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Updated 2018-12-13 01:18
Meet one of the creators of the New York Times crossword puzzle
Magician David Kwong moonlights (er, daylights?) as a crossword puzzle creator for the New York Times. In the parlance of the craft, he is a "cruciverbalist," one who is adept at making, or solving, crossword puzzles. (Wired) Read the rest
Facebook and Instagram evacuated over bomb threat
No one has been reported harmed. No bomb reported found.Police in Menlo Park, CA are at the Facebook and Instagram campus near the 200 block of Jefferson Avenue. According to multiple local news reports, NYPD forwarded an anonymous tip to local authorities.NBC Bay Area:A building on Facebook's campus in Menlo Park was evacuated Tuesday evening after a bomb threat, police said.Menlo Park police said the threat was called into the New York Police Department's Crimestopper unit, which in turn notified local authorities.According to Menlo Park police, the bomb threat was made to a Facebook building at 200 Jefferson Drive.Bomb squads from allied agencies across San Mateo County are on scene and going through the building. The NBC Bay Area chopper spotted several police patrol cars on the campus.Here's KRON's early report:Police are investigating a bomb threat at Facebook's campus in Menlo Park Tuesday evening.The Menlo Park Police Department says they were alerted by the New York Police Department of an anonymous tip regarding a bomb threat to Facebook. Menlo Park police then issued an alert at 5:22 p.m. asking residents to avoid the area of the 200 block of Jefferson Drive near Constitution Drive as they investigate. Facebook's campus has been evacuated. San Mateo County allied agencies bomb units are currently checking the building.Law enforcement officials did not provide any further details on the threat. BREAKING: Facebook confirms company is looking into a bomb threat on its headquarter campus in Menlo Park - spokesman pic.twitter.com/93PE9h3X0T— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) December 12, 2018 Read the rest
Eclectic Method's latest remix asks 'Is it illegal if you take just one note?"
Barcelona-based Eclectic Method is most known for his remix songs that are based on pop culture (previously). Now he's trying something new, an experiment that's a little risky. He writes:Here's a video remix made from samples no longer than 0.5 seconds from 107 different artists. Madonna won her court case over the use of a 0.23 second horn stab in "Vogue". Sabrina Setlur won her courtcase for unauthorized use of 2 seconds of Kraftwerk. So I have been wondering how long is too long when it comes to sampling. This video remix is to test out the algorithm. Will YouTube's copyright ID system take offence at Taylor Swifts voice appearing for 0.14 seconds and her face occupying 18% of the screen... Who knows?If you're seeing the video, congrats, it hasn't been shut down yet. Read the rest
Congressional Republicans say Equifax breach was "entirely preventable," blames "aggressive growth strategy" but reject measures to prevent future breaches
Equifax doxed 145 million Americans, dumping their most sensitive financial data into the world forever, with repercussions that will be felt for decades to come. A Congressional panel convened to evaluate the causes of the breach has published its majority report, endorsed by the Republicans on the committee: Equifax, in a drive to attain fast growth, acquired companies at a rate that exceeded its ability to securely integrate them; it neglected its IT, resulting in a critical vulnerability remaining unpatched for 145 days; it did not engage in basic preparation like a breach notification procedure. In other words, this catastrophe was the result of greed triumphing over good management, and was thus "entirely preventable."However, the Committee's Republican members refused to sign onto the very modest recommendations proposed by Democrats on the committee. These recommendations included "';requiring federal financial regulatory agencies to report their efforts to protect consumers from cybertheft and identify areas Congress could enhance agencies' authorities to achieve that goal,' guidelines for federal contractors to comply with established cybersecurity standards, a comprehensive notification law that dictates how victims of a victim breach must be notified and an amended Federal Trade Commission Act to 'strengthen civil penalties for private sector violations of consumer data security requirements.'"Equifax released a statement complaining that they weren't given enough time prior to the committee report to prepare their spin. "We are deeply disappointed that the Committee chose not to provide us with adequate time to review and respond to a 100-page report consisting of highly technical and important information. Read the rest
4,000-year-old game board carved into floor of ancient rock shelter
An archaeologist is studying a 4,000-year-old game board carved into the floor of a rock shelter in Azerbaijan. According to American Museum of Natural History researcher Walter Crist, the board was used to play an ancient game called "58 Holes" or "Hounds and Jackals." From Live Science:(Previously), British archaeologist Howard Carter found a game set with playing pieces fashioned like those animals in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenemhat IV, who lived in the 18th century B.C.The distinctive pattern of round pits scored in the rock of the shelter in Azerbaijan came from that same game, Crist told Live Science. But the Azerbaijan version may be even older than the game set found in the pharaoh's tomb...Though the rules of 58 Holes are unknown, many think it was played a bit like modern backgammon, with counters, such as seeds or stones, moved around the board until they reached a goal."It is two rows in the middle and holes that arch around outside, and it's always the fifth, 10th, 15th and 20th holes that are marked in some way," Crist said of the pattern cut into the rock shelter. "And the hole on the top is a little bit larger than the other ones, and that's usually what people think of as the goal or the endpoint of the game."Players may have used dice or casting sticks to regulate the movement of counters on the board, but so far, no dice have been found with any ancient game set of 58 Holes or Hounds and Jackals, he said... Read the rest
Boy can't handle meeting the Queen, drops to all fours and scurries away instead
Meeting Queen Elizabeth II was a little too real for 9-year-old Nathan Grant. As she approached him and his parents during her visit to The Thomas Coram Foundation for Children last Wednesday, he bowed out of the whole thing by dropping down to the floor and crawling towards the nearest exit. Once he was through the door, he turned around to say, "Bye!" Read the rest
Horrifying video of cops trying to pry baby away from mom all because she sat on the floor
Apparently, sitting on the floor in Brooklyn is against the law and, if you've got a baby in your arms, watch out! A 23-year-old woman, Jazmine Headley, was at the Human Resources Administration building waiting in line for hours to receive daycare vouchers for her baby so that she could work. There weren't any seats left in the waiting room, and as anyone who has had to care for a 1-year-old knows, it's exhausting to stand for a long period of time holding a baby. So Headley sat on the floor. Security told her sitting on the floor was not permitted, but Headley said without any available chairs she would continue to sit on the floor. She was not blocking any doorways or passageways, but that didn't matter. According to Daily Dot (and as you can see in the video), police jumped all over her, tried to pry her baby away from her, and pandemonium broke out.The video shows Headley laying on her back on the ground desperately trying to keep a hold of her son, while screaming, “They’re grabbing my child!” Multiple police officers violently yank on the infant, at the same time, in different directions. People in the office are crowded around the group of officers, screaming at them to stop. People can be heard yelling, “That’s a baby!” and “Look at what they’re doing to her!” Some bystanders even try to get their bodies between the police and Headley. At one point an officer points a stun gun at the people, and then at the Headley, who is on her back on the ground. Read the rest
Press start on your game idea with this developer's crash course
Take a scroll through any app marketplace and you'll see that the doors are wide open for any game these days - and any game developer. Like any creation, virtual or analog, it all starts with an idea. And if you've got one of those, the Complete Unity Game Developer Bundle can walk you the rest of the way.One of the most user-friendly, versatile tools for game developers out there, the Unity platform lets developers work equally well through any design, from simple platform to open-world. Each of the seven courses in this bundle spotlights a different functionality in Unity. You'll learn to utilize Cinemachine to set the stage with animated cutscenes, then fold them into massive open-world adventures. You'll find time-saving tips on even the newest mobile features like Augmented Reality, then learn how to package and publish your finished product in the Google Play store.Get started on your game with the Complete Unity Game Developer Bundle, now $39. Read the rest
Mice given an experimental gene therapy don't get fat, regardless of caloric intake
Researchers at Flinders University knocked out a gene known as RCAN1 in mice, hypothesizing that this would increase "non-shivering thermogenesis," which "expends calories as heat rather than storing them as fat" -- the mice were fed a high-calorie diet and did not gain weight.In particular, the modified mice did not store fat around their middles -- a phenomenon associated with many health risks, including cardiac problems -- and their resting muscles burned more calories.I wrote this into my 2009 novel Makers, and described a generation of formerly obese people who at first delighted in gorging on enormous meals, then realized that they were in danger of going broke paying for all the calories they needed to survive.The study’s authors point out that there’s a time and place for RCAN1’s role in preventing calories from being burned: namely, back when food was scarce and calories weren’t so readily available. In the modern world of “caloric abundance”, however, too much fat is being stored and real health problems are ensuing as a result. The researchers suggest that “These adaptive avenues of energy expenditure [such as RCAN1] may now contribute to the growing epidemic of obesity.”"We looked at a variety of different diets with various time spans from eight weeks up to six months,” said Damien, “and in every case we saw health improvements in the absence of the RCAN1 gene.“Mice on a high-fat diet that lacked this gene gained no weight.” A New Drug Could Let Us Eat Anything Without Gaining Weight [Gavin Butler/Vice] Regulator of Calcineurin 1 helps coordinate whole‐body metabolism and thermogenesis [David Rotter, Heshan Peiris, D Bennett Grinsfelder, Alyce M Martin, Jana Burchfield, Valentina Parra, Christi Hull, Cyndi R Morales, Claire F Jessup, Dusan Matusica, Brian W Parks, Aldons J Lusis, Ngoc Uyen Nhi Nguyen, Misook Oh, Israel Iyoke, Tanvi Jakkampudi, D Randy McMillan, Hesham A Sadek, Matthew J Watt, Rana K Gupta, Melanie A Pritchard Damien J Keating and Beverly A Rothermel/Embo Reports] (Sci-Hub mirror)Gene that lets you eat as much as you want holds promise against obesity [Flinders University/Science Daily] Read the rest
The third annual AI Now report: 10 more ways to make AI safe for human flourishing
Every year, NYU's nonprofit, critical activist group AI Now releases a report on the state of AI, with ten recommendations for making machine learning systems equitable, transparent and fail-safe (2016, 2017); this year's report just published, written by a fantastic panel, including Meredith Whittaker (previously -- one of the leaders of the successful googler uprising over the company's contract to supply AI tools to the Pentagon's drone project); Kate Crawford (previously -- one of the most incisive critics of AI); Jason Schultz (previously -- a former EFF attorney now at NYU) and many others.This year's recommendations come in the wake of a string of worsening scandals for AI tools, including their implication in genocidal violence in Myanmar. They include: sector-by-sector regulation of AI by appropriate regulators; strong regulation of facial recognition; broad, accountable oversight for AI development incorporating a cross-section of stakeholders; limits on trade secrecy and other barriers to auditability and transparency for AI systems that impact public service provision; corporate whistleblower protection for AI researchers in the tech sector; a "truth-in-advertising" standard for AI products; a much deeper approach to inclusivity and diversity in the tech sector; "full stack" evaluations of AI that incorporate everything from labor displacement to energy consumption and beyond; funding for community litigation for AI accountability; and an expansion of university AI programs beyond Computer Science departments. 4. AI companies should waive trade secrecy and other legal claims that stand in the way of accountability in the public sector. Read the rest
Good deal on Contigo autoseal stainless steel water bottle
I bought a second Contigo Autoseal Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle (24 ounces) because it's on sale today (plus there's a 5% off coupon) and I really like the one we have. Note that this will arrive after Christmas if you order it now. Read the rest
The new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite got my kid to take a bath
My daughter was actually convinced to take a bath, upon learning her new Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof.I think we have a photo of every member of our extended family, from grandparents to cousins, looking angrily at the camera as they are disrupted from reading upon their Kindle! This holiday season it became time for my 11-year-old to join our club. When she asked for a Kindle for the holidays my parents jumped at the opportunity to provide. Members of our family are rarely separated from their Kindle.Earlier this year I mistakenly left my Kindle in a hotel room someplace. The drama over my Kindle's return faded my feelings for my, now former, traveling companion but I have my Voyage back! Lucky for me, too, as Amazon has end-of-life'd my favorite reader.The new Paperwhite is a pretty complete replacement for both the Paperwhite and the Voyage. The screen is identical, and now flush mounted with no annoying bezel. The lack of haptic "buttons" won't bother many users, and the new backlighting is really, really even! Device weight, battery life and other features are so similar as to not merit discussion.Waterproof is the 'big deal.' Paperwhite can take being submerged for up to two minutes at 2 meters, in fresh water. The ocean is not your friend.We have started family book club. It was very easy to share a single checked out book from the library across both our devices. We discussed the first two chapters of Chris Colfer's Land of Stories on the way to school this morning. Read the rest
UH-OH! Trump to give 'Hanukkah remarks' again 🕎
Brace yourself. President Trump and others in the image above are facing an imminent criminal prosecution showdown, but tomorrow Donald is due to give 'Hanukkah remarks' again. Have some popcorn handy, this should be bonkers.:Remember last year, when Trump blessed “The Jewish People” with an “especially special” Hanukkah at the White House a day after declaring Jerusalem Israel's capital and lighting the entire world's butt's on fire? No? Watch it again.If Melania reads out the Holocaust death statistics again in that godawful repressed eastern european drawl, I swear I'm gonna hurl. This could be Kushner's last Hanukkah outside of prison. One hopes.Watch Trump trump the stupidity of his 2017 Hanukkah remarks tomorrow. (via Daniel Dale) Read the rest
On January 1, America gets its public domain back: join us at the Internet Archive on Jan 25 to celebrate
Timothy from Creative Commons writes, "In the US beginning Jan 1, 2019–after a devastating 20 year drought brought on by the infamous 1998 'Mickey Mouse Protection Act.' Creators, commons advocates, librarians, legal activists and others are celebrating in San Francisco at the Internet Archive on January 25, 2019 to mark the 'Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain.' There will be keynotes (including from Cory Doctorow and Larry Lessig), panels with legal experts like Pam Samuelson and EFF, and lightning talks to showcase the important, weird, and wonderful public domain." Read the rest
The longest-serving Congressman in US history proposes a four fixes for American democracy
From 1955 to 2015, John D. Dingell served in the US House of Representatives, making him the longest-serving Congressman in the country's history: now, in the Atlantic, he warns that at the 2016 election "put the future of our country in mortal peril," and he proposes four measures to bring it back from the brink.1. Automatically register every US citizen to vote on their 18th birthday; allow voting with "no photo ID, no residency tests, no impediments of any kind."2. Eliminate all campaign contributions, without exception. Publicly fund elections.3. Abolish the Senate or incorporate it into the House of Reps to head off the "demographic crisis" that will see 70% of Americans in just 15 states, with 30 Senators between them; the 30% of the US that lives in the depopulated 35 states will get 70 Senators. Also: abolish the Electoral College.4. Protect the independent press: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." -T. JeffersonNow I am an old man. My age bears with it a responsibility to share what I’ve witnessed so that future generations avoid making the same mistakes. My advice always begins with the truth, which is why would-be despots and demagogues try so hard to discredit it. They hate it like the devil hates holy water.The conduct and outcome of the 2016 presidential election have put the future of our country in mortal peril. Read the rest
RIP, George HW Bush: a mass-murderer and war-criminal
They're burying George HW Bush today and even before they planted him, the whitewashing began: we've heard an awful lot about how kind he was to his service dog and his love of colorful socks and a lot less about his role in running an onshore terrorist training camp for Latin America's death squads, his role in toppling democratic governments on two continents, his role in arming and supporting Saddam Hussein, then turning on him and kicking off a genocidal war in Iraq whose goal was to bomb an advanced, heavily populated nation "to the pre-industrial era."As Jeremy Scahill (previously) puts it in this week's Intercepted podcast (an 84-minute documentary on the humanitarian legacy of Bush I): the US state religion is American Exceptionalism, and today they will saint George Herbert Walker Bush.The Bush family are not your friends, not even when they're cuddling with Michelle Obama. They are the scions of war profiteers whose fortune grew through helping the Nazis tool up during Hitler's rise to power. They are war-mongers themselves. They have deliberately and coldly planned the murder of civilians: babies, children, women, the elderly. They killed, and the policies they created were carried on and the antes murderously upped by Clinton, by Obama. Rest in Peace, St Bush, and may your millions of victims find you in the afterlife.The United States is now in the midst of a grotesque canonization of one of its imperial saints, George Herbert Walker Bush. This week on Intercepted: an honest memorial service for an unrepentant warmonger who dedicated his life to militarism, war, coups, regime change, and the lies of “American exceptionalism.” Jeremy Scahill details the crimes of Bush, the sick propaganda of the corporate media memorials, and the trail of blood, death, and tears Bush leaves behind. Read the rest
A seemingly ingenious, simple solution to nonrepresentative government and gerrymandering
Forbes's Steven Salzberg rejects the claims of those who say that the House of Representatives will be made more responsive by increasing the number of reps to 593 (or so), this being the cube-root of the number of Americans, and this ratio being considered desirable by some political scientists.The cube-root guideline may or may not work in less populous countries, but in the US, it yields a ratio of one rep per 550,000 represented people (the framers envisioned a 1 rep:30,000 people ratio, which would produce a gigantic Congress.Instead, Salzberg proposes that each Congressional district should send two members to Congress, each casting a fractional vote proportional to the fraction of the electorate whose votes they won: if Rep Dingleberry (R) gets 20% of the votes, and Rep Cheetham (D) gets 80%, then Dingleberry casts 20% of an Aye vote, and Cheetham casts 80% of a Nay (or vice-versa).This has a certain attractiveness to it: if you're one of the voters who casts a ballot for a loser who garners 30% of the vote, you still get represented in Congress.But there are some obvious problems with this. Salzberg handwaves the idea of third-party candidates ("We could divide the single House vote proportionally among the top two vote-getters, ignoring the third parties" and possibly "States could also use ranked-choice voting to re-apportion the votes of the losing candidates"). The idea that there are only two possible political "sides" is viewed by many (including me) as a problem as great as the number of seats in Congress. Read the rest
Conan's Japanese rent-a-family is told to laugh at all his jokes
You may remember that, in Japan, you can rent fake family members to fight loneliness (or for other reasons, like you want your kid to have a "dad"). Well, Conan O'Brien has been filming in Japan and, while in Tokyo, he hired a new wife, daughter, and father. He told them right from the start that they must laugh at his jokes (his real wife is "tired" of them, he says) and they do, even when it's inappropriate. It's funny, as are the other "Conan Without Borders" videos he and his crew shot in Japan. You can watch them all at the Team Coco website. If you love vending machines like I do, don't miss the one labeled "Tokyo." Read the rest
DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather fined over posts promoting fraud-tainted cryptocurrency
DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather both pitched deals to their followers, but did not disclose or admit they were paid to do so. Both are being fined as a result of the undisclosed sponsorships, which were, of course, for sleazy cryptocurrencies.Both took money to promote Centra Tech, an ICO that eventually led to fraud charges for several of its masterminds. The SEC found that Mayweather took $100,000 to promote the Centra token, as well as $200,000 to promote two other ICOs, in posts like an Instagram message where he told his millions of followers "You can call me Floyd Crypto Mayweather from now on." DJ Khaled was paid $50,000 to promote Centra Tech -- facts neither mentioned in their social media posts. While they avoided admitting any wrongdoing, both will have to give up the money they were paid, along with an additional $300,000 penalty for Mayweather to go with a $100,000 fine for DJ Khaled (plus interest). A phenomenon of the Twitter era is celebrities not really bothering with professional financial and business help beyond accountants. The dumb ones are easier marks than ever.Here's the SEC press release on the Centra coin shenanigan. It peaked at a $240m market cap but quickly deflated and is now nearly worthless; the founders were arrested in April. Read the rest
Internet of Shit mattress is stuffed with sensors, including a microphone, and you consent to being spied on by setting it up and sleeping on it
Sleepnumber is an adjustable "smart" mattress whose sensor-package include a microphone and weight sensors; the microphone collects data including your heartrate, respiration and snoring; the other sensors detect your "movement" and "positions" and this data is transmitted to Sleepnumber for indefinite retention, sharing with third parties, etc.It's a mattress with a microphone.Perhaps this is a good time to ponder the fact than no language in human history has evolved the phrase, "As secure as the microphone in an Internet-of-Shit mattress."What could possibly go wrong? After all, no one does anything sensitive or compromising in bed.Once You create a User Profile, We also may collect Personal Information, which may include, among other types of information:* Revised or updated User Profile information* Biometric and sleep-related data about how You, a Child, and any person that uses the Bed slept, such as that person’s movement, positions, respiration, and heart rate while sleeping* Audio in Your room to detect snoring and similar sleep conditions* Other information You choose to provide to Us by opting in to additional functionality of Our Services, such as Your bedtime routine, so We can send You bedtime notifications and set personalized alarm clocksIf You submit any Personal Information relating to another person, such as Your spouse/partner or Child, You represent that You have the authority to do so and to permit Us to use the information in accordance with this Privacy Notice.SLEEP NUMBER PRIVACY POLICY [Sleepnumber](Thanks, Xeni!) Read the rest
Sheryl Sandberg ordered Facebook staff to investigate George Soros after he gave THIS speech (READ IT)
Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook staff to research George Soros because he gave a speech boldly critical of the social media giant as a “menace,” reports the New York Times tonight.After Davos, "in an email in January to senior communications and policy executives," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg "asked Facebook's communications staff to research George Soros's financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies."If she was willing to do this over a mere billionaire, imagine what Facebook might have done in researching news organizations and reporters who are critical of Facebook?Fb has defended the research into Soros as normal and prudent due diligence for a large public company under attack by a onetime activist investor.They note the later Definers research -- which they say Sandberg did *not* personally order -- was based on public records.— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) November 30, 2018We'll add to this story as night goes. Sandberg email to Facebook executives came very soon after Soros's scathing speech at Davos attacking Facebook and Google.But company says other Fb employees had already begun the research when Sandberg wrote.— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) November 30, 2018EXCLUSIVE: Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook staff to research George Soros, said people with knowledge of her request, indicating she was directly involved in the company’s response to the liberal billionaire's attacks @nickconfessore @AllMattNYT https://t.co/p6MMad4zUM— Matthew Rosenberg (@AllMattNYT) November 30, 2018By Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg at the New York Times:Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff to research George Soros’s financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies, according to three people with knowledge of her request, indicating that Facebook’s second in command was directly involved in the social network’s response to the liberal billionaire. Read the rest
Today in the day of action to push Congressional Net Neutrality action over the finish line
We're just a few Congressional signatures short of triggering the Congressional Review Act on Net Neutrality (we've already got the Senate); and that will push Trump to have to publicly reject Net Neutrality (which 87% of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support) or override the FCC and restore Net Neutrality to America.But time is running out. Today is the National Day of Action for Net Neutrality, the last big push before this Congress dissolves. There are some Congressjerks who are on their way out of office who might sign on as a big F-U to Trump; others who might sign on in hopes of keeping their jobs the next time around.Either way, this is it, the big one. Tell your friends. Add your name. Read the rest
Redaction ineptitude reveals names of Proud Boys' self-styled new leaders
The Proud Boys suck at redaction: as the white nationalist extremist organization struggles with a succession crisis following founder Gavin McInnes's departure (precipitated by a Freedom of Information Act request that revealed that the FBI called them "white nationalist extremists) have published a new set of bylaws for the organization with the names of the new leaders blacked out.But the redactions were accomplished by drawing black rectangles over the text, which can still be copied and pasted to read it. This is a stupid mistake that most people stopped making a decade ago (with notable exceptions).So we can read the blacked out names the document claims are the Proud Boys' new leaders. They are: Harry Fox, Heath Hair, Enrique Tarrio, Patrick William Roberts, Joshua Hall, Timothy Kelly, Luke Rofhling and Rufio Panman.Official leadership, at least as far as the vaguely administrative wing of the group and its website goes, seems to have fallen to an “Elders Chapter,” who, in conjunction with an extremely racist lawyer named Jason Lee Van Dyke, released a new set of bylaws for the organization, which they provided to the media “with member names and exhibits redacted for public release.”The new bylaws are more of the same weird Proud Boy shit, with some changes: no head punches on their weird beat-in ritual where they sock each other while chanting cereal brands; you can only jerk off once per month; and some new rulings on the “fourth degree of initiation,” which involves getting in a fight on behalf of the club and is usually achieved during shit-stirring brawls like the one outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in NYC last month, which got several Proud Boys arrested, contributing to the leadership chaos. Read the rest
Trump’s lawyers were briefed on what Manafort told investigators, inflaming tensions with Mueller: NYT report
“A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.” There it is.Attorneys for Donald Trump are said to have been briefed on what Paul Manafort told federal investigators, which further ratcheted up tensions with special counsel Robert Mueller, reports the New York Times this evening.Michael Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman report:A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations.The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with Mr. Mueller’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence.Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s personal lawyers, acknowledged the arrangement on Tuesday and defended it as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel’s inquiry and where it was headed. Such information could help shape a legal defense strategy, and it also appeared to give Mr. Trump and his legal advisers ammunition in their public relations campaign against the special counsel’s office.For example, Mr. Read the rest
MIT Media Lab announces this year's Disobedience Prize winners: #MeToo and #MeTooSTEM
For the second year now, the MIT Media Lab has awarded a "Disobedience Prize" of $250,000, no strings attached, awarded to people whose disobedient work has benefitted society; this year's prize is share among three leaders of the #MeToo and #MeTooSTEM movements: BethAnn McLaughlin, Sherry Marts, and Tarana Burke.Five finalists were awarded $10K each: Katie Endicott (West Virginia teacher's strike organizer); Sarah Mardini and Yusra Mardini (refugee activists and Olympians); Tara Parrish (led and defended the Springfield Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition) and Deborah Swackhamer (led the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors and was pressured to change her testimony to whitewash Trump policies).The prize is funded by Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman.“This year’s winners embody the highest ideals of what the Disobedience Award is intended to honor: speaking truth to power, empowering the voiceless, accepting personal responsibility and fallout without a view to personal gain,” says Joi Ito, director of the Media Lab and co-founder of the award. “The #MeToo movement represents a sea change in American culture, in our institutions, in every professional, academic, and political arena. These three women are on the front lines of this movement, and their refusal to back down or be silenced is what will continue propelling the movement forward in the face of every kind of opposition. We have to support that kind of heroism.”Announcing the winners of the 2018 MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award [Janine Liberty/MIT Media Lab](Disclosure: I am an MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate) Read the rest
'P Is for Pterodactyl' alphabet book teaches kids some anomalies of the English language
P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever is a fun new alphabet book written by rapper Lushlife that shows kids just how nutty the English language really is (rules schmules!): Turning the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, P is for Pterodactyl is perfect for anyone who has ever been stumped by silent letters or confused by absurd homophones. This whimsical, unique book takes silent letter entries like “K is for Knight” a step further with “The noble knight’s knife nicked the knave’s knee.” Lively illustrations provide context clues, and alliterative words help readers navigate text like “a bright white gnat is gnawing on my gnocchi” with ease. Everyone from early learners to grown-up grammarians will love this wacky book where “A is for Aisle” but “Y is definitely not for Why.”This week has been so surreal. My picture book #pisforpterodactyl comes out today and hit the top 5 bestselling books on all of Amazon — between @michelleobama and #diaryofawimpykid. We just hit the front page of @reddit, too. https://t.co/7rqAjyHIVi pic.twitter.com/zvfJq9fq5S— Lushlife (@lushlifemedia) November 13, 2018(Blame it on the Voices) Read the rest
When Barney got gloriously wrecked at the 1997 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Do you remember when Barney parade balloon ate it during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1997? The internet sure does. Footage of the schadenfraude-inducing incident is making the rounds again, proving that hating on the annoying purple dinosaur is timeless. The day after it happened, The New York Times reported the accident was due to high winds and that Barney wasn't the only damaged float:...For a while, the balloons seemed to be falling like flies. Barney suffered extensive damage and had to be removed at 51st Street. The Pink Panther succumbed at 42d Street. Quik Bunny and the Cat in the Hat limped away at 36th Street...The crash of Barney, the purple dinosaur beloved by preschoolers and loathed by some parents, was heart-stopping for those at the end of its ropes. ''Everything turned purple,'' said Antonella Laggiano of Mamaroneck, N.Y.''Barney attacked us,'' said a still-stunned Isabella Fasciano of Hoboken, N.J. After it fell, police officers rushed to puncture it with knives and relieve the danger.Thanks, Andy! Read the rest
Recomendo: A new book with 550 recommendations
Every week for the past two years, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson, and I briefly recommend 6 things to our friends. Sometimes we suggest tools, but most items aren’t tools. Rather we recommend stuff such as our favorite places to visit, things to watch or listen to, favorite stuff to eat, as well as tips for work or home, and techniques we’ve learned, quotes we like to remember, and so on. We email these 6 brief reviews in a free newsletter called Recomendo, and by now this one-pager is sent out every Sunday morning to almost 20,000 subscribers. If you want to get a feel for what we recommend, all the back issues are available here.This autumn we collected, filtered and organized 550 of the best recommendations and put them into a book, called naturally enough, Recomendo. The book is 95 jam-packed pages. We’ve categorized the recommendations, grouping like with like. Having all the workflow tips, or household suggestions, or workshop tools, or travel recommendations all in one place is super handy. There’s an index and subject guide. Many of the items have an illustration. To make up for the fact that a book can’t have links, we’ve added QR codes, so you can instantly get a link with your phone. Everyone who has picked the book up has found something cool for them on the first page and they keep turning the pages for more. I think it’s the happiest book I’ve ever worked on.Recomendo is available now from Amazon. Read the rest
Chinese Iphone ownership is a marker of membership in the "invisible poor"
China's "invisible poor" are poor people who successfully project a facade of affluence through consumer goods, clothing, etc: a research report from Shanghai's MobData found that Iphone ownership is strongly correlated with membership in the "invisible poor," with the median Iphone owner being an unmarried woman aged 18-34, with no post-secondary education and a monthly income of less than RMB3,000 (USD430).Made-in-China brands like Huawei are correlated with affluence (Huawei owners are more likely to own their own flats, hold post-secondary qualifications, and earn RMB5,000-20,000/month).Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi – the four largest smartphone vendors in China, own a combined market share of nearly 80 per cent, while Apple holds 9 per cent, according to a Counterpoint research note released late October.Research highlights class divide between ‘poor’ Apple iPhone and ‘rich’ Huawei users in China [Li Tao/South China Morning Post](via Four Short Links) Read the rest
Remote "uncontacted" island tribe killed an interloping missionary with arrows
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. This week, John Allen Chau, 27, eager to meet the tribe and hopefully convert them to Christianity, paid local fishermen to help him get near the island. As soon as he illegally landed his canoe on the shore, the Sentinelese fired arrows. He escaped with injuries but returned twice later and was eventually killed. From CNN:"We refuse to call him a tourist. Yes, he came on a tourist visa but he came with a specific purpose to preach on a prohibited island," said (Dependra Pathak, Director General of Police of the Andaman and Nicobar islands).Chau did not inform the police of his intentions to travel to the island to attempt to convert its inhabitants..."According to the fishermen, they used a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on November 15," Pathak said."The boat stopped 500-700 meters (1,640 - 2,300 ft) away from the island and (the American missionary) used a canoe to reach the shore of the island. He came back later that day with arrow injuries. On the 16th, the (tribespeople) broke his canoe."So he came back to the boat swimming. He did not come back on the 17th; the fishermen later saw the tribespeople dragging his body around."(A) 2011 survey only spotted 15 Sentinelese on their island -- the count was done from a distance due to the danger in approaching the tribe. Read the rest
Electrification 2.0: Rural broadband co-ops are filling the void left by indifferent monopolists
Writing in Wired, frequent Boing Boing contributor Clive Thompson praises the rise of rural broadband co-operatives that are springing up to provide internet access to their far-flung, widespread communities, comparing them to the rural electrification co-ops that sprang up to provide power to farmers neglected by the monopolistic Edison trusts. Thompson is both onto something and somewhat off the mark here. The comparison between electrification and broadband is a very apt one: without electricity, farmers were being left behind by their century's march to progress; the same is true of internet access. And as with the Edison trusts' neglect of rural customers, the broadband monopolies have left communities in the lurch, failing their children, prompting the rise of these co-ops to fill the void.But here's where Thompson misses the mark. In his article, he asks, "What if, instead of kvetching and waiting for tech monopolies to reform, we set up more user-run co-ops to operate upstart services we actually want? Imagine co-op social networks that wouldn’t need to algorithmically lure users into endless feed-scrolling “engagement” to keep the ad dollars sluicing."The problem is that the incumbent Big Cable monopolists have created insurmountable regulatory hurdles to keep new entrants out of their markets; and Big Tech has erected unassailable walls around its businesses to stop us from "disrupting" the new digital empires (disruption for thee, but not for me, is Big Tech's rallying cry).Forming co-ops is an exciting idea, but remember that (for example) Facebook was only able to grow by making tools that scraped Myspace, to let new Facebook users talk to their friends still on Myspace, so they didn't have to choose between one and the other -- and then, Facebook sued and destroyed a competitor that tried to do the same thing for people ready to move on from Facebook. Read the rest
What's missing from machine learning research: an East African perspective
CIT computer scientist Milan Cvitkovic conducted 46 in-depth interviews with "scientists, engineers, and CEOs" and collated their machine learning research needs into an aptly named paper entitled "Some Requests for Machine Learning Research from the East African Tech Scene," which presents an illuminating look into the gaps in the current practice of machine learning, itself an example of how rich-world priorities shape our ability to understand, compute and predict the world.Some of the gaps are predictable enough (regional languages are underrepresented in speech-to-text models) and others are somewhat surprising (speech-to-text models are really bad at recognizing when speakers "code switch" between languages mid-sentence, which is a common practice in the region) and some are really thorny (due to regional "low trust" economies, "interviewees who use machine learning with surveys or customer interaction data reported spending significant effort fighting fraud or dishonesty").Reinforcement Learning - No interviewee reported using any reinforcement learning methods. However, interest was expressed in it, particularly regard ing machine teaching and using RL in simulations, e.g. using RL in epidemiological simulations to find worst case scenarios in outbreak planning. Machine Teaching - There is a shortage of good educational resources and teachers in East Africa. Several initiatives exist that use mobile phones as an education platform. Practitioners were interested in using ideas from machine teaching in their work to personalize content delivered. However, the author did not encounter anyone who had employed any results from the machine teaching literature at this point.Uncertainty Quantification - An important factor that keeps the wealth of rich regions from moving into poorer regions like East Africa, despite the fact that it should earn greater returns there, is risk [1]. Read the rest
Skulls and bones with magnifying-glass-burned "tattoos"
Damien Noll sez, "My skulls and bones are all burned (like black line tattoo) using just a magnifying lens and sunshine."My latest work is solar pyrography on animal skulls and bones, boar, beaver, cat, cow, coyote, deer etc.Many of these skulls were processed by me from animals passed to me by local hunters in Southern France, Colorado, and Texas. In processing the animal skulls, one becomes intimate with these animals. I take them through the entire process, from life to death and back again. Sometimes along that way a hearty meal is the outcome.The final markings on their skull, like a tattoo, are individual to each one. The markings become a sort of outfit for passage onto the next, more ghostly realm. The immaterial rays of sunlight giving new context, new meaning, new life,, to what would otherwise be forgotten lives.Drawing with sunlight [Damien Noll] Read the rest
Google donated $5k to GOP Senator who "joked" about attending a lynching with her Black opponent
Cindy Hyde-Smith is a Mississipi GOP Senator is going into a runoff election against her Democratic opponent, Black man named Mike Espy who might end up the first Black Mississipi Senator since 1883; she made headlines last week with a joke about attending a "public hanging."The day after the lynching remark, the FEC recorded a $5,000 donation from Google to Hyde-Smith's campaign. Google insists that they made the donation earlier, with the discrepancy unexplained.Google attributed their support of Hyde-Smith's campaign to her "pro-growth policies for business and technology" but added that they "do not condone these remarks and would not have made such a contribution had we known about them." Google has not asked Hyde-Smith to return the funds.Hyde-Smith was endorsed by Donald Trump during her race (and well before Google donated to her campaign). Since Trump's election, Hyde-Smith "voted in line with Trump's position more often than any other Republican senator." She has a 0% approval rating from the ACLU and is a lifetime member of the NRA, and supports a total ban on legal abortion; she is on record as supporting Trump's Muslim ban. In her official capacity, she has opposed and attempted to block same-sex marriages.Hyde-Smith followed up her remarks about public lynchings with a "joke" about the desirability of using voter-suppression techniques to make it harder for "liberal folks" to vote.Hyde-Smith has insisted that her remarks are all intended in jest and attributes the controversy to humorlessness among her opponents. Read the rest
Amazon's NYC digs being built on land that would have been used for low-income housing
Amazon is already known for providing dangerous working conditions, anti-union activities and treating their blue collar workforce like a disposable commodity. Since they're already screwing folks at work, it must have seemed like a natural progression to screw them at home too.From Politico:Amazon’s plans to expand into Long Island City may cost Mayor Bill de Blasio — and New York City — approximately 1,500 units of affordable housing.Two sites that will house the future offices of the e-commerce giant were originally intended for residential development, before Amazon chose them in a nationwide contest for its new headquarters.Most — if not all — of that intended housing is now off the table.According to Politico, the 14.7 acres of land Amazon's plopping out of their grossly subsidized new headquarters complex in Long Island City is owned by a company called Plaxall. Before Amazon came along, Plaxall was gearing up to ask New York City administrators for permission to build close to 5,000 new homes on their property. 1,250 of these homes would have been earmarked for use by low and middle-income earning families. In addition to this, Amazon's NYC complex is also eating up turf from a second company, TF Cornerstone: they were ready to build a complex that would contain 250 low-income housing units on the dirt where Amazon is building their new HQ. That's not going to happen anymore, either.Greed is nothing, if not consistent. Image via Wikipedia Commons Read the rest
Trump claims, without evidence, that he is "extremely happy"
File with "I can change the 14th Amendment with an executive order" and "no collusion". [via] Read the rest
Ouch! This man tries to take off his hoodie while running on a treadmill, and it ain't pretty
Running on a treadmill is my number one aerobic activity, and I've taken off my sweatshirt many times while treading. Never again after watching this! Read the rest
What's new in tabletop gaming (November edition)
Here are some recent game releases of note and some of what I've been up to in hobby gaming over the past month or so.Strontium DogWarlord Games, $63, 2-4 players, Ages: 12+In this skirmish game from Warlord, you play the mutant search and destroy agents, the Strontium Dogs, from the pages of the venerable UK comic magazine, 2000 AD. Designed by the masterful Andy Chambers (Warhammer 40K, Battlefleet Gothic, Blood Red Skies), the game pits the Dogs and their mutant, pirate, and renegade bounty against each other as the two forces duke it out across the galaxy. The very well put-together two-player starter set includes a 122-page rule book, a scenario book, 8 metal miniatures, dice, cards, and other components. The set even includes some cool laser-cut MDF terrain. I love when games include terrain, but you don't often see it and rarely in a game that's not well over $100. Here's a video of Andy Chambers himself describing Strontium Dog.Terrain CrateMantic Games, Prices VaryAfter a very successful Kickstarter campaign (which I backed), Mantic has now released a broad range of affordable fantasy and sci-fi terrain pieces under the Terrain Crate name. Each crate is themed (Dungeon, Battle Field, Dark Lord's Tower, Starship Scenery, Industrial Zone) and includes a generous amount of highly-detailed plastic scenery. The pieces are designed to be used as-is and they also paint up like a charm. I love playing RPGs and tabletop games with lots of evocative scenery and terrain, so I have always wanted a terrain collection this extensive, this affordable, and this well done. Read the rest
Only three hours left to win a role in "Bill and Ted Face the Music"
The strongest news we've heard that Bill and Ted Face the Music will actually be made is that they are now auctioning off a walk on role for charity.There are three hours left to bid. The proceeds go to Homes for Our Troops. I hope you win!From SYFY.com:With Veteran's Day starting off the week, the charity group Homes For Our Troops kicked off a celebrity-fueled series of auctions to raise funds for their cause. While you can bid on everything from a Game of Thrones sweepstakes to George Clooney's motorcycle to help build accessible homes for injured veterans, a real standout gem is a walk-on role in Bill & Ted Face the Music.Writer Ed Solomon, who penned the first two installments with Chris Matheson, announced the auction via Twitter, which is going on for one day only. And that happens to be today. Read the rest
Denver and Orlando the nicest big U.S. airports, New York's the worst
The Wall Street Journal ranked America's 20 largest airports. The rankings contain few surprises.The top three airports—Denver, Orlando and Phoenix—have one major factor in common: strong competition among airlines. Denver is one of the few airports with three major airlines connecting customers: United, Southwest and Frontier. In Phoenix, American and Southwest compete with connecting hubs. In Orlando, the largest airline, Delta, controls only 28% of passenger traffic. Read the rest
Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on felony domestic violence allegations: LAPD
Michael Avenatti has been arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of domestic violence.We can confirm that today LAPD Detectives arrested Michael Avenatti on suspicion of domestic violence. This is an ongoing investigation and we will provide more details as they become available.— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) November 15, 2018Avenatti is best known as the spotlight-thirsty and Trump-baiting attorney for Stormy Daniels, in a matter involving President Donald Trump. Avenatti is a perennial cable news guest, and until today, an aspiring Presidential candidate making the political rounds. He is currently in Los Angeles police custody as of Wednesday afternoon. A report on the incident in the Century City area was taken on Tuesday, said Los Angeles police.News of Avenatti's arrest was first reported by TMZ.“Avenatti's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment” by BuzzFeed News.News: Michael Avenatti has been arrested for felony domestic violence and is currently in LAPD custody, @CJRosenbaum reports— Jon Passantino (@passantino) November 14, 2018LAPD officers in West Los Angeles have responded to an incident involving Michael Avenatti, where he is detained during the process of taking an incident report, sources tell @NBCNews - @anblanx— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 14, 2018Sorry, let me translate this Michael Avenatti tweet: What this means is he's been detained, but probably hasn't been formally booked yet, which is why they aren't officially confirming. He's not in sheriff's jail locator either. https://t.co/J2Ue8Q5DBV— James Queally (@JamesQueallyLAT) November 14, 2018From TMZ:Our sources say the alleged incident occurred Tuesday, but there was a confrontation Wednesday between the two at an exclusive apartment building in the Century City area of L.A. Read the rest
Facebook hired GOP oppo firm to smear protesters by linking them to George Soros, an anti-Semitic trope: NYT
We are watching Facebook unravel in real time. I hope.From the New York Times, a story I can hardly believe -- had to read some grafs twice:Excerpt: When Facebook users learned last spring that the company had compromised their privacy in its rush to expand, allowing access to the personal information of tens of millions of people to a political data firm linked to President Trump, Facebook sought to deflect blame and mask the extent of the problem.And when that failed — as the company’s stock price plummeted and sparked a consumer backlash — Facebook went on the attack.While Mr. Zuckerberg conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, persuading a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.You're gonna want to read the whole thing.This story has been 6 months in the making. It started with a question: What happened inside Facebook over the last 3 years, and what did top executives, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, do in the wake of crisis after crisis battering the company? https://t.co/N6kaDNqfj6— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) November 14, 2018As a guy who's been lied to and about by Facebook in the past, and remained fair and tried to give them credit when due anyway, I'm just aghast. Read the rest
Coalition of small cable operators calls for antitrust investigation into Comcast (Trump agrees)
The American Cable Association (ACA) represents 700+ small/medium US cable operators; they've written to the Assistant Attorney General calling for an "immediate" antitrust investigation into Comcast's business practices, a call that was supported by Donald Trump in a tweet.The ACA claims that Comcast's market dominance gives it the potential to get preferential treatment for "must have" channels, and that its past conduct (including violations of its consent decree) put it at a high risk of these abuses (Trump claimed that the abuses were already "routine," which is not what the ACA alleges).Comcast owns NBC, one of the many media companies that Trump has vocally denounced.The Justice Department is currently trying to stop a merger between AT&T and Time Warner, and the ACA strategically argues that Comcast is more dangerous than those companies combined. But the department may already have its sights on Comcast. In August, Delrahim warned Comcast that it would continue monitoring potential antitrust threats even after the consent decree expired. Last month, Delrahim also said the Justice Department would investigate whether Comcast was using its 30 percent share in Hulu to undermine the streaming video service, which competes with traditional cable.The ACA’s letter also raises concerns involving Hulu, suggesting that Comcast could effectively hold the service hostage. “We have heard from ACA members that they fear that ComcastNBCU may restrict, if it is not already restricting, their ability to access Hulu and make it available to their customers as an alternative to their cable offerings,” reads the letter. Read the rest
Got stockings to stuff? Black Friday just came early.
In case you hadn't noticed from the sleigh bell-heavy music and the hues on your Starbucks cup, the holiday season hasn't shown any more patience this year. But that doesn't need to be a bad thing, especially if you're hoping to get a jump on your shopping. Retailers aren't waiting til Black Friday to dish out the deals, and neither should you. Here are's six of the more notable bargains on the radar, from booze paraphernalia to tech-minded winter wear:Knit Touchscreen GlovesSo you're walking in frostbite weather and an urgent text pops up. It's an all-too-common annoyance with an easy solution: These fashionable knit gloves, equipped with a conductive fingertip surface that lets you swipe and send with comfort in any climate. They're currently 42% off the MSRP at $10.99.TREBLAB X11 Bluetooth In-Ear HeadphonesWith passive noise-cancellation tech and HD sound, these next-gen buds will be going straight from the stocking into your music-loving friend's ear. (And with the stabilizing ear fins, they'll stay there.) Equipped with Bluetooth 4.1 CSR and a built-in mic, they're equally well suited for taking calls on the go, at the gym - anywhere you need hands-free audio. Best of all, they're $29.99 - a significant drop from the already sale-priced $54.99.Eravino Whiskey Globe DecanterHere's one for the worldly tippler on your list. Mounted on a hardwood display, this decanter holds 30 ounces of whiskey or other spirits inside an etched globe map, complete with a blown glass ship-in-a-bottle. Great for Christmas, but just as well suited as a gift for newlyweds. Read the rest
100% diamond ring designed by Apple's Jony Ive and Marc Newson
Sothebys is to auction a diamond ring created by Apple design chief Jony Ive and Marc Newson.Theirs will be created by removing material rather than adding – an ambition made possible by the extraordinary scale of the stone which will enable the ring to be completely made of this material.Creating a ring-shaped diamond is no small feat; the diamond block will be faceted with several thousand facets, some of which are as small as several hundred micrometers. The interior ring will be cylindrically cut out for the desired smoothness using a micrometer thick water jet inside which a laser beam is cast. The finished ring will have between 2000-3000 facets which has never been seen before on a single piece.It'll be made from a cultured diamond and is expected to fetch $150-$250k. It looks great, but is difficult to upgrade and tends to overheat if you leave magazines on top. Read the rest
Oracle's bad faith with security researchers led to publication of a Virtualbox 0-day
In the debate over "responsible disclosure," advocates for corporate power say that companies have to be able to decide who can reveal defects in their products and under which circumstances, lest bad actors reveal their bugs without giving them time to create and promulgate a patch.But over and over again, this theory of corporate responsibility and security researcher intransigence falls apart. The reality is that the kinds of security researchers who want to report bugs (rather than using them to attack people) are primarily interested in improving security, and corporations that offer good-faith promises (and live up to them) can easily tempt researchers into coordinating their disclosures. When corporations threaten researchers or fail to act on their warnings, the result isn't silence -- it's uncoordinated disclosure, when a security researcher simply publishes their findings without warning the company first.The latest example of this is Sergey Zelenyuk's publication of a "100% reliable" exploit against Virtualbox, Oracle's popular virtual machine software. The exploit allows attackers to puncture the virtual machine's sandbox and access the underlying system's files and processes.Zelenyuk published the zero-day bug because of Oracle's long history of mistreatment of security researchers (including threatening customers with legal retaliation if they hire auditors to examine the software Oracle sold them), and its cavalier handling of bugs, including a 15-month lag between learning of a similar bug and issuing a patch.It's a sobering reminder that the "responsible disclosure" debate isn't about under which circumstances researchers can go public; it's about whether they choose to trust a company before going public. Read the rest
Five reasons why Trump's followers love his lies
Amanda Marcotte, author of Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself, explained why Trump's followers embrace his lies even when they know they are being lied to:Thread by @AmandaMarcotte: "No one actually believes Jim Acosta did anything wrong. This is one of those situations where conservatives collectively pretend to believe […]"Image: C-Span Read the rest
'Single-use' edges out 'VAR,' 'floss,' 'gammon,' and 'plogging' as this dictionary's word of the year
Glasgow-based Collins Dictionary has chosen their 2018 Word of the Year: single-use. The adjective meaning "made to be used once only" beat out the abbreviation VAR ("video assistant referee"), floss (the dance, not the dental product), gammon (a white, angry male who supports Brexit), and plogging (a Swedish activity that involves jogging and picking up litter).Selected as the #CollinsWOTY 2018, single-use encompasses a global movement to kick our addiction to disposable products. From plastic bags, bottles and straws to washable nappies, we have become more conscious of how our habits and behaviours can impact the environment...Our records show a four-fold increase in usage of this word since 2013, with news stories and the likes of the BBC’s Blue Planet II raising public awareness of this environmental issue."Single-use" also beat out other words on this year's shortlist: whitewash, vegan, MeToo, and backstop.image via Collins Dictionary Read the rest
Watch this woman make a bamboo furniture set from scratch
Equipped only with handtools, this woman harvests bamboo from a grove and makes a beautiful furniture set. It is interesting to see how she heats the bamboo over a fire to make it bendable.[via Core77] Read the rest
The inflatable air dancer desk toy you didn't know you needed
This "Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Guy" makes me so happy! For $13 (plus an annoyingly steep $9 to ship to the states), you get this inspired desk toy along with a little zine that tells the origin story of the wacky tube man, aka the "Tall Boy."Watch him flail about just like his granddaddy:In related news: Inflatable air dancer humorously synced to music Read the rest
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