read the rest

BIGTIME TOMMIE, an Instagram of pure greatness

May 10, 2019

Description:

I want to thank @mikejonesfl for bringing BIGTIME TOMMIE into my life. He's right, this is the best Instagram.

Let's take a look at BIGTIME TOMMIE's Instagram bio.

🔥REALITY TV STAR CARFELLAS🔥, 🌏INTERNATIONAL🌍 🎤 RADIOSHOW VOICEOVERS🎤 🎥MOVIES/ACTOR🎥 ⭐️AMERICAS GOT TALENT⭐️ 🤣FACEBOOK LIVE SHOW 🤪 🇮🇹 💯% ITALIAN🇮🇹

I'm down.

Let's get to business. Here is a smattering of what makes this guy Tommie Romola bananas fantastic.

His words of wisdom for today?

“An ugly personality destroys a pretty face. Remember. Don't cost nothin to be nice.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by BIGTIME TOMMIE 💎 (@tommieromola1) on May 8, 2019 at 10:21pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

🇮🇹🇮🇹🕶🇮🇹🇮🇹 ****THOUGHTOFTHEDAY**** LIVE THE BEST LIFE YOU CAN !!! #LIVE #LOVE #LAUGH #LIVELOVELAUGH #DREAM #BELIEVE #SUCCEED #SUCCESS #WIN #TAKENOPRISONERS #NOREGRETS #FUCKTHEHATERS #LADOLCEVITA #LIKEABOSS #TOMMIECANNOLI #TCANNOLI #CIGARFATHER #CIGAR #TORCHITUP 🔥#BIGTIMETOMMIE 🇮🇹🕶🇮🇹 #SOMUCHLARGERTHENLIFE TAGTWOFRIENDS ❤️ #TAKEITEASSS

A post shared by BIGTIME TOMMIE 💎 (@tommieromola1) on Apr 17, 2019 at 2:01pm PDT

pic.twitter.com/iEdW0KqPY2

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

alright y’all it’s been fun, if you see Tommie tell him i love him, i’m going to bed. remember! keep it old school pic.twitter.com/QMg22k6yBb

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

if you got it at 5, you got it at 50, and Tommie’s got it pic.twitter.com/725ahVdYYW

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

thinking about how yearly service fees for renewed vanity plates in New York are $15 per plate, times 21 Cadillacs, $315 a year. worth every penny if you ask me pic.twitter.com/rtGqynXbpf

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

Tommie with the classic LL Cool J pic.twitter.com/F5SGFGQKmj

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

having a hard time getting over the cannoli in the toilet pic.twitter.com/VxD4WRQu2I

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

thanks @MitchfromOhio this one is eggcellent pic.twitter.com/cFsOrlzarG

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

#NOTAHANDJOB pic.twitter.com/a6QtUM1jgR

— 🇲🇮🇰🇴 (@mikejonesfl) May 10, 2019

View this post on Instagram

🇮🇹🇮🇹🕶🇮🇹🇮🇹 THOUGHT OF THE DAY #DREAM #BELIEVE #NEVERQUIT #STRENGTH #LIVE #LOVE #LAUGH #LIVELOVELAUGH #NOLIMITS #POWER #OLDSKOOL #OS #OS4LIFE #LADOLCEVITA #LIKEABOSS #CIGARFATHER #CIGAR #CADILLAC #ELDORADO #BIARRITZ #VOGUE #VOGUES #CONVERTIBLE #DROPTOP #LIVINGLIFE #INSPIRE #BIGTIMETOMMIE 🇮🇹🕶🇮🇹 #SOMUCHLARGERTHENLIFE #TAKEITEASS ❤️❤️❤️ TAGTWOFRIENDS / SHARE 🙏

A post shared by BIGTIME TOMMIE 💎 (@tommieromola1) on Mar 24, 2019 at 2:41pm PDT

Read the rest

Google mistakenly started handing out a reporter's cellphone number to people searching for Facebook tech support

May 10, 2019

Description:

If Facebook is broken for you in some way large or small, you can't call them to complain -- the company doesn't have a customer service number, it has a "support portal" for people suffering with the service, which combines the worst of autoresponders with the worst of underpaid, three-ring-binder constrained support staff to make a system that runs like a cost-conscious version of Kafka's "The Trial."

This means that literally millions of people are constantly searching for a support phone number for Facebook, and that's created chaos. On the one hand, you have the "Facebook tech support" scammers: we get hundreds of scammy Facebook support phone number submissions to our suggest-a-link form, and most of them seem to originate in India and to be meticulously, repeatedly hand-typed (based on our anti-fraud metrics that have totally, utterly failed to reduce the unstoppable flood of these submissions -- we also get floods of "Microsoft tech support" and "Amazon tech support" etc scam submissions).

Google gets lots of these queries, too (that's why the scammers are relentlessly trying to get posted here, so that Google will send these frustrated searchers to their fraudulent phone numbers). When Google gets lots of phone number queries, it tries to come up with an algorithmic solution: it looks for high-rated pages for the search term that also have recognizable phone numbers in their bodies, extracts the phone number and puts it in a "search box" at the top of the results page.

Enter Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai (previously), a top security reporter for Motherboard. Read the rest

Amazon told to stop selling kids' school supplies that contain over 80 times the legal limit of lead

May 10, 2019

Description:

This pencil pouch has over 35 times the legal limit of lead, 29 times the legal limit of cadmium.

#BlueMoon: Jeff Bezos says Blue Origin will land on Moon by 2024

May 10, 2019

Description:

“We must return to the Moon—this time to stay.”

After elderly tenant was locked in his apartment by his landlord's stupid "smart lock," tenants win right to use actual keys to enter their homes

May 10, 2019

Description:

Tenants in New York City have reached a settlement with their landlord requiring the landlord to install actual locks with actual keys on demand, rather than insisting that all tenants use locks from Latch, the leading Internet of Things "smart lock" vendor, whose products conduct fine-grained surviellance on their users, which the company reserves the right to share with third parties.

The suit was brought by Mary Beth McKenzie, Tony Mysak, and a group of their fellow tenants against their Hell's Kitchen landlord after the landlord summarily swapped out their apartment building's locks and replaced them with Latch products. Mysak, a 93-year-old longtime resident of the building, was unable to operate the lock on his home and found himself locked in.

The settlement gives the tenants a cause of action to sue their landlord in the event that the landlord deprives them of a physical key option in the future. Lisa Gallaudet, an attorney representing the landlords, insists that this is not a "victory" for the tenants, and says her client only settled because litigation would have been an expensive nuisance.

More than 1,000 NYC buildings have Latch products installed in them.

Unauthorized Bread, the first story in my new book Radicalized, is about tenants whose landlords use nonconsensual Internet of Things devices to extract additional revenues from them, with toaster ovens that only toast "authorized bread," dishwashers that only wash "authorized dishes" etc.

Mary Beth McKenzie, her husband, Tony Mysak, and a group of tenants sued their landlords after the landlords installed the smart locks last year, arguing that there were privacy concerns with the Latch smart lock and the app required to get into their own building.

Read the rest

British celebrity Freddie Starr "definitely dead"

May 10, 2019

Description:

Freddie Starr, a stalwart of British light entertainment most famous for a fabricated news story alleging he ate a hamster and lately implicated in historical sexual abuse scandals, was reportedly found dead today at his apartment in Spain. He is "definitely" dead, according to a person who has seen the body. The Guardian reports:

At the height of his fame, Starr was known by fans for his eccentric and often unpredictable behaviour.

In 1986 he was famously at the centre of one of the best-known newspaper headlines when The Sun splashed with: “Freddie Starr ate my hamster.”

The story claimed Starr placed the creature between two slices of bread and ate it at a friend’s home after returning from a performance in Manchester. But in his 2001 autobiography Unwrapped, Starr said the incident never took place.

Read the rest

Trump sends Pompeo to Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov, May 12-14

May 10, 2019

Description:

The administration of Donald Trump is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, on May 12-14, says the U.S. State Department.

What could they possibly be planning to discuss? Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and winning the 2020 election, my top guesses.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be present, too.

The meeting represents the highest-level formal talks between the powers in 10 months, the State Department says.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani is in Ukraine drumming up support for Trump's mandatory re-election.

At least they're being transparent about it this time, no?

If this is what Rudy is doing in Ukraine this week what is Pompeo doing in Russia next week? https://t.co/eS1jlL74DJ

— Simon Rosenberg (@SimonWDC) May 10, 2019

Pompeo to meet with Putin and Lavrov next Tuesday in Sochi, Russia. https://t.co/CcUWHDLUra

— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 10, 2019

New: State Dept confirms Secretary of State Pompeo will travel to Russia next week and meet with Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. pic.twitter.com/8Lng5Gtpks

— Conor Finnegan (@cjf39) May 10, 2019

It will be interesting to see whether Pompeo stops in Kyiv after Russia, or whether Trump has left Ukraine brief to Giuliani to kick around as a political football.

— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) May 10, 2019

Read the rest

Facebook sends Nick Clegg to rebut co-founder Chris Hughes' call for breakup

May 10, 2019

Description:

No surprises here. Facebook does not support the co-founder Chris Hughes' proposal to split the world’s largest social media company into three parts.

Here's how Facebook responded to the social network's co-founder Chris Hughes calling for a government-mandated breakup of Facebook: Nick Clegg, former UK Deputy Prime Minister, who once advocated for the breakup of monopolies in the UK.

“Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the break up of a successful American company,” Facebook spokesman Nick Clegg said in a statement.

“Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through the painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet. That is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg has called for.”

New rules for the internet.

Oh, that sounds just great.

Zephyr Teachout translated this flaming pile of PR garbage the best.

Zuckerberg: To rebut the claim I am too powerful, I will have the former UK Deputy Prime Minister publicly disavow his prior anti-monopoly stance (now that he is paid by me) and promise to meet with other world leaders to painstakingly tell them what regulation suits me best.

U.S. lawmakers continue to urge the Justice Department to launch an antitrust investigation. Read the rest

Meet a lone prospector who pans for gold and actually finds it

May 3, 2019

Description:

My daughter just returned from a 4th grade field trip to the Sierra Nevadas to learn about the California Gold Rush. The program included a chance to pan for gold and before she left, I jokingly said that I expected her to come home with at least several ounces. Sadly, she didn't strike gold. It wouldn't have entirely been out of the realm of possibility though according to this fascinating Mel Magazine feature about lone prospectors like high school teacher Dan Hurd who is keeping the gold rush dream alive (and sharing his adventures on YouTube). From Mel:

The claim to mine this half-kilometer stretch of the Fraser (River in British Columbia) belongs to Hurd, and it’s become a fast favorite of his. “I’m keeping this claim kind of secret because the amount of big gold I’ve found here is significant compared to any other claim,” he tells me, describing a multi-gram nugget he picked up off the ground last year. “I’ve already pulled a half ounce of gold out of this claim, which, for a prospector, is a lot. That’s around $900 Canadian.”...

Hurd has found plenty of gold in his roughly two-dozen claims over the years, and uncovering several thousand dollars’ worth of the metal in an annual season isn’t unusual, though it takes a lot more time and failure than people expect, he jokes. “There’s a lot of delusions of grandeur out there. A lot of people think they can go out there, spend a day and pull $1,000 of gold out of the ground,” Hurd says.

Read the rest

How to memorize an entire chapter of Moby Dick

May 3, 2019

Description:

Josh Foer is the author of Moonwalking With Einstein, a book that recounts how he practiced different memory techniques to win the United States Memory Championship.

In this video, Josh shows how he learned to memorize an entire chapter of Moby Dick. He used a mnemonic technique called the memory palace. It took Josh four days to memorize the chapter, and he spent 3-4 hours practicing each day.

Via Open Culture Read the rest

Awesome exhibit of science fiction movie cars at Petersen Auto Museum

May 3, 2019

Description:

Beginning May 5, Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles is displaying 40 famous science fiction movie cars in an exhibit titled Hollywood Dream Machines.

Images: Petersen Automotive Museum Read the rest

Fantastic minimalist embroidery portraits of musicians, writers, and artists

May 3, 2019

Description:

My dear pal Barbara Rushkoff embroiders fantastic minimal portraits of musicians and other artists, writers, and thinkers whose work has inspired her over the years. I love the seeming simplicity of her illustrations that still beautifully convey the essence of her subjects! Also, the name of Barbara's Instagram account has me in, er, stitches: yr_resting_stitchface

Above: Robert Smith of The Cure. Below: Billie Eilish, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson of the B-52's, Nilufer Yanya; Mark Hollis of Talk Talk; Joy Division's Ian Curtis; St. Vincent; Debbie Harry; and David Bowie.

Read the rest

TED explainer video: how stock markets work

May 3, 2019

Description:

In the 1600s the Dutch East India company offered people the chance to share in the profits of international trade by funding ship voyages. By accident, it created the first stock market. In four-and-a-half minutes, this TED-Ed video explains the function of stock markets. Read the rest

One in 5,000 e-scooter rides ends in injury, half to the head

May 3, 2019

Description:

The Austin Public Health Department and the CDC studied the safety of e-scooters and came to the conclusion that if you ride them you should wear a helmet. One in 5,000 e-scooter rides results in an injury and 48% of those are head injuries.

From Ars Technica:

This study actually discovered a higher rate of head injuries compared to the LA study—48 percent in total. But multiple injuries were common; 70 percent also suffered injuries to the upper limbs and 55 percent to the lower limbs. More than a third (35 percent) broke a bone, and 19 percent broke more than one, not counting finger and toe fractures.

Injuries resulted from a wide range of scenarios. Fifty-five percent were injured riding in the street, but 33 percent were injured riding on the sidewalk. Sixteen percent of injuries involved another vehicle, but only 10 percent were from actually colliding with another vehicle. An equal proportion of injuries (10 percent) involved a curb, and 7 percent were the result of hitting an inanimate object, like a lamppost. Injuries were more common on the weekend (39 percent) and between the hours of 6pm and 6am (39 percent). But only 29 percent reported consuming alcohol within the 12 hours leading up to their injury. Thirty-seven percent blamed excessive speed, and 19 percent believed that a scooter malfunction was to blame.

Image: Rachid Jalayanadeja/Shutterstock Read the rest

Magnificent photos from a psychedelic family's California trip

May 3, 2019

Description:

For more than 50 years, Roger Steffens has traveled the electric arteries of the counterculture embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. And he’s captured it all on film. After serving in Vietnam during the final 26 months of the ‘60s, where he won a Bronze Star for founding a refugee campaign that raised over 100 tons of food and clothing, he spent a year lecturing against the war before settling in Marrakech. Finally returning Stateside in 1972, he immersed himself in the vibrant bohemias of Berkeley, Los Angeles, and beyond, touring his highly-acclaimed one-man show, “Poetry for People Who Hate Poetry.” A psychedelic polymath, Steffens worked as an actor, poet, editor, archivist, lecturer, author, NPR radio DJ and interviewer and, yes, photographer. Driven by his own insatiable curiosity and passion, he was on a perpetual quest for the eccentric, the outlandish, the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, smiling, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.

Roger Steffens is an intrepid explorer of the fringe but he’s also a family man. He met his wife Mary under a lunar eclipse in a pygmy forest in Mendocino, California while on LSD. Soon after, they conjured up a daughter, Kate, and son, Devon. Family vacations took the foursome up and down the West Coast, from the gritty glam of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip to reggae festivals in Humboldt, fiery protests in Berkeley to the ancient redwoods of Big Sur and the wilds of Death Valley. Read the rest

Three extremely fast vehicles drag race

May 3, 2019

Description:

Launch control on the BMW S 1000 RR is the motorcycle equivalent of BASE jumping. Read the rest

The evolution of snooker video games

May 3, 2019

Description:

Starting with a 1984 version of snooker (kind of like pool with more balls and smaller pockets) for the Commodore 64, Nostalgia Nerd shows how videogame versions of the game have evolved over the years. Even though the latest versions are hyperrealistic, I think the simple C64 version is the most appealing, but as Nostalgia Nerd points out, the physics and collision detection are laughable. Read the rest

Slack is a foul pool of bad behaviors

May 3, 2019

Description:

Slack is a chat platform that promotes passive-aggressive behavior and misunderstanding at the office! I have found that logging off of Slack never to return solved 80% of my problems with this workplace chat platform. The other 20% of my problems magically resolved when my colleagues stopped using Slack as well.

VOX:

It can mean a few things: A vibrant discussion is taking place in which you and your colleagues are excitedly collaborating around a central topic. Important news is breaking and everyone wants to know. Or, more often, a nonlinear argument is unfurling as everyone tries to get the last word in first, and chaos envelops the very system meant to keep you organized.

“Slack is where work happens,” reads the company’s website copy. “Imagine what you’ll accomplish together.”

But an increasing emphasis on new technology to moderate our workdays isn’t necessarily making our work better or making us more productive. If wielded poorly, it can even make it worse.

Image via Wikipedia. Read the rest

Car accident: video game physics IRL

May 3, 2019

Description:

To say that this video depicts "video game physics IRL," as I have in this headline, is quite stupid. At least in the sense that the world should not be taken to resemble its simulation, even in jest, lest our grasp on reality be further undermined. And yet they so clearly need to work on the collision detection before this goes gold. Read the rest

AOC endorses Elizabeth Warren's Big Tech breakup plan

May 3, 2019

Description:

Elizabeth Warren wants to break up Big Tech, a thoroughly excellent idea with many devils in the details: AOC backs her play: "Facebook as a basic communications platform while also selling ads and also being a surveillance platform. Those functions should be broken up, but how that gets levied and how that gets approached is what we need to take a fine-tooth comb at." Read the rest

Ottawa! I'm speaking tomorrow at the Writers Festival (and then Re:publica in Berlin and Comicpalooza in Houston!)

May 3, 2019

Description:

Tomorrow night at 7:30PM, I'm giving a presentation about my new book, Radicalized, as part of the Ottawa Writers Festival, at Christ Church Cathedral (414 Sparks St.) -- I haven't spoken in Ottawa for years (maybe a decade?!) so I'm really looking forward to it.

From there, I'm heading to Berlin for May 7, where I'm keynoting at the Re:publica conference with a talk about surveillance and monopolies, followed by a launch and signing for the German edition of my novella Unauthorized Bread (I'm doing a smaller AMA earlier in the day about the aftermath of the catastrophic European Copyright Directive vote).

On May 8th, I'm speaking at Otherland, Berlin's science fiction and fantasy bookstore at 8PM.

Then I'm off to Houston for a weekend at Comicpalooza, including a panel about copyright on May 10 at 12:30PM; presenting a keynote talk on May 11 at 12PM; and then another copyright panel on May 12 at 10:30AM.

Hope to see you! Read the rest

Wil Wheaton and R Stevens's mashup tee: Trek Side of the Moon

May 3, 2019

Description:

From the fevered imaginations of Wil Wheaton and R. ("Diesel Sweeties" Stevens: The Trek Side of the Moon tee: $28. Read the rest

Strange codes from the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems

May 3, 2019

Description:

ICD-10 is a standard that defines 70,000+ codes for standardizing the reporting of injuries and diseases, and it is terrifyingly comprehensive: if V95.4 ("Unspecified spacecraft accident injuring occupant") isn't enough, how about V97.33XA ("Sucked into jet engine, initial encounter") and for bisto, V97.33XD ("Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter").

John D Cook has more: Y92.146 ("injuries in a prison swimming pool") and Y92.253 ("injuries sustained at the opera").

I understand that the circumstance of a diagnosis is not recorded strictly for medical reasons. But while 70,000 is an unwieldy large set of codes, it’s kinda small when it has to account for both malady and circumstance. Surely there are 70,000 circumstances alone that are more common than being in a spacecraft, for instance.

Rare and strange ICD-10 codes [John D Cook]

(via Four Short Links Read the rest

In 2008 "synthetic CDOs" destroyed the global economy, and now they're back

May 3, 2019

Description:

"Collateralized Debt Obligations" (CDOs) are a financial derivative that is a kind of bond that pays out based on revenue generated by a pool of assets: for example, a giant hedge fund might buy thousands of homes whose owners went bankrupt and suffered through foreclosure, and then rent them out at the highest possible rent with the least possible maintenance, and this generates thousands of revenue streams. Small slices of the revenue streams from many properties are pooled together into individual CDOs and these are sold to investors: when you buy one of these, you get a little bit of the rent from each of the tenants in the hedge-fund's holdings (other assets can be pooled together too, like payments on car loans, student loans, etc etc).

Financial engineers use complex (and utterly bogus) mathematics to choose which income streams are mixed together in which proportions, supposedly ensuring that the debt is safe, on the theory that lots of people with very different life circumstances would all have to stop paying rent or interest all at once for the whole CDO to become worthless.

A "synthetic CDO" is an even more complex, griftier, more bullshitty financial derivative that bundles together wagers on the peformance of real CDOs -- for example, some financier might bet that a certain number of people whose debt is flowing into a CDO will go broke and if he's right, he gets a payout, and if he's wrong, he has to pay. The income from these wagers are then bundled together (again, using bogus mathematics) in ways that supposedly ensure that all the risk is hedged and investors will get paid no matter what. Read the rest

Working with Trump destroys your reputation, but who cares?

May 3, 2019

Description:

Attorney General Bill Barr, plainly described as a liar by the House Majority leader, is only the latest "respectable" Republican to disgrace themselves by association with Trump and Trump's political survival. Susan B. Glasser:

Barr’s whole performance, in fact, was so over the top, so Trumpian, that it immediately led to an array of tweets and op-eds wondering why Barr, a once-respected figure in conservative legal circles and a relatively uncontroversial Attorney General during the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, would choose to end a distinguished career in such a fashion. After all, Barr, like Graham, hadn’t even liked or supported Trump when he ran for President.

The most scathing take of all came from the former F.B.I. director James Comey, whose firing by Trump led to Mueller’s appointment. Writing in the Times, in a piece titled “How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr,” Comey posited that Barr’s conduct and that of others around Trump was a consequence of their having chosen to serve the President. “Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them,” Comey wrote. “Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from.” It doesn’t happen right away but over time, Comey wrote, in a series of compromises along the way. “Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.”

The thing we're describing as reputation (or Comey as "soul") is of no value to them because they don't care about what anyone thinks of them. Read the rest

A chance encounter with German measles dramatically changed actress Gene Tierney's life

May 3, 2019

Description:

At the height of her fame in 1943, movie star Gene Tierney contracted German measles during pregnancy and bore a daughter with severe birth defects. The strain ended her marriage to Oleg Cassini and sent her into a breakdown that lasted years. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Tierney's years of heartbreak and the revelation that compounded them.

We'll also visit some Japanese cats and puzzle over a disarranged corpse.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon! Read the rest

Oglala Lakota Sioux to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem: You are not welcome at Pine Ridge Reservation

May 3, 2019

Description:

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem (R) is governor non grata at Pine Ridge after her support of new "riot boosting" laws that target indigenous people opposed to oil infrastructure on their land.

From The Lakota Law Project: “The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted unanimously this week to inform South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem that she is not welcome at the Pine Ridge Reservation in the wake of her support for new "riot boosting" laws that unfairly target tribes and their allies who oppose new oil infrastructure on treaty lands.”

It's a wonderful read. Here's the embedded letter, below, and [PDF Link].

Noem Disallow Letter by on Scribd

PHOTO BY AARON HUEY, courtesy lakotalaw.org

[via girlsreallyrule] Read the rest

Big U.S. news media Twitter accounts amplify Trump's lies uncritically 19 times a day: Study

May 3, 2019

Description:

Journalists “end up amplifying falsehoods.”

Filmmaker promises to change live-action Sonic the Hedgehog's widely-disliked design

May 3, 2019

Description:

Reacting to a storm of derision on the internet following the release of Sonic the Hedgehog's first trailer, the filmmakers have promised to redesign the CGI title character before it hits theaters. A lot of work for the animators, and little time to complete it.

Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear... you aren't happy with the design & you want changes. It's going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be... #sonicmovie #gottafixfast 🔧✌️

— Jeff Fowler (@fowltown) May 2, 2019

Sure, Sonic mk. 1 was bad. But much of the hate is ironic and meaningless, and the real hate can't be addressed from the position the producers are in: exploiting nostalgia for a video game mascot whose cachet is defined by the weird emotional blank slate it presents to Gen Xers. CGI Sonic's good or badness is immaterial to its appeal—unless you were already in hell before you even saw it.

Which leads me to my point, which is that the Sega game movie we actually need is a camp as hell vaporwave Space Harrier movie.

How about a grim, nasty, almost dialog-free Golden Axe pitched somewhere about Valhalla Rising and the Polanski Macbeth? Noice. Read the rest

Chinese urbanization has left 25 million vacant homes in rural villages

May 3, 2019

Description:

China is undergoing the largest real-estate bubble in history, and things keep getting weirder and weirder, with the specter of a burst bubble looming overall.

The Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reports that 25,000,000 rural homes are sitting vacant, accounting for 10.7% of the country's rural housing stock. Local governments have exacerbated the problem by banning the private sales of rural houses and subsidizing the purchase of urban homes.

The lofty figure is based on a study published Sunday by the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which sampled 140 rural villages in the country to estimate that, nationwide, 10.7% of homes are vacant in such areas. The occupancy issue, according to the study, stems in part from the long-term absence of migrant laborers, who leave their hometowns to pursue employment elsewhere.

25 Million Homes Vacant in Rural China Due to Migrant Workforce [Sixth Tone]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Graeme Maclean, CC-BY) Read the rest

Fentanyl execs found guilty of racketeering, face 20 year prison sentences

May 3, 2019

Description:

Five senior execs at Insys Therapeutics (manufacturer of Subsys, a type of fentanyl), have been convicted of criminal racketeering and fraud charges stemming from the company's practice of bribing doctors to overprescribe their incredibly addictive and dangerous product, and for defrauding Medicare in the process.

John Kapoor, Richard Simon, Sunrise Lee, Joseph Rowan and Michael Gurry were convicted by a jury that deliberated for 15 days. Kapoor founded Insys, and his participation in the racket made him a billionaire. All defendants are out of bail and could face 20 years in prison. Their lawyers say they will appeal.

The conviction was secured with the help of Insys's former President and CEO Michael Babich and former VP sales Alec Burlakoff who pleaded guilty and provided evidence against their former colleagues.

The federal charges are just for starters. Dozens of states across the US are preparing to prosecute opioid vendors, including the notorious Purdue Pharma, manufacturers of the killer drug Oxycontin. Purdue has already settled in Oklahoma, paying $270m, while Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan are headed to trial.

New York State is seeking to recover the funds that Purdue funneled to the Sackler family, who were made billionaires through the company's Oxy sales, and the state claims that the Sacklers have hidden their money offshore while quietly starting a new opioid company, Rhodes, which is continuing the practices pioneered by Purdue.

"Just as we would street-level drug dealers, we will hold pharmaceutical executives responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic by recklessly and illegally distributing these drugs, especially while conspiring to commit racketeering along the way," Lelling said after Thursday's ruling.

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"Smart" doorlocks have policies that let landlords and third parties spy on you

May 3, 2019

Description:

Latch is a leading vendor of internet-of-things "smart" doorlocks that are in increasing use in rental housing (the company claims 10% of all new multiunit construction incorporates their product); they allow entry by keycode, keycard, and Bluetooth.

Latch's privacy policy is the usual IoT dumpster fire, allowing the company to harvest a vast amount of information from you and also share that information with a wide array of third parties, including (sometimes) your landlord. Almost every method of unlocking your Latch requires an app in the loop (even PINs that you use with a numeric keyboard are delivered by app) and the app gathers huge amounts of information on you. Moreover, landlords can choose to configure Latch locks to require the app.

Latch says it doesn't actually use any of the information it gathers, and isn't actually sharing the data that it reserves the right to share, and has promised to revise the policy, but companies come and companies go, and leadership changes, and firms pivot (recall that for Facebook's first ten years, the company billed itself as pro-privacy and promised never to spy on its users).

Centrally controlled, building-wide smart locks are also a powerful tool for landlord harassment. A tenants' rights group in Hell's Kitchen claims their landlord is using the telemetry from smart locks on common areas to monitor which tenants are participating in meetings to address their grievances with the building's management, and is targeting those tenants for harassment in an attempt to force them out of their homes. Read the rest

This super-clean sponge scrubs without collecting bacteria

May 3, 2019

Description:

We shouldn't be surprised that sponges - the very things you use to clean dishes - are breeding grounds for odor and germs. It's a sponge, after all. It absorbs things, including all that muck from your plates.

Which is why calling the Better Sponge a sponge is a bit of a misnomer. It's definitely better - but unlike those bacteria farms in your sink, it cleans without absorbing grime.

The Better Sponge is made from silicone, cleaning with bristles that are capable of scrubbing tough stains off pots and pans without scratching. And best of all, after you're done they simply rinse clean - no muck, no odor. Thanks to the material, they're equally effective as a pet brush or a grip for opening stubborn jars. And since they're heat-resistant, you can even use them as oven mitts. After use, simply stick them to the side of your newly clean sink with their built-in suction cup.

It's a game changer for tidy kitchens everywhere, and it's currently 50% off. Pick up a 6-piece variety pack of Better Sponges for $20. Read the rest

Peter Mayhew, "Chewbacca," RIP

May 3, 2019

Description:

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, died on April 30. He was 74 years old. Several years ago, my son, then 10, and I had the good fortune to meet and briefly chat with Mayhew; he was kind, warm, personable, and unhurried with every single kid (and adult) who approached him.

According to a statement from Mayhew's family, "there will be a memorial in December (in Los Angeles) for fans set up with his family in attendance, personal effects, and collection at EmpireConLA."

The family asks that fans consider donating to the Peter Mayhew Foundation, "devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering, and the financial toll brought on by life's traumatic events."

Rest easy, Chewie.

The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u

— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019

He was the gentlest of giants-A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I'm grateful for the memories we shared & I'm a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken @TheWookieeRoars pic.twitter.com/8xbq9HEWF2

— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019

"We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing. Since 1976, Peter’s iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself."-Kathleen Kennedy.

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Eleanor Davis Comics! Cartoonist Kayfabe Show and Tell

May 2, 2019

Two 'Rubik’s Race' players compete at mind-boggling speed

May 2, 2019

Description:

Rubik's cube for two as a race. That's Rubik's Race.

I've never seen anyone play as fast as these two players.

It's hard to believe the human mind can work that fast at puzzle solving.

Unmute for delicious fast-paced clickety-clack sounds.

Rubik’s Race

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Oreo cookies' 'Game of Thrones' intro

May 2, 2019

Description:

I have not watched an episode this season. I will likely listen to the Boars, Gore and Swords podcast during a brief road trip this weekend and see if I need to watch. Read the rest

Japanese prime minister installs a beaver-shaped door knocker he bought in Canada

May 2, 2019

Description:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Canada and returned home with an attractive beaver-shaped door knocker. In this short video you can see him installing it on his front door, followed by a clip of his wife testing it out.

Shinzo Abe has installed the beaver door-knocker he brought back from Canada pic.twitter.com/y7kZE3Bgik

— Mike Bird (@Birdyword) May 2, 2019

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ROM image of ultra-rare Atari arcade game dumped and released for MAME

Apr 26, 2019

Description:

Only a few working cabinets exist of Akka Arrh, an early-80s Atari arcade game that failed in test markets and was not mass-produced. Tucked away in private collections, no ROM image existed of the otherwise fully-functional prototypes—until, the story has it, a repair worker dumped and exfiltrated them.

One well-placed arcade collector with direct knowledge of the extant Akka Arrh cabinets a